Indie Author Spotlight – Jack Geurts “The Fire And The Forge”

I am extremely pleased to share this interview with you. I recently reviewed Jack’s novel, “The Fire And The Forge” and was completely blown away by how great it was. It has a permanent spot on my favorite books list. Jack’s insight and story telling will leave you mesmerized. I truly believe that Jack is a born story-teller and I can’t wait to devour every word he writes. I hope you enjoy the interview and grab a copy of the book for yourself. 

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Jack Geurts Author Pic

Jack Geurts is the author of The Fire and the Forge, first in an epic fantasy series about cruel gods pulling the strings of mortals and people wielding elemental magic. He lives on coffee and podcasts, and only leaves the house to walk his dog, Ruben. Currently, he’s hard at work on his next book. Keep up with all his latest books at JackGeurts.com

The Interview

Q: “The Fire And The Forge” is an amazing story. What are your hopes for the book?

Honestly, my hopes are just that it will reach as many readers as possible and that they’ll enjoy it as much as you have. There’s a lot of authors out there and a lot of other books people could be reading.

Q: In the world of “The Fire And The Forge”, a Blacksmith must earn his ‘iron’ before going out on his own. Can you explain this custom?

‘Earning one’s iron’ is a phrase I used in the book, but the concept dates back to the guilds of medieval Europe. Upon completing his apprenticeship, a young man would embark on what were known as his ‘journeyman’ years, where he would travel from place to place, earning day wages and gaining experience. Later, he would become a master craftsman himself and take on his own apprentice. This is more or less the plan for Imharak’s life until Alba is attacked.

Q: This world is comparable in some ways to the “Old Testament” and different Mythologies. What inspired you to bring this world to life?

I suppose I was tired of the medieval European setting that had become standard for epic fantasy. I wanted to see something different, and was always much more fascinated by ancient history than the Middle Ages.

So I created a world that borrowed from ancient Egypt, Israel, Carthage and Rome, rather than England or Scandinavia. I drew mainly from the Old Testament in terms of the Liberites themselves and their exodus from Kemet, but there’s also a lot of Homer’s Iliad in there, too. You’ll notice distinct similarities between the old pantheon of gods who are not really worshipped anymore with the Greek gods of Mt. Olympus. We’ll see more of that ancient Greek influence in Book #2.

Q: Authors often mention that their stories are either already in their head or the writer is a kind of vessel that the story flows from. How did this story come about for you?

Funnily enough, it started as a post-apocalyptic, sci-fi dystopia. It was all about a society that evolves in the wake of a nuclear holocaust – each tribe had a different elemental power based on the environment in which they lived (desert, sea etc.). But that concept was really all that stayed.

I guess the story, for me, felt like a natural culmination of all the things I loved most – ancient history, the setting of the Old Testament, movies like Gladiator and Braveheart and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I didn’t want to write historical fiction exactly, but fantasy allowed me to explore history with the freedom to change details to fit the story I wanted to tell. I’m sure I’ll get some people who are upset that I don’t have complex magic systems or other things that are common to the genre, but that wasn’t really what drew me to fantasy in the first place. Hopefully, that means I’ll be able to bring something new to the table.

First and foremost, I focus on the characters. I’m not really interested in doing multiple plot-lines – I find it hard to latch on to someone I really care about, and if I do, I find myself wishing I could just see the entire story from their point of view. That’s why I chose to keep The Fire and the Forge focused mainly on a small group of characters in a single narrative arc – follow them on their journey from one place to another, the conversations they have over campfires and the dangers they face together, the revelations they come to.

Q: Infernos seems less autocratic in personality than Caelos, do you think the society of Libera is reflected in the god they praise?

I think part of that might be because we don’t really see Infernos in this book. For that matter, we don’t really see the Kem or get a good insight into their way of thinking. All we really have to go on is Imharak’s interpretation of them.

However, I certainly think that Infernos could be less autocratic. He was banished to the underworld by Caelos, and is something of an underdog in this story. His patronage of the Kem could be seen – especially from their point of view – as ‘teaming up’ to take down the cruel tyrant that is Caelos. They certainly don’t think they’re the bad guys in the story.

With regards to Libera being reflected in the god they praise, I think you’ve really hit the nail on the head. Caelos is unyielding, jealous and has the capacity for terrible violence. The Liberites (or at least the ones we see in The Fire and the Forge) are very similar in the way they treat other peoples who may have different beliefs, and indeed, their own people who stray from the path.

Q: The Kem seem much different than the God Infernos who they seem to be tied to. What is the main driver for this divide?

For the Kem, the adoption of Infernos as their one and only god is a very recent thing, more recent than the Liberites adopting Caelos as their sole deity. They are, in many ways, still transitioning from a polytheistic state, and this is reflected in the blending of Infernos with their former chief deity, the sun god, Bast – a process known as syncretism.

There’s another reason for the Liberites potentially being more devout followers of Caelos than the Kem are of Infernos, but that will be explored in a later book…

Q: Imharak is torn between many allegiances. This sets him apart from society from the onset of the book. The intention was as punishment but could it also be the reasoned as an asset?

That’s a very interesting way to look at it. I, personally, believe that it is an asset. It allows Imharak to be critical and self-aware in a way very few others around him are. Being skeptical of his surroundings, of people and their gods, gives him an advantage over others who might be blinded by their faith and the way they think the world works. Because of this well-honed doubt – for lack of a better word – he is able to see the truth of things, even when the truth is unthinkable.

 Q: “The Fire And The Forge” is the first book in what is an ongoing series. Is there a planned amount of books?

There are four books planned at the time I’m writing this. I’m almost finished editing Book #2, which is called To Kill a King. It is due for release January 12th (it’s actually up for preorder now). Book #3 is called Queen of the Dead Lands and that will be out sometime around April/May.

The third instalment has been fully outlined, and while I’ve got a very definite idea about what Book #4 will be, I haven’t plotted it out yet. All I can say is that it will bring this particular series to an end, but there are other planned series in the universe, each drawing influence from certain, less-explored periods of history (think the rise of Islam in late antiquity, or the transition from hunter-gatherer tribes to cities in Central and South America).

 Q: Who in the story do you feel the deepest connection to?

Probably Gaius. I find him to be the most sympathetic and empathetic character in the book, a man who has done terrible things and who is trying desperately to forget, or redeem himself if he can. I know this probably isn’t how a lot of other writers do it, but when I envision a character, I’ll usually think of the actor I imagine playing them in the movie. It might be a hold-over from when I was studying screenplays before I turned to writing novels, but I always imagined Andre Braugher in the role. He has this careful deliberation and gravitas about him, a quiet power. Very eloquent, enunciating every syllable.

Q: If you could have any two powers, what would you choose and why?

Flight, without even thinking. I’ve always been very jealous of birds. Second to that would probably be some kind of regenerative ability – I’ve had a bad back for a few years now, which is kind of messing with my hips and knees, too. It’d be nice to get rid of that.

Q: If you were to identify with one of the many societies in your story, with whom would you belong?

Wow. The ancient world was such a brutal place, even just in daily life. I suppose if I had to pick one, it would be the Elladenes. We get a glimpse into their culture at the end when Longinus is playing his lyre and singing in the Elladene language. If the Liberites are influenced by the people of biblical-era Israel in the Old Testament, then the Elladenes more closely match the ancient Greeks. In the world of The Fire and the Forge, they’re perhaps the most progressive, advanced and tolerant society around. But more on them in Book #2…

The Fire and the Forge Cover

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“Espionage London” John Day #BookReview

By late 1943, Hitler desperately needed a secret weapon to win WW2. Engineer & master spy Karl Strom devised a simple device that would bring Britain to its knees over night. 
This character driven story of intrigue and guile, love and revenge, tells of the suicide mission undertaken by 4 German spies. It will transport you back in time to the Channel Island of Alderney where they prepared and to the back streets of London, where they struggle to survive. 
Timing is everything in war, and a cruel twist of fate changes history. 

A super-intense John Day Thriller.

Espionage London Cover

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   In “Espionage London”, John Day delivers a fast paced thriller that may as well be glued to your hands as you read. Prepare yourself for a wild ride accompanied by German spy’s with steel resolve. As the four spy’s face trial after trial, their plight will capture your imagination, your heart and get your adrenaline pumping. It’s not every day that you find yourself cheering on the bad guys.

   John Day has written from a perspective that is rarely used. Reading from the point of view of four German’s gives a very human face to a side of WW2 that few take the time to give credit for. Just for this insight, I am adding Mr. Day to my list of favorite authors. He’s taken a risk in writing this that few pursue and I thank him for it.

“She saw them and let out a loud and unfettered scream that tailed off to a wail of abject misery. Sinking slowly to the floor, she cried like never before.”

   It’s clear through the entire book that John Day has put his heart into every word. His characters are extremely well developed. Each trial they face is explored from multiple angles and thought provoking. It gives tribute to the saying “No one is fully evil. Nothing is as simple as black and white. We are all grey areas”.

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   After completing the story, I found myself very conflicted. This is high praise for an author. Think about the skill it takes to put such a human face on people who have for decades been portrayed as pure evil. After reading “Espionage London”, I feel that I have a deeper understanding of the plight of Germans and their motivations for fighting. That is not to say that I condone their actions or the murder of millions. For that reason, the German’s are complicit in an unthinkable evil.

“She decided he had the cold detachment of a venomous snake about to strike.”

   Being American, it took me a bit to fall into the different use of language, punctuation and spelling, but this didn’t take away from the brilliance of the story in the slightest. John Day is from the UK and it’s expected that he writes the way he does. To be honest, I actually prefer authors to write with their native version of English. It helps the reader with a worldview perspective as well as being fun to imagine the narration with an accent. Before you ask, I also added a German accent to the characters as well. John Day’s writing makes it easy to do this and it added another layer to the story that I greatly enjoyed.

“When face to face with your enemy, if you show fear, you’re done for”

John Day does a good job of tying up loose ends and serving up justice where justice is due. As Peter, (one of the main characters) so eloquently puts it…..Revenge is a dish best served cold. I greatly enjoyed his success in exacting that particular revenge. I literally gave a cheerfully loud “Hell yes!” after reading that passage. Some people deserve their fate and trust me on this, that particular person absolutely got what was coming to him. You’ll know exactly what I’m talking about when you read it.  

“Espionage London” is very quotable and filled with interesting insights. I thoroughly enjoyed reading and will be adding his other books to my TBR list.

5 stars!!

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: Espionage London – A WW2 Thriller | Series: N/A  |  Author(s): John Day  |Publisher: John Day / Self Published / Publication Date: 9-30-2017 |Pages: 379 (Print) |ISBN/ASIN: B07635MHM5 |Genre(s):  Action / Thriller / Suspense / Historical / Espionage |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 11-06-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

John Day photo

John Day lives in the Channel Islands, on Alderney, in the Bailiwick of Guernsey. Much of what happens in Espionage – London takes place there.

Retired from his own businesses, building designer and accredited energy consultant about 10 years ago. He tends to spend much of the year travelling the world. He has a keen interest in photography and the Alderney Island Tourism marketing team use his photos in their publications and notice boards around the island. He is a qualified open water, wreck and cave diver. Many locations abroad and under water are used in his other books.

In the past, he has developed advanced software and has a detailed knowledge of electronics.

He holds the family crest with direct lineage back to King Charles 2nd.

 

 

 

WW2 Thriller “Espionage London” John Day

By late 1943, Hitler desperately needed a secret weapon to win WW2. Engineer & master spy Karl Strom devised a simple device that would bring Britain to its knees over night. 
  This character driven story of intrigue and guile, love and revenge, tells of the suicide mission undertaken by 4 German spies. It will transport you back in time to the Channel Island of Alderney where they prepared and to the back streets of London, where they struggle to survive. 
Timing is everything in war, and a cruel twist of fate changes history. 
A super-intense John Day Thriller.

Espionage London Cover

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“Great reading at a fast pace with believable characters. Great portrayal of human emotions and failings during a dangerous time. The story is exciting and full of spine tingling adventure along with romance and betrayal. It is set against the beauty of Alderney and the danger of the back streets of London.”  – Shirley McAllister (Amazon Review)

Espionage London Quote 1

John Day photo

John Day lives in the Channel Islands, on Alderney, in the Bailiwick of Guernsey. Much of what happens in Espionage – London takes place there.

Retired from his own businesses, building designer and accredited energy consultant about 10 years ago. He tends to spend much of the year travelling the world. He has a keen interest in photography and the Alderney Island Tourism marketing team use his photos in their publications and notice boards around the island. He is a qualified open water, wreck and cave diver. Many locations abroad and under water are used in his other books.

In the past, he has developed advanced software and has a detailed knowledge of electronics.

He holds the family crest with direct lineage back to King Charles 2nd.

Espionage London Cover

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“Starry Messenger” Ethan Howard #BookReview

Good vs. Evil

      Two sides of the same coin deadlocked for centuries. A victor in this ultimate struggle has finally emerged on Earth. Or so it seems. In 2018, mankind has been seduced by the promise of paradise. For most, life is good and even better days remain ahead. Unknown to the population at large, the third and final great evil has absolute authority over the world’s economy, politics, religion and media. Insidious forces are everywhere, lurking, unseen. Nothing is what it appears to be. Earth is headed for dark times. Then a powerful and enigmatic stranger arrives from the stars. He will either save the human race or accelerate a series of events that will lead Earth inexorably to its destruction.

Starry Messenger Cover

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In “Starry Messenger”, our world among many others is but a puppet on the strings of the ‘Collective’, the Degans and the God of all God’s, Yar. Quentin awakens and is directed by the Synod to observe Earth’s status. Why haven’t the humans conquered the stars? For centuries humans have been given a leg up and it seems to all be for naught. Quentin’s meetings with others like him leave him reeling in his convictions. What exactly is the end game for the Synod and is the way of Yar all Quentin had believed it to be? Will the chance meeting of a human woman and her son change everything for Quentin?  

  A few things I want to bring attention to first. Thank you Mr. Howard for such a compelling list of characters. Thank you a ton for having a male lead who is a POC and a grown adult. Too many of these stories are based around teens and do not reflect the diversity of humanity. 

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Quentin is still a bit of a mystery to me. He’s thousands of years old and a very intriguing man. He is introspective and open minded even when all he knows is being questioned. His character is stoic and endearing. It was a treat to watch as he discovered his human forms feelings and desires. How conflicting that must have been.

Regina and her son are an integral part of what made this story so good. I would like to see both of them fleshed out a bit more. The same can be said for Quentin. I’m hoping that in later books they come to understand the world together and our journey with them delves a bit deeper than this book seemed to. 

There was a lot of world building in “Starry Messenger” but I didn’t feel like it was too much at once. I would of liked the book to be a bit longer, as it stands it’s a good toe into this new world and it’s mechanisms. 

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My only criticism is the withdrawn feel to both Regina and Quentin. I would like to see them fleshed out a bit more intimately since this is an introduction to the series. The language is a bit formal and could use to be loosened up a bit.

4 stars!

 4 star

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The Technical Data:

Title: Starry Messenger | Series: Opportvnvs Adest  |  Author(s): Ethan Howard  |Publisher: Create Space Independent Publishing / Publication Date: 3-15-2017 |Pages: 144 (Print) |ISBN/ASIN: 978-1544661582 |Genre(s): Fantasy / Fables / Mythology / Fairy Tales / Science Fiction / Action |Language: English |Rating: 4 out of 5 |  Date Read: 10-30-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

“Starry Messenger” Ethan Howard – Book Spotlight

Good vs. evil.

Two sides of the same coin deadlocked for centuries. A victor in this ultimate struggle has finally emerged on Earth. Or so it seems. In 2018, mankind has been seduced by the promise of paradise. For most, life is good and even better days remain ahead. Unknown to the population at large, the third and final great evil has absolute authority over the world’s economy, politics, religion and media.

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Insidious forces are everywhere, lurking, unseen. Nothing is what it appears to be. Earth is headed for dark times. Then a powerful and enigmatic stranger arrives from the stars. He will either save the human race or accelerate a series of events that will lead Earth inexorably to its destruction.

Starry Messenger Cover

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Starry quote 1

 

“The Fire And The Forge” Jack Geurts – Book Review

Would you rather be the conquered or the conqueror?

In a world where gods pull the strings of mortals and people wield the power of the elements, the nation of Libera is attacked by its age-old enemy, the Kem, who lay waste to the land and its armies with their demonic powers of fire and steel.

Imharak, a blacksmith’s apprentice, is forced to leave his home town when it is raided and burned to the ground. 

Together with his master, Gaius, he flees into the wilderness, heading for Gaius’ brother, who is caught near a city that has just been conquered by the Kem.

What troubles Imharak is not so much the invasion, but the fact that he shares the same powers as the invaders, leading him to question where he came from.

He never knew his parents – he was raised as a Liberite and destined to be a common blacksmith. His powers had always made him an outcast, and now he starts to think he might have more in common with the conquerors than with the conquered.

Soon, Imharak will find his allegiances torn between both sides. As he and Gaius journey closer to the lion’s den, Imharak will discover who he really is and what he is capable of.

A bloody, harrowing adventure that takes its cues from ancient civilisations and mythologies, The Fire and the Forge is like no fantasy you’ve ever read.

While a lot of epic fantasy is set in a world resembling medieval Europe, The Fire and the Forge is influenced by ancient Mediterranean civilisations like Egypt, Israel, Carthage and Rome. 

It owes more to the world of the Old Testament and Mt. Olympus than the world of knights, wizards and castles.

You’ll find no elves, dwarves or goblins here. No dark lords, dragon-slayers or prophecies. 

You’ll find no good or evil, but only a grey sense of morality as people are forced to make life-or-death decisions in a harsh and brutal world.

From the very first sentence, this intimate, character-driven tale will dig its hooks into you and haul you along to the bitter end.

The Fire and the Forge Cover

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Geurts delivers a compelling tale of the reluctant orphan who finds himself to be more than he could ever have imagined. Imharak’s place in the world is so much more than the sum of his bloodline. Finding himself in the midst of invasion, Imharak must discover which side of himself to align with. Will he be the conqueror or the conquered?

“The Fire And The Forge” is incredibly quotable. Geurts weaves life lessons like a true philosopher. Like Aesop, Geurts’ writing teach caution when caution is due and encourage a critical filter while disseminating information.

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Gaius, while not being blood related to Imharak, rears the boy with love and wisdom. Gaius’ past is never far from his thoughts and he uses the bloody lessons he’s learned to give Imharak a deeper understanding of life than most in their feudal land. The love between them adds a depth to this story that most tales like this lack. It puts a very human face on fiction and weaves a story that will, brick by brick, add pieces to the readers life. I’m better for reading this story.

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Unlike most fantasy, “The Fire And The Forge” has a setting that is closer to a Roman or Egyptian civilization and it’s a very nice reprieve from the ever present “dark ages” scene. The characters range in race and culture. It’s a story rich in diversity as well as adversity.

I especially enjoyed the different “magics” illustrated here. What a powerful imagination Geurts must have. There aren’t many stories that I recommend for film but this is absolutely one of them. If given the chance, I think it would rock the world on the scale of the “Game of Thrones” series. Yes, it really is that good.

