Page 1

Featured Authors C.A. Verstraete Amy Shannon Erzabet Bishop Philip Hoy M Pepper Langlinais Hazel Hughes Collette Cameron Hildie McQueen

Fang-Freakin-Tastic Featured Author

HolidayShort Stories

A Night to Remember Snowfall

by Dee Ann Palmer

Free Read from: Danielle Devon

Reviews from:

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

TW Brown

Plus:

New Releases Best Seller Lists Blog Roll Call Links You Can Use


conte

featuredauthors C.A.Verstraete

page

Issue 5 | Decem

PhilipHoy

page

39

7

Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpts from Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter • Review of Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter

AmyShannon

page

15

Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from Samshed, a Savvy Macavoy Story • Review of Smashed, a Savvy Macavoy Story

ErzabetBishop

page

33

Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from Taming the Beast• Reviews of Taming the Beast and A Red Dress for Christmas

2| uncagedbooks.com

Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpts from The Revenge Artist & The Dream Diaries • Reviews

MPepperLanglinais

page

53

Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from Changes: Manifesting Destiny • Review of Changes: Manifesting Destiny

HazelHughes

page

69

Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from Dance With Me • Review of Dance With Me


ents

mber 2016

FangFreakinTasticFeatureAuthor

ColletteCameron

page

TWBrown

page

77

95

Excerpt from Dead Onset • Review of Dead Onset

Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from Scandal’s Slendor • Reviews of Triumph and Treasure, Heartbreak and Honor & Virtue and Valor

HildieMcQueen

page

sneakpeek

87

page

21

Danielle Devon gives us a sneak peek to her free short story, Ties That Bind and where to download

Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from Christina, A Bride for Christmas • Review of Christina, A Bride for Christmas

twas the night before christmas

shortstories A Night to Remember by Dee Ann Palmer

Snowfall

by Dee Ann Palmer

Original Horror Holiday poem by:

Gary Val Tenuta

page

25

page

61

page

123

4 Editor’s Desk 5 Links You Can Use 68 Best Seller Lists 101 New Releases 104 Uncaged Reviews 116 Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews 120 Myra’s Horror Blog Reviews 124 Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews

Issue 5 | December 2016 |

3


from the

editor’s desk

Welcome to Issue 5, December 2016 -Uncaged Book Reviews! This month, dig in to our featured authors: C.A. Verstraete, Amy Shannon, Erzabet Bishop, Philip Hoy, M Pepper Langlinais, Hazel Hughes, Collette Cameron and Hildie McQueen! I can’t thank them all enough, for sharing their talents with us. Fang-Freakin-Tastic is also spotlighting an author with a feature on TW Brown. This month we have two short holiday stories from author Dee Ann Palmer for you to enjoy, A Night to Remember and Snowfall.

There are also reviews from Uncaged, Fang-Freakin-Tastic, Myra’s Horror Blog Reviews and Amy’s Bookshelf! Be sure to subscribe to the newsletter option on the front page of the site. After the first of the year, there will be special offers that you will only see in the newsletter. I promise we won’t flood your inbox. Uncaged has now started a Goodreads Group - to bring authors from Uncaged’s pages to readers for book discussions, don’t miss out! I can’t believe the holiday season is already here. This year sure went quickly! And this is Uncaged’s fifth issue already! Not only do I thank all the authors, publishers, promoters and readers, but also the staff of Uncaged. Myra Nour is Head of Promotions and I am thrilled to keep working with her from our days at BTS Book Reviews. To the reviewing staff, Kaitlin, Michael and Jennifer - you all keep the Uncaged gears well oiled. And welcome new reviewers: Jasper Rose, Barbara and Veronica. Uncaged has now moved to it’s new home, UncagedBooks.com. This will allow room for the growth that the blogspot area could not do. I will leave the blogspot space open until I move all the archives over to the new site. I will also be adding new features as time allows, so keep checking back. All reviews that receive a 4 1/2 - 5 Star rating will be featured on the sidebar slider, and the review posted in Top Reads for their respective months. Starting in December, Featured Authors whose books receive the same marks will also be treated the same. Featured Authors will also be promoted in the front page slider. 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 site for more information on how you can advertise in the magazine.

Reviews: Authors & Readers: Please see Reviews/Features Info tab on the site for more information. All inquiries: UncagedBooks@gmail.com or cyrene.olson@gmail.com So thank you and enjoy the December issue of Uncaged Book Reviews! Uncaged wishes everyone a wonderful holiday season.

UncagedBooks.com


Links

Blogs, Giveaways and more...

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

Blog Roll Call

Follow Uncaged on Facebook

Paranormal lover’s rejoice. Uncaged review contributors.

Free Book Sifter

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

Help for authors and businesses.

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

A blog for horror fans.Uncaged review contributors.

A little bit of everything. Uncaged review contributors.

If you’d like your banner here, please email me at UncagedBooks@gmail.com Issue 5 | December 2016 |

5


featureauthor

C.A. Verstraete

Interview Will Lizzie Borden return? Stay Connected Stay up to date Excerpt from Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter Review


| FEATURE AUTHOR |

C.A. Verstraete

Christine (C.A.) Verstraete enjoys writing fiction with a bit of a “scare.” Her short stories have been published in various anthologies and publications including, Happy Homicides 3: Summertime Crime, Mystery Weekly, and others. She also is the author of a young adult novel, GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie and books on dollhouse miniatures. Learn more at her blog, http://girlzombieauthors.blogspot.com and her website, http://cverstraete.com.

Stay connected cverstraete.com

A great take on the zombie genre and a re-imagining of the Lizzie Borden tale, C.A. Verstraete’s version is fresh and original, and we welcome her to Uncaged. First off, thank you so much for taking the time for the interview! 1) What inspired you to write? I personally, have gotten readers-block before from reading too much and have to take time off from reading, do you ever get writers-block, and how do you overcome it? Thanks for having me! I started writing for newspapers (still do), so I love to write, and on the days I don’t “love” it, it’s still an ingrained habit. With deadlines, I’ve also learned to write pretty much most every day. Deadlines are a great block-killer. No excuses when something is due! That doesn’t mean I’m not a procrastinator though! :) 2) Do you put a lot of planning into a book before you begin writing it? I have a terrible habit of starting wrong in fiction. I get an idea, start writing, and chances are I’ll read it to the critique group who point out it

8 | UncagedBooks.com


| C.A. VERSTRAETE | should start at another place. (And they’re usually right!) I work best with an outline so I know where to go next. Of course, the characters have their say in things along the way! So yes, it does take some planning. With Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter, I had to do a lot of reading and background research, too, since I was using a real event as the story’s basis. But that’s pretty interesting to do. 3) Do you actually read your reviews from your books and if so, do you ever take the reviews that have been written into consideration for your next book? If you write a series, do reviews influence you at all? I still read the reviews, though “they” say you shouldn’t. I take points into consideration if they make sense and if it makes the work stronger. If several people say the same thing then it’s something to consider, but that’s usually not the case. 4) Your book is very well-researched, and your references listed at the end of the book are very thorough. For how long has the Lizzie Borden case fascinated you, and when did you start researching it? I think I always found Lizzie Borden an interesting character for as long as I can remember. I always found true crime interesting, especially growing up in Chicago with Al Capone and the gangster era a part of the history. I used to read a lot of true crime, which I admit can be gorier than zombies. I remember watching the Lizzie Borden movie with Elizabeth Montgomery and recently bought it on DVD. It makes you wonder how – if – and why – a woman could commit such a hor-

rific act – if she did it, of course. 5) What made you choose zombies? Do you have any particular fondness for them as a fictional monster, and if so, what was the first work of fiction involving them that really piqued your interest? I loved watching the old Universal monster movies growing up. Still love them. I got hooked on zombies, like most everyone via The Walking Dead. I admit they are horrible, awful creatures, but they are great villains, aren’t they? Two books – Jonathan Maberry’s Dead of Night and Raising Stony Mayhall by Daryl Gregory really stuck with me and made an impression since they were both so different. Zombies really are more than monsters – they can be symbolic or, as in the case of Lizzie Borden, the solution to an unsolvable crime as suggested by the evidence. 6) 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 usually at the kitchen table with the laptop. I’m a music lover and have the radio on pretty much most of the time. I have varied tastes from Big Band to rock, pop and soul. Adele’s singing right now. Of course, I do like it quiet once in a while, too. 7) I know some authors will do outtakes from their books from scenes that didn’t make it to the book. Did you cut any scenes from these books? Good question! You know, I did cut a few scenes and change some stuff around that either made no sense or added nothing to the plot. The Issue 5 | December 2016 |

9


| FEATURE AUTHOR | beginning is much different now than when I started writing the book. 8) What is coming up in the near future for readers? I loved writing about Lizzie Borden so much that I don’t want to give her up and hope readers feel the same way. I have been working on some short mysteries with Lizzie and her sister; I just have to add more supernatural elements. I also am working on a parallel novella using Dr. Seabury Bowen as a character in a more supernatural setting. I do have an outline started, too, for the continuation of Lizzie’s story as a zombie hunter. Writing about her and zombies was too much fun to quit! Something different: I also work on dollhouse miniatures and just found the neatest Victorianlooking box that I plan to turn into a Lizzie Borden scene. I’ll have photos and progress to show soon so watch for details! 9) What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? Thank you for reading Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter and I hope you’ll tell your friends about the book! And please put up a review if you’ve read it. Even a line or two helps the author! If you want to see what else is going on, sign up for my sporadic newsletter at my website –www. cverstraete.com, check out my blog – http:// girlzombieauthors.blogspot.com - or find me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/christine. verstraete and Twitter: https://twitter.com/caverstraete. Thanks for the interview. I enjoyed the visit!

10 | UncagedBooks.com

Enjoy an excerpt from Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter Horror C.A. Verstraete Every family has its secrets… One hot August morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden picked up an axe and murdered her father and stepmother. Newspapers claim she did it for the oldest of reasons: family conflicts, jealousy and greed. But what if her parents were already dead? What if Lizzie slaughtered them because they’d become zombies? Thrust into a horrific world where the walking dead are part of a shocking conspiracy to infect not only Fall River, Massachusetts, but also the world beyond, Lizzie battles to protect her sister, Emma, and her hometown from nightmarish ghouls and the evil forces controlling them. Excerpt Chapter One Q. You saw his face covered with blood? A. Yes sir. Q. Did you see his eyeball hanging out? A. No sir. Q. Did you see the gashes where his face was laid open? A. No sir. —Lizzie Borden at inquest, August 9-11, 1892, Fall River Courtroom


| C.A. VERSTRAETE |

August 4, 1892 Lizzie Borden drained the rest of her tea, set down her cup, and listened to the sound of furniture moving upstairs. My, my, for only ten o’clock in the morning my stepmother is certainly energetic. Housecleaning, already? THUMP. For a moment, Lizzie forgot her plans to go shopping downtown. THUMP. There it went again. It sounded like her stepmother was rearranging the whole room. She paused at the bottom stair, her concern growing, when she heard another thump and then, the oddest of sounds—a moan. Uh-oh. What was that? Did she hurt herself? “Mrs. Borden?” Lizzie called. “Are you all right?” No answer. She wondered if her stepmother had taken ill, yet the shuffling, moving, and other unusual noises continued. Lizzie hurried up the stairs and paused outside the partially opened door. The strange moans coming from the room sent a shiver up her back. Lizzie pushed the door open wider and stared. Mrs. Abby Durfee Borden stood in front of the bureau mirror, clawing at her reflected image. And what a horrid image it was. The sixty-sevenyear-old woman’s hair looked like it had never been combed and stuck out like porcupine quills. Her usually spotless housedress appeared wrinkled and torn. Yet, that wasn’t the worst. Dark red spots—Blood, Lizzie’s mind whispered—dotted the floor and streaked the sides of the older woman’s dress and sleeves.

Lizzie gazed about the room in alarm. The tips of Father’s slippers peeking out from beneath the bed also glistened with the same viscous red liquid. All that blood! What happened here? What happened? She gasped, which got the attention of Mrs. Borden, who jerked her head and growled. Lizzie choked back a cry of alarm. Abby’s square, plain face now appeared twisted and ashen gray. Her eyes, once bright with interest, stared from under a milky covering as if she had cataracts. She resembled a female version of The Portrait of Dorian Gray. Another growl and a moan, and the older woman lunged, arms rigid, her stubby hands held out like claws. “Mrs. Borden, Abby!” Lizzie yelled and stumbled backward as fast as she could. “Abby, do you hear me?” Her stepmother shuffled forward, her steps slow but steady. She showed no emotion or sense of recognition. The only utterances she made were those strange low moans. Lizzie moved back even further, trying to keep some distance between her and Mrs. Borden’s grasping fingers. Then her foot hit something. Lizzie quickly glanced down at the silver hairbrush that had fallen to the floor. Too late, she realized her error. “No!” Lizzie cried out at the strange feeling of her stepmother’s clammy, cold hand around her wrist. “Abby, what happened? What’s wrong with you?” Mrs. Borden said nothing and moved in closer. Her mouth opened and closed, revealing bloodstained teeth. “No! Stay away!” Lizzie yelled. “Stop!” Issue 5 | December 2016 |

11


| FEATURE AUTHOR | She didn’t. Instead, Mrs. Borden scratched and clawed at her. Lizzie leaned back, barely escaping the snap of the madwoman’s teeth at her neck. “Mrs. Bor—Abby! No, no! Stop!” Lizzie’s slight advantage of a few inches in height offered no protection against her shorter stepmother’s almost demonic and inhuman strength. The older woman bit and snapped like a rabid dog. Lizzie struggled to fight her off, and shoved her away, yet Mrs. Borden attacked again and again, her hands grabbing, her teeth seeking the tender flesh covered by Lizzie’s long, full sleeves. The two of them grappled and wrestled, bumping into the bedposts and banging into furniture. Lizzie yelped each time her soft flesh hit something hard. She felt her strength wane as the crazed woman’s gnarled hands clawed at her. Lizzie wondered how much more she could endure. Lizzie’s cries for help came out hoarse and weak. “Em-Emma!” She tried again. “Help! Help me!” She knew Emma had come in late last night from her trip out of town. But if Emma already woke and went downstairs, will she even hear me? Lizzie reeled back, her panic growing as her spine pressed against the fireplace. She pushed and fought in an attempt to keep this monster away, yet Mrs. Borden’s ugly face and snapping teeth edged closer and closer. Then Lizzie spotted it: the worn hatchet Father had left behind after he’d last brought in the newly chopped wood. No, no! Her mind filled with horror, but when her stepmother came at her again, Lizzie whispered a prayer for forgiveness 12 | UncagedBooks.com

and grabbed the handle.

Uncaged Review Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter by C.A. Verstraete is an engaging horror story covering the axe murders of Lizzie Borden’s father and stepmother in 1892 and the consequent trial of Lizzie Borden, but with the sci-fi twist of adding zombies into the mix. When Lizzie finds first her step-mother, and then her father rotting on their feet, she is thrown into a tale of grief, danger and scandal, all the while attempting to hide the truth convincingly from the public eye. She suffers scrutiny and judgment by her peers as she wages war against the undead alongside her sister and a few allies belonging to a secretive organization called the Society. C.A. Verstraete did a masterful job of portraying both the era within which the story takes place, and the characters themselves. It is easy to envision the setting given the details provided, and never is the reader overwhelmed with excessive adjectives or flowery prose. In fact, ‘flowery’ is possibly the worst possible descriptor for how the book is written, with its appropriately stomach-turning imagery and gritty atmosphere. It’s remarkably easy to allow yourself to be dragged into the pages and be wrapped up in the characters, who feel less like characters and more like people. Lizzie, the main protagonist, has a good head on her shoulders. Given the time period and the fact that women were only just transitioning from less dominant roles as homemakers to breadwinners, Lizzie’s independence and strength of character are unexpected but refreshing. She’s very reasonable and takes an analytical approach to most things, refraining from petty or foolish behavior that would have most horror movie connoisseurs


| C.A. VERSTRAETE | sighing in disappointment. At the same time, she is prone to bouts of grief and emotion, which makes her feel all the more believable and worthy of sympathy. The reader feels fear through the character as they go through the trials and tribulations she does, and it’s hard not to cheer for her. Her development is noticeable but Lizzie never becomes someone the reader wouldn’t recognize, which is a respectable feat of fiction as many authors tend to take it too far, or not far enough. The story itself never feels stale, and it’s hard to gauge how the book will end until the reader is within a few pages of the conclusion. Something that can detract from a book like this is an overbearing romance arc, and while there is some romance explored within the pages of Lizzie Borden, it never distracts the reader from the real plot. It does occasionally distract the protagonist, but in an unobtrusive way that adds rather than takes away from the book as a whole. The conclusion itself is satisfying in that it doesn’t stray far from belief nor from the book’s genre. It isn’t a rosy happy-ever-after where the reader is all but guaranteed that nothing bad or challenging would ever happen to the good guys again, but the author wraps up the plot while leaving you with a taste of what could lay in Lizzie’s future. All in all, Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter is a wonderfully-written piece and a delight to read. The editing is spot-on as there were no obvious spelling or grammatical errors to be seen, and the verbiage used was excellently-chosen and appropriate to the era. The setting is artfully portrayed and the plot covers its bases while wrapping up in a satisfying ending. The characters are consistent, and most importantly the protagonist is a likeable and believable heroine. If you are looking for a solid read, horror or otherwise, this is a book worth considering. Reviewed by Kaitlin

Changes A Girl Z Prequel C.A. Verstraete Horror In the zombie short story CHANGES, A GIRL Z Prequel, Spence’s “perfect” job is anything but. He escapes a living dead nightmare when his coworkers turn into flesh-eating monsters. As the plague spreads, Spence heads home hoping to see his family one last time... if he can make it. This is a short fiction prequel to the book, GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie. Girl Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombi C.A. Verstraete Horror Sixteen-year-old Rebecca Herrera Hayes faces every teenager’s biggest nightmares: bad skin, bad hair, and worse . . . turning into one of the living dead. Becca’s life changes forever when her cousin Spence comes back to their small Wisconsin town carrying a deadly secret— he’s becoming a zombie, a fate he shares with her through an accidental scratch. Now she must cope with weird physical changes and habits no girl wants to be noticed for. Then she meets Gabe, a good-looking part-Z like her and she fears she may be falling for him. But how can he, who shows hardly any Z symptoms, be interested in someone like her? Time is running out . . . and Becca needs his help as she and her cousin Carm search for their missing mothers and fight off hungry Zs. Most of all, she needs to find something, anything, to stop this deadly transformation before it is too late. Issue 5 | December 2016 |

13


featureauthor

Amy Shannon

Interview What’s next on Amy’s list? Stay Connected Stay up to date Excerpt from Smashed: A Savvy Macavoy Story Review


| FEATURE AUTHOR |

Amy Shannon

Amy Shannon (1972 - Present) is an American Storyteller. She is also a writer/author and poet. Amy Shannon runs the book review blog “Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews,” which has become extremely popular for Indie authors and their books. In 2004, Amy was a cancer survivor. In 2005, she survived a domestic violence assault which resulted in her spouse going to prison, and lifelong headaches. Amy doesn’t let that get in the way of taking care of her four boys, who are very supportive of their family, and her passion. In 2015, Amy received her Bachelors of Arts in English, and is currently working on her Masters of Arts in Adult Education and Training. All of Amy’s stories are about inner strenght, as sometimes no one realizes how strong they truly can be until they think they’ve reached their limit. Her lastest collection of her work categorizes these stories in one collect, called

16 | UncagedBooks.com

“Empowerment” and it’s due for release Nov. 1 2016. Amy Shannon is the author of about 100 stories, with more than half as part of different series or sagas. Once she falls in love with her characters, it’s hard to let go of them. Her first novel “Unwritten Life” started off the Sars Springs Saga. Other series, have several books within a series, and they are slightly open-ended in case of a new idea for the series. “Fractured Tears: A Struggle for Justice” is a fictionalized version of her own experience with Domestic Violence. “Chains” was just released to show the inner strength when all hope seems lost.

Stay connected writeramyshannon.wix.com


| AMY SHANNON | Amy Shannon has been an Uncaged review contributor since the 2nd issue. Amy is also a very amazing author, and is my pleasure to include her work here in Uncaged. Please follow her review blog also: writeramyshannon.wix.com/bookshelfreviews

write, some think I’m too blunt but I write what works for me, and I don’t write what I don’t like in other books, such as too much fluffy details that are not even important to the story. If something small is in my story, there is an importance to it. I also love writing with different sub plots.

1) What inspired you to write? I personally, have gotten readers-block before from reading too much and have to take time off from reading, do you ever get writers-block, and how do you overcome it?

3) I’m normally not huge into contemporary mystery stories, but you did a fantastic job drawing me in and keeping me on my toes with Smashed. Is this the beginning of a new series with Savvy and her crew?

I’ve been writing since I was about 10 years old, only then it was just poetry and short stories, but I’ve been telling stories since I was four years old. My mother wrote stories but only to read to us kids (I’m the oldest of 5 children). I do get writers block, but when I’m working on a project, I try to write at least one sentence per day, and when I leave off, I like leaving it open-ended rather than the end of chapter. It helps me pick up where I left off. If I’m really in a block, I’ll watch old movies or go for a walk. Sometimes I’ll just write a free verse to help me focus.

I am planning on writing another story for Savvy (along with the rest of her group). I think they can have unique and amazing cases, and even delve more into Savvy’s family and even Strick’s background. I’ve actually wrote the first paragraph, but then got side tracked to write another story, but I sometimes work on two projects at the same time.

2) Do you actually read your reviews from your books and if so, do you ever take the reviews that have been written into consideration for your next book? If you write a series, do reviews influence you at all? I think reviews are really important, and I do read the reviews. Sometimes people like my work and sometimes they don’t. That part I don’t mind, as I don’t like everything I read either, but if the review has some real and valid criticism, I try to correct myself. However, if a reviewer just doesn’t like my writing style, then I can’t change myself just to please that person. I write as I

4) You brought in a few social issues into the book, which I really enjoyed. Homeless, nonconventional family, and veteran’s down on their luck. Even though you only touched on these subjects, are these issues something that is close to your heart? I think any group of people, even not blood related, can be a family. I have friends and family that are veterans, and they are lucky that they have support, but I know that not everyone does. Some may read Savvy’s first interaction with Strick and think that she’s naive for taking him like she did, but she’s a smart woman, and she just knew that he was something special. I write for characters that I wish were real people, doing great things to help others. 5) Where is your favorite place to write? A lot of Issue 5 | December 2016 |

17


| FEATURE AUTHOR | 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 sometimes bring my laptop and write outside in my yard, or I write in my living room. I usually play my record player when I am writing, and the album (yes, I like the vinyl) depends on what story I am writing. I listen to Sinatra a lot (he’s one of my favorites) and his work gives me great inspiration. I can’t even sleep in quiet, and writing in quiet drives me nuts, so I have to find some noise, somewhere, and usually it’s music. 6) What is your process for writing? Do you write full time, or part time? I write until I have to stop and think. I know that sounds funny, but when I write, I can’t think about it, I just let it happen. If I have to stop and think about what comes next, I have to stop writing, even if for a few minutes. I never plan or outline the story. I just writing. When the first draft is done, the real work starts. I give it a rest for a few days, create the cover, and then go back and read. I don’t correct or edit yet, I just make sure that the story flows and all sub plots are concluded, if I want them to be. I don’t leave cliffhangers, but sometimes, when there is an upcoming sequel, I leave a few questions unanswered. I can’t say if it’s part time or full time, but it’s just what I do. I am going to school to finish my Master’s degree, and I am also a single mother to 4 boys, the youngest two are seventeen, and one is special needs. 7) What is coming up in the near future for readers? Currently, I am working on a book dedicated to my late mother, called “Memories of Mom” and as I mentioned before, I just started writing a 18 | UncagedBooks.com

second Savvy Macavoy Story tentatively entitled “Relic”. 8) What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I am grateful to everyone reads my work and I always hope that people enjoy my stories as much as I love telling them. I get close to my characters, and love it when my readers do, too. My readers can always contact me on my Facebook page, twitter account, or even email me directly at writeramyshannon@nycap.rr.com . I do respond to emails from fans. I like to hear what readers think of my storylines and characters.

Enjoy an excerpt from Smashed: A Savvy Macavoy Story Smashed: A Savvy Macavoy Story Amy Shannon Crime/Suspense Savvy Macavoy is not your typical private investigator. Her braids, jeans, and sandals always give off a unique impression on her clients. Savvy has lived an interesting life and with her best friend, Leonard at her side, loves living her life, her way. She isn’t ashamed of her childhood spent on the hippie commune, but has an estranged relationship with her six brothers. Savvy is attracted to her whiskey but tries to maintain being professional when she’s working for clients. Savvy thought everything in her life was under her control, until she met Strick, a veteran forced into the homeless life on the


| AMY SHANNON | streets. When he crosses her path, without thinking or forethought, something about Strick draws her into him, and she immediately helps him.

trying to stay warm.”

Savvy tries to focus on her case, enlisting Strick’s help, to search for the missing late husband of wealthy widow Angelica Margolis. Strick and Savvy try to solve the mystery of “The Missing Harold.”

“Still cold for me, sometimes. I have this chill that doesn’t want to go away. Oh, I’m sorry.”

Excerpt Savvy headed out the back door of the building to the parking lot, when she turned around quickly at the sound of a crash. “Who’s there?” “Sorry to startle ya’, ma’am.” His voice said from behind the dumpster. “What’re you doing?” Savvy opened the door to her car and dropped her backpack on the seat. She closed the door and walked toward the dumpster. “Come outta there.” The man, dressed in a worn, dingy green army jacket, torn dirty pants and a dark blue wool cap pulled over his head, slowly limped out from behind the dumpster. “Uh, sorry, ma’am, I was just hungry. I’ll get movin’.” “Wait.” She sighed, looking into his soft brown eyes. “You were in the service or you just wear that?” “No, ma’am, this is mine.” He said. “I was in the army.” “First, don’t call me, ma’am.” She smiled. “I’m sorry.” He straightened his posture. “I didn’t mean to trespass. I was just looking for food and

“It’s eighty degrees out.”

