Book Tour, Q&A, and Book Review: The Old Dragon’s Head

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Constructed of stone and packed earth, the Great Wall of 10,000 li protects China’s northern borders from the threat of Mongol incursion. The wall is also home to a supernatural beast: the Old Dragon. The Old Dragon’s Head is the most easterly point of the wall, where it finally meets the sea.

In every era, a Dragon Master is born. Endowed with the powers of Heaven, only he can summon the Old Dragon so long as he possess the dragon pearl.

It’s the year 1400, and neither the Old Dragon, the dragon pearl, nor the Dragon Master, has been seen for twenty years. Bolin, a young man working on the Old Dragon’s Head, suffers visions of ghosts. Folk believe he has yin-yang eyes and other paranormal gifts.When Bolin’s fief lord, the Prince of Yan, rebels against his nephew, the Jianwen Emperor, a bitter war of succession ensues in which the Mongols hold the balance of power. While the victor might win the battle on earth, China’s Dragon Throne can only be earned with a Mandate from Heaven – and the support of the Old Dragon.

Bolin embarks on a journey of self-discovery, mirroring Old China’s endeavour to come of age. When Bolin accepts his destiny as the Dragon Master, Heaven sends a third coming of age – for humanity itself. But are any of them ready for what is rising in the east?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Justin Newland

Justin Newland is an author of historical fantasy and secret history thrillers – that’s history with a supernatural twist. His stories feature known events and real people from history which are re-told and examined through the lens of the supernatural. He gives author talks and is a regular contributor to BBC Radio Bristol’s Thought for the Day. He lives with his partner in plain sight of the Mendip Hills in Somerset, England.

His Books

The Genes of Isis is a tale of love, destruction and ephemeral power set under the skies of Ancient Egypt. A re-telling of the Biblical story of the flood, it reveals the mystery of the genes of Isis – or genesis – of mankind. 

The Old Dragon’s Head is a historical fantasy and supernatural thriller set during the Ming Dynasty and played out in the shadows the Great Wall of China. It explores the secret history of the influences that shaped the beginnings of modern times. 

Set during the Great Enlightenment, The Coronation reveals the secret history of the Industrial Revolution. 

His latest, The Abdication (July, 2021), is a suspense thriller, a journey of destiny, wisdom and self-discovery.

Find Justin online:

Facebook

Website

Q&A With Author Justin Newland

Below is a fun and informative interview with Justin Newland

Let’s go beyond the bio. Tell us a little more about yourself.  What is something most people would not know about you? 

I was born three days before end of the end of the year, making me a Capricorn. Look, someone has to be one. We’re a strange hybrid of half-fish, half-goat. I mean, who would want to be one of those? Capricorns don’t tend to get invited to parties because a. The hosts don’t know whether to feed us plankton or tufts of grass and b. We’re boring, practical people, plodders who just work, work, work. You could either end up with a nasty kettle of fish like Al Capone or Howard Shipman or, better still, a person with deep religious/spiritual views such as Martin Luther King or Jesus Christ. I’d like to think I’m on the religious/spiritual Capricorn spectrum.  

The Capricorn symbol is a combination of the letters ‘V S’, which stands for ‘Very Serious’. To compensate for this onerous skill, I found it necessary to develop a keen sense of humour.

Your specialty is combining history with fantasy and the supernatural, as you’ve done in previous novels.  What inspired you to choose 1400s China for the setting of this book?

The 14th Century was a time of profound change in the history of the world. For example, it saw the end of the feudal system of government, and the start of our modern era with its cult of the individual, the industrial revolution, and propensity for democracy.  In 1368, China ejected the Mongols and formed a new dynasty, The Ming, meaning the Bright. So, in 1400, when the novel is set, China was re-finding and re-building itself, and seeking a new identity with which to move forward into modern times. Even so, it was probably the most advanced nation and culture in the world at the time.

I also chose Chinese society to write about because of its deep-seated belief in demons, ghosts, and gods, which played perfectly into my love of the supernatural.

