August 18, 2018

No Peace After War by Claire St. Hilaire

No Peace After War: Twenty-Six Short Stories and Poems Illustrating Life After Combat is a collection of moving and unforgettable stories and poems depicting the life of soldiers, and those of their loved ones after military service, written by Claire St. Hilaire.

With a foreword by SPC Dennis Murphy, the entire book collection is told in alternating perspectives between first and third person. The stories are arranged in alphabetical order, with Abandoned being the first and Zenith being the last. The author uses descriptive words lavishly portraying not only vividly detailed scenes but also the profound and innermost feelings and emotions of characters.    

The stories and poems depict the pain, the suffering, the guilt, the nightmares and references to untold horrors that plague a former soldier’s nights. Moreover, they portray the anguish suffered by widowed wives, orphaned children, bereaved girlfriends as well as the sorrow of the family from witnessing the changed behavior and the entire personality of the returning warriors. Furthermore, they told not only of death but also of life of service and honor. Mostly importantly, however, the stories/poems glorify the sacrifices of the veterans so that we, civilians, would continue to live in peace.

This is a touching and moving book that gives us a glimpse of a world we know nothing about and which we will never understand. I particularly like the stories: Betrayed, Guts, Knowledge, Left Behind and Zenith.

The author also includes a Crisis Information chapter for veterans in crisis.

Congratulations to Claire St. Hilaire (@ClaireStHilaire ) on such a poignant book! For more books by the author, click HERE.

August 12, 2018

World, Incorporated by Tom Gariffo

World, Incorporated: A Modern Dystopia is a suspenseful political thriller written by Tom Gariffo.

Agent Sliver is the personal covert operative to the CEO of World, Incorporated, one of the five supercorporations that practically run the country in the year 2058. With a hazy past and a dicey future, Agent Sliver lives in the Chrome Wind, an airship with several state-of-the-art systems including a talking computer that serves as his companion and the closest he gets for a friend.

Agent Sliver’s life is ostensibly simple. He works for the CEO of World, Incorporated by eliminating possible threats to the supercorporation in exchange for a lucrative compensation package which include the Chrome Wind, an indeterminate credit points for his purchases, a supply of Serum that he very much needed to function, and an outstanding promise of revenge against the CEO of a rival supercorporation. Then, an unexpected turn in one of his missions disrupts his routinary existence.

This is an exciting and suspenseful thriller that depicts the possible future of the United States of America. Personally, I find it well conceptualized albeit a little complex which other readers may find more exciting. The writing style varies from casual and conversational with a predominantly sarcastic tone to journalistic and academic. The major character is well-developed with a sense of humor and relatable need for revenge. However, other readers may have mixed or even conflicting emotions toward Agent Sliver. I, for one, find him compassionate one instance and callous the next. Finally, though I prefer it to be more conclusive, I enjoyed the ending of this book which somehow promises more from the author.   

All in all, this is a very enjoyable read with its shocking revelations and unexpected turns of events. However, I find it too detailed for my taste, thus a bit verbose. Though this is generally a good thing, other readers may find it taxing. Moreover, I noticed errors within the entire book which, though only a few, may detract from the overall reading experience.

Congratulations to Tom Gariffo (@TomGariffo) on such a great book!

World, Incorporated was Book of the Day on August 1st 2018. You may check it out at Online BookClub.

August 2, 2018

Kitty Hawk and the Mystery of the Masterpieces by Iain Reading

Kitty Hawk and the Mystery of the Masterpieces is the fifth book in the exciting young adult fiction book series Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency created by Iain Reading.

Kitty is in Rome. With her trusty De Havilland Beaver seaplane tied up at a small marina in a tiny fishing village on the coast, Kitty, after so many adventures, finally meets again with Charlie.

After feasting on the best ravioli, enjoying an authentic Italian dessert and an unfortunate encounter with a wheelbarrow full of walnuts, Charlie and Kitty meet new friends. And before the night is over, they make an astonishing discovery, that of a stolen Van Gogh painting hiding in plain sight, or probably more.

