November 2018 Review Issue
The Wild Rose Press
Print ISBN 978-1-5092-2276-6
Digital ISBN 978-1-5092-2277-3
The Click is a fast-paced story that will keep readers on edge with powerful characters, globe-trotting action, confrontations with self and larger social issues, and ultimately with the meaning and purpose of survival itself. Refreshingly original in its story line and progression, The Click is a top recommendation for those who like their stories well-crafted, futuristic, and thought-provoking.
It’s all over the internet, a crescendo of horror, first overpopulation, then a plague that erupts across Earth in the distant-future, changing a world run by religious principles even in places where secular politics once ruled, such as the United States. In this world, the Cūtocracy has banned many of the scientific processes that would have changed things, eliminating any advancement that might place man above God and leaving humanity vulnerable to its worst nightmare: a planet-wide Plague.
When twenty percent of the world's population is decimated, the need for a super vaccine from the vestiges of a scientific community operating in secrecy is evident; but many forces are at work against this.
The timeline swings between the near-distant future and the twenty-third century, fast-forwarding to a world where the Click is a dreaded part of life, where most everyone hears or feels a ‘click’ at seventy-five and dies, and where children (Preemies) even hear it in their adolescence.
Oliver 'Hitch' Hitchcock is seventy-eight and hasn’t died. He is a Beater, having beat the Click, but he still turns out to be a carrier and has inadvertently caused the death of his older grandson one of those Preemies. His younger grandson Christopher, also a Preemie, is next if Hitch can’t save him.
In this world, the Click has been deemed the will of God. Or, is it? Hitch must find out quickly if he is going to save Christopher, a promise he made to his wife, Edna, before she died.
The Click is more than a disease: it, along with political and religious institutions, have reduced empathy and caring in the world: "Hitch only half listened as he watched the bright orange bag being dragged down the aisle toward the back of the plane. What astonished him most were the other passengers. They seemed to take little notice. “Only you Americans seem to think it’s okay to fly while in the throes of the Click.”
As Hitch navigates this much-changed landscape and confronts his own fears, responsibilities, and his promise to Edna and himself that he struggles to fulfill, he encounters the Cause ("The secret mission of the Cause was to rid humanity of the Click...") and comes to question his own purpose in the time he has left in this dangerous world.
From social, religious and political struggles around a vaccine that has harmed as much as it's helped to the involvement of a tiny Indian village in a resistance movement that could change everything, The Click offers a unique blend of futuristic sci-fi, apocalyptic story, and thriller that posits a future challenged by human efforts to extend life and redefine not only their abilities but their belief system.The Click
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978-1-939118-24-0 (Print) $16.95
978-1-939118-25-7 (Kindle) $ 2.99
In 2050, Helper androids have become an invaluable part of human affairs, assisting people and making their lives better. It seems inevitable that disaster will strike, and it does: somebody is programming these helpful workers to kill their rich owners; and furthermore, the androids themselves then assume the identities of their dead owners, to further plunder their wealth.
The problem with any scenario involving androids who move beyond their original programming is that when sentience sets in, the androids develop not just minds of their own, but purposes beyond their original or modified intentions. That's when SEAL team member Patrick Jenson and his wife enter the struggle for a new dominance of the world between man and machine.
The theme may sound familiar (think I, Robot and other classics of automation autonomy issues), but what sets The Neuromorphs apart from any similar-sounding futuristic scenario is an attention to both thriller elements and the specter of not just sentient artificial beings, but "hive mind" connections that form a unit of danger that extends beyond individual purpose to form a collective threat.
There's also a strong undercurrent of psychology acuity that permeates the story line and elevates it to a tale far more complex and unpredictable than a 'whodunnit' or espionage thriller usually achieves: "The Helpers, Inc. executives had absolutely decreed that no civilian customer think that their friendly household Helper had any link with machines that could slaughter whole regiments of human soldiers without any human emotion or hesitation."
From the routes that inventors, marketers, and android users take to assure their new creation feels familiar and safe to the myriad of dangers Patrick faces, from the challenges of tweaking code to the special abilities of hive-mind approaches versus individual action, The Neuromorphs excels in continually challenging conventional thinking and approaches. It successfully brings readers into a tense environment where humans face a dangerous and possibly superior creation that can readily outthink them.
The androids are building a conquering army while humans have decommissioned the very forces that could have contained them. Can a programmer alone prove an effective force against a self-replicating hive mind?
The combination of technical description, psychological insights, and cat-and-mouse thriller components combine with a sci-fi background to make The Neuromorphs a top-notch, very highly recommended read that crosses genres. It will satisfy a range of readers, from fans of apocalyptic fiction and espionage thrillers to those who enjoy hard science sci-fi, military sci-fi, and stories of SEAL team struggles.The Neuromorphs
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Michael J. Farlow
Wolf Press, LLC
New Horizons is Book 4 in the Host Saga series, and is especially recommended for prior readers of Galactic Force. Here humanity faces a devastating alien invasion but receives the gift of powerful technology from the Host who may have given them the one asset they need to survive.
Newcomers to the series should be advised that a prologue explains the background of the Host Saga and Van Childs and his forces, who are tasked with protecting humanity. The Galactic Host helps them, but keeps their distance and lets humanity solve its own problems. This prologue provides a succinct but thorough review and sets the stage for this latest book's action, thus requiring no prior familiarity in order to prove accessible.
As for the story itself, readers interested in military sci-fi and stories of interplanetary engagement will find plenty to like in a tale that pairs hard science descriptions about military weaponry and strategy ("The Enterprise was armed with a single plasma cannon and no missiles. There was also an old leftover weapon, twin projectilethrowing 30mm cannons that were seldom used as Galactic Force got more sophisticated. But this old and reconstructed ship still had them.") with strong dialogue, a fast-paced plot, and a saga that continues to unfold as hard work towards an eventual confrontation pays off.
Strategic assessments ("Reeb didn’t want to engage any warship at this point. His forces were already spread thin, and the two small ships with him wouldn’t do much against an armed opponent.") mix well with combat encounters, changing perceptions of good and bad guys in the face of piracy and sabotage, and efforts that are thwarted by forces within humanity as well as outside of it. Even more absorbing are the internal clashes within different factions representing humanity, over the question of how much control humanity should give up to the Host in exchange for their assistance. What, then, is the price of freedom? And are the costs of survival (lost dreams, innovations, and cultural values) too high to accept?
The moment-by-moment military clashes are well described ("Mia slumped in her chair. Eight was half what the combined ships should have fired.") and will especially delight military sci-fi fans who look for strategic assessments, cat-and-mouse action, and a sense of how the leaders of this universe struggle for their individual and collective purposes.
The result is an action-packed military sci-fi space opera thriller that pairs powerful dialogue and interpersonal relationships with an overlay of forces struggling to survive. This will delight readers who enjoy vivid stories of alien encounters and world-changing clashes.New Horizons
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Maurice A. Williams
Ordering Link: https://www.amazon.com/
Followers of Maurice A. Williams might feel they already are familiar with Revelation: Mature Look: but it should be mentioned that despite its having a similar title as the book that appeared earlier, this represents a complete rewrite of the 1988 original. Readers should be cautioned to be sure they have the September, 2018 revised edition, which substantially updates and revises the earlier treatise.
The scholarly review of Christian interpretations of the Book of Revelation are outlined in an introduction which clarifies this survey's focus: "I wanted to put forth my conviction that Revelation was directed to the people who heard it preached, as well as a prophecy to later people about the end times. That would make my interpretation preterist in contrast to the futurist interpretations so popular in the United States. I think it makes more sense that the preaching of John would have warned the Judean people that their rejection of the Messiah would trigger God's rejection of them and their nation's demise as well as a warning to future generations what will happen to them if they also reject the Messiah when he returns."
As basic Christian concepts of the past are today refuted worldwide, Williams makes some important points about Biblical teachings and their foundations: "I do not argue that the Bible is literally true in every statement in the Bible because statements are easily twisted by people arguing against the Bible. Instead, I am convinced that the Catholic Church is the one founded by Jesus Christ, and he sent the Holy Spirit to preserve his church from error. I listen to his church. Christ never told his apostles to write about his teaching: he told them to preach. Preaching by word of mouth would have reached the common person of that time because very few people in the first century knew how to read and write."
These statements, as set forth in his Introduction, clarify Williams' underlying beliefs, focus, and contentions, setting the stage for the interpretation of end times which follows. Discussions tackle the role of Lucifer in not just end times but everyday events, providing a step-by-step interpretation that takes passages from Revelations (such as 'Rev. 6: 11-17 Great Day of Wrath has Come.') and interprets them with an eye to explaining not just the message, but its delivery, impact, and choices in presentation: "The vision of the ancient one has been interpreted in this chapter and the preceding chapter. He is surrounded by twenty-four kings and four living beings that appear to have unlimited power. This vision represents God. It uses symbols people can understand, similar to the way a molecule of water is represented by symbols. It shows the three persons in the one God and some activity of the three persons. And it uses symbols the Judean people should have understood, since many of the symbols had already been used in previous revelations."
Where other Biblical analyses of Revelations focus on interpreting Biblical content almost as a stand-alone separate from choices in description and delivery, Revelation: Mature Look continues the dialogue to explain symbolism, divine nature, preludes to Christ's ministry, and comparisons between real-world events and visions as provided in Revelations.
In each chapter, Williams demonstrates an attention to not just spiritual messages and interpretations, but how they were and are delivered to and perceived by Christians past and present. His personal dilemmas in working out God's message and how the world responds to it are another strong feature of an interpretation which goes beyond individual belief to probe the history, psychology, and spiritual base of mankind and its relationship to God, Christ, and Biblical messages as a whole.