Having previously read The Abdication, I know that the infusion of magical realism or the supernatural into your work really sets your books apart.  Were there books you personally read earlier in life that inspired that touch of magic in your writing?

My early loves and influences in literature were mostly existentialists: Thomas Mann, Franz Kafka, Albert Camus, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Herman Hesse. Only later did I enjoy fantasy writers like Frank Herbert, and magic realism authors such as Borges and Marques.

I believe that we as human beings are much more influenced and guided by the conscious and semi-conscious aspects of our lives – such as dreams, feelings, knowings, clairvoyance, and even coincidences and serendipitous events – than we would readily admit. And I try to reflect this in my novels first by telling a story based in recognizable reality, such as the historical record, so that when I introduce the fantastical or the supernatural elements, I plant a nagging doubt in the reader’s mind as to whether those elements are part of the historical record on not.I also like to use ESP elements such as dreams, and clairvoyance, as plot devices to create mystery and drive the story.

What is the process you go through when researching a new novel, and what advice would you give to new writers just beginning to research historical fiction?

I like to find one book, usually a history book, but it may be an autobiography, that narrates the history of the period that I want to write about. I also want to know not just what happened, but the detail of the setting in which it happened. I want to know what clothes the people wore, what they were made of, what their hygiene was like (if they had any), what their shoes were made of, and what they carried around in their pockets (if they had any pockets at that time). Comment from Bonnie: I could see the evidence of this research while reading The Old Dragon’s Head, as every detail about the characters is so well described. That level of attention really pulls the reader into the story.

My advice to a new author would be – if possible – to write about a period that you have already researched in your life, or a culture that have visited say on holiday, or a period of history that has always fascinated you (preferably all three).

You have independently published several books.  What advice do you have for new authors just starting the Independent/self-publishing process?

Choose you self-publisher carefully. Ask around to find a good one. Join Facebook or LinkedIn groups for authors, and self-published authors, and go on their forums to ask those questions. If you are going to spend your own money publishing your books, then make sure you get your money’s worth. And whatever you do, don’t skimp on getting your books copy-edited and proofread. Comment from Bonnie: I agree. I can’t stress enough how important the editing is. Some reviewers will downgrade your book for just one typo.

Thanks so much, Mr. Newland, for providing such great answers to my questions. 

My pleasure, Bonnie. Thanks for asking such searching questions.

BOOK REVIEW

The Old Dragon’s Head by Justin Newland is a meticulously researched historical novel with a heavy dash of magical realism. It set in China, 1400, in the fairly early years of the Ming Dynasty, which lasted from 1368 to 1644. The reader is instantly swept into this time and place, and we meet a people still struggling to begin a new era. The characters are about as well developed as I’ve ever seen in a historical novel, and their adventures will keep the reader mesmerized. The character of Luli is especially fascinating to me because she is a strong woman in a very difficult time. There are many mysteries in this novel, but the secrets surrounding two of the characters, Bolin and Feng, are especially intriguing. This mystical adventure is rich in Chinese folklore, ancient myths and religious practices, and early 1400s Chinese culture. The Great Wall of China is almost a character itself, holding many secrets and even magic in this story.

The Old Dragon’s Head is well researched and expertly written. Fans of ancient myths, Chinese history, and coming of age adventures will enjoy this book.

I received a free copy of this book via Zooloo’s Book Tours. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.



Self-Published Saturday/Eternal Road: The Final Stop

Welcome to another Self-Published Saturday! Self-Published Saturday (SPS) is my effort to help self-published/indie authors with the huge task of promoting their books. Self-Published/Indie authors have to do it all, from editing to cover design to marketing, so I hope this series helps them a little with the marketing side of things. Today we are featuring Eternal Road by John W. Howell. This is a magical, end-of-life, time-traveling journey that will keep you intrigued.

