The World Without Crows by Ben Lyle Bedard

The World Without Crows by Ben Lyle Bedard, 401 pages, May 16 2017, Genre: Post-Apocalyptic/Dystopian. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

Review by Leigh Holland.

Remember how excited we were when Hollywood started making good zombie movies and tv shows, and suddenly, we couldn’t get enough of zombies? Well, until they beat us to death with them and we were finally double tapped out on them. One morning, there we were, carrying our zombie lunchbox, wearing our zombie t-shirt, groaning at the kitchen table as we slowly raised the milk-laden cereal spoon to our lips, glancing at the zombie poster on the wall. And we realized, ironically, we’d gorged ourselves on zombies. We’d lost that excitement we felt at the beginning. We put ourselves on a diet, rationing our zombie intake.

Prepare to feel that familiar sense of excitement again as The World Without Crows raises it from the dead. I thought I could never love a serious zombie horror novel the same way again, but this book proved me wrong. For a topic that’s been done to death, Bedard reinvigorates it with complex characters in a world gone mad. This story isn’t so much about what happens to humans when there are zombies in our world. This story is about what happens to humans when there is no humanity in our world.

We follow Eric, an overweight teenage boy who has lost his parents to the Brazilian disease, Vaca B. Vaca B caused the apocalypse, the zombie scourge. Society fell apart. Once a D and D loving guy with friends and aspirations of kissing Jessica, after Vaca B, Eric is no longer as carefree. Since winter freezes the zombies, he decides to travel to Maine to an island. He meets new people on his journey. Some of them are good, some are dangerous. Some he’d die or kill for. And, of course, there are zombies. Eric must fight nature, other men, and monsters in order to survive and reach his destination. There are many characters in this tale and not all of them make it. My favorite side characters include John Martin and Birdie. John Martin is an older man who shows Eric how much people need each other and why that’s a good thing. Birdie is a little girl whom Eric looks after and grows to regard as dearer than his own life.

Zombie horror, I thought I was over you. I thought we’d broken up. But it turns out, I just can’t quit you. I’d recommend The World Without Crows to anyone who loves zombie horror and/or post-apocalyptic tales.

You can find this book at The World Without Crows.

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John Smith: Last Known Survivor of the Microsoft Wars by Roland Hughes

John Smith: Last Known Survivor of the Microsoft Wars by Roland Hughes, 274 pages, Logikal Solutions, 2012, ISBN-13: 978-1939732002. Genre: Dystopian. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

Review by Leigh Holland.

*I was given a free copy of the e-book in exchange for my honest review.

This book was written in an interesting format. The last known survivor of the Microsoft Wars is John Smith, an elderly man who survived the cataclysm by hiding out in a bunker. Susan Krowley interviews him. The book is a back-and-forth interview between the two characters.

Susan Krowley is a young journalist, a profession she inherited from her father. In the future, after most of the world’s population was wiped out in the cataclysm, people inherit their jobs from their parents in a master and apprentice relationship. Because the cataclysm was so sudden, a vast amount of human knowledge was lost. Because so many lives were lost, entire skill sets disappeared from the species. She interviews John Smith.

John Smith is one of the oldest people on Earth and is a survivor of the war. He has a cache of books and a computer that works but due to not being able to get another one, doesn’t use it often. He has large amounts of valuable data on CD that humanity will likely not be able to build a machine to gain access to. Humanity has been taken back to the 1800’s after the cataclysm. He condescends to Susan much of the time, as he knows a lot and she knows so little of history. He explains that mankind’s history goes through cycles. During each cycle, we reach a technological apex, bring catastrophe on ourselves like Atlantis, and lose most technology and knowledge. Then we must begin anew anew. So the cycle goes on, ad infinitum. John presents a vast array of conspiracy theories and myth, mashed together as truth, leading to the inevitable conclusion at the end of each cycle: destruction of civilization by those human families who continue to try to control it.

The premise, myths, and theories presented were fascinating.The idea was original and thought-provoking. I would’ve enjoyed the story more had the information been presented in another format other than an interview. I’d recommend this to science fiction fans provided the reader doesn’t mind the interview style the book is written in.

This book can be found at John Smith: Last Known Survivor of the Microsoft Wars.