References to Church history and in God's plan of salvation for the human race are backed by footnoted references, Biblical passages, and discussions of the author's study not just of the Bible, but of history.
The result will prove especially satisfying to Christian thinkers and scholars seeking a multifaceted blend of historical and spiritual inspection and the author's own admonitions and cautions based on the lasting impact of the lessons and predictions in Revelations: "You probably don't realize it, but the Catholic Church now emphasizes Divine Mercy. If Jesus Christ is going to return soon for the final judgement, you should take advantage of his generous offer. Just throw yourself onto God's Divine Mercy and choose submission to Christ, and Christ will do the rest and take you into his heavenly kingdom just like he took the good thief when he said: today you will be with me in paradise."Revelation: Mature Look
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The Benghazi Affair
Steven E. Wilson
The Benghazi Affair is Book 3 of the Stone Waverly series about a retired CIA case officer who is satisfied with his life away from service, but finds his newfound jobs as a parent and teacher challenged by a call for him to return to service to lead a covert team into revolutionary Benghazi during the Arab Spring.
Six months away take a toll on his kids, especially coming out of the blue, just as they've adjusted to a new life and have started to rely on Waverly's presence. He envisions his job as a final assignment, after which he will never leave home again. Even when in the field, he longs to return to the life he's newly built and had to leave.
But his mission (to uncover and disable a terrifying weapon that could be used on American soil) will ensure that his family lives in a better world, and so he perseveres in an operation that could cost him everything, whether he succeeds or fails.
This no-win scenario is one of the strengths of a story that provides enough background to allow newcomers easy access to Waverly's personality, purposes, background, and dilemmas. It should be mentioned that torture scenes are part of the story line, but are presented in good taste, with just enough detail to prove riveting without being unduly graphic.
As Waverly faces vanished traitors, injury and captivity, torture, and the possibility that he could betray his own mission, readers become immersed in the world of jihadists, Libyan forces and revolutionaries, and a dilemma which threatens the lives of his children back home.
With so much at stake and so much tension delicately balanced in a compelling story of personal survival and political struggles, The Benghazi Affair creates a gripping story rooted in a real-world atmosphere and filled with powerful cat-and-mouse maneuvers between secret operatives and equally elusive psychological forces.
The result is a thriller that is hard to put down, highly recommended for readers who enjoy international espionage, strong characters, and a story line that is packed with action. The Benghazi Affair is guaranteed to enthrall prior readers as well as capturing new audiences with its pairing of high-octane action and a father's dilemma as he's caught between duty and being a good single parent.The Benghazi Affair
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Author James Lindholm himself is a scientist, diver and explorer; so his background lends a deep note of authenticity to both the prior Into a Canyon Deep and this latest Chris Black adventure, Blood Cold. This time Chris journeys to South Africa to help explore a marine protected area where, thirty years earlier, government officials loaded a fishing vessel with thousands of gold krugerrands. When the ship sank, the fortune was never recovered.
Seal Island is home not just to one of the world's largest seal colonies, but to some of the fiercest sharks in the world. It's just the place to drop off someone whose body should not be found, and just the place to begin a story as a man faces such a drop-off.
Dr. Chris Black's latest marine investigation wasn't supposed to become a probe of illicit lost money and murder. He is in South Africa for a new marine research project, and he's well aware of the ferocity of local sharks. One of the reasons he's so good at handling trouble on all levels is that he is the embodiment of sangfroid—literally, blood cold. He remains calm when others would panic.
Since the death of a trusted colleague and the violence that encompassed their previous adventure, Chris and his team have fallen apart, with everyone scattered around the globe. He'll have to resurrect more than the fate of a long-vanished ship if he's to find out what really happened, risking new lives in the process.
Blood Cold holds not just action and intrigue, but an overlay of scientific facts that will especially delight readers who like their novels steeped in real-world facts and natural history: "One of the enjoyable points of contention in their party conversation, Chris recalled, had been the notion of what Brody called ‘bioclutter.’ It seemed that to archeologists who study undersea wrecks, the very living material that so fascinated Chris and his scientific colleagues – such as dense clouds of fishes swimming along the bottom and tall sponges and corals attached to substrates – presented a huge impediment to their archeological work. It was difficult to study a seventeenth century wooden ship if it was covered with living organisms, hence the ‘bioclutter.’" This comes from Lindholm's background and gives non-scientist readers a satisfying series of insights into the ocean world which are unexpected and delightful.
As a treasure hunt ensues in which Chris faces attackers, illicit marine salvage efforts, murders, and violence, he must call upon all of his 'blood cold' reactions to stay alive and get to the bottom of the threat.
Readers who like their action gripping but firmly seated in the real world of science, politics, and special interests surrounding marine salvage operations will relish not just the adventure, but the details that keep this story believable and educational.
Characterization is solid and past events are outlined so that readers need not have prior familiarity with Chris Black in order to easily dive into his latest challenge.
Blood Cold is highly recommended as a fast-paced, reality-centered saga that will keep thriller readers thoroughly immersed right up to an unexpected ending that demonstrates that this won't be Chris Black's last adventure.Blood Cold
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Burying the Lede
Book Press Publishing
Burying the Lede is a murder mystery that centers around a young man wrongly convicted and a newspaper reporter convinced of his innocence, documenting a reporter's desperate search for the truth against all odds.
Joseph LeValley's background as a news reporter lends authenticity to a story set in Iowa, and is immediately evident by both the book's title (which refers to the media's process of highlighting a secondary story rather than the main event) and in the progress of local daily news reporter Tony Harrington, whose probe of a high-profile attorney general's involvement in a seemingly small-time case leads to an investigation of a run for governor and the questionable circumstances that surround that race.
It's satisfying to read a story that opens as a simple murder mystery but evolves into a multifaceted survey of Iowa's politics, struggles, and the criminal justice system's processes and failures.
In this case, both lawyer Pike and reporter Tony believe in the defendant's innocence; but have no real idea how to prove it: "Yes, Tony. I believe Ralph Wells really is innocent of these horrendous crimes. However, I’m sure you realize that no one ever can be completely certain. Only Ralph and the Ennises, God bless their souls, know for sure if he was involved. But you’re right. I feel I know him and I can’t imagine him killing two people in cold blood while their young daughters slept nearby. The circumstances just seem to exist in a universe completely different than the one in which Ralph lives."
Tony finds himself simultaneously pursuing a murder case, confronting a crazy woman, and realizing that if Ralph is, indeed, innocent, then this means he is facing a clever killer, indeed. And one motivated to kill a sleeping couple when their daughters are asleep in the next room will certainly have no hesitation over killing a snoopy reporter who edges too close to the truth.
From questions about who is a victim and who a perp to pressures to report events in a given manner ("I just want your assurances you’ll look at the facts and focus the story on what was done to us, and not what we did unwittingly."), action is gripping and leads not only to discoveries about politicians and murderers, but moral and ethical dilemmas and the challenges of reporters who probe events too deeply, to become part of their own story line.
A superior murder mystery is more than about 'whodunnit.' It covers the motivations behind actions and often places the investigator in a precarious role, leaving readers guessing right up to some surprising revelations.
Burying the Lede's ability to craft an involving, compelling story based on reporter Tony's personal involvements, connections, and challenges in the case creates a particularly moving story that operates on both emotional and investigative levels, proving nearly impossible to put down and more than satisfying in its surprising conclusion.Burying the Lede
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Darkest Before the Dawn
Ottawa Press and Publishing
The seventh book in the Canadian Mountie Winston Windflower mystery series takes place in Newfoundland, where Winston is surrounded by women and a community that has always felt safe until it experiences a series of burglaries.
The town is close-knit and filled with well-meaning neighbors and it seems like nothing can challenge these connections, but when a series of deaths and ghostly encounters creates tension and confusion, Winston finds that some of his most peaceful, favorite things in life are threatened.
The first thing to note about Darkest Before the Dawn is its gentle buildup of small-town places, people, and Winston's place in the world. Descriptions capture personal and social atmosphere alike ("When he got home, Windflower was greeted by three of his favourite things. Sheila gave him a warm embrace, Lady circled him like a long-lost relative, and the smells from the kitchen drove him nearly crazy."), creating a gentle lead-in to a situation that turns into sad vigils, omens that things are getting worse in the small town Winston loves, and a community's silence, which is literally killing people.
In order to solve the mystery, Winston must tackle some close-held secrets and longtime conventions, and as he and Corporal Tizzard, and other police officers move closer to the truth, they uncover a trail of clues that lead further into the past than anticipated.
From lawyer involvements and deals for their clients to payoffs, hit jobs, and a tightening web of intrigue surrounding Elizabeth Crowder and a series of partial truths, readers interested in a small-town setting and a whodunit that is satisfyingly complex and thought-provoking will find Darkest Before the Dawn excels at creating a realistic atmosphere that keeps the story fast-paced and involving.
The fact that the story line is as rooted in home life and community plans as it is in murder and motive makes for a particularly notable creation that is clean, creative, and compelling. Darkest Before the Dawn is highly recommended for murder mystery readers who like their stories as filled with life as with death.Darkest Before the Dawn
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Pleasuria: Take As
John J. Jessop
Pleasuria: Take As Directed is a
story about a doctor's midlife
crisis; but readers anticipating the droll style of, say, a Saul Bellow
production will be quite pleasantly surprised by a tale that represents
between a murder mystery, a whodunit, and an identity crisis.
Dr. Jason Longfellow is a bored FDA drug reviewer who has just obtained his P.I. license, and who chafes at the restraints of a world that seems to view him as solely a medical professional. He believes he has investigative skills that have been unplumbed and which can provide him with a ripe and interesting new career. He wasn't expecting his first case to literally land in his lap; nor to have it involve CureStuff Pharmaceuticals and a drug trial that seems right up his alley as far as combining his medical savvy with an investigative perspective.
