I love to read. People often ask "why read?" My response is usually "why not read?" Reading releases our imagination, it gives permission to wonder, ponder and to be inspired. It opens our minds to ideas, places, times and cultures. Reading is an escape, adventure and a source of knowledge.
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Below are reviews of some of my favorites books. The list keeps growing...
Papa and Mama Said: Full of Dare County Folklore By Lucinda G. Baum Non-fiction- Memoir (Biography) ISBN: 978-0-9979315-2-5
Lucinda G. Baum pens stories about her childhood in “Papa and Mama Said.” It was a time of penny candy, courting, home births and handmade clothes. There was a saying for every situation in life. Yarns, old wise tales and folklore remedies abounded. Her memories and musings bear witness to her environment and upbringing “living between the woods and the water” of North Carolina. Playtime was imaginative and simple and many small tasks or errands were turned into adventures. Lucinda loves her family. She honors and respects her parents- “Papa knew just about everything and what he didn’t know Mama did.” Life was hard, but she doesn’t complain. Lucinda was taught to see potential in others, and in things many would throw away. Responsibility and helping out was considered a great reward. Each chapter is full of nostalgia and gives insight to her life growing up in Dare County.
“Papa and Mama Said: Full of Dare County Folklore” takes you back in time. Lucinda G. Baum gives you a personal tour of her world, sharing her feelings, thoughts and reactions of pivotal events of growing up as one of fourteen children in North Carolina’s Dare County. Mrs. Baum stays true to the theme of timeless sayings of the time. Many of the metaphors and adages caused me to chuckle, as I remembered hearing them spoken as a child. “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop” rang loud and clear. Baum’s stories took me back to my own childhood, listening to tales of my aunts and mother as we gathered around the family table. The dialogue is priceless; she certainly has a unique way of telling her story. Furthermore, the family photographs capture the heart and soul of her words. I thought it relevant, that Mrs. Baum ends her memoir at the close of WWII. After all, it marked the end of an era. May we never forget the treasure of family and the power of our story.
Pilgrim Spokes (Cycling Reflections, Book Two) By Neil M. Hanson Non-fiction-Travel ISBN: 978-1-944868-01-7
This is one of the most inspiring books I have read in a long time.
Neil M. Hanson writes an unforgettable tale in “Pilgrim Spokes.” At almost 60 years of life, Neil M. Hanson begins his journey across America on his bicycle. In his first book of “Cycling Reflections,” Hanson covers the trek from California to Kansas. At Medicine Lodge, Kansas, “Pilgrim Spokes” picks up where his first book, “Pilgrim Wheels,” left off. For Neil, riding has become a coping mechanism to deal with life. “Pilgrim Spokes” is the consecutive journal his of travels from Kansas to Maryland. But more accurately, the narrative contains memories of Americana that envelope his self-discovery along the way. As he gazes into the landscape, with its ever- changing scenery, he realized that, “every place has its story to tell.” Taking the back roads, the scenic route, Neil meets simple folks, yet at the same time, remarkable people who impact his adventure. Suffering bugs, heat and humidity, hills and plains, summer shifts to autumn, ushering in spectacular colors and chilling winds of change. “Pedal, breathe, smile, enjoy.”
Pedaling into his future, Neil M. Hanson surmises that “Telling the story of yesterday helps define the palette for our next adventure.” Hanson’s bicycling travel journal, “Pilgrim Spokes” is incredibly inspiring. The inclusion of insightful quotes and creative chapter titles are unique ingredients to the narrative. Hanson is a great storyteller; he is descriptive, humorous and thoughtful. He pens beautiful and eloquent brush strokes of words across the canvass of his story, creating a memorable picturesque narrative. Extremely sensory, deeply figurative and metaphorically musical, the narrative invokes emotional responses. The theme of regrets, accumulated throughout life, is the underlying message of the narrative. However, by including encounters, observations and words of wisdom, Hanson portrays a realistic, perfectly balanced story, reflecting both the good and bad experiences he endured. But, he tends to slightly tilt toward the optimistic (Thank goodness). There are many hidden treasures buried within this chronicle. I too, have a fondness of bridges; buildings that are constructed to last, covering gaps in the terrain, uniting people and places. His descriptions of these time weathered structures snuggle up nicely in my soul. Also, I would like to highlight the aspects of relationships, as he shares openly about his marriage, old friends, good friends, family and strangers. Neil M. Hanson’s written reflections conclude, tempting the future with a touch of hopeful romance, creating an open road for his next adventure.
I AM: The Blueprint of Humanity (Unabridged) By: Dave Hernandez Christian- Non-Fiction ISBN: 978-0-9945511-0-8
“I AM: The Blueprint of Humanity (Unabridged),” written by Dave Hernandez takes you on a journey of self-discovery. The age old question of “who am I?” is found in the I AM of Jesus Christ. “In Christ, you have a name, and identity and a song” that is and has always been yours from the beginning of time. The book is divided into two narrations, the first being the voice of Adam and the second the voice of Jesus. Each of these iconic, infamous characters, share their role in the story of man’s redemption. Adam explains humanity fallen, Jesus proclaims humanity restored. Through heart to heart conversations, Adam and Jesus unlock the mystery of the Trinity; reveal the truth of God’s grand design, set you free from the law of sin and death, and invite you to take up your rightful place in the family of God.
Have you ever read a book that you wanted to highlight every word? “I AM: The Blueprint of Humanity (Unabridged),” is one of those books. Full of incredible insight, every word explodes with meaning and purpose. David Hernandez pens a life-changing book. He uses a storytelling approach in writing non-fiction - What a great idea! It wonderfully out there- meaning it is profusely thought provoking. Well researched and written, it includes an extensive list of notations, tables for concise understanding and summarizes information for clarification and remembrance. “I AM: The Blueprint of Humanity (Unabridged),” is truly educational and enlightening, it is written to comprehend the living essence of God. For me, the words written were a catalyst; they opened my mind to deeper revelations. The narrative is personal and revealing, each chapter builds upon the other, taking you on an incredible quest of truth. Yet, you feel like you are having a chat, really getting to know both Adam and Jesus, in a relational manner. “I AM: The Blueprint of Humanity (Unabridged) is phenomenal read.
Lines in the Sand (An American Soldier’s Personal Journey in Iraq) By: F. Scott Service ISBN: 978-1-63413-5740 A Non-fiction Memoir
F. Scott Service shares his story of love and war in “Lines in the Sand.” Scott was living the American dream. He is married to a beautiful and successful woman. They are living in the bliss of Montana, where the air is clean and nature nestles you in blanket of comfort. He has a good job, one that he enjoys. All is well, until on November 23, 2003, his National Guard Unit is called to deploy to Iraq. Saddam’s regime has fallen, but the war continues. American troops are still being called upon to support Operation Iraqi Freedom. F. Scott Service life turns inside out. He is doubtful, scared and confused about this war. Within his heart he realizes that he is a conscientious objector. However, for generations his family fought in American wars. How could he turn his back on his fellow soldiers? Regardless, he puts his feelings aside, believing “there was honor in honoring them.” He willingly goes to war. Upon these pages, Scott chronicles his experience of Iraq. He shares his thoughts, his daily routine, and his surroundings. “Lines in the Sand” is a personal journey of the soul of a soldier who desperately searches for hope and beauty in the midst of the ugliness of war.
“Lines in the Sand” is a combat veteran’s memories of war. F. Scott Service’s memoir is one that will not be easily forgotten. I have read many books on war and its effect on the solider and his/her family. All have been written sharing the hardships and trauma of war. However, this account’s point of view stands out from the all of them. After reading the opening quote by Hermann Goering in the Foreward, I knew I was in for something uniquely special. F. Scott Service is a gifted writer. His words are eloquent and powerful expressions. In his chronicle he records his daily events in a very intimate and honest manner. He taps into the sensory and explains in personal detail what he is observing, enduring and feeling. Whether you agree with his views on war and government or not, you cannot help but be captivated by this narrative. This memoir is an emotional journey; full of action, setbacks, and mistakes, but moreover, the will to survive. The memoir contains emotional beat, the very cadence of the author’s heart. Service captures his raw emotions, and splatters delicately and harshly throughout the journal. In his closing remarks, F. Scott Service solidifies his relationship with his reader by asking them to consider where they would draw their own line in the sand. “Lines in the Sand” portrays the trauma of war, its haunting aftermath, yet inspires survivors to press forward toward hope. It is truly a remarkable story of tragedy to triumph.
Quiet Moments with God – A 31 day Devotional of Life Lessons By LaDonna Marie Christian Devotional Study ISBN: 9781511563499
“Quiet Moments with God” written by LaDonna Marie is a handbook of hope. This narrative contains 31 days of soul searching devotionals or “heart talks with God.” The daily reading starts with a topic, followed by a scripture reference, the author’s thoughts and ends with a question for the deeper meditation. Topics and scriptures encourage the reader to follow God’s plan for their lives by seeking Him daily. We are reminded that by sharing and serving others with our gifts we are promoting our own personal spiritual growth. These life lessons instill confidence in our everyday life as a believer. Live life expecting, and know good things await for those who surrender each day unto God. LaDonna Marie's devotional “Quiet Moments with God” speaks life to the reader. This book is perfect for those who want a quick and concise word to ponder all day long. Marie gives a taste of the goodness of the Lord to savor throughout your day. This book is one you want in reach, whether it be on your night stand, coffee table, purse or car. It is obvious she is a student of God’s word, as she shares personal revelations and experiences pertaining to her Christian walk. She speaks powerful, simple truths with grace. With eloquent assurance, she promotes living life with hope and expectancy of God’s of loving kindness. Her heartfelt words cause the reader to breathe in life, exhale anxiety and regret and seize the day knowing God is in control.
When We Fail, God is Still Near: God’s love is bigger than our failures By Avril Lystra Kennedy Christian Living ISBN: 978-0-9966593-0-7
Avril Lystra Kennedy’s “When We Fail, God is Still Near” contains ten chapters of insightful and life-changing words of wisdom. Life and trials coexist – life will test us. Some people have a “high tolerance to trials,” what sets them apart from those who crumble under pressure and wade in the debris of failure? Kennedy’s answer to this query is the realization that God’s love is bigger than our failures, fears and doubts. Held within these pages are hope and revelation. Hope in that there are “upsides” of failure and revelation into understanding that just because you fail doesn’t make you a failure. “You don’t belong to failure, you belong to God.” Fear produces lack, but even mustard seed faith can produce a successful life. “When We Fail, God is Still Near” explains what it takes to overcome adversity and win at life.
“God’s perception of us doesn’t change when we fail,” now that is good news. “When We Fail, God is Still Near,” written by Avril Lystra Kennedy encourages the reader to rest in the love of the Father. Kennedy writes openly and persuasively about the debilitating factors of fear and failure. I especially appreciated her definition of “phantom failure.” It is a phrase I will forever remember. She motivates the reader to be self-motivated and prepared by meditating on God’s word, to stop simply existing and start living, and to never give up. Within the text, she tells the story of the woman brought to Jesus being found in adultery. Kennedy’s description of the woman renders a prevailing emotional image – leaving a piercing, lasting impression. We all have been caught in sin, all failed, yet Christ forgives ... go and sin no more. Kennedy reminds you, that you belong to God, he will “touch the untouchables in your life” and make them shine.
Gratitude By Len Froyen ISBN: 978-1-62491-019-7 Genre: Christian Non-fiction
Len Froyen invites you from his introduction of Gratitude, “to make gratitude a plot line for your life and a plumb line for your hopes. Through a series of chapters, with significant topics, gratitude is explained through Froyen’s life stories. “We all stand inside a story, and every story has the potential for teaching us something beneficial about gratitude.” Through the power of storytelling nuggets of truth are unearthed and made relevant. The stories shared are purposeful and lay a foundation for the significance of gratitude in our lives. Their inclusions make you stop and ponder gratitude at a deeper and personal level. At the end of each chapter, Froyen includes challenging questions for the reader to reflect upon. Gratitude encourages you to become an “agent of what matters,” by making gratitude a lifestyle.
Gratitude is more than a book; it is a guide for a meaningful life. Len Froyen points the way to gratitude through his gifted storytelling. Yet, he doesn't stop there; he accompanies you on your journey to discover the essence of gratitude. He causes you to grasp deeper meaning, more than surface understanding of gratitude. His explanations were intelligent and profound, never condescending or lofty. At the end of the book, Froyen explains his writing process. He describes his struggle with finding the proper word combinations. As an author myself, I found his honesty sincere. As a reader, I was enamored by his word choices and enlightened by his life stories. Len Froyen’s, Gratitude, is a brilliant and exceptional read.
Destination Hope: A Guide Through Life’s Unexpected Journeys By Shellie Nichol ISBN: 13-978-1-9422557-26-5 Genre: Christian-Non-fiction
Shellie Nichol takes you on a scenic journey down the road called life in her book, “Destination: Hope A Guide Through Life’s Unexpected Journeys.” When tragedy happens, when you face a detour or a fork in the road, how do you react? Hide? Get obstinate? Deny? Get angry? Throw a pity party? “Every moment of your life serves a purpose.” Even when we are knocked down, dirty and way of track, God is there. Each chapter contains preparation questions, these inquiries persuade you to think, feel and do. “Destination: Hope” allows you to face shame, gives you permission to be vulnerable and motivates you to persevere through despair, by stopping and beholding the beauty within the storm. “Finding beauty in your imperfections is what makes us perfect in God eyes.”
Shellie Nichol’s “Destination: Hope A Guide Through Life’s Unexpected Journeys” is a refreshing, straight forward approach to life’s ups and downs, detours, and disastrous wrong turns. You know, those things that are meant to wreck our lives. It is simply written, yet designed for a powerful impact. Nichol’s doesn’t sugar coat tragedy. Bold and emphatic at times, she states “if you don’t like the path you’re on” get off! She tells it like it is. She shares openly her story of pain, sorrow and shame, as well as stories of others from her talk show on Amazing Hope Radio. She states her goal is for the reader to have “hope so strong that nothing, absolutely nothing can keep your down.” Although, the pages within this book are full of heartbreaking testimonies, it reads like a breeze – full of hope and fresh air. There were many heartfelt words of encouragement. My favorite is “God is not picking on you. However, He has picked you.” What good news!
Football Faith By Rob Maadi 978-1-63409-222-7 Genre: Christian Non-fiction/Inspirational
Rob Maadi composed an inspirational testimonial in “Football Faith.” He took fifty two NFL stars statements of faith, and compiled them into one volume. “Football Faith” will motivate not only football fans, but anyone desiring to be uplifted and encouraged to be all that they can be. It encourages you to take the God given talents bestowed upon you, and use them to the glory of God. Each player or coach shares a meaningful scripture and how they personally apply it to their life. They then follow up with a brief testimony regarding their faith. These NFL athletes impart stories about their successes and failures. Jared Allen states “Football is what we do, but it’s not who we are. It’s our relationship with God that defines us.” At the end of every chapter, Maadi includes career stats, a brief biography and “extra point” information about the player.
I love football. I have been a fan all of life. So as the 2015 NFL preseason is in full swing, it did not surprise me to be drawn to Rob Maadi’s “Football Faith.” First of all the book cover was very enticing. Once I opened the pages, I was immediately drawn to the photography - Clear action shots, depicting great hits, kicks, throws and receptions. I was hooked before I read one word. As I began reading, I was inspired and moved by their commitment to God, the Word and their teammates. On Sundays they will not be sitting in a pew, depending on a minister to encourage them. No, they are on the playing field. Therefore, to keep their faith alive and growing, they devote themselves to personal and group Bible studies and prayer throughout the week. They not only keep themselves physically fit, but spiritually fit as well. These phenomenal sportsmen put God first. Their goal is to make disciples on and off the field. They stand on their platform of success, to influence and give back to their communities by organizing special programs and charitable events. This book will remain in my library; it will be quoted from and read again and again.
Born to Run, Live to Be Free By Davis Howard
Born to Run, Live to Be Free written by Daris Howard is a delightful, awe-inspiring novel of the pursuit of freedom. Tom Johnson is a married, young, struggling college student. He never suspected the turn his life would take by becoming a care taker for a “spirited race horse.” The story of Cashmere and Tom is heartbreaking and inspirational. Cashmere is a German bred race horse. After winning his first race, he is sold to a renowned movie star. This beautiful race horse becomes trapped in a stall, never allowed to run. After being abused and neglected for 15 years, Cashmere is rescued, and sold for a meager $1500. Upon arriving in Utah, Tom and Cashmere become the best of friends. Set out to pasture, Cashmere runs, never tiring. Feeling trapped by his own circumstances, Tom wonders “what it would feel like to really be free.” The unique bond of friendship between man and horse changes both of their lives forever.
Daris Howard is a wonderful storyteller. Born to Run, Live to Be Free reveals the longing to be free. Howard takes you into his setting by vividly writing scenery of Utah, California and Germany. His characters are real, and after reading, Born to Run, Live to Be Free, I feel like I can call each of them friend. Being around horses for over twenty years myself, I enjoyed Howard’s ability to depict the mind, personality and thoughts of Cashmere. Moreover, the expertise portrayed in the bond between horse and care giver was exceptional. Howard wrote many insightful truths regarding the desire hidden within us all. One of my favorites is “Liberty is a person’s ability to come and go as they choose. But freedom goes much deeper and comes from within.” Born to Run, Live to Be Free is a gem of a read, one that has found its place in my book treasury.
Songs of the Heart By Dr. Tim Riordan Genre: Christian Non-fiction ISBN: 978-0692213476
Songs of the Heart by Dr. Tim Riordan is a delightful devotional study on the book of Psalms. The author notes that the book of Psalms has been called the “humanity hymnbook.” Holding true to that idea, Dr. Riordan takes you on a journey through the Psalms. However, this study is more than devotional, much more. As you read you begin to understand that this is a resource for hard times, yet you also realize that the Psalms is a book about discovery. As you read, you discover yourself hidden within the words on its pages. However, even more importantly, you discover things about God, His goodness, loving-kindness, His mercy and grace. You discern His desire for justice and righteousness, his disdain for sin and His longing for the destruction of evil. You discover His passion and compassion for creation. And lastly, you experience the power of exaltation through praise and worship by demonstrating adoration to the Lord Most High.
Dr. Tim Riordan sets his study apart from all others I have read, by opening up with a fictional story explaining the history behind the Psalms. In the introduction of Songs for the Heart, we are enlightened to the fact that the Jewish people were singing people- music was vital to their culture. Going beyond the historical references and facts, Dr. Riordan engages his readers with personal stories and analogies, making the Psalms relevant of our contemporary times. Furthermore, he breaks down the language and explains the vocabulary of the Psalms by utilizing Hebrew and Greek definitions to enhance the understanding. His love for music and devotion to worshiping God is revealed as well, as he deciphers and decodes the hidden treasures buried within the archaic poetry. By adding “Further Thought Questions” to the end of each chapter, he encourages the reader into a deeper personal study. Dr. Riordan closes his book with an invitation to become a Christian, a member of God’s family. He sincerely and effortlessly describes the plan of salvation. What a perfect conclusion to a great book.
Ask Me Anything A Memoir By Marie Rudisille with Susan Marg ISBN: 978-0-578-14318-7
Ask Me Anything is a wonderfully delightful memoir about the life of the Marie Rudiselle, better known as The Fruitcake Lady. Susan Marg teamed up with Mrs. Rudisille to chronicle the events of this feisty and out spoken woman. Born and raised in South during the early 1900’s, Marie’s family values and roots run deep. “Being a Southerner means taking care of your family.” Marie became famous in two ways. First of all, she was the aunt of Truman Capote; secondly, she was the renowned Fruitcake Lady on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. While on the show, the audience asked her all kinds of questions. But Beware! Marie’s motto: “Ask Me Anything, I’ll tell you what I think... If you can’t handle the answer, you shouldn’t ask the question.” Marie Rudisille memoir is bursting with real-life escapades. Ask Me Anything overflows with delicious wit and candor-filled nuggets of truth.
Marie Rudisille, “tells it like it is” in her memoir, Ask Me Anything. Susan Marg co-authored this charming story, stating “it is hard to say no to Marie.” Being a book of memories, it is written solely from the author’s point of view. Ask Me Anything captures the heart and soul of Mrs. Rudisille. Each story flows with smart humor, revealing analogies, metaphoric phrases and sensory descriptions. The diversity of characters, family members that helped shape her life and friends that accompanied Marie in her life were described with sentimental detail. Marie’s life is portrayed eloquently; each chapter is full of breath, fragrance, and tasty morsels of knowledge. Written realistically, at times I felt I was sitting at a table, sipping coffee and eating pound cake, and listening to her endless tales of life in the south. As a reader, I was drawn into Marie Rudisille’s life story. After reading, Ask Me Anything, I can truly call Marie Rudisille my friend.
Winning in the Middle of the Pack By David Richman ISBN: 9781631920820
With “Do the right thing” as his barometer and motto in life, David Richman found himself trapped by self-developed handicaps and prescriptions written by others for his life. With his life spiraling downward, he does something completely drastic and life altering. David Richman plunges himself into the lifestyle of an endurance athlete, thus pursuing to stand on his own “private podium” Winning in the Middle of the Pack. Held within the chapters are self-discovered truths and maxims on breaking free from the bondage of bad habits and crippling mind sets. All of us have questioned why life is so hard. Mr. Richman enlightens us to the notion that life is suppose to be hard, that most things worth having aren’t going to come easily. The overall truth revealed is “The middle-of-the-packer has only himself to overcome.” By imparting hope to take one more step, Winning in the Middle of the Pack challenges you to discover your true level of resiliency.