This is another exciting installment in the delightful Kitty Hawk book series. It features numbers stations, decades-old cryptic radio broadcasts, unbreakable mathematical codes, decoding pads, coded and hidden messages, and notes on a musical scale. Moreover, the story takes the readers not only to the streets and alleys of the eternal city of Rome but also to the historical city of Nuremberg, the former Nazi Concentration Camp of Dachau and the breathtakingly beautiful old town of Salzburg with references to the Cathedral of Light and the famous classic musical film the Sound of Music.

As with the first four books, this installment is filled with puzzles, riddles, mysteries, and of course, chasing scenes. Though I find this particular book less suspenseful than the previous one Kitty Hawk and the Tragedy of the RMS Titanic, it is just as informative and as interesting.

Finally, while the most important part of the book for me is, and always will be, the information imparted and integrated in the story, my favorite is that part about Kitty and her realization regarding the movie Sound of Music. I find it so hilarious that I think I will never get over it, ever.

Congratulations to Iain Reading (@IainReading) on yet another great book! For more books by the author, click HERE

July 30, 2018

Interview with Author Marc Remus

Hello, everyone! I’ve got an exciting news for you. Mr. Marc Remus, the multi-talented author of the Magora Series, a delightful fantasy book series for children, just released a new book for young adult, The Language Thieves, and I got so lucky to be among the first to read it and feature it on this blog.  

The Language Thieves features a group of teenagers investigating an elusive tribe that steals people’s languages. It is set in a small but seemingly charming Scottish island and just like his other books, it is so exciting and suspenseful.

In regards to that, Mr. Marc Remus granted me a Q & A that I’m so glad to share with you. Please read on and let us know more about this talented author together.

Q. Who is the greatest influence in your writing?

I can’t really say that I ever made a conscious decision to be influenced by someone. But of course, there are authors I like more than others. I am a big fan of Dr. Seuss and Michael Ende. I also enjoy old fairy tales from all over the world.

My children’s book series Magora was obviously influenced by the Harry Potter series. I started writing the series in the 90s. At that time Harry Potter was just starting. Even though I didn’t read this classic until ten years later, the hype in the media must have influenced my story. However, it was not a conscious decision and the similarities also vanished with the follow-up books.

Q. Do you have any celebratory ritual every time you finish a book?

I don’t really have a celebratory ritual when a book is finished because it is hard to say when a book is really completed. Once I have the book written it goes into editing. When the story has gone through a few rounds of structural changes with a professional editor it goes into the proofreading stage. When all this is completed then I have beta readers suggesting changes. So along the way there are constantly changes taking place. When the book is published and I receive the print copies I know that it is mostly finished. But even then, readers sometimes discover errors. Then I have to go back and change things for the next edition. But I do go out with some friends for drinks when I have the print copy in my hands.

Q. How long do you develop a character?

It really depends on the character. Some characters have developed in my mind for years, but never had the chance to be used in any of my books. So when I finally use them they are fully grown. Others are being developed as I write the book. Holly in the Magora series grew slowly over a period of 20 years while Daniel, in my latest book The Language Thieves, was developed in a year.

Q. Do you prepare and follow an outline?

Yes, call me Mr. Outline. Some of my fellow authors and editors think I am overdoing it because I use outlines that can be 50 or more pages long. I write whole conversations in my outline before I start writing the first draft.

It is very time consuming but it saves me a lot of time later because I never have to delete entire chapters as some authors have to do. Once the outline is done 60% of the work is completed. Anything that follows I call “cosmetics” because I just beautify the language to make it accessible to the reader.

Q. Do you have a designated ‘writing spot’? If yes, where or what is it?

Not really! All I need is a quiet, peaceful environment without any people. Usually I work best in nature. I have written on a lake, a swimming pool, a river or a forest. I just need a laptop and paper and time for myself without any distractions. Unfortunately, these opportunities are rare today and so I really have to cut myself off from civilization if I want to get a new outline done.

Q. What is your ultimate dream as a book author?

I love movies, and I have studied acting for a while. So it would be a dream to see one of my books on the big screen.

