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MindGames_med
Mind Games
 is the much awaited third installment in the new adult mystery series, Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective. Talented author Christine Amsden keeps delivering a great story filled with interesting characters, romance, mystery, and the paranormal, lots of it.

In this episode, Cassie still doesn’t know why Evan broke her heart two months ago, and the mystery gnaws at her big time. She decides to keep busy and make herself useful at the sheriff’s department. She also meets charismatic mind mage Matthew Blair…much to Evan’s distaste. At the same time, Eagle Rock is teeming with hate from the religious community, a reaction to the recent murder of a much-esteemed pastor’s wife by what the people believe was a sorcerer. The town is about to snap, with tensions between the magical and non-magical communities.

And in the center of all this, is Matthew, whom Cassie finds irresistible. But can she trust him? According to Evan, no way. But then, Evan isn’t the most objective person when it comes to Cassie. Evan and Cassie have a history, as well as a secret connection, that keeps them bound in spite of themselves.

Will Cassie discover the real culprit or culprits behind the pastor’s wife’s murder, as well as the real face behind the anti-magical propaganda and demonstrations? Most importantly, will she wake up and see Matthew for who he really is…and find the courage to face Evan for what he did to her—when she finds out?

I love this series and thoroughly enjoyed this instalment! There’s something about Cassie’s voice that makes her really likable. She has a good heart and is witty, too. But best of all, she is just an ordinary girl next door trying to do her best in spite of everything that happens around her—which is usually pretty remarkable, as is often the case in paranormal stories.

Her relationship with Evan keeps evolving organically and there’s a major revelation in this book about their connection and the secret behind their rival families. Matthew is a great addition to this episode, adding tension with his charismatic personality and inciting sparks of jealousy from Evan. The conflict between the religious and the magical communities is also well done.

Mind Games kept me reading late into the night, wondering what would happen next. If you haven’t read any books in this series before, I urge you to pick up book one first, Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective. The books are best read in order. You won’t be disappointed.

Purchase links: Amazon / Barnes and Noble

Connect with the author on the web: 

Website / Newsletter / Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Google+

My review was originally published on Blogcritics

 

 

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fear-x1-sm451x640Once again author Rudy Mazzocchi ventures into the shadowy world of controversial medical technologies. In his first thriller, Equity of Evil, the author revealed a dark world involving abortion, human trafficking and organ cultures. In this his latest instalment and 2nd book in the series, Equity of Fear, he boldly delves into subjects of the re-wiring of the brain to eliminate fear and the alteration of memory. Fascinating and terrifying stuff, to say the least.

Dr. Frank Moretti is CEO of Recon Innovations, a company that is developing a new technology designed to help millions of patients get rid of irrational fears, such as the fear of heights or darkness. He is also working on a neuroplasticity program designed to rewire the brain and restore the memory of Alzheimer’s patients. It all sounds like the perfect way to contribute to science and help humanity.

However, the USA, Russia and Japan are secretly competing for this technology, for a nation that would be able to control fear and pain in the minds of the people would also be able to create a supreme, invincible army.

Roman Citrano, a member of the Recon Board of Directors (also the protagonist in book 1 of these series), warns his friend Frank about the possible sinister repercussions, but Frank decides to move forward and license the technology to other countries. For this purpose, he flies to Japan with his teenaged son Joey—a big mistake, for soon both fall into an evil vortex of international intrigue where sadistic, unscrupulous doctors experiment on orphan children in the name of science, and where father and son have to fight for their lives.

This was a great read! First of all, the science behind it, which the author so skillfully describes and explains, is both absorbing and horrifying. It truly reminds us of the two very different fac

ets of science and what can happen when greed, ambition, and plain and simple human nature get in the way.

The story moves pretty quickly in spite of all the ‘science talk.’ I really liked the three main characters, Frank, his son Joey, and Roman, and felt compelled to stick with them to see how they were going to get out of their difficult predicament. I especially enjoyed the character of Joey; he really added spunk to the dialogue and situations. The Japanese scientist villain is well rounded, and I appreciate the tact and responsibility of the author in describing the Asian culture in the book. The ending is satisfying and utterly surprising.

One last word of caution, Equity of Fear has some scenes that are quite violent and graphic in nature, so this isn’t a read for those of you faint of heart.

Find out more on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Equity-Fear-EQUITY-Series-ebook/dp/B00C0HAUUG

View the original article on blogcritics.org

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ImageThe Nameless Prince is a beautifully-crafted debut YA novel about faith, disillusionment and innocence.