In his acknowledgment, David Richman states his desire to find his buried golden stories. Writing an enticing introduction, Mr. Richman draws the reader into his life story immediately. He narrates the story with honesty and courage. The inclusion of his personal life stories gives depth and merit to the theme of the book. Simple, yet profound, powerful anecdotes mixed with influential analogies encourage the reader to continue turning the page. The text of the book was formatted for an uncomplicated read. Therefore, the words of inspiration flow with ease from chapter to chapter. David Richman challenges the reader by ending each chapter with thought provoking questions and action steps. After reading, Winning in the Middle of the Pack, I am motivated to keep moving forward in my race in life. The author’s dream to become a writer was achieved. David Richman yours is a golden story, well done.
Your Love Pursues – A Memoir By Jason Davis ISBN: 978-0-9912090-4-0 Christian Non-fiction
Jason Davis’ memoir, “Your Love Pursues” is a story of living an extraordinary life. At the age of thirty-two, Jason Davis had made it to the top of the music industry, he had it all. Yet, he was completely empty and void of anything real and good. Reaching this apex, he realized that having it all meant nothing. Jason tells the depths and the heights of his personal story ... a childhood of abuse, poverty, a series of bad relationships, and devastating betrayals. He discloses the darkness followed and imprisoned him. Music was his constant, his therapy, and through it he would find his way out of his deprivation. Success arrived, yet he still longed for something more, SOMETHING BIGGER. A seeker at heart, Jason Davis kept searching until his answer came. His answer was found in Jesus Christ. Leaving behind his fame and money, Jason sets out a journey of healing and rebuilding. “There is something powerful about new beginnings... beginnings offer promise and hope. “
A memoir takes the reader on a journey. A great memoir is a sentimental passage of time that traverses the ups and downs that accompany us through life. A journey through valley and mountain tops experiences, epic beginnings and tragic endings, births and ultimately deaths. “Your Love Pursues” written by Jason Davis, is one man’s account of his courageous quest for life. Davis’ writing style is simple and eloquent. Although the memoir is written chronologically, Davis captures the attention of his reader, by revealing the worst moment of his life. By baiting the reader with the worst possible scenario, you long to hear his unfolding story. Davis poignantly lays out the events and the people that affected his life. Then, he allows you to experience his personal discovery. He speaks boldly, yet, gracefully of his relationship with Jesus Christ. “Your Love Pursues” is a heartfelt, passionate, plainspoken story of Jason Davis’ conversion to Christianity.
Oh God, It Hurts! A book about pain, suffering and the ‘love’ of God By: John Allen Thornton Christian- non-fiction 978-1507676998
“Oh God, It Hurts! A book about pain, suffering and the ‘love’ of God” is realistic and honest look into traumatic life situations. John Allen Thornton tackles the hard questions of life regarding pain. Pain and suffering come in all shapes and sizes; pain is individualized, and can result from good intentions. Pain is administered in different ways, through different human vessels. He uses his own life stories to give understanding into physical and emotional pain. He discusses the lingering effect of judgments made from church leadership and abuse from family members. Yet, he also reveals the healing outcome of those unique individual’s who come to the aide when people are hurting.
John Allen Thornton’s personal approach makes the reader feel at home. His writing technique brings you into “Oh God, It Hurts! A book about pain, suffering and the ‘love’ of God”; you sense a level of comfort, like you are sitting face to face having a chat. He pens an outstanding introduction, grabbing the reader’s attention from the beginning. His writing style is so down to earth you can run your hands, thoughts, and emotions through the soil of his words. Yes, you might get a little dirty. But, pain and suffering is a dirty ordeal. Raw and unashamed, he asks probing, mindful questions. He has firsthand knowledge of physical and emotional pain, making his opinions credible. Being a registered nurse, he has witnessed the agony in others. He has been on both side of the needle, and both sides of the paddles. While humorous at times, he never waters down the reality of pain. Although, I did not agree with all that was said, this was a refreshing, straight forward approach to life’s tough issues.
Come Again By Rick Novak
“Come Again” written by Rick Novak opens with a puzzling beginning. The anti-Christ believes that he is the true ambassador of God. He is just biding time, waiting for his reign of power to begin. Raymond Cass owns a very successful ad agency. He pretty much has it all, except his wife died in a hit and run accident a few years back and now his beautiful teenage daughter, Melissa, is dying of Leukemia. No amount of money or success, can take away his pain or despair. At his breaking point, he cries out to God for mercy, begging for his daughter’s life. God hears and He answers and Hope arrives. Hope is a messenger from God; she represents a new potential client – Jesus Christ. It is the time for Ray to honor his promise to God for saving Melissa’s life. Jesus wants Ray to create an ad campaign for His return. A full media blitz for the Second Coming. Ray sells his business, gathers around him a faithful team, and takes on the biggest campaign of his life! However, not everyone is thrilled with the news. Renowned leaders within the church become divided, people riot, the world dives deeper into war and chaos. The stakes are high. The death toll around Ray rises. Anger, fear, free will versus God’s will all converge at once. The anti-Christ is a force to be reckoned with, an evil and formidable foe, Ray’s relationship with Jesus Christ may very well cost him his life.
Just when I thought I had read everything thing of interest regarding the Second Coming of Christ, I discover Rick Novak’s novel “Come Again.” I was a bit apprehensive at first, but I was soon taken in by the characters and the portrayal of Jesus. The character of Jesus Christ is a wonder of wonders. Making it real, not religious, Novak exquisitely displays the personal depth of relationship that a person can have with Christ. Much like the creative thrill and frantic pace that the hero of the narrative enjoys, Novak’s short chapters cause the action to develop quickly and speed across the pages. Innovative and figuratively written, the narrative is full of imaginative and Biblical insights, containing many unforgettable one liners. My favorite, “Once you hang with Jesus, everything else is just noise.” “Come Again” is far from the normal depiction of the Second Coming. It is a fresh, at times edgy, contemporary version, with a touch of wit, a dab of humor and a whole lot of real. The narrative removes any preconceived religious thinking, it challenges the reader to think way out-of-the box. It is a thought provoking and fictionally entertaining approach to the return of Christ. Choices, free will and God’s will are the foundation upon which the story built. Will man truly build his house upon the Rock of Christ or will the sinking sands of adversity devour him. Against all odds, will he deny himself and all others, pick up his cross and truly follow Jesus. This is the dilemma that the hero must face. The narrative proves that the path of Christ is not easy, it is full of choices and struggles - it is a proving ground, a battle ground. As the story comes to a conclusion, a stand-off between the protagonist and the antagonist is penned, leaving the reader with the proclamation of “God’s will be done.” Amen and amen.
Historical Fiction Favorites
Tiernan’s Wake By: Richard T. Rook Fiction/Hist/Personage ISBN-13: 978-0244051334
Richard T. Rook’s “Tiernan’s Wake” is not your ordinary piece of fiction. Michael Tiernan is a burnt out Bostonian lawyer obsessed with his Irish ancestry. He would “rather spend time with the dead ancestors than most living people.” Michael receives a mysterious envelope sealed with a hand-drawn red shamrock. Inside the package are two envelopes. Out of curiosity, Michael opens the first letter and begins to read. The letter is from an Irish gentleman named Aedan Burns. Mr. Burns knows a great deal about Michael, which is both intimidating and intriguing. Michael immediately sends an email reply to the mysterious Aedan Burns. There is a puzzle that can only be solved by the two of them working together. Opening the second letter, Michael realized his life is about to be changed forever. The game is afoot, a game of cat and mouse!
“Life gets weird.” In the case of “Tiernan’s Wake” life gets weird, then a whole lot weirder! Richard T. Rook’s bizarre tale is full of Irish folklore, euphemisms and traditions. The narrative has a unique blend of eloquent, thought provoking and amusing one liners. My favorite, “If the past starts to overtake you... turn around quickly and give it a hard kick in the privates.” The characterization is decisively written, whether living or dead, each character has unique attributes that gives meaning to the story. The plot is perplexing, humorous and challenging. Reality mixed with surrealistic situations. The past, at times, overwhelms the present. Life, death and the “after” life all influence the plot action. The plot is a swinging door of ins and outs, one moment you are in the know, the next you are shaking your head in bewilderment. Upon reading the conclusion, I agree with the statement written early in the story: “We Irish have some trouble sorting truth from fiction.” “Tiernan’s Wake” proves that strange beginnings lead to even stranger endings.
The Raid on Troy (The Orfeo Saga, Vol. 7) By: Murray Lee Eiland Jr. Fiction- Historical/Event-Era ISBN: 978-1545014035
Murray Lee Eiland Jr. portrays a new twist on an ancient story in “The Raid on Troy.” “It’s now or never” for Memnon! If he was going to escape, it has to be now. Memnon has been a slave for as long as he can remember. At 14 years old he is ready to risk his life to get off the Theran ship. Forty of the galley slaves, including his brother flee and join the Achian army led by the infamous Telemon. After the battle, Memnon and his brother Menas venture out to make their claim on the world. Utilizing power and manipulation, Menas becomes ruler of Sparta, and Memon rules Mycenae. Meanwhile, Orfeo and Clarice govern Pylos, raising their son Kleon who is kind and intelligent. Telemon’s heir, Orton, is sent to Pylos to be educated and trained under the guidance of his Uncle Orfeo and Aunt Clarice. Kleon and Orton are eager to learn and challenge each other in training and education. Little did the young cousins realize that they were being groomed for the battle of the ages.
Adding fresh insight to Homer’s “Iliad,” Murray Lee Eiland Jr. eliminates the mythology aspect in his rendition of “The Raid on Troy.” He concentrates on innate characteristics and morality of his characters, dismissing the legendary altogether. The depth and fresh perspective of Homer’s renowned characters make the age old tale entertaining. Although the beauty of a young woman plays a part in this epic historical tale, it is greed and ambition that propel the plot. The theme of the younger teaching and leading the older is portrayed on both sides of the conflict. The villain, Memnon, is ruthless; he spends his life trying to outrun his rage, and persuades his older brother, Menas, to join in his evil escapades. The older heroic characters of Telemon and Orfeo raise their sons, Orton and Kleon to be wise and honorable warriors. Yet, it is Kleon that instructs and leads his older cousin. But, the most notable turn of events occurs when Orfeo, the student, steps up to defend his aging master, Telemon, in battle. Nothing is better than ending a great story with a timeless truth. The Epilogue demonstrates that stories change and are embellished over time, what was once fact, easily fades into fiction. “The Raid on Troy” was thoroughly enjoyable, proving to be one of my favorites in the Orfeo series.
Transcendent Loyalties: A Novel of the American Revolution (Volume 1) By: S. D. Banks Fiction-Historical-Event/Era ISBN: 978-1534938273
S. D. Banks pens a splendid tale of historical fact and fiction in her novel “Transcendent Loyalties: A Novel of the American Revolution.” Two young people from Boston come of age during the prelude to the American Revolution. Anna Somerset is an adventuresome, outspoken, intelligent teenage girl who lives with her Loyalist uncle, John Wilton. Her slightly older friend, Daniel Garrett is a brave, yet haughty young man, who seems to gravitate to trouble, especially the violent kind. Much to Anna’s dismay, Daniel joins the Patriot movement, supporting the Sons of Liberty. After the massacre in front of the Custom House, Anna is sent to London. During her absence, she and Daniel exchange letters. Overtime, they realize how much they truly care for each other, but neither one shares the depth of their feelings. Anna returns to her beloved Boston on the verge of war. For Anna and Daniel their devotion is strong toward each other, yet, their beliefs are at an impasse. Their loyalties remain on opposite sides of the growing political unrest. Their friendship is stretched, tested to its core. Anna is fueled by her dreams of love and peace. Daniel is fueled by his fire for freedom. “Sometimes dreams and fire are a powerful combination.” S. D. Banks writes an eloquent piece of historical literature in “Transcendent Loyalties: A Novel of the American Revolution.” Brilliant word usage, the narrative is exceptionally written. Metaphors float across the pages painting vivid scenes and portray the thoughts and intentions of the characters. Battle scenes surge with adrenaline, placing the reader in the thick of fight. History comes alive! The characterization is refined and balanced, creating a fluid plot progression. The main characters are bold and intelligent. Yet, equally compassionate and caring, they buffet each other’s strengths and flaws, making them a dynamic heroic duo. The villainess is a master of deception, grows in her narcissism, unleashing a sociopathic tendencies beyond reproach. The obvious conflict is between the Loyalist and the Patriots; however, the real conflict emerges from this primary divergence. The conflict of loyalty to preferential political cause and devotion to friendship between the narrative’s characters is the driving force of the story. Banks exposes the nature of fear as an underlying theme. Fear is dangerous; it causes the worst to surface from deep within a soul, resulting in unspeakable acts of violence, especially when unbridled on the battlefield. But more importantly, fear is also a powerful mechanism for survival. Fear causes men and women to rise up to face insurmountable challenges. One of my favorite concepts in the book - “America is not to be a nation of nobility, but a nation of ordinary folks. To be a great nation... ordinary folks will have to be willing to step up and do the extraordinary from time to time... to put down their plows and pick up a sword or musket.” I love this statement, I pray that it remains as true and meaningful today, as it was then.
Voyage of Atonement: The Tainted Treasure By: Brian D. Ratty Fiction/Historical/Event/Era
Brian D. Ratty’s “Voyage of Atonement” answers the age old question, “why did I live, while others died?” Three distinct men, all soldiers of World War II, take separate paths to achievement their atonement. At the close of 1944, a secret brotherhood known as Odessa is being formed. The Third Reich is faltering; the war is all but lost. This unique remnant of SS soldiers is the hope and the future of the Fatherland. Colonel Rolf Kobl becomes the leader of the Argentine Odessa. In the spring of 1945, Captain Hans Miller is ordered to take his battle weary U-boat to Germany for repairs. Upon arrival, he becomes the captain of Germany’s newest submarine, a “wonder weapon” the U3521. The top secret, virgin voyage of the U3521 is to transport a group of special guests to Japan and deliver twelve tons of gold bullion to Argentina. As a veteran and POW of WWII, Dutch Clarke escaped death many times. In 1962, Dutch has lost everything, his wife, his business, his will to live. He is left personally bankrupt in more ways than one. These three men are on an inconceivable collision course with one another. “All three would have to atone for their decisions in ways that might change the course of history.”
Brian D. Ratty takes you on an unforgettable voyage of reconciliation in “Voyage of Atonement.” Full of nautical terms and notable seafaring descriptions, you feel the salty breeze and the power of the Pacific as the narrative plunges deep into the action of the plot. The story contains a treasure chest of beautiful descriptive lines; Ratty portrays the danger and beauty of sailing the open sea. Mastering flashback writing technique, the narrative transgresses back and forth in time maintaining a steady rhythm. Rocking the reader to and fro, the action rises, and then falls with each exchange of location and time. Moreover, the narrative depicts a variety of cultures, from the folklore of Alaska, the arrogance of the Nazi’s, the liberation of the 1960’s American youth, and the carefree lifestyle of the Pacific islands, while simultaneously revealing the diverse personalities and evolving nature of the three main characters. A lot transpires within the pages of this gripping tale; it is expansive in detail as it is in the passage of time. The theme of making amends or atoning your past is the undercurrent of the action. The pivotal climatic scene of Dutch facing the place of his imprisonment was brilliantly written. Ratty takes his hero on the voyage of his life and brings him full circle in a monumental ending. Voyage of Atonement” it is truly a captivating piece of historical fiction.
1886: The Last Campaign By: Kregg P.J. Jorgenson Fiction-Western 1-4107-1124-0
Kregg P.J. Jorgenson pens a gritty tale of the west in “1886: The Last Campaign.” Hanford Jones a veteran of the Civil War retreated to the West, ultimately becoming a scout for the Army. Believing his days as a scout were over, he thought he would do a little silver prospecting. In the heat of the Arizona Territory, Hanford Jones finds himself without a horse and chased by Indians. Fortunately, the Indians flee when the Ft. Bowie Cavalry approaches saving the day, and quite possibly Hanford’s life. Among the Cavalry were some of his best friends from his scouting days. Leaving behind Emma, a young German immigrant, who he has fallen for, but would never admit it, Jones joins his friends again, for one last hurrah, in the final campaign to capture the renegade Indian Geronimo. Kregg P.J. Jorgenson did his research and wrote an entertaining western tale in “1886: The Last Campaign.” This narrative contains all the elements of a good western: Indians, dust and the trail. Jorgenson shapes the story with a raw and rowdy cast of characters. The characters are a band of unlikely friends, each one has a distinct background, creating enjoyable and amusing story. The conflict of the novel is of course, man against man, in the form of US Army against the last remnant of the Indian Nations, namely the Apaches. However, Jorgenson takes the plot and the action deeper. He includes German immigration, the lingering effect of the Civil War, and most surprisingly, the genesis of the soon to be America’s number one pastime – baseball. All these additional factors make this Western a stand out in its literary genre. Although, the main character doesn’t ride off into the sunset, this rough and tough tale ends in a light-hearted jovial manner, leaving the reader content and satisfied. Well done, Mr. Jorgenson.
Roman Mask By: Thomas M D Brooke ISBN: Historical Fiction
Thomas M D Brooke narrates a tale of conquest in “Roman Mask.” Rome is conquering the world, stretching its strength and rule to the north. However, the Germanic tribes are barbaric and aren’t so easily tamed. Cassius Gauis Aprilis is a hero in Rome, renowned for his victory at the Western-Gate Pass. Yet, Cassius does not feel heroic at all. He is haunted by the blood lust of that battle - the loss of his valiant comrades, invade his thoughts. He disguises his shame with wine and women, vowing never to return to Germany. Never, say never. Lady Livia, the wife of Augustus, the imperator of Rome has other plans for Cassius. She desires to know what is really going on in the Roman ruled Germanic Province. She commissions him to return Germany as a spy, masked as an aide to Governor Varsus. Much to Cassius chagrin, Marcus Scavea, a young and vibrant soldier is deployed to accompany and serve him. Cassius must face his fear and return to the land he fights desperately to forget. What awaits him is worse than the nightmare of his past. Friends turn into foes; betrayal and chaos challenge the debilitating fear within him. If Cassius ever wants to return to Rome, his cowardice must submit to courage. “Roman Mask” written by Thomas M D Brooke is a fascinating work of historical fiction. Brooke uses artistic expression to create a fictional historic account of the battle of Teutoburg. The battle that proved that Rome was not invincible and Germany would not simply bow down to Roman rule. Brooke is a fluent and eloquent storyteller. He illustrates the trauma of battle in his main character; Cassius displays all the symptoms of modern day PTSD. As a reader, I became emotionally entwined with Cassius, his fear, inner turmoil, his search for courage and love, his heart and soul injury as a result of betrayal, were all depicted with extreme sensitivity. All of the characters were brilliantly written; they grow, evolve and intersect each other masterfully. The setting captured the essence of the ancient landscapes of the time period. The images revealed the collision of Roman civilization and Germanic tribal rule. What intrigued me the most was the theme of the narrative – living a lie is easy when hiding behind an illusionary mask. The protagonist, Cassius, and the antagonist, Julius are written as testimonies to this deceptive idea. In all reality, living a lie is not easy at all. Furthermore, once the masks are removed, the truth is exposed. Cassius sums it up poignantly, “I forgot who I was, and I’d rather be the man I am now, than go back to living that lie.”
My Love, My Enemy By: Joe B. Hewitt ISBN: 978-1402255779
My Love, My Enemy, by Joe B. Hewitt, is a saga told during the Civil War. Fairfax and Cassandra Cole thought they invented love. Thrown into the mix of war, separated by distance and political beliefs, the young couple dream of their “happy and in love” past. The Civil War was a war of the citizens. Even though it was fought by respectable and honorable men, by its end, it was void of civility. After all, “Freedom for all people is worth dying for and even killing for.” This war separated families; brother against brother, father against son, and in the lives of Fairfax and Cassandra, husband against wife. Both, Fairfax and Cassandra did whatever it took to support and advance their war effort. “We are powerless to stop it, so we need to do everything we can to shorten it.” The nature of war often exposes the nature of the people fighting within it. War forces you to do unthinkable, unimaginable things for the sake of its cause. The Civil War divided and conquered; and for Fairfax and Cassandra it left behind it a trail of immense collateral damage. Hearts conflicted; can their love overcome the secrets, the betrayal, and the espionage - the irrationality of war?
Joe B. Hewitt’s narrative, My Love, My Enemy is well written, suspenseful war story. Mr. Hewitt is an impressive and convincing storyteller. Obviously, he left behind the days of journalism; for his words were fluid, informal and creatively original, not matter-of-fact or journalistic at all. By penning the dialect and slang of the old south, the dialogues of the characters were engaging and appropriate for the time period. Moreover, the use of sensory details illustrating the affect of war made for a captivating read. The authors tone is non-persuasive about the politics of the civil war, yet he is very deliberate in revealing affects and the nature of war. His character development was straightforward yet, with a sense of unpredictability; Fairfax and Cassandra’s characters far surpassed that of the stereotypical southern gentleman and lady. The novel’s plot portrays a triune conflict: man against man - war, man against himself- the dilemma of being caught on both sides of war, and equal to but not the same, man against society- the battle for human civil rights. Joe B. Hewitt mastered the art of intrigue and suspense, easily luring the reader into the story. Finishing strong, he concluded this wartime tale with a surprising, yet most desirable ending.
