A Few Astonishing Moments With Author Corrie Brundage!


Welcome back to The Last Cafè at the End of the Universe. My vacation has been going well and I can’t wait to tell you all out the astounding authors I’ve been reading! But first, my travels take me once again past The Last Cafè just in time to sit down with Corrie Brundage, author of Origin, the first book in The Eaters Trilogy.

Astounding Books (AB) Corrie, thank you for joining me. Let’s get you a drink first… Your preference?

Corrie Brundage (CB)  Diet Sprite, which I’m only allowed one per day. Well, to be fair, “in moderation” is what my coach/nutritionist recommends. But if you’d asked a couple of hours ago, I’d have said calorie-free flavored coffee (hopefully chocolate something or other) sweetened liberally with stevia and non-fat creamer.
One question I would ask myself: Is nutrition really THAT important to you or are you just OCD?
Both! My strict diet can be an annoyance not just to me, but to friends and family. However, I find it therapeutic to stick to the “rules” during difficult times when so much is up in the air, and I can’t really rely on anything to be dependable except food and exercise. There’s comfort in the mundane things!

(AB):  As readers and writers, we all….and I mean ALL have a favorite book growing up. What was yours?

(CB):  I’d have to say anything by Stephen King, but more specifically, The Stand. I guess as a kid, like most, I enjoyed knowing who was the bad guy and who was the good guy. But along with that came the excitement of the end of the world drawing people together, forcing them to make decisions they normally never would. I often imagined myself in the same situation, and tested myself to see if I would have succeeded as a good guy.

(AB):  The Stand was the first Stephen King novel I read and it blew me away. What was the first thing you wrote that you were either most proud of or remember the most?

(CB):  It was just one line, and it was written on a poster I’d drawn in art class of the Statue of Liberty. I think I was six years old. It read:
Spelling mistake aside, I had a childhood thing for fairness.

(AB):  What are your hobbies?

(CB)   I’m going to seem pretty shallow here, but I love lifting weights and shopping. I’m either in the gym or on eBay. That frivolity aside, I do like helping animals in whatever way I can, but also consider this a hobby as there are so many heroes out there devoting all their time to this endeavor, and for them I am truly grateful.

(AB):   Who do you bounce ideas off of?

(CB):  I’d say either my dear friend, Tom, or my Mom. Because they are both inherently strong encouragers, they always tell me my ideas are fabulous. But I’m hoping I can gather some loyal readers who are willing to be “sounding boards” for me in the future.

(AB):  Any Guilty Pleasures?

(CB):  Stalking ex-boyfriend’s FaceBook pages. Don’t tell me you don’t do it, either! Yeah…you know you do.

(AB):  I can honestly say I’ve never stalked your ex-boyfriend on Facebook. Tony Soprano, dead or alive?

(CB):  OK, wow, this question is so perfect because I am the BIGGEST Sopranos fan on the planet. I am so not kidding. And I happen to know Tony is ALIVE, because the creator of the show, David Chase, has said so. But aside from that, I just sense that the Boss of North Jersey mafia would never give up his seat of power. Yeahhh, whaddayagonnado?

(AB):  Thank you for joining me today, good luck with your novel. Please stop by again. We leave you now to resume your regularly schedule Tour Stop! Let’s take a loon at your novel, shall we? 

About Origin, The Eaters #1

So not your usual post-apocalyptic, clone vs. hybrid romance-adventure…

 Brilliant, brave, determined, and just a little bit…distracted.  Meet Dr. Mina Brice, dedicated savior of species, and scientist with a secret. On a planet ravaged by climate change, her ability to mind-meld with earth’s imperiled beasts has made her a valued member of a team dedicated to saving as many as they can from extinction.  Unfortunately, Mina’s inability to connect with her fellow humans has kept most of them at arms length. Except for Jack—handsome, dashing-with-a-touch of goofy, totally distracting Jack. Dr. Jack MacConnell was never supposed to be part of Mina’s gameplan.  But when thrown together on a crazy-dangerous mission, both fate and a deadly tsunami seem determined to propel them down the same fraught—and occasionally delicious—path. Perhaps forever?

But forever turns out to be a fluid commodity when both awaken 500 years into the future in a city called Origin. Presided over by aliens known as The Travelers, it is a world at once familiar and totally strange. And for Mina and Jack, it will become a battleground…against a hybrid race of predators loosed on the human population, against those whose dark side is so very carefully hidden,  and even, as fate throws a heartwrenching twist their way, against…each other?

Corrie Brundage kicks off The Eaters trilogy with an intoxicating tale of pulse-pounding action for fans of urban fantasy and science fiction to devour and savor.

About the Author:

Corrie Brundage is a former model, opera singer, and personal trainer who, out of sheer boredom and personal relief from planetary insanity, completed five novels in the space of twelve months. She pumps iron, is a political junkie, and is a dedicated animal advocate.