Suddenly, drug testing just got a lot more exciting—and dangerous.
As Jason faces the consequences of a condition that promotes "spontaneous sexual release" among women and places him in the crosshairs of accusation and distrust stemming from a carpool snafu, he finds his own career and expertise unexpectedly on the line. Ironically, this forces him to delve ever deeper into the kind of secrecy and danger missing in his former role as a professional and dispassionate drug evaluator.
Suddenly, he's thrust into the midst of a medical mystery that threatens to escalate as a series of murders and the intentions of his own wife present challenges he's ill-trained to handle. As Jason fields an angry wife, a deteriorating home situation, and an evolving medical emergency, he discovers that his boring world has totally changed.
Pleasuria: Take As Directed is a fun romp through medical conundrums that opens as a midlife crisis, evolves into a murder mystery, and injects a sense of humor into an evolving conundrum over sexual stimulation, drug dissemination, and deadly danger.
The unexpected humor that is interspersed with the story offers a satisfying juxtaposition between a serious medical thriller and a piece offering many light moments: "You mean at seventy-five, you and your wife were having sex, and she had three orgasms? What did you do, call 911 to brag? I don’t know whether to be outraged or really impressed. This service is reserved for emergencies, sir, not fairy tales.”
Readers interested in a blend of comedy, thriller, and medical mystery will find Pleasuria: Take As Directed just the ticket for an involving, different story that creates a compelling tale that's hard to put down and satisfyingly fun.
As an added bonus, author John J. Jessop is himself a pharmacologist; so the settings, politics, and processes of the industry receive an added boost with their foundations in real-world processes, perceptions, and medical issues.Pleasuria: Take As Directed
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The Real Monsters
Once you've made a fortune, lost it, then written a famous book that makes you famous, what adventure is next? Another book seems to be the answer; but it's not the book Sean had envisioned writing. Based on his childhood experiences with his grandfather and a legendary monster encounter passed down between generations, Sean O'Shea is about to investigate the blockbuster story of his life: one what will take him to the roots of legends and possibly back to his 'old country' heritage in Europe.
The Real Monsters deftly builds a thriller that alludes to prior experience but moves nicely into new realms of discovery.
Sean and his wife Cat hold a deep friendship with two FBI agents, Ryan O’Callahan and Lea Pucci; and this relationship serves him well as he embarks on the kind of investigation could prove the reality of legends.
A subplot involving a real-world monster (a murderer who has escaped from a mental institution into Canada, where he wrecks havoc and murders priests) at first seems to take a different turn with its intense story of a brilliant psychopath's rampage; but readers who might initially puzzle at the simultaneous development of two seemingly different plots will find their connections slowly draw together in a spellbinding, well-crafted thriller that excels in the unexpected.
From a rampage of revenge and a probe into a netherworld well protected by myths and old country belief systems to the inner logic of a dangerous killer, The Real Monsters moves back and forth between continents, hearts, and minds, crafting a cat-and-mouse foray into strange characters and circumstances.
Zormo is one example of such a stranger, whose life is ruled by superstition (or, maybe it's reality?): "...lives in a house that’s more like a Hobbit house. The ceiling is five feet high, the furniture is miniature, and the house has a thatched roof. You’ll be shocked by the inside. It will be covered with garlic, wolfsbane will be everywhere, and there will be silver bullets strewn about. He’s short, fat, and rarely bathes. He wears sunglasses inside and never takes them off, even when he sleeps. He also might be the most paranoid person I’ve ever met."
Shapeshifters, CIA agents, and others clash as The Real Monsters describes the kinds of scenarios that keep readers thinking about fantasy, reality, and the gray areas in between which move full circle to the Gypsies whose world embraces these spirits.
As events move from Sean's investigation of the shapeshifter legend to the Bohemian Forest and beyond, the superstitions rooted in Eastern Europe not only come to light, but come to life, placing Sean and Max in the middle of a centrifuge of deadly danger.
It should be cautioned that The Real Monsters is complex, fast-paced, well-detailed, and moves between a number of characters and perspectives. Readers anticipating a light or easy read will find this story wonderfully well-detailed but challengingly complex. There's a difference between overly complicated and on-the-edge reading, and The Real Monsters nicely toes this line despite its globe-hopping adventures and the juxtaposition of FBI agent interests, a novelist's research, and a killer's mind.
The result is a wonderfully gripping saga that considers the links between legend and nonfiction as it follows characters who each have a vested interest in uncovering the truth not just about legends, but about an unexpected good that may lie at the heart of evil.The Real Monsters
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978-1721169184 $12.95 Paper/$3.99 ebook
Order Link: https://www.amazon.com/
The Shaman is the second book in the Dan Stone Assassin Series and is especially recommended for prior fans who enjoyed the first book about Stone, a contract assassin for the CIA.
His current mission is to assassinate the head of the Sinaloa cartel, after which he will be extracted from the dangerous desert world inhabited by these enemies of the state. When his extraction fails, it's up to Stone to survive as an alien invader in a nest of vipers.
The safest choice is to flee into the desert, where he faces a prolonged but less predictable death, but when he meets a shaman who introduces him to spirit worlds against all his beliefs and experience, Dan finds himself on an unexpected journey indeed—and so do his readers. It turns out there is more to fear (and learn from) in the desert than encounters with scorpions, murderers, and odd birds.
This is just one of the many surprises in a story line that journeys from espionage and assassinations to spiritual realms: a move that adds a mystical mission and perspective to a story that takes Dan's feelings about his first mission (that was a 'throwaway mission' with him being an expendable element) and turns it into a revealing odyssey of self-discovery. Dan was warned to expect a bonus if his 'delivery' goes well. He didn't expect this.
Action is fast-paced between cartel intrigue and politics, Jane and Henry's efforts back home, and the espionage and intelligence work being conducted on the ground; but the meat of his journey really lies in encounters which take Dan into previously unexplored spiritual realms. His encounters with shaman Tlayolotl and this alien natural world are nicely portrayed both in dialogue and description: "I should turn you out to die in the desert. I thought you were the one. Maybe I am old and don't see so well. But you are the one who doesn't see well. You are blind. You try to remain blind while I try to give you sight."
There is little cut and dried or predictable about the story as Dan moves outside his familiar territory in more ways than one; and this search is what lends The Shaman a unique flavor that makes it a standout in comparison to other thrillers revolving around spies, terrorism, and international politics.
As Dan "grows his understanding of the world...of reality," readers receive a vivid series of encounters that takes Dan into the spiritual world and back again, where he employs some of his newfound perceptions and abilities as he continues to confront the cartel and many challenges to his survival and mission.
Drugs, traps, protection plans gone awry, and a more complex world than Dan had ever imagined coalesce to create a story that is rich in cultural exploration and spiritual probes, with satisfying thriller action throughout.
The result will especially satisfy readers who eschew formula writing and look for different elements in their thrillers. This audience will find The Shaman a solidly good read: action-packed, but with the kind of personal growth that keeps its characters alive, realistic, and compelling.The Shaman
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The Singularity Witness
MindScape Press, Inc.
Witness follows neurologist-turned-
Fans of Robin Cook who seek more intrigue and moral and ethical dilemmas in their stories will find The Singularity Witness offers edge-of-your-seat reading: "This may become one of those cases where everyone is expendable. Everyone."
It should also be cautioned that reading The Singularity Witness might expand some readers' vocabulary, with its peppering of words such as "prognosticating" or "depilation."
From safe houses and medical torture to research
conducted on fragile, unwilling victims kept in a semi-vegetative state
of their neurological conditions, Parker enters a world of dark
and powerful developments. Here, The Frontier (a neurological
envisioned for military control and exploitation rather than to benefit
Parker and Morgan's encounters are action-packed, their dilemmas clear and compelling, and their roles as investigators who unwittingly serve as the only stopgate to an ultimate horror makes for riveting reading that proves nearly impossible to put down.
How can revolutionary technology that will alter mankind forever prove justifiable? And how can a senator's abduction move beyond a problem-solving scenario and into the horrors of clandestine lab work and game-changing results?
Readers seeking a blend of medical thriller and the consequences of a madman's wanton disregard for human life will find these medical, moral, ethical, and interpersonal dilemmas fuel a hard-hitting story that is vivid, realistic, and frighteningly compelling.The Singularity Witness
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9781944815073 (eBook) .99
9781944815080 (Print version) $15.97
Storm Island is the first book in a Kate Pomeroy series of mysteries, and opens with flashing lights and a dead body which comes with an additional puzzle: protagonist and neighbor Kate anticipates that she needs to be ready "when they come."
"They" is closely tied to present and past events. Surgical resident Kate has come to Storm Island to recover from a breakdown and face her memories of the past, but instead she comes to doubt their validity and her own sanity.
Further complicating matters is an unexpected romance and mystery on the island, which places Kate in both desirable and dangerous positions as she assesses her talents, reactions, history, and present-day threats.
Linda Watkins' ability to draw readers into a gripping mystery that involves psychological inspection, suspense, and drama rests firmly on strong characterization and Kate's first-person observations.
The juxtaposition of Kate's dreams and nightmares are nicely detailed and add a haunting element to the story line: "I was inside Stormview Manor, standing in the middle of the great room. How I had gotten there, I didn’t know. It was still night, and all the electric lighting had somehow disappeared and been replaced by candles and oil lamps. The illumination from these outdated fixtures cast strange, flickering shadows in the cavernous room and I felt a finger of fear run down my spine as I watched them. What was I doing here?"