I am completely caught in Geurts’ web and won’t be getting out anytime soon. I look forward to continuing the series.

5 stars!

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: The Fire And The Forge | Series: Pantheon |  Author(s): Jack Geurts  |Publisher: Amazon Digital Sales LLC / Publication Date: 9-20-2017 |Pages: 448 (Print) |ISBN/ASIN: B075T5D6YN |Genre(s): Fantasy / Fables / Mythology / Fairy Tales |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 10-26-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

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“The Fire And The Forge” Jack Geurts – Book Spotlight

Would you rather be the conquered or the conqueror?

        In a world where gods pull the strings of mortals and people wield the power of the elements, the nation of Libera is attacked by its age-old enemy, the Kem, who lay waste to the land and its armies with their demonic powers of fire and steel.

    Imharak, a blacksmith’s apprentice, is forced to leave his hometown when it is raided and burned to the ground. Together with his master, Gaius, he flees into the wilderness, heading for Gaius’ brother, who is caught near a city that has just been conquered by the Kem. What troubles Imharak is not so much the invasion, but the fact that he shares the same powers as the invaders, leading him to question where he came from.

He never knew his parents – he was raised as a Liberite and destined to be a common blacksmith. His powers had always made him an outcast, and now he starts to think he might have more in common with the conquerors than with the conquered.

Soon, Imharak will find his allegiances torn between both sides. As he and Gaius journey closer to the lion’s den, Imharak will discover who he really is and what he is capable of.

A bloody, harrowing adventure that takes its cues from ancient civilizations and mythologies, The Fire and The Forge is like no fantasy you’ve ever read.

While a lot of epic fantasy is set in a world resembling medieval Europe, The Fire and The Forge is influenced by ancient Mediterranean civilizations like Egypt, Israel, Carthage and Rome. It owes more to the world of the Old Testament and Mt. Olympus than the world of knights, wizards and castles. You’ll find no elves, dwarves or goblins here. No dark lords, dragon-slayers or prophecies. You’ll find no good or evil, but only a grey sense of morality as people are forced to make life-or-death decisions in a harsh and brutal world.

From the very first sentence, this intimate, character-driven tale will dig its hooks into you and haul you along to the bitter end.​

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“After joining Jacks email list, I purchased the paper back version of the Fire and the Forge, running at just over 400 pages, I found this novel impossible to put down,
 The BEST fiction book I’ve read all year, and I want to tell you why.
Page by page, Jack Geurts masterfully plays with your mind, pulling the strings of your imagination and drawing you into the world he has created, so you feel as if you are on the journey yourself with the lead characters.
The twists and turns throughout had me physically yelling out at times for I couldn’t contain my excitement.
For those who love fantasy fiction, do yourself a favour and read this book. I can imagine the sequels will be just as gripping as the original.
The original lays the perfect foundation for the sequels to take place. It answers the right amount of questions about the world laid out for you, while maintaining the mystery that will keep me coming back for more.” – Amazon Reviewer Christine

The Fire and the Forge Cover

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Kids Book Review “The Nest” Kenneth Oppel

Steve just wants to save his baby brother—but what will he lose in the bargain? Kenneth Oppel’s (Silverwing, The Boundless) haunting gothic tale for fans of Coraline, is one of the most acclaimed books of the year, receiving six starred reviews. Illustrations from Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen.

For some kids summer is a sun-soaked season of fun. But for Steve, it’s just another season of worries. Worries about his sick newborn baby brother who is fighting to survive, worries about his parents who are struggling to cope, even worries about the wasp’s nest looming ominously from the eaves. So when a mysterious wasp queen invades his dreams, offering to “fix” the baby, Steve thinks his prayers have been answered.

All he has to do is say “Yes.” But “yes” is a powerful word. It is also a dangerous one. And once it is uttered, can it be taken back?

Celebrated author Kenneth Oppel creates an eerie masterpiece in this compelling story that explores disability and diversity, fears and dreams, and what ultimately makes a family. Includes illustrations from celebrated artist Jon Klassen.

The Nest Cover

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“The Nest” is written for kids over 10 but as an adult I was riveted. Oppel’s story is part Suspense, part Sci-Fi and part Horror. I promise you will never look at another wasp the same way. Part of you will always wonder whats really inside that paper nest.

Oppel hits some pretty heavy topics in “The Nest”. Steve’s (main character) parents have just had a baby who sadly has many health issues. This of course throws the family into a tail spin and Steve (who has already been suffering from OCD like tendencies and high anxiety) falls back into some of his rituals and nightmares. Nightmares that feel more than just dreams.

Steve’s little sister Nicole talks to Mr Nobody on her toy phone almost everyday. Steve and Nicole adjust different to the babies poor health and their newly very distracted and distraught parents.

It’s a bad summer for wasps but even with Steve’s issues plaguing him he rises as the hero and saves the day. I loved how Oppel showed that we are all broken in some way but that won’t stop us from rising above and being the hero. Hero’s come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes what we perceive as a weakness actually turns out to be an asset. Oppel wove this lesson into his story expertly and he is definitly moving to the top of my favorite author list.

I was hooked from page one and read the entire book in one day. I rate this book at the full five stars and highly recommend it for anyone over age 10.

5 stars

The Technical Data:

Title: The Nest | Series: N/A |  Author(s): Kenneth Oppel  |Publisher: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc / Publication Date: 10-6-2015 |Pages: 272 (Print) |ISBN/ASIN: B00TBKYJ8Y |Genre(s): Middle Grade / Horror / Suspense |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 9-20-2017 |Source: Copy from library.

The Nest Cover

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For some kids summer is a sun-soaked season of fun. But for Steve, it’s just another season of worries. Worries about his sick newborn baby brother who is fighting to survive, worries about his parents who are struggling to cope, even worries about the wasp’s nest looming ominously from the eaves. So when a mysterious wasp queen invades his dreams, offering to “fix” the baby, Steve thinks his prayers have been answered.

Great Kids Books For Cheap!

As a single income family with two children, it’s sometimes hard to find the money to get my kids the books I’d like them to have. We have blown through the better part of our local library and really need some new material. I know I’m not the only one trying to raise readers out there so here’s a list of affordable books just for kids.

 

Perfect Square Cover

$7.99 (Hardcover)

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Up and Down Cover

$7.34 (Board Book)

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Stick and Stone Cover

$11.89 (Hardcover)

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Nat Geo Book of why

$9.97 (Hardcover)

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Little Goblins Ten Cover

$10.00 (Hardcover)

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Enjoy! ♥♥♥

 

Age Appropriate Censoring Is Not The Same As Banning.

As a parent, I’m faced with the question of what to censor and what not to censor pretty much every single day. From songs to books to movies I have to evaluate pretty much everything. This is the way of the world and while it’s a pain in the butt sometimes, it’s part of being a parent. I consider myself pretty liberal in most ways but I am not going to give my small kids free range to watch or read or listen to anything. Censoring things until my kids are the appropriate age to understand what they are seeing isn’t the same thing as banning it. I’m not saying that they will never get to choose for themselves. I’m not saying that I will go to war with my kids over music or movies with moral superiority. I am saying that at four and two, my kids aren’t mature enough to decide what they see or hear. 

I’m not trying to put them in a bubble and keep them ignorant of the perils of humanity. However, I am trying to make sure that when they are faced with a serious topic, they are of a mind to understand it and make whatever peace they need to with it. 

I recently saw a post in a mom’s group on Facebook that asked for some advice on censoring. The child was seven and had been watching the Netflix series “Shameless”. I’ve watching quite a bit of these episodes and in no way think it’s at all appropriate for a seven year old. However, the Mother in question was asking what to do now that her child had already seen some of it. Should she ban the child from watching further? How should she broach the subject of what the child had already seen? I gave my advice there and I’ll give it here since it’s pretty universal.

What the child has already seen can’t be unseen so ignoring a subject isn’t going to help anyone. I would start with asking the child if they have any questions about what they saw. That way you don’t bust into topics that aren’t a worry but still address what the child is curious or conflicted about. Also, child settings should be put into place on any equipment the child has access to. Keeping an eye on your child isn’t invading their privacy. It’s taking care to make sure your child is introduced to subjects at the right time.

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Banning something out right is a whole different matter. Intentionally withholding information due to religious bias isn’t alright. It’s not your right to force your kid into believing as you do. They don’t belong to you. They are not your canvas to paint as you see fit. They deserve the right to disseminate the information in their own way and make their own conclusions. Banning them from reading freaking Harry Potter isn’t going to win you any points. It just makes you an asshole who is afraid that your world view won’t hold up under some scrutiny. 

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I can’t think of much that I would outright ban in my home. My kid wants to read about the holocaust when they’re older? Sure, lets look at the information. My kid wants to study Satanism? Sure, lets check it out and see what’s going on. Kid wants to go to a Church or Mosque? Why not. Lets go on an adventure. Interested in bondage sex? Polyamory? At the right age, I’m here to talk about what’s on your mind. These are opportunities for me to talk about consent or religion or the horrors humanity has wrought. These are opportunities for me to be the parent who turns out an educated and confident human. A human who doesn’t get rapey at the sight of a scantily glad person. A human who doesn’t distrust and hate another because they have a different skin color or speak a different language. 

When you ban a book or a movie or a song, what you’re really doing is taking away your kids ability to have empathy for another. You’re taking away the chance that they will see another person as another person and not buy into some nonsensical stereotype. You’re taking away the chance to build self esteem in your kid and you’re taking away a chance for them to find who they are in the safety of a parent relationship. 

So, think about it before you swing that ban hammer. The consequences could be more than you bargained for.

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#BookSpotlight “When Wolf Comes” John Pappas

Historical adventure, 1801. A survivor from an attack on a trade ship is sold as a slave to the Makah tribe of the Northwest Washington Coast. In a beautiful hostile land of people with strange spiritual ways he will become teacher and student, find friendship and even love, and realize escape comes in many guises, and survival is not always as simple as saving your own life.

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“I started reading the story and I literally couldnt put it down. Finished in one read! I loved the detail put into every day journaled in the book. I especially liked the ship board section and dangerous trading. I also liked how a romance starts and kinda slow simmered and built throughout the book. Wow, like I said if you like to read a great story with the details described making you feel like you are really there, this is the book for you. Great story!” – Amazon Reviewer

“When Wolf Comes” is well researched. Time and again I found myself lost in time and imagining the beauty of the northwest. The wonder of it’s people and their means of survival. I haven’t read much into this time period or the tribes that inhabited the northwest but Pappas leads the reader expertly through the complexities of both it’s cultural and natural wonders. Pappas has a real talent for cultivating a love in his readers that has at the very least encouraged me to learn more. I imagine that sentiment will spread through each new reader.” – AlliesOpinions Review

Get your copy today!

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“The Liar” Nora Roberts

Shelby Foxworth lost her husband. Then she lost her illusions…
 
The man who took her from Tennessee to an exclusive Philadelphia suburb left her in crippling debt. He was an adulterer and a liar, and when Shelby tracks down his safe-deposit box, she finds multiple IDs. The man she loved wasn’t just dead. He never really existed.
 
Shelby takes her three-year-old daughter and heads south to seek comfort in her hometown, where she meets someone new: Griff Lott, a successful contractor. But her husband had secrets she has yet to discover. Even in this small town, surrounded by loved ones, danger is closer than she knows—and threatens Griff, as well. And an attempted murder is only the beginning…

The Liar Cover

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“The Liar” took me by surprise with how hard it grabbed me right from the first page. Nora Roberts has always been one of my favorite authors. Due to this, I’m a bit picky with reviewing her books. I guess it’s because she’s a seasoned author with 50+ books published. I expect a lot from her and “The Liar” delivered!

The book opens with Shelby’s abrupt drop into widowhood and the realization that her now dead husband deceived her in almost everything.  Crushed by millions of dollars worth of debt Shelby gets clever. She takes stock of the fancy home with it’s ugly expensive furniture and begins to sell it all off. This brings further realizations of her late husbands lying which is a reoccurring theme throughout the book. The guy really was a total douchebag.

The book has a desperate feel at first but that weight starts to drop when Shelby and her daughter go back to their roots. There is nothing like being surrounded by a large family who loves you.

Shelby gains independence and with her chin up faces all the hurt she left behind when she ran off to get married. This is the part I really fell in love with her as a character. Her daughter crawled into my heart from the beginning but when Shelby faces down her mistakes with poise, accountability and shamefaced honesty I found that while naive, she really was a good person. I was also pretty mad that she was the one to pay for her husbands irresponsibility. 

Griffen does right by Shelby in every way he can and I found him to be the perfect man for who Shelby had now come to be. He gives her a steadying hand to hold in the madness but never treats her like she is incapable. I loved how he helped build her up instead of take over. Relationships should be partnerships and theirs is just that. It was nice to see Roberts get that right in this book since I’ve criticized her in the past for romanticizing controlling abusive dynamics and presenting them as healthy.

I won’t ruin the climax for you but it’s a satisfying end. While the storyline was a bit predictable I’ll admit that it’s one of the reason’s I love Nora Roberts’ books. 

I enjoyed reading and will continue to buy and read her books. I’m rating this book at 5 stars.

5 stars

The Technical Data:

Title: The Liar | Series: N/A |  Author(s): Nora Roberts  |Publisher: Penguin Group LLC / Publication Date: 4-14-2015 |Pages: 514 (Print) |ISBN/ASIN: B00O2BKKZS |Genre(s): Mystery / Romance / Suspense |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 9-13-2017 |Source: Copy from personal collection.

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The Liar Cover

Shelby Foxworth lost her husband. Then she lost her illusions…
 The man who took her from Tennessee to an exclusive Philadelphia suburb left her in crippling debt. He was an adulterer and a liar, and when Shelby tracks down his safe-deposit box, she finds multiple IDs. The man she loved wasn’t just dead. He never really existed.

 

Book Review “Seduced By Moonlight” Laurell K. Hamilton

I am Meredith Gentry, P.I. and Princess Merry, heir to the throne of Fairie. 
Now there are those among me who whisper I am more. 
They fear me even as they protect me. And who can blame them? 
I’ve awakened the dazzling magic that’s slumbered in them for 
thousands of years. But the thing is, I can’t figure out why.

My aunt, the Queen of Air and Darkness, is no longer distracted by her usual sadistic hobbies. Her obsession has turned unwaveringly to me. The mission to get me pregnant and beat my cousin Prince Cel to the crown is taking longer than expected. Even though I spend each night with the Queen’s Ravens, my immortal guards, no child has come of our decadent pleasures. But something else ishappening. My magic courses through me uncontrollably. And as I lock my half-mortal body with their full-Sidhe blooded ones, the power surges like never before.

It all began with the chalice. I dreamed of it, and it appeared, cool and hard, beside me when I awoke. My guards know the ancient relic well—its disappearance ages ago stripped them of their vital powers. But it is here with us now. My touch resonates with its force, and they’re consumed with it, their Sidhe essences lit up by it. But even as they cherish me for this unexpected gift, there are those who loathe me for it. Me, a mongrel, only half fey and part mortal. The Unseelie court has suffered for so long, and there are some who would not have it weakened further by an impure queen. My enemies grow in number every day. But they do not know what I am capable of. Nor, for that matter, do I.

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       Since this genre is far away from what I usually review, I’ll give you a heads up before I begin. The Merry Gentry series has way more graphic sex scenes than I can typically stomach. It’s not something I actively seek in a book and is usually something I actively avoid. Normally, my reasoning for this is that I’ve found the authors rely way too heavily on the sex to carry the story instead of it being part of the story. I’m not out here trying to read about graphic sex and not get one hell of a story with it. I guess you could say that Hamilton is one of my guilty pleasure authors. She’s the exception to my no erotica rule and it’s solely based on the fact that the characters and the worlds she creates are unlike any other in their uniqueness and creativity. She’s a master at what she writes and every single book I’ve read from her captures my imagination completely and holds me long after I’ve read the last page and closed the book. She’s one of the few authors whose books invade even my dreams.

In “Seduced By Moonlight” we follow Merry as she continues her quest to get pregnant and gain the crown of the Unseelie Sidhe over her horrible cousin Cel. Her guards grow ever closer to her heart as her enemies gather in number against her. Hamilton spends a considerable amount of the book recapping previous events but since this is pretty typical of her books it’s both a nice reminder and a bit annoying. 

Sage was a character that caught my attention. Imagine being able to change size! To be small and easily overlooked or mistaken as a moth or butterfly to being a full grown man. I always seem to find shapeshifters or I guess in this case size-shifters very interesting. The mechanics of such a transformation would be miraculous. If only fantasy were fact. I felt for Sage though. To be denied the one whom you care for most….it’s sad.

I like that Danu has chosen Merry as her “vessel”. Merry is similar to Anita Blake (another series by Hamilton) in her ruthlessness and kindness. For those familiar with both series, the similarities are apparent. While the characters lives are very different, the personalities are similar enough to throw you off now and then. It’s not really that big of a deal but a few of the phrases or comparisons are present in both books and you may need to give yourself a head shake now and then.

A good number of the main group of characters gain old powers lost or new powers never owned by them. Sholto is added to the list of of those Merry must bed and I’m looking forward to learning more about that most mysterious dark court he governs. The Slaugh parts of the story are some of my favorites as Hamilton lets her powers of imagination loose. The creatures she creates are varied in their complexities as well as appearance. I hope to see a lot more of that dark court in further novels.

There is a very disturbing scene with the Queen of Air and Darkness and her guards. The scene is extremely well written and I think a major turning point for Merry. It’s a key time when Merry chooses who she wants to be and what she is willing to allow or fight for. 

As always, I found myself lost in this world and wishing for more. Due to the repetition and tedious dialog, I’m granting 4 stars instead of 5. It’s annoying enough that even though I loved the story, it’s an issue that needs to be addressed.

4 star

The Technical Data:

Title: Seduced By Moonlight | Series: Merry Gentry Series |  Author(s): Laurell K. Hamilton  |Publisher: Ballantine Books / Publication Date: 2-3-2004 |Pages: 432 (Print) | ISBN: B000FC0ZDU |Genre(s): Fantasy / Dark Fantasy / Romance / Horror  |Language: English |Rating: 4 out of 5 |  Date Read: 9-10-2017 |Source: Copy from personal collection.

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seduced by moonlight coverConsidering all the complications, sexual and otherwise, that Merry Gentry, heir to the faerie throne, endured in A Kiss of Shadows (2000) and A Caress of Shadows (2002), it’s no surprise to find the start of Hamilton’s third book in her erotic fantasy series weighed down by attempts to conversationally recap earlier convolutions. Even readers of the first two books might have problems sorting out exactly why Merry is messing with the goblin king via magic mirror. Though the author maintains interest through such devices as an imaginative sex scene involving Merry, two of her sidhe studs and a doll-sized, winged, blood-sucking demi-fey, it takes a milieu switch from L.A. to St. Louis and the Unseelie court for the plot to take off and become a page turner. Merry confronts faerie politics that make Machiavelli look like a rookie, while her aunt’s sadistic madness leads to what must rank as one of the bloodier scenes of fictional slaughter. – Publishers Weekly

 

 

 

 

Remembering 9-11

 Years ago, when the Twin Towers were hit with those planes, I was still a kid sitting in my middle school French class. I remember the day with absolute clarity for many reasons. 

