Silent Journey

Silent Journey is an emotionally-charged young adult novel that follows a young deaf teen named Scott Schoeder. Scott is an accomplished gymnast with the support of his father, whom he communicates with using American Sign Language. One day when his father leaves for a prolonged business trip Scott is left to live with relatives that he does not feel attached to. He becomes a bit of a loner and seeks comfort in new friendships. One of those friendships is with a dog that he develops a close bond with. Scott learns of a family secret that involves his father and uncle and sets out to help them reconcile.

I was swept away by this charming story. Scott is a compelling character with surprising depth. Readers will easily be able to empathize with him. He’s the main reason I came back to this book again and again. Author Carl Watson deftly takes readers into the mind of a troubled young man. His struggles will resonate with readers as he is so much more than just some deaf kid, and in this way the novel shows readers that we are so much more than what we see. The reader is able to feel Scott’s loneliness, his communication difficulties, the friendships he forms, and his intense desire to help. All of this is easily conveyed through sharp writing.

This is a delightful childhood adventure story with colorful characters and a engaging storyline. Readers will be laughing one moment and fighting back tears the next. I really enjoyed the ebb and flow of this novel and how freely the emotions flowed. The story explores the challenges that life throws at us while also showing the joy of childhood. Readers will love the sketch art pieces that are scattered throughout the book. They’re sharp and add a bit of flair to the story although I wish they were colored.

Silent Journey is a book I would have loved to have read in middle school. This is a sentimental but fun story that explores family issues and childhood drama in interesting ways. A charming novel I won’t soon forget.

Pages: 142 | ASIN: B08C9DRFPQ

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Knights of the Air, Book 1: RAGE!

In this relentlessly entertaining historical thriller we follow Lance Fitch as he finds himself falling from the highs of drinking bitter lemonade and worrying about flirting with his fiancée in front of their fathers to the lows of worrying about how to survive the next hour while in the trenches of World War I.

Though an unpopular gunner in the air force, Lance is hell bound on getting himself into a plane before the war is over. Thanks to another pilot’s unfortunate hit, Arthur Wolsey became the reason Lance was allowed in the sky. With both men having a known wild streak, they build a surprisingly close friendship that will be tested as they fight to stay alive in the air against all possible odds. And on the home front, Arthur and Lance’s friendship faces another type of stress as Lance discovers Arthur’s beautiful half-sister, Megan.

Author Iain Stewart knows how to throw readers into a scene and keep them enthralled until the end. I loved the vivid sets (as it really did feel like an action movie at times) and reveled in the way they are meticulously constructed. As a lover of military history (specifically the First and Second World Wars), the historical aspect of Knights of the Air: Rage! passes the accuracy-test with flying colors. For example, reading about how and why the “Fokker Menace” came to be was like seeing a celebrity in person; WWI enthusiast will know what I’m talking about. This novel weaves these facts in and around the fiction story, giving the whole book a grounded and realistic feel, even when things get wild. Because of this the story feels like it could be a memoir; a fictional one at least. To keep such an incredible story feeling like it was all first-hand accounts from the war is an impressive talent that I give high praise for.

The beginning of the story is one I can only equate to the Adventures of a Young Naturalist by Sir David Attenborough, because I felt like it had a similar way of noting down critical elements of one’s surroundings and delivering it in a narrative that felt fulfilling and thoughtful and truly allows the reader a sense of each scene and moment. But, again, Iain has a strong understanding of making fiction come to life, and once he’s grounded the story it takes off and we’re in for a whirlwind adventure.

Knights of the Air, Book 1: Rage! is a rousing and suspenseful military adventure novel that is filled with gritty air combat that sticks close to WWI facts but never forgets to entertain the reader.

Pages: 363 | ASIN : B09T2KP5SL

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Public Opinion

Public Opinion’s goal is clear. Pettijohn wishes to write an expose on the seedier aspects of the Hollywood elite whilst also writing an entertaining novel. He is one hundred percent successful.

The protagonist, Melvin (or is it Herbert?) is a modern-day chameleon and con man. He claims to be an IT consultant to the Hollywood elite but in reality, he is a grifter and con-man. His specialty is acting as a go-between for blackmail, where he likes to play both sides. He is also a public opinion hit man for hire. Give him a target and he will troll anyone’s good reputation into the dirt. For enough money, he’ll get you sent straight to jail.

