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This New Twist

Danny Estes Author Interview

Danny C. Estes Author Interview

Jim Sanders left behind modern life when a wizard hooked his freshly-dead soul out of the ether and placed it in the body of a 16 year old girl from the middle ages. I find the setup of Lady Athina to be entertaining. How did this idea start and develop as you wrote?

In truth, it just sort of came to me. I knew I wanted to move Jim into a fantasy world, but simply doing that seemed anti climactic. I pondered for a bit and thought, what would happen if a macho guy suddenly ended up in a small girls body. With this new twist, I rewrote Jim to be a large guy, then gave some hint of his life before I moved him to the new world.

Jim Sanders is an intriguing character with an interesting backstory. What was the inspiration for the main character’s traits and dialogue?

I’ve worked around construction people for a few years and drew up what I considered most wanted to be, a strong, tall and confident man. However, such would be boring without some tragedy to mold his personality. Thus as the story progressed, I sought out meaningful snippets of his life to make him more viable and believable.

Are you a fan of the Sword & Sorcery genre? What books do you think most influenced your work?

Right out of high school, some friends introduced me to fantasy roll playing. We mainly dealt with magic and swords. Elves, dwarves and the like were always on hand. So yes I’m a big fan of Swords, magic and the medieval era. Reading fantasy books also caught my eye, but real history books of the dark ages put everything into perspective for me.

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

My next book is Mother Athina. This is the 3rd book in a series of 4 books. Currently Mother Athina is on the market at Amazon.com.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

Lady Athina (The Books of Athina, #2)Former construction company owner Jim Sanders left behind the modern life he knew when a master wizard hooked his freshly-dead soul out of the ether and placed it in the body of a 16-yr-old girl, Lady Athina Green. Newly widowed and displaced, Jim must dodge advances from Athina’s old boyfriend, outmaneuver assassins, and avoid Athina’s father marrying her off to anyone else for political gain. Jim borrows knives and trouble when he jumps the fence and disappears into the night to save himself from a medieval world controlled by men. While on the run, memories of emotional abuse at his own father’s hands manifest in Jim’s nightmares, culminating in an identity crisis that shakes him to his core. With the help of Athina’s few allies, Jim faces his largest trial yet as a woman. It’s time to pull on his big girl panties and face an uncertain future.

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The Big Cheese Festival

The Big Cheese Festival4 Stars

There are issues that plague all children as they grow up. Each child struggles with identifying who they are as a person, how they relate to other people and how to find out what they believe in. Children can be cruel to each other while they learn how to navigate the messy world of emotions. This can come out in the form of bullying. In The Big Cheese Festival the authors explore the concept of bullying and how it can impact the life of another. What may seem like funny and harmless words to one can truly hurt another. We’ve got a fantastical world of anthropomorphic mice, one of whom only has half a tail. He is named Stubby and due to the unkind bullying from his brother’s friend worries about whether or not he’ll find any worth in himself.

Bullying is a big issue to tackle. Some children’s books try to address this and drop the ball completely. Jackson and Raymond have bundled up the idea of bullying in their book. They take an obvious difference, like having half of a tail, and use it to illustrate how others might react to something so clearly different from the norm. It’s a cute book with the little mice getting ready for a festival. Cutter Mouse, who is friends with Stubby’s brother, is the perpetuator of the bullying. It is often someone close to the bullied who begins the abuse, which Jackson and Raymond have captured here.

While the story is simple and easy to either read or read to a child, there are a few areas in which it lacks. The mice all look exactly the same, in the same outfits. The girl mice have different hairstyles but the boy mice don’t have anything to separate who they are from each other. Different coloured outfits may have helped with this issue. The mice also don’t seem to express emotion. For a story about bullying and overcoming that, showing joy or sorrow would be necessary.

Stubby does stand up to the person who is making him feel poorly which is an important message to children. He doesn’t do it with violence or by calling Cutter names back. He uses his words. S. Jackson and A. Raymond know that children need to learn these skills to survive in this modern world. The Big Cheese Festival helps to make it less frightening and more relatable by creating a fun and entertaining world.

Pages: 37 | ASIN: B01H3S381O

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Uncle Stubby Gets Married

Uncle Stubby Gets Married4 Stars

You need to be able to tap into a certain flavour of whimsy in order to write a good children’s book. Let’s not forget that the illustrations need to be catchy and colourful to hold the attention of the little ones either reading or being read to. A children’s book is most entertaining when it spins a different point of view on something that children have already been exposed to. Uncle Stubby Gets Married by S. Jackson and A. Raymond takes the idea of simple squirrels and marriage and melds them together. This book is part of a series with other animals and their lives. Perfect for children, this book draws out the marriage between Uncle Stubby and his betrothed Sparkles as their friends and family travel to help them celebrate it. The story is full of kindness, cheer and all the good feelings weddings are supposed to elicit.

