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Author Showcase – Veronica Cline Barton (Yuletime at Cherrywood Hall: Once Upon a WolfPack Anthology)

Once Upon a Wolfpack

Contributing author, Veronica Cline Barton

I was so honored to have my short story, Yuletime at Cherrywood Hall, Pippa’s First Christmas, included in the #WolfpackAuthors anthology that was published earlier this year. The anthology is a compilation of works by authors of all genres, and all proceeds are donated to the Lockwood Animal Rescue Center (LARC) My contributed short story is one close to my heart—it is a prequel to a storyline in the 3rd book of my #cozymystery series, Deadly Receptions; the Debut of Castlewood Manor. It tells the tale of a tainted bridal veil from years gone by and introduces the readers of my series to Aunt Pippa, the beloved ancestral aunt who saved the Cherrywood Hall estate with her marriage to Charles Lancaster, the 4th Marquess of Kentshire.

The short story takes place in the weeks before Christmas. Pippa has been receiving demeaning messages criticizing her every move as an American married to the popular marquess. A chance snowstorm brings her nemesis to Cherrywood Hall. Pippa meets her husband’s previous fiancé, the author of the critical notes–a jilted woman who is filled with anger at the woman who holds the position and privilege that she thought would be hers. As a blizzard rages outside, her mind is set on deadly revenge…Will Pippa’s first Christmas at the hall be her last?

Read more about the #WolfPackAuthors anthology and the great cause it benefits here:

The idea was simple: form a group of authors based on the mantra, “Do good things for the right reasons.” We are a pack – #WolfPackAuthors. Together, we expand exposure for our books, help one another with all aspects of the process, pick each other up when the lonely life of writing gets us down.

As with wolves, words can be dangerous or healing. The reintroduction of the wolf, hunted to the brink of extinction, carries such far-reaching results as to make vegetation grow on what was once barren, and to change the paths of rivers. Considering these powerful facts, we chose to donate the proceeds of this anthology to Lockwood Animal Rescue Center /LARC, a facility with a unique mission. They are one of the few organizations focused heavily on wolves, integrating military veteran rehabilitation into the caretaking process.

In this collection of work, you will find a showcase of many of our members’ talents: A young girl betrothed to a werewolf, yet her father, a human, is the true monster. Two snipers who lay in wait, an otherworldly supreme being watching them, in the form of a majestic wolf. A she-wolf sets her sights on a young woman, married to the man she loved. The paradoxical story of the big bad wolf, who through no fault of his own sets out on a calamity filled adventure. A batch of witty private investigators at work solving crime. A sarcastic banshee, a shapeshifting detective, and a vampire, all friends, investigate a string of murders. There are many others, varied in style or genre.

Come on an adventure with the WolfPackAuthors. We’ve got the stories you want; together, we hope to make the world a better place for wolves, humans, and those who dare to dream.

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Cozy MysteryYuletime at Cherrywood Hall: Veronica Cline Barton
Fairy Tale/ ParodyUnfairy Prosecuted: J.W. Crawford
Fairy TalePoppy: Tia Fanning

Fantasy/ SupernaturalFor the Love of the Pack: Sharon Lopez
Horror/ Meta horrorThe Untold One: B.L. Clark
HorrorFrost Harbor: Alexander Pain

LiteraryOmega Road: Lee M. Tipton
Magical RealismAn Early Snow: Andi Marchal
P.I./ DetectiveThe Wolf: Joe Congel 

P.I./ Detective, Cozy MysteryMrs Solberg’s Problem: CW Hawes
PoetryWolf Pack United: Angie-Marie Delsante
PoetryWelcome to the Den: Lori Katherine

Romance/ SupernaturalThe Soap Maker’s Mother: Christina van Deventer
Science Fiction/ MilitarySacha: Jeff DeMarco
Science Fiction/ ParanormalWolf Cry: Z Gottlieb
Science Fiction/ ParanormalCircus of the Night: Stefan Angelina McElvain
Urban FantasyTrue Nature : Luna Selas

 

Veronica Cline Barton earned graduate degrees in both engineering and business and has had successful careers in the software and technology industries. Her lifelong love affair with British murder mysteries inspired her to embark on a literary career. The Crown for Castlewood Manor and Cast, Crew, & Carnage; the Filming of Castlewood Manor are the first and second books in what she calls her My American Almost Royal Cousin Series. When not traveling and spinning mystery yarns, she lives in California with her husband, Bruce, and her two cats, Daisy and Ebbie.

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Review of “Projection” – Tabatha Shipley

No one types anything anymore. You simply think it, and it appears on the page. Sharing a memory with friends is as easy as recalling and sending it to a screen. The ubiquitous chip implanted in everyone’s wrist has made interaction with technology seamless and natural, almost making our tech an extension of ourselves. What happens when it goes wrong?