Ends July 27th
Prizing is provided by the publisher, hosts are not responsible. Must be 13 or older to enter and have parental permission if under 18. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.


A Few Astonishing Moments With Author Camille Picott

Welcome back to The Last Cafe at the End of the Internet. I’ve briefly come back from a summer hiatus to sit down and talk with Camille Picott, author of Undead Ultra.

Welcome to my tour stop for Undead Ultra (A Zombie Novel) by Camille Picott! This is an adult post apocalyptic horror novel and the tour runs June 20 through July 1st with reviews, interviews and excerpts. Check out the tour page for the full schedule!

About the Book:

Undead: a reanimated corpse with a craving for human flesh.
Ultramarathon: any footrace longer than a traditional marathon (26.2 miles).

For ultrarunners Kate and Frederico, a typical Saturday morning is spent pounding out a twenty- to thirty-mile “fun run.” It’s during one of their runs that an insidious illness descends upon northern California, turning humans into flesh-shredding zombies.

When Kate receives a desperate call from her son, Carter, she and Frederico flee their hometown and set out to help him. The only problem? Carter attends college over two hundred miles away and the freeways—clogged with car wrecks, zombies, and government blockades—are impassable. Running back roads and railroad tracks becomes their only means of travel, but neither of them has ever run so far before.

As pain, injuries, hunger, and fatigue plague them, getting to Carter and staying alive seem impossible. It’s either outrun the undead or become one of them, and for Kate, death is not an option.

Goodreads | Amazon

About the Author:

Camille Picott has been writing novels since she was twelve. When she’s not working on a book, spending time with family, or whipping up a new vegetarian meal, you can find her trail running in Sonoma County, California.

Website | Twitter | Facebook 


And now…The Interview!

Astounding Books (AB):  Camille, thank you for joining us today. Your novel combines zombies, a post-apocalyptic setting and trail-running! What draws you to this particular genre?

Camille Picott (CP): I love the “what if” factor in zombie and post-apocalypse novels. These types of novels have a way of feeling like they could be our reality tomorrow. I like to see how everyday people handle a new paradigm.

AB:     What’s up next for you?

CP:      To celebrate the release of my novel, I rounded up 14 people to run 200+ miles from Geyserville to Arcata – the same route the characters run in the book. We just finished the run last weekend. It was an amazing adventure! I’m working on a short film to document it.

AB:     What was your favorite novel as a kid/teen? Why?

CP:  I was a huge fan of a series called The Secret of the Unicorn Queen. A modern teenage girl fell through an inter-dimensional portal and ended up in a magical world with wizards, sorceresses, and unicorns. The main character, Shelia, joined a band of female warriors who rode unicorns and battled an evil wizard. What’s not to love about that?

AB:     What was the first thing you wrote that you were either most proud of or remember?

CP:     I had a panda bear stamp as a kid. I wrote little short stories about the panda and illustrated them using the stamp.

AB:     If you could hang out with one of your characters who would it be and what would you do?

CP:     I would definitely want to hang out with Kate and Frederico in Undead Ultra, preferably on a long trail run!

AB:     We all have a favorite place to write. Where is yours? 

CP:      In my bed! We bought a fancy one that inclines and it’s super comfy!

AB:     I’m going to ask what your hobbies are, but I think I can pretty much guess…

CP:     Besides writing novels? Running lots and lots. Cooking. Hanging out with my family.

AB:     I was correct! What TV show or Movie are you currently obsessed with?

CP:     The Walking Dead and Tiny House Hunters. I have fantasies of moving into a tiny house so I can afford to write full time.

AB:     What was your Favorite Toy as a child/teen?

CP:     My Little Pony.

AB:      Go to your fridge. Open the door. What will you find?

CP:     I make smoothies every morning for breakfast. There are always at least 2 vegetables in them. This week, you’d find bok choy, cabbage, and kale in my fridge. You’re also likely to find celery, cucumber, collard greens (obsessed with these), cauliflower, and broccoli. The more veggies, the better!

AB:     Who do you bounce ideas off of?

CP:     My husband and writing partners. I’m lucky enough to have a close group of writers that I’ve been working with for years

AB:     Cats, Dogs, Fish or other? 

CP:     I’m assuming you mean for pets?? LOL. I’m a vegetarian and a cat lover!

AB:     What Books are you reading at present?

CP:     End of Days by Susan Ee.

AB:     Best three novels in your genre (Sci Fi, Fantasy, Mystery, etc)

CP:     My Life As a White Trash Zombie, Zombie Rules, and Patient Zero.

AB:     I sense a theme here… At what point did you officially look at yourself as a writer?

CP:     When I self-published my first book, Raggedy Chan. I had published short stories in various magazines before then, but holding a printed book in my hands for the first time was really life changing and affirming.