Leigh Holland’s Interview with Laura Pritchard

Leigh Holland’s Interview with Laura Pritchard

I’m delighted today to be able to host Laura Pritchard, author of “Monarchy”, on my author spotlight! Thanks for being here, Laura!

Thanks so much for having me Leigh!

Leigh: Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Laura Pritchard and I am from a small town in the South Wales Valleys in the United Kingdom. I am a teacher by day and an author by night! I currently teach music to children who have been expelled from school. I have written for as long as I can remember! I have distinct memories of filling notebooks with stories from a very young age.

Leigh: “Monarchy” seems to me to be similar in some ways to other YA Dystopian fiction, such as “The Hunger Games”. How much have other Dystopian writers influenced your work? What are your favorite novels in this genre?

I have always read young adult fiction as I found myself unable to move on from that genre. My favorite authors like John Marsden and JK Rowling are still firm additions to my bookshelves. Reading so much YA meant that my novels naturally fell into that genre and dystopia is one of my favorite YA adult settings. I think that my favorite modern dystopia is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins as it has all of the elements of a classic dystopia and her world building skills are first class. I came up with the initial story for my novel about 2 years ago and have put all of my time and effort into perfecting it since then. Being a mum to 2 young children and a secondary school Music teacher alongside means I have become a professional life juggler and I try to fit as much writing time as I can!

Leigh: What draws you to the Dystopian genre?

One of the first dystopian novels I ever read was The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Attwood. I was assigned this book for the reading section of my English Literature A Level and read it so many times during that time but always managed to find something different after each read. It is what introduced me to the idea of dystopia and how worlds can be controlled in so many ways and also taught me about the theme of rebellion. It is definitely something that has featured as a huge inspiration for Monarchy, my first novel.

Leigh: Which actors would you like to see playing the major characters in “Monarchy” if there were a movie made of it?

What an amazing question! I can imagine Constance being played by a soft, willowy actress but with a firm mind. Someone like Emma Watson or Amanda Seyfried. For Calloway, someone quite self-assured who would be able to throw some power into the role. If we are talking ideal world then it would have to Ryan Gosling!

Leigh: What are some of your favorite films and tv shows?

I love to watch (and read!) gritty crime dramas. My partner and I have recently finished watching Designated Survivor starring Keifer Sutherland. Similarly, I’m have just finished the second book in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy by Steig Larrson. I love complex crime plots that keep you guessing until the very end. Similarly, I hope that my books take on that characteristic. I love cliff hangers and have ended Monarchy on a huge cliff hanger. I want the audience to be thinking about what happens after the novel has ended.

Leigh: What’s your favorite motivational quote?

Tying into my earlier answers, it has to be “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum” which is taken from The Handmaids Tale. It has resurfaced recently due to the novel being made into a TV drama in the US. It is definitely a motto for my life and for writing in particular. Stay positive no matter what. This is such a tough industry to break into and you will be knocked down time and time again. The main thing is to have belief in what you are doing and to keep going as there will be so many points when everything seems worthless. Have passion in what you write and use that passion to drive you onward with your ideas.

Leigh: Why did you choose the Indie route over traditional publishing? What advantages did you find in this publishing route?

I self-published simply for the fact that I wanted people to have access to my novel. I have so much love for it and wanted to be able to share that with people. To me, having my work read is much more important than having my work sold and having reviews showing people sharing that love for my writing makes me feel like I have succeeded.

Leigh: If you could meet one famous person from history, who would it be and why?

Again, another good question! I’d love to meet Anne Frank. I recently holidayed in Budapest and spent a lot of time visiting WW2 sites. In particular, something that struck me was the Jewish graveyard which was the burial place of so many young children who were killed in the Holocaust. The fact that Anne Frank wrote about her experiences during such an awful time is heroic and I find her novel fascinating.

Leigh: What are your hobbies?

In my spare time, I run a children’s choir and an adult’s choir. I love singing and arranging music so it’s one of my favorite things to do. We sing in the local community in churches, schools and private venues. We’ve also ventured into weddings this year! I also read as much as I can. Books are an evening pastime for me and I prefer a good book than sitting down to watch TV!

Leigh: How can readers discover more about you and your work?

My novel is available on Amazon and Smashwords. I am in the process of building my social media platform so keep an eye out for my Facebook and Twitter pages soon!