Ten-year old Seth Bauman lives in the gang-ravaged streets of Silver Lake. Abandoned by his mother right after his birth, he shares a very dysfunctional and loveless home with his mean Uncle Troy and his uncle’s girlfriend Cheryll. Rather than care for the young boy, Troy and Cheryll spend most of their time on the couch in front of the TV, killing zombies and exploding enemy tanks. Seth’s true escape is in his drawings of dwarves, elves and dragons. Sensitive at heart, Seth wants to understand why Uncle Troy dislikes him so much; at the same time, he feels torn by an intense desire for approval.

Though Seth knows that his mother abandoned him, he innocently believes she’s out there somewhere and that one day she’ll show up with an explanation that will make it all make sense.

One day, his friend Elena, whom he always walks from school to home, is abducted by a local gang called LAMO—the L.A. Mayan Order. Brave at heart, Seth follows the Boatman of the L.A. River through the underground sewers and metro tunnels underneath Silver Lake, where the LAMO headquarters are located.

That’s when the fine lines between fantasy and reality blur. In fact, they grotesquely twist. Suddenly, Seth finds himself in a dark parallel world in turmoil where nothing is what appears to be. He meets Constantine, a faun who refers to Seth as The Nameless Prince, and who believes he is the famous prince of prophesy who’s come to save their world—the Interior—from the Dark Forces. Thus Seth embarks on a journey where he must pass tests and solve riddles in order to discover his true name and reunite with his long lost twin, the King. Eventually Seth realizes that he doesn’t need to understand what’s going on, but that he must have faith. If he fails, he could end up in the depths of the labyrinth, torn limb from limb by the bloodthirsty Minotaur.

But what is reality and what is fantasy? Is it all really happening or is it in Seth’s mind—a defence mechanism as a result of Elena’s abduction and the recent violence directed towards the homeless?

The Nameless Prince is a fascinating read. I love how the author presents the different realities and how he borrows concepts from quantum physics to enrich his plot: none of the alternate universes are true unless you step into them. There are parallels with Moses and Noah’s Ark and of course the novel is, like Alice in Wonderland, a “through the whole” story. At times, the novel reminded me of the film, Pan’s Labyrinth, where the young protagonist also escapes into an eerie and captivating fantasy world. However, The Nameless Prince isn’t as violent or sadistic. Ultimately, it is a story about the balance of the universe: goodness may win but there are always new evil forces at work. In other words, “maintaining harmony is an eternal struggle.”

Though Seth is ten years old, I’d say the audience for this book is 12 and up, and that includes adult readers as well. The Nameless Prince isn’t your typical YA fantasy novel published these days. Yes, it is a classic hero’s journey with all the tests and riddles, but it is also a book full of interesting ideas and substance. In short, it is a book that stimulates the mind and intellect. Recommended!

Author web site: http://www.namelessprince.com/

Author Interview on Video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HY37r94SJj4&feature=relmfu

The Nameless Prince Facebook Page:

http://www.facebook.com/TheNamelessPrince

My review originally appeared in Blogcritics Magazine. 

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Two centuries ago, the Temple Initiates made up the Order of the Dragon, named after the Great Dragon Shyrdasa that once lived within Dragon Park. Legend told that a group of knights once helped the Dragon and her unborn young. As a reward for their valor, the Dragon awarded them secret knowledge, martial powers and magic. The Dragon also chose women throughout the Hugue to serve as Dragon Maidens, bestowing upon them secrets of draconic sorcery…

Now, for the people of the Hugue, the fall season would have normally been the time of the Harvest Festival…but fruits of their work are now in danger of being destroyed. For the first time in 50 years, the Harhn, savage beasts, are arriving in terrifying numbers from Vol Theldane to wage war upon the domains of Mankind. The Hugue, not ready for war, are caught by surprise.

A brave soldier named Baudouin and Lucia, a young Dragon Maiden, are the keys to saving mankind. And at the core of it all, lies a mysterious girl they must find…

What a great start for a series! Shadows of Kings is an excellently written, impressive first novel that will be savored by fans of fantasy. Author Jack Whitsel has created a vivid, intricately-woven medieval world filled with sword and sorcery, fair maidens with mystifying powers, evil fey with dark appetites, villains readers will love to hate and heroes to fall in love with. My only complain is that there’s no romance in the story. I would have loved to see Baudouin as a romantic hero as opposed to just a hero. What can I say? I’m a romantic. This being a first novel, I’m impressed at how the author created all the characters—and there are many. I especially enjoyed the character of Lucia. I thought the scenes of her capture were quite realistic and compelling. There’s a lot of action in the story and the fight scenes are detailed without being overly graphic. In short, this is an engrossing fantasy novel for fans of the genre. Recommended.

