Heart of Annihilation by C.R. Asay is an electrifying military black ops thriller with a sci-fi twist that challenges ideas of nature vs. nature and cold war politics.
It’s a little complicated, so bear with me. U.S. Army Specialist Kris Rose has her own hidden agenda when she’s plunged into a military secret. She discovers that our world is home to several societies living in different dimensions with different technologies and philosophies. The most advanced is 13 and it’s been known not to play well with others. Someone in number 12 has developed a weapon—the Heart of Annihilation—that has the potential to take care of number 13’s proclivity to end other dimensions.
12’s a mannered, pacifist society, so there’s some (ahem) disagreement between factions about whether or the Heart of Annihilation is a good thing. Most of the time, 12’s solution to conflict is a quick serenity break. For those who can’t chillax, 12 relocates them to a penal colony more their speed—our everyday world. Medium bad guys keep their memories. Really bad ones gets the ultimate reboot with their memories wiped and are regressed back to infants. They aren’t human, but can usually pass.
Did I mention the Heart of Annihilation is lost?
You can see where all of this is heading.
C.R. Asay’s own military experience shines as so many of the details from wounds to the interior of a C-130 to tactical mind-sets are spot on. Lovers of stories within stories will find much to enjoy here along with a lot of shoot-‘em-up-cloak-and-dagger action. As fun as the guns and camaraderie are, it’s really a story that explores the nature of evil and questions how much a person can be nurtured away from destiny.
With such big concepts and worlds to explore, Heart of Annihilation is the first in a series. Looking forward to the next book!
Facebook: C.R. Asay
Eyes of Persuasion by Adrienne Monson is an afternoon’s escape into a world of dressing for dinner, marriage as high finance, and a lady who intends to stay that way despite her uncle’s gambling debts. It’s a romp through polite English high society that isn’t afraid to take a side trip down the steamier side of the docks.
Lady Isabeau Maybrick’s got a deeper secret than playing detective or dress-up—a paranormal superpower that would put her life in jeopardy if anyone knew about it. She’s a modern thinking woman in a repressive historical past, so it’s no surprise that the unconventional Everette Radcliff turns her world upside-down.
Eyes of Persuasion is the kind of book that’s best read with a hot beverage and a plate of cookies. It’s an easy, entertaining read that will leave you wanting more. Readers who like historical romances are sure to enjoy the paranormal twist on an (almost) bodice ripper plot.
Eyes of Persuasion by Adrienne Monson available as an eBook or trade paperback from Amazon.
Web site: http://www.adriennemonson.com/
Teri Harman’s Black Moon, book two of the Moonlight Trilogy, continues the story of Willa and Simon, young adults taking those first steps into a grown-up world of magic, witches, soul mates, trials, and too many talents. It’s a fast-paced and engrossing read that expresses all the confusion of perfect love that isn’t perfect, leaving home to share one’s life with another, completing magic trials to prove one’s worth, and, oh, saving the world.
I won’t mention the guilt Simon oozes because of the deaths in Blood Moon (book one) or Willa’s anguish in wanting to save someone who won’t let her in. I won’t say a thing about the balance of light covens and dark covens and how truly twisted the dark can be when it seeks to control the powers of the earth on the night of the black moon. And I can’t tell you about the whole terrifying plot around being extraordinarily gifted magically and the suspicion and doubt having too much talent can cause. I can’t tell you any of these things because that would Ruin the Story.
And this is one you’ll want to read for yourself.
Black Moon by Teri Harman is a New Adult paranormal thriller with a romance twist sure to delight readers 16 and older. Published by Jolly Fish Press, it’s available in trade paperback and eBook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other purveyors of fine books.
Isn’t it gorgeous? I love all the hidden faces and creatures in it. This is a new edition of Jabberwocky by Daniel Coleman with illustrations by E.K. Stewart-Cook. From the back of the book:
How can a boy succeed where an army has failed?
Tjaden, a young man who aspires to be an Elite soldier, blames himself when Elora’s beautiful face is disfigured by a bandersnatch. Elora hides behind her scars, feeling unlovable in a world that only confirms her doubts.
