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Archive for February, 2021

Knight in Paper Armor

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Knight in Paper Armor by Nicholas Conley

Billy Jakobek has always been different. Born with strange and powerful psychic abilities, he has grown up in the laboratories of Thorne Century, a ruthless megacorporation that economically, socially, and politically dominates American society. Every day, Billy absorbs the emotional energies, dreams, and traumas of everyone he meets—from his grandmother’s memories of the Holocaust, to the terror his sheer existence inflicts upon his captors—and he yearns to break free, so he can use his powers to help others.

Natalia Gonzalez, a rebellious artist and daughter of Guatemalan immigrants, lives in Heaven’s Hole, an industrial town built inside a meteor crater, where the poverty-stricken population struggles to survive the nightmarish working conditions of the local Thorne Century factory. Natalia takes care of her ailing mother, her grandmother, and her two younger brothers, and while she dreams of escape, she knows she cannot leave her family behind.

When Billy is transferred to Heaven’s Hole, his chance encounter with Natalia sends shockwaves rippling across the blighted landscape. The two outsiders are pitted against the all-powerful monopoly, while Billy experiences visions of an otherworldly figure known as the Shape, which prophesizes an apocalyptic future that could decimate the world they know.

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Nicholas Conley

About the Author

Nicholas Conley is an award-winning Jewish American author, journalist, playwright, and coffee vigilante. His books, such as Knight in Paper Armor, Pale Highway, Clay Tongue: A Novelette, and Intraterrestrial, merge science fiction narratives with hard-hitting examinations of social issues. Originally from California, he now lives in New Hampshire.

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My Review

4 stars

Billy Jakobek has a powerful special ability. Unfortunately a greedy man has found him and is planning on using him as a weapon. Natalia Gonzalez is an immigrant’s daughter that is struggling to survive along with her grandmother, mother, and twin brothers in a little town called Heaven’s Hole.

In Heaven’s Hole there is a factory that all the immigrant’s work in under horrible conditions. While not at work many face abuse from their white neighbors. Natalia dreams of leaving Heaven’s Hole but when she meets Billy he turns her world on end. She learns of the dark secrets of those that own the factory and is determined to stop them and save Billy.

This story touches on some events that we are facing in today’s world. Billy is a wonderful person and it is just heartbreaking what he goes through. Natalia is a strong young lady that goes through her own issues. She doesn’t let them stop her, instead they strengthen her resolve.

I really liked this story; there is lots of action, betrayal, and a sweet romance. It is one that I recommend checking out. There is a great paranormal twist that really adds to the story.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.

I would like to thank Nicholas Conley for the opportunity to read and share his book.

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Sons of Darkness

Author: Gail Z. Martin

Narrator: Jeffrey Kafer

Length: 5 hours 59 minutes

Series: Night Vigil, Book 1

Publisher: Tantor Audio

Released: Oct. 20, 2020

Genre: Urban Fantasy

We are the Night Vigil.
We keep the Vigil, looking for the ones who can still be saved, the ones who aren’t too far gone. We’re the misfits and the muck-ups, unwanted by Heaven or Hell, given one last chance to atone for all the mistakes and missed chances, the pain we’ve caused others and ourselves, the good things we were afraid to do, and the bad things we embraced with open arms.
Unfinished business ties us to the mortal world, to make atonement, find absolution, satisfy retribution, get things right. You won’t find a sorrier group of halfway-house heroes. No illusions left – about ourselves, humanity, or what’s really out there in the darkness. Just a purpose, to go down fighting the good fight. Because this is our last chance.
One final chance to make it right, the thin red line of humanity against the evil that goes bump in the night, your best hope to make it through the hour of the wolf.
When a series of disappearances, suicides, and vengeful spirits cause havoc and death along a remote interstate highway, demon-hunting ex-priest Travis Dominick teams up with former special-ops soldier and monster-hunter Brent Lawson to end the problem with extreme prejudice.