The Lion of the Cross – Tales of a Templar Knight By T. M. Carter ISBN: 978-0692283875 Fiction- Historical-Event/Era
T M Carter portrays both sides of the never-ending conflict between Christendom and Islam in “The Lion of the Cross- Tales of a Templar Knight.” As Sir William’s friends set sail for home, William, sets pen to parchment to chronicle the deeds of his Templar Order. Since he was not born a Templar, William starts his memoir, from his beginning. William de Scotia or Wisim was born between two faiths: Islam and Christianity. On a voyage from Scotland, William’s mother is captured by a ruthless green-eyed slaver. She is sold and becomes a concubine in the harem of the Sultan of Egypt. The Sultan is Wisim’s father. Keeping true to her faith and heritage, his mother secretly names him after his great grandfather, William the Lion –King of Scots. At the request of his older beloved half-brother, Wisim, is trained in the art of war. As he grows and matures, his physical training and education advances. He becomes skilled in weaponry, as well as, fluent in several languages. Wisim welcomes the honor of guarding his brother, but more so, he dreams of taking vengeance on the green-eyed slaver, Nicolo. The Sultan is killed, and his brother abdicates the throne. These tragic events change the course of Wisim’s life. Now fueled by revenge, William overshadows Wisim, and he finds himself divided in loyalty to the life and ways of Islam or the devout brotherhood of the Order.
“The Lion of the Cross- Tales of a Templar Knight,” is the first book in the epic saga of Sir William de Scotia. T M Carter proves his knowledge of Templar history, penning a story full of historical information. Carter even includes an extensive appendix of historical figures mentioned in the narrative. Along with the accuracy of the history, he reveals his knowledge of scripture, Latin and Islamic terms and sayings of the Qur’an. Furthermore, his writing style is eloquent, full of old and formal English appropriate for the time period. The descriptions are figurative, full of vivid and metaphorical descriptions. As in all historical fiction, chronicling events is necessary, but at times can hinder the flow, making the story somewhat dry at times. However, Carter manages to insert action scenes, thus releasing the current when the story seems to bog down. The protagonist grows and develops; his character is put in an internal tug of war. As a reader, you’re not certain where his loyalty resides at times, making him an intriguing character. Carter did an excellent job of portraying both sides of the tumultuous crusades. Reminding this reader, that evil lurks on both sides of the battlefield. Not all knights are brave and chivalrous, not all holy men are holy, not are merchants are honest and not Muslims are radical extremists.
Twelve Smooth Stones By Wanda MacVay Genre: Christion- Historical Fiction
Twelve Smooth Stones by Wanda MacVay, is a beautiful, yet heart-wrenching novel. It is a journey for truth paved with the horrific nightmares of the Holocaust. A trail drenched with tears that leads to a divinely, wonder-filled dream of freedom. It is more than a story of survival; it is a story of salvation. Esther Ruth Rual is given a priceless heirloom on her sixteenth birthday. A precious gift - an oval gold locket, bejeweled with twelve stones of various colors - a constant reminder of who she is. As Jews living in Amsterdam in 1944, the Raul family followed all the regulations required by the German occupation. A family of strong traditions and conviction “could do nothing but survive.” But, could they survive Auschwitz, the place where Jews were gassed, starved or worked to death? Moreover, could they withstand the aftermath of such atrocity? Esther finds herself alone and broken. Cleaving to God’s Word, Esther has so many questions; could it be true, had God prepared her heart through all the trials and tribulations? She as she travels across many lands and oceans, she discovers a renewed strength, a new faith; could it be leading her to her promised Messiah?
Twelve Smooth Stones is historical work of fiction. Wanda MacVay includes real places and people within her story’s plot. The mixture of fact and fiction bring the story to life, they authentic the conflict and the time setting of the narrative. The author starts her prologue in the future, and then thrusts you back into the past. The plot has many twists and bends as it unfolds across decades of time and traverses various settings and locations. Wanda MacVay, writes with vivid imagery using metaphors and analogies with ease. She brilliantly portrays the traditions and values of the Jewish culture, the horror of war, the diversity mankind, and most of all, the extreme good and bad, of the world we live in. She depicts the emotions of her characters, consequently creating emotions in the reader. I have read volumes of books in my time, not many have stirred my emotions and brought me to tears. Twelve Smooth Stones did exactly that, you might want to have some tissues handy. I grew to love her characters, and longed for a happily ever after ended. I was not disappointed.
Liberty Bazaar By: David Chadwick ISBN: 978-1-906582-92-0
David Chadwick transports the turmoil of the US Civil War to Liverpool, England in his historical novel, “Liberty Bazaar.” An escaped slave, Trinity Giddgings, finds safety and friendship among the affluent of Liverpool. However, even across the ocean, far from the bondage of the plantation in South Carolina, society holds her captive. Trinity finds herself in the middle of another societal feud – a battle of moral obligation. Ironically, Trinity’s path crosses with a Confederate General, Jubal De Brooke. The Ladies Forum of Liverpool is to hold a Grand Liberty Bazaar to aid the families of Confederate prisoners held in the North. Aware of this, the War Department sends General De Brooke to England, on a diplomatic mission to gain support for the Confederacy. Both, De Brooke and Trinity are betrayed, and find themselves caught in the crossfire between ambition and justice. There’s “no shortage of devious folk” in Liverpool.
David Chadwick’s prose is brilliant in “Liberty Bazaar.” He pens a story about a familiar time in history, but gives the reader a different and fresh perspective. Most Civil War novels are set on the battleground or on the plantation. Adding a bizarre twist to a well known event, Chadwick highlights the plaguing effects of battle and slavery on the southern plantation by placing the narrative in Liverpool, England. Written in first person, each chapter portrays a sequence of events. However the personal perspective changes from chapter to chapter. This technique allows the narrative to be read like a journal or a diary. Trinity and Jubal’s characters grow and arc dramatically, allowing for the saga to crest, and then ebb, with precision and poise. Chadwick writes eloquent descriptions by using illustrious metaphors and profound analogies. I especially liked the comparison of feminine attire with medieval armor. “Liberty Bazaar” is a wonderfully written story.
An Initial Countdown ( A Haszard Narrative) By: Kevin E. Hatt Fiction- Mystery-General ISBN: 978-1543144963
Kevin E. Hatt writes another entertaining mystery in “An Initial Countdown.” With Christmas drawing near Haszard and his friends are looking forward to celebrating the holiday. However, the notion of a carefree Christmas disappears when Haszard and Sabrina are involved in a hit and run car accident. Their accident and the bizarre death of a local vicar occur within minutes of each other. With his weird brain in hyper-drive, Haz is compelled to solve the mysterious connection between the two incidents. After all, his reputation for solving the odd, strange and the impossible is at stake. But, the deeper he digs, the weirder things get. Soon the murder toll reaches four, and all clues point in one direction - A new age cult commune. What’s really going on out there in the woods? This Christmas would prove to be one Haszard and his friends would never forget.
British humor and wit run rampant throughout Kevin E. Hatt’s “An Initial Countdown.” The mystery is written in first person, which allows you into the head of its main character, which at times is a very strange place to be. The protagonist is an amateur sleuth who has an uncanny knack for solving puzzles, making him restless and somewhat reckless at times. None the less, the narration is insightful, a bit bizarre, and ordinary all at the same time. As Haz tells the story, he reveals hints of things to come, and prepares the reader for memorable and unforgettable moments, without giving anything away. The cast of characters are regular people, (well, except for Grace, who is a mystery all by herself), with regular jobs, but have the propensity to get involved in out-of-the-ordinary situations. One minute they are hanging at the local pub, the next solving a murder mystery, running for their lives, all the while trying to maintain a relationship, a career and prepare for the holidays. The conflict deepens in this narrative, as the group is betrayed by one of their own, creating an unexpected twist within the plot. Needless to say, there is never a dull moment in a Haszard narrative.
The Caves of Corihor (Book One: The Sword of Abraham) J. D. Shiner Fiction/Thriller/Terrorist ISBN: 978-0-9988396-0-9
“The Caves of Corihor” written by J. D. Shiner is a sensational thriller. California is in a severe drought. The economy is suffering. The state is on the brink of chaos, panic is escalating. “Life is glorious when kept in balance.” But what happens when life is shaken, turned inside out, then upside down? Moreover, what happens when all the shaking and quaking unearths something mysterious, hidden underground in California’s Sierra Nevada? These questions are just a few that the secret, highly classified agency of the PPI must answer. Napoleon Hancock and the PPI (Presidential Praetorian Initiative) are called into action. The President wants answers! The biggest question remains, could this drought be the result of a clever terrorist attack? It is time for Napoleon and his long time partner, Cassandra Caro, “to do what they do best.” The success of this mission is imperative. Once again, Napoleon and Cassandra are on an “ultra-secret mission, hurtling into the abyss of uncertainty in the name of national security.”
J. D. Shiner pens a high impact, action-packed adventure in “The Caves of Corihor.” It is a narrative where every minute counts. The plot consists of thrills and spills, death and destruction, super-sonic speeds and endless action encompassing an ancient cave with rare artifacts. A secret government agency, with elite agents, using high tech gadgets, state-of-the-art weapons and communications devices make up the heroic cast of characters. On the flip side, the villains are sinister, patient, clever and evil with their deadly acts of terror. The clash between good and evil intensifies with every turn of the page. The action takes place on many fronts, with each change of location Shiner shares tidbits of historical relevance creating an interesting setting for his characters. The action rises with finessed fury of an erupting volcano. You feel the heat, you sense the shaking, and you observe the overflow of molten energy ready to explode at just the right climatic moment. The climax causes your head to spin with the unbelievable discovery. Shiner brings to light that which has been hidden, deepening the plot by putting a suspenseful contemporary twist on an Old Testament story. The conclusion sets the reader up perfectly for the next book in The Sword of Abraham series.
Action Men with Silly Putty: A Jack Donegal Mystery (Book One) By: Susan Joy Clark Fiction/Mystery/Sleuth
Susan Joy Clark’s “Action Men with Silly Putty: A Jack Donegal Mystery” is a hilarious mystery adventure. Jack Donegal and Andy Westin are business partners and best friends. They are toy men, meaning that they are not short, but in the toy business. Jack is a quirky and zany inventor – a master of everything - a techno-geek! Andy is the grounded and sensible marketing manager. This dynamic duo is in a league all of their own. While attending an estate auction in San Francisco, Jack purchases an antique teddy bear. Turns out, this is not your normal teddy bear. Jack is mugged in a case of mistaken identity, which catapults the toy men in an unbelievable adventure. Jack is determined is to out scam the scammers and find the secret behind this mysterious bear. Together, Jack and Andy put together the pieces this implausible puzzle, one “strange piece at a time.” “Action Men with Silly Putty: A Jack Donegal Mystery” is fun, engaging, and delightfully entertaining, you won’t want to put it down! Susan Joy Clark pens a mystery novel full of comedic escapades. The bungling Mr. Magoo combines with the eccentricity of Columbo in the main character of Jack Donegal. Clark’s narrative is witty, comical and adventuresome. The writing style is artfully imaginative using amusing and uncanny descriptions. The story is written from the point of view of the side-kick, which is rare, but really works! The antics of the characters keep the action moving quickly. The best description of this creative work is silly-serious; it encompasses both abstract and concrete, humor and mystery, famous artwork, secret societies and dating advice. The villains are bad guys, thugs with slightly dark motives and criminal intentions. Contrasting with the good guys who are out for justice, and motivated to do what is right. “Action Men with Silly Putty: A Jack Donegal Mystery” is a wild goose chase full of hare-brained ideas and geeky technology. It is a fun and enjoyable read from beginning to end.
The Drummer’s Call By: Patricia Leppo YA/Adventure ISBN: 978-0615885643
“The Drummer’s Call” written by Patricia Leppo is an exploration into posterity. Josh is a California bred ninth grader, who loves video games and playing drums in his band. Recently, the loss of his father has rocked his world. Sandy, Josh’s mom feels the burden of loneliness, grief and responsibility. Hoping the change of scenery will get them through the winter break, Sandy decides to take her kids, Evie and Josh, to visit her Aunt and Uncle in Tennessee. Josh is not thrilled about the idea. He would like nothing more than to have a break from his family. Upon arrival at the Osprey Inn, all Josh sees is a run-down, ancient building. He could care less about the family history that ties him to this historical landmark. Trying to sleep, Josh is mysteriously stirred by the rat-a-tat rhythm of a drum. It was as if, the drumming was calling to him. After a few days, boredom takes over and Josh begins to explore. Curiosity as his guide, Josh discovers the basement. Looking around, he notices an old drum hanging on the wall. Suddenly, the atmosphere of the forgotten room changes, Josh finds himself time warped into the Civil War era. Far away from his family, Josh is alone, “so many miles, so many years from home.” Or, maybe this is the journey of his lifetime, the pathway home. Stepping into history, Josh follows the beckoning sound of “The Drummer’s Call.”
Patricia Leppo pens a tale of adventure in “The Drummer’s Call.” Based on real life events, Leppo definitely did her homework. This fictional narrative is easy to read, making it a desirable read for her target audience. Yet, it is full of historical accuracy, taking the reader into the world of the Civil War, creating a story for all ages. Leppo depicts her time setting with sensory perception. The deprivation of the time and the fortitude to survive is visualized through the eyes of the young hero. The young protagonist, Josh, travels the path of his heritage; he literally descends into the world of his descendents. Josh experiences the overwhelming loss and hardship of a country divided by war. Hard work for the young and the old, issues of slavery, lack of sanitation and brother set against brother on the battlefield are revealed throughout the story. Josh and his sidekick, Toby, are a delightful combination. They have rare and unforgettable bond created through timeless escapades. They much like Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, or Frodo and Sam portray the reality - boys will be boys, regardless of the time setting. The action flows, peaks and ebbs smoothly. The denouement unfolds with sad and promising outcomes giving way to satisfying conclusion. Leaving the lasting reminder, to be careful what you wish for, you never know where it will take you.
Schizo: Hidden in Plain Sight (Book One in Schizo Series) By Ilene B. Benator ISBN: 978-1-944781-41-5 Fiction-Thriller-General
Ilene B. Benator writes an outstanding medical thriller in “Schizo: Hidden in Plain Sight.” Dan Greenberg is a medical student living in Chicago. He is smart, attractive and dedicated to the plan for his life. Dan is ready to start his first clinical rotation as a third year med student. His first rotation is psychiatry. However, no amount of study or readiness could have prepared him for Northwest Indiana Psychiatric Institution. The facility was more like a prison than a hospital. Dan is assigned two patients, Catherine from the in-patient ward and Jake from the forensic ward for the criminally insane. His interviews with both of them change the course of his life. Before he knows it Dan is caught in an unbelievable conspiracy. Dan turns to his girlfriend, Melinda, for help. She is murdered. Dan is framed and soon becomes a resident at the same psychiatric forensic ward that he studied at a year before. With the help of Jake, Dan pursues justice or is it really revenge? Dan plays the role of a paranoid schizophrenic; he hides in plain sight to catch the men who killed his girlfriend and ruined his life. Ilene B Benator takes her medical experience and plunges into the world of conspiracy in “Schizo: Hidden in Plain Sight.” From the very first page, the reader is immediately drawn into narrative. The time setting shifts frequently from past to present as the story unfolds. Hold on, this high speed action keeps you on the edge of your seat. Written in first person, the plot is told from the protagonist’s point of view. The reader is allowed inside his head, experiencing his tumultuous thoughts and emotions. You sense the struggle of the effects of psychotic medications and the thrill of being on the run. Benator’s hero is a stable, smart, caring young man who is thrust into an unforeseen life that challenges him to the core of his existence. The side kick seems harmless, but is he really? How does he know what he knows? “Schizo: Hidden in Plain Sight” keeps you on your toes as the plot peaks. It continues to satisfy the longing of your soul for justice for the hero. And then wows you with its surprising ending. Baited and hooked, I am looking forward to the next book in the series.
Weave a Murderous Web By: Anne Rothman-Hicks and Ken Hicks Fiction-Mystery ISBN: 978-1-68046-251-7 “Weave a Murderous Web” written by Anne Rothman-Hicks and Ken Hicks is a murderous tale of intrigue. Jane Larson, attorney at law, learns “sometimes things aren’t always as they appear.” Proving herself as a successful litigator, Jane has become a corporate warrior for the firm of Adam & Ridge. Unafraid of a courtroom trial, she always looks forward to a good fight. Jane is talked into taking a matrimonial case by a distressed co-worker; it is a friend of a friend situation. Big mistake. Before she knows it, the case turns into a deathly spiral, creating a web of murder and deceit. Somehow, someway, all of Jane’s closet friends are caught in the murderous mesh. Who can she trust? What causes someone to murder - Greed, retribution, or could it possibly be love? The closer Jane comes to solving this puzzling question, the more confusing and dangerous her life becomes.
“Weave a Murderous Web” is an enthralling murder mystery. It gets your heart pounding with action and passion, while simultaneously entangling your mind with its ambiguity. The dynamic duo has done it again. The husband and wife writing team of Anne Rothman-Hicks and Ken Hicks pen another sit-on-the-edge of your seat murder mystery. Engaging. Witty. Fast paced. I love the Hicks contemporary writing style. The narrative is full of delightful metaphorical statements. The setting takes you into the heart of New York City; - it reflects just the right amount attitude. As a reader you pressed by congested streets, you imagine the century old architecture, you can taste the local cuisine and hear the constant hum of the city’s movement. Written in first person, you experience the story through the eyes, ears and emotions of the protagonist. The characterization is balanced with a bold and equally audacious cast of characters. However, relentless, go-getting, do or die personality of the heroine takes center stage. The realistic dialogues draw the reader into the story, involving you in the repartee of the conversations. As the plot progresses, the intensity heightens, catapulting you into surprising twist then plummets you into a sudden, yet satisfying end.
Armageddon Dawning – The Rise of Kharon By: Victor Watts Fiction/Thriller/Gen. ISBN: 978-1-4835618-3-7
What do biblical prophecies, bioengineered human genomes, and the coalition of Muslim leadership have in common? Victor Watt’s “Armageddon Dawning: The Rise of Kharon” gives an answer to this multi-faceted foreboding question. Austin Murphy returns to the CIA after being fired two years prior. The Hezbollah threat is growing, and President Stevenson wants it nullified. In Beirut, anxious to prove his legendary skills again, Murphy and his black op team wait for the go ahead to take out the Hezbollah leader. The mission is a disaster! Within days, a series of vicious terrorist attacks occur across the globe. Suddenly, out of nowhere, all media airways are hacked. The larger than life, ominous image of a man holds the world captive. Khoran, boldly takes responsibility for the acts of terrorism and openly threatens the President with more. The US is taken hostage by fear. To counter Khoran’s obvious evil intentions, a savior appears. The wealthy and charismatic, Aaban Tasir, has been on the CIA’s watch list for some time. Tasir rises quickly to power and political influence, becoming an overnight sensation with his promises of unity and peace. Could these two men somehow be connected? Before it is too late, Austin Murphy and his team must put together the pieces of this bizarre puzzle and show the world what force controls these notoriously evil men.
Oh my, my “Armageddon Dawning” written by Victor Watts is my kind of book. Rapid fire action mixed with thrills, spills and plot intrigue galore. The short chapters propel are agents for the fast moving thriller, you simply do not want to put the book down. There are variable points of view. This writing technique allows the reader to experience the narrative from multiple angles, by circumnavigating through the plot. The point of view switches from character to character and coordinates with the many location changes. One minute you are in the head of the protagonist, the next you are subdued by the antagonist. The narrative contains a large cast of characters. Watts writes his characters with directorial eye, he spotlights their individual importance and uniqueness by bringing them to the foreground, or placing them in the background where needed. This skilled method makes the scenes come to life by giving visual depth and scope. The use of wit, humorous, somewhat cheesy movie quotes and Austin-isms were delightful nuggets in do or die situations. The scientific aspects are written in a manner that are easy to understand and are incorporated well into the overall plot scheme. Moreover, the portrayal CIA security measures, weaponry and tactics were topnotch. The biblical prophecies as a subplot give the narrative a twist in perception. As a believer, I love the nuance of scripture and the dilemma of Yiskah’s character in a supporting role. I actually laughed out loud, when reading, “What were Jesus’ disciples thinking?” “Armageddon Dawning” contains pawns and poets, terror and comedy, martyrs and heroes. With the last page turned, we realize this is not the end of the story. I can’t wait for a sequel.
The Advocate’s Dilemna By: Teresa Burrell Fiction-Mystery-General 978-1-938680-06-09
Teresa Burrell’s “The Advocate’s Dilemma” reveals the struggle of believing and relying on the judicial system when friendship is on the line. Sabre Brown is an attorney and child advocate in San Diego, CA. She takes her job very seriously. One morning, Sabre enters her office to find a dead man lying on her desk. The victim is the father of Marcus and Riley, the juvenile clients she represents. Question after question arise about the case. Soon, the number one suspect for the murder is Sabre’s long time friend and work associate, Bob Clark. Who is framing Bob and why? JP, Sabre’s investigator, is determined to find out despite the conflict with the San Diego PD. Sabre is put in a professional dilemma. To find out who killed George Foreman, she must choose between her young clients or her friend. The deeper the investigation goes the greater the struggle of devotion. Discovering the reality of abuse, her clients have endured, haunts Sabre’s nights and days. Ultimately, forcing her to face the ugly truth – that when “parents care more about their habit than their children, it is the children who pays for their weaknesses.” And the child pays in unimaginable ways.
“The Advocate’s Dilemma” is a tale of mystery and devotion written by Teresa Burrell. Although, this was the first book in the Advocate series I have read, I was immediately encapsulated by the sincerity of the story and its characters. Burrell has the ability to spotlight honor and justice in the midst of a horrific plot. The narrative is simply written with no unnecessary fluff or over-the-top graphic detail. However, Burrell throws in a few interesting metaphors (JPisms), especially in shaping the “cowboy” character of JP. These one-liners add comic relief at pivotal times in the dialogue. The triune cast of characters center on the protagonist, Sabre, her faithful confidante, Bob, and the somewhat reliable flat character of JP. JP, by the way, is a silent love of interest of Sabre’s, and this romantic under current ripples throughout the plot development. The plot progresses page upon page making it an intriguing and quick read. Burrell adds a few unexpected twists regarding the “who dunit” question, peaking the tempo in the rising action. I appreciate the author using her real life experience to write about child advocacy. The silent voice of the abused must be heard and remembered, and what a better way, than in a stories that touch people lives.