AB:     Guilty pleasure?

CP:     Dessert. Lots of it, often.

AB:      Finally, the most important question: Is Pluto a Planet?

CP:     Hell yes!

Camille, thank you for taking the time to sit down with us today. Good luck on your novel, Undead Ultra. 

Two (2) $5 Amazon gift cards (INT)
Ends July 6th
Prizing is provided by the author, hosts are not responsible. Must be 13 or older to enter and have parental permission if under 18. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.

Summer of Bond

imageIt’s been more than 7 months since I started Astounding Books and I’ve had a tremendous amount of fun reading some amazing new talents and talking with all of you astonishing authors and readers. Our Facebook and Twitter pages have been growing at an amazing rate. I’ve enjoyed interacting with many of you and hopefully I’ve been able to contribute a little by promoting books when I could. But as the weather changes for the better here in Michigan I’ve decided to take a short sabatical for the summer. While I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of the wonderful novels I’ve read, reviewed and sampled over these past months, it’s time to tackle a few novels on MY reading list.

imageI’m calling this “The Summer of Bond”. Years ago, on a trip to Traverse City Michigan, I discovered a small book shop and a rack of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels. At the time I was astonished to find that the movies that I enjoyed starring Roger Moore were originally novels.  I bought three and finished one of them in the two hour trip back to the lake where our cottage was.  The other two novels didn’t last long.

It’s been nearly 35 years since that vacation, so I’ve decided to revisit those books and read as many James Bond novels as I can (In Order!) between Memorial Day and Labor Day.  Of course I still have a slew of other books to get to as well, so we will see how far I make it.

First on the list is Casino Royale, followed by Live and Let Die, Moonraker and Diamonds Are Forever. Click on the links to order or download your copies.

It’s also time to do some fishing. I fish. A lot. And when the summer winds turn slow and the waters calm, there is nothing better than sitting back in my boat, a line cast out over the side and a book in my hand, wasting the time away. But have no fear, Astounding Books will return in September with more author interviews, more Spotlights on Astounding Authors, and of course more book reviews from independent, self published and indie authors.

You can join me in my Summer of Bond if you like.  I promise to review them and give you my thoughts after Labor Day. I would love to hear from you how you enjoyed them (or not?).  Astounding Books will still accept submissions, but please know that I won’t be looking to review any till this fall. In the meantime, subscribe to my blog to get any updates and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook.

Thank you all for being such loyal readers of Astounding Books!

See you in September!

Roll the Dice on Orconomics and Gain +4 Happiness

imageOrconomics: A Satire
(The Dark Profit Saga Book 1)
Author: J. Zachary Pike
Publisher: Gnomish Press
Pages: 385
Genre: Satirical Fantasy
Twitter: @jzacharypike
Facebook: JZacharyPike
Website: JZacharyPike.com

One of the things I love most about the fantasy genre is the how easily I can emerse myself in that particular world. While I never had the opportunity to play Dungeons & Dragons as a youth, I did play World of Warcraft. What an amazing experience! A world of endless borders where I could walk end-to-end, and even without seeking out battles or quests, I could simply explore the world of Azeroth.

Of course it was easy to lose oneself for hours, nay days on end: Farming for coins and saving to purchase epic armor or weapons, traveling to city centers to get the best deal on a trade, selling items I created through my “talents”, talking to Non Player Characters (NPC) and searching for quests. I definately can not leave out the time honored tradition of looting our defeated enemies, ending up with either torn animal hides or a Legendary Weapon.

It’s been a few years now since I last played since I played WoW and I have to say I often miss it.

Why the walk down nostalgia lane? Because while reading Orconomics by J. Zachary Pike I was immediately transported to those fun days running quests and looting my dead enemies. When I was approached with an offer for a free copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review, I did not know wha to expect. My past camping experience aside, the premise of the novel is intriguing enough to pick up.

J. Zachary Pike

J. Zachary Pike

The adventuring industry drives the economy of Arth, a world much like our own but with more magic and fewer vowels. On Arth, professional heroes are hired to slay fantastic creatures with magic weapons. The beasts’ treasure is hauled back to town and divided among investors.

Since his career as a professional hero ended in failure decades ago, Gorm Ingerson’s life has been a cycle of petty crime, heavy drinking and avoiding the Heroes’ Guild. But when the Dwarf helps a Goblin secure its NPC documents, he quickly finds himself in the clutches of the guild’s enforcers.

