Wednesday, September 19, 2018

New Review From Sadie: Blog Tour, Review & Giveaway: Awakened - The Power Trilogy book 1 by Dot Caffey (Young Adult Fantasy)

Dot Caffrey
(The Power Trilogy, #1)

Published by: Acorn Publishing
Publication date: August 31st 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Power and Prophecy!
Seventeen-year-old Regnaryn grew up in an idyllic land among mythical beings. She believes she is the last surviving human.
Her world begins to shatter when Evil invades her dreams, demanding she relinquish unknown powers foretold by her long-deceased mother. When Graeden, a young human male, arrives, he further disrupts her once-orderly life. Her emotions in chaos, Regnaryn flees the only home she’s ever known, only to be captured by the servants of Evil from her dreams. Now she must take a stand, confronting her late mother’s prophecy while also attempting to survive and protect those she loves.

Being the only human in Reissem Grove with no powers can make you feel like an outsider. Regnaryn grew up with a family that did not look like her, act like her and had powers but her family loved her as if she was born into their pack. She was the last human to survive in her realm and it was unknown if she would ever have powers until one night her dreams became more of a reality. Her birth mother’s prophecy was starting to come true unbeknown to her.

Graeden is human and lives in distant lands with siblings who he feels all have worth and he has none. It’s when he decides to run away and soon gets captured and tormented does His and Ragnaryn’s worlds collide. Dreams become reality. For both of them. What were once childhood stories and myths Graeden will find are factual. Together the two will need to find a way to bridge their realitis and will find out they had more power than they ever dared to dream.

Now, I did enjoy the book. Dot Caffrey created a fantastical world I just wish I could remotely pronounce the names of the characters. The names are what drew me out of the reading because I was trying to sound out what each person's or town’s name was. I don’t mind having a big cast like this did and was able to remember who went with you but maybe give us nicknames or a few easy ones for those of us who just want to let a book wash over us without thinking.

It was an interesting concept of having animal like creatures mixed with human traits. The romance is sweet and kept Y.A. so this mom doesn’t have to worry about what my kid, or my nieces are reading. I loved the parallel between the older romance of the parents and the newly in love young ones. Very reminiscent of Much Ado About Nothing.

This book is great for  lazy weekend reading. Grab a drink, some cookies and dive in.

I was born and raised in New York, mostly on Long Island not “The City”. After high school, I moved to California and then did a three-year stint in the Navy before going to college and getting a Microbiology/Medical Technologist degree.
According to my Dad, I’ve been a storyteller from the time I began talking (which was at a very young age). But, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I decided to take my passion for writing and my love for all things magical or mythical seriously and set out to write fantasy novels.
When I’m not at my day job or writing, I enjoy creating and wearing costumes (cosplay), playing video games (though, I’m not very good at it) and watching NHL hockey and assorted other things many of which are merely time wasters. Of course, hanging out with my friends and my cats also pleasantly fills my time.


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Blog Tour: Spine Chillers: The Scarecrow by Nancy Gray (Mid-Grade Horror)

SPINE CHILLERS: THE SCARECROW by Nancy Gray, Mid-Grade Horror, 113 pp., $2.99 (Kindle)

Author: Nancy Gray
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 113
Genre: Mid-Grade Horror


Eleven year old, Sophie, arrives at her Aunt and Uncle’s farm to horrible news: her cousin, Hunt, has gone missing.  When Sophie starts searching for clues to where her cousin went, strange things happen.  The scarecrow wanders around the cornfields at night and murders of crows lash out at other animals for no reason at all.

An ancient spirit wants revenge. Sophie will have to be brave and clever in order to save her cousin…and herself!