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Monarchy-Trilogy-Book-1-ebook/dp/B071NH99VQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1497862077&sr=8-1&keywords=laura+pritchard

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/723257

Goodreads: Laura Pritchard on Goodreads

Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview, Laura!

Monarchy by Laura Pritchard

A Dystopian Nightmare

Monarchy by Laura Pritchard, 233 pages, April 26th 2017, Genre: Dystopian. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

Review by Leigh Holland.

Monarchy is a futuristic dystopian novel reminiscent of “The Hunger Games”. What will a person do to survive? Will they betray their morals? How far will they go? How will the bitter trials one must endure for survival in a threatening world change those who go through them?

In humanity’s past, we became divided into the extremely wealthy and the horrifyingly impoverished. With wealth unequally distributed, the poor turned to crime to survive. Disease, famine, and misery ruled mankind, with the exception of a wealthy few. A revolution changed the social order, as it always seems to in such circumstances. A new, perfected social order was established under the elusive “Monarchy”; a world where nobody goes hungry or lacks for basic needs such as clothing, shelter, medicine, or food. The cost of this perfection is the loss of privacy and a controlled society in which young adults are taken, trained, and assigned roles in the society. Most of those taken from the various sectors are thrilled to be part of the society and to serve. However, some are not- such as Constance, the heroine, and a few of the other recent recruits she’s training alongside. Constance manages to create loyalty among her group for each other rather than the Monarchy. This is forbidden. The only loyalty can be to the Monarchy. The trainers torture them through a series of brutal tests, culminating with one that breaks their loyalty to one another. Finally, they are ready for their assignments. Constance is assigned as a tower guard, a prestigious position for a new recruit. However, Constance learns about the horrible events happening around the various sectors and her doubts about the efficacy and goodwill of the Monarchy continue to grow. She wonders if she will ever see home and her father again.

Written in the first person, the reader identifies easily with Constance and her love of home and family, her uncertainty about the future. The plot was straightforward, the book well-written, and the main character well-developed. This book leaves off on a cliffhanger and is part of an upcoming trilogy of works. I enjoyed reading Monarchy. I’d recommend this book to readers who like dystopian novels similar to The Hunger Games.

This book is available at Amazon at Monarchy (The Monarchy Trilogy Book 1) .

The Amplified by Lauren M. Flauding

Intense!

The Amplified by Lauren M. Flauding, 204 pages, Blurtery Publishing, March 15th 2016, Genre: Dystopian/Young Adult. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

Review by Leigh Holland.

The Amplified is a young adult, dystopian novel set in a world where physical prowess is what determines social status. It explores themes such as peer pressure, societal conditioning, choice and freedom versus security, and forsaking ethics for status. It draws a parallel between our world of image over substance and this fictional world of status based strictly on physical condition. This theme is starkly evident when one of the Amplified characters, Liam, saves Mari’s life, only to have everyone laugh at him for being overweight. Liam is willing to risk death in order to transform his body into one more accepted by others.

Mari Quillen is a fifteen year old girl, living in a society divided into three groups: the Regulars, the Amplified, and the Restrainers. Everyone is born into the Regulars, although the children of the Amplified are of higher status than those born to other Regulars. Mari’s parents were Regulars; in school Mari was bullied for being of lesser birth. She has an older brother and a younger brother. Her father passed away because of a virus and her mother is blind. Her mother picks beans, which are sent away for processing by the government. Nobody eats food anymore; everyone eats capsules which have varying effects. Regulars get only the regular capsules; but Amplified get a variety. Mari’s older brother returns home after four years’ service as an Amplified, fighting against their enemies, the Dissenters, who are made out to be nothing more than savages with pitchforks. Mari doesn’t like how different her brother has become.

Mari decides to go through Amplification regardless, since this is the way to succeed in their society. An amplifier is surgically placed inside her head. Whenever an Amplified issues commands to their amplifier, they are able to perform at superhuman levels in order to achieve the command. As she continues in her training, Mari discovers that not only can they not resist a command they’ve issued to their amplifier once it has been made, but that their are ways for their handlers to override their Amplification units. Indeed, the Override command is used to control them on the battlefield. They kill whether they like it or not. As she uncovers more sinister machinations of the governor, Mari begins to regret ever having chosen to become Amplified.

