Lightning Child

Sparrow wasn’t sure why she was compelled to go to an Arizona canal during a thunderstorm. She followed the urge anyway and was struck by lightning. Since then she’s been hearing the voice of Joan of Arc and discovered  she’s pregnant even though she’s still a virgin. Sparrow is part of a prophecy, she is the mother of the new Messiah.

Not everyone is happy about this, a Cardinal in the Vatican hires someone to kill the young pregnant woman. A priest named Kilian has also had a vision and goes to find and help the girl. There are dark forces at work though and the world may not be ready for the second coming.

Lightning Child by Martha Pound Miller  was kind of a mixed bag for me, I love the characters and how they changed throughout the story and the story itself was excellent. For instance I loved that the mother of the new Messiah came from a rough background and things get worse for her as the story moves along. You see her go through the hardships that teenage girls face when they become pregnant. She wants to do what’s right but she isn’t sure what the right thing is and you see her become a much stronger person do to her hardships.

In the case of Kilian you see him in the beginning as someone who has lost his faith and is at a low point in life. When he has his vision life gets worse for him but he never stops trying to do the task that he was given. I thought it was interesting how he is trying to do the right thing for Sparrow and is still met with judgement from others. People in the story think that he got sparrow pregnant but despite people not believing in him he still does the right thing, which is why I admired the character.

The down side of this book was that there isn’t much action or suspense, I liked the main character’s stories but there was never a moment where I thought they wouldn’t have a happy ending. There is a couple of action scenes that just didn’t seem to work and another one that didn’t make sense. The story has a couple of great villains but I never felt they had a chance to stop the protagonists. What I was wondering was if the bad guys would face some kind of redemption and that is where the story got interesting.

Lightning Child by Martha Pound Miller is a book that has its moments. This is a story about Faith change, perseverance and redemption. There is a good message here about how it doesn’t matter what background you come from, you are important no matter what. Another message is that even in the darkest moments there will always be a light if you look for it. If you like great characters and a great message, you will like this book.


Gypsy Blood

Who would have thought that helping an old man being attacked by three albinos in tragedy masks could go so wrong? Down on his luck writer Corbin Stewart is living in Paris and was trying to do a good deed, little did he know that it would lead to a whirlwind of horrific events. The man he was trying to save was a powerful gypsy named Gregor and his blood and part of his soul has now infected Corbin. Now Corbin is in the middle of a gang war between two blood cults, the T’acho Rasa and the Fantomes de la Nuit.

Corbin isn’t the only victim of the war. A woman named Margot and police detective Besson are also involved in circumstances beyond their control. Everyone has their own agenda and no matter who wins the war between the cults the result will be mass destruction from a supernatural event.

Gypsy Blood by Jeff Gunhus is a paranormal thriller that starts with a simple idea and expands into a complex tale about morals, making choices, dealing with a horrific past and hope for a new beginning. I loved how the three main characters in this book all have points where they do something bad but they also attempt to do what’s right. Even the villains in the book show that they have a compassionate side. When you hear their back stories you understand why they are how they are, even though you may not agree with them.

One of my favorite scenes was when we hear the backstory of Alexis who is the head of the Fantomes de la Nuit. At this point in the book you see him as pure evil but as you hear his story you understand him more and see where he is coming from. At one point Alexis hears about the T’acho Rasa torturing his people, Alexis has committed some horrible acts himself but you see the anguish he experiences over how his people are treated and your opinion of him changes. The lead character Corbin starts to feel empathy for him but then decides that Alexis isn’t worthy of redemption. This left me as the reader wondering: “Is he really not worthy of redemption? There are moments in the book where you experience that for all the characters and even the characters wonder if they are worthy of it. The characters in Gypsy Blood are fascinating and as you read on they show you that there is more to them then you see in the beginning of the story.