Chapter 1 – Aunt Angie’s Farm

Sophie leaned against the car window listening to the soothing sounds of the dirt road that threatened to lull her back to sleep. When her head rolled to the side, her glasses occasionally rattled against the windowpane, waking her from her dreamlike state. She glanced at the scenery rolling by like the background of a side-scrolling video game. Even though most of what she could see was the forest, she knew that they had to be getting close to the farm. The oak trees would occasionally part revealing a long patch of clover or grass that looked luxurious in the setting sun. She imagined rolling around in the grass like a happy puppy and then exploring the woods, climbing into a tree or discovering a hidden trail.
Just as she thought that she couldn’t take wondering if they were getting close and was about to ask, she realized that her parents were talking in hushed tones that they thought that she couldn’t hear. They must’ve thought that she was still asleep. She closed her eyes and listened, curious about what they were saying.
Her mother sighed and said, “Sometimes I really don’t know how you two are related.”
Her father chuckled. “Yeah, but at least she isn’t living out in the woods foraging berries or something. Angie’s always been a flake.”
“Do you think that Sophie likes coming here? I mean, the farm used to always scare her so much when she was little, but she acted like she was excited to come this time.”
At first, Sophie thought about telling them that she could still hear them, but instead she just continued to lean against the car door with her eyes shut.
“Well, she’s always liked seeing the animals and I think she likes spending time with her cousin.”
Her mother made a snorting noise and said, “Sometimes I wish she didn’t. That boy is a bad influence on her.”
“I talked to Angie about that. This time, if they want to explore they’ll be going with one of us.”
Sophie frowned at her mother’s comment. Part of the reason why she enjoyed going to the farm at all was to spend time with her cousin Hunt. They were a lot alike. They both loved exploring the farm together and playing with the animals. They even could be mistaken for siblings because they both looked alike as well, around the same height with blond hair and blue eyes. Even though she hated to admit it, her mother was right.  Sometimes Hunt did get her into trouble, but it was always fun. They loved to sneak into places on the farm that they weren’t supposed to go, like the old barn or the woods nearby. Playing with Hunt always meant going on some sort of adventure.
She thought miserably, “It just won’t be as fun if mom and dad are close by. I never get into any trouble at home. Why can’t they just let us play? I guess, at least, we won’t be getting lost in the corn field this time.
Sophie’s dad said in a voice that shook her out of her daydream, “Sophie, we’re here.”
She opened her eyes and stared out the window at the rows of feed corn in front of her, fascinated. The road was so narrow the plants scraped against the sides of the car. She could hear a tractor up ahead and their car slowed down. The tractor motor stopped and her dad stopped the car. Sophie craned her neck and saw her uncle waving at them from the seat of a large, green combine and motioning for them to get out of the car.
Her father muttered, “Looks like Mike wants to talk. Come on, Sophie. Why don’t you get out and stretch your legs too.”
She gladly got out and stretched then ran in the direction of her uncle. He gave her a long hug and said, “There’s my favorite niece. Good to see you, Sophie. Give me a minute to talk to your dad, and then maybe I’ll give you a ride on the tractor later.”
Sophie said, “Okay.”
She thought, “He usually seems more excited to see us. Why is he frowning? Is something wrong?
Her uncle put an arm around her father’s shoulders and walked down the road until they were far enough away that Sophie couldn’t hear them. From the way they pointed in her direction, she knew they didn’t want her to listen in and were talking about something that concerned her as well.
Sophie walked up to her mother. “Mom, can I go look around?”
“Okay, but don’t go too far. I’m going to talk to your dad. Stay close to the car.”
Sophie squinted and shielded the sunlight from her eyes, glancing at row after row of corn. Finally, she spotted what she was looking for and carefully entered the corn, counting the rows so that she wouldn’t get lost, until she reached the clearing. Hanging on a pole in the center of the open area was a scarecrow. Oddly, there were several crows perched on top of it. One was even pulling on one of its button eyes. The black birds glanced at Sophie for a moment with dark, doll-like eyes and then flew away as she approached to get a closer look.
Since the scarecrow’s head was tilted downward she got a good look at its face, and immediately wished that she hadn’t. The head was made of a burlap sack. Even though it was just a cloth bag, the folds around the bottom and the eyes were deep, creating grooves in the material, making the scarecrow appear to have an unhappy expression, possibly even an angry one. One of the button eyes hung limply where the crow had pecked it loose, and the wide brimmed black hat on its head cast a shadow that made the body seem to leer over her like the intimidating silhouette of a villain in a western movie. Sophie stepped back slowly and then turned and ran in the direction of the car, not stopping until she reached her mother. Sophie hugged her tightly around the waist.
Her mother glanced down at her and asked gently, “Sophie, what’s wrong?”
“Can we go?”
She nodded. “Yes, we were just about to go to the guest house and get settled in.”
Sophie got into the backseat of the car and didn’t glance back in the direction of the scarecrow until they were driving. When she did turn to look, even though she knew it wasn’t possible, the scarecrow’s head seemed to be cocked in a different direction, slightly upward, as though it was watching them leave. Just as she was about to say something to her parents, a wall of crows flew up from the cornfield and obscured her view. When they were gone the head was resting down again. Sophie made a whimpering sound in the back of her throat that she was glad her parents didn’t hear and shifted further down into her seat, hoping that even the top of her head wouldn’t show through the back window.


Nancy Gray 
Nancy Gray has published a number of works including her young adult fantasy series Blood Rain. Her short story “Chosen” appeared in Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal Author Quest: a Penguin Special from Grosset & Dunlap. Her work also appears in various anthologies.

Nancy Gray has been writing for over ten years. Gray lives in South Carolina with her husband and two daughters. She enjoys books, video games, anime, manga, and horror.
Her latest book is the mid-grade horror, Spine Chillers: The Scarecrow.