But film adaptions are like a lottery win, so I am working on a smaller dream that seems to be more realistic. I would like to see my books published in different languages. As a translator, I was able to translate the first Magora book into German myself. After that I have worked with a translator on the Spanish version, and currently I am working on a Mandarin version with a translator. They all should get published in the next two years.

Q. How do you come up with ideas for your books?

I always hear from readers that they can’t come up with ideas and that you need to have talent and inspiration to be creative. To a certain extent this is true, but you can do a lot to learn how to be creative. I usually don’t have a sudden flash of inspiration that enlightens me and pops out a book idea. I sit down and jot down some topics. Then I start asking myself “what if?” questions. From this I come up with many weird ideas. Then I sort through them and discard the ones that are useless. Once I have found one interesting idea I start asking more “what if?” questions. This narrows down the topics until I come up with one good idea.

Q. In your experience as a writer, is there such thing as ‘best time to sit down and write?

Yes, I believe there are good and bad times for writing. But this is very subjective. For me it doesn’t make sense to write if I am tired, stressed out, or have to meet deadlines. I don’t get very creative when I am pressured. I have to have all my chores completed before I start writing. Otherwise these to-do things will be in the back of my mind all the time. I need the full capacity of my brain to plan out a new story so everything else needs to be off my mind. But I know from fellow authors that some can only write when they are being pressured. Every author is different in this respect.

Q. Do you consider writing your own memoir in the future?

I have lived in Germany, California, Arizona, Florida, Honduras and Japan and have studied many subjects over the past 30 years; anything from painting and acting to Cultural Anthropology and Japanese. I visited over 1000 cities in over 60 countries, survived cancer and organized dozens of painting exhibitions. So I have been asked many times if I would write my memoirs because people consider my life to be quite interesting. However, I have to disappoint you. I have no plans to ever write my memoirs. Real life is not interesting enough for me to write about. I prefer to take readers away to fantasy worlds full of magic instead of keeping them rooted in real life.

That is why my next project is a children’s book that will take readers to a world full of chocolate and sweets.

Q. If ‘The Language Thieves’ is ever turned into a movie, who would you like to play Daniel, Connor, Jenny and Emily?

I think for young adult books it is very hard to pick someone for a movie. Any of the actors/actresses who are now young adults would be too old in a few years to play the roles of my characters. So I believe that new teenagers would have to be cast if the book ever became a movie. But I certainly would love to be part of that casting process and pick the actors/actresses. For adults it is a different story, and for the Magora series I had already set my mind on a few well-known actors/actresses. But for The Language Thieves I am not really set. However, I could see myself playing one of the language thieves, just like Hitchcock made short appearances in his own films.

There you have it, everyone!

Thank you so much Mr. Marc Remus (@MarcRemusArt) for taking the time to answer my questions. I enjoyed this Q & A a lot and I believe our readers enjoy it as much as I do.

You may check out the author’s books as featured on this blog:

The Uprising (will be featured in the near future)

July 26, 2018

A Father Offers His Son by Scott LaPierre

A Father Offers His Son: The True and Greater Sacrifice Revealed through Abraham and Isaac is an inspiring and uplifting book written by Scott LaPierre.

The book has nine enlightening chapters that highlight and analyze a very important biblical event; that of Abraham’s offering his son Isaac in the book of Genesis.   

In his careful and thoughtful analysis, the author presents the parallels between Isaac, son of Abraham in the Old Testament and Jesus, the son of God in the New Testament leading to a conclusion that the Old Testament is actually about Jesus and that the offering of Isaac prefigures the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the propitiation of our sins. The author examines Genesis 22:1-19 phrase by phrase and creates an inspiring, uplifting, enlightening, hopeful, reassuring and beautifully written book that every Christian should read.

Needless to say I enjoyed this book a lot and I love everything about it. Unlike other religious books, it is an easy read even for laymen. It reminds Christians of the unimaginable magnitude of God’s love for mankind as manifested by Jesus’ sacrifice. It inspires the readers to be the good Christians they should be by emphasizing the importance of submission as exhibited by Isaac and obedience through Abraham’s examples.