Read an excerpt: http://jwhitsel.wordpress.com/2011/09/27/shadows-of-kings-chapter-excerpt-2/ 

Visit the author’s website: http://www.jackwhitsel.com/ 

Watch the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNL8jsdFkUM

Purchase from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Shadows-Kings-Jack-Whitsel/dp/160619223X

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Please welcome my special guest, Jack Whitsel, whose debut fantasy novel, SHADOWS OF KINGS will be hitting bookshelves tomorrow!

Jack is a native Californian, but has made Oregon his home since 1982. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree of Finance from Portland State University, but studies medieval history in his spare time.  His favorite genres are fantasy and historical fiction with a medieval emphasis. Shadows of Kings, the first novel of the Dragon Rising Series is the love child born of these two passions. Visit his website at http://www.jackwhitsel.com.

Connect with Jack at:

Blog: http://jwhitsel.wordpress.com

Facebook fanpage: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Shadows-of-Kings-Book-one-of-the-Dragon-Rising-Series/119975978113722 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JackWhitsel

ABOUT SHADOWS OF KINGS:

Steel and sorcery clash as the Harhn incursion sweeps through the Hugue. Mankind faces its greatest peril without the Order Knights of legend to defend them. Crusading deep in the frontier, the Order is unaware of the savage beasts threatening their homeland as the Hugue realms muster their armies for war.

Between a cunning Harhn sorcerer, and an alliance forged with the decadent Darkfey, the horde threatens to extinguish the domains of men. Only Lord Baudouin and Lady Lucia, a Dragon Maiden from the Order, stand in the enemy’s path. One must find the strength to unify the realms. The other must discover the strength within her, while coming to terms with the agendas of her Order. But only together will there be any hope to repel the onslaught, and preserve the future for a mysterious girl they do not know.

Chapter excerpt: http://twilighttimesbooks.com/ShadowsofKings_ch1.html

INTERVIEW:

Thanks for this interview, Jack! Tell us, do you consider yourself a born writer?

No. I have always labelled myself a storyteller. Though I was putting my thoughts on paper at a young age – it was all about storytelling.

When did your love for fantasy fiction begin?

Tolkien changed everything. I was eight years old when my dad began reading the Hobbit to me. After being exposed to Goblins, Elves, and wizards…I was hooked!

What was your inspiration for Shadows of Kings?

Of all the questions that are thrown at me, that one is always the most difficult. There has never been a solitary idea or moment that brought Shadows of Kings to life. However, I have three passions in my life – medieval history, all things fantasy, and my sons. Between the three, Shadows of Kings morphed into existence.

What was the greatest challenge when writing your novel?

The discipline to  keep focused on this novel, while knowing it was just a small piece to the saga. I have a tendency to jump from book to book, so I often had to pull the reins to keep me on Shadows of Kings.

What makes a great fantasy novel?

Mechanically…stories that are character driven and have an excellent pace. But what really makes a fantasy novel great are the elements that readers can identify with on a personal level  – whether they be characters, settings, or circumstances.

Are there any authors who have influenced you as a writer?

J.R.R. Tolkien, George Orwell, Herman Hesse, Leon Uris, and Anne Rice  – all of which cover a wide variety of genres.

Are you a disciplined writer? What is a typical writing day for you?

There is no true formula. Sometimes I write, sometimes I edit. But I’m up at the crack of dawn, committing my morning hours to the craft. My trusty sidekick – a full pot of coffee.

Tell us about your writing process. Are you a plotter or a panster?

I just write. I don’t even know what panster means. I never took a writing class in college – except the mandatory prerequisite courses. I have never read a “How to write” book. And I never spent a dime at a writing workshop. And I never concern myself with grammar…that’s what we pay editors for. It may be different for non-fiction, but to write fantasy, it comes from the heart – its creation forged by imagination and passion.

How long did it take you to finish the novel?

That is hard to measure. Like I mentioned earlier, I have always worked on more than one book at a time. As a matter of fact…I’m a three-booker. One is my main focus and the other two are my side projects.

There is a lot of world building in your work. How did you create it? Do you have a system?

Avalla is a mosaic of various historical snapshots that were then twisted by my imagination. But the foundation and all future creations begin with real places from various eras.

How was the publishing process like for you?

Twilight Times Books felt right for my debut novel. After signing with them, I found that I was able to maintain a lot of control over the process. They work with fantastic editors and artists and have a full stable of award winning authors, who I’ve had the pleasure to converse and learn from over the past few months.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers?