Monday, September 17, 2018

Book Tour: Pawned by Laura Bickle (YA Dark Fantasy)

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Laura Bickle

Genre: YA Dark Fantasy

Print Length: 345 pages

Publisher: Syrenka Publishing LLC

Publication Date: September 13, 2018


For fans of Stranger Things and the works of Neil Gaiman, Pawned is a Young Adult novel that blends dark fantasy adventure and noir — on the New Jersey boardwalk.

Book Description:

You can hock almost anything at my family’s pawn shop…even your own soul.

You think running a pawn shop full of cursed objects with your dad and grandpops is cool? Try it for a week and get back to me. Now try picking up any random object and seeing its creeptastic history play out right before your eyes — yup, that’s my little “gift.” It’s my job to sort out what’s haunted and hexed from what’s not, and do my best to keep all of us — including Bert, our ice-cream-truck-driving-lizard demon — employed.

So it wasn’t all sunshine, roses, and possessed samurai swords even before grandpops’ heart attack — but now things are garden-gnome levels of bad. Dad made a deal with the wrong end of the dark side to save grandpops’ life, putting my whole family smack dab between the forces of evil and our friendly local blow-your-pawn-shop-to-smithereens mobsters. And Lily next door…I shouldn’t even be thinking about Lily.

All I ever wanted was to get out of this crap town and away from my messed-up family, and instead it looks like I’m gonna have to use every scrap of magic in this joint or there won’t be any family left to leave behind…

Amazon    BN    Kobo    iTunes

About the Author:

Laura Bickle grew up in rural Ohio, reading entirely too many comic books out loud to her favorite Wonder Woman doll. After graduating with an MA in Sociology – Criminology from Ohio State University and an MLIS in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, she patrolled the stacks at the public library and worked with data systems in criminal justice. She now dreams up stories about the monsters under the stairs, also writing contemporary fantasy novels under the name Alayna Williams.

Her work has been included in the ALA’s Amelia Bloomer Project 2013 reading list and the State Library of Ohio’s Choose to Read Ohio reading list for 2015-2016.

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Friday, September 14, 2018

Blog Tour: Mortal Foe by Marty Roppelt (Supernatural Thriller)

MORTAL FOE by Marty Roppelt, SupernaturalThriller, 213 pp., $14.99 (paperback) $4.99 (Kindle)

Author: Marty Roppelt
Publisher: Dragon Breath Press
Pages: 213
Genre: Supernatural Thriller

A picture is worth a thousand words… But what if that image can only bee seen through the lens of one camera? What is the snapshot can only be seen by a select few? What if the photo has its origins in the pit of Hell? What is that face belongs to an enemy bent on destruction? This is Buddy Cullen’s fate when he first dreams of his grandfather’s death and then inherits his grandfather’s antique camera and captures an image that haunts him and seeks his death. Can Buddy survive the curse that he sarcastically dubs “Popcorn”—a curse that no one wants to believe exists and stalks the city of Cleveland, beginning with its baseball team—a mortal foe?



My eyes snap open wide.