Furthermore, the book offers interpretations that even regular Bible readers may find surprising like appearances of God the Son in the Old Testament.

However, though deep and thorough knowledge of the Bible may not be required to appreciate this book, familiarity with famous Bible stories like Jonah and the Great Fish, Ishmael and the Bride of Isaac would make this book more enjoyable to read.

Congratulations to Scott LaPierre (@PastorWCC) on such a marvelous book! For more books by the author, click HERE and to receive an Advance Review Copy of this book, visit this LINK.

July 23, 2018

The Language Thieves by Marc Remus

The Language Thieves is an exciting young adult fantasy novel written by Marc Remus. 

Daniel Sullivan’s father just found a new job. So, Daniel, his father, and his mother who has been sick and unresponsive for a while leave Arizona and travel to a small Scottish island of Inverdee.

On their way, Daniel encounters the Cerebrals, an elusive tribe that drains languages from people’s minds, and who are somehow responsible for his mother’s sickness. Daniel is a bilingual who speaks English and Irish Gaelic. If discovered, he is likely to be attacked by the tribe and his language, or both, stolen.

Together with his friends Connor and Jenny, Daniel sets out to the Cerebrals’ village hoping to get her mother’s languages back. What they found out leads them to a far more sinister discovery.

This is an exciting and suspenseful fantasy book. It’s about family and friends, and what we are willing to do for them. It’s a combination of legends and modern technology and depicts preservation of traditions as well as embracing innovation. It has a set of delightfully charming characters like the stubborn and determined Daniel, skeptic but supportive Connor, smart and brave Jenny and the sweet and elusive Emily.

Scenes and settings are vividly described while dialogues between characters sound natural making the book an easy read that can be finished in one sitting. Needless to say, this is one very enjoyable book. However, the ending felt a little rushed and less conclusive than I hope it is.

Still, I love this book and I recommend it to fans of young adult fiction and fantasy books.

Congratulations to Marc Remus (@MarcRemusArt) on another great book. For more books by the author, click HERE!   

July 3, 2018

The Witchstone by Victoria Randall

The Witchstone is a romantic dark fantasy written by Victoria Randall.

Fenrulf is an orphan turned wizard planning on exacting revenge from the town that caused him too much pain. For years, and with the help of his loyal servant, he gathers the ingredients for the most powerful spell of destruction except for the last one that belongs to an exceptionally beautiful witch, the Witchstone of Sibele.    

This is a dark, chilling and suspenseful book about power, revenge, vanity, loyalty, love and self-redemption. Though the book lacks the conversational tone of the author’s most recent books, it is still an easy read. Scenes and scenery are vividly described while the dialogues between the male and female protagonists, though traditional, sound charming and sweet.

The author created well-developed and quite relatable characters and it has been difficult for me to choose my favorite between the loyal dwarf Orog and the reclusive wizard Fenrulf. While the former is ultimately faithful and loyal to his master which is indeed an admirable quality, I found the latter’s unyielding determination laudable and his seeming indifference endearing. Finally, though I prefer a more conclusive denouement, I found the ending of the book not at all surprising.   

While the best part of the story, for me, is the depiction of self-redemption, what I like most about the book is the unpredictability. It yields that frustrating feeling one gets from failing to guess what would happen next.  

This is a great book and I enjoyed it immensely. However, I found some loose ends and unanswered questions which left a, somehow, nagging feeling.

Congratulations to Victoria Randall (@Entlover27) on such an amazing book. For more books by the author, click HERE

June 21, 2018

A Distant Eden by Lloyd Tackitt

A Distant Eden is a suspense and thriller novel combined with survival manual and the first book in the A Distant Eden Series created by Lloyd Tackitt.

A giant solar storm hits the earth’s magnetic field and knocks down the power grid. Consequently, all electronic equipment shut down and throws the world into chaos.