It will take all of Gorm’s Dwarven resolve to survive political intrigue, fundamentalist lizard men, purse kobolds, healing potion addicts, and worse. Yet even if he succeeds, it may not be enough to protect his party from the dark secret behind their quest.
Orconomics is a joy to read. J. Zachary Pike is a Master Dungeon Master and weaves a fantastic tale that is funny, full of adventure and

If you’ve ever sat around a table with multi sided dice, creating wild adventure and trying to determine if the spell your wizard cast indicted +4 physical damage or -2 Intellect drain, or if you’ve immersed yourself in an MMORPG, then this novel is for you. Even if you have NO. IDEA. WHAT. I. JUST. WROTE,  but you enjoy the lighter side of Fantasy, then this novel is for you.

Roll the Dice. Get ready to Level your Fantasy Reading this Summer.  Orconomics should be on every fantasy lover’s reading list this summer.

+4 Stars out of 5.

Download your copy of Orconomics by J. Zachary Pike today! CLICK HERE. 

Special thanks to Sage Adderley and Sage’s Blog Tours for letting me participate in this tour.


Spotlight On Astounding Authors

Summer is right around the corner. Do you have your summer reading list planned out? If not, make some room for one of our Astounding Authors! This week we are featuring two post-apocalyptic thrillers, an inspirational story about a young man adjusting to changes in his life, and a work of contemporary fiction involving Superman. PLUS! One of our novels is FREE!

As always, please let us know what you think. Your comments are greatly appreciated. Follow us on Twitter @AstoundingBooks and Facebook @AstoundingBooks.  Now to this week’s Spotlight on Astounding Authors!

imageAfter Oil
The Kingdom of Walden, Book 1
Author: Kristan Cannon
Publisher: KCEditions (Feb. 2016)
Pages: 514
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic
Twitter: @kristancannon
Facebook: Kristancannon
Website: Kristancannon.com

We thought we had nothing to worry about…
…We were wrong

The residents of the small town of Whitefish are no strangers to snow.  Used to being forgotten and digging their own way out, no one thought anything of it when, during one of the coldest winters on record, help just never came.  But, as fuel runs out and raiders press in on all sides, Derek, Sheridan, and Garrett realize it’s not just the snow they need to dig their way out of…

From Doctor to Queen…

Working in a busy ER, Sheridan Wither saw the best and worst of humanity–but now she finds herself leading the last bastion of civilization–with Derek as her Master Ranger.

…And from salesman to Master Ranger.

Derek Moss, a salesman nearing his retirement, and his wife find themselves far from home with little more than the clothes on their backs–and lucky enough to find themselves at least among friends on Sheridan’s ranch just outside of Whitefish.

Driven to find answers–and his own place in a new world–Derek forms the Rangers from similarly displaced citizens and leads them to find Garrett to bring back one, tiny but bright spark of hope to a fledgling nation… in the form of the solar field on Sheridan’s farm.

Find out what happens next in After Oil, a post-apocalyptic thriller from Kristan Cannon. CLICK HERE to get your copy today!

imageEleven Floors
Author: Robert Lampros
Publisher: CreateSpace (Oct 2015)
Pages: 64
Genre: Christian Literature
Twitter: @robertlampros
Facebook:  11floors
Website: Robert Lampros
E-Book Link: Click Here for Free e-book!

Eleven Floors is the story of a young man’s first year at college the year after his father passed away. He struggles to succeed academically and socially, while maintaining faith in Jesus Christ, and adjusting to life in a new world. With help from God, from his friends, and from Lynn, the woman he falls in love with, Charles hopes to fulfill his destiny.Get your FREE copy of ELEVEN FLOORS by Robert Lampros by CLICKING HERE!

imageOf Gods, Royals and Superman
Author: Tom Maremaa
Publisher: Pronoun (Dec. 2015)
Pages: 278 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Tumblr: Tommaremaa
Goodreads:  Book Info
Tumblr: Tommaremaa 

The gods must be crazy. Do something great or they’ll kill you.

Meet Christopher Reed and Morgan Kinder, both young and brash college students, who come of age in many of the ways that Tom Jones came of age in Fielding’s classic novel. Both seniors at Dartmouth, one tossed out of school for behaving badly — very badly, even if he’s a Superman — the other, a woman who loves literature and works as an intern for a high-power New York publishing house on a quest to find the vanished author of a lost manuscript entitled simply When, 20:37, whose work is said to conjure up the dark side of American life and predict the future.

Their lives connect and disconnect, cross paths, then diverge, as the story and characters travel from the snows of New England to the catacombs of New York to the cornfields of Iowa and beyond to the sweet madness of California. Laughter and sorrow fill the pages. Life turns on its head. And the American landscape comes alive with a huge gallery of eccentric characters, oddballs and lovable madmen.