The first thing I remember is the computer teacher from across the hall running into our classroom and yelling that one of the twin towers had been hit by a plane in New York. My French teacher paled and dashed to the tiny TV in the corner of our classroom and turned it on. We sat captivated as we watched the smoke billow. My Teacher turned the volume all the way up on the TV. With our classroom door open we could hear other teachers doing the same. It was an echo of panicked reporters down the hallway. 

We watched as the second tower was hit. The classroom erupted in anger. Teachers and kids alike demanded retribution. Cries of war and revenge echoed down the hallways. I sat in the sea of angry faces and thought not of war but the costs of war. From reading, I had a decent idea of what happened in wartime. I was reading at a college level in middle school. I tore through every single book I could get my hands on. I sat in the midst of all that hate and thought of the people in those buildings. I thought of the people that were in those planes. I thought of how each person must feel while faced with their death. I thought of the horror of choosing to burn or jump. I watched as people did jump and I imagined the feel of their last seconds. The sight of the ground as they fell closer to it.  About the time people were jumping from the buildings my teacher turned off the TV. When she turned around I was the only one not yelling. I was the only one not balling my eyes out. I had silent tears down my face as she looked at me. She and I locked eyes. I could see the anger in hers. I could see that she agreed with the others that war was needed. I stared at her until she looked away. 

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A few hours later the school closed early and parents came to pick up their children. My father refused to leave work so I walked to my siblings elementary school and we all walked the 3 miles home. No one noticed that we didn’t leave with our parents. I think everyone was in shock.

That evening I got a call from one of the few friends I had at school. She was shouting about how we were going to blow them to smithereens. She told me how her dad (who was in the Army) was going to kill every single one of those sorry bastards and make them regret ever messing with the US. I listened to her for awhile and when there was a lull in her tirade I asked her if she thought killing all those people and destroying their homes would stop this from happening again. She said it would. She said people don’t attack what they fear. I asked her why she thought they attacked us. She said her father thought it was because we weren’t Muslim. I scoffed. I asked her if she thought in some way that our country was responsible for this attack. If others had had enough of our bombs and were taking a stand. She screamed at me that the USA is the best country in the world. That we give people freedom. I hung up. I lost one of my only friends because I dared to admit fault on both sides. I still lose friends over it. I have been advocating for peace my whole life in a sea of violent people.

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From reading, I’ve learned to see everything in ripples. Every action has a reaction and I think deeply on everything. My heart aches for the people who lost their lives that day. My heart aches for the people who lost everything and everyone to our bombs of retribution. You can’t bomb a populace into respecting you. Fear will never breed the loyalty you want it to.

America has a nasty habit of invading other countries and I know full well that we aren’t there to give them freedom. We don’t even have that ourselves. As much as it’s claimed, we don’t. 

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You want to know why ISIS and the rest of the extremist groups exist? Ignorance and desperation. If you steal a person’s ability to critical think they become violent and primitive. Without the ability to understand the world and it’s complexities humankind becomes tribal and small thinking. Religious fervor takes over as people attempt to find a greater meaning to their suffering.

Today, as we all remember the horror of watching those people burn alive or jump to their death I want everyone to remember that hate breeds hate. Division and anger solve nothing and create only more horror. We are all human. We all bleed red and might does not always equal right.

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I want you to open your eyes and see the division around us. The extremist groups we harbor right here in our very own US of A.  I want you to see the huge gap of opportunities for the poor and the desperation of a mother who must choose to pay an atrocious amount for rent or feed her children. I want you to think long and hard of the humiliation laid on those who seek government assistance to feed their kids. I want you to see people die of treatable illnesses because of our healthcare inequality. I want you to ask yourself if you think we really are the greatest nation in the world. Because, that’s one hell of a title to live up to and if you ask me, we are most definitely not living up to it in the slightest.

Love one another my friends. Care for those who are down no matter their skin color. No matter their differences. Let us learn and grow together to make a world that’s a great place for everyone. Let us be fair. Let us seek justice that is not unjust to those who have no say in their fate. 

It’s time we evolved beyond hate and violence. 

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Streaming Services – I’m not paying for 20 of them!

Has everyone heard the rumor that Disney, among others, are planning to yank their content from Netflix and fire up their very own streaming services? I don’t know about you but this has me 17 kinds of angry. 

If you’re asking me why this makes me so angry ( I know you probably aren’t but this is called AlliesOpinions so buckle up buttercup) I’d be happy to tell you. 

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Listen up, I’m not paying for 18,000 streaming services. Actually, it’s not even that I outright refuse (which I do) it’s that with stagnant wages and the ever increasing prices on basic necessities….I DON’T HAVE THE MONEY TO PAY FOR THEM. That’s right, it’s just not there. 

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You know what I am going to pay for? Netflix. You know why? BECAUSE THEY WERE HERE FIRST AND THEY HAVE A FAIR PRICE.

Trust me when I tell you that I REALLY wanted to see the HULU series about the Handmaid’s Tale. You know what I did? I used that free subscription and then I canceled that baby. BECAUSE I AM NOT GOING TO PAY FOR A SHIT TON OF STREAMING SERVICES. I’m just downright not going to do it.

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If everyone who makes a series or a movie or a crap load of movies thinks they are going to convince people to pay for 18,000 different subscriptions, they are greatly mistaken. Hell, most people don’t even have satellite anymore. They don’t need it. As soon as my stupid contract is up, I won’t have it either. I don’t enjoy having a measly 20 channels that actually show interesting stuff but have near constant commercials. Want me to keep buying your satellite service? Cut the commercials down by a lot. Cut the bazillion of  “As Seen On TV” channels selling stupid crap I can buy at damn near any thrift store. I’m over it. We’re all over it. No one likes you. No one wants to buy your stupid crap.

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I know you’re thinking that people will want to see your movies so bad that they will just give in and pay for it. Nope. That’s assuming that the money is there to do that with. Which it isn’t. I’m not the only broke lady either. There’s millions of us and none of us have the time or money for this nonsense. 

I’ll keep my Netflix. I’ll sign up for your stupid free subscription and then I’ll cancel the heck out of every single one of your stupid services before you can get a dime out of me. Seems the only power the little people like me have is with our dollar. You won’t be getting mine. 

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“When Wolf Comes” John Pappas

Historical adventure, 1801. A survivor from an attack on a trade ship is sold as a slave to the Makah tribe of the Northwest Washington Coast. In a beautiful hostile land of people with strange spiritual ways he will become teacher and student, find friendship and even love, and realize escape comes in many guises, and survival is not always as simple as saving your own life.

When Wolf Comes Cover

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“When Wolf Comes” begins with Aiden doing what he does in much of the book….deliberating on his next move. Aiden has found himself far from home and does his best to be positive while also endeavoring to be useful. When the first ship comes Aiden’s spirits lift and life takes a new path. Like life can do, the path quickly shifts again and Aiden finds himself once more a slave. This time though, maybe being a slave is a step forward.

As Aiden finds his purpose within his masters tribe and culture his eye finds itself stuck on another slave. Neveah is a beautiful native woman who also turns out to be more than what she appears. Their relationship blooms slowly and it’s a real treat to see. 

Something that should be noted is how Pappas managed to embed a message of tolerance in his story. Aiden and the Makah are very different and those differences are stark at the beginning but as the story deepens those differences don’t seem so far apart and each culture melds together to find this new direction that I found fascinating. Aiden’s culture and knowledge was accepted (albeit with suspicion) and their culture became another piece of Aiden. This story has a message of oneness that resonates even now.

“When Wolf Comes” is well researched. Time and again I found myself lost in time and imagining the beauty of the northwest. The wonder of it’s people and their means of survival. I haven’t read much into this time period or the tribes that inhabited the northwest but Pappas leads the reader expertly through the complexities of both it’s cultural and natural wonders. Pappas has a real talent for cultivating a love in his readers that has at the very least encouraged me to learn more. I imagine that sentiment will spread through each new reader.

Squintanasis was a character that I really couldn’t get enough of. I would love to see him get his own book. I felt like there was more to tell and learn from this most stoic of men. He was mysterious and wise. He was shrewd but fair. I liked him immensely. He was a big part of what made this story bury itself so deep into my psych. 

Pappas depiction of battle is gory but not overly so. The horror is addressed but not dwelt upon. The significance is put more on how the community came together and their bond. I thought it was well written and well balanced.

I could go on for days about how much I enjoyed this story. I encourage you to hop in and lose yourself in the magic of the early 1800’s.

Absolute 5 star book.

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: When Wolf Comes | Series: N/A |  Author(s): John Pappas  |Publisher: Amazon Digital Services / Publication Date: 5-8-2016 |Pages: 264 (Print) | ISBN: B01FEC6YM6 |Genre(s): Historical Fiction  |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 8-29-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

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“The images conjured up by the Northwest Coast tribes is one of fierce people what with their dramatic masks, nose bones and complex ceremonies. This story takes you to the people beneath that image. It highlights their sense of community as well as their recognition of the changes being brought by traders. It tells of how they treat their “slaves”, their capacity for compassion and their lack of tolerance for wrongdoing.” – Amazon Reviewer

“Emotive” Kevin Laymon

Emotive is a tale of life, love, compassion, and the pursuit of happiness as told through the eyes of the story’s narrator, Linus. Linus is a puppy living in a small city located in the rolling hillsides of upstate New York. When the abnormalities of his owner Sam are all he knows since birth, he gains a perspective of unyielding acceptance and love towards the man who feeds him, takes him to the park, and murders women in his basement.

I AM LOYAL. I AM TRUSTWORTHY. 

I AM POWERLESS

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When I read the summary of “Emotive” it immediately piqued my interest. I have a huge soft spot for books narrated by animals. Since I also love a good thriller, “Emotive” was a must-read for me and boy am I glad I did. I was glued to this book from the first sentence of the first page. I literally read this entire book in one sitting. Well, I read it in the bath but you get the idea.  I can’t believe I let it sit on my shelf so long unread. I feel like I’ve offended the book gods by letting such a story sit unattended. My apologies, please don’t smite me!

Fair warning, this book will rip your heart out. Don’t worry it’ll return it eventually but holy moly is it one hell of a ride. Of all the murders in this book, I have to admit the cow was the hardest. After all Linus had been through, I had tears streaming down my face as I read those pages. How alone he must of felt. How betrayed by humans. How completely hopeless he must of found it all.

Sam will boggle your mind. He’s a total psycho, of that I have no doubt, but he also has one glimpse of remorse for poor Linus. I had a bit of hope for our little K9 hero but that hope was quickly dashed when Sam fell deeper into his obsession and paranoia. It was hard to see Sam discard Linus from his affection. It was hard to see Linus’ basic needs not be met and realize how animals must feel when us humans don’t make them a priority. When we forget to feed them on time or their water bowl doesn’t get refilled or we make them wait hours and hours on end before we let them out to potty. It was eye opening to see how emotionally devastating it is to animal kind to be at the absolute mercy of someone else’s compassion……or lack there of.

It was incredibly hard to see humans fail this one dog over and over again. This is a sight of our kind that will leave you with a bad taste in your mouth and a brand new perspective. As I read, my own two dogs lay next to the tub and I caught myself looking at them multiple times wondering just what they were thinking and what they thought of me. I didn’t expect to be so affected. As a pet owner and human in general, this story will inspire some introspection and I was definitely not expecting that when I began to read.

The climax is cleverly crafted and brings everything full circle. Laymon has written a masterpiece. I strongly suggest you read it.

5 stars

The Technical Data:

Title: Emotive | Series: N/A |  Author(s): Kevin Laymon  |Publisher: Amazon Digital Services / Publication Date: 4-5-2016 |Pages: 194 (Print) | ISBN: B019YT5UIY |Genre(s): Thriller / Novella / Serial Killers / Psychological  |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 8-20-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

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“Emotive was a unique read full of interesting perspective. The storytelling through the eyes of a dog created deep emotions & connections with powerful characters. The writing was strong & visual.” – Amazon Customer

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Samuel L. Catson & Making Friends

 

First of all, I haven’t properly introduced my feline friend Samuel (Sammy) L. Catson.

Sammy Cat

We got Sammy a few months ago from a neighbor whose cat had kittens. He looks very much like a cat we had when my son was first born so we were ecstatic to give him a home. Our other cat ran away after we moved and it was devastating to all of us. Since he is chipped there’s a good chance he may one day find his way home but it’s been over a year and we haven’t found him. My son has been begging me for another cat so the hubs and I finally relented. We were really holding out for our lost fella to come home. We really loved him. Happy for us that we took in Sammy because he’s very much like our other cat and we adore him. He’s a bit frisky and likes to chase anyone and anything. Our elderly black lab Buddy’s tail is a little worse for wear but Sammy has helped my overweight Chihuahua lose some flab so it evens out.

Our other cat tower was in bad shape so when I saw that Aldi’s had some on sale I sent the hubs to grab one post haste. 

Cat Tower

It’s quite a bit smaller than our other one but as Sammy isn’t fully grown yet it does the job. Mason’s birthday is fast approaching and I just don’t have the extra funds to upgrade just yet but when I do you best believe it’s going to be a monstrously giant and fun towerplex for Mr. Catson. Our pets are family and we do out best to treat them as such.

Cat tower complex

 

Is that too much? Nahhhh

 In other news, Mason finally found some kids to play with for once. He’s been pretty down about not having anyone to play with and it hurts this mommies heart everytime he tells me he wants a friend. I’ve scheduled playdates as often as I can but in the mess of life people often bail on us and poor Mason gets so upset thanks a lot for making my kid cry assholes. The hubs and I try to remedy this by taking the kids to the libraries play area as well as to our local Aquarium. We have a membership so it doesn’t break the bank to go. Sadly, it’s not often that a kid takes Mason up on his offer to play those judgey little shits. Mason is high energy and quickly overwhelms other kids. He doesn’t mean to but he really can’t help it. He’s just a rambunctious guy.

Thankfully, this weekend was different. We took Mason to one of our local parks and he found some kids close to his age (almost 4) to run around with. I was thankful he found some buddies but was quickly reminded why we don’t often go to the public parks. The kids he was playing with weren’t there for 30 minutes when their mom rounded them up to leave thanks for that jerkhole. Mason was crushed and I put a curse on that evil mom  tried to cheer him up by offering to help him go down the big kid slide. When we got up to the top of this tower thing I cursed whoever decided to install those ladders ….just why where the entrance to the slide is Mason and I saw that it was blocked off by a pallet that was zip tied to the structural poles of the tower (real classy). I looked over the pallet and saw that toward the bottom of the slide the plastic was melted and misshapen. Probably vandalized by some asshole hooligans. I sold my soul to the devil  gently convinced him to go down another and went to examine the damage of the other slide. It looked very much like someone had taken a blow torch and melted it (I’m not scared you’re scared). The park we go to is a newer one but isn’t being taken care of and is quickly falling into disrepair. This is why we usually go to the park in our neighborhood since it’s taken care of by our HOA. Oklahoma is quick to take our middle class taxes (not rich people of course) but that money isn’t going into the community. Let us gather with our pitchforks and robinhood those rich bastards. Someone should have a protest.

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      Sunday I took Mason to the library to play and get new books. He found a friend for a bit but the kid was way more laid back than Mason so while they had fun I could see Mason getting antsy. He has a hard time sitting still for long and this kid was happy to sit and just play with the lego’s.

After we left Mason told me he liked the kid but reeeaaallllyyyy needed to run so I raced him to our car. I gave that little sucker my best and lost haaarrdd let him beat me and his big grin was worth my bright red face and lack of oxygen. The stuff we do for our kids.

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Trying to keep up with my kids may be the death of me is keeping me young. Someone get me a hot chocolate and tell me when it’s Christmas. 

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“Emotive” Kevin Laymon – Book Spotlight

Emotive is a tale of life, love, compassion, and the pursuit of happiness as told through the eyes of the story’s narrator, Linus. Linus is a puppy living in a small city located in the rolling hillsides of upstate New York. When the abnormalities of his owner Sam are all he knows since birth, he gains a perspective of unyielding acceptance and love towards the man who feeds him, takes him to the park, and murders women in his basement.

Emotive Cover

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What reviewers are saying

“I absolutely loved this book. I stumbled upon it on accident while I was on the Goodreads site. I shelved it and waited anxiously until it was available for purchase on Amazon. Being a huge dog lover is why the cover sparked my interest. The description interested me a lot, even though I knew it was probably going to be a grim book. I love how the book is told from the dog’s point of view. It really makes you think about the emotions dogs probably really do feel, but can’t communicate to us. This book went in directions I didn’t expect. I was kept at suspense and enjoyed how it all played out.” – Kaylee

“Emotive was a unique read full of interesting perspective. The storytelling through the eyes of a dog created deep emotions & connections with powerful characters. The writing was strong & visual.” – Amazon Customer

“I absolutely loved this book !!! Blunt and straight to the point, a quick read that moves right along and delivers. A fresh point a view from the main character that I found myself rooting for and falling in love with. This story takes off like a bolt of lighting right from the starting line. I’m an avid reader and though this story is brutal it is well written and I found that I could not put it down and felt quite satisfied with the ending which was heroic to say the least. I give this book a solid rating of 5 stars. This is the second book in Kevin’s line up that I have read and I can eagerly say that I am looking forward to reading his next publication. He’s a new and young writer who shows a lot of promise. I highly recommend this book as well as his first ( FUTURE WINDS )” – Don B.

Have you read this book? If so, do Mr. Laymon a solid and give your two cents by reviewing it on Amazon or Goodreads! 

We loved this book and will tell you all about it in our review in a few days! Keep an eye out but in the mean time give it a look yourself and see what all the buzz is about!

 

Nasty Comments & Crazy People

 

       I would say that this must be the week of the crazies but honestly I seem to draw a fair amount of them most of the time. Usually the nasty comments are mostly on Twitter but it seems they’ve migrated to my blog. Damn it Yay! 

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Wondering why you haven’t seen them? BAN HAMMERED those bastards I don’t approve nasty comments. If you just disagree with me on a book or a subject I won’t censor your comment but if it’s advocating violence or you cussing me out….yeah, I’m probably not going to let it post. 

           I got one the other day on my post about Oklahoma Turnpikes from forever ago (way to creep my page weirdo) that called me a bitch and told me if I didn’t like how things worked I should start ‘slaughtering politicians’…… Uhm…. holy shit this guy has lost his fucking mind Wow that guy is unhinged. I do not now or ever suggest that anyone “slaughters” anyone else….ever. He went from 0 to ape shit immediately.  Calm the heck down bro! Take a chill pill ( do people still say that?). I’d rather just vote out politicians whose policies I don’t agree with. Killing them is a bit harsh…I mean…if I killed every person I didn’t agree with….there wouldn’t be many people left. Plus, I’m a lover not a fighter. Peace is an actual solution people. Oh, and as of now, I’m still legally allowed to complain when politicians do stuff I don’t like. So, I think I’ll raise my voice and not a weapon because murder is a big fucking deal and I’m not about to take someone’s life over the dollar or so I have to pay to drive on a road. I mean, get perspective. 