As Kate backtracks over past experiences and her mother's gruesome murder and tackles her changed life, she interacts with the island community, comes to learn about underlying social and political currents, and plans on bringing medicine to the island; an endeavor which would allow her to put down roots and stay.
When the unthinkable happens, she discovers her psychological history, medical training, and newfound world are built on fragile foundations indeed. Readers become immersed in unexpected possibilities that pit Kate not just against a murderer, but her own psyche and forces that would implicate her in a crime.
Dr. Kate Pomoroy's search for "happily ever after" just got more complicated in this involving story, an absorbing mix of cozy mystery with a dash of romance and psychological inspection creating just the right blend of suspense.Storm Island
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D. L. Finn
eBook: 978-0-9977519-5-6 $2.99
The Button opens with Lynn Hill's entry into the 1980s when she turns 18 with a determination to leave her childhood pain behind. Coming of age brings with it a hitherto-unrecognized talent and danger, however, which emerges when she receives a powerful warning at a party, ignores it, and enters into a world where she's required to confront her own dark side as well as dangerous forces around her.
Thomas and Zelina are angels who look over her. While they hold relatively little influence over her decisions, they can often do little but mitigate the additional influences of the evildwels (psychic leeches who thrive on fear and anger) who continually push their humans into the dark side.
This leaves plenty of room for interpretation and influence all the way around as forces of good and evil intersect on the human level to push Lynn, her family, and her world in different directions.
While familiarity with D.L. Finn's other stories of the evildwels, angels, and their purposes will lend more background and an immediate understanding to the events in The Button, newcomers will find that just enough background is presented to make it accessible and understandable.
As Lynn faces these demons, she becomes cognizant of the kinds of choices that she alone is capable of making to determine the course of her life, and Finn provides excellent insights into the psychological dilemmas that accompany these decisions and their impacts: "She had seen enough Alfred Hitchcock movies to know that trying to do the right thing didn’t always pay off for the good guy. In fact, it seemed to get them into more trouble, and if Stacy were there, Lynn would have pointed that out to her. And yes, the dude had been dead, for sure. Well, maybe Lynn had done exactly the right thing, and now she was lying in her car, afraid to sleep in her own bed."
In a nutshell, "...humans choose what to do with it.” ("it" being these influences), and readers receive a powerful saga that follows Lynn's life and the observations of angels who would make it better.
The result is an intriguing blend of philosophical reflection, psychological and spiritual intrigue, and adventure in a novel that continues the characters of previous books and presents yet another dilemma in which the battleground of good and evil plays out on human turf: in this case, in the character of Lynn, who faces lies, uncertainties, and a seemingly-impossible quest for a happy ending; and angel Thomas, who is still absorbing lessons from Zelina on his role in influencing human affairs.
Readers who enjoy spiritual reflection and philosophy in the course of active confrontations with good and evil will find The Button a thought-provoking, involving read.The Button
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Carusi: The Shame of
Carusi: The Shame of Sicily represents a slice of life story about late 1800s Sicily and reviews the life of a young "carusi" miner who, at 5 years old, becomes an indentured servant and new head of his family when his father is killed in a mining accident. Aspanu leads a dangerous and demanding life in the small Sicilian mining town: one which holds him financially and emotionally in thrall.
Destined to work the mines to pay off family debt, Aspanu becomes caught up in the revolt of miners who have had enough of deadly working conditions and poverty, becoming embroiled in an uprising which threatens almost everything he holds dear in life.
Carusi is steeped in the sights, smells, and sounds of Sicily. It follows Aspanu's social and political awakening as he evolves from a poor miner into an activist. These moments embrace cultural, spiritual, and social traditions and impart a "you are there" feel to events, recreating bygone years and Sicily's atmosphere: "At dawn on Christmas morning, a small band traveled throughout the town playing Christmas songs in front of the votive niches, all decorated with fragrant bay leaves. The music sounded the commemoration of the birth of Jesus. Soon, the aroma of fresh baked bread and fried zeppoli, filled the small streets and alleys of Lercara. Aspanu and Carlo woke at five as usual. Carlo dressed, had his usual breakfast consisting of a cup of sheep's milk and some bread. Aspanu had some milk, a small piece of pecorino cheese and some olives from the family tree."
From overseer Modica's treatment of men who are beaten like animals to older beauty Nina Miceli's role as an attractive accomplice, Aspanu navigates this world and makes choices that, in only one day, change his life; crippling his friend, killing others, and granting him his greatest wish: freedom from the mines.
One might think that this story would paint a quick background of Sicily and then move to new opportunities in America for the remainder of Aspanu's story; but this powerful saga not only has its roots in Sicilian culture, but focuses and expands upon events that influence the course of Aspanu's values, choices, and life.
There is nothing hasty or singular about Louis Romano's novel, which takes the time to portray a myriad of social pressures, from labor issues, tragedies, and rapidly-dying townspeople, to carusi who dare to dream of forbidden love, freedom, and change.
Carusi: The Shame of Sicily is about shame, redemption, peasant uprisings, love and hate, and mafia roots and influences. No prior familiarity with Sicilian history and culture is needed in order to enjoy this vivid novel. Louis Romano presents all the background needed to absorb Aspanu's life and times and weaves a compelling saga of those who sell their souls to live and those who live to save their souls in a very highly recommended, compelling historical novel.Carusi: The Shame of Sicily
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A Far Different Path
A Far Different Path is a historical novel based on a true story, set in 1918, when the Influenza Epidemic's second wave killed some 50 million people and changed the world, and focuses on Lucile Ball's changed life as she becomes a teacher in Michigan while awaiting her fiancé's return from the Great War taking place overseas.
Michael Stone excels in capturing events through Lucile's eyes and experiences, bringing to life the often-dry facts of history and placing them in perspective: "I was not normally so absent-minded, but the week that unfolded just prior to climbing aboard that train left me no time to contemplate the actual trip. It all started with a late-night knock on the door of my family’s farmhouse. A full day of threshing left us in the fields until dark and we had just sat down in the parlor, resting for the first time since sunrise."
Just how pervasive and deep these challenges will be are revealed in chapters that follow Lucile into her teaching job, missed communications with her soldier fiancé (who has been wounded and possibly killed), and the world-changing specter of the Spanish flu, which kills healthy adults out of nowhere, in no time.
Charged with changing her life yet again to both survive and contribute to society under the worst of personal and social conditions, Lucile volunteers to care for those stricken with the flu, facing new challenges that make her transition into teaching seem like an easy choice, in comparison: "My sense of responsibility for the sixteen deathly ill people in our care was overwhelming—not unlike the feeling I had the first time I stepped into a classroom full of children, ready to learn mathematics. At least with teaching there were books to rely on and numbers especially had precise properties and followed logical functions. But with the epidemic, nothing made sense and there was no way to understand what was happening. Simply getting through it was the only possible goal after all."
This first-person observational piece about the flu's impact reaches beyond personal experience and boundaries. Lucile traverses this changed world with a sense of duty and concern that takes her own personal angst over a mounting stack of unopened letters to her missing loved one and transforms it into an opportunity for giving to others.
From letters from fiancé Howard and their separate experiences of the Great War to relationship challenges with Thomas, Charlie, and the sense that everything is on a downhill trajectory that may never change ("It was desperately wanting to go home but refusing to give up. I’d been doing my best to cope with all of the strain and uncertainty, but I was close to breaking if there wasn’t some sort of reprieve. Some sign that my world wasn’t actually coming to an end."), Stone's ability to capture the wellspring of Lucile's courage, determination, and the methods by which she copes with not just one but many life-altering forces creates a moving story that brings the protagonist and her times to life.
Engrossingly realistic yet firmly rooted in facts, A Far Different Path is highly recommended reading not just for historical novel enthusiasts, but for anyone interested in how individuals overcome life challenges and changes to aid others in a world shaken to its foundations.A Far Different Path
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Hope in the Shadows
Thomas Paul Reilly
Softcover: $17.95, 978-1-63393-702-4
Hardcover: $26.95, 978-1-63393-704-8
ebook: $5.99, 978-1-63393-703-1
Hope in the Shadows of War tells of Vietnam War veteran Timothy Patrick O'Rourke, who returns from battles that test his soul in 1973 to find even greater battles taking place on the home front.
His struggle to find meaning in his life as a vet seems futile as he carries the baggage of battle into his home. Even his girlfriend can't begin to help or understand as Timothy confronts bigger demons than enemies on the field.
Nightmares of bodies and death haunt his dreams while his waking life is plagued by shadows until he meets the mysterious Hoffen, who has been there, and come out the other side with some unique answers.
The many lessons he learns, from how overwhelming circumstances can be managed and are familiar to many to Hoffen's desire to study psychology to better understand and cope with a crazy world, all lead Timothy on an unexpected journey to recover his self, his purpose in life, and come to grips with the nightmares he carries with him, which are deep scars on his psyche.
Many novels have been written about the Vietnam vet experience; but few hold the compelling narrative style, intersections between characters on different paths to better lives, and insights about grieving, sorrow, joy, and the pursuit of a better life than Hope in the Shadows of War.
It carefully captures and winds together many issues intrinsic to veteran experience in a compelling read that stands out among the fictional chronicles of vets returning home to a different kind of survival or holding pattern.Hope in the Shadows of War
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The Inquisitor's Niece
D. X. Varos, Ltd.
978-1-941072-42-4 $17.95 Paper/$5.99 ebook
The Inquisitor's Niece opens in Seville, Spain, in 1514, just after the deaths of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. The Inquisitor General, a a cardinal and bitter enemy of the Jews, has issued a decree that all Jews must convert to Christianity or face exile. In this world, "A Jew has no friends among Christians." It's not the kind of atmosphere which would encourage a Jew and a Christian to fall in love; but Alonso and Luisa are star-crossed lovers whose paths entwine even though Luisa is married to another.