“Don’t be. Can I help?” “Only if you have something to eat.” “Not cash?” “Can’t eat money and most of the places, even if I had money, wouldn’t let me come in.” “Where do you, live, uh, stay?” “Oh, here and there. New York is a big place, lots of places to hide in or get lost in.” “What’s your name?” “Deklin. Deklin Strickland. Sergeant in the United States Army. Well, until six years ago.” He pulled out his silver dog tags that were hidden behind his tee shirt. “Deklin?” She smiled. “Yeah, my mother loved those cheesy romance novels. Most of my friends call me Strick. You can call me that, if you want.” “Well, Strick, I’m Savvy.” He raised an eyebrow. “Savvy?” “Well, it’s more like my second middle name.” “I don’t understand.” He put his hands in his pocket.

Issue 5 | December 2016 |

19


| FEATURE AUTHOR | “My real name, and you can laugh, is Sunshine Rainbow Savvy Macavoy. My mothers believed in free love.”

business, she takes him in, feeds him – and even gives him a job. Strick, is ex military, and down on his luck, but in Savvy he finds his purpose.

“So, Savvy, that’s nice.” He smiled. “I didn’t mean to go through the garbage, but I haven’t eaten in a few days.”

When a lady who needs Savvy to help her find her missing husband, the story and the mystery really get going. The characters are easy to like, the mystery itself is well thought out and original, and the pace of the book is just about right. It’s not perfect, but it’s a very entertaining and kept my attention the whole time. And now I really need a bagel. Reviewed by Cyrene

“How many?” “I lost count.” He sighed. “Well.” She looked at her watch. “I have a job to do, but it can wait a few minutes. Follow me.” He walked to the side of the dumpster, grabbed an army-green rucksack, and flung it over his shoulder. “Where am I going?”

Uncaged Review Normally I’m not a contemporary mystery reader. But the author pulls you right in from the beginning and it was a smart, fun read. Savvy is a Private Investigator, that is smart, stubborn and even though she was even a cop at one time, she had a problem with authority, so she quit the force and went to work with her own PI business. The only other person working with her, is her gay best friend Leonard – practically a genius, but just wants to work with Savvy, even though the only thing missing from him being a lawyer, is taking his bar exams. Savvy’s life has always been unconventional, from her two mothers, to her 6 gay brothers and father, ending up being the only straight one in the bunch. And even though she’s on the outs with her brothers and she drinks too much, she has a heart of gold. Seeing a homeless man scrounging for food in the dumpster behind her 20 | UncagedBooks.com

Don’t miss these titles:


DanielleDevon

Ties That Bind Ties That Bind Danielle Devon Gothic Historical Short Story FREE READ

Whenever my Uncle looked at me he saw nothing but the ten thousand pounds he would inherit upon my marriage. That was the terms of my father’s estate, the price of my future. I’ve waited my whole life for freedom, but will it ever be mine as long as these ties bind me? Your free copy is waiting…

Excerpt Their grimy hands reached out to finger the silks of my dress. Penniless beggars, the lot of them, fondling the fabric with such perversity that I felt those eager fingers brush against my skin. I nearly lost my footing on the muddied road that lead to this ramshackle village. One of the mogul children pulled at the stitching, tearing away a sliver of my beautiful dress. He turned and fled as though he could spin that bit of useless silk into treasured gold. I pulled up my dress, drawing the hem close to me so that the lacey undercoat of my slip was showing. “Stop it,” I said, but my pleas fell on deaf ears. The fingers of an old woman dipped daringly into my skirts, searching for the pocket in my petticoat. I whipped around and raised my fist to her. “Stop it, I said! Get back all of you! Who do you think you are?”

sneakpeek My Uncle wrapped his fingers painfully about my arm and jerked me forward. “How can I make a match when you insist on acting like a foolish child?” I swallowed back the tears and with them the better part of my pride. “They are touching me.” He let loose of my arm. “I told you not to wear such finery.” “You allow me no other freedoms, Uncle.” He shook his head for I had disappointed him once again. But then it matter not what I said, for every word that passed my lips, every thought within my head was a bitter disappointment. “You are nothing but a spoiled female, no good to anyone until you’ve a ring upon your finger.” He shoved past, never turning a second glance to look back. If he had, he would have seen the solitary tear trickle down my cheek. Not that he had a care for my tears. I had been nothing but a burden to him since my father’s death. Whenever he looked at me he saw nothing but the ten thousand pounds that would not be his until I had been wed. That was the terms of my father’s estate, his way of protecting me even from beyond the grave. How I wish he could have known that the terms meant to secure my future had kept me prisoner in the present. But how could he? He was not here to see the drunkard my Uncle had become. What little fortune was left to me, my Uncle had drank and gambled away. No more money would be had until the terms of the inheritance had been met. Get your copy of Ties That Bind for FREE now!

FREE READ

danielledevon.com Issue 5 | December 2016 |

21


shortstory

A Night to Remember

by Dee Ann Palmer

deeannpalmer.com


| SHORT STORY |

Uncaged is proud to welcome this wonderful, romantic, holiday short story to the readers and we thank Dee Ann Palmer for her talent and contribution.

A Night to Remember by Dee Ann Palmer

It was the worst Christmas Eve Marlee had ever lived through. Providing she did live through it, she thought. People who longed for a white Christmas obviously didn’t expect it to come with a power outage and a blizzard like she was creeping along in in her old Nissan. Squinting to see, she switched the heat to the front and rear windshields. If she didn’t reach her house soon, the wipers wouldn’t be able to cut through the ice forming there. The snow had thickened and the temperature had dropped in the last thirty minutes. “You had to have a tree. Going out in a blizzard to get that puny thing in the backseat masquerading as a Christmas tree was moronic,” she scolded herself. The tree remained silent. There was no one to share her Christmas, and her money had gone for gifts to her family in Albuquerque, New Mexico, leaving nothing for herself. However, the local Boy Scouts gave away unsold trees just before closing on December 24th. Despite the forecast for worsening weather, she’d impulsively hopped in her trusty but rusty car and headed over mountain roads for the sale hall. A tall scoutmaster in a dark green uniform there had greeted her with an apologetic smile. “Not many left, but come on in.” Marlee removed her glove and shook hands with him. It was a little warmer out of the weather

26 | UncagedBooks.com

and wind, and the smells of pitch, pine and cedar were pleasant. Snow had blunted all scent from the forest today. Wet and muddy footprints from athletic shoes and boots had left a jumble of pathways across the large hall. Bits of red nylon dotted the floor near a huge metal tube used to encase trees in tight netting. It pulled the branches in close to the trunk, creating a bundle easier to handle and transport. Marlee picked her way around the tube over remnants of tan twine, green pine needles and cedar leaves to study the remaining trees. Most of them were too tall. Or too fat. Many were lopsided, and it wasn’t unusual to see a hole or two, created by a sparseness of foliage. She selected a small pine that wasn’t much fuller than Charlie Brown’s tree. Still, it sparked happy childhood memories with her family. “Sure you don’t want something bigger?” Her laughter echoed in the almost empty building. “It’s the only one that’ll fit in my car.” She waved him away when he offered to load it. “I can do it.” Why do men assume women are incapable of doing things for themselves? The tree was free, but Marlee shoved two dollar bills into his hand. She felt her face grow hot with embarrassment at donating so little. As she was leaving, he’d said, “Merry Christmas,” a hand touching the brim of his hat. She’d smiled. “And Happy New Year!” Her smile faded and alarm sparked through her as she pulled onto the narrow two-lane road. While she’d been in the hall, the snow had turned to sleet. Eager to get home, she was almost there when she took a curve too fast and hit black ice. She turned in the direction of the slide, but instead of swinging around to face oncoming traffic, her car skidded off the road. Before she could react it was bump, bump, bump, wham! The Nissan’s rear end landed in a gully, up against a tree. BANG…the airbag deployed. She coughed as a


| DEE ANN PALMER | chemical smell filled the car. Stunned by the force of the airbag and the crash, Marlee fought to pull her wits together. Her left elbow hurt and she wondered if she had all her teeth. She pressed the hazard lights on. Thankfully, her finger told her her teeth were all there although she’d probably have a fat lip. A rap sounded on her window. A man’s voice called from inside a fur-rimmed parka hood, “Are you okay?” He clicked off a satellite phone. He must’ve called in my accident. He said, “I’m a Search and Rescue volunteer and want to be sure it’s safe to move you. I’ll try the door on the passenger side.” She pressed a trembling hand—darn, but she was shaky—and released her seatbelt as the passenger door opened and a big man knelt on the seat. He pushed back his hood. “Can you tell me your name?” “Marlee Johansen.” “Marlee, it’s Jim Maher. We’ve met.” Her smile felt crooked as she recognized him. “You own the hardware store.” You told me I couldn’t nail up new rain gutters alone, but I did. “What day is it?” Stupid man, why ask me? Don’t you know? The shock and fog were wearing off, and she realized he was testing her for concussion. “I’m fuzzy but okay. It’s about four on Christmas Eve.” “Do you hurt anywhere?” “My left elbow.” He cradled her jacketed elbow in one large hand and gently flexed it, stopping when she protested. Warm hands cradled her face and he looked into her eyes. “Anyone tell you what an unusual shade of blue your eyes are? Your pupils are normal. Let’s check your neck and spine.” Her parka prevented him from going all the way down her spine, so he went as far as possible, then felt her knees and thighs for bone injuries. His hands on her thighs created a restless tingling.

“Nothing serious,” he said. He handed the car keys to her and assisted her over the console to the passenger seat. She clutched her purse to her chest. When Jim slid his arms around her back and under her legs, she said, “I can walk. I’m fine.” Irritation welled up when he ignored her, then lifted and carried her up and onto the shoulder of the road to his yellow Wrangler. He set Marlee gently on the seat and covered her with a lap robe. She reached for the seatbelt; he took it and buckled her in. I have a sore elbow. I’m not an invalid. “Anything else you need before I lock your doors?” “Christmas tree. Back seat.” “What the—” Tears she hated—because they made her look weak—flooded her eyes. Heaven only knew what car repairs would cost, and the scrawny tree suddenly became all important. “I’m in this mess because of it.” “You went out in this weather—” “Yes.” Her curt tone warned him not to rub it in. Smart man…he didn’t. In minutes he returned with the tree and placed it wordlessly in the backseat. “Bridge to your place is closed. I don’t think we can safely make the long way around to it. My place is nearby. We’ll be dry and warm there until the weather breaks. Is that okay?” “I’m not used to spending nights in the homes of strange men, but I’ll take the offer. I could’ve died out there if you hadn’t stopped for me.” “I promise I won’t jump your bones.” “Ditto.” His laughter warmed her, and he put the car in gear. Marlee thought it took all his skill and strength to make it the few blocks to and into his garage. Pain flared in her elbow and she guarded it as he helped her out of the car. He unlocked the mud room door. “We’ll leave our wet things here.” She winced even though he worked her parka over Issue 5 | December 2016 |

27


| SHORT STORY | her elbow with care. “Sorry.” When Marlee pulled her hat off, her naturally blonde hair tumbled about her face and shoulders. For a moment Jim stood still, his gazed fixed on her hair. The look unsettled her. He’d promised not to make advances, hadn’t he? She couldn’t fight him off with a wounded elbow. The moment passed, and he opened the kitchen door. Outside, the wind battered its windows with sleet and hail. He switched on a Rayovac lantern, then opened the cupboard and handed her a bottle of ibuprofen tablets and a glass of water. She took two out. He added a third. “I can tell your pain is worse.” Nodding, she downed all three with water. “Thanks.” “Coffee? Tea? Hot cocoa?” “Cocoa, please.” “I’ll be in the garage starting the generator. It’ll provide some electricity. We’ll have hot water, and dine on beef stew with rolls and butter.” “Sounds wonderful.” She walked to the huge stone fireplace in the living room just off the kitchen. I should start a fire, but can’t with this darned elbow. Back in the house, he pulled a chair close to the hearth for her and covered her with an afghan. “My grandmother knitted this. I’ll get the fire.” He knelt and soon orange, red and gold flames leaped up and the logs caught. He shoved six terracotta bricks along the fire’s edges. “To warm our beds in case the microwave doesn’t have power for the Thermophore heating pads.” Firelight danced off his face and dark brown hair. She remembered that ruggedly handsome face from the visit to his hardware store. Remembered its pull on her that day. Tonight his closely cropped beard added new character to it—very sensual character. Sensual? Surprise somersaulted through her, but the description fit. She felt it deep in her center. He’d seemed comfortable within himself at the 28 | UncagedBooks.com

store. He’d been a bit condescending to her over the rain gutter thing, but he was knowledgeable and friendly; staff and customers liked him. Now he dealt with her in the same warm way. He swung toward her and sat back, his wellshaped bottom on his heels, his muscular thighs outlined by snug ski pants. She tried not to look at the male fullness between his hips. Jim’s hands were warm on her woolen socks. “Cold feet.” “Warm heart.” “I’ll bet.” His smile crinkled his face and his cognac eyes danced. “Be right back.” He returned with a pair of Muk Luks boots. “They’re a little big. My sister’s taller by a couple of inches.” He slid them on and zipped them with long, supple fingers. They moved with the same surety he’d shown when he’d checked her injuries. The zipper made a slow glide up her legs as he pulled, and his gaze never left her face. Marlee looked down at those fingers, imagined them touching her in very personal ways. In very personal places. As if he couldn’t resist touching her, he sighed and squeezed her thigh before standing. New sensations hit her center and tantalized with visions of him naked. “Hot stew, rolls, butter and cocoa coming up.” “Great. I’m starving.” Maybe for more than food, Marlee thought. **** Eyes half closed, Jim watched Marlee’s full lips close on the rim of the cocoa mug and sip. He repressed the urge to touch his mouth to hers and wondered how her hair would feel splayed across his bare chest. Wondered…don’t go there, Maher. Abruptly, he finished his food and took their empty plates to the kitchen to slip them into the dishwasher. He led her to his bedroom, disappeared and returned to hand her a pair of his sister’s flannel


| DEE ANN PALMER | pajamas. “Wear these over your silk thermals. Fuel for the generator won’t last the night.” He left again, returning to place four hot bricks from the fireplace in cloth bags in the bed. “New toothbrush, clean towels in the bathroom cupboard. There’s enough hot water to do face and hands.” He saw her flinch at the thermals instruction, and it amused him. This was the woman who’d insisted that without help she could put up heavy rain gutters it took two men to handle. He wondered how that had gone. Her spiciness that day had translated into a sexiness that caused his groin to stir. Caring for her and keeping her safe now felt exactly right. When she’d finished in the bathroom and closed the bedroom door, he brushed his teeth and, wearing flannel pjs over his thermals, crawled into his down sleeping bag on the living room hide-a-bed and slept hard from exhaustion.

As much as he wanted her, he would keep his word about not jumping her. It was his Christmas gift to her, and the start, he hoped, of something good and lasting.

Whimpering wakened him in the deep of night. The hearth fires were dead. The generator had failed, and it was Alaska cold. Marlee didn’t respond when he called her name, so he slipped into her room and found her shivering and cradling her elbow, tears on her sleeping face. Jim lit both fireplaces and zipped his sister’s down bag to his. Marlee barely noticed when he lifted her from the bed and carried her to his fold-out. Without urging, she crawled inside the side of the bag still warm from his body. When he returned with four—not three—ibuprofen tablets and water, she was barely awake, but she took them and turned on her side. He slipped in with her, drawing her chilled body to spoon against his heat, her lovely rear snug against his maleness. Deeply asleep, she pulled his arm across her waist. Jim pressed his face into her hair and whispered, “Merry Christmas, Marlee. Sleep well. You’re safe with me.”

deeannpalmer.com

The End In every age, the heart loves, and Dee Ann Palmer’s romances over the past twelve years have reflected those eras in contemporary, historic and fantasy tales. Palmer is a member of Sisters in Crime and Romance Writers of America’s PAN group. She’s married to her college sweetheart, and they live in beautiful southern California in easy reach of mountains, desert and beaches.

Issue 5 | December 2016 |

29


featureauthor

Erzabet Bishop

Interview Find out what’s coming Stay Connected Stay up to date Excerpt from Taming the Beast Review


| FEATURE AUTHOR |

Erzabet Bishop is an award-winning and bestselling author who loves to write naughty stories. She is the author of Lipstick, Crave, Snow (Three Times More Lucky Box Set), Malediction (A Wicked Halloween Box Set), Map of Bones (A Wicked Affair Box Set), Sanguine Shadows (Vampire Bites Box Set), Waking Up Wolf (Coming in Hot Box Set), The Science of Lust, Wicked for You, Heart’s Protector, Burning for You, Taming the Beast, Mistletoe Kisses, Surrender, Hedging Her Bets, Cat’s Got Her Tongue (Alpha Heat Box Set), Arcane Imaginarium: Spirit Board, Holidays in Hell, Mallory’s Mark (upcoming),The Devil’s Due (upcoming), Charity Benshaw’s Enchanted Paddle Emporium (upcoming), Club Beam, Pomegranate, A Red Dress for Christmas, The Black Magic Café, Sweet Seductions, The Erotic Pagans Series: Beltane Fires, Samhain Shadows and Yuletide Temptation along with being a contributor to many anthologies. She lives in Texas with her husband, furry children and can often be found lurking in local bookstores. She loves to bake, make naughty crochet projects and 34 | UncagedBooks.com

watch monster movies.

Stay connected Website


| ERZABET BISHOP | Uncaged is proud to welcome Erzabet Bishop. Novella length stories with substance is sometimes hard to come by, but Erzabet pulls it off with ease. First off, thank you so much for taking the time for the interview! 1) What inspired you to write? I personally, have gotten readers-block before from reading too much and have to take time off from reading, do you ever get writers-block, and how do you overcome it? Hi. And thanks for having me. Writer’s block does happen from time to time, but thankfully for me it’s very short lived. What kills me the most is exhaustion from work/life balance and trying to fit a full time (and then some) writing schedule with a full time job that is requiring me to do some overtime for the holidays. For example, I am working nearly 50 hour weeks and have 42 days to do 165K in the various novels and novellas I have due by the end of December. To overcome this I try to do a blend of dictation, bursts of writing and very intense edits. I also have it mapped out by small word counts per day and doing it that way helps to make things more defined and less overwhelming. Things do happen but if I stick to my schedule as much as possible, I can do it. Reading is a stress release and is my brain food. I can’t go without it. Whether it is a young reader, a teen fantasy, romance novel or urban fantasy I have to have something (or many somethings) going all the time. 2) Do you actually read your reviews from your books and if so, do you ever take the reviews that have been written into consideration for your next book? If you write a series, do reviews influence you at all?

Yes. I read every one and try to learn from the ones that have something of value in the comments. One thing I don’t take much stock in are complaints that a book was too short. Most of my work is meant to be in novella form. 3) Both books I read, were shorts, but you did a great job bringing in quite a bit of character development in a short amount of time. In Taming the Beast, you take a stab at the reality TV, do you actually watch shows like The Bachelor? Thank you and no. To be honest, I don’t. Television is a rare thing for me because of my schedule. 4) Taming the Beast is part of a series, will you be continuing the series? Yes. There is a holiday story out on December 1st called Mistletoe Kisses that delves into the romance between Jess, the Alpha’s sister and her new gargoyle bodyguard. Enter some rescue puppies, a bit of peppermint bark and some redeeming love and you have a fun holiday tale that I hope readers will enjoy. 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 in my bedroom. There is a pine table with bookshelves on it where I have my computer. For the most part I need quiet while I’m writing but I do often gather songs that remind me of the characters I’m writing about. There is one song by Adele that I listen to for every love scene I write. Track three from her newest album gets me every time. 6) I know some authors will do outtakes from their books from scenes that didn’t make it to Issue 5 | December 2016 |

35


| FEATURE AUTHOR | the book. Did you cut any scenes from these books? No. This book didn’t have any outtakes. 7) What is coming up in the near future for readers? On December 1st I have two new releases. Surrender, a contemporary BDSM romance will be out along with Mistletoe Kisses. Next year I have a steady schedule of releases set through All Romance E-books and NNP. Please consider signing up for my Bookbub or Amazon listing so you don’t miss out on anything new. Lots of box sets and single titles coming soon. 8) What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I want to thank all my readers and fans because without you, I would never have reached bestseller rankings or have won awards for my writing. Thank you for all of your support and reviews. Sometimes writing can be a solitary occupation and knowing that people enjoy my work just makes my day.

Enjoy an excerpt from Taming the Beast

in the current job market? It’s just not the kind of thing that most people put on applications these days. To help her mother with medical expenses, she has to get something that pays more than her bookstore job—and quick. When she goes with her friend Cara to a job fair, she has no idea she’s just applied for a position on Extreme Bachelor in front of the camera and not behind the scenes as she intended. When she meets the man behind the mystique, can he love her for who she is and see the beauty behind the curves? Soren Rochester is a werewolf and the owner of Barks, one of America’s most successful pet store chains. He also happens to be fighting a curse from one pissed off witch of an ex-girlfriend and he’s running short on time to find a mate or else. When his assistant suggests a reality television show he reluctantly agrees. Can this beast find true love amidst the glittering dresses of the contestants or will he find her only to lose her in a field of thorns? Excerpt “No way.” Allyse clutched the invitation in her hand and stood at the closed gates of the Rochester estate. She waved the email at the stylish woman with the clipboard standing in front of her.

Taming the Beast Erzabet Bishop Fantasy Romance

“This was supposed to be for a behind the scenes job on the show, not for a close up on camera looking for a husband.” “I understand, dear, but if you’ll get back in line with the others, we’ll get all of this sorted out in a few minutes, okay?”

Only true beauty can tame the beast...

“Others?” Allyse’s stomach sank. This was so not going how she’d planned.

Allyse Montlake needs a job and quick. But what can a curvy girl with a penchant for plant magic do 36 | UncagedBooks.com

“Other contestants. Everything will be explained shortly. Now, if you’ll just get in line?” The woman’s voice drifted off in a distracted hollow tone,


| ERZABET BISHOP | her attention taken up by a large catering truck approaching the gate. “You need to go around back. This is for guests only.” She jabbed her finger at the driver’s window and Allyse stopped listening. Allyse gritted her teeth and made her way over to the group of six women who, like her, waited for direction. She didn’t miss the behind the hand comments and slant-eyed stares. Her curvy form seemed to invite them. Today, she’d worn a new black and white floral top and soft flowing black slacks with new strappy black heels. Her long, dark hair was twisted into a loose updo with tendrils of curls fluttering down the sides of her face. She’d even splurged on a new tube of lipstick she couldn’t really afford, but it was important to make the right impression with the people who mattered. Out of the corner of her eye, Allyse spotted a camera crew filming them from afar and her stomach did a funny little flip. She turned her head and recognized the hostess for the show standing next to the coordinator and swallowed the lump that had grown in her throat. She’d helped behind the scenes on a few shows, but never had she even considered herself a candidate for the hand of a man she didn’t even know. It was, in her opinion, ludicrous to think you could meet someone and know, in a date or two, if there was chemistry enough to warrant a lifetime commitment. How awkward would it be to tell someone oh hey, I sort of forgot to tell you I’m a witch that can sniff out car keys like a prized spaniel and oh, by the way, if you ever want your roses to grow, just pass me the word and I’ll make sure they get the memo. Besides, she never aspired to being married. No one had ever really made her think of it. For her, marriage meant forever, and she didn’t abide by the modern sensibility that you could dump someone like you changed your socks. The only

man in her life was Mr. Stinky, an irritable little Chihuahua who’d claimed her heart long ago. She was happy. He didn’t hassle her about her curves or needle her about hogging the bed. Nope. He was a perfect little pouty faced angel and she was mad for him. He was pissed as hell at her right now, too. Leaving him with her mother wasn’t normally an issue, but the little guy had taken one look at her luggage and given her such an evil glare she still had the scorch marks. He’d gone right up to the top of the stairs, staring down at her like an angry gargoyle. All she had to do was get through the next few days, collect her check and hope it was enough to help put a dent in her mom’s doctor bills. It made her sick to think of how little insurance actually covered. She had to do something to help make ends meet and work she would. It was late afternoon and, from what the email said, they should be entering the property to get settled. The hostess walked away from the film crew and joined the other women. “Attention, ladies. If you could all join me here at the gates, we’ll get started.”

Uncaged Review Taming the Beast This is a short, quick and sexy read, and it takes a fun jab at TV reality shows like The Bachelor. In a short amount of page space, the author gives you some characters you instantly like, along with a couple furry 4 legged ones for fun. Soren is a wolf shifter, and when he dumps a witch he was dating, she curses him and his staff to become dogs for the rest of their lives if he Issue 5 | December 2016 |

37


| FEATURE AUTHOR | can’t find his true mate in a week’s time. So enter the reality TV show, and the bevvy of money hungry women wanting to marry him. Allyse, is a small time witch that doesn’t have a lot of power, but her mother is sick and the medical bills are piling up. Getting a job on the show, would help out immensely, so she goes for it, knowing that she’s out of her league as she’s not the rail-thin petite lady that Soren is going to be attracted to. But for one week, to help her mother, she puts on her game face. I won’t give away more, as it’s a short read, but it’s a lot of fun, and I actually would like to have seen this story as a full length novel with more interaction. But we are given quite a bit in the short amount of time. Reviewed by Cyrene A Red Dress for Chrismas This is a very short erotic read, but it accomplishes what it sets out to do, to give a short, hot read for its reader. Cecily is home on Christmas Eve, waiting for her husband to come home from work for their evening together. But he’s been coming home late as of late, and she worries that he doesn’t desire her like he used to. A typical woman’s overthinking at work here? I’ll let you decide. This story even manages to pull in a scene from their past vacation in a short amount of time. A good short read for erotic lovers. Reviewed by Cyrene Both stories are rated the same:

38 | UncagedBooks.com

Don’t miss these titles:


featureauthor

Philip Hoy

Interview Find out what’s coming Stay Connected Stay up to date Excerpts from The Revenge Artist & The Dream Diaries Reviews


| FEATURE AUTHOR |

Philip Hoy

Philip Hoy has a very original Young Adult series in the Evelyn Hernandez series. Uncaged is proud welcome him here. First off, thank you so much for taking the time for the interview! 1. What inspired you to write? I personally, have gotten readers-block before from reading too much and have to take time off from reading, do you ever get writers-block, and how do you overcome it? Thank you for having me!