The language in this book is very simple. It may be difficult for a child who is learning to read but it is perfect to read to a child. The pictures are bright and interesting, which should help keep the attention of the audience. At the beginning of the book there is a comprehensive breakdown of the entire story so parents or teachers can determine if the book will suit their needs or themes. As it takes place in the Valentine Forest, this is a good book to read around Valentine’s Day, if you are looking for theme-specific books.

The images are, for the most part, real photographs of various animals manipulated to be posed or displayed in a certain way. There are little additions like a crown or the plethora of sparkles and these add to the story. It is interesting for children to see ‘realistic’ pictures of animals they are familiar with engaging in very human activities. It allows them to have a sense of imagination and wonder just what exactly squirrels get up to when humans aren’t looking. The one downside to using manipulated photographs is that when a character appears that is either created by hand or through computer graphics they stand out a fair bit. This occurs with the Mouse Fairies in the Valentine Forest. Their appearance is a stark contrast to the other characters in that they are fully clothed with added hair. They are more anthropomorphic than a photo-enhanced squirrel with a sash around its waist.

Nitpicking aside, Jackson and Raymond know how to craft an interesting children’s tale. The story is cute and even though it is part of a series, it can stand alone quite well. Readers do not need previous knowledge of the characters to understand the story in Uncle Stubby Gets Married. For children, and maybe even adults, who have a fantastical view of the world this is a lovely tale of romance, happiness and friendship.

Pages: 40 | ASIN: B01MY5NJF0

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The Husband Who Refused to Die

The Husband Who Refused to Die4 Stars

There is no road map for how to properly deal with becoming a widow, but what if you can’t even be sure you really are? Thanks to cryonics, this is now a real question to consider. Carrie’s husband Dan is decidedly dead, gone from an apparent heart attack, but can she really be called a widow? Can she grieve like one? She laughed when he first mentioned it, but now Dan has left her in emotional limbo, having opted to have his body frozen while his life is “suspended”. The plan is to come back one day, after science figures out the other end of the process. His wife was to join him, but Carrie has other plans. As Dan’s body is packed up and shipped off to some distant future Carrie will never be a part of, she is left to pick up the pieces with her daughter Eleanor and face life as a grieving non-widow. Two years later, old, painful and mysterious flames are rekindled, but just what secrets they shed light on remains to be seen.

There are many themes to unpack in The Husband Who Refused to Die. The ethics of “playing God”, rich vs poor, the effect of death on a family, and the difficulty of moving on in grief are all touched on to varying degrees in this work. Carrie makes a valiant effort, but are there too many forces at work against her?

While Carrie tries to figure out how to grieve for a husband who is not really dead, their daughter Eleanor must navigate the same sorrow, but for a father who is also not dead but is still gone forever. She also has the added hardship of being a teenage girl who was already having a rough time, and her classmates who are happy to make it worse. Eleanor wishes she’d never heard the word “cryonics”.

Sunny, Carrie’s aptly-named sister-in-law, is an outwardly positive reflexologist with a stone, potion, or remedy always at the ready. This is a result of the crunchy-hippy life Sunny and Dan’s parents raised them in, which Sunny never grew out of. Sunny is there to support Carrie, but lately their interactions seem to be less about helping Carrie to grieve and more about pressuring her to abide by Dan’s wishes.

Two years later, Carrie has learned to get through her days, and is trying to be a good mother to troubled Eleanor. Carrie has rekindled an old flame, but even this brings more questions, mostly about the shroud of mystery surrounding the end of their previous relationship. I felt this came to a somewhat unsatisfying resolution, as Ashley was let off the hook a bit too easily.

Eventually, the circumstances around Dan’s decision to be frozen become a source of public controversy, and of course he is not here to face it. Now Carrie is left to answer for the alleged actions against her husband, regarding something she never wanted him to do, and has been a giant source of pain for her and her family. As questions about the selfishness and ethics of donating money to be cryogenically frozen begin to arise, the press begins to close in. Angry letters give way to hate mail, which eventually turn to threatening calls, and eventually Carrie finds herself in real danger. Worst of all, could the things they are saying about her husband true?

