ISSUE 15 | OCTOBER 2017
Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from Releasing the Demons • Reviews
Stay Connected • Excerpt from Dealing with the Devil • Review
Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from Day of the Spiders • Review
Aliya DalRae Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt of Sweet Vengeance • Review
Ivan Ewert Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from Famished - Omnibus • Review
Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from Sweet Nightmares • Review
Lily Baldwin Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from Highland Shadows
Robert Allnach Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt from Oddities & Entities 2 • Review
Issue 15 | October 2017
Better Than Candy Myra Nour
67 The horse
Interview • Stay Connected • Excerpt of Voices in my Head
How this elite cover artist got involved with the industry and recognizing the everexpanding indie book world.
sneakpeeks 08 18 40
Toni Jones Tucker Jamel Gross
4 Editor’s Desk 5 Bargain Bin | Blog Roll Call 32 Best Seller Lists 109 New Releases 110 Uncaged Reviews 122 Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews 126 Myra’s Horror Blog Reviews 130 Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews 134 Jen’s Book Reviews
October 1-15, 2017 Issue 15 | October 2017 |
Welcome to Issue 15, October 2017 - Uncaged Book Reviews! This is our 2nd Annual Special Horror Edition, and we have a great issue! This month dig into the feature authors, L.D. Rose, Lily Baldwin, Brian O’Gorman, Zizi Cole, Ivan Ewert, Roland Allnach, Jennifer Siddoway and Aliya DalRae as they bring the paranormal and creepy to Uncaged. Fang-Freakin-Tastic also brings Uncaged a feature author with Mike Evans.
We also have two fantastic short stories this month. Myra Nour’s Better Than Candy will give you your zombie fix, and Aaron Deck’s The Horse fits right in with the spooky month of October! The story from J.B. Woods will continue in November. This month we have a very special guest, and you’ve already seen his art gracing the cover of Uncaged this month. We welcome Tony Mauro and his wonderful work to Uncaged. Read how Tony got started making book covers, and how you can contact him for your next book. We also have a fun Scavenger Hunt going on this month in the magazine! Find all the items and be in a drawing to win a $25 gift card from Uncaged! See page 6 for details! Last month, I let everyone know that Uncaged has a social reach of over 1 million. Well, a new milestone was hit between last issue and this one, and now Uncaged’s social reach is over 2 million, and still climbing! Uncaged is reaching more and more readers and authors, and is proving to be a strong voice for Indie authors and small publishing companies, so thank you to all that share the magazine with their followers. Authors can now submit a Short Story, and in return, I’ll give space for either a full page ad, or a 1-page Sneak Peek of a book for an approved story. You can read more about that here. We are now back to serving seven authors per month in the features, and stay tuned for our upcoming holiday and romance issues. 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, (can be read right before the feature) and that I ask that the authors share the magazine with their networks. Read about that HERE. Uncaged is supported through advertising, both in the magazine, and on the site. Please see the Advertising in Uncaged tab on the site for more information on how you can advertise in the magazine and support the Uncaged mission to promote authors.
All inquiries: UncagedBooks@gmail.com or firstname.lastname@example.org So thank you and enjoy the October, Special Edition of Uncaged Book Reviews!
Bargains, Free Reads & Giveaways Great way to discover new authors and enter to win free books, both print and eBooks. https://www. goodreads.com/giveaway
Free Book Sifter
This site will sniff out all the free eBooks being offered on Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Amazon. Choose the site you’re looking for in the drop down list. This site helps narrow down the search. http://www.freebooksifter.com/
Blog Roll Call Contributors, Advertising Swaps
Follow Uncaged on Facebook
Paranormal lover’s rejoice. Uncaged review contributors.
FreeBooksy.com Pick your genre and let FreeBooksy find the deals, even freebies! Free-Ebooks.net Choose your passion from fiction, non-fiction, academic and even audio books. Free to join, free ebooks to download. BookBub.com Let BookBub send you daily deals right to your email, customized to your perferences. instafreebie.com Every Friday, InstaFreebie will email you with weekend freebies from all genres. bookbrag.com Emailing deals right to your inbox. redfeatherromance.com Romance deals delivered to your email.
A blog for horror fans. Uncaged review contributors.
A little bit of everything. Uncaged review contributors.
Cozy mysteries, suspense and romance. Uncaged review contributors.
Help for authors and businesses. If you’d like your banner here, please email me at UncagedBooks@gmail.com Issue 15 | October 2017 |
Scavenger Hunt October 1-15, 2017
Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card! How to Enter: Find these Halloween symbols throughout the magazine:
Once you find them, email UncagedBooks@gmail.com with the page numbers you found them on. Make sure you get a reply saying itâ€™s been received! Winner will be selected by random.org Only the entries with at least 10 correct will be in the drawing. Email must be dated between October 1-15, 2017
Melissa Jackson Confessions of a Bunny Confessions of a Bunny Melissa Jackson Children
Meet Bun Bun. She may look like your grandmother’s vintage bunny, but that’s just what four years of devoted companionship looks like on pink polyester. She is the faithful sidekick to her equally charismatic and lovable person, Reagan. Bun Bun shares her life experiences with us as only she can. Told through the eyes of the stuffed friend that your child can never leave behind, Bun Bun lets us in on the one-of-a-kind devotion, sweetness, and love that a child shares with their number one stuffy. Told with humor and a tender heart, you can’t help but fall in love with Bun Bun.
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US Review of Books “She was my person, and she loved me.” “I know I may look like I’ve been around a really long time, but this is actually what four years of hard living looks like on a stuffed bunny.” Bun Bun may appear to be an ordinary toy. But to a four-year-old girl named Reagan, the raggedy once-pink bunny is her dearest companion. Bun Bun’s adventures begin at a time soon after Reagan’s birth. Enjoying many days “filled with soft hugs and kisses and coos and cuddles,” The warmth of these moments quickly shifts into interesting adventures for Bun Bun as Reagan slowly transforms from a baby into a preschooler. Dragged from place to place, Bun Bun’s body begins to “take a beating.” Regardless of the rough handling, Bun Bun knows that she is loved. Every day is a new adventure, especially when Reagan is upset with leaving her favorite buddy at home while she is at school. As Bun Bun so eloquently states, “My person needed me, so there I was, day in and day out, absorbing every tear, squeeze, death grip, and tender cuddle.” Eventually, fascinating escapades follow when Reagan is allowed to bring Bun Bun to school, and a puppy becomes a new addition to her family. Amid the exciting changes, Bun Bun has no idea that she is about to encounter her biggest adventure. Jackson’s debut is a tender tale of love and devotion. Bringing to life a well-loved stuffed animal, Jackson features Bun Bun as her featured narrator. Her engaging storytelling highlights a brief yet poignant overview of Bun Bun’s four-year journey with “her person,” Reagan. Never one to complain, Bun Bun relays the highs (i.e., hugs and cuddles) and lows (i.e., wear and tear) that come with being a favorite toy. These various elements send a reminder to her that she is no ordinary “stuffy.” Bun Bun knows that she is truly loved. “For many kids, stuffies come and stuffies go, but not for my girl. I was hers, and she was mine.”
Jackson’s writing style is not one that is distinctive, yet certainly appealing to youngsters. Winnie the Pooh stories and Charlotte’s Web come to mind as widely acclaim favorites. Their attraction to children provides a fantastical outlet into the imaginary realm of creatures (whether inanimate or real). In the case of Bun Bun, the personification of a beloved stuffed animal is very powerful not only to a child’s world of make-believe but also to their psychological well-being as they are building social and communicative skills. That said, Jackson’s use of this literary element coupled with lightly worded text produces a story with broad reader appeal, reaching out to non-readers (pre-kindergarteners) as well as burgeoning ones (first to third graders). An ideal complement to Jackson’s warm-and-fuzzy read is Shannen Marie Panadero’s endearing mixed media renditions. Panadero’s feathered-edged illustrations are replete with pastel hues lightly punctuated with bright colors and softly lined objects. Although Bun Bun’s expressions remain emotionless, Panadero balances light-hearted and cheerless scenes through facial expressions, most primarily from Reagan. Confessions of a Bunny has the potential of becoming a new childhood favorite.
About the Author Melissa Jackson is a graduate of Arizona State University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology. From there, she pursued a teaching credential and began teaching primary grade children in Stockton, California. As a former teacher, Melissa has a love for early childhood education and children’s literature. She now resides in Carmel, California, with her husband and is a full-time mother to her two children, Jake and Reagan.
RECOMMENDED by the US Review Issue 15 | October 2017 |
Tony Mauro Uncaged talks with the talented cover artist
| SPECIAL FEATURE |
interview with premiere cover artist
by cyrene olson
’ve been a fan of Tony Mauro’s fantasy art since the late 90’s - early ‘00s when I discovered his artwork on the Internet. I was enchanted with his fantasy pin-ups, but his pin-ups were different than other pinup artists. He depicted his fantasy women as strong warriors - both beautiful to look at and a force of nature and I would make up stories in my mind to many of his beautiful characters. I went back to his website often in those days, keeping up with his updates, I guess I was a stalker of his art. I was walking around Border’s Book Store with already several books in my arms, when I picked up a Nalini Singh book from her Guild Hunter series, recognizing the cover art and not being surprised at all to see the name Tony Mauro as the artist. Finally, stories to go with his exciting art. Today, Tony has over 500 book covers to his credit and I am thrilled he took the time to visit us this month. 12 | UncagedBooks.com
C - I’ve been a huge fan of yours for a long time, and I’m always excited to see a book cover with your work. How did you get started in doing book covers? TM - In 2005 I returned to my home town of Buffalo, NY after living in Los Angeles for 11 years where I was a movie poster designer. A couple years after moving home I received an email from an art director at Penguin Publishing that had seen my work in the Spectrum Fantasy Art annual book. She asked if I had done any or would be interested in doing any book cover work. Little did I know how much that email would change my business. I did my first cover for Penguin which went over pretty well and within 6 months I was doing less and less movie work and the book covers had completely taken over my business. I started getting calls from Simon and Schuster, Random House and Harper Collins. Cut to 10 years and over 500 book covers later and here we are! C - Do you use airbrushing any longer, or is all of your work for book covers the digitally enhanced and painted photos now? TM - I honestly haven’t touched an airbrush in about 20 years. Once I made the switch to digital there was really no reason to ever go back. I do miss it from time to time but I don’t even have any of the equipment or supplies anymore to do an airbrush painting even if I wanted to. I do however still have my airbrush though
| SPECIAL FEATURE | so you never know, the day may come that I get nostalgic and surprise everyone with a traditional painting lol. C - Do the authors contact you for work, or is it mostly through the publishing houses now? Do you have contact with the authors at all if it goes through a publisher? TM - 95% of my work still comes through the publisher. From time to time I have brief contact with the authors but you might be surprised at how little we actually communicate. The publisher acts as the liaison between the artist and the author in most cases. We have a little bit of interaction on social media every once and a while and the ones I’ve done lots of covers for will reach out to say thank you or let me know that they’re excited about the cover I created. Nowadays with more and more authors going independent, I do receive more emails directly from authors that are looking for cover art. It’s something most of them have never had to do before because their publisher always handled the marketing of their book for them but I’m always happy to work directly with an author when the situation arises. C - On the covers of the books that you’ve done and I’ve read, you really nail the feel of the book and the characters. How much are you told about the book you are going to design for? TM - Thank you! I’m so happy to hear you say that. I’m usually given a general character description that could be as little as a short paragraph describing how they dress, what hair color they have etc. I always like to read the book whenever I can. That’s always the best way to approach any cover. 14 | UncagedBooks.com
Unfortunately my work load doesn’t always allow for that and in those cases I try to ask as many pertinent questions as possible to capture the tone and personality of the character I’m depicting. I’m usually given a pretty good synopsis of the book from the publisher as well. C - From start to finish, what is the average turnaround time on a book cover? TM - I’d say the average is about a month and a half, give or take. That gives me enough time to cast a model, order any props or clothing I may need for the shoot and go from there. I’ll show comps a month or so after I get the project. Once a favorite is chosen from the 2-4 options I give them we usually spend a week or two getting it dialed in and get all of the approvals needed before we have a final cover image. C - Do you have a set amount of revisions? TM - Oh boy, wouldn’t that be nice? Just kidding, there’s no set amount of revisions but we can usually make everyone happy within 2 or 3 rounds. There are always exceptions but the cases where it goes way beyond that is when we are still exploring the concept of the cover. Some art directors will contact you with a very
| TONY MAURO |
specific image in mind and are very descriptive about what they are looking for and those covers can be solved very quickly because all of the guess work has been taken out of it. On the other side of the coin... some art directors will leave much more of the details and even the concept up to the artist and those can go back and forth a little longer just trying to find a direction that they like. Both are great to work on for different reasons.
C - Do you also design any promotional extras that may go out with the book release? TM - Not generally, a lot of times the author will contact me and ask for permission to use the art on bookmarks or post cards and they generally put those together themselves. The reason they even have to ask is in publishing the artist retains the rights to all of their work and just licenses the image to the publisher to use for a cover. This is another way that publishing is very different than the movie industry. In movies the artist doesnâ€™t own anything and all of the art is owned by the movie studio as soon as you deliver it. C - Since you also work on a lot of movie posters, have you ever designed a book cover for a book that went to film and also designed the poster too? (That would be pretty awesome â˜ş ) TM - Haha, that would be pretty awesome. The closest thing to that scenario was... I designed a Issue 15 | October 2017 |
| SPECIAL FEATURE | couple book covers very early in my career for the X-Files. (They had a few off shoot books from the show in the first few seasons.) Years later when the X-Files movie came out I ended up designing the logo for the movie and that logo ended up being the focal point for all of the posters and billboards for the film campaign. C - Finally, where can authors connect with you if they want to talk to you about a cover? TM - I can be reached through my website at http://www.tonymauroillustration.com/ or you can always email me at email@example.com Also, I have recently joined the ranks at http:// www.shannonassociates.com/ and can be booked through them also. twitter: @tonymauroart instagram: tonymauro_art facebook: @tonymauroillustration
In 1994 at the age of 23 Tony Mauro left the city of Buffalo,NY where he grew up and spent most of his adult life bound for the west coast to pursue his career as an illustrator. He landed in Los Angeles in November of 94′ and began working in the entertainment industry as an illustrator and designer. Tony graduated from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh in 1991 with a degree in visual communications and a major in airbrush. After spending six years as an airbrush illustrator he eventually crossed over to the computer. The first several years in Los Angeles were spent working with an illustration and design studio in Santa Monica, This was where Tony refined his computer skills and began developing the style that he uses today. For about two and a half years Tony
16 | UncagedBooks.com
worked almost exclusively on designing posters, calendars, book covers, and video box covers for the hit show “The X-Files”. His transition into Pin-up/Fantasy art came shortly after that when he started developing the “When Darkness Falls” Vampire Series. Using what little knowledge of photography he had from shooting his own reference as an illustrator, he started photographing friends and acquaintances on evenings and weekends. Those photographs would later serve at the foundation for his vampire series. Tony categorizes the style he uses today as photo-based illustration. Commercially Mauro spent 11 years designing movie posters for every major film studio in Hollywood from 1994-2005. Some of the campaigns he is credited for designing are The Pirates of the Caribbean Intl, M. Knight Shyamalans The Village, The Pink Panther, Friday Night Lights, The Chronicles of Narnia and Black Christmas to name a few. You’ve probably also seen his work gracing numerous video game box covers such as Marvel’s Ultimate Alliance, Medal of Honor, Brothers in Arms, Diablo, WarCraft 2, Clive Barker’s Undying and Spiderman Friend or Foe. Tony left Los Angeles and the Entertainment industry in 2005 and returned to his home town of Buffalo, NY to focus more of his time on his fantasy art and to explore new avenues for his work. Today he keeps very busy designing book covers for Penguin Books, Simon and Schuster, Random House and many others. He has well over 500 book covers to his credit and rising so there’s a very good chance you have some of Tony’s work in your home right now and may not even know it.
Thank you Tony, for sharing some time with us!
| TONY MAURO |
Issue 15 | October 2017 |
showcase Toni Jones Tucker
Life Got in the Way Life Got in the Way Toni Jones Tucker Biography
This Book is dedicated to all the people who have lost their babies, who may have experienced some the experiences loses that I have struggled with and still may be struggling with to get their babies back and keep their faith in God. I pray that it gives you the strength and courage you need to step up and step out into your destiny and whatever it takes to withstand against all obstacles and gain your inner peace. I hope this book gives you complete freedom.
bookventure.com US Review of Books “I miss her so much I still cry at times I have my good days and my bad mostly my memories but that’s another story.” For many people, the mere idea of having their children taken away from them is a nightmare too difficult to imagine. In this autobiography, the author tells her story of heartbreak and sorrow followed by redemption and good fortune. Growing up, Ms. Tucker’s life was troubled. Her mother moved her and her siblings to the projects in Little Rock, Arkansas, and 18 | UncagedBooks.com
immediately had trouble fitting in because of their race. After suffering abuse at school, in her neighborhood, and even at home, she grows distant and detached from others save for a few close friends. Eventually, she decides to run away from home with one of those friends in order to improve her life, but a new tragedy arises when an admirer of hers rapes her in her new home and impregnates her. Believing that her new son is the product of her new relationship, she devotes herself to her children despite being only fourteen years old. Rumors begin to swirl that her son does not belong to her boyfriend, and after two more children and years of this speculation, their relationship deteriorates and they separate. Now a full-time working mother of three at seventeen, Toni relies on her family to help her raise her children while she works to put food on the table. When a neighborhood boy hits Toni’s son with a rock, Toni’s mother bandages the wound but deems it not serious enough to warrant a doctor’s visit. This leads to child protective services coming to take the kids away, setting off a quest to get her children back that spans over three decades. Relying on faith and positive thinking, the author perseveres through her struggles, sharing both the dark times—such as losing her daughter in a fatal car accident—and the good times of being reunited with her longlost children and rebuilding her family. Deeply personal and touching, this book is meant to inspire others to keep the faith and move forward during times of stress and difficulty. Considering everything that happens in this book, and also that a large amount of the struggle the author goes through happens while she is still just a teenager, this is also an incredible story about accepting responsibility and making sacrifices for the things that are important to you. The obstacles that
the author had to overcome in her life make for reading that is simultaneously compelling and difficult to fathom how someone so young could handle so much. Any challenge or empathy that the reader endures during the first half of the book is paid back tenfold in the latter half when the author is reunited with her children. This moment is bittersweet at times because of the tragic loss of her daughter, but experiencing an account of having faith and dedication working out, in the end, does much to provide the book and the author’s story a happy ending worthy of her trials. Unlike many biographies, this one was quick to read through and evenly paced, only focusing on the events that were pertinent to the story the author wanted to tell: that of having her family torn apart and then reunited. By sharing a story that is uniquely hers, readers of this book will hopefully be inspired by the author’s belief, confidence, and faith and her redemption made possible through them.
About the Author My name is Toni Jones Tucker. I was born August 5, 1965 in little Rock, Arkansas. I am left handed I live in Lancaster, Texas. My mother’s name is Patsy Moore and my father’s name is Odell Jones. He passed when I was four years old I am the baby girl and only girl of three brothers. I am five feet two inches tall. I wear glasses for Reading and Driving I come from a very poor family and my mother raised my three brothers and I up in the projects. Being poor and raised in the projects was very difficult for me. I am a mother, I am a grandmother and I had to bury my twenty-two year old daughter. I have had a hard life and I have struggled very hard to get where I am at today but I am strong and I am a survivor. I love going to the beaches and spending time with my family I live I laugh and I love daily, I wrote this book in hopes to inspire and encourage others to keep their faith no matter how great or how long their storm . I will close out this Autobiography with the most important thing in my life, my family. I am married to my best friend and believe to be my soul mate Bruce Tucker has been for five years we became a couple three years before we got married but have known each other since we were seventeen years old we have ten children in all together between the both of us we both have large families we have two parakeet birds whom we love dearly and it makes us happy we can spend time alone together.
Issue 15 | October 2017 |
| SHORT STORY |
This short story is available free for your library. Click the cover on the previous page to go to the download. This is a short story I’ve loved since it was written and my thanks go to Myra Nour to allow the story to appear in Uncaged.
Better Than Candy Myra Nour myranour.net Matt hunched in the dark, shivering in fear. The dampness of the small space crept across his skin, chilling him even more. The faint odor of mold and mouse droppings tickled his senses. Twitching his nose, Matt felt the sneeze building, but then it simply vanished. Surprised, he rubbed his nose. He’d never been able to stop a sneeze before. His hand stilled as a loud thump came from overhead. Up there. In the house. When another shiver rippled through him, Matt clasped his arms tight around his body. For a moment he’d forgotten he was hiding under the stairs in the basement. Slam! He jumped, as if whatever, or whoever was above, could hear him flinch. Matt placed one hand over his heart. It felt like it was trying to jump out of his chest. Fear, that’s all it was, just like when he awoke from a bad nightmare, his heart racing like a scared rabbit. Taking a deep breath, he calmed down. Then straining forward, Matt listened carefully. The drip of water from a pipe nearby was annoying, cutting through his concentration. From upstairs, muffled sounds filtered down into the basement. He dared to scoot closer to the opening, craning his neck out from under the stairs. Now he could hear the funny chattering noises above him. 24 | UncagedBooks.com
Matt crawled out of his space and stood up; inching along, pausing every few feet to listen, only stopping when he reached the bottom of the stairs. He stared upward through the gloom. There was only one small window in the basement and it illuminated but a mere tiny square patch on the floor. If not for that opening to the outside, it would be pitch black in the basement, for Matt hadn’t dared turn the light on. A bar of brightness shone beneath the door at the top of the stairs. Beyond that door was the kitchen. Thump! Another loud noise above his head, from the kitchen. Matt stilled his hand on the rail. Had he really been thinking of creeping up those stairs and peeking beneath the door? He wasn’t sure, but his hand came back down to his side. His thoughts were becoming more confused. He could hear more of those irritating, babbling sounds that made him want to cover his ears. No way was he going up those stairs now. He turned sharply and stumbled. His legs had gone stiff on him, probably from squatting so long under the stairs. Glancing around the shadow-filled basement, Matt wondered if he should try to escape. His head tilted. The window was too high. He sighed, his breath escaping through his mouth in a selfpitying moan. He walked slowly around the room, winding between stacked boxes and old furniture. There really was no good place to hide. Matt trudged with hesitant steps back to the stairs. The tight, black space he’d first fled to was really the best spot to hide. But he hated it. He’d always been afraid of the dark-- the monsters that inhabited the shadowed spaces represented his worst fears. As he drew near the hidey hole, Matt realized it didn’t seem as bad as he imagined. There were real monsters upstairs and if this was the safest place to hide, then he would rather live. Another loud thump pounded the ceiling above his head, followed by total silence. Matt stood at the
| MYRA NOUR | bottom of the stairs, where he’d paused. Should he try through the kitchen? It seemed as though the invaders had left, because the last round of noise sounded like the kitchen door slamming shut. His shoulders slumped as exhaustion crept into his body. Turning, he writhed back under the stairs, calling himself a scaredy-cat in his head. He must have fallen asleep, because another loud bang drew him from a dreamless void. Turning his eyes upward, Matt listened, then closed his eyes, straining. It was silly to think that looking up or closing his eyes would make him hear better. More jabbering, then moans. Sharp cries. His senses had dulled because the sounds seemed further away and less irritating. He was so frigging cold and stiff, it was a wonder he could feel anything. He wished they would go away though. Disgusted with his cowardly behavior, he crawled out once again. He wondered if the power of prayer could make them disappear, but couldn’t remember any of the words Mom had taught him. Matt jerked. Mom. An image of a woman with long brown hair popped into his mind. The love and warmth didn’t flow over him like it always did when he thought of her. He was just too tired to think. But he did remember her plump arms around him, and how she often smelled like Apple pie, not perfume. There was some reason she never wore perfume, but he couldn’t pull any information from his memory. It was there, at the back of his mind, like a tickling that needed scratching, but he couldn’t reach it. He could conjure the image of the pie though, which was his and dad’s favorite dessert, and mom baked it almost every weekend. Dad’s rugged face floated in front of him and Matt reached for the imaginary face. The tall, roughlooking man, who had crease lines around his eyes from smiling so much, couldn’t be touched or held. His face dissipated quickly. Sadness gripped him for a few seconds. He remembered being held tightly by the big man and how safe it made him feel. The need to cry hammered through him, but no tears leaked down his face.
A sudden, deep aching desire overcame him. I want Mommy and Daddy. Pain and sorrow mixed within him, along with a searing urge to bawl like a baby. He was confused. Some memories flittered through his mind randomly, but there were many gaps. It was as if a video played through his head, and much of the movie was blank, while other spots were fuzzy, with only a few scenes crystal-clear. Bam! The door slammed back and light spilled onto the first few steps. Matt staggered back too quickly for his stiff legs, stumbling like a drunk and landed on his back. More strange noises emanated from the dark figures blocking the light at the top of the stairs. Matt moaned in fear and flipped over clumsily, then stomach crawled back to his hiding place. He was afraid they would see him if he stood up. Funny, this time his heart didn’t beat like crazy, but thudded slowly. Did you hear that?” “I’m not sure.” The woman grabbed the big man’s arm as he took a step down. “What if it is one of them,” she whispered. He snorted. “Don’t be silly, we have the place locked up tight.” Sighing, he patted her restraining hand. “Remember, the only access is that one small window, and it’s covered with a heavy metal grating.” Her brown hair swirled softly around her shoulders as she nodded. “Now I’m glad you didn’t listen to me when I wanted to enlarge the window.” He grinned, white teeth bright against his tanned flesh. Who knew what went through his mind--expenses, hassle, or simply a woman’s whim ignored. As he started down again she followed, gripping his Issue 14 | September 2017 |
| SHORT STORY | t-shirt in the back. ¬The darkness was deep down there even with his flashlight cutting a swath in front of their feet. “I wish you had connected the light switch by the door like I asked.” She waved back toward the door. “I know hon. Why these old houses have only one light bulb in the center of the basement…doesn’t make sense.” Stumbling, he righted his body as she gasped behind him. “Damn. Julie you’re right this time. Tomorrow I’m putting in a switch.” Her mouth dropped open, but she shut it immediately as if she cut off the retort she was about to make. Continuing more cautiously, he mumbled, “Lucky I know how to do it. No electrician in his right mind would venture out in that mess.” They had made it to the last six steps, when the man yelped and staggered. The woman reached for him, but his misstep threw her balance off and instead she pitched forward, slamming into his back. With a tumble of entwined limbs they fell down and landed on the hard, cold cement floor. Matt stayed a few fearful seconds in the dark hole. The creatures lay totally quiet. Knowing this was his only chance of escape he crept out and stood up with creaking, weak legs. Swaying, he reached the light pooling around the flashlight that had fallen near one of the thing’s outstretched limb. Their immobility gave Matt courage. He grabbed the leg of the nearest creature and tugged to check for a response. Nothing. Something unusual drew his attention from the tangled bodies. Matt held up his hands, surprised by the red running down his fingers. Sure he’d purposely swiped at the big creature’s ankle. The result had been spectacular and he had no idea he had clawed the thing in the process. He shuddered, afraid of the liquid dribbling slowly 26 | UncagedBooks.com
down his hands. What if they gave him a disease? What if they were the nightmare monsters he heard his parents whisper about, and simply touching one turned him into one of them? Bringing one hand up, Matt tentatively sniffed it. Didn’t stink. In fact, it smelled delicious. Something nudged at his memory. Apple pie? No, it didn’t smell like that, but it had the same yummy reaction in the pit of his stomach. Sticking out his tongue he licked up a thick droplet. Matt closed his eyes, overcome with the indescribable taste. His eyes popped open and he gasped. What had he done? Gross. Probably stupid too. As he stared in horror at his red coated hand, the intriguing odor wafted upward. Without thinking Matt stuck one finger in his mouth. He groaned, swaying. A gurgling growl erupted as he licked and sucked each digit until they glistened. Disappointment flashed through him as he held both hands up. All gone. It reminded him of the first time he’d tasted chocolate. Ever since that first bite he’d loved anything chocolate, whether it was candy, cake or pie. But this red stuff was even better. He lowered his arm and moaned. His stomach rumbled loudly and Matt couldn’t remember the last time he’d eaten. His awareness had been centered on his hands and the discovery of the best thing since chocolate. But now, that mouth-watering odor was floating around his body, tantalizing him. Torturing him. Matt stared at his hands in confusion, then turned slowly to look for the source of the red, better than candy treat. He inhaled deeply. Drool slid down his lips on either side, dripping onto his chest, but he didn’t notice. The smell was everywhere, as if the basement had been drenched in the red stuff. Following his nose, Matt stumbled closer to the downed creatures. Worry over their fearsome size was gone. The odor was strongest by the form lying farthest from the stairs. Kneeling with difficulty, he strained to see. His vision was cloudy, like there was a veil of smoke obscuring the creature. It was lying perfectly still. Something dark spread out all around the head, staining the hair. Swiping one hand through
| MYRA NOUR | the gooey liquid Matt could smell it before he tasted the same red ambrosia coating his fingers. He moaned in ecstasy as he dipped his fingers over and over into the thick liquid. Matt’s stomach was hit with fierce hunger pains that forced him to pause momentarily. Moaning, he wrapped his arms around his middle, hunching over in agony. Something instinctual took over and he knew he had to fill his stomach or the pain would become intolerable. Matt had to get to the source of the delicious treat. His hands searched through the gore until he felt an opening in the creature’s skull. Squealing in excitement and hunger he pried his fingers inside and pulled. Falling backwards, he was surprised the skull sprang open so easily. He was so weak a few moments ago--maybe the meal renewed his strength? Wiggling forward, Matt stuck his face into the cavity, slurping up fluid and chunky goblets of flesh. Dissatisfied, he rose to his knees and sinking one hand inside the skull, he brought forth a handful of the gory-soaked pieces. Shoving it into his mouth brought instant satisfaction. The glistening food took the edge off his pain. He continued with his feast, moaning and rocking on his knees. Digging his fingers in for another helping, they wriggled around, encountering nothing but empty space. Hunger pains shot through his whole body, as if knowing the food source was gone had brought on the agony again. Matt clutched the edges of the skull, moaning loudly. “Julie.” The remaining creature’s strange word cut through Matt’s self-pitying moaning. He rose to his feet, happy that he could move so easily now with just a little stiffness. He walked toward the creature’s feet. As he attempted to identify the terrible beast, a word floated through Matt’s consciousness: man. The word meant nothing to him. The big creature fumbled for the flashlight, and then flicked it around, never touching the other form lying but ten feet away. It stopped on Matt.
“Matt!” the beast gasped loudly. “Son, you’re hurt.” He started to move, but then stopped and groaned. “I think my ribs are broken. Damn. I can’t move my other arm. Must have busted it up too.” The light dipped down, wavering on his pants legs. “Shit.” He thought he recognized the strange creature--even the garbled words seemed a bit familiar. Matt became distracted and his eyes followed the light, fascinated by the brightness. When it stopped on the beast’s legs, he couldn’t help another stream of drool that slipped between his lips. The material had ripped, exposing the thick leg from the thigh down. Jagged bone jutted out of the flesh. It was the wetness dripping from the wound that enticed Matt. A pool of dark liquid candy treat waited for him. He eagerly stumbled forward and fell on his knees beside the creature, running his hands immediately through the muck. He slurped up the tasty stuff. “What’s that noise?” The light moved, wavering on the kneeling figure. “Matthew!” The scream drew his attention. The powerful need to fill his stomach had caused him to forget the creature. He emitted a low growl from his throat. “Get back!” Matt recognized fear in the strange, unintelligible word. It made him feel powerful and angry.