Philip Hoy is a high school English teacher by day and a short-story author, novelist, and poet by night. When he is not creating lesson plans or grading essays, he is writing. He lives in Southern California with his wife Magdalena, also a teacher.

Stay connected booksbyphiliphoy.com

I guess my inspiration for becoming a writer is a result of a life of reading. I have always been surrounded by books. In high school I carried a paperback around with me and snuck it out to read whenever I could get away with it. As the fourth of nine children, finding a quiet place to read was challenging, but not impossible. Sometimes I would lock myself in the bathroom and read sitting on the floor until someone eventually needed in. Mostly though, my students have inspired my writing. My characters are teenagers. And just like my students, they are just as much discovering as they are inventing themselves, still finding their voices, still realizing their powers, and still exploring their purpose in the world. In The Revenge Artist, the high school dean complains, “You kids live in the extreme, in the moment, and why not when everything is happening to you for the first time?� I feel this is so true of young people; although, unlike the dean, I believe this is what makes teenagers so fascinating and so refreshing to be around. Writers block? Yeah, I get it. And the only way to get past it is to keep writing. In this way, writing is just as physical as mental, like practicing a musical instrument or completing an athletic workout.

40 | UncagedBooks.com


| PHILIP HOY | The more time away from the activity, the harder it is to begin again, to stay committed, and most importantly, to improve. When writers block hits, sit in front of the computer and don’t get up until you’ve at least filled a page. Eventually the words will come to you. Ideas can hit at anytime, usually when you are in the shower or stuck in traffic, or trying to fall asleep, but the right words, in the right order, will never happen unless you are sitting in front of a computer with your fingers on the keys. 2. Do you actually read your reviews from your books and if so, do you ever take the reviews that have been written into consideration for your next book? If you write a series, do reviews influence you at all? Yes, I do read my reviews. It’s always nice to receive compliments on the technical aspects of my writing, such as my ability to weave an engaging plot or develop realistic characters, but mostly I’m eager to know what readers specifically noticed or connected with in my books. I love to read phrases like, “the part in the book where…” or “the time when…” because when moments in a book stay with you like a personal memory, it shows that you were able to share in the emotional experience of the characters, to participate in the story. And this, after all, is the reason we read fiction: not to escape the world, but to participate more fully in the great diversity of our shared human experience. Having said that, I do recall one review of my first book that praised my character development, but criticized the pacing of the action in the story. I focused on the positives of the review and tried to shrug off the negative, assuring my slightly bruised ego that my pacing choices were of course necessary for developing my awesome plot and characters. On my next book though, I took this criticism to heart, reminding myself that storytelling is not so much about the or-

der in which things happen, but about how and when the writer chooses to reveal those details to the reader. I didn’t have to sacrifice pacing for character development, or vice versa. I could do both…I could start with action…and so I did. 3. The two books, The Revenge Artist and The Dream Diaries, brought up social issues of their own, which I appreciated. But the one thing, is we really don’t know what it is that Evelyn is doing, if it’s a sixth sense, or if it’s the power of her drawing – in both books, that bring on the events. Was this a deliberate part of writing, to let readers come to their own conclusions? Yes, this was deliberate. Since the story is told from Evelyn’s point of view, we only know what she believes, and Evelyn believes she has the power to make bad things happen by drawing them…and so she does. “Don’t you know, Mr. Schwartz? I’m a witch...a real, honest to God, black-hearted, evil witch!” Is Evelyn really causing these terrible things to happen by drawing them, or is her desire to punish her bullies so strong that when something bad happens to them she takes credit as a way to cope with her helplessness? I wanted the readers of my story to draw their own conclusions where the question of Evelyn’s power is concerned, because in the end what matters is the truth that Evelyn is the victim of bullying, and the shame that this causes temporarily robs her of her confidence and of her voice. Magical powers aside, I wanted Evelyn to be no different than any other teenage girl: someone still finding her voice, still discovering her powers, and still learning how to use them. I wanted the story to be about a girl losing her self-confidence, and then finding it again. I wanted the story to be about the power of belief, especially belief in oneself. Issue 5 | December 2016 |

41


| FEATURE AUTHOR | I guess my stories are more magical realism than paranormal. Paranormal fiction can be described as a genre of storytelling that weaves fantastic elements (vampires, shape-shifters, ghosts, etc.) into an alternate version of our own world, but magical realism is an acceptance of magic as a natural part of the rational world, this 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 can write anywhere there is a chair, a table or desk, and my laptop…but it has to be quiet and without too many visual distractions. I love listening to music when I’m planning or outlining story ideas. It can set a tone or help me get into the emotional mood of my character. But once I begin the word-by-word creation of the story, it has to be quiet (I’m easily distracted). 5. I know some authors will do outtakes from their books from scenes that didn’t make it to the book. Did you cut any scenes from these books? I usually have the opposite problem. Instead of cutting scenes, my editor has asked me to elaborate here and there in my stories. Something I did have to learn the hard way with my first book was that even though I could use the title of a song in my story, I couldn’t reprint any of the actual lyrics. I had already written several scenes around specific songs—imagining them as the sound track to a movie with the lyrics incorporated in the dialogue or playing in a character’s ears—but I had to rewrite them. 6. What is coming up in the near future for readers? I do eventually plan on writing a sequel to the Evelyn Hernandez series (After all, she’s only 42 | UncagedBooks.com

half way through her junior year of high school), but in the meantime I’ve actually been working on a graphic novel. The protagonist is a young lady named Red Literal, a little like Evelyn in some ways, but with a sword instead of a pencil. The story takes place in a near future where technology has turned against us and books are too dangerous to possess…kind of a Walking Dead meets Fahrenheit 451. I finished writing the first episode and now it’s in the hands of the artist, Theresa Ysiano (my sister), with whom I’ve partnered. Not sure when it will be ready, but it’s coming along nicely. Now I need a new project… maybe it is time to see what Evelyn is up to… 7. What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? Check out my blog for short stories and essays on reading, writing, and life as a high school English teacher: http://writerphiliphoy.blogspot.com For more information on the Evelyn Hernandez series: www.booksbyphiliphoy.com To friend me: https://www.facebook.com/ philipahoy/?ref=bookmarks To follow me: https://twitter.com/PhilipAllenHoy I love hearing from my readers! I read all of your comments and reviews. If you’ve read The Revenge Artist or The Dream Diaries, please leave a review. All my best, —Philip Hoy

Enjoy an excerpt fromThe Revenge Artist


| PHILIP HOY | The Revenge Artist Philip Hoy Contemporary Young Adult Evelyn Hernandez is a high school junior who reads Shakespeare for fun, sews her own dresses, and keeps a sketch journal of her daily life. When Varsity quarterback Garvey Valenzuela breaks her heart, she sends him to the emergency room with a busted hand. Add black magic to her resume... Evelyn embarks on a dark journey of revenge when she discovers she has the power to make bad things happen by drawing them. Her emotional pain, isolation, and self-hatred lead her down a self-destructive path with dire consequences.

Excerpt Evelyn Hernandez knew what it was to be invisible, but this was different, this was being ignored ... being avoided. She tried to tell herself it was just her imagination. How many mornings had she walked through the halls of this school feeling exposed and on display? Knowing the redness of her lips, the blunt cut of her bangs, the pleats on her floral print skirt, everything down to the dark hair on her arms was being criticized by a hundred judging eyes. She wondered why they bothered, because the truth was, no one really cared. But there it was: a glance, a turn, a change in volume, a lull in some conversation as she walked by. In first period, it had been hard concentrating on her painting. Even in the sanctuary of Ms. Shipley’s, it felt like she had been on display in the

center of the room, like one of those nude models, the ones Ms. Shipley said she had painted in college. Second and third were even worse, and by the time she made it to Schwartz’s, the tardy bell had rung and she entered the room a full minute late. She had been praying all morning that Garvey Valenzuela would at least have the decency to be absent today, but there he was, looking just as surprised to see her as everyone else. Too many sets of eyes stared at her in silence as she moved toward the front of the room and took her seat directly across from him at the table they shared. She immediately opened her binder against the edge of the table and slouched low enough to protect most of her face from his. There was obviously some kind of writing assignment on the board, but Evelyn couldn’t focus to read it. She had tried so hard not to think about this moment that she was completely unprepared. What should she do? Say something to him? Tell him how much he had hurt her? Never. What did she expect him to do, anyway? Whisper an apology? Laugh it off like a joke she should have been able to take? Ignore her? What she could never have prepared for was the open hostility she heard in his voice when he finally said to her, “I can’t believe you even came to school today after what you did.” The contempt. That’s what did it. That’s what it finally took to break his spell on her. She lowered her folder just enough to meet his eyes and let him see the hate she had there for him. He looked away. Determined to rip him out Issue 5 | December 2016 |

43


| FEATURE AUTHOR | of her life, she pulled her sketchbook from her backpack, prepared to remove every page with a memory or picture of him on it. But when she opened it to the sketch of his hands, she stopped. Never before had she considered destroying any of her drawings. They were memories, mere moments, yes, but more than that, they captured her life as she was living it. For better or for worse, this book represented all that she’d done. If she denied her mistakes, wouldn’t she be doomed to repeat them? But as she stared at the hands on the page before her ... the hands she had allowed to touch her, their creases and lines, their scars, their prints, almost more real on the page that captured them ... she did something she had never done before. She turned her pencil around and began to erase. Not too much, just a little, a few lines here and there, part of this shadow, the edge of that one. And then, leaning closer, the drape of her hair shielding her actions from prying eyes, she began to add to the drawing, altering and recreating it. She wanted to hurt him, punish him for what he’d done to her, and this was the only way she knew how. Just as Evelyn completed her revision, the sound of Vanessa Galvan’s voice from across the room brought her back to the moment. “Hey Garvey,” she said, loud enough for everyone in the class to hear, “throw this away for me, please.” A wadded up ball of paper hit Evelyn hard on the back of the head. She flinched, but didn’t turn around. “Do not throw things in this classroom!” snapped Mr. Schwartz from where he sat at his desk. More than likely he had not seen it hit Evelyn. “Yeah, Vanessa!” Garvey said, also for everyone’s benefit. “That’s not the trash can.” 44 | UncagedBooks.com

“Close enough,” Vanessa said, getting a few laughs. Evelyn remained bent over her drawing, teeth clenched, refusing to give either of them the satisfaction of a response. “I’ll pick it up,” Garvey sighed, playing the teacher’s pet. He got out of his seat and walked around the table to Evelyn’s side. There, he bent over to pick up the ball of paper that had settled near her chair, saying with disgust, “There’s too much trash in here already.” She turned on him at that, tears of anger welling up in her eyes. Now standing in Schwartz’s usual place in front of the class, the center of attention, Garvey continued to entertain his audience. “And the quarterback takes the snap!” he said, backing away from Evelyn and imitating the movement with the paper as his football. “He falls back, finds his receiver, and there’s the pass!” Lobbing the ball of paper high above his head, he jumped up, twisting in the air with hands open close to his chest to receive his own paper pass ... when somehow, he lost his balance and came crashing down on Schwartz’s wooden podium and the frail table next to it. Papers, books, pens, and pencils literally went flying as the podium spun and toppled, and the table was crushed beneath the weight of Garvey’s body. The class erupted into astonished laughter and applause, but a gradual hush came over the room as Garvey’s cry of pain shifted from an embarrassed and genuine groan to hysterical screams of shock. “Everyone in your seats!” shouted Schwartz as he


| PHILIP HOY | maneuvered his way to the front of the room. Garvey, struggling to sit up, had rolled onto his left side. His right arm was extended and supported at the wrist by his left hand. A brand new, freshly sharpened, yellow number-two pencil had pierced the center of his right hand, stabbing clean through and out the other side. The eraser end stuck straight up in his palm and the sharpened point protruded from the back of his hand. An impressive trick, Evelyn thought, except as Garvey held out his hand, blood began to roll down the bottom half of the pencil, gather at the pointy end, and drip messily onto the floor. A small puddle of red was already darkening the carpet beside him. Schwartz sprang into action as Garvey rolled back, fainting. “Frank! Go get security! Valerie! Call the office and tell them what happened and to call 911! Erick! Grab that roll of paper towels in the cabinet behind you!” He knelt down beside Garvey, telling him to hold still, and then he took the injured hand below the wrist and lifted it up over Garvey’s head. His other hand he wrapped around Garvey’s bicep and squeezed, pressing his fingers against the inside of the injured arm. The class was mostly quiet after that, waiting for the paramedics to arrive. Phones were out, silently documenting the event, but Evelyn didn’t need a photo; she had her own picture ... only she had not remembered drawing so much blood.

Enjoy an excerpt from The Dream Diaries

The Dream Diaries Philip Hoy Contemporary Young Adult The rumor at school is that after the varsity quarterback broke her heart, Evelyn Hernandez broke his hand. Then she demolished his car, beat up his girlfriend, and smashed all the windows in his house—or so the story goes. Some say that under the long hair and blunt cut bangs, beneath the cute dresses and colorful tights, and behind the pretty face and big brown eyes … hides a black-hearted, spellcasting, evil witch. Only Evelyn doesn’t care what people at school say, or think. She couldn’t be happier. Her bullies have been brought to justice, her parents trust her, and she has a boyfriend who adores her. She’s even returned to drawing in her journal … but that’s when the nightmares begin. Evelyn believes her violent dreams are messages from the future. Something terrible is going to happen at her school and only she can stop it— but how, and at what price? Excerpt “I’ll be right back,” Karen said over her shoulder as she stepped out into the cold night. She set the bulging bag of trash down long enough to close the door behind her and then hefted it again in both hands and began walking awkwardly with it down the stairs. Her sandals slapped loudly against the bottoms of her feet and the unwelcome odor of chicken bones and baby diapers wafted upwards with each waddling step. At the bottom of the stairs, she stopped and looked around self-consciously, but the apartment complex was strangely quiet this late in the Issue 5 | December 2016 |

45


| FEATURE AUTHOR | evening, with most of the windows around her already dark and not another person in sight. She tightened her grip on the neck of the garbage bag and started walking again. The dumpsters were just around the back of her building at the end of the parking lot, but in the dim light of the yellow security lamps they looked much farther. It was colder outside than she expected and Karen regretted not putting on a sweater before leaving the apartment. A brick wall surrounded the trash bins with large metal gates in the front that were kept locked, but there was a smaller walk-in opening around the back. What if someone was in there, she thought, or something … doing who knows what? Rather than step a foot inside, Karen was tempted to just heave the bag over the wall and hope the lids were up. But the thought of her nephew’s shitty diapers strewn across the parking lot, along with the junk mail and old homework with her name on it, stopped her, and she took a breath and walked inside. She was relieved to find the lid on the nearest bin was already thrown back, which meant she wouldn’t have to touch anything. She lifted with one hand at the top and the other pushing from below until the weight of the bag rested on the dumpster’s edge, then she pushed it over and let it fall with a muffled splat. When she turned to leave, a figure was standing in the opening, blocking her way. “Who’s there?” she shouted, taking a step back. “Hey, hey,” the figure quickly reassured, slowly moving forward and lowering his raspy voice as he spoke. “Don’t be ascared, girl. We’re not gonna hurt you.” “Spider?” Karen recognized his bug-eyed, boney face, but she hadn’t seen him at school in over a 46 | UncagedBooks.com

year. She heard he was locked up. “Orale!” he said, looking back. “See, Creeper? I told you this heina was down.” A second figure stepped out of the shadows behind Spider, filling the entryway and smiling nervously at Karen. “Hey, Creeper,” Karen said, smiling and suddenly walking past Spider toward him. “Why you up so late?” she asked, as if they were old friends. “Don’t you have homework or something?” Most likely confused by the friendliness of her greeting, he shuffled back a step, clearing the doorway just as Karen hoped he would, and she bolted for the opening. Spider was faster and grabbed her from behind. She tried to scream, but his hand was already covering her mouth. **** Evelyn woke gasping for air. The horrifying clarity of her dream, the cold night air, the dumpster stench, the clammy, calloused hands on her face and body continued to vibrate terror in the surrounding darkness, until finally, she summoned the courage to reach up and turn on the small reading lamp next to her bed. For a while, all she did was lie there, eyes wide open and heart pounding, reassuring herself that she was home, safe, and only having a nightmare. Still, when she turned toward the mirrored doors of her closet, she half expected to see Karen looking back at her. Oh my God, she thought, Karen! She grabbed her phone and dialed. It rang several times, and just when she was about to end the


| PHILIP HOY | call and dial again, someone answered. “Karen, it’s Evelyn,” she almost shouted. Her friend was slow to respond. “Ev … lyn?” “Yes. Are you okay?” “I’m … sleeping.” “Is everything all right?” “It was. What time is it?” “Okay, sorry.” Evelyn thought to lower her voice. “Go back to sleep.” “What? Why are you calling me? What’s wrong?” “Nothing, I’m sorry, it’s just that I … I had a bad dream.” “A bad dream? What the hell, Evelyn? Why didn’t you call Sammy or something? Guys love that shit.” Evelyn was somewhat reassured by her friend’s temper. “Yeah, okay, sorry.” “Hey,” Karen took a deep breath and exhaled. “Do you need to talk about it, or whatever?” “No.” “Okay, good. Go back to sleep. It was just a dream.” Evelyn put the phone down and climbed out of bed. That was one thing she wouldn’t be doing, she thought, going back to sleep anytime soon. On the floor nearby, she found her backpack and

withdrew from it the two sketchbooks she kept there, one black and one white, and set both on the desk before her. Neither had left her bag in weeks. She bent back the worn cover of the first—the black one—and began slowly turning the pages. Each captured a specific moment of her life over the last few months of the school year. Whether the image was of a person, an object, a place, or a patchwork of details, she could remember where and when it happened and what she was feeling as she made each sketch. There was a drawing of the pleated edge of a skirt over knee-knocked legs that ended in a pair of roundtoed leather shoes. Evelyn had sat on the edge of her bed and sketched her reflection in the closet mirror on the morning of the day she first wore a dress she’d sewn herself to school. She was so proud of her creation, and so terrified someone would know it was homemade. There was a drawing of the empty lunch tables along the backside of the art rooms where Theo had said he would meet her afterschool that day, but never showed. And then, three pages later, there was Theo sitting awkwardly on the bench across from her the afternoon he finally did. There were several sketches of Denise and Karen, including a two-page study of Denise’s ears and another very detailed rendering of the bottom of Karen’s left foot. “If you’re serious about your art, get yourself a journal and draw in it every day,” Ms. Shipley had recommended, and Evelyn had. Only Garvey Valenzuela had changed all that. When she turned to Garvey’s portrait, with his mischievous half-smile and its single dimple, she knew she was getting close.

Issue 5 | December 2016 |

47


| FEATURE AUTHOR | “You’re drawing me, aren’t you?” he had asked. “No,” she had lied. On the next page was the drawing that started everything, that had turned this sketchbook from a record … to a weapon. There was the picture of Garvey’s hand, palm up and fingers slightly curled. She clearly remembered the intimacy of the moment she had sketched it that day in English, and how content and carefree she had felt all that afternoon. And just as clearly, she remembered the hurt and anger that had later caused her to draw a number-two pencil pierced completely through its center. She remembered how Garvey had held out his hand and how the blood—not black, like in the drawing, but red and real—had begun to roll down the bottom half of the pencil, gather at the pointy end, and drip messily onto the floor. She hesitated before turning the next page. Did she really need to see the rest: Vanessa’s battered face, Kevin’s mangled tire, Brianna’s phantom house, and Sammy—Sammy without her? She carefully closed the journal instead. That was all behind her now. “You’re supposed to keep your diary under your bed, stupid,” Kevin had said, “not run around school with it.” Maybe he was right. From the top of her sewing table she found a piece of red ribbon. Wrapping it around the journal twice, she tied it firmly with a knot and then slid the book between the mattress and box spring of her bed. Returning to her desk, she opened the white journal for the very first time. The cover unfolded with an enticing crackle of the binding and the faint bleach-smell of new paper and glue. Inside, she discovered a hand-written quote: “Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.” It was credited to Ralph Waldo Emerson and written in Mr. Schwartz’s careful hand. 48 | UncagedBooks.com

Evelyn turned to the first blank page. The problem was, she didn’t trust herself, not as far as her drawings were concerned. Not at the risk of manipulating or hurting others, intentionally or not. But what if she didn’t try to draw her daily reality? What if she documented her dreams instead? This one had left her too anxious to sleep anyway. Maybe by drawing it, by capturing the terrible details of the nightmare on paper, she could exorcise them from her mind. Evelyn selected a pencil from the mug on her desk, touched the paper with the point, and began to draw.

Uncaged Review The Revenge Artist Very well written, and a very intriguing storyline, and hitting on high school and the highs and lows of being in school, along with the social issues of sex in schools, self-cutting and bullying. But this book takes that to a new level. The story is told through our main character, Evelyn’s perspective. So we know mostly what Evelyn knows – we don’t get into anyone else’s thoughts. In a way, that works against the book. Evelyn isn’t a girl with the “in crowd,” more of a nerd girl who gets straight A’s, loves to draw and sews her own clothes. She has a few close friends, but all of them are constantly bullied in school. One day, the quarterback for the high school team, Garvey, asks her to go to a party, and secretly she’s been crushing on him for a while, she decides to sneak out with her best friend and go. What happens is that they trick her and try to film her about to have sex with Garvey (which she has never done before) and then they post it so the whole world can see. As you can imagine, the bullying ramps up in school, and when Evelyn starts drawing pictures of bad things happening, and then those


| PHILIP HOY | things start coming true – almost exactly to her drawing. But how is it happening? Is it a way of predicting the future? Or is she a witch, with an evil soul? Is it a balance of good vs. bad? I have my own theories, and so will every reader. The characters are easy to like, we’ve all been somewhat in Evelyn’s or one of the other characters shoes at one point in our lives, and it also reminds me why I truly hated high school. When a book can make you feel, it’s a hit for me. This books leaves a lot of decision making up to the reader, and any of the answers that you come up with, would not be right, or wrong.

know the characters even more and even Evelyn’s parents play a nice role in this one. One thing that Evelyn’s mother said, “I really like that boy, but I can hate him just as easily if you need me to.” Exactly what I, or my own family would say and/or do. Kudos to the author. Both books reviewed by Cyrene

The Dream Diaries The second book in this series, starts out pretty close to where we left off in the first one, The Revenge Artist. Evelyn has started drawing her dreams, but when things start happening, exactly as her drawing and her dreams, she fears that by sketching her dreams, it is foretelling the future. And if she changes something in the drawing, it can change the outcome of the real experience, but there is a price to be paid for changing it. We are back to the same characters as the last book, and this time out we add a couple more. One of the new additions is Aiden, a new kid in school, who seems to be a loner without friends. Evelyn tries to befriend him, even though she sees a grisly future for Aiden in her dreams, and she wants to be able to change it. Although the bullying issue is not prominent in this book, the social issues of being an outcast, drug dealing and so is the underlying theme - that you pay a price, good or bad with the actions you take are taken on in this edition. This book is faster paced than the first one, and you grow to Issue 5 | December 2016 |

49


featureauthor

M Pepper Langlinais

Interview Find out what’s coming Stay Connected Stay up to date Excerpt from Changer: Manifesting Destiny Reviews


| FEATURE AUTHOR |

M Pepper Langlinais

Stay connected

Uncaged welcomes M Pepper Langlinais. We are honored she wanted to be a part of the December issue, and her book Changes: Manifesting Destiny is a worthy read. First off, thank you so much for taking the time for the interview! Award-winning screenwriter, produced playwright, and author. Her latest novel CHANGERS: MANIFESTING DESTINY, first in a new YA fantasy trilogy, is now available from Evernight Teen. M holds a Master of Arts in Writing, Literature and Publishing and a Bachelor of Science in Radio-Television-Film. She has a love of Shakespeare, having both performed and taught his work, and has also interned on Hollywood film sets. M worked for Houghton Mifflin and Pearson before deciding to devote her full time to writing (and occasionally parenting). She lives in Livermore, California with her family, cat, and hamster. Find out more about her and her books at http://PepperWords.com.

PepperWords.com 54 | UncagedBooks.com

1) What inspired you to write? I personally, have gotten readers-block before from reading too much and have to take time off from reading, do you ever get writers-block, and how do you overcome it? <Laughing> Yes, I’ve actually had reader’s block too! And it’s a similar feeling to writer’s block, where your head just feels too stuffed and you can’t take in or sort any more information. Some will say writer’s block is when you go blank, and maybe that happens sometimes, but for me, more often than not it’s more that I can’t make sense of something I’m writing. I deal with writer’s block a couple different ways. If I’m working on more than one project, I’ll jump between them. But there’s a kind of writer’s block that—like the reader’s block you mention—isn’t about the story specifically, it’s about not being able to do any writing at all. Just like sometimes you feel like you just can’t read any more. When that happens, I either work a puzzle or a big LEGO project or I go paint. I use a different part of my brain, basically, until the overheated writing part cools down enough to work again.


| M PEPPER LANGLINAIS | 2) Do you actually read your reviews from your books and if so, do you ever take the reviews that have been written into consideration for your next book? If you write a series, do reviews influence you at all? I was at DFW Writer’s Conference in 2015, and keynote Charlaine Harris (of True Blood fame) said, “Never read your reviews. That is a poisonous pit.” I agree. I used to read them, but I discovered that praise made me feel good only for a day or two, and bad reviews left scars that I still carry today. Maybe writers shouldn’t be as sensitive as I am. They say we should have thick skin. But bad reviews were robbing me of my selfconfidence and my joy in writing, and I couldn’t see living like that. That said, I respect feedback when it’s constructive. That’s why I have a critique group. I think it’s important to get feedback on my work, but one must get it from the right sources—my writing group, my editors, my publishers. I love and respect my readers, too, and I love to hear from them. But some people are just mean and spiteful and want to tear you down, and I can’t rent headspace to those types. It’s too damaging.