BOOK REVIEW

Wow, what a unique twist on a life after death book!  James picks up a hitchhiker on a lonely road, only to find out that the hitchhiker is his childhood friend, Sam, who disappeared and was murdered at the age of 7.  Then he is shocked to discover he is dead too, having fallen asleep while driving.  Together James and Sam go on a time-traveling journey on the eternal road, searching for his forever home. 

The friends’ trips through time include the Gunfight at the OK Corral, the Alamo, and the Battle of Normandy. Through it all, the reader meets famous historical figures and gets a lesson about each event.  They also visit the future and the present, and James is pursued by Satan himself as he makes decisions about his final home.

This is quite a genre mashup, as we see elements of historical fiction, the paranormal, spirituality, and even crime/thriller. 

My only criticism is that the novel is written in the present tense, which I thought made the reading of it a bit less comfortable.  However, that being said, I truly enjoyed this book.  This is a fascinating and imaginative multi-genre novel that will literally take you on a ride you won’t forget.

I downloaded a copy of this book on Kindle Unlimited, where subscribers can read it for free.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John W. Howell

John began his writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive business career. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. His first book, My GRL, introduces the exciting adventures of the book’s central character, John J. Cannon. The second Cannon novel, His Revenge, continues the tension. The final book in the trilogy, Our Justice, launched in September 2016 concludes the thriller series. John’s fourth book Circumstances of Childhood, launched in October of 2017 tells a different thriller story of riches to rags, football, Wall Street, brotherly love, redemption, and inspiration with a touch of paranormal to keep you riveted. The fifth book is a collaboration with the ​award-winning author, Gwen Plano titled The Contract. Heavenly bodies become concerned about the stability of the Earth and send two of their own to risk eternal salvation in order to save the planet. The Contract achieved number one status in its genre. John’s latest book is titled Eternal Road – The final stop and launched in September 2020. In search of their eternal home, Sam and James discover a threat to human existance. They also encounter the prince of darkness. The question is; can they save humankind and their eternal souls. All books are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

John lives in Lakeway, Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

BUY LINKS

AMAZON US

AMAZON UK

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Blog Tour, Q&A, and Book Review: Amongst the Mists

BOOK DESCRIPTION

It was the most anticipated summer break of their young lives. 

For Bran Lampshire, that summer of 1986 would be far different. The lure of a wilderness adventure sends him and his friends on a troublesome journey that would see them far from home and into the isolated shadows of the Sleathton Estate. In a forgotten land where nature thrives, an unexplained mist settles upon the shaded grounds. And stories were told of events so chilling, they were forcibly buried over time.

Lose yourself beneath the endless trees. And discover that legends are sometimes so much more than ghost stories.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

M.L. Rayner

Born and bred in the county of Staffordshire. Matt is a keen reader of classical, horror and fantasy literature and enjoys writing in the style of traditional ghost stories. During his working life, Matt joined the ambulance service in 2009, transporting critically ill patients all over the UK. After writing his first novel, Matt was welcomed into the family of Question Mark Press publishing and now dedicates his time on future releases. His hobbies include genealogy and hiking, and he enjoys spending time with his wife, Emma, his children, and his family.

CONTACT M.L. RAYNER

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Amazon

Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW

Bran and his friend Marcus are going on an adventurous trek from their town of Bonhil Dale into the wilderness surrounding the mysterious Sleathton Estate.  Marcus has planned a 9-day hike and decides to also bring along Jack, an odd new boy in town, much to Bran’s displeasure.  The three boys hike into the woods and meet an old man, Gregory, who takes them to his house for the night.  When one of the boys disappears, Gregory begins to tell a story of children disappearing in the swamps and mists of the forest.  Blended into the novel in separate chapters is the story of a missing girl, Olivia, who is chasing a ghostly voice through the same forest.  

Amongst the Mists is a clever mix of paranormal and horror fiction with a heavy dose of folklore and sprinklings of the crime/thriller genre.  M.L. Rayner perfectly blends ghostly figures, mythical creatures, and mysterious characters into a hair-raising but clever tale.  The mystery will keep you guessing until the end, and the cliffhangers between chapters raise the alarm level even more.  The fates of the children collide and the ending is surprising and unexpected. The author’s note at the end is not to be missed as he tells of myths and legends that influenced this book.  Fans of horror and the paranormal, bring your imagination and a flashlight, and be prepared for some terror, because we are about to travel into the Mists. 