Gravity Games: A Nathan Sherlock Foodie Thriller John Mutsui Thriller (released September 2015) ISBN: 978-0-9937548-1-4
“Gravity Games” written by John Mutsui is an outstanding thriller. The nose knows, but in the case of Nathan Sherlock, his nose knows more than anyone on the planet. “Nate the Nose” has an extraordinary power of smell, he can detect every aroma bearing molecule. What he smells, he remembers forever. His gift has made him a famous and wealthy man, Nathan is a legendary chef and wine connoisseur. But, more than that, his nose has become a secret asset to the police - he can smell murder. What Nathan didn’t know was that a special joint task force has been monitoring him. They convince Nate and his best friend, business partner and sidekick, Bonnie, to travel with them to a secret facility at Quantico, VA. Once there, they introduce him to others like him - an elite ESP team – Extraordinary Sensory Perception. The government agents encourage Nate to join the team by revealing a huge terrorism threat. A new technology of negative gravity has been developed, it is unstoppable, and it has endless possibilities! It could change the world as we know it! However, evil lurks, there is much more to this ESP team. Like a bloodhound, Nate sniffs out the truth.
John Mutsui’s “Gravity Games” is innovative novel, way out of the box - it’s not your run of the mill thriller. The characterization is extraordinary. The supporting cast of characters – a mad scientist, evil psychopath, young do-gooders, and those with extreme sensory powers, bring depth and suspense to the unique storyline. The plot weaves in and out, up and down, backwards and forward creating several riveting, spiraling illusive sub plots. The science of “negative gravity,” the hidden agendas, all the underlying lurid details portray a mind-boggling narrative. I appreciated that Mutsui brought in elements from his first novel, “Late Bite.” Reintroducing the character, Dragul Mangorian, was a stroke of genius- subtle, but perfect. Mutsui creates a tightly knotted tale, which gradually loosens, and then unravels throughout the denouement. Just when you think all is well with the world, the conclusion proves otherwise. John Mutsui’s “no scent” mysterious ending is ideal; it leaves the reader sniffing the air for the aroma of a sequel.
Meant to Be By Jessica James ISBN: 978-1-941010-02-9
“Meant to Be” by Jessica James is a love story that portrays the honor and devotion to the call of duty. Lauren Cantrell sits mesmerized by the ocean, she can’t believe she is finally vacationing at her childhood getaway. So much has happened... so much more to be done. One moment, once chance encounter changes everything. Romance and relationship was the last thing on her mind. But then, there he is – strong, handsome, magnetically charming and such a gentle voice. Rad appeared out of the blue, swept her off her feet. In one day, he had captured her heart. How could she have let her guard down? Could they really turn one day into a lifetime? Parting, heading into their separate, covert lives, would their paths ever cross again? Both of them would lay down their lives for God and Country - one a spy, the other a soldier. But, nothing had prepared them for what would happen. One highly classified mission, would change their lives forever. The memory of one magical day becomes the lifeline that entwines their twisted fate. Some things in life are just “Meant to Be.”
Jessica James declares the heartache and victory of the military culture in her novel, “Meant to Be.” The opening sequence pulls the reader immediately into the story. The polished manuscript was a captivating and mesmerizing read. I was so caught up in the story and the characters, I read it in one day! James paints her scenes with sensory descriptions, from the depiction of the power and lure of the ocean, to the horror and reality of war. Her characters are strong, dynamic, but balanced. Lauren is bold, brave, yet feminine. While Rad represents the epitome of a special forces warrior, yet is calm in manner and speech. The minor characters, are really not minor. Much like the cohesive brotherhood of a special forces team, they are essential to the story’s outcome. The plot is full of action, meaningful dialogues, pleading thoughts and intense external and internal conflict. Jessica James doesn’t pull back any punches – she really “cowboyed up.” James portrays both sides of the warrior’s life – the home front and battlefront. She lays the military life out - the duty, guts and glory in a strikingly daring narrative. “Meant to Be” is one of the best books I have read, Hoorah!
Human Sacrifice By M. Elaine Moore ISBN: 978-1494335434
M. Elaine Moore portrays the sacrificial service of an undercover cop, in her novel “Human Sacrifice.” Aubri Payton loves being an undercover cop and she is very good at it. Her best friend and partner gets killed in the line of duty. Aubri is crushed, holding her grief and guilt deep within. She is assigned a new partner, a “rogue gypsy,” Chris Avery. Aubri and Chris are complete opposites. Chris tries to get to know her and gain her trust, but Aubri isn’t going to make it easy for him. She doesn’t want to like Avery, but can’t seem to hate him. Untouchable and walled up, Aubri keeps everyone at a distance. Undeterred, Chris is determined to break into imprisoned heart. As time goes on, a fragile bond begins to form. A developing trust, a surprising sincere reliance causes them to analyze their sudden need for one another. Both of them battle in their head, the emotions of their hearts. When all seems right, they are faced with a life or death situation, will one become a human sacrifice.
“Human Sacrifice” is an adrenaline surging, heart pounding, pulsating narrative. M. Elaine Moore writes an enticing tale. From the opening sequence, I was hooked. Page after page, the action of the plot grows and intensifies, captivating the reader. The internal and external conflicts between the two characters forge a rare dynamic. Cheering them on, I found myself anxiously awaiting their pasts to meld with their present. Moore, masterfully exchanges the point of view between the two characters, enhancing the plot’s progression. Peaking the readers curiosity, the characters' lives are revealed cautiously, Moore does not give away too much, too soon. The little, almost insignificant elements Moore included were captivating. I am from southern California, the reference of the Santa Ana winds was a profound description, it strengthened the setting at a critical moment within the action. With a painstaking ending, “Human Sacrifice” comes to an abrupt halt, leaving the reader on the edge, anticipating the next book.
Defiance: A Novel (The Human Sacrifice Series Book 2) By: M. Elaine Moore ISBN: 978-1499799682
M. Elaine Moore writes a powerful narrative in “Defiance.” Picking up right where, “Human Sacrifice” left off. Detective Chris Avery has been suspended from duty. “The department can’t have a cop who takes matters into his own hands.” Aubri is in the hospital after being severely beaten and tortured. But, she survived! Although Chris saves her, he blames himself, and is ridden with guilt and regret. Aubri stuffs her pain and vulnerability and begins to utilize her defense mechanism, repeatedly stating, “I’m fine.” But, in reality she is far from fine. She can’t sleep, she is haunted by her memories, even drinking doesn’t help. Chris and Aubri are severely “screwed up by this whole thing.” All they want is for things to be “normal” again. Returning, back to work the team works a new case – a woman has been abducted. No leads, no ransom, nothing about this case makes sense! Until, the unthinkable happens. Aubri finds herself staring into the eyes of evil incarnate, realizing “Defiance has a price.”
“Defiance” is masterfully written. M. Elaine Moore takes her readers to a whole new level in this sequel to” Human Sacrifice.” The adrenaline surge grows exponentially - Fast paced, action packed and emotionally moving! As a reader, I was breathless. The characterization within the narrative is extraordinary. Moore draws her readers into the story, captivating your heart and mind. The realistic depiction of the aftermath of trauma is painfully accurate. Full of empathy, I wanted to jump inside the pages and give hugs and solace to Aubri and Chris. Moore delicately portrays the heart wrenching relationship of her main characters, yet, never slows momentum. Moreover, the minor characters don’t just fill up space, they play significant parts within the plot scheme. Timing is everything, and Moore does it with excellence. The past of her characters, unravel, but never too much too soon. She expertly places pivotal and climatic events within the plot. Once again, Moore held me captive, anxiously gasping for resolution, I fervently read to the end.
Jodan Ju: THE UPPER TEN By Richard Smythe ISBN: 978-1479153831
Jodan Ju is a bizarre high paced, action packed, a good versus evil, page-turning thriller. Richard Smythe writes a suspenseful tale of intrigue that keeps you second guessing its outcome. The plot twists and turns like a fighter pilot in an aerial dog fight. Uncertainty reigns, when Western politics meets the Eastern, on-the-edge, way of doing things. In Jodan Ju, modern technology confronts the old style, time forgotten, tribal ways of the Samurai warrior. Deep with the highland jungle in “the womb of the devil” an unidentifiable breed warriors of are being trained in the forbidden dark Way for a diabolical task. This revelation causes the Australian, Japanese, American and Israeli government intelligence agencies to work covertly together against, “An enemy common to all and more powerful than anyone of them alone.” In the end, what will prevail, The Way, honor..... or revenge?
Richard Smythe emphasized the action and plot development in his novel, Jordan Ju. The narrative is written with several points of view; at times I felt that the plot itself was a character. The distinctive cultural differences of the characters, and their placement within the plot were decisive. Written with precision, you sense the characters emotions, especially during fighting scenes. The author’s writing style alludes to the mysticism and symbolism of the martial arts, and the implication of Japanese “save face” culture. Dialogues were a relevant blend of Aussie slang, formal Japanese, and contemporary colloquial American vernacular. Maintaining a high paced storyline, time frames would switch when the intrigue was peaking, yet, would return to the present, as if it never digressed. Jordan Ju depicts an aggressive, vicious antagonist, while delivering a promising, hopeful resolution with its “never surrendering” protagonists.
Hamfist At DaNang – The FAC Diaries By GE Nolly Genre: Military Thriller ISBN: 9780975436271
Hamfist at DaNang by GE Nolly is a story about LT Hancock Hamilton. “Ham” wanted to be a fighter pilot since he was a kid. As result he dedicated himself at the Academy and graduated the head of his class. However, after graduation, Hamilton is greatly disappointed when he is informed that no “fighter” slots are available. Instead, he would be a FAC (Forward Air Controller), flying a 0-2A out of DaNang, Vietnam. The mission of the FAC was to be eyes and ears of the fighter pilot, to observe and control fighters in an airstrike. Prior to leaving for duty, while getting his affairs in order, LT Hamilton saves a man’s life in a dark alley in San Francisco. Unaware of irony and of the future chain events that would result from his heroic deed; he leaves for Vietnam, Christmas Day, 1968. Upon his arrival at DaNang, he is issued his call sign - Covey 218, and given his military nickname - “Hamfist.” After flying a few missions, Ham’s motto becomes “when your number is up, your numbers up.” When one mission goes badly, Ham is faced with the harsh reality of his fatalistic mantra. Face to face with the enemy, he remembers his training, “Never give up. Make them earn you.” In one terrifying moment, alone, and in danger, “Hamfist” discovers what really is important. “I am an American Fighting Man. I serve in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense. I will never surrender of my own free will.”
GE Nolly writes Hamfist at DaNang in first person narrative. In doing so, the reader sees through the eyes and feels the emotions of “Hamfist” Hamilton. Nolly’s word choices, especially the use of military vernacular brought realism to the story. He gave detailed explanations regarding aircraft avionics and military terminology. He even alluded to pilot superstitions regarding luck- good and bad. Readers who love military stories will embrace this novel wholeheartedly. If you don’t, you could become bored or find offence with the military jargon. The author did not use much figurative language, but one line really stuck with me: “The day Dad was killed was the watershed moment of my life story. It was the yardstick I used to mark events in my life.” I really felt that this was the demarcation line for Hamilton’s character growth, the line that divided the child from the man. Mr. Nolly wrote with intensity, he shared experiences, emotions, feelings, making you feel like you were there as an observer. All the while maintain a good pace and rhythm. Long sentences were minimal and the exchanges in the dialogues were equal, not one-sided, making the conversations engaging and easy to follow. The author’s references to Thomas Jefferson, Patton, Clausewitz, Kathryn Lee Bates, Thomas Hardy and especially, the American Fighting Man’s Code of Conduct authenticated the work. Hamfist at DaNang, depicts the life of an air force pilot with realism, displaying the devotion of the character’s love for country and military code of conduct.
Snow Men By Andrew Ceroni ISBN: 978-1-4787-4457-3
“Snow Men” written by Andrew Ceroni is captivating action adventure. David McClure, a federal agent, grieves the death of his wife and son. Trying to make sense of his loss, he plans a trip into the Alaskan wilderness. Hoping to “put the pain and memories behind him,” he treks into the Chugash Mountains. Surrounded by tranquil serenity and majestic beauty, MClure begins to gain a fresh outlook on life. However, he is unaware of the violence that awaits him. “Something bad is brewing.” The Iranians and the Russian mafia are conspiring a sinister plan of mass destruction and it originates in Alaska. McClure’s quest to escape from grief, soon turns into a mission to stop a ruthless band of Snow Men. He must take them out or die trying. After all, there are worst places to die.
Andrew Ceroni narrates a riveting tale of survival and bravery. “Snow Men” is a perfect blend of conflict – man against man, coupled with, man versus nature. This novel is packed with vivid descriptions, which paint an illustrious scenic canvas. Ceroni doesn’t rush, instead he masterfully pieces together the plot through character development. The protagonist is intelligent, courageous and resourceful, contrasted by the deceitful, diabolical, bloodthirsty arrogance of his adversaries. Exchanging character perspective and locations, the chapters transition smoothly and the action steadily intensifies, paving the way to a thrilling dramatic showdown. Andrew Ceroni does a brilliant job in bringing the adventure to a satisfying conclusion. Revenge and justice are dishes best served cold in the Alaskan wilderness.
The Protocol: A Prescription to Die By: John P. Goetz ISBN: 978-1512005158 Fiction- Thriller
“The Protocol: A Prescription to Die” written by John P. Goetz is hair-raising, spine-tingling thriller. Evan Anderson Teague better known as “Eat” is a brilliant computer geek. He has made millions designing software. Its April in Minnesota, the snow is melting as usual. But, all is not well. The federal government has initiated a new health care plan – socialized medicine. Minnesota and the Dakota’s are selected for the pilot program The IPAB agency measures natural life span, ultimately, deciding who lives and who is euthanized. The decision process is unemotional and quick! Those who benefit society live, those that do not - die. The problem is, only a handful of politicians know the meaning of Protocol U. After the death of his father, Eat comes head to head with this new form of medical care. Visiting his mom at her healthcare facility, Eat is confronted by the author and chair of the new healthcare program. Barbara Nordstrom is both cunning and creepy. She controls Aequalis Health care system with a mere keystroke. Eat must stop her diabolical plan before she kills his mother, and countless others.
“The Protocol: A Prescription to Die” makes the reader pause and ponder, could this be our future? John P. Goetz pens a shocking and tantalizing tale. He implemented his expertise in computer science, creating intelligent and enticing narrative. From the Prologue until the end, you are caught up in the intrigue. The characters possess rare qualities. The protagonist is gifted, rich “with a predisposition for accuracy,” yet, extremely likeable. On the other hand, the antagonist is a narcissistic control freak, who gets off on her diabolical power. The characterization is very thorough, allowing the reader to know and understand the characters personalities. Goetz filters in a bit of wit, giving names humorous acronyms and idiosyncrasies to his characters....”twirl, twirl, click, click.” The descriptions are often figurative, painting a unique canvass for the plot. Frequent scene changes keep you on the edge. The plot thickens with every page. The plot twists and turns to its peak. It has a few switchbacks as well, revealing different points of view for the same event. This writing technique kept the action moving until the conclusion. John P Goetz writes and outstanding work of fiction, he leaves the reader longing for a sequel.
Block 10 By Stacy Childs with David Niall Wilson ASIN: B00J91NLF2 Fiction-Thriller-General
Stacy Childs and David Niall Wilson take you on a wild ride of spills and thrills in their novel, “Block 10.” Luke Cooper is a competitive alpine skier. He thrives on the adrenaline rush of downhill skiing. Flying over the snow, pushing the envelope, in a race of a life time, Luke crashes. This race changes his life forever. Lying in his hospital room, depressed, contemplating the future, Luke is confronted by Dr. Henri de Salvo. De Salvo is not your ordinary surgeon; his procedures are experimental, dangerous and untested. He offers Luke a chance to not only walk, but to ski again. Luke accepts. From that moment on, Luke is forever linked to the controversial Dr. Henri de Salvo. After surgery, Luke returns to the US, completes medical school, and becomes a renowned diagnostician and surgeon. And yes, he can ski! Dr. de Salvo invites Luke to partner with him at his state-of-the –art private medical clinic in France. An offer Luke cannot pass up! Luke has no idea what he is getting himself into. From the moment he steps off the plane onto French soil, his is in danger. “France and Henri were supposed to be his finishing school.” Darkness shadows his bright future, he will be lucky if he gets out alive.
What a rush - “Block 10” is captivating from the opening scene. It literally starts off with a punch! Stacy Childs uses his expertise as a doctor, and clinical professor of surgery, to pen an exhilarating medical science narrative. The characterization is extremely diverse, it keeps the reader spinning. There is so many sides to the main character, is he a doctor, a fighter, and thrill seeking junkie? Using flashback technique, the characters reflect on the past, giving relevance to their present condition. These moments of introspection allow for a deeper view into the mind and personality of the characters. The authors paint a beautiful and intriguing background. The exceptional word usage and the inclusion of French phrases draw the reader into the aura of the setting. The plot is masterfully written, twists and turns galore! The action is fast paced; barely giving you to time to breathe. Childs and Wilson knit their story together with breath-taking scenery, mysterious undertones and malevolence - Making “Block 10” a sensational thriller.
Beneath the Greater Sky By: Andrew Voelker ASIN: B00RIFHNCI
“Beneath the Greater Sky” written by Andrew Voelker is a gripping story about ones man’s journey through grief. Ryan Quinn lives in a suburb outside of Chicago. He is a troubled man. He and his wife, Kathy, separate due to irreconcilable differences. But, the truth is, after their daughter dies in the womb, their coping mechanisms are vastly different. Losing the baby “broke them.” Kathy has an affair. Ryan becomes angry at God, drinks too much and obsesses about the death of his daughter and ex-wife. Trying to somehow appease his pain, Ryan keeps the quilt Kathy made for the baby in his bed side table. When Ryan’s Grandfather is hospitalized, Ryan decides to take a trip to Wyoming. While taking care of his Grandfather, he plans to venture up the mountain, to his and Kathy’s favorite spot and put the quilt and his past to rest. Mayhem erupts, danger is lurking in the mountains, and he wonders if he will make it out alive.
Andrew Voekler writes an outstanding first novel in “Beneath the Greater Sky.” There is no pain that comes close to the trauma of losing a child, especially, when it is a still born child. Voekler takes you into the brokenness of his main character. He allows the reader to feel the heartache, and the tragic wonderment of a life that never got a chance live. Using flashback technique, he reveals the events that lead up to the present state of mind of his character. Most authors focus on the mother’s loss, I appreciate that Voekler gave insight into heart and soul of the father. The symbolism of the quilt was ingenious. With clear and enticing descriptions, the setting draws you into the freedom and peace of the great outdoors. However, drama quickly turns into a thrilling action adventure, “Beneath the Greater Sky.” This narrative’s plot reveals that out in the open, in the middle of nature, it is not always peaceful. The intensity builds page upon page, portraying that life can change in an instant.
Christian Fiction Favorites
The Color of Truth (A Chain of Lakes Series #3) By: Stacy Monson Christian-Romance-Contemporary ISBN: 978-0-9861245-6-3
Stacy Monson pens an inspiring love story in “The Color of Truth.” Beaten to the edge of her life, Marti Gustafson hangs her head in shame. Officer Ben Evans steadies himself at her hospital bedside, attempting to take her statement. Marti refuses to name her attacker. Meanwhile, Sam Evans works at his cousin’s woodworking business. It feels good to work with his hands. Jimmy’s shop was a perfect place for Sam to hide and wallow in self pity. He’d lost everything- his marriage, career and reputation. After being released from hospital, Marti looses her job, and his kicked out of her apartment. This is not the first time Marti has been homeless. Life seems to repeat itself. Bad decisions create more bad decisions. Jason, the owner of her favorite coffee shop finds her sleeping in the alley, he gives her a job and a place to stay; maybe God really does answer prayers. Marti and Sam’s lost and lonely lives intersect at The Java Depot. Sam wants to know more about the woman with bruises, doe eyes, and who says she has heard from God. Yet, Marti wonders if she can really ever trust in anyone ever again.
“The Color of Truth” written by Stacy Monson is a story of love and devotion. The narrative reveals how genuine love grows; it portrays the true definition of love. Love is patient, kind, and not self-serving. Nor is it proud or envious of others. Love searches for truth, even when it is hard to accept. Love “always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end” (MSG). The characterization is magnificent! The characters of Marti and Sam intricately draw you in, you can’t help but love them and be caught up in their unfolding story. Monson creates unexpected “oh my, what’s next?” moments and surprising encounters, making the narrative hard to put down. Just when things begin to look up, the villain returns, causing the plot to thicken and the action lurch forward. Yet, all the while, God’s voice gently whispers, and delicately guides. Monson takes her characters to brink of despair, challenges them to pursue happiness, to conquer fear and doubt and satisfies their soul with justice and peace. Thus proving, God’s love never gives up or runs out.
Misdirect (A Novel of Spies, the Sahara and Searching for God) By Beverly Noult Christian/Thriller ASIN: B071GPCQ8K
Beverly Noult redefines the meaning of an undercover secret mission in “Misdirect.” “Look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen (2 Corinthians 4:18). After botching a field mission to retrieve a thumb drive, CIA operative, Eve Parker, is forced to a desk job. Most of the agency wanted her fired for her incompetency. Her family is not real pleased with her either. Her career took precedence and her husband and daughter paid the price. Several years after the incident, an agent involved in her failed mission is killed; the intelligence reveals a photo of the infamous missing thumb drive. Due to her experience and knowledge, Eve is assigned to the mission. Although she feels guilty for leaving her family again, Eve jumps at the chance to join the team. She soon realizes that “something’s brewing” something much bigger than any of them could have ever foreseen. Traveling alone in the desert, with a boy as her guide, Eve draws close to God and begins to pray. She trained for this, and believes God is on her side.