A shadow faces me from beyond the foot of my bed. I shiver, holding my breath. The tall, bulky intruder seems oblivious. My sleep-hazy mind tells me to lie still. I'll make myself smaller that way, so the invader won't see me.
I'm making myself small…
My brain stirs slowly. A minute passes, then a few more. My eyes take their time adjusting to the darkness. Across the room, the sinister hulk takes the shape of my antique cherry-wood armoire.
My girlfriend, Kelly, lies next to me, undisturbed. She faces away. Her chest rises and falls with each breath, her body radiating warmth.
I don't move. Dread still freezes me in place. A voice in my head, my own voice, whispers a warning to me. The warning is so primal it would wear a bearskin if it had a life of its own.
Don't show the darkness any fear, any weakness.
A familiar neon green beacon, my alarm clock, demands my attention. A quarter past midnight. The glow helps me shake off the drowsy panic. My eyes scan familiar, dark shapes around me—the armoire, the dresser, the doors to my closet and to the hallway, the rumpled down comforter covering my girlfriend.
Despite the need for rest, my eyes won't stay closed. This irritates me. The frustration of not being able to sleep keeps me awake even longer. I can deal with the frustration. But I can't shake this sense of dread.
A dream. Just a weird, stupid dream.
The clock's digits change without remorse, mocking and exasperating me. Twelve forty-seven, eight, nine… Tomorrow won't be good. I risk coming off like a yawning zombie. Twelve fifty-five… I consider pummeling my pillow. My legs swing out of bed instead. The cold of the hardwood floor against my bare feet chases away the last of my drowsiness.
I amble into the kitchen. Sitting in silence in its cradle on the kitchen counter is my cordless phone. My eyes lock on the handset. An urge brews up to call someone close to me, but who should I call? My mom, my dad? Neither of them would answer at his hour, for different reasons, and neither should, of course. Now I expect the phone cradle to light up and ring, as my roused senses try to decipher the dream that woke me, that somehow signaled to me something is wrong…
A dream has me waiting at a ridiculous hour for a phone call from someone in my family.
I grumble to myself. "This is nuts."
The opened refrigerator bathes me in a sudden glare. Unguided hands fumble past paper bags and Styrofoam containers of restaurant leftovers. I finally find a bottle of beer. My fingers close around the long neck, I twist off the cap, and take a swig. The light cord of the ceiling fan dangles near my head. I ignore it. Something about the darkness is important. Not comforting, but…
But what?
Raising a cigarette to my lips, I open the window a few inches, then sit at the table. My old Zippo lighter's top pops open with a metallic clink, the flint makes a quick, scraping rasp, and the flame whooshes to life. I cringe. Did the noises rouse my neighbors from their own troubled sleep?
My gaze wanders past the flame.
Don't show the darkness any fear.
Darkness dominated the kitchen only a moment ago. This flame, this puny, solitary sliver of light defeats the darkness. My Zippo can't signal ships at sea. My 'fridge probably could. Both lights can expose shadowy shapes, however, and the night cannot overcome either light. The only thing that can extinguish the light is me.
Don't show it any weakness.
I light my cigarette and kill the glow of the Zippo.
"Join you?" A voice, half-awake, issues from the doorway behind me. I hope I didn't jump too high.
"Sure. Beer?"
"No. You can fire up a smoke for me, though. Thanks."
Kelly glides past. A wisp of vanilla, musk and flowers, Chantilly, her favorite perfume, follows her. She sits opposite me and takes the lit cigarette I offer. "Should I turn on the light?"
"If you like."
She keeps her seat, apparently liking the darkness better.
I jerk my chin toward the open window. "You want me to turn the heat up?"
"I've got my robe on."
I chuckle. My own total nakedness doesn't concern me. Kelly, on the other hand, wears her gauzy emerald green "robe" only, untied. She might as well be naked, too. I understand, of course. The sheer silk garment's function was never to keep the wearer warm, but to light a fire in someone else.
Kelly toys with her cigarette, rolling it between her thumb and fingers. "Worried about tomorrow?"
"About my department head? He's audited my classes before."
"So, why the stress?"
"Im that transparent?"
Her laugh drips playful sarcasm. "You light up every hour and a half when you're awake. You only smoke more at a bar, when you're bored, or when you're stressed. We're not at a bar. And when I do things right you're definitely not bored." She leans over the table. Her lips pucker into her best Marilyn Monroe pout. "Didn't I do things right tonight?"
"Oh, yeah."
Several hours ago, Kelly left her Downtown Cleveland office after work to meet me at an upscale bistro on the west bank of the Cuyahoga River. A glass each of Chianti Classico turned into a whole bottle. She asked after glass three if I could spend the night with her. I toyed with the idea. After a few minutes, though, I finally decided to beg off.
But Kelly doesn't often take long to get what she wants from me. Tonight was no exception. The wine shot straight to my head. The low lights hid the dainty foot that nudged and rubbed my calf under the table. The aromas of Italian cooking mingled with Chantilly in an irresistible wave of sensuality. We passed on dessert. Kelly promised something much more stimulating at my apartment.
Now she sits back in triumph, blowing two perfect smoke rings toward the ceiling. "So, this is stress."
"Yes and no," I mumble.
"I'm surprised."
"It's just a dream. You're a bright college professor…"
"Journalism, not psychology. Who said I put stock in that stuff, anyway? I woke up, that's all."
"What did you dream about?"
"Funny. Now that I'm awake, I don't remember much."
Why did I just lie to her?
The truth is I remember every detail. The odd nightmare burned itself into my consciousness like a glowing cattle brand.
In the nightmare, my grandfather, photographer Jimmy Cullen, pulled a photo print off the wire that runs the length of his basement darkroom. Grandpop—I've always called him that—held the photo as far from his face as possible. His eyes widened. His ruddy complexion drained of all color. His lips quivered. He acted as if he'd been handed a live hand grenade.
"Grandpop?" My tongue lolled in my mouth with Novocained sluggishness. "What is it?"
 A sudden wind blew. Dried fallen leaves scraped across the pavement outside. Our heads snapped in unison toward the sound. The basement's bare cinderblock walls gave the place a fortress's ambiance, but they didn't blot out the rattle of dead leaves. Grandpop stared for a long moment. He froze as if expecting the walls to give way to the leaves, or to worse. The still house seemed to invite the whispery sounds of death inside and embrace them.