I received a free copy of this book via Zooloo’s Book Tours. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

Links To Buy

Amazon UK

Amazon US

*Kindle Unlimited Subscribers can read the ebook for free.

Q&A WITH AUTHOR M.L. RAYNER

Let’s go beyond the bio.  Tell us something about yourself we might not know after reading your bio. 

I love comic cons and collecting signed memorabilia. I usually attend these conventions three or four times a year.  

You mention your inspiration for Amongst the Mists in your author’s note at the end.  Could you share a little of that inspiration for our readers?

Many local stories can just get lost in time. I think there are so many tales of myths and ghosts that many don’t realise there is an element of truth to them. For Amongst the Mists I wanted to capture a little bit of old story telling. 

As a reader, I find that genres cross many lines.  While some classify your books as horror, I would classify them also as paranormal/magical realism.  This one has some of the crime/thriller genre in it as well.  How would you classify it?

I would agree with you. Although I set out to purely write a short story of *something* in the woods, it exploded into something much more. The idea I had for this book was horror. But yes, you’re quite right. There is a good slice of Paranormal and crime involved. If I had to pick I would lean towards Paranormal

This is something I’ve always wanted to ask a writer of paranormal/ghost stories: These stories are supposed to be a little scary.  Do you ever scare yourself while writing these stories?


I can get Goosebumps from time to time. Its all down to the image you create in your head. You have to translate that to paper and hope the reader envisions the same. 

I have read your previous book, Echoes of Home, as well as this one.  Tell our readers about your previous work and what you might be working on next.

Echoes of home  is written in the style of a classic ghost story, and as clean as I could make it. After reading plenty of horror novels I wanted to write something based on not just ghosts but the unsettling sense of isolation. My first book is very special to me and includes a very powerful, yet true backstory. 

What’s up next – I am currently writing my first YA horror book which will be part of the new Question Mark Horror series. I believe it is due for release around March next year.

As your writing journey continues, what are some things you have learned that you can share with other authors?

Help is always at hand. I am involved with a very supportive group of authors and admins that all support each other. Try and share your work to gain feedback and don’t be put down by advice.

Book Tour and Book Review: Conspiracy of Cats

**Book Review near bottom of page

BOOK DESCRIPTION

CONSPIRACY OF CATS… a supernatural murder mystery.

    An apprehensive Jos Ferguson travels from Edinburgh to northern Tanzania to visit the house her Uncle Peter built before he died.

    But Peter isn’t as dead as he should be… he was murdered, and he wants his niece to help him exact revenge upon his killer. With a little Maasai magic and a conspiracy of cats, Jos sets out to do exactly that.

    A beautiful house.

    A horrible death.

    A brilliant revenge.

    Who knew death could be so lively?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

B C Harris is a Scot who, at the time of writing, had just finished renovating a farmhouse in France.

A labour of love that began from first sight back in 2016. No sooner had the final length of flooring been laid and the last paintbrush dried, than disaster struck in the form of pandemic. France went into a strict lockdown and, with time to do more than simply daydream about writing books, a new project began to take shape.

Writing began as an escape from the fear and isolation that was soon affecting us all, and quickly flourished to become ‘Conspiracy of Cats.’ The global pandemic seems to be receding now, but the passion for writing has taken root. Find out more about B C Harris online.

Follow her at:


Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/AuthorBCHarris

Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/beverleycharrisauthor/

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/BCHarris64

BOOK REVIEW

Conspiracy of Cats is a captivating paranormal mystery set in Tanzania. When Jos travels to the “White House,” in Tanzania, which was built by her Uncle Peter, she discovers a mystery and a ghost who needs her help avenging his murder.

