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…

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I’m Going To Talk About Inequality – Die Mad About It

I’ve spent the better part of my life being belittled for having the audacity to have actual feelings and….get this…showing them. I know, how dare I inconvenience the world with my empathy. How dare I think it’s ok to cry at a sad part in a book in public. I mean, what if someones kid sees me. I might ruin someones $5 coffee for god sakes. I MIGHT BREAK THROUGH THEIR EVERYTHING IS FINE FACADE IF I DARE TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE HOMELESS PERSON ASKING FOR CHANGE OUTSIDE THE STARBUCKS. How could I be so insensitive?

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I know you’re all sick of hearing about inequality and how some people can’t afford food or a house to live. I mean, do we really have to talk about it so much? It’s only children going hungry. If they really wanted food they’d go get a damn job. They would work hard for what they want just like the rest of us…..wait…oh yeah, you went to a posh private school and had college paid for by your folks. So, other than that you earned…oh yeah, don’t forget that down payment your folks gave you for your first house. Oh, and the car they gave you and and and the phone bill they still foot or the insurance they still pay. Let us not forget the healthcare your folks have had covered since you were but a bright spot on an ultrasound. 

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Turns out you didn’t gain your rank in life off your own merit. Have the balls to admit it and the rest of us won’t have to keep shoving your face in it. MMMMkay.

Check out this link to see how your privilege gives you a head start in the race of life.

RACE OF LIFE

 

“Daring The Pilot” Jeannie Moon – Book Review

Keely Andersen hasn’t visited her hometown more than a handful of times in the last ten years, but when her doctoral research sends her back to Marietta for the immediate future, she can’t wait to reconnect with the community and the mountains she missed so much. Of course, nothing goes as planned, and Keely’s truck breaks down a few miles outside of town. When help arrives, she finds herself face to face with her brother’s best friend – the guy she used to call big, bad and gorgeous – Jonah Clark.

Still settling back into Marietta after a harrowing stint as an army helicopter pilot, Jonah Clark plans to spend a few days hiking the local mountains to prepare for his job as a pilot for Crawford County’s Search and Rescue team. When he stops to help a stranded driver, Jonah is shocked to find his best friend’s younger sister is the one behind the wheel. Only now, instead of the geeky teen he remembered, Keely is all grown up with curves he can’t resist.

Though the sparks of attraction ignite immediately, they’re hesitant to act because of their shared past. But when a project dear to their hearts is threatened, and a boy is lost on Copper Mountain, Keely and Jonah drop everything to fight for what matters, including each other.

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“Daring The Pilot” was a sweet read that kept my attention (mostly) until the last page. While it was a bit cliche at times and easy to guess the plot at others the characters warmed my heart and their bumbling made me smile.

I loved Keely’s character and found her endearing and charming while also a good example for women in science. She was whip smart but not cocky. I loved how connected she was with her community and her parents while also forging her independence. I did find that her childhood illness used as a motivator for parental control was a bit odd since Keely had been traveling the world for many years before she made her way back home. You would think that her parents would see her dating a man she’s known her whole life as a safer route than world travel. It didn’t make a lot of sense that they would disapprove of that after so many years of Keely proving she can handle herself. This weird part of the story was off-putting and I found myself pulled out of the story.

Jonah is a mans man for sure. He’s done his fair share of traveling but unlike Keely his venue was a lot more dangerous. I liked him but didn’t love him. I feel like his character needs a lot more work to bring the reader more to his side. After finishing the book I felt like I should of known him better than I did.

A big part of what I don’t like about the story is Keely’s virginity against Jonah’s experience. I don’t like that Keely is presented on one side as this very worldly woman and on the other side is presented as this naive woman sexually. This was another part of the story that felt very unauthentic and I was once again jolted from the story.

I think Moon should take a step back and take a good long look at how she is presenting women.

3 stars.

3 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: Daring The Pilot | Series: Men Of Marietta |  Author(s): Jeannie Moon  |Publisher: Tule Publishing / Publication Date: 4-4-2017 |Pages: 283 (Print) |ISBN/ASIN: B01N2AQ7JH |Genre(s): Romance |Language: English |Rating: 3 out of 5 |  Date Read: 9-25-2017 |Source: Copy from winning a giveaway on Twitter.

 

Daring The Pilot CoverThis story is about two adults falling in love. Keely is 28 years old, preparing for her doctorate. Jonah the age of her older brother, a Captain, out of the military after numerous years, the last of which left 6of the men in his unit dead. Jonah had found Keely 10 years before in a storm that had nearly cost her her life. They are definitely not strangers to each other & definitely not children!.

A great storyline, interesting side stories, of not only the people, but the history of the Town of Marietta as well. Small town discussion (gossip) of people’s lives is prevalent. And Moms act about their adult kid’s lives the same as if they were indeed much younger. Fun stuff to read!

You will enjoy this one dear reader. Read & enjoy. – Amazon Reviewer

 

 

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.

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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.

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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“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.

 

“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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“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

Emotive Cover

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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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“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.

 

“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.

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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.