My favorite character was Mari. She was the only one to see that something was wrong and resist the temptation to forsake her personal values for the sake of societal status. Despite this, Mari, like all of us, is flawed. When her friend clearly was in need, she failed to notice and only managed to be there for her after the crisis had passed. I also liked Liam; I’m holding out hope we’ll see Talina rebel against the governor once and for all in future installments.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading The Amplified. The first chapter started off a bit slow, but once past it, I couldn’t put the book down. The plot was original and the characters were developed; the writing was engaging. Flauding does a masterful job of subtly weaving this dystopian tapestry, crafting a compelling tale and fascinating world. I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys dystopian or young adult novels.

This book is the first in a series, at The Amplified.

Dating in The Apocalypse: Sarah “The One” by Christopher John Chater

Tougher than Tinder!

Dating in The Apocalypse: Sarah “The One” by Christopher John Chater, Chater Publishing, 62 pages, July 8th, 2016, Genre: Dystopian/Science Fiction/Romance. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

by Leigh Holland

Dating in The Apocalypse is the first novelette in a series. Each book focuses on the protagonist’s experiences with a different woman, or “date”. Dating in the modern age was already rough, trying to find love in the apocalypse is well-nigh impossible.

Human beings became immunosuppressed to the point they could no longer fight off basic diseases. Influenza wiped out huge swaths of humanity. Some remained immune and survived. The majority were men. Women are so scarce, they’re traded, fought over, and kidnapped as if they were oil. Most men would give up on love, but not Tom Collins. He’s determined to find “The One”. He’s sure she’s out there and isn’t “irradiated, diseased, or had anything amputated”. As Tom puts it:

“I’d made a list of her qualities and kept it taped to the door. I looked at it every day before I left the house.

Blonde hair. (Natural, of course. I’ll be checking roots, girls.)

Green eyes. (The color of Fenway grass, or those old 7UP bottles.)

Smart. (Coupled with the natural blonde part, this is indeed a rare specimen.)

Strong and independent. (She doesn’t shed too many tears over something as silly as an apocalypse. Can’t tell you how many drink dates turned into a bawling, apocalyptic catharsis: “Then we had to saw off papa’s leg…” Gets a little depressing.)

Caring. (Hoping this whole apoc thing hasn’t jaded her. Plenty of fish in the sea, but they shouldn’t be as cold as one.)

Worthy. (There are women these days who would whore themselves for a cheeseburger. A worthy woman knows she at least deserves fries with it.)”

Tom finally meets a woman who matches his description: Lady Sarah. There are just three problems. One, she’s entered negotiations to wed his rival, a marauder clan leader named Darryl who kidnapped his last three dates. Two, Sarah resides in an area forbidden to men. And three, Sarah thinks Tom is a bit of an idiot.

After escaping many dangerous situations during their “dinner date”, Tom extracts a promise from Lady Sarah that she will date him again if he can find a way to keep the marauder clans from raiding her city. The story ends on a cliffhanger which will set the stage for the next novelette in the series.

Although Dystopian, it is highly humorous. It’s a fast-paced, fun ride. I never imagined the apocalypse could lighten my mood and make me laugh. Chater juxtaposes a fool-for-love, reluctant hero whose primary weapon is his witty repartee against a surreal backdrop of a post-apocalyptic city. The characters were quirky and interesting. My favorite character was Lillith, Tom’s mother, a formerly frustrated fashion designer whose fifteen minutes of fame has finally arrived.

Witty and amusing, Dating in The Apocalypse wasn’t what I expected, making it a delightful read. It’s currently on sale for .99 cents at Amazon. It’s followed by three more books in the series. I’d recommend this novelette to anyone looking for an entertaining romp through the apocalypse that can be read in a single sitting.

You can find it at Amazon at Dating In The Apocalypse.

Ahe’ey: The Complete Collection by Jamie Le Fay

Epic, romantic fantasy!

Ahe’ey: The Complete Collection by Jamie Le Fay, 696 pages, March 8th, 2017, ISBN: 978-1370765775, Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Social Issues, Girls and Women. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

by Leigh Holland

This is a story about true love between a star-crossed pair: Morgan Lua, a human champion for female rights, and Gabriel, a supernatural prince from a hidden, mystical realm. The scenes switch perspective between familiar Earth and the ethereal land of the Ahe’ey; the distant past and modern day; and between major characters. Le Fay weaves a magical tale with complex characters, hidden histories, political intrigue, and desperate desires yearning for fulfillment.