The characters are well constructed, and Jos in particular has a tragic history that makes you want to root for her. The mystery is intriguing, and there is an ingenious twist on the paranormal that I personally haven’t seen before. The “villain” is downright evil, and their malice splashes across the pages like drops of blood. The role that the animal world plays in this novel is intriguing. Fans of magical realism will find themselves mesmerized by this novel set admist the magic of Tanzania.

As a warning, there is some cruelty to animals perpetrated by an evil person in this book.

I received a free digital copy of this book via Zooloo’s Book Tours. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

COVER RATING

This cover is fantastic. The lioness is captivating and the use of light is perfect. This book cover will definitely “pop” and be noticeable to readers.

BUY LINKS

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Blog Tour and Book Review: The Farmhouse

BOOK DESCRIPTION

The house, for all of its solitude, seemed incredibly noisy

The Farmhouse, having stood against time and history for nearly 160 years in the Virginia countryside, was forgotten and abandoned until Kyle and Jenny Dowling moved in during the summer of 1972. 

The Dowlings, married just a year, were struggling to repair their broken marriage. It was to be the perfect place, away from it all, to heal their relationship. Jenny would write and Kyle would tend to minor renovations. The rent was cheap. 

The realtor warned them, however, against staying beyond the final days of fall. 

BOOK REVIEW

I must confess that I don’t usually read straight-up horror. I do read magical realism and the paranormal as long as it doesn’t scare me or affect my dreams. I am sensitive to books like that, and this book pushed all those buttons. I was scared, freaked out, and not looking forward to going to sleep, which is why I don’t usually read horror. However, I am not holding that against the book, which was extremely well written. Those characters that haunted me afterwards were supposed to do so, and although I don’t enjoy the creeped out feeling, I applaud the author for creating characters and a story that were so well done in the horror genre.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

L.B. Stimson

L.B. grew up in a one stop-light town in central Idaho. After earning a Bachelor of Art’s degree in cultural anthropology from California State University-Chico, she uprooted herself to begin a new life in Washington, D.C., where she began a varied career in professional communications in private business and education.

“I’ve always had a passion for photography, travel, writing, and history. I am thrilled to now be creating works of fiction that allow me to share these passions with others. One of my favorite parts of the writing process is the historical research required to bring authenticity to my characters’ lives.”

This is her fifth book and the second in her standalone series: Tales from the Parlor Room–a collection of gothic and ghostly tales.

She currently resides in Virginia where she enjoys cemetery walks, visiting abandoned and haunted places and working on more ghostly tales.

Follow her at:

Instagram

Website

Amazon

Pinterest

Twitter

BUY LINKS

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Book Promo: The Shepherd’s Burden

**Not a Book Review

The SheperdsBurden copy

Welcome to the book tour for award-winning novel, The Shepherd’s Burden by Ryan Young. Read on for more info and a chance to win a signed copy of the book (North America) or a digital edition if your are international!

ebook 1 withcaption

The Shepherd’s Burden

Publication Date: June 18th, 2020

Genre: Paranormal Thriller

1st Place Winner, 2020 Chanticleer International Book Awards, Paranormal Awards for Supernatural Fiction Category

Staff Sergeant Daniel Jefferies has returned home to upstate NY after nearly being killed in an ambush in Iraq. Plagued by the trauma of war, he struggles to find his place in a world that he no longer recognizes. He feels disconnected from his family and friends. But, none of his burdens are heavier than the terrifying secret that he has kept about a mysterious encounter from his youth. When a suspicious murder occurs, he will discover that he has been chosen for a purpose that transcends life and death, forcing him to confront his past. In order to stop the killer, he will have to make choices that will change the fate of the people he loves the most. Can Daniel summon the strength of mind and body, that he once had as a soldier, to face the most profound and consequential challenge of his life?