Darby has offered a humorous and unique new take on the age-old story of loss, grievance, and perseverance. Although some parts did drag on a bit longer than necessary without adding much payoff, for the most part the story moved along nicely. Anytime it started feeling at all predictable, interesting new conflicts would arise, deepening my sympathy for Carrie. This was a fun read which raised lots of questions that would be difficult to answer if I were put in the position to do so. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Pages: 320 | ASIN: B01N1KK7JI

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Off the Cuff

Danny Estes Author Interview

Danny C. Estes Author Interview

Lord Athina is an interesting story about Jim, who’s killed in an accident, gets his soul sent back in time and placed into a sixteen year old girl. How did you come about this original idea and how did that develop into a story?

My story development path starts with a blank computer screen. I think up a situation and start writing. A lot of times I’ll write up to 5,000 words before a true idea comes to mind, if at all. If what I have written catches my attention I let my imagination run for while. By this time I’ve an idea concerning the main character. Who he or she is. In this case I wrote a bit about Jim and his hard luck life. It then came to mind what if he died and was reborn, which finally changed to being placed in the body of a girl. Most people have seen Freaky Friday, or a similar version. Once this came across as a possibility, I started looking into a starting point and began writing off the top of my head. That’s my style of writing. Off the cuff. Once I transferred Jim into Athina, the situations presented themselves.

Jim finds himself in the body of a sixteen year old girl. How did you go about writing what it would be like to be stuck in a girls body?

I’ve read many history books which gave me some insights into the daily lives of women back in olden times. I also asked my girlfriend and my editor of what I’d have to learn to take care of a girls body and what they go through to keep clean and healthy.

I found that the magic used in the novel was efficiently used to great effect. How did you approach using magic in your story so that it’s believable?

I’ve read a lot of fantasy stories and enjoyed them. A lot I noted used quite a bit of magic. As this is my first series, I wanted to keep magic at a minimum so I could pay more attention to the characters then what spell was used and how powerful can I make them. In addition, by limiting the spells, I didn’t have to come up with ways to try and counter the spells, their by making the effects believe able.

What is the next book that you are writing and when will that be published?

My next book is Lady Athina. This is the second book in a 4 part series. Lady Athina is currently on the market at Amazon.com.

Author Links: Website | GoodReads

Lord Athina (The Books of Athina, #1)Jim Sanders is the first-born son of a city planning official in New York. Brought up in the midst of street gangs, construction, and the greed of politicians, Jim learns to keep physically fit and watch his back. Tired of the stress, he moves to Los Angeles to build his own construction company. But the hard knocks of life seek him out even here—Jim becomes the center of several vicious wrongful death lawsuits, caused by third-rate materials he never ordered. Hospitalized for a mental breakdown, and slapped with a divorce, Jim is exonerated only after he’s lost everything.

Released from the hospital, Jim reapplies himself in an attempt to overturn his failing company, but then he’s killed in an auto accident. Relieved from his troubled life, his soul ascends skyward. But fate is not done with Jim, for instead of heaven, Jim awakes back on Earth in the past, sealed in the body of a sixteen-year-old girl named Athina, mother to a newborn baby and heir to a citadel. Due to a healing spell gone awry, Jim is now breasts-deep in a firestorm of medieval social plots. Like a newborn babe in this unfamiliar world, Jim must now cope with primitive political realities from the opposite gender with only his wits and a devoted nursemaid who was deceived of her true charge’s death.

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The Jealous Flock

The Jealous Flock: A Literary Epic in Miniature, 2017 by [Borodin, Ashley]3 Stars

The Jealous Flock by Ashley Borodin is a realistic fiction story that centers around the slightly strained relationship of a married couple and their lives as individuals in partnership and their young adult son. The narrative drops readers directly into the lives of the characters featured and lets you explore their lives and innermost thoughts as they struggle with identity and the maturing of unique ideas. Heavily geared towards deep thinking, challenging societal ideals, and the mass acceptance of those who are different, The Jealous Flock is a story that is designed to open the audience’s mind and heart and think outside of the box.

What seems to be an ordinary, white picket fence family in England takes the spotlight in a vivid narrative from each character’s point of view. Hints of tension between Doris and Martin, a married couple both caught up in their jobs, play their part on their son John who is beginning to phase into his adult life from that of a teenager. As Martin travels to Afghanistan to help stop a potential blood bath with jihadists, Doris is left at home to struggle through the differences in her personal opinions and morals as they pertain to her career in the law as a PR agent. Meanwhile, left behind in his parents own crisis, John quits his respectable job and flees overseas where he hopes to find himself and pursue his passion for photography. In Australia, he follows the steps of his father in participating in protests that aren’t always peaceful to defend Muslims battling hate and discrimination. Here he meets Randall, an unhappy widower pursuing an unusual relationship with a transgender prostitute who is stuck in her own shell of self-hatred.