Despite his moral reprehensibility, Melvin is a likable protagonist, even if in any other book he would be the villain. He is charming and witty with a worldview that makes a certain amount of twisted sense. He has dirt on everyone and he’s only scamming bad people who deserve it, so what’s the harm? He is also arrogant and selfish. Totally destructive to those he claims to love. Everyone has it coming.

As Melvin’s reputation as a modern-day Mr. Fixit improves he is pulled deeper and deeper into the seedy underbelly of Hollywood. Soon he’s no longer just a petty con-man but someone who helps cover up the worst kinds of crime imaginable. Soon Melvin’s already shaky moral compass is completely lost. Maybe he’s not as good as he thinks he is.

The villains in the book are too many to count but are obviously inspired by modern-day monsters like Weinstein and Epstein. The book is an expose on the ways these powerful men stay in power and those who help them.

Public Opinion is an excellent book but it’s not for the faint of heart. It is salacious and graphic. Pettijohn pulls no punches and certain scenes may upset some readers.

I spent the entire book rooting for Melvin to succeed whilst also rooting for him to fail. He is a protagonist who appeals to our baser urges. When the ending comes, it isn’t really a surprise, but it feels well earned. Any other ending to such a story would have felt false. I enjoyed Public Opinion immensely. Pettijohn knows his stuff and makes a good guide and an even better storyteller.

Pages: 264 | ASIN : B0B1PFWP9X

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The Fisherman’s Wife

The Fisherman’s Wife by T N Traynor is a story of a young fisherman’s wife, Connie who struggles with her husband’s brutal and drunken temper. Being unable to have children has left Connie feeling broken and cursed.

The real adventure begins when a band of pirates and townsmen decide to rade a ship for its treasure. Connie stumbles upon Ernest Eddie, one of the pirates of the raided and wrecked ship drowning. She saves his life and hides him. Both are looking for a way out of the life they are currently living. Developing feelings for one another complicates matters further. So together, they set out to find a lost treasure.

The Fisherman’s Wife was a fun and easy romance novel. Author T N Traynor did an excellent job setting up the back story of Connie and her longing to escape her abusive husband. You really get to understand both her loyalty to her husband as well as her disdain for the drunken brute. The author’s character development is strong and well thought out. Readers will want to see Connie find happiness while finding Eddie to be complex and struggling with his own identity.

I thoroughly enjoyed the love story between Connie and Earnest Eddie. I am a huge fan of the bad boy, or in this case, the pirate turned good, all in the name of some woman they happen to fall in love with. However, I was also hoping for a bit more excitement and adventure as the two of them made their escape while being followed by Smiley and the rest of his pirate crew in order to obtain a treasure from Eddie.

The Fisherman’s Wife: Love & Murder in Pirates Cove is a captivating historical romance novel that will also give readers pirate treasure hunting and a thrilling escape adventure.

Pages: 231 | ASIN : B09ZJ8FNZH

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The Platinum-Level Transluminal Vacation Package of Your Dreams 

The Platinum-Level Transluminal Vacation Package of Your Dreams by Bull Garlington features Heller, who is one sale away from earning a nice retirement package from Transluminal Vacations, Inc. As the characters call it, Heller is close to his “FYMT,” or his “F*** You Money Timeline,” where he would apparently be rich enough to not be concerned with those around him. Did I mention the company specializes in vacations to other universes? After an initial close call, he still needs one sale with one day left, and he has a trainee to bring with him. Needless to say, wild shenanigans ensue. Can Heller make the final sale and survive the universe jumping one last time?

The casual yet defined writing style employed by author Garlington is what provides the incredulous yet unsurprised tone. There are even footnotes that the narrator employs to talk about himself. The long tangents that pop up randomly yet elegantly are most entertaining, though. For example, an excellent paragraph about the phrase “pregnant silence” that the narrator decided to replace with “festering moment” was a favorite of mine. They’re not all hits, though; if one misses and goes on for too long, it can be a bit off-putting.

Also, some jokes target American politics with some not-so-subtle satire, so if you’re easily triggered by that sort of thing, be forewarned.

Still, this book is pure entertainment. This book is for you if you like a quick wit and quite a bit of eccentricity. I don’t know if I’d be interested in more of the zaniness of this particular story. Still, I can tell you that I appreciate this author’s writing style and the tone he can establish and utilize with such ease. I’ll be looking for more work from him, but maybe in a storyline that’s a little more grounded.