Can the cocky young Reed redeem himself by doing something truly great? Will his counterpart, Morgan Kinder, recapture what has been lost from the past, discarded or ignored, and in so doing, alter the world of literature as we know it?
Will each happen to change the other in Tom Maremaa’s dazzling, page-turning work of contemporary fiction? Find out by CLICKING HERE and ordering your copy of Of Gods, Royals and Superman TODAY!

imageThe Jigsaw Element
The Jigsaw Series, Book 1
Author: Kingsley McGlew
Publisher: Amazon Digital (Dec. 2015)
Pages: 160
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic / Sci-Fi
Facebook: Kingsley.mcglew
Website: KinglseyMcglew

In a post-apocalyptic landscape, one man searches for redemption.

Spencer is an Element, a decorated Military assassin who failed to achieve his last mission – Target Annabel O’Shantee – future leader of Cheerlong City. Seeking refuge in Malburn City under the disguise of an Insurance Investigator, Spencer is slowly drawn into the deceitful world of the Seahorse Clans as they battle for supremacy during the period of upcoming turmoil. As a malfunctioning Element, Spencer survives with no loyalty to those responsible for his creation. His one desire is to remove the computer chip that connects his thoughts to his unknown master. The narrative jigsaw moves from a disturbing reality to reliving past fragments to establish his role in the uprising. Spencer questions his life as a mannequin, one who is controlled by others.

The Jigsaw Element is a distorted future noir that scans the notion of what is the truth of identity. Order your copy of The Jigsaw Element TODAY by CLICKING HERE!

Readers Will Identify With Van Rompaey’s Ascension

The Oasis Series
Author: Jeannie Van Rompaey
Publisher: Clink Street Publishing (April 2016)
Pages: 312
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic Fiction
Twitter: @JRompaey
Website: JeannieVanRompaey.com

I’ve always has an affinity for mutants and Greek mythology. Well, pretty much any mythology, be it Greek, Roman, Finnish, Native American, you name it. Imagine my delight in reading Ascension by Jeannie Van Rompaey which combined the two. I received an advance copy of this novel in-exchange for a fair and honest review.

Without spoiling much of the novel, I’ll attempt a synopsis:  At some point in the near future, the Earth’s environment has been destroyed through a combination of environmental neglect, war and scientific meddling into genetics (of plants and humans). The result is a fairly medium-sized population of mutants living in sheltered domes, protected from the harsh environment. These mutants are not your ordinary super hero variety; they have two heads, four eyes, wings, multiple arms, etc. Their character traits are based loosely on mythological beings (Mercury, Heracles, Siti, etc.) and they spend much of their time performing mindless tasks of preserving the culture of Past Earth.  Through a series of events the mutants in one sector  learn that non-mutant humans, or Completes, are living in a utopian society on satellites that orbit the Earth. Our adventure continues from there.

Told in short, engaging narratives from the viewpoint of several main characters, Van Rompaey did a great job of keeping me interested in their development as she moved the plot along at a fairly quick pace. A definite plus is van Rompaey’s richly drawn characters and the believable dialogue between them.   One challenge I did have was the lack of real threat for our main characters. Yes they have all lost something in either the past or the present, but as the conflict picked up, some of the resolution seemed glossed over only to move on to the next part of the story. I never really sensed any “danger”. At times it felt I was reading parts of several novels, each based in the same “universe”.  Ascension is a part of an ongoing series of novels, which may be why this feels the way it does.

Who we are and how we think of ourselves is a prevalent theme in the novel. In a world filled only with mutants, the three-eyed-three-legged man is a sex symbol, right? How comfortable we are in our own skin defines who we are. What happens when we find out we can change? Van Rompaey deftly navigates these questions and conflicts and creates a relatable morality tale.

As the plot progresses, Ascension seemed more like a novel that put a twist on office politics and social interaction than about identity. It definitely finds its own footing, turning managerial shake-ups, an office sexual affairs, quotas and competition between other offices into excruciating yet hypnotically funny rituals of humiliation. Readers who have spent any amount of time in an office setting will identify with our crew of colorful characters. Some situations may seem utterly implausible (even in a post-apocalyptic world filled with mutants) but its easy to overlook after investing in each of our characters.

This is a fun read; it evokes a subtle satire of the everyday workplace but its appeal is far broader. Readers will find something to enjoy in this very human tale of being comfortable in your own skin.

Van Rompaey tells an astonishing good tale, mixing up pop culture references and diverse myths into a tale you will identify with.  There are enough plot twists  to keep you surprised. Definitely worth picking up.

3-1/2 Stars out of Five for Ascension by Jeannie Van Rompaey

Wake the Sleeping Giants for a Fun, Exciting Adventure

imageSleeping Giants
Author: Sylvain Neuvel
Publisher: Del Rey (April 2016)
Pages: 320
Genre: SciFi / Techno-thriller
Twitter: @neuvel
Facebook: SylvainNeuvel
Website: Neuvel.net

Imagine you are a young child who happens to fall down a hole in your backyard only to find a giant, metal, glowing hand. A decade or so later you are working on a project that is trying to find and piece together the remaining parts to a large metallic robot that may or may not have been left here by aliens more than 6,000 years ago. Except now, you no longer are looking in your own back yard. The pieces to the robot are scattered across the globe.