I also love the exotic settings of Gypsy Blood with parts of it set in the Paris Catacombs and the Notre-Dame Cathedral. The settings adds a certain mood and the book comes across as highly original since it focuses on history that I only knew very little about. You learn about how badly the Romani people were treated and how African Albinos are used for their body parts because people believe that they’re bones are magic.You see how certain people are affected by this and you feel for them even when the victims become villains. Jeff Gunhus has written an action packed character driven thriller that you’ll find hard to put down.


Yoga For Beginners

People get the wrong idea about yoga. Some people think of it as a new age religion and avoid it all together. Others see the poses and think it looks too hard or too easy and never try it. Then we have the people who look at all the different styles of yoga and are overwhelmed and don’t try because they don’t know what style is right for them.

Learning yoga can be difficult but if you’re willing you may find that a little work will lead to several benefits. Among them is feeling more relaxed, a  clearer mind and more energy. All you need is 5 minutes a day to practice yoga. Ntathu Allen’s Yoga For Beginners can show you how simple exercises can change your life.

What I like most about Ntathu Allen’s book is that she takes something that is complex and breaks it down into something simple that makes sense. You don’t need a mat or instructors you just need to take a little time for your self. This book starts by giving examples of  stressful events in life and then yoga poses that can help you deal with the stress. Several exercises can be done while laying in bed before you start the day. She also gets into stretches you can do at your desk at work, poses for the end of the day and even ways to help heal injuries.

This may be a short book but it tells you all you need to start a yoga practice. It also has descriptions and drawings to show you the right way along with case studies to show how it has helped others. I’ve been doing yoga for a while but I still found helpful hints in this book. In particular I liked how Ntathu gets into how learning to breathe correctly and meditation can help you deal with stress and other issues such as grief. Even paying attention to your posture can help you deal with your every day life and this book shows you how to improve on that.

When you look at what Ntathu Allen teaches, you would think that there is no way these simple  exercises can make my life easier, but it can. If you try the techniques in this book and stick with it they really will make a difference. This book may be geared towards women but men can learn a lot from it also. This book teaches that you can feel mentally and physically better if you’re willing to learn a few new techniques.

An Interview with Ian McKinney

Here is an interview I was lucky enough to do with Ian McKinney author of Scouse Gothic. If you like books built around fascinating characters that you don’t see in everyday life check out his work:

When did you start writing?

Probably about ten years ago. I started writing as the result of a drunken challenge from a friend. My first short story was about a hit man who is waiting for his victim and dreaming of food. It was called, ‘An éclair to die for’, and became the basis for my Robert Lathom character in Scouse Gothic.

What inspired you to write Scouse Gothic?

I’d been writing short stories for some time, but only for the amusement of myself and my friends, I never imagined that I could write a book. One day I bought a copy of Fahrenheit 451 in a bookshop. I hadn’t read it since I was a teenager and wanted to read it again to see how well it had aged. In the foreword Ray Bradbury wrote that the characters in the book were all based on characters from his early short stories. Suddenly I realised that I could use some of my characters again, especially as I thought I understood them and their motivations. All I needed was a way to integrate their separate lives into a single story.

How long did it take you to write Scouse Gothic?

From the early short stories, I had about twenty percent of the text. Once I’d decided how I was going to structure the book the rest took about six months to get to a first draft.

The characters in this book are very complex, did you have to do a lot of research to create their personalities and make their backgrounds seem realistic?
I’m glad you enjoyed the fact that they’re not simple stereotypes. I’d spent a lot of time when I wrote the short stories trying to work out a detailed backstory and an individual moral compass for each character. Consequently when I put them in new situations I had a good idea how they’d behave. Although sometimes they surprised me.

My favorite character in this book was Catherine because no one seems to see how intelligent she is, yet she proves that she is much more than people think she is, was this character based on someone you know?

I really couldn’t say if there was one person she was based on, it was more that she was the type of person who had always been overlooked and ignored. Who due to circumstances, had never had the opportunity to show how intelligent she was. I think we’ve all met people like that. Catherine is constantly belittled and patronised by authority, but little do they realise that she’s actually playing with them.