Disney cartoon version. And he got it in his head that, like Maleficent, I’m able to turn into a dragon. Later, he told his little sister and brother this, and they believed him. They even told me that I was a white dragon with one blue eye and one gold eye… Then my daughter decided she was also a dragon in disguise, and we would talk about how important it was that no one else know or they might hunt us. Somewhere in all this, I was also wishing to write a book they could read sooner rather than later. I normally write mysteries for adult readers, but I read aloud to my kids every night and it’s always fantasy for them. So I took the idea of dragons hiding inside people— and of that being dangerous—and turned it into a story about being your true self no matter what other people say or think. Also, there’s the underlying idea of having to tame your inner emotions and function in the world even when on the inside you’re feeling angry or hurt. It was important to me, too, that the friendship outweigh the romance. Kids these days get preached romance; it becomes the most important thing in every book. I wanted friendship to take the fore. (However, I will admit the romances ramp up in the sequel.)

I should mention I’m thinking primarily of Amazon and Goodreads reviews here. I do read reviews in magazines and via other outlets where the reviewers are professionals.

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?

3) Manifesting Destiny was a very original fantasy. I’ve noticed a lot of fantasy is moving toward magic and shifters that are not necessarily wolves, like this one. There seems to be tucked into the book, coming of age and discovering who you really are in this fantasy. Where did you find the inspiration for this storyline?

I have a home office where I do most of my writing. It’s called Little London because it’s decorated with all things British. Most of my books are set in London, or at least the UK. Manifesting Destiny is different for being set in a future United States.

Actually, the inspiration came from my kids. When my oldest son was about three years old (he’s 11 now), he saw Sleeping Beauty. The

Whenever I can, I try to go on writing retreats for a change of scene. I find it difficult to be inspired sitting in the same space day after day, but I also Issue 5 | December 2016 |

55


| FEATURE AUTHOR | can’t write in public, so coffee shops won’t do for me. I need quiet. I am over sensitive to noise, and I can’t even work when there are other people in the house, no matter how quiet they’re being; it’s like I can hear them breathing. The one thing that doesn’t bother me when I’m writing is to have a white noise machine on. So, no, I don’t listen to music while writing. I love music too much for that. I find when there’s music playing, I need to give it all my attention. I want to listen and bend my energy toward it. I listen to music when I go on daily walks, and I crank it in my car when I’m driving. I need to be moving when there’s music on. Still, I find music very inspiring for my writing. More than once a song or band has prompted a story out of me. I can’t say there was any one song or playlist that brought Manifesting Destiny into being, though. That mostly came from my kids. 5) What is your process for writing? Do you write full time, or part time? Ostensibly, I’m a full-time writer. In truth, I’m also the mother of three and have a house to keep clean and laundry to do. I take the kids to school, go for my morning walk, then come home and write, except when I need to run to the store or have other errands or appointments. I actually have to go through a series of online sites first—in a very particular order— before I can focus on writing. It’s weird, a little OCD, I guess, but if I don’t do that routine it’s like something doesn’t connect in my brain. I’m a creature of habit, I guess. I write up until the time the kids get home, then I’m done. By that time I’m used up anyway, and as I mentioned, I can’t work with people in the house. 6) What is coming up in the near future for 56 | UncagedBooks.com

readers? I’m currently writing The Great Divide, which is the sequel to Manifesting Destiny. As I mentioned, we do get more romance in that book, and all the fun awkwardness of the first time. The Great Divide will continue Cee’s story but also branch out into Guin’s and Annice’s stories as well. Ideally I’ll have that off to the publisher by early next year. At the same time, I’m also finishing up a Regency romance novel. I’m researching a sequel to my spy novel The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller. I’m bouncing around ideas for more Sherlock Holmes stories. And I’d like to finish my contemporary YA version of Hamlet. 7) What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? To my readers: You are my Clan, and I love you. Thank you for taking these journeys with me. If you’d like to keep up with my progress on all these projects, check in on my site: http://pepperwords.com and Like my Facebook page at http:// www.facebook.com/mpepperlanglinais . And sign up for my newsletter! You can subscribe via the sidebar on my site or on my Facebook page, and the newsletter often has contests and prizes as well as content not found elsewhere. Finally, I’m always happy to answer questions on Goodreads. Ask them at https://www.goodreads.com/MPepperLanglinais .

Enjoy an excerpt from Changes: Manifesting Destiny


| M PEPPER LANGLINAIS | Changes: Manifesting Destiny M Pepper Langlinais Fantasy/Paranormal/ Young Adult Sixteen-year-old Cee has a hopeless crush on her best friend Marcus. Unfortunately for her, he’s gay. In the wake of Marcus’s older brother leaving home to join the Aerie, Marcus has become increasingly distant. When Cee discovers she has a troublesome dragon named Livian living inside her things grow even more complicated. Marcus urges Cee to go to the Magi to have Livian removed, but the more Cee becomes attached to Livian, the more she questions the decision. Should she change her natural self for the crush who will never love her anyway?

Excerpt Heat spread through her. Cee’s face elongated, her arms extended, her nails formed into claws, and her feet became suddenly very heavy. The bony spires erupted from her shoulders, and Cee was compelled to double over to allow the wings to grow. Throughout, Cee fought the urge to resist, though her instinct was to do just that. She wondered what she looked like, caught a glimpse of red scales, and realized her eyesight had become sharper. All the details of the trees around her impressed themselves upon her brain: the cracks and flakes in the bark, the saw-tooth edges of the leaves, and every little spot and insect thereupon. How big was she? Cee realized she was at eye level with the middle of the trees. She looked

down and saw her friends pushing themselves even harder against the trunks, making way for Cee’s—or Livian’s, she supposed—tail as it snaked by. Yes, we’re very pretty, said Livian impatiently. But we don’t have time for showing off just now. The massive wings began to move, slowly at first, gathering speed that put the force of the helicopter’s artificial wind to shame. Cee realized she had no control over what was happening. It was all Livian, and she was housed inside him, somehow, along for the ride. It was equal parts thrilling and petrifying, bursting through the treetops and being free of gravity. Cee would have liked to spend more time experiencing it, but there was the helicopter, like a massive black bug, and Livian went right for it.

Uncaged Review A very original young adult story and a coming of age in a fantasy world. At times this book was too slow for me, but the conflict about growing up and friends growing apart is realistic in any world. In this fantasy world, kids are with their foster families, until their day that they will evolve and discover if they will be able to morph into an animal and will join their clan, or become one of those that never do. Best friends Cee and Marcus’ life is about to change dramatically, and this is where the book picks up a bit of speed. Cee is a dragona, which was thought to be extinct, and the dragon that lives inIssue 5 | December 2016 |

57


| FEATURE AUTHOR |

side her, named Livian, is something that Cee is trying to deal with. In most animal clans, the person and the animal become one, but for dragona, the two different consciences share the body and can talk to each other. This takes a lot of getting used to for Cee. Marcus, who is destined to be a Magi (the leading rulers of the magical world) thinks that she can get rid of her dragon and live a normal life as one of the unevolved. But Cee’s not so sure she wants to part with her dragon. At times the book was very slow and over-detailed, but the writing and editing is very well done. Where the story ended, didn’t really wrap-up anything, but it still ended without a true cliffhanger, which I appreciate. It’s easy to recommend this story to young adult/fantasy fans. Reviewed by Cyrene

Don’t miss these titles

58 | UncagedBooks.com


| M PEPPER LANGLINAIS |

Issue 5 | December 2016 |

59


shortstory

Snowfall

by Dee Ann Palmer

deeannpalmer.com


| SHORT STORY |

Thank you to Dee Ann Palmer for the second story this month. You rock!

Snowfall

by Dee Ann Palmer What a glorious day! Riley filled her lungs with the icy air as she felt the seat of the lift slide under her. Looking out as it pulled her upward, she saw the night’s storm had floated fresh powder over High Mountain and as far as she could see. Riley smiled. Great. We’ll be busy today, and we’ll have a white Christmas. Angels Ski Resort was on the California side of the Sierra Nevada range, and as the ski instructor she worked at the base of the lift and runs. Today her task as a senor ski patroller was to do a trail safety sweep. Arriving early, she’d keyed open the drive terminal, stepped inside to set the chairlift in motion, left and locked up. She’d turned on the heat in the building that held the instruction rooms and ski patrol offices. In the latter, she’d started a huge pot of coffee, laid out bear claws she’d brought in, then strapped on her skis and started out. Now, from her spot on the lift, a flash of red from the corner of her vision drew her gaze upward. She saw a man in ski clothes and helmet at the top of the closed double black diamond run named Satan’s Domain poised as if waiting for a starter to yell “Go!” He then mimicked breaking through a gate, pushed hard with his poles and set a blistering competitor’s pace down the fall line. “HEY, YOU!” she screamed, waving a pole as her anger flared. Whoever he was, he had no right to be there. He must’ve hopped on the lift while she was doing heat and coffee. He was trespassing, but the resort would be liable if he was injured. She clicked on her radio and called down to security to be sure he’d arrived at the bottom in one piece. No 62 | UncagedBooks.com

answer. The skier seemed to know what he was doing, but she had to be sure he wasn’t hurt. That extremely difficult piste hadn’t been groomed. Exiting the lift at the top, Anne crouched to study the tracks cut in the soft snow by a single pair of skis. Her gut clenched. Paul usually checked this run because she hated it. Since her accident, Satan’s Domain terrified her. Gritting her teeth, she bent her knees, pushed with her poles and leaned in to the sway and curve of the course. Soon she was lost in the balance and rhythm required to manage the treacherous humps of ice called moguls hidden by last night’s powder fall. Always aware of the perfect line of the stranger’s tracks, she followed it. Thank God, dead or alive, he wasn’t on the slope. She flew out the bottom of the trail and slowed to a stop, laughing with exhilaration. She’d done it. Maybe she hadn’t qualified for the top US teams, but her training and experience had overcome the fear she would tear an ACL again. Now Paul wouldn’t always have to check Satan’s Domain. There was no sight of the renegade skier. The other ski patrollers were exiting their cars and walking over to her. Still smiling, Riley said, “You don’t need to check the double black, Paul. I did.” He lifted his brow in question, and she told them about the stranger. “Good for you, kid! We knew you could ski it.” They all hand slapped her. Rodolfo said, “I wonder if he’s the Olympian I overheard someone say might train here for the next World Cup?” “What Olympian?” petite Maria asked. Rodolfo shrugged his wide shoulders. “Haven’t a clue.” “First I’ve heard of it,” Riley said. Paul added, “Me, too, and I’m patrol leader.” Elle and LeRoy arrived, completing their team. They didn’t know either. Changing the subject, Paul said, “I’ll check the


| DEE ANN PALMER | single black diamond.” Riley nodded, leaving to ski the remaining pistes and start her classes. As required, that night they attended the weekly welcome party at the resort and were introduced to the guests. Afterward, they huddled together sipping mugs of hot cider and enjoying the cinnamon taste of Snickerdoodle cookies when Riley felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned and a tall man startled her by bending down to brush his soft lips lightly over hers. “Was that you yelling at me this morning?” With the familiar taste of him on her mouth, and his scent in her nostrils, Riley froze, heart tripping triple time, knees threatening to crumple. She looked up into deep amber eyes framed by thick lashes the color of smudged soot…the eyes of Jean Claude, US hope for another Olympic downhill gold. And once her high school sweetheart. They’d met on the school ski team when they were fifteen, trained and traveled to meets together. Jean had been her first and only love. They’d continued to train together after graduation, but when they’d tried out for the US World Cup teams, he’d been selected and she hadn’t made the cut. She was devastated He was furious. “Damn it, you’re better than every other woman on that team. Those choices were political.” Love for him had welled up as his arms closed about her in the deepest embrace anyone could offer in her pain. Riley was never sure when she’d realized he was losing interest in her. As his training took over his life, suddenly he just wasn’t there for her. Over the next two years, he’d medaled in Worlds three times and in other competitions, winning Olympic gold last year. She’d medaled, too, in less prestigious events. Although he had to have known when she’d crashed

in a major slalom competition and torn her right anterior cruciate ligament, there’d been no word from him in the long months of her recovery. Vulnerable, in severe pain, and with her skiing livelihood threatened, she’d cried herself to sleep too many nights over his silence. Skiing News reported he’d married the very skier he’d said shouldn’t have made the team the year she had not. Anger at his abandonment and betrayal raged through her. A year later she’d read of his divorce. His wife had cheated on him. Riley’s elation that he’d had his comeuppance did nothing to temper her pain at losing him. She’d learned to live her life without him. Now here he was, kissing her as if they were still friends. No way would she reopen that door and let him break her heart again. “Jean.” She pronounced it Jon, with the soft, intimate French J, but was impersonal as she said, “Let me introduce my teammates.” Once that was done, and they were peppering him with questions, she moved through the crowd into the next room. At one point, she noticed Samuel Roberts, the resort owner, introduce his daughter, Gina, to Jean. By that time Paul had located Riley. Standing close so only she would hear, he chuckled. “Gina’s already asked to see his gold medal. Poor man.” Gina was a natural platinum blonde with clear, lovely skin. She wore expensive clothes and flawless makeup. In comparison, Riley’s hair was brown and short. She was lanky and her chest less buxom. LeRoy came up to say, “Curves, tits and ass, but can’t carry a conversation.” “For starters that’s enough, but it don’t last.” Rodolfo said. They smothered laughter. Paul said. “I didn’t realize you knew Jean.” “School ski team. He qualified for World Cup. I didn’t.” “But you’re a world-class skier!” “Politics,” she said, bitterness in her throat. Issue 5 | December 2016 |

63


| SHORT STORY | “There she goes,” Maria said. Riley looked at the beauty, her arm linked with Jean’s, gazing starry-eyed into his face. She excused herself and walked to her cabin, where she spent a restless night trying to shut out how it had been loving Jean. *** The next morning a smiling Jean met her after she’d started the lift. Irritation in check, she answered his question of last night. “Yes, I yelled at you. The trail hadn’t been groomed and no one told us we’d have an Olympian training here.” He laughed. “Such a tiger you were, defending your territory.” Because she couldn’t not look up, she did. He was dressed in red and blue again. His amazing eyes were hidden by expensive sunglasses, but wisps of dark hair had escaped the woolen underhelmet cap that covered his ears, and the creases on his face deepened as he smiled again, taking her breath away. He ran a finger down her jaw line. “Ski with me.” Lord knew she wanted to satisfy the sudden, overwhelming need to do that very thing, to be a teen again and experience the joy of flying down the mountain beside him, with winter’s icy breath stamping color in their cheeks and exhilaration triggering laughter as they slowed and arced to a stop. Temptation almost ripped her in half before she shook her head. “I have to work.” “I’ll help you.” “You’re not an employee.” He grinned as he leaned down, sending a spark of electric desire through her as he kissed her cheek very near her mouth. “Ah, but I’m a special guest. Sam has given me carte blanche.” Sam, is it? The natural charm was still there. She sighed. Charm was manipulative, and what it accomplished didn’t last. “Sorry. Can’t let you.” 64 | UncagedBooks.com

Before she could stop him, he’d relieved her of her box of donuts, confiscated the key in her hand and opened the door to the offices. Inside, he added grounds to the coffeepot filter, filled the water reservoir, and started it while she turned up the room heat. She opened the cupboard for the mugs. “I’ll get them.” Her brain swirled as he put one hand on the counter beside her and reached around her with the other for the cups. Enclosed in his arms, feeling the curves of his body where his ski suit melded with hers, she almost wept from longing. He kissed the top of her head and whispered against her hair. “I’ve missed you.” That killed her mood. She ducked under his arm and placed napkins beside the donuts. “The trails are groomed. You can do the double black again.” As they exited the lift, she turned her back on him and pushed off on the single black. She checked the others while he skied the double repeatedly. Carrying her lunch tray to a table in the dining hall, he slapped his down beside hers. He pulled her chair out and seated her. “Can’t get rid of you, can I, Jean?” “You seeing someone, Riley? Paul, maybe?” “No.” “Then why the cold shoulder? We’ve been friends a long time.” “Were friends. “ “What?” “I can’t talk about this. I have a gifted skier I’d like you to see. She’s three. Come to her lesson?” “Love to.” Little Sandy’s parents were thrilled to meet Jean, especially when he showed Sandy his colorful medals and ribbons. Afterward, Riley said, “I thought—“ “That I didn’t bring them.” His voice softened. “I wanted you to see them. Now you have.” ***


| DEE ANN PALMER | Fighting the glow she felt every time he burst into sight, she avoided him until Christmas Eve. As she stood in line for the lift, Riley’s heart lurched at the beauty of flaring torches carried by skiers skimming down the mountainside in the dark. Jean was ahead of her. She didn’t acknowledge him…until Gina arrived, skis awkwardly tramping toward him. Pushing through the crowd, Riley tugged on Jean’s parka. “Ask me again. Quick.” Confusion melded into a smile as Jean said, “Ski with me?” “Love to.” She pulled him close and kissed him just as Gina approached. Anger furrowed Gina’s lovely face. She tried to stamp her skis as the lift carried them up and away. They sat thigh to thigh as it inched up, giving people at the top time to get their torches and start down. Jean put an arm around her shoulders. “Thanks for the rescue, but I hope it means more than that. I know I’ve hurt you badly. I’m so sorry.” Close to tears, it all spilled out. “You ignored me, then married the woman you said didn’t ski as well as I did. No word from you when I tore my ACL. You didn’t break my heart, Jean Claude, you shattered it.” “Good Lord, Riley. If I’d known about the ACL I’d have been there for you, crumbling marriage or not.” “Why did you marry her?” “Drunk as hell celebrating my first World Cup medals, I married someone I’d never liked. We quarreled daily. I stayed when she said she was pregnant. Divorced her scheming ass when I learned it was a lie to keep a Word Cup medalist with her.” “Like Gina.” “Trust me, love, I spotted Gina’s motives a mile away.” When they came off the lift, Jean pulled her into the darkness, drew Riley close and kissed her

until her knees buckled. “A lousy marriage taught me how much you mean to me. I should’ve chosen a more dangerous run for training, but I chose High Mountain because you’re here.” Tears raced down Riley’s cheeks. He wiped them away with a gloved finger. “Until the season ends, and we figure out what to do next, will you please let me love you?” “Yes. Oh, yes.” They stood at the top of Satan’s Domain with their torches flaring against the night sky, their gazes locked. Jean whispered, “Ski with me.” Joy flooding her, Riley did.

The End In every age, the heart loves, and Dee Ann Palmer’s romances over the past twelve years have reflected those eras in contemporary, historic and fantasy tales. Palmer is a member of Sisters in Crime and Romance Writers of America’s PAN group. She’s married to her college sweetheart, and they live in beautiful southern California in easy reach of mountains, desert and beaches.

deeannpalmer.com

Issue 5 | December 2016 |

65


| SHORT STORY |

Thank you to Dee Ann Palmer for the short stories! Make sure you check out these titles!

Christina’s Choice Dee Ann Palmer Historical Medieval Christiana, only child and heir of the earl of Gladsbury, binds her breasts and dresses as a boy in denial of her womanhood. She longs to be a knight. Yet should the earl die in battle when she is unwed, she and Gladsbury would be at the mercy of the king. It’s not only time she learn the duties a noblewoman must understand to care for and defend the castle, it is time she wed. Hoping to awaken her sensuality, the earl assigns her for defense lessons to his most eligible knights— Guy de Bere and the mysterious new arrival, Rowan du Veau, known as the Dark Knight. He’s unaware that each man hides a secret in regard to his daughter and his realm. Under their tutelage, will Christiana discover the true nature of these strong knights? Will the earl’s hope that she revel in the power of her womanhood come to fruition, or will she, like many women of her day, become just a pawn for one man’s greed or another man’s need?

66 | UncagedBooks.com

Night Rider Dee Ann Palmer Western Romance Jenny Dalton rescues Rafael, her employer, during a torrential thunderstorm, finding shelter in a small casa used by ranch hands. He’s a popular and powerful ranchero, destined, she believes, to marry a woman of Californian or Mexican nobility. She’s just a foreigner he hired to care for a frail aunt, and now her reputation is tarnished because they spent a night unchaperoned in the shelter. Shamed by taunts she is a loose woman, she quietly leaves the ranch one night — and experiences the truth of “Beware the stranger who comes riding at night.” Where Eagle’s Cry Dee Ann Palmer Historical Romance Jilted by love in 1834, Cara Lindsay sails from Boston to Mexico’s rugged California to begin a new life with a favorite aunt. Heartbroken to learn her aunt has died, she takes a companionship position to the wife of Don Miguel Navarro, the tough and irresistible owner of a major inland rancho. Prior to her arrival, Miguel’s wife had suffered a permanent brain injury in a suspicious fall, and the lonely ranchero’s heart opens to Cara’s kindness and beauty like parched earth to rain. Yet love may break Cara’s heart again, for she would never be any man’s mistress. Until ships sail for Boston months away, she’s trapped in the midst of danger and an impossible love. When the bells ring and the eagle cries, will she be the next to die?


Best Seller Lists Week ending November 27, 2016

IndieReaders.com Best Selling Hard Cover

New York Times Best Selling Fiction Hard Cover 1. Night School by Lee Child 2. The Whistler by John Grisham 3. The Wrong Side of Goodbye by Michael Connelly 4. Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks 5. The Chemist by Stephenie Meyers 6. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult 7. This was a Man by Jeffery Archer 8. The Award by Danielle Steel 9. Vince Flynn: Order to Kill by Kyle Mills 10. Escape Clause by John Sanford

1. 2. 3. 4.

Wrong - My Real Reality by Jana Aston Trust by Jana Aston Say You Want Me by Corinne Michaels The Elf On The Shelf by Carol V. Aebersold, Chanda B. Bell 5. Dirty Sexy Sinner by Carly Phillips 6. Tru Blue by Melissa Foster 7. Hunter by Melody Anne 8. Managed by Kristen Callihan 9. Mr. Perfect by JA Huss 10. Fling by Jana Aston

Barnes & Noble Best Selling Fiction

Amazon Best Selling Fiction Kindle eBooks 1. Too Late by C Hoover 2. Ocean of Storms by Christopher Mari 3. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2 by J.K. Rowling 4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling 5. The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland by Rebekah Crane 6. Night School by Lee Child 7. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman 8. Everything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale 9. The Einstein Prophecy by Robert Masello 10. Mischling by Affinity Konar

68 | UncagedBooks.com

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

No Man’s Land by David Baldacci The Whistler by John Grisham Cross the Line by James Patterson Turbo Twenty-Three by Janet Evanovich Night School by Lee Child Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts I & II by J.K. Rowling 7. The Wrong Side of Goodbye by Michael Connelly 8. Catalyst (Star Wars): A Rogue One Novel by James Luceno 9. The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer 10. Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks


featureauthor

Hazel Hughes

Interview Find out whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s coming Stay Connected Stay up to date Excerpt from Dance With Me Review


| FEATURE AUTHOR |

Hazel Hughes Hazel Hughes is a contemporary erotic romance writer and urban nomad. Born in London, Hazel has lived all over the globe, from the wilds of Northern Ontario and the cornfields of Iowa to the concrete jungles of Seoul and Abu Dhabi. Currently, she is living in New York, writing from wherever there is strong coffee and funky beats. When she’s not laying down steamy scenes on the page, you can find her whipping up hot and spicy concoctions in the kitchen or dancing to the beat of her own drummer.

hazelhughesromance.com

Stay connected

Uncaged welcomes Hazel Hughes to the magazine! It’s our pleasure to have her here today. First off, thank you so much for taking the time for the interview! 1) What inspired you to write? I personally, have gotten readers-block before from reading too much and have to take time off from reading, do you ever get writers-block, and how do you overcome it? I’ve been putting stories down on paper since I could hold a pencil, and though I’ve moved on from Three Kitty-Cats Christmas, my inspiration remains the same – this crazy, wonderful world around us and all the crazy, wonderful people that inhabit it. I haven’t yet gotten writer’s block (knock on wood) – there are always loads of ideas circling my brain, fighting for their moment on the page. What I struggle with is finding the time and energy to write. Suggestions? 2) Do you actually read your reviews from your books and if so, do you ever take the reviews that have been written into consideration for your next book? If you write a series, do reviews influence you at all? Absolutely! I try to sort out the subjective from the objective and use any feedback that rings true for my work(s) in progress. That said, I write for the pure pleasure of it, so I will continue to write about what excites and interests me. 3) I really enjoyed Dance With Me – now a favorite suspense book of mine. You made the ballet part of the book very believable, do you have a background in dance – or is it just a love of ballet?

70 | UncagedBooks.com


| HAZEL HUGHES | I was five years old when I first saw Rudolph Nuryev dance The Nutcracker and have been a balletomane ever since. I studied ballet and modern dance until I was sixteen, but I didn’t have the talent, ambition or willpower to stay away from chocolate to make it as a ballerina. But, hey, I can still write about it! 4) Is this a one-time book, or will we be seeing more of Sherry’s investigative work in the future? At this time I don’t have any plans for Sherry and Alexi, however, I am planning a romantic suspense series – working title Wanderlust – revolving around cross-cultural relationships and international intrigue. 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? Sitting on the sofa in front of a fire. Out on the patio on a sunny day. In a bustling café. I write everywhere. But I always have my earbuds in and my favorite internet radio station playing – Chilltrax. Chillout/ trip-hop/ lounge music. Remember Portishead or Enigma from the ‘90’s? That. 6) I know some authors will do outtakes from their books from scenes that didn’t make it to the book. Did you cut any scenes from these books? I didn’t cut complete scenes, but I did write 3 different endings. If you subscribe to my newsletter, there was one of the alternative endings in the November issue. 7) What is coming up in the near future for readers? Currently, I’m working on finishing the second

book in my Insatiable Needs Trilogy - Tease. And plotting the first book in the Wanderlust series. 8) What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? Just a big thank you for reading my books! And if you’ve got a minute, dash off a quick review and post it on Goodreads or Amazon to spread the word. It helps so much! I blog weekly at https://www.hazelhughesromance.com, where you can sign up for my monthly newsletter or you can connect with me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/hazelhughesauthor. I’m also on Pinterest (https://www. pinterest.com/hazelhughesER) and my Twitter handle is @HazelHughesER.