Inquisition-era Spain comes to life through the thoughts and perceptions of these two and those who surround them, from the mercurial Natale, whose effects on others is powerful and changing ("It is good to recognize one’s weaknesses,” Natale said. “But to examine your conscience is not an intellectual exercise, my friend. You must begin by humbling yourself before God.” It was always good to put a sinner in his place. The more abject he was made to feel, the more generous in the end."), to the Cardinal's rise to Regent. Ripples of deadly danger change the kingdom when its leaders die and their successors promote a special religious mission: "But even if God preserved the Cardinal, and the Prince reached Spain without incident, there was one more obstacle to overcome: the mad Queen must agree to hand over the government to her son."
Readers of historical fiction will find this story absorbing and packed with historical facts and insights that well represent the atmosphere, politics, and religious and social concerns, and politics of 16th century Spain. Daily life under the darkness of the Spanish Inquisition is well detailed and teaches much about the era while supporting a compelling tale that involves readers in matters of the heart.
From Spain to Venice, The Inquisitor's Niece provides a powerful survey of the ideals, thoughts, and perceptions of Christian theologians and those who question them. It deftly moves beyond the story of two frustrated would-be lovers separated by forces beyond their control, and into a world that offers hope in the face of darkness.
Historical fiction readers are in for a real treat with The Inquisitor's Niece.The Inquisitor's Niece
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The Last Devadasi
Barbara L. Baer
978-1948598088 $16.95 Paper/$8.99 ebook
Picture contemporary India, where popular star Kamala Kumari is also a member of the Devadasi caste, an ancient cult operating in modern times, dedicated to having girls placed in South Indian temples to serve gods and men. Kamala's modern world seems to preclude such activities; but she becomes caught between tradition and romance in The Last Devadasi, a story set in the 1970s which follows Kamala's complicated triangle.
The first thing to note about this novel is that it is steeped in the sights, smells, and sounds of Indian culture. Powerfully written descriptions bring a sense of place and familiarity with Kumari's world into the average Westerner's home: "This neighborhood is called Thousand Lights. It is where the Mohammedan people live. There is a special sweet store here I have brought you to try, but first, let us have kabobs.” Salomé led her to a smoking grill where a man wearing a white cap was turning over sticks with meat on them. They paid two rupees for kabobs dripping with onions and vinegar. In the sweet shop, Salomé ordered kulfi ice sweets. A boy, also wearing a white cap, handed them cold pale squares that appeared to be wrapped in silver paper, with tiny silver balls on top. “What is this? Do I remove the silver?” Celeste held the cold square in her hand. “No, you eat it all.” She bit into the flat cake, icy almost slippery and tongue-tingling sweet. Pistachios crunched within the cool hardness. She almost swooned from the pleasure of it."
Another notable strength is Kumari's encounters with servant Celeste, Celeste's growing enlightenment about other lifestyles and choices, and the intersections between film star and everyday lifestyles.
The "old ways" are nicely juxtaposed against contemporary habits and thinking as the characters encounter, interact with one another, and are changed by these relationships and the new ideas they bring: "The Hindus are strange to me as well, as if I came from another country,” Celeste said. “I have seen the very old and peaceful Souers who didn’t fear death but they would have been terrified if in death their clothes were to be removed for all to see.”
As each learns about the various cultures, spiritual, and social changes of India, their own experiences, expectations and backgrounds come into play as the plot winds through movie sets, Indian weddings and celebrations, hard-working Kamala's world, and the destiny and decisions she faces.
Each character brings a different angle into the story, from Kamala's relationship with Jules and the marriage taboo that keeps Kamala from a full relationship with him to classical dancer Tanjore Balasaraswati, a real, great South Indian dancer with whom Barbara L. Baer had personal acquaintance.
Readers seeking a story based in India but filled with flavors of past and present will find The Last Devadasi a powerful read that draws important, thought-provoking connections between spirituality, relationships between men and women, and the kinds of institutions that keep old beliefs alive; sometimes beyond their relevance to contemporary experience.The Last Devadasi
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The Patron Saint of Lost Girls
Southeast Missouri State University Press
The Patron Saint of Lost Girls is a Nilsen Prize for a First Novel Winner, is set in the Midwest in the late 1970s, and offers a series of fourteen interconnected short stories about Mary, who grows up in Detroit during an era of conflict and change.
The social fluxes described within (addiction, unemployment, conflict) were issues observed by author Maureen Aitken when she lived in Detroit in the 1970s and 80s; but when set into fiction and paired with the first-person observations of a young woman who breathes the air, atmosphere, and changes of her time, this past world comes to life.
Each statement compels readers to soak in and reflect
upon the protagonist's observations and life. This literary device
opening paragraphs of the first story and makes them shine with
impressions and a sense of change and excitement: "In August,
when the cicadas burned and the lawnmowers sounded
like industrial bees, we couldn’t stop. In the bedroom, on the couch,
on the floor.
Afterwards we would lie there, reading the paper or letting the
taunt us like a car salesman. Paul would wiggle his toes against mine,
look at one another for a long time. His face was like a catcher’s
and beaten. He reminded me of one of those boys who had moved away when
little, but Paul had returned a man. Then it would start all over
again, and I
felt like one of those cicadas, burning up from something that had no
dog licked our legs. The mail fell through the slot. But we didn’t
move. Even a
smile felt like it would slice through us. I don’t know if we were
potent or both, but one conversation dangled on us like an ornament."
Mary's observations are poignant and astute, whether it's about herself, her family, or messages she's grown up with, whether they are about being female or encountering a squatter: "This man wanted a home, too, I reasoned. He just wanted to be left alone. That’s what the man was trying to convey. But why was he moving toward me? Everyone who was robbed or attacked had a piece of advice: don’t be a girl."
In this tale, the lessons learned from a near-tragic encounter are particularly thought-provoking, connecting personal experience with bigger-picture social realizations: "I would run all the way home. He didn’t understand. It wasn’t just a man. It wasn’t just a house. It was all wrong: our theft, his squatting, the government, the corporations. Whatever made this situation was wrong."
These connections form the threads of Mary's life, pulling readers into a world where being female in Detroit during this particular era creates dichotomies of perplexing confusion that leads Mary to question and mistrust her values versus everything she sees, feels, touches, and encounters in her world.
Mary's experiences are a microcosm of American life ("This was America. Who doesn’t know an addict but the addict himself?"), and are an enriching way to absorb not only the protagonist in this series of sparkling vignettes, but the pulse of American society as a whole.
In capturing these observations and bringing them to life, Maureen Aitken has produced a masterpiece highly recommended not only for fans of literary fiction (and most deserving of being the Nilsen Prize for a First Novel Winner), but for anyone seeking a winning, accessible and compelling portrait of growing up female in Detroit in an era where everything familiar is changing.The Patron Saint of Lost Girls
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Three Days at Wrigley Field
K.P. Gresham, Publisher
0996700226 $16.99 Print/$4.99 ebook
Rachel Caravetti is a statuesque female baseball player with a strong arm and a penchant for winning. She loves teammate Kevin, a pitcher whose time has passed and whose position is up for grabs. When Rachel's upward trajectory collides with Kevin's slump and a team owner's interest in hiring her against tradition and odds, trouble brews on Wrigley Field.
Adversity comes from unlikely places—not just the threatened romance between Rachel and Kevin; but from the Cubs manager and the granddaughter of the team owner who would hire her.
If this were a romance story or a baseball account alone, it would be much more singular; but the characters examine, question, confront, and rebel against the forces that change their lives, and this element of self-examination accompanies the politics, confrontations, and even murder that runs through Three Days at Wrigley Field's baseball focus: "For the last hour he’d been sitting in this pew, examining and reexamining his life, trying to make sense of what had passed and make peace with what would never be."
The element of surprise, combined with psychological inspections, crafts a more detailed story line than anticipated from a baseball romance/thriller, and will please readers who may have anticipated a sports focus alone.
Another strength to Three Days at Wrigley Field lies in its ability to portray underlying special interests, influences, and concerns; from Rachel's choices (which stem from wanting to prove her femininity despite her sports prowess) to Leah's commitment to using her political savvy to try to get Rachel to fail ("She’d been taught by her parents from early on that favors were part of the game. The politics of money was every bit as important as the amount.").
As motivations, managers, and muscle collides on the field, readers are treated to inside perceptions of the world of professional baseball as Rachel looks for a way in even as other characters seek ways out.
Intrigue builds and combines with game descriptions to create a satisfying buildup of egos, politics, and confrontations that will delight baseball fans; especially those with special interest in the Chicago Cubs.
Issues of women's barriers, rights, and struggles for recognition combine with this sports focus to create a well-rounded story filled with delightful twists and the struggles of a woman who strives to be recognized as a major athlete by giving the game (and her relationship) a real shot at success.Three Days at Wrigley Field
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Three Days of
S. A. Teller
Vista Alegre Publishing House
Hard Cover: 978-0-9997384-2-9 $24.99
Trade Paper: 978-0-9997384-0-5 $14.99
Three Days of Darkness: The Final Secret is based on true events and tells of an evil society confronting the Vatican, an army of demons, miracles and premonitions, and the rise of a holy war against Christianity known as the Three Days of Darkness, prophesied to begin on the Holy Mother’s centennial anniversary.
It should be noted that The Miracle of the Sun, the Miracle of Bernadette, Pope Leo XIII’s Vision, and the Blessed Anna-Maria Taigi’s Prophesy were officially documented historical events, although they've been slightly altered to confirm to this story's premise.