But this is no traditional fairy tale. We human beings vacillate between hope and despair, living in a world where simple deeds of loving kindness can move mountains, while simultaneously the worst acts of evil we can imagine are committed. We worry about which worldview and values will triumph and resonate throughout human history. In each generation, we stand at a crossroads, and we support those with power and influence whom we think can steer us in the best direction. Morgan Lua is not content to stand on the sidelines. As the leader of the Hope Foundation, she works to improve human rights for women and minorities around the globe. Morgan is opposed by the white supremacist, far-right wing politician Zanus, who is responsible for attempts on Morgan’s life. Enter Gabriel Warren, leader of the Ahe’ey Foundation, determined to stay by her side and ensure Zanus and his hateful agenda fails. Experiencing a natural chemistry and attraction they’ve never felt before; Gabriel and Morgan fall in love.

As the story progresses, Morgan learns that there’s more than meets the eye where Gabriel is concerned. After an attempt on her life that leaves them both at death’s door, Gabriel’s mother, Viviane Queen of Ange’el, brings them back to their hidden home realm to recuperate. At first, the land of the Ahe’ey seems like a blend of fairy and angelic realms, a celestial delight. Its people are beautiful, strong, swift, and magical, none more so than the pure blood royal family. The royals believe the power within their genes will one day save humankind. As a result, they intermarry to preserve their genetic purity. A matriarchal society, women appear to be in control, but lower ranking women are controlled by higher ranking women. The caste system limits the freedoms of both royals and non-royals, men and women, alike. Although the Ahe’ey traditionally guide humanity, we find they are every bit as much in need of saving.

          Ahe’ey presents many important themes and thought provoking ideas, such as nature versus nurture, the battle of the sexes, the meaning of sacrifice, the ethics of evil for the greater good, the loss of privacy in the modern age, and forging identity in a multi-cultural world. An epic, romantic, fantasy adventure, it nevertheless provokes deeper thinking on many issues facing us today.

           Ahe’ey: The Complete Collection was originally released in twelve separate episodes. Although the collection is formatted as a single novel, its episodic nature provides it with a slightly different structure and rhythm than a traditional novel. Currently, readers can find the first three episodes free at Amazon, with each subsequent episode at .99 cents. The entire collection can be found at Ahe’ey: The Complete Collection.I’d recommend this collection to anyone who enjoys romantic fantasy adventure with a social conscience.

The Revolutions of Caitlin Kelman by Matthew Luddon

Intrigue-Oriented

The Revolutions of Caitlin Kelman (The Kelman Chronicles Book One) by Matthew Luddon, 171 pages, Zoe Rose Books, 2nd Edition, October 18, 2016, Genre: Dystopian/Young Adult. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

by Leigh Holland

The Revolutions of Caitlin Kelman is the first installment in a young adult dystopian series set in a fictional place known as the Empire. Much like ancient Rome, the Empire features a prime city, Dominion City, which serves as the seat of central government and political intrigue. Surrounding Dominion City is “the Interior”, a land of second class citizens and foreigners. Beyond the Interior are the Border lands, where the foreigners dwell. Dominion City contains wealth and power. The further one gets from it, the worse living conditions become, as policing soldiers take financial advantage of and torture innocent townsfolk. Conquered foreigners residing within the Empire are “the Stateless”, accused of terrorism and treason under a government they didn’t choose.

The novella opens with scenes depicting Caitlin’s entry into Dominion City. The imagery and feel of a stealth operation in the open is reminiscent of Peter Chung’s MTV animated series Aeon Flux. However, instead of an acrobatic spy, we’re following the journey of fourteen-year-old Caitlin Kelman across Dominion City. No longer an innocent, hopeful girl, Caitlin feels intense anger born from the Empire’s unjust slaying of her parents. Caitlin’s ultimate goal is not made plain. Her transitional goals are clear throughout the book and as each one is met, a new one replaces it. The tale is fast paced and Caitlin can trust no one, as everyone has a motive to use her for their own ends. By the end of this installment, Caitlin is on the run once more, a fugitive from the Empire’s brand of justice.