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Gail Z. Martin writes urban fantasy, epic fantasy and steampunk for Solaris Books, Orbit Books, Falstaff Books, SOL Publishing and Darkwind Press. Urban fantasy series include Deadly Curiosities and the Night Vigil (Sons of Darkness). Epic fantasy series include Darkhurst, the Chronicles Of The Necromancer, the Fallen Kings Cycle, the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, and the Assassins of Landria. Together with Larry N. Martin, she is the co-author of Iron & Blood, Storm & Fury (both Steampunk/alternate history), and the Spells Salt and Steel comedic horror series. Newest titles include Tangled Web, Vengeance, The Dark Road, and Assassin’s Honor. As Morgan Brice, she writes urban fantasy MM paranormal romance, with her Witchbane and Badlands series.

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Narrator Bio

Jeffrey Kafer is a full-time SAG-AFTRA audiobook narrator. He has narrated over 450 books in almost every genre for such authors Clive Barker, Steve Alten, Maya Banks, Gregg Olsen and many others. He has 2 degrees in cinema and broadcasting and spent the first part of his career as a video game tester for Microsoft before following his true passion of acting. He’s been on stage since he was 13 (his mom still has the bellhop costume she made) and currently lives in Los Angeles with his family and dog.

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Travis Dominick was a priest that fought the paranormal but he had a change of heart and is no longer a priest. He still uses his abilities and a network of others that he has helped to stop the things that go bump in the night. Recently he has noticed that women have been disappearing along a stretch of highway related to a black pickup truck. He has also found that bad things have been happening in the smaller surrounding area.

Brent Lawson is a former ops soldier/cop that has turned private investigator. After a run in of his own Brent seems to be a demon magnate. Although he prefers to work alone his, dead brother is telling him that to survive what is to come, he better team up with Travis.

Both men work together well and have one heck of a mess to deal with and surprisingly work well together. I felt for Travis with everything he went through but glad that he is still trying to help others after his past. Brent is pig headed but compliments Travis well. And the nasty demon mess, they have their work cut out for them.

I absolutely love Gail Z. Martin’s stories and am super happy to be part of this tour. If you like paranormal stories you need to check this one out. I can’t wait for the next book in the series but I think I can keep myself happy by reading others books that Gail is written.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Gail Z. Martin. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

Guest Post

Creepy Pennsylvania–and Why I Love It
By Gail Z. Martin

Pennsylvania is a great state for a creepy story–which is why I’ve sent three series there with plenty of monster-hunting, demon-slaying action and adventure.

I grew up in Pennsylvania and while I moved away a while ago, I still love the state and visit often. That’s why I’m so intrigued by the darker sides of its history, and why I love poking into those shadowy corners when I’m writing.

Pennsylvania has thousands of miles of mining tunnels running throughout the state–but no map that shows where all those tunnels are. Mining has been big in PA since the 1700s, and in all that time, records were lost. Around the Pittsburgh area, where Sons of Darkness is set, it’s routine for homeowners to buy ‘mine subsidence’ insurance in case a sinkhole to a forgotten mine opens up and swallows their house, car, garage or yard.

Those forgotten mines have always intrigued me, because my writer brain is sure nothing good could be living down there, looking for a chance to come to the surface! Of course, the mines play a big role in Sons of Darkness, as well as the creatures that hide there.

Since Pennsylvania is one of the oldest states, there are plenty of abandoned buildings and ghost towns. Those might be from old railroad or mining operations, or just from changing transportation routes. But when I’m looking for haunted places, I’m going to start with real forgotten towns, and PA has a lot of them!

If you’ve ever driven across Interstate-80, you know that the whole top third of PA is forest. In many places, it’s hard to spot roads or towns or even utility lines–just endless, unbroken forest. Who knows what really lives out there? Plenty of places far removed from people means strange things could go unnoticed for a long time.

We lived in Pittsburgh for ten years, and I love the city for so many reasons. One of those reasons is how much of Pittsburgh’s history is still standing–old buildings, old neighborhoods, and odd little out-of-the-way things that you won’t find elsewhere. I love to bring things like that into books, and we definitely pull from some of Pittsburgh’s ‘hidden history’ in Sons of Darkness!

So come on an adventure with me and explore all those shadowy, forgotten, spooky spots. Don’t worry–you’ll have Travis and Brent to protect you!

Top 10 List

Top 10 Reasons to Listen to This book
By Gail Z. Martin
  1. My good guys always win
  2. Sneaky demons get a beat down
  3. Plenty of chills and thrills
  4. Scary and suspenseful drama
  5. Zombies, demons and vengeful ghosts
  6. Badass monster hunters
  7. Ex-priest ninja demon slayer
  8. Former FBI agent monster hunter with a bad attitude
  9. Lots of explosions
  10. A spooky, action-packed adventure!