The Virgin Mary has chosen a common peasant to carry her message; but the obstacles facing shepherd girl Lúcia are formidable ones that would stymie even a Vatican official used to facing down evil forces, much less a simple girl. Lúcia's ultimate task, to thwart an impending apocalypse, seems impossible.
The story opens with the beginning of the end in 2017, when a blanket of fiery destruction consumes a Florida church. (This is a good place to note that descriptions of violence, though appropriate to the story line, are graphically detailed.)
Unexpectedly, the story shifts, in the second chapter, to 1917 Italy, where a baby is being baptized. Unfortunately, the proud parents don't realize that their chosen priests are actually mocking the Baptismal Sacrament until a terrible moment reveals an underlying horror in the Church sacrament.
As good rises to confront evil (the Blue Army of Mary versus the Red Army of Satan), a series of bloody clashes begins that not only leads to evil's final encounter with forces of redemption, but the involvement of Church officials, nuns and priests, a boy's nightmares, and humanity's fading hopes for spiritual and corporal survival.
From visions of how the Holy Virgin Mary miraculously appeared to fourteen-year-old Bernadette Soubirous at the Grotto in Lourdes, France and its impact on modern events to confrontations with a frightening darkness, a host of characters interact and struggle in an epic battle in this vivid, engrossing story of apocalyptic struggle that embraces religious belief, predictions, and the end of days.
The result is a hard-hitting story filled with action, bloody encounters, stories of redemption and evil, and visions of destruction that revolve around whether the Holy Mother and Katherine's prayers can save the world.
Readers of good-versus-evil spiritual clashes will find Three Days of Darkness: The Final Secret is simply riveting, juxtaposing nonstop action with a variety of characters who each hold a vested interest in the outcome of this ultimate battle.Three Days of Darkness
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The Civil War at Home
Working Class Books
978-1732769328 $14.95 paperback/$9.00 Kindle
One shooting changes everything. It changes the lives of a family and Marina, who didn't even know they'd owned a gun. It changes those who witnessed or fell victim to the shooting. Both of the male characters are blessed with privileges, yet both feel that Donald Trump embodies what they either hate (Kevin, a liberal) or love (Rick, a conservative) about the direction of the country.
It quickly becomes evident that part of the underlying story in The Civil War at Home lies in the disparity between Trump supporters and those who believe otherwise. Having a novel that moves between the viewpoints of liberal and conservative characters deftly illustrates not just politics but personal perceptions and experience, allowing readers to digest both sides of a coin that is usually quite one-sided: "Our MAGA sticker tells the world who we are and what matters most to us: church, family, community. Traditional values. The backside of our Dodge Neon tells the world the Sullivans are a Trump family. Politics has made things worse, but Kevin and I were never more than neighbors. Even before Donald Trump. My neighbor is pretty smug and entitled. The man buys a new car every year. His wife looks like she’s half made of plastic. Kevin might be a good dad, but his home clearly lacks the Lord’s presence. Kevin obviously thinks he’s too good to have a relationship with Jesus Christ...Underneath all his money Kevin lacks a moral core. Just like most liberals."
The character of Marina adds yet another important dimension to the story, for she is: "...Mexican the way Bill O’Reilly is Irish. Meaning, I am genuinely one-quarter Mexican, but with a few exceptions my Spanish is limited to “No queso on the frijoles.”
These different viewpoints are clearly presented under headers which make it easy for readers to follow the changing perspectives and events impacting each character. This focus on racial, class, and social divisions in the same neighborhood between those who come from different backgrounds makes for a solid perspective that doesn't condemn one group or person, but strives for equality in showing how each character's background and experiences grew their belief systems.
As Kevin and his neighbors perceive the growing influence of Trump in these interpersonal relationships ("Rick obviously hates Mexicans. He couldn’t take his eyes off Marina the entire night. I know what he’s thinking. He doesn’t even have to say it. I could see it on his face. He’s thinking, “How does an illegal afford a twelve-hundred-dollar dog?” He’s thinking, “We’ve got to get that wall built, right now.”), readers are provided a healthy dose of insight into how people become separated by their heritage, experience, and most of all, by the politicians and perceptions of those in charge.
How do you break a heart? You have affairs. You lie and feud. You choose options and paths that divide rather than unify. Rick is lying, Kevin struggles with anger management issues, and the entire neighborhood is a volcano waiting to blow. Marina and Kate find themselves caught up in their husbands' vendettas and dangerous responses, as a result.
The Civil War at Home is about understanding what lies beneath the façade of belief systems, perceptions of threat, and political divisions.
Given these tumultuous times, this fictional presentation holds many vivid messages about choosing sides, the perceived righteousness of a given perspective; and about the process of losing self, love, and connections to the world. Readers receive all this and more from a hard-hitting novel that could be about one's family, neighbor, or neighborhood. It is about modern-day America, issues of villains and heroes, elitism, and who becomes either deplorable or respected in a society turned upside down.
Every American seeking connections between classes, races, and political divides needs to absorb the thought-provoking, realistic, and fast-paced action of The Civil War at Home, a novel highly recommended for its closer inspection of the roots of discord than most accounts about the Trump era would provide.The Civil War at Home
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B State: A New
Roadmap for Bold Leadership, Brave Culture and Breakthrough Results
Greenleaf Book Group Press
9781626345694 $9.99 Kindle/$24.95 Hardcover
B State: A New Roadmap for Bold Leadership, Brave Culture and Breakthrough Results is directed to business and leadership readers interested in innovative measures for transformative thinking and actions, and considers the process of how leaders evolve and why they become stuck as 'A' players instead of moving forward.
Chapters follow how to move from 'stuck' to 'unstuck' in a variety of situations that illustrate process of growth and proactive engagement. Although B State focuses on organizational examples to explore such situations, its advice applies equally to individual as well as enterprise pursuits.
At this point, readers may think the message will come from yet another inspirational life coach viewpoint; but Mark Samuel creates a different perspective that, from the beginning, acknowledges common failures in similar-sounding routines: "In the individual A State, you cannot make your relationships work, find the job or career path that makes you happy, or maintain the diet/exercise regimen you swore to your friends and family—and doctor—you'd keep up to feel better. No matter how many personal-growth workshops you go to, how much "positive thinking" you employ, how many affirmations you dutifully write out, or how many life coaches, therapists, and gurus you follow, you just cannot seem to get out of your own way."
Having defined this 'A State' and its limitations, Samuel then defines the parameters of the 'B State' and discusses exactly how and why breakthroughs are possible there, incorporating his own journey, misconceptions, and growth and using them as case history examples of change: "I started giving credence to people's negative and positive energy flows. It was bit tricky at first to sort out whether someone's reaction is theirs or the result of someone else's negativity, but over the years I've gotten better at making those distinctions. It all comes down to awareness and practice."
His work with mission statements, organizational revamps, and most particularly, the challenges in the processes he developed ("We couldn't create a single Picture for the entire organization—no one could be accountable for that. We had to create it specifically for the SLT—the ones who would lead the hospital's survival—and only look for those mindsets, attitudes, and behaviors they would do differently to ensure that survival. No point picturing what they were already doing—that's what got them into where they were now!") are supplemented by summary quotes that lend to skimming and easy absorption.
Written for business managers, executives, and those who would become more effective leaders in any organizational structure, the author's 30-plus years of professional and academic expertise as an author, speaker, and change agent create dialogues that compliment ideals with actionable, concrete paths to achievement and success.
The result is the type of blueprint for change that should be welcomed by any business leader concerned about creating and enacting programs that hold real transformational opportunities for all involved.B State: A New Roadmap for Bold Leadership, Brave Culture and Breakthrough Results
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Cakewalk: The Science of Happy
CJ Staples & Lily Ness
Think Ink Pubishing
Black and white: 9781732089907 $9.99
Cakewalk: The Science of Happy is for teens and tweens who want a head start on understanding the roots of happiness and how to cultivate them, providing a primer on the law of attraction that requires no prior familiarity with the process in order to prove accessible.
Young people receive a combination of admonitions, quotes, stories, and invitations to reflect on their own short lives and evolving concept of happiness.
There are many practical approaches to this process, including handling the "three sad stooges" (negative, pessimistic, and gloomy) that may inhabit family and friends, cultivating and using alone time, fostering supportive role models, and handling and acknowledging emotions about school, friends, and life.
At each stage, case history examples and exercises invite young people to more closely examine their own lives, motivations, reactions, and responses to self and others.
Cakewalk: The Science of Happy should be required reading for any teen or tween. It covers many common pitfalls and how to handle them, creating an early opportunity for cultivating a more self-reflective, cognizant approach to life.
While its audience is younger readers, many an adult
want to browse this as a basic introduction to the Laws of Attraction
insightful primer appropriate for their own changing approaches to life.
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The Girls Are Gone
Michael Brodkorb & Allison Mann
Wise Ink Creative Publishing
True crime fans interested in stories of missing kids will appreciate the riveting reenactment of events surrounding the disappearance of two teen sisters who vanished amidst their parents' divorce in The Girls Are Gone: The True Story of Two Sisters Who Vanished, the Father Who Kept Searching, and the Adults Who Conspired to Keep the Truth Hidden.
Most parents never stop searching for their missing child; but the intense feelings of these moments, days, and years are seldom captured as intimately as in this story, which features a countdown of events that begins with 497 days gone.
One would think that even with a divorce in the works, the estranged parents would join forces to locate their missing children. Father David Rucki, left with three remaining children at home with him, worked day and night with officials searching for his daughters. Mother Sandra Grazzini-Rucki traveled the world on holiday, eventually to disappear, herself.