The flashlight hit the side of his head. It didn’t hurt, but it caused immediate frustration. The bright light was incredibly hot, but it didn’t deter him. The hunger was everything. Matt fell onto the creature’s leg and tore off a chunk of red meat with his teeth. The piercing shriek that erupted from the thing was much louder than the earlier one. Matt hunched over his meal protectively, Issue 14 | September 2017 |
| SHORT STORY | moaning with delight, shoving the flesh into his mouth. His head was slammed by a glancing blow, but it was enough to knock him sideways. Struggling to his knees took more of an effort. He felt weird. The creature swung at him again and he avoided it by falling backwards. Something within him told Matt that it was important not to get hit again. He flipped over, dragged his body a few feet and then stood up. The light picked him out of the darkness. “Julie, I need your help.” A pause. The flashlight flickered around the room until it landed on the other beast lying nearby. The top of the open skull faced the panicking, frenzied creature. The light hovered on the bits of brain matter clinging to the hair and scattered about the skull. A shrill scream full of agony erupted out of the thing. Matt cocked his head, wondering why the creature cried out when it was not being attacked. “Stay away from me Matt. I don’t want to hurt you.” Deep inside there was a spark of memory; he knew he should laugh, but wasn’t sure how to do it. He did know he had to avoid being hit by the big flashlight, so he glanced around. How could he get past the creature’s deadly aim? His eyes lit on a long, thin object. It was a familiar piece of wood but other than that, he didn’t know what it was called. It was strange how he could remember some things, like the flashlight, but others just were not in his head. For a brief moment he was distracted by the gaps in his memory and how they were increasing, but then he lost his train of thought. He hefted the thick end of the wood and swung it in a wide arc; the object flipped out of his hand. Moaning, he picked it up again, even though it cost him effort for that type of movement. Matt bent over as hunger pains ripped at his insides. He’d picked up the object by the smaller end this time and found it was easier to grip. Swinging it experimentally, he discovered it was easier to move 28 | UncagedBooks.com
around too. And it felt right. “What are you doing?” The fear in those garbled words gave Matt more confidence. When he drew near, he clumsily swung the wood at the frightened creature. It struck the exposed thigh and the thing screamed in agony. Matt swung again, but this time the beast was ready and deflected his blow with the flashlight. No matter. Maybe he could smash the flashlight. He was getting better at every swing, but also frustrated. Then he noticed after repeated swings, it groaned and barely got the flashlight up in time to block him. Matt grinned, a nasty grimace filled with red stained teeth and bits of flesh clinging to his lips. Wham! The creature yelped after being struck on the arm. The flashlight bounced from its grip, spinning around crazily on the floor and then stopping with the light shining on him. Matt paused as if he were the main character in a play, caught in strong beam of the spotlight. There was no memory of the third grade show in which he’d played Lancelot--just that flash of a scenario. The creature gasped as Matt moved closer and raised the weapon high above his head; he brought it down hard. It gave him great satisfaction when screams of pain erupted. He continued slamming onto the same upraised arm until it was a bloody pulp and the thing stopped moving or screaming. He’d made a tasty-looking mess of its limb. Matt walked around the body, kneeling next to the juicy flesh that remained on the battered arm. Saliva dripped in long strings out of his mouth. Without even glancing at the thing, Matt plunged onto the red pile of churned-up meat. A big chunk was easy to rip off. The creature bellowed, returning from whatever dark place it had retreated to. Matt alternated tearing pieces lose with both hands and diving his mouth into the succulent feast. The screams never stopped, but they were nothing to him. The beast couldn’t hurt him now or stop him. Whimpers rose from the thing as he licked up droplets from his fingers. The arm had little left that was
| MYRA NOUR | appetizing. What next? He eyed the long body. The head of the other had been a delight, but were there other goodies waiting to be discovered? The shirt the creature wore had been ripped, exposing the stomach area. Matt remembered something about a belly full of jelly. He loved jelly. In one swift action he tore at the soft skin with his fingers, revealing rivers of the red treat and funny-looking, long, wetly-glistening organs. They reminded him of worms--what did worms taste like? The creature’s shrill screams went on endlessly while Matt munched on the huge, delectable red worms. The screams didn’t stop until the body grew cold. When that happened Matt lost interest. Rising easily to his feet, he looked around the basement. There was nothing keeping him here now. He started up the stairs, which were a little tricky at first. He thought he was going to tumble back down. After a long struggle, he finally made it to the top. A loud shuffling sound startled him and Matt stared down into the inky blackness. Was it one of the monsters? The prostate flashlight picked up movement. The creature was flopping around like a fish. Matt wanted to giggle, but it seemed to be another thing he’d forgotten how to do. The horribly disfigured creature below was no threat to him. Matt knew this. Even if it could manage the stairs, it would have no interest in him. He nudged the door open and slid through, then looked around the kitchen. It seemed familiar. But there were boards across the back door. As he turned, Matt stopped in terror; a strange figure looked back at him, and it took a few seconds for his brain to register that it was a mirror facing him. The face in the mirror belonged to him. Matt’s mind spiraled crazily in flashes as memories bombarded him. Getting up in the morning. Boredom because he couldn’t go outside and play with his friends. Unlatching the back door carefully so his parents wouldn’t wake up. Even managing to lift the heavy board that Dad had fixed across the door, so it could be removed easily. Feeling safe inside the tall privacy fence out back. Picking up his baseball and glove. Throwing the ball
against the fence. The baseball landing where a few boards were rotted away. Reaching for the ball as it rolled away, so he had to stick his arm through the hole. Searing pain as something clamped onto his wrist. Jerking back, tearing his skin. Running into the house and wrapping the horrible, bloody wound in one of mom’s kitchen towels. His fear that his parents would find out he’d disobeyed them. Tears and throbbing, awful pain. Abrupt, gut-wrenching terror. He knew it had to be one of the monsters who bit him. Creeping slowly down the stairs, even though the basement normally scared the crap out of him. Matt remembered that his all-encompassing fear made him look for a place to hide away from the world. He zeroed back to the present. The Spiderman pajamas were covered in blood and gore, so were his hands and his lower face. He ran one hand down the soaked shirt. It was weird how the word “blood” came to mind so easily now. The skin on his face that wasn’t stained by blood was a funny gray color. Matt’s blonde hair had gone unscathed except for flecks of red scattered through it. Reaching out, he touched the mirror. Was that what he really looked like? His light blue eyes were glazed and the image was hazy, but clear enough. He was a monster. Matt’s mind recoiled from the horrors he’d committed. The last vestiges of humanity fled, his mind unable to bear the agony. The once beautiful boy turned from its reflection and sniffed the air. He no longer thought; his mind ran on pure instinct. His earlier desire to find his parents was gone, buried deep within his dead brain. Inhaling deeply, he sought something. Stumbling around the kitchen, Matt tried to find a way out, but was locked in. Eventually he lurched into the living room, and then was drawn to the curtains that were ruffled by the air conditioner vent beneath them. He grabbed the material and the rod Issue 14 | September 2017 | 29
| SHORT STORY | broke free, exposing the large front window. Pressing his nose against the glass, he was excited by the activity outside. Bodies moved. Some of them were running. Matt slammed his hands on the glass repeatedly until a small hole appeared around the cracks. Sticking his nose in the opening, he sniffed and then tried to ram his head through. Only his nose fit through the hole, and finally he withdrew, ripping all the flesh from his nostrils on a jagged shard of glass. He relentlessly beat on the glass until it exploded outward. The inhuman boy crawled through the window, tearing off chunks of gray flesh. Dragging his body to the nearest column, he managed to pull himself up after long minutes of struggling. He was incredibly weak. Matt surveyed his world and noticed smoke in the distance. A nearby house burned, but the two hazards were dismissed with a mere glance. Screams and gun blasts captured his attention. The terror in those wordless cries excited his dead brain. The bodies he’d spied earlier were gone, but he caught the faint odor of something that made his mouth water. The zombie child stumbled down the stairs, sniffing the air. No thoughts entered his mind now; he was propelled by impulse and need. He no longer searched for Mommy and Daddy, but for food that tasted better than candy. THE END
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I am a multi published author with New Concepts Publishing and Ellora’s Cave until 2 years ago. I asked for my books back from EC so I could release them as sensual reads instead of erotic. Shifters’ Desire: Vampire Fangs & Venom has been published (Nov 2016) by Loose Id and titled “Time Shifters”. I just (Jan 2017) received my rights back to my NCP books. I will be rewriting them a bit and republishing with new publishers or as Indies. Ravenswood Publishing has already accepted the River of Dream series for publication as an anthology. Demon Killer is an Indie book, originally published by NCP in Shifters anthology, which won 2 awards the year it came out. A serial killer short story is published in House of Terrors anthology. And Legacy of Death is a s/f short story. I am presently working on a zombie novel. I am a huge horror fan and love The Walking Dead. I devour zombie books.:)
Best Seller Lists Week ending September 24, 2017
New York Times Best Selling Fiction Hard Cover
IndieReaders.com Best Selling Fiction
1. A LEGACY OF SPIES by John le Carré 2. SECRETS IN DEATH by J.D. Robb 3. ENEMY OF THE STATE by Kyle Mills 4. Y IS FOR YESTERDAY by Sue Grafton 5. GLASS HOUSES by Louise Penny 6. THE RIGHT TIME by Danielle Steel 7. THE WESTERN STAR by Craig Johnson 8. CAMINO ISLAND by John Grisham 9. DARK LEGACY by Christine Feehan 10. THE STORE by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo
1. Misadventures Of A City Girl by Meredith Wild + Chelle Bliss 2. Dirty Little Secret by Kendall Ryan 3. Delirious by M.S. Force 4. Drunk On You by Harper Sloan 5. Forget Me Not by Willow Winters 6. Fire And Fantasy by Various 7. We Own Tonight by Corinne Michaels 8. Play On by Samantha Young 9. The Broken Duke by Jess Michaels 10. Betrayed & Blessed: The Viscount’s Shrewd Wife by Bree Wolf
Amazon Best Selling Fiction Kindle eBooks 1. What We Find by Robyn Carr 2. Borrowed Dreams by Debbie Macomber 3. The Great Train Robbery by Michael Crichton 4. Fool Me Once by Catherine Bybee 5. When I’m Gone by Emily Bleeker 6. It by Stephen King 7. Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King, Owen King 8. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling 9. The Designer by Marius Gabriel 10. Knocked Up by the Dom by Penelope Bloom
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Barnes & Noble Best Selling Fiction 1. Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King, Owen King 2. Don’t Let Go by Harlan Coben 3. Origin by Dan Brown 4. Haunted by James Patterson, James O. Born 5. It by Stephen King 6. The Cuban Affair by Nelson DeMille 7. Two Kinds of Truth by Michael Connelly 8. A Column of Fire by Ken Follett 9. White Horses by Alice Hoffman 10. The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye by David Lagercrantz
feature author L.D. Rose is a neurotic physician by day, crazed writer by night, and all around wannabe superhero. She writes paranormal romance and urban fantasy, but she’s been known to delve into horror, sci-fi, and medical suspense on occasion. L.D. Rose is a PAN member of the RWA, FF&P, NEC-RWA and CoLoNY. She currently lives in Rhode Island with her studly hubby, her hyperactive boxer, and her two devious cats. Sign up for her newsletter for the latest on the Senary, sneak peeks, giveaways, and other fun stuff: http://eepurl.com/bKvuXD You’ll receive a free horror short story with sign-up! You can also join her reader group on FB for more shenanigans. ;) DEVOUR THE NIGHT: https://www.facebook.com/ groups/1544747369161573/
Uncaged welcomes L.D. Rose! Uncaged: I’ve read the first two books in The Order of the Senary series, and was completely hooked. Is Releasing the Demons your first full length novel? Please explain the series for readers. Thank you for having me here at Uncaged! :D RtD is my first completed full-length novel, although I’ve written and abandoned stories many times in the past. RtD happened to be the story I managed to beat into shape and send off to publishers when it was ready. And I’m so glad I did! The Order of The Senary is a series of dark paranormal romances with a heavy dose of urban fantasy, revolving around a dystopian New York City after a worldwide vampire uprising. Vampires now rule the night with an iron fist and are at war with mortals. The heroes are genetically-engineered hybrids (half-human and halfvampire) assigned to protect what’s left of humanity and each bears their own “superpower.” I love writing these books so much! Uncaged: On your website, you have seven books listed for this series. Is that all you have planned, and when will book three release?
For this series, yes, seven books are currently what I have planned. :) I’m not a fast writer (I’m a doctor by day) so it’s definitely a full plate for me! I’m currently writing book three (VERMILION LIES, Dax’s book!) and hoping for a fall release next year. Fingers crossed I’ll have it finished by then! Uncaged: As a reviewer, I’m always curious as to
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what authors can take away from the reviews, do you read them and what do you take away from the reviews? I do read all my reviews, I can’t help myself, LOL. The good, the bad, all of it. I do consider all the points a reader makes, and even if I don’t take heed to every word (after all, everyone has their own opinions and preferences as to what they enjoy) it does help me think about certain aspects of my stories in a different way. But to be honest, I’m grateful for every review I receive, and I’m thrilled that readers are picking up my books. Uncaged: You’ve also just released, Sweet Sacrifice which is on my to-be-read pile, another paranormal – is this the genre you plan on staying with, or will you branch out? I definitely plan on sticking with paranormal romance and urban fantasy for a while because I love it so much! I love the world building and creating these amazing creatures who are powerful yet vulnerable. I’ve been obsessed with the supernatural since I was a child and devoured horror and paranormal books growing up (still do, actually), so it makes perfect sense to me. :) Two other future series that I have planned are a historical urban fantasy about two demon hunters during the Depression-era and a series of dark fairytale romances, but at this point, I’m just taking it one book at a time. Uncaged: Where do you come up with your characters and their names? How much do you pull from people you know? My characters are actually a mish-mash of people I’ve met over my life (some more recognizable than others,
haha) right down to their personality traits and tics. Many are a combination of several different people into a single fictional individual. Even their experiences are based on true-life events to an extent. As for their names, the vast majority describes something about their personality or trait. Blaze means “a flame” (of course), Lawan means “beautiful,” Shaul means “prayed for, death, a grave,” and Rome means “strength, power.” I never choose a name without some meaning either to myself or the character. ;) Uncaged: What are your favorite parts about being an author? Your least favorite? My favorite part about being an author is telling stories, of course! And I adore my readers. I’m so grateful for each and every one. Writing is therapy for me and if it also helps others escape, I’m all the more happier for it. My least favorite is marketing. I HATE marketing! Trying to self-promote and keep your head above water in a never-ending sea of books is definitely hard for me, since I don’t write fast and I hate talking about myself. Unfortunately, in the current publishing climate, it’s a must and we all have to do it to remain visible. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? When I’m not writing or doctoring, I love to bike, hike, read, and drink wine! Sometimes all I want to do is veg on my couch with my hubby and furbabies and watch a good TV show or movie. It’s not often I can, so I take advantage whenever Issue 15 | October 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | I’m able. Uncaged: I know that my favorites change as I read more and more books, but was the last book you loved? The last book you hated? I loved 11/22/63 by Stephen King! I’m a huge fan of him in general, so he’s definitely one of my go-to authors. I haven’t read a book I hated lately, and honestly, I probably wouldn’t admit it here if I did, LOL. I’ve never been one to bash authors or books, so I tend to keep those opinions to myself. ;) Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? Thank you so much for reading and I hope you enjoyed our interview! I’d love to connect with you all since you put up with me for this long. ;)
Enjoy an excerpt from Releasing the Demons Releasing the Demons L.D. Rose Urban Fantasy Blaze Knight has been through hell and back, but the nightmares aren’t over yet. Five years after Blaze was maimed by Cyrus Chimola, a powerful vampire with a penchant for torture, he’s still trying to pick up the pieces of his shattered life. As a genetically engineered mercenary with the ability to bend fire to his will and to see in infrared, Blaze’s mission is to protect what’s left of humanity. When Chimola and his crew return to the Bronx gunning for Blaze’s blood, Blaze is forced to face the demons of his past. Hell-bent on revenge, he seeks the help of Valerie Medeiros, an NYPD detective who 36 | UncagedBooks.com
manages to steal his heart and save his life in more ways than one. Motivated by her sister’s gruesome death, Valerie has made it her life’s goal to bury every vampire in the ground where they belong. When she brings in Blaze Knight for suspected murder, she discovers he’s not only innocent, he isn’t a man at all—he’s a half-vampire hybrid working with a band of brothers for the U.S. military. Valerie has a hard time trusting anything with fangs, yet she quickly falls headlong into Blaze’s life, a life full of darkness and horror she can’t even begin to fathom. The bodies are stacking up, but Valerie can’t seem to let go of this hybrid, a beautiful monster filled with pain, rage, and passion unlike anything she’s ever known. In a world where the line between good and evil is blurred, Blaze and Valerie will find danger at every turn, risking everything they’ve come to know and love, including one another. Excerpt Valerie kept her eyes locked on the glass windows covered with cigarette prices and beer ads, watching Tattoos pay up at the cash register. Once she reached the side of the building, she pressed her back against the warm brick wall. Sweat trickled down her spine and she wiped her clammy hands on her jeans before she drew her Beretta. She listened for the bell hanging above the store entrance, and when it jingled, she peered past the corner of the building. There he is. Holding a pack of Marlboros, he slipped it into his back pocket along with a silver money clip. He walked back toward the Chevelle, scanning the area one more time as he stepped off the concrete elevation. This is it. Do it. Now! With her gun pointed at the ground in a two-handed
| L.D. ROSE | grip, Valerie pushed off the wall and turned the corner, staring at his back. Her voice was loud and clear as she called, “Blaze.” He stopped and pivoted around. A fleeting expression of confusion filled his face, but it quickly turned into shock as she lifted her gun and shouted, “Freeze, NYPD!” Gasps and shouts resounded as everyone turned their attention on her. Some people ducked while others gawked, and she wished they would just climb into their cars and get the hell out of here. She did her best to ignore them, keeping her focus solely on the man before her as she carefully approached him. He didn’t make any sudden movements, his brow furrowing as a muscle in his jaw ticked. Valerie flashed her badge to prove she wasn’t bullshitting. “Get your hands in the air where I can see them.” He slowly lifted his arms and spread his hands out wide. Then spoke with a voice like black gravel, matching his appearance all too well. “What’s going on here?” She closed in on him, his presence becoming more and more overwhelming. Sirens resonated in the distance, sending a trickle of relief through her. He didn’t appear armed but that didn’t mean jack. “Turn around and get down on the ground. Now!” Anger consumed the confusion on his face but he surprisingly complied, giving her his back again before dropping to his knees with his hands above his head. She kept her gun aimed and her mind submerged in the well of her calm. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d arrested someone; she usually shot to kill. “Cross your ankles,” she ordered, and he did so, crossing his booted ankles as if he’d done this before. Valerie placed her foot in the space between his legs,
so if he attempted to stand he would end up flat on his face. People finally backed away as she removed her tungsten carbide handcuffs from her utility belt, gripping the Beretta with knuckles white as chalk. Tungsten carbide was the only metal strong enough to hold a vampire, but she used it on everyone, regardless of species. Two New Rochelle cruisers whipped into the gas station, blocking off both exits before four officers leapt out of their respective vehicles. Valerie put the gun up and cuffed Blaze’s dominant hand, swinging his right arm around before latching onto the left. He didn’t put up a fight. He didn’t even flinch. But he balled his big hands into fists at his back. She read him his Miranda rights as she cinched the cuffs around both of his thick wrists. “You have the right to remain silent—” “I have the right to know what’s going on,” he growled, showing her his savage profile. “Anything you do or say can be used against you in a court of law.” “What are you arresting me for?” “You have the right to an attorney.” “F**k the attorney—” She yanked the chain of his cuffs, bringing his solid body against her as the faint scent of cologne tickled her nose. She leaned into his ear, anger flashing through her as she thought of bloody grass and charred flesh. “You’re under arrest for the murder of Elena Delgado. Now get the f**k up and move.” EXCERPT TWO (sexy): His body hardened, his heart thudding in his chest. If that wasn’t enough, the stirring low in Issue 15 | October 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | his belly sure as hell was. He wanted her. Badly. And so did the leech inside him. “Blaze?” She peered at him with concern, taking a step closer. He snapped out of it, realizing she’d asked him something he completely missed. “Huh?” “Do you want some coffee? Something to drink? Eat?” Yeah, you. He swallowed his saliva, straightening. “I should get going.” “Oh.” She tried to hide her disappointment but she was bad at it. She wants you to stay. “Where are you heading?” “Probably home for a few hours. Rest up a bit.” And drink about a gallon of blood while thinking of you. “You know.” Valerie set what he assumed was the bag of coffee on the counter. She took another step toward him as a wave of jasmine swept over him, tugging him in places he shouldn’t be tugged. He took a reflexive step back. Goddamn it, he was fine. He’d been fine right up until now. What the hell just happened? Bad idea, Blaze. Bad f**king idea to starve yourself and walk into her apartment at dusk, with that body, and that face, and those eyes, and that smell . . . “I’ll show myself out.” She looked entirely confused as he turned away and headed for the door. Christ, he was acting like he’d never been in a woman’s apartment before, and God knew he’d been in many. But he’d never been this hungry around a woman 38 | UncagedBooks.com
before—at least, not in ordinary circumstances. And he wasn’t famous for his control. He could feel it, that ugly darkness inside him spreading through his veins, making his lips and toes tingle. The leech opened its jaws and yawned, sucking down what was left of his civility. His gums tightened, squeezing his canines, urging them to grow, to elongate. To spring free. “Blaze—” He needed to get out. Now. “I’ll see you in the morning,” he ground out, his voice a near growl. “Good night, Val.” He slammed the door behind him and managed to stagger ten paces down the hall before his limbs stopped working. Sweat dripped down the sides of his face and trickled down his spine. His hands shook and he clenched them into fists. He stood there, chest heaving, heart pounding, fangs pulsing, cock throbbing. He closed his eyes and lifted his face toward the ceiling, trying to wrestle the monster down, trying to beat it back into submission. But it was already too late. Through the din in his head, Blaze heard a door click behind him, disengaging from its frame. It creaked open slowly as jasmine slithered through the hallway toward him, rising up and striking at his senses, delivering the final blow. He craned his neck and spotted her. Valerie’s blond hair fell in a curtain as she peeked out, looking for him. Her eyes widened when she found him, still standing in the corridor, and she quickly retreated. “Sorry,” she murmured, but before she could close the door, he was already there, his hand propped against it.
She looked at him in pleasant surprise. “Blaze, I—” He didn’t give her a chance to finish. He seized her mouth with his before he slammed the door behind him and locked it shut.
| L.D. ROSE | Black Bullet L.D. Rose Urban Fantasy Fledgling vampire Jonathan Kerr has just met his match.
Uncaged Review L.D. Rose has created a dark, gritty world with an alternate history of New York, and vampires or leeches are the rulers of the night, with human body counts way too high each night. Detective Valerie and her partner Deron are two of the brave on the force that go on patrol at night, when most people are holed up in their homes. When they are called to a murder scene for a girl whose body was bitten and burned from the inside out, the black and white world that Val knows becomes many shades of grey… Blaze is a hybrid, a genetic science experiment, half human, half vampire. During these experiments, each hybrid developed a special talent, unique to them. Blaze, as his name implies, has the ability to control fire. Captured and tortured for 7 months, Blaze is a walking time bomb – and has become a person of interest to Valerie and her team after the murder of the charred girl. This is as gritty as they get, and when I hit about the 30% mark, it ramped up, and at 50%, I could not put this book down. Emotional and action-packed – it will have you anxiously turning pages. One series that will go on my to-read-again list as I’m sure in all my excitement, I missed something the first go around. Reviewed by Cyrene
Not even his past life as a former marine and FBI agent could prepare him for the battle against the monster inside him, struggling to take hold. After an old nemesis of the Senary surfaces in Brooklyn, unleashing chaos and terror in the battered borough, Jon sets out to take him down. Instead, he ends up with far more than he bargained for when he clashes with the beautiful half-vampire hybrid, Lawan Knight...
Uncaged Review In book two, we follow Jon and Lawan’s story. In this series, when a vampire is turned, they lose their soul and all of their humanity. When Jon died, and the Senary saved him by turning him, Rome was able to keep Jon’s soul within his body. Unfortunately, Jon’s also sharing his body with Taylon, the vampire that was killed. Lawan is a female hybrid, living on the edges on her own, killing leeches. But after the torture of her past, she trusts no one, getting through to her is not going to be a piece of cake. Again, the story is well written with a brilliant well thought out world. Most of New York City is owned by the leeches, and with them gaining ground – the Senary is stretched too thin as it is. The action scenes and the storyline is spot on, and the romance only enhances the story. It will pull all your emotions through the wringer and give the ending it deserves. This is a book you can’t read fast as you don’t want to miss a thing. Reviewed by Cyrene
Issue 15 | October 2017 |
showcase Jamel Gross
Jamel Gross Horror Dr. Charles Quincy Kruse accompanies a small group of students to a minor archaeological site, where his students join students and teachers from a handful of other colleges. In addition to work at the dig students must attend lectures by college professors. The excavation proves to be anything but routine. The students and teachers must contend with a ferocious storm, flooding, vandalism, arson, drug smuggling, the murder of a student and the discovery of the body of a stranger on Mason’s Mesa. Dr. Kruse renews an old friendship with Dr. Page, which intensifies and transitions into a full blown romance. Dr. Kruse uses his wits to rescue Dr. Page when she was kidnapped; however, during their escape they fall into a hidden burial chamber. While he is trying to discover the motive behind the vandalism, arson and murders, and narrow escaping being killed a number of times, he struggles to find an explanation for Page’s apparent waning love for him.
bookventure.com 40 | UncagedBooks.com
US Review of Books “The tortured should not dream. Daydreams, nightmares, and illusions Generate a hellish reality.” Troubled Luke becomes a suspect when his grandparents die mysteriously. To avoid the police—and the memories of his dysfunctional family—he decides to leave the country with his wife, Mary Beth. When their Cadillac almost crashes on the way to the airport, a stranger named Dave gives them a lift. As they drive on, strange encounters, fractured flashbacks, and grisly murders ominously connect them to Leather, a serial killer on the prowl. Gross delves deep inside a killer’s psychology in this short horror fiction. Using Luke’s disturbing experiences with his abnormal family, Gross focuses on the key elements that contribute to a potential criminal’s violent instincts, delusions, and neuroses. These include the distorted perceptions of his insane mother, the religious fanaticism of his grandmother, the bizarre actions of his abusive father, and Luke’s own insecurities. The only hope in Luke’s inner darkness is his loving wife Mary Beth, but even she sometimes chooses Dave over Luke, thus making Luke question her loyalty. Her love for Dave’s hacksaw and his perverted tales might reflect her own instability or Luke’s overactive imagination. Gross tricks the reader at each turn by blending the increasingly unreliable narration of the pill-popping Luke with the unnatural actions and dialogues of Mary Beth and Dave. Suspense builds up at a high speed as Dave introduces himself as Leather, and the audience fears that Luke and his wife are now victims of a serial killer. But then, Dave’s stories of his family, the psychiatric ward, and murders seem to be uncannily similar to the life of Luke, thereby hinting that Dave and Luke may be different personalities of the same man. Though Leatherface of Texas Chainsaw Massacre
seems to have inspired the creation of Leather (a.k.a. Dave), Gross has made him animalistic, vicious, and proud of his actions. To show the extent of his insanity, depravity and cannibalism are depicted in Leather’s tales of murder. These include a hand that eats Nate alive, Mary Beth’s discussion with Leather regarding frying Luke, Dave’s idea of the Rodney Head Drop soup, the murders of Florence and Louise, and the taste of dead fetus. Furthermore, the narration of his army experience in Palestine alerts the reader to how extreme violence and shock can induce psychosis. The dream-like quality of the narration, along with subtle time lapses, makes every situation, dialogue, and character undependable, attracting the reader to solve this open-ended murder puzzle. Preceding short poems perfectly capture the soul of each chapter, while the emotional, disconnected narration of Luke captures the intensity of a killer’s dark agony. The overall tone is grim and sinister, balanced precariously on the shoulders of the rude, monstrous Dave/Leather and the poetic, fragile Luke. Though the killer’s aspiration to be “in a better place” attempts to evoke the reader’s sympathy, his inner desire to also eat his wife, Mary Beth, pushes him further into a psychotic corner of no return. When Dr. Gemini—the psychiatrist and only character who can save Luke from himself—apparently admits failure in the end, Luke/Leather becomes a lost cause, eliciting the reader’s helplessness. The strongest appeal of this novel comes from the way Luke faces his personal demons. A genuinely shocking horror, with delicate breaths of poetry.
About the Author On a relaxing day, I enjoy a good book to start the day. I hope everyone has an opportunity to purse their dreams in life... Also I like to take time and enjoy life. Sometimes things aren’t as promised, never take loved ones for granted, spending time with family and friends. The Drive is the most intoxicating force. Sometimes I feel as if I’m on a mission. Pray for World Peace and the lives that were lost??? As a writer, I find people fascinating. It is only the beginning until the clock is up. Precious time, precious few. Make time and savor the moment let no obstacles come between you and the gift... A little robust, a good jolt to start the day.