Excerpt

Daniel took the main route out of town. It took them through the city center and back to the site of Nella’s murder. As they approached the site, they saw a man and his young son crossing the road with their donkey. The donkey was towing a wooden cart full of produce. There was an open-air market in the city center. People traveled there to sell their goods. For many of them, it was their only source of income. The boy was four or five years old and the cart was fully loaded, so they were moving slowly. Daniel pulled to a complete stop to allow them to cross.

“Keep an eye out,” Keith yelled up to Aashirya.

It was always dangerous to be stopped in the middle of a road in Iraq. Instead of the vehicle being a moving target, which could be hard to hit, it became a stationary target, which was much easier to hit. The chances of an ambush greatly increased.

It was Keith’s job to keep his team on alert, but the heightened state of awareness didn’t change his demeanor. He was perfectly calm. He pulled out another cigarette and lit it while they waited for the man and his son to cross the road. He offered one to Daniel, but he turned it down.

“I can’t understand how nothing seems to bother you. I’ve been doing this just as long as you have. No matter how many times I’m out here, I still get nervous. I wish I knew your secret,” Daniel said.

Keith laughed it off.

“There is no secret, Danny. I told you before, nothing lasts forever. Everyone dies at some point. It’s a foregone conclusion. It’s not a question of if, but when. What’s the difference if we die now or fifty years from now? We shouldn’t fear death. We should embrace it.”

“I think you have been out here too long. You are really starting to trip me out. I think you need a long nap and a cold beer. After that, you need to get laid and seriously rethink that no-fear, embrace death bullshit. Personally, I would much rather be afraid and alive than calm and dead.”

Daniel turned his attention back towards the road. The man and his son were now directly in front of the vehicle. The boy stopped walking and turned to look at him. When they made eye contact, Daniel got an eerie feeling that something was wrong. Before he could react, a large explosion went off underneath the Humvee. The blast tossed the vehicle fifteen feet into the air, landing it on its side.

Amazon

B&N

About the Author

Author Pic

Ryan Young is a former Army Captain and Iraq War Veteran. He is a lover of all things fantasy and sci-fi. A native of Utica, NY, he now calls New England home.

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Giveaway: Signed Copy for North American Winner or Digital Copy for International Winner!

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#Book Review: Echoes of Home: A Ghost Story

Echoes of Home is an intriguing Ghost Story about an abandoned cottage and the secrets it keeps. Les Wills has just finished burying his mother when his brother Jonathan arrives, late, and bearing the gift of a new start for Les at Elphin Cottage, a home in the Scottish Highlands. When Les finally travels to this out of the way place, strange things begin to happen, and he sets out to solve their mystery. 

This captivating story is set mainly in the Scottish Highlands, although Les, the main character, doesn’t arrive there until about 20% into the book. There were times when I felt the pace was slow in the first half of the book, but after reading the story in its entirety, everything fit together and made perfect sense, and the pace itself was just right.

I am not a fan of horror and do not review it, and I would categorize this as paranormal, but not horror. It is also historical fiction, as the Great Famine of 1845- 1849 and the Highland Famine of 1846 – 1856 were very real and greatly impacted this story. Another theme in this book is solitude, and the story drips with palpable solitude, including Les’s solitude, ghostly solitude, and that of Clais Cottage and its surroundings. This is very well done by M.L. Rayner. The impact that class differences had on the poor leaves no doubt as to the evil that comes from thinking oneself above others. The character Michael Coull serves as an ending to some of the solitude in this story. He is also a connection to the land and the teller of its stories.

As I am descended from Appalachian settlers arriving in America from Scotland, Ireland, England, and Wales, this type of tale reminds me of mountain stories I’ve heard, told in almost musical fashion, of ghosts or mythical creatures who haunt the Smokies. I can definitely feel a musical rhythm in this Scottish tale. 

I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good ghost story as well as fans of historical fiction and Scottish history. I downloaded a copy of this book on Kindle Unlimited, where subscribers can read it for free. 