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As if that wasn’t crazy enough, I’ve received about 20 emails from some guy pervert  asking me to review his graphic erotic novel……NO means NO fella. Just….read my damn review policy and these types of crazy situations won’t happen. When I said no he got his panties in a bunch upset and said it’s my fault his book can’t get any reviews…..dude, I’m not responsible for what other reviewers are telling you. 

To top all of that off, when I was mowing my backyard yesterday a rabid probably rabies infested tiny mouse ran up my BARE LEG till he got to the edge of my shorts and ran back down and away. So, I’m probably going to die thankful he didn’t decide inside my shorts looked like a path he wanted to take. 

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Oh, and I found a dead mole on my doorstep this morning. So, yeah. Good times.

 

Book Review “Fox In The City” Daniel Cabrera

This is the story of a fox–a fox named Tom. A fox who couldn’t in his wildest dreams imagine what it would be like to stand up on two. To behold and experience all the wonders of the world of man. The lights that light up the ground: The hum of the engines that roar and the fervor that engulfs everyone in the impassioned pursuit of happiness. Could he understand that the most amazing part is not in what we built?

Fox in the city Cover

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“Fox In The City” is the first book I’ve ever read that’s from a Fox’s perspective. The first part of the book was the most interesting to me since it goes through the daily struggles of being a wild animal left to his own devices. It was odd looking through that lense and I wish that part of the book was a bit longer. One, because I was really wrapped into it when it abruptly changed course and two because I’m just genuinely curious to see the author take it a bit further.

Tom meets Nora and she changes his life. Nora is a beautiful character and I loved everything about her. She was wise beyond her years and incredibly kind for all she had been through. It takes a special person to rise above hardship and thrive. Nora thrives and lightens the path of all around her. Her brutal honesty keeps Tom on his toes and gives him a thread to hold when all starts falling apart.

Tom’s introspection goes deep into what it means to be an animal but also what it means to be a human. Cabrera balances these sections well with his action scenes. One does not overwhelm the other and they exist in a nice harmony to keep the stories meaning as well as keep the reader engaged in the plot.

The only complaint I have about this book is it’s language is a bit choppy. Most of the story is very formal and it doesn’t flow the way it should. There was a time or two the choppy language pulled me from the story and damped my enthusiasm.  I would like to see Cabrera do another edit and smooth out some of the unneeded words and replace them with conjuctions to allow the story to flow much more smoothly.

Other than my one complaint, I very much enjoyed the story and loved how it appeals to such a huge age group. 4 stars!

4 star

The Technical Data:

Title: Fox In The City | Series: N/A |  Author(s): Daniel Cabrera  |Publisher: LULU.com / Publication Date: 7-17-2017 |Pages: 193 (Print) | ISBN: B0749S2XGW |Genre(s): Fantasy / Novella / Fable |Language: English |Rating: 4 out of 5 |  Date Read: 8-15-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

Fox in the city Cover“The protagonist is well-imagined and its development will interest readers in many ways. It takes a lot of skill to create a story featuring compelling characters that readers can relate to, but it takes genius to write a fable that speaks straight to the heart of the reader, and Daniel Cabrera has just that. A very inspiring and entertaining story!” Five Stars—Reviewed By Divine Zape for Readers’ Favorite

Book Spotlight – “Fox In The City” Daniel Cabrera

This is the story of a fox–a fox named Tom. A fox who couldn’t in his wildest dreams imagine what it would be like to stand up on two. To behold and experience all the wonders of the world of man. The lights that light up the ground: The hum of the engines that roar and the fervor that engulfs everyone in the impassioned pursuit of happiness. Could he understand that the most amazing part is not in what we built?

Fox in the city Cover

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One great thing about this book is it’s appeal to a wide range of age groups! Looking for a new book for your teen? Great! Adult? Great! It’s appropriate for everyone. Keep an eye out for our review in the next few days.

Spoiler – We LOVED it!

Have you read this book? Hop on over to Goodreads or Amazon and show this book some love by leaving a review! Drop us a comment and let us know what you thought!

 

 

“Naveed – Through My Eyes” John Heffernan

The explosion jolts him awake. He sits up, gasping for air, heart thumping.

Was the blast real? Perhaps it had only happened in his head, a bad dream. Demons of the dark, his father had called them. ‘Push them away. They’ll only poison your thoughts. Seek the light and they can’t hurt you.’

Naveed is sick of war – of the foreign powers and the Taliban, the warlords and the drug barons that together have torn Afghanistan apart. He’s had to grow up quickly to take care of his widowed mother and little sister, making what little money he can doing odd jobs and selling at the markets. When he adopts Nasera, a street dog with extraordinary abilities, he has a chance to help rebuild his country. But will a new friend’s betrayal crush his dreams of peace forever?

From the winter of war comes the spring of hope.

Naveed Cover

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     I found this book while browsing the kids chapter books at my local library. It was one of those books the librarians shelve cover out so it caught my eye rather quickly. I picked it up and after reading the summary decided it sounded like a book I should read and maybe later add to my kids homeschool reading list when they are the appropriate age. I often grab a chapter book along with the younger kids books and if they sound like something that would interest my four year old now, I read them to him. My four year old is much too young for this book but it’s absolutely a book I’ve added to our reading list for later years. 

“Naveed” offers two unique perspectives that, as an American, I don’t often get to see. An Australian solider and a young Afghan boy. Naveed may be a child but his struggles are anything but small. Naveed’s mother relies on him to provide for the family and Naveed works hard to do so. He also provides for his younger sister who, due to a bomb, has lost her legs. Naveed carries a heavy load of responsibilities but it’s clear that he carries them with love. Naveed’s love for his family is beautiful. He has known nothing but war and it’s touched every single piece of his young life.  

After a bomb took away his father and severely injured his sister, Naveed’s family lives in a hovel and their situation is precarious. The land lord is a bad man who has even worse friends and cares for no one but himself. He sets his eyes on Naveed’s mother and I held my breath with worry about Naveed’s family and how or if they would find a way out of that nasty man’s reach.

Naveed is adopted by Nasera (the dog) and his life takes on a whirlwind of change. By chance he meets Jake and opportunities open that he never thought possible. Naveed’s world is almost broken by a relative (whose really broken himself) and for a time, everything is thrown into chaos once again.

I want to talk about that chaos for just a minute. In the west, we are so quick to see a terrorist and dehumanize them. We don’t think of all the things that built up and turned this otherwise unassuming person into an extremist. Heffernan brings humanity back in this tale and gives us a look into what goes into the makings of a terrorist. It’s not harped upon but Heffernan gives us a window into a world I don’t think we discuss or even acknowledge nearly enough.

Kudo’s to John Heffernan for doing his part to put a very human face on a very ugly war. May his stories enrich our lives and encourage us to find peace with one another.

5 stars.

5 stars

The Technical Data:

Title: Naveed | Series: Through My Eyes |  Author(s): John Heffernan  |Publisher: Allen & Unwin / Publication Date: 9-1-2015 |Pages: 216 (Print) | ISBN: B00YVBQO8Q |Genre(s): Middle East / War / Historical Fiction |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 8-05-2017 |Source: Copy from library.

 

“The Betrayal of KA” – Book Spotlight

As the spaceship secretly lands on Earth, Ka’s mission is clear: find and kill Transprophetics. His shipmates think of him as a killer. On his home planet of Koranth, he is considered a murderer. Haunted in his dreams by the boy whose life he stole, Ka struggles to define who he really is.

A girl in a temple in Thailand. A boy kidnapped in Mexico. Both can do the impossible. Both can move objects with their minds. These two Transprophetics pose grave risks to the Donovackia Corporation as it plans its invasion of Earth.

With a blade in his hand, Ka’s decision to kill, or not, will reverberate across the galaxy.

The Betrayl of Ka Cover

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How about those reviews?

“Betrayal of Ka is sci-fi at its best. It starts out strong, keeps its pace and manages to be suspenseful till the very end. I initially thought the story would be pretty average, looking at the description. Many sci-fi favorites hover over some cliches. Of course, this book too remains true to some of the regular elements of a sci-fi thriller. But it brings in a lot of novelty.” – Page Hungry Bookworm

“Five stars for The Betrayal of Ka, and a warning that, as the saying goes, “once you start this book you won’t want to put it down.'” – Don Sloan

“This book is GRITTY. It hits on politics as well as some of the lesser used subjects in science fiction. It will kick your butt. This book is also multi-faceted. It brings up real political issues that are relate-able to our current time period while at the same time creating a story that is both entertaining and emotion catching.” – AlliesOpinions

This is one Sci-fi book you don’t want to miss! It’s listed for free with Kindle Unlimited! Get your copy and see what all the buzz is about.

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Shea Oliver Author Pic

Shea Oliver lives in Niwot, Colorado, near the base of the Rocky Mountains. He can often be found wandering through mountain forests and alpine tundra. An avid hiker and photographer, he often uses his time in the mountains to work through various characters and plots. When he is not enjoying nature, Shea is a devoted father of two teenage sons and a serial entrepreneur.

 

“Double Dealing In Dubuque” Dean Klinkenberg

     Writer Frank Dodge is feeling optimistic for a change. He just landed a plum assignment from a national magazine to write about the growth of boutique food in the Midwest. Dodge’s mood quickly turns sour, though, when his scheming rival Helen shows up–is she trying to steal another story from him? When a fire erupts at the food convention Dodge is scouting out, two people die and Dodge can’t shake the feeling that the fire was no accident.
 
Dodge’s search for the truth will take him from the specialty shops of Galena, Illinois, through the neighborhoods of Dubuque, Iowa, and to the murky backwaters of the Mississippi River, landing him in the middle of a volatile feud between ice cream queen Stella and chocolatier Ashley.
 
Can he keep Helen at bay as he investigates the fire? And how far will Stella and Ashley ultimately go to skewer each other? Double-Dealing in Dubuque is a compelling novel that delves into what can go wrong when feuds get out of hand.

Double Dealing in Dubuque Cover

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There is so much that I loved about this book! It was so good! Frank Dodge is witty and very clever. He may stick out like a sore thumb at times with his fancy hats but as different as he is….he’s also right at home along the river. His love and acceptance of others cultures was moving. He has a depth and realness to him that really made this book. He also has a way with people that I would think comes in handy in his profession. He has this down-home quality that inspires people to trust him….. which leads to confessions. Oh…the confessions!

 Klinkenberg has real talent with crafting characters. Each new person introduced as I read added another layer to this story. From a bartender to a backwoods bear of man, every single person adds authenticity to the river culture. The river is really it’s own character. Everyone’s lives revolve around it in some way and there’s no doubt it’s got a bit of a siren song. It calls to many and doesn’t let go of some. The Midwest really does have it’s own magic and allure that is too often overlooked. Thankfully, books like Klinkenberg’s come along and fix that. If after reading “Double Dealing In Dubuque” you don’t feel the call of the river……I don’t know if anything will call you….ever.

Want diversity in your reading? Well this book delivers in the best way. Not only is Frank a gay man but it’s not a defining part of his character! Do you get that? It’s as mundane as his hair color! Why? Because who Frank loves isn’t who he is, it’s a part of him…not one label but one of many. I loved how Klinkenberg handled Frank’s “relationships”. Our partner preference isn’t the whole of our identity and thanks a million to Klinkenberg for pioneering that logic into his writing! I don’t want to drop any spoilers but…..the end….I’ll admit it…I cried. It was beautiful and tragic and sad. Really, really sad.

By the way, don’t read this book on an empty stomach. Actually, wait…maybe you should. “Double Dealing In Dubuque” inspired me to try all kinds of new restaurants. The food in this story will inspire you to find a few pounds you weren’t previously sporting though but, you know what, YOLO. Ha ha, but really. Try the foods. Klinkenberg knows what he’s talking about. 

I loved everything about this story. It moves fast but not too fast and the story keeps you engaged with plenty of twists to make you wonder just “who dun it”. I enjoyed the story and I know you will to.

5 stars.

5 stars

The Technical Data:

Title: Double Dealing In Dubuque | Series: Frank Dodge Mysteries |  Author(s): Dean Klinkenberg  |Publisher: Amazon Digital Services / Publication Date: 7-7-2017 |Pages: 298 (Print) | ISBN: B072TM35FR |Genre(s): Mystery |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 7-28-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

 

 

Books That Matter

As a parent, one of my main goals is to raise my kids to care. Not just care, but care deeply. I want my kids to see other’s suffering and genuinely want to change it. I am doing my best to contribute to a generation that has the skills (emotional, educational & physical) to face the trails headed their way. Trials like deep inequality, rampant homelessness, lack of adequate food, clothing, health care and sadly the repercussions of perpetual war. I want my kids to feel empowered to make changes. A good way to do that is to give them a deep understanding of each issue. Books are a great tool to achieve this.

Malala Yousafzai Quote

    When I was growing up war was just the way things were. No one took the time to explain to me that there were other ways to handle attacks from other countries. I remember sitting in my classroom in middle school as the Twin Towers were hit by those planes. We watched the people jumping from the buildings on our tiny bulbous screen hung in the top corner of our classroom. About the time my teacher realized that people were jumping to their death in front of a class of children she turned the TV off. 

Another teacher came into my class and the two of them angrily discussed blowing those terrorists to smithereens. My classmates heatedly discussed how America would kill them all. In middle school…the KIDS went straight to death. There was no talk of any other way to handle the attack. I remember sitting and looking at all that anger and hate and all I could feel was devastation at the choice those people jumping had been forced to make. My mind reeled with the horror I knew was coming to the country responsible. I knew in a round about kind of way what happens in wars. I knew because every chance I had I was reading story after story about anything and everything. I cared because from a very young age my brain was used to thinking from anothers perspective.

I want my kids to think diplomatically and find solutions other than to kill everyone. I want my kids to understand that a handful of people from a country do not represent an entire populace. I want my kids to find solutions to complicated issues.

Einstein Quote about peace

  One way to do that is to read them or have them read stories that illustrate the consequences of war and poverty. I recently stumbled upon the “Through My Eyes” series while browsing books in my local library. At 20 months and 4 years my kids are still too young to read these but you can bet I will introduce them later. I suggest you read through them and introduce them to your kids when appropriate. 

Naveed CoverThe explosion jolts him awake. He sits up, gasping for air, heart thumping.

Was the blast real? Perhaps it had only happened in his head, a bad dream. Demons of the dark, his father had called them. ‘Push them away. They’ll only poison your thoughts. Seek the light and they can’t hurt you.’

Naveed is sick of war – of the foreign powers and the Taliban, the warlords and the drug barons that together have torn Afghanistan apart. He’s had to grow up quickly to take care of his widowed mother and little sister, making what little money he can doing odd jobs and selling at the markets. When he adopts Nasera, a street dog with extraordinary abilities, he has a chance to help rebuild his country. But will a new friend’s betrayal crush his dreams of peace forever?

Amina CoverAmina lives on the edges of Mogadishu. Her family’s house has been damaged in Somalia’s long civil war, but they continue to live there, reluctant to leave their home. Amina’s world is shattered when government forces come to arrest her father because his art has been officially censored, deemed too political. Then rebel forces kidnap Amina’s brother, forcing him to become a soldier in Somalia’s brutal ongoing war.

Although her mother and grandmother are still with her, Amina feels vulnerable and abandoned. Secretly, she begins to create her own artwork in the streets and the derelict buildings to give herself a sense of hope and to let out the burden of her heart. Her artwork explodes into Mogadishu’s underground world, providing a voice for people all over the city who hope for a better, more secure future.

 

Shahana Cover‘Open your eyes. We will not hurt you.’
The boy quietens; his eyes open.
‘Where are you from?’
The boy stares at them both; then says, ‘Who will you tell?’

Shahana lives alone with her young brother in the shadow of the Line of Control, the border patrolled by Pakistani and Indian soldiers that divides Kashmir in two. Life is hard, but Shahana ekes out a living with her beautiful embroidery. Then she finds a boy lying unconscious near the border. Zahid is from across the Line of Control, and Shahana takes a terrible risk by sheltering him. But how can she give Zahid up to the authorities when she knows he’ll be imprisoned – or worse?

An unforgettable novel about one young girl in war-torn Kashmir.

Emilio CoverFor high-school student Emilio Garcia Lopez, it’s an ordinary school day. But that evening the knock on the door announcing the arrival of his police officer cousin Juanita, flanked by a tall man in the uniform of the Federal Police, will turn his ordinary day into the beginning of a long nightmare. Emilio’s mother has been kidnapped in broad daylight from a hotel car park by unidentified criminals, who appear to know a great deal about her business and who have mistaken her for a wealthy businesswoman. An action-packed story set in a contemporary conflict zone.

 

 

Malini CoverMalini lives with her parents and young sister, Banni, in northern Sri Lanka. As the civil war heads towards its catastrophic end, Malini and her family are herded by Tamil Tiger troops towards the coast where they and thousands of other Tamil civilians will act as human shields. When Malini’s father pushes a phone into her hands and tells her to run off into the forest with Banni, Malini does as she is told. But then the shelling begins, and Malini has no way of finding her mother and father. With the role of parent thrust upon her, Malini has no choice but to travel to her grandfather’s village a long way inland. She and Banni will need to keep off the highways and stay alert for soldiers. But where will the next meal come from? Who can they trust? Where will they shelter? And will they ever be reunited with their parents again?

Zafir CoverZafir has a comfortable life in Homs, Syria, until his father, a doctor, is arrested for helping a protester who was campaigning for revolution. While his mother heads to Damascus to try to find out where his father is being held, Zafir stays with his grandmother – until her house is bombed. With his father in prison, his mother absent, his grandmother ill and not a friend left in the city, Zafir must stay with his Uncle Ghazi. But that too becomes dangerous as the city becomes more and more besieged. Will Zafir survive long enough to be reunited with his parents?

Dystopian Novel Societies & Their Impact

Dystopian novels are super popular and I know I’m not the only one who has given serious thought to how crappy existing in one of those societies would be. Dystopian novels burrow deep into our psych and give us way more than just entertainment. This genre has a power that most others just don’t. Novels like “The Handmaid’s Tale” influence politics and it’s symbols have been used in many a protest in an effort to protect women’s rights. Novels with that kind of power tend to find themselves quickly thrown into the “banned book” pile with lots of outrage on both sides of the aisle. There’s been so much outrage regarding this particular book that it’s found itself on the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books list for 20 years. At my tiny high school in Oklahoma we most certainly didn’t read it. I read it on my own and it was eye opening. I’ve since read it at least 30 times and it hits me just as hard as the first time, every time.

The Handmaids Tale Cover

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I think what is most haunting about “The Handmaid’s Tale” is that Atwood wrote only about restrictions that have actually happened in real life. Most of the time books that are based off truth make me very nervous but what really gets my cogs turning is the books that speculate. Books like “Life As We Knew It” or “The Last Orphans” open a window of possibilities. The scenarios in both of these books are completely out of the blue and throw the world into chaos. It’s those scenarios that scare me the most. There is no where far enough to run in these worlds. “The 5th Wave” is another one that leaves me shaken.

I’m thankful for the freedom that remains in fiction and it’s ability to bring to life every scenario possible. I would like to see these writers given more credit for the depth of influence their writing has. Seeing the extreme consequences of an action either by a government or a natural disaster gives us the ability to see the ripples possible with every decision we make as a populace. There is no price tag on preparedness. 

