Tag Archives: Alan McGill

Author Anthony Avina’s “Top 10 Books of 2021”

Hello there everyone! Wow, what a year of books it has been. I am so honored to be sharing my top reads of the year. There have been so many amazing books published this year, and with the pandemic having kept us all indoors far more than ever before, there has been a surplus of books being published from indie authors and publishers alike. Now I want to mention that although the books are numbered here in the last post, this is not an indicator of ranking of any kind. This is more about organizing the books, not ranking. So with that in mind, here are my top choices for the year, each with a snippet from the original review. 

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10: Below Torrential Hill by Jonathan Koven

What really stood out to me was the incredible way the author matched the atmosphere and setting to the protagonist’s journey, almost as if the character’s surroundings became a reflection of their own inner turmoil and the ups and downs they went through. I also was really impressed with the fine line the narrative played with magical realism, as it allowed enough room for the reader to kind of draw their own conclusions from this aspect of the story, and kind of put a whole-new modern-day, coming-of-age twist on the classic Christmas Carol narrative. 

This was one of the last books I reviewed this year, and the author’s amazingly poetic writing style and imagery were just so breathtaking to behold. A definite must-read!

9: Traveller Manifesto by Rob Shackleford 

What always strikes me about this series and the author is the vast amount of detail the author puts into the series. From both a historical and a narrative standpoint, the author explores not only the sci-fi side of the series from the use of the Traveller technology, but the historical fiction side of each period of time these missions take on with an attention to detail that creates a sense of imagery and tone that bursts with life and vibrancy. The exploration of history’s impact on our world and the means by which the direction that history takes is often dictated by those who emerge victorious from a situation made this story feel so thought-provoking, and readers won’t be able to help being drawn down the rabbit hole that is this heart-pounding historical fiction thriller.

I am a huge fan of this author and this historical fiction/sci-fi series. The third and final book in the Traveller series, the narrative was just so engaging and thought-provoking that I wasn’t able to put it down.

8: The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer 

The characters were the show stealers of this read to be sure. What was so interesting, and something I always enjoy is when a writer crafts a narrative that features such a diverse cast of characters that we could find someone in the narrative to identify with for one reason or another. As someone with several chronic diseases, seeing protagonist Rachel’s struggle with chronic fatigue syndrome and the struggle with how she is perceived by others is a struggle I am all too familiar with, and it was great to see that representation in the book. The chemistry and heated moments, both good and bad, between Rachel and Jacob, were truly memorable and allowed the story to feel very cinematic in its approach.

As far as holiday romances go, this was definitely one of the most unique, creative, and heartwarming to read. It was so original, and I related to the protagonist so much with her struggle with chronic illness. (More holiday reads are coming soon).

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7: A Cry in the Moon’s Light by Alan McGill 

I was hooked immediately with this book. The author did such an amazing job of crafting a narrative that was both emotionally investing and chilling at the same time. The story was written in a way that felt like historical fiction meets Brother’s Grimm meets folklore all at once. The nods and homages to classic fairy tale style storytelling elements and themes were felt immediately, but then did such a great job of taking readers immediately into a right turn that held gruesome mayhem and terrifying creatures, and then made a completely new turn into heartbreaking and heartfelt romance and drama. 

I am an absolute fan of gothic horror, and this was pretty amazing. Great atmospheric haunt and an absolute pleasure to dive into. 

6: Blood Mark by J.P. McLean 

This was a refreshing new take on the paranormal thriller genre. The integration of Inca mythology into a modern-day thriller was engaging and thought-provoking, giving readers a wonderful blend of mythology and gritty crime thriller. The author’s own writing was outstanding, delivering a very descriptive and creative balance of imagery and character growth that felt very cinematic as a whole. 

A gritty and captivating new fantasy thriller that I just couldn’t put down!

5: Unearthed: A Jessica Cruz Story by Lilliam Rivera (Illustrated by Steph C.)