I have rated this 4.5 stars, rounded up to five on sites that do not have a half-star option. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

M.L. Rayner

Born and bred in the county of Staffordshire. Matt is a keen reader of classical, horror and fantasy literature and enjoys writing in the style of traditional ghost stories. During his working life, Matt joined the ambulance service in 2009, transporting critically ill patients all over the UK. After writing his first novel, Matt was welcomed into the family of Question Mark Press publishing and now dedicates his time on future releases. His hobbies include genealogy and hiking, and he enjoys spending time with his wife, Emma, his children, and his family.

CONTACT M.L. RAYNER

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

BUY ECHOES OF HOME

AMAZON

MY AMAZON REVIEW (HELPFUL VOTES APPRECIATED)

#Book Review: My Name is Cain

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Mother Evelyn needs to solve a major problem, and Hannah, a young nun fresh out of college, is the one for the job. Joining the Inner Circle of the Abbey of St. Margaret is an eye-opener for Hannah, to say the least. Travel with Hannah and her Vatican Intelligence cohorts on a roller-coaster ride around the world as she discovers many secrets including . . .Did Cain ever die? The death of one of the prime characters in Genesis was never mentioned. Is he still alive?Who are the Elohim? How is Mother Evelyn always prepared for what is going to happen?Journey into a genre rarely touched—Christian science fiction

#BOOK REVIEW

My only comment prior to the review below is a question. Am I allowed to use the word “badass” in a Christian book review? Because I did.

This surprising novel starts out with a group of nuns in an abbey, and the reader has no idea they are about to enter a world of intrigue, spies, aliens, extrasensory powers, space travel, and cyber technology. Biblical characters, scriptures, prophecies, and events are woven through it all. The author keeps us in suspense as he expertly unveils one surprise after another. I was absolutely kept on the edge of my seat as a group of nuns revealed themselves to be badass operatives, bent on saving the human race. This book is so imaginative and well written that I was completely riveted to each page. The characters are complex and layered, and the layers are slowly peeled off as they reveal their true identities. The plot is so creative and the story itself is fast paced and hurtles forward to a shocking conclusion. There appears to be plenty of opening for a sequel, and I sincerely hope we get one. Fans of Christian fiction, Science fiction, Thrillers, and the Paranormal will enjoy this enticing, multi-faceted thriller mashup. In this well-written, imaginative novel, Dean Sparks shows us that Christian fiction can be bold, exciting, astonishing, and unexpected.  

I received a free copy of this book via Reedsy Discovery. My review is voluntary.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dean Sparks is first and foremost a Christian. He loves his wife abundantly. Four of his children, all daughters, were born in one year! Dean is thrilled to be a father and grandfather to the family’s six children and five grandchildren. He loves his job as a Chick-fil-A franchisee and has been with Chick-fil-A since 1978. Dean is an out-of-the-box thinker who is worth reading. You can contact him at authordeansparks.com or via e-mail at dean.sparks@authordeansparks.com.

BUY THE BOOK ON AMAZON

#Book Review: The Thin Place

This was another book I reviewed for the May issue of Historical Novels Review, and it was also an Editor’s Choice.

Scotland, present day. Reporter Ava is working on a story about Overtoun Bridge, outside Overtoun House in West Dunbartonshire, Scotland. Over the years, at least fifty dogs have jumped to their deaths from the bridge. Legends describe Overtoun Bridge as a “thin place,” where the boundary between Heaven and Earth is very thin. The locals will not cooperate, so Ava, pregnant with her first child, begins to investigate. Ava is also trying to get medical history from her mother, who was adopted, but she is uncooperative.

In 1929 England, Marion meets Hamish at a tea dance at the Savoy Hotel. She is swept quickly into marriage and is soon living in the huge and mostly unused Overtoun House in Scotland, sometimes visited by a very absent husband who has little love to share with her.

In 1949 in Scotland, Constance is confined to her room by her mother because she is very ill. Her mother and the doctor are the only people she sees, and she longs for contact with the outside world. When her mother brings her a puppy, some joy comes into her life.