Another thing to consider is how dystopian writers explore ethics of science and religion. It’s like the saying “just because we can doesn’t mean we should”. I know with the rise of CHRISPR and even when stem cells were beginning to be used, religious leaders were and are in a bit of an uproar. I’m not against either of these but I’ve seen a lot of people throw one heck of a fit about it. From what I’ve seen personally, I think a lot of the anger has more to do with a lack of understanding then anything else. While I know that the US public school system struggles to fund even the most basic of an education…. I am thankful that books and movies help bridge that gap some. The real solve for this issue is a better education and I feel that superstition will fade with better understanding. In the meantime, I would like to see books and movies come even closer to actual science and explore further. 

While on the subject of ethics, I’d like to bring up how dystopian novels also breed enormous amounts of empathy. One book, “The Dean Machine” flips the script on puppy mills. Instead of dogs, the appalling conditions are experienced by humanity. Dylan Lee Peters dives deep in his book and it’s one of the most eye opening and disturbing things I’ve ever read. It also made me take a deep look at society and it’s treatment of animals in general. Author’s have a lot of power in this regard. They literally help shape public opinion and can make real changes with the power of their words. 

What are some dystopian stories you’ve read that shook you? 

Check out the books mentioned in this article below!

life as we knew it cover

I guess I always felt even if the world came to an end, McDonald’s still would be open.

High school sophomore Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when an asteroid knocks the moon closer to Earth, like “one marble hits another.” The result is catastrophic. How can her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis are wiping out the coasts, earthquakes are rocking the continents, and volcanic ash is blocking out the sun? As August turns dark and wintery in northeastern Pennsylvania, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.

Told in a year’s worth of journal entries, this heart-pounding story chronicles Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all—hope—in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world. An extraordinary series debut!

Susan Beth Pfeffer has written several companion novels to Life As We Knew It, including The Dead and the Gone, This World We Live In, and The Shade of the Moon.

The Last Orphans Cover

 

One horrifying day will change the life of sixteen-year-old Shane Tucker and every other kid in the world. 

In a span of mere hours, the entire adult population is decimated, leaving their children behind to fend for themselves and deal with the horrific aftermath of the freak occurrence. As one of the newly made elders in his small town, Shane finds himself taking on the role of caretaker for a large group of juvenile survivors. One who just happens to be Kelly Douglas—an out-of-his-league classmate—who, on any other day, would have never given Shane a second glance. 

Together, they begin their quest to find out why all of the adults were slaughtered. What they find is even more horrifying than anything they could have expected—the annihilation of the adults was only the beginning. Shane and his friends are not the unlucky survivors left to inherit this new, messed-up planet. No, they are its next victims. There is an unknown power out there, and it won’t stop until every person in the world is dead. 

the-5th-wave    After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother–or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

 

The Dean Machine Cover  Meet Dan Delacor, an utterly boring citizen of Yellow City. Every day he puts on his yellow shoes, yellow shirt, yellow pants, and yellow tie, and catches a ride on the Tunnel Runner from the suburbs into downtown. He has a job, a home, and a girlfriend, and he never wonders what waits beyond the giant glass wall that surrounds Yellow City.
Except… Dan isn’t as boring as he seems. He often wonders why everything in Yellow City has to be yellow. He wonders why he suffers frequent anxiety attacks, and why he can’t help himself from strolling through dangerous neighborhoods, or running wildly through the fields that separate downtown from the suburbs. Mostly though, Dan wonders why he can’t remember how he lost his right arm, or anything that happened before five years ago.
So, when Dan’s mundane yellow world is interrupted with the seemingly impossible presence of a little red dog named Dean, he quickly finds out there are answers to his questions, and that everything he knows is a lie.
Follow Dan as he learns the secrets of his true identity, the scope of the world beyond the wall, and the true intentions of Yellow City’s mysterious leader, Chancellor Elgrey Vinsidian. Meet Wendy, the twelve-year-old girl on a rescue mission, Echo Valkzdokker, the woman with a love for danger, James Perkins, the wily pilot who has a way with words, and Bianna Kensington, the cold-mannered rebel with a cause. Look through the cracks of this new world with Dan as he learns why his little friend is nicknamed The Dean Machine, what special bond they share, and why the dog deserves a legacy that should live on forever.

He lives to love.
He would die to protect.
His heart is a machine.

“That Book I Wrote About Me” Sarah Buchanan

After three ex-husbands,

two successful novels, and one disastrous book she’d rather forget ever having written, Fiona Fields has hit a wall. Days once filled with critics gushing over her latest masterpiece have given way to endless hours spent lying on her living room floor in Lakeview Valley, the tiny North Carolina mountain town of her youth, and staring at her ceiling. 

But after Fiona’s agent calls with an opportunity intended to drag her back into the land of the living, Fiona finds herself inspired by her ex-step-daughter, Karen, and she’s soon off and running with a brand new idea for a book and a brand new lease on life (sort of).

What Fiona doesn’t anticipate is long-buried family secrets revealing themselves and threatening to upend her newfound momentum. As she struggles to make sense of revelations about the life she thought she knew, Fiona will find that the past often shows up in the present in very unexpected ways, and that, try as she might, she’s not exempt from the 215-year-old Lakeview tradition of long-forgotten secrets coming to light in spectacular fashion.

that book i wrote about me Cover

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What reviewer’s are saying

“For anyone who loves a strong cast of characters, a troubled past, but a whole lot of humor, this book is for you. It’s the cast that really grabbed me right from the beginning. Each character has such a unique voice. The main character, Fiona, might have gone through a whole lot of ups and downs but I love that she never feels like a victim. Even when she has her moments of feeling sorry for herself, they’re done with humor and humanness so you smile as you watch her pull herself to her feet and march herself forward. She may make mistakes, but you don’t get a sense that she’s repeating them on loop.” 

“This book had me hooked from the first paragraph until the last. I love how Fiona’s past and present lives are presented, making the storyline captivating and very real. The characters are fun, believable, and endearing. That Book I Wrote About Me has a perfect balance of humorous and more serious situations. There is nothing predictable or cliche’ about this novel, and this makes it easy to read — and difficult to put down! I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a smart, funny, thoroughly entertaining novel that leaves the reader wanting to know more about Fiona and her remarkable family and friends.”

“My favorite thing about Fiona is her golden heart. Those she loves, she loves hard. Ex-husbands, ex-step daughters….everyone. She genuinely gives a crap about their lives. Even when, by all rights she could walk away completely. She’s that ex that becomes the friend that made you fall in love with her to begin with.”

Sarah Buchanan Author Pic

 Sarah Buchanan grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She has worked as a waitress on a dinner train, a radio DJ, a preschool teacher, a journalist, and a technical writer. She now lives in Southern California with her husband and their cats. 

Her first completed work was a play written when she was 9 that was performed by several classmates and the fish puppets they made in art class.

Sarah’s debut novel, That Book I Wrote About Me, is the first in a series of novels about the fictional small North Carolina town of Lakeview Valley.

“Growth and Change are Highly Overrated” by Tom Starita

Growth and Change Are Highly Overrated is a classic coming-of-age story that takes a unique and comic look at what we all fear— having to grow up and abandon our dreams.

For a charismatic man like Lucas James, life is a breeze because everyone else provides the wind. This man-child front man for a mediocre cover band has been mooching off of his fiancée Jackie for years until she finally decides she’s had enough. Faced with the reality of having no income to support his carefree lifestyle, Lucas James abandons his principles and gets a job working in the stockroom at, “That Store.” How does he cope with this new found sense of responsibility?

He casually steals…

In a life spent bucking authority how will Lucas James deal with his manager, ‘Victor the Dictator’? How long can he survive Ralph, a starry-eyed coworker who desires nothing more than to be best friends? Will Lori, a twenty-something cashier, be like everyone else and fall for his charms? Will he ever find a place to live? And is “growing up” just another way of saying “selling out?”

With this hilarious and engaging novel, author Tom Starita perfectly captures a character we have all met and perhaps some of us know all too well.

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I’m going to start this off by being honest and admit that it’s been a week since I finished reading this book. I was way too emotional after I finished to write a fair review. This is one of those few times where not only do I not particularly like the main character, I loathe him. I may even hate Lucas James. However, not being fond of the main character and reviewing a book do not go hand in hand. Just because I didn’t like the main character doesn’t mean the book itself was bad. Lucas James is a grade A jerkface but the fact I’m feeling such strong distaste for a fictional character let me know I needed space from the story to think it through. 

Starita’s writing is introspective and thought provoking at times and others a bit long winded. I enjoyed the introspection but at times there was so much of it that I found myself annoyed and side tracked from the meat of the story. My advice is to cut down on some of Lucas James’ rants and avoid drawing your reader so far from the core story.

I’m all for deep thinking characters but Lucas James’ rants tend to be more of a self validation tirade than philosophical. 

Jackie is another character that I down right do not like. I don’t like how she handled the break up and I don’t like how she handled herself during the relationship. She was an enabler and proceeded to throw a fit about the consequences of her enabling. 

Come to think of it, the only character I like is Ralph. He’s the only one who had any redeeming qualities left. I don’t like how he is treated by literally everyone and I don’t like how unappreciative Lucas James is of Ralph’s friendship. 

To me, this story is about a selfish man-child who refuses to grow up and uses his “dream” of becoming a “rock god” as an excuse to use people. If he really wanted to gain any ground in the music world, taking 548,965,943,207,504,827 naps and putting in minimal to no effort does not a musician make and I don’t think he actually wants to hit it big.

Another issue I have is that there is no real climax or conclusion. Lucas James is the same asshole he started out as. He’s gained no ground and has not evolved into anything else. There’s no real plot line and that needs to be addressed ASAP. I don’t get what the story is about other than Lucas treating everyone like crap and getting away with it.

Overall, I think this story needs some editing and another look at what the purpose of the story is supposed to be. Remove some of the long winded rants and really look at what is trying to be said.

3 stars.

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The Technical Data:

Title: Growth and Change are Highly Overrated | Series: N/A |  Author(s): Tom Starita  |Publisher: Amazon Digital Services / Publication Date: 12-15-2016 |Pages: 234 (Print) | ISBN:  B01N2SW2K8 |Genre(s): General Humor |Language: English |Rating: 3 out of 5 |  Date Read: 7-20-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

“That Book I Wrote About Me” Sarah Buchanan

After three ex-husbands,

              two successful novels, and one disastrous book she’d rather forget ever having written, Fiona Fields has hit a wall. Days once filled with critics gushing over her latest masterpiece have given way to endless hours spent lying on her living room floor in Lakeview Valley, the tiny North Carolina mountain town of her youth, and staring at her ceiling. 

But after Fiona’s agent calls with an opportunity intended to drag her back into the land of the living, Fiona finds herself inspired by her ex-step-daughter, Karen, and she’s soon off and running with a brand new idea for a book and a brand new lease on life (sort of).

What Fiona doesn’t anticipate is long-buried family secrets revealing themselves and threatening to upend her newfound momentum. As she struggles to make sense of revelations about the life she thought she knew, Fiona will find that the past often shows up in the present in very unexpected ways, and that, try as she might, she’s not exempt from the 215-year-old Lakeview tradition of long-forgotten secrets coming to light in spectacular fashion.

that book i wrote about me Cover

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Sarah Buchanan Author Pic     Sarah Buchanan grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She has worked as a waitress on a dinner train, a radio DJ, a preschool teacher, a journalist, and a technical writer. She now lives in Southern California with her husband and their cats. 

Her first completed work was a play written when she was 9 that was performed by several classmates and the fish puppets they made in art class.

Sarah’s debut novel, That Book I Wrote About Me, is the first in a series of novels about the fictional small North Carolina town of Lakeview Valley.

“That Book I Wrote About Me” by Sarah Buchanan

After three ex-husbands, two successful novels, and one disastrous book she’d rather forget ever having written, Fiona Fields has hit a wall. Days once filled with critics gushing over her latest masterpiece have given way to endless hours spent lying on her living room floor in Lakeview Valley, the tiny North Carolina mountain town of her youth, and staring at her ceiling. 

But after Fiona’s agent calls with an opportunity intended to drag her back into the land of the living, Fiona finds herself inspired by her ex-step-daughter, Karen, and she’s soon off and running with a brand new idea for a book and a brand new lease on life (sort of).

What Fiona doesn’t anticipate is long-buried family secrets revealing themselves and threatening to upend her newfound momentum. As she struggles to make sense of revelations about the life she thought she knew, Fiona will find that the past often shows up in the present in very unexpected ways, and that, try as she might, she’s not exempt from the 215-year-old Lakeview tradition of long-forgotten secrets coming to light in spectacular fashion.

that book i wrote about me Cover

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Sarah Buchanan’s debut novel “That Book I Wrote About Me” is bursting at the seams with classic small time charm, beautifully flawed characters and a story that will make you wish Fiona were your best friend.

Fiona has been through a lot but she always rises above. It may not be without some pushing and shoving but nothing keeps Fiona down long. She’s strong, but not so much in your face about it. She makes mistakes. Drunken, hilariously awkward mistakes…..but her oopsies make her all the more lovable since she really means no harm in her blunders. She’s real and honest and raw. Unlike her mother and the stereotypical small town woman, Fiona lets the world see who she really is. She doesn’t hide the proverbial crazy.

My favorite thing about Fiona is her golden heart. Those she loves, she loves hard. Ex-husbands, ex-step daughters….everyone. She genuinely gives a crap about their lives. Even when, by all rights she could walk away completely. She’s that ex that becomes the friend that made you fall in love with her to begin with.

There is a part of the book where Fiona tapes up a picture of her first ex that sticks in my mind. First loves are a whirlwind of emotion that lingers no matter how things end. Probably more so when there’s no real closure. Watching Fiona comb through her past and work through old hurts really resonated with me. We’ve all thought “What if”. We’ve all sifted through our past with plenty of cringes and a boat load of sighs. Experiencing those alongside Fiona was therapeutic in a way books like this usually aren’t. I think it was the authenticity of Fiona’s character. It was the authenticity of her resentment and bitterness. It was the healing and forgiving of everyone…..especially herself. It takes a lot of bravery to analyze yourself and admit that you messed up. Especially when your mistakes cause other people more pain than you initially thought it would and you find yourself face to face with the consequences others are facing from your blunder. Fiona faces this with as much grace as a hang over will allow but she means what she says and that right there is enough to make you love her. Apologies are just words unless you can really see that the person who messed up is filled with regret and remorse.

To see such strong work from a new author is exciting to say the least. What’s more exciting is “That Book I Wrote About Me” is the first novel in the “Lakeview Valley” series. Buchanan hooked me with this book and I am staying on the line to find out what’s next for our bumbling Fiona as well as the whole of Lakeview. I strongly recommend you hop on the hook and join me.

5 stars!

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: That Book I Wrote About Me | Series: Lakeview Valley |  Author(s): Sarah Buchanan  |Publisher: Amazon Digital Services / Publication Date: 6-9-2017 |Pages: 234 (Print) | ISBN:  B071PBSMNP |Genre(s): Contemporary / Women’s Fiction |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 7-14-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

that book i wrote about me Cover

 

 

Indie Author Spotlight – Tracey Brame

Originally from Indianapolis, Tracey Brame graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point with a degree in political science. Since then, she has earned dual masters degrees from the Kelley School of Business and the Thunderbird School of Global Management. She is the owner of West Point Financing, an equipment leasing company, and has devoted her life to exposing the modern, coercive methods of white supremacists in the United States.

Tracey Brame Author Pic

The Interview

Q: “Undeterred” was a real eye opener for me as I read. What are your hopes for the book? 

I hope every American regardless of political affiliation  reads the book to understand that the tactics of the modern Ku Klux Klan being carried out against modern citizens under the nose of society. I hope women read it twice since they are the greatest target.

 

Q: Since the release, has anyone attempted to contact you or threaten you about what you’ve written?

Not yet. There is a rare chance that the KKK does not know that the book is available. I’m comfortable with my decision to write my story.

 

Q: It seemed to me that the military doctor who initially examined you after your rape was very concerned for your safety but had his hands tied on what he could do about it. Do you feel like there was more he could of done? Did Military Police do an investigation based on the doctor’s findings?

The doctor saved my military career. He false passed me which happens in the military.  Ultimately someone with PTSD will destruct upon coming out of shock. Mine was a more severe case than that doctor could have known. Had he called the Military Police I would never have graduated.  I have no hard feelings for him. He was in a tough position.

Q: In the book, you mention a number of times that you spaced out conversations and had large pieces of your encounters that went missing from memory. Do you think if PTSD was discussed more and the symptoms much more well known you would of recognized this pattern or someone close to you may of?

No. A PTSD patient cannot diagnose themselves when they have memory loss. It’s not like depression where you can see the signs. Your brain cannot access the memory. When it does you need help immediately. Some PTSD cases are more severe than others. Some people are bothered by thoughts and flashbacks, but coming out of shock can be just as dangerous as going into shock.  Someone I trusted told me to run to the veteran’s hospital. We have to convince the sufferer to seek help.

 

Q: For me, reading this book was a very emotional experience. Has writing it helped you to work through your attacks?

Yes. I wrote the book quickly, cleanly. It was like a relief to be done with it.

 

Q: I personally believe that the KKK are domestic terrorists and should be handled as such. Do you share this view?

I agree with you, but the crimes that I experienced are the work of organized criminals, so my book takes that position.

Q: With writing this book you have made very public a piece of society that many try not to recognize exists. With the rise of Trump and his cabinet, do you feel that the KKK and white supremacist movement have heightened the probability that more people will endure what you have?

I think that as long as the KKK can influence appointments and positions they create a lasting impression on agencies like the FBI which would normally oppose them by design. Literally they can create scenarios where they are or are not policing themselves. This will make it easier for them to get away with more organized crime.

 I would like to thank you for reviewing my book and taking interest in my story.

Allie- Thank you for taking a stand and exposing this very dangerous terrorist organization. I am in awe of your bravery and perseverance. 

Undeterred Cover

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Tracey Brame took an oath to serve the nation at the United States Military Academy. When she revealed an interest in entering politics during formation, a cadet violently attacked her. Brame subsequently suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and a dangerous memory loss known as dissociative amnesia, in which the victim cannot recall suffering a traumatic attack. She kept charging through her West Point duties oblivious to her condition.

After serving her commission time, Brame took a job back in her home state of Indiana. Again she expressed an interest in entering politics, and again she paid a price. The Ku Klux Klan, who did not want an educated African American woman to run for an Indiana office, targeted Brame for continued, organizational crime and harassment. She moved from Bloomington to Indianapolis, but the KKK pursuit—ordered by two grand dragons, a father/son duo, both doctors—continued.

Get ready for a gripping memoir of one woman’s perseverance over adversity.

 

Why should you read book reviews?

Why should you read book reviews?

For most of us deep in the trenches of the book world this kind of question has a pretty obvious answer. Our books are our lives and we live and breath each part of every story. We well know that each person’s reading experience is unique and having an intimate view of our favorite stories from all angles is what dreams are made of.