Issue 15 | October 2017 |
Brian O’Gorman was born in Ormskirk Lancashire in 1974. He moved to Macclesfield Cheshire at a young age and grew up in the town. He began story writing whilst at primary school and won many gold star awards from his teachers for his creativity. When he left school at 16 he began working at Tesco’s stacking shelves in the frozen food department. Soon, he took a job in a printing factory and spent 8 years learning the trade. He decided to change career and trained to be a primary school teacher. After he left the profession, he began to write his debut novel “Pharmacon” after reading an article on genetic modification. He soon followed it up with ‘Dawn of the Spiders,’ which has gone on to great success over in America. He normally writes in the horror genre, but he has tried his hand at children’s books with No Dogs Land and Cheat Mode and more recently tried his hand at a contemporary novel The Final Wish of Maggie Bosworth. Brian currently resided in Stockport, Greater Manchester with his wife Zoe and three children.
website 44 | UncagedBooks.com
Uncaged welcomes Brian O’Gorman! First off, thank you so much for taking the time for the interview! The pleasure is all mine. Uncaged is a fantastic magazine. Uncaged: Day of the Spiders is the sequel to Dawn of the Spiders, and my reviewer who has read both, said you really upped your game on the latest installment. What inspired you to write about spiders – a universal scary subject to many people? Thanks, I was aiming to deliver something more significant than Dawn. I always feel a sequel should be a bigger and better continuation of the original – a bit like the first two Terminator films, that’s the contrast I was aiming for. Why spiders? Well, I put out my debut Pharmacon, which was pretty well received by the general public and friends alike. Having realized that I was poking around in the horror genre, it was suggested to me on several occasions that I perhaps should have a shot at writing a ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ type novel. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love zombies – George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead is by far and away my favourite film of all time, but I felt that with the abundance of zombie material out there and the hugely enjoyable Walking Dead series all over television, that I had nothing new to say about it. However, I could change some of the parameters and create an apocalypse all of my own. So, I took away the zombies and replaced them with spiders, then I had something I could write about. A lot of people hate spiders and are scared of them for no real reason, all I did was give them a reason to be scared. Dawn is a simple premise and delivered with all the
finesse of a smack in the face. Day is far more evolved. I have learned a lot between writing the two books. Uncaged: Are you planning on any more books in this series? There is an open door for one more entry, but I think it will be a while before I look at it again. Dawn did very well for itself. I’m hoping that Day will follow suit. There are a fair few different projects that I want to get to before the spiders come back again. Uncaged: As a reviewer, I’m always curious as to what authors can take away from the reviews, do you read them and what do you take away from the reviews? Reviews are a funny thing. I know a fair few writers that can’t cope with negative reviews, but I look at them this way; A review tells your potential customers if the book is worth their while reading, rather than stroking my own fragile ego. I am, without a doubt, my own worst critic of anything I write. If the reviews agree with my assessment, then I feel validated in my way of thinking and I can return to the word processor ready to step it up a notch. That’s the most important thing I take from reviews. Good or bad, they give me motivation to go again and keep going. People are either going to like what you do, or they’re going to hate it. Dawn was about a seventy-thirty split in favour of the book. Those that hated it were very vocal about how much it offended them, and it brought a smile to my face. I had managed to provoke an emotional reaction in them – enough to make them want to share their disgust with the world, and I loved it. The moment I see a review that starts to pull apart the
way in which I use the English language, or how I structure a story, then I disregard it. Writing is a solo act, and unique to the individual, it isn’t subject to a committee meeting. Uncaged: You’ve also written children’s stories and contemporary, what do you have coming up after Day of the Spiders is released? I have indeed. I wrote two children’s books, No Dogs Land and Cheat Mode, just so my daughter could read something that I had written and then last year I released a contemporary work, The Final Wish of Maggie Bosworth. Writing them was a fresh challenge because I couldn’t go to my usual bag of horror tricks, I had to write in a different style. They were great fun to work on. I have already begun the next project, which is an exercise in revision if you like. I had put out a book called ‘Its in the Water’ a while ago and I felt that it was a great story, but it hadn’t been told in quite the right way. It has all the hallmarks of the smashmouth style that I wrote in during my early days, rather than something more refined and thoughtful. I pulled the book from the virtual shelves and I’m writing a new version from scratch. It has been renamed ‘The Water,’ and it will be a much longer and more intricate look at the downfall of Hurndell village. I do these re-writes to improve my writing style and to slow down the process so I can tell a better story. After that, I have a murder mystery that I have already begun to write that centres on a bunch of old retired detectives who meet up once a month to discuss the good ol’ days. An incident happens and they find themselves having to call on Issue 15 | October 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | their old skill sets once again. You can thank your very own Jennifer Bradley for putting that idea in my head. Uncaged: Do you have an ARC team, or a street team? Not at all. I am very much a solo artist. Everything comes from me, the story, the cover design, everything. If you buy one of my books then you really are getting everything I have. Uncaged: What is your favourite parts about being an author? Your least favourite? Writing has saved my life. That is no exaggeration. I had a change in circumstances a few years ago that stopped me from being able to have a conventional job. I hadn’t written anything for a good few years and suddenly I had a lot of time on my hands. Well, what better way to pass the time than telling stories to myself? It taught me to enjoy the long periods of time when I am alone. Now, I look forwards, every day, to getting to the word processor and seeing what the hell is going to happen next. When I get into ‘The Zone’ with some music playing and the story flowing, there is nothing finer on this earth. There are negatives, of course there are, none of which ever happen at the comfort of my desk. I don’t like the idea of self-promotion or indeed author branding. Stephen King once said that if the story is good then the reader will quickly forget the name of the author on the cover of the book, and that’s how I see it. I’m not really selling the idea of me, I’m putting over the story instead. Dawn of the Spiders did some really good business over in America, and yet the next book I released didn’t sell a single copy, which just proved to me that the story I had to sell after Dawn wasn’t up to scratch and the name on the cover didn’t mean anything. I’m not much of a fan of online communities either, and I will only join ones that have high 46 | UncagedBooks.com
standards as regards to showing a little respect to each other. There are some writers whose egos have gone completely out of control, to the point where they try and hurt what you are doing. I know that it is a competitive market, but to run someone else down to try and make gains for yourself is ridiculous in the extreme. The amount of sharks that swim in the water, trying to get you to pay for services or pay to get your book published is incredible, and they all should be condemned. I can’t stand it when I hear people talking of writing ‘clean.’ There is no such thing, you write the way you write. Ok, last pet peeve. I never refer to writing as a ‘chore’ or ‘work,’ nor do I bemoan the incredible opportunity I have to do what I love doing. Any creative artform is a gift, especially if you have the time to play around with it. I’m very passionate about what I do, and I enjoy every moment I get to spend doing it. When I start whinging about it then it’s time to hang it up. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Remember those circumstances I mentioned? Well, when I don’t have my writing hat on I am a full-time career for my dear wife. She has a lot of difficulties moving around because she had arthritis which affects her back and her knees pretty bad. She is pretty good humoured about it all, we have to be, otherwise you could go nuts. The medication she has to take for her pain make her pretty tired throughout the day, so she has to sleep it off. It’s during these times that I pound the keyboard. Sometimes I play video games, which is something I have done since the first time that I saw a Pac-Man arcade machine in my youth. That itch to play something good has never left me. Yes, I am a big kid, and I still know how to play. In an evening, before sleep, then I spend time with a good book. I like to read the work of other ‘indies’ along with more mainstream writers. I love the work of David Mccaffrey, Mark Steen and Sarah Northwood. One of Blake Pierce’s books is on my Kindle at the moment and it’s good stuff so far.
| BRIAN O’GORMAN | Uncaged: Have you attended any book signings, or online release parties? Is it something you would like to do? When I wrote No Dogs Land, I was invited to my daughter’s school to do a reading and to judge a writing contest. That was pretty good fun. I haven’t done any book signings of my own yet. I attended one where the legendary Tom Baker was signing copies of his autobiography. To say I was a little star-struck at meeting my favourite Doctor Who is like saying that the pope is a little catholic. I joined in with an online release party, which was pretty good fun. Would I do it myself? Never say never. I would have to come up with something different to the norm to pull it off. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? Listen, if you have ever read and enjoyed something I have written, then I’m telling you right now that I love you and I appreciate you. Just remember that if you were sickened, or scared, or laughed at anything in those books then it’s just me toying with you. I like to show you the sights, and perhaps lead you into some dark corners of the human mind, but we all make it back out into the sunlight at the end of it all, you’re quite safe. Without people reading then I am just a guy mumbling in an empty room. I’m most active on Facebook @brianogormanauthor
Enjoy an excerpt from Day of the Spiders
Day of the Spiders Brian O’Gorman Horror Preorder available Releases, Oct. 31, 2017 Five years after Newtown went up in flames, everything has returned to an uneasy calm, until a little girl by the name of Lottie Richmond is killed in her back garden. Braden Benson has been on the frontline of journalism for most of his adult life. He has enjoyed some success, but that one big headline payoff has always eluded him. He decides to hang up his notepad in favour of spending more time with his neglected family, that is until a spate of grisly events in the nearby town of Layton makes him suspect that there is something fundamentally wrong. The events unfolding in Layton attract the attention of D.C.I Gerald Thompson and his partner John Wells. Their investigation takes them to a house on Corsica Road and the terrible certainty that what happened in Newtown is far from over. Day of the Spiders is the terrifying sequel to the international best seller Dawn of the Spiders. Excerpt Wells began to relax the moment that they stepped out of the station. Thompson hated to dampen his apparent good mood by telling him the subject of their latest case. He could see Wells’ face falling as he relayed the story of Lottie Richmond to him. He knew this case could hit Wells pretty hard because he had a young family. His sons were only eight and four years old. It must have been a tough thing for him to have to do in his line of duty and he guessed that it never got any easier the more that you did it. Thompson had no idea exactly how it felt because he had never been blessed with children. They had wanted a family all along but for some reason Cindy had Issue 15 | October 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | never been caught. She had gone to the doctors and there had been test after test, which showed no abnormalities. He had been tested too, having to endure the indignity of pulling himself a hand shandy in a little room and leaving his deposit in a little plastic cup. Cindy had teased him endlessly about it over the course of the following two weeks, accusing him of having a passionate affair with a cup and stopping him every time he put the kettle on just to make sure he was shagging one of the coffee mugs. By the time the joking had worn off he had come close to yelling at her. Everything had come back normal; his swimmers were in fine shape. They had put it down to, what they had called, unexplained infertility. They had talked about adopting, but they had never approached the subject with any real purpose. It was almost as if Cindy had resigned herself to never having kids, and as time went by they appreciated the fact that they had their lives all to themselves. A lot of their couple friends would always cancel on them because of a child being ill, or not being able to find a babysitter. They had none of these problems, and eventually they started to enjoy the fact that there was nothing really tying them down. Their talks began to steer towards things like exotic holidays whenever he could get the time off and the long-term plans for when he hung up his badge for the last time. He had all of that to look forward to, if he could stay in one piece in the meantime. “I hate these weird ones,” said Wells, snapping him out of his thoughts. “Yeah, me too. Let’s try and get this one out of the way as quickly as possible and then we can go back to our usual drink induced crimes,” said Thompson The drove on in silence for a moment until Wells snapped on the radio. It was the top of the hour and the news was just starting. The top story was all about the dead child that they were on their way to investigate. 48 | UncagedBooks.com
“Jesus, how did they get a hold of this already?” said Wells. “I’m guessing that someone must have told them,” said Thompson. “Do you think the press will be at the site?” “Oh yes, they’ll be there alright. Don’t worry, we’ll set uniform on them, that’ll keep them off our backs whilst we try find out what happened.” Thompson was an old veteran when it came to handling the press. They had been a thorn in his side for as long as he had been a D.C.I. He handled their questions the same way each time, with a cheeky smile and a ‘no comment.’ It drove them nuts and he took great pleasure in it. To him, the press were nothing but vultures swooping in to pick over the bones of broken lives, he had no time for them at all. As they approached the turning for Corsica Road, Thompson could already see the news vans lining the streets, right on the doorstep of the crime scene. He was going to have to flex a little muscle here. He usually didn’t like to throw his weight around, but with these jackals, he was only too happy to make an exception. Wells pulled the car over a few doors down from the house. There were two uniforms outside the door and the ginnel that ran down the side of the house had yellow tape pulled across it. The uniforms had done their job pretty well from what Thompson could see. They got out of the car and Wells immediately lit a cigarette. The change in the law that prevented him from smoking in the car had kept him in moans for at least six months. Thompson could almost recite his moans word for word he had heard them so often. Whilst Wells smoked, Thompson went over to the news vans one by one and told them to go to the top end of the street. Some of them protested, citing the freedom of the press, but Thompson gently reminded them that a child had died which shut them right up. They begrudgingly packed their cameras up and started to move up to the top of the road. Thompson went over to one of the uniformed officers that were standing outside the house and told them to set up a road block at the
| BRIAN O’GORMAN | top of the road. He nodded and gave him a polite ‘Yes sir’ and began to talk into his radio. Thompson waved Wells over, who pitched his cigarette into the gutter. “Let’s get on with it, shall we?” said Thompson. Wells shrugged, “Can’t put it off forever.” They headed to the ginnel down the side of the house. Thompson lifted the yellow tape so that they could both duck under it and they made their way towards the back of the house. For Thompson, the feeling he got of walking into a scene where someone had died never changed, no matter how many times he had done it. It felt to him almost like the place was unreal, as if it was a film set that had been set up for him and he was an actor, meant to say the right lines at the right time. Perhaps he should have been wearing a long overcoat, a Trilby and have a smoke hanging out of the corner of his mouth. Oh, and the hip flask full of booze so that he could blot out the horror of it all. Perhaps he would change his name to Jack Daniels, right Chief? He thought not. He had yet to meet a D.C.I that fitted that description, although he knew a fair few that would shake hands with Mr. Daniels after a long shift. The reality was that an investigation like this was as far removed from the almost romanticised version that you would see in a film or a television show, but if you didn’t harden to it quickly then Mr. Daniels would start to set up shop. The garden looked like any other average garden. He scanned it, looking for something to jump out at him to indicate what the hell had gone on. But, everything looked quiet and normal. He walked forwards slowly, Wells following just behind him also looking around for anything obvious. “What do you think boss?” said Wells. Thompson shrugged. “Nothing out of place here.” “Shall we take a look inside?” said Wells. “Sure,” said Thompson and they started to walk towards the back door. They were nearly at the door
when Thompson felt something pop under his foot. He stopped in his tracks and lifted his shoe from the floor. On the floor was a crunched-up spider. It looked like a pretty impressive house spider, the sort of spider that would send Cindy screaming from the room. The mashed body was lying in a small pool of yellowing goo that had burst from its body when Gerald’s foot came down on it. “That’s gross,” said Wells, peering over his shoulder. “I hate spiders, I fuckin’ hate them.” “They don’t speak too highly of you either,” said Gerald. He wiped his foot on the grass and then he turned back towards the back door. He started to move forwards again and something caught his eye. He stopped in his tracks and turned to look at the manhole to his left. The cover looked as though it had been displaced, only slightly, but Thompson saw it. Curiosity began to pinch at the back of his mind. What this had to do with their investigation, he had no idea, but…. Just a hunch…. “We should get forensics in here,” said Wells. “We will,” said Gerald. He was fumbling a pack of latex gloves from his pocket. “But I want to see what’s under that manhole before we do. Get your phone camera out, I want you to document everything. Got to keep our necks covered.” Wells brought out his mobile phone and tapped the screen. “Ready when you are,” he said. Thompson worked his fingers around the recessed handles on the manhole cover and he pulled, expecting it to be heavier than it was. It pulled up easily, almost causing Thompson to throw the damn thing over his head. He nearly lost his balance too but he managed to steady himself and he set the lid to one side. When he saw what was down the manhole, he jumped to his feet almost knocking the phone out of Wells’ hand. “Jesus,” he said. Issue 15 | October 2017 |
“Goddammit,” said Wells, fumbling the phone and accidently taking a picture of himself in the process. Down the manhole, dotted around the deep grooves that made up the waste channels, were the bodies of dead spiders similar to the one that Thompson had stood on a moment before. “Did you get some shots?” he said. There was silence from Wells. He gave him a dig in the shoulder. “Shit,” said Wells. He pointed the phone in the right direction and began to push the button. He caught half a dozen shots of the drain below them. “You got it?” “Yeah, I got it,” said Wells. His face was wrinkled up in disgust. The smell of shit emanating from the drain wasn’t helping matters at all. Thompson hesitated a moment and then he went to his pocket again. This time he brought out a plastic evidence bag. “I need to get one of those spiders,” he said. “What in the hell for?” said Wells, although deep down he knew the answer. It was for a reason that people around here didn’t like to talk about. Thompson gave him a look. “You know the reason as well as I do, and you know the rules too. Unusual activity? That’s what I would call this,” said Thompson. He squatted beside the drain. “Are you going to volunteer?” “Not a chance,” said Wells. Thompson positioned himself on the edge of the drain and then he lowered himself in, his feet 50 | UncagedBooks.com
straddling the sides of the channels. He bent down to one of the spiders and picked it up using the bag as a glove. Wells looked on, his phone still in his hand. “Careful boss,” said Wells suddenly, causing Thompson to almost jump out of his skin. The spider dropped out of his hand and fell into the sloppy, damp mess at the bottom of the drain. “Christ on a bike,” roared Thompson, and shot Wells a disapproving look. “Sorry boss,” said Wells. Thompson reached down again and pinched the limp spider by its leg. He lifted it halfway out of the drain and pulled the bag inside out so that the spider was caught inside. He sealed it up before it could get out of his grasp again and then he clambered out of the drain. He wiped a sweat off his forehead with his sleeve. “Are we going inside?” said Wells. “No, I don’t think we need to. We should call this one in and get our little friend in here sent off for analysis. Do you want to give him a kiss before he goes?” said Thompson waving the bag in front of Wells. John took a couple of steps backwards and his heels caught the edge of the low wall that was behind him. He sat down on it hard and his phone fell from his hand and clattered to the floor. “Shit on it,” said Wells. Thompson laughed, “No kiss?” he said. Wells gave him the finger and then he reached down to get his phone. He paused for a moment, because there was another spider sprawled out on the concrete next to it. He went to snatch the phone up and just as his hand went near, the spider suddenly sprang into life and ran with incredible speed towards him. It managed to climb onto the back of Wells’ hand before he had a chance to draw it away. He uttered a highpitched and very unmanly shriek and flailed his hand
around to try and get the spider off. The spider lost its grip and flew away into the grass behind him. He jumped up and down for a moment bellowing curses and then he held out his hand in front of him. “It bit me. I swear to God, the little bastard bit me,” he exclaimed in a voice that was reedy and close to cracking. Thompson looked at Wells’ hand. There were two small pin pricks, both of them oozing a tiny amount of blood, just below the knuckles. “I think we should get out of here, and you need to have that looked at.” Wells rubbed at the bite with his other hand. “I’ll be fine, don’t you worry about me,” he said. Thompson barely heard him. He was looking out over the garden towards the garish plastic climbing frame in the middle of the garden. Lottie had been playing on it when the accident (Incident) happened.
“Come on, let’s get the hell out of here,” said Wells “I think you’re right,” said Thompson They walked quickly across the back yard and down the side of the house. By the time they made it back to the front, they were both out of breath.
Uncaged Review A follow up to the fabulous Dawn of the Spiders. Just when you thought those damn spiders were gone, they pop up again out of the blue. This time they have had five years to regroup and get stronger, and so the body count rises and rises. Even scientist Briggs is back to help. A dark tale of humor and horror that will have you checking every corner for eensy weensy spiders. For fans of dark horror and humor. Reviewed by Jennifer
Something began to churn in his guts and tickle the back of his mind. He had a hunch. He had an idea of what had happened here, but he needed more to go on. If he spread word of his hunch, even to Wells, then the whole thing could blow up right in his face. He was about to nudge Wells and start heading back for the front of the house again when he saw movement out of the corner of his eye. The spider that Wells had launched off his hand and into the grass was emerging from the edge of the lawn. It scuttled towards them. “Watch out,” said Thompson, pulling Wells backwards by his sleeve. Wells caught sight of the spider and let out another curse. Thompson stepped forwards and stamped on the spider as hard as he could. The spider was obliterated under the weight of his foot. He pulled his leg backwards and the rolled-up corpse of the spider came out from under the front of his shoe. It was followed by a nasty trail of bloody pus from the spiders’ innards. Issue 15 | October 2017 |
feature author Zizi was born in Kirksville, Missouri in 1985. She lived there most of her youth, until she moved to Brookfield in 2001. She attended college and obtained her Associate’s of Applied Science degree in Early Childhood. She later went back to college and received her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resources. Zizi resides in a small town in Missouri with her two boys and cat. When Zizi isn’t writing, she likes to spend time with her boys and reading.
Uncaged welcomes Zizi Cole! Uncaged: Something I didn’t know when I read Sweet Nightmares, that this is a debut novel for you. And the twists you took the reader on were fantastic. What inspired this series? Can you explain the series for readers? Sweet Nightmares was inspired by wanting to do something different. There are all kinds of supernatural, ghosts, and other books along those lines, but you don’t see many that deal with dreams being reality. The series starts off with Alexandrea and what she goes through after the deaths of her parents. Then the journey continues in Sweet Visions where you get more of an idea of what happens with Cole and Mia. It is written from both Cole and Mia’s pov. Uncaged: I know book two is out, how many books are planned for the series? Right now, I am projecting four books in the series. I never had a number set in my head, I just go where the story takes me.
Uncaged: As a reviewer, I’m always curious as to what authors can take away from the reviews, do you read them and what do you take away from the reviews? I do read them. I like to know what the readers ex-
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pected compared to what they got. I also like to see what they say I can improve. I try not to let the reviews get to me if they are extremely negative. I try to learn from the suggestions and grow as an author in general. Uncaged: Do you have anything else planned or on a backburner that you can tell us about? I actually have several works being planned and in progress. I am working on a fairytale retelling story of Beauty and the Beast with a friend and co-author, A. Maslo. We are going to write a series from the perspective of the princes in fairytales. I am also working on a book called Kill Floor. It is about a woman that runs a homeless shelter but also has a “killing factory” in the subbasement of the shelter.
I have always had a vivid imagination and had to reel it in or people would think I was crazy or immature. I also love interacting with my readers and getting to know them. There is so much that is amazing about being an author. I am continuously surprised and amazed by the support in this community. My least favorite parts are marketing and editing. They are hard for me because I want to get all the ideas out of my head and not worry about marketing and edits. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
Uncaged: Where do you come up with your characters and their names? How much do you pull from people you know?
My kids will tell you my favorite pastime is sleeping. I work my muggle job in the evenings so I am pretty tired most of the time. I also like to spend time with my boys and read of course. I am pretty behind on my reading though.
I tend to name my characters after people I know or names that I see and really like. I also use Name Generators and baby name websites.
Uncaged: I know that my favorites change as I read more and more books, but was the last book you loved?
Uncaged: What is your favorite parts about being an author? Your least favorite?
The last book you hated or mad you mad? I love any of the Rune Alexander Series by Laken Cane. In fact anything by Laken Cane is amazing. I also absolutely love the Among Stars series by Joanna S. Morris. It gave me all the feels. One book I
One of my favorite things about being an author is I can let my imagination run wild and I’m not judged on that.
Issue 15 | October 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | have hated is the Divergent series. I hated how the series ended. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? Thank you for taking a chance on me. I will not disappoint you! Stick with me to see some great things coming up! Also you will be able to see me in person at PennedCon in St. Louis, MO in 2018!!
Enjoy an excerpt from Sweet Nightmares Sweet Nightmares Zizi Cole Horror/Occult Nightmares aren’t always figments of our imagination. Alexandrea Cooper moves back to her hometown, Ravensville, after a ten-year absence. She starts adjusting to life back home again, when her parents are brutally murdered. There are no suspects and Alexandrea tries to cope with the grief of what has happened, when suddenly her sleep becomes plagued with nightmares of her parent’s killer. She quickly realizes that there’s more to her world than she originally believed. She’s reunited with her high school sweetheart, Jake, and the nightmares intensify. Attempts on Alexandrea’s life twist her life as she knows it. In a race against time, can they stop the killer before it’s too late? Excerpt 56 | UncagedBooks.com
I sat there stunned by Jake’s outburst. In all the years I had known him, he had never raised his voice or gone off like that. I was sorry for causing him the pain. I hadn’t thought that it would hurt him that much. Was I selfish? Yeah, I guess I was. I had never told him about the pregnancy because deep down, I knew what he would do. Was I protecting his heart or was I selfishly keeping it to myself? I shook my head. Now was not the time to debate whether I was selfish or not. He was sitting there glaring at me and Mia. He was being impatient and I could tell he wasn’t going to stay quiet for long. “I’ll start,” I said glancing at Mia again. She wasn’t getting off the hook, but I figured I would bite the bullet and go first. “You know that whoever has been in the house, hasn’t been here since you started staying. At least, he hasn’t been inside. I feel like I’m being watched though.” He frowned at that. “When did you start feeling like you were being watched?” I shrugged. “A couple days ago, I guess. I thought someone was following me leaving the therapist’s office the other day, but I didn’t actually see anyone. And occasionally, I feel like someone is looking in the windows.” “Okay, from now on we’ll keep the blinds and windows down. That’ll keep anyone from looking in the windows. We need to make sure you aren’t alone anywhere either. If you need to go somewhere, I will take you. If I’m not around, then Mia can probably take you. Or you can wait until I’m available to go,” he decided. “Now, what did you need to tell me about your mom, darlin’?” I wasn’t sure I wanted to tell him this part. This was where he would think I was completely batshit crazy. I glanced at Mia and she nodded at me encouragingly. I looked around the room. That’s when I noticed her. I looked straight into my mother’s eyes. She did one slight nod. If she thought I should tell him, I should trust her. She’d never steered me wrong when she was alive; why would she now? I acknowledged her with a slight nod. “This is really hard for me to tell you. I should have said something when it first happened, but you have to understand, I thought I was crazy,” I rambled. I
| ZIZI COLE | took a deep breath. “I can see momma’s ghost.” Jake’s frown deepened. “You what?” “I can see momma’s ghost. She’s standing behind you right now.” I told him as he turned quickly. “Maybe I should tell you that I can also hear her. She’s the one I was talking to that day in the kitchen when you caught the end of my conversation.” Understanding dawned in his eyes. I could tell that he had wondered about that day since it happened. He didn’t say anything at first. I was waiting for the talk about being crazy. He just sat there, thinking. His finger started tapping on the table. I looked over his shoulder at my mom and she grimaced. She always hated when he did that. I smiled. Then I heard her voice whisper in my ear. “Tell Jacob that he better stop that damn tapping before I hit his hand with a wooden spoon.” “Uh, Jake, you might wanna stop tapping your finger before momma gets a wooden spoon and smacks your knuckles with it.” I told him. His fingers stopped tapping immediately. He looked me in the eyes. He believed me. I couldn’t believe he actually believed me. I felt relief wash through me. If he believed me, then maybe things would be okay again eventually. He looked over at Mia. No, he definitely hadn’t forgotten that she had beans to spill as well. “Your turn,” he said. Mia fidgeted in her chair. She was obviously uncomfortable with what she needed to admit. I was starting to get another feeling that she was going to say something that I didn’t like, as well. The longer she sat there, the more uncomfortable I was becoming. I couldn’t imagine what she was getting so antsy about. “Okay,” she said slowly. “I just want to throw this out there since y’all decided to clear the air with me here. But I didn’t know about the miscarriage, either. I mean, I knew that she wasn’t completely okay, but I didn’t know what was actually going on. I knew because I had dreams that she was hurting. I just didn’t know what they meant. I have visions. I’ve had visions for the majority of my life. If you just take a second to think about it, that makes sense. The thing that I haven’t really had a chance to de-
velop or learn about is this ability that seems to be manifesting. I have been doing research since Aunt Emma and Uncle Joseph died. I think this ability is called astral projection. I was there for the murders- “ “You mean you know who is behind this and haven’t said anything?!?” Jake exploded. “No! I couldn’t see him. But l did see what he did to them. I also know that he watched Alexandrea sleep. But I don’t know anything about him or how he pulled it off. I also don’t know how he made Lex think that she committed her parents’ murders. I’ve been trying to figure it out. She was in her bed the whole time. Yet she saw the murders happen. She knows too many details not to have seen it. I don’t know how he did it. Maybe it was. . . I don’t know. I am going to keep researching it. I’m wondering if he didn’t just implant his memories of it into her head. There were minor details that were wrong. Like, the fact that she saw her mother die first. Maybe it was a mirror image of his memory,” Mia explained. She turned to me and grabbed my hand. “I need to tell you something, Lex. I’ve wanted to tell you this for years, but my mom told me that I absolutely couldn’t tell you under any circumstances. But I feel like this changes everything. I think you should have been made aware a long time ago. Our mothers are magical. They had magical abilities growing up. Not the magic that you saw on TV, but real magic. They’re able to do spells and stuff; they just chose not to, for our sake. They thought we would be safe not knowing about the magic world. Our dads both knew about it as well. I don’t know if they had magic - they’ve never said. The only reason I knew about it is because I started having visions and mom wanted me to understand what was going on. She didn’t want me to be afraid of what I can do. You’ve probably had some magic all this time as well, but it wasn’t triggered. Or maybe you mom cast a spell to bind your magic or abilities, I’m not sure. Please don’t hate me for not telling you.” Issue 15 | October 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | I looked back to where my mother was standing. She was still there just watching the scene before her. She looked sad. I knew by the look on her face she didn’t want any of this to happen to us. She was doing what she thought was best for me, for her family. I looked back to Mia. Her eyes were filled with tears and her hands were trembling in mine. She was deeply afraid that I was going to hate her or turn on her. But I couldn’t do that. I understood. I had so many questions about it though. “Oh Mia, I don’t hate you. I’m not even mad at you. I get it. They did what was right at the time.” I smiled at her. “I have so many questions, I don’t know where to start. What kind of magic is it?” “I don’t know all the details. Mom has kept her lips sealed about a lot of it. She’s only told me what she feels is necessary for me to know. She has told me that our family is a hybrid family. We have a mix of Fae and witch blood. Our family has the powers of both the Fae and witches without some of the vulnerability.” Mia explained. “I know it is a lot to digest and we still have a lot to learn. We’ll find out more about our heritage together. Now that you know, we can explore our family ancestry and find” I nodded. “We’re basically fairy witches? Wow. I would have never thought of that. That’s amazing.” She turned her head and looked at Jake. “Don’t forget I know things. I’ve seen your resources. But you are right, for now it’s best if we just trust you know what you’re doing, Jacob.” He gave her a slight nod. He was sitting and letting everything that he learned absorb into his brain. I knew that he would let everything stew and he would have a better understanding of what was going on than we did. Maybe this would come to an end soon and life would be back to normal. ** I was running through the house, covered in blood. I was trying to get away from 58 | UncagedBooks.com
the shadow that was chasing after me. I ran out the front door towards the wooded area to the left of the property. I slowed down as I entered the tree line. I didn’t want to fall and break my neck, but I had to keep moving. I couldn’t let the shadow catch up to me. He would cut my heart out. I made my way through the woods on a path that had grown over from years of neglect. I stopped and looked around. I had never been in the woods before. That was one of the main rules my momma had when I was growing up. She had said to stay out of the woods. I heard a branch snap. I started following the path again. I picked my way through carefully so I wouldn’t trip or get snagged on something. The path opened to a wide clearing. The clearing was in the shape of a circle. Inside the circle was all kinds of strange symbols that I had never seen before. In the middle of the circle was a large weathered stone. The stone had a smooth top on it. On the stone there was a black object. I carefully stepped closer to the object. As I got closer to it, I was able to see that it was moving slowly. I stood next to the rock and looked down. I was staring at a still beating heart. There was blood leaking out of the heart. I looked around trying to find the body that it came from. I wasn’t seeing a body. I heard a creaking noise coming from the trees across from where I was standing. I followed the noise. When I walked into the tree line, I felt something drip onto my shoulder. I turned my head slightly to look at my shoulder. There was something wet on it. In the dark it looked almost black. By the scent, I could tell it was blood. I looked up and there was a body hanging in the tree. I stifled a scream and stepped back a step so I could see the body more clearly. The body was hanging by its ankles and it has been gutted like a buck during deer season. I looked at the face and my heart stopped. I was looking into what was left of Jake’s beautiful face. His eyes were open wide, unseeing. I covered my mouth as a sob escaped me. I lost the one man I had ever truly loved. I felt a hand on my shoulder. I looked. It was my mother. She glanced around urgently. “You need to get out of here. He’s
still coming. You don’t have time to fall apart, sweetie. You need to keep moving. Remember, don’t let him touch you.” I heard the distinct sound of footsteps heading towards the circle. I examined my surroundings. I needed to go, but I couldn’t leave him. He was my heart. Without Jake I was nothing. When I took a step forward, I stepped on something that sent a sharp pain through my foot. I bent down and picked it up. It was a diamond ring. Inside the ring it read ‘Forever and Always.’ I looked at my mom. She looked over her shoulder. “You don’t have time for this, Alexandrea. You need to haul ass and get out of here.” Momma looked around again. “Please, hurry.” I turned to run, and there he was standing right behind me. He had a knife in his hand. There was blood dripping off the knife. As he reached out to touch my shoulder, I jerked backwards and fell onto the ground. I crab-walked backwards until I bumped into the tree that Jake was hanging from and my hand landed in something warm and wet. I looked at my hand and it was covered in blood. I had put my hand in Jake’s entrails. I screamed. “Alexandrea! Wake up.” Jake shouted in my face. He was shaking my shoulders. I shot up and wrapped my arms around his neck. Jake wrapped his strong arms around my waist in a tight embrace. “Oh my god! You’re okay. You’re here.” My whole body was shaking. He was alive and it was just a dream. I could feel his heart beating against my chest. It had been so realistic. “It was just a dream, darlin’,” Jake whispered. “You’re safe. We’re all safe.” “It was so real,” I whispered. I held onto Jake as the dream faded. Before it completely faded, I thought I saw the man from my dream standing at the end of the bed. He had the knife in his hand. As he disappeared, he whispered, “Soon.”