This is a captivating but chilling historical mystery which combines the very real Overtoun house with fictional characters to create an intriguing story. The reports of dogs jumping to their deaths from Overtoun Bridge are heartbreaking but true facts that are spun into this fascinating mystery. The characters are well developed, and their connections begin to come alive. Overtoun House itself becomes a character, alternating between telling secrets and refusing to give them up. The bridge seems to live and breathe, hoping to lure captors to their deaths. This is a spellbinding novel that I highly recommend to those who enjoy historical mysteries with a touch of the paranormal.

I received a free copy of this book from the publishers via Historical Novels Review. My review is voluntary.

NOTE: The mystery of dogs jumping off of the Overtoun Bridge is very real. At least 300, if not more, dogs have inexplicably jumped off the bridge. At least 50 of them have died. If you would like to read more about this mystery, check out this link.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

C.D. Major

C.D.Major is the pen name of Cesca Major – a novelist and screenwriter. 

Cesca has always been fascinated by mysteries from the recent past. 

Her book THE OTHER GIRL was a number 1 Amazon Bestseller and longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger Award in 2021. It’s a historical thriller perfect for members of a book club. Set in an asylum in 1940s New Zealand it is inspired by the strange phenomenon of children claiming to have past life memories. Her latest book, set in the present day, THE THIN PLACE is based around the sinister happenings at Overtoun Bridge in Scotland – a place where dogs have been known to leap to their deaths. 

Cesca has presented shows for ITV West and Sky Channels in the past. She enjoys hosting or speaking on festival panels and films vlogs about the writing process. She runs writing retreats twice a year in the West Country and teaches creative writing courses for the Henley School of Art. She writes uplifting books under her own name and the pseudonym Rosie Blake, and currently has an original TV series in development. Cesca lives in Berkshire with her husband, son and twin girls.

She loves to hear from readers so please feel free to send her a message over at Twitter or Instagram.

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#Book Review: Ophie’s Ghosts

In Georgia, 1922, twelve-year-old Ophie is suddenly awakened by her father, who tells her to get her mother and hide. Although questioning, she obeys. Soon evil men descend on their home. They had already killed her father, and now they burn Ophie’s home to the ground. That was the night Ophie learned she could see ghosts.

With no justice for her father and nowhere to live, Ophie and her mother take the train to Pittsburgh to live with Aunt Rose. Ophie soon begins working at Daffodil Manor as a maid to the old, biased, and angry Mrs. Caruthers. But the ghosts of the manor know that Ophie can see them, and most of them want to be seen. Ophie begins to grow strong as she adapts to her job and to her abilities. When she starts to investigate a mystery in the old house, she questions the ones who would know the most–the ghosts.

This is a well written and important book because it teaches middle grade readers about the horrors and history of racism. Through the savage murder of Ophie’s father, the experiences of some of the ghosts, and the cruel privilege of Mrs. Caruthers, America’s tainted past is explained. Ophie herself is a force of hope as she helps the ghosts move on to the afterlife and shows the truth to those who are still living. Every character, ghost and living, is well developed and has a story to tell. The point of view is mostly Ophie’s, but the old house, Daffodil Manor, also has a voice, as does the City of Pittsburgh. Aunt Rose serves as a helpful guide to the spirit world in a difficult time. This is a beautiful blend of historical fiction and magical realism that is both awakening and intriguing. Highly recommend.

I received a free copy of this book for review in Historical Novels Review Magazine. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

Ophie’s Ghosts will be released on May 18, 2021.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Justina Ireland is the author of Dread Nation (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins), a New York Times bestseller, as well as the sequel Deathless Divide. Her earlier works include the fantasy young adult novels Vengeance Bound and Promise of Shadows (both Simon and Schuster).

Justina also writes for the Star Wars franchise, including the books Lando’s Luck, Spark of the Resistance, and the upcoming A Test of Courage, part of the High Republic publishing initiative.

She is the former co-editor in chief of FIYAH Literary Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction, for which she won a World Fantasy Award. She holds a BA from Armstrong Atlantic University and an MFA from Hamline University. 

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