Grandpop spoke. But like a badly dubbed foreign movie, the words his mouth formed didn't match the words that came out. "Alone tonight… Darn it, Maureen… doggone kids' Halloween dance…"
Grandpop plopped down on a tall stool at his work table, exhausted by his outburst. A complaint? The words, the whining and grousing, were out of character. I had no response for him, which is also unlike me.
"No Grandma?" Invisible marbles rolled around inside my mouth.
Grandpop blinked hard, jumping as though he'd been electrically shocked. He jammed the print into a large manila envelope that already bulged with something else inside. The package bore a number written in green ink: nine-eight-five-nine.
Grandpop rose from his stool, a barstool I recognized from my dad's Downtown tavern. He strode toward the walk-in closet at the back of the darkroom. He muttered at the envelope as he passed me.
"Caught you again, didn't I?"
"Caught who?" My voice changed. I sounded like a Munchkin from Oz.
Grandpop disappeared into the closet, leaving me in the darkroom alone. I couldn't bring myself to move. My curiosity was the kind a child suffers when he's told never, ever to do a certain thing. The curious kid in me wanted to see what was going on. The adult in me feared for life and limb. My fear rooted me to the spot.
A "pop" and loss of light announced the death of one of the darkroom's two light bulbs.
"I don't spook so easily," Grandpop hollered.
A car cruised up the driveway. The engine's hum filtered through the fortress walls. The side door to the kitchen creaked open and banged closed.
We were no longer alone.
My heart raced, my joints froze. I wanted to run. My muscles fought against me. Stark terror turned my feet to lead. Footsteps headed our way from the basement stairs.
"Jimmy?" my grandmother, Maureen, called.
My heart slowed but I still couldn't move, despite my relief.
Grandpop met Grandma in the doorway and gave her a peck on the cheek.
"How's my Lass?"
"Missed you." She scrunched her face into a silly expression, a kind of mock pout, uncharacteristic for her. "Atlanta? The Series?"
"Too much traffic. The Indians lost. Missed you, too."
They held each other, their embrace a subtle dance. The surviving forty-watt bulb above us threw weird shadows into the corners of the darkroom. The sounds of our breathing, and the scraping, rustling leaves grew louder in the otherwise silent murk.
Grandma pulled away, cackling. "Cup of hot chocolate and a ghost story for you?"
I almost laughed out loud at her bizarre behavior.
"Nah," Grandpop said.
"I'm going to bed."
Grandpop answered in a melodramatic, fearful tone. "Just a couple more things to do. Then we'll be together again."
His stony expression was the lawyer's before a murder trial, or the soldier's on his way to deadly combat. His demeanor only made his words to Grandma more jarring, more frightful to me.
They kissed. Grandma wheeled and left the darkroom. We heard the groan of well-worn wooden stairs, first to the kitchen, then further above to the bedroom of their old colonial-style home. Grandpop settled again on his stool. He reached across his work table for his Kodak Medalist 620, the camera he used since his enlistment in the Navy two generations ago.
Every once in a while, a dream becomes so surreal that, despite still being asleep, some distant part of the brain announces "This is a dream!" I remember the exact moment, a sort of "out-of-body" experience. I became Grandpop. I sat on his stool and held his camera, but I was still an observer, too, watching myself play his part. I gripped the antique as if shaking a frail old friend's hand. This friend accompanied me—him—through everything from the best of times to the most harrowing hell.
No more experiences would be shared and captured on film. A hot, sharp pain ripped up my left arm. A giant fist squeezed my chest and I gasped in vain for breath. My mind raced away from the Medalist 620 to my grandmother lying in bed, likely dozing while trying to read a book. She would wake, sensing Grandpop was still in the house, and yet gone. She would find him here later. Sadness engulfed me.
I'm sorry, Lass…
I slumped to the work table. As Grandpop, I wanted my last thoughts on earth to be of Grandma, to take the memory of my gentle, devoted wife's face with me on my way to meet God. But my last glance caught a shadow that was not Grandma's, moving toward me from beyond the darkroom doorway.
Then I woke to the strange shadow at the foot of my bed…
"Yeah, I've had that happen before. It's so frustrating."
Kelly's voice, from behind the glowing cigarette tip, jars me back to the waking present. I shake the nightmare out of my head.
"Had what happen?"
"Dreamed something and then forgotten it only a couple of minutes after waking up. Frustrating."
Kelly takes a drag from the cigarette and stabs the ash tray with it. She shoves her chair aside, composes herself, and glides back around the table, tracing her finger up my bare arm. Her nail scratches a light reddish trail on my skin.
"Know the best way to get rid of frustration, Buddy Cullen?"
"Tell me."
"Showing's better than telling."
I crush my own cigarette out and glance at the phone. Nothing happens, of course. The phone's not going to ring tonight. Not for this. I rise and lay foolish superstition aside. A colleague at Case Western Reserve University, a science professor, once assured me that to attach meaning to dreams is unscientific, a bogus exercise. Dreams, he theorized, might be nothing more than a mash of random thoughts and memories.
Kelly breezes ahead of me, tugging me by my hand. Her urgency mounts. My gaze consumes her. The wispy robe caresses her perfect form. Her cat-graceful step entrances me. She pirouettes, sits on the edge of the bed, and leans back, pulling me down toward her.
Ghosts and demons and other unexplainable things lose their fascination. I lie far less gracefully beside Kelly. Her lips explore the base of my neck, but I still keep one ear cocked toward the phone. She nips lightly at my ear lobe, with a deep-throated chuckle. In a few short moments, she commands my full attention…
The phone rings. I gasp, irritated by the interruption. I'm dismayed, too. I know what the call is about.
"I have to get that."
"No, you don't." Kelly tangles her fingers in my hair and pulls my face back down toward hers. "That's why God gave us answering machines."
I'm conflicted, keyed up but powerless, able to break free but unwilling to try. The machine answers the call, the phone stops ringing. I feel Kelly's smile in the darkness as her lips brush against mine. I lose myself in her, lose every part of myself.
Every part, that is, except the faraway corner of my mind that wonders if Grandma just woke from the same nightmare, and found Grandpop dead in his darkroom.