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Thank you for the opportunity to listen to and review this wonderful story!!

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Six Strings

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Today we’re celebrating the upcoming release of C. Billie Brunson’s genre-bending novel, Six Strings – Available on February 16th!

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Expected Publication Date: February 16, 2021

Genre: New Adult/ Magical Realism

Publisher: Liminal Books

Carl Percival (Percy) VanNess inherits a guitar from his father. He’s intent on learning to play and wants to use it as a roadway to fame and riches. But this guitar is not as benign as it appears. In fact, the music produced when it is played incites anyone within earshot to murder whomever is in sight.

Troubles escalate when Carl lets his buddy Peyton borrow the Gibson. Next, Mat, Peyton’s older brother, gets caught up in the same diabolical intrigues surrounding the instrument.

Only Stacey, Carl’s enduring sweetheart, is aware and seems immune to the Gibson’s evil persuasion. Is this due to some latent magic she holds within, dumb luck, or something else entirely?

Can she, with the help of her loyal Lab, Diva, convince her friends to let go of something they cherish before it tears their friendship apart? Might two Djinn token seekers who are after the guitar to fulfill their own agenda put the brakes on her efforts?

Excerpt

“Carl, this is dope. You got some sick strings right here. I’m serious, bro.” Peyton said, picking up the guitar to admire it up close and test its weight.

“Well, duh. Isn’t that what I’ve been saying?” Carl replied, feeling almost giddy with pride.

“I heard. Didn’t get it, though.” Peyton improvised a few notes. “But I do now.”

“You can’t help but to.” Watching his peer strum a few more chords caused a possessive anxiety to rise within Carl and he ran his hand through his hair. It wasn’t long before he felt impelled to intervene. “Enough, newbie. Hand it over. Let the pro show you how it’s done.”

“Hold on, bro. I’m rippin’ some sweet sounds.”

Carl took a deep breath in an attempt to ease the tension that resulted from seeing his precious Charlene perform so sweetly for another. “You’re not too bad. H-how’d you learn to play?”

“My big brother had a guitar for a while. We used to take turns foolin’ around with it. Then, he lost it over a stupid bet,” Peyton said, pausing for only the few seconds it took to say the words.

“Aw, tough luck, Man.”

“Yeah.”

“Right. Fine. Now hand her over. It’s my turn.”

Peyton played on as if he didn’t hear. With eyes closed, he reveled in the sumptuous notes coming from the guitar. Shoulders dancing, his head bobbed in time with the rhythm.

Indignant over being ignored and at the way Peyton’s fingers seemed to grope his precious girl, Carl raised his voice in a near growl. “I’m warning you, Peyton. Better not try me. For the last time, hand her over.”

“Just hold on, bro. I’m ‘bout to throw it dowwnn!”

Unwilling to bear or listen to what that meant, Carl turned, scanning his room for a more assertive means of getting his demand across. A sturdy desk used for homework and other projects offered a mess of school work paraphernalia, among this lay an opened box of pre-sharpened writing pencils.

Without sparing a thought about his next move, Carl stepped over to the desk and pulled a pencil from the package. Holding the pencil like a crazed butcher, he pivoted while lifting the pointed end high. His eyes zeroed in on Peyton’s jugular.

Peyton kept playing, his eyes closed in blissful ignorance of imminent and fatal assault.

Carl drew the uncommon weapon in his hand back and up high as he could, making no sound or alarming movement.

In the next second, the door swung wide and Stacey burst in, coming close to hitting Carl with the door. Startling from his violent mission he dropped the pencil. He deftly shoved it somewhere out of sight with his foot.

“Okay. Where’s this guitar you–Oh, right here. Wow! Carl, you weren’t kidding. This is sooo nice.’”

Peyton jarred from his plucking revelry. “Yeah, uh, ain’t it though? And it sounds amazin’.” Turning to Carl he begged, “Dude, you gotta let me borrow it for a few days.”

“Nope, I don’t gotta. And I won’t.” Carl said reaching and grasping the neck in one hand. “You can let go of it now.”

Instead of conceding, Peyton tightened his grip on the instrument and replied. “What’s the big deal? I promise I’ll bring it back.”