What a powerful and engaging new take on the iconic Green Lantern character. This was a fantastic story that really captured the struggle and strength of the Latino community, especially when the debate over immigration has never been higher in recent years. Jessica Cruz is the perfect character to bring this fight for justice and equality to light, as her DC Comics history played into the battle between fear and hope that her character has embodied since her introduction. As a half-Latino man whose late grandfather came to this country as a young child and built a family of his own through dedication and hard work, the cultural element and the familial bonds that Jessica had not only with her parents but her community as a whole really spoke to me, as these core values are something I was taught at an early age.

As a fan of this character and a proud Hispanic man, I was so enthralled with this story. As a fan of DC Comics, I loved this original take on the characters. 

4: The Marionettes Book 1 by Katie Wismer 

I can honestly say this was one of the best New Adult and Dark Fantasy reads I’ve read not only this year but in a long time. The amount of world-building and mythos the author was able to fit into the narrative was not only entertaining but made the world within this book feel seamless and immersive. The freedom with which the author incorporates not only the two main classifications of supernatural beings, (vampires and witches), but other powerful beings as well that don’t always fit into the typical supernatural fantasy read helped elevate this narrative to new heights. 

The dark and edgy fantasy horror read was so captivating and entertaining, and left on a massive cliffhanger that will keep readers on the edge of their seats for the sequel!

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3: The Thicket by Noelle Ihli 

What a truly amazing and inviting horror read! Horror fans everywhere will love this intricately detailed and plotted thriller. The author does a great job of painting an image of the narrative in the reader’s mind, delving into our modern world’s obsession and love of all things terrifying and macabre. As a fan of haunts myself and with friends who run a haunted attraction, I could relate to the life and atmosphere of these attractions clearly. 

I am a sucker for classic slasher horror flicks, and so the atmosphere and characters the author crafted in this narrative felt right at home in this genre and did an amazing job of painting an image of the novel’s plot in my mind.

2: Thread of Souls Book 1- Phantom Five by Scott & Ashley Roepel 

The balance of dark fantasy and character growth really elevates the narrative here. The danger and stakes of this fantasy world are made apparent early on in the story, as one of the main characters watches her sister taken right before her eyes by a large flying creature out of a nightmare. Yet it is the bond between the characters that really steal this story, as the blend of humor, charm, and heroism mixes with the personal problems each of these characters faces with their pasts and futures. It speaks of the classic swords and daggers, hero’s journey elements of adult fantasy novels that fans have come to know and love over the years.

I am a sucker for epic fantasy, and I loved the world-building and mythology the authors crafted in this original tale. I was able to devour the first 3 books in this series, and I absolutely cannot wait to read the next chapter in the coming year. 

1. Beyond the Stars and Shadows by Kristen Martin

This was such a compelling and engaging read right from the start. As anyone who knows me can attest, I love a wide variety of books. As such, I was so thrilled when the story I thought I was reading took off in such an exciting new direction. The author’s writing is so inviting and draws the reader into the narrative and the lives of the protagonist with ease. Elara is a truly fantastic character, well-rounded and while many books take their characters through a total evolution in their story, it was refreshing to see the narrative really hinged on the growth of the characters, making her story so much more interesting. 

When I think of books that really moved or inspired me this year, I cannot leave off one of my all-time favorite authors, Kristen Martin. The imagery and emotions this narrative brought out as I read it, along with the real-life interest I hold for metaphysical studies and the paranormal really sold me on this novel, and I was so honored to have been able to read this amazing story.

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Well, that does it for me. These were some of my favorite reads of the year, but certainly not the only favorites. What was your favorite book to read this year? Let me know in the comments, and be sure to like and follow my website if you aren’t already. Also, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter, and if you are in the market for some custom writing projects, ranging from poetry to short stories and more, then be sure to order something from my Etsy shop, Cosmic Writing Studios. Everyone have an amazing New Year’s Eve, and I look forward to seeing you in the coming New Year! 