Enjoy an excerpt from Dance With Me Dance With Me Hazel Hughes Romantic Suspense Reporter Sherry WilsonWong knows she’s crossed the line. But playing Alexi Davydenko’s drinking game—a shot and a kiss for every answer—is the only way to loosen the bad boy’s lips. She gets her story, he gets his fun. But his answers only lead to more questions. And Alexi wants more than fun. Digging into the ballet company’s shadowy secrets, Sherry learns that the beauty on stage masks some ugly dealings. The more truths she exposes, the more lies she’s forced to tell herIssue 5 | December 2016 |

71


| FEATURE AUTHOR | self—investigating a company with ties to the Russian mob isn’t dangerous, and licking every inch of Alexi’s naked body while hunting down evidence of his guilt isn’t a conflict of interest. With each touch and each kiss, she’s falling deeper in love with the very man who could destroy her. Excerpt “Oh, God. What have I done?” Sherry spoke to her reflection in the mirror. Her eyes were puffy slits, and her hair was a black tangle. At least she was still wearing her shirt and panties, though her jeans lay in an untidy puddle on the floor, next to her boots and jacket. Her messenger bag, and with it, her phone, were AWOL. Better to focus on what she hadn’t done. She hadn’t had sex with the subject of her story. That was good. What were a few kisses, after all? In some cultures kisses were just a greeting. A memory flashed through her mind of Alexi’s lips pressing into hers, parting them, as he breathed into her. A shiver traveled down her spine to her core. Okay, maybe not kisses like those, but still. Escape first, deal with the consequences later, she thought, throwing off the duvet. She had just slid her legs over the side of the bed when the swinging wooden door in the wall opened, and there he was. Alexi. He was wearing low-slung black cotton trousers, his torso tattoos on full display. His hair was a haystack, too, but somehow it just looked better on him. He held a steaming mug out towards her and gave her a smile different from any he had given her yet. Knowing. Damn, she thought. So much for escape. She took the mug with a crooked smile of her own. “Well, thank God. I was afraid I went home with the bartender.” He laughed. “Well. You two were getting along much better by the end of the evening.” He took a sip. Sherry followed suit. “God,” she said, grimacing. 72 | UncagedBooks.com

“That’s not coffee.” She examined the liquid in her mug with suspicion. “Tea.” He sat down beside her, so close that their legs were touching. She could feel the warmth of his skin through the thin cotton of his trousers. “It’s what we drink in the Ukraine. Not with milk like this.” He lifted his mug. “This, I learned in London.” She could feel his eyes on her. “You don’t like it.” Taking another sip, Sherry tried not to wince. “No. It’s not bad. I was just expecting coffee.” He shook his head. “Maybe I have not been in America long enough for this taste. For me, it is like burnt petrol. But if you want, there is a Starbucks. I can call someone to bring it.” Sherry put her mug on the floor and picked up her jeans. “No, that’s okay. I’ll pick one up on my way in to the office.” She slipped her legs into her jeans and stood up to button them, avoiding Alexi’s gaze. “I’m sure you have rehearsal or something, and I’ve got to get this piece in before deadline. I mean, that’s assuming I can put a story together out of what I got. If I can find my phone. Have you seen my bag anywhere?” She stuffed her feet into her boots, not bothering with socks. She was babbling, she knew. “Wait.” He put his mug down and stood in front of her, tilting her face up with one hand. “Yes, I must rehearse, and yes, you must write. But there is no need to run away like a scared little girl from the wolf.” He bent to kiss her. Sherry wanted that kiss more than she wanted her Venti skim latte, and with her throbbing head, that was a lot. But she put her hand on his bare chest, stopping him. He looked at her, confusion dawning in his eyes, followed quickly by hurt. He stepped back. “Oh. I see. You have your story now.” His voice was cold. “It’s not like that,” she said. Was this just a case of bruised ego, or was he genuinely hurt? She flashed back to what the bartender said about the type of girls Alexi normally brought to the bar.


| HAZEL HUGHES | Party girls, he said. “So what is it like?” He turned away from her, looking out the window. She reached out a hand to put it on his shoulder, the one with the tattoo of Tolstoy’s face on it, but thought better of it. “Look, Alexi. I’ve already crossed more ethical boundaries than I’m comfortable with.” “To get your story.” His voice was flat, his arms crossed over his chest. “Hey, it’s my job to get the story. I came ready to interview you like I interview all my subjects. The vodka, the kisses, that was your game.” He turned suddenly, his green gaze pinning her. She couldn’t look away. “You didn’t want to play?” “No. I mean, yes. I did…” she started. He moved closer to her, his hand cupping her jaw. “I know you did. I think you still want to,” he whispered, his breath warm on her cheek. His lips touched hers, softly at first, questioning. When she parted her lips in response, he opened them wider, reaching for her tongue with his. Liquid. Melting. From her mouth all the way down to her softest, most private parts. He pulled back slightly. “Do you want to play, Sherry?” She was having a hard time regulating her breath. He was so close. She put her hands on his chest, but not to hold him back. She ran her hands over his chest, nipples hard under her palm, then down over the ridges of his abs. She hooked her fingers into his waistband pulling him toward her in response to his question. She wanted to play any game he had in mind as long as it involved what was under his pants, ethics be damned. “Yes,” she said, looking up at him.

Uncaged Review Sherry is an investigative reporter, but never gets assigned the meaty jobs. When the arts columnist breaks her leg and can’t do the interview, Sherry’s boss sends her to collect the interview from a famous bad boy ballet dancer. Alexi, a Ukraine ballet dancer is hired by the American Ballet Company, hoping to bring in enough money to keep the company afloat. But Sherry doesn’t want a fluffy article – and to get Alexi to open up, she heads with him to a local pub that Alexi frequents, downing vodka shots right along with him. This book brings in characters you really can like, and it never slows down. The romance is quick, but substantial. The suspenseful elements really kick in at about the halfway mark. Sherry knows there is more to the story of Alexi’s boss, Sergei. Digging up the truth to where the money from the ballet company is really going, puts her life and her career in danger. The suspense is handled well, and even though some of it’s predictable, it’s a fun ride to get there. The author does a great job with building likable characters, the romance is fun and sexy, and the story pulls you in and you find yourself enjoying the dance. Reviewed by Cyrene

Issue 5 | December 2016 |

73


| FEATURE AUTHOR |

Don’t miss these titles Please Hazel Hughes Contemporary Erotic Romance writer Elizabeth Holmes’ novels may be hot, but her love life is tepid at best. Then she meets Sebastian Faulkner. The hot young actor is breaking into Hollywood with the film adaptation of her first novel, but after a tooclose-for-comfort encounter on-set in Manhattan, she learns that what he really wants is to play the lead in her dirtiest fantasies. Though Elizabeth is tempted, she’s not about to risk her comfortable life for a night of passion with a man who tattoos his conquests on his body, no matter how persuasive he is. But what Sebastian wants is not just one night. He won’t be satisfied until he has Elizabeth’s complete submission. And Sebastian always gets what he wants.

Submit Hazel Hughes Contemporary Erotic Leslie’s always kept her wicked leather fetish a secret. But today’s her thirtieth birthday, and she’s about to get a hard, leather-wrapped present that she will never forget. Sassy lawyer Julie’s business trips are usually as exciting as the decor in her room at the Holiday Inn, until the motel 74 | UncagedBooks.com

gym’s personal-trainer and his hot cop friend teach her that when it comes to pleasure, two is definitely better than one. In Celeste’s fantasies, she rides her sexy neighbor bareback like a wild stallion. But when he gets her alone, he shows her that her place is under him, begging for more. Erotic shorts about strong, sophisticated women who learn that sometimes you have to give up control to give in to pleasure

Hot Shots Hazel Hughes Romantic Erotic Erotic shorts with men in sports Angel booked a villa at Sanctuary hoping to get away from it all. What she he wasn’t expecting was the hard-bodied Olympic swimmer in the bungalow across from hers offering to help her with her strokes. When Sasha agrees to be Joachim da Silva’s English tutor, she’s only hoping to make a quick buck. But the sexy Brazilian football star has an entirely different lesson in mind. Two runners meet in the pre-dawn park. She plans to tease him until the breaking point, but after twisting her ankle, she finds herself in his hands, literally.


| HAZEL HUGHES |

Issue 5 | December 2016 |

75


featureauthor

Collette Cameron

Interview Find out what’s coming Stay Connected Stay up to date Excerpt from Scandal’s Splendor Reviews


| FEATURE AUTHOR |

An escapee from the Pacific Northwest’s rainy, gray coast, COLLETTE CAMERON believed teaching her destiny until she dared to tap out her first novel. She’s been enthralled with writing ever since. Blessed with three spectacular children, fantastic fans, and a compulsive, over-active, and witty Muse who won’t stop whispering new romantic romps in her ear, she still lives in Oregon with her mini-dachshunds, though she dreams of living in Scotland part-time. A bestselling, award-winning author, Collette pens Scottish and Regency historicals featuring rogues, rapscallions, rakes, and the intelligent, intrepid damsels who reform them. You’ll always find dogs, birds, occasionally naughty humor, and a dash of inspiration in her sweet-to-spicy 78 | UncagedBooks.com

timeless romances. A member of Novelist Inc., Romance Writers of America, as well as several RWA chapters including The Beau Monde, Hearts Through History, Celtic Hearts, Rose City Romance Writers, and the Greater Seattle Romance Writers, Collette admits to a quirky sense of humor, enjoys trivia and inspiring quotes, adores castles and anything cobalt blue, and is a self-confessed Cadbury chocoholic. Her motto for life? You can’t have too much chocolate, too many hugs, too many flowers, or too many books. She’s thinking about adding shoes to that list.

Stay connected collettecameron.com


| COLLETTE CAMERON |

So far, I haven’t experienced writer’s block, but there are times I do becomefatigued and have learned to schedule breaks from writing, if only for a day or two.

Newsletter Collette’s Cheris Collette Cameron can spin a wonderful tale and her historical writing is always a great go-to read for me. We welcome her to Uncaged. First off, thank you so much for taking the time for the interview! Thank you for inviting me! It’s such an honor and a pleasure. 1) What inspired you to write? I personally, have gotten readers-block before from reading too much and have to take time off from reading, do you ever get writers-block, and how do you overcome it? I started writing when my youngest went off to college. I’d just finished my Master’s Degree in Teaching, and though I was substituting, I found I had too much time on my hands. For years, I’d toyed with the notion of writing something—not romances!—and decided if I was ever going to do it, the time was now. Besides, I had a scene bouncing around in my head, and I wanted to see if I could write an entire story around it. I did, and the result was HIGHLANDER’S HOPE.

2) Do you actually read your reviews from your books and if so, do you ever take the reviews that have been written into consideration for your next book? If you write a series, do reviews influence you at all? That is an excellent question! In the beginning of my writing career, I poured over reviews. The first couple not-so-complementary ones stung, and I soon acquired a thicker hide. I also quickly learned a couple of important things. First, reviews are highly subjective, and if I wanted to drive myself nuts, I’d take everything to heart and let them influence my writing-perhaps not positively. Second, readers sometimes don’t know what they don’t know, and there’s no point in arguing. It’s unprofessional, and they’re entitled to their opinion, whether it’s accolades or criticisms. The reverse of that is sometimes an author does make mistakes, and if pointed out nicely, authors are grateful. I respect and appreciate genuine, constructive reviews and reviewers. After all, they’ve taken the time to read my books and then write a thoughtful review, and if someone doesn’t like my book, I shrug it off. Actually, now I say, “mushrooms.” I can’t stand them (shudders) but I know many people love the disgusting things. That doesn’t make me right and Issue 5 | December 2016 |

79


| FEATURE AUTHOR | them wrong or the reverse; we just have different tastes. Reviews don’t influence my books in my series. I have a strong team of critique partners and beta readers who don’t hesitate to tell me what doesn’t work in my books and what does. 3) I’ve read the first three books in the Highland Heather Romancing a Scot series, and loved them all. The descriptions draw you in, but are not overdone. How much research do you have to do for your historicals? Have you been to Scotland? I’m so glad you liked them! That series was inspired by my Castle Brides series. I adored so many of the secondary characters, I wanted them to have their own stories. And those characters would not stop pestering me until I relinquished. I research almost everything now. When I first started writing, though I did lots of research, there were things I assumed I knew. I made many mistakes as a result! Oh, to get my hands on those first books and fix them. Picture me rubbing my hands together in anticipation. For instance, a little thing like the spelling of whisky. (Yes, that’s the correct spelling for a story set in Scotland during the time period of books.) How could I get something that simple wrong? I did. A kind reviewer pointed out I’d spelled it whiskey. It never occurred to me to research the spelling.

80 | UncagedBooks.com

So, back to your question; I research everything from food, language, plant and animal life, what candles, bedding, and underthings were made of, to carriage springs and furniture styles. If I have a single doubt or don’t know for sure, I look it up. I haven’t been to Scotland, but I’m going for three weeks in the summer of 2017. Oh, the shortbread. The castles. The kilts! I may not come home! 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? Well, I sort of commandeered my youngest son’s bedroom and turned it into a shabby chic writing room. It overlooks our backyard, which is a wildlife habitat, so I have many varieties of birds flitting around at any given time.

Very peaceful. It’s upstairs and quiet, which brings me to your next question. I have to have total quiet to write my best. I’ve tried having music on, but it distracts me. I’m a musical person too, and I end up listening or singing along. I envy writers who can create in any environment, but for me to be my most productive, I need an isolated nook, usually with my mini dachsie, Ayva, on my lap.


| COLLETTE CAMERON | 5) What is your process for writing? Do you write full time, or part time? I started writing full time in January 2016. I had visions of producing so many books! Seriously though, I’m an early riser, usually between 5:00 and 5:30 am. I have household chores I tend to before I work out (writer’s spread ya know) and then I pile through emails. (They’re like rabbits!).

a Scot Series release. Whew! 7) What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I adore my fans! So many have become good friends! They inspire me so much and are the reason I write.

That’s the ideal day.

As a long-time romance reader, I know how enjoyable it is to escape life’s pressures and concerns into a romance for a few delightful hours. If I can give them those moments and bring them a bit of joy for a little while, then I’m content!

However, often there are things in my email that demand I deal with them immediately. If I can postpone, I will, because I have a day set aside for those types of things. If not, my writing time is sucked up dealing with those matters.

They can find me on most social media as well as subscribe to my newsletter, The Regency Rose, to be the first to learn about my new release and other fun stuff. I also have a VIP reader group called Collette’s Cheris on Facebook.

After that, I check social media, and then I settle down to write.

I do something related to writing seven days a week, but it doesn’t feel like work at all. 6) What is coming up in the near future for readers? Aside from SCANDAL’S SPLENDOR, book 4 in the Highland Heather Romance a Scot series releasing, I have BRETTE INTENTIONS GONE ASTRAY, the third book in my Conundrums of the Misses Culpepper series releasing in January, 2017. The fifth book in my A Waltz with a Rogue Novella Series is slated for January release as well, and I also have three fabulous boxed sets with other historical authors releasing in the early spring right before, PASSION AND PLUNDER, the fifth book in the Highland Heather Romancing

Enjoy an excerpt from Scandal’s Splendor Scandal’s Splendor Collette Cameron Historical Romance A determined Scottish lady Seonaid Ferguson, a lady of Craiglocky Keep, is through with London’s Marriage Mart. After learning she has the second sight, the haut ton attempts to exploit her abilities. Even though it means she condemns herself to spinsterhood, Seonaid sets a desperate course to rid herself of her gift turned curse. As she rushes home from England, a snowstorm strands her in a crowded Issue 5 | December 2016 |

81


| FEATURE AUTHOR | inn with the last man she ever wished to see again. A handsome French baron who once thought her a courtesan. And just her misfortune, only he stands between her and certain harm. An honorable French nobleman Jacques, Monsieur le baron de Devaux-Rousset, ventures to Scotland to oversee his new investment; a silver mine near Craiglocky. Only a handsome profit will save his family’s destitute estate in France. But when the mine is beset with one problem after another, Jacques must instead search for an heiress to wed. He certainly should not be falling in love with the lovely, spirited sister of Laird Ewan MacTavish, a lass whose dowry is insufficient to restore his ancestral home. Nor should he consider, even for a moment, her risqué, but deliciously tempting scheme to rid her of the second sight. A danger most dire Matters are torn from their hands when a dangerous adversary vows to expose Seonaid as a witch, just as Jacques’s problems at the mine escalate into deadly violence. Is it by chance, or a dark design, that both of them are beset at once? Dare Jacques and Seonaid throw caution aside and forge a future together? Excerpt What the hell was he doing? If the snow fight hadn’t brought him to his senses, how far would he have gone? Seonaid deserved better, and he couldn’t offer her anything but admiration from afar. Kissing her breathless isn’t exactly drawing room decorum. She wasn’t a loose trollop whose skirts he could lift for a few blissful moments and be done. She 82 | UncagedBooks.com

was the gently-bred sister of a man he admired, and who’ warned him away from her. Fool. Giving her another soft kiss, he set her from him. “Forgive me, ma petite. My behavior is inexcusable.” Cocking her head, her lips moist and reddened from his onslaught, she smiled shyly. “Don’t apologize. I enjoyed it. Very much, as a matter of fact.” Dammit. Drawing upon Herculean strength, he managed to resist yanking her into his arms and taking advantage of the hay pile. “As did I, but it cannot happen again. We must think of your reputation.” Jacques tenderly brushed a stray curl from her flushed cheek. He should have considered that before he agreed to stay and watch the birth, but he’d been a selfish bâtard. Anyone could’ve seen them kissing through the window, though doubtful since they stood in the farthest, darkest corner. Nevertheless, he’d been alone in here with her far too long. She continued to stare at him, as if she could see his soul and read his thoughts. Mayhap she could. Had she known what would happen between them? She’d known about Freya. What else had Seonaid perceived and kept to herself? Such an intriguing, mesmerizing woman. And she couldn’t be his. Ever. More laughter and shouting echoed outside, and again, snowballs pelted the building. Best put a respectable distance between them, in the event someone entered. As he stepped away, she faced the cat family once more. “Jacques, may I ask something of you?” Unrolling one of his sleeves, he glanced up, his eyes hooded. “Oui, ma petite.” She peered over her shoulder, an unfathomable light in her almond-shaped eyes. “I have need to rid myself of my maidenhead and wondered if, perhaps, you’d consider . . . ah, assisting me?”


| COLLETTE CAMERON |

Uncaged Reviews

recommended for historical readers.

Triumph and Treasure (Book 1, Highland Heather Series) A historical read with substance. I was complete enraptured with this book, and the author has a way of weaving a historical story, that is easy to relate to, with characters and plots that keep you entranced. Angelina is married to a man she adores, Charles, or so she thinks. As soon as they are wed, he violates her and is caught when a baron comes and lets her know, that she’s not married – that Charles is already married to his mother and his real name is Pierre, a slave-trader. Angelina flees to England, to have an extended stay at her Aunt and Uncle’s home, finding out along the way, that she is pregnant. Flynn, the Marquess of Brethridge, is in a poor position. His father, had lost his whole estate, and then shot himself, to Angelina’s Uncle Ambrose Waterford. In order to make due the debt, Waterford tells Flynn that if he marries his niece, he’ll call the whole thing off. Flynn and Angelina come to an agreement to an arranged marriage, for both their sakes. Angelina would then not shame her family giving birth to a child out of wedlock, nor would Flynn lose everything that his father gambled away. But the danger is ever present for Angelina, as Pierre said he’d be back for her… but can she trust her heart to Flynn? Very well paced, the romance brews slowly and thoughtfully. One of the reasons I love to read books by this author, is she has a way of weaving the language and the atmosphere of a historical without it being stuffy and pretentious. Highly

Virtue and Valor (Book 2, Highland Heather Series) The Scottish Highlands. Romance and Danger. An intensely handsome hero, and an intelligent, beautiful and spirited heroine. All these make up this intriguing story, and it will keep you engaged throughout. Isobel Ferguson is unenchanted with the men in the Highlands, and the only man she has loved for years is already affianced. With an intense yearning to learn and uncover artifacts, she often goes out on her own discovering. But venturing away from Craiglocky Keep is dangerous, as a feud between clans is escalating. Yancy has inherited an earldom and he will have to surrender his position of Secretary of War, with one last stop in Scotland at the Ferguson’s, to stop a feud between clans, and a chance at winning the heart of the only woman that has ever captured and held his attentions, Isobel Ferguson. Isobel is headstrong and stubborn and sneaks away from the Keep for her own time in digging for artifacts and is kidnapped by rogues, and Yancy could be the only one who can save her. Ms. Cameron never fails to ensnare me into her books. Full of the right amount of danger, intrigue and romance, I was easily kept engaged and didn’t put the book down for long. For historical lovers, Highland Heather series will not disappoint.

Issue 5 | December 2016 |

83


| FEATURE AUTHOR | Heartbreak and Honor (Book 3, Highland Heather Series) I read this book several months ago, and decided to revisit it after reading the first two books in the series, and I was just as entertained as the first time through. It was even more enjoyable this run, as I’d read the first two. While they all enhance each other, the books can easily be read as standalones. It starts with a bang, Tasara (Alexa) is a prisoner protecting her younger brother and sister from the abuse and terror of her captors. Enter Lord Harcourt, who was helping out the rescue operation with Sethwick Ferguson, after his sister, Isobel escaped from the castle, with Tasara’s help. Tasara believes herself to be a gypsy, but she turns out to be so much more. With a snotty society, mystery and romance, this book delivers an entertaining read that can turn a dreary day into an enchanted one.

Triumph and Treasure Collette Cameron Historical Romance A disillusioned Scottish gentlewoman. Angelina Ellsworth once believed in love—before she discovered her husband of mere hours was a slave-trader and already married. To avoid the scandal and disgrace, she escapes to the estate of her aunt and uncle, the Duke and Duchess of Waterford. When Angelina learns she is with child, she vows she’ll never trust a man again.

84 | UncagedBooks.com

A privileged English lord. Flynn, Earl of Luxmoore, led an enchanted life until his father committed suicide after losing everything to Waterford in a wager. Stripped of all but his title, Flynn is thrust into the role of marquis as well as provider for his disabled sister and invalid mother. Unable to pay his father’s astronomical gambling loss, Flynn must choose between social or financial ruin. When the duke suggests he’ll forgive the debt if Flynn marries his niece, Flynn accepts the duke’s proposal. Reluctant to wed a stranger, but willing to do anything to protect her babe and escape the clutches of the madman who still pursues her, Angelina agrees to the union. Can the earl and his Scottish lass find happiness and love in a marriage neither wanted, or is the chasm between them insurmountable? Virtue and Valor Collette Cameron Historical Romance Bartholomew Yancy never expected to inherit an English earldom and had no intention of marrying. Now, the Earl of Ramsbury and last in his line, he’s obligated to resign his position as England’s War Secretary, find a wife, and produce an heir. Only one woman holds the least appeal: Isobel Ferguson, an exquisite Scotswoman. Brought to Scotland to mediate between feuding clans, he doggedly woos her. Disillusioned with men pursuing her for her attractiveness, rather than her unusual intellect, Isobel has all but abandoned any hope of finding a husband in the Highlands. Not only does she believe Yancy no different than her other suitors, he’s a notorious rake. She’s been told he’s practically betrothed. Therefore, his interest in her can-


| COLLETTE CAMERON | not possibly be honorable, and so she shuns his attentions. When Isobel is mistakenly abducted by a band of rogue Scots, Yancy risks his life to rescues her. To salvage her compromised reputation, her brother and father insist she marry him. Yancy readily agrees, but Isobel—knowing full well she’s fated for spinsterhood by refusing his offer— won’t be coerced into marriage. Can love unite a reluctant earl and a disenchanted beauty? Heartbreak and Honor Collette Cameron Historical Romance Abducted by a band of renegade Scots, Highland gypsy Tasara Faas blackens her rescuer’s eye when the charming duke attempts to steal a kiss. Afterward, Tasara learns she’s the long-lost heiress Alexandra Atterberry and is expected to take her place among the elite society she’s always disdained. Lucan, the Duke of Harcourt, promised his gravely ill mother he’d procure a wife by Christmastide, but intrigued by the feisty lass he saved in Scotland, he finds the haut ton ladies lacking. Spying Alexa at a London ball, he impulsively decides to make the knife-wielding gypsy his bride despite her aversion to him and her determination to return to the Highlands. The adversary responsible for Alexa’s disappearance as a toddler still covets her fortune and joins forces with Harcourt’s arch nemesis. Amidst a series of suspicious misfortunes, Lucan endeavors to win Alexa’s love and expose the conspirators but only succeeds in reaffirming Alexa’s belief that she is inadequate to become his duchess.