Before Tjaden has a chance to convince her that scars don’t matter, an even more terrifying monster comes between them—the Jabberwock.
If the secrets of the vorpal sword fail, so will Tjaden.
This book is on my to read list. I’ll be reviewing it soon. There’s a pre-release eBook sale going on where Jabberwocky is a steal at $.99. Don’t miss it.
I recently interviewed Brenda Corey Dunne about her newest book, Dependent. This was a big summer for Brenda and her family as they sold and bought houses, renovated the new one, and moved the whole family–horses and all–across Canada to her husband’s new military posting. Somehow between the move, the new book launch, and discovering where to buy groceries and back to school clothes, Brenda found the time to answer a few of my questions.
In Dependent Ellen makes many sacrifices for her family and husband. Do you think that’s typical of all women or something special about Ellen?
That’s a tricky question to answer! I’m not a fan of the ‘the woman’s place is in the home’ stereotype. Women should be able to do whatever they want. This is the 21st Century for goodness sake! And so many husbands make sacrifices for their wives careers.
But I DO believe women take on the nurturing role more often than men. And I live in a world of military relationships. It takes only quick mental review of all of my friends to realize that almost all of my married female friends and closer acquaintances have sacrificed for their husbands in some way. They’ve given up good paying jobs to follow their spouses. Most of them have had to start at the very beginning at least once in their careers. They’ve moved thousands of miles away from family and friends. They’ve scrubbed and staged houses over and over again for a quick sale. They’ve smiled bravely as their husband shouldered his bag and walked away for another deployment. And they’ve done it willingly.
Dependent exposes some of the unique challenges military families face. How can non-military families reach out and support military families more?
Another tricky question. Military families are often strong and proud. They don’t want charity and they don’t want pity. And they won’t ask for help because that would be considered weakness…so they suffer in silence. I think the best way to support them is to put yourself in their shoes. Imagine you are a thousand miles away from home, your house is full of boxes, you have two toddlers and are pregnant with the third, and your hubby has just left for a two month ‘refresher’ course in a different state. What would you like most?
A friendly smile. A cup of coffee. Help getting the trash to the curb on the right day. Knowledge of where the local library is. Hot brownies. Someone to talk to while your kids play at the park. A line on a good daycare in town.
Really, the best way to help a military family is to extend the hand of friendship. I have made so many wonderful friends over my 25 years associated with the military. Some came and went, but most will always have a place in my heart. Those friendships have sometimes been my lifeline—the only thing that helped me cope when things went downhill. That kind of support is the priceless.
Without giving too much away, how do you imagine Ellen’s life now?
I think Ellen is realizing that university is a lot different at 46 than it is at 19! I think she’s dealing with different issues, still trying to figure out how everything works in her new life. Not sure I can give you much more than that!
Thanks, Brenda for stopping by. Click here to see my review of Dependent. Dependent by Brenda Corey Dunn is published by Jolly Fish Press and is available as a trade paperback or eBook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other purveyors of fine books.
Connect with Brenda Corey Dunn
It’s gonna be a tough day when you discover Satan’s been searching your whole life for you so you can bear his child.
It gets even rougher when bad feels soooo good.
On the surface, Copper Descent, the New Adult debut novel by Angela Hartley, is a love story about teens Nina and Nate who meet while working at an upscale vacation resort in the wilds of Midway, Utah. But Nina faces much more than a simple love triangle when Sinclair Devereux, lead singer of Revelation, rushes in to sweep her off her feet. Copper Descent is really a story of fate, redemption, and the power of free agency as Nina learns her true identity and the role she’s destined to play in the multiverse evolution of mankind.
Nate is full of real world charm, but Sinclair offers the forbidden. Mix Native American folklore, mean girls, murder, suicide, a love triangle, and an old dude who just may be God and you’ve got a hint of what this book is all about. It’s a richly textured story about temptation and desire, the first in an epic series of seven novels by Angela Hartley that weave a new narrative about the genesis and ultimate destiny of mankind.
Copper Descent by Angela Hartley is published by Fox Hollow Publications is available through Amazon.