The relationships in The Jealous Flock are realistic and relatable, breathing life into the characters both on their own and in harmony with their counterparts. The story takes on a political drive with themes of racism, xenophobia, and sexism as strong elements in the plot. Dynamics between the father and son of this story are particularly captivating, as Borodin manages to catch those meaningful moments that happen during the shift from parent to lifelong friend and mentor.

Ashley Borodin makes a strong call to arms to fight against society’s expectation of us in any walk of life. In a way, the author has created a coming-of-age story not just for young adults but for those in later years as well. This story dives deep into your thoughts and twists open the cap on unique thinking and encourages ideas of change and acceptance. The graphic, bold way that the author takes depression and insecurities relatable to everyone is a refreshing breath of life and gives you the chance to realize that you are more than what a shallow skin can provide for you. Though a bit wordy and emotionally daunting, Borodin transcribes a striking narrative that has the ability to strike the hearts of those who yearn for something more than mundane life.

Pages: 66 | ASIN: B01NAPZWB8

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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.

The Lifeblood of Ill-Fated Women

The Lifeblood of Ill-Fated Women5 Stars

As you step back into the past, you enter the world of the Norse, a time when the Goddess Freyja and the God Odin influenced the world. Freyja commands the ranks of Valkyries, immortal women that bring those slain in battle to the afterlife of Valhalla. The Lifeblood of Ill-Fated Women revolves around the story of two of these Valkyries, sisters Astrid and Yrsa. The sisters are from a Nordic area called Birka, they raid and plumage for wealth and entertainment. One night their home is attacked and Astrid believes she has died. Astrid awakens in a strange land with no memory of how she arrived there. She is found by a farmer named Warren that is kind to her and goes out of his way to help her having no clue either about her past or what she really is. This novel tells the story of how Astrid finds her family and discovers a life can have more meaning than how many villages you conquer.

Kevin James Breaux brings readers into a distant world where people are stilled ruled by the Nordic Gods. Times of war are ending and settlements are turning more to farm towns and less militant. Astrid arrives in one of these small farming towns called Gromstad. She is convinced Warren is her captor and she must escape, frightened by her lack of memory, she cannot comprehend that her home Birka is long gone and far away. Breaux does an excellent job bringing the reader into Astrid’s mind and seeing her paranoia and fear, her confusion and inner struggles. Even once the secret of her past as a Valkyries is revealed through her sister, she is still faced with even deeper struggles and decisions. Like all great epic tales, this one delivers the deep character development and inner conflict to match the action that is going on outside of the character’s inner struggles. The relationship of Warren and Astrid is hot and cold. There are some graphic sex scenes but their love and passion is a contrast to Astrid’s warrior goddess nature. The world they live in is being sieged upon by demons and Astrid must use her powers as a Valkyrie to save herself, Yrsa and the town. Typical of hero’s in epic tales like this, things are not so easy. Astrid must make sacrifices and choices that will impact the rest of her life, and the lives of the people she cares for. Breaux shows this inner struggle and lets Astrid’s personality take over the story driving it forward. The other characters react to Astrid and further the plot along showing their own personality traits and allowing them to be dynamic characters not just filler for novel. The overall development of plot and characters is well balanced making it appealing to people looking for an adventure as well as a love story.

Astrid is the focus of the novel, but her interactions with the other characters brings forward additional stories for Kevin James Breaux to add to the series. He already has the next book in the works and I am sure it will continue this epic journey and bring more characters to life as he did for Astrid.

Pages: 409 | ASIN: B01MU9F5JX

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The Beautiful Struggle

Adam Que Author Interview

Adam Que Author Interview

Never a Choice but Always a Gift follows Max as he tries to connect with someone from his past and is set on a journey of self discovery. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?

As vague as it is, one day, when I was walking down Bedford Ave in Williamsburg, Brooklyn with my girlfriend, I had an idea to create a story about “life”. Nothing more than that. I didn’t even think that initial and simple idea would become a novel. I was going through a tough time myself and I just felt writing a story would heal me in a way. As my ideas progressed and narrowed “life” became “everyday living”.

Writing and writing, scratching out this idea and writing some more, the story flourished; and I was creating a story and character(s) that in some way inspired the beautiful struggle (the roller-coaster of ups and downs) and how it is to face those trivialities.

That through the hardest adversities one can overcome and one can illuminate their light within them, even if it’s in a subtle way.

A story that involves the mysteries of love and how that is faced in each aspect of life.

I felt Max was a relatable character. What were the driving ideals that drove the characters development throughout the story?

