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The Sightseers Agency

The Sightseers Agency (The Dreadnought Collective Book 5)5 Stars

The Sightseers Agency picks up with Richard Pencil leaving the government position he took up at the end of the previous book. With the new world order well underway, the big three-letter agencies are breaking up, and Richard is going back to work with Joe Fraser and the man known as the Inlooker. Richard also has an impressive upgrade to his extra-sensory detective powers. He’s joined by a new remote-viewer, Miss Plum Duff, whose talents were honed by alien intervention. Fraser hires them to launch the the Sightseers Agency, reporting to him and their mysterious benefactor. Their mission is to oversee the behavior of elected officials, and another secret goal is revealed later. Seb Cage, who is now a talented computer security specialist (along with the skills he gained from the Sombrella Syndicate), joins the agency as well.

The Sightseers soon discover that the greatest threat to earth isn’t just from rogue officials and politicians, but also hostile aliens who have been planning an attack for some time. Complications arise because some of the aliens on Earth are friendly, while some are more like tourists who take on human form just to experience something different. Ms. Plum Duff comes into her own here, since she, like Seb, has a long history with regard to aliens.

Like the previous agency novel, there is an overarching plot that is played out in several different investigations. While the book is described as a series of whodunits set in the future, each case is a link in a chain that ultimately brings conflict on both a personal and global scale. I was glad to see more about the use of psychic mind-reading to ferret out lies and criminal activity, and the manipulation of auras and even the soul itself. There’s also the fascinating angle of this “new world” society, run on a democracy-on-demand system with a goal toward a true meritocracy. While some of this society’s social practices seem dystopian, others, like the use of Tesla’s wireless transmission of energy, offer a utopia of readily-available power.

One of the things I’ve enjoyed throughout the Dreadnaught series is the author’s vivid imagination. His notes at the beginning of the books give real-world tales of psychics and UFO phenomenon that act as the launch pad for his stories. His humor and wordplay are also in full force, with inventive non-cuss words, ribald comedy—especially when it comes to Richard and his Lothario tendencies—and the continued jokes about “potties,” which are ubiquitous self-driving transport pods, giving “on the throne” a whole different meaning.

Overall, this series has been fun to read. The major recurring characters are so unique, each with their own set of skills, flaws, and quirks, that it’s a delight to follow them from one adventure to another. The Sightseers Agency ties up a lot of loose ends, answers questions, and ends on a hopeful note and fans of the series will be satisfied by the ending.

Pages: 307 | ASIN: B01KBAKX1E

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Monster Literary Book Awards: February 2017

The Hungry Monster Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and The Hungry Monster is proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.

Gold Book AwardGold Award Winners

The Time Slipsters (The Dreadnought Collective Book 3) by [Tumbler, Terry]

Special Task Force: GREEN MAJIK #1 "Pretty Hate Machine": The Reader Feedback Dooms Day Edition by [Templeton, Don]

Silver Book AwardSilver Award Winners

The TVC Project by [Bridges, Tom]
The Nightmare From World's End by [Stava, Robert J.]Coffin Dodgers: A Sci Fi Horror Book by [Adams, Tom G.H.]

“Books are the linchpin of my existence. My earliest childhood memories revolve around the magic of reading, of being transported through time and space via a vivid story. Since I was old enough to know what a book was, I knew I was destined to write books as well.” – Don Templeton, author of Pretty Hate Machine

Visit the Hungry Monster Book Awards page to see award information and see all award winners.

Monster Literary Book Awards: January 2017

The Hungry Monster Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and The Hungry Monster is proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.

Gold Book AwardGold Award Winners

Recusant (The Brin Archives Book 2) by [Cronin, Jim]In His Way by [Duvall, Rebecca]

Stealing Magic (The Legacy of Androva Book 1) by [Vick, Alex C]The Inlooker: Full Length (The Dreadnought Collective Book 2) by [Tumbler, Terry]

Oliver and Jumpy - the Cat Series, Stories 10-12, Book 4: Bedtime stories for children in illustrated picture book with short stories for early readers. (Oliver and Jumpy, the cat Series) by [Stejskal, Werner]

REN: Awakened by [Brittany Quagan]Seed Me by [Lavery, Konn]Master Athina (The Books of Athina Book 4) by [Estes, Danny]

Zurga's Fire (The Orfeo Saga Book 3) by [Eiland Jr., Murray Lee]