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There’s also a practical side to book reviews. For the prospective buyer, it’s a great way to try before you buy. Most reviewers are careful to avoid spoilers so it’s a great way to know that the book you’re buying is the book you thought it was. Summaries can be tricksy sometimes and I’ve been burned more than once by them. Like most people, I am on a tight budget and nothing makes me more angry than using my few funds to buy a book that was nothing like the summary said it would be. Ever seen the movie “Inside Out”? I look a whole lot like “Anger” as he melts the window. 

Anger inside out character

Checking Goodreads or Amazon and having the ability to read a plethora of reviews brings me all kinds of happiness. 

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Another great thing about reviews is that when you’ve read a book that hits you so hard it changes the landscape of who you thought you were you get to brag to everyone about it in your review and help a great book gets loads of attention. 

Should people get paid to write a review and if they do should you see that review as tainted?

I probably have a less than popular opinion on this because I think that paying someone to write a review is fine. I don’t see that the author of the review earning money for their work is a disqualifier for honesty. Some of the most in-depth and thought provoking reviews I’ve read have been from people paid to write them. I love when someone puts time and effort into a review to shape it into this beautiful opinion on a story that deserves it. I’ve read paid reviews of books that got horrible reviews. Turns out, those horrible reviews came from more than just that paid reviewer. Sometimes, a book sucks. Sometimes an author tries to put out a crap product that they try to pass off as great and that sucks. It really does. When I read your review of a book, I don’t care if you were paid to write it or not. I am looking for how the book moved you…or didn’t. I want to know about the book….not your income. As a reviewer, I base my opinion on the content of your reviews. That’s it. If your reviews are wildly opposite to others, my opinion of your honesty is based on that alone. 

Why is someone earning a living from their writing even an issue? I mean, there is a clear divide on it and I can’t figure why so many people are against paying someone for their abilities. Not everyone can write a great review. Not everyone has the ability to decipher meanings or explain why a book just doesn’t work. It’s not helpful to an author to get a review that just says “your book sucks”. How does it suck? What exactly has gone wrong? You want authors to turn out a great product but they need guidance like the rest of us. With the rise of the self-published movement, authors could use more back-up. I see reviewers (paid or not) as a great way to get that back-up. 

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Let’s empower writers of all kinds to come together and build great worlds with great heroes! 

 

“The Breeders” Katie French

When you’re an endangered species, it’s either LIVE or LOVE. 

Sixteen-year-old Riley Meemick is one of the world’s last free girls. When Riley was born, her mother escaped the Breeders, the group of doctors using cruel experiments to bolster the dwindling human race. Her parents do everything possible to keep her from their clutches-moving from one desolate farm after another to escape the Breeders’ long reach. The Breeders control everything and they’re hunting Riley. 

 
When the local Sheriff abducts the adult members of her family, Riley and her brother Ethan are left to starve. Then Clay arrives, the handsome gunslinger who seems determined to help to make up for past sins. As Riley’s affection for Clay grows she wonders can she trust Clay with her secret and risk her freedom? The three embark on a journey across the scarred remains of New Mexico. When Riley is forced into the Breeder’s hospital, she learns the horrible fate of her mother-a fate she’ll share unless she can find a way out.

Over 75,000 downloads so far. More than 400 four and five star reviews. Top Ten in Free Kindle Teen & Young Adult Science Fiction Dystopian Romance. Winner of Kindle Book Awards 2014 Semifinalist. 

The Breeders Cover

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“The Breeders” is a perfect example of post-apocalyptic fiction. French’s creation of this post-apocalyptic world is impeccable and I was hard pressed to put it down. Riley is a complex character who will draw you deep into this world and never let go. Her gumption and her wit make her a character that equals that of Katniss or Tris. Add her to the list of great heroines.

French’s world is the run away train of sexism. Where women are so undervalued and poorly treated until they become rare and needed. You would think that would make the treatment of them improve. Not a chance. Instead women are a commodity. A means to an end. Their worth measured by their ability to reproduce. Sounds a lot like another book I know. 

I think this theme is so popular in our society because for hundreds of years that’s the meat of how women are seen. Take a long look at some of the fundamentalist cults America houses. Women are tightly controlled. Their lives rigidly regulated. Sex is merely pleasure for a man and something to endure for women. In this world, the breeders are there for just that. To breed women. Think puppy mill….only with humans and the cages are a bit fancier…..until they aren’t.

World’s like French’s are important to note and learn from. This is what could happen. Fiction in all it’s forms is a learning tool. It’s a way to see where those extremist groups and views can lead. Let us take note of it’s horror and learn.

This book has a few inconsistencies that could use to be addressed with another good edit but other than that it’s a solid book that I enjoyed reading.

4 star

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The Technical Data:

Title: The Breeders | Series: Breeders Series |  Author(s): Katie French  |Publisher: Katie French Books / Publication Date: 2-18-2014 |Pages: 256 (Print) | ISBN: B008RH5MFQ  |Genre(s): Dystopian / Science Fiction |Language: English |Rating: 4 out of 5 |  Date Read: 5-27-2017 |Source: Copy from Kindle Unlimited.

 

Undeterred “KKK Witness, KKK Target” Tracey Brame

Tracey Brame took an oath to serve the nation at the United States Military Academy. When she revealed an interest in entering politics during formation, a cadet violently attacked her. Brame subsequently suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and a dangerous memory loss known as dissociative amnesia, in which the victim cannot recall suffering a traumatic attack. She kept charging through her West Point duties oblivious to her condition.

After serving her commission time, Brame took a job back in her home state of Indiana. Again she expressed an interest in entering politics, and again she paid a price. The Ku Klux Klan, who did not want an educated African American woman to run for an Indiana office, targeted Brame for continued, organizational crime and harassment. She moved from Bloomington to Indianapolis, but the KKK pursuit—ordered by two grand dragons, a father/son duo, both doctors—continued.

Get ready for a gripping memoir of one woman’s perseverance over adversity.

Undeterred Cover

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The first thing that I am going to do before I begin my review is give you fair warning. This book could be triggering to a lot of people. Before you pick it up, I’m going to give you an idea of what’s inside.

Brutal Rape

Physical Abuse

Mental Abuse

Stalking

Gaslighting 

Attempted Murder

Racism

Domestic Terrorism

Brame does not hold back and thoroughly depicts each situation in detail. This is a memoir and her story is deeply troubling and upsetting. While I fully support her endeavor to bring these issues to the fore-front of society, I want those of you who aren’t ready to face this kind of trigger to have the chance to back away.

That said, I think Brame is an incredible woman. Her bravery knows no bounds and her steel determination is awe inspiring. I am in complete awe of this woman and all she has rose above. Brame’s story is gruesome and disturbing. However, her story is one that should be told to everyone. We should all see humanity in all it’s forms.

There are parts of this book where the narration feels a bit detached but it fits well with the mindset that Brame would of experienced. It’s a chilling look into the reality of just how many cruel people there really are among us. I applaud Brame’s bravery to write and publish this book. Especially since she has endured every intimidation tactic known to man for it’s release to be prevented. I hope that those of you who know racist people stand up against them. In my mind these people deserve to be shamed. Society should stand up at every opportunity to ostracize these horrid people among us.  

Brame chronicles her repeated attacks from her ex boyfriend. His repeated attempts to destroy her life as well as his attempt to murder her are shiver inducing. A lot of women have encountered an insane man and some have not lived to tell their tale. It’s a very real and terrifying part of our society that needs to be stopped immediately. This man should never of had the opportunities to continue his torture. Something is very broken in our society.

There is one scene that I will never get out of mind. It’s the shower scene. You’ll know exactly what I’m talking about when you read it. I can’t imagine how that must of felt. This story will never leave my mind. Brame’s story will forever fire between the synapses in my brain. This story has absolutely changed my outlook. I hope it inspires change in yours.

5 stars.

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: Undeterred – KKK Target, KKK Witness | Series: N/A |  Author(s): Tracey Brame  |Publisher: Amazon Digital Services / Publication Date: 6-7-2017 |Pages: 347 (Print) | ISBN:  B071G8BWC9 |Genre(s): Memoir |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 5-24-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

David Smith – Behind every great love is an epic story waiting to be told.

David Smith is a British author who has now published four works under the Troubador imprint. His first novel Searching For Amber has been described as “A powerful and notably memorable debut” with a review describing it as “masterly and confident” and another as “Extraordinary, poetic, enchanting, sublime”. In addition to writing, he is currently CFO of a blue chip UK public company and lives near the South Coast in England with his wife and three teenage children.

https://www.davidsmithauthor.blog

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David Smith — Guest Blog

My Inspirations for Letters to Strabo

Behind every great love is an epic story waiting to be told.

My first idea for Letters to Strabo came from the memory of a trip I made twenty years ago to Olana, the amazing Catskills home of the painter Frederic Edwin Church. It was a truly stunning experience. Both the exterior but more importantly the interior of this Moorish extravaganza produced a complete sensory overload that day that has stayed with me ever since. I’ve long wanted to write a love story that starts with a visit to this house by a young writer, but for ages I didn’t have a good starting point.

However, as I researched further, I discovered that the name the Churches chose for their hilltop home overlooking the Hudson was originally derived from a quotation contained in one of the first English translations of a Geography written by the first century BC Greek scholar Strabo: “Olane, one of the treasure-storehouses on the Araxes River, with a view both of a fertile valley and of Mount Ararat where Noah’s Ark is said to have come to rest.”  Frederic’s wife Isabella had given him a copy of this work for Christmas 1879. I confess I knew nothing about Strabo (Geography’s Herodotus) but my next discovery sealed my idea. I found that Mark Twain (or Samuel Clemens to use his real name) made a visit to the Church’s just a few years after this and that Twain had referred to Strabo many times in his early successful work The Innocents Abroad. Furthermore, both Twain and the Churches had been touring the lands described by Strabo at almost exactly the same time but had never met. The die, as they say, was cast.

Twain was accompanied on his visit to Olana by his family and by Grace King, the southern novelist. Her description of his two elder daughters, Susy and Clara “More entrancing characters I have never met in my life” sparked me to research deeper into the story of these remarkable young ladies. Their loves, dreams and the personal tragedies they endured gave me the inspiration for the backstory of my heroine Eve.  Further research provided me with neat links to Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Peggy Guggenheim and Homer amongst others.

Letters to Strabo is therefore both a love story and a coming-of-age tale, set in the late 1970s that takes the form of a fictional odyssey recorded with disarming honesty by my protagonist, an innocent young American writer called Finn Black. His adventures, both funny and evocative, follow closely the itinerary taken by Twain on his own périplus around the Mediterranean a century earlier and are structured around the seventeen chapters of Strabo’s great work.  The amazing places Finn visits, the art and cultures he comes across and most importantly the people he meets are faithfully described by him for Eve, the Olana archivist, now his long-distance pen-pal. Eve’s replies, her Letters to Strabo as she calls them, however, not only reveal to Finn her own hopes and dreams but increasingly disturbing glimpses of a tragic past; a past that echoes that of Twain’s two daughters.

This proved a complex project and I greatly enjoyed the research but ultimately any novel must tell a story that captivates the reader. I therefore hope my story will both intrigue you and provide an opportunity for reflection on the doubts and dilemmas of youth. It’s deliberately rich, emotionally charged and at times intense, but also, I hope, ultimately spiritually uplifting and life-affirming. What else should a true love story be?

Letters To Strabo Cover

Adam Finnegan Black, or ‘Finn’, an innocent young American who is insatiably curious about life, made a promise to his mother before she died: To find out what really happened to his father…

His ambition is to be a travel writer, like his heroes: Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway and the ancient Greek ‘father of geography’, Strabo. His journey of discovery takes him through the radiant literary, cultural and picturesque landscape of the Mediterranean.

Following his heart and inspired by Letters to Strabo, written by his long-distance pen-pal Eve, Finn gradually learns more about himself but also about the woman he hopes will one day become his wife.

Funny, provocative, disarmingly honest, Finn’s story captures the excitement and mistakes of youthful energy and proves ultimately life-affirming in the emergence of new hope from personal tragedy.

Quite simply one of the best coming-of-age novels you will ever read: Letters to Strabo will appeal to lovers of literary fiction, good travel writing and the classic works of Ernest Hemingway.

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Book Review “Lives of the Spirits” John Pappas

1801-02 on the wild Pacific Northwest Coast: At the village of Ozette, the spirits have determined that Aidan and Neveah must be exiled for six months. They are sent south to winter with the rich Chinooks near the mouth of the Colombia River and look forward to a comfortable few months together in the big lodge of Chief Comcomly. They could not have imagined the horrors awaiting them as they paddle their big canoe into the most feared curse of the times. People are dying and Aidan is seized by fear for his pregnant wife. There is only one escape–upriver. Aidan manages to put a disparate group together, including Josiah, a Virginia slave who looks too much like his famous father and who Comcomly planned to burn to rid his people of the curse. The group of 10 embark on a 200 mile odyssey up Big River to the Land of She Who Watches, into an unforgiving landscape of violence, suspicion and even friendship. They begin to feel safe, until Neveah is taken by raiders led by the most feared criminal of the region. Aidan is told the vicious Lesheen may not ransom Neveah because he likes pregnant women. To save her Aidan must face his own inner demons and immerse himself ever deeper into a spirit realm he fears. But even that doesn’t prepare him for the final shock and only path of escape. The last challenge is inevitable–he must confront the real curse maker.

Lives of the spirits cover

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I’d like to start this review with a quote from the book that I found both hilarious and profound in its wisdom.

“Tis often that a persons mouth broke his nose”

Aiden (Irish) is a man in his early twenties but his experiences paint him as a much older soul. I loved his respect for those with different cultures. I realize that a good portion of his interest was due to survival but I also felt Aiden took on a little piece of those identities. The friendships he makes and the love that he has for Neveah aren’t based on survival. His evolution and wisdom is part of what makes this story so compelling. He saw each person as a person and did all he could to do right by them. Aiden is a grade A guy and is now one of my favorite characters. 

The banter between him and Neveah is another one of my favorite parts of this book. Their relationship is beautiful. Their friends and lovers. They are what I think of when I imagine true love. Aiden was so considerate of her feelings throughout this entire book she is the center of everything that means anything to him. Aiden loves hard and his empathy is just another part of him that brings the reader deeper into the story. 

Pappas writing is passionate and it’s clear that each of his characters are deeply loved by him. I imagine him sitting at his computer with glistening tears when Neveah is captured and all that follows. I had to wipe away my fair share of tears and I felt so close to her after that. She’s still a bit mysterious but that event brings Neveah closer to the reader.

Pappas did amazing research for this book and it’s clear he wove history and fiction as close to as real as he could get. When I read novels like this, it’s important to me that the author stays close to what that time period was really like. I want to time travel to that time with your words. I want the people to look and act like they really would have. Pappas did an outstanding job. I came away feeling like I learned a lot and that’s exactly what I wanted.

I’ve put this book on my short list for paperback purchases. I’ve got a spot on my shelf waiting. 

5 stars!

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: Lives of the Spirits | Series: N/A |  Author(s): John Pappas  |Publisher: Amazon Digital Services / Publication Date: 3-6-2016 |Pages: 270 (Print) | ISBN:  B01CN3DQOI |Genre(s): Historical Fiction |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 4-22-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

John Pappas Author Pic

Born in Seattle to Irish, Scotch and Greek parents, at age nine John Pappas was launched on a ten year odyssey that took him to five states and the Territory of Alaska, where he began working construction and driving a truck at age fifteen. He has been a commercial fisherman, salesman, general contractor, tech writer, script writer, video producer and property manager and has loved stories from an early age. He’s written two technical books and dozens of articles and short stories.

As a teenager in the late 50’s he saw Cape Flattery for the first time from the deck of a 40 foot salmon troller. On that day in June he fell in love with the rugged Washington Coast and has spent many happy times there in boats and walking beach trails. This lead to an interest in the region’s early times and native culture, and the discovery of many obscure stories, such as the once-thriving village of Ozette. Some time later he wrote “When Wolf Comes,” based on true events and native legend, an adventure told through the eyes of a young Irishman’s epiphanous journey toward discovery and a woman’s love.

“That Dog Will Never Hunt,” written over a decade, is a dog book like no other. Twelve very different stories with a dog theme that pulls you into the times, places and hearts of real people and their dogs in surprising ways. From humorous to serious, hunters to best friends, set in contrasting places and situations.

Now available in Kindle (PC and Mac for Kindle, mobiles) is an expanded version of the popular “Aphrodite’s Food For The Gods,” a Greek cookbook that will offer the reader a window into an ethnic past with great authentic recipes, stories and thumbnails of a few Greek gods, plus some modern examples of how Greek cooking works with the different foods available in America and other countries.

JUST PUBLISHED: “Lives of the Spirits”, the sequel to “When Wolf Comes”, is now available exclusively on Amazon. I’ve been researching the Native part for some time, but there was more I wanted in this story and it’s finally done. Journey 200 miles up wild and treacherous Big River (Columbia) with Aidan, Neveah and the son Tom Jefferson wanted to exile forever. Please see the early reviews and also check the Editorial reviews on this many faceted adventure story. (Some of my readers have had difficulty placing reviews on Amazon so at their request I’ve placed them in “Editorial Reviews” which shoppers can access on the Review page by clicking More.

All reviews of books by John Pappas are posted on his site, orca11.com or johnanthonypappas.com

Book Review “Heirs Of Eternity” Franc Ingram

In a world of sword fights and supercomputers only the cunning survive.

The Twelve, a collective of A.I.s protecting the last of humanity on Euphoria, created hybrids to rule. The first generation proved tyrannical and divided the world into five fighting realms, so The Twelve created the Heirs of Eternity.

Oleana is a computer-human hybrid, created to locate and train the other three Heirs of Eternity, and unite humanity. She struggles to balance her violent past, addiction to alcohol, and history of failure, with the task of being a good mother and leader. She, and the other Heirs face an old enemy in the first-generation hybrid, Cornelius, who wants the world for himself, and new foes in a band of greedy warlords who thrive on the chaos.

With her world on the brink of collapse, and her son in danger, she can’t afford another failure. Oleana must let go of the burden of her past, keep her son safe, and complete the task she was designed to do, save the world.

Heirs Of Eternity Cover

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The “Heirs Of Eternity” is the tale of a vexed heroine doing her best to fulfill a prophecy and keep what’s left of her humanity and sanity. Oleana’s task is monumental and her enemies leviathans of power and greed. 

Oleana is as human as it gets. Never-mind the computer parts. She’s tragically flawed and draws the reader in with hooks to your heart. Her sacrifices make her selfless but her addiction makes her selfish. She’s the wisdom of the Heirs and through all her flaws her inherent goodness shines bright. Her love and loyalty are admirable. Her commitment to the cause unwavering. 

Lorn is the next character who stands out in my mind. He is wise for his years. His inquisitiveness charming. Seeing Oleana through his eyes is a reminder to all parents that our children don’t expect us to be perfect and their love is unwavering. Even in the face of our deepest flaws. I adored the relationship between Lorn and his mother. It somehow made the book feel more personal to me.

Ingram is a born story-teller. Her world is fascinating and her characters compelling. The action moves swiftly without sacrificing depth. All of her characters shine bright in their individuality. Their interactions intriguing and realistic. Ingram’s writing of her characters brings an authenticity that many new writers just can’t grasp. I was very impressed at the intensity of each characters personality and how real they felt in my mind. I’m looking forward to seeing more from her. Ingram has a unique approach to her stories that will grab and hold you like few others will.