| ZIZI COLE |
I started reading this one, without even looking at the blurb for it – so I went into this book “blind” as to what it was really about. When I started reading, I actually thought it was a about a killer who murdered a girl’s parents and then she was living through the nightmares over and over again. It is that, but it’s so much more. When Alexandra loses her parents and her nightmares are taking over her life, her ex-boyfriend Jake comes to visit, bringing Alexandra feelings she thought long buried. But the nightmares are getting worse and worse. This is a paranormal story, but the horror is interwoven into the story, you’ll be flipping pages faster to either get away from something, or to find out what’s going to happen. I think I did both at times. Alexandra, her friends and Jake need to find out what is happening, especially when Alexandra gets hurt in her nightmare, and wakes up with the injuries. The author does a great job, with a couple of twists I didn’t really expect, and I’ll look forward to book two. Reviewed by Cyrene
Issue 15 | October 2017 |
feature author Born and raised in a farming community in rural Southwest Ohio, Aliya DalRae grew up a middle child, with an older and younger brother. Surrounded by corn and cows, it was not unusual for Aliya to immerse herself in books, her way of escaping the humdrum small town life to visit fantastic lands full of mystery, myth and legend. And of course, romance. Aliya’s first love was musical theater, and as a teenager she dreamed of one day performing on Broadway. Those dreams were put on hold, as life intervened (as life often does), and she moved on with other pursuits. After graduation, and a brief time living in England, Aliya returned to her home town, where she worked mainly in administrative positions, but her love for books never waned. In 1992, Aliya met her immortal beloved, and they have been inseparable ever since. When not weaving romantic tales, she can be found working side by side with her husband in their furniture restoration business, where she weaves caned chairs instead. Aliya is the author of the Jessica Sweet Trilogy. Her debut novel, “Sweet Vengeance,” was published in February 2016, and was honored as a Golden Quill Awards Reader’s Choice Finalist in 2017. Her second novel, “Sweet Discovery,” is a Top Three Winner in the 2017 Virtual Fantasy Con Awards, as well as a 2017 SIBA Awards Nominee. Her short story, “Bittersweet,” also received a 2017 SIBA nomination.
website 60 | UncagedBooks.com
Uncaged welcomes Aliya DalRae! Uncaged: The first book in the Jessica Sweet Trilogy, Sweet Vengeance, you hit the ground running in this book and the book is action packed. What inspired this trilogy and can you explain this series to readers? This trilogy is near and dear to my heart. I actually started writing it soon after the loss of my only child late in the pregnancy. As one can imagine, it was a difficult time for my husband and me, and I needed an outlet. I was encouraged to write, to help myself work through the emotions. Initially, I had intended to write a non-fiction book, detailing our experiences for others who had gone through, or were going through, what we had. Something full of hope and encouragement, with a happy ending and all that. Well, we never got the happy ending, and I couldn’t bring myself to write that, “Life sucks and it can happy to you, too. The end,” kind of book. Instead, I started wondering what our own Jessica’s life would have been like, had she lived. I started to imagine what she would have been like, looked like. Would she have her father’s eyes and athletic abilities? Would she be artistic like her mother? That was when Jessica Sweet was born. I love everything paranormal, so when the story first took off in my mind I had to give it that paranormal twist. I was hoping it would be different, something
new and exciting, but really, all I was doing was giving our little girl immortality the only way I could, in fiction. The series follows Jessica Sweet, who is human albeit one with an extraordinary ability – she can see the future. When one of her recurring visions comes to life in the form of the Vampire, Raven, showing up on her porch, near death, her life takes an unexpected turn. She finds herself drawn into a world of creatures she thought existed only in books and movies: Vampires, Werewolves, and some pretty nasty Sorcerers who are bent on vengeance. Sparks fly between Jessica and Raven, but when her friends are drawn into a preternatural war, Jessica will stop at nothing to defend those she loves. Even if it costs her everything. Uncaged: I know you are working on the final book in the trilogy now, do you have a release date on it yet? I don’t have an exact date yet for “Sweet Destiny,” but I’m hoping to have it out early next year (2018). I wouldn’t mind getting it out sooner, but we’ll have to see how cooperative the muse is between now and then. Uncaged: As a reviewer, I’m always curious as to what authors can take away from the reviews, do you read them and what do you take away from the reviews? I do read all of my reviews, and while I love the positive ones (don’t we all?) it is interesting to read those
from people who weren’t particularly fond of the books. Obviously, we can’t please everyone, but occasionally I will come across one that actually has something constructive to say. I take those very seriously, and use that input to help me hone my craft. I’ve come a long way since my first 1-Star review. That one left me in tears for days! But I’m happy to say that I’ve toughened up and can now read them for what they are: the opinions of my readers. Good or bad, they’ve read my book(s), and that is the ultimate goal. Uncaged: After this trilogy is over, what else will readers have to look forward to from you? After Jessica and Raven’s story winds up, I plan on giving a few of the side characters in the trilogy some page time. Some of the Warriors are in serious need of a love interest, Harrier in particular (if anyone needs a girlfriend, it’s that guy!) and Taz will be getting a book as well. I also have one planned for two characters who just showed up in Sweet Discovery, but I’ll leave that one a mystery for now. Beyond that, I’m working on two short stories for an upcoming Fairy Tale anthology entitled “Once Upon a Fabulous Time,” which will include stories from the Indie Fabs, Renee Gauthier, J.B. Richards, Eva Pasco, Joanne Van Leerdam, Lyra Shanti, and myself. My stories will have their roots in two classic fairy tales, the first being a Issue 15 | October 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | take on Puss in Boots called “Sweet Distraction.” The second, “Bitter Beauty,” is based loosely on Beauty and the Beast. Both will have Shifters in them, of course, and will take place in and around Jessica Sweet’s home town of Fallen Cross, Ohio.
in the first book, so perhaps that’s not too narcissistic?
I’m also putting together a series of short stories centered on the Fallen Cross Werewolf Pack, specifically detailing the journey of Patrick Dane, who turns out to be an important character in the Sweet Trilogy.
There are so many things I love about being an author. First and foremost is the writing itself. I love taking a vague thought or idea and turning it into a story that people can enjoy. I love it when readers tell me they’ve connected with my characters, or that they are so engrossed in the stories that they can’t put them down. I even had one reader send me a picture of her new kitten whom she had named Malcolm Raven after two of my main characters!
Uncaged: Where do you come up with your characters and their names? How much do you pull from people you know? When I first started out, I wanted my Vampires to be named after birds of prey, but there weren’t enough cool ones to match all of my Vamps and their personalities. I still throw them in every once in a while (Peregrine is one of my favorites, and Harrier of course), but beyond that I tried to come up with something that fit their personalities. Jessica, of course was named after our own Jessica. And sometimes I go through names on the internet, especially if I want a particularly ethnic name, like my villain, Helmut Fuhrmann. I wanted something very German for him, so I researched German names until I found one that I liked. Fallen Cross, Ohio is roughly based on my own hometown, so a lot of the landmarks and minor characters have been drawn from those I knew growing up in a rural community. I can’t say that I’ve actually modeled any of the characters after anyone specifically. It’s more like I have all of these traits from people I’ve known that I’ve thrown in a bag and I pull them out when they seem appropriate. It’s like, “Oh, Piper would totally say that!” or “That attribute is so Raven!” The only exception would be that I did sort of model Jessica’s adoptive parents after my husband and me. But I figured they are already dead 62 | UncagedBooks.com
Uncaged: What are your favorite parts about being an author? Your least favorite?
And I love the Indie Author Community! I can’t begin to say how many wonderful people I’ve met over the course of the last couple of years. I have never encountered a more helpful and welcoming group of people, who, for the most part, are as excited to see others succeed as they are for their own victories. I think we’re pretty lucky in that respect. My least favorite? It’s probably the same as everyone else’s – marketing. Not that I mind doing the takeovers, or talking up my books, but it is so time consuming. And yet, I’m a bit of a control freak, so the idea of turning over any of it to a PA gives me the shivers. With so many great Indies out there, it is hard to build that platform, to find that large group of readers who will wait impatiently for your next release and gobble it up the moment it drops. It’s a lot of work, as any Indie will attest to, but I do believe that in the end, if you have a good product, eventually the hard work will pay off. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? When I’m not writing, I’m probably working at one of my other two jobs. During the week, I work as an admin for a large manufacturing company, and my weekends and evenings are usually spent working with my husband at our furniture restoration busi-
| ALIYA DALRAE | ness. I do all of the seat weaving, cane, rush, wicker, and in a pinch will help out with repairs and refinishing. When I’m not writing or working? I love reading, crocheting and cross stitch, but mostly just spending every spare minute I can with my husband. Uncaged: I know that my favorites change as I read more and more books, but what was the last book you loved? The last book you hated? Oh, wow. I’ve read so many great books lately. But if we are going by the last one I read, it would have to be “An Enlightening Quiche” by Eva Pasco. It is contemporary women’s fiction, so a little out of my wheelhouse (not one Vampire or Shifter to be found!) but Pasco is a wordsmith in every aspect. Definitely one worth checking out. The last book I hated? It would have to have been a calculus text book, or some other form of mathematical torture-text in high school. I wasn’t crazy about how Gone Girl ended, but I can’t say I hated the whole book. I tend to find something redeeming in everything I read. Except for math. Never math. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? First and foremost, I want to say thank you. When I started this journey, it was beyond my wildest dreams that my books would be read, let alone that they would receive the tremendous reception that they have from my readers. My heart is overflowing from the love and support you have all shown me over the past couple of years, and truly, I can’t thank you enough. I started out writing for me. Now, I write for you as well.
Enjoy an excerpt from Sweet Vengeance Sweet Vengeance Aliya DalRae Paranormal Jessica Sweet is an orphan – Again… At 26, the term may not truly apply, but having been abandoned by her birth parents at an early age, the death of her adoptive parents is like déjà vu all over again. Now she finds herself alone, facing a future that should be unsure; however, the visions she’s been plagued with since childhood are about to descend upon her, pulling her into a supernatural world where her deepest fantasies and most harrowing nightmares will soon come true. A monster, even by Vampire Standards... …Raven has spent the better part of his five hundred seventy plus years fighting the evil within. His capture by an ancient breed of Sorcerers, just surfacing in the Legion’s base town of Fallen Cross, Ohio, leaves him beaten and starving. Escape leads him to an old farmhouse, the single heartbeat within promising life. What he couldn’t know is that the blood he now seeks will sustain him in ways he could never imagine… Excerpt Chapter Two He ran naked through the woods, blood dripping from the numerous wounds on his vast body. It was dark, several hours before dawn, but he had excellent night vision. His breath caught in his lungs, and he ran on, faster than humanly posIssue 15 | October 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | sible, but not sure if it was fast enough to escape his pursuers. If they tranqued him again, he was done. The trees gave way to a large pasture, hills undulating throughout. He leaned against a towering oak, taking a risk in stopping, but knowing he needed to weigh his options, and quickly. The ones chasing him weren’t human, he was sure of it, in spite of their human forms. Mere humans would never have been able to capture him, let alone torture him the way these had. He was free only by the carelessness of his guard, whom he had surprised by feigning unconsciousness, and when the moron had turned his back on him, he had wrapped his chains around the creature’s neck, breaking it before the bastard could call for aid. After a very quick search of the dead creature’s pockets, he had found the keys to the shackles on his wrists and ankles. They had kept him starving and weak, else he would have been able to break the iron fetters like twigs. Having shed his restraints, he had run, the dying flora around the clearing giving way to healthier trees and underbrush that slapped and stung his bare skin. Now, as he searched the terrain, he saw in the distance a group of buildings. His strength was fading, his blood loss great, and he knew he needed to get below ground quickly so he could heal, but where to go? If he stayed in the woods, his captors were likely to track him. But if he could reach a house, the benefits could be lifesaving. If there were people, he could feed, regain some strength and leave the humans none the wiser. There would also be transportation, a car he could borrow to get him home, where his people could be informed of the danger lurking in their territory. The Legion must be warned! He broke out of the woods, and ran as fast as his tortured body could bear, cursing his legs for not carrying him at his usual lightning quick speed. When he reached the first building, a large, ancient barn, he leaned against the wooden planks, red paint flaking off in his fingers as he strug64 | UncagedBooks.com
gled for purchase. Inside, the animals stirred, a cow stamping a restless hoof, a pig grunting nervously. Keeping to the shadows, he stole around to the front of the barn. The livestock awakened, acknowledging his intrusion, but seemed not to be bothered by his presence. Animals could sense if there were a threat present, and though they knew him for the predator he was, they also knew they weren’t on the menu. Such was the way with his people. Scanning the property, his keen eyesight took in the remaining out buildings, then the farmhouse located at the south side of the property. The old home was shadowed in a copse of weeping willows, white paint peeling from what was once a grand residence, with verandas edging the front and sides, both upstairs and down. He reached out with his mind and sensed the presence of three humans inside, simultaneously taking stock of the automobiles in the graveled drive. An old pickup truck, probably ran but maybe not reliable, a newer looking sedan, and a tricked out Ford Super Duty, black with black interior and running lights on the cab roof. It would be a little conspicuous, but probably the best choice for his getaway. Plus it was an awesome ride. As he started toward the house, the hair on the back of his neck stood on end, his skin tingling as though lightning had struck nearby. He spun around to find two of the humanoid creatures behind him, tall and pale, white blond hair floating about their heads with more life than the evening’s light breeze merited. He felt the beast rising within him, alarming him nearly as much as the thought of being recaptured, so he focused his energy, mentally leashing his feral side, and lunged at the creature nearest him, fangs bared, controlled fury carrying him into a collision with more speed than he thought himself capable of in his current condition. He and the creature flew several feet in the air before crashing to the stony ground. Then with control that came only from decades of training, he tamped down his other cravings and gave the beast its head, gave it leave to kill, and in seconds his teeth were at his opponent’s throat, ripping, tearing, shredding, until all that remained was a ruined carcass bleeding in the
| ALIYA DALRAE | gravel. He spun again, his dark hair flying, normally sapphire eyes sparking amethyst with the passion of the kill, and faster than light his attentions were focused on the other creature. This one was smaller, though tall nonetheless, and apparently younger, because it hesitated, tranq gun in hand, mumbling under its breath and stabbing the gun in his direction as though the threat alone would stop him. He was a cyclone, now, energy surging through him from the earth and the sky. A poisonous dart flew toward him, missing by a mile as he whirled behind the creature, grabbed its head in his powerful grip and twisted sharply. The crack of the creature’s vertebrae echoed in the dark, sent shivers of satisfaction through his own spine, and a scarcely controlled howl of victory to his throat. The sound of animals in full panic brought him back to the moment, helping him to rein in the beast. He reached out to them with his mind to try and calm their terror, but they were too far gone. Whatever these now-deceased creatures were, they weren’t friendly to animals of any kind, and the livestock were as aware of this as he was. With the beast tempered, his damaged body was failing him again, the encounter with the creatures taking the last of his already depleted strength, borrowed energy from the universe sinking back into the earth. He looked down at the creature he still held in his hands and realized it was changing, melting into a pile of bloody gore, which he flung to the ground, stepping back to avoid the mess. A glance over his shoulder told him its partner had already disintegrated, a puddle of red liquid all that remained. His head whipped around as lights snapped on in the house, first upstairs and then down. There wasn’t time for a proper clean-up, and by the sounds inside, the humans were afraid for their animals. He could stay and try to alter their minds, but there were two coming out now, screen door banging behind them, and he wasn’t sure he had the energy to take care of them before he passed out. The only choice now was a quick departure. With the last of his strength, he willed his body to the end of the driveway, a good quarter mile north of the com-
motion around the barns. The next thing he knew he was flat on the road, the smell of tar strong in his nose. He lifted his head, a saltbox farmhouse coming into focus only twenty yards on the other side of the pavement, a strong heartbeat echoing between its walls. Dawn was coming quickly, maybe an hour and a half away, and he had to find shelter soon. These old houses usually had cellars. He would be safe there through the day. And that heartbeat was calling to him.
Uncaged Review A first book in a trilogy, Sweet Vengeance is a fast-paced paranormal romance that hits the ground running. High action, mixed with some humor - and some of my favorite humorous interactions was between Raven and King Cat. Jessica Sweet is unique in that she has visions, and she’s learned to trust her visions and when one vision of a naked man ending up on her porch comes true, everything will change. Raven, a pureblood Vampire and the naked man on the porch, has escaped from his captors and by the time Jessica finds him, he is close to death. Raven is part of the Legion, a group of Vampires that keep a lid on their existence by controlling any Vampires that are out of control. When Raven can’t erase Jessica’s mind of him like he usually can and a group known as the Sorcerers try to kill them both in Jessica’s driveway, Raven takes Jessica back to the Legion for safety. There is a lot of action in the book, and there are other supernaturals you’ll meet and touch on. I wasn’t as connected to the characters as I would have liked, and I would like to know more about the others in the Legion. Raven has such a horrible past, that it’s hard to see past it for the reader and I think it might have been better to draw that out of Jessica a bit more instead of her being so accepting so quickly. I’m looking forward to reading book two, and I know there has to be Issue 15 | October 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | something more with Jessica than meets the eye in this book. Reviewed by Cyrene
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The Horse by Aaron Deck
| SHORT STORY |
The Horse by Aaron Deck https://www.aarondeck.com/ Mya strode along the rows of corn, kicking a worn out apple ahead of her. It was shriveled and verging on brown and jumped every time it skimmed over a pebble. Mya was eight, with mousy brown hair that tumbled into her eyes. She had a pug nose and a few of her teeth were askew; others rattled in around in their sockets. She was short and dirty and wore an overly large pair of overalls. In another few years, when she’d grow breasts, they wouldn’t hang so limp; for now, they did. The day was hot, and the sun was at its zenith. It beat down on her, covering her with a thick layer of sweat to accompany the dirt. All her chores were done for the day; weeding the garden, feeding the pig, gathering the few chicken eggs, rubbing down the horses and mucking out their stalls. Her father was very insistent about the chores involving the horses. He was sure they would sell for a lot of money someday. That someday was coming soon, he always assured Mya. After her lunch was finished, her father urged her to go outside and play, maybe make a friend or two. And so, while kicking that apple and singing nonsense to herself, she happened across a most peculiar friend. Watching the apple, she saw it squirt out after a particularly hard kick and heard it strike something a few feet away. A warbled sound floated over to her and she jumped back, looking up in the process, ready to fight the newcomer; at the end of two bony arms, her two bony hands were braced into two bony fists. The newcomer, a horse, regarded her quietly then dropped its head and inhaled the apple. She dropped her fists and giggled to herself. Both the animal and the girl took looked at each other with the same pale grey eyes. It was a midnight black Mustang, which was all it had going for it. Mya could count every bone within its body. A few of the ribs were even poking against its hide. Its mane, as black as the horse itself, was matted and dreadlocked. 68 | UncagedBooks.com
She walked closer, whispering more nonsense in soothing tones. It did not rear back when she reached out and caressed the side of its face, in fact, it leaned closer for a better scratching. She petted it and felt the immense energy it exuded. One hand stole into the belly pocket of her overalls and produced two more crab apples. She held them up to the horse, who promptly devoured them. “Hungry tummy,” she said to the horse and herself. “I guess we should get you home. Belly’s a rumblin’, let’s get stumblin’.” She said all this in a high, sing-song voice. She reached up and noticed for the first time that the horse was without saddle and reins. She shrugged, contemplated riding the horse bareback, but balked at the idea. She thought it would collapse under her. Settling for a side-mouthed cluck, she began to walk back the way she came. The horse uttered a massive snort, its nostrils expanding enormously, and trotted along behind her. It nipped at her butt a few times during their trek. # “What in the ‘ell are ye doing, bringing that dilapidated looking donkey back ‘ere?” her father roared at her across their yellowed yard. He walked toward her with a slow gait. He was tall, with coarse black hair sprouting from every inch of him. His hands were a deep tan, etched with wrinkles from the decades he’d passed toiling. His beard was closely cropped, and wide grey eyes shone out at his daughter. His thumbs were hooked into his faded leather belt. Mya knew that stance. Mya knew that tone. She would be on the receiving end of that belt before long. Still, she beamed at him and said gleefully, “I found him out in the corn, Daddy. He’s hungry and needs a home.” “‘es more than ‘ungry. Starving’s more like it.” He sidled up to the horse as he spoke and ran a hand through its mangy mane, fingers getting caught in a knot. “Needs a bath too.” She hadn’t noticed before. She did now. The horse
| AARON DECK | stank of rot. It was deep and permeated her nostrils with every breath. “You wanna keep ‘em I suspect.” “Yes, Daddy.” “You gotta take care of ‘em. I don’t wanna ‘ear you crying my name a week from now, asking me for ‘elp. Ye ain’t getting any.” “Yes, Daddy.” She tried to keep her face solemn, serious, but lost and broke into a smile. “‘e’ll probably die in a week.” “No, he won’t. I’ll take good care of him. You’ll see.” Her father eyed her shrewdly, turned his head, and spat into the dusty grass. “Wouldn’t name ‘em for a week-at-least-anyhow. Just in case.” “Yes, Daddy,” however, she already had a name for the horse. She was going to call him ‘Hungry.’ Her father spared one final glance at the horse, and then tramped off toward their house, muttering to himself. “Damn animal’s gonna eat all my hay and be the death of us,” were the words that floated back to Mya. # The horse didn’t die the following week, nor the weeks that followed. Hungry ate like his namesake. He gained an astonishing amount of weight in a short period of time. His once skin-and bone veneer was transformed into robust muscle. Mya, true to her word, cared for the horse like it was her own child. She re-set his leg, combed out his dreadlocks and rubbed him down. As the weeks turned to months, she was eventually able to ride him. He was never able to make it above a trot and it never bothered her. They grew as close as human and animal could. They developed a sixth sense about each other’s moods. Mya knew
Hungry’s favorite treat was crab apples. It took two years before the rightful owner tracked Hungry down. # A soft rap punctured the still afternoon air while Mya was sprawled across the couch, watching fuzzy cartoons. She sat up, feeling a mild dread pulse through her system; curiosity quickly pushed it aside. Her father, wearing the same worried look as his daughter, walked across the kitchen, to the front door. He was a few weeks late on his latest payment to the bank, and it wasn’t the first time he’d been forced to let the payment lapse. He paused when he was in the cramped entranceway, his hand already reaching out to grasp the knob, when a tremor quaked its way across him. He swallowed hot saliva and opened the door. A figure stood on the stained wooden porch. It wore a black hooded robe with Its face obscured behind morphing shadows. Graham thought that the figure was looking down at Its feet. He followed Its gaze, happy to be looking anywhere but where Its face should be. He could only see the nub of one toe; it was the pale white of exposed bone. The rest of Its toes were hidden by the robe. He noticed a walking stick beside the foot. He followed it up to the bleached bones protruding from the billowy sleeve. The thin bones stretched out to form a hand. The long, slender phalanges curved around the hefty cane head. Graham, who never entirely lost his curiosity in the superstitious and mythical, knew exactly who, and what, he was looking at. He sucked in a deep, last breath and thought his final thought, while looking at the hand and cane. I knew that horse would be the death of us. Death stepped over the corpse and limped Its way into the house. Mya heard the thud of her father hitting the floor and the thump, draaaaaaag of Death approaching. She stood up, facing the archway, and waited. She had her hands on her hips in a defiant gesture. Issue 15 | October 2017 | 69
| SHORT STORY | The two figures looked at each other across the room for some time. Eventually, Death took a step forward. Mya stayed, unflinching. Death spoke. “You have what I seek.” Mya felt Hungry flare up inside her, felt him bucking against the worn-out barn door. She used the voice she reserved for grown-ups. Grownup tone, grown-up words. “Yes, sir.” “Where?” “He’s in the barn. I’ll take you.” They exited the house, Mya feeling the immediate blast of the sun. The heat had her covered in sweat. So did the fear. She led It out into the backyard. She only looked back once. A nicker floated over to her, and when she turned around, a sinewy pale mare had taken up beside Death. They reached the barn and Mya lifted the bar. The door popped open, the jagged ends of the planks brushing by her. Hungry strode out. He nudged Mya, who rubbed his mane several times. She moved down, patted him on the rump and he bounded over to the mare to give her a jovial greeting. “Mister?” “Yes.” “Why do you want him?” “Because.” Death turned and grabbed the reins of Its mare. “You can’t have him.” Death mounted Its horse, tugged the reins and started riding away. Neither Mya nor Hungry moved. After a few paces, Death stopped and turned back. “You can’t have him,” Mya repeated, staring into the abyss beyond the hood. “He loves me, 70 | UncagedBooks.com
and I love him. He won’t go. I wouldn’t let him anyway.” Hungry walked back to Mya and nudged her again. She began stroking him. Death came over, Its shadow encompassing them long before it did. It was muttering to itself. “A little girl? No. It can’t be. She knows nothing of our ways.” Death stopped in front of Mya. Its robe shifted as It surveyed the farm. It saw a house in disrepair with a roof that leaked in any rain. It saw a barn getting ready to cave in on itself. It saw a scant vegetable garden, the few edibles quickly giving over to rot. There were no animals, outside of the two horses, that It could see. Still, without looking at her, sitting atop Its horse, It continued its mutterings. “She’s young, sure. Maybe she can be taught? War keeps bugging me to find a replacement. I know. I know! But, Famine was like a brother to me. It’s not easy to replace that.” Death sighed and looked down at Mya. It was her who broke the silence. “What happened to your friend?” “Famine? He caught the flu and died.” “I’m sorry.” Mya looked down at her feet, a tear evaporating before it fell off her cheek. “My brother Tommy died of the flu when he was one and I was five.” She reached out and began scratching behind the mare’s ear. “The doctor said it killed him because he was so mal-nour-ished.” She struggled with the last word. Death stood there, pensive for a time. Finally, It sighed and looked down at Mya and spoke. “Listen. Kid. You wanna join us?” Mya brightened at the proposal. “You mean like cowboys and indians?” “Yeah. Sure. Kind of.” “What do we do then?” “The usual, you know. Cause destruction and mayhem throughout the human race.” Death
paused, looked at Mya then added, “it’ll be really fun.”
| AARON DECK |
“I don’t know.” “You get to ride Hungry for all eternity.” “Well... maybe?” “Listen, kid. You coming with me or not? Either way, I gotta take the horse.” Mya surveyed the farm. It didn’t take her long to make a decision. “Okay.” Death gigged Its horse and headed for the road. Mya mounted Hungry and followed It.
Issue 15 | October 2017 |
feature authors horror
Lily Roland Baldwin Allnach
feature author Jennifer is an author from Tallahassee, Florida with Duncurra LLC who writes paranormal romance and young adult fantasy. She is a member of both Gulf Coast Authors and the Florida Writers Association. After receiving a degree in theatre from BYU and working as a scenic artist for twelve years, she changed careers to do what she really loves—writing. Jennifer believes that part of her job as an artist and story teller is to create a narrative that explores a fresh perspective and leaves the audience thinking. When she’s not busy writing or burying her nose in a book, Jennifer enjoys doing medieval reenactment with her husband and two children.
Please welcome Jennifer Siddoway to Uncaged! Uncaged: Your debut novel, Dealing with the Devil, is a fantastic beginning. What inspired this series? Was it exciting or nerve wracking or both, to send your first book out into the world? I’ve always loved Fairy Tales and enjoy a good retelling of an established plotline. It’s especially fun if there’s a dramatic shift, or unexpected role reversal. I started toying with the idea of Rumpelstiltskin and started thinking, “What if something went wrong?” I didn’t want to do an actual re-telling, so I twisted things around a bit and tried to picture how that would play out from the point of view from the child who got wished away. The whole concept of selling your unborn child to the devil is such a terrible thing to digest you have to wonder what kind of a person would do that. Around the same time, I was pregnant with my first child and a well-meaning, older person in church put her hand on my stomach and said, “You only get to work hand in hand with God to create life a handful of times in life, so enjoy it while you can.” I knew what she meant was intended to be sweet and reassuring, but I just felt this chill run down my spine. “What if I wasn’t? What if it wasn’t God that I was creating life with?” I walked away and my arms were covered with goosebumps and after that the story just wrote itself. It was terrifying to send that work out into the world,
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just because it’s so vulnerable and open to rejection. I just want my readers to love Wynn and the other characters as much as I do. Uncaged: How many books are planned for this series? This series is Young Adult, are you going to continue in that genre or branch out? The Earthwalker Trilogy was always intended to be just that, a three-book series that follows Wynn’s story arc. I planned it out that way from the beginning and am glad I did because I knew exactly where it was going. My debut series *is* Young Adult and I plan on the majority of my work to remain as such, however the project I’m working on now deals with some mature content that would be inappropriate for a younger audience. It’s probably my only series that will not be tailored YA, but it’s going to be a lot of fun and I hope that readers still enjoy it. Uncaged: As a reviewer, I’m always curious as to what authors can take away from the reviews, do you read them and what do you take away from the reviews? It depends on who is reviewing and where they are coming from. If it’s just a random person on Amazon, I try not to worry about that too much. I’ll take their comments into account, but the opinion I really worry about is mine. I write because I love it, because I love these characters and I want to share them with the world. If someone doesn’t like the universe I’ve created that’s fine with me, it’s not going to please everyone.
If there was one from a literary magazine, or a professional reviewer, that didn’t like my work I’d take that a little more seriously. Not emotionally, but instead teaching me how I can do better. Uncaged: What do you have coming up in the near future? *Influx of air* Um, I’m not sure if I can actually announce that yet. There is a work in progress, but since it hasn’t been formally announced by my publisher the details are kindof hush-hush. I will tell you that it is New Adult Paranormal and takes place in the same universe as the Earthwalker Trilogy. There are some darker elements to that world I’d like to explore and that lends itself to a more adult readership. It does involve demons, including one particular Demon Lord that has fascinated me from the very beginning. :) As soon as I have the green light from Duncurra I’ll let you know. Uncaged: Do you have an ARC team, or a street team? What are the benefits to signing up for your mailing list? I just created a street team for myself a few weeks ago in fact. It’s a closed group linked to my Author Page on Facebook. I’ll post teasers in there, along with some creative content and do giveaways with some swag bags. I’m always looking for people to Issue 15 | October 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | be a part of that, so if you’re interested here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/ groups/1604134286297782/?source_ id=599478503535129 Uncaged: What is your favorite parts about being an author? Your least favorite? My favorite part about being an author is sharing part of my brain with the rest of the world and giving them insight into my psyche. The thing I hate about being an author is the selfdoubt that comes along with it. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? On the rare occasion that I actually have some free time, my husband and I take our children to medieval reenactment festivals. We’ve been involved with the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) since college and it’s one of our favorite pastimes. Also, Dungeons and Dragons. Uncaged: Are you planning any online release parties, or going to any book signings or conventions? I just got back from Indie Book Fest as a signing author at the beginning of this month and will be hosting a FB party called Under the Moon Paranormal Author Takeover Extravaganza! taking place October 22nd and 23rd. There are tons of paranormal authors that will be dropping in to talk about their work and play some games, maybe do a giveaway, it’s going to be a lot of fun. There is also a paranormal Rafflecopter going on right now, where you can sign up to win ten books from different authors including myself, and a kindle fire. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? 76 | UncagedBooks.com
To all my fans out there I would say, “Thank you!” Every now and then I’ll have one reach out to me and it totally makes my week. If readers want to find out what I’m currently working on, I have a website they can visit at http://www.jensiddoway.com as well as social media accounts.