Silver Book AwardSilver Award Winners

The Onryo by Rocco Ryg

Slippery Things by Lane Baker

The Great Scourge by C.A. MacLean

The Heart of Hannen by Fawn Bonning

Jesus and Magdalene by João Cerqueira

The Crown Princess Voyage by Dylan Madeley

 

“Books give me the freedom to step outside of myself. That words alone can transport the reader to a reality as believable as the one he or she actually lives in, should not logically be possible. It’s a kind of real life magic.” – Alex C. Vick, author of Stealing Magic

 

Visit the Hungry Monster Book Awards page to see award information and see all award winners.

 

At War With Chaos

G.S. Scott Author Interview

G.S. Scott Author Interview

Cleansed follows the life and adventures of a young man as his destiny is unwittingly grafted to a battle among a triumvirate of otherworldly gods. What made you write a story about this topic? Anything pulled from your life experiences?

The story is part of an overall arc revolving around the idea of how the gods, or anyone in high places of power, affect the lives or normal people, and how people can think they know what’s going on, but, in truth, they’ve no idea.

I felt that the characters in this story, especially the main character Dirge, were well developed. What morals and guiding principles did you use to create your characters?

Well, as the world is set in a time where the god of Chaos is in complete control, I felt Dirge’s moral base would be that of the god of Order who is at war with Chaos. I modeled those beliefs generally after the Judea/Christian faiths. Personally, I find them far too harsh, but I felt they fit the setting quite well.

I felt that the story flowed naturally. What was one thing that happened organically in the story that you did not plan, but was happy to find?

I would say Dirge’s constant internal struggle. I’d initially planned on the story to be much shorter and simpler, but as I wrote the various confits became more evident and dynamic. Plus I found out that there was far more to the story than I’d first thought.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will that be available?

Next I’m working on a story that is being released in two volumes and they follow Cleansed. It’s tilted Chaos Reigns. The first is Volume 1: The Hand of God, and the second will be Volume 2: The Tower of Time. The first is nearly complete and I expect it to be our sometime next year.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Cleansed (The True Tree Chronicles Book 1) by [Scott, G.S.]The world is in the grasp of the God of Chaos, whose only mantra is:Do as Thou Wilt.

When Chaos orchestrates the mass slaughter he calls The Cleansing, men and Gods alike turn to stand up against him. With the God of Chaos, the God of Death, and the God of Order clashing, their followers must face off in an epic, bloody struggle.

Dirge, an apprentice to the Brotherhood of Assassins and follower of Death, is approached by The Prophet of the forgotten God of Order. Suddenly, he finds himself at odds with all that he knows and all that will be.

Three Gods. One man – torn between what is right and what is wrong and what he’s destined to do.

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The Taming of Adam

The Taming of Adam: Part 1: The Path to Envale3 Stars

Adam Miller was never much of a student. Even though he dropped out of high school, his wealth and skill in magic get him into Cooper University for the Magical Sciences. Even though he’s signed up for many classes, he only attends the lectures on black magic. The shadow world of black magic fascinates him, and he’s learning fast. Adam is the ultimate loner; he’s rude and dismissive of others, considers his own professors to be idiots, and is physically violent with women. When he goes completely out of control, he’s arrested for his crimes and is forced to face his own shortcomings.

Gene London, Adam’s lawyer, has his own set of secrets. He is desperately looking for a powerful black mage to help him bring his lover Ellen back into the real world. Ellen is a white mage who is trapped in Envale, a place she describes as a world of light. When Adam meets Ellen, she shows him a whole new level of power that could grant him everything he ever wanted, or destroy him completely.

What I liked about this novel was that it is set in a contemporary world where magic is common. Mage is a trade like any other, and mages can earn a good living through magic. There’s also a predictable set of people who want to keep magic under control and set strict rules for mages to follow.

Adam starts out as a completely unlikable character. He’s a jerk to everyone, even those he thinks of as friends, and he seems to have no real reason for it. But when things go bad for him, he realizes that he can’t do everything alone, so he begins to make a few friends who help him practice and learn more spells. He’s not only mastering magic but also learning compassion for others and how they can be stronger by working together.

Gene London isn’t the greatest guy, either. He’s a slightly shady lawyer who uses bribery and intimidation to get what he wants. If he can secure funding for a top-secret magical experiment, he may be able to free her. He needs a powerful black mage to do it, and Adam just might be the one he’s looking for.