Marty Roppelt was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. His original profession was acting on stage, in local commercials and training films and in film. This means that he has experienced life through a wide variety of day and night jobs, from barista to waiter and bartender to security guard, amongst many others. He lives in Illinois with his wife, Becky, and their eccentric cat, Fritz.
Mortal Foe is his debut novel.




Thursday, September 13, 2018

Book Tour: The McKenzie Files by Barry K. Nelson (Science Fiction)

About the Book

Title: The McKenzie Files
Author: Barry K. Nelson
Genre: Science-Fiction
The United Protectorate is under attack by the Brelac, a bloodthirsty reptilian alien race bent on destroying humanity. A dark alliance between the Brelac and the Vendetta, a separatist organization, looms over the Protectorate. The Brelac's onslaught brings forth the creation of the genetically engineered humanoid weapons called Reploids. Reploids are identical copies of real humans captured, killed, cloned, embedded with powerful psionic abilities, and programmed to serve the Brelac. They are untraceable and blend into human society so believably, the Reploids themselves do not know they are clones.

Colin McKenzie, part of a military team sent to a remote planet to investigate and capture a downed Brelac ship, turns on his commanding officer in an attempt to protect a shipwrecked band of Brelac soldiers. But he is captured and reprogrammed - along with two other arrested Reploids - to serve the government they were originally created to destroy.

The balance is upset when a weapon powerful enough to bring the Protectorate to its knees is about to be unleashed - and the Protectorate's only hope of stopping it is the three Reploids.

Author Bio

A Pennsylvania native, Barry K. Nelson has attended college and has worked at a variety of jobs, including retail and the corporate environment. Barry enjoys reading and gardening and is a fan of science fiction and horror movies, Marvel comic collecting, and the X-box gaming.

Barry has written several short stories, and his first book in the science fiction series, The McKenzie Files, followed by the sequels, Assassination Anxiety, Obliteration, and Maximum Deevor.

Barry is a member of Ning and Goodreads, can be found on Facebook, and can also be reached through Dreaming Big Publications.