Interview with Author and Podcaster Alan McGill

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

My father was a third-generation coal miner who grew up in a small town in rural Pennsylvania. My father told humorous stories about life in a coal mining town involving various antics he was involved in as a child. He was a gifted storyteller, but he also taught me to be respectful, polite, and kind. He always talked about helping those who were unable to stand up for themselves. As the president of a local with the UMWA, he represented this type of attitude. The example was also set by my maternal grandfather with whom I was very close. He was a WWII Navy veteran at Normandy with a gift for storytelling and was always there to help anyone in need. 

At a young age I read a lot of comics and admired heroes. Anyone who helped or stood up for those who couldn’t. When I was young, I was bullied for several years until I could defend myself. I tried to help or defend those who couldn’t when I was able. I failed more times than I succeeded, but it was always what drove me. 

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

I had been writing since I was in my early teens. I have written several books but never published any. In the late 90’s I was playing an online war game involving various teams and races of beings including undead creatures. Part of the game involved message boards with teammates. I took to writing elaborate short stories about battles and threw in little romantic elements to round out the stories. A couple of years later I wrote A Cry in the Moon’s Light about undead creatures but centering around werewolves and witches. 

The story sat for over twenty years until 2019 when I decided to self-publish. I had started doing podcasts as a hobby and was receiving positive feedback about my voice. I thought it would be a good idea to start there. I edited the story as an audiobook in the spirit of old radio. I narrated the story, voiced all the characters, bought sound effects, and commission an original score. I edited everything together and released it on Halloween night 2020. 

It took a little while to catch on, but within six months I had over 10,000 downloads and the comments were all positive. Now we have over 27,000 downloads and the people really seem to enjoy the story. That gave me the confidence to self-publish. Because I love artwork so much, I decided to publish an artbook/guidebook alongside the main title as well.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

The first is that love defeats evil. That is the subtitle of the book, but it is the underlying theme. It’s a horror/fantasy book with a bit of romance. Despite the magic, weapons, relics that are in the story, the only thing that really defeats the horror and darkness is true love. It the story of two people that love each other so deeply they care more about the other’s wellbeing than themselves. It’s also the story of true heroism. Doing more for others than yourself. 

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4) What drew you into this particular genre?

It’s kind of a mix of genres. I bill it as a horror/romance, but it has a lot of fantasy, action, adventure, bit of mystery. Those are generally my favorite things to read or watch, but I have a wide range of tastes in many things. There isn’t one type of genre over another to me. It just needs to be a great story that captures my imagination and that is what I try to do as a storyteller.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

Such a good question. I really like Colonel Voelker and in this book you never really know which side he is on. But I probably would pick mi, Lady. She is a bit mysterious at times, but her love for Seth is absolute. I would want to know why she loves him so deeply. What was it that made her fall so madly in love with him? So in love that nothing else mattered to her except his well-being.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Without exception, Twitter. I don’t have a million followers or anything, but it introduced me to Ed Bajek Publishing Services introduced me to Sal Borriello of the Reading List. Sal company provides professional editing services and Ed’s company does marketing and various other author related services. This sparks to expanding readership in other social media, catalogs, bookstores, etc. Sal turned it into a beautiful book and Ed puts it in front of potential readers. Without those two, it wouldn’t go far. Twitter also introduced me to artists and the cover designer which are all necessary elements in making this book be the best it can be for a reader. 

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

First, write the story and worry about making it great later.  

Second, you should really love the story. You are probably going to be spending a lot of time there, editing, re-editing, etc. so you might want to make sure you like it. Even if you get picked up by a publisher, you will be involved in editing and re-editing.

If you are self-publishing, hire a professional editing service. I know a lot of people can’t afford this and that is okay. Your story deserves to be out there if you want it to. But make it the best it can be. If you can’t afford a pro editor, take your time and keep going over it again and again until it’s right. 

Watch out for scams. Vetting is important. Do a little research on anyone you will pay to work on your book. There are lots of scams out there. Editing, marketing, etc. 

Keep your expectations realistic. Know your goals. Mine was just to write a good story and produce a beautiful book. Anything after that is a bonus. 