Enjoy an excerpt from Dealing with the Devil Dealing with the Devil Jennifer Siddoway Young Adult/Paranormal All Wynn wants to do is finish high school, but anything normal seems impossible when the monsters under your bed are real... Wynonna Hendricks’ world is turned upside down when A Demon Lord shows up in her bedroom and declares her soul his property. To regain her freedom, she must conquer the seven deadly sins. In doing so, she finds herself caught between the realms of Heaven, Hell, and Earth, with the angel Caleb as her only ally. His refusal to end her life may have started a war between the factions and thrown the Mortal Realm into mayhem. Wynn discovers new powers, new allies, and enemies she never knew existed—including her own human weakness. To protect her family, she vows to fight. Like. HELL. Excerpt I whirled in my seat and let out a frightened gasp, but before I had the chance to scream he was off the bed and slamming me against the wall. I cried out in pain as the back of my head made a nasty crack against the door frame, but my muffled shriek was heard by no one. His hand clamped firmly over my mouth and I could feel the heat of his breath on my skin. The
subtle musk of cologne and tobacco still lingered on his fingertips and made me want to gag. My vision blurred as agonizing pain shot through my skull in response to the brutal impact and I stared at the face of my attacker. He was tall, handsome too, with exquisite, bleach-blond hair and an expensive suit that had a gold chain hanging from the pocket of his vest. His eyes were dark and perfectly set beneath a well-groomed brow line and prominent cheek bones. I expected to find someone like him in the pages of a fashion magazine, not breaking into people’s houses. Noticing my assessment, the man grinned, still holding me in his iron grip, and waved his other hand. The bedroom door swung shut at his command and I heard it lock in place. “Good evening, Wynn. Sorry for the intrusion, but you and I need to have a little chat.” My insides lurched violently when he spoke my name and I could feel the bile rising in my stomach. He broke into my bedroom with Elyse home? How was that possible? She would have heard him? I felt violated and dirty at the very thought of it, knowing that he could cause me physical injury without even breaking a sweat. There was a very real possibility that he would kill me, and Elyse was still downstairs…I had to warn her. My heart must have been going a mile a minute as I tried to think of anything I could use to fight him off. As if he knew what I was planning, the dark man sneered. “I wouldn’t get any smart ideas. While I don’t mean you any harm, there is nothing keeping me from amending that decision.” The tone of his voice warned me that it was not an idle threat and I nodded as tears pricked at the corners of my eyes. My insides were all twisted up in knots; I was terrified. The man smiled slightly, his face mere inches from my own. “Good. I’m only going to say this once, so I hope you listen carefully: there are three other people living in this house who do not know of my existence. You and I are going to keep it that way. If one of them should find out, I will rip out their beating heart in front of you and feed it to you for dinner.” He paused to make sure that his threat had sufficiently sunk in before deciding to continue. My obvious
| JENNIFER SIDDOWAY | horror must have pleased him, because the ghost of a smile played at the corner of his lips. “I’m going to release you now, but if you run, or try screaming for help again, it will be the last thing you ever do. Understood?” I nodded again, this time much more vigorously. The minute his hand released me I gasped to catch my breath, massaging the tendons in my throat. He backed away slowly and turned to place his hand on against the wall. A kind of mirage seemed to ripple across my room before he returned to his seat on my bed. I blinked in shock, still trying to process what had happened. “Silence barrier, just to be safe,” he told me with a tight grin. I fought against the impulse inside of me that was telling me to run and stared at him defiantly. “Who are you?” “Currently, I go by Aidan,” the man informed me. “Though I’ve gone by many others in the past.” Swallowing hard, I tried feigning bravery and asked him, “What do you want?” “To finish what I started,” he responded icily. “I’m not fond of leaving things unfinished. Your mother and I were partners a long time ago, she and I had an arrangement of sorts which ended working out well for the both of us. However, given her current circumstance, I was hoping you’d be willing to help with a project of mine.” My hands were shaking as I listened to his odd request. “What?! No way, I don’t want anything to do with you. I’m just a kid—” “I’m perfectly aware of your age,” Aidan snapped, “and I’ve already deemed that to be irrelevant. Michele was a valuable asset, but unfortunately she has managed to outlive her usefulness. You, on the other hand, have become my primary interest for quite some time now. I thought it was high time we finally met. I’ve heard so much about you over the years that I had to come and see if her stories were true—if you lived up to my expectations. You’re not what I’d been expecting to be quite honest.” I scowled at his thinly veiled insult and crossed my arms in front of my chest, “Should I be ofIssue 15 | October 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | fended?” Aidan gave a wolfish grin as he looked me over critically. “Hardly. You’re far more than what I’d envisioned Michele’s daughter to be, lovely too in fact—I couldn’t be more pleased. What could I do to change your mind?” “You just broke into my house and threatened to kill my family! You’re CRAZY! Why would I help you?” “I’m so glad you asked. You see, I wasn’t going to stand by and let all those years of planning get flushed down the toilet just because Michele had a sudden attack of conscience...so I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands. I’m prepared to offer you a deal. Help me tie off a few loose ends, and I’ll see to it that your mother makes a full recovery.” “Just like that?” I asked sarcastically. “Just. Like. That.” There was no hint in his voice that it was an empty promise. He’d already managed to appear out of thin air and shut my door from across the room, so I wondered if it was possible that he could heal my mother. Still, what could she possibly have been doing with a man like this? And why would he choose to seek me out? It didn’t make any sense. A glimmer of hope for her return was enough to keep me listening. “How?” His eyes grew wistful for a moment as he looked me over, eventually resting his gaze upon my necklace. “I meant what I said before about the necklace suiting you. It’s no mere trinket that can be passed down as a family heirloom and it was never meant for some ordinary girl who does not respect its power.” I stiffened at his change in tone and stared at him confused. “P-power? What are you talking about?”
teeth: perfect canines carefully concealed behind pale, ashen lips. “Quite a bit, considering I’m the one who gave it to her.” Realization struck me like a punch in the gut and I started backing towards the door. “You’re not human…” I stated flatly, remembering that he’d been able to shut the door with a simple wave of his hand, and the unnatural speed with which he’d flown across the room before slamming me against the wall. The ripple that had spread across my wall alluded to further power that was unlike any human I had seen. My heart started pounding harder in my chest and I felt my mouth run dry at the thought of it. “What are you?” He chuckled slightly and crossed his arms in front of his chest, shifting his weight on the edge of my bed. “My my my, aren’t you the perceptive one,” he crooned. “What I am is not important. Do we have a deal, or not?” He needs to leave. “What happens if I refuse? Are you going to kill me?” I asked, slowly edging towards the door. There was no way I was going to enter into an agreement with a man who had broken into my bedroom and threatened me repeatedly. My eyes kept flitting towards the exit and Aidan blocked it like a welltrained bloodhound that had backed its prey into a corner.
“Did you think it was coincidence that I showed up when I did?”
Aidan laughed at my question, which was more terrifying than the reaction I expected. A deadly silence fell across the room as he sat back in his seat. “No, my dear, I need you alive for now. But I also don’t need your consent to get what I am after. It’s come to my attention that you possess a certain skill which interests me, and I believe you hold the power to do great things. I want you to embrace that part of yourself and follow me to a world you’ve never seen before.”
“What do you know about Mom’s necklace?” His grin widened and that’s when I noticed his
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“I’ll assign you tasks as I see fit—ones that are suitable to a creature of your particular talent rather than being tempered by this human façade.”
| JENNIFER SIDDOWAY |
“Façade?” Aidan grinned, his brown eyes twinkling in the cloudy haze that filtered through my window. “Not all things are what they appear to be. I can make you powerful. I can make you strong. All you have to do is come with me and leave this world behind you.” My throat felt tight as I contemplated his request, my blood pressure steadily rising. “You’d save my mother only to take me away from her…what kind of monster are you?” His face hardened at my refusal and he stood up, rising to his full height so that he towered over me. “Fine, we’ll do it your way.”
Uncaged Review For a debut novel from an author, this is a fantastic first book. When high school student Wynn has a demon show up in her bedroom, she learns that the world isn’t as black and white as it seemed and she’s not all that she believes either. To be free of the demon, she will have to pass a series of tests, and good thing she’s got support from Caleb, the angel.
BOOK THREE coming soon
I loved the characters – and I even enjoyed Lucifer, or Aidan as he wants to go by in this book – and the author did a good job making him a complex character, at times you liked him and he was amusing, and other times you hated him. I do think that the relationship between Caleb and Wynn needs to develop more, and the pace was off and on, some points it was going well, other times things were too drawn out, but the ending will keep you looking for the next one. Reviewed by Cyrene
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Ivan Ewert was born in Chicago, Illinois, and has never wandered far afield. He has deep roots in the American Midwest, finding a sense of both belonging and terror within the endless surburban labyrinths, deep north woods, tangled city streets and boundless prairie skies. The land and the cycles of the year both speak to him and inform his writing; which revolves around the strange, the beautiful, the delicious and the unseen. His work has previously appeared in the awardwinning anthology Grants Pass, as well as in Close Encounters of the Human Kind, Human Tales, Space Tramps: Full-Throttle Space Tales and Beasts Within 3: Oceans Unleashed, while his culinary writing has appeared in Alimentum: The Literature of Food. An early treatment of Famished, then named Vorare, as well as separate works titled Solstice and Idolwood, appeared in the e-zine The Edge of Propinquity from 2006 to 2011. He was the sole author to span all five years of that publication. In previous lives, he has worked as an audio engineer, a purchasing agent, a songwriter, a tarot reader, a graphic designer, a project manager and, for a remarkably short stint, as an accountant. In his spare time, Ivan occupies himself with reading, cooking, gaming, and working as a partner in the jewelry design firm of Triskele Moon Studios. He currently lives near the Illinois-Wisconsin border with his wife of seventeen years and a terrifying collection of condiments and cookbooks.
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Uncaged welcomes Ivan Ewert! Uncaged: One of Uncaged’s reviewers read Famished, The Farm, the first book in The Gentlemen Ghouls series. Can you explain this series to readers, as it’s very unique? The series revolves around a young man named Gordon Velander, who discovers that he is heir to a powerful secret – which comes at a terrible price. As he moves against the extended family he never knew, he makes darker choices to gain further strength, until he is left to stand alone. It’s a combination of rural and body horror, centered on the hungers that drive us all. Hunger for passion, for vengeance, sometimes for our very survival. Uncaged: How many books are you planning in this series? There are three books in the series: Famished: The Farm, Famished: The Commons, and Famished: The Ranch. All three are now available in an omnibus edition in e-book or print format, along with two neverbefore seen short stories set in the Famished universe. Uncaged: As a reviewer, I’m always curious as to what authors can take away from the reviews, do you read them and what do you take away from the reviews? I do read them. I can’t help myself, really. My formal
training is in theater, so you learn early on to develop a thicker skin than many people; but I’ve been fortunate so far with the Gentlemen Ghouls series and most reviews have been positive.
– you’ll forgive me if I don’t go into more specifics there, but the books will point the way to that secret! Other, minor characters are named by going through baby naming sites and seeing what fits best.
The biggest thing I’ve come away with so far was a sense of satisfaction that people understood a lot of what I tried to accomplish. Gordon isn’t a traditional hero, ready to rush into action, or a reluctant hero trying to resist a call to adventure. Instead, he’s a thoughtful, moral person trapped in a situation that requires him to make some very bad decisions.
To the best of my knowledge, most of the characters are drawn from whole cloth out of my imagination. I use a fairly lengthy and in-depth character worksheet adapted from various books and worksheets I’ve collected over the years to really get to know who they are and how they’re likely to respond to things.
Uncaged: Besides writing horror and all things scary, you’ve also had stories in anthologies. What is coming up next for readers from you?
That said, most of the characters have a little of me in them, naturally ... even the worst ones.
I’m focused right now on a young adult piece of urban fantasy. It’s been in my head for years while I worked to complete the Gentlemen Ghouls, and it’s good to be visiting a world that’s at least somewhat brighter and more innocent. Uncaged: Where do you come up with your characters and their names? How much do you pull from people you know? That’s a great question! I did steal Gordon’s Christian name from a friend and former roommate, but that’s as far as it went. In terms of other names, the otherworldly inhabitants are taken from books of Goetic magic. The extended clan of the Gentlemen Ghouls are drawn from the passenger list of a specific ship in American history
Uncaged: What is your favorite parts about being an author? Your least favorite? Oh, gosh. My favorite part is ... being done? ::laughs:: I enjoy creating these characters and really getting into their heads. I like writing longer, more evocative prose when I get the chance. It’s close to my natural voice, letting it flow out onto the pages is always great fun. Plus, over the course of this series, I’ve learned to love editing as well! I used to loathe it, but by the end of the second book I really learned to enjoy the process of fine-tuning things. My least favorite thing is that I wear a ridiculous number of hats, and it can be extremely difficult to make time to write. My fault, really, but there Issue 15 | October 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | are so many fascinating things to do in this life! Sitting at a desk and writing is something I enjoy, but there’s at least a dozen other passion projects in the works at the same time. I have a hard time sitting still long enough to complete the work in a reasonable timeframe. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? I saw you attended GenCon, are you planning on going to more conventions? What does it mean to authors to meet and talk to readers? I cook a lot, for family and friends, both on the oven and over open fire. Making sauces, rubs and relishes is a particular hobby. I’m also still an actor and have launched as a public speaker through the Toastmasters organization, taking appointments now across the local area to stand up and talk to groups of people about writing, culture, politics and social skills. And I play a lot of games. I attend GenCon every year, mostly as a patron. My wife and I call it my “nerd’s hunting trip,” I get away with my friends for the weekend and stay up too late playing games. When my fabulous publisher, Jennifer Brozek of Apocalypse Ink Productions, is also at GenCon, then I make the time to be present in Author’s Alley. I’d love to do more conventions, but again, a very busy lifestyle makes it difficult to commit to the time. I need to get a calendar set up for 2018 ... by writer’s standards I’m a serious extrovert, so I adore meeting readers, other writers, and just about anyone else. Conventions are a fantastic time, and getting to know what people like and dislike is a real joy! Uncaged: I know that my favorites change as I read more and more books, but was the last book you loved? The last book you hated? The last book I really, really loved was Deathless, 82 | UncagedBooks.com
by Catherynne M. Valente. I was in tears by the end, literal tears. She’s got such a beautiful lyricism to her language wed to a raw understanding of what life can do to people. I don’t usually finish books I hate, but I finally read The Iron Heel by Jack London. Even though I found a lot to dislike about it, it wasn’t until the surprise ending that I nearly threw it away in disgust. Still, even with the strawmen, ridiculous naming conventions, and that g—d---- ending ... I can’t say it’s a good book, but it’s an important one. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? First of all, thank you. Not just for being fans of mine, but fans of books and authors in general. We need more people who love and cherish reading and literature. Secondly, don’t be afraid to reach out! I’m all over social media below, and I really enjoy meeting new people and talking to them. Let me know what you liked and what you didn’t like about the books, and more importantly, let me know more about you. I look forward to the conversation!
Enjoy excerpts from Famished, The Gentleman Ghouls Omnibus
| IVAN EWERT | Famished, Omnibus Ivan Ewert Horror Hunger. It’s the driving force behind survival. The Velander bloodline carries an ancient secret: power and immortality. But that power requires a key to unlock: human flesh. Gordon Velander finds himself an unwilling participant in a play for survival - but he won’t be powerless for long. It’s the driving force behind passion. The Gentleman Ghouls have survived for centuries due to cunning and careful planning but their world in unraveling. Gordon has vowed to take the Ghouls down no matter what, but he’s fighting a war—both within and without. The Ghouls, on the other hand, are not waiting patiently for the end to come. It’s the driving force behind revenge. With the Farm and the Commons destroyed, the Ranch is the last outpost of the Ghouls. With the bitter end in sight, Gordon must face his greatest challenge yet—claiming his own fate as other forces make their moves. Revenge is sweet. Passion is fulfilling. But survival trump all. Excerpt “You have them wrapped around your fingers,” Cook gave a thin smile. “They’re definitely coming around.” Dylan shrugged and lifted a glass of water to his lips, but at the same time he returned the smile. “Call it a gift.”
“Hm.” She turned to the stovetop, dipped a pianist’s finger into the forest green Le Creuset stockpot, and retrieved a dollop of red sauce. She brought it to her lips, extended a delicate, pointed tongue, and sampled it, frowning. “Can you hand me the sale alle erbe?” Dylan brought a small tin to her, placed it in her hand. “No, not this one. The green lid there, marked Marlunghe. Thank you,” she said. She pinched the salt from the tin with her non-tasting hand. “Did you hear from your boy yet this week?” “Yesterday. California suits him. Thought it might. Boy’s got ocean in his blood thanks to his mother’s side, off the Commons. Speaking of, the Goodwin kids behave themselves today?” “They were poking around more than I’d like.” Cook scowled. “Too curious by half if you ask me. But they fell into line once I showed them their lunch options.” “Options?” “On the well-behaved side of the table, peanut butter and jelly without crusts, ginger pop, and gelato. On the other side, Braunschweiger and onions toasted with a parmesan crust and unsweetened iced tea.” Dylan laughed, showing his clean, straight teeth. “Well, sure sounds like a pretty clear threat to me.” “What kind of man doesn’t like a nice sharp Braunschweiger?” “Kids ain’t men. They’ll pick sugar any day of the week.” “Don’t worry, I pre-arranged it with their momma and poppa. All sugar-free, so even though I doubt the children would squeal, the parents know their wishes have been honored.” “Clever girl.” “Keep me around.” She took another taste, frowned. “No. No, still too sharp.” “What are you fixing to dress with this sauce?” “Gluten-free macaroni for the kids, spaghetti or butternut squash ravioli for the grown-ups, just as a side.” She moved absently toward the cheese grater, took up a wedge of reggiano and set to Issue 15 | October 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | work. The hard white cheese fell like Colorado snowfall into the deep crimson sea of her sauce. “Rib-eye steaks in herb butter for most and naturally a trimmed lean strip steak for your buckskin Barbie bitch. The kids get hamburgers. Reprise the gelato over a warm peach cobbler.” “Damnation,” Dylan shook his head. “I don’t think I know what more than half of that tastes like any more.” “Any more?” Cook finished the grating, returned to tasting. She kept her eyes on the sauce, but her tone turned probing, less matter-of-fact. “So you have eaten it, before?” Dylan turned a nearby chair from its place and sat, kicked back until he balanced on the rear two legs. “Sure I have. Used to get ice cream as a treat, growing up. Once in a blue moon.” “Really? It didn’t make you sick, back then? Why is that?” “Came before the first true communion.” She laughed. “So you weren’t actually weaned off the tit and straight onto your special needs diet? I’d always figured it was milk to meat for you.” “Of course not,” Dylan snorted. “Tell me, you want a five-year old running around who can throw a punch that puts a hand through the wall? You commune later, once you’ve calmed some. That ice cream’s one of the things I miss. Never did get to try the fancy Italian kind you make, though.” He moved to the large, double brass sinks, looked through the window at the towering Rockies. “Wasn’t en mode in my days.” “Vous êtes trop mignon quand vous essayez français, mon petit.” He shook his head. “Out of all that, I got ‘you’, ‘French’, and ‘little’, Cook.” “Never mind,” Cook showed her teeth. She stopped stirring the sauce and reduced the heat to a low simmer, moved to the sink and set to washing her hands. They were already pink from repeated scrubbings, but she turned her head to Dylan. “What other food do you remember? Tell me all about it.” “Steak, of course,” Dylan’s voice turned wist84 | UncagedBooks.com
ful. “Grass-fed and clean. Cooked rare. Complained once, I recall, I didn’t want it so bloody.” Cook’s laugh was harsh. “What sides?” “Don’t recall much.” “Do you remember cheese?” “American. Tasted like plastic, mostly. Can’t say as I miss that.” She gave a moue of sympathetic disgust. “That’s a shame. If I could wish one taste for you it would be cheese.” “Don’t see what could be so special about it. The stuff you adore always smells like feet.” “Yeah, well. Talk to me about acquired tastes, Dylan Wildye.” Her thin lips stretched over teeth that were slightly askew, the left canine blunted and leaning gently forward to give her a permanent sneer between razor-sharp cheeks. “It’s always a fascinating conversation.” He chuckled. “Fair point. Speaking of, I’ll want your help to take the last of the larder tonight, after lights out. Make yourself a good pot of strong coffee. Going to be a long night breaking him down.” “Oh? He’s finally ready to harvest?” “Ready or not, if you say the brats like poking around, it’s too big a risk to keep him waiting.” Cook kept her eyes on her tools, searching for some utensil, intentionally avoiding his own. “I would’ve thought breaking your family’s harvest rules was a bigger risk.” Dylan stood and turned, the light from the window casting his shadow long and lean against the wellworn wooden planks of the kitchen floor. Cook held a long butcher’s knife, sliding it easily through a section of bone-in rib. “That depends on who’s breaking them.” Her smile grew more feral. “Ohhhh. Do as you say, not as you do. Sure. I get it.” “This ain’t playtime,” he warned her. “Understand?” “Perfectly.” The meat fell away, a perfect two-inch thick rib-eye, gleaming under the harsh white kitchen lights. “I never thought of this as playtime at all... “More like the achievement of a lifetime.”
| IVAN EWERT |
Uncaged Review Famished - The Farm
The Gentleman of Ghouls Omnibus features a group of ghouls who have survived a long time eating human flesh and remaining undetectable until one day one of the members brings one of the oldest bloodline members to the farm. Gordon after a brutal attack decides to put an end to all surviving ghoul members scattered in various hiding places. This was an okay read and for new readers like myself to this author it was nice to be able to experience the ghouls in one whole book and Gordons further adventures. Famished – The Commons: Gordon’s back in action cleaning a new place of cannibalism with a few people or voices to help him on the way. There isn’t quite a lot of action in this story although there’s a lot of gruesome details thrown in. The story moves along steadily riding the word of cannibals and ghouls. Like I said before some people will love reading this series. I will read on to see if I become a fan of Gordon’s. Famished – The Ranch This time Gordon and Co must bring down a place called The Ranch. A place where you go to relax and the meals are to die for. Gordon must convince a young family and two TV newspaper reporters this is not a place they want to be staying. Out of the whole three books, I liked this one the most as it was better written and more enjoyable to the reader. So you finally managed to get “me” to become a fan of Gordon’s - well done.
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feature author Award-winning Historical Romance author Lily Baldwin loves writing, Scotland, her wonderful husband and beautiful young daughter--though not necessarily in that order. She has a BA in anthropology from the University of New Hampshire, and an MA in International Studies from Birmingham University in the UK. She daydreams constantly, and gets her best story ideas while running; she is even training for a half-marathon. She also finds inspiration in Nature, a quality revealed through the powerful description and drama in her books.
Uncaged welcomes Lily Baldwin! Uncaged: Mostly you write historical, and I read Highland Shadows which is still historical Scotland, with a paranormal twist. How did you jump from historical to combining historical and paranormal? I obviously love historical romance, but I also love paranormal romance. When I wrote Highland Shadows, I had just completed my first seriesâ€”the Isle of Mull Series, which is straight up medieval Highland romance. At the time, I wanted to shake things up a bit and try something new. And so I began my Beautiful Darkness Series. I introduce traditional paranormal elements (Vampire, werewolves, and shifters) into a medieval Highland setting, but with an added twist of Highland folkloreâ€”mermaids, fairies, and other mythical Scottish elements. I had an absolute blast writing Highland Shadows. I love the story, and I think the elements come together to make a fun and exciting book. For those of us who love paranormal romance, the only thing that could make a strong man in a kilt even hotter is to give him some fangs, claws, or sinful paws! Uncaged: Highland Shadows is book one in a series,
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when can we expect another installment? I am hoping to release book in sometime in 2018. Uncaged: As a reviewer, I’m always curious as to what authors can take away from the reviews, do you read them and what do you take away from the reviews? I enjoy reading reviews. I experience the book I make in pieces. The characters take on life as I write. Storylines develop and change then change again. It’s only by the last few drafts that the story is a truly complete whole. And so it always remains the process in my mind rather than the product—the journey not the destination. But when a reader picks it up, they just see the product—something I can never just experience. So it is fun to read reviews and experience the story through their eyes. I obviously love when readers love my stories. And when they don’t, I simply think…well you can’t please everyone. It just wasn’t their cup of tea. Uncaged: What do you have coming up in the near future?
I am currently working on the fifth book in my Highland Outlaws Series, Rose: A Scottish Outlaw. I love her story so much. Readers of the series know that Rose has been through a lot—so much, in fact, that I can’t let anything truly bad happen to her again. My mission as the author of Rose’s story is to give her the absolute time of her life. This is a book of romance and adventure, with a plotline so exciting and full of massive intrigue that is entirely free of painful conflict. I can’t wait to finish and get it into my reader’s hands. I think they will love it! Uncaged: Do you have an ARC team, or a street team? What are the benefits to signing up for your newsletter? I have a few readers who always receive ARCs from me. They are wonderful ladies whose feedback I appreciate so very much. Uncaged: What is your favorite parts about being an author? Your least favorite? I love writing books. When it is finished and in my Issue 15 | October 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | hand and I think of the hard journey leading up to those bound pages, I feel elated. I am very private and a total introvert and not too quick on my feet, so marketing and social media are challenges to me. But it’s all part of the dream, and so I am active on social media with a grateful heart that I hope my readers can feel.
Enjoy excerpts from Highland Shadows Highland Shadows Lily Baldwin Historical Paranormal
Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? For myself, I love to run. I really do. Nothing clears my head like a good jog. The rest of the time, I am with my family, my husband and my daughter. Uncaged: I met you at an online release party, where I won your book Jack. Are you planning on attending more of those? Are there any conventions or book signings that you are planning to attend? I’m not planning to attend any conventions or signings this year. They make me a wee bit nervous. FB release parties also make me nervous—to be totally honest. But if an author asks me to guest host, I always try to say yes. It is important that authors support other authors. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? To my fans, I hope that you know how grateful I am to you and how much your interest and support means to me. I work hard and push myself with the hope that each new book is better than the last. I want you to be able to pick up my newest book and know just by reading it that I made it the best story I could—for you. Thank you all so much! Readers can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and BookBub.
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In Alexander MacKenzie’s youth, his clan prospered. Until one night fire and death descended, and all that was good and green fled the ensuing darkness, leaving the MacKenzie clan impoverished, and Alex’s face
Known as the Mad Maid of Clan Ross, Cora has been imprisoned within her father’s keep for a decade, but not against her will—she is her own warden. Cora locked herself away to protect those she loves from what she has become. Within the shadows that blanket their land lurk vampires and wolves. They know Cora’s savage secret and have laid claim to her body. But the fight for her soul has only just begun, and only Alex’s love can save her. Prologue Scottish Highlands 1186 “Look, Alexander, isn’t she beautiful?” Alex dared not blink as he stared wide-eyed across the sand swept shore at the mermaid sunning herself upon a rock. Ropes of gleaming red hair fanned out across the gray stone, and round, bare breasts pointed toward the sky as if to touch the sun. Her tail grazed the water, skimming the surface, and splashing in lazy circles. “I’ve never seen anything so beautiful in all my life,” Alex said in a breathless voice. His mother chuckled, grabbed his waist from behind, and pulled him onto her knee, releasing a muffled groan. “Ye’re
| LILY BALDWIN | getting far too big for me to hold. Either that or I’m getting smaller.” He could not contain his laughter. “Wheest,” she said. “Ye’ll frighten her for sure. Mermaids do not wish to be seen by humans.” “Like the faeries?” he reached out a finger to trace the mermaid’s outline in the air. “Aye, just like the faeries.” Alex slid off his mother’s lap onto the rock beside her and rested his head on her shoulder. At age ten, he may have been too big to cradle, but he still sought the warmth of her embrace. A pleasing lethargy spread through his limbs as he continued to watch the magical creature revel in sunshine. While her tail gently slapped the water’s surface, she stretched her arms, then laced her fingers behind her head. He did the same, smiling up at his mum with satisfaction. But then a soft humming caused him to jolt upright. Over the pounding of his heart, the music floated like a fragrant breeze from the mermaid’s parted lips to his ears. The sound was so beautiful, too beautiful. He had to swallow hard against the ache that gripped his heart. Unable to breath, he grabbed his mother’s hand. “I think my heart is breaking.” She touched his face and whispered, “Mine too.” Relief invited his lungs to fill as he snuggled closer to his mum before once more turning back to stare at the fae. Under his breath he prayed for time to stop, but as the sun began to dip in the sky, slicing the cobalt sea with streaks of pink and gold, a distant voice shattered the serenity. “Lady Anna!” Before Alex could draw his next breath, the mermaid jerked upright, flashed her black eyes in their direction, then dove off the rock, disappearing beneath dappled waves. Tears made his eyes heavy. He turned and hid his wet cheeks against his mother’s tunic. “’Tis a blessing to have seen her at all,” Anna crooned while she rubbed a soothing hand down his back. “Now, promise me something.” She crooked her finger beneath his chin. “Anything,” he said, savoring the warmth in his mother’s mixed-matched eyes. One was green and
the other blue—a trait he had inherited. “’Tis important ye don’t pray to see another mermaid. Instead, pray the sea remains blue and the waves gentle so merfolk will in turn bless our shores just as faeries bless our forests.” She looked up then and waved at John, the castle steward who again had called her name. “Now then, let us see what all the fuss is about.” ~*~ Alex cracked open the heavy stable door and peered inside. The air was thick with dust, kicked up by the famed MacKenzie horses. When the sun shone overhead there were few places he would rather be, but when darkness settled over the land, and torches within the barn cast dancing shadows across the ceiling, he always felt uneasy. His imagination tricked his mind into thinking the horses’ snorts and stomps, which suddenly seemed louder than in the daytime, belonged to terrific monsters who prowled the stalls, awaiting the witching hour when the night belonged to the damned. He stepped inside, looking left then right to make sure nothing lurked in the shadows before calling out, “Mum? Are ye in here?” “Over here.” Her reply came from deep inside. Instantly, the beautiful, serene sound of Anna’s voice chased away the demons, and he expelled the breath he had not realized he’d been holding. Without fear now he wove his way through the vast stalls that housed the animals he loved so well. The large chargers were his father’s pride, and the life source of their clan. For generations, the MacKenzies had bred the finest horses in the Highlands. Whether one was in need of a gentle gelding, a palfrey, a work horse, or a charger, their horses were sought after all the way to Edinburgh and beyond. The MacKenzies prospered. His father, Callum, laird of their clan, had often told Alex that they lived in a golden age where forces of good kept dark shadows at bay. “Although it will not always be thus,” his father once warned. “For fate is ever changing as the tides. One day darkness will rise, and all that was once good and green will Issue 15 | October 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | fade to shadow.” Alex shook off the troubled thoughts and stopped in front of Arthur, a giant, black charger with honey colored eyes. He favored Arthur above the other fine steeds, although he still had yet to ride him. His father said that a boy of ten years had no business riding so large a horse. Lowering his head over the gate, the stallion nudged Alex’s cheek with its muzzle. “Soon,” he promised, earning a nicker in response. He scratched behind Arthur’s bristling ears before turning away to follow the sound of his mother’s soft voice. He knew she was talking to the new horse the stable master had brought home, having found it wandering the moors. Wild and fierce, she was a large mare, pure white in color, and unbroken. The steward had chased away the mermaid earlier that evening, bringing word of the mare’s arrival. Anna had a way with animals. Many even said she had a gift, especially with horses. Following the evening meal, when Alex had gone in search of his mother, and could not find her anywhere in the keep, he had known she would be in the stables. Turning a corner, he spotted her long, black hair shimmering in the torchlight. The new arrival snorted and bucked its hind legs against the tall walls of its confinement. “Be careful,” he said, rushing forward when his mother opened the stall door. “Hush,” she said in a soft voice, extending a placating hand in his direction. “’Tis important to invite peace into your voice and into your body when ye’re near an animal that is afraid.” He slowed his step and exhaled a long breath, trying to mimic his mother’s easy stance. “Come,” she said. “Imagine ye’re a breeze, soft and gentle.” He eyed the white mare. She snorted, stretching her neck long, and stomped her hooves when he drew closer. “I am a breeze,” he said, trembling. He closed his eyes and imagined himself drifting over the moors, teasing the grasses and heather. With his 90 | UncagedBooks.com
eyes still shut he took another step. “I bring only peace,” he whispered. A hand closed around his, and he opened his eyes to see his mother’s smiling face. She winked at him and eased toward the wild mare that danced and skittered about; however, this time, it did not rise up or snort. “Ye’re a soft lass,” she said in a hushed tone. “I can tell. I see it in your eyes.” She slowly reached toward the mare. “All living creatures desire love and respect.” She glanced down at him. “In order to provide both, ye need only one thing—faith. “Watch.” She let go of his hand and stepped forward. The mare snorted, causing his heart to speed up. “Mum?” he croaked, his legs threatening to give way. Still, her hand inched closer. Again the horse snorted. “Ye’re a soft lass,” she crooned, as if she soothing away one of Alex’s nightmares, instead of trying to pacify a feral horse that could kill her with one wellplaced kick. He covered his eyes with his hands when she stepped even closer. His heart pounded his ears. When silence followed, he made a V between two of his fingers and peeked to see her fingertips brush the spot between the horse’s dark eyes. She traced a line from its forehead down to its muzzle, then stepped back, keeping her head bowed. He removed his hands from his eyes and waited, although he knew not for what. Then the horse stepped forward and pushed its nose against his mother’s cheek. Anna laughed and began stroking the mare’s mane. “Ye see, Alex. Love, respect, and faith—that is what ye must hold in your heart. And if ye do, ye’ll count the beasts of the earth as friends. Come now. ‘Tis your turn.” The gale inside of him had calmed once more. He eased forward, and with love in his heart, reached out his hand. The horse remained still just as it had for his mother, and he stroked her nose. Her eyes shifted to his for an instant. Then Alex stepped back. This time the horse did not hesitate, but instead, she nickered and nudged Alex playfully. He laughed and wrapped his arms around his mother’s waist.