Book Excerpt

For a moment the Brelac standing before Fenlow remained silent. Fenlow’s skin twitched, apprehensive as to what would happen next. He had limited personal involvement with these creatures, but knew that they were as unpredictable as they were vicious. He eyed the rows of long teeth under the curled lips and suppressed a shudder.
The Brelac uttered a deep growl to slowly form a single name. “Fenlow. So, you’re the Great Doctor Fenlow. One of the first traitors in the brief history of this war. We finally meet.”
“I find the word traitor to be a little too malignant to suit my purpose,” Fenlow said quickly. “I’d like to think of myself as an entrepreneur.”
The Brelac growled again. Showing more of his sharp teeth. “Traitor, entrepreneur. It’s all the same to me. The point is that you’re here. The question is, why?”
“I’m here to speak to Bane Mariner. I have a proposition for him.”
“You are addressing Governor General Bane Mariner. Supreme Commander of the Brelac Empire. And I hope that your proposition is worth my time.”
“It is,” Fenlow assured him. “What I’m about to propose will greatly benefit both you and my company.”
“Carp Technologies,” Mariner leaned back on his heels, his tail stretching out to counterbalance his shifting weight. “I admire your company. Playing both sides of the war for their own benefit. All the while maintaining the facade of a benevolent corporation serving your little corner of the universe. I wonder, what your people would say if they knew that you and your company were working with us to create the Reploid menace?”
“I’m…I’m afraid that the Reploid program has been discontinued for the present time. More especially the advanced Reploids. En-route to Helios on the planet Meridan one of your shuttles carrying several Reploid units was shot down by Protectorate forces. Three Reploids were captured by the military. Carp considered this to be a threat to company security and decided to halt the project.”
Fenlow withheld the fact that he himself had recommended halting the project. Aided by Carp’s resources, Fenlow produced the Reploids in a laboratory within a company research vessel stationed at a secret location in space. Fenlow notified his Brelac contact on a secured channel when each shipment of Reploids would be due for delivery, and would then meet a Brelac transport shuttle at a designated rendezvous point.
Curious about the Brelac’s vision without the use of physical eyes, Fenlow had asked to examine their psionic implants. After months of extensive research he’d been able to create a more advanced version of the implants, and promised to deliver dozens of Reploids armed with the implants to help the Brelac achieve a swifter victory. Highly treasonous acts that would certainly earn Fenlow and others within Carp Technologies a swift death sentence.
“Those Reploids in the hands of your military could pose a problem,” Mariner stated, cracking his knuckles.
“They’re no threat. There are only three of them. The military will make limited use of their abilities, and I’ve already taken steps to diminish their effectiveness,” Fenlow paused. “Carp’s board of directors has decided to move forward with Operation Broad Axe. I have to do what I can to insure that the plan is successful. This means that I have to begin some of the more advanced projects that I’ve been working on.”
“And you need my help to pull all this off,” Mariner added. He went silent, his eyeless face studying Fenlow. “Let him go,” he growled.
Both guards raised their left hands to their heads in a familiar military salute and exited the hall with haste.
Fenlow thought that it was curious how the two Brelac saluted in such a fashion. As if they were mimicking human troopers. He suspected that he would learn a great deal about these creatures by working closely among them in the days ahead.
“Fix this man a seat next to mine,” Mariner blared out. “He’s my guest of honor.”
The attendants serving food and drink quickly provided a place at the table on Mariner’s right side, and Fenlow sat as instructed, his hands slightly shaking in his lap. Using a long, two-pronged fork an attendant quickly loaded his plate with three long sections of the pale snake-like meats and two of the centipedes, steam rising from their cooked flesh.
Fenlow stared at his plate. The appearance of the food before him was nauseating enough, but it’s oily smell combined with a sour milk odor left him near paralyzed. Mariner silently faced him, and a thin stream of saliva dripped out of the right side of his mouth. Fenlow shuddered, slightly spooked in the close sight of Mariner’s scaled face and the long pointed teeth in the constant grin.
Fenlow nervously cleared his throat. “I suppose you’re not serving any salads.”
A faint, hoarse growl came from Mariner’s throat. “Nothing so elaborate here.”
“I see.”
Fenlow looked to the left and right side of his plate and saw no silverware. He quietly groaned in frustration. It was evident that the Brelac were eating with their hands, and Fenlow desired to blend in with his hosts. He gingerly picked up a centipede. It was warm and soft to the touch. He held it up to his face and managed not to flinch away. At least he was able to distinguish which item smelled like sour milk.
A deep grunt came from Mariner. “You look like you were just kissed by Pandora. Don’t worry, Doctor. It won’t bite you back.”
Kissed by Pandora. A strange terminology to use. Perhaps an example of their alien culture?
But the name, Pandora, stuck in Fenlow’s mind. There was something familiar about it. He thought that this would be the perfect time to get a little more background on his allies. He laid his centipede back down on his plate but kept his fingers on it.
“So, I’ve done a little research and found that you Brelac are Reploids yourselves,” he said.
“To a degree we are all the same,” Mariner sluggishly droned out, grabbing his own centipede and downing it in one loud gulp. “Our race needed a technological means to insure its continuation.”
“A technological means,” Fenlow repeated. “And what of your females? I noticed that through all the grunting and growling you all sound male.”
“As I have already explained, we are all the same,” Mariner said. “We have created the means of producing the perfect military force. Our soldiers originate from templates that are devoid of fear, unhindered by compassionate doubts, and minds that are not mired by the frivolous aberrations that obstruct you humans.”
“What about these original templates that you mentioned? I’m assuming that it’s some sort of original genetic stock.”
“Our original source is centuries old and continues to endure. But its history is not important.” He waved a clawed hand. “All that matters is that it serves us as we produce our numbers en-masse in order to achieve our objective.”
“And that objective would be?” Fenlow asked, suspecting he already knew the answer.
“Our objective is to spread ourselves across this universe and administer retribution to any and all opposition. Then we will become the only supreme power.  That is our mission passed down to us through generations. This is what we will achieve. And you, Doctor Fenlow, will help us.”
Fenlow pondered Mariner’s words, fingertips stroking the soft white flesh of the centipede on his plate.  He was still dreading the notion of being forced to eat this thing.
The Brelac mission of conquest and retribution. A chilling thought.
But Fenlow’s job was to find a way to work Carp Technologies’ interests into the mission so that their own plans could materialize unscathed. And with the Brelac’s help his job would be much easier.
“I’ll help you,” Fenlow told him, nodding.
He took a long look at the centipede he was holding. He picked it up and slowly raised it to his face, holding his breath against the smell. He opened his mouth.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Review, Book Tour & Giveaway: Demons for Tea by Kate Morgan (Supernatural Thriller)