Thanks so much for allowing me to visit your site, and a big hug to Mayra for taking the time to put this interview together. Writing is an incredible journey, and the fact this is my debut novel, I feel like a babe in the woods – consumed by both fear and excitement.

To all the aspiring authors out there – Just write! Don’t worry about potential publishers, critics or agents. When you are ready and they are ready…the deal will come. Until then, just write and enjoy it.

To those about to read Shadows of Kings – Prepare for an exciting ride. I’m going to give you knights, magic and mayhem until you can’t take it anymore. I’m not here to impress you…but to entertain you. Shadows of Kings is the perfect blend of medieval grit and High Fantasy – and I’m thrilled to share it with you.

Oceans of Love,

Jack

*****

Be sure to watch the book trailer and don’t miss my review of Shadows of Kings tomorrow!

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What happens when a moody teenage angel is forced to attend high-school?

The answer is Griffin’s Fire.

Griffin’s Fire is the second installment in Darby Karchut‘s Terrae Angeli young adult fantasy series, published by Twilight Times Books. I didn’t read the first book in the series and have to say that I was a bit lost at the beginning of the story. Fortunately, not for long. Karchut provides only the essential bits of backstory and I was soon engulfed in Griffin’s world. As far as the first book, Griffin Rising goes, suffice to say that Griffin is a supernatural being known as a Terrae Angeli, a being who has the ability to control Fire, Water, Wind and Earth and who, like a guardian warrior, helps humans who are in danger. Book I is all about his apprenticeship, relationship to his mentor, love for a mortal girl and ‘fall’ into the world of mortals when he’s banished from the Terrae Angeli.

In this book II, Griffin is forced to live like a normal mortal teenager and enroll in Centennial High, a form of hell on earth. Not only must he adjust to his new nature, but he must also deal with nasty math teachers and especially with his mentor Basil’s new Terrae Angeli apprentice, who comes to live with them and who does everything in his power to drive Griffin crazy and turn Basil against him. Griffin is pretty miserable, even more so when he’s compelled to breakup with his beloved Kate and hide the powers that refuse to die within his own being. Is his Terrae Angeli nature gone for good — or are his powers back? If so, why? What does it mean? And how must he keep this knowledge a secret without betraying Basil and others who trust him?

I had a lot of fun reading this novel. The story moves quickly, the characters are all distinct with their own quirks and personalities and Griffin is truly sympathetic — moody, hot-tempered and impulsive yet with a kind and courageous heart. Karchut does a good job with her teen-friendly prose and her voice is fresh and engaging. After I finished reading the novel I felt an urge to get myself a copy of the first book to see how it all started. So the main characters are definitely ones to root for. Griffin’s Fire will appeal to both boy and girl teens and to angel-fiction fans in general. Recommended.

Read more: http://blogcritics.org/books/article/book-review-griffins-fire-by-darby/#ixzz1uAl5u100

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Read an Ebook Week begins today!

Twilight Times Books, publisher of critically acclaimed Literary, Mystery and SF/F books, is offering a special during ‘Read an Ebook Week,’ from March 4-10, 2012.

A FREE ebook will be given away each day.

Some of these books include:

How I Wrote My First Book: The Story behind the Story
Twenty authors tell amazing stories about the efforts that went into writing their first book.
http://twilighttimesbooks.com/MyFirstBook_ch1.html

Book Reviewers Talk about their Craft
A series of interviews with 22 publishing professionals regarding book reviewing including Magdalena Ball, Judi Clark, James Cox, Lesa Holstine, Carolyn Howard-Johnson, Cheryl C. Malandrinos, Sharyn McGinty, Alex Moore, Stephanie Padilla, Andrea Sisco, Irene Watson and others.
http://twilighttimesbooks.com/ttb_free_ebooks2012.html

Thirty popular titles are available for $3.50 or less via Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, and OmniLit until March 10th during Read an E-Book Week.

In addition, ebook ARCs now available for the following upcoming releases:

Divided, historical novel by Ralph Freedman
Equity of Evil, medical thriller by Rudy Mazzocchi
Essentially Yours, mystery by Aaron Paul Lazar
Griffin’s Fire, fantasy by Darby Karchut
Shadows of Kings, epic fantasy by Jack Whitsel
The Patriot Spy, military historical by S. W. O’Connell.
http://twilighttimesbooks.com/ttb_arc_order.html

Happy reading! Feel free to spread the word via Facebook or Twitter!

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