Key events surrounding the intense search, its outcome, and the criminal charges filed against those responsible for the girls' disappearance assume the tense, dramatic atmosphere of a fictional piece as moment-by-moment experiences are detailed: "Back home that night, even with the three kids he did have at home—the ones he could see and hear and hug—the house felt just a little emptier. The hole in his heart was getting bigger. All he wanted was for his girls to come home. He wanted them and their stuff back where they belonged, not boxed up, not . . . God only knew where. He wanted them home."
By focusing on the daily experiences and challenges of living under the gun with uncertain results from an increasingly despairing search, Michael Brodkorb and Allison Mann capture the moments that grabbed David Rucki's heart and mind, penning them in a way which audiences can not only understand and relate to, but in a manner that proves nearly impossible to put down.
True crime stories relate facts and events; but superior accounts grab the reader's heart. The Girls Are Gone achieves this as it portrays the bigger issues of parental responsibility, kidnapping, child endangerment, and legal investigations.
Another big plus: The Girls Are Gone isn't just narrated from the father's perspective. The authors met during the criminal trial surrounding the case. Allison worked at a law firm representing David Rucki while Michael was working for the Star Tribune at the time, covering the story as the case developed. Their observations and input about these processes are invaluable as the story unfolds from different perspectives, adding a layer of reporting that explains and explores court procedures, kidnapping issues, and parental rights on both sides.
The result is far more complex than the usual singular individual's experience, offering a probe into a conspiracy to hide the truth and manipulate the lives of all involved as a courtroom case spirals out of control and divides a family.
As true crime and kidnapping stories go, The Girls Are Gone is head and shoulders above most others, probing a network of crime and the impact of hidden truths that will leave readers thinking long past the conclusion.
It took a village to gather all the information to write this book. The Girls Are Gone should be on the reading lists of anyone interested in not just true crime stories of kidnapped children, but accounts of desperation and the bravery of survivors who come forth to tell their stories to change the world.The Girls Are Gone
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Hatching Charlie: A Quest for Happiness and Meaning
Charles C. McCormack
Hatching Charlie: A Quest for Happiness and Meaning is a passionate memoir designed to educate and inspire, following Charles C. McCormack's journey through life and events that range from encounters with family violence and racism in the Jim Crow South to the spillover from early encounters with violence, adult confrontations and mishaps, and an emerging quest for a purpose-driven life.
The first thing to note about McCormack's memoir is that it holds more psychological self-inspection than most. It's not just the story of one man's journey through life and its many changes: Charles C. McCormack brings readers into his heart, revealing connections between events and the actual process of personal transformation: "I was starting to understand that if I sat with my uncomfortable feelings, rather than abort them through drugs or action, the feelings themselves would become a gateway to myself. In the years to come, I was to learn that boredom and floundering are often calls to creativity and constitute a fertile soil from which inspiration can bloom."
One of the story's many themes becomes evident early on as new generations arrive and affect the narrator's course in life: "Isn’t it amazing how values change, often in perfect tandem with self-interest?"
From early days of changes and attempts to balance professionalism with fun to the author's attempts to break free from traditional therapist/patient routines to achieve more meaningful dialogue and interactions, readers follow a life journey that delves into personal and professional anxiety, offers surreal moments spiced with self-assessments ("Having my assessment of the situation so concisely confirmed, including that the thought of fleeing wasn’t beyond the pale, made me laugh—animosity was indeed loose in the room, it hadn’t simply been a construction of my anxiety ridden mind."), and most of all, cover McCormack's realization that it's within his power and abilities to cultivate a good life against all odds.
Nary a life experience is left unexplored; from family violence and heartbreak to divorce, mental illness, and broader philosophical reflections on the nature of adversity: "Is the success of this family in growing authentic and resilient relationships despite or because of the trials and tribulations we’ve navigated together?"
Hatching Charlie is a moving, multifaceted exploration of the human condition through one man's volatile, changing life experiences. It is especially recommended for autobiography readers who appreciate blends of adventure and self-inspection that leads from youth to later years, embracing a sense of growth and evolution that's clearly tracked in the story of Charlie's 'hatching' process and emergence into a positive state of being.Hatching Charlie: A Quest for Happiness and Meaning
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Page 6 And Beyond
Amazon Digital Services
ASIN: B07FDYQ8ZR $8.99 Kindle/$10.99 Paperback
It's important to note that Page 6 and Beyond: Let's Stir the Pot is not an autobiography in the usual sense of the word. It's a satirical observation of an Indian girl living in Northern Virginia who grows up in a volatile and strange world, and it captures the nuances and eclectic experiences of classmates in a manner reminiscent of the Page 6 gossip section of the New York Post that shared news, pop culture, and gossip, pairing them with visual embellishments.
Hureen Gandhi became, in effect, the CEO of this mission to share gossip and lives, and her account documents these stories as it fluctuates between her past and present worlds and creates a roller coaster of experience that brings readers along for a rollicking social and cultural inspection.
The first thing to note about Page 6 and Beyond's approach is that although its roots lie in real-world encounters and experiences, these events are narrated with a dash of satire, and some names have been changed (often with humorous descriptions embedded in them, such as 'Ms. Lady Half') to protect the innocent.
The second note is that there's nothing innocent about this high spirited exploration. Gandhi embarks on a series of revelations designed to entertain, enlighten, and provoke laughter and shame-faced self-recognition among readers. One doesn't have to be familiar with her life, times, or area in order to appreciate full-faceted vignettes that are peppered with fun illustrations throughout and which focus on the individuals, purposes, and perspectives of a diverse SXH School WhatsApp group of friends.
From the 'rules' of the newly-formed Page 6 group to headline stories revolving around family and friends, intersections between Indian and American cultures, and the evolution of an online class community where messages spark debates, confrontations, and influence close-knit relationships, Page 6 and Beyond excels in capturing the nuances and ironies of daily lives and provides slices of these lives to a wide audience.
The back-and-forth postings and responses reminiscent of texting (but with more detail and better spelling) will particularly appeal to generations who enjoy their drama and observations in digestible snippets of information.
Whether it's obtaining guidance on morals and values for youngsters or the fundamental tenants of a democratic society and how social and political lines are crossed, examined, and formed, Gandhi in effect creates a lively dialogue that will encourage readers to consider their own cultural influences, dialogues and interactions with peers and elders. This leads to a closer inspection of these influences on their evolving lives, whether they are political, social, or psychological.
How Gandhi gets her group to submit stories and create dialogues around them and how Page 6 evolves is just as much a part of the bigger picture surrounding this book's evolution as the details of her life as she explores her Indian heritage, influences, and traditions.
The result is hard to easily categorize: neither strictly autobiography in the usual sense nor social observation in the typical dispassionate, analytical manner, Page 6 and Beyond is quite simply a treasure trove of cultural enlightenment. It takes a group of peers, gathers their stories, and uses a storyteller's gift for drama to bring everything together. It's a comedic gossip piece that provides important revelations about interpersonal interactions, life choices, and the process of forming and managing connections.
Readers who enjoy personal stories of Indian/American culture and interactions between generations will appreciate Page 6 and Beyond for its unique voice, multifaceted observations, and spunky, lively writing style that places it within reach of all readers regardless of age, ethnicity, or political direction.Page 6 And Beyond
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Starting from Scratch
Favorite Recipes Press
There are many cookbooks on the market which go back to basics to explore easy cooking and entertaining strategies, but Starting From Scratch Cooking and Entertaining Made Simple is a standout written by a culinary professional who had no background in cooking when she began. She didn't grow up in a family of accomplished home cooks and her first forays into the kitchen were less than successful, but she learned to become a good hostess and cook, and Starting From Scratch Cooking and Entertaining Made Simple is the starting point for anyone who would emulate her accomplishments.
There are 78 recipes in this culinary journey; but what makes them exceptional is a combined focus on very simple yet elegant-looking, foolproof results and a back-to-basics approach that covers what may seem obvious to more experienced cooks: "Whether you're a master chef or beginner cook, the same rule applies: preparation is everything. Read the recipe, make your grocery list, and shop smart. Save time by preparing your ingredients ahead of time and measuring everything out."
There's an overview of kitchen equipment, from pots
pans to prep devices, a review of pantry staples, and a chart of
equivalents. The recipes themselves are faced with full-page color
finished results and can be as complex-sounding as a Lobster Bisque to
as a quick vegetable soup made with frozen soup vegetables and carrots
boxes of low-sodium chicken broth.
This is the second big lesson: good food needn't require time-consuming preparations. Shortcuts that include boned chicken breasts, packaged sliced mushrooms, or canned ingredients pair with fresh fare to streamline a beginner's time and efforts.
The result is the kind of cookbook that should accompany any teen out of the home and into the world of easy cooking and entertaining: a fine-looking hardback that invites bare-bones beginners into a world of successful culinary accomplishment with no prior assumption of skills, knowledge, or time.
Starting From Scratch Cooking and Entertaining Made Simple is very highly recommended.Starting from Scratch
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They Gathered As Unto
Jeffrey W. Tenney
Whistle Creek Press
978-0979633386 $13.95 paper/$2.99 ebook
They Gathered As Unto Strife is a poetic dramatization of the Civil War's second battle at Wilson's Creek, capturing events as they unfolded just prior to and during the Civil War. It provides an unusual focus and structure that captures battle experiences and facts, presenting them from the different perspectives of those involved.
This focus and art form allows for a deeper inspection of Civil War participants, creating fictional characters based on real people who represent an array of experiences and perceptions.