Demons for Tea
Kate Morgan

Genre: Supernatural Thriller

Publisher: Omnium Gatherum Books

Date of Publication: Sept. 10, 2018

ISBN: 9781949054019;
ISBN: 1949054012

Number of pages: 285
Word Count: 80,000

Cover Artist: Kate Jonez

Tagline: Kicking ass and eating ramen: An exorcist’s life ain’t like the movies.

Ex-priest Denis Kaine's surviving on ramen and kicking otherworldly creatures off this planet. It's all noise to fill his chasm of hate and guilt inside from letting his twin brother blow his brains out because he’d been possessed. Denis should’ve known. He should’ve seen. He should’ve… everything.

His survival techniques are no match for Emma Koroleva, the 1200-year-old entity he freed from imprisonment in Rome. She's powerful, she's got major attitude, and she hates ramen.

She changes into various poltergeists and forces Denis to "exorcise" her. Denis gets paid, they eat real food, and she toys with seducing him. Denis starts to think he's living in the sitcom from hell until he learns his dead brother's become the plaything of something big, strong, and evil. Screw sitcoms. Denis is about to prove why his rep is legendary in the spirit world.


Wow!! What a great book!! So different!! 

This is a beautifully executed thriller with a lot of humor, and horror. 
I loved the characters' quirks, the wit and the flaws, so many layers. I adored watching the relationship unfold, finding out all the history, secrets... It was great!

Ms. Morgan's style is easy to read, just the right enough of description, and an easy flow to her first person exposition. I didn't drift at all, she totally held my focus. 

I will defintely be checking out more of Kate Morgan's work. 
This was a wonderful ride!

Someone knocked at the door.
On a Sunday afternoon? If it was a Girl Scout, she’d be disappointed. My entire liquid income consisted of the twelve dollars and three quarters in my wallet. I pulled off the Roman collar, so she wouldn’t get a bad impression of priests in general and unbolted the door.
It crashed open with a blue-green-flowery gust of wind. I spun around and slammed it shut. My messenger bag stood ready within arm’s reach on the kitchen table. All I had to do—
“It is ridiculously cold outside. Where is your fireplace?”
A black-haired woman as tall as—no, taller than me by an inch or two—strode into my living room and back again.
“Bah. Are you a herder of reindeer that you can stomach this cold without a fire? I am not. I require heat and coffee and food.”
Her flowered dress looked more suited to August than late March. Her windblown hair reached below her waist, the fluorescent light striking midnight-blue highlights from it. The colors of her energy reminded me of something, but I couldn’t place it.
“Look, whoever you are, I didn’t invite you here.” I opened the door, which put me even nearer to my messenger bag. “Out.”
She laughed.
One beat: I flipped open the front of the messenger bag. Two beats: I snatched the squeeze bottle I kept holy water in. On the third beat I popped the nozzle and squirted the perpendicular strokes of a cross at her.
“Merda.” She shivered and vanished.

Whatever she was, she moved faster than most entities. As I repacked the holy water, it hit me that she’d said “shit” in Italian not like she was angry. More like she was annoyed because I’d gotten her dress wet.

Baker of brownies and tormenter of characters, Kate Morgan celebrates the the day she jumped the wall with as much enthusiasm as her birthday. She grew up watching Hammer horror films and Scooby-Doo mysteries, which explains a whole lot.

When she takes a break from inspiring nightmares, she writes ex-nun PI mysteries under her real name, Alice Loweecey. In her spare time she can be found growing vegetables in her garden and water lilies in her koi pond.

(It’s confusing, I know. Facebook wouldn’t let me create an author page under my own name, so I had to use my MC’s name. Branding. It’s so much fun.)