This novella ends leaving us with questions about why Caitlin made her life-altering choice and what her plans are as the series progresses. While sympathetic to Caitlin for her losses, her fear in the face of danger, and her struggles inside the city to survive, Caitlin demonstrates she has no difficulty killing, betraying others, or doing anything else she feels she needs to do to further her mysterious agenda. Caitlin exhibits a cold practicality. While it seems easy to judge Caitlin, we are reminded that the citizens of Dominion City have traded their morality for comfort and status, allowing foreigners and the poor to be cruelly mistreated and tossed aside by their society. The seemingly kind, honorable citizens tolerate and perpetuate an unjust Empire for their own benefit.

I enjoyed reading The Revolutions of Caitlin Kelman. It’s an action filled, intrigue-oriented dystopian that sends a message about wealth disparity in modern societies and how far a government will go to hold onto power. It left me wanting to discover more about Caitlin’s motives and plans and the direction the city would take in the future. There were a couple of punctuation errors in the digital edition but these did not interfere with the overall enjoyment of the book. I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys dystopian fiction.

The upcoming installments are entitled The Burning Cities of Caitlin Kelman and The Ghosts of Caitlin Kelman. The first installment may be purchased at The Revolutions of Caitlin Kelman.

Cease and Desist by Stephen David Hurley

An engrossing read!

Cease and Desist by Stephen David Hurley, 327 pages, September 23rd, 2016, Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal and Urban. Available in Kindle, Print, and Audible. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

by Leigh Holland

The author of Cease and Desist, Stephen David Hurley, knows that while my reading tastes are eclectic and varied, I absolutely adore a good dystopian novel. Dystopian literature holds up a mirror to our society. It reveals to us who we are in danger of becoming if we go too far.  Above all, it makes us examine our values and choices, so we can make better choices both as individuals and as members of our communities. Although this novel has paranormal elements, it is equally dystopian in nature.

All too often today, we see news stories about teenagers publishing their crimes to social media for the world to see. We live in an over-connected world, where to be heard, to be seen, is a shouting match. That which shocks, humiliates, and disturbs is the quickest way to win the match, to stand out, to get noticed and gain fame. Ironically, we often feel less human connection as a result. Adults ask how these teenagers could do such things. Cease and Desist shows us how and why they would do such things.

We are immersed through first person narration in the life and struggles of Cecilia “Cease” de Menich, a teenage girl with an interesting pedigree, a troubled past, and the charisma of Sarah Bernhardt. Cease is playing the role in a live reality-drama television series of Jeanne d’Arc, the patron saint of France. However, this is no ordinary role and no ordinary show. Other teen actors play the roles of strong females from history, such as Catherine the Great and Susan B. Anthony, in a contest to win first place at the podium, fall in love with one of the hunks on the show, and fulfill the destiny of saving the world. The show is driven by the audience’s ever increasing demand for more nudity, more sex, and even more violence for their entertainment. The actresses are highly competitive, willing to go to ever furthering lengths to win the ultimate prize: Fame. As the sex and violence becomes all too real, Cease must confront her family’s past, and make an all too adult decision about how far she is willing to go for fame.

In school, we were given an assignment to pick a historical figure and give the class a presentation. Drawn to Jeanne d’Arc, she was the subject of my presentation. She was a strong teenager, chosen by God to fulfill a destiny that surely must have overwhelmed her. How did she deal with the trials and eventual horrors she would face? What wisdom could I glean from her life and example? In Jeanne, I saw my 16-year-old self, standing at the precipice of adulthood, struggling with the meaning of life, of love, of identity, of destiny. I immediately found Cease relatable. Cease, an actress, tries to become Jeanne for the screen.  She begins receiving emails from a fan who claims to be the Maid herself. Cease begins engaging in conversations with the saint, first in emails, then in her own mind. Cease feels as though Jeanne is with her, throughout her struggles on the show and in her real-life quest to resolve her past and understand what kind of love can save the world.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Cease and Desist. The characters and plot line were original and well developed, and the writing was excellent. It transported me back to a time when I was a girl on the verge of becoming a woman, identifying with Cease’s internal conflicts and difficult choices; and remembering that teenage boys, going through their own struggle to transform into men, may mistake sexual conquest for manhood.  Its message was relevant; the mirror it held up showing us a phenomenon in danger of becoming all too real today.

Cease and Desist by Stephen David Hurley can be found at Cease and Desist.