Dependent, the stunning new novel by Brenda Corey Dunne, is an unusual coming of age story about a forty-five year old woman finding herself after making hard choices at nineteen that set the course of her life.
Ellen Michaels has been an officer’s wife for twenty-five years. Living in the military’s shadow, all of Ellen’s decisions have been influenced by her husband John’s career—where she lives, what she does, and who her friends are—as well as the choices she makes to protect her family. Lumped in with John’s worldly goods as “dependents, furniture, and effects,” it’s profoundly shocking for Ellen to discover that with John’s death her future is her own again.
Much of Dependent is told in flashback, and we see Ellen grow from a young teen to a mature woman. We see the struggles every young mother faces and typical challenges even the best marriages go through. With John’s death we see the devastating effect of losing a partner and father. But Ellen also has a terrible secret she’s kept for twenty-five years, and she fears this secret is what killed her husband.
Told from an insider’s perspective, everything from early marriages, frequent moves, and long absences to the culture of rank and stiff upper lip is vividly portrayed. It’s these military culture conventions—and the idea that everything is happy, happy, happy!—that keep Ellen prisoner until she finally realizes that she independent and powerful.
And when she does you’re going to want to stand up and cheer.
But I’m not going to spoil it!
Someone was pound, pound, pounding on the side door. The vicious tiny attack poodles at my feet each peeked one eye open and went back to sleep. Wow, I thought. This must really be important! I quickly hit save, then back-up, then compile, then save again on my manuscript before dashing madly to the door.
A gas leak? A house on fire? Girl Scouts with cookies to sell? I flung open the door ready for anything except a wall of raging tie-dye waving a summons in my face.
“You’re taking me to court?!” the mountain thundered.
“Oh, hi Johnny. Welcome to the Parker Hale. It’s not nearly as grand as the Blog Mansion, but we like it.”
“Court! Over some dry-cleaning and an ER bill.” Johnny Worthen, author extraordinaire of Beatrysel and Eleanor, the Unseen was huffing and puffing like the Big Bad Wolf in acid-laced Technicolor.
“What?” I grabbed the papers and quickly scanned them. “Oh, good. They did include the costs of the rabies shots. How’s Morey The Eel?”
“When my lawyer Sammy ‘Light Finger’ Calzone gets through with you, you won’t have a coconut to crack!” Johnny snarled.
I smiled. “I really liked Eleanor, the Unseen.”
Like water on the Wicked Witch, Johnny melted. “You did?” he breathed.
“Yep.” I opened the door wider. “Wanna come in and talk about it?”
On the back deck I cracked open a couple of Diet Cokes and poured them over ice.
“What? No bourbon?” Johnny sulked.
I waved my hand over his glass. “Tah-dah! Now it’s bourbon.”
He sniffed it. “It’s still soda. You can’t do that. You’re not magic!”
“Says the guy who just sniffed his drink. We’re authors, Johnny. It’s all about suspending disbelief. In Eleanor you create a creature that’s not what she seems. Parts of her transformation are rooted in modern physics—endothermic, mass conservation, and the like—while other parts are more mystical—tasting, shifting, mimicking, and hints about Native American lore. She’s not quite one thing or another. How did you go about creating her?”
The power of metaphor, the energy of symbol, and a web of imagination. I wanted to embody the idea of potential radical change, put it within the most vulnerable creature I could imagine and make it all believable.
Eleanor, The Unseen, is a paranormal story, which suggests that something ain’t right in it, but I wanted that something to be natural as opposed to supernatural. I based it on legends for historical grounding. Every culture I know has some kind of folktale about a shapeshifter, be it the werewolves of Transylvania, the Skinwalkers of the Navajo, or the Nimirika among the Shoshone. I approached that paranormal element within Eleanor from the idea that all these stories were right but wrong at the same time. These ancient peoples all witnessed the same thing, event, creature, what have you, but they didn’t understand it. Their descriptions are full of fear and superstition and prejudice (a theme in the series) but what they have in common, a brush with something unusual, marvelous and scary, was right on point. There is a predator in their midst. The suggestion becomes then that the paranormal element in the story is old and familiar to mankind, but forgotten and dismissed because it is so rare and unstudied.