The first half of the novel is a chore to get through. It’s slow to start, bogged down by too many spelling and grammar errors and long information dumps that delay the plot. The information is “told” rather than shown, which makes for a dull reading experience. I was particularly disappointed in the chapter that laid out the origin of Renin. What should be an inspiring myth of gods and creation was poorly told.

Fortunately, both the quality of the writing and the plot gets much better, and the stakes get higher as the story progresses. As the magical experiment looms closer, danger and magical intrigue ramp up to a confrontation that could destroy everything Adam has accomplished.

Pages: 305 | ASIN: B00NJ2BZIW

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Hungry Monster Book Awards: November 2016

The Hungry Monster Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and The Hungry Monster is proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.

Gold Book AwardGold Award Winner

Bean Takes a Walk by Ann Bevans & Matthew Ethan Gray

Silver Book AwardSilver Award Winners

Mother Athina by Danny Estes

Game Over by Derek Eddington

Beyond Cloud Nine by Greg Spry

The Second Sphere by Peter Banks

Seed of Treachery by C.A. MacLean

Wolves Among Sheep by Steven Pajak

Chaste: A Tale From Perilisc by Jesse Teller

The Six and the Gardeners of Ialana by Katlynn Brooke

“When I look at a book, I see the history of books, old tomes with sacred knowledge. The authorities that controlled the books controlled the people. Books brought the old world to order. My books are how I bring my life and my thoughts to order, the only lasting way I can see to impart wisdom and ask questions.” – Jesse Teller author of Chaste

Visit the Hungry Monster Book Awards page to see award information and see all award winners.

The Heart of Hannen

The Heart of Hannen (Atriian Trilogy, #1)4 Stars

Christine Clavin is not a typical teenage girl. Her past is marred by a violent attack so scandalous that her peers avoid her, whispering behind her back. The only redhead in a family of dark-haired people, she’s certain she was adopted and doesn’t belong. She has no friends, and her rage is so deep that when she loses control, she’s dangerous, even to her own family. Her family is at their wit’s end and wants to have her committed, but her older brother Sam does what he can to protect her. Christine wants to be normal, even dating a dashing newcomer, but the date seems to end badly although she still has feelings for the boy.

Christine finds solace by the pond near her house, something catches her attention, so she dives in, and when she comes up for air, she’s in a completely different world. Struggling with the language, the oppressive culture, and her own nightmares, she must find a way to survive and get back home. Her inner fire becomes her greatest asset, but it could make her either a well-treated slave or a fugitive trying to get back home.

The Heart of Hannen is one of the most unique books I’ve read all year, with elements of dark fantasy and gothic romance that tie together seamlessly. Christine is magically transported to the world of Atriia where men rule, and women are bought and sold like horses. This is definitely not the place for hotheaded seventeen-year-olds with anger management issues to thrive, and she runs afoul of men and women alike. When she’s sold to the staff of a local Lord’s castle, she learns—the hard way—how to fit in.

I especially enjoyed that Christine could use her wits, temper, and sharp tongue to do great things, even under the control of an oppressive culture and evil men. Without spoilers, let me warn you that there are twists and turns that you will never see coming, and they are fantastic.

The best part of this book was the invented language. There’s a glossary at the back of helpful words, but I decided to figure it out myself. This helped me get deeper into the story and the main character, since we were both trying to make sense of words that were just out of reach. As she becomes more used to Atriia, so did I, and the story got even better from there.

My only complaint about the book is that the pacing is slow. The plot advances at a snail’s pace, characters are indecisive, and some scenes—while interesting—do little to advance the story. While some tension is good, drawing it out too long invites skimming to a scene where something actually happens.

If you’re a fan of dark fantasy or romance, you’ll find much to like in The Heart of Hannen. Though the main character begins the tale at age 17, this is a land of kept women, fierce battles, blood, and sensuous love scenes, so I’d recommend it for mature readers.

Pages: 488 | ASIN: B00IWYP17S

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I Was In Hell

Jesse Teller Author Interview

Jesse Teller Author Interview

Chaste focuses on an evil god and his followers in a remote town that has been overcome with a sickness. Five strangers arrive and all their destinies take a turn. What was your inspiration for the setup of the story and how did that help you create the ending?