The trials the Heirs face are tough and their task weighty. I enjoyed their journey thus far and will most definitely continue when the second book releases. 

4 stars.

4 star

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The Technical Data:

Title: Heirs Of Eternity | Series: Euphoria Duology |  Author(s): Franc Ingram  |Publisher: Amazon Digital Services / Publication Date: 2-15-2017 |Pages: 280 (Print) | ISBN:  B01MTGJQXH |Genre(s): Epic Fantasy |Language: English |Rating: 4 out of 5 |  Date Read: 4-19-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

Franc Ingram Author Pic

Franc Ingram is a Sci-Fi writer who loves to write about damaged heroines/heroes and extraordinary technology. Personally, Franc is an animal lover, having a lab mix named Mya. Franc loves planes, green tech, a fine white wine, good food and books of all genres. She lives and works in northeast Ohio. 

 “Heirs Of Eternity” is the first book in the “Euphoria Duology” series. The second book is set to come out December of this year! 

Battle Of The Book Cover #6

Hello everyone! Welcome to AlliesOpinions

BATTLE OF THE BOOK COVER! 

How does it work? Well, I will pit two different book covers against each other and you must judge which book you would most likely pick up based ONLY on the cover!  Don’t forget to explain your choice.

The winner gets a free book spotlight! If shopping small is on your list of must haves…..look no further and buy Indie! Self-published means that your dollars go to the author and not some gigantic publishing company!

Put your vote in the comments!

   Heirs Of Eternity Cover   Runs Good No Reverse Cover

           Amazon Buy Button                                   Amazon Buy Button

May the odds be ever in your favor!

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Book Spotlight “Heirs Of Eternity” Franc Ingram

In a world of sword fights and supercomputers only the cunning survive.

The Twelve, a collective of A.I.s protecting the last of humanity on Euphoria, created hybrids to rule. The first generation proved tyrannical and divided the world into five fighting realms, so The Twelve created the Heirs of Eternity.

Oleana is a computer-human hybrid, created to locate and train the other three Heirs of Eternity, and unite humanity. She struggles to balance her violent past, addiction to alcohol, and history of failure, with the task of being a good mother and leader. She, and the other Heirs face an old enemy in the first-generation hybrid, Cornelius, who wants the world for himself, and new foes in a band of greedy warlords who thrive on the chaos.

With her world on the brink of collapse, and her son in danger, she can’t afford another failure. Oleana must let go of the burden of her past, keep her son safe, and complete the task she was designed to do, save the world.

Heirs Of Eternity Cover

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Franc Ingram Author Pic

Franc Ingram is a Sci-Fi writer who loves to write about damaged heroines/heroes and extraordinary technology. Personally, Franc is an animal lover, having a lab mix named Mya. Franc loves planes, green tech, a fine white wine, good food and books of all genres. She lives and works in northeast Ohio. 

 “Heirs Of Eternity” is the first book in the “Euphoria Duology” series. The second book is set to come out December of this year! 

The Lord Of Salamander

I’m proud to bring some much deserved attention to a really amazing fantasy novel! “The Lord of Salamander” is filled with self discovery, perilous journeys and a young man who just might beat the odds! Intrigued? You should be! We enjoyed the tale so much that we rated it 4 stars! 

Check out our review and see for yourself!

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The Lord of Salamander Cover

After thirteen years of suffering, torture and blackness, an unknown land in desperate need of a hero will finally find their answer in one teenager.

Thirteen-year-old, Elijah Pendleton is a boy with no past. For as long as he can remember, he’s lived under the control of his abusive aunts in a small rural town where everything is deeply ordinary . . .

. . . until one day when his short life changes forever.

After a strange incident involving a cat and mysterious oak tree, Elijah will be put on the path of discovering his true identity, and begin the greatest journey into the heart of the unknown; through a world of legend and mythology that has been shrouded in mystery and suspicion over the many centuries. Through friendships, trials and tribulations, Elijah will have to find a strength he never knew could even exist to finally uncover the truth about himself and his missing parents, but there won’t be much time.

It won’t be long before the Black Prince forever cloaks the land in evil and blackness.

With the fate of millions resting in his hands, Elijah must find his place as the strongest who ever lived before it’s too late, and become the hero he was always destined to be.

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“The Lord of Salamander” currently has only 2 reviews on Amazon but both are 4 stars! This story is good for a variety of ages and would make a great gift for the reader in your life!

T H Alexander author pic

For as long as he can remember, T.H. Alexander has been enthralled with the idea of storytelling through writing. Throughout his rough adolescence, he discovered the power of books and reading through such works as Peter Pan, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and James and the Giant Peach and used these fantastical tales as an escape from his own harsh reality. 

But simply reading these stories wasn’t enough.

He carried with him into his teenage years the desire to go further and write a story of his own. After numerous failed attempts, when he was just fourteen, the right story would finally break through with the Lord of Salamander. Starting what eventually became the first draft of the novel when he was just a freshman in high school, T.H. would spend the next four years occasionally adding more and more to the story until the draft was finally completed in the summer of 2007. Since then, T.H. has edited, revised and rewritten the novel several times, the most recent taking place in 2016. He has also stepped into the Young Adult Horror genre with his gritty follow-up, Till Dawn, and has written numerous screenplays for movies and television. 

He currently resides in San Antonio, Texas where he works on the next installment of the Epic Salamander Trilogy, Return to Salamander, which he hopes to have released by the spring of 2019.

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Are you interested in reviewing this book? Let us know in the comments and we’ll connect you with the author!

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Great Books For Cheap!

As a single income family it’s sometimes difficult to afford extras. I love reading and can’t imagine not being able to do so. I often hit up my local library and I strongly suggest you do the same but there are often books I really want to read that my library just doesn’t have. Due to this I’m starting a weekly round up post to help my fellow broke book lovers out! Great stories aren’t just for the financial elite.

Runs Good No Reverse Cover

$1.99 (Kindle)

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The Lord of Salamander Cover

$2.99 (Kindle)

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dan-alexander-pitcher-cover

$3.99 (Kindle)

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the-junkyard-capital-cover

$2.99 (Kindle)

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ribbonworld-cover

$5.49 (Kindle)

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The Ramayana Cover

$9.41 (Paperback)

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First They Killed My Father Cover

$12.11 (Paperback)

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Enjoy these amazing stories for amazing prices!

Bargain shopping for the win!

Book Spotlight “Runs Good No Reverse” Mike Hershman

Mark Sills, 16, found the car on Craigslist –the ad read RUNS GOOD -NO REVERSE. He buys the car and, along with his pal Fred, decides to fix it up, but he doesn’t have much experience. Oh, Mark once oiled the chain on his bike and Fred added a quart of oil to his Dad’s car, but that was about it. A car with no reverse soon finds Mark in trouble with his girlfriend, her mom and his school’s Vice Principal. He finds some new friends too — an ex-Marine junkyard owner and an old lady named Agnes. The title describes the car, and also the boys –and a girl named Karen.

Runs Good No Reverse Cover

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From our reviewMark is a sweet if sometimes clueless young man. “Runs Good No Reverse” is the story of a boy, his friends and a car but also contains some great life lessons. I loved the simple way Hershman writes and his down home characters. These are regular kids with regular problems and what a breath of fresh air they are.”

Mike Hershman Auhor Pic

Mike Hershman was born in 1944 and is a lifetime resident of Southern California. As a boy he loved surfing his balsa wood longboard with his pals. He is also a fisherman and has enjoyed catching everything from a small Perch at the Manhattan Beach Pier in 1954 to a large Marlin off Cabo San Lucas in 1981. He now has fun fly-fishing on his float tube on Lake Crowley. Mike retired in 2006 and decided to try writing books for boys. Over the next five years he wrote 11 books. He then became a Tour Guide on the Battleship IOWA. The famous World War II ship, which could fire shells weighing as much a VW bug 24 miles, is located near Mike’s home in Rancho Palos Verdes. In 2017, Mike decided to dust off his manuscripts and publish them on Amazon. The first five are his George Bailey Series and Runs Good No Reverse. He plans on adding the others over the next few months. They include Dear Sgt. Sherlock – a mystery set in World War ll. The story is told through letters written by a Marine in the South Pacific, his younger brother at home in California, and their friend – a Japanese boy at the Internment Camp at Manzanar. Another book is the story of a California boy living with his aunt and uncle in England during the Blitz. He and his cousin keep track of German bombers from their bedroom –also known as Trucksbury Bomber Command.

Book Review “Runs Good No Reverse” Mike Hershman

Mark Sills, 16, found the car on Craigslist –the ad read RUNS GOOD -NO REVERSE. He buys the car and, along with his pal Fred, decides to fix it up, but he doesn’t have much experience. Oh, Mark once oiled the chain on his bike and Fred added a quart of oil to his Dad’s car, but that was about it. A car with no reverse soon finds Mark in trouble with his girlfriend, her mom and his school’s Vice Principal. He finds some new friends too — an ex-Marine junkyard owner and an old lady named Agnes. The title describes the car, and also the boys –and a girl named Karen.

Runs Good No Reverse Cover

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Mark is a sweet if sometimes clueless young man. “Runs Good No Reverse” is the story of a boy, his friends and a car but also contains some great life lessons. I loved the simple way Hershman writes and his down home characters. These are regular kids with regular problems and what a breath of fresh air they are. 

Navigating the world of teen trends and materialistic snooty kids without outright denigrating anyone is something I have never seen in a story. I’m not saying these kids didn’t deserve the insult but Hershmans accepting tone makes for an interesting read. Yeah, Stacy isn’t the most genuine of people but she is genuinely being herself. Even if herself is a crap person. 

Mark is a great kid and I love how kind and thoughtful he is to others without having an ulterior motive for it. He simply sees something that needs done and does it. I like him immensely. 

Fred and Karen’s patience with Marks bumbling is a good lesson to all of us. Our friends are going to mess up. That’s life. It’s important that we remember that people are not perfect and we have to love them…mistakes and all.

I loved this story. I love the way everything evolved and all the new connections and friendships that came from just being kind. I love the world that Mark and his friends live in. I wish it was the same as I do.

5 stars!

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: Runs Good No Reverse | Series: N/A |  Author(s): Mike Hershman  |Publisher: Amazon Digital Services / Publication Date: 2-22-2017 |Pages: 128 (Print) | ISBN:  B06X43RFVL |Genre(s): Teen / Young Adult |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 4-6-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

Mike Hershman Auhor Pic

Mike Hershman was born in 1944 and is a lifetime resident of Southern California. As a boy he loved surfing his balsa wood longboard with his pals. He is also a fisherman and has enjoyed catching everything from a small Perch at the Manhattan Beach Pier in 1954 to a large Marlin off Cabo San Lucas in 1981. He now has fun fly-fishing on his float tube on Lake Crowley. Mike retired in 2006 and decided to try writing books for boys. Over the next five years he wrote 11 books. He then became a Tour Guide on the Battleship IOWA. The famous World War II ship, which could fire shells weighing as much a VW bug 24 miles, is located near Mike’s home in Rancho Palos Verdes. In 2017, Mike decided to dust off his manuscripts and publish them on Amazon. The first five are his George Bailey Series and Runs Good No Reverse. He plans on adding the others over the next few months. They include Dear Sgt. Sherlock – a mystery set in World War ll. The story is told through letters written by a Marine in the South Pacific, his younger brother at home in California, and their friend – a Japanese boy at the Internment Camp at Manzanar. Another book is the story of a California boy living with his aunt and uncle in England during the Blitz. He and his cousin keep track of German bombers from their bedroom –also known as Trucksbury Bomber Command.

Book Review “The Lord of Salamander” T. H. Alexander

Dare to enter a new world of wonder and fear, good and evil, magic and mystery! 

In this first novel in what is to become the Epic Salamander Trilogy, Elijah Pendleton discovers he is the last and only hope of restoring a fabled magical land back to its original order and begins an amazing quest into the heart of the unknown that will include crossing dangerous lands, encountering ferocious beasts, and entangling himself in mythical hazards along the way. Throughout this extraordinary journey, Elijah will accumulate allies, hone his newly discovered powers, and race against time to end the land’s decade-long reign of darkness and fulfill a long-awaited prophecy: to take his place as the strongest who ever lived and become the succeeding ruler of the land called Salamander–the Lord of Salamander.

The Lord of Salamander Cover

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I want to first brag on how creative this story was. The hero’s journey is nothing new but the way Alexander framed this story was special. Alexander loves his characters. His love for Elijah and this world he has created shines brightly from beginning to end. Alexander’s love for his story brought me to love it as well.

It’s not been an easy life for Elijah and that thread follows him. It’s an uphill battle but a battle worth fighting for. I quickly liked Elijah and my fondness for him grew and grew. He has his flaws like anyone else and has definitely seen his fair share of bumps in the road. I love his tenacity though. 

Alexander’s writing is grabby in all the right places and my attention was caught and held for most of the book. I did feel that a few descriptions were a bit wordy but that can be worked out with a bit more “showing” from Alexander than “telling”. This is a hard concept to really pin down but for the most part Alexander is doing well with it.

There’s not much I feel I can share without spoiling the book. It’s carefully put together and I don’t want to ruin it for anyone. I enjoyed reading it and look forward to reading more from Alexander in the future!

4 stars!

4 star

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The Technical Data:

Title: The Lord of Salamander | Series: The Epic Salamander Trilogy |  Author(s): T. H. Alexander  |Publisher: Create Space Independent Publishing / Publication Date: 2-14-2017 |Pages: 304 (Print) | ISBN:  978-1543125832 |Genre(s): Fantasy |Language: English |Rating: 4 out of 5 |  Date Read: 3-20-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

T H Alexander author pic

For as long as he can remember, T.H. Alexander has been enthralled with the idea of storytelling through writing. Throughout his rough adolescence, he discovered the power of books and reading through such works as Peter Pan, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and James and the Giant Peach and used these fantastical tales as an escape from his own harsh reality.

But simply reading these stories wasn’t enough.

He carried with him into his teenage years the desire to go further and write a story of his own. After numerous failed attempts, when he was just fourteen, the right story would finally break through with the Lord of Salamander. Starting what eventually became the first draft of the novel when he was just a freshman in high school, T.H. would spend the next four years occasionally adding more and more to the story until the draft was finally completed in the summer of 2007. Since then, T.H. has edited, revised and rewritten the novel several times, the most recent taking place in 2016. He has also stepped into the Young Adult Horror genre with his gritty follow-up, Till Dawn, and has written numerous screenplays for movies and television.

He currently resides in San Antonio, Texas where he works on the next installment of the Epic Salamander Trilogy, Return to Salamander, which he hopes to have released by the spring of 2019.

Review “Matt Jackson, Catcher” Jean Joachim

Matt Jackson, clutch hitter, fielder extraordinaire, and team captain, is dynamite on the baseball field, but a loser with women. Or is he? He makes a show of coming on to chicks in bars, but always strikes out. Convinced being dateless is safer, Matt keeps his distance from women. Is he simply an insensitive chauvinist, or a crafty man hiding a secret?
Everything he believes in is challenged the day he walks in on a beautiful woman in the locker room. Dusty, the sharp-tongued spitfire, cuts the all-star pro down to size. Unwilling to accept second-class status, she challenges everything he knows about women.
Does a solo life make living with emotional pain easier? Drawn to the stunning, talented woman, Matt has a long way to go to win her trust. Getting close to Dusty is dangerous. Can he risk his well-protected heart? Matt faces a difficult choice — will he make the right decision?

Matt Jackson Catcher Cover

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“Matt Jackson, Catcher” is the second in the “Bottom of the Ninth” series. I recently reviewed “Dan Alexander, Pitcher” and was elated to continue the series. I actually included the first book in my list of favorite romances so I guess you could say I went into reading this one with some pretty high expectations. Fortunately, I was not disappointed. If anything, I was blown off my feet.

This book delves deeper into who the characters are than I felt the first book in the series did. The romance, while present, is more a component of the story than the whole story. Matt Jackson is a man whose life has been fraught with disaster and heartache. He’s well guarded and for good reason. I found myself increasingly intrigued the more I read. The mystery of Matt Jackson is it’s own seduction. He’s so real in my mind I have to continually remind myself he’s just a character from a really good book.

Normally, as a reader I have a bit of a disconnect from the story. With Matt, cracking open each new layer of his life broke that disconnect further and further until emotionally, I was fully vested in this story. 

While Dusty is an interesting character, it’s Matt who really steals the show. The summary leads one to think the story is more about Dusty than I felt it really was. After reading, I don’t feel like I know her as well as I should. I feel like this story is more a focus on Matt than her and would like to see her character fleshed out a bit more. I also felt like their relationship could use to be fleshed out a bit more too. I love that she was there for him but there were a few moments that I felt should of been more emotionally charged and didn’t come across that way. If there is anywhere in this story I would advise needs work, that would be it. I felt it for Matt but not so much for Dusty. It left a bad taste in my mouth for her.

I loved seeing this side of Joachim’s writing. I truly feel like Matt’s character is one I will not soon forget. There is a scene in the book where his worst fear is almost completely realized. I was there with him as the rain pelted his skin and the lights from the emergency vehicles painted his skin with red and blue. I felt his fear. I felt his dread.  I could feel the fear ball up in my chest as each word flew past my eyes and painted pictures in my mind. My heart raced with anticipation of what he would find. It was captivating. 

This is really two love stories in one. It’s Matt and Dusty, but it’s also Matt’s story of redemption and forgiveness. I would love to see more of Matt and Dusty. This series has caught me in it’s web and I will definitely be continuing with the next book!

What a ride!

5 stars!

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: Matt Jackson, Catcher | Series: Bottom of the Ninth  |  Author(s): Jean C. Joachim  |Publisher: Moonlight Books  / Publication Date: 12-22-2016 |Pages: 232 (Print) | ISBN:  B01NBL34Q5 |Genre(s): Romance / Sports |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 2-28-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

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Book Spotlight “The Lord of Salamander” T. H. Alexander

After living his entire life in a world short on magic at the hands of his two misanthropic aunts in a tedious and forever dusty town called Buckwood, thirteen-year-old Elijah Pendleton’s life begins to unravel when he rescues a sleek black cat from a tree that just so happens to mysteriously appear and then disappear in his yard one day. After convincing himself that he must have imagined it, the black cat inexplicably returns, and eventually, Elijah decides to investigate the address printed on the cat’s collar. 

      The cat’s owner is a kind, self-proclaimed psychic named Aura Dearborn, who seems to know far more about Elijah than Elijah does about himself. Over lunch, she quickly spins a tale for him about his lost parents, a legendary prophecy of the Enchanters, and a land called Salamander: a land, she says, “for people like us”. This information leads Elijah to embark on a journey to the Mythic Realms: a place of wonder and fear, good and evil, magic and mystery. But the revelation that he is both the heir to extraordinary powers and the hope of a generation is his greatest surprise–one Elijah may not be prepared to face. As he crosses dangerous lands, encounters ferocious beasts, and entangles himself in mythical hazards along the way, Elijah will accumulate allies, hone his skills, and race against the clock to end the land’s decade-long reign of darkness and fulfill his destiny: to inherit his throne and become the succeeding ruler of Salamander–the Lord of Salamander.
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Keep an eye out for our review of “The Lord of Salamander”!