Issue 5 | December 2016 |

85


featureauthor

Hildie McQueen

Interview Find out whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s coming Stay Connected Stay up to date Excerpt from Christina, A Bride for Christmas Reviews


| FEATURE AUTHOR |

Amazon bestselling author Hildie McQueen loves action, love and unusual settings. Author of western historical, Highland historical, paranormal and contemporary romance, she writes something every reader can enjoy. Most days she can be found in her pajamas hiding from delivery men while drinking tea from her David Gandy coffee mug. In the afternoons she browses the Internet for semi-nude men to post on Facebook. Hildie’s favorite past-times are romance conventions, traveling, shopping and reading. She resides in beautiful small town Georgia with her super-hero husband Kurt and two unruly Chihuahuas Pepito and Lola, her assistant.

hildiemcqueen.com 88 | UncagedBooks.com

Stay connected

Uncaged welcomes Hildie McQueen - it’s our pleasure to have her this month. First off, thank you so much for taking the time for the interview! Thank you so much for allowing me to come and share. I’m super excited to be here at Uncaged Book Reviews. 1) What inspired you to write? I personally, have gotten readers-block before from reading too much and have to take time off from reading, do you ever get writers-block, and how do you overcome it? Funny story really, I was and still am an avid reader. When I finished a good book the characters would stay with me. I always wanted to know more about them. What compelled the author to write these people? I would even contact


| HILDIE MCQUEEN | authors at times to find out if there were certain deleted scenes I could read! One day I figured the only way to get to know a hero or heroine was to write them myself. I had been writing a bit here and there since high school for fun, mostly short stories (that sucked). The jump to full novels was easier than I expected. I love it! I don’t get writer’s block per se, however, I have had to put a book aside because the characters are silent, or because I’m not happy with the direction of the story. Usually a few days later when I re-read and start over, I can keep on trucking. 2) Do you actually read your reviews from your books and if so, do you ever take the reviews that have been written into consideration for your next book? If you write a series, do reviews influence you at all? Every author is different, some read reviews religiously, and others ignored them. I’m somewhere in the middle. I rarely read my reviews. It’s one of those dangerous things either way. It can be hurtful sometimes when someone hates your book. At other times it has made me smile and proud of a story. One time a reviewer caught the fact I’d uploaded the wrong manuscript. Boy I was glad I read them that day! Every once in a while I’ll ask my husband to go through a certain book’s reviews to see if anything needs my attention. Series are usually already preplanned. However, they can be influenced by emails or PMs I get from readers asking for a specific character’s story. Its funny because most of the time a story is not planned for that character but the guy will be waving his hands in the air asking for his story. I ignored him and of course that’s the one

character readers will ask about the most. So he gets a book. 3) This Christmas story was just the thing for me to read at the time. With all the turmoil in the country, a feel good story was just what the doctor ordered. Even in a short story, you were able to give a lot of depth to the characters and the small town that it’s set in. Are you planning any more set in the same time period? Thank you so much. Christina, a Bride for Christmas is the first in my new Brides for All Seasons series that will kick off in January. I am super excited about this series and have great expectations for it. This series is all about the brave women that followed their hearts and headed west to marry total strangers. Look for the next in the series on January 17, 2017. Of course it’s a romanticized version of the mail order brides of the 1800s who answered ads posted by lonely cowboys, ranchers and business owners who went west to settle the wild territories. The Brides for All Seasons series will be mostly set in Montana and Wyoming Territories in the 1870s. I do have one planned that will be taking our bride from Alaska to Montana. I was inspired for this story will visiting Alaska in September. I can’t wait to start 2017 and share these delightful stories with everyone!! 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 write in room that is centered between the liv-

Issue 5 | December 2016 |

89


| FEATURE AUTHOR | ing room and my kitchen/dining room. We are not sure what the room was supposed to be. I am thinking a sitting area. I have a desk, filing cabinet, lots of research books and my beloved reading chair. The space is decorated with western accents and girly stuff. It’s my favorite room in the house. It’s funny now that I think about it, when I write the entire house is silent. I do play jazz or mood music on occasion when writing a love scene. Although the scenes in my historical westerns are mild, they are very sensual. I have fun writing them. My heroes are gorgeous. When I write paranormal, under my pen name H.M. McQueen, I blast techno (earphone so dogs don’t freak) when I write the fight scenes. There can be a lot of action, so I need fast loud music so set up the mood. That is the only time I actually need music to write. 5) What is your process for writing? Do you write full time, or part time? Usually I come up with a story while driving, showering, sleeping, in conversation...you get the gist. Sometimes I have to jot down the idea along with pictures. I’m a very visual person. Afterwards, I plan if this will be a series or a standalone book. If it develops into something I want to work on, I begin the process of scheduling when to write it. It’s really annoying; I have dozens of stories I want to write and not enough time to write them all. My day usually goes like this. I get up about 8:30, make tea, go to the computer to update social media and check email. I get a second cup of tea and open my manuscript. I write for a couple hours with a couple breaks, and then I do whatever is needed around the house 90 | UncagedBooks.com

for about an hour. I check social media and emails a second time and then write for about another hour. Thankfully I am blessed to write full time. My hubby and I have cut our living expenses so that I can pursue my dream. I am very lucky he is behind me 100% in this. 6) What is coming up in the near future for readers? Like I said, Brides for All Seasons is coming. It kicks off with Wilhelmina, A Winter Bride on January 17, followed by Aurora, A Romantic Bride, which releases on January 31st. Also for those that love destination romance, check out www.indulgencesresorts.com. It is a compilation of contemporary romance stories, which take place on the fictitious Aragon Island off the cost of Panama. This is a super fun project that I get to be part of with twelve amazing authors. I wrote the prologue and also the May Indulgence, which is a contemporary western, Cowboy in Paradise. The series kicks off January 2nd, 2017. 7) What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I love my readers and am so grateful for each of you. Thank you for taking the time to read my books and to follow my crazy antics on social media. I hope to make you smile as much as possible. We all need happiness in our lives. Please sign up for my newsletter, it goes out monthly unless I have a release, then I do a special one just for the book. You get sneak peeks, giveaways and special tried cocktail recipes!: http://eepurl.com/bDgGQ9


Enjoy an excerpt from Christina, A Bride for Christmas Christina, A Bride for Christmas (Under the Kissing Bough Box Set) Hildie McQueen Historical 15 brand-new novellas. 15 best-selling romance authors. A holiday-themed collection like no other. What happens under the kissing bough doesn’t necessarily stay beneath the kissing bough.... According to lore, the origins of which date to the late 12th century, no lady should refuse a kiss beneath the mistletoe, else she will not marry in the next year. In exchange for the kiss, a berry is removed from the sprig until all of the berries are gone and no more kisses can be stolen. Some also believe that a sprig of mistletoe collected from a local church and placed beneath a maiden’s pillow will inspire dreams of her future husband. What happens when fifteen daring heroines pin their hopes on mistletoe, a little luck, and a kiss in this multi-genre, limited-edition holiday collection from 15 bestselling authors? Pure holiday magic! This set includes USA TODAY bestselling and National bestselling authors Sandy Blair, Suzanne Ferrell, Kathryn Le Veque, Jeanne Adams, Anna Campbell, Tina DeSalvo, Barbara Devlin, Joan Kayse, Catherine Kean, Anna Markland, Hildie McQueen, Meara Platt, Elizabeth Rose, Jordan K. Rose, and Lana Williams. Excerpt Hat in his left hand and cane in his right, with each step he took, he leaned toward the right, his upper body swaying. Although he walked with a pronounced limp, the assuredness in his demeanor

| HILDIE MCQUEEN | by the square of his shoulders and head held high came across as confidence. Slants for brows over almond-shaped, dark brown eyes competed for attention with a strong dimpled jaw and full, sensuous lips. As he neared, it was evident that he’d recently gotten his thick, coffee brown locks cut. Barrett was the most handsome man she’d ever seen. Suddenly, heat surfaced to her neck and face and Christina fought not to meet his gaze knowing he’d notice her eyes were swollen and her nose reddened from crying. “Hello, Barrett. How are you today?” Olive held out a hand and the tall man squeezed it. His gaze moved to Christina and back to Olive. “I am well.” “This is Christina Mills, she’s just moved to our town. We are going to visit Mrs. Wilkes to inquire about a temporary position.” Barrett nodded at her and touched the brim of his hat. “Welcome to Blanchard Creek, Miss Mills.” Too flustered to speak, Christina nodded in return and attempted at a smile. When she looked down to the dog at his side, it became easier to relax. “This is Fella. Say hello to the ladies, Fella.” The huge dog lowered and lifted his head and then held up his right paw. “Isn’t that precious?” Olive exclaimed. “I hadn’t seen him do that before.” Barrett beamed. “Just taught him that trick.” They continued to walk, now a trio. Olive slid a look to Barrett. “What were the Blooms complaining about this time?” “Nothing of importance,” he replied and cleared his throat. One could spend hours looking at someone so attractive. Although obviously injured in some way, there was no doubt he garnered women’s attention. Refreshing to note, he greeted passersby and continued the conversation about a friend and his wife expecting and making a crib. The man did not seem arrogant in the least. Issue 5 | December 2016 |

91


| FEATURE AUTHOR | A thought struck. Could it be he was related to the man she was due to marry? Perhaps the limp was genetic to his family. There wasn’t a way to ask him at the moment. Perhaps she’d be able to find out from Olive, later. There were too many coincidences to the man she’d written. Alexander also had a dog and held a cane. The picture was too blurry to be sure, but it had to either be this man or a relative of his. They arrived at what looked to be an eating establishment and, immediately, Fella let out an exited bark and rushed off around the back of the building. “Come, Christina. Let’s meet Mrs. Wilkes and you can tell us everything.” Olive took her arm and guided her to the back of the building. Christina held her breath. Would Barrett be present? Hopefully not. Yet, a part of her hated to part ways with him.

Uncaged Reviews Christina, A Bride for Christmas (from the Under the Kissing Bough Novella Collection) A very enchanting short story – the author gives us character development with not just one or two characters, but several in a short amount of space. Christina is sent away by her mother, from an abusive father trying to marry her off to another abusive man. She meets with the lady her mother sends her to, to find out she helps women find husbands through with a mail-order bride service. She’s to pick one man, and write to him before her coach leaves for the train station the next morning, to her long trip to Wyoming. Barrett, is a war hero, and town carpenter, who is scarred from the war, and missing a part of a leg. He joins up on the mail-order bride service 92 | UncagedBooks.com

on a whim, and then second guesses himself as he doesn’t believe a woman would want him the way he is. The story is moving and romantic, and there is a nice cast of characters. A nice short read to sit down with near the holidays that will surely put you in a good mood and a smile on your face.


welcomes

fang-FREAKIN-tastic reviews

featureauthor TW Brown

Stay Connected With all the updates Excerpts from: Dead Onset Review


| FANG-FREAKIN-TASTIC FEATURE AUTHOR |

Please welcome Fang-Freakin-Tastic Feature Author TW Brown!

Stay Connected authortwbrown.com

Enjoy an excerpt from Dead Onset Dead Onset TW Brown Horror Today is the day that Evan Berry’s life will change forever. Tucked away in the Pacific Northwest, TW Brown is always working on that elusive “next book.” He is the author of the DEAD, That Ghoul Ava (a horror comedy), and Zomblog series. Besides writing, he is also an editor and attended the UCSD editing certification program (4.0 GPA). He has edited for some of the top Amazon Horror authors, including Mark Tufo, John O’Brien and Heath Stallcup. When not writing, he loves spending time with his wife as well as his Newfie, Freyja, and two Border Collies, Aoife (he mispronounces it EYE-fa), and Tyrion. 96 | UncagedBooks.com

His days working construction are about to end; he is finally going to be a high school music teacher. Stephanie, his bride-to-be even has a surprise planned for him when he gets home from work that first night. None of that matters. For several days, the news has been hinting at reports of a strange illness that appears to be global. Unfortunately, this is no regular sickness. The dead are returning to life and attacking the living. Evan is at his new job for less than ten minutes when he gets a call from Stephanie. There is a man in their house and he is trying to attack her. Excerpt The truck bounced a bit as it took the corner and I fought the steering wheel to straighten us out.


| TW BROWN | I eased up a little on the gas pedal, but I still had to weave between traffic. At last, I saw my street. At the entrance to the cul-de-sac were a half dozen or so people. They were all just standing in a group. A few were pointing or craning their necks to get a better look. I smashed down on the horn as I approached and was briefly grateful that they at least moved out of the way. I recognized some of the neighbors and made a mental note that I would be in a few people’s faces when this was over. How the hell could they just stand there while Steph was in obvious trouble? Almost on cue, I heard a scream coming from the direction of my house. It started like a regular scream…but then it changed. This was like nothing I’d ever heard in my life, and it almost made me sick to my stomach just hearing it and knowing the source. Carl was already out of the truck before we’d skidded to a complete stop. I jumped out right on his heels and sprinted for my front door. He didn’t wait for me and burst into my house. I noticed that he was pulling something from his hip that looked like one of those extending police batons. Just as I stepped through the doorway, I heard another scream. It was so blood-curdling and terrible. It hurt me deep inside to hear somebody make that noise; knowing that it was Steph caused that pain to burn itself into my soul so deeply that I did not believe the feeling would ever go away even after this was over. A second later, I was hit by the smell. It was the same as I’d detected this morning when I’d left for work, only much stronger and mixed with something coppery. I had no idea what to expect when I followed Carl down the hallway and to rectangle of light that was the entrance to our bedroom. At first, my eyes could not really comprehend what they were seeing. A dark splatter of blood had sprayed one wall and the drips were making their way down as gravity took charge. There was a strand

of black fur on the floor at the foot of the bed that looked like Chewie’s tail. The dog was on the far side of the bed and standing between this man who was covered in filth and where Steph had retreated. Somehow, I’d taken the lead from the woodshop teacher and led the way into the room. Steph was on her knees on the bed, clutching at her left arm that was gushing blood all over her precious white comforter. For some reason, all I could actually think in that second was how angry she was going to be at having her favorite comforter ruined. There was no way all that blood was coming out. “Hey!” a voice shouted from just behind me and to my left. Carl shoved past me and was waving that baton in the direction of the man who’d assaulted Stephanie. I climbed up on the foot of the bed, momentarily cursing the fact that she’d insisted on that pedestal which made the bed sit uncommonly high. The horrid smelling man brought his gaze up to Carl and what I saw made me pause. His eyes were all covered in a sick yellowish film. It reminded me of this lady down the street with really bad cataracts. Only…there was more to it than that. Besides the hideous film that coated them, they were shot through with black tracers. His mouth was coated in red; obviously from having taken a bite out of Stephanie’s arm. Those two things were enough to convince me that something was very wrong with this guy. My eyes tracked down to his right side. The coat and shirt he’d been wearing was shredded and I could see his bare skin underneath. I had no doubt that I was seeing his actual rib bones where the flesh had been savaged. Are those bite marks? I wondered as Carl swung his baton and connected to the side of the guy’s face. I’d just grabbed Steph by the hand of her uninjured arm, but my eyes were focused on a single tooth that I saw fly through the air. I heard it land on our floor with a ‘plink’ sound and I Issue 5 | December 2016 |

97


| FANG-FREAKIN-TASTIC FEATURE AUTHOR | shuddered involuntarily. The man was now turning all his attention on Carl. He was reaching for the person who’d just struck him and the mangled mouth opened to emit a low groan. Carl swung again, this time connecting with the upper arm. I heard a nasty crack, but the crazy son-of-a-bitch didn’t even appear to notice. He staggered towards Carl and tried to grab the retreating woodshop teacher. “You seeing this?” Carl grunted as he swung again. This time I was certain that he’d broken the man’s arm as the baton connected with the right wrist. Still this guy gave no indication that he’d been hurt. He staggered another step towards Carl who was now back-pedaling to get clear of the clutching hands that reached for him. Chewie had jumped up on the bed and come over to me. I saw a nasty trail of blood following her, and I could now confirm that she’d indeed lost most of her tail. “Evan,” Steph cried, “what’s happening? What is wrong with that…lunatic?” “It’s just like I was saying.” Carl took a few steps back, putting more space between him and the reeking lunatic that I was now certain had to be on drugs in order to take that kind of beating and keep coming. My mind tried to make sense of Carl’s statement. I knew there should be some sort of meaning there, but all I could process at the moment was Steph’s crying and obvious need for a doctor, and Chewie’s terrible injury. At last, the fog clouding my brain seemed to clear a bit, and I pulled Steph with me as I made for the doorway. Just as we reached it, I paused long enough to yank open my closet and pull out a couple of belts that were hanging up. “You paying attention?” Carl called out as I pushed Steph out of our room and then proceeded to back out as well. I watched as he swung that baton again. This time he struck just above the knee. I heard the 98 | UncagedBooks.com

crack and saw the leg bend inwards at an unnatural angle. “What the…” That was all I could manage. This was just not possible. That guy should be on the ground, howling in pain and maybe clutching his ruined left knee. Still he came at Carl; although, he was now titled to one side very noticeably as he staggered forth. Chewie had squeezed past me, and now Carl and this intruder were the only two people in the bedroom. The amount of blood everywhere gave me pause. Looking at this poor man, I tried to figure out how we would be able to explain this to the police. After all, despite his having attacked Steph and my dog, we (and by “we” I mean Carl), had shattered this guy’s wrist, done terrific damage to his knee, and I was almost certain that his one arm had been busted above the elbow. “C’mon, Carl,” I urged. “We need to get out of here and call the cops.” Carl paused, leaned forward, and then gave the injured man a hard shove back before turning to face me. “Do you not see what is right here in front of your eyes?” I opened my mouth to respond, but he talked over me, shutting me up. “This ain’t no damn rabies. This is some gee-dee George Romero zombie shit. If’n you’re too stupid to see it…let me demonstrate further.” I once again tried to speak, but Carl had already turned his back on me. In a flurry of blows, I watched him shatter bones in the arms and then take out the legs. I wanted to stop him. Part of my brain was screaming at me about the wrongness of what he was doing. I backed away with Steph, moving up the hallway, but still able to see what Carl was doing to Steph’s attacker. “You see what I was saying about this being a gee-dee zombie like in the movies?” Carl called out to us. It was all just too much. I turned, scooting Steph along towards the front door. She was bleeding, and I needed to get her to the hospital. Something in my head reminded me that I’d had the presence


| TW BROWN | of mind to grab a pair of my belts from the closet. Turning to Stephanie, I think I registered for the first time just how bad off she was. Her face had drained of all its color and she currently had her eyes squeezed shut. “I’m gonna get you to the doctor,” I said in a rush. I could hear the heavy thuds as Carl continued his merciless beating of the sick man in our bedroom. All of this was reminding me of some bizarre scene from a Tarantino movie. “Before we go, I just want to put this on your arm to hopefully slow down or stop the bleeding.” I had already made a loop with the belt, but now I looked down at her wound and my vision swam for an instant. I bit the inside of my cheek to keep from passing out and then I fixed the belt on her bicep, just a few inches above her elbow. The rip on her forearm was jagged and nasty. I could see flaps of skin and strands of muscle all slick and lubricated with a crimson sheen. “Steph?” I realized that she’d stopped crying hysterically at some point. I gave her a gentle shake and her eyes flitted open. I stumbled back out of reflex. Her eyes, once beautiful and shiny…always hinting at mischief, were now unfocused and staring straight ahead. Also, I could see the capillaries darkening almost as I watched. “We need to get moving, friend.” Carl was now standing beside me.

Fang Freakin Tastic Review Dead: Onset is set in the same world as Brown’s other Dead series, but you don’t need to have read it to read this series. In all honesty, I found this series easier to read for some reason. It’s a great book and I look forward to seeing what else happens in the series. Dead: Onset is full of action and zombies. Every time Evan turns around, there is something else crazy going on. At first, I wasn’t sure how I was

going to feel about Evan, but he definitely grew on me. He is what I would consider an “everyman.” He’s your typical average guy, put into a non-average world and has to learn to adapt or die. Brown has a gift for imagery and realism. At one point he says “…a geyser of blood sprayed in syncopation with the failing heartbeat up as the scream turned into a gurgle.” I think that was my favorite sentence in the book. Something Brown does that I can’t decide if I love or hate is there are occasions where he gives clues or bits of the story, but not quite enough for me to know what actually is happening. The zombies that make the sound of a baby crying, or what really happened in the apartment with the dead guy who looks like he shot himself, for example. In this series, we are shown both ends of the human spectrum. We are reminded that there are both very good and very bad people in the world. We are shown the hope in humanity while at the same time, losing most faith in it. There is a passage that says, “Sure there are always a few bad apples in the bunch, but just like the general population, most are good down deep.” I think this is a very important idea for us to all remember right now. The cliffhanger in this book is killer btw. My gut seriously dropped when I read it. I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a great zombie series to start that is full of action and adventure. Overall, this is a thrilling and exciting read. Stratton’s books never disappoint. Her books are all sick and disgusting in a good way. Each character is described in a way that makes them seem real, no matter how disturbing they are. I would recommend this book and series to anyone who likes a good psychological thriller and has a strong stomach.


New Releases December Release Dates - A Selection

December 6

December 20

Babylon’s Ashes by James S.A. Corey Blood Vow by J.R. Ward Island of Glass by Nora Roberts Tom Clancy True Faith and Allegiance by Mark Greaney Someone like You by Lauren Layne Bad Boy by Elliot Wake Rules of Contact by Jaci Burton The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen Black Moon by Romina Russell Wounded by Laurell K. Hamilton Winter Halo by Keri Arthur The Gift by Dannika Dark How to Train Your Highlander by Christy English The Christmas Mystery by James Patterson Teach Me to Forget by Erica M. Chapman Dragon Spawn by Eileen Wilks The Hero by Donna Grant Miracle On 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan

Bound by Vengeance by Cora Reilly One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews The Hollow Men by Rob McCarthy The Trouble with Dukes by Grace Burrowes Melt by Helen Hardt

December 13 Crystal Storm by Morgan Rhodes The Seventh Plague by James Rollins Max by Sawyer Bennett The Burning Page by Genevieve Cogman Force of Temptation by Suzanne Wright Devil’s Vengeance by Nina Levine Forever, Again by Victoria Laurie Nice Guys Bite by Jennifer Estep Crystal Storm by Morgan Rhodes Moonshadow by Thea Harrison Time of Death by Lucy Kerr

December 27 Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill Until Ashlyn by Aurora Rose Reynolds Everything For Her by Alexa Riley The Twilight Wife by A.J. Banner Wild Wicked Scot by Julia London The Ice Beneath Her by Camilla Grebe Those Texas Nights by Delores Fossen The Midnight Bell by Jack Higgins Crash and Burn by Fern Michaels Wyoming Brave by Diana Palmer The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee The Magdalen Girls by V.S. Alexander Stalked by Elizabeth Heiter

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

Issue 5 | December 2016 |

101


Uncaged Reviews The Sixth Event

Kristen Morie-Osisek SciFi /Young Adult Eighteen-year-old Raquel isn’t eighteen anymore... During Raquel’s first semester of college, she witnesses the end of the world, only to wake up in her old room at her parents’ house two years in the past. Even worse, it seems she’s the only one who remembers— until Chris Lyley, a boy Raquel always thought was a loser, tells her he remembers the catastrophe. Before long, they both discover new abilities. They’re able to understand any language and teleport through time and space. If Raquel and Chris can figure out what caused the end of their world, maybe they can stop it.

Uncaged Review: This is an easy read and very

unique. I don’t think I’ve ever read this type of dystopian story before along with time travel. Very original in that respect. Raquel is a college student who witnesses the end of the world during her first semester in college, and right when she dies, she wakes up in her bedroom of her parent’s home and it is two years in the past, so she’s still a junior in high school. No one remembers what happened except for her, until another student in her school, whom she never had any contact with, Chris, they accidently find out the other knows. Then they find that they can teleport to other places by thinking of them. The story goes on that they end up finding other people that can do the same, and also witnessed the end also, and the only thing they can think of, is to find a way to stop the end of the world. And to do that, they teleport to extinction events in history to find answers. This story keeps a nice pace, and has engaging characters. I wasn’t sure that I liked the ending, but it did wrap up its story nicely and that is probably just a matter of personal preference. Reviewed by Cyrene

104 | UncagedBooks.com

Uncaged Ratings: Young Adult SciFi/Dystopian Mild violence

Exit Signs Patricia Locke Contemporary Romance Researcher Tracy Price is trying to find a dead writer and forget a live musician. Rock star Jesse Elliot is sure Tracy is demented, and she believes he wouldn’t recognize the truth in a lineup of Bibles. Their only hope is to stop trying to read each other’s minds and start speaking their own. Anyone who has ever had a crush, felt betrayed, or been forgiven will appreciate Tracy’s struggle to claim the life she never knew she wanted.

Uncaged Review: The story starts with us reading about who Jesse Elliot is and why he’s in a courthouse. Then we meet Tracy who is a researcher for a independent video production company. Who meets Jesse through a friend so clearly they have a past hence them both being at court. Well this is a simple story of girl works for boy by reading his memoir he’s writing. While trying to do her paid job by looking into a missing person case of a Loretta Galiend. Who’s been missing since 1934 Tracey finds herself drawn to this case as Loretta left behind a suitcase of her life story. So we learn about secret meetings a love affair gone wrong and what happens when you keep vital information to yourself. I really liked the story it was a romance and a mystery all rolled into one. Enjoyed learning about Loretta’s past, Tracy’s future and how love doesn’t turn out how you would expect it to. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did. Reviewed by Jennifer


Uncaged Ratings: Adult

Contemporary Romance/Suspense No violence Adult language (mild)

Sevyn Michele Wesley Paranormal Suspense Dana Diallo is the pampered princess of a wealthy diplomat by day, but she hunts monsters at night. After surviving a brutal home invasion that resulted in her mother’s death, Dana takes extreme measures to avenge her. Tracking the men responsible is hard work, but killing them seems impossible. When Dana’s nightly activities leads to her being shot, her father, unaware of her secret life, hires her a bodyguard. Intrigued, Dana hardly notices the large scar on her mysteriously charming protector’s face. Her initial intent is to get rid of her new babysitter, but fighting her attraction to him becomes as difficult as hunting the monsters. Neal Erickson thinks his new assignment guarding the diplomat’s daughter will be a walk in the park. Trained for combat, the last thing he wants is to babysit some spoiled, rich woman. One glance at Dana was all it took--to ignite Neal’s desires and shatter his discipline. When he stumbles upon Dana’s secret life of monsters and mayhem, he finds he may be the one that needs protecting.

Uncaged Review: This was a pretty good book, but the beginning part drug on a bit for me. I was over 30% through the book before I discovered the paranormal part of the book, and at first it came in bits and pieces and then you were tossed head first into it. I liked the book quite a bit after the halfway point, when it finally picked up the pace. Sevyn (Dana’s code name and alter ego) works for a

secret government agency known as Top, and is part of one of the richest families in the city. She works at her family’s financial firm at day, and at night she hunts the creatures that killed her mother when she was 10 yrs old. Her father keeps assigning her bodyguards, and she keeps “losing” them, until Neal comes She can’t get rid of Neal so easily, and she comes to find out that she really doesn’t want to. Sevyn and Neal both have special abilities, even though they don’t know why they do. The book has some pretty good suspense elements, and a touch of romance – and after that halfway mark, there is some good action sequences. I have to also say that I enjoyed the humor elements, and the talking heads were a hoot, I’m not sure they were meant to be or not, but it was a fun and original idea. Reviewed by Cyrene

Uncaged Ratings: Adult

Fantasy/Paranormal/Suspense Violence Hot Sex Scenes

If I Wake Nikki Moyes New Adult/Fantasy Romance Will is sixteen year old Lucy’s best friend. Their lives intersect in dreams, where destiny pulls them together through different times in history. Even though their meetings are more real to Lucy than the present, Lucy is uncertain if Will exists outside her mind. Lucy’s mum thinks there is something wrong when Lucy sleeps for days at a time. She is so caught up with finding a cure she doesn’t see the real problem. Lucy is bullied at school and is thinking of ending her life.When the bullying goes too far and Lucy ends up in a coma, only Will can reach her. But how do you live when

Issue 5 | December 2016 |

105


Uncaged Reviews the only person who can save you doesn’t exist?