Take, for one example, the narrative poem from the viewpoint of soldier Simeon Taylor in 'The Thwarted': "In my seventeen years of field labor and dock work,/I had displayed no end of good health,/and a hardiness that shamed many of my fellows./How was it, then, that I fell before them, a casualty not of/war but of heat and exhaustion?/Was it that my sister had spurned the advances of this/sergeant and a year gone by brought that dullard’s/revenge upon me?/I think not in the main. No, I had endured worse from/much better men./Regrettably, it was that leaden uniform, that tight, airless/weave about each limb and torso that exposed some/hidden frailty and delivered me to my doom."
The free verse allows for a thorough representation of experience without the need to conform rhyming, but it's the diversity of that experience which makes They Gathered As Unto Strife a standout.
It should be noted that in keeping with this diversity are representations of the experiences of women, from the opening story of seamstress Stella May Wheeler to the emotionally charged protest of Sarah James, 'truth teller' extraordinaire: "I made no uniforms for my sons./No need to wrap the bad will and thoughtless hubris/of the men in Jefferson City in fetching clothes./Would I bake a pie from the finest peaches/only to throw it against the outhouse wall?"
At times, the poetic structure seems to convert to prose, as in 'The Mingler': "How could it happen that we would find ourselves/standing into line with a company of the enemy army/and neither side knowing the other to be its foe?/True, they wore gray and appeared in all respects/as ragged and confused as our own boys. But we/were at the bottom of the hill—our ground. We had/just beaten back their assault in a most persuasive manner./How be it those Yankees could lose themselves so/completely as to stand hand by hand with us/and join with our formation?"
For the sake of diversity and exploration, these vignettes need of necessity remain loosely structured; and so readers anticipating conventional rhyme may find these accounts ill suited to poetry in the traditional sense.
Their literary, historical, and psychological value are, however, sterling; and readers with a prior interest in Civil War participants and perspectives will find no better attention to detail and the breadth of experience than They Gathered As Unto Strife which, more so than most other representations, attends to a depth of observation that brings the Civil War experience into modern understanding with an immediacy lacking in other dramatic or fictional approaches.
Peppered with evocative sketches throughout, these poems excel in capturing different voices, experiences, and observations and will prove especially accessible and key to an introductory study of the Civil War's impact on the lives of Northerner and Southerner alike.They Gathered As Unto Strife
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978-1941488812 $19.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
Enchained is Book 1 in a trilogy of the same name and tells of Noni, who has just become a member of the honored Martial Diplomatic Corps, an organization for top achievers tasked with visiting the maternity wards and taking the healthiest children from their mothers. These children (as was she) are raised in bunkers and are trained in the letter of the law.
Corps membership and becoming the "arbiter of Arel" is their pinnacle of achievement, but failure to pass this final test means death—and that's the position Noni is in at the novel's opening. She passes the test; but then the real challenge begins: observing her world with changed perceptions for the first time in her life.
Enchained is more than the story of a young girl's coming of age: it's a study on social abuse, reality checks, attacks, battles and struggles with the populace, and Noni's coming of age as she breaks with her military training and traditions to become cognizant of much greater issues and dilemmas.
Noni's process of realization, from her early confrontations with attackers holding weaponry they should not possess ("I follow her across the crosswalk to the inner wall and back to one of the stairwells that lead downward into my city, unable to shake this feeling that something is not right.") to struggles with her newfound role as arbiter representing a system she may ultimately not wish to support, documents the awakening of a girl rigidly trained to adhere to a particular social and political paradigm, and what it takes to introduce doubt and revelation into that mindset.
If this sounds complicated, be advised that Enchained is actually billed as young adult reading; so both mature teens and new adult readers will find it easily compelling and understandable on social, political, and psychological levels. Action and engagements are strengthened by the powerful character of Noni as she faces her ambitions and dreams.
Twists and turns of
plot keep readers both on edge and involved, the outcomes of Noni's
process are unpredictable on many levels, and readers of dystopian
works will find Enchained holds many
bigger-picture moments that expands Noni's perceptions with insights
various forms of enslavement and the kinds of encounters that shake
and reality to its roots: "Our lives
out here and at other outposts may seem rough and a bit uncouth to
this is our reality,” Commandant Jensen explains. “Arel is the only
Is Noni really tasked with bringing stability to her world, as is her perception and the ideal of her superiors; or is she part of the forces that would subjugate it?
Engrossing moral and ethical dilemmas, Noni's growth, and her journey create a compelling vision of what comprises humanity, enslavement, and freedom, making for a highly recommended saga that is original, absorbing, and nearly impossible to put down.Enchained
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The Railway Children
Raymond Cook, Publisher
At first glance, The Railway Children Chronicle sounds like this will be another addition to (or perhaps a takeoff on) Edith Nesbit's classic children's book, serialized in 1905 and the subject of movies and reprints over the decades. But this children's story of orphan children in a booming Western town is quite different, surveying the lives of different children orphaned in the mining town of Silver Plume, Colorado, which has neither church or nor orphanage to help them.
The story opens with the experiences of newly orphaned Sarah, who is lucky enough to stumble upon a couple who will take her in and keep her alive and off the streets; but quickly moves to focus on Elizabeth's children, who become orphans and find themselves in the dire circumstances they've too often observed among their peers.
A kindly railway yard operator does his best to fill in for missing parents and opens his heart and yard to this group and other orphans who follow them, but the issue of orphans struggling in the streets of Silver Plume remains a problem until help arrives from an unlikely source.
Raymond Cook fills this story with images from the old West, building a fictional saga that is spiced by research on the atmosphere, politics, and social issues of the times. He then tailors the events and children's' perceptions of their world for a young audience of elementary-level readers (likely grades 4-6) who will find the wealth of vintage photos of children and settings of the era compliment the story of a struggling small family.
The result is a realistic, refreshingly absorbing tale recommended for young readers that brings to life the plight of early frontier orphans and the processes whereby they are rescued.The Railway Children Chronicles
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Scarlet Reign: Malice
of the Dark Witch
eBook: 978-0-9998822-0-7 $2.99
Paperback: 978-0-9998822-1-4 $8.99
Book website: www.
Scarlet Reign: Malice of the Dark Witch tells of fourteen-year-old Natalie, who has just lost her mother and who retains only a mysterious ring that she carries with her and guards through her much-changed life and into a female orphanage, which brings with it bullies, threats, and further challenges.
Young adult fantasy readers ages 14 and older will appreciate this focus on dark times, the prophecies surrounding the rise of a new Scarlet Reign of heroines in a land which faces repression and domination, and Natalie's sacred ring and all that it promises.
As Natalie embarks on a journey far from anything she's experienced in her short years with her mother, she is visited by three women in red who give her the gifts of wisdom, health, and resilience.
From the death of a homeless woman/witch to Natalie's confrontation with Mrs. Haggle and her own danger, Scarlet Reign unfolds like the chess game that appears as part of the story line, with character moves and countermoves creating a powerfully evocative story of discovery and change, with a dash of romance that keeps Natalie on her toes and balancing between new opportunities and dangerous visions.
Throughout it all, her role in her own and the world's future remain uncertain, perilous, and subject to influences beyond her understanding.
What sets Scarlet Reign apart from other young adult fantasy reads is its attention to detail and insights not just about evolving goals and new understandings, but their costs and possibilities for gaining control. Natalie's lessons are nicely detailed ("The road to power requires hard work and discipline, just like any other field. And if it didn’t, there’d hardly be any respect for the power you attain—again, just like any other field in life. The more power you want, the more work it takes to attain it."), creating a powerful story that is appealing on many levels, both psychologically and in terms of romance and adventure experiences.
Scarlet Reign is a complex, engrossing saga that is highly recommended for young adult fantasy readers seeking more than just a quest story: it's a tale of confrontation and achievement in a strange, changing world.Scarlet Reign: Malice of the Dark Witch
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War of Chaos
Stephan von Clinkerhoffen
Publisher website - http://www.waldorfpublishing.
Author website - https://www.stephanvonclink.
Amazon.com link - https://www.amazon.com/War-
War of Chaos is the second volume in 'The Hidden City of Chelldrah-ham' series and tells of Stig and his friends, who set out on a mission to Polandrea to determine if the evil Bach creatures are still a threat and, if so, how to eradicate them.
That's not their only goal. Stig is also on a personal mission to return to the city and rescue his friend Meg, who was trapped there; while fellow traveler Baits searches for a missing leader.
Each is tasked with achievable goals; yet the overlay of a kingdom's preparations for war thwarts their efforts and leads to discoveries that involve the Bach creatures and a well-kept secret that could change everything—including their mission and perceptions of their kingdom and its alliances.
As individual quests become greater purposes in the face of overwhelming obstacles and new truths, readers are immersed in a changing mission that holds the fate of a kingdom in the hands of three purposeful adventurers.
Familiarity with the prior book in the series will add a smooth recognition of the story line, but is not a key requirement for understanding this new saga, which fills in atmosphere, history and background so adeptly that newcomers won't experience any confusion. Indeed, they will find Stig and his friends and the Chelldrah-ham milieu immediately compelling.
Rescue missions changed by new discoveries and greater purposes lend a sense of high drama to a story that views the world through Stig's eyes and brings its oddities to life: "Outside, the moons were just setting. Stig thought he knew the way, so he set off. He had only gone a short distance when he felt a presence in his head. He could feel the caretakers all over the forest and one near to him now, telling him, in images and colour, that if he must go, then he should go the right way."
From Stig's ongoing love of mechanical devices and how they operate in and affect the world to nicely detailed fantasy elements that expand the atmosphere of this story and set the stage for more, War of Chaos details the rise of not only conflict, but hope in a kingdom vastly changed and challenged by its forces.
Young and new adult fantasy readers will relish this compelling adventure, which nicely crafts a world that is vivid and revealing.War of Chaos
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