Seriously engaging! “Misdirect” written by Beverly Noult Is filled with twists and turns and unexpected events. Written with hidden layers of intrigue and suspense the plot surprisingly unfolds. Noult does a spectacular job of convoluting the plot. Concealed truths, a massive terrorist threat, and unbelievable covert mission, create a thrilling tale of espionage. The characterization is masterfully written, the heroine is more than what she seems. She is a perfect blend of “real and raw!” The conflict of good versus evil is the prevailing force behind the action. “There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it lies heavy upon men” (Ecclesiastes 6:1). Placing the heroine in the desert, enduring isolation and the weathering conditions expose her strengths and vulnerability. It is there “under the sun” that she witnesses the essence of evil, yet, moreover, discovers her purpose and is found by God. Once the rubber hits the road, or the desert uncovers the oasis the denouement begins. Those things hidden become seen, unraveling slowly at first, then accelerating into a climatic, incredible ending.
Sheila and Recluse By Randall Jarmon Christian-Fiction ISBN: “Sheila and Recluse” written by Randall Jarmon is a summons to captivating suspense. Adam North is enjoying his retirement on a ranch in Texas until unavoidable circumstances call him back into the life of the Recluse. The terrorist group known as The Movement sends a group of assassins to the US to kill Christians. These Serpents have been trained by the Recluse’s Russian adversary, Yuri Petrovich. In a brief encounter at Palo Duro Canyon, Recluse eliminates the threat of The Provider, but is wounded. He needs a doctor to help with his recovery, enabling him to complete his covert mission – take out the Serpents. Fortunately, Dr. Sheila Wilson, a missionary doctor serving in Africa, is ready to return to the states and start a private practice. Sheila and Adam have mutual friends, Walter and Constance Lindblohm. The Lindblohm “Institute,” a national security firm, teams up Recluse and Sheila for this counter espionage project. But, something devious is going on, an unimaginable scheme, which merges their lives into one.
Exciting! Fun! Oh My Goodness, what a thrilling action adventure! Randall Jarmon gives a free falling, stimulating account of espionage in “Sheila and Recluse.” This narrative holds entertainment from beginning to end. Full of danger, fast cars, covert missions, elusive past life situations blended with faith, honor, friendship, conniving good intentions and love. Not just mere action, Jarmon brings his characters to life, by sharing their thoughts and feelings, creating a personal in-depth view. Adam North’s code name, “Recluse” truly defines his character. A man set apart, living his life in seclusion, a man with few friends living a life of danger. Jarmon’s sidekick for Adam is Sheila. This unlikely duo proves that opposites truly do attract. Jarmon pens an amusing, well paced bonding between them. The plot has surprises weaved throughout, many unexpected twists, which “wow” the reader. I am a native Texan, grew up in Amarillo, and visited Palo Duro Canyon countless times during my childhood. This novel took me back to my roots, it proves what every Texan knows - Don’t mess with Texas!
The Porter’s Wife By Lisa BrownISBN: 978-1622875030 Genre: Fiction, Historical, Women, Christian Historical
The Porter’s Wife is a story of family. Lisa Brown writes novel telling of human strength and perseverance. Sarah Berry is a devoted wife and mother. The story unfolds during the early 1900’s in England. Poverty and disease ran rampant. Smoke and ash from the factory filled the air making everything filthy, life was barely tolerable. Young and old, worked very hard and long hours for very little wages. It was a time when many married for convenience, very few for love. Traditions were not to be challenged; they were the way of life. “Familiar was comfortable, even if familiar was not always pleasant.” Hardship was inevitable to life; it was up to the individual to “seize the moment” and to find their own personal happiness. Sarah lived her life a prisoner of her own circumstance; would she find freedom from her despair and heartache? With faith as her guide, she and her children set sail on a great adventure discover life in the unknown.
The Porter’s Wife is not only artfully written, but historically authentic. The feel, the sights and sounds of Old England flowed through the each and every description. The plot would seem reliable, almost predictable, and then to the reader’s delight or sorrow, the author would cause you to dive into an unexpected event, causing a dramatic change in the plot. Lisa Brown brought to life the voyage across the rough seas. You could feel the ups and downs of her characters stomachs and emotions. The development of the main characters arced as they reached the peak of their personal conflict. Not only were they described to you, but the author enlightened you with the thoughts and inner conversations of the characters, making them genuine. The love story within the story, I found painfully realistic for the time era. The ending gave the story a feeling of a happily ever after... which was a relief after a tale of such heartbreak and despair.
Seeds of Sorrow By Lisa Brown ISBN:978-1622876686
Weddings, births, pursuits of better lives in a post war depression, aging parents and death are the seeds sown in Seeds of Sorrow. One family’s story is told, spanning the generations, children grow up, get married, dream dreams and follow them. Lisa Brown’s, Seeds of Sorrow, centers on the life of Agnes Craig. Agnes was a young child when her family traveled from England to Winnipeg, Canada. Whatever memories she had from her distant childhood home have now faded. Agnes matured into a practical, hard-headed, sarcastic “take charge gal.” Agnes loves to be busy; she never acts spontaneously or on a whim, believing nothing good comes from change. Agnes marries Art, who suffers from “shell shock” after serving in WWI. He is haunted by the demons of war. “Every memory plays out in detail, tormenting his soul with exact precision.” Agnes was determined; she would support Art, no matter what happened. They live in a time and in a land of extremes. In a blink of an eye, the path of their lives changes drastically. God alters their direction, “with no explanation, no apology.” Can forgiveness and unconditional love piece together their fragmented broken lives? Will there be an end or only another doorway in time?
Seeds of Sorrow is the continuing story of the characters from Lisa Brown’s, The Porter’s Wife. The novel is figuratively written, full of insightful and passionate descriptions, and romantic and poignant language. Lisa Brown reveals her love for her native homeland, as she writes of the extreme nature and beauty of Canada. Her appreciation for history shines through as well, as she depicts the harsh reality of the economical crash after World War I. Being a student of the effects of PTSD on today’s soldier, I was very impressed with her portrayal of PTSD (shell shock) in Art Craig’s character. Lisa Brown paints a sad, but true life illustration of the never-ending trauma for the war veteran and their family. The characters in Seeds of Sorrow develop and arc with dynamic precision, and its plot ebbs with waves of familial warmth and love and then crashes unexpectedly with the gale forces of grief and despair. The ending was brutal, certainly not a happily ever after resolution. Therefore, I am hoping that Lisa Brown has one more story in her making it a trilogy of triumph.
Cindy Schroppel’s “Skandalon” is an eye opening look into the realm of the unseen. This work of fiction exposes the schemes, tactics and the snares set against those who believe in the Son and worship the Almighty. Yet, it also depicts the fierce love and devotion of guardian angels. Michael and Zoe are young and married, and completely dedicated to their daughter, Emma. Although she is a believer, Zoe’s desires are selfish, she wants what she wants! Michael’s ambitions are righteous, but he is plagued with doubt and fear. Zoe has become distracted in her walk with the Lord, leaning more on Michael’s faith, than in her own. Tragedy strikes! A terrible accident. Michael blames himself, Zoe blames God. Guilt, Loss, Grief, and Unforgiveness surround them. Both take separate paths as they journey through their despair. Ignoring the whispers of the Holy Spirit, and the aide of her guardian, Zoe turns away from God, her husband and embraces the world. Michael clings to the strength of his guardian, grips the grace of God and diligently prays for his wife and his future. A battle rages in heaven and earth! No one is able to snatch God’s beloved from His hands. “Sometimes we have to lose something in order to discover how blessed we truly are.”
“Skandalon” written by Cindy Schroppel is spiritually revealing and exceptionally encouraging. This story of tragedy and triumph pulls on the heartstrings of its reader. Throughout the narrative, we are reminded that all of us stumble, even fall, but God is always there to pick us up. The narrative is full of rich truths, pertinent scriptures and vivid descriptions exposing the of devices of evil and the fortitude of God’s angelic realm. The plot is full of drama and heartache, but does not leave you hopeless and despairing. Schroppel does an excellent job at depicting the uniqueness of a believer’s relationship with Christ. Her characters, although strong and devoted, suffer doubt and guilt during their trials and tribulations. This portrayal makes the novel compelling, and realistic. Drawing the reader into the deeper into plot, is the revelation of the third dimension - angels and demons. Schroppel intrinsically describes the power of God’s love, the willingness of His angels to take charge over the believer, and the evil exploits of the kingdom of darkness. Schroppel does not sugarcoat the pain of loss, grief and the debilitating effects of bitterness and unforgiveness. Nor, does she depict the church as perfect or the christian’s life as flawless. She does, however, write a beautiful story of redemption.
Cries of Innocence By: Angela Beach Sliverthorne ISBN: 978-1512014938 Christian Fiction
Angela Beach Silverthorne writes an exceptional Christian novel in “Cries of Innocence.” Bren is a seventeen, a senior in high school, and she just made cheerleader! Life should be good. However, Bren faces tremendous life challenges. Her father is abusive and the town drunk. Most believe that her Grandmother GG, is stranger than strange – possibly a witch. To top it off, her boyfriend is a jerk! She can’t wait to escape her life, small town, reputation and go away to college. In an instant, everything goes crazy. Bren finds herself, running for her life, into a life she never knew existed. Hiding out at “The Haven,” she is exposed to the Truth. “The whole idea of God is a fantasy” right? Bren has a lot to learn. Before she can stop and even ponder it all, Bren gets a crash course in her family’s mysterious history. All that she thought she knew, soon proves wrong. Evil has raised its ugly head. The battle rages. Hearing the cries of the innocent, Bren discovers she is a part of something much bigger than herself. She must become a beacon of light in a very dark world.
“Cries of Innocence” takes you on a mysterious journey into the world of the warring believer. Angela Beach Silverthorne pens a story that reveals the power of prayer against the despotism of evil. Her writing style is profound, the word usage is rich and meaningful. At times, the imagery is deeply poetic. The characters are not self-righteous, flowery or pious. They are depicted as real people, trying to live and understand, their God given gifts. Likewise, the villainous characters are legitimately diabolically. With patience and intrigue, Silverthorne nudges the reader, enticing you into the plot. As the plot’s action ascends to its climax, the pace increases. Then at the precise pivotal point, Silverthorne plunges the reader into an adrenaline surging battle and slaps you in the face, with a few shocking surprises. “Cries of Innocence” undeniably reveals the realities of spiritual warfare. However, it leaves the reader feeling victorious, knowing the truth - Light always dispels darkness.
A Rose for Jonathan By: Beth Green 9781311453433 Christian Fiction
Beth Green’s “A Rose for Jonathan” is an enlightening story revealing the power of prayer and scripture declaration. Standing guard on a hill above the city, are three angels... a sword pierces the ground, the earth shakes, yet no one notices except for one small two year old child. Suddenly, a car crash occurs, traumatically impacting the lives for all those involved. The angels watching flee to their charges. As a result of this accident, a ripple effect begins in the atmosphere unseen by human eyes. A divine plan begins to unfold. The gift within little Rose Louise, transverses time and transforms lives. Her donation of life, gifts the lives of three others, and releases a light, a shimmering glow, into a darkened community. Thirty- five years later, one man’s eyes are opened to the truth. Tension has been building; the spiritual battle has been raging. Standing in front of his congregation, Pastor John Miles, prepares to share the incredible story of Rose Louise. Is it a story of mere irony, or is it divine destiny? Will his congregation embrace and believe, or will they shun him, considering him a fool. Looking out to his audience, he begins to share the events that transpired to bring him to this moment of time. “I stand before you because of a gift....”
The quote by Alexander Pope, “fools rush in where angels dare to tread” whispered in my head as I read “A Rose for Jonathan.” Contrarily, Beth Green depicts the angelic realm with boundless and fervent bravery, ever watching over their assigned humans, and graciously heeding the voice of the Father. In this compassionate story, the angels fear nothing; instead, they dare the angels of darkness to tread lightly. Beth Green does a wonderful job at portraying the despair and heartache of losing a child. She reveals the truth that everyone grieves differently, pain is very real and individualized. Moreover, Green uses her experience as pediatric physical therapist to give insight into organ donation process. Too often, we forget that someone has to die, in order for someone else to live through organ transplant. This story delicately, yet, decisively weaves together the concept that there is a constant battle for the souls of man. Jesus Christ paid the ultimate sacrifice; He died that we might live. “A Rose for Jonathan” resounding message - we as believers overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony.
The Sabrael Confession: The Heavenly War Chronicles By: Stephen J. Smith Christian Fantasy 978-1508974529
Stephen J. Smith’s, “The Sabrael Confession,” is an enthralling piece of fiction. Sabrael is commissioned by Michael to write about his life as an angel of the Lord. It is a fearful, yet, inescapable request, to conjure up the past, -to share memories. Sabrael resplendently steps back to the beginning, a time when Heaven was new. Everything was in perfect harmony, until the Fall. Lucifer believes that he had transcended to God’s level, and converts a host of angels to follow him. God casts Lucifer and the fallen angels into the void of Hell. Everything changed. Heaven must now be protected, fortified. The demons prepare. The fallen soon break free from Hell, and roam the Earth. All of God’s creation is in danger! But, the Almighty has a plan for salvation. A group of seven angels are dispatched to earth, on a mission to protect the “Son.” The seven angels are all that stand between the Son and the fallen. The angels are to observe, protect and defend, but never interfere. This is easier said than done, when so much is at stake. Because among the fallen, are whispers of a mysterious gateway that will allow them to ascend into Heaven. Sabrael and the other angels become divided, in task, and at times, in devotion. Protect the Son, destroy the gateway. Nothing could prepare them for what lies ahead.
Stephen J. Smith is a fabulous storyteller. “The Sabrael Confession” is a heavenly, earthly and hellish, fantastical tale. Reeling the reader in instantly, the Prologue contains a taunting narrative hook. The narrative is written in first person, from the perspective of the main character. This proves to be a captivating technique. Who wouldn’t want to see the world through an angel’s eyes! The reader is easily caught up in the story. The characters brought out an emotional response (a sign of a well-written story). At times I was frustrated, other’s spell-bound. The setting changes locations and spans eons of time, moving the plot actions at an accelerated pace. Smith’s training in animation and screenplay is obvious, the novel is full of vivid and detailed descriptions, creating a visual storyboard. He paints spectacular views, opening up the world of Heaven, ancient cities and landscapes from across the globe. Furthermore, he masters the portrayal of battle scenes- clashing of weapons, the speed, the cries, screams of pain, the slaughter that seems to never end. “The Sabrael Confession” catapults you through time, leaving a lasting, reverential impression, to wonder what is battling just beyond our human realm.
Cora Pooler By: Dottie Roxford ASIN: B00K9K935O Christian Fiction-Amish
Dottie Roxford pens a soul-searching story in “Cora Pooler.” It has been twenty years; Cora Pooler decides it is time to return to Amish Country, to the village of Wander Lane. Facing her fears, she seeks the truth. She must confront her past. Hopefully, by doing so, she will discover who she really is... Amish or English? Will she be received after all of these years? A shunned person is an outcast, considered dead, invisible in the Amish Community. She longs to be a part of the community once again, but she is torn, guilt and regret consume her. Her heart is pulling her home to her Da. her precious Maem and her beloved sister, Violet. She has been in the English world for so long. Will she be able to let go of the freedom she has found there, her job, her Daniel? To be recognized by those she loves, she must confess and repent. She places her trust in her Savior, Jesus; after all it is He who is calling her home. She has been forgiven, and is loved by her Heavenly Father. Although shunned, Cora talks to God and He listens. But, will the Bishop listen? Will he and the Old Order forgive her of her unacceptable deed?
“Cora Pooler” written by Dottie Roxford is an enlightening representation of God’s love, His forgiveness and salvation by grace through Christ alone. Roxford’s writing style is figurative and sensory descriptive, she creates mental images using sights, sounds and smells. At times, she even uses the literary device of alliteration. The narrative is poetic prose; beautifully written, the words flowed delicately across the pages, from beginning to end. Her depiction of Cora and the Amish lifestyle was impressive. Many of her analogies and metaphors were simply brilliant...”the Amish a great flock of dark feathered blackbirds, the English a bevy of cardinals, canaries and bluebirds...” Wonderful! I currently am residing in a Mennonite and Amish community, I applaud her imagery. As a reader, you feel Cora’s longing and inner turmoil to discover herself. Moreover, I was awed at times, with the portrayal of Cora’s relationship with God, sovereign, sincere, liberating. The story of “Cora Pooler” is masterfully told. All of us at times, must face our past, to move forward into our future.
Revolution (Book One Chronicles of Mharc) By: T. L. McDonald Fiction-Sci-Fi ASIN: B01N69LIFM
“Revolution” written by T. L. McDonald is a riveting sci-fi thriller! The First Citizens of Nihili breed Gamers, toys for their entertainment. Tsaurine is an elite Gamer, the best of the best, virtually unstoppable. Tsaurine’s children are exceptional fighters, legendary Gamers. They are trained by Macelt, a genetically engineered experiment of the First Citizens. Macelt is a gifted instructor; he pushes hard, honing and shaping the skills of his trainees. The time has come for Mharc, the youngest of Tsaurine to begin her training. “Mharc is scary!” At seventeen, she is stubborn and impulsive, yet stern and serious about her training. She is a non-conformist, who hates the First Citizens and all who are loyal to them. Tsaurine believes Mharc is the hope for their future, if she doesn’t self-destruct first! Tsaurine and his wife, Hyatt, dream of a future where their children will be free, no longer slaves to the First Citizens. However, all past rebellions have failed. Tsaurine and his co-conspirators patiently strategize and carefully plan until the fateful day arrives. Failure is not an option, they must succeed. This is no longer a Game, but a battle for life!
A good book captivates, a great book draws the reader into the story making them a part of it. “Revolution” written by T. L McDonald is a great book! McDonald is a brilliant wordsmith. He pens eloquent and profound descriptions and his characterization is extraordinary! The characters are animated, larger than life, yet living beings with heart, soul and unquenchable faith. As a reader, whether they are friend or foe, you are drawn into their lives, sensing their victories and their pain. The young and conflicted heroine transforms from an explosive teenager into an honorable leader. Although the narrative revolves around the protagonist, the cast of characters have a unique role in shaping her character. The Father, the Mother, the Brother, the Lover all are essential, and have stories within the story. The devotion to family and to cause is the foundation the story is built upon. The rising action builds, preparing for that long awaited climatic moment. Afterwards the denouement grips you in the reality of what happens after crisis has past- you cannot undo what has been done. Concluding, all you can do is live to fight another day. The war has begun; I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Star Binder By: Robert Appleton Young Adult/Sci-Fi
“Star Binder” written by Robert Appleton is an outstanding work of young adult science fiction. Jim Trillion is a thirteen year old drifter on the planet Mars. Jim and his friend, Sergei, spend their days skimming credits. Digitally pick-pocketing others, provides travel money and the freedom to roam. While working in a local diner skimming customers, Jim and Sergei notice two “off-worlders” in trench coats hanging around. A loud explosion, screams and gunfire erupt, insurgents charge into the diner on a mission to kill. One of the trench coat men intervenes taking on the invaders single handedly. Trench Coat man is wounded; Sergei and Jim help him escape the violent chaos, but soon part ways. Within days of the attack, Jim and Sergei are on the run and almost out of money. Suddenly the mysterious trench coat man reappears, offering them a chance of a lifetime, a top secret project, a career opportunity with unlimited possibilities. Sergei leaves, abandoning Jim onboard a shuttle, heading to who knows where, to do who knows what. From this moment on Jim’s life will never be the same, for what lies ahead of him could be only imagined in his dreams.
Robert Appleton’s “Star Binder” is entertaining, action-packed, science fiction at its best. Engaging! Captivating! The writing style is smooth as silk and perfectly seamless. Written for the young adult audience, Appleton challenges the mind, body and soul. He entices the reader’s curiosity with elements of the unknown while stimulating them with a plot of extreme competition. Yet, also appeals to issues of the heart, pricking emotions with depictions of homelessness, abandonment, feelings of being way in over your head, and not able to understand the world around you. The characterization is top-notch; the diverse cast of characters feed off of each other, creating a one-of-a-kind core group. The hero is young, loyal, intelligent and a risk taker. Although he seems careless at times, he searches diligently for the meaning of life, desiring answers to questions just beyond his reach. His side-kick buffets and challenges him, causing his character to evolve. Caught in an unbelievable adventure, sailing into the dark sea of the unknown, Jim and Sergei are the contemporary sci-fi version of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. Robert Appleton is a talented storyteller; he says he is inspired by the night sky. By all means, keep looking up into darkness and lighting up our world with your imagination.
From Earth to Terra: A New Beginning (Vol. 1) By: Beverly Jenness Fiction- Sci-fi ISBN: 978-1530802089
“From Earth to Terra: A New Beginning” written by Beverly Jenness launches you into an alien future. “The meaning of life is not to live forever, but to create something that will.” Earth will not survive much longer; therefore, mankind must flee and begin again. Through a secret society know as The Guild, plans are made to escape Earth before it self-destructs. Amanda and her brother, Paul, have been preparing for a life on a new planet for years. The Guild secretly commandeers two spacecraft to ensure the future of humanity. Yet, there is no guarantee. It is a one way ticket into the unknown. The wealthy find their way on board, paying for their passage not earning it. Ill-prepared for a new life, the elite don’t want to rock the boat, or in this case the spaceship, much less, lift a hand to create a new world. They revert to what they know- manipulation, power and greed. Soon after their arrival on Terra, Amanda and Paul realize they will have to fight for their new way of life. On an untamed planet, facing monstrous wildlife and mysterious vegetation, their greatest enemy is within; the evil of earth has followed them.