Sylvain Neuvel’s thrilling debut novel, Sleeping Giants, is the first book in the Themis Files series. I think the key word here is files. Each chapter is written as either a journal entry or as the transcription of an interview. The interviews are led by a mysterious, unnamed individual who is leading the charge to find and put together the mystery of the giant robot.

The story is told through the perspective of key characters and their reaction to the world changing events they are involved in.

Neuvel has a firm grasp on dialogue, giving each character a distinctive voice and tone. Hardly ever did I find myself feeling that the conversations were repetitive or expository. He mixes intrigue and suspense with wit and humor to create a truly enjoyable literary experience.

The plot is fun, exhilarating and quite enjoyable. It’s fast paced and, while not predictable, makes sense in a global kind of way.

My only complaint is toward the latter half of the novel, some characters are quickly introduced and some plot points happen so fast that they lead you to wonder if they could have been better planned or foreshadowed. The character’s personalities are revealed through their interviews.  These latter events and characters have little time “on page” to leave that much of an imprint on us and seem not as developed as other.  There really isn’t that much time for their (one in particular) motivations to be clear.

Although it’s the first in a series, Sleeping Giants stands alone. The author has written a riveting page-turner, leaving just enough speculation at the end to create a craving for the next novel in the series…which I hope comes soon. I received an advanced review copy of this novel from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Sleeping Giants is scheduled to be published in April 2016 but I read this back in December of 2015. Only now, at the request of the author, am I publishing this review.  I hope the next novel in the series is quickly on the heels of this one.

Sleeping Giants looks to be the start of a very enjoyable science fiction series. I’m looking forward to seeing what Sylvain Neuvel will do next.

3 ½ stars out of 5

CLICK HERE and order your copy of Sleeping Giants.

Cover Reveal: Two Brothers, One Redhead, and a Stolen Giraffe


Today we are excited to share the cover reveal of Two Brothers, One Redhead, and a Stolen Giraffe by Sarah Mandell. It’s a quirky coming-of-age story about the complications of love, loss, and new-found independence. It releases in May 2016.

About the Book:
The McElroy brothers find trouble easily. Dylan plunges headfirst into it, while Daniel cleans up behind him. That’s the way it’s always been, ever since their mother left them to be bounced around the foster system, causing trouble wherever they went. The soon-to-be euthanized giraffe they just stole from the Northside Animal Park may be their biggest predicament yet, in more ways than one, but there’s no undoing what’s been done.

Lost in Nebraska without a plan, clueless how to care for the ornery old beast in the back of the trailer, the well-meaning brothers stop to rest at an abandoned-looking barn. A pretty redhead with a snappy temperament and a shotgun discovers the boys and their sixteen-foot stowaway. Her name is Josephine, she lives on this farm with her father who is spoken of, but never seen, and her root cellar has more locks than a bank vault. She’s got a way with animals and plenty of secrets, not to mention the interest of two brothers who swore they’d never let some girl come between them.



About the Author:

Sarah Mandell is a professionally trained artist with a background in commercial interior design. She’s also the brains and busy hands behind a thriving indie craft business called Once Again Sam in Greenville, SC. Even with an ever-expanding collection of creative outlets, she’s truly the happiest when she’s writing. Two Brothers, One Redhead, and a Stolen Giraffe is Sarah’s second novel. Her debut novel was Celia on the Run (Untreed Reads, 2012).




One (1) winner will receive a laser engraved giraffe necklace (in the color of choice as shown in the photo) and signed copy of the book (when it comes out)
One (1) winner will receive a $15 gift card
All prizes are open worldwide.
Ends May 5th
Prizing is provided by the author. You must be 13 or older to enter and have parental permission if under 18. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.



Worth Mentioning – with special guest author, J. Zachary Pike

We are pleased to have J. Zachary Pike visiting us today at Astounding Books as our guest blogger. Pike was once a basement-dwelling fantasy gamer, but over time he metamorphosed into a basement-dwelling fantasy writer. A New Englander by birth and by temperament, he writes strangely funny fiction on the seacoast of New Hampshire. His novel, Orconomics, is available now. 

An excerpt from the novel can be found below. Give it a try and enter to win a FREE digital copy of the novel on a Kindle Paperwhite! You can see more of his work at jzacharypike.com, or drop him a line on Facebook or Twitter.

On Writing by J. Zachary Pike


I’ve found plenty of tips over the years for creating three-dimensional characters, and I’ve followed more than a few of the good ones. But I seldom see many tips for building interesting worlds, which I find odd. After all, a fantasy setting can be deep and fascinating or flat and uninteresting just as much as any character can. As I created Arth for my own books, I found it helpful to think of my world as another character, and in so doing try to make it as three-dimensional as possible.