| LILY BALDWIN | “I love ye,” he said, looking up into her mixmatched eyes. She smiled down at him. “I love ye.” She led him out of the mare’s stall and closed the tall gate, lowering the lock into place. “What shall we name her?” he asked. “Whatever ye wish to—” His mother froze. She grabbed his arm. He winced from the pressure. “Mum—” “Quiet,” she hissed, her attention on the door. He strained his ears. A wolf’s howl rang out. He jumped in the same instant his mother said in a whisper, “Wolves.” The mare snorted and kicked at the stall. His mother seized his arm and swung him around to face her. “Run.” Another howl filled the air, and she jerked her head in the direction of the sound. She looked back at him. Fear brought the sting of tears to his eyes. “Mum—” “Nay,” she cut him off with a kiss to his lips. “Run.” She shoved him toward the door before turning to release the mare. Twisting his fingers, he jerked around in circles, gaping at the rows of horses snorting and wildly bucking their gates. “Run,” his mother screamed. He stumbled backwards, then turned and bolted. He raced back the way he’d come, catching Arthur’s eye. The stallion’s powerful legs thundered against the barn wall, knocking a sconce free. The torch fell to the ground. Dry straw blazed. The fire raced ahead of him. Alex faltered. Smoke roiled upward in ribbons. He clutched his arms around himself, searching for a path through the blaze. The horses snorted. Wolves howled. The smoke blew across him. “Mum,” he choked out the word. Blindly, he raced past a stall as the horse within kicked through the gate and shot past him. Wood splintered with a thundering crack and flames rose high, surrounding him. Fire lashed across the soft flesh of his cheek. He screamed in pain. The smell of burnt flesh filled his nostrils. Alex gagged. He drew in a smoke filled breath, then wheezed a painful cough. Panic tightened his throat. He couldn’t breathe. The blurry expanse of the door
appeared ahead. He had to get out. His lungs screamed for air. Leaping through the flames, he threw himself against the stable doors and stumbled into the night. He collapsed to the ground, wriggling and screaming while fire continued to devour his flesh. “Hold still, lad.” He glimpsed his father’s anguished eyes the instant before a blanket covered his body and hands patted out the flames. Then the blanket was whisked away. “Where’s your mother?” “Inside,” he gulped out, but the night air bit at his exposed, charred flesh. Jolts of hellish pain shot through him. He seized, unable to breathe. Then the world slowly turned black.
See the Uncaged review of Highland Shadows in the review section Issue 15 | October 2017 |
feature author “After more than twenty years of hospital night shifts, Roland Allnach has witnessed life from a slightly different angle. He’s been working to develop his writing career, drawing creatively from literary classics, history, and mythology. “His short stories, one of which was nominated for the Pushcart Prize, have appeared in many publications. His first anthology, Remnant, blending science fiction and speculative fiction, saw publication in 2010. In 2012 he followed with Oddities & Entities, a collection spanning the supernatural, paranormal, horror and speculative genres. His third book, Prism, published in 2014, follows a winding road through diverse genres and narrative forms. In 2015 he saw publication of two more books, the dystopian science fiction novel The Digital Now and the his first foray into nonfiction with The Writer’s Primer: A Practical Guide for Aspiring Authors Seeking Publication. In 2016 he returned to strange tales with Oddities & Entities 2: Vessels. “Roland’s books have received unanimous critical praise and have been honored with more than a dozen national book awards, including honors from National Indie Excellence, Foreword Reviews, Readers’ Favorite, Feathered Quill Reviews and Pacific Book Review. “When not immersed in his imagination, Roland can be found at his website, rolandallnach. com, along with a wealth of information about his stories and experiences as an author. Writing aside, his joy in life is the time he spends with his family.”
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Uncaged welcomes Roland Allnach! Uncaged: One of Uncaged’s reviewers read Oddities and Entities 2, and I watched a televised interview of you on The Balancing Act talking about the first book. Do you prefer to write the anthology vs. a full length novel with only one plot? (BTW - I am going to put that video in the interview also) Can you explain the books to the readers? I grew up reading a lot of sci-fi and horror anthologies, so the concept of a book with a central theme linking independent stories is not only something familiar to me but something I’ve always considered an interesting literary presentation. By working with stories centered around a theme, I get to share a number of different tales in a single book: each story has its own path while at the same time they contribute in their own ways to an overall impression. With both “Oddities & Entities” books, the goal was to shake readers from the comfort zone of everyday reality. The stories blur lines of morality and perceptions of self by propelling characters into strange and surreal predicaments. Confronted by forces and situations fractured from the normal world, the characters then have to figure out to move forward, and how to make sense of themselves. It’s a hazardous path. Click the image below to see the interview:
Uncaged: Are you planning any other anthologies, or more Oddities and Entities books? I’m nearing completion of a two novella collection. Although it follows vaguely on the themes of my two “Oddities & Entities” books my instinct is guiding me to let them stand apart. The tentative title is “Double Strand” to signify the two novellas and the fact that both revolve around mutations. Uncaged: As a reviewer, I’m always curious as to what authors can take away from the reviews, do you read them and what do you take away from the reviews? I’m always interested in the content of reviews. In today’s world reviews are a primary source of feedback from readers. When I read reviews I look at them on two levels. First, the reviewer’s objective take on the book, which I consider a evaluation of the mechanical structure of the book, such as the enticement of its plot, satisfaction of its closure, relatability of characters, and so forth. Second, I look for the subjective take on the book - did the reader find it compelling? If all those aspects worked for the reader, then I’m satisfied I did my job as an author. Uncaged: Besides horror/paranormal, you’ve also written some non-fiction and science fiction. What’s your favorite genre to write? What is coming up next? Although I work in several specific genres, fiction is my main focus. I consider all my stories to fall under the category of “surreal”. How that manifests from piece to piece separates the stories into the more specific genre categories, but I also find that quite a few of my stories
bridge one or more genres. As a reader, I want a story to take me to a place I haven’t seen before. As an author, that sensibility drives my imagination, and I want to explore the unknown with my writing. Right now I’m several books ahead of myself, but the two titles I’m deciding between trend toward science fiction. Uncaged: Where do you come up with your characters and their names? How much do you pull from people you know? I know this might sound odd, but I always have a few characters whispering in my head. My typical process is to let those personalities incubate until I find a story to which a particular character makes a good fit, being that my narrative style is character oriented and driven. When it comes to names, I try to strike a balance between something notable for readers to identify, yet not so odd as to seem contrived. How far I go on that spectrum will be decided by the story and the character’s place in the narrative. Character composition is a fascinating process. To say my characters are not influenced by people I know would be disingenuous; I think any author will attest that character composition is based on living experience, the majority of which is shaped by interaction with actual people. Understanding real people is key to attaining depth and complexity in character composition. Uncaged:What is your favorite part about being an author? Your least favorite? Issue 15 | October 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | For me, the most enjoyable thing is to work with my characters. My real inspiration for writing comes from the works of Tolstoy, Flaubert, Homer, and so forth - perhaps a bit of a surprise considering the content of my stories. Bringing a character to life in a story is immensely satisfying, and there’s nothing like the satisfaction of finishing a story, but the revision process is where I really feel I get to bring the story into proper focus. That’s exciting, because I find it similar to polishing a piece of wood - each pass brings out more shine. My least favorite part of being an author? I enjoy learning, I enjoy researching, but it can be tedious doing all the background work readers often don’t realize an author must do, not only at times of writing but in the post-publication process of book promotion. That said, when this work comes to fruition, it too is very satisfying. Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Scratch an author and you’ll find an avid reader. I love to read, even though my reading time is not as much as I would like. After all the time and devotion invested in crafting my own stories, it’s nice to sit back and let someone else take the steering wheel. Uncaged: I know that my favorites change as I read more and more books, but was the last book you loved? The last book you hated or made you mad? I’m a big fan of classical literature and history, not so much of mainstream fiction. I’ve been following Erik Larson of late, and really enjoyed “Devil in the White City.” I just finished his book on the Lusitania, “Dead Wake”, and am currently reading “Isaac’s Storm”, about the horrendous Galveston Hurricane. As an author I find it hard to say I’ve “hated” a book, knowing how much work it takes to see a book through to publication. That said, I’ve been dissatisfied by 94 | UncagedBooks.com
some high-profile thrillers that I gave a try. In fairness I have to say that was probably due more to my expectations than anything else, although I find sometimes with thrillers that intriguing openings are followed by improbable or irrational endings. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? For those who have read my books - and those who might be new to my writing - expect the unexpected, and be prepared to go places you won’t anticipate. Exploring the darkness interests me as an author, regardless of the genre I’m working in, and I plan to let my imagination go down those roads as they come to me.
Enjoy an excerpt from Oddities & Entities 2: Vessels Oddities & Entities 2: Vessels Roland Allnach SciFi/Horror Sometimes you need to be broken to be made whole. With Oddities & Entities 2: Vessels, multi-award winning author Roland Allnach returns to the strange and surreal path forged by his critically acclaimed Oddities & Entities. Consisting of nine new tales spiced with elements of horror and speculative fiction, Vessels explores the communion of spirit, substance, and the eccentricities of flesh between those conjoined realms. Excerpt of opening story from “Oddities & Entities 2: Vessels” by Roland Allnach Defaeco
| ROLAND ALLNACH | John sat in a city restaurant, watching as wait staff in crisp black and white uniforms moved from table to table. He felt somewhat uncomfortable in his casual clothes among all the business people in their expensive suits. Stark little numbers beside the menu items denoted a level of culinary extravagance far beyond his level of wealth. Aside from the opulence of those few catered events that serve as the highlights of a typical life, his existence had been very mundane. Times had changed. He drummed his fingers on the business card beside his napkin. A woman stepped from behind a waiter and stopped at the side of his table. It took a moment for her presence to register. When she cleared her throat, though, John moved with a start and looked up at her. She was dressed in formal business wear, forgettable gray in color and cut to librarian propriety to match her glasses and the tight bun of her black hair. Her hands were crossed in front of her and clutched the straps of a slender black business bag. By its texture it appeared to be fashioned from strips of snakeskin. She studied him down the length of her nose before taking the chair across from him, her gaze never wandering. He glanced around the restaurant before looking back to her. “I was waiting for some—” She folded her hands on the table. “And I found you. John, correct?” He blinked as he took her in. It was hard to discern her age, her skin still smooth around the hard stare of her dark eyes. “I thought you’d be different,” he said. She took a deep breath and settled against the back of her chair. “I understand you were looking for me.” For some reason his throat went dry. There was something about her impenetrable gaze that unnerved him as much as he was elated to meet her. He decided elation was perhaps not quite the proper word for what he was feeling. A sense of peace suffused his body even as his heart thumped with trepidation. “Oh, oh ... yes, I’ve been looking ... searching, I think, for you. Or someone like you, maybe I should say.” He licked his lips. “Do you have a
name?” She glanced at a waiter and raised a finger before looking back to him. “You can call me Eve.” “Eve,” he repeated. It felt a safe assumption it wasn’t her real name. Besides, it seemed kind of a heavy thing—almost a comical thing— to call herself Eve while she carried a snakeskin bag. No, he decided, she was probably an investment banker, or some other kind of financial person, from the looks of her. From the calm reserve that seeped from her humorless eyes and the quiet presence that spoke of an innate embodiment of power, he decided she had wealth. At the same time, there was something about her that didn’t blend with the rest of the business elite dining at the restaurant. Eve. Right. He shouldn’t be surprised, after all. He wasn’t using his real name, either. He nodded and said, “Okay. How does this work?” She kept her gaze on him as a waiter came to their table. The man set out tea service for two, a thin slice of apple pie with a dollop of cream for Eve, and then set a covered dish before John. He noticed a jagged scar atop the waiter’s hand that disappeared beneath the starched cuff of his white shirt. The waiter cupped his hands behind his back and, when Eve glanced at him, he bowed and walked away. John stared at the covered dish. “Is this for me?” She ignored him and sipped her tea. “I have to say, this isn’t what I expected.” The corner of her mouth lifted, not quite a grin, but there was a glint of amusement in her gaze. “It never is. I don’t often meet someone who parked his dilapidated minivan in the budget lot down the street.” He froze with his hand over the silver cover of his dish. His lips parted, but he decided it was better not to ask how she knew about his car. It could be a matter of simple deduction. He expected she would have certain ways to dissect and analyze someone with a glance. Issue 15 | October 2017 |
| FEATURE AUTHOR | He looked down and lifted the cover. A white plate met his gaze. In the center, resting atop a paper doily, he found a dark, lumpy, dried pastry of some sort he’d never seen before. To the side of the plate there was another business card, but it was blank. He glanced at her, only to find her sipping her tea as she stared at her apple pie. He looked back to the card. When he put his fingers on the card to flip it over she cleared her throat. “First you must eat.” He held still, his fingers hovering over the card. “Are you going to have anything?” She tipped her head. “I’ve had my fill.” He put his hand on his thigh as he leaned over to sniff the pastry. “Is it French?” “I have other appointments.” He opened his hand to still her. “Wait, wait, please?” He looked at the pastry. It didn’t smell very good. He reached for it, but froze when a rather disgusting deduction bloomed through his anxiety. His eyes narrowed as he looked to her. There was no hedge in the cold, expectant cast of her eyes. He looked back to the plate. It was a horrible moment, yet one he knew was also a critical moment. It was silly not to push through, not after all the madness and dissolution behind him. Nevertheless, he couldn’t help but hesitate, and excused himself by considering it a most natural reaction. He looked back to her. “Is this a test?” “I assume you understand the necessity of caution. You wish to embark upon a journey of a certain nature. If we are to pursue this path we need to have a certain understanding, a certain measure of commitment. Consider it an act of trust—an act of faith, if you will.” He looked at the plate. He had the unsettling suspicion she knew far more about him than he knew about her, and he reminded himself that in fact he knew nothing about her, had not met her until that very afternoon in the restaurant. “I need to know that you are committed, John.” “But I don’t know you at all. Where’s my end of the trust?” “I never said this would be a level exchange.” 96 | UncagedBooks.com
She held her chin up. “That’s the act of faith. I need to see that you have faith in me.” He couldn’t help but grin despite the expressionless mask of her face. He knew he had to go through. He knew he wanted to go through. Besides, what was there to risk? Pride and self-esteem were long lost relics. Any notions of standards regarding perversity were mocking insults to the devolved creature he embodied in his current reality. “Okay,” he said and looked down. He took the repugnant little treat and slid it into his mouth. It was dry and crusty on the outside but, as his teeth broke through, it was somewhat soft on the inside. A horrid, despicable taste erupted across his tongue. He squeezed his eyes shut to hold back his tears of revulsion, clamped his hands on his knees to hold back his nausea, and forced it down. The moment after he swallowed his eyes popped open to find his cup of tea. The steaming liquid burned his tongue. It was fine by him, as he knew it both sterilized his mouth and cauterized his taste buds. His hand shook as he put the cup down. He put his napkin to his face to hide what he was sure was the crimson flush of his skin. Several beads of sweat trickled down his temples. He wiped them away and, after steadying his nerves, he lowered the napkin and looked across the table. She gave him a single nod, took her snakeskin bag, and walked away. As he watched her go he spotted the waiter with the scar. The man stared at him with pitiless scrutiny. John blinked, only to realize he had lost Eve in the crowd. He frowned and looked back to his plate. His hand shot out to the business card. After a moment’s hesitation he cursed under his breath and flipped the card over. A phone number was printed on the back of the card, along with a four-digit code. He put the card in his shirt pocket and eased back in his chair. He wanted to laugh, he wanted to scream, he wanted to throw his teacup at some random patron and start a fight, he wanted to follow a woman to the lady’s room and expose himself. Everything was behind him, everything was in the past, and everything would soon be forgotten.
| ROLAND ALLNACH | He reached across the table and took the apple pie, delirious with elation. The taste was exquisite, even with his scalded tongue, or, he wondered with a grin, perhaps more so.
Uncaged Review I have mixed feelings about this book. Some stories were just plain bizarre, others were deep in character like Overlay, a sort of modern day miracle about a boy who learns that life isnâ€™t what it seems and he helps heal a crippled girl, only to lead us into a tale of love friendship and shape shifters. There is some worthwhile deep stories in this book and one that left me not wanting to touch my belly button ever again. Thanks for that story Roland - just a little creepy. I canâ€™t wait to see the faces of readers when you read that strange tale. A mix of horror stories and science fiction perfect for a little late night reading. P.S. - I think my stomach is getting hungry, hehe. Reviewed by Jennifer
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| FANG-FREAKIN-TASTIC FEATURE AUTHOR | Mike Evans lives in Iowa with his wife and children. He writes for character depth because he wishes for you to love the character, regardless if they are the villain or the hero. He likes to write from a unique perspective, doing things with books that no one has done before. He keeps his characters realistic, there are no superhero like events that will happen. There are no perfect characters in his books, everyone has their flaws much like that of life.
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Fang-Freakin-Tastic welcomes Mike Evans! FFT - Can you tell us more about The Orphans series and what it’s all about? The Orphans is really what happens when someone watches too much The Walking Dead and begins a zombie series. I wrote it in 2014 with the plans to make the most difficult to survive in apocalypse I could. I decided very early on that they would not be given too many gifts and those that were received would more than likely come at a cost or not be worth the price. The book centers around a father and son with a strained relationship. The dad a widow is trying to save the woman he loves, his “cure” is anything but that and is when hell is unleashed on society. FFT - There are six books in this series, how many are planned for this series? I know that I am shooting for 9 but it originally was suppose to be a trilogy so to say it will end at 9 is not really said with much faith. I will write it until I think there is a good ending place. I am writing less and less zombies as my books progress though. FFT - As a reviewer, I’m always curious as to what authors can take away from the reviews, do you read them and what do you take away from the reviews? I used to read them, I look at what my overall ranking percentage.
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FFT - Can you tell us about your other books? I have quite a few different book series. If you can handle the darker things in life and do not have a weak stomach then I’d recommend highly The Uninvited Series, it is probably one of my favorites and definitely is my stress reliever. Voices In My Head could turn your stomach as well. I have an assassin series named Gabriel. He is a true bad ass and makes Bond look a bit weak in comparison. It is a action suspense book but has enough killing and gore to just be on the teetering line of being classified as a horror book. My newest series is also a lot of fun it is centered around Demons and the Devil’s fight to try and take over the world and church. The name of this is Demons Beware Series which currently has 2 books out. FFT - Do you have an ARC team, or a street team? What are the benefits to signing up for your newsletter? I do have a street team which is my fan club as well as seven or eight beta readers. I truly wish I would have used beta readers earlier in my writing but you learn as you go. The benefits of signing up are never missing a deal when I am able to discount books, as well as knowing usually on the day my books are released when that is!
FFT - What is your favorite parts about being an author? Your least favorite? I would say my favorite two things are getting to create worlds and knowing that there are people out there craving for the next book. My readers seem to be not the norm because they will read anything that I lend my voice/words to and I love it. What I dislike about it is the self doubt we authors go through, I also dislike the haters and my least favorite thing is when one of my close readers who usually become my friends over time pass away. It is not easy getting to know people only to lose them. But we take that chance in life and it makes it worth living. Put down your kleenexes there will be no tears lol. FFT - What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? I typically spend most of my time with my wife, kids, and two dogs. If I have free time on top of that I am usually flying down country highways of Iowa riding my motorcycle. What is the last book you read that you loved? What was the last one you hated? I am currently listening to IT, it is really the last thing I’ve read. Before that I did Bag of Bones it just never really connected with me. FFT - What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? To fans I would suggest to take a chance on a indie Issue 15 | October 2017 |
| FANG-FREAKIN-TASTIC FEATURE AUTHOR | author. A lot of time we are just regular guys and gals scribbling in our free time. We have a hunger for doing this that I think a lot of authors who can do this for a living have lost.
Enjoy an excerpt from Voices In My Head Voices in my Head Mike Evans Horror Five-year-old Mikey has a history of multiple personality disorders, they run in his family. When he is pushed to his limit Michael comes out to play. You have never met a child so dark and sadistic. Follow Michael through child and adulthood as he wreaks havoc on everything in his path! Excerpt October 1990 There was a cool breeze that moved through the small, two-story house. The curtains flapped in the wind and the smell of fall was strong in the air. The Midwest was nothing but wonderful this time of year. It was late—almost eleven at night. Denise took her time walking through the house. She wanted to make sure the house was immaculate. She washed the dishes slowly, until they were perfect, setting them in the dry rack and letting the dirty water out of the outdated sink. She got Mikey’s lunch ready for the following day, and packed it making sure that all of his favorites were there with care and love. She dusted the fireplace, as well as the curio. She thought of Mikey eating his snack in the living room and the crumbs that were guaranteed to have been embedded in the carpet. She plugged in the ancient Hoover and went over the living room, vacuuming every inch of the worn, brown 102 | UncagedBooks.com
carpet. Her husband, Sam, charged down the stairs, pissed about the Hoover while he was trying to relax and watch Nascar in bed. He stomped down, pounding his feet, but the loud vacuum made her oblivious to his approach. He screamed, but Denise could hear nothing … and even if the vacuum was not on, he would never break her deep thoughts. The voices were louder than anyone on the outside could or would be. When his screams did nothing, he marched to the wall and ripped the power cord from it. He yelled at her, the veins in his neck and forehead pulsating and looking like they’d explode from their place. “Woman, what the hell do you think you’re doing? It’s too goddamn late to be running that fucking thing. The neighbors are going to think you’ve gone and lost your mind. You get your ass up to bed now. You gotta get up in the morning’ and make me breakfast before I leave for the factory.” Denise smiled, unaware how long he had been standing there. She didn’t want to talk back; she had done that before and was taught that was not acceptable. She brushed her short blonde hair from her face. “Is it okay if I tuck in Mikey, Sam?” “God, you’re one needy woman, do you know that? I don’t know why the fuck I stick around with you. You keep pampering Mike and you’re gonna turn him into one grade-A pussy. I hope you know what you’re doing to the boy.” Denise wrapped the cord around the vacuum and placed it in the closet. “I’ll be to bed in a moment, dear; you don’t have to wait up for me.” Sam turned around and went back up the stairs. “God damn women are more trouble than they’re worth. What the hell am I supposed to do with her?” He pulled off his dirty wife beater and threw it down the hall. “You get your ass to bed, woman. Maybe I ain’t quite as tired as I thought I was, if you know what I mean. Might as well make yourself good for somethin’.” Denise smiled distantly. “Don’t worry, honey. I will be up in a bit. I just need a minute with Mikey.” She turned off the lights in the kitchen and living room and made her way up the long staircase. She
| MIKE EVANS | went into her beloved son’s room. Denise bent down and picked up the Garfield stuffed animal and placed it in his arms. She bent down and kissed his forehead. “I love you so much, Mikey. You are everything to me. I would hold you until the day I die if I could, but I don’t trust myself to stay around. I don’t trust your father to take care of you either.” “What do you mean, you won’t be around?” “Honey—I mean, Mikey, right?” “Yes, Mommy.” “Good. You tell Michael that I need to talk to you tonight, okay, honey?” Mikey sat up in his bed. The five-year-old barely made a dent in the full-size mattress. “What’s going on, Mom?” “I just wanted to tell you that I love you very much. I don’t think there is anything that you aren’t capable of doing, honey. But I want you to try and keep Michael under control. If you can stay calm, remember what we worked on.” “Mommy, I can’t do it as good as you. “But I really need you to take your time, and stay calm, alright? You don’t let people upset you, dear. It isn’t healthy for you to let them get under your skin. You do everything you can to keep Michael quiet, okay?” Mikey sat up and hugged his mother. “You sound like you are saying goodbye, Mommy. Where are you going? What’s happening?” She looked out his window, lost in thought. She saw that his friend Billy’s parents were still up. “I want you to wait a few minutes and then head over to Billy’s house. You go straight there. Tell them that your mom told you to come over and ask if you can spend the night with Billy. Tell them that I said your dad and I were having problems. Can you do that for me, dear?” Mikey nodded. “You aren’t going to fight with Daddy, are you, Momma? I don’t want to go if you’re gonna fight.” “Don’t worry, honey; I promise we won’t fight again after tonight. Okay, baby?” She pulled out a hooded sweatshirt and walked him down to the front door. “Be quiet. We don’t want to make Daddy upset. It is going to be better after to-
day, honey, I promise. You just need to be strong. Keep in charge, baby—you stay in charge,” she whispered. Denise opened the front door for him. He ran halfway across the street and stopped. His left arm twitched twice, and he stood up a little straighter. He turned back around, smiling. “I’ll take care of Mikey, Denise; don’t worry. I will make sure that no one hurts him. Will I see you later?” Denise shook her head no. Michael smiled, brushing the brown hair from his face. “Be good, Michael … please try and be good.” Michael smiled and waved his fingers at her, turning and finishing the walk to the steps. He went to Billy’s house and hit the doorbell. Billy’s mother opened the door, looking down at the little boy she thought was Mikey. She looked across the street to Denise, waving a knowing and sad hand to her, confident that the woman was about to go into battle with her drunk and abusive husband. She bent down and hugged the boy, whose arms hung lifelessly, and did not hug back. He merely stood there patiently waiting for his invitation into the warm, safe house. Denise turned around, looking up at the secondstory bedroom window and felt a peace she hadn’t experienced in a very long time. She went to the kitchen and grabbed the item that she felt was very deserving. She walked up the steps of the dark house to her bedroom, black as night. Her silhouette was framed in the doorway. Sam lay in there, his hand moving over his midsection under the sheets. “Well, it’s about goddamn time, woman. Christ, I almost had to take care of myself before I went to bed. What the hell took you so god damned long, anyways?” “You wanted me ready for you, didn’t you, dear? I want to please you tonight. Is that okay with you, sweetheart?” He sat up in the bed a little more, getting excited. He was used to humping a limp woman; usually dead to anything he was trying to do. “Well, hell yeah, baby. If you can do something besides lie there, you know I’m down for it.” Issue 15 | October 2017 |
| FANG-FREAKIN-TASTIC FEATURE AUTHOR | Denise walked into the room slowly, keeping her hands behind her back as she knelt down at the foot of the bed to set down her weapon of choice, careful to keep it within reach, and then crawled onto the end of the bed. She rubbed a hand up his thigh, massaging his groin. “How does this feel, baby? Is this what you want?” Sam started panting heavily. “Yeah, baby. Yeah, that’s what I want. Christ, what the fuck got into you, Denise?” “Denise isn’t here; you can call me D though.” “Jesus Christ, you and your crazy ass shit. You can’t just fuck me once without being all damn weird and shit, woman?” She rubbed her hand up his thigh to his member, gripping it tightly, rubbing it back and forth. She slid the eight-inch chef knife’s blade up the bed between his legs, rubbing him faster. “Get on, baby. Come on! I’m ready to fill you up,” he breathed. “You want it, baby, huh? You do?” “Yeah, baby, you know I do!” She crawled up next to his ear and kissed and licked it. She made her way back down his abdomen kissing his stomach, clawing her nails down his chest toward his waist. Just as he thought she was close enough that heaven was about to begin, she took the knife and jammed it up to its hilt between his legs, going up his rectum and ending in his gut where it penetrated his organs. He screamed in agony. Fresh blood wet his lips. He gurgled on his blood. “What the fuck are you doing, Denise? What did you do to me?” “Oh, I’m giving it to you, honey. I’m going to give you everything you want and then some, baby. Aren’t you ready to fill me up, Sam?” The blood was pooling in the bed. Sam, who thought he had a chance at being medically treated, wiped at his face and gripped D’s arm. She let go of the knife blade, grabbing a meat tenderizer and brought it in an arc over her head with everything that she had and into his mouth. His head spun at an impossible angle, and the blood that was already there shot across and 104 | UncagedBooks.com
sprayed the drapes. His teeth bounced and skidded across the floor. The sound that it made would turn a normal person’s stomach. Sam screamed in pain. Blood flew from his mouth as he was trying to get her to stop. She reached down, yanking the knife, twisting it as she backed it out and then rammed it back into him even further this time. His legs stiffened in pain and shock. She yanked it back out, pulling it from its place for the second time. He sat up in bed, reaching for her. She pushed him back down and took the knife. She laughed as she put the tip of the blade to her lips and licked it. She moved it next to his chin, she got up close until they were eye to eye and smiled. “Sam, honey, you should have been nicer to Denise. She deserved better than you.” He opened his mouth to speak and D smashed her palm into the butt of the knife; it slid through his chin and up into his head, coming to a rest at the top of his skull. She walked to the bathroom, drew a warm bath, and slid into it. She took a knife and drew it up her arms. D cut deep and hard into each wrist, ensuring there would be no saving her. The tub turned red. D lay back, smiling, as the world in front of her became fuzzy, turned black and she was finally relieved of her misery. Chapter Billy’s mom, Savannah, put a hand on Michael’s back, ushering him in through the large red door. She closed and locked it tight behind them. She stopped for a moment looking out the window to see if there were any signs of what was to come from across the street. Michael slid his shoes off, placing them next to the door. “Is everything all right at home tonight, Mikey?” Savannah asked. “Michael.” “I’m sorry, Mikey, what did you say?” He looked up at her. His eyes were dark and did not have the spark and curiosity of a five-year-old. They had something evil in them…something that gave Savannah the chills.