Beverly Jenness is a gifted storyteller. Her science fiction novel, “From Earth to Terra: A New Beginning” is beyond doubt - out of this world. Penning a great narrative hook, you are immediately drawn into the story. The use of intrigue coupled with suspicion is captivating. With each revelation, you feel there is something just below the surface, ready to be exposed. The narrative is futuristic, portrays advanced science, but is not overtly technical, making it an enjoyable read. “From Earth to Terra: A New Beginning” is an animated view of the timeless adage – People change, but not much. When the world falls apart, change is inevitable. Right? However, change scares the small-minded. Those who refuse to adapt, overcome and persevere depend on others to care for them, enslaving them to their desires. They prefer life remain the same, expecting the world (regardless of what planet they inhabit) to revolve around them. The things that caused the collapse of Earth’s civilization begins to rise up on Terra. Society is divided into those who deem themselves entitled, and those who serve their entitlement. The cast of characters reflect this truth in both thought and action. Proving Einstein’s words, “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” The protagonist is conflicted from within and without. She faces the fear of the unknown with courage and youthful exuberance, while battling the same enemy mankind has always known- selfishness. The narrative’s societal differences create a human divide, resulting in a climatic exodus. As the rising action falls, the narrative concludes with an uncertain, yet hopeful, future. But one thing is for certain, the battle is not over, it is just beginning.
Polarity: Children of the Orb By: C A Jamison Romance/Sci/Fi/Fantasy ASIN: B011669CWS C A Jamison pens an electrifying tale in “Polarity: Children of the Orb.” An Indiana mining accident uncovered an alien orb. A cosmic storm brews within this orb, releasing rejuvenating power. All those who touched it were healed and became ageless. The survivors of the cave in keep this power a secret, only revealing its power to their children. The parents drew energy from the orb, and the children drew energy from the parents. The orb’s power dissipates and dies, within days the parents die as well. Lost and grieving the children of the orb must find each other to survive. The fate of these children was decided long before they were ever born. However, will their perfect match produce love and perfect polarity, or will the result be a fatal attraction? “Polarity: Children of the Orb” written by C A Jamison is an ideal blend of young romantic love and alien influence. It is a story with the perfect amount of give and take. Do opposites attract? Is there a soul mate for everyone? Can evil and good come from the same gene pool? Electric blood, tornado resistant force fields, deadly manicures, a bad to the bone blond ballerina, a wicked mother, good brothers, bad brothers, an innocent, yet frightening Goth and coming of age teenagers with supernatural powers are all elements of the narrative. “Polarity” is shockingly stimulating. The plot is engulfing, the action flows like an electric current, quick and powerful, creating an emotional rush. The narrative exposes the deep need between the characters, not only to survive, but to protect and to love. Compassion triumphs over evil, but each character must weigh just how far they are willing to go to survive. Action that is out of this world, a promising proposal, and a surprising ending, leave the reader anticipating a sequel. C A Jamison is noted for her unique story plots, she certainly wrote exceptional science fiction in “Polarity.”
Intelligent Design II: Apocalypse By J. M. Erickson ISBN: 978-1-942-708-10-0 Sci/Fi Thriller
J M Erickson pens a thrilling science fiction novella in “Intelligent Design II: Apocalypse. The action continues for the Sol System’s Architects. Everything is about to change drastically. There is no doubt that Jupiter will explode. The result will be a second sun. What will happen to the existing planets? The Martian, Architect Janus, with the help of his master computer calculates and simulates the outcome. Mars and Venus will be bombarded with asteroids, and the newfound planet Terra will remain intact, but Earth will experience an extinction level event. As the senior species, Janus warns Terra and Earth of this unexpected event. Andrea Perez stays on Terra and leads an expedition drill team into Terra’s crust, discovering a new subterranean habitat. Andrea’s father, Anthony Perez; returns to Earth. After his return, Anthony joins forces with his close friend, Christine Reich. Together they warn the powers that be, and then prepare for the worst. As the time draws near, Architect Janus discerns that Jupiter’s ignition is no random act; could it be a prearranged plan of superior beings? Will answers be found in the great beyond, in the void of time and space? Or, will these events create more questions. Only time will tell.
“Intelligent Design II: Apocalypse” is the sequel to J M Erickson’s “Intelligent Design: Revelations.” By including a list of characters, Erickson introduces, or reminds the reader, of the events and roles of the characters in the previous book. (This was a great help, as I had not read the first book.) As in any good science fiction book, the alien species have their own unique descriptions, abilities and culture, setting them apart from humans -“Earthies.” The prologue contains a mysterious narrative hook, which draws the reader immediately into the story. “Intelligent Design II: Apocalypse” takes you deep into the solar system, changing settings often, from the hidden voices in the dark, to the underground domains of Terra and Mars, to the floating cities of Venus. On Earth, the good guys battle not only time, but those who want to stake their claim to or stifle the knowledge of, life on other planets. The impending cataclysmic event is the propellant behind the action; the story accelerates as “time” is running out. As a reader you anxiously await the climax, yet, uncertainty remains as the story unravels towards its end. The prevalent theme is depicted in the quotes of Buddha at the beginning of each chapter: to live each day as your last day in harmony with one other. Erickson concludes this action-packed science fiction saga by planting philosophical ideas and truth-seeking questions, what is really out there, and who are the voices in the darkness?
The Final Frontier By H. M. Irving ISBN: 978-1493131556
The Final Frontier written by H. M. Irving is an out of this world story of familial reconciliation. A scientist, brilliant to the point of madness, has genetically engineered his progeny. Until now, he has kept his unique children separated on different planets, keeping them unaware of his existence and their symbiotic relationship. The time has come to collect his progenies and save Earth it from its inevitable end. Reunited, Ari and Sim, merge their minds and join forces with a small band of interplanetary protectors. Together, they desperately search the Earth to find their sisters before it is too late. Only by joining together, can they protect Earth from an event horizon marked to annihilate its existence. A black hole emerges, creating a vortex, a possible doorway to a parallel universe. This could be the orchestrated end and the beginning of time. “The universe was funny that way, always searching for balance.”
H. M Irving writes a congenial, yet educated, story of science fiction in The Final Frontier. Mastering the art of imagination and scientific principles of astrophysics and genetics, Mr. Irving draws the reader into his cosmic reality. His blend of real science and technology create an ordered, yet volatile universe. Furthermore, by using figurative language, especially the use of metaphors, idioms, and tongue and cheek phrases makes, The Final Frontier, an entertaining read. Being a person who does a lot of cerebral siphoning, Sim’s line of having “a lot of weird to process” made me smile. The Final Frontier is written in first person, but from different characters point of view. This technique assists the development of the characters and keeps the reader engaged in their growth. Mystical alien creatures, dark energy, violent battle scenes, artificial intelligence devices, and space travel create plot full of suspenseful and thrilling sci-fi action. This novel is just the beginning of The Ovion Archives, so be prepared for not-so-final ending, of The Final Frontier.
Comments: Sexual content
The Universal Portals: The Opening By J. Blanes ISBN: 978-1497375864
J. Blanes shows budding talent in volume one of the sci-fi series, The Universal Portals. In The Opening, Kieira, an enthusiastic journalist, Albert, a brilliant young scientist and Dylan, a witty kid, full of street smarts, find themselves on board a space ship. This small band of friends was hungry for adventure, yet they find themselves way beyond the normal idea of exploration. Before they know it, they are eating unusual food and wearing designer spacesuits. Uncertain of where they are going and why, a small mysterious creature appears claiming to be their guide. Their journey into the unknown transports them through interstellar portals on a rescue mission to save a mysterious guest. Facing death, doubtful if their mission will be a success, they cleave to the hope of one day returning to Earth. But, first they must survive the battle against a military bred alien force.
J. Blanes writes an enjoyable sci-fi read for the young at heart. The Universal Portals, The Opening is a perfect blend of interstellar adventure, fierce and grotesque aliens, humor and sarcasm. Figuratively written you sense the sounds, smells and sights of outer space. The details given to the imagery of the spacecraft and alien planets are decisive and clear. Not overloading you, J. Blanes, gradually reveals the customs, history and the characters of the alien worlds within the story. The plot develops with ease peaking with excitement and feeds the reader’s curiosity. This narrative is far from being boring, it is full of surprises. When expecting the worst, a twist in fate or dumb luck bails outs it main characters. Phew! Youthful innocence coupled with universal galactic warfare, what’s not to love! The Universal Portals, The Opening, primes you for its continuing saga. As a reader, you are left anticipating The Middle Game.
Exodus 2015- The Cloud By Stephen L. Padley ISBN: 978-1-62516-581-7
Stephen L. Padley writes an engaging Sci-fi tale in Exodus 2015 – The Cloud. The experimental biochemical organisms, called nanomachines, have escaped the controlled environment of the laboratory. Set free these organisms adapted and multiplied, and through air travel quickly engulfed the world. England lays is waste as the nanoma’s shimmering tendril cloud spreads across the country. “Entering a completely new era of existence,” a microbiologist, Professor Geoff Short, and a band of university students head to the forest to escape the onslaught of the nanomas. With the human race loosing, fear dictates decisions; the best of effort for survival will depend on how well the human population can relearn old skills and defend themselves against the nanoma and each other. Exodus 2015 foretells what will one do, when “the spirit of human endeavor” faces the trials of survival.
The author, Stephen L. Padley, is a successful storyteller. His sci-fi tale, Exodus 2015 – The Cloud, was an entertaining read. His use of language paints clear pictures of the plot action and its setting. Padley wrote knowledgeably of the landscape and surrounding towns, convincingly taking you through the streets and countryside of England. He engages your senses through the use of sensory details revealing the shimmering and buzzing of the cloud, the smell of death and decay, the heighten emotion of fear. The use of British English in the dialogues and text strengthens the essence of the story’s setting. The plot developed proficiently and gained momentum similar to the nanoma cloud. The author told realistically the conflict of man against man for survival, in the midst of man against nature of advanced technology. Once the apex of the plot was reached, the narrative’s end was not drawn out. The resolution of the story and its characters were wrapped up effectively over the last few pages. Yet, Exodus 2015 – The Cloud, left you speculating what could happen next.
Night Rumbles By: Nancy Janes Christian Fantasy/Sci Fi 978-0-692-31407-4
Nancy Janes writes an entertaining narrative in “Night Rumbles.” Brad is a nineteen year old, astrophysics research student on the planet Lydo. His focus of study is the behavioral habits of the Netherworld. Brad is given permission to take a field trip to the “unknown and dangerous country” of Daganland. Sounds exciting. However, when Brad enters the “Darklands” his memory is erased, leaving him no ties to home. When he arrives, he no longer resembles his former self and his name has changed to Brat. In Daganland, Brat is as a student as well. Ironically, he is given a special assignment to observe humans, researching their behaviors. Brat is clever, intelligent and mischievous. He gets a thrill out of his “episodic roverings” among the “Earthies.” Every trip, and every course of study, brings forth questions with no answers. The black hole around him gets deeper and deeper. Plagued with senseless dreams of his past, his former self beckons to him. Brat attempts to fly “under the radar” but, roaming eyes are everywhere. Will he stay and fight or flee the darkness of the “Night Rumbles”?
“Night Rumbles” is a cute, comically creative allegorical tale. Tapping into the sinister world of the Netherlands, Nancy Janes writes a similar, yet lighter account, of C S Lewis’ “Screwtape Letters.” Peaking the interest of the young adult reader, James includes many hidden morals within the text of the Sci-fi/fantasy. She enriches the narrative with meaningful idioms and clichés. Furthermore, the amusing, double meaning of the names of characters and places, is right out of the game of “Mad Gab!” The writing style is simple, appealing to the young reader. However, the complexities of the battle between light and darkness, or good verses evil, remains abundantly clear. As the setting of Daganland, resembles the evil works of hell – a place where no love or kindness resides. The exploits of the protagonists capture the mind of the reader, causing one to give pause to the design of heaven and hell, and the thought of an omnipresent caring Supreme Lord and a menacing, grim Head Honcho.
Callisto Symphony By Andrew Cullen 978-1505385786 Young Adult Sci/Fi
Andrew Cullen conveys an innovative science fiction story in “The Callisto Symphony.” George is aboard the spacecraft Hendrix, his position - the outskirts of the solar system - just beyond Jupiter. He has been on board his spaceship all of his life. George has been well educated for 23 years. His instruction comes through an on board video monitor. Without hesitation, George follows the directions of the Grand Master. His mission is the Callisto Symphony, whatever that is. All he knew was it was very important, and that the Grand Master was “counting on him.” But, he wonders what else lies out there? He longs to communicate, and ponders human interaction, especially touch. Brilliant and bored, George strives for more than his monotonous routine, of eating, studying, monitoring and sleeping. He breaks the rules; he strays from his appointed location, what he finds changes everything. He discovers that he has been deceived by the Grand Master. George is not the only one.
“The Callisto Symphony” poses many underlying “what if” questions. What if you were raised all alone? What if you never had the opportunity to engage in conversation? What if you never felt human touch? Andrew Cullen answers these questions through his brilliant, young and very impressionable characters. The characters bite into the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, and they like Adam and Eve were not prepared for consequences that follow. Overwhelmed by the power of communication, they are impacted, and influenced by what they hear and see. Each of the three characters, begin to change and develop, and ultimately arc, due to the exposure to limitless, new found information. Cullen does a nice job switching from non-fiction writing to fiction. His writing style tends to be detailed and technical, yet, this makes the science fiction believable. Cullen reveals his creative edge, and at times light-hearted wit, for example, naming the spacecrafts after rock stars. Furthermore, being a wine enthusiast, Cullen’s depiction of ‘fermented juice’ was amusing. It was right up there with the effects of Romulan Ale in Star Trek. The plot was imaginative, and its development enticing. The action steadily builds page upon page. But, nothing prepares you for the cliffhanger ending.
The White Death By Daniel Rafferty ASIN: B0112HMO5I
“The White Death” written by Daniel Rafferty is an exhilarating race against extinction. The human race is dying. Genetic mutations are multiplying. Genetic hatred floods the hearts and minds of mankind, society is decaying. The battle of pro-life advocates versus pro-evolution supporters rages. The future is in the hands of the newly elected US President, Thomas Kevin Morgan. America can’t handle this crisis alone; the world needs to join together. President Morgan plans to use his executive power to make a difference. There has been too much talk, not enough action from world leaders. Something must be done, now! After only a couple of days in office, President Morgan is told about Section 51. He learns, what most of the world doesn’t know, humans have been monitored by an alien Alliance since 1903. Deep beneath Area 51 in Nevada is an experimental laboratory. This is the home of Freda, the Earth’s only alien resident. In this secret facility, Freda is joined by an elite scientific team, headed up by Dr. Peter Roberts. They are on the brink of medical discovery to reverse the genetic mutation. The Alien council is planning an intervention, but what they initiate results in global outrage and a fight for survival.
Daniel Rafferty is a brilliant storyteller. “The White Death” is a gripping science fiction thriller. It read like a movie! Mr. Rafferty pens an elaborate tale of survival; it is a blend of “Independence Day,” “Men in Black,” with a hint of “X-Men.” Rafferty writes the science with ease, making it real, yet understandable. The flow is never broken while explaining the scientific detail. The narrative’s plot device is unique and the lead characters are strong, lucid and admirable. The conflict is life over death, a fight to exist when death is imminent. This conflict brings out the best in the characters, from the US President, the scientific community, to the world’s military, each one depicting their survival instinct. If there is a weak link in this story, it would be the Alien Alliance; the members were taken in by one of their own – duped! The antagonist is the disease; it attacks the weak, the innocent, and the unborn. Then when you think it couldn’t get worse, the characters have to fight the disease and a pandemic virus. All of this action transpires in a week’ time! The plot twist is genius! Shockingly wonderful! “The White Death” keeps you engaged until the very end.
Apocalyptic & Post Apocalyptic - Fiction Favorites (It's the End of the World as We Know It)
The Lesser Evil By Daniel Settanni ISBN: 978-1946059-05-5 Fiction- Dystopia
Daniel Settanni writes a transcendental thriller in “The Lesser Evil.” It’s about to become a whole new world! Joss Bishop is about to live out the unimaginable. The world has become plagued by drought. Walls have been erected to keep the refugees out! However, there are an elite few who seem unscathed by the world’s harsh conditions. As the daughter of a wealthy businessman and an influential politician, Joss remains one of the fortunate. Until, agents break into her house and abduct her fiancé, Alex. Alex is accused of terrorism. Within hours she is told her father is dead. The insanity begins. Looking for a rhyme or reason for these bizarre circumstances, Joss discovers more than she could ever fathom. Overnight, Joss becomes ridiculously affluent and her father’s successor. Andrew Bishop has created the unheard of, the unbelievable, and she has inherited it. Joss begins to live a dream that quickly turns into a nightmare. Jocelyn Bishop holds the key to the future; she is the “last best chance” for humanity.
“The Lesser Evil” written by Daniel Settanni explodes into action. Settanni pens a sensational narrative, intertwining the influential powers of money, military, politics and science. The chapters are short creating fast paced action. Keeping the suspense alive, Settanni gradually interlocks the pieces of the puzzling plot. The cast of characters rebound well against each other. They are interesting, some are peculiar and illusive, a few are formidably eerie, while others are victims of circumstance. However, the narrative’s propulsion is directly related to the heroine’s morphing character. The descriptions are sensory, chilling and alluringly imaginative. Although, the setting depicts overcrowding, despair and the squalor of mankind, the true conflict lies within the realm of morality. A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. Creating artificial intelligence in the likeness of man has repercussions. Humanity is flawed; no one plays God and gets away with it. As the abstract plot comes to a close it recoils, there is no resolution. The reader is left dangling in suspense, the story ends but it is far from over.
One More – A Solar Maximum Novel By Lance Haynes Fiction/Gen/Dystopia ISBN: 978-15117796-78
Lance Haynes’ “One More” is a story of one more chance, one more day, one more minute to right the wrongs of the world. Richard Evans is a broken man, a hard working man, trying to overcome life’s burdens. Richard is conducting a geochemical survey in the desert of Nevada, when the world is literally turned off by a solar flare. Hundreds of miles from his wife and boys, all Richard can think of is getting home to his ranch in Texas. Panic, riots and looting hit the cities. Richard faces a horrendous journey. In his quest to get home, he must overcome traffic jams, no fuel, a broken truck, off-roading hazardous mountains trails, and crazed men and women who are hungry and lost in the chaos of survival. With each set back and detour, Richard meets the kindest and the most evil of people. In solitude, he recalls the most awful and fondest of memories. Through it all Richards gains a new perspective, a renewed faith. By pushing through, being a light within the darkness, Richard Evans proves one man can make a difference.
Lance Haynes pens an exceptional tale of survival in “One More.” Haynes’ heart and soul flowed through every word; his fictional story grew out of his own personal journey. He articulates mankind’s violence and compassion with equal potency – “Grace and forgiveness are the weapons to fight the destroyer.” The narrative is visually stimulating, from the night sky, to desert heat, to the chill of the mountains, wide-eyed adrenaline surges of the action, outbursts of rage and conviction; your senses are heightened by the imagery, the figurative style and intense sensory descriptions. I am a pragmatic, somewhat stoic person; very few things bring out an emotional reaction in me. However, this novel drew me into its action, its drama, and its conflict. The struggle to push through, the resilience to never quit on life or love brought me to tears. Haynes’ portrays man’s fight to survive with truth and dignity. While some turn selfishly violent, others reach out in selfless heroic measures. In a turbulent and chaotic time of darkness, Richard (the main character) perfects humanity, without being perfect. He was the best of heroes. “One More” is a beautiful work of fiction, one that beckons to be read again and again.
After the Predays By Gil RoscoeISBN: ISBN: 9781483507071
Gil Roscoe’s, After the Predays, is a compelling work of fiction about life after a cataclysmic disaster. Thaddeus (Thad) Lowell, a philosophy professor, is the only living person in the LA basin, in the entire world as far as he knows. The virus was nasty and cruel; it attacked the lungs, then the liver. In three months, it took all human life. Somehow “evolution, natural selection, had chosen him.” Every day for eighteen months, Thad wonders why he lived. Alone in the mountains, talking to himself, Thad looks at Los Angeles and concludes, “All that civilization and all that quiet don’t go together.” One day Thad decides it is time to come out of hiding. Then lo and behold, he discovers that he is not alone. Thad meets a Vedi, a minister, and Gary, a Vietnam vet and mechanical genius. Why did these three survive? What did they have in common? The philosopher, the minister and the technical wizard, pool their talents, their hopes and their abilities together, aspiring to create a better civilization and a new way of living. But first, they need to find some women.
Gil Roscoe writes a realistic story about the end of the world as we know it. After the Predays, portrays the reality of what would happen if only a few people survived a cataclysmic event. The novel is told from the main character’s (Thad’s) point-of-view. Therefore, we see the world through Thad’s eyes and understand the tragedy through his experiences. All of the characters face their conflict with strength of mind and a will to survive. Mr. Roscoe has a very informal and casual writing style, which made the story appealing. Many disaster stories focus on the “doom and gloom” aspect. But, After the Predays is filled with hope, survival and a “life must go on attitude.” The novel’s plot has progressive movement; it gradually builds and gives way to a desirable and satisfying end. The inclusions of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quotes and the reference to Edgar Allen Poe’s, “nevermore” character added depth and relevance to the story. Gil Roscoe’s love for storytelling, literature and philosophy was revealed throughout the novel. He poignantly writes that it is not just humans that would die in world-wide catastrophe, but “Shakespeare, Darwin, Descartes, Van Gogh” as well.