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I just finished book two of A Cry in the Moon’s Light. It is about double the size and the world is completely expanded. It has the same elements as the first, horror, romance, and mystery. But this time our characters find themselves in the middle of a war with the undead. There are a lot of previews in the artbook/guidebook that are out now titled Father Daniels Compendium of the Undead. I hope to publish this in 2022 along with season two of the podcast. 

I also have a surprise about A Cry in the Moon’s Light coming in 2022 as well. It has a little bit more and is a beautiful piece of work.

Lastly, I am also working on a historical fiction book which centers around my family immigrating to a small coal-mining town in western Pennsylvania. The main character is my grandmother Rose. We follow her as a young girl growing up in the early 1900s, through the Great Depression, and carving a life in Manhattan. It will also have a lot of action, adventure, and some horror with a romance side. I just haven’t decided yet if this will have any fantasy elements yet or not. 

I’m really excited about all three of these projects and I hope readers are too. 

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About the Author

Alan McGill is an American author who lives in an old farmhouse with a clowder of cats. Alan was close to his grandparents, who grew up during the Great Depression. They were married young and remained together until his grandmother’s passing. His grandfather served in the Navy during WWII and was a gifted storyteller who wove humorous tales about tough events. Alan grew up listening to these stories of right and wrong and watching fictional heroes–such as the Lone Ranger, Adam West’s Batman, and Captain America–stand up to bullies and protect those who count not protect themselves. This inspired him to always do what was right in his own life and shaped his love of storytelling. He is a multigenre author whose debut novel, A Cry in the Moon’s Light, combines horror, romance, and mystery. As with all his books, A Cry in the Moon’s Light centers on characters who strive to do the right thing regardless of the adversity they face. The book focuses on the theme of love–a pure and deep love that defeats all evil.

https://cryinthemoonslight.podbean.com/

https://www.instagram.com/alanmcgill14/

Father Daniel’s Compendium of the Undead (A Cry in the Moon’s Light) by Alan McGill Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author Alan McGill brings readers an exclusive and truly inspiring new collection of the history, the characters, the lore, and the information you’ve been waiting to get your hands on as he takes you into the world of his fantasy and horror series, (A Cry in the Moon’s Light), with this brand new collection, “Father Daniel’s Compendium of the Undead”. 

The Synopsis

Father Daniel and his Right Hand of God Order are a secret society fighting hideous creatures of the night. Gathering relics and creating weapons for decades at a place called The Forge. The Forge was built at the face of a silver mine below the Abbey on Feldberg mountain. The monks there compiled this Compendium at the Abbey in hopes it may help you understand the story that is A Cry in the Moon’s Light. Dispelling myths, retelling legends and digging deeper into the characters and places you love from the story. There are over 75 illustrations from various artists along with detailed descriptions and some spoilers where the past and future collide! Everything you need to fight evil.

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The Review

The author did such a brilliant job of taking readers into the world that he created. From the incredible artwork that brought so many of these characters and settings to life for the readers to enjoy, to the complete breakdown of the character’s histories, along with the various myths and legends that made up this fantasy narrative, made this companion book to the first novel in this series such an important and integral book within itself to have. 

The way the author incorporates historical figures, iconic myths, and local legends within the Eastern European setting into the background as subtly as possible was such an inspired and instrumental choice when developing this entire mythos. These established elements added weight and genuine curiosity to the narrative, allowing readers to delve deeper and deeper into the newly crafted history this story employed and getting fans eager to jump head-first into more stories if the author should add more to this vastly grown world.