| MIKE EVANS | “Michael…my name is, Michael. Children are called, Mikey.” She looked at the boy dressed in his cartoon character pajamas and his yellow robe and laughed out loud. “Michael is so formal, dear. Well, Michael, were there any problems at home tonight?” Michael sighed, already tired of talking to the woman. “No more than usual, Savannah.” “Well, excuse me, Michael, but you know to refer to me as Mrs. Thomas, don’t you?” “I’m tired, and I want to go to bed. I can take care of myself.” “Goodnight, dear. Sleep tight, all right, honey? If you need anything, you know where our room is. Just let me know what I can do for you.” Michael didn’t respond. He just walked, letting his arms hang dead at his sides. He went straight to Billy’s room not stopping on his way. Michael walked in, and went to the window, opened the shade and stared across at his parents’ bedroom. He was worried for D. He knew that she could only put up with so much from Sam, and that she was very close to being done with it. He was hoping that she would not be hurt too bad during her fight. Michael looked around the room filled with toys and games. Many more than he had—all of the newest things. If he cared about these things then he might be jealous of the boy sleeping soundly in his bed. He walked to the door and cracked it an inch. He listened to the voices coming from the living room that echoed up the long hallway to the second floor. Billy’s father, Ralph, tried to be quiet. “What’s going on over at Mikey’s house tonight? Is it going to be another fall down the stairs for Denise this evening?” “Don’t call him Mikey. The little shit about snapped my head off when I did.” “Jesus, Savannah, he’s just upstairs for god sakes. Be a little warm-hearted, would you? Look at what that kid deals with every day. He probably can’t help himself.” “Ralph Thomas, do not fucking tell me to be polite, you piece of shit. Every god damned time his parents decide they can’t stand each other, we get stuck with Michael while Denise spends a few days heal-
ing in the clinic.” “He can hear you, baby. It isn’t his fault that his parents hate each other’s guts. He’s five; why don’t you give him a little break?” “Oh yeah, I’ll give him a break. I’m going to go workout in the morning, bright and early at the fitness club. You can take care of the boys and breakfast. I won’t be around to be such a bitch to the little bastard.” Ralph smiled and she snapped, “God, you are hopeless. That doesn’t mean you need to fill them with chocolate milk and doughnuts. God knows you could switch out some fats for some egg whites once in a while!” Ralph patted his stomach, sucking it in, which did little to hide the bulk. Savannah took her large glass of wine, emptying what was left of it and set it back on its coaster. Ralph smiled, raising his eyebrows at her. “Are you ready for bed, honey?” “No. I’m going to take a shower first; I’m not quite ready to go to bed. I have a lot on my mind. I’m all worked up after our little talk. I have a headache too.” “You know, if you need some company in the shower, I could come up and wash your back. It’s been awhile since … you know.” She walked past him, dragging her fingers across his chest. “Let’s not ruin a good thing then.” She started up the stairs and looked back at her husband, who looked like someone had shot his puppy. “You know, I have to say, it’s almost like I don’t need you anymore, Ralph. That shower head just does miracles for me. I’ve never been so clean.” Ralph watched her go up the steps and shook his head. He walked back to the living room, grabbing the remote and finding the dirtiest thing he could since his wife had no interest in assisting him with anything but spending his money. Michael closed the door. Billy stirred in his bed. “Mikey, are your parents fighting again? You want me to get my sleeping bag out for you?” Michael turned around. “Shut up and go back to bed, Billy. I’m not in the mood, you little shit.” Issue 15 | October 2017 |
| FANG-FREAKIN-TASTIC FEATURE AUTHOR | “Oh, hello, Michael, sorry. The sleeping bag is in the closet. You stay away from me, alright?” Michael smiled in the dark. “I can’t make any promises about anything, Billy. Now go back to sleep unless you want to play.” “Just stay on your side, and leave me alone.” ** Savannah made her way into the bathroom. She turned on the radio to something soft and light, stripping off her yoga pants and shirt and staring at herself in the mirror. She rubbed her hands across her stomach, wishing her midsection had not had the pleasure of a child. She turned in the mirror, looking at her sides and the stretch marks that she complained about constantly to Ralph, who could barely see them. But she knew that was just because he refused to take any ownership of what happened to her body. She thought about his midsection and double chin and instantly felt better about herself…and the fact that she had a great massage mode on her shower head. Savannah slipped into the shower, adjusting the heat as she stepped in. She leaned her head back, letting the warm water wet her hair, and washed her face and body. She rested her forearm up against the wall, leaning her head on it while making sure certain parts of her body were very clean. She moaned in the shower, getting very close to letting the stress of the night out and feeling instantly better. The click of the door opening startled her out of her near orgasmic state. She looked out, seeing a small frame and yelled, “Jesus, Billy, would you please hurry up? It’s too late for you to be awake.” Michael sat there for a moment, emptying a cup of water into the toilet. He walked back over, opened and shut the door, and the moaning began again. Michael stepped over to the side of the tub and pulled back the shower curtain. “Oh my god, Mikey! Get the hell out of here right now, young man,” Savannah screamed as 106 | UncagedBooks.com
she jumped and tried to cover her nakedness all at once. Michael smiled. “It’s Michael, Savannah. Looking good.” Her face was wrenched with anger, which transformed into shock when she saw the young boy holding her radio. He smiled as he dropped the radio into the tub. She reached for the boy but froze as the electricity ran through her body. The lights flickered, and the breakers in the house blew. She fell, cracking her head open on the side of the shower. Blood and soap mixed together in the drain, the hot water washed it away as it flowed freely from the wound on her forehead. She was no longer in pain. Michael stared at her, watching her breathing slow until her chest was no longer moving. He smiled as he turned around and walked back to Billy’s room. ** Ralph jumped in his seat. His hands, or hand rather, was full at the moment. The lights flickered, and then went off completely, along with the television. He fumbled getting out of the chair and tripped headfirst with his pants around his ankles. He pushed up to his feet, forgetting about his hate for his wife only worried that she was alright. Ralph ran to the kitchen grabbed a flashlight and hurried up the stairs. He ran to the bathroom and twisted the handle to open the door, but it was locked. Michael had pressed the push-button lock on his way out the door—something that, had she done, might have saved her life. Ralph twisted it again, and then started putting his massive bulk behind it, hitting it repeatedly with his shoulder. He screamed, “Savannah! Savannah, open the door, baby! Open the door right now, damn it! Please, please say something, sweetheart.” Billy woke and came running out to see his father lifting a foot and kicking it as hard as he could into the door frame, finally splintering and breaking it open. Billy rushed behind his father, who choked on a scream when he saw the radio in the wall. He unplugged the radio and when he saw Savannah dropped the flashlight on the floor. Only the moonlight shone on his wife’s corpse. Ralph dropped to
| MIKE EVANS | his knees, pulling her up from the tub, cradling her in his arms. He knew that she was gone and by the time paramedics got there it would be too late. Billy started screaming from behind, frantic. “Mommy, Mommy! Daddy, what’s wrong with her? Why is she bleeding? Why?” Ralph tried to speak, but it was impossible. His lip only quivered. He buried his face in her wet hair, wishing for death to come and take him as well. He lifted her out of the tub setting her on the tile floor and covered her with a towel and laid her on the floor. He went to his son, picking him up and taking him to their room, where he laid him on the bed. He picked up the phone and placed a call to the police. If this story treats people well please check out the full story here! https://www.amazon.com/Voices-My-Head-MikeEvans-ebook/dp/B01LXL4R31 You can sign up for my NEWSLETTER I will not send you many updates but you will never miss out on a book coming out!
Issue 15 | October 2017 |
New Releases October Release Dates - A Selection
Origin by Dan Brown The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan Without Merit by Colleen Hoover The Core by Peter V. Brett Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain 27 Hours by Tristina Wright That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur Ringer by Lauren Oliver The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash Show Me the Way by A.L. Jackson The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook The Walking Dead Volume 28 by Robert Kirkman
Dear Martin by Nic Stone Monster by Michael Grant Most of All You by Mia Sheridan Duke of Desire by Elizabeth Hoyt It Devours! by Joseph Fink Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak The Midnight Dance by Nikki Katz Deep Freeze by John Sandford Lilac Lane by Sherryl Woods
October 10 Turtles All the Way Down by John Green All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater The Silver Mask by Holly Black Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis The Gatekeepers by Jen Lancaster Played by Jen Frederick Dare Mighty Things by Heather Kaczynski The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed The Walking Dead: Here’s Negan by Robert Kirkman Fairytale by Danielle Steel The Book of Swords by George R. R. Martin Publishers and authors: If you would like a new release in these lists, please email me at UncagedBooks@gmail.com
October 24 The Glass Spare by Lauren DeStefano Strange Weather by Joe Hill Hard Wood by Lauren Blakely The Rooster Bar by John Grisham Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds Lust for Life by Sylvester McNutt III Leopard’s Blood by Christine Feehan
October 31 Forget You, Ethan by Whitney G. Two Kinds of Truth by Michael Connelly The Scarecrow Queen by Melinda Salisbury Piper by Jay Asher Ride Wild by Laura Kaye Can’t Let Go by Gena Showalter Wilde in Love by Eloisa James Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier by Mark Frost Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar
Issue 15 | October 2017 |
Uncaged Reviews Highland Shadows
Lily Baldwin Historical Paranormal In Alexander MacKenzie’s youth, his clan prospered. Until one night fire and death descended, and all that was good and green fled the ensuing darkness, leaving the MacKenzie clan impoverished, and Alex’s face severely scarred. Known as the Mad Maid of Clan Ross, Cora has been imprisoned within her father’s keep for a decade, but not against her will—she is her own warden. Cora locked herself away to protect those she loves from what she has become. Within the shadows that blanket their land lurk vampires and wolves. They know Cora’s savage secret and have laid claim to her body. But the fight for her soul has only just begun, and only Alex’s love can save her.
Uncaged Review: This book took me a bit by surprise - taking two of my favorite genres, historical and paranormal and combine them into a story that works. Scarred by a fire in his youth, when the Darkness took over their world, Alex becomes the true laird of his clan when his father passes. With barely being able to keep his people fed, as the faefolk have left the lands, and the Darkness has spoiled the land for crops, he rides out to a neighboring clan with the hope to form an alliance to fight the dark wolves of the forest. The only thing that Clan Ross will accept, is if Alex marries the laird’s strange acting daughter – who hides away in her rooms high in the castle, Cora. But Cora is more than she seems.. This is a very engaging story, and I enjoyed the originality and I really hope the author keeps this story going, as there is much more that could easily be told and secrets left to be uncovered. I did feel the story line was a bit rushed in places, and drawn out in others, but the story is worth a read if you want something a bit different than the standard paranormal fare. Reviewed by Cyrene
110 | UncagedBooks.com
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Mild violence, sex
Fireflies of the Dead Eric Kapitan Horror Fireflies of the Dead is a collection of poetry and short stories. Exposing images of the strange, the grotesque and morbidly macabre. An alien from a distant world falls to earth with an insatiable craving for human flesh and something even more frightening, a desire to mate! Witness the tragic tale of a lonely man with an unhealthy affection toward the fire. Seven short stories and poems that will take you on a blood-soaked thrill ride filled with mayhem and horrific images. Uncaged Review: A collection of very dark and twisted tales and poems. Not for the easily offended as this author likes to push the reader to the extreme. With some of the stories showing some talented writing others left me feeling a little uncomfortable. So yes this book did leave an impression on me. After reading this book I thought the last story in the book was the best in the book. Featuring a thirty-something Noah who hates his job and is still living with his parent’s. Goes a little stir crazy with an online virtual world game. This book is a good read if you can overlook the Dark Sexual elements of the stories throughout the book. I would give this book adults only warning due to its extreme graphic nature. Reviewed by Jennifer
Uncaged Ratings: Adult
Extreme violence, animal cruelty, dark themes
for Leda and Nero to take the next step in their relationship – the wait is worth it. Reviewed by Cyrene
Dragon’s Storm Ella Summers Urban Fantasy The supernatural storm of the century is coming. Leda’s quest to gain the magic she needs to save her brother leads her to the castle of the Dragons, home of four soldiers in the Legion of Angels with extraordinary powers over the elements. If she makes it through their training, she might just survive her next sip of the gods’ Nectar and level up her magic. But the gods’ gifts of magic come at a price. Leda can already feel the Nectar changing her, making her less human—and so is her budding romance with the angel Nero. Sip by sip, kiss by kiss, the change is taking hold of her. As if that’s not enough, Leda finds herself once again caught between the armies of heaven and hell—and tempted by a darkness that threatens to consume the Earth.
Uncaged Review: My favorite book of this series so far – and the development of the characters moves to a new level, and the action that this series is known for doesn’t let up for a second. One of the 4 soldiers who are powerful elementals and known as Dragons and keep the magic powers in balance around Storm Castle has gone missing. Without the elementals to control the magic, it would take over the lands and destroy everything in its path. Leda and Nero lead a group to the Fire Mountain, to find and bring the soldier back. The relationship between Nero and his father, and between Leda and Nero completely ramps up and both relationships evolve, with more backstory - and the book did not suffer the grammar/spelling issues that the last one did, or if there were, I was so well engaged I never saw them. If you’ve been waiting
Ghosts of Kingston Cottage Libby Bishop Paranormal/Ghosts Medium and paranormal investigator Arabella Pierce is sent with her crew to Kingston Cottage, a haunted Maine seafarer’s cottage on an isolated island. For this investigation, her boss has stuck them with skeptical reporter Lucas Brown. Though he’s hot as they come, Arabella can’t trust a man whose sole job is to discredit her and the work she does. Not after what happened with the last few skeptics… All Lucas may want is the truth, but that doesn’t change her feelings towards him. And when the ghosts appear, she and Lucas must work together—in tight quarters—to convince the resident ghosts to move on before a storm strands the entire crew on the island. Can Arabella put aside her prejudices long enough to see what the ghosts are trying to tell her? And if she does, will she and Lucas have a shot at a lifetime?
Uncaged Review: This is a shorter novella length, and it’s really a love story, or should I say, two love stories in one. Arabella and her team work for a paranormal investigations unit that has been called out to a home on an island, that has been known to be haunted. The owner’s want the home “cleaned” so they can sell it. Much to the Arabella and the team’s dismay, a reporter and skeptic is joining them on this hunt to report to his readers about the company – if they are the real deal or frauds. Issue 15 | October 2017 |
Uncaged Reviews The love stories that are involved in this story are heartwarming. Even with multiple viewpoints, it was easy to keep up. When you have an hour or two and want something quick to read, you won’t be disappointed in this one. Reviewed by Cyrene
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Adult situations
Blood of Angels Amber Morgan Paranormal Suspense We’ve all made a wish we’ve regretted, but what if you’ve asked an archdemon like Belphegor to grant it? When Ella agrees to help fellow student Jonathan Trent with his audition into a mysterious magic circle, she never thought she’d fall in love with him. Nor did she ever conceived the three freakish judges named HellUncaged Review: Thea, living alone in her family’s dilapidated home is the town’s outcast, waiting for her to succumb to the madness path that her parents were on before their death. When an angel falls through her roof in the middle of a storm, Thea finds the courage within herself to help him. Turiel, the angel, was longing for all the things missing as an angel, feeling and emotions. This is a short, erotic read with a danger element, but with its length you only touch on who these two are, and the author does a nice job with the space she gives for this story. The ending satisfies this short story, but I could easily see this as a start to a longer novel or series. Reviewed by Cyrene 112 | UncagedBooks.com
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Erotica/violence
Dark Moon Jessica Marting Paranormal/Vampires Edgar Burgess has devoted his life to keeping New York free of vampires, and is usually successful at sensing and staking them… at least until the night his beautiful next door neighbor and unrequited love is enthralled and kidnapped by one. Finding Molly McKillip becomes his life’s focus at the expense of everything else. Molly has always liked the rambunctious Burgess family, especially Edgar, but she never thought she would see them again after being lured away from her boarding house by a monster. Edgar’s rescuing her from a vampire den is a shocking and unexpected surprise, and it’s only the first one he has to deliver. Hearing him pour his heart out to her is the second. But before they can sort through their feelings for each other, they have one thing left to do: eliminate the vampire that’s still stalking Molly. Uncaged Review: A throw back in time, back to the 1800’s New York City, and the city is infested with vampires. Vampire hunters known as Searchers, have the inherited ability from their dhampir ancestors to be able to sense when a vampire is near. Edgar and his family are born Searchers, and when their widowed neighbor goes missing, Edgar hunts daily never giving up his search. Since this is novella length, I won’t go into any more details, but the book was a nice switch from all the
modern day vampire books on the market, they have holy water, crosses and stakes to do the job, not any fancy weaponry. There are no hero vampires in this book. Very refreshing and unique. Reviewed by Cyrene
A hot and sexy romance, and well worth the read. Definitely looking forward to book two. Reviewed by Cyrene
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Uncaged Ratings: Adult
violence, sexual situations
Dark Lord of the Night S.K. Ryder Dark Fantasy/Vampire
Guardian Wolf J.K. Harper Paranormal/Shifters Being a Guardian for the Black Mesa Wolf Pack meant everything to Lily Bardou. Until the night she made a fatal mistake. Since then, she’s kept her wild side tightly leashed, denying her responsibilities to both her pack and her own sensual needs. Then Kieran Rendall stalks into her life. Kieran’s wanted Lily for two long years, and he’s finally done waiting. Convinced she’s part of his destiny, he’s back in town with a plan: to help Lily let go of Uncaged Review: A short novella, introduction into the Black Mesa Wolves series. This short read actually gives just enough information to spark your interest in this series, as it was meant to. Lily is a Guardian for her pack, but she’s been off her duties since she had to kill her human lover, whom she bit during sex, which is against pack laws. Enter Kieran, an alpha from a pack up north, observing the pack as it is with tradition, and he’s been watching Lily for the past tow years. Will Kieran be the one to unlock the passion in Lily to bring her back to her true self, or will the rogue wolves that come into their territory deny her a chance to bring back her Guardian status?
The only thing standing between a new vampire and eternal darkness is the mortal woman who claims his heart. Youngling vampire Dominic Marchant struggles to master his deadly instincts as he hunts the urban jungles of South Florida. He keeps his hunger confined to the blood of the guilty with help from Cassidy Chandler, a human woman who can literally touch his soul. Their love is his last remaining tether to humanity, which is tested beyond endurance when powerful forces from his past introduce him to terrifying new appetites he could never have imagined. His efforts to protect Cassidy from the depravity overtaking him push their relationship to the brink of shattering. Refusing to give up on the man who is her heart, she takes an unthinkable gamble to save him. But is she fulfilling an ominous prophecy that ensnares them both? Or has she become just another pawn in a cunning game played by the five-thousand-year-old vampire who claims Dominic as his own? Desperate to rescue her from a fate worse than death, Dominic strikes a perilous bargain with his greatest enemies only to face an impossible Issue 15 | October 2017 |
Uncaged Reviews Uncaged Review: Several months ago I had the privilege to review the first book in this series, Dark Heart of the Sun, where we meet Dominic and Cassidy. So it was nice to return to the characters in part two. This book is much darker than the first one, and it’s not easy going for Dominic and Cassidy, Dominic is still struggling with his beast and Cassidy has fears of losing him. But the danger is only just beginning with Dominic’s sire and Cassidy will make a huge gamble to save Dominic. A lot of action, nice sequences and very little downtime for the couple in this book, but you definitely won’t doubt that these two belong together, and even though this book wraps up its own storyline and doesn’t leave you on a cliffhanger, the series is still wide open for more. Reviewed by Cyrene
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Violence, sex
Uncaged Review: It is difficult for me to rate Ghosts of Manor House. There are both things I did and didn’t enjoy. I think the author did a great job of coming with a new idea for what is going on with his characters. I’ve read tons of books about ghosts, but none has the same kind of unique qualities as Ghosts of Manor House. Powers did a good job of making the family seem like average people and believable, while making the plot itself something fascinating and different. I’m afraid to say too much about the plot because I don’t want to accidently give anything away. There are times where I felt like the story was moving too slowly for me and I wanted the author to get to the point. It didn’t feel like my usual impatience out of curiosity, but more that there were bits that the reader could have lived without. That is probably the only serious thing that bothered me about this story. Overall, this isn’t a bad story. I rated as a 3 because it frustrated me that it read as slowly as it did to me. There are definitely interesting and great ideas that are cool and I think most readers of ghost story type books would enjoy it. Reviewed by Melanie
Ghosts of Manor House Matt Powers Paranormal/Ghosts
Edmund and Mary Wilder are very much in love. But the death of their young son, Tommy, has shattered their family. Edmund is determined to bring them back together, drawing on the only bit of strength he has left— his love for Mary and their daughter, Stephanie. But Mary sinks deeper into depression while little Stephanie’s anger grows. Edmund flounders in his attempts to rescue his family from the brink of collapse and doesn’t know where to turn. 114 | UncagedBooks.com
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Adult situations
Only the Dead Don’t Die A.D. Popovich Horror/Dystopian
Scarlett Lewis, an ordinary grade school teacher, is so absorbed in hopelessness after being jilted by her fiancé that she doesn’t realize the United States is succumbing to a horrific pandemic. The SuperSummer Flu is sweeping the nation; meanwhile, Scarlett mopes around her condo.
help you out. I like the originality, the zombies in this book can learn and evolve, which makes life a bit more tense than other apocalypse books. The author does a good job fleshing out the main characters, but also makes them a bit unbelievable in places. I couldn’t see Scarlett, a sort of whimpy school teacher become a strong survivor, I feel in reality, she would have been a creeper in the first few hours – probably like me. Reviewed by Cyrene
Until . . . she begins noticing the bizarre events unraveling around her. During her desperate search to find her sister and the rest of civilization, she meets other survivors who may not have her best interests at heart. With hope as her last weapon of defense, Scarlett must learn how to survive in the Creeper-infested world without sacrificing her own humanity as she discovers the dark fate of the human race.
Uncaged Review: We start out with heading right into the beginning of the apocalypse, with two of the main characters, and their two different perspectives – but both will come together as we go along. First off we have Scarlett, a school teacher, and after a trip to the oral surgeon to get her wisdoms pulled, she starts popping the pain meds and is out of it for around five days where she’s barely functioning. When she finally does come back to reality, the reality she’s facing is like a nightmare come to life. The other main character is Dean, a man who is “unplugged” for the most part, doesn’t watch a lot of TV, doesn’t have a cell phone, doesn’t use the Internet and likes to spend most of his time on his boat. Imagine his surprise after a couple days out on his boat, when he comes in and finds out the world has gone to hell. The Super Summer Flu virus has wiped out a huge percentage of the population and the pockets and groups of survivors are not necessarily going to
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Violence, adult situations
R. Saint Claire Horror
World-renowned pop star, Karla, summons her estranged siblings to engage in intensive therapy at the location of their parents’ tragic death: a now abandoned summer camp. When fifty-year-old Karla appears looking more youthful and beautiful than ever, her siblings bitterly chalk it up to good plastic surgery and agree to stick out the month’s retreat for a million dollar bonus. But psychotherapy turns psycho when family members start to uncover the twisted truth about their famous sister.
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Uncaged Reviews Uncaged Review: The basic plot without giving too much away is a pop star/film star invites the rest of her family for a little get together at White Wolf Creek camp and there’s a murderous rampage about to kick off. But when you read about Karla and the rest of her family you think what the hell’s going on with them. I wasn’t much impressed by this book myself maybe as a film it would have worked better. Please read this book if you like a little shock horror in your reading material - it may be the perfect read for you. It does hold one or two twists I didn’t see coming so well done to the author for that. Reviewed by Jennifer
Uncaged Review: The world building done with this series is very original, with angels and demons actually being aliens, some with angelic qualities and the others demonic. The ones sent to earth to protect the humans from the demonic group are midworlder’s, or half-breeds – with the angelic ones. This story revolves around Heath and Evie, Heath feels as if he failed in his past, and Evie has a darkness inside – that is threatening to destroy them both. This is an intriguing tale and the world building is spot-on, and the characters are well flushed out. This is the second book in the trilogy, and even though I didn’t read the first book, I was never lost or confused, but I’ve definitely put the other two books on my radar. Reviewed by Cyrene
Uncaged Ratings: Adult
Shock horror, sexual situations, violence
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Scarred Protector
Maggie Mundy Paranormal/Angels-Demons Angels and demons are not what you think. They are aliens, and the Midworlders are their representatives on Earth. Heath is an Angelic Midworlder with a tortured past where he could not save the woman he loved. Evie is a woman haunted by a dark presence in her mind that allows her to see the angels and demons around her. Heath saves her when she is attacked by Demonic Midworlders but will he fail her like he has others before? These two tortured souls are connected by the past, a past that has left an evil lurking inside Evie that could kill them both.
My Soul to Give
Magali A. Fréchette Paranormal/Erotica When Celina Leviet escapes the brutal home invasion that kills her husband, she’s left with a bullet in her gut and vengeance in her heart. An alluring demon, Mekaisto, offers an irresistible deal—in exchange for her soul, he’ll let her live long enough to get her revenge, but she must hunt and kill the murderers herself. After sealing the contract, Celina digs into her husband’s past for clues about his murder, and what she uncovers makes her question everything she thought she knew about him. His company never existed. His family history was a lie.
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And he was involved with The Lumen, a shadowy religious order whose members know too much about demons. As the life she thought she knew crumbles around her, Mekaisto’s charms become harder to resist. Forced to face a horrible truth, Celina struggles against her late husband’s betrayal and the dark seduction of the devil she knows.
Uncaged Review: Is it wrong to fall in love with a demon? Because I did. And he’s not a good demon, he’s violent and cruel. But he’s also sarcastic, hilarious and can you believe – likable? But Kai is gentle, and cruel and sarcastic and sweet with Celina, but for all the right reasons. This is a story about betrayal, truths and yes, it’s a love story. Celina’s husband is brutally killed and when she runs away from the house and the murderers who are racing after her, she’s shot and on her way to dying also. Along comes Kai, the dark shadow that Celina has seen all her life, morphing into a human-like figure with red eyes. Kai offers Celina revenge for her husband, in exchange for her soul and her life. Already knowing she is dying, Celina accepts the offer. I’m not giving any more spoilers, but I loved this book. I loved Kai, and a very strong Celina. And the twists and turns that the author takes you on while delving for the truth was so much fun. Do be warned though, there is a lot of violence – but it all makes sense. Reviewed by Cyrene
Monsters Exist Various Horror
Nuala Comeaux and her brothers are part of a typical workingclass family living life on the brink of World War II. Like most Americans, they pray war won’t come their way, but Nuala is more preoccupied with her budding romance with the handsome and intoxicatingly sexy Keith Roussell. Nuala willingly gives in to his charms, but soon, the tides of war will engulf Nuala and her family. Nuala marries Keith, and soon, Keith and her brothers are overseas, facing the enemy.
Uncaged Review: This is a collection of tale tales and urban legends by a whole bunch of different authors with a theme that monsters really exist. There was a few gems hidden among this book for those in the book that held my attention. Others failed to leave a lasting impression on me. That’s not to say the book isn’t good just wasn’t for me hopefully there’s a good audience of readers out there that will just eat this book up for Halloween. For fans of urban legends, horror and monsters. Reviewed by Jennifer
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Violence, mild language
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Violence, sex
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Uncaged Reviews The Witches of November Gloria Garner Haynes Crime/Murder
A horrifying discovery, a murder investigation, and events from more than fifty years before lead Sophia Rosenwein into the darkest month of her life as The Witches of November bring a gale of dark secrets, hidden love, and the battle of her life to save the only person she’s ever truly loved. Enter a determined detective with a charming personality, and the game is on!
Uncaged Review: A dark tale of love, loss, and betrayal. A devoted granddaughter finds a shocking discovery while cleaning her elderly grandmothers house. She learns a whole side to her family she never know existed. I rather liked this book as it was a tale of dark woven secrets and home truths. It also took a rather unexpected twist I didn’t see coming. This author has my attention now i would rather like to read some of other books. Reviewed by Jennifer
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Sex, language, violence
You Only Get One Shot Kennedy & Michael Horror/Crime
What would you do if someone demanded you write the best story of your life, to be judged online? That your life depended on it. Four well-known authors receive an email telling them they are responsible for a suicide. Their antagonist makes it clear she is out for revenge and they have no option but to comply. Their task is to post the best story they can imagine online and await judgement. Filled with guilt, anxiety, and even a few murderous tendencies, each writer weaves their tale and hopes for the best. It’ll be the competition of their lives. Who’s story will win? Will anyone survive?
Uncaged Review: What an intriguing novella this, and you get the benefit of extra short stories within the novella, that the authors that are targeted have to write. Four authors recieve a letter, letting them know they will die if they don’t post a short story online, if the killer likes the story, the author will live. The anxiety levels are high - will their story make the cut and keep them alive? A short, on-the-edge-of-your-seat thriller - that is short enough to read in one sitting, and just long enough to keep a great pace. You probably won’t guess the ending. Reviewed by Cyrene
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Violence, language
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The Father of Flesh
Nicholas Paschall Horror
Terror befalls a rural Chinese village when an ancient evil awakens from its slumber. Within days, the villagers start transforming into horribly deformed blobs of skin with an unslakable hunger for human flesh. The town is soon overrun by an ever-growing mass of skin that devours livestock, houses, and people. The Chinese government calls in Professor Davis Nickels to investigate the otherworldly horror. A centenarian, occultist, and professor of archaeology, Davis is no stranger to the paranormal, having spent a lifetime battling monsters from beyond human understanding. But age is catching up to the old professor, and this new threat is bigger than anything he’s ever faced. With the help of two graduate students and the Chinese military, he sets off to thwart the ancient menace before it can engulf the world.
Uncaged Review: Really creepy horror were professor Davis Nickels and two of his helpers follow a case all the way to China to investigate a gruesome horror taking over the village and everything in it’s path called the father of flesh. I thought this story read quite well at some points I did think they spoke too much about what was going to happen when they got to the village in China or what they would do to stop this horror spreading to the world. But the author didn’t hold back in any gruesome details or violence so that was a bonus. In all it was a okay read and I wonder if the professor Nickels and company will make another appearance in the future. Reviewed by Jennifer
C.L. Marin Young Adult/Paranormal Tara secretly wished her estranged father would want her around, so when he unexpectedly contacted her, she agreed to get reacquainted. That wish turned into a nightmare. She learned that she is an Authentic Witch—the Maiden of the Moodus Coven—and the key to obliterating the black magic Haddam coven. Tara’s mother took her into hiding when she was small in order to keep her alive but the Haddam’s found her. Now Tara must trust the help she’s found in her three close friends, one mystifying new love, and a father she barely knows as she fights for the life of her mother using a power she doesn’t yet understand. And one of those trusts might cost Tara her life.