Time of Destruction By: John C. Meyer ASIN: B00UW1HQ3G
“Time of Destruction” written by John C. Meyer is a mind trippin’ rollercoaster ride through time. In the year 2085, most of the earth is destroyed by a massive explosion at Hydroteck. No one knows the cause of this catastrophic event. Above the earth, the space colony, Lagrange, watches the earth explode. Cut off from Earth and their moon base, Lagrange is a stranded dome orbiting in space. On earth chaos erupts. A “war of dominance” emerges between nomadic clans and the scientific community. A new world order must be secured. Two survivors from 2245 AD, travel back in time before the destruction. These time travelers, rescue Austin Johnson and Jerry Sheryl. Austin and Jerry are Hydroteck’s key players in the invention of the IPT device, Interdimensional Power Transmitter. Whoever owns this device, will control the world’s energy. If the world is to recover, Austin and Jerry must travel back to the pivotal moment in time, and stop the “Time of Destruction.” Caught in the paradox of time streaming, how many lifetimes will it take, to undo this tragedy?
Tighten your seat belt because you are going to be launched back and forth through time. John C. Meyer scribes a thrilling science fiction novel in “Time of Destruction.” Meyer captivates the reader from the very beginning, by jumping immediately into action. There is a large cast of characters that cover many streams of time. However, the main characters grow and develop dynamically through the high paced action. Meyer writes short chapters which increase the speed of the plot action. He often ends a chapter with a suspenseful scene. Then in the next chapter, catapults the action into another time and location. Although the narrative changes time frames constantly, the transitions are smooth and the action flows steadily. No hiccups, or confusion. Meyer explains his futuristic ideals with daring, yet believable creativity. The science is not too “out of this world,” allowing the reader to easily understand the fundamental nature of time and space travel, as well as the IPT device. The paradoxes of time travel boggle the mind. However, the narrative’s main conflict results in man’s desire for power, and what he will do to achieve it.
The Clay Lion By: Amalie Jahn ISBN: 978-0615764962
Amalie Jahn composes a creative and compassionate story in “The Clay Lion.” Brooke Wallace falls into a deep depression after her younger brother, Branson, dies of pulmonary fibrosis. Motivated by her grief and loss, Brooke decides to use her time travel trip voucher to save her brother’s life. By returning to her past, Brooke believes she can prevent the cause of her brother’s fatal disease. She clings to the “miracle of second chances.” However, she must avoid changing too much of the past, every alteration threatens the future. Reliving the past becomes an obsession. How trips to the past will it take to get over the loss of her brother? How many lives will be altered because of her desperation? Putting her own destiny on hold, Brooke displaces fear with bravery, and attempts to do the unthinkable - change her brother’s life. Brooke Wallace is “one special girl.”
“The Clay Lion” written by Amalie Jahn is painfully heartwarming. This work of fiction portrays the love and commitment of family. The plot is thought provoking, the setting is enduring, the conflict is penetrating, and the characterization is extraordinary. Jahn walks the reader through the pain and grief of losing someone. She resourcefully uses the idea of time travel to change the past. As a reader, I was caught up with the challenge of the protagonist. All of us, at one time or the other , desire to go back and change an outcome, to partake in a “do over” in life. Or to retrace time, by reliving cherished precious moments. The development of the main character was vividly depicted through repeating the same portion of her life. Regardless of all her attempts, Brooke realizes the undeniable truth, “your life is bigger than you are” - you live the life that was made for you. Amalie Jahn pens a dramatic narrative about love and loss, of death and life and hope and destiny.
Fantasy- Fiction Favorites
My Most Happy Life - Autobiography of a Climbing Tree By: Shelly Reuben Fiction- Fantasy-Urban ISBN: 978-0-98841-8 Illustrations by Ruth McGraw
Shelly Reuben’s “My Most Happy Life” is a charming stormy. Being a city kid, Samuel Swerling never saw a tree, until he was eighteen years old. For Sam, it was love at first sight. Sam saves his money, purchases land and builds a park in the midst of the city. The Samuel Swerling Park, “a two-acre island of greenery,” holds beautiful gardens, green lawns and plenty of climbing trees. The trees watch, listen and notice many things. One of the trees tells about his life being one of Sam’s climbing trees. The tree shares stories of friendships, love, generosity and heartache spanning decades of time. The park is a safe haven, it protects “everything and everyone” inside of it. Those who do not abide by the rules will be removed. This happens to Jarvis Larchmont, a bully of a child. Unfortunately, Jarvis never gets over his eviction from the park. The child brute returns to the park as a vindictive politician. What happens next is nothing short of a miracle.
Shelly Reuben pens a wonderful fable in “My Most Happy Life – An Autobiography of a Climbing Tree.” The narrative is extremely captivating as it describes the world through the eyes of a climbing tree. But it is much more than visual; all your senses come to life, especially the sentiments of your heart. Reuben’s creative writing style flows with ease, it is truly magical. Adding to the written enchantment are Ruth McGraw’s exceptional illustrations. The cast of characters plays a relevant part in the Climbing Tree’s growth and development. Not one could be omitted. The characters are young and old, loving, kind, and compassionate. Except for the villain of course, who is mean-hearted, devious and vain. The antagonist portrays the conflict of man versus nature in an extraordinary manner. I love the artistic nature of the story, the poetry, music, sculpting, painting, and engraving are the vitality, the nourishment, and undergrowth of the plot. “My Most Happy Life” reveals the beauty of nature and the heart of love. It is a story that reminds us “love and friendship save the day.”
Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters By: Christa Avampato Young Adult- Fantasy- Epic ISBN: 978-1-947486-00-3
“Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters” written by Christa Avampato is an enlightening adventure. Five years ago, Emerson’s mother dies mysteriously on the steps of New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Emerson takes her death very hard. Her father, Oliver, has arranged for Emerson to never be alone. Every day after school, she and her faithful service dog, Friday, go to her favorite bookstore and wait for her friend, Skylar, to see her home. The bookstore is her safe place, surrounded by the rare collection of books, Emerson finds peace. One day, Emerson discovers a rare book, one she has never seen before. Several of pages contain handwritten notes. The words seem to be written especially for her. “The Starlighter” changes her life; it opens the door to an unimaginable destiny. “We are always searching for the light. And the brightest of lights comes from within.” Emerson bravely follows path set before her and lets her light shine.
Christa Avampato ‘s debut novel, “Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters” is a radiating adventure that will intrigue the young fantasy reader. From the very beginning, the story is both captivating and mystifying. There is a story beneath the story, an underground stream giving it momentum, a life source, a perpetual light waiting to be revealed. The young heroine is brilliant and inspiring. Her character grows and evolves with each turn of the page. Surrounded by a strong cast of supporting characters, Emerson is curious and bold, strong and vulnerable, loving and powerful. The narrative stretches the imagination, imparts hope and takes the reader on a grand daring adventure. As you turn the last page, and read the final words you are assured by ageless truth - love conquers all. Being a book lover, I really appreciated the beautiful and eloquent words penned about books, and the power of the story held within them. “Books are magical.” Yes. Indeed. At times “we feel as though they are written just for us.” I am certain that many young readers will relate to the heroine and feel her story was written just for them.
The Stone of Courage (Book 2 of The Centaur Chronicles) By: M. J. Evans Young Adult - Fantasy/Sci-fi ISBN: 978-09966617-6-8
M. J. Evans, the award winning children’s author captures the heart of the young fantasy reader once more in “The Stone of Courage.” Carling is rightful heir of Crystonia, however, her claim to throne isn’t honored by all. The Centaurs believe they should rule the land. A civil unrest, hovers over Crystonia. Garrisoned by her friends and faithful Fauns, Carling remains safe, tucked away in her Duende village. Although protected, Carling cannot escape the memories of the events that took place to gain The Stone of Mercy. Vidente, the Wizard, returns telling her it is time to set out and retrieve the second stone for the Silver Breastplate. She must find and secure The Stone of Courage. The Wizard makes clear that she will need “virtue of courage” to be Queen. With the armor of the Silver Breastplate clinging snuggly to her chest, Carling and her faithful companions set out. They head toward the Northern Reaches, an unknown and uncharted territory in search of “The Stone of Courage.” What will they see, who will the encounter? One thing is for sure, danger waits – Beware of Ogres! Trust no one, neither friend nor foe.
“The Stone of Courage” written by M. J. Evans portrays the bond of friendship, forged through pain and proven by devotion. The narrative is captivating, entertaining, and has just the right amount of suspense. Appealing to the young reader, it is a unique blend of fantasy and adventure. As the young heroine comes of age, she is given a quest, one that will prove her character. In the first book in the series, she discovers mercy. In this, the second book, she must find courage. The conflict to overcome her adversaries and her fear is seen throughout the story. There are a few subtle thematic lessons to learn. “Power can be used for great good, or it can corrupt” and “Courage is conquering fear for the sake of always doing what is right.” Both truths are pivotal in the outcome of the story, and are true in real life as well. The narrative speaks to the heart and soul of children, it depicts despair, false accusations, betrayal and ridicule, yet portrays hope and courage as methods to overcome. The narrative doesn’t belabor events as it stretches toward its conclusion. The denouement unfolds quickly, picking up speed and then screeches to a halt with its foreshadowing ending. Evans leaves the reader anxiously waiting for what will happen next.
The Stone of Integrity (Book 3 The Centaur Chronicles) By: M. J. Evan Young Adult- Fantasy- General ASIN: B078SJ3B51
“The Stone of Integrity” is the third book in M. J. Evans’ “The Centaur Chronicles.” After returning from the quest to discover the Stone of Courage, Carling, the future Queen of Crystonia is summoned by the Minsheen historian. He entrusts Carling with a rare, ancient map. On her way home, she and her companions are pursued once again by the evil Heilodius Centaurs. Safely tucked inside her Duende village, Carling is thankful for the security and comfort of home. But this feeling is short lived. Within days, Vidente, the Wizard returns to her. It is time to gather the purple Stone of Integrity for her royal Silver Breastplate. With the map in hand, Carling and her faithful adventurers set out to discover the mysterious island of Hy-Basilia, another quest, another stone, another invaluable lesson. Frightening sea creatures, menacing Centaurs, a handsome young fisherman, a crafty witch, and veiled fairies - Who can be trusted. Carling’s search for integrity comes with a great cost, not everyone is trustworthy.
M. J. Evans is a fabulous storyteller. “The Stone of Integrity” is the continuing tale of fantasy and adventure in the land of Crystonia. Evans pens incredible descriptions of her imaginary land; the reader is transported with ease into the mystical realm. In each of the books in the series, the young heroine learns valuable life lessons. In” The Stone of Integrity,” she must discern the true motivations of others, while learning to trust in herself. Like Shakespeare’s Hamlet, she must learn” to thy own self be true.” The cast of characters are balanced in personality, witty, wise, girlishly vain, grand or small, each play a significant part supporting the growth of the main character. The antagonist remains a constant threat, keeping the adventurers hyper vigilant and often running for their lives. Page upon page, prowess, loyalty and devotion are continually tested, along with internal conflicts of the mind and heart. The veiled emotions of the fairies, I thought was brilliant inclusion to the story! There is never a dull moment for the young adventurers. The plot action continually moves from beginning to end, making it ideal for the young adult reader. The story concludes, but it is not the end for the future Queen of Crystonia. One more stone remains.
At Water’s Edge – An Epic Fantasy (The Water Rushes, Book 1) By: S. McPherson Fiction/Young Adult/Fantasy ISBN: 978-0-9933605-0-3
S. McPherson writes a phenomenal first book in “At the Water’s Edge.” Approaching her eighteenth birthday, Dezaray Storm is already worn out with life. Alone in her despair she dreams of a beautiful place and a handsome stranger. The grass may be greener on the other side, but for Dezaray something sinister lurks within the shadows- something felt but not seen- something penetrating and intoxicating. Weird and strange things are happening; random, yet enlightening words are spoken, beckoning her to enter into the shimmering light. Through fate, accident or possibly destiny, Dezaray escapes the world of abuse and guilt and enters into another world, a parallel dimension. This place is both real and unreal, the place where her dreams take place. The world of Coltis is safe and dangerous, electrifying and terrifying. It is a world of opposing emotions, and human counterparts. Once Dezaray enters into her fairy tale, she doesn’t want to return to her real world. She is in too deep for it to be temporary. For in this magical place, she finds him, the man of her dreams. The goal of the author is to write for her “fellow dreamers and make believers.” S. McPherson certainly accomplishes her goal in “At the Water’s Edge.” The intriguing beginning peaks your curiosity and draws you in immediately. McPherson writes for her target audience extremely well; however more mature readers may desire more depth in content. The writing style is exceptional. Penned beautifully it is romantically mystical; McPherson’s words sway like gentle breezes across the page. It is eloquently picturesque, full of figurative descriptions. Written in first person, the narrative is told from Dezaray’s point of view. This technique makes the book captivating; the reader gets to experience all the thoughts, emotions and actions of the heroine. The magic and innocence of young love, there’s nothing like it. Delving into the plot with ease and finesse, McPherson quickly reveals the rules and parameters of her fantasy world. Odd creatures, warlocks and vampires, portals and teleportation create an entertaining not-of-this-world story. Page upon page the plot unfolds, the struggle escalates, and the action rises until its climatic end, leaving the reader holding their breath! Anticipating, what’s going to happen next?
Shadow’s Fire: A Chance Beginning Book One in The Shadow’s Fire Trilogy By Christopher Patterson ISBN: 9781495473838
“All young men have grand ideas.” Christopher Patterson’s, Shadow’s Fire: A Chance Beginning, is an epic tale of three ambitious and virile, yet naive, young men. Leaving the mundane life of farming behind, two brothers, Befel and Erik, and their cousin, Bryon, embark on a journey seeking the riches in the East. In the beginning, their adventurous quest takes them on a pursuit of purpose. The good-hearted Erik is driven by the idea of a divine purpose, but his egotistical cousin Bryon, motives are of pure selfishness. Traveling down destiny’s path, they encounter things they would never have seen at home and find themselves battling for their livelihood. When a good man’s conscience is seared through battle, will the darkness of soul overshadow the radiant hope held within? These young men find themselves accosted and haunted by what they have seen and done, living a nightmare with eyes wide open. Commissioned by the Messenger of the East, the trio sets out with a crew of mercenaries and dwarves on a now treacherous quest to find a mysterious lost scroll. When good and evil collide, will their expedition be led by the Creator or overtaken by Shadow. Will it prove to be a noble quest or a wayfaring escapade of folly? Only time will tell.
Fantasy is all about good versus evil. In the beginning, Shadow’s Fire: A Chance Beginning, plot-line seems predictable, atypical to the fantasy genre. However, as the plot unfolds it begins to take on its own unique, larger-than-life, shape and destination. Mr. Patterson’s writing vocabulary is expansive, often using archaic language and symbolism to bring life to the story. His writing style is acutely descriptive, not only does he give a voice to his characters, but resonating sounds to his scenery as well. Although overwhelming at times, I appreciate the depth and extensive detail given to his main characters. The author understands the importance of character background and development for a successful epic trilogy. Keeping with the fantasy genre, Mr. Patterson tells his enchanted fairy tale with unrestrained imagination by vividly illustrating the mythology and geography of his imaginary world. (The inclusion of the map drawing was a nice touch.) By using ancient and mystical weaponry, the author portrays intense graphic battle scenes that allow you to sense the death-defying adrenaline surge of the characters, amid the spellbinding chaos, and blood and guts of the barbaric fighting. Shadow’s Fire: A Chance Beginning ending was a cliffhanger; Christopher Patterson left you on the edge, anticipating the next book in the Shadow Fire Trilogy.
Dark Winds (Shadow's Fire Trilogy, Book Two) By: Christopher Patterson ISBN: 9781499601589
Christopher Patterson captures your imagination, holding you hostage in the fantasy world of Dark Winds. The quest continues for the treasure and prized heirloom lost in the dwarfish city of Orvencrest. The Shadow’s influence is growing stronger, war wages; the era of The Great Peace is coming to an end. For the adventurous trio of Erik, Befel and Bryon, the world has become much larger than it seemed on the farm. The further they travel from home; the longing for its comfort grows stronger. The cost of their adventure has come with an unforeseen high price to pay - Death. So much death, agonizing sorrow haunts their days and phantoms of morbid faces invade their sleep. Overwhelmed with guilt, the young warriors grieve over the men they have killed and their fallen comrades. Erik and his companions are in constant danger; many are on their trail, some seek to right a wrong, and others to kill them before they reach the treasure. Although fate has brought them together, tensions are rising within the company of mercenaries. The opposition and competition is great. However, for Erik, Befel and Bryon there is something more valuable than riches and an ancient heirloom, their manhood is at stake. Daily, they are being tested in faith, strength, will and purpose. As they travel closer to the mountains, there is a foreboding change in the winds; the “Dark Winds” are approaching. “Things are changing. The world is changing.” They are changing.
Dark Winds is the second book in The Shadow’s Fire Trilogy. The narrative poses two vital questions: What makes a savage? What makes a hero? Christopher Patterson is a creative and gifted storyteller. His love of fantasy, adventure, music and faith are relevant in his writing. He takes the elements of fantasy, covers them with flesh and blood, crafting an adventure that comes alive with unrestrained imagery. Vivid, brilliant and figurative language is used to paint graphic word pictures, especially regarding the barbaric battle scenes, and the fear drenched animations suffered during nightmares. The narrative begins with a band of tormented wounded warriors. Their battle fatigue and disgruntled moods are heightened by ominous weather, bizarre blood moons, and evil surroundings. As the plot progresses, the narrative goes deeper into its primitive world, depicting horrific mountain trolls, weapons with consciences, and a subterranean dwarf kingdom. The primary conflict of the story lies between the forces of good and evil, and it is through this divergence the aforementioned questions of savagery and heroism are answered. Man versus himself is the subordinate conflict. With his innocence warped, the protagonist experiences inner turmoil. Traumatized by the exploits of battle; he is wrecked by guilt. Dark Winds is written in third person omniscient point of view, allowing for the soul and idiosyncrasies of the characters to be exposed. The cast of characters is extensive; it is a blend of young and old, dwarves and men, villains and heroes. However, the narrative focuses mainly on the lives of Erik, Befel and Bryon. Erik is the protagonist; through his character growth, the overall theme of the narrative is unveiled - As you overcome the challenges of life, you change. Patterson pens many memorable lines. My favorite is “Knowledge is the most powerful weapon the world has ever known.” During the rising action, Erik’s destiny compels him to face danger transforming him from a farm boy into a warrior. At the apex of the action, he discovers his life has purpose; this breakthrough releases the desire for increased knowledge. As the story closes, Erik’s maturity sets him apart from the others. Dark Winds concludes with a brave resolve. What lies ahead is yet to be seen.
Select ( The Oathtaker Series, Book 2) By; Patricia Reding Young Adult/Fantasy ISBN: 978-1516920266
The “Select” is the second book of Patricia Reding’s “Oathtaker” fantasy genre series. After the rampage of Lilith, the Oathtakers of the Twins, under the leadership of Lucy have taken refuge in a compound. Mara and Dixon have taken the girls under their protection and have given them a home. Right before their eyes, almost unnoticeably, the girls have blossomed into young women. Reigna and Eden have become weary of the watchful eyes upon them. When Carlie disappears, they camp increases its patrol and tightens the security. While searching for Carlie, Dixon and Mara fall prey to an attack. During the skirmish, Mara falls and suffers a blow to the head. When she awakens, her memory is gone. Heartbroken that his wife doesn’t recognize him, Dixon begins the trek to take Mara to her childhood home, hoping that she will recover her memories along the way. After their departure, a meeting is called to discuss recent events. Will the Oathtakers be able to protect the “Select” from the invasion of the evil Chirans? Marshall and Jerrett leave to spy out Chiran. Basha and Therese depart for the palace. Meanwhile, the Twins Reigna and Eden plan to sprout their wings and fly. “If we don’t assert ourselves now we’ll never become worthy.” All depart, go their separate ways. The fate of the Twins, will determine if they will be together again. Patricia Reding’s “Select” is a quest to find what you are made of. It is not just journey of one, but the pursuit of many. Upon its pages, the characters, grow and develop. While being compelled by the common goal of protecting the “Select” each one is challenged by a personal mission. Reding’s character development is brilliant. Mara’s amnesia, although frustrating, was a stroke of genius. It allowed for the depth of her character to be revealed. Furthermore, it was the catalyst for the other characters to expand and mature. The setting of the story enlarges as well. As a reader, you travel into unforeseen places of the imagination, as Reding plunges you into the realm of her fantasy world. The magic of fantasy shines forth from the power of crystals, mysterious unique giftings, enchanted weaponry and the diabolical nature of evil. Thus, creating a sly and subtle fantastical tale of good versus evil. (Was it just me, or did the Twins temptations resemble that of Jesus recorded in the Bible?) The discovery of ancient prophecy and the revealing of the “flits” were important tidbits of things yet to come in the series. The action is constant. Each pairing of characters, travel, face danger, and battle for their life and personal self worth. “Select” hits the target for the young adult fantasy genre. In the conclusion, Patricia Reding ties up loose ends, yet by doing so, unravels even more. The story ends with a cliffhanger, leaving you in awe of what will happen next to the Oathtakers and the “Select.”
True Calling By Siobahn Davis ISBN: 978-0992930424 ASIN: B00SX1PG2A
Siobahn Davis pens a stimulating fantastical tale in “True Calling.” Thoroughly screened, injected with personal tracking devices and with all memories erased, Arianna and her family leave Earth to ensure humanity on Novo. After living on Novo for two years, Arianna is plagued by the sudden invasion of frightful dreams. Out of touch with her real self, she taps into her sixth sense for answers, only to find more questions. Despite the foreboding of her dreams, Arianna finds herself falling in love with, Cadet Cal Remus. When “The Calling” is announced, Arianna adamantly voices her disapproval of the arranged marriage pageant. Imprisoned by society, she is ordered not to resist the requirements of “The Calling.” She reluctantly complies knowing a resistance movement is building on Earth; hope is on the horizon. Without any warning, tragedy hits her from all sides; her world begins to spiral out of her control. Who does she trust: her dad, the voice in her head or Cal? Daring to escape the clutches of Novo, she embraces her true calling.