When the power at the office goes off which shuts down the computer and the office lights, Roman is alerted. Not only that, he also notices that all the cars have stopped in the interstate, a helicopter has crashed, and a jet liner has plummeted onto the ground. He immediately leaves the office with only one goal in mind, to go home to his wife Sarah.

Told in the third person perspective, it is a fast-paced, chilling, and, for me, a realistic depiction of the apocalypse. More than realistic, it is instructive. It spreads awareness and poses warning against a possible and serious threat to mankind. It portrays survival instinct in its most extreme form. Moreover, it emphasizes the importance of conservation, self-preservation and self-defense.

The writing style makes the book an easy read. Furthermore, the author creates tough characters like Roman and his nephew Adrian. My favorite, however, is Matthew. He is not just smart. Even under the most unpleasant circumstances, he shows compassion and holds on to his Christian faith.

All in all, it is an enjoyable and interesting read. However, some scenes may be too violent and gory for other readers. Moreover, there are some noticeable errors within the entire book (like build fires too cook and take a several days).

Congratulations to Lloyd Tackitt (@lloydtackitt100) on such an enjoyable book! For more books by the author, click HERE.         

June 2, 2018

Voyage of Pearl of the Seas by Ruth Finnegan

Voyage of Pearl of the Seas is an adventure book for preteens written by Ruth Finnegan. It is the prequel to the author’s award-winning epic romance ‘Black Inked Pearl.’

Best friends Chris and Kate, with Kate’s dog Holly, magically make a ship out of a log they found buried under the sand. Though Chris, who plans to fly the ship around the world, wants to name her Dragon, Kate successfully names her Pearl of the Seas.

However, when the time comes to sail, Kate changes her mind and turns her back leaving Chris and Holly to sail without her. Alone and regretful, Kate meets and helps an old man who helps her back in return.

This is a magical story of friendship and adventure. It features a boy and a girl who meet and learn from the kind and wise king called The King of Many Names. While the part I like most is their homecoming which reunites them to their families, the most important part of the book for me is Chris’ sacrifice in order to save Holly. It depicts how friendship is supposed to be.

However, I find the plot of the book somehow convoluted and might be difficult for young readers to follow, while the lessons imparted seem too profound for the same young readers to appreciate. Moreover, several sentences are abruptly stopped and discontinued leaving the readers to finish the sentence themselves. Also, the author seems to have a penchant for one-word sentences that some paragraphs look like a series of sentence fragments. Furthermore, I found the characters under-developed, therefore, not easy to connect with. In addition, the style of writing is not much to my liking (ex. Tumbling whirl skirl fall maul, flapping hair tumbling eyes open shutting fear what now terror hell?) Finally, I noticed some errors within the entire book (like What are holding in your hand? and they shed they burdens in peace).

Still, other readers may find it enjoyable especially those who read Black Inked Pearl.

Congratulations to Ruth Finnegan (@ruth_finnegan) on such a nice book. For more books by the author, click HERE.

Voyage of Pearl of the Seas was Book of the Day on May 29th 2018. You may check it out at OnlineBookClub.

June 1, 2018

The Fatness by Mark A. Rayner

The Fatness: A Novel of Epic Proportions is a satirical novel written by Mark A. Rayner.

Keelan Cavanaugh, a web designer for the local university’s communications department, weighs 230 pounds. With a body mass index (BMI) of over thirty, he is obese, and according to the Revised Canada Health Act, also known as the Fat Act, obese people must be placed in Uxford County Calorie Reduction Centre (CRC-17) to slim down or they lose their health care coverage. It is Keelan’s second anniversary in CRC-17 and his failure to lower down his BMI would mean losing his job for good. When Keelan meets Jacinda Williams, he has another and more important reason to lose weight and get out of the centre.

This is a moving, funny and satirical novel with a touch of sweet and delicious romance that would melt the readers’ hearts. Not only does it shed some light on the plight of corpulent people but it also depicts the prejudice, the abuse, the mockery and taunting they have to endure because of their size. Moreover, the book portrays bureaucracy in the system and features various individuals who push their own agenda at the expense of other people.