Emma Johnson has enough problems. School, boys, and her firm-yet-aloof dad are enough to keep her on her toes. But everything falls apart when her most embarrassing thoughts and memories start to appear on any device she’s near.

Why is this happening? How can she function in a world of technology when technology seems to be out to get her? Who can she trust? Will she ever be able to find a new sense of normality?

Find out in Tabatha Shipley’s new YA Science Fiction novel, Projection!

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

Present-day, there is an RFID chip that people can get placed somewhere in their hand, under the skin, that allows a person to unlock doors. It’s an ID badge of sorts. No one has created a chip that attaches to the nervous system yet, but Elon Musk’s company NEURALINK is working on a prototype that will allow a scientist to manipulate brain synapses. It’s a highly complicated and comprehensive invention, but Elon doesn’t know the word simple.

I can understand the reasoning behind such a device mentioned above. It will help with motor function difficulties. However, I am not 100% behind a chip that allows a person to control apps with a simple mental command. I’m afraid it will malfunction or have adverse health risks if it needs to be removed. These exact two scenarios were discussed at length in Projection.

I’ll admit, there were some pros and cons to the NFC chip in this book, Projection. Projecting memories from vacations and revisiting class discussions was quite nifty. However, displaying private fantasies or misleading memories has to go on the negative pile.

Every day, there are advances in science and technology. Before long, we could all be chipped at birth. What then? When will this madness stop?

As much as I love the advances of science and technology, sometimes I worry about how far people will push the boundaries to make life ‘easier’ for humankind.

Tabatha Shipley (the author) gave us many reasons why some things should not be invented. I know Emma (character) wishes she never received the implant.

Some things are better in the land of fantasy, and this was a great fantasy read.

With that said, I must point out there were several editing errors. If you can overlook them, and I’m sure you can, you’ll discovery a book with a solid plot, likable characters, and top-notch resolution.

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤❤

 

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Tabatha is the author of the Kingdom of Fraun series,Projection, and 30 Days Without Wings. She believes strongly in the power of helping others and is always willing to help out a fellow writer or reader. Find and connect with her on whichever social media platform you love best.

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Review of “The God Queen: Rebirth Book 1” – M. L. Tishner

The return of the God Queen is not what everyone hoped…

Humans have long since spread their numbers among the stars. Now far, far into the future, war has torn the Tyre Star Cluster into two major political factions. The militant Dominion have gained the upper hand in the last decade when their champion murdered the hope of the progressive Federation: Niklaryn Ettowa. Some considered the war to be almost won.

Yet there are those who claim the war will not be ended by mortals…but by the rebirth of the gods. 

Rei lived most of her life bartending on one Earth’s backwater towns. She daydreams of something more, traveling the stars, and destroying the man who murdered her brother Niklaryn. Her dream is within her grasp only if she accepts her fate as the God Queen.

Bronx is disillusioned with being a reincarnated god, let alone a reaper. He pays his penance by keeping people at a distance and taking up the mantle of a combat medic. When the sister of his old mentor Niklaryn storms in to join the cause will he find something worth fighting for?

Together with others, they must help the Federation tip the scales in their favor, but everyone seems to have their own plans for what the gods should do.

Jupiter Ascending meets X-Men in this epic New Adult space opera bursting with star-crossed romance, elemental magic, and an adventure across the star cluster, perfect for fans of A Spark of White Fire.

 

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

 

The God Queen is broken up into two sections: The Woman and The Goddess.

(Part One) The Woman read as if it was picking up from a prequel. One hundred pages into the story and I finally contacted M. L. Tishner (the author) to ask if there was perhaps a prequel to The God Queen. M. L. Tishner responded there was NO PREQUEL. She stated things were taken out, but it was all in the sakes of her readers. 

While writing and editing stories, authors are faced with difficult decisions. What to keep and what to toss away is a hard choice they have to make before the book goes to print.

While writing and editing stories, authors are faced with difficult decisions. What to keep and what to toss away is definitely a hard choice they have to make before the book goes to press.

For me, I missed not having more information on key characters: Niklaryn, Infiernen, Negander, to name a few.

 

 

(Part Two) The Goddess was a thousand times better than Part One. Secrets were revealed, past/present connections were explained more, and we finally saw some real emotions from central characters.

It’s in this section that I actually started to like the characters, particularly Bronx. He’s a character you’ll want to hug and tell him everything is going to be okay.

Even though I found Part One lacking in character development, I do recommend reading this book. Why? Part Two was pretty good, and I think the series has great potential.