Uncaged Review: This book had me at the first page Lucy Philips is in a coma listening to her Mother. Telling her she has to wake up and open her eyes Lucy is unsure what to do. This is Lucy’s story. Lucy is a girl who hides away like a little mouse trying to go unnoticed by the world and everyone in it. She has no friends and is constantly bullied fitting in nowhere apart from in her dreams. Every so often she is thrown into a strange new timeline in history. Where the only same occurrence is Will, a boy she is convinced she has to save. In fairness I think it’s Will that saves Lucy as he communicates through Lucy’s dream world only to Lucy it’s by real life. Lucy has given up on life or ever been loved or happy but just by Will showing Lucy simple kindness. Will teaches Lucy that life is worth living and things always get better. It just might not seem like it at the time. This book had a beautiful message to the readers and was a pleasure to read. I myself have felt as Lucy before but realized that this does pass eventually. A story I’m sure everyone can relate to at some point in life. Reviewed by Jennifer

Uncaged Ratings: Young Adult Contemporary

Bullying Themes Mild Violence & Swearing

Collide L.R. Johnson Young Adult/Paranormal Since her father’s mysterious death, Lauren Cowley has been stuck in a pitiful rut until she begins having ominous encounters, haunting her every move. While attempting to break free from her wretched

106 | UncagedBooks.com

life she meets Donovan. He is tall, dark, goodlooking, strangely familiar – and yet terrifying. His unexplained ability to stare deep into her soul with emotionless eyes frightens her, yet she has no desire to break free from the gravitating pull he has on her. He unlocks her passion…and suppressed memories forcing her to fight for everything she loves. Lauren now has to face the reality of demons and the tragic consequences they have had on her life. Uncaged Review: There are a couple ways authors handle descriptive paragraphs and chapters in books, some are just right and you can easily see the characters, feel the emotions and feel like you are standing next to the characters as you read the book. Some are not enough, and some are a bit overdone and slows the book down for the reader. This one will fit in the latter one. Throughout the book, there is so much over explaining, too many adjectives and adverbs – that it bogs the book down. It’s almost like the author didn’t want to use the same word twice. It’s a little hard to concentrate when there is a conversation going on between characters, but an additional two paragraphs of feelings or descriptions are placed in between the dialog. It happened more than once that I almost forgot the last dialog, and had to go back and look at it to remember what they were even talking about because of these unnecessary additions. Now once you get past this part and/or get used to it, the writing and the storyline is actually pretty good, but hang in there while you slough through the first few chapters of some of the most depressing and emotional part of the book, and if you make it out without having to take Xanax, you’ll find the story does pick up interest and become what it is meant to be. Donovan is an enslaved soul/demon that he willingly gave away his soul, so he was able to keep his physical body, and is still trying to hold onto


whatever humanity is left inside him. Lauren, the heroine in this one, has such low self-esteem, acts very immature and overly emotional and needy most of the time. I did not connect with her, as much as I did Donovan. I think this is a good start to a new series, but this one does end on a cliffhanger, so be prepared for that at the end. Some people will love the way it’s written and others may just get used to it, but it is an enjoyable read once you get into the book deeper. Reviewed by Cyrene

Uncaged Ratings: Young Adult Paranormal/Gothic/Angels

Highland Yearning Dawn Ireland Highlander/Time Travel Caden Mackay would never bed a Sutherland, let alone marry one. Bloody hell, what had possessed his twin brother to propose to one of the she-devils? And what is Caden to do with the Sutherland beauty who appears, as if by magic, in his library? The defiant intruder is the enemy, but she is unlike any woman Caden’s ever known, and her tantalizing curves and wide green eyes could tempt a monk. He must devise a way to stop the wedding. But can he stop the desire that makes him long to make Ariel Sutherland his own? Ariel’s life had never gone the way she’d hoped, but ending up in eighteenth century Scotland was a stretch, even for her. If not for her dog, Scruffy, she might have thought she’d walked into a romantic daydream. Especially since the object of her desire appears to be entirely too virile. But can she find her way back to her

time, before her too-handsome Highlander makes her believe that love can conquer in any century? Uncaged Review: When this book started out in

a modern time period, I had to recheck that it was labeled as a historical. But it does have a twist. Ariel Sutherland’s job is working for an insurance company, finding lost family heirlooms. When a man comes to her door, and hands her a box, he tells her she is the rightful owner to what is inside. When she sits down at her table with her stray dog in her lap, she decides to open the small box. Inside is an old family ring, the exact ring she saw a man in a portrait wearing while visiting a castle in Scotland, her ancestor’s home. When she touches the ring, she and her dog are transported back in time and lands in the Mackay castle library, in the 18th century. When the man from the portrait, Caden Mackay finds her, and because she is a Sutherland, he distrusts and dislikes her on sight. Long has there been a distrust for the Sutherland’s because of their hand in his mother’s death. Believing she’s a spy for their rival clan, the Sutherland’s, he takes her on the journey to the Sutherland estate, but the more time he spends with her, the more he sees she is not like the rivals, the more he believes her crazy story of the future and he finds himself drawn to her more and more. The book has an interesting storyline, and a good amount of suspense coming from more than one source. Will Ariel be able to stay in the 18th Century or will she be vanish at any time? Who’s trying to kill her and why? Will Caden’s brother enter into a loveless marriage? And just what happened to the ring? The romance here brews slowly, and it keeps the reader engaged. A nice twist on the Highlander genre. Review by Cyrene

Uncaged Ratings: Adult

Historical/Highlander/Time Travel Some Violence Sex scenes

Issue 5 | December 2016 |

107


Uncaged Reviews Self’s Blossom

David Russell Contemporary Erotic A romantic, erotic tale of a vivid portrayal of the quest for the inner truth, empowerment and sexual liberation of Selene, a woman searching for primeval abandon and reckless adventure. Intelligent, a university graduate and a successful careerist, Selene became emotionally scarred by unhappy relationships. Riled and taunted through the years by her former college roommate Janice, Selene gave in to the long-term desire to ‘get one back’ at Janice by having a passionate holiday encounter.

Uncaged Review: I’m unsure how to approach this review after finishing the rather short story. There is a lot I didn’t like about it, but there were a few parts I enjoyed. For it being erotica, I didn’t enjoy the sexual encounters in the book. One was just uncomfortable for me to read and actually made me a little uneasy. The rest was more tolerable, but they all were written with a bit more detail than was probably needed. I enjoy a good bit of detail, but not to the point the author has gone. That doesn’t make this a bad read if you enjoy erotic short stories. However, the main thing that got me was the fact that a lot of his paragraphs were just two or three sentences long, but were the size of some of his five- or seven-sentence long paragraphs. He uses commas a lot, which is great, but the story could have been split up into a better structured format. The beginning of the story, the first twenty or so pages, didn’t catch my attention. This is bad for someone like me who needs the book to spark interest before I just put it down. If you enjoy a quickie in terms of erotica, David’s writing may be what you’re looking for, but it wasn’t for me Reviewed by Michael

108 | UncagedBooks.com

Uncaged Ratings: Adult Erotic

Rape Scene

Fallen Soldier, Risen Pride Layla Stevens, Rhonda Reuther Contemporary/War All her life the Marine Corps defined Justice. She lived by the honor and knew nothing else. She didn’t want to know anything else. Dedicated is who Justice was, but redefining herself after a life altering injury will prove to be her greatest victory or her toughest defeat. Finding herself once again would be the beginning. Will she reconnect with the solider she once was or will the forces of loneliness and depression, pain and anger take over? Can the help of someone so unexpected help Justice on her journey or will she just be lost forever? Uncaged Review: Justice is a marines solider home from leave at Christmas time. She is looking forward to getting out for good. As she believes her four year tour is up two weeks. She wants to start her own business and maybe start a family. Spend some time with her boyfriend Miles. Right now she’s happy to be at home for Christmas until her dad says a letter came for her from the Department of Defense. Saying they want her back on another tour Justice and her dad try to find away to stop this but it’s not to be. This is Jessica’s story of life on the road as a solider full of ups and downs and a dear Jane letter. Will she make it back in one piece. This books really opened my eyes to what it’s like firstly to be a women on the road and secondly as a marine. This isn’t a task of the faint hearted or weak. To the people who do that every


day standing applause. I highly recommended this book as a mere glimpse into a soldier’s life. I couldn’t put this book down. Reviewed by Jennifer

Uncaged Ratings: Adult Contemporary/War War Violence Strong language Sex scenes/FF

A Sprint to His Heart Lyla Bardan Contemporary/Fantasy

An ordinary young woman with a dream to be a professional cyclist falls for an extraordinary young man who thinks she’s anything but ordinary. Bailey Meyers doesn’t have time for distractions, much less a boyfriend, so why does she agree to date the drop-dead sexy Fae artist who loves to watch her race? Because for once, she’d like to take a risk off the racecourse, even after her coach’s reminder of his no dating policy. A policy that puts her racing career in jeopardy when she’s kicked off the team, as if a concussion from a crash and an accusation of doping with dark Fae blood wasn’t enough. She can’t stay away from the enchanting Piran of Sava, until she discovers he’s not who she thought he was. Can their love stay on course when his secrets threaten to keep them apart for good? Uncaged Review: I can honestly say, that this is the first book I’ve ever read about bike racers, and it was very enlightening and interesting to see the politics and snarkiness doesn’t pass by this sport either. Even though this is a work of fic-

tion, I’m not second guessing it at all that a lot of competiveness and jealousy is rampant throughout the sport, like any other. I just never thought of it too much before. This book itself, is a fun read, set in Chicago, with the Fae out in the open and living among humans after The Revealing. There are more than one type of fae, there are the dark fae that are trouble makers, and the Guardian Fae, who keep the peace and keep the dark fae in line. The book doesn’t give you a timeline for The Revealing, but it’s been long enough that it’s just a way of life now. We pick up the story of Bailey Meyers, a bike racer trying to get to the pros and the national team, while living at home and working at a local bike shop. When she meets Piran, a Guardian Fae who is going to a local university for art, they share a connection. But Piran is a distraction that Bailey can’t afford. When a crash throws her off racing for two weeks, she misses her chance at having scouts see her this season, and she also gets closer to Piran. But Piran has secrets of his own, that could destroy the love they have for each other. The romance was a little fast in this book and although I like there to be more obstacles in the way to a happily ever after, the author does throw in those determents along the way. It was a bit predictable in some areas, but it was fun to get there, and I enjoyed the book that has a bit of humor, some good action in the racing itself and a scene within the fae realm…and I think I’ll watch bike racing in the future with a little more interest and respect. Reviewed by Cyrene

Uncaged Ratings: New Adult

Contemporary/Fantasy/Romance Some violence

Issue 5 | December 2016 |

109


Uncaged Reviews Witch’s Cauldron Ella Summers Urban Fantasy

Something wicked is brewing in New York. “A month ago, I watched in horror as six of my fellow initiates died after sipping the Nectar of the gods, a heavenly drink that either grants you magical powers or kills you. I can’t believe I’m coming back for seconds.” Leda Pierce has survived the gods’ first test and gained entry into the Legion of Angels, but the fight is far from over. Someone is poisoning the supernaturals of New York. Suspecting witches, the Legion sends in Leda to investigate. To save the city, she will need magic she doesn’t have—and gaining that magic might just kill her. Now her survival depends on accepting help from the darkly seductive angel Nero, but that help comes with a price she cannot afford to pay.

Uncaged Review: Last issue I reviewed the first book in this series, Vampire’s Kiss and the only thing I didn’t like about that one, is it ended too soon. This one shares the same fate as the last. We still have Leda advancing up the ranks in the Legion of Angels, and this time out, someone is trying to kill of huge groups of supernaturals, first the vampires and then the legion and shifters. All of it mysteriously comes back to the Witch’s coven and the university in New York where Leda’s sister (and witch) Bella attends. This book still has the great heroine in Leda – with her snarky attitude that’s never boring and in the angel, Neo, the main love interest for Leda. This part of the story is still too slow for me, but it’s further along than last book. I don’t mind seeing a romance build slowly, but with shorter books as these are, I start to lose my patience. But the action scenes, the suspense, secondary characters and the entire storyline jived perfectly. And 110 | UncagedBooks.com

yes, I’ll keep going with the series. Reviewed by Cyrene

Uncaged Ratings: Adult

Urban Fantasy/Angels/Mythology Violence Mature Language

Broken Justice, Blind Love Rena Koontz Suspense/Police

He is a suspect. An accused killer. And Trish Kleerey is the law. Patrolman Kleerey stands tall, speaks assertively, and sees right and wrong as clearly as her black and white cruiser. Commit a wrong and face the consequences. But her strict moral code is challenged when her investigation into a series of murders incriminates the man she loves. Her training tells her to arrest him. Her heart screams otherwise. Bryan DeJewel feels the line between love and the law blur when Trish questions him about the serial killings. The Trish Kleerey he knows is soft, warm, and capable of bringing him to his knees with desire, but that passion isn’t enough to build a lasting relationship. If she loves him, she must trust him. Her suspicious nature already cost her a lifelong friendship. She couldn’t turn her back on the physical abuse she suspected her friend suffered but, once again, her questions alienated a person she loves. Believing Bryan means turning her back on hard evidence, breaking the rules, and risking her career to prove his innocence. Meanwhile, the real killer watches and waits, hoping she’ll fall into his deadly trap. Trish’s dilemma: listen to her heart and choose love, or strap on her gun and enforce the law?

Uncaged Review: Meet Trish Kleerey a female police officer. Who is dealing with a spree of women who have been murdered recently, found dumped


in abandoned houses for sale. This is her first big case so she wants to solve it. But with all the stress with the job she has to chill somewhere so her other past time is the gym. Where’s there’s a sexy guy called Bryan with a checkered past, who’s trying to get to know Trish Kleerey just that little bit better. Also he’s on the lookout for a new house. Funny how he’s looking for a new house and there’s all these murders happening in houses for sale. With Trish’s job and home life mixing how will she cope? She isn’t talking to her best friend much since she got a new boyfriend. This had a lot of twists and turns to it and a good storyline. This is the first book I have read by Rena Koontz. But I wouldn’t object to reading another book of hers. As this one did indeed keep my interest. Reviewed by Jennifer

Uncaged Ratings: Adult Suspense/Police

Violence Mature Language Forced Sexual Assault

Smoke

Val St. Crowe Urban Fantasy When Naelen Spencer shows up at Clarke Gannon’s apartment saying he wants to hire her to hunt his sister down, she’s got zilch inclination to actually take that job. For one thing, she’s not actually looking for an employer. For another thing, Naelen is the kind of rich, entitled playboy that she hates. For a third thing, he’s a dragon shifter, and she’s a dragon slayer. Those things don’t mix. Sure, okay, she doesn’t kill shifters, only soulless, monster dragons that do nothing but burn, kill, and

destroy. And fine, he does happen to have eyes like the sky in high summer and a deep voice that makes her feel warm all over. And all right, she needs the money he’s offering. She could use it to help her sister, who’s never caught a break her entire life. But screw that guy. That’s what she wants to say, anyway. Instead, she ends up taking him up on his offer, and then she’s flying off in a private jet to get mixed up with a creepy country town, a nest of powerful vampires, and a bunch of potent magical objects.

Uncaged Review: The premise of this book looked pretty interesting so I dove in. The heroine in this story is Clarke, who is a human dragon slayer, who takes out rogue dragons, i.e., the ones that have lost their human soul and are only out killing and destroying. In this world, the only magical beings are dragons, and when dragons are slayed, parts of their bodies are chopped up and used to make magical objects. But Clarke is one of the slayers in the world with a heart. She tries to reunite the families of the slain dragons, so they can take them home themselves. Sounds a bit confusing, but it’s really pretty straight forward in the book. She gets along, taking care of her sister and getting by, barely. Along comes Naelen, a dragon-shifter who wants to hire her to help him find his sister, who may have gone rogue. On top of dealing with Naelen, she has to deal with her ex, a gargoyle named Logan. I have mixed feelings on the book. I like Clarke, and the character development was pretty good and I liked that the backstory on the characters were fleshed out, but I didn’t really feel much of anything with the two men in Clarke’s life. Naelen seems arrogant, whiny and overbearing – never thought I’d put those 3 words in one description, and Logan is overly devoted, when he’s around. His problem is he constantly hurts Clarke. Issue 5 | December 2016 |

111


Uncaged Reviews There is some good action and suspense, and some original magical takes on this genre, but the main characters could use a polishing – specially the men. Being the first book in a series, it has promise. Reviewed by Cyrene

Uncaged Ratings: Adult Urban Fantasy Some violence Mild Language

One More Time is not Enough Belle Ami Suspense/Crime

Adelia Lindstrom Bremen seems to have it all: wealth, beauty, perfect twin children, two men in love with her, and a career she loves. But, beneath the veneer of success and prosperity lies disappointment, tragedy, and unending lies. Her parents were murdered, her marriage ended in a custody battle, and she is swept up in a love triangle. Now she has discovered the existence of a half-sister who wants nothing to do with her. Someone is killing scientists that deny man-made climate change, and Adelia is about to find out that putting her life back together and opening herself to love may be the least of her worries. Can she find her true love and survive being the prey of a serial killer? Can the two men who love her rescue her in time? The clock is ticking.

Uncaged Review: One More Time is not Enough by Belle Ami was a wonderful read for me. It follows several couples that are all connected together in one way or another. It’s a romance and suspense novel that has more erotica than actual suspense. This doesn’t make it bad, but the combination of the two genres in this particular read 112 | UncagedBooks.com

was a nice touch. I would definitely give her other books a shot simply because I enjoyed this one. It was well-written and the characters were easy to relate to. The sex scenes in the book weren’t uncomfortable to read and weren’t too drawn out. The detail in the book overall was good enough for me to imagine each scene that she set up at the start of each chapter while clearly stating which characters we were now with in her novel. There is a little of the Dominant and submissive lifestyle in this book, but nothing over-the-top. Just some light exploration by one of the couples. Over all, I enjoyed the book and would continue to read other books by Belle Ami given the chance. If you enjoy light suspense and some sexual encounters, then this would be a good choice for you to pick up for a bit of light reading. Reviewed by Michael

Uncaged Ratings: Adult Suspense/Crime

Mature Language Sex Scenes

The Compendium Christine Hart SciFi/Suspense

Irina and her renegade variant friends are scrambling to pick up the trail of their former employer, Ivan, and his globally catastrophic scheme. After strategically sharing their story with the media, the group heads south from Vancouver to Seattle hoping to recruit more experienced— and lethal—variants to their cause. Their attention develops a laser focus on an engineered disaster mere days ahead of them. Ivan is using what staff and resources remain of Innoviro Industries to set


off a violent earthquake in San Francisco. While they fight to stop the earthquake, Irina pushes the love of her life Jonah as far away as she can, trying to keep his unstable genetic degradation in check. Irina’s friends think they’ve seen the worst that Innoviro could bring forth by the time they reach a secret facility in the Mojave Desert. As they near the property, the group uncovers a horror none of them had ever imagined. That’s what she wants to say, anyway. Instead, she ends up taking him up on his offer, and then she’s flying off in a private jet to get mixed up with a creepy country town, a nest of powerful vampires, and a bunch of potent magical objects.

Uncaged Review: The Compendium by Christine Hart is listed as a sci-fi, romance and suspense novel. I do agree with this to an extent, mostly because some of the things in the book seemed paranormal. I really enjoyed the book, though I didn’t read the first one in the series. It took me some time to get the same connection I probably would have from reading the books in order. So, I highly recommend picking up the first book and starting this series properly because even though I didn’t do it that way, I loved this book for what it was. This book reminds me of some of the cartoons and comics I read as a kid. I loved that this group of ‘variants’ as they are called were going about recruiting and getting more people to help with their cause. The primary four in this book were a bit interesting with their relationships which took me some time to get used to. It was a well-written book with a nicely detailed world. The intimate scenes in the book were well-written and very enjoyable to read. Overall, I loved this book and it makes me want to get the first one and the remaining books in the series when I can. If you enjoy series like X-Men and things like that as comics, give this author’s Variant series a shot. Reviewed by Michael

Uncaged Ratings: Adult

SciFi/Suspense/Paranormal Sex Scenes

In Mistletoe

Tammy L. Bailey Contemporary Romance/Holidays At twenty-five, Grace Evans is steadily picking up the pieces of everyone else’s life. So, when her younger sister decides to turn into a runaway bride just four weeks before the wedding, Grace, drops everything to chase after her and bring her back home. Only, when the trail leads to Mistletoe, Washington, she finds herself at the mercy of the town’s most handsome and emotionally unavailable bachelor. Ex-Army officer, Ayden McCabe, has three creeds in life: never make the first move, never fall in love, and never take anyone to Mistletoe’s Christmas Dance. Wanting nothing more than to keep his matchmaking sister from meddling in his personal life, he agrees to help Grace if she agrees to play his girlfriend. Too brunette and meek for his taste, Ayden believes Grace can’t tempt him enough to break any of his creeds. He could not be more wrong.

Uncaged Review: A very enchanting holiday romance, with sweet storyline. A few weeks before her sister’s wedding, Grace’s sister goes missing. All the information she has, is a postcard from Mistletoe, WA. So being the one in the family that has everything dumped in her lap to fix, Grace leaves San Francisco to go find her sister. She wasn’t prepared for the weather, or for Ayden. Ayden is the owner of the Hearth’s Gate, a BnB he inherited from his parents, but no longer operates. Finding nowhere else to stay, Ayden offers her a room, and he’ll help her find her sister, Issue 5 | December 2016 |

113


Uncaged Reviews if she poses as his girlfriend for a week to get his meddlesome sister off his back. Ayden is the town bachelor, and is not one to commit to any woman. Grace, getting a bit desperate to find a place to stay while she looks for her sister, agrees to Ayden’s offer. This book has some suspense, a great small town with wonderful characters, and the romance brews slowly. The scenery is picturesque for a holiday setting, and characters are developed and likable. A captivating read that readers shouldn’t miss this holiday season. Reviewed by Cyrene

Anthologies are good when you aren’t in the mood to get deep into a regular book, but still want to read. The stories ranged in length of several pages to several chapters. Another great thing about anthologies with several authors is that you get to see some writing styles of some you may not have read before, and may want to pick up, which I believe is what the aim is for the authors of these books. There were a couple tragic endings and a couple happier endings, although getting to the end is not going to align with any Disney tale you’ve read. Reviewed by Cyrene

Uncaged Ratings: Adult

Uncaged Ratings: New Adult

Sex Scenes

Mild Violence

Contemporary Romance/Holidays

Once Upon a Curse

Anthology/Multiple Authors Dark Fantasy Shorts Seventeen magical stories from NY Times and USA Today bestsellers and award-winning authors that will entice you to the darker side of faerie tales. More Grimm than Disney, in this collection you’ll find twists on Snow White, Hansel & Gretel, Rumpelstiltskin, The Snow Queen, Cinderella, The Pied Piper, Alice in Wonderland, and Red Riding Hood, plus new tales paying homage to the old traditions. Shadows cannot exist without light, however, and you’ll find enough happily-ever-afters to lift your spirits in this anthology full of adventure, dark powers, and ultimately the enduring power of true love.

Uncaged Review: This is a pretty good anthology book, each story taking a dark turn on some of the classic fairytales. A couple of the stories were just OK, but I enjoyed the book as a whole. 114 | UncagedBooks.com

Dark Fantasy/Short Stories

Samirene and Jerod’s Mountain Lion Wanda A. Wallace Historical Western Romance

Samirene, namesake to Jerod’s father, finally meets Sam’s son in 1866 and the avid ranchers form a special bond, as a mountain lion and its prey take center stage in a struggle with hostile intruders. Humor abounds as tense moments unfold into a future quite different from what most imagined.

Uncaged Review: This book reminded me of the western TV shows of old, Bonanza, The Big Valley, Gunsmoke and Little House on the Prairie all wrapped up in one. Samirene Ember and her mother Irene, both take care of their homestead, and do quite a nice job of it. Samirene was named after her mother, and the man who helped bring her into the world. With Samirene’s father off on


a business trip, Irene goes into labor early, and having a tough time of it. A distant neighbor, Sam, is going by the homestead and hears her cries. Helping to deliver the new daughter, Irene names her after him. Over the years, they have become old friends. Now Samirene and her mother are alone on their ranch, with the death of her father. Samirene is a very capable woman that has an affinity towards animals and ranching. When Sam is about to travel on a business trip, his wife and him devise a plan, to take their son Jerod with him, and have him stay and help out at the Ember’s ranch for a week, hoping to set him up with Samirene. This is a sweet romantic story, and although some of it is a bit hokey, it’s a nice clean read. The writing and the language will pull you right into the Ingall’s home from Little House on the Prairie. There is some danger, although it’s a bit short lived and a bit fantastical, but there are many instances that make you smile. A mountain lion inadvertently brings them together in a strange way, but it’s a nice afternoon diversion. Reviewed by Cyrene

Uncaged Ratings: Adult/New Adult Historical Western Romance Mild Violence

Dark Siren Dignam & Martinez Urban Fantasy

A nightmarish realm. A city of monsters. One girl’s soul caught in the middle. Supernatural bounty hunter Alice Werner loves her job. She gets paid the big bucks to take down her targets and doesn’t ask her clients too many ques-

tions as long as the money’s good. But when a girl goes missing and the case feels all too familiar, Alice can’t help but act. Concern for the girl’s safety draws her into a risky case. Compassion keeps her involved when the stakes begin to rise. Desperation forces her to call on an old flame for help. Despite their unfinished past, Alice and Isaac Moreau, a prominent Mage, must work together to save the girl. When clues reveal more than meets the eye, Alice must face her deepest fears and confront demons from her past to protect the victim, and herself, from a fate worse than death.