I wanted the miracle to be metaphor and symbol, a complication and not the story itself. The story is Eleanor, her tale, her trials as the ultimate outsider hiding in plain sight. She is a soup of contradictions, lost but found, loved but lonely, malleable but fixed, struggling with who she is, what she might be, and afraid of her own powers in the face of tragedy and hope. To compound the metaphor, it’s placed at that time of life when young people become young adults and grow into what they are to be, those awkward socializing high school days. Eleanor is an exaggeration of the growing up, trying to fit in while being different.
Finally, keeping with the theme of change, I needed Eleanor’s to hurt. Change is painful and her wonderful “gift” has costs — terrible, painful, frightening costs. It’s not easy. It is not quick. She becomes helpless. And she is a slave to it. Thus is change. Change is not easy. Also, I think this simple symmetry of cost and benefit help to sell the concept and make it easier for the reader to suspend their disbelief and concentrate on the story.
While Eleanor prefers to hide rather than fight, she will when her back’s against a wall. Do you think most bullied people are that way? Is there a snapping point?
Bullying is a social interaction that extends far beyond the microcosmic high school experience. It’s a hierarchical thing, alpha males and females rising to the top of the herd by beating others down. I see it as a symptom of insecure people trying to gain some control over their lives. It’s hard to pity them, but in the wide shots, you can and I try to.
The idea of fighting back is a tricky one for Eleanor. Her snapping point has less to do with what her bullies are doing to her than it does with her change of perception of her own worth and her future. She admits to herself that she’s becoming reckless, fighting back when she’d always retreated before because at that point in the book, she has something to fight back for. She has hope. Most people would snap after a long history of abuse, a final straw thing, but for Eleanor it’s an awakening inside her, a new idea of self-worth brought on by the simple affection of a single friend. When survival is no longer enough, the timid become bold.
There’s a whole cannon of literary work about young girls transitioning from victim to victor, everything from Stephen King’s Carrie to Alice Walker’s The Color Purple to Jerry Spinelli’s Stargirl. How does Eleanor add to the empowerment conversation?
There is a lot of Carrie in Eleanor, I admit that. The similarities struck me as I wrote my book, but there are important and fundamental differences between King’s story and mine: his is horror. Mine is a fable.
I don’t think Eleanor is a victor over her bullies. They are trials that shape her, complications that vex her, metaphor for an intolerant society but they are just some among the many troubles Eleanor faces. Because Eleanor has lived in fear her entire life and was forced to hide, she is fearful and passive. She reacts as a frightened animal might. Her achievements then, not to give too much away, are to take control of her life and become an active player in its events. It’s the difference between being a scavenger and a hunter.
It is a complicated dynamic, the bullies and Eleanor, and not to give too big a tease, but it is explored in depth, passionately and lovingly, over the length of the series.
While many readers will focus on the developing love story between Eleanor and David, the love story that caught my heart was the relationship between Eleanor and her mother, Tabitha. Tell me about how this theme came about.
Yes. Absolutely. The original title for the book was not Eleanor, but Tabitha. The series was to be called Eleanor, but editors and publishers wanted Eleanor so Tabitha, Eleanor Book 1, become Eleanor, The Unseen Book 1. Whatcha’ gunna to do? But so central was Tabitha to the book that she was in fact meant to be the title character.
The relationship between Eleanor and Tabitha is central to the book: two women, vulnerable and alone, broken and lost coming together, saving each other. It is a powerful symbol of love and acceptance, joy without conditions. The best of humanity – a mother’s love. It is healing among death, growth during decay, the future from the past. Tabitha is the teacher and Eleanor the student and what is taught is the best our species has to offer.
I channeled my own grandmother into Tabitha, and other friends and family. I took from them the best I’ve seen in people facing the worst; the nobility and affection, strength during weakness, joy during pain. Tabitha’s very personal to me.
Give me the links so readers can find you.
Kirkus Review of Eleanor, the Unseen
Twitter: Twitter @JohnnyWorthen
Any upcoming events? Just in case I need to serve you new papers.