Siobahn Davis achieves the elements of a fantasy book by paralleling the real world of Earth and a fantastical setting of Novo in "True Calling." Keeping with the young adult genre the protagonist is coming of age in her new world. True Calling captures your imagination from the beginning and grips you to its end. Written in first person, you are held captive by the main characters persona and insights. Trapped in the diversity of their two worlds, the characters are trained in military tactics, display resourceful cleverness, and demonstrate their intelligence and ESP capabilities. The conflict hidden within the plot is that of man versus society. Although the new world of Novo resembles the scenery of Earth, its new world order is explicitly different. “True Calling” brings to light contemporary adversities causing you to mindfully engage the plot’s ideology. However, it doesn't bog you down with a hidden agenda. Instead, as a reader, I found myself escaping into the fantasy and caught up in the exciting adventure. "True Calling" takes you on a stimulating journey, then screeches to an abrupt halt, leaving you dead in your tracks, screaming for more.
Fiction- Fun-loving, Humor Favorites
All You Need is Love (and a big handbag) By: Julie Hodgson Fiction-Humor ISBN: 978-91-88045-30-0
Julie Hodgson’s “All You Need is Love (and a big handbag) is hilariously adventuresome. What would you do for love? Would you be willing to hide under a bed in a run-down hotel and stake out your husband? That’s exactly what Maggie Spalding does. Do you believe in fairy tales, happy endings? Maggie did, but now she fears she must grow up and face reality. Maggie’s husband is acting weird, a little too strange. Their beautiful beginning now seems a distant memory. Alone and empty, she allows her imagination take flight, and thinks the worst. With her ever faithful, over stuffed Mary Poppin’s bag in hand, Maggie sets out to find some answers. What she discovers, she would have never imagined. “All You Need is Love (and a big handbag) is outrageous! Julie Hodgson’s writes a comedy action adventure that is beyond entertaining. The narrative is cute, full of hilarious moments and outlandish escapades all surging at an adrenaline-fueled pace. Written in first person, the story takes you inside the mind of the heroine and places you smack dab in to the action. Hodgson’s writing style is delightfully descriptive. The characters are fun, intelligent and likeable, well except for the villain, who is downright vicious. Hodgson’s creates a bizarre, polar opposite sidekick for heroine. Their relationship is a comical, yet a heartfelt bond that stretches the main character to do things outside her comfort zone. But, if truth be told, the real partner and lifelong companion of the heroine is her handbag. The plot transpires over a few hours, however, through flashback technique, years of memories are thrown into the mix. The action is fast and furious, humorous and dangerous. Definitely my kind of book!
Puppy Tales By RC Miller ISBN: 9780692208380
Puppy Tales, by RC Miller is a delightful collection of stories about his dogs, oops “canine persons.” This storybook is fun, comical and witty and full of “canine person” antics. When seven dogs (give or take a few) live with three humans (give or take a couple) life becomes more than interesting. Mr. Miller, known as Bob in the book, portrays the thoughts of canine personalities with humor and breed distinction. Some breeds are ranked higher than others on the intelligence scale. This fact is depicted throughout the book as the Border Collies, who are ranked #1 constantly remind the Shelties that they are mere sixes. Bob states that his dogs are “probably more intelligent than a goodly portion of human beings.” Through the dogs you learn such things as: human politics (Democraps and Repellicans) compared to canine politics, advanced math, Déjà vu, Haiku poetry and limericks. Did you know that through scientific magic, dogs insert transmitters into their humans to enable them to understand and converse with them? Unfortunately, most transmitters don’t take due to allergies or human denial, but Bob’s works perfectly. So great in fact, that his wife, Deb, thinks he is nuts.
RC Miller’s love for storytelling shows in his book Puppy Tales. Puppy Tales is a story about telling a story, as each tale is an individual story about their lives together. The author’s tone is rather unusual, as he personifies his dogs giving them voices in the dialogue. As if dog’s speaking wasn’t enough, he added further flavor by giving accents to them as well - Zoey with a southern drawl and Cody, the Alpha, fluent in British wit. Most of the book is written from the author’s point of view, except when the dogs would voice their opinions regarding the story. The author does explain his narrator’s role and thoughts as a storyteller in the story. By doing so, he explains the format and the flow of the dialogue. Keeping up with all of the dialogue is quite challenging. Within the tales Mr. Miller includes the use of alliteration (often prompted by Cody) and hilarious metaphors. Annie’s dream was weird, but it revealed that certain humans have a special gift that connects with dogs. We can learn a great deal about others by watching how animals approach or turn away from people. A dog lover myself, I found myself giggling as I read. It is a charming work of fiction.
Mary, Mary Quite: On Raising Children (and other mind altering substances) By Mary Huckstep ASIN: B00NABNHQA
You will find yourself giggling through some of life's most precarious moments in Mary Huckstep’s, “Mary, Mary Quite: On Raising Children (and other mind altering substances).” This inspirational book is beyond cute. It is packed full of silly descriptions, which accurately, yet comically describe real life situations and identities and laugh out loud anecdotes. Laughter is truly good medicine for the soul, do yourself a favor and take a big dose of joy and hilarity with “Mary, Mary Quite: On Raising Children (and other mind altering substances).” It is a light-hearted, fun-loving look at life’s ups and downs, not to mention it is amusingly insightful.
Mary Huckstep tackles many of life’s touchy subjects, such as parenting, family living, finding yourself, and the difference between girls and boys. She portrays these subjects with truth, and a bit of twisted humor. Simply written, Huskstep delivers her stories with style and finesse. The underlying theme weaved through her text - laugh at life’s mishaps and enjoy being joyful. Every chapter is filled with an element of comedy and wit, causing the reader to laugh out loud. Furthermore, each chapter has a comic Illustration that captures the essence of the author’s words. As a mom, wife and grandmother, I found myself relating to every chapter. “Mary, Mary Quite: On Raising Children (and other mind altering substances)” is full of humor, ageless wisdom, but wisdom that only comes from life experience. Can’t wait to read what she writes next.
“Proper Goodbye” written by Connie Chappell is a compelling story of lost and found. “Every heart is asked at some point to leave something or someone behind while it yearns and aches for a different outcome.” Beebe Walker is disillusioned by the church. When the church board dismisses her, she finds herself saying goodbye to another congregation. Her many years of service as a minister seems fruitless. Beebe doesn’t do “goodbye” well. Inside she is haunted by a farewell that never came. Her mother abandoned Beebe when she was sixteen. Abigail Walker left suddenly without a word, forever lost to Beebe and her father. After leaving the church, Beebe hides inside her own grief by becoming a grief counselor. Six weeks later, Beebe is surprised by a visit from her ex-fiancé, Vincent Bostick. Vincent brings shocking news. Reluctantly, Beebe decides to return home and face the past, hoping that this time, she will receive a “Proper Goodbye.” Connie Chappell is a gifted storyteller, she writes with her heart and soul. “Proper Goodbye” is a story about grief. Grief is different for everyone, it is an individual journey. Understanding this concept, Chappell pens characters, young and old, all grieving, yet each one in a different place in their personal journey. Her story takes place in a small town, a place where everyone knows each other’s business, or at least they think they do. This causes conflict for the characters as they attempt to keep their pain hidden. The writing style is descriptive, full of symbolism and parallelism, revealing the many paradoxes of life. Chappell notes from the very beginning, that story’s theme is “reflecting on one’s dreams and memories.” She holds true to her the theme throughout the text. Time and again her characters are invaded by memories brought on unexpectedly by a sight or a sound. Memories can be both fiends and friends, welcoming and alarming. Not rushing the ending, Chappell ends her story with finesse. Delicately tidying up mysteries, and wrapping up loose ends, the story concludes with an unforgettable line, leaving the reader with a “Proper Goodbye.”
Johnny Come Lately By: Kathleen M. Rodgers ISBN: 978-1-60381-2153
“Johnny Come Lately” written by Kathleen M. Rodgers unveils the world of Johnnie Kitchens. Johnnie comes from a family who is good at keeping secrets. Her mom has been missing for years, and she doesn't know why? Maybe the statue at Soldier’s Park knows the answer. Or, the bird that calls her name? Always vigilant, Johnnie looks for her mother in every stranger that crosses her path. Moreover, why is her dead Uncle’s room a shrine? And why won’t her Grandpa let some repair the dock? Questions, with no answers. As a wife and a mother, Johnnie, struggles with her own secrets. She is suffocating in her shame. Ultimately, she spews, dropping an A-bomb on her family. “All the lies, all the secrets, churned in her gut: growing, intensifying, climbing up her insides trying to escape.” Trying to move on Johnnie finds herself “living in two different dimensions: then and now.”
Kathleen M. Rodgers writes a poignant story in “Johnny Come Lately.” Powerful! Beautiful! And painful! Through the lives of her characters, she reveals the joys and burdens of motherhood, the trauma of war, the ongoing battle of an eating disorder. She depicts the life of her protagonists with sincere realism. The supporting cast of characters brings out the worst and the best of the main character. There were several aspects of the novel I enjoyed. Namely, the symbolism of the statue, the bird, the dock and the painting. Using journal entries was an illuminating technique, they gave insight and flow to the plot. Lastly, the way Rodgers spoke directly to the heart of the reader. Warriors fight, they become battle weary, they lay down their lives for others. Some of the greatest warriors are mothers, they battle worry, fear and regret. They sacrifice all they are, for their loved ones. “Johnny Come Lately” portrays one woman’s will to overcome life’s tribulations through the power of love and the security of hope.
Passports and Plum Blossoms: An International Romantic Comedy By: Barbara Oliverio
Barbara Oliverio’s “Passports and Plum Blossoms” is delightfully funny. Meet Annalise Fontana, or known by her father as the “gypsy.” Surrounded by family and friends, Annalise sits as an outsider at a wedding. Stewing in self-pity, she pronounces deep within her soul, the bride took her boyfriend, now she took her dream job; this woman, yes; this bride was living the life she deserved. Not a very pretty picture. To remedy her depression, Annalise agrees to be her Aunt Lil’s traveling companion. Maybe all she needed was a change of scenery mixed in with a bit of adventure. Soon Aunt Lil and Annalise embark on a once in a lifetime journey to China. However, before they even leave the Denver airport the adventure begins. Annalise literally runs into an out- of- this- world, handsome man in an airport gift shop. His smell alluring, his eyes mesmerizing, his smile captivating. This will not be the last time she would encounter this gorgeous mystery man. With each new destination, sightseeing and culture enlightenment, he seems to be among the crowd. Is it fate, love or sheer accidental attraction? Regardless, “life was going to get interesting.”
“Passports and Plum Blossoms” is a sweet romantic tale. Barbara Oliverio encases her narrative with humor, honor and family values. The tone is light-hearted and as a reader you soon sense you are a part of the heroine’s adventure. I really did appreciate the camaraderie between the generations, the openness; the lack on condescension between Aunt Lil and Annalise was refreshing. The respect and equality in the developing companionship is rare. Oliverio allows the younger role to impart to the older and for the older role to inspire the younger; this aspect is not often seen in modern literature. Both characters are stretched, causing growth as the story unfolds, allowing the reader to expect the unexpected. This narrative portrays young love and mature love. It reveals the notion that romantic love has no time table or preset location. It reminds us that love comes regardless of age and in ways we can never imagine. You are never too old to fall in love. “Passports and Plum Blossoms” is a feel good story, with an air of romantic adventure. It does not disappoint.
That Unforgettable Kiss ( Kissed by Fate, Book 1) By Tamara Ferguson ASIN: B00OMGW8V2
“That Unforgettable Kiss” written by Tamara Ferguson is a treasured love story. The words of a cherished childhood friend echo in Kate Callahan’s dreams. Words of fate, words that reside in the recesses of Kate’s mind... you will fall in love with “one, single kiss.” Kate is too busy for love, although she has taken down her share of men. She has a big future ahead of her, leaving no room for a serious relationship. Kate is 19 years old, living on her own, remodeling her own cabin. To top it off, her father puts her in charge of her first home restoration – she’s a crew boss! Out of the blue, Michael Murphy shows up to intern for her father’s construction company. No one told Kate, that her parents had a godson! From the moment they see each other, Kate and Murphy are smitten – an unbelievable attraction, a powerful connection. As summer ends, it happens – an earth shaking, mind-blowing, unforgettable kiss! As soon as it starts its over, there’s no future in a long distance relationship. Life goes on... certainly this is not the end, love’s arrow has been shot. Michael Murphy and Kate Callahan are forever pierced by one, single kiss.
Tamara Ferguson scribed another memorable romance novel in “That Unforgettable Kiss.” This narrative is an impressive beginning for her “Kissed by Fate” series. Ferguson captures the heart of her readers with her likeable and intelligent characters. Her men are passionate and masculine and her women are feminine, with appealing charm and “smarts.” She paints beautiful outdoor scenes the that grip the imagination of the nature lover and enraptures the heart of the romantic, by portraying sensuality with unadulterated “not too much” explicit detail! Although, “That Unforgettable Kiss” is an alluring tale of romantic fate, Ferguson mixes in a bit of suspense making it an engaging read. She keeps the “unknown” villainous character lurking in the shadows, and reveals the identity with climatic perfection. The plot’s action gains momentum, and then plunges into white water rapids, with twists, turns and dips, giving the reader an exhilarating ride. Soaked and out of breath, calm waters await, smoothly leading you to an ideal end.
Ledbetter Street By: Susan P. Baker ISBN: 978-0-9962021-0-7
Susan P. Baker’s, “Ledbetter Street” depicts the power of community. This old block of buildings represents legacies, stories, many tales of worn torn lives. Marian Reid discovers that it truly takes a village of friends to get through tough times. “Ledbetter Street” is more than shops and apartments, the occupants of “Ledbetter Street” are family. When a crisis occurs, they support and nurture each other. Marian fights to gain custody of her adult autistic child. She battles to have the life that should have been. While her best friend, Eva, faces the battle of breast cancer. On “Ledbetter Street” you find a mothering old homeless woman, a young abused woman, a welcoming coffee shop, an inviting authentic styled Mexican restaurant and a thriving art gallery. All different, yet, somehow the same. “Everyone’s got something” going on in their life. Marian’s life is knitted together with each of them, these fragile braids reveal a story of unfathomable strength.
“Ledbetter Street” written by Susan P. Baker is a wonderful portrayal of life. Baker paints a realistic story of “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Baker places the reader in the midst of this unique Galveston community, you are not merely a spectator, but a partaker of the plot. Her characters are neighbors, they bear the marks and the bond of friendship. The cast of characters develops with finesse, revealing unforeseen talents, the fortitude to overcome personal struggles and the distasteful trait of selfishness . The protagonist character grows and arcs with prevailing inner strength, revealing a full of life, determined resolve. As a reader, you can’t help but cheer her on. Baker’s life experience, being part of the courtroom judicial system, brings an element of unforgettable realism to the story. She tells it like it is, portraying the best and the worst of the legal system. Page upon page, an inspiring story of humanity unfolds. There is no greater devotion than a mother's love, and no greater treasure on earth than friendship.
Remember Me: A Love Story By Mary Funk ISBN: 978-1-63263-531-0
Not your normal love story!
Unbelievably bizarre, “Remember Me: A Love Story,” written by Mary Funk, will capture your heart and challenge your psyche. Sarah Ferguson suffers from horrific nightmares, She takes a “mind-adventure” into the prison of her mind. Through therapy, Sarah attempts to unlock her subconscious. Sarah’s pain takes her back in time, into another life. Under hypnosis, Sarah visualizes a young Persian girl, Ayisha, walking on the sand. Her therapist encourages Sarah to “let the girl tell you her story.” Somehow, Ayisha holds the key to what is happening to Sarah. These two women, living in two distinct times, by some extraordinary means, are linked together. One question remains, is this a pathway to freedom, or a mindless journey of the imagination?
“Remember Me: A Love Story” is strangely unique, making it a prime candidate for the supernatural genre. Mary Funk pens a fascinating mixture of weird and wonderful. The story’s setting is ancient Persia, the time of Darius the Great. Giving an account of this time in history, Mary Funk shares her knowledge of Persian customs, religion and culture. Through illustrious and sensory descriptions, Funk allows the reader to walk alongside her characters into the past. You sense the grandeur of the palace, the smell of the orchards and the steam of the baths. The theme that is weaved throughout the narrative is: the choices we make determine the life we lead. “The future walks hand-in-hand with free will.” This is a story of love, betrayal, sacrifice and forgiveness. A story that cleanses the bitter bile of revenge and transforms it into the sweet, refreshing taste of freedom. “Remember Me: A Love Story” reveals the powerful impact of the act of forgiveness.
Inspirational - Fiction & Non-fiction
Four in the Garden By Rick Hocker ISBN: 978-0-9915577-0-7
“Four in the Garden” written by Rick Hocker is a thought provoking account of man’s relationship with God. This beautifully written allegory portrays the forging of trust between Cherished and the Creator. Cherished is created and placed in the garden, from conception the Creator is there to guide, protect and serve him. Encouraged to explore his world, Cherished discovers friendship and adversity. Not every being that crosses his path is good, some are disguised, cloaked in a false light. Free will challenges Cherished, and temptation leads to separation and ultimately isolation. Cherished learns that his choices have consequences, mistakes are necessary for growth, “trust grows by trusting” and “true devotion is motivated by love alone.” Through it all, Cherished is transformed into a beloved Companion.
Rick Hocker’s, “Four in the Garden” is a symbolic narrative bathed with spiritual meaning. It bursts with proverbial moral lessons, profound philosophical ideas, and Godly principles. It is a treasure chest overflowing with nuggets of truth. Hocker’s writing style is extremely figurative, imaginative and sensory, his descriptions entice the senses. The chapters are short and focus on a single topic, but also are in chronological order, portraying the dynamic growth of the main character. “Four in the Garden” is a first person account, from Cherished’s point of view. However, at times the story is told through the voice of an omniscient narrator who objectively fills in necessary information. “Four in the Garden” is a refreshing narrative, full of Selah moments. It challenges the reader to search out their own soul, to discover their own personal relationship with their Creator. “Four in the Garden” is one I will read again and again.
The Return of the Santa Fe Super Chief By: Douglas Folsom ISBN:978-1480074736
“The Return of the Santa Fe Super Chief” written by Douglas Folsom is a tale extraordinaire. “There is more to the world than meets the eye.” An “aha” moment, an epiphany or illusion? Regardless of your definition of the event, Roger Storm has a rare encounter with a mysterious man. Roger is a top executive for a major airline. He is engaged, wealthy, living in luxury, speeding through life in a time warp. But, he is miserable - life had taken its toll. Mr. Chapman, the mystery man, tells Roger to “bring back the Super Chief for one trip from Chicago to Los Angeles.” A ridiculous command? Or, a life changing event? Surrendering to the call, Roger hopes “this train ride is a long day’s journey into the light,” not the night. Roger invests his heart, soul and money into this endeavor. This proves not to be just another train ride. It is a reconciliation of relationships, the realization of dreams, a journey of self discovery.
Douglas Folsom brings back a piece of Americana in “The Return of the Santa Fe Super Chief.” There is a sense of awe held within its pages. The story is told using the omniscient point of view of a narrator. Answering their unspoken questions and hinting at things to come, the narrator speaks directly to his audience. This playwright technique is delightful, adding to the nostalgic mood of the story. The cast of characters is well rounded. Each character has their own individual story within the story. As a reader, you are bound to relate to one of them. Folsom weaves a comforting narrative, many threads of insightful truth are woven into the plot. Although, romantic and inspirational, this novel is a train enthusiast’s dream come true. Folsom knows his train history. “The Return of the Santa Fe Super Chief” reminds us to slow down, look beyond what is seen, and to “enjoy the journey” of life.
An Animal Life: A Chance to Cut By Howard Krum ISBN: 978-0988488533
“An Animal Life: A Chance to Cut” written by Howard Krum is an animal lovers dream book. Mike London is a true romantic and sincere animal lover. In his final year of veterinary school, Mike struggles through the day to day grind required for graduation. Being a Senior has its advantages, like doing countless shifts at the school’s emergency service (ES), guiding first year students, rescuing aquatic wildlife in the midst of a terrible winter storm, and facing off the faculty in the annual hockey game. After making a critical mistake, Mike finds himself crumbling under the pressure and scrutiny of a relentless faculty doctor – “Special K.” Special K’s infamous words: a chance to cut is a chance to heal,” simultaneously motivate and haunt Mike. With the help of his crew of friends, and some crucial “resourcin,” Mike overcomes some devastating odds. Regaining his confidence, Mike London finds his “place” as a soon-to-be veterinarian.
Howard Krum and his co-authors log the antics and the responsibilities of veterinarian school students in “An Animal Life: A Chance to Cut.” The narrative is written in three parts, chronicling a day to day timeline. However, at the beginning of each part, the author uses the flashback technique, revealing vital information regarding the main character’s childhood. These flashes into the past are critical in the overall understanding of the protagonist. The characters are driven, resourceful and passionate. Making them whimsical and overtly eccentric, Krum gives many of them witty and hilarious nicknames, revealing tremendous insight into their personalities. The narrative is intelligently written, using vet school terminology. But, it is much more than alphabet soup dialogues. It is full of comic relief offsetting critical events, which takes the reader from tears to laughter. At times the descriptions are delightful and poetically beautiful. Through all of the fun and heartache, ups and downs of vet school, one theme flows carefully throughout: Love is the answer to the brokenness inside.
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