The vampires in your book are very different from what I’ve seen in movies and other books, was that deliberate?

Yes. I thought that if I was going to write about a modern vampire living in present day Liverpool, the idea of fangs and changing into a bat was laughable. I wanted the book to be amusing for other reasons. So I decided to have a vaguely scientific explanation for their vampirism. Make them normal people affected by a virus rather than anything supernatural.

I enjoyed how in the beginning of the book you get the impression it’s a horror novel but as you keep reading you see that it’s more of a drama with some horror elements was that on purpose?

It was. I wanted you to gradually realise that my vampires are just normal people, with normal lives and difficulty with relationships. I think that makes them more appealing. You start to empathise with them and begin to forgive the fact that they kill innocent victims and drain their blood.

This book feels like it’s five separate novels all rolled into one because each main character has their own conflicts and elaborate background, was it hard to connect each character’s story?

To be honest it took a lot of time to interlink all the stories and have the timeline of the book work. I wrote the first four chapters, each about a different character and in the final chapter all their stories come crashing together. I’d finished the four chapters but still had no idea what was going to happen in the fifth.

What other books do you have available?

At present I only have the Scouse Gothic Trilogy:

SCOUSE GOTHIC ‘The Pool of Life …and Death’
SCOUSE GOTHIC 2 ‘Blood Brothers…and Sisters’
SCOUSE GOTHIC 3 ‘ALL you need is..Blood?’
Most of the characters from book 1 return in 2 & 3…although not all of them survive book 1.

What are you currently working on?

I’ve got a totally new project about an Ancient Egyptian immortal (not a vampire), set in three different time periods: Ancient Egypt; London in the 1920’s, and the present day.
I’m also considering writing Scouse Gothic 4, providing enough people enjoy the current trilogy.

Where can readers find you online?

I’m hopeless at social media, but I do have accounts on:
Twitter; @scousegothic
Instagram; @scousegothic
Facebook; Ian McKinney @scousegothic
There’s also a photo album of places mentioned in the books on Facebook under: Scouse Gothic BOOKS

Scouse Gothic

Melville is a vampire but he’s trying to quit drinking blood. Last night he  may have killed someone but at least he feels better than he has in a while and he found someone to love. Peter is a man who can’t get over the death of his wife but hopefully his guardian angel can help him even if the angel looks mysteriously like a pigeon. Lathom is a hitman who has been double crossed and wants revenge but a man he tried to kill has something sinister in store for him. Kelly is an evil man who loves to hurt people and create chaos but his luck is running out. Last but not least we have Catherine whose life has been spent in a mental hospital since the murder of her son but now she may have the knowledge she needs for vengeance.

These five stories have two things in common, they all take place in Liverpool England and they are all part of Ian McKinney’s Scouse Gothic. I was interested in reading this book because I enjoy reading vampire fiction but this book was not what I expected. We start with a vampire but vampires in Scouse Gothic aren’t the same as they are in other books. This book doesn’t fit easily in any genre. It starts as a horror novel but becomes more of a human drama with horror and mystery elements.

Several times while reading this book I thought to myself: “Where is this story going and who is the main character?” I got the impression that the author was much more interested in creating interesting characters that you don’t meet every day than making a long cohesive story. The best part of the story is learning how each character is connected and how they have influenced each other. This is a different type of book but if you love character driven fiction it’s a great read.

The characters are complex and no one acts like you think they should act. For instance Melville may be a vampire but he has no fangs and can go out in daylight. He’s immortal but he’s just trying to live a normal life like everyone else except he has memories going back to the 1800’s. Some of my favorite scenes in this book had Melville walking down streets and remembering how that street was in the past and mourning the people who use to live there who have long since died. You feel for these characters even when they’re doing bad things. My favorite character was Catherine because everyone around her thinks she’s stupid and she uses this to her advantage. Catherine puts on an act for the general public and knows how to get what she wants, such as the knowledge to build a bomb to get revenge against the man who killed her son.