The World is Flat

When a character is simple and stereotypical, they’re often described as flat and two dimensional. There’s nothing wrong with a two dimensional character in passing—simple characters are a critical element of storytelling. (Imagine how horrible the last book you read would be if the author delved into the past, motivations, and flaws of every person who appeared in the book.)

A simple, underdeveloped world can also come across as two-dimensional. Such a simple world might make a good stop for the interdimensional traveler / spaceship crew. Think of all the bizarrely gimmicky worlds that the original Star Trek visited, or the satirically stereotypical planets on Futurama. They make for some great gags or philosophical points, and they’re fun to visit, but you probably wouldn’t want to set a novel there.

How a World is Like Another Character

A character isn’t a person, and a fantasy world isn’t a place. They’re both constructs for telling stories and conveying themes. Your characters’ strengths, weaknesses, flaws, and redemption (should) all serve to shape your story and advance your plot. Creating a world is the same way: it’s a tool for advancing the plot plot. The easiest way for me to keep that in mind is to think of Arth as another character.

Here are some of the ways that helps me.

  • I try to give my world “flaws.” It’s easy to see if a character is too perfect, or too evil, or just too… flat. One key indication of a two-dimensional character is a lack of flaws (or redemptive qualities for villains.) But a world can be too one-note as well, and a good way to prevent that is to give it “flaws.” it a counter-themes, something that takes it in the opposite direction. One example from Arth is the balance between military and financial forces— on the one hand, the world is full of violence and constant danger, but at the same time a stable economy with advanced financial markets has grown not just despite the conflict, but because of it.
  • I use two-dimensional characters to create three dimensional cultures. Part of what makes our world so interesting is the diversity of perspectives and attitudes that you find in any group of people. If all of my minor characters are of one mind and purpose, or even clearly divided along predictable lines, my world would be missing out on some engaging conflict. II try to give the minor characters a variety of voices and perspectives, so that together they’ll create a picture of a more fascinating culture.
  • I think about my world’s character arc. A character that doesn’t advance or change over the course of a story is a dull one, and the same goes for a setting that isn’t impacted by the character’s actions. I try to outline the way my heroes’ actions will change their world, and what that does for Arth narratively.

Your mileage may vary, but it always helps me to think of my world as another character, If you’re thinking about writing fantasy or speculative fiction, I highly recommend giving it a try.

Book Excerpt from Orconomics: A Satire

imageLegend held that Andarun had once been the greatest city on Arth, in the early ages when it was the high seat of the kingdoms of the Sten. Then the Sten betrayed the rest of mankind and were subsequently wiped out in retaliation. The armies of Man were quickly driven away by a dragon, which was followed by hordes of Lizardmen, who fell to the Gremlins, who were slain by an Ogre tribe, and so on and so forth. By the time the Freedmen liberated the city from the rule of Ogmar the Mad, one could barely walk down Central Avenue without tripping over a priceless relic from a long-faded conflict. Of course, no one could even venture near a sewer grate for fear of giant spiders or Venomous Scargs or any of the other monstrous denizens that had never fully been expunged from the city.

Ironically, these ancient threats were key to Andarun’s rapid gentrification. Dangerous monsters and abundant treasure attract heroes. Wealthy heroes in need of gear attract merchants. Well-to-do merchants attract industry. Industry needs workers, who need developers for housing, who need builders and laborers, who need services. The ancient ruins beneath Mount Wynspar fertilized a blooming economy on its surface. Within an age, Andarun was again the greatest city on Arth, this time built atop the most deadly dungeon on Arth.

In Andarun, one could wake a nameless fear or two just by digging a wine cellar.

“The city’s built on big steps carved into the mountain back when the Sten were around,” Gorm told Gleebek as they made their way through Andarun’s crowded streets. “The lowest step is called the Base, and the top is the Pinnacle. Every step starts in the Ridge,” he said, pointing to the rough cliff face that cast the western side of the city in shadow, “and ends at the Wall.” He turned and pointed to the giant stone edifice that made up the eastern mirror of the Ridge.

“A zabba,” Gleebek said with a low whistle.

“Aye. The Wall and the Ridge cast long shadows down here on the lower steps. But Andarun rises to their tops, so up near the Pinnacle, where the uppity-ups live, the Wall ain’t much taller than a hedge. Good views, I’m told.”

“Da grongo?”

“Everything’s better by the Wall—the view, the light, the smells. Course, everything’s more expensive too. Makes Andarun almost like a map of society, ye see. The higher up the mountain ye go, the higher your status. The closer to the Wall ye are, the more money ye have.”

“Grong, da nub’root Hupsit—”

“So if we get separated, head down toward the Base and west to the Ridge. Eventually, ye’ll come here.” Gorm rounded a bend and gestured down an alley that was deeper and darker than most swamps.