My inspiration was vague. I’d had a few negative experiences with churches in the past, when I was a religious man. I had the idea of a small town that had experienced the same thing, the perverting of God’s word, of His ideals and methods. The title of the book came with the inspiration of a town struggling to be pure, but unable to find it. A lot of my books are studies of an issue that I’m dealing with in my life. This was my attempt at making peace with God and church, along with a few other dark issues. And Chaste did give me peace. I think it worked out. This book gave me hope, and I hope when other people read it, they can find a path back to God, or at least a path back to purity.

There are plenty of characters in Chaste that I felt were intriguing and well-developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?

I would have to say Sob. I repressed a lot of the abuse and darkness from my childhood. When it started coming back to me, it was debilitating and random. It would come back in the middle of a conversation, with a trigger word I didn’t expect. An entire scene from my past would flash before my eyes. When things like that are happening in your everyday life, you feel mad, as if you’re trembling out of control. So I wrote Sob, a woman haunted by shreds of a past she doesn’t want to remember, a powerful woman, a proficient killer, unapologetic in action and methods, but fragile in mind, always a breath away from the horror of her past. Sob healed me. I will always love her for that.

I felt that Chaste delivers the drama so well that it flirts with the grimdark genre. Was it your intention to give the story such a dark tone?

Chaste was originally supposed to be a short story. I was 63 pages in, and barely scratching the surface of the story, when I realized I was writing something bigger. Chaste was an accidental novel. I had no idea what I was doing when I wrote the rough draft of this book. But I had just been through a lot of mind-numbing therapy, and most of me was a raw and open wound. I was not trying to write a dark book. It just kind of happened. When I wrote the rough draft, grimdark wasn’t an idea yet. This was 12 years ago. There was no such term as grimdark. I didn’t even know to call it dark fantasy. It was just a story I was writing. I entered Chaste broken, and when I left it, I was healed a bit. When you’re going through that kind of catharsis, there’s no internal editor. You literally can’t hold back. There were times when I would write a scene, stand up, back away from my computer, fight back a scream and weep openly. Things were being hammered out that there were no rational words for. I was walking a razor’s edge between reality and fantasy, able to speak about my past without talking about my past. Chaste is dark because when I wrote it, I was in Hell, and the character Cheryl dragged me out.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?

My next book is called Mestlven. It, as well, is A Tale from Perilisc. Mestlven tells the story of Sob, after she has put a face on her past, and she can go home. She has been victimized, her world shattered, and now, after Chaste, she knows it. So Sob goes back home to wreak her revenge and fight for her sanity. I went a little mad when I wrote this book. When Sob punished her abusers, she punished mine as well. So look for Mestlven. The soft release date is April 15, 2017.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Chaste: A Tale from PeriliscWhen her devout parents died, Cheryl turned her back on her god. Years of denial and self-loathing have defeated her. Her life consists of taking orders and succumbing to abuse. A group of strangers stops in Chaste for the night, but an unnamed threat is preying on the town. Tragic deaths have become more and more frequent. Cheryl wants to protect these travelers, expose the evil force, and save her fellow citizens, but she must find a way to believe in hope.

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The True Tree Chronicles: Cleansed

Cleansed (The True Tree Chronicles) (Volume 1)3 Stars

Cleansed by G.S. Scott follows the life and adventures of a young man named Dirge as his destiny is unwittingly grafted to a battle among a triumvirate of otherworldly gods. The fantasy tale, which has a refreshingly contained scope and brisk pace considering the current genre climate, begins with Dirge as a small boy who is loved, if a bit neglected, by his prostitute-with-a-heart-of-gold mother. As street urchins are wont to do, Dirge quickly comes across his call to action in the form of a magical pendant that he finds during an early flight from danger, and thus sets the stage for later conflict. In a series of events that may be a bit on the nose for some readers and exactly right for others, Dirge loses his mother, becomes an orphan, and is immediately adopted into a patriarchal and heraldic order that provides discipline, training, and spiritual sustenance. By the end of the first act of the novel, Scott has positioned Dirge to be the prototypical young warrior – full of both shining promise and untested potential. What follows is a by the numbers rise-fall-redemption story seeing the fated hero forced to choose between serving the god of death or the god of law as they both combat the singularly evil force of Chaos.