Uncaged Review: An action-packed ride from Hell, and this is one terrific start to a series. I couldn’t stop reading this one, once I started. Alice once was taken to The Reflection, an alternate realm where demons and monsters truly live. After she escapes, she is changed. She becomes a Supernatural bounty hunter and traps ghosts and beings causing havoc for a living. When a girl goes missing in a theater that is closing, Alice knows she has to help get her back, and once she finds out the girl is in The Reflection, she’ll need all she has at her disposal to get her out, including the Mage, Isaac. Issac is also her ex - and turning to him is the last thing she wants to do, but together is the only way they are strong enough. This is one great storyline full of original takes on the genre, with believable characters and a well flushed out world. We learn why Alice is like she is, and what happened in her past. The book also has some creepy elements that can make you a bit squirmish like a good horror show at the movies. The romantic element is not in full force, but it is setting up nicely. The ending does end on a slight cliffhanger, but it finishes it’s own arc and the main saga continues - which is how a cliffhanger should be.

Uncaged Ratings: Adult Urban Fantasy Violence Brief Sex Scene

Issue 5 | December 2016 |

115


Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews The Mortal One

Shannon Bell Paranormal/Gothic Romance Dylan is a mortal woman who is in desperate need of finding herself. What she finds instead is a vampire in the streets of Florence and is suddenly swept up in an immortal love affair. It’s not that easy, though. She’s got vampire politics to deal with and a hot Parisian vampire who thinks he can claim her. Nico must mark her and guide her through these tough times. Will she be able to receive the mark? Can a mortal and immortal find true love?

Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: This was a really cool and unique book. The author has some interesting ideas that I haven’t heard of previously without going too far from the roots of tradition. The Mortal One takes place primarily in Florence, Italy, with minor appearances in France and Romania. Over the first page or two, I was a little iffy on where the author was going or if I was going to enjoy what she was doing, but it quickly sorted itself out and then I was hooked. It was easy to get lost in the story of Dylan and Nico. I do have to say that I didn’t overly love Dylan as a character. I just didn’t really connect with her on some level. That being said, it didn’t cause me to dislike the book. In fact, I loved the story. Overall, this was an enjoyable start to the series and I look forward to seeing where Bell goes with these characters. Maybe Dylan will grow on me?

116 | UncagedBooks.com

Snafu Fubar Bob Dixon Humor

*****WARNING***** If you are easily offended, then this is NOT the book for you. Please put it down and back away slowly. However, if you have a warped sense of humor, please read on. In the town of Lost Hope, Florida reside two heroes unlike any others. These champions of justice go by the names of Snafu Fubar and General Nuisance. Nightly they patrol their fine city to protect it from evil’s grasp. And by ‘patrol’ we mean they sit on a porch, appropriately nicknamed ‘The Fucking Nuisance Cave’, drinking beers, smoking cigars, and talking about sex.

Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: Snafu Fubar is a ridiculous book. Seriously. It’s ridiculously hilarious. Absolutely unique in every imaginable way, this book will keep you shaking your head and laughing at the same time. If you are easily offended, please don’t bother with this book. It’s not for you. It is in no way possible meant to be taken seriously, so please only read it if you have a good sense of humor. You will never see this book in Oprah’s book club, but it is definitely worth the read for a few hours of toilet humor (which is my favorite kind). Snafu Fubar and General Nuisance are the epitome of offensive douchebags, but for some reason, are loveable at the same time. Cigars, sex, and booze are their main interests but have convinced themselves they are somehow protecting their town. They really are a hot mess. They are definitely what you would consider “unlikely heroes”


To be honest, these guys remind me of people I knew growing up, but I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not. I was raised on a military base, so there’s that lol. They are easy to relate to, and their conversations are pretty epic. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a good laugh.

Onyx Webb, Book Three

Richard Fenton & Andrea Waltz Horror Onyx Webb is a complex multigenre mash-up that combines elements of supernatural suspense, crime, horror, romance, and more. 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 your favorite tv series (think: supernatural soap opera like American Horror Story) 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.

Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: I am absolutely and undoubtedly addicted to this series. It’s freaking amazing. Each book gets further and further in depth of what is going on and where the characters have come from in the most intriguing way I’ve ever seen. With some series, by the time you get to book 3 or 4, if the series is about all the same people for the most part, it can get somewhat boring or repetitive. Definitely NOT the case with Onyx Webb. Each book is unique but thorough in its storyline. It’s almost like a big puzzle. We keep getting more and more pieces, but we still can’t see the whole picture. I seriously can’t wait to see how this puzzle turns out. If you haven’t started this series yet, you really should because you are missing out on a great story.

The Crimson Tree Valerie Puri Paranormal

Disembodied voices. Apparitions. Waking nightmares. Strange occurrences are happening with increased intensity and Carly cannot escape what is tormenting her. With little proof and little support, she is losing everything in her life: her fiancé, friendships, and her sanity. Can Carly uncover what caused the supernatural de-

Issue 5 | December 2016 |

117


Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews railing of her life? Can she ever get rid of her ghostly tormentor, or is she doomed to be haunted indefinitely? Determined to stop these frightening events, she has to do whatever she can to regain control of her life before things take a deadly turn.

Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: Let me start by saying I absolutely LOVED the cover for this book. I don’t normally pay too much attention to covers, but this one definitely caught my eye. It’s simple, yet goes with the book perfectly. This was an interesting story. The main character, Carly, starts to see and hear things that no one else can. It starts to affect her relationship and question her own sanity. She firsts notices there is a problem when she looks at some pictures she took underneath a tree during a picnic with her fiancée and realizes they have no eyes. I got permission from the author to mention that in my review because I didn’t want to ruin anything for anyone. Let me tell you something about me. There are very few things that freak me out. I’m terrified of robots and aliens and I hate spiders. However, the only things that really freak me out are creepy kids, shadow people, and people with no eyes. I don’t know what it is, but you have to have eyes. I was an optometric Tech for 6 years and every one of my patients had either eyes or an artificial eye in the socket. I’ve seen some disgusting, vomit-inducing eyes, but I would take those any day over eyes that just aren’t there. One of the great things about this book is how the author keeps you wondering what exactly is going on. She tells the story in a way that makes you think you might know, but not quite. Every time you think you’ve got it, something changes. The

118 | UncagedBooks.com

story itself is pretty creepy, which I enjoy. There is tons of suspense and just when you think you can’t take it anymore, she leaves you a little tidbit of what’s going on. The story is very creative and detailed. I think there are times where it is a little bit too detailed, but it doesn’t make the story boring or anything, it just gave me more info than I really cared about sometimes. My only real complaint would be that there are other times where I wish she had given more details than she did. I would have liked a little more backstory on why the conflict was there to begin with, and what happened to the other person. It’s hard for me to say more because I don’t want to give anything away. Overall this was a good book. I enjoyed reading it and would recommend it to anyone looking for a suspenseful and spooky book. This is the first book by this author, and I look forward to reading more of her books and see how she progresses.

Of the Lemon of the North Chris Leite Psychological Thriller Jack Lemon is a heartbroken, mass murdering monster. His only salvation lies in the unrequited love of a sweet girl. Of the Lemon of the North is a humorous, bloodlust fantasy of ultra-violence & love. Summary: Jack Lemon is a schizophrenic with zero empathy and a twisted sense of humor. The


sociopath experiences guilt and accountability for the first time after he accidently kills the only woman he’s ever loved. Jack plummets deeper into the abyss of insanity, and copes with his grief in the only logical way: by blaming and killing anyone who catches his fancy. Clementine is a sweet teenage girl that’s being held captive by a deranged man (not Jack), who believes that the key to Clementine’s heart is to chain, threaten, and woo her in his cavernous basement. Clementine suffers from Stockholm syndrome and she finds her imprisonment romantic in a masochistic way. She also finds her captor’s devotion and chilling authority to be sexy. Both Jack and Clementine must separately fight their self-inflicted torment, and embrace that there’s no escaping who they really are.

perception, but that’s how it felt to me. I rather enjoyed it. The author seems to have a unique style of writing that gives his story a different feel without it being hard to read. One thing I liked about Of the Lemon of the North is how the storylines intersect. At first I didn’t see what one thing had to do with another, but as the story goes on, the author does a good job of connecting the dots at just the right time. I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a different kind of horror book that makes you feel a little better about your own mental health. There is a lot of violence and some kind of touchy subjects, but I didn’t find anything too outrageous. Definitely worth the read.

When life gives you lemons, kill somebody. Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: Let me start by saying I don’t love the title of this book. It’s actually the only thing I don’t like about it. This was a great book from a new to me author. Of the Lemon of the North is a very strange book. As in, the characters have some serious issues going on. These people really need some kind of psychological help. Each character had his or her own type of neurosis that really made me wonder about how exactly they ended up the way they are. For me, this book really had a Batman and Gotham City feel to it. Not to say that Jack Lemon is like Batman, but to me, he did feel like a Batman villain. I could be totally off base in my

Issue 5 | December 2016 |

119


Myra’s Horror Blog Reviews

Plague of the Dead Z.A. Recht Horror The “zombie apocalypse,” once on the fringes of horror, has become one of the most buzzworthy genres in popular culture. Now, in Plague of the Dead, Z.A. Recht delivers an intelligent, gripping thriller that will leave both new and diehard zombie fans breathless. The end begins with a viral outbreak unlike anything mankind has ever encountered before. The infected are subject to delirium, fever, a dramatic increase in violent behavior, and a one-hundred percent mortality rate. But it doesn’t end there. The victims return from death to walk the earth. Myra’s Review: The Morningstar virus starts out in a small village in Africa and quickly spreads through the continent. General Sherman Francis is in charge of operations to try and halt the virus carriers at the Suez Canal. He is a tough old bird but likeable. Although plans for containing the threat were good, no one expected the flood of crazed infected people, and the war was lost to the carriers. Fighting their way to the coast, the general, his men and civilian survivors board a U.S. destroyer. 120 | UncagedBooks.com

Heading for home seemed the only choice. Nearing America, Sherman makes a decision to go AWOL and hunt for his friend, Anna, a doctor trying to find a cure for the disease. She is headed to a lab in Oregon. The soldiers with him and some of the civilians decide to go with the General on the journey. Sherman and Anna were in contact via email before things went to pieces. The email exchanges were interesting and gave the book a very real feeling. The trek tow ard Oregon is filled with danger from the infected. Lives were lost and lots of fighting ensued. Also, the reader follows Anna’s journey as she escapes custody of the authorities, after she gives information about the virus to a reporter. If I could, this book would get a 5 ½ stars. Excellent zombie apocalypse read. The characters were very well-developed so that I cared about them, the story line interesting, and lots of action described in detail.This zombie book is a top read for me; a recommended must read for fans of zombie lore!


Ground Zero Nicholas Ryan Horror/Post Apocalyptic It came like a malignant shadow with seductive promises of power. And somewhere in the night . . . a small girl smiled as her mother burned . . . Asylum inmates slaughtered their attendants . . . in slimy tunnels once-human creatures gathered. Madness raged as the lights began to fade and humanity was attacked by an ancient, unstoppable evil . . . Myra’s Review: Oldie but Goodie, 1980 Bishop investigates haunted houses and the paranormal. He doesn’t believe in ghosts and the supernatural and has “disproved” many such incidences; some caused by squirrels in the walls, noisy water pipes, etc. He is hired to investigate an old Victorian house to dispel the belief it is haunted, because the owner would like to get it sold. He is caught in the middle of a supernatural nightmare when he sees what happened the prior year, when a cult lead by a man named Pryszlak and his followers performed acts of degradation and suicide that clearly were evil. Further acts of insane behavior and depravity break out in the neighborhood and escalate each night. People are found wandering the streets, acting zombie like in their unresponsive behavior and thought processes. Bishop gets called to the mental institution where his wife was committed after their daughter died several years before. He is attacked by residents, who are under the influence of the Dark, a malignant force that invades weak minds and seeks out the dark recesses of every person’s heart for entry and engulfment. He is rescued by policemen and things intensify even further, with more people overtaken each night

by the Dark. As the Dark grows more powerful, authorities wonder if it can be stopped. I don’t want to give away the ending of the book, but I was very happy with it. This book is in my list of favorite books and I reread it ever so many years. I wanted to share with readers who may not have read James Herbert or this particular book. If you have never read Herbert, he is a well-known, talented British author, who puts you in the middle of the horror, so that you feel the monster is about to get you! If you love horror and the creepy kind that sneaks up on you, you will love this chilling read. Warning: When you walk along a dark road you may eye the shadows around you in a new way.:)

Tooth and Nail Craig Dilouie Horror/Military This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang, not with a whimper, but a slaughter. As a new plague related to the rabies virus infects millions, America recalls its military forces from around the world to safeguard hospitals and other vital buildings. Many of the victims become rabid and violent but are easily controlled-that is, until so many are infected that they begin to run amok, spreading slaughter and disease. Lieutenant Todd Bowman got his unit through the horrors of combat in Iraq. Now he must lead his men across New York through a storm of violence to secure a research facility that may hold a cure. To succeed in this mission to help save what’s left, the men of Charlie Company will face a terrifying battle of survival against the very people they have sworn to protect-people turned into a fearless, endless horde armed solely with tooth and nail. Issue 5 | December 2016 |

121


Myra’s Horror Blog Reviews Myra’s Review: We follow several platoons as they weave back and forth across NY on missions. Sometimes it seems those in charge don’t know what they are doing. Some of the units are in secure places but they want them somewhere else. Many get killed trying to make it through the infected. Philosophy is scattered throughout the story, which made it enjoyable. How did different soldiers feel about their circumstances? Did they think America had a chance to come out of this disaster? And if not, what did that mean for the future of mankind? This story is filled with military jargon. The author gives a full page of abbreviations for these such as AG (assistant gunner). But as a civilian (even though I come from a military family) it was a slow read because of all the military terms. It felt more like a book that teaches us, the reader, about military strategy in a disaster. Having said that, it is still an interesting read. Another point though, there were so many characters in the story we never got to know any one of them well except for Dr. Petrova. I found her story interesting, being stuck in a lab trying to develop the cure. How she survived and even got to see a bit of her back story. I loved one soldier’s decision at the end. McLeod never wanted to be a soldier; he wanted to go to college. At a last stand he decides not to be overtaken by a horde of infected and escapes. He is going to the NY Library and read every book in it. Hoorah for him!

122 | UncagedBooks.com

The Longest Night Danielle Devon Dark Gothic Romance A dark and chilling gothic romance Such a sad sort of sickness, the way Lucien watched her. She no longer prayed to the night and yet he stayed on. Hidden behind the veil, lost in the shadows, for years, watching, listening, waiting for her to call him. Trapped in her new life as the second Lady Merrick, Isabella had long since turned away from her childhood rituals for the sake of duty. Yet with each day that past, she slipped deeper into a world of quiet despair. Until the night her drunken husband pushes too far. Will she summon Lucien forth or will she take fate into her own hands? Myra’s Review: We pick up the story of Isabella after the beginning of her tale in A Good Night. Isabella murders her father and didn’t get caught. Her next step in life is to get married, due to her mother’s urging. It’s not something she wanted, especially to Lord Merrick. As time passes she doesn’t see her guardian Lucien anymore, and scarcely thinks of him. Her life is boring and her husband not a kind man; in fact he is abusive, at least mentally. Through the years, Lucien cannot let go of his interest in Isabella. He often shadows her and is saddened by her daily life. The spark that used to imbue her is no more. One fateful day Lucien seeks to intercede when Lord Merrick kills one of Isabella’s dogs. All her anger and pain come welling up and she draws on an inner strength she thought was dead. I won’t give away the ending of this chapter of her story, but Lucien’s fate was sad to me. I hope we get to see him again in a future story. Beautifully worded, dark tale.


Myra Nour brings you a laugh, please enjoy an original holiday horror poem from Gary Val Tenuta. Follow Gary’s blog:

Gary’s Blog ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas ‘Twas the night before Christmas And stormy as hell When suddenly I heard The front door bell. I went to the door And peeped through the hole And what I saw there Sent chills through my soul. Did my eyes deceive me? It was jolly Saint Nick! But he wasn’t so jolly. He was looking quite sick. He was huffing and puffing I saw the fog of his breath. He looked like a man who’d been Scared half to death. It was something to see The way he was breathing I watched his big chest So rapidly heaving. “Santa!” I cried, “What ever’s the matter?” Then before he could answer I heard a great clatter.

It seemed to be coming From the roof top above. He said, “Let me in!” And he gave me a shove. Backward I fell And I took quite a tumble As he entered the house With a limp and a stumble. “My reindeer have turned Into zombies!” he said. “They seem to be living Even though they’re all dead! I’m afraid,” he said sadly, “In a minute or two, They’ll be coming to eat me And then they’ll eat you!” “Oh no!” I exclaimed. “Quick! We must hide!” He said, “It’s no use, I’ve already tried!” I could see in his eyes He was filled full of dread. Then he pulled out a gun And shot himself dead.

And left nothing to waste. They then turned to me, And I wanted to run, But then I remembered Saint Nick had a gun! I dove to the floor Grabbed it up in a hurry. Soon bullets were flying In a furious flurry! Still they came at me! They just wouldn’t die! I was plumb out of bullets And I wanted to cry! Then suddenly the morning Sunlight came streaming In through the window Brightly and gleaming! The reindeer all skittered Away from the light! And I thought to myself As they ran out of sight, “Merry Christmas, my ass! What a hell of a night!”

Then the reindeer came crashing Down through the ceiling I was frozen with fear, My poor head was reeling. They looked at Saint Nick Lying dead on the floor And I had no idea What next was in store. They ripped his white beard Clean off of his face And devoured his flesh Issue 5 | December 2016 |

123


Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews The Nephilim and the False Prophey David Dubrow Paranormal Suspense Fueled by brutal, random violence and a worldwide leprosy epidemic, the Earth descends into chaos. Preparing for Armageddon, Hell plans an atrocity called The Slaughter of the Innocents while Heaven’s scattered agents fight a cold war against superstar evangelist Kyle Loubet, who they believe is the False Prophet foretold in the Bible. The Eremites walk the Earth: black magicians kept alive through unholy relics. Terrible visions assail the world’s remaining psychics, promising an eternal night of blood and fire and endless agony. Caught in the middle, Hector, Ozzie, and Siobhan face terrible dangers from all sides. Now free from their infernal prison, what are the Watcher angels planning? With only days before the Apocalypse, can humanity be saved? Amy’s Review: Humanity is in major trouble! A great sequel to “The Blessed Man and the Witch” and I believe that it is even more stunning and powerful than the first one. The end is close, too close for comfort or that anyone can actually prepare for. Armageddon and the end of days, as there are plans from above and from below. It’s not a typical end of humanity paranormal or even supernatural story. It’s explosive, full of action and there are some Biblical references, but it tells its own story, and the reader is brought right in, wondering if the end is truly near. Dubrow paints an active and imaginative picture of his story brilliantly with his words. Hold on to the edge of your seat as you read this one, and keep the lights on.

124 | UncagedBooks.com

Remove Before Flight Colleen Young New Adult/College Book Two follows Cory as she begins her summer internship with a charter airline in Washington, D.C. As much as she’s enjoying her work, how will she deal with the office bully or her flirtatious mentor? Meanwhile, Samson is continuing his summer studies at Southern Gulf University. Will he be able to stay focused even as an old love interest begs for his help? And lastly we have Cole, who has graduated and is starting his journey as a professional pilot. He’s struggling to let go of his feelings for Cory and he may have found just the cure for his heartbreak in the form of a sexy Latina pilot named Ana. Amy’s Review: A new adventure for Cory A stunning sequel and new adventure for Cory, who is just starting her new internship. The steamy romance does not end with Cory and her “perfect” boyfriend. Something is very different about Cory in this book, as she has changed dramatically. In the first book, she was saving herself and this time, not so much. Another build up of a love triangle, or should I say sexual triangle. The downside? Well, I have to wait to see what happens next in book three.

Monsters Annie K. Gietgold Young Adult/Paranormal Sean Monters ran from his socalled home in the autumn. He left his half-sister fully intending to return, but after discovering his


potential, he may never go back. Monters is not a story about a hero. It is a story about a teenage boy discovering his powers and attempting to let go of a horrible childhood, but he may never be able to. In his travels he finds people and beings that will change his life forever. He finds a friend who will distract him from his terrible past and bring him adventure. And friend with a past that could be as dark as his own. But Sean’s difficult path may still continue into the depths of the deepest shadow, unless.. Amy’s Review: Don’t let the title fool you. Monsters takes on a runaway teen, who is discovering the true nature of his powers. His name is Sean Monsters, but there is that inner monster within him, and some may think its because of his past. I enjoyed reading this story, and felt it was very intriguing. The story of the past is just as important as the story of his present journey. The dark secrets and shadows still follow Monsters even when he meets a new friend. Great story, and highly recommended.

Once in a Blue Kentucky Moon Alexa Bloom Contemporary Romance Welcome to the first book in the Harrisons, a rural romance with heart and sizzle. Once In A Blue Kentucky Moon introduces you to Blake, the eldest of a loving family of seven siblings raised in the heart of blue-

grass country. They’ve each made good in their own way and their adventures will take you to a wonderful new location in a each book. But Lockwood Farm right in the rural heart of Kentucky is where it all began and it keeps on drawing them back home. Amy’s Review: More than just romance Romance books are just fine, but I like it when a book is more than just the romance between the characters. This is my first book that I’ve read by Bloom and I look forward to reading more of her work. She writes very well, and the chemistry between the characters is intense and remarkable. These characters don’t feel forced together or just written together because the writer put them together. The romance between Tatum and Blake is something that is built upon, and Tatum has her own secrets. A shining example of how a romance should be written, and it very good storyline.

Hurricane Coltrane Taya Okerlund Contemporary/Young Adult Merrill Hinton is a lightning rod in a town named for bad weather. He’s an ace in math, but not smart enough to put together the pieces of his puzzling life, especially where finding his unknown father is concerned. Musical genius Robbie Stubbs was born in nearby polygamist compound Colorado City. He has the chops to become another John Coltrane, but that will take running away from home, and into a firestorm of controversy–the kind his friend Merrill knows best.

Issue 5 | December 2016 |

125


Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews Merrill sets Robbie onto a course that could rocket them both onto center stage, but being the focus of wide public attention will create serious issues. Robbie’s mother is not well, and the shock of her son breaking the family rules like this may put her over the edge. And Merrill Hinton? His precarious future would be compromised in ways he doesn’t yet realize. Amy’s Review: Stunningly heartwarming Merrill and Robbie have a great strength within them. It’s a very emotional and compelling story, that shows the journey and adventure of growing older. The characters were well developed and the story was very intuitive. I liked the characters and the growth of the story, and it shows that not everything is perfect, and there are flaws, even in loyalty and heartbreak.

Piecing Together Forgiveness Kristi Burchfiel Religion/Spirituality Every one of us has either wronged another person or been wronged by someone else. Talking about forgiveness is great, but most people don’t know what forgiveness means or how to do it. Often our efforts end up looking like a pile of mismatched puzzle pieces leading to more questions than answers. What is forgiveness? How do we ask for forgiveness? How do we extend forgiveness to others? What about when people hurt my loved ones? How do I teach others about forgiveness? How do I make forgiveness last?

126 | UncagedBooks.com

Amy’s Review: Forgiveness is not always easy and this guide by Burchfiel brings faith and spiritual beliefs into the art of forgiveness. Burchfiel refers to the Biblical Apostle Paul’s letter to Philemon. There are steps on forgiveness and how learning to forgive is just as important as the instance of forgiveness. It’s an inspirational guide that can benefit anyone who reads it and struggles with faith and forgiveness.

The Urban Boys K.N. Smith Young Adult Sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell become hypersensitive gifts that forever change the world of five teenage boys in “The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses,” an urban paranormal thriller. The story chronicles the boys’ effortless interrelations and they learn how to utilize their sensory super powers, as they embark upon a mission of good vs evil. Upon the boys’ mysterious incident with an energy source, they’re instinctively called to a neighboring town, Sandry Lake, to root out evil. Their superhero senses guide them each time. However, secrecy about their mission, furious battles with evil thugs, extreme fatigue, and stress and pressure soon overwhelm the boys, but they must find a way to embrace their fate. A lurking, dark stranger seems to know their plight, and a strikingly beautiful, fearless girl lends way to heightened confusion.


Amy’s Review: Action packed! An interesting journey into the lives of the boys with sensory super powers. Full of action and battles, with others and their own fate. I liked this story and found it very striking. The intrigue and impeccable way the story was written gripped this reader, and I liked that I could not predict the end or knew what would happen next. The characters were young adults but anyone who loves a good action super hero-esq story would dive right into this one. Nothing like a rollercoaster adventure that keeps me turning the pages!

Dancing with the Devil Amy C. Norman Non-fiction/Memoir

Amy’s Review: Emotional and Triumphant Norman wrote her story and I guess this is a rewrite of the original. Having never read the original, I read this one with tears in my eyes and tissues on my lap. I think it was very poignant and heartbreaking for me since I also am a survivor of DV and I also wrote my own story, but fictionalized it. It was very powerful for Norman to write of her abuse, and finally escape. The escape seemed to be part of what shows her strength, for her and her children, and how her life may have never been the same, or even her own. I am amazed by her tenacity for taking care of herself and her children. Norman is an amazing woman and I’m glad to share in her story. Unfortunately, no one really knows what happens behind closed doors, and this is another example of living in the horror that one may call home.

In this searingly honest memoir, Amy provides a terrifying insight into why so many women find it hard to leave when they are trapped in a violent relationship. This book will leave you speechless at the depth of one woman’s courage and enthralled by the story of how she survives and eventually triumphs over her life with the devil. Dancing with the Devil is a grueling, yet heartwarming story that will give hope to the many battered women out there who are still suffering.

Issue 5 | December 2016 |

127


Uncaged Book Reviews  

Issue 5, December 2016 Featuring authors: CA Verstraete, Amy Shannon, Erzabet Bishop, Philip Hoy, M Pepper Langlinais, Hazel Hughes, Collett...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you