“Welcome to the Underdim,” grinned Gorm. “They don’t get any more Ridgeward or Baseward.”

Interested in visiting Arth? There’s never been an better time, because right now you can win one of several free copies of Orconomics—including a digital copy on a Kindle Paperwhite. CLICK HERE Enter to win on my contest page. 

Spotlight on Astounding Authors

Welcome to another week of Astounding Authors. We are spotlighting four novels this week that I’m sure you will enjoy. This week, please share us on your Facebook or Twitter streams. It only takes a moment to click the share button. This not only helps us, but it helps spread the word about out Amazing! Astounding! Authors!

imageBucky Ball
Author: Fabian Roy
Publisher: Amazon Digital (Jan. 2016)
Pages: 168
Genre: Science Fiction
Twitter: @lokisarrow
Facebook:  Lokisarrow
Website: LokisArrow

James Pesola tells the story of how one night of partying in South Beach with his best friend changed his life forever. Listening to a specific song always transports him back to the same time and place which happens to be the Miamillennium nightclub in Miami. These flashback moments are called lifeturns, and James claims to have lived over one hundred and seventy-one of them, some lasting between 13 and 26 years.

Download what some are calling a “Fun” and “Imaginative” read today! CLICK HERE for Bucky Ball by Fabian Roy.

imageThe Sabbath
Authors: Arthur Nsenga & Shaunakay Francis
Publisher: Say La V. Publishing (Jan. 2016)
Pages: 197
Genre: Science Fiction / Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic
Twitter: @artDaGreat
Facebook: Nsenga-Arthur
Website: Arthurnsenga.com

Would you rather suffer for eternity, or die peacefully?

What if you had no choice?

The morning after witnessing a spectacular meteorite shower, Cory and his girlfriend Lana didn’t expect to wake up immortal.

News bulletins claim the meteorites have released a chemical compound called ATHENS which has caused mutations in the human race. The twisted outcome has left people unable to die but with an increased sensitivity to pain.

Now with the majority of food supplies contaminated, and the rich controlling what little is left, the desperate young couple are force to go on merciless food raids just to stave off the pain.

During which they accidentally discover a secret government device and find themselves caught up in a diabolical plot to control the future of humanity.

Realizing that there is more to ATHENS than what they were led to believe; Cory and Lana set out on a crusade to uncover the truth. Their journey will lead them into the darkest depths of humanity. If they can follow the trail, they may be able to find some answers.

But will the cost of knowing the truth be too much? Find out by CLICKING HERE and ordering your copy of The Sabbath by Arthur Nsenga & Shaunakay Francis!

imageLeaves of the World Tree
Author: Adam Misner
Publisher: Adam Misner (Dec. 2015)
Pages:  108
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Website: Adammisner.com
Goodreads: Leaves of the World Tree

Leaves of The World Tree is a 108 page short story collection.

Each one is meant to give you a window to a soul. To introduce you to motivations of a person unlike yourself. The stories follow a Viking cursed with being average amongst a group of extraordinary warriors; a man who has never slept who experiences both the productivity and loneliness of his gift; an evil pirate that wants to save the girl; a necromancer who wants to be a romantic; a shapeshifter who wants to find a friend to reveal his secret to; and finally a knight who has always been ordered to do good and wants to choose for himself to be a good man.

Get started on the Leaves of The World Tree today by downloading your copy.  CLICK HERE!

Author: Moshe Ben-Or
Publisher: Amazon Digital (Jan 2016)
Pages: 363
Genre: Hard Science Fiction
Facebook: Moshe-Ben-Or
Goodreads: Nightfall

There will be war!

Leo Freeman is a bored young aristocrat who flies fighter jets in peacetime, but will never be allowed to fly them in combat. All he wants is a bit of adventure.

Yosi Weismann is a scarred war hero who has seen enough “adventure” to last six lifetimes. All he wants is a little peace and quiet for a change.

Isabella van der Rijn is a ruthless tyrant perched unsteadily atop a seething pyramid of venal nobles. All she wants is power, at any price.

Patricia Sleager is the socialite daughter of an up-jumped ne’er-do-well whose fortune and prospects are rapidly fading. All she wants is to keep up her social status, no matter what she has to do.

Miri Legraf is an ordinary schoolgirl. All she wants is to pass the next midterm, and fit in with her friends.

But the universe does not care what they want. It does not care what anyone wants. When alien monsters from beyond the stars come barreling into Known Space with a war fleet larger than anything anyone has seen in six centuries, all well-laid plans and all vague dreams will come crashing down. And the only things that matter will be survival and victory. Victory at any price. For without victory, there will be no survival.

What is the price of victory?  Find out now by CLICKING HERE and purchasing Nightfall by Moshe Ben-Or!