Scott’s Cleansed offers enough quirk on top of the familiar that the snappy tempo makes the book a quick and exciting read. Unlike other writers that slog the reader over every continent, mountain range, and ocean, Scott understands that no one needs to see the entire globe to feel gravity. The book primarily takes place in one city, and most of the scenes actually occur in or around the same tavern.  Admirably, Cleansed dedicates it’s pages to putting characters together and keeping the background where it should be.

While familiarity and the use of certain tropes are not automatically drawbacks (and how could they be when they are impossible to avoid entirely?), there are some legitimate issues to take up with Cleansed.  For example, scenes often begin or end at the wrong moments in time, making them either unbalanced or extraneous. There are editorial issues such as misused homonyms or dropped words. And these small items can be overlooked, but what is less escapable is a badly managed point-of-view. The book can loosely be described as 3rd person “close” or 3rd person limited omniscience with respect to the lead character, Dirge. That is the construct that the text follows. Except when it doesn’t. At times it drifts into the first person of Dirge. At other points the 3rd person omniscience balloons to include other characters’ interior thoughts simultaneously. At other points still, the limited 3rd person will focus on a side character’s interiority and exclude Dirge, and this doesn’t occur in any meaningful serialization. It doesn’t happen all the time, which would be more acceptable, because then it might represent a gimmick with which the reader could build a stable, albeit annoyed, pattern or logic. The fact is, the POV slippage happens irregularly.

For some readers, point-of-view grievances are pedantic. For others, they are deal breakers. If you are the former, G.S. Scott’s Cleansed will provide you with a fun, fast read that is action packed and well worth the time.

Pages: 306 | ASIN: B01J92LAEO

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Chaste: A Tale From Perilisc

Chaste: A Tale from Perilisc4 StarsChaste is the third book by Jesse Teller in the Tales from Perilisc. In Teller’s prior book, Legends of Perilisc the god Cor-lyn-ber is mentioned the father of Hope and Light; Chaste focuses on Cor-lyn-ber and his followers in the small town. The town of Chaste is a remote town dedicated to Cor-lyn-ber that has been overcome with a deep sickness. Five strangers to the town arrive and all their destinies take a turn. The book is dark and filled with detailed violence. It is not for someone looking for fairies and elves. The theme of rape, abuse and murder run though the whole book revealing a dark and sick society struggling to find the light again.

The main characters are Father Frank, Cheryl the barmaid and self-appointed watcher of the town, and the five strangers, Ambul, Ruther, Sai, Sob, and Trevonne. Cheryl watched her parents die, her mother and battle and her father murdered. They were the religious leaders for Cor-lyn-ber and Cheryl from that point on lost all faith in her god. The first half of the book is all about the devastation of the town, the murders of their children, the sickness and evil that penetrates the land and people. The reader learns little about the five strangers only getting pieces of their history bit by bit. Trevonne is wizardass in training, she arrives in the town of Chaste weak and sick. Sob, an assassin and thief has taken on the role of protector of her. Ruther appears to be the leader of their group with a no nonsense mentality. Ambul and Sai call themselves brothers but they are not related. Sai is known as the great swordsman and dreams of a woman each night where they continue their love saga from afar. Ambul is referred to as the gentlest and good man known to man. He is an innocent and pure of heart, with a secret past.

The five strangers arrive in the town right after the death of another child. They all feel there is a wrongness in the town. The first night there Sob is out looking for jewelry to steal and comes in contact with the killer of the children. She recognized there was something evil and not human from the start but wasn’t staying around to investigate further. Meanwhile, back at the tavern and inn Ambul goes missing after a fight with Sai. The fight was brought on out of nowhere, the towns sickness already infecting them with its poison. From here the story of finding their missing friend, discovering the source of the sickness and purging the town of the poison is told.

The story of Cheryl is key to the novel, and she goes through a drastic transformation. Like all major transformation in life hers is a hard story and she learns lessons of pride and sacrifice. She also learns just how much control the gods of Perilisc have over her life and that of the world around her. She learns that her destiny is set by them, not herself. She must face her past, and Cor-lyn-ber himself.

Overall this book is not for the reader looking for a happy ending fantasy novel. This is fantasy at its darkest. Abuse, demons, and torture are key themes and some are described in vivid detail. If you can get past all that, the story is one of transformation, overcoming evil and delivering justice.

Pages: 244 | ASIN: B01J0FVC9S

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