The Verdict

An informative, fun and exciting new compendium and partner read to an already amazing fantasy horror series, author Alan McGill’s “Father Daniel’s Compendium of the UnDead” was a must-read collection for fans of the first book in this A Cry in the Moon’s Light series. The detailed approach to this mythology and the emotional connections established to this world will have readers on the edge of their seats wanting more, and that is always the sign of such a truly talented writer and gripping fantasy series. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Alan McGill is an American author who lives in an old farmhouse with a clowder of cats. Alan was close to his grandparents, who grew up during the Great Depression. They were married young and remained together until his grandmother’s passing. His grandfather served in the Navy during WWII and was a gifted storyteller who wove humorous tales about tough events. Alan grew up listening to these stories of right and wrong and watching fictional heroes–such as the Lone Ranger, Adam West’s Batman and Captain America–stand up to bullies and protect those who count not protect themselves. This inspired him to always do what was right in his own life and shaped his love of storytelling. He is a multi-genre author whose debut novel, A Cry in the Moon’s Light, combines horror, romance, and mystery. As with all his books, A Cry in the Moon’s Light centers on characters who strive to do the right thing regardless of the adversity they face. The book focuses on the theme of love–a pure and deep love that defeats all evil.

https://www.instagram.com/alanmcgill14/

https://cryinthemoonslight.podbean.com/

A Cry in the Moon’s Light (Book 1) by Alan McGill Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young woman’s journey to be at her grandmother’s side proves deadly as she must cross the Dark Forest, and finds gruesome village murders, dangerous wolf packs, and a castle that holds more secrets than answers in author Alan McGill’s “A Cry in the Moon’s Light”, the first book in the series of the same name. 

The Synopsis

In a time of castles, muskets, and hideous creatures of the night, a beautiful woman travels across the treacherous Dark Forest to be by the side of her dying grandmother. With only a young carriage driver to protect her, she must use her wits and all of her courage to cross the wild country—and to evade the mysterious beast who stalks her.

What follows is a tale full of horror, mystery, and romance: gruesome murders at a village hidden deep in the forest, a castle that holds dark secrets, and a black wolf leading a deadly pack. Nothing is as it seems, and this journey has only just begun. The beautiful lady in the carriage will learn that only love can defeat evil, but is it love or danger that cries out to her in the deceitful light of the moon?

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The Review

I was hooked immediately with this book. The author did such an amazing job of crafting a narrative that was both emotionally investing and chilling at the same time. The story was written in a way that felt like historical fiction meets Brother’s Grimm meets folklore all at once. The nods and homages to classic fairy tale style storytelling elements and themes were felt immediately, but then did such a great job of taking readers immediately into a right turn that held gruesome mayhem and terrifying creatures, and then made a completely new turn into heartbreaking and heartfelt romance and drama. 

The character growth in this narrative made the story everything it was. The horror, the scares, the heart, all of it wouldn’t have been possible without such strong characters and their bond to one another. From the young woman seeking to care for her grandmother to the loyal carriage driver hoping to protect her, and the creatures she shares a mysterious connection to, each of these characters felt dynamic and grand in their design, and yet very human and emotional in their motives and interactions with one another, making this such a superb read.

The Verdict

A brilliant, shocking, and immensely engaging read, author Alan McGill’s “A Cry in the Moon’s Light” is a must-read paranormal fantasy and romance reader. A fantastic blend of gothic horror meets iconic fairytale lore, the author crafted such heart and connectivity into the narrative that readers will be eager to want more, and the fact that the author had turned this into an audiobook-style podcast as well made this such an interactive story that holds so much promise for more stories within this universe. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Alan McGill is an American author who lives in an old farmhouse with a clowder of cats. Alan was close to his grandparents, who grew up during the Great Depression. They were married young and remained together until his grandmother’s passing. His grandfather served in the Navy during WWII and was a gifted storyteller who wove humorous tales about tough events. Alan grew up listening to these stories of right and wrong and watching fictional heroes–such as the Lone Ranger, Adam West’s Batman, and Captain America–stand up to bullies and protect those who count not protect themselves. This inspired him to always do what was right in his own life and shaped his love of storytelling. He is a multigenre author whose debut novel, A Cry in the Moon’s Light, combines horror, romance, and mystery. As with all his books, A Cry in the Moon’s Light centers on characters who strive to do the right thing regardless of the adversity they face. The book focuses on the theme of love–a pure and deep love that defeats all evil.

https://www.instagram.com/alanmcgill14/

https://cryinthemoonslight.podbean.com/