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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Letters To Strabo Cover

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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

Word Of The Day – Lethargic

Here at AlliesOpinions we love words! We especially love when those words are carefully selected and wove together to create the best stories of our lives. Language is important and words have meaning so we’ve decided that adding to our vocabulary is a must. There are a million ways to communicate so why not do it in the most colorful way you can? We hope you enjoy our selections!

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Lethargic

1 : of, relating to, or characterized by laziness or lack of energy : feeling or affected by lethargy : sluggish

2 : indifferent, apathetic

“The cold water temperatures slow down the metabolism of the fish, and they become very lethargic.” — Jim Hutchinson, Asbury Park (New Jersey) Press, 9 Mar. 2017

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All of our selections come straight from Merriam Webster.

Word of the day

Life in this moment…

Every once in awhile I like to post an update on what my life is like in its current state. I don’t want this blog to become some mindless book advertisement hub and lose it’s intimacy.  Don’t get me wrong, I love books and I love helping authors get attention for their books but I am not some faceless company and I don’t want you to see me that way.

Right now, Mason is 3 1/2. Just seeing that typed out brings a shock to my system. It’s flown by. Last night as he was laying beside me, with his arm across my stomach, all I could think was how big his arm is now. 

I’ve been doing some pre-school work with him at home and I have a new found appreciation for teachers. I’ve always admired their work but there’s nothing like doing it yourself to realize how much really goes into it. 

We live in Oklahoma. I’m sure most of you have seen the absolute disaster our school systems have fallen into. Between Mason and my 16 month old Fianna, I don’t see how I can put them in the public school system here. It was bad when I went and I don’t want that for them.

This is the reality of being a parent in this day and age. I have this ball of worry regarding being his educator. I know I can do it with the help of my husband and a tutor here and there but I’m angry that it’s not really my choice to do so. There are only two secular private schools within 50 miles of us and both are completely un-affordable or have insane wait lists. I’ve dove into textbooks and spent every extra dollar I have on workshops and learning material. I’m doing the best I can.

It’s going pretty well. All things considered he is learning and having fun while doing it. I’m able to tailor my approach to what works and what doesn’t without some faceless politician deciding what’s best.

You see, Mason is like me. I fear he has ADHD. He’s very young and I’m trying to wait it out a bit before I let that fear really take root but I know he does. I see so many of my struggles in him already. I see so much of myself in him. My husband does his best to reassure me that even if he does have it, he’ll be ok. After-all, I’m ok.

Here’s the thing though. I did not do well in school because no one cared enough to help me with it. I was outed as a trouble maker and a nuisance.  I was called a flake and unreliable. I don’t want that for him. I don’t want people to see him as feather brained. 

Worry is a parents constant companion. 

ADHD

Word Of The Day – Junket

Here at AlliesOpinions we love words! We especially love when those words are carefully selected and wove together to create the best stories of our lives. Language is important and words have meaning so we’ve decided that adding to our vocabulary is a must. There are a million ways to communicate so why not do it in the most colorful way you can? We hope you enjoy our selections!

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Junket

1 : a dessert of sweetened flavored milk set with rennet

2 a : a festive social affair

b : trip, journey: such as (1) : a trip made by an official at public expense (2) : a promotional trip made at another’s expense

“When I was young, … our family often made junkets after church on Sunday, to Cook’s, a massive arrangement of barns and sheds near New London. Purveyors of everything from household items to car parts, it … had such buyer appeal that it seemed to be swarming with shoppers every time we stopped in.” — The Litchfield (Minnesota) Independent Review, 9 Feb. 2017

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All of our selections come straight from Merriam Webster.

Word of the day

The Booklist – Historical Fiction

Historical fiction is my favorite genre. It’s the best of both worlds. The characters were/are real people and reading about them brings history alive in a way that textbooks just can’t. The fiction bit allows the author some room for speculation. It’s fun to see each authors take on the same historical characters. I think this genre keeps the past in the present and encourages people to look back and learn. It’s easy to forget the past when you don’t feel connected to it. Historical fiction allows it’s readers to connect with those long dead and breeds empathy for those who survived (or didn’t) some of the worst periods of our history. If we have no empathy for the horrors of the past are we bound to repeat them?

I hope you enjoy my selections! Never stop reading!

Beneath A Scarlet Sky Cover

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Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis. He’s a normal Italian teenager—obsessed with music, food, and girls—but his days of innocence are numbered. When his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape over the Alps, and falls for Anna, a beautiful widow six years his senior.

In an attempt to protect him, Pino’s parents force him to enlist as a German soldier—a move they think will keep him out of combat. But after Pino is injured, he is recruited at the tender age of eighteen to become the personal driver for Adolf Hitler’s left hand in Italy, General Hans Leyers, one of the Third Reich’s most mysterious and powerful commanders.

A House Without Windows Cover

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For two decades, Zeba was a loving wife, a patient mother, and a peaceful villager. But her quiet life is shattered when her husband, Kamal, is found brutally murdered with a hatchet in the courtyard of their home. Nearly catatonic with shock, Zeba is unable to account for her whereabouts at the time of his death. Her children swear their mother could not have committed such a heinous act. Kamal’s family is sure she did, and demands justice.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena Cover

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In a small rural village in Chechnya, eight-year-old Havaa watches from the woods as Russian soldiers abduct her father in the middle of the night and then set fire to her home. When their lifelong neighbor Akhmed finds Havaa hiding in the forest with a strange blue suitcase, he makes a decision that will forever change their lives. He will seek refuge at the abandoned hospital where the sole remaining doctor, Sonja Rabina, treats the wounded.

The Glass Palace Cover

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The Glass Palace tells of Rajkumar, a poor boy lifted on the tides of political and social chaos, who creates an empire in the Burmese teak forest. During the British invasion of 1885, when soldiers force the royal family out of the Glass Palace and into exile, Rajkumar befriends Dolly, the woman whose love will shape his life. He cannot forget her, and years later, as a rich man, he goes in search of her.

What is the What Cover

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What Is the What is the epic novel based on the life of Valentino Achak Deng who, along with thousands of other children —the so-called Lost Boys—was forced to leave his village in Sudan at the age of seven and trek hundreds of miles by foot, pursued by militias, government bombers, and wild animals, crossing the deserts of three countries to find freedom. When he finally is resettled in the United States, he finds a life full of promise, but also heartache and myriad new challenges. Moving, suspenseful, and unexpectedly funny, What Is the What is an astonishing novel that illuminates the lives of millions through one extraordinary man.

Book list

Word Of The Day – Upbraid

Here at AlliesOpinions we love words! We especially love when those words are carefully selected and wove together to create the best stories of our lives. Language is important and words have meaning so we’ve decided that adding to our vocabulary is a must. There are a million ways to communicate so why not do it in the most colorful way you can? We hope you enjoy our selections!

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Upbraid

1 : to criticize severely : find fault with
2 : to reproach severely : scold vehemently

“A helpful neighbor was able to contact the owner in Dorset and upbraided her for having her house stand empty while a young couple could find no place to live.” — Kitty Ferguson, Stephen Hawking: An Unfettered Mind, 2012

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All of our selections come straight from Merriam Webster.

Word of the day

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!