While reading Scouse Gothic I found myself thinking of the movie Pulp Fiction. That movie was different from other movies of the time, plot wasn’t as important as creating memorable characters and putting them in odd situations. Scouse Gothic is the same way, all of the characters are fascinating and they all brought a different element to the novel. Scouse Gothic has the feel of a great ongoing series and I’m happy to see that there are two other books in the series.


Book Spotlight: Eyes Don’t Lie

Curly-haired brunettes with blue eyes are the only women that seem to capture Keith’s attention. But is it really their appearance that attracts him or something sinister? Keith, a broken soul, who’s battling between good and evil, goes about his days trying to fight his evil urges. But because of a demonic stronghold, in most instances good loses the battle to evil.

Affected by the pain and hurt of his childhood, he now seeks out the love he didn’t receive as a child. But when he doesn’t get it, there’s retribution to pay…and what a sad day it is for those curly-haired brunettes with blue eyes who fail to make the mark. But things take a turn when he meets a grocery store cashier who has the ability to see evil through his eyes. McKenzie is able to connect dots, interfering with Keith’s destructive path – a path that could lead him to prison or even the grave.

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Meet the Author:

​Crystal Dawn Mason started writing books of poetry, then transitioned into narrative writing. Becoming a writer was not a goal as she began her studies as a psychology major at Indiana University Purdue University of Indianapolis. It wasn’t until she had a bad experience that she stumbled upon her natural ability to create stories. And this discovery started her down a newfound path of purpose. While working, she found another niche in the education field, which led her to pursue a teaching degree. Thus, she is now pursuing a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies to become an elementary teacher. She enjoys working with children, and her goal, outside of teaching, is to continue writing stories that are inspiring and entertaining for her readers.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest

Battle of the Soul

Life is not good for Andy Lorenzo. He’s overweight, has no friends, no social skills, he drinks too much and he gambles away his money. He does have one skill though. He’s the most powerful exorcist in the world and demons fear him. Unlike the old exorcism rites that priests use, Andy can enter people’s souls to fight and kill the demon possessing it.

Andy was raised by the church but he isn’t necessarily religious and some priests don’t like him, but they can’t argue with the results of his work. He’s destroyed hundreds of demons but his luck is about to change. His newest client is a young girl named Kate but as he enters her soul he finds that there is more than one demon waiting for him. He then finds out that the church has kept secrets from him which will change his life. He’s in for the fight of his life and he’s going to need all the help he can get as he decides what’s really important to him.

Battle Of The Soul by Carl Alves  is a supernatural thriller that’s a little different from other horror novels based on exorcisms. While the church and religion does factor into the story it isn’t the main plot. This is about how a looser finds that he is much more than he thought and then he is left with a choice of what to become as he finds the secret to his powers. My favorite part of this book was Andy. He’s the ultimate underdog and he has just one thing he’s good at,  killing demons. Andy reminded me of Ash in the Evil Dead movies but we do find out that Andy has a big heart and it’s his biggest weapon.. We hear of him bringing candy and comics to orphans and how he plays with Kate when she is in remission from her possession and we see that even though he is a misfit he cares. The author shows Andy as flawed but when the chips are down he always does the right thing. Andy is an easy character to relate to because he’s just a regular guy playing the hand of cards that life has dealt him.

As I was reading Battle Of The Soul I found myself thinking that this book has the feel of a superhero story. It looks and sounds like it would be a horror novel but it’s more of an action packed thriller. The fight scenes are well described almost to the point where you feel the author could have left a little to the imagination. Also the demons come across more like super villains and not overly terrifying. This isn’t to say that this was a bad read, it just came across as more action than horror. This book is a fresh spin on an idea that we see a lot in the world of horror. I think the concept of a man entering a soul and becoming a superhero is a great idea and I hope Carl revisits this idea in future books.