First, I sifted through Max’s flaws and I wanted to put that on the page. And then I wanted Max to eventually become aware of those flaws. In doing so it pushes Max to become a more enriched human being. Max, as all of us, are unfinished jigsaw puzzles, in knowing that we can fill in the pieces however we want.

So ideals such as understanding and perseverance were a driving force for Max’s character.

This is a beautifully written story. Is there any moral that you hope readers take away from the story?

I want readers to feel the power of forgiveness. Sometimes we are so quick to judge, criticize, anger–especially, to the ones closest to us–we forget about compassion.

And so, I also want the readers to feel the importance of family. That family is not only blood related, but can take shape however we define family. And not to take that for granted but to be grateful for that kinship/companionship/friendship.

Finally, I want the readers to find Max’s character and the story itself to inspire them to kick start their own journeys, to live out their passions or simply to find time for those passions. But most importantly to understand that when one door closes, inevitably, another one is waiting to be opened. It’s funny how life works like that. That stopping something is not necessarily failing or quitting, but just a pause, to change up the blueprint and to truly find what tugs strongly at the heart.

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

At the moment I am focusing a bit more on my poetry and short stories. My poetry has recently been published in literary mags/reviews/journals/etc., such as, The New Engagement and Slink Chunk Press. Thus, I eventually want to get a full poetry collection published.

However, within the next couple of years there might be a romantic short story collection to come and/or a thriller/crime novel.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook

Max Kristoff, a man in his thirties who is living in New York, is about to come face to face with his past. When he walks into a house in Brooklyn, trying to connect with a person from that very past, he is plunged into a haunting situation. This situation sets him on a journey that will reveal–not only his character–but what lies in his heart and soul. Will Max find what he is searching for? Will he ever find closure? Will he find himself along this journey? Or will he die without ever knowing the answers he’s always been seeking?

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Fractured: Lisen of Solsta

Fractured (Lisen of Solsta, #1)4 Stars

Lisen is not your average seventeen-year-old hermit in the mystical land of Garla.  D. Hart St. Martin’s first book in the Lisen of Solsta series, Fractured, takes us on Lisen’s complicated journey of discovering her destiny in a land where people will pay a high price to obtain power. After spending seven years on Earth, Lisen is brought back to Garla to fulfill her fate: become the Empir, bring peace to Garla, and prevent her tyrannical brother from taking over the throne. With the aid of nobles, captains, and magical hermits, Lisen learns how to adapt to the pressures of her new life, embrace her destiny, and win the battle raging inside her head.

Fractured by D. Hart St. Martin is a captivating story of heroism, greed, and fulfilling one’s destiny; but what makes this novel so unique is how the characters, and the world itself, break gender stereotypes and social norms. Fractured is Book One in the Lisen of Solsta series, and this book focuses on the life of Lisen Holt, or rather, Lisen of Solsta. The novel begins with the kidnapping of seventeen-year-old Lisen on a beach in California. Once she comes to her senses, Lisen finds that she’s been taken to Garla, a world that resembles the magical-medieval world of Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings. Astonished with every new discovery she makes, Lisen learns about her new “home” in Solsta, the land of hermits (people with mystical powers who are removed from society). Most interestingly of all, Lisen discovers that she used to live there as a child, but due to a prophetic vision, her guardians hid her away on Earth for seven years to ensure no harm came to her. Thus, when she returns to Garla and Solsta, Lisen feels both uncertainty and vague familiarity, and her memories (and necropathic skills) slowly return over time.

What I loved most about the novel is that it plays with the idea of who (or what) is truly in charge of shaping our “path” in life. It calls into question the idea of fate, and Lisen initially pushes against her destiny when she’s told that she’s the heir of Garla. Lisen also suffers from a memory lapse and must go through extensive training with Captain Rosarel and Holder Corday before she can take over as Empir (or ruler), in order to prevent her tyrannical brother from ruling Garla. I find this theme particularly interesting when combined with the “hero’s journey” plotline, as Lisen is much more complex than the archetypical “hero.” Throughout the novel, Lisen goes through stages of grief once she discovers she can no longer access her old life back on Earth, but several events throughout her journey prove what her life’s purpose truly is.

While some of the minor characters’ voices (such as Eloise and Nalin) were drowned out by the main characters, Lisen is truly brought to life through Hart St. Martin’s fluid and compelling writing style. I thought Lisen’s personality was fun and authentic; Hart St. Martin accurately captured the sassy attitude of a teenager who’s forced to learn a whole new way of living (I mean, who wouldn’t be sassy about that?). While she seems to have accepted her fate by the end of the novel, it’ll be interesting to see where Lisen’s “destiny” takes her next.

Pages: 317 | ASIN: B0098RN2KG

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