 

 

Book Spotlight “The Junkyard Capital” Jak Locke

Senator Aphid only wanted to improve his country, though after four years in the District of Laws he really should have known better. He’s removed from office and soon grudgingly finds himself paired with Frog Dell, the reckless and self-indulgent hermit of the junkyard. As the two evade the wrath of a government run amok with corruption, dissension spreads through the public, and conspiracy reigns. What role does psychiatrist and part-time inventor Weasel McKenzie play in the upcoming Archministry election? How does front-runner candidate and acclaimed playwright J. Thomas Capra plan to fix the broken nation? Who’s being stalked by merciless bounty hunter Jack Dingo? Why is Dead Fish wandering an empty version of the world? The pressure escalates quickly in this twisting, zany, fast-paced and subversive satire that, like real politics, requires (and prefers) absolutely no prior political knowledge. NOTE: This book is the heavily revised second edition of the now out-of-print book Frog Dell’s Junkyard.

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About The Author

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Jak Locke is an entertainer, filmmaker, and programmer obsessed with exploring every form of expression. The Junkyard Capital is his first book and gives his degree in political science some relevance to his life for once. He is a lifelong New Orleans area resident.

 

Indie Author Spotlight- Jean C. Joachim

Do you love hot romance stories that keep you on your toes? Jean C. Joachim is a prolific author whose characters you would be hard pressed not to fall in love with! Want to know more about her books? Check out our review of “Dan Alexander, Pitcher”! We’re set to review the next book in the “Bottom of the Ninth” series, “Matt Jackson, Catcher” in the next week so keep an eye out!

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Jean Joachim is a best-selling romance fiction author, with books hitting the Amazon Top 100 list since 2012. She writes mostly contemporary romance, which includes sports romance and romantic suspense.
Dangerous Love Lost & Found, First Place winner in the 2015 Oklahoma Romance Writers of America, International Digital Award contest. The Renovated Heart won Best Novel of the Year from Love Romances Café. Lovers & Liars was a RomCon finalist in 2013. And The Marriage List tied for third place as Best Contemporary Romance from the Gulf Coast RWA. To Love or Not to Love tied for second place in the 2014 New England Chapter of Romance Writers of America Reader’s Choice contest. She was chosen Author of the Year in 2012 by the New York City chapter of RWA.
Married and the mother of two sons, Jean lives in New York City. Early in the morning, you’ll find her at her computer, writing, with a cup of tea, her rescued pug, Homer, by her side and a secret stash of black licorice.
Jean has 30+ books, novellas and short stories published. Find them here: http://www.jeanjoachimbooks.com. Sign up for her newsletter, on her website, and be eligible for her private paperback sales.

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WARNING! This interview has what could be interpreted as spoilers!

Q: What gave you the idea to begin writing “Dan Alexander, Pitcher”?

I’ve loved baseball since I was sixteen. After writing my football series, “First & Ten”, baseball seemed the next best place to go. And who wouldn’t want to start with the pitcher. I wondered what would happen if the pitcher saw a pretty girl in the stands. Then the girl became a hot dog vendor, then she couldn’t be just any vendor. And thus Holly’s story was born.

As I wrote Dan’s story, he struck me as a nice guy from a small town, unpretentious, and unchanged by his new found wealth. In some ways, he and Holly were opposite, which is, perhaps, what attracted Dan to Holly.

Q: Dan Alexander strikes me as a small town guy-next-door type. However, he’s also no stranger to the finer things in life and expects his mate to be classy and sophisticated. Was it difficult to find that balance for his character?

Not at all. I think he was completely taken with Holly’s sophistication. She was an unusual mix of a woman who could take care of herself, knew what to order in a French restaurant, but also needed protection and understanding. That unusual mix of qualities is what attracted Dan.

He’d never met a girl like her, who wasn’t falling all over herself or him for attention. And a girl who wasn’t impressed by a lot of money, but who was easy with living well relieved his mind about her ever being a gold-digger. She tumbled into his life and opened his eyes to the fact that a girl from a rich family might actually be deprived in some ways – for example, never going to an amusement park. She made him feel like a big man, her protector and yet she had things she could teach him, too. It was a perfect match.

Q: The man on the cover is exactly as I felt you described Dan. Did you see the model first and base Dan’s description on him or was it a happy surprise?

I had Dan pictured in my mind. I looked at models with a photographer until I happened on Chandler. The moment I saw him, I knew he was the perfect Dan Alexander. And, besides, he was hotter than hot. He’s exactly what I wanted for the cover. I’m glad he fits the description.

I designed the jersey he’s wearing. If you’ll notice it says “Nighthawks” on it. The cover shots have all been taken with photographers. None are stock photos and no fancy graphics were used. Those are real uniforms.

Allie- I LOVE that these are real uniforms! You should sign these and sell them! I’d buy one!

Q: In the book, we learn that Holly is paying for her wild streak and bad decisions. I felt there was an emphasis on her predicament being her fault, but with the distance from her parents growing up….isn’t it a bit their fault too?

Absolutely! I totally agree. I had to show how they treated her so the reader would understand why Holly made the mistakes she did. No, it was not totally her fault. Her parents needed to take some of the blame. Perhaps the humiliation they suffered was their pay-back for the cold way they treated her growing up.

Even though she had neglectful parents, the world is not a forgiving place. If you make a mistake, you pay for it.  That was made clear in the story. No matter how her parents treated her, Holly had to make good choices in her life and take responsibility for them. She learned that lesson the hard way. But in the end, I think she grew stronger from the ordeal. And the love of Dan was her reward for facing her predicament squarely and being honest.

Dan was very healing for Holly. Her time with him let her know that she was worthy of love and that there was someone who would protect her and care for her, even though she’d made some mistakes. His loyalty went straight to my heart – and her’s, too.

Q: When you write, is the story already present in your mind or does it slowly materialize as your writing progresses?

When I start to write, the story and the characters are  in my mind, but not fully formed. I know how it’s going to end, but often it takes a different twist and turn along the way. I love when that happens. I have thrown out scenes and even changed plots after beginning a novel. The story takes me where it needs to go. Sometimes I have to be patient, but it always appears and makes the story better.

Q: In the story, Holly’s identity was initially discovered and caused her to “disappear” on her own. Later in the story, she makes the decision to trust in the system again and everything seems to work out. The story doesn’t explain how she was initially found out. Could you elaborate on this?

Someone leaked Holly’s whereabouts for money. I didn’t want to pursue that because I felt it would sidetrack the plot, hijacking the story from Holly and Dan and injecting Flash Kincade into it with a bigger role.

Yes, he paid someone to give him the information. It took him a while to find the right person and persuade them, but that was it. I did wonder if that would leave some readers hanging. I guess it did! I will clear that up with a sentence or two in a later book. Thanks for this question.

Q: Do you have any writing quirks?

I’m sure I must, but I don’t think so. Every writer thinks they are normal, but “normal” people would probably think we’re nuts. Maybe my biggest quirk is that I talk to my pug, Homer, about my stories when we’re out walking. I ask him questions and work out plot points. That seems perfectly normal to me, but the people of NYC probably think I’m crazy.

Allie – I’ve never been to NYC but I’m sure a nice looking lady with an adorable pug is the least of their worries. I mean…have you seen that documentary about the rat problem in NYC? Everyone is probably too busy dodging rats! J/K (ish)

Q: What kind of music do you listen to when looking for inspiration?

Sometimes I listen to music to inspire me. When I wrote Love Lost & Found that takes place partly in St. Thomas, I played the song “Kokomo” by the Beach Boys over and over again. Most of the time I prefer to write in quiet. When I do put on music, it’s classical. Mozart, Bach, Beethoven are all soothing and allow me to focus on my inner thoughts.

Q: Other than writing, what other hobbies do you enjoy?

I enjoy crocheting, taking long walks, and going to the movies. Photography is my most consuming hobby. I love to take pictures of nature and interesting things around me.

Just For Fun Questions

Q: If you could time travel, where would you go and what would you do?

I’d go back to the time when Louisa May Alcott was writing or Jane Austen. Regency England, with it’s elegance and intrigue, would be fascinating.

I’d be a fly on the wall in drawing rooms of wealthy, titled people watching and listening to them live their intriguing lives.  I’d love it. Yes, I’m a huge Jane Austen fan.

The Roaring ‘20’’s in the U.S.A. interest me, too. Life was fast, every changing and the clothing styles were awesome! I’d be a speakeasy singer by night and a demure secretary by day.

Allie- I’m also a huge fan of Jane Austen. 

Q: Imagine you are stranded on an island. What three things would you most want with you? (other than people, food, shelter and necessities for life)

Music! Art materials. I love to design and do occasionally design a cover and I do all my own marketing designing, including creating my logo. A camera. Chocolate and books! Of course, books.

Q: If you could have any superpower, what would you pick?

I’d love to be able to fly. I adore birds and envy their ability to pick up and soar. To see the world from different vantage points and to be able to sit, high up, in a tree and contemplate life would be heaven.

Q: If you could live in any world in any book or movie, what movie/book would you pick?

I’d jump right into the pages of “Pride and Prejudice”, or any other Jane Austen book. I think being around during the tumultuous times in “Gone With the Wind” would be fascinating!

I recently watched the movie, “The Big Chill” again. Being back in those times with those folks would also be fun.

 

JCJ- Thank you for inviting me to this interview, Allie. It’s been a lot of fun answering your questions.

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Fed up with cheating women, Dan Alexander, star pitcher for the New York Nighthawks, grew restless. Searching for something more than a bar babe, he zeroed in on a girl in the stands. He never expected to see a beautiful chick pushing frankfurters. But the hot dog girl looked as smokin’ as the food she was selling.
Holly Merrill found a place to hide in plain sight, as a vendor at Nighthawks’ stadium. Keeping her secret safe and simply happy to stay alive, she never considered finding love an option. After all, a bad girl doesn’t deserve a decent guy, does she?
Coming off his best season ever, Dan went into the playoffs, hell bent on winning the pennant and playing in the World Series. But could he maintain his focus on the field, where everything was going right, when off the field everything was falling apart?

Dan Alexander, Pitcher – Bottom of the Ninth Series

Fed up with cheating women, Dan Alexander, star pitcher for the New York Nighthawks, grew restless. Searching for something more than a bar babe, he zeroed in on a girl in the stands. He never expected to see a beautiful chick pushing frankfurters. But the hot dog girl looked as smokin’ as the food she was selling. Holly Merrill found a place to hide in plain sight, as a vendor at Nighthawks’ stadium. Keeping her secret safe and simply happy to stay alive, she never considered finding love an option. After all, a bad girl doesn’t deserve a decent guy, does she? Coming off his best season ever, Dan went into the playoffs, hell bent on winning the pennant and playing in the World Series. But could he maintain his focus on the field, where everything was going right, when off the field everything was falling apart?

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This book has been personally reviewed by AlliesOpinions! 

To see the review, click the title below.

Dan Alexander, Pitcher

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Review Stats

Amazon: 4.8 Stars!

Goodreads: 4.6 stars!

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About The Author

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I’ve been making up stories for as long as I can remember. When other kids wanted to be doctors, teachers or firemen, I wanted to be a writer.
As soon as I could read, I began devouring books. I’d read anything I could get my hands on, but Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women and Nancy Drew mysteries were early favorites.
In school, term papers were my favorite homework. While others bemoaned the amount of work involved, I jumped in, burying myself in research and writing the document with care.
Still fiction was my first love. After college and a degree in English, I fell into the world of advertising. After many years in corporate America, I went my own way. Working and raising two kids took all my energy and creativity. But when the youngest went off to school, all the story ideas in my head came to life. Mac Caldwell and Callie Richards landed in my head and refused to leave. So I told their story. What started as one book has become six. Now I greet my characters every morning at six and jump back into their story, enjoying every minute. I’m blessed to be able to work at something I love and share my space with my husband as well as my beloved pug, Homer. More than 26 books later, I’m still up at the crack of dawn, crafting the tales of the people who live in my head.

Want to know more? Check out her website! 

https://jeanjoachimbooks.com/

This book has the AlliesOpinions official stamp of approval. We recommend this book!

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#worldkindnessday Walking The Talk

Since today is World Kindness Day, I’ll share some of the wisdom I’ve gained. I grew up in an abusive home where kindness was rare and bitterness prevailed. My days were spent surrounded by unhappy people who passed that unhappiness onto anyone who happened to be near. I can’t count the times I listened to my own flesh and blood excuse their terrible behavior on the fact that it had and was also happening to them. 

The old, “if i have to go through it, so do you” thing. I didn’t understand it then and as I’ve gotten older, I understand it even less. Being hurt is not a rite of passage. Life does not have to be a contest of who can endure the most. 

I’ve seen this thinking translate into other aspects of life as well. One of those is the way people discipline their children. The whole “I was spanked and I turned out fine so it must work” nonsense. It never ceases to amaze me when otherwise progressive and intelligent people spout this crap at me. People who base every other belief they hold in life off evidence and sound research fall into this trap and I just don’t get it. The studies are there. The proof is there. We know it doesn’t work. What’s left to justify? 

This applies to pretty much everything. Societies cognitive dissonance has disastrous results. We see homeless people and assume they are homeless by choice. They “didn’t work hard enough” or they “don’t want to work” ect… This is a commonly held belief even in the face of cold hard facts. Facts like the minimum wage being an unlivable wage. We KNOW for a FACT that it’s not enough money to pay rent. Yet, we refuse to raise the minimum wage. We expect people to make something work that just won’t. It’s madness.

We KNOW that our healthcare system is broken and people die due to lack of coverage or access to care. We KNOW this. The proof is in our faces at every turn. 

We know that our education system has failed. Especially here in Oklahoma. We KNOW that it’s not being properly funded. We know Standardized Testing does tremendous harm. We know that rigid adherence to a “sit down, shut up and memorize” method to teaching is a failed model. We know all of these things and yet it’s defended and the cycle continues to destroy unabated. 

Think of how far we could be as a species right now if our approach to everything was kindness. If we extended our empathy passed ourselves or our immediate family. If we actually cared about others well being and success and actively worked to help everyone reach their full potential. 

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Just stop and think about what our society could achieve. Think of a world where no one goes hungry. Think of a world where no one has to sleep on the concrete under an overpass. Think of a world where each and everyone of us was cherished. 

This isn’t impossible. It doesn’t have to be hypothetical. All it takes to realize this reality is to be kind to everyone. 

Let us be the craftsman of this world. Let us stigmatize cruelty and selfishness. Let us think beyond ourselves and break this violent cycle of trial by fire.

Let every single one of us look at the hurt we’ve felt and pledge that we will not be the cause of that in another. 

Let us not live a life of endurance. Let us live a life of experiences and fulfillment. 

Let us not just survive, but actually live.

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“Diary of a Security Guard at Area 51” H. E. Culver #BookSpotlight

Melissa is 26, utterly bored, and isn’t far off from ending it all with a nail gun. 

Her witty, dry and twisted sense of humour gets her through each day. Her diary is an insight to where the ordinary meets the extraordinary, and every desk assessment and alien invasion in-between. Will she reach a truce with Sandra, her arch-rival? 

Will she be able to ditch Colin? And can she coax Fran away from turning into a complete psychopath?

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Diary of a Security Guard at Area 51: Twisted, Hilarious Fictional
Memoir Spills Top Secret Beans of Calamity…

Masterfully crafted from the boundless humour and creativity of Helen Culver, ‘Diary of a Security Guard at Area 51’ embroils readers in the life of Melissa – a bored, disenchanted security guard at the world’s most secure air base. But her life is far from secure, playing out more like an intricate sitcom where every aspect is bastardized with gripping aplomb. Expect love, pranks, kidnapping and even alien viruses…

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United Kingdom – While most authors use their debut release to do nothing but simply test the literary waters, the UK’s Helen Culver is rapidly proving that a first book also presents an opportunity to break new ground. In fact, the clunks, shakes and quivers of her readers can befelt from coast to coast…

Everything unravels in ‘Diary of a Security Guard at Area 51’, which mixes up a cocktail of a fictional memoir, science fiction, comedy and even a touch of romance – all exploding in an unforgettable read based around the lives of those guarding one of the world’s most secretive
places.

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“Through Melissa’s eyes, we explore a colourful and utterly shocking cast of characters who, while supposedly responsible for some of the U.S. Military’s most dangerous and expensive assets, appear to have zero order to their own lives!” explains the author. “From bad relationships and pranks to an eventual kidnapping, brush with aliens and the spread of an extra-terrestrial virus, readers will be pushed to the limits of what their imaginations can handle.” Continuing, “Of course, in the end, it’s all designed to be a good bit of fun. I’ve always been fascinated by how Area 51 and its personnel are kept so secret and elusive…so decided to put my own unique spin on what their lives may be like if we actually got a chance to see into them. Who knows – perhaps it’s all true!”

With the volume’s demand increasing, interested readers are urged to secure their copies without delay.

*Press Review Copies are Available Upon Request
*Helen Culver is Available for Interviews

Contact:
Helen Culver
Email: troypublishing@gmail.com

Booklist – Kid Zone!

Every family has their list of holiday traditions. We incorporate books into every holiday and it’s greatly anticipated by the kiddies. They both have a decent little library budding and the absolute joy on their face when they unwrap a brand new story brings me to tears every single time. Watching my children discover new worlds and gain new heroes is something I will forever treasure. What follows is a few selections from the wish list my kids have made. I hope you find a great story to share and a new world for your little explorer. 

                              Enjoy!

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   All the other bulls run, jump, and butt their heads together in fights. Ferdinand, on the other hand, would rather sit and smell the flowers. So what will happen when Ferdinand is picked for the bullfights in Madrid?
 The Story of Ferdinand has inspired, enchanted, and provoked readers ever since it was first published in 1936 for its message of nonviolence and pacifism. In WWII times, Adolf Hitler ordered the book burned in Nazi Germany, while Joseph Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union, granted it privileged status as the only non-communist children’s book allowed in Poland.

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Since it was first published fifty years ago, Shel Silverstein’s poignant picture book for readers of all ages has offered a touching interpretation of the gift of giving and a serene acceptance of another’s capacity to love in return.

 

 

 

 

Only One You CoverThere’s only one you in this great big world. Make it a better place. Adri’s mama and papa share some of the wisdom they have gained through the years with their eager son. Their words, simple and powerful, are meant to comfort and guide him as he goes about exploring the world. This exquisitely illustrated book explodes with color and honest insights. Kranz’s uniquely painted rockfish, set against vibrant blue seas, make an unforgettable and truly special impression. Only One You will inspire parents and children of all ages as they swim through the sea of life.

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Motivational Monday – Favorite Quotes

Sometimes, we have things to say that we simply can’t find the words for. Sometimes, we are but a quote away from finding motivation we didn’t know we needed. Sometimes, we see a quote and find within ourselves a spark burst into a dream. I hope you enjoy my selection of favorite quotes and a spark bursts inside each and everyone of you to lighten a path that brings you to greatness and solace. 

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Book Quote 2  Book Quote 3 quotes 4  quote 5

and finally….

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