(Book II, no release date yet)

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤

 

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Mari, a native Hoosier, currently lives in southern Germany where she entertains people with her adventures as an American expat in the Land of Beer and Pretzels on her blog adventuresoflamari.com as well as the adventures of her pugs, Abner and Roxy. When she’s not writing, Mari cooks, snowboards, dances to the beat of her own drum, reads late into the night, and binge watches Netflix with her husband. The God Queen is her debut novel.

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Review of “Nexilexicon” – Keith Anthony Baird

NOTE: A story which incorporates similar themes to major motion pictures such as these – JURASSIC PARK, ALIENS, ALIEN RESURRECTION, STARGATE, THE LOST CITY OF Z.

From the sworn oath of an ancient curse a cult rises. She is the ocean vast, its deadly rake, and primal power. Her first ones commune from across the great divide and make their new hive in the emptiness of men. A secret project, born from the ambitions of a young nobleman, transcends the passage of time and reaches through the veil of life and death for her reawakening. Deep beneath a mountain, inside a secure facility at the heart of a covert black op called Nexilexicon, a team of scientists, the military and the CIA are about to punch a hole through to another dimension. What could possibly go wrong?

What begins in the wilds of the Amazon jungle in 1847 culminates in a threat to mankind’s very existence.

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)


This story takes part in different time periods, so I’ve broken up my review into sections to discuss each area. Beware, there are spoilers! 

 

Chapters 1-8

The story begins with Sander van Straten embarking on a voyage. It’s not long before feelings of excitement turn to feelings of dread.

First, a mighty storm struck and they lost a young sailor.

Next, a swarm of insects descended on their ship and the crew had to hunker down below deck.

Then, there were the strange markings on the barrels and several stolen items.

Was the cook correct in saying this voyage was cursed? Even though I found Keith Anthony Baird (the author) long-winded at times, and the story seemed to teeter on the dull side, I was curious about the crew’s fate.

The crew’s trek through the Amazon jungle was quite adventurous, but I’d expect no less. They crossed paths with many exotic creatures, came face to face with a spider the size of a man’s head, and were ambushed by the natives. I wished they’d stayed in the jungle longer. I was thoroughly enjoying their time there, even though they weren’t at the least.

When they went back on the Eva, trouble again struck hard and fast. Rhames overtook their ship, and Eva’s crew members were held captive for two weeks, starved before released onto a small island. No drinkable water, no food, nothing but the clothes on their backs. The men turned into savages. They ate one of their own, had to if they wanted to survive. Sander couldn’t allow himself to partake of human flesh. I’m not sure I could’ve either.

 Life on the sea was hard, but life on land was no picnic either.

 

Chapters 9 -11

We jump forward in time to 1964. For over a century, Eva’s treasure has been lost to the sea but no longer. Wreck hunters have found the bounty and, with it, the curse that accompanies it. These chapters were laced with mystery, intrigue, suspense, death, and left me wondering what the hell was going on.

 

Chapter 12

It’s 1973, and an international team has been in the Al-Hajar Mountains for five weeks. Five weeks before the discovery of a chamber’s entrance. What they did find there is an archaeologist’s wet dream: mummified creatures, crystals, and a civilization that thrived and appeared highly evolved and intelligent. Unfortunately, their good fortune didn’t last long. Nobody’s luck remains good for long in this story.

 

Chapters 13 – 15

2012 – Project Nexilexicon was underway, and things were finally getting really good. Using DNA discovered at a dig site 40 years ago, scientists have reanimated/resurrected the creature Sander van Straten saw during his time in the Amazon jungle. The animals had six limbs, around 650 pounds, and had a presumed bite force that would resemble a crocodile’s.

I knew these creatures would escape their enclosure, but I didn’t realize how they would. They were extremely organized and intelligent in their escape. I won’t go into detail, but you’ll be amazed by what these creatures could and did accomplish.

Humans versus beasts… I knew it would be a bloodbath, and I was right. Keith Anthony Baird had the creatures biting heads off and separating limbs from bodies. Soldiers did everything to stop them, even sacrificing themselves for the civilians.

This set of chapters were my favorite out of the entire book. I actually could’ve used more action like this. In my opinion, I would’ve edited out much of the beginning time spent in 1847 and devoted more paragraphs to Project Nexilexicon. What the scientists and government were doing underneath a Nevada mountain range was the only reason why my score became a solid three stars.

 

Overall Impression 

The first eight chapters were mostly bland. Chapters 9-11 were okay. Chapter twelve had great potential but fell flat overall. However, Chapter 13-15 had me on the edge of my seat! I also enjoyed the epilogue because Keith ended with a nice twist. It’ll make you wonder what’s going to happen next for Project Nexilexicon.