Uncaged Review: A terrific debut novel - with well developed characters and great world building. The pace is spot on and the author keeps you on your toes - if you think you know what’s going to happen, you may be surprised, and figuring out who the good guys are and the bad guys are, are not as cut and dried as you might think. A bit of a cliffhanger ending, but just enough of one to want to pick up the next book in the series. Reviewed by Cyrene
Uncaged Ratings: Young Adult Mild violence
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Violence, language, sex, death
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Uncaged Reviews Grand Parade
Lilliana Rose Contemporary Western Megan is a young photographer with her first real job at the Royal Adelaide Show, where she has to capture the agricultural event. As a city girl, she is clueless, and when she gets too close to a grumpy bull, she is kicked in the head. Guilty that his bull hurt someone and aware of the painful side effects of head injuries due to the loss of his sister, Jackson takes care of Megan. Megan is determined that she will be all right and continues photographing during the day before collapsing. Jackson is there to make sure she is taken to hospital and cared for. Recovering, Megan finds herself drawn to Jackson, but she’s not sure that she can be anything than a city girl, even for love. Can Jackson, in his quiet, strong, country-boy style, convince her to take life in a new direction, with him?
Uncaged Review: Megan has a deadline and she has to get these pictures to her boss. She is trying to get pictures of the agricultural event. As she is getting pictures a bull runs right into her and kicks her in the head. Jackson feels awful as it was his bull that hit her. He takes her to get looked at and tries to take care of her. Megan doesn’t know about country life and ranches. She only knows the city. She has some competition with a girl who thinks Jackson is all hers. After trying to break up their happy times together Jackson sits Megan down and they talk. Can they work out their problems before Jackson leaves? The characters were fun to read about and get to know. I like how head strong Megan is and how caring Jackson is. The plot was great and the 120 | UncagedBooks.com
author does a great job keeping the reader glued to the book. There are some steamy scenes which you might need a fan for. Reviewed by Babs
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Mild language, sexual activity
Clarissa Carlyle Rockstar Romance Hailey is hired as Jasper’s PR representative after a sex scandal hit social media and damaged his career. Her job is to rebuild his tattered reputation. As she works with him she finds he is a different person than the rock star image he shows the world. Before she knows it she feels herself becoming lost in his eyes. When he tries to kiss her, she felt her life spinning out of control. In desperation, she ran out in the street with him following her. Wanting to catch up with her he never noticed the speeding taxi that struck him. Now, she fears for Jasper’s life and when he asks to help with his recovery, she is powerless to resist. As she helps him get back on his feet, she finds herself questioning whether she can keep her personal life away from her professional career.
Uncaged Review: Story is getting better, Jasper is recovering and Hailey is the only one he wants around, but things get more and more complicated, when Jasper thinks Hailey’s so-called user boyfriend Matthew is on the scene, and he reverts to his old ways, so all progress that were made between Jasper and Hailey was thrown out the window. There are 4 short stories planned for this, and honestly, I would have preferred a full book to read, the writing is excellent and the
storyline is intriguing, but the waiting between them may turn off readers. If that’s something that would bother you, then I’d wait for the full series to be released. Reviewed by Cyrene
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Adult situations, language
A Trail to Love
Tina Susedik Historical Western Jack Billabard, mourning the loss of his wife and baby in childbirth, vows to never to love again. After their funeral at Fort Laramie, he rides into the Wyoming hills beyond the ranch he built for his wife. Through his grieving tears, an ancient tree appears, giving him the hope he doesn’t believe is possible. For the next four years, he acts as a guide on the Oregon Trail, taking families to a new life while his looms lonely and stagnant. The night before her abusive husband’s death, an ancient tree appears in Sarah Nickelson’s yard as she agonizes over how to survive her marriage. The tree gives her hope she can’t help but reject. After all, a tree doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. After her husband ‘s death, and with no options as a widow in Independence, Missouri, Sarah decides to travel to Oregon City as a Mail Order Bride. During their trek west on the Oregon Trail, Jack and Sarah encounter one another, each afraid of being hurt again. Can they survive dogs and puppies, wind and rainstorms, Indians and unfavorable fellow passengers, while their love blossoms? Will the tree fulfill its promise?
Uncaged Review: Jack Billabard has lost if wife and baby from childbirth. He promised her he would never love another woman. He escapes his lost by working with his friend Sam as a guide on the Oregon Trail. Sarah and her son finally escape her abusive husband who is now dead from a bet of riding a horse in the snow. She becomes a mail order bride and sees to head west to Oregon. The two meet on the trail and they are instantly attracted to each other. Little known to the other the Soul Tree has visited each one. Can love blossom with these two or will another cowboy stand in the way? Loved the story and the characters who are well developed. The Trail is not easy on Sarah but she holds her own. Then we have Horace who wants to cause problems as she is a Widower and we know how “they” are. It was nice to see Jack and Sarah slowly come to love each other and Jack adores her son as well. A great plot and an author I would like to read again. Reviewed by Babs
Uncaged Ratings: Adult Adult situations
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Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews Sleep Savannah Sleep Alistair Cross Horror/Ghosts
the way that if you notice them, you feel like you should get a gold star for noticing before the characters do.
The Dead Don’t Always Rest in Peace
Cross is great at creating disgusting characters. Whether they be physically disgusting or mentally depends on the story, but he never disappoints. He does have little cameo appearances by characters of other books, which I enjoy (the cameos and the books).
Jason Crandall, recently widowed, is left to raise his young daughter and rebellious teenage son on his own - and the old Victorian in Shadow Springs seems like the perfect place for them to start over. But the cracks in Jason’s new world begin to show when he meets Savannah Sturgess, a beautiful socialite who has half the men in town dancing on tangled strings. When she goes missing, secrets begin to surface, and Jason becomes ensnared in a dangerous web that leads to murder - and he becomes a likely suspect. But who has the answers that will prove his innocence? The jealous husband who’s hell-bent on destroying him? The local sheriff with an incriminating secret? The blind old woman in the house next door who seems to watch him from the windows? Or perhaps the answers lie in the haunting visions and dreams that have recently begun to consume him. Or maybe, Savannah herself is trying to tell him that things aren’t always as they seem - and that sometimes, the dead don’t rest in peace.
Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: As is typical for Alistair Cross, Sleep Savannah Sleep is super creepy. He has a way of giving hints along the way that make the reader wonder if he is trying to hint at who we should be looking at or not. I swear he had me considering almost everyone as a suspect at one point or another. He gives little clues along
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Honestly, my only complaint is that I felt it highly improbable for Savannah to contact Jason, a new guy in town, after her death. While I do understand it, I thought it was weird when there were so many other people she could have contacted. There are parts in Sleep Savannah, Sleep where the imagery Cross presents reminds me of Stephen King. It’s rare for me to make those sorts comparisons, so for me to do it here gives you an idea of how I feel about Cross’s writing. Overall, Sleep Savannah, Sleep is a good mystery told by a talented writer who obviously enjoys writing the tales he tells. He is creative and knows how to keep the reader guessing. If you like ghost type mysteries, check out this book.
The Fear of Dolls David C. Thomas Horror Releases Oct. 16
Twelve-year-old Raven Walton is excited to move into her new home with her family. That is until she discovers the chilling and disturbing history the house holds. Anyone who has lived in the house longer than three days...
Raven, along with her new friends, band together to defeat whatever evil lives in the house. Suspenseful, frightening, and devilishly terrifying, Dr. Fear’s Pediophobia: The Fear of Dolls captures the essence of fear, family, and friendship.
Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: The Fear of dolls is a super creepy book. If you are afraid of dolls, this may not be the book for you. As a kid, I saw the movie Dolls. It scared the bejesus out of me. I still think dolls are creepy but now I’m 90% sure I could kick one like I was the kicker for a football team in the Super Bowl.
whole scene, but whatever. The story moved along at a good pace and kept my attention with no problem. I actually read the whole book in one day. There are some minor spots I would call “glitches” that occur in the book that I feel need adjusted for the book to make more sense, but not so many that it ruins the story. Places where there should be more or less elaboration or minor things that just don’t seem to fit or follow with what’s going on. Overall, this is a good story. I think the author has room for improvement, but this is a good start. I like the idea of what this series is going to be about, different phobias, and I really do look forward to reading the other books when they come out.
The characters in this book are fairly unremarkable in the sense that they could really be anyone. There is nothing crazy about them. They don’t see dead people, they can’t move stuff with their mind or start fires etc. They are average teenagers put into an unusual situation that could scare the crap out of you. They are easy to relate to and believable as teenagers. The only complaint about all that I have is they moved during the school year and it sounds like the last day of school was a day or two after they enrolled, which sounds absolutely pointless for them to do. I also thought it was somewhat strange that the guy at the pet boarding place treated Raven like an adult and that
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Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews The Orphans Series Mike Evans Horror In 2008 the government assembled a top-secret elite group of scientists to develop a defense against chemical warfare during the US-Iraqi conflict. Frank Fox was one of the scientists. Eight years later, Frank finds love, but when he asks for her hand in marriage he learns she is dying of cancer. Frank sets out to modify the drug from the Army, determined not to lose her. Armed with what he thinks is the cure, when he gives her the drug the outcome is anything but what he wanted–hell is unleashed on society. Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: One of the things I’ve loved about this series is at the beginning of each book, Mike Evans includes a prologue, which gives a recap of what has happened in the previous books so if there has been any time passed between each book read, you don’t feel lost. I wish more authors did this. I downloaded the first book in this series during a free promotion. After that, I was hooked. At the time, there were only 4 books available and I regret to say I have not had the opportunity to continue the series due to other commitments. I will say, with confidence, that I plan to finish it as soon as I am available. THAT’S how much I enjoyed this series. I like that the series follows a group of teenagers as compared to adults with normal life experienc-
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es. I have a daughter around the same age as these characters and it gives me hope that if something like this were to happen, there is a chance she would be able to make it. Shaun and his friends are far braver than I believe I could have been at that age. It doesn’t make it unbelievable as it does in some stories, but the level of maturity of these characters is evident from the very beginning. I know for a fact there are kids out there on this level. I know some of them personally. They are able to think maturely and rationally and distance themselves from emotion when necessary. The Orphans series keeps you waiting with anticipation for the next thing to happen. Just when you think things may go the way you hope for them, things change. That doesn’t mean they go badly, just differently. Each of these kids has a reason for being, even if it’s to dislike them. You never know who will survive and who won’t. Not everyone does and sometimes it breaks your heart to let them go, but you have to keep reading. I love that instead of giving up, they keep seeking the cure. Granted, one of them knows more details about where and why everything is occurring and that gives them hope, but still, the pure drive of these characters is amazing. Another thing about The Orphans series is that these are not your stereotypical zombies. They have attributes different from most zombie stories and personally, I probably would have just taken myself out in the beginning if I saw these around. Overall, from what I have read, this is a great series. I believe it’s great for adults as well as teens who are mature enough to handle the violence and concepts that come with zombie stories. I’ve recommended it to several zombie lovers and they, so far, have agreed
that it’s a series to follow. Personally, I think it would make a great movie, but I have weird taste in movies, so I’m not sure how you should take that…
The Ghosts of Ravencrest Thorne & Cross Gothic Romance Darkness Never Dies ... Ravencrest Manor has always been part of the family. The ancestral home of the Mannings, Ravencrest’s walls have been witness to generations of unimaginable scandal, horror, and depravity. Imported stone by stone from England to northern California in the early 1800s, the manor now houses widower Eric Manning, his children, and his staff. Ravencrest stands alone, holding its memories and ghosts close to its dark heart, casting long, black shadows across its grand lawns, through the surrounding forests, and over the picturesque town of Devilswood, below. ...
you never want. Except for the fact that she’s not really Belinda’s boss, she just thinks she is. Heller is the “house administrator”. So she feels she has more power than she truly does. Belinda’s friendship with Grant is one of the things I love about this book. You can see the growth in their friendship as well as Belinda’s maturity as the story goes on. Grant is easily liked and is the kind of guy most girls would love to encounter in a potentially difficult employment situation. Heller’s reach is unfathomable to me. She’s a genius and screwup at the same time. I want to punch her face off. BUT I understand her need to exist for the story. I enjoy the historic elements of the story. While not all horror based, they do play a part in the back-story
Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: Ghosts of Ravencrest by Alistair Cross and Tamara Thorne continues the tradition of two authors who, when put together, create a world in which you aren’t sure if you want to belong or totally avoid. Belinda is a chick who hates where she is in life and the opportunity to become a governess at Ravecrest is almost too good to be true. The life she encounters there is both what she hopes for and not at the same time. As with most stories of this type there is an evil overseer of sorts, and in this case, it is Miss Cordelia Heller. Man is she a bitch. She’s the epitome of the boss
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Myra’s Horror Blog Reviews
Gabby’s Run M.D. Massey Horror/Post-Apocalyptic Gabby Mendoza is learning how to survive the zombie apocalypse, by any means necessary. But when she’s separated from her uncle during a routine training mission, she’ll need every trick and skill she possesses to save her friend from a danger far worse than any deader she’s ever hunted... It’s lonely, living in the bunker with my aunt and uncle. But it’s better than living out there, hiding from them at night, and avoiding the slavers and cannibals during the day. Myra’s Review: I was looking forward to reading Gabby’s story after being introduced to her in the series and I wasn’t disappointed. I was curious how Gabby ended up in the sorry condition in which Scratch first found her and now I know her story. Gabby is 16 years old but looks 12, due to the treatments Dr. Perez gave her, making her stronger, faster and with heightened senses. This is both an advantage and disadvantage for her. While passing for a much younger person she can go unnoticed by people, taking for granted she is too 126 | UncagedBooks.com
young to be a threat. But it means she can’t grab the attention of boys her own age, which hurts her as a teen girl. Getting separated from her Uncle while on a training mission, Gabby has a tough time on her own but she manages in spite of the obstacles. She has multiple run-ins with the undead and punters. It was nice when she met two kids; one girl around her true age. She had hopes for a female friend, but then things turned bad when the younger boy is captured by the “Boogey Man” monster. Gabby won’t stop until she rescues Raleigh and brings him back to his family. It was a crazy plan she devised to stop the child snatching, cannibal monster, but it worked. She lured a werewolf into the monster’s abode and while they fought, she helped all the captured children to escape. An enjoyable shorter novel in Massey’s THEM series. Told from Gabby’s viewpoint and YA genre. There are many dark elements including rape and cannibalism, so may be more appropriate for older teens and adults. Recommended for fans of the series and readers who love all the elements this series encompasses; zombies, werewolves, vampires, and other monsters.
Slime Spewing Vampire Velociraptors Kat de Falla Children’s Horror When Pea opened a portal and the alien cat, Max Gigan, jumped through from another dimension, he certainly didn’t expect the talking tomcat to stay on as a family pet. He soon learns it can come in handy to have a fur ball from an alternate universe around when his friend re-opens the portal letting in vampire velociraptors who want to slime and eat the whole city! Pea’s dad is one of the first infected. But his dear old dad isn’t the only one. The dinosaurs escape the museum where the portal opened, and rampage through Milwaukee. As Pea’s dad gets sicker, the BMX gang joins together with the feline army to corner the raptors and use them to develop an antidote. But Pea’s meddling stepmonster brothers threaten to ruin everything! A city wide alert goes out for the misidentified “turkeys” while Pea and his gang try to stay ahead of the hunt. Can the kids capture the dinos and get them home before they control everyone with their vampire powers? Will Pea’s dad remain infected forever? Join Pea and his gang in their battle against the SLIME SPEWING VAMPIRE VELOCIRAPTORS.
They are small velopciraptors and vampiric to boot. Plus, they spew two types of venom; one blue colored which helps them digest food, the other green and acidic, used for defense. Pea’s dad works at the museum and manages to capture all three raptors, but using their green slime they escape. Unfortunately, the father is infected with the blue venom and the kids race to find an antidote and hopefully get the velopiraptors back into their own dimension. Max, the talking cat from a different dimension than the dinosaurs, who was introduced in the first book, is involved this time too and provides some funny moments. This was an interesting sequel following the adventures of the preteens in the first story. Great for kids and young at heart readers. Enough horror for this age group but not over-the-top. What kid doesn’t love gross-out spewing things? Highly recommended for children in this age group who love horror. I loved the beautiful cover and the sketches inside added a nice touch.
Myra’s Review: It’s been just 2 weeks since Pea and his gang fought and defeated mutant zombie rats. He’s looking forward to a fun-filled normal summer. But oh no, that is not his fate. His friend Jules finds a cool rock that he is convinced is a meteorite. They ask Dr. Gregory who works at the Museum to give his opinion. But before any examination can be done, the rock is abruptly drawn to another meteorite in the museum and bang another portal to a different dimension opens up. Out pops three, adorably cute bird-like creatures, who turn out to not be not so cute after all. Issue 15 | October 2017 |
Myra’s Horror Blog Reviews The Father of Flesh Nicholas Paschall Horror Terror befalls a rural Chinese village when an ancient evil awakens from its slumber. Within days, the villagers start transforming into horribly deformed blobs of skin with an unslakable hunger for human flesh. The town is soon overrun by an ever-growing mass of skin that devours livestock, houses, and people. The Chinese government calls in Professor Davis Nickels to investigate the otherworldly horror. A centenarian, occultist, and professor of archaeology, Davis is no stranger to the paranormal, having spent a lifetime battling monsters from beyond human understanding. But age is catching up to the old professor, and this new threat is bigger than anything he’s ever faced. With the help of two graduate students and the Chinese military, he sets off to thwart the ancient menace before it can engulf the world. Myra’s Review: The blurb caught my interest because of the “blob-like” creatures described. Although not actually blobs like in the namesake movie, the monsters are very creepy. Dr. Nickels’, an expert in the occult and paranormal, is asked by the Chinese government to help investigate strange occurrences in a village. They desperately need his assistance in ridding a village of horrible creatures which have invaded it. The monsters consume humans in order to add to their ranks. Nickels brings two students, Huan and James, from his college with him. They prove invaluable aids with their fighting skills. Trying to find the source of the monsters, the group treks up a mountain, where they are captured by a mysterious cult of monks. These are some tough hom128 | UncagedBooks.com
bres; with awesome fighting skills, healing powers and supernatural abilities. Soon they discover the “Father of the Flesh”, the oldest of the Old Gods, is stirring from his slumber. Nickels, his students and a small group of monks must go into the underground caverns where the ancient God sleeps, in order to put things right again. The group must survive by fighting to the death with the disgusting creatures guarding the Father of the Flesh, and find at the end, the situation was not was they first surmised. Nickels is a fascinating character. A tiny man filled with archaic wisdom and a grim determination that belies his age and physical body. An interesting read for monster lovers and Lovecraft enthusiasts.
Issue 15 | October 2017 |
Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews
any longer. ..
Shattered McKensie Stewart Lesbian Fiction
Sleep Savannah Sleep Alistair Cross Horror/Ghosts
Emily finds herself metaphorically waking up to face a life she no longer recognizes. She loves her husband Brendon Graham, the Senator for the State of Pennsylvania along with their twins Madison and Connor but that isn’t enough
The Dead Don’t Always Rest in Peace
Amy’s Review: A stunning page-turner!
The first thing that drew me in was the “tense” of the story. Yes, it started out with tension and regret, and even waking up to see the world for the first time, but it’s told in “present” tense, which is not as common as one may think. The tense of the story makes a big difference in how the story was told and how it was put together, and if written in another form, it would make for a different story. This works. The only point when it’s past tense, is when it’s focusing on the past, especially when telling the backstory for different characters. First, the writing was wonderfully put together, and it weaved a masterful story, with complex and deep characters. I enjoyed Kyndall. Yes, she was controlling and wanted to get to the White House one way or another, but she was powerful in her own right, and knew what she wanted. From the moment she (as a young poor girl) was in her glory about her “shiny black shoes” that she could only wear when it rained (because they were special occasion shoes), I knew her strive to succeed, even if on the tails of her husband or son was impacted by her childhood. Kyndall seems to have many layers, and most of them, not so good. I liked how the characters were deeply interconnected, and there was more than one secret to reveal, and though it was about Emily, it was about the entire cast of characters. The backstory for each character added a depth to them. I liked how It’s one of those stories that will make you say, “aha,” or “oh, no,” or even “oh, my...” out loud and then keep reading. This book is highly recommended!
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Jason Crandall, recently widowed, is left to raise his young daughter and rebellious teenage son on his own - and the old Victorian in Shadow Springs seems like the perfect place for them to start over. But the cracks in Jason’s new world begin to show when he meets Savannah Sturgess, a beautiful socialite who has half the men in town dancing on tangled strings... Amy’s Review: Visions, death and hauntings This story will send chills down your spine. Read it if you love a good ghostly story that brings unexpected hauntings and visions, and downright scary as hell twists at your feet. All good horrifyingly scary stories need to have a creepy house, and Jason just bought an old Victorian. That just screams haunted! Then, the twist. He is the suspect in a local murder, and things get crazier from there. There’s something about Savannah, and Jason was caught. Love this story, and of course, I expected to, since it was written by Cross. Cross has a talent for giving great stories while scaring the hell out of the reader. Love it!
Portrait of the Artist JW Robitaille Women’s Fiction Rita Pearson has two young children, a full-time job, a self-absorbed husband, and an alcoholic father who suddenly moves in with her while he is being treated at the VA hospital. What she doesn’t have is time to breathe or time to pursue her long-postponed dream of painting. ...
Amy’s Review: Riveting The struggles of just being a wife and mother can take its toll on anyone, but Rita is trying to live her dream by being an artist. This story is wonderfully written and it brings the reader smack in the middle of Rita’s life. Robitaille has put this story together in a way that makes the reader care about what happens. I enjoyed this story and highly recommend it. It’s full of emotions and keeps the reader engaged throughout the story.
The F*cking Widow Aurora Diamond Thriller/Erotica Meet Widoma Ingfern, the world’s craziest woman. You’ll like her when she’s mean, and despise her when she’s kind. Murder found it’s way into her strong-willed life at age twenty-six. It all started when she made a kooky deal with her husband, which she—surprisingly—agreed to. She’s a bad girl with a feminine touch, but her ruthless schemes sometimes land her in big trouble. Amy’s Review: Bold and enigmatic It took about a minute when reading this book to realize what it meant by “the seventh penis” and then it took off from there. There is something bold and brazen about this story and it’s wonderfully written. To read this, you can’t really blush or be distracted by the “F” word. A timid person may not like the title, but I think it fits perfectly, and it will either draw readers in or push them away. Those to be pushed away from the title probably wouldn’t be able to read it anyway. I found Widoma complex and her own person, and her connections with the other characters was deep and sound. She grows as a character and feels suffering, loss and even happiness. “Mikel was my sunshine in the darkness after losing Adam. Little by little, I loved him back.” This is one of those unforgettable stories with an unforgettable title. I recently read another one of Diamond’s books, and after this one, I am a true fan.
Issue 15 | October 2017 |
Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews Dream Job Janet Garber Contemporary Fiction Join Melie, HR manager, on her desperate search for solutions to the messes boiling over in Axis Mundi Medical Center. You will laugh but is it funny to her? Why can’t those buttock-groping doctors and their flaky staff just get along? As she tries to seize control, and incidentally get a life, she runs into a little murder here, a cancer there, a mystery man, rivals that are not always human, like Gladys, the first parrot-woman gladiator. She won’t quit until she has it all—the hunk, the macaw, her life work—and neither will you!.... Amy’s Review: A definite clever read. This story was very clever and witty. I found it entertaining, in a way where I would laugh out loud. It also has some touching moments. It proved that being in HR is not a job that everyone could handle, or should be taken lightly. Anyone that works for a company where HR is a major part of, will have this as an eye opener. There were a few issues that were iffy about the handling or annoyances, but every grievance, big or small is not something that should be taken lightly. I don’t think this story should be taken too seriously, but it is a very cleverly written story and I hope that not everything was taken from a real life experience.
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Evil Always Finds a Way Ted Tayler Crime/Suspense The drama unfolds over forty days and forty nights across the UK in book eight in this thriller series. A trip to Dublin for Hugo Hanigan closed the first part of The Grid story. It continues here as death becomes a constant companion to Phoenix and his Olympus colleagues. Can Olympus halt the reign of terror perpetrated by The Grid? Direct actions against gangs in the North and South of the country help Phoenix deliver telling blows. Amy’s Review: Non-stop Action and Adventure Book 8 in the series and it’s just getting better and better. Phoenix brings a new life to a new book in the series. It’s filled with thrilling suspense, and always keeps the reader guessing. The characters never let the reader down. When fighting for justice and dealing with evil, they must ban together and have each other’s back. There is a loyalty that is unwritten and unsaid, but it’s there, even with each challenging new plot. As long as the series keeps growing, I will be reading it and being part of it.
Spook Lights Eden Royce Horror Pull up a rocking chair and sit a spell. Soak in these twelve tales of Southern Gothic horror: Sinister shopkeepers whose goods hold the highest price, a woman’s search for her mother drags her into the binding embrace of a monster, a witchdoctor’s young niece tells him a life-altering secret, an investigator who knows how to keep a 100% confession rate…. Amy’s Review: Addictively Dark! Royce has a great knack for writing horror stories, and to put them all in one collective book is just genius. This collection brings the magnificence of dark magical paranormal into the delicacy of horror. Horror needs to be written in a way that is not hokey or just for the sake of gore, and Royce has done an exemplary job with this book. It’s had to pick one story in this collection as my favorite, but once I read “The Choking Kind”, I was able to decide, at least for right now, that this was my favorite. How did I pick my favorite? I read it multiple times, just because I had to and I didn’t want it to end. “Skin, skin, skinny ... do you know me?”
Perfect Rhythm Jae Lesbian Fiction Pop star Leontyne Blake might sing about love, but she stopped believing in it a long time ago. What women want is her image, not the real her. When her father has a stroke, she flees the spotlight and returns to her tiny Missouri hometown.... Amy’s Review: Intense and well developed This is the first time I’ve read one of Jae’s works, but it definitely will not be the last. It’s a great story, and I dove right in and became entranced by the characters. Leo is not your stereotypical Lesbian, and neither is Holly for that matter, but Holly is one thing that Leo isn’t, and that’s asexual. This story can be raw and gritty, without being over dramatic or focusing on less important things. There is a large hurdle of a relationship between the two, and a journey for both of them. It’s intense and a very well developed story line, and I like how the relationship evolved. The intensity of their desires or lack of desires played a big part in their relationship, and in some areas, the pace was slow and others, it seemed to be too fast. I did like the story, and felt it was too bad that people have to be labeled based on their sexuality, but the story works.
Issue 15 | October 2017 |
Jen’s Book Reviews Trapped in the Rituals Eric Kapitan Horror Shorts You could say that Jackson has always had a few quirks. But now, his bad habits have turned into an obsession that holds him prisoner and consumes his every day life. The nagging fear of catastrophic events holds him hostage, and he is convinced that tragedy will strike if he doesn’t maintain his daily rituals. But can these rituals really guarantee Jackson’s safety and control over his life? Or will the ruin that he is sure is lurking behind every corner find him, regardless of his carefully planned actions? A gruesome scene unfolds. And then he sees the menacing yellow eyes . . . Jen’s Review: Jackson is trapped in a ritual check list. Check the stove check, the bedroom door, wash his hands. It’s clear from this short story that Jackson has some problems that comes to a dramatic end in this book. It’s a very short read but is entertaining from the first page. A perfect little horror story.
Burning Down Paradise Eric Kapitan Horror Timothy has lived his life not knowing much about his sordid and violent past and how he came to be on this Earth. He’s a loner, never staying in one place for long, and the reason is simple. Timothy is a serial killer. He gets his kicks from the deaths of others. He chooses a particular looking woman each time and the more brutal and bloody the killing is, the more he feels alive. Jen’s Review: We follow a light and darkness story which go backs to God and Lucifer - evil vs. good. Then we embrace Timothy’s story with open arms as Timothy is a product of hate and abuse. It is a shame the way Timothy turned out but then the apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree so to speak.
Visit Jen on Goodreads 134 | UncagedBooks.com
Darkness Eric Kapitan Horror Poetry Enter a world filled with serial killers, cannibalism, unnatural love, creatures hiding in the dark and so much more! Filled with blood, gore and unforgiving horror. This aint your mom’s poetry book! Once you start reading you may think you know what to expect. You will find that the further you go, the more the darkness spreads.
Jen’s Review: Darkness of extreme poems of horror comes with an adult only warning, but don’t let that fool you these poems aren’t that extreme or that far out there that you can’t read them. They only focus on the real life horrors out there we face each and every day. I’m not the biggest fan of poetry, but some of these poems are totally unique and cool, like the poem called The Puzzle which is a tribute to The Hellraiser films. Feast your eyes on the horror.
As the Blade Cuts Eric Kapitan Horror Poetry From Aliens that crave human flesh, to bloodthirsty retail workers beheading soccer moms with a chainsaw! Each poem found in this collection will sure to please Horror fans and gore hounds alike! Sex starved monsters, zombies, perverted old men, Nazi’s and vomit that become’s a monster. Just a sample of the many things found in this collection of 40 blood and fluid soaked poems! Not for the faint of heart or easily offended! Enter this world of macabre at your own risk. Words are like the tip of a blade. They dig deep.. Jen’s Review: Vampires aren’t sexy as the films lead us to believe. They are monsters, nothing more or so we are told in another fabulous poetry book by this author. We take a trip filled with darkness on this Halloween night.
Visit Jen on Goodreads Issue 15 | October 2017 |
Jen’s Book Reviews Into the Darkness A.L. Montgomery SciFi/Dark Humor This is my first short story. The rules are it can be no more than 500 words. I wrote it for a competition but it broke the rules [Entries must not contain defamatory, obscene, offensive, or any other unsuitable material.] It is a dark tale about an unhappy doll. Jen’s Review: This is a very short story that took a while to get my head around. All I can say is I feel for the little unhappy doll. I’m happy she met a witch on Skype and was able to fly the nest. The first couple of lines draw you into this tale.
Scarlet Emmanuelle de Maupassant Erotica What are we capable of when there are no limits? When we have no shame, or inhibition, only desire? A short story from Emmanuelle de Maupassant, inspired by the disturbing folk tale of ‘The Red Shoes’. For adults, featuring sexual themes.
Jen’s Review: A newly single stranger gets more then she bargained for at a wedding when she tries to help an upset women in the bathroom. Well at least she gets a funky colored lipstick out of it. Even if it does affect her rather strangely and bewitching.
Visit Jen on Goodreads 136 | UncagedBooks.com
True Scary Stories Dark Mistress Aurora Horror About This Book: This is the story about how a cursed object haunted me and killed someone. About this series: This is not just a horror novel or a true life story, it’s also a game. I wanted to write out my real life supernatural experiences, but I also wanted to remain anonymous, so I disguise my identity by writing two fake stories along with every real story I tell.
Jen’s Review: This time the subject matter of these stories are cursed objects. I think I found this to be a little scary as it struck a nerve with me. This was something I had experienced myself as well. I too had been given an object I found to be very unlucky and was convinced at the time it was at fault. I really do enjoy reading this author’s work. Hopefully there’s a lot more to come.
Moments of Darkness Jason J. Nugent Horror Shorts This collection of fourteen flash fiction and short stories offer unique and curious tales with dark themes. Exposing the darker side of life whether in familiar settings or in strange worlds, expect interesting twists and unexpected turns.
Jen’s Review: A dark collection of tales perfect for Halloween coming soon. Perfect for any age be it young or old. We have a zombie talking to a girl, and a loving husband trying to get revenge on a murdering neighbor. Each story in this book takes you on a different adventure. I really loved having this chance to read this and will continue to many more times.
Visit Jen on Goodreads Issue 15 | October 2017 |
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Published on Oct 1, 2017
Featuring Special Guest, Tony Mauro and authors: Brian O'Gorman, Lily Baldwin, L.D. Rose, Jennifer Siddoway, Ivan Ewert, Aliya DalRae, Zizi...