The author creates the ideal protagonist in Keelan. He is kind, smart and sweet. He is steadfast with steely determination and enviable willpower. More than those qualities, his selfless love for Jacinda will make all female readers’ heart throb with jealousy. His body may be large, but his heart is even larger.

Needless to say, I love this book. It is funny, satirical and inspiring with a little bit of suspense. Most importantly, for a portly person like myself, I find it very relatable.

However, other readers, especially those with no weight issues, might not be as sympathetic and may not enjoy the book as much as I did. Moreover, I found a couple of typo errors that mar an otherwise flawless work.  

Congratulations to Mark A. Rayner (@markarayner) on such a great book! For more books by the author, click HERE.    

The Fatness was an Book of the Day on May 26th 2018. You may check it out at OnlineBook Club.    

May 24, 2018

Hell Holes by Donald Firesmith

Hell Holes: What Lurks Below is a paranormal novel and is the first in the two-book Hell Holes Book Series written by Donald Firesmith.

When giant holes appear overnight along the North Slope near the Arctic Circle, Kevin Kowalski, a representative of an oil company calls geology professor from University of Alaska Fairbanks Jack Oswald to fly over and investigate. Naturally, the oil company wants Jack to find out what’s causing the formation of holes and the likelihood that another one may open up under the pipeline, in which case, the company would face financial and environmental disaster.

Right away, Jacks picks his wife and colleague, Dr. Angela Menendez, a climatologist, to come with him as well as two of his graduate students, newly- weds Mark and Jill Starr. As they are preparing for their trip to the North Slope, a mesmerizingly beautiful photo-journalist, Aileen O-Shannon, invites herself and appoints herself as the fifth member of the team.

Upon their arrival, they are met by Kevin Kowalski himself and Bill Henderson, a wildlife biologist whose job is to watch over their backs and protect them from wild animals that might interfere with their research. However, no amount of planning or safety measures would prepare them for what lurks below.

With a consistently fast pacing, the book is told in the first person perspective of Professor Jack Oswald. It is intriguing and suspenseful and as soon as the action began, it didn’t stop until the last page of the book. Quite unpredictable and with surprising revelations, this book is perfect for paranormal, suspense and horror fans.

However, it seems like the author focuses more on the plot and the scene descriptions leaving the characters a little under-developed that short back stories wouldn’t hurt. Moreover, there are some noticeable errors within the entire book (like neckless instead of necklace).

Congratulations to Donald Firesmith (@DonFiresmith) on such an enjoyable book! For more books by the author, click HERE.

May 18, 2018

That Place of Knowledge by Philip Alan Shalka

That Place of Knowledge is an interesting short story by Philip Alan Shalka.

Philip is an autistic, non-verbal but adventurous 15-year old boy. Assigned to him is Sabre, an autism assistance dog who loves adventures just as much as Philip does.

Sabre enjoys their routine together including walks in the morning, relaxing by the pool and going somewhere fun in the afternoon. Then one day, Philip decides to go on an adventure. He dives onto the pool followed by Sabre, swims down the bottom and opens a secret door that leads to a magical city that resembles Ancient Greek cities where they meet the philosopher Aristotle. Within the city stands a huge building that houses several hallways of every type of knowledge. Philip, with Sabre beside him, enjoys his time talking with Aristotle and learning a lot from him about life.

Told in the first person perspective of the dog Sabre, this is a profound and moving story about being different. The author, though non-verbal but apparently smart and impressively introspective, brings up very important lessons in life: self-awareness and self-acceptance. Moreover, the book emphasizes the relevance of relaxation, simplicity, happiness and contentment, among others. Finally, the author leaves food for thought that the readers could contemplate on like:  

‘Being content and satisfied are lasting forms of happiness’ and

‘The answer to the complicated questions always begins with simplicity’

This is, indeed, a great and well-written book. However, it seems like this book is written for certain types of readers as superficial ones may not appreciate it as much as those certain readers would.

Congratulations to Philip Alan Shalka (@Philip_Sabre ) on a great book! Check out this book HERE.