“You don’t need to promise ’cause I’m not lending it.”

“How ’bout if I pay you? A buck a day.”

“No thanks.”

“Two, then.”

“No way, man. She’s not for hire.”

“Oh, so it’s like that, then.”

“Yep. Take it or leave it.”

“I thought you was my bro. But, I guess yer nothing but anotha punk.”

Instead of responding, Carl simply jerked the Gibson free of Peyton’s grasp.

Peyton protested. “Heeey! What the hell? What’s yer problem, fool? Somebody need to show you what it means to share?”

“Yeah? And I guess you think you’re the guy for it.”

“Maybe I am.”

“Bring it, then.” Carl quickly set the guitar aside and turned back to Peyton. He clinched his hands into two stumps of rage and raised them up to punching level. “We’ll see who can teach who.”

They faced-off and moved in a tight, threatening circle.

Stacey rolled her eyes as she broke between them. “Before the two of you throw any punches, I think you should know I’m not impressed.”

Carl and Peyton both let down their guards at the statement. Each looked at Stacey with questioning expressions.

Stacey explained. “I mean if you want to impress a girl with your beat-down skills, at least let the fight be over the girl. Am I right?”

Carl scoffed. But he did move away from Peyton. He picked up the Gibson, slung the strap over a shoulder so she could hang comfortably at his front and sat down on his bed.

Peyton stood grumbling and staring at his feet a few seconds before plunking down onto the small chair beside the desk.

Stacey parked herself on the bed next to Carl. “There. This is good. Way better than getting all to’e up over a guitar. A pretty awesome one, for sure. But it’s still only wood, strings and a few metal knobs—that’s all.”

Carl rushed to correct her viewpoint. “Carlotte’s not just any ol’ guitar. She’s way better.”

Stacey scoffed. “Charlene?”

“Yes, Charlene,” Carl said. “What’s funny ‘bout that?”

“Yeah, Stacey lots of guys who play guitars name ‘em. Mat named his Maxine,” Peyton said.

“And Mat is?” “Who’s Mat?” Stacey and Carl both asked at the same time.

“My brother.” Peyton cleared his throat and made a show of not looking at Carl. “Who knows how to share things.”

Stacey cut off Carl’s low growl. “Whatever, Peyton.” She looked at Carl. “But what makes you say this guitar—I refuse to call it any name—‘better’ than any other one?” She held up a hand. “Wait. I know. Your plan is to use it as a babe magnet, huh? I know how you boys think,” she said, narrowing her eyes in a reproving glare.

“It might be a tired ol’ plan but…Sure. Why not?” Carl teased, giving Stacey a mischievous nudge. “Besides, it gave you enough reason came by today, didn’t it?”

Crossing his arms, Peyton said, “Yeah. Well, havin’ a guitar to catch a girl’s attention is one thing. It’s another to really know how to play? That’s what the honeys go for.”

Stacey said, “I hate to be a…uh, ‘honey.’ But, Carl, can you play something for me? Please?”

Foregoing a verbal response, Carl stood and faced her, purposefully presenting his backside to Peyton.

After making a show of loosening his arms, his shoulders and flexing his fingers, Carl launched into the captivating tune he’d mastered that morning in the garage.

Within seconds, the ambience of the room shifted as he progressed through the melody. Though the light coming through the lone window in the wall behind him did not dim, a cold, sinister presence invaded the air.

Stacey hugged her body and rubbed her hands over her arms against the chill as she tried to listen to Carl’s playing. Movement at the edge of sight caused her to look across at Peyton. She watched with a perplexed frown as he pulled out a drawer to retrieve a pair of heavy-duty scissors meant for cutting poster board or thin plastic sheets. Her frown deepened as she surmise the sleepless, nightmarish parody developing before her eyes.

Peyton pushed up from the chair and took a step in Carl’s direction, holding the scissors ready for effective spiking.

At last determining what she saw was legit instead of crazed illusion, Stacey flung her arms out in alarm. She gesticulated a frantic warning and yelled, “Stop! What do you think you’re doing?” But the frigid, melodious aura swallowed her voice.

Carl, intent on performing as he was, misinterpreted her actions as encouragement. He played with more vigor.

Stacey reached the point of leaping from the bed to tackle Peyton when bone-cracking thumps sounded against the window.