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤

 

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Keith Anthony Baird lives in rural Cumbria, England, with his partner Ann, a mad spaniel, two cats and two goldfish. He’s also inherited two daughters and a grandson. He’s had a varied career, having been a journalist for ten years, and also a designer and a retail manager in his time. The Jesus Man is his first novel, written throughout 2016 and based on an idea he devised just under thirty years ago.

Inspired by such luminaries as H. P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, and H. G. Wells, his aim has been to deliver stories in a classic vein, but with a contemporary slant in both style and content. He aims to remain entirely independent, producing his works his own way, without interference from traditional publishing houses.

In his spare time, he and Ann indulge their shared love of the mountains by scaling the many peaks of the inspirational Lake District National Park.

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Author Showcase – Dave Jeffrey (A Quiet Apocalypse)

(Cover by Adrian Baldwin; original artwork by Roberto Segate)

 

The end is hear…

A mutant strain of meningitis has wiped out most of mankind. The few who have survived the fever are now deaf.

Bitter with loss and terrified to leave the city known as Cathedral, the inhabitants rely on The Samaritans, search teams sent out into the surrounding countryside. Their purpose, to hunt down and enslave the greatest commodity on Earth, an even smaller group of people immune to the virus, people who can still hear.

People like me.

My name is Chris.

This is my story.

 

“A Quiet Apocalypse is told from the perspective of ex-schoolteacher Chris, a hearing survivor. He has lost everything, including his freedom, and through his eyes we learn of what it is like to live as a slave in this terrible new world of fear and loss. I was keen to write a piece that preyed upon people’s traditional misconceptions of deafness as an illness, and the imposition of ‘hearing’ norms. It is a story that has poignancy in any understanding of the struggles of minority groups.” – Author, Dave Jeffery

 

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~ EXCERPT ~

We’re ten miles out when we come across the body. Until this point my first hours of freedom have been uneventful. The road we walk upon is the A38, the main tributary to Birmingham, which is currently twelve miles behind us, and now known as Cathedral.

The re-christening of Birmingham is based on the nature of its rebirth, though it has about as much to do with righteousness as Margaret Atwood’s Gilead. In the city’s cathedral the last survivors of MNG-U took consensus and decided to overwhelm the few hearing people amongst their number and place them under the yoke. Thus, the emasculation of the hearing began, but it also gave rise to something equality as sinister.

Social order at a price.

The body hanging from a nearby lamppost has been there some time. It bears the usual vestiges of retribution, hands tied together above a head covered by a hood of sackcloth, the legs and torso cocooned in swathes of fabric, bound together with electrical tape. The material is gouged in places where the crows have become too impatient to wait for the wrists to flay under the weight and allow gravity to do the rest. 

There is a wooden plaque about the effigy’s neck and the single word scrawled across it is both statement and crime. 

HARBRINGER!

I wink out and there is no longer a streetlight with a body hanging from it. Instead I am back in my classroom and standing by the media wall watching as a small boy sits at a desk as he robustly colours a circle with a bright, orange crayon on stark white card. Concentration has turned his face to stone, his mouth is an inclined hyphen, but the tip of his tongue emerges from the corner of his lips, a red strawberry that almost matches the colour of his hair.

Tim Muller has been in my class for over nine months and it is during this time that I have learned the intricacies of British Sign Language, or BSL to use the vernacular. I have managed Stage 2 and can pretty much communicate enough with the boy to be able to understand him without an interpreter, although there is always one present to make sure he is not disadvantaged in his learning. I’m destined to be his form tutor for another three years before he moves on, and during that time I will become fluent, with frequent visits to Deaf Club where I enjoy a pint and sign away the evenings as I become infused with Deaf Culture.

I wonder where Tim is now, and my heart feels heavy as I think of the effigies hanging from their lampposts, and those in trees leading up the Cathedral. Harbingers come in all shapes and sizes, all ages, but the mode of disposal is always the same. Retribution is as indiscriminate as the disease that turned mankind into monsters poisoned by hate.

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Dave Jeffery is author of 14 novels, two collections, and numerous short stories. His Necropolis Rising series and yeti adventure Frostbite have both featured on the Amazon #1 bestseller list. His YA work features critically acclaimed Beatrice Beecham supernatural mystery series and Finding Jericho, a contemporary mental health novel that was featured on the BBC Health and the Independent Schools Entrance Examination Board’s recommended reading lists.

Jeffery is a member of the Society of Authors, British Fantasy Society (where he is a regular book reviewer), and the Horror Writers Association. He is also a registered mental health professional with a BSc (Hons) in Mental Health Studies and a Master of Science Degree in Health Studies.

Jeffery is married with two children and lives in Worcestershire, UK.

Visit his WEBSITE for further information.

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