Upcoming events? Serving papers? Well, uhm, I’ll be at the “Process Server Lynching” on the 19th and the “Frivolous Lawsuit Retribution Society” meeting, gun sale and barbeque on the 5th. Don’t forget the “How to Poison Your Neighbors” workshop on the 8th. I’ll be presenting.
Otherwise check out my events page.
And make sure you come out to the Eleanor, The Unseen Book Launch on the 28th of June at Barnes & Noble in Sugarhouse. 12:00-3:00.
Johnny leaned back in his chair and drained his glass. “Well, you got me all talkative about Eleanor, The Unseen. I love that book. It’s deeply personal. My grandmother is in Tabitha; Eleanor is the daughter I never had. The issues are as deep to me as the marrow in my bones. Now, where was I? Oh, yeah. You still owe me for Morey The Eel’s rabies shots.”
I waved my hand over a cocktail napkin. “Here you go. Paid in full.”
Links to my visit to Johnny Worthen’s Blog Mansion
Available for purchase as an eBook and to order as a trade paperback is the first novel in Angela Hartley’s Sentient Chronicles, Copper Descent.
From the back of the book:
The tale of Sinauf was a secret nineteen-year-old Nina Douglas’ ancestors kept hidden for eighteen generations. But the truth has been brought into light.
The dark god of legend is real.
Caught in an ancient war still raging strong in the modern world, Nina is confronted with Sinauf—the embodiment of all she fears and desires. Like a moth drawn to a deadly flame, Nina must resist the seductive charm of a beautiful monster, or prepare to lose everything she holds dear.
Temptation has a name, and he is coming for her.
I’ve read bits and pieces of this novel as it was being written and can’t wait to read it in its entity. Copper Descent is a New Adult speculative fiction story that weaves Native American mythology into a modern world. Central to the story is the question of fate–can one change it or are we doomed to the future forecast at our birth? Looks like I’ll have to get cracking to find out how Angela answers that!
Copper Descent, the first book in the Sentient Chronicles by Angela Hartley, is published by Fox Hollow Publications and available from Amazon.
You could argue that all teenage girls are self-centered survivalist monsters at heart, at times unlovable, wholly malleable, and subject to the whims of the adults around them.
But in Eleanor’s case these typical teen traits are a little more literal.
Eleanor the Unseen is the first in a trilogy by Johnny Worthen that explores love in many forms: redemptive, passionate, maternal, transformative, first, true, self, and sacrificial. It’s a theme repeated in metaphor and action both gentle and terrifying. Johnny has a knack for drawing the reader into his world like a warm bath. Just don’t get too comfortable. And for heaven’s sake, don’t close your eyes.
On the surface, Eleanor is a YA horror novel about a monster that flies under the radar masquerading as a shy Wyoming teen growing up in a small town on the edge of an Indian reservation. The town itself is a character with all its stifling contradictions playing a part in Eleanor’s decisions as the plot progresses. David, a military kid, was Eleanor’s best childhood friend who knew all her secrets and her heart—until he moved. In their sophomore year, David returns, and Eleanor can no longer hide behind her hair.
Despite its premise, Eleanor is a literary work that builds gradually. It echoes other great works including Grendel, I Heard the Owl Call My Name, and even To Kill a Mockingbird. But don’t let that fool you. There are some horrific scenes in the story that showcase how very alien—and therefore human—the monster is. But rawer than the monster’s survivalist thoughts and actions is Tabitha’s debilitating cancer. Tabitha, Eleanor’s foster mother, races against time to prepare her daughter for life without her. At the heart of the book is their symbiotic redemptive love, a love so strong that it has the power to work miracles.
But don’t forget. Eleanor the Unseen is a horror story, too.
For me, the most realized characters in the story were Eleanor and Tabitha, which sometimes made other key characters like David seem a little underdeveloped in comparison. I also felt that the ending was rushed given the previous pace of the book, but I think I understand why: Johnny wants to hurry the reader past the clearing of the first course to the next tasty morsel in a lazy Sunday brunch. I spent a morning reading Eleanor in one delicious gulp; yes, it’s that good.
Eleanor the Unseen by Johnny Worthen is published by Jolly Fish Press and is available for pre-order from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. Eleanor‘s publication date is July 1, 2014.