Carl stopped playing the song mid-refrain.

Peyton jolted and stepped back as though hit by some invisible stun gun. His attention went to the scissors he held in his hand. For a brief moment, he stood staring down at the now deadly-weapon-turned-crafting-tool and then twisted around to lay it on the desk. He turned back, wiping the palm of his hand on his clothes as though to clean away something vile.

Stacey sat on the edge of the bed huffing and puffing in relief when their gazes locked and she sensed the passing of his moment of murderous insanity.

Oblivious because he’d turned his attention towards searching out the source of the thumping noise, Carl said, “Oh, my dreamcatcher fell.” Then he stepped over to retrieve it from the floor and hang it back on the nail in the wall.

“Uh-huh.” Stacey said. “But…no. It couldn’t have made such a loud sound by landing on the floor.”

“What are you talking about?” Carl asked.

Stacey said, “I think the noise came from the….” Her words trailed off when she noticed the window.

She gasped at the splatter of blood already drying on the sun-drenched pane.

Grab yourself a copy from Amazon on February 16th!

About the Author

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Billie Brunson enjoys writing novels that don’t necessarily fit in any genre “box.” Six Strings, is her second published book, the first of which is Heart of Malice (2015) and she has a number of other manuscripts in the pipelines.

Born in Chicago, IL, C Billie Brunson lived for several years in Indiana and, later, Iowa before moving to Arizona in the 1990s where she has settled in Scottsdale. She’s the mother of two and loves all animals, especially cats.

If you want to connect, you’ll catch her on Twitter more so than any other social media platform.

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Infinity’s Gateway

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Infinity’s Gateway by James S. Parker

Every year, all across the planet, people simply vanish, completely disappear and are never seen again. Some areas of the world are well known for this phenomenon. Infinity’s Gateway opens with a very famous incident that took place just after the end of World War II with the United States Navy. The story then jumps to the present day with an unexplainable event that occurs off the coast of Florida, an event that cannot be ignored by the military.

The Navy ship Eclipse and its crew are sent to investigate, but after several days come up empty. Two days before returning to port, the event reoccurs, and the Eclipse is caught up in something it cannot escape. The Eclipse and its crew suddenly find themselves completely isolated, all communication lost, surrounded by a terribly hostile environment where each day is a struggle to survive. Infinity’s Gateway is an intense, action packed story of survival, self-reliance, and discovery.

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About the Author

Every now and then author James S. Parker has a vision. And, when he does, he sees people and places off in the misty distance. Sometimes these visions are futuristic and filled with danger. Most often they are mystical, with good and evil and a cast of characters who beautifully represent both.

In his high school years James experienced a spine tingling brush with the supernatural. That single event – complete with the sound of heavy footsteps and an invisible visitor – etched forever in his mind the idea that life is much more mysterious than we oftentimes admit, that the spiritual world is all around us, and that its impact on us cannot be denied.

Though he sees through a glass darkly, he writes as though he has been granted a glimpse into the unknown, one that has informed his novels and their powerful stories of good and evil and the struggles we all face every day to assure that good wins.

Infinity’s Gateway, the first book in a fascinating sci-fi adventure trilogy, is his latest work.

James lives in San Antonio, Texas with his wife, Margaret.

Website

My Review

5 stars

A strange event has happened in the Bermuda Triangle. It has a huge energy reading but by the time the US military gets anyone in that area there is nothing to see. Is this just another fanciful Bermuda Triangle story? To make sure this is not an act of war, the Navy sends in the special ship, Eclipse with a team of top scientists and marines. When the even happens a second time the Eclipse disappears yet finds themselves in a new world. There they find amazing creatures and things. But will they be able to find their way home.

It’s hard to post a summary of this book and not give too much away. The story starts out with the famous Flight 19 the disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle and really caught my attention. The Eclipse is an amazing ship and the best thing to send into this situation. Of course I was hoping everything would work out but this is the first book in a series and you are left with a great cliff hanger.

I will be honest, there was part in the beginning that was dragging a little but stick with it, there is a point and purpose. This is a great story and I can’t wait to get my little grubby fingers on the next book. Make sure to check it out!!

I received a complimentary copy of this book. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.

I would like to thank Articulate for the opportunity to read and share this book.

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