Pages: 361 | ASIN :  B091X323YD

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Mindbender

What is reality? That is the question that pervades the mind of young Pogo from the outset of this twisting story. The reader is introduced to the concept of lucid dreaming, a loving mother, and an abusive father within the first few pages – before everything seems to shatter without Pogo retaining a memory of virtually anything. Where is his mother? His father? Why can he not remember his school or his best friend?

Most importantly, who is the stranger standing in his kitchen making his favorite breakfast, and what does Joshua have to do with him when he doesn’t remember much, either? Even worse, who is their neighbor, Sarah, who also has no memory of anything, including her husband, Marko, and their daughter, Julia?

Something isn’t right in this little town, but the more the inconsistencies pile up, the crazier the mystery seems to get! On the other side are the three mysterious antagonists, Tonks, Klaus, and Kobi, who have their own reasons for being in this world but may wind up collateral damage while searching for the truth.

Written from the first-person points of view of each central character in the tale, Mindbender, by Avinash Naduvath, follows several characters in a strange, vaguely unsettling world the reader quickly realizes, long before the protagonists, is actually a mental construct.

Naduvath’s writing style is intriguing and thought-provoking, and the plot itself is interesting enough to keep the reader turning pages simply to find out what could possibly be happening next. Discovering the truth about the novel’s name only comes toward the end, almost in passing, but suits the storyline perfectly. Finding out the culprit and how the said culprit is found out is a surprising and pleasantly unexpected twist.

Mindbender is a complex metaphysical hard science fiction novel that captivates readers from the opening pages. Following along as the story leads all the characters to a convergence point will have readers on edge trying to decipher the mystery of what has happened to them and their world.

Pages: 335 | ASIN : B09Y9675FX

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Family Is More Than Just Blood

Neil O’Donnell Author Interview

The Keep in the Marsh follows a boy that lost all he knew to the plague and sets out to find adventure and makes new friends along the way. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Like the main character, Thomas, I want my parents to be remembered. He plans to devote his life to that goal as do I. Along with that, Thomas is seeking adventure in a realm akin to that of Dungeons and Dragons. The adventures in my book are meant to provide a glimpse of the life of D and D player characters between adventures. How do they pay for housing and food? How do they actually find trainers? And, most importantly, how do they find quests without the aid of a Dungeon Master?

Did you create an outline for the characters in the story before you started writing or did the character’s personalities grow organically as you were writing?

The characters grew organically for the most part during the writing, but I had some fundamental characteristics in mind when starting. I knew I wanted the characters to be out of their depths in starting their adventuring and I wanted them to be fleeing a life they didn’t want to pursue, hoping becoming an adventurer would save them. From there, I wanted the characters to see the sides of an adventurer’s life they didn’t anticipate – the grittier side of adventuring.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Family is more than just blood. We often create an immediate family through circumstances, happenstance and life-long associations. I also wanted to highlight that individuals can learn and adapt to embrace a new life when needed. Lastly… I wanted to show the importance of seeking help when needed.

What can you tell readers about the next book in the series and when will it be available?

I am hoping to have the next book out by early 2023 (Hammer of the Elements). This book was very much following the characters through their “Level 1” development. The next book is building the characters to ‘levels’ 2 and 3, so to speak, with more details of the world being revealed with the gods and their minions presenting more guidance and hurdles for the characters… along with a would-be Dungeon Master. FYI – for readers, I love parody.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Website

A village blacksmith from the middle of nowhere, Thomas seeks adventure after surviving a plague that eradicated his homeland.
Following his father’s advice and heading east, Thomas finds himself entwined in a surge of attacks by a thieves’ guild knows as Neydis. Similarly lost adventurers soon join him along the Queen’s Road, and they set their sights on breaking through the grasp of Neydis and finding “safe” adventure in dungeons without any dragons.
Thomas and his group may be reckless, but they aren’t stupid. Who would knowingly mess with a dragon? Find out in The Keep In The Marsh, the first book in Neil O’Donnell’s series of epic fantasy adventures.

A Schizophrenic, Tapped & Skipped

Raising children takes a strong will, flexibility, and a love like no other. No one can predict the paths our children will take or what circumstances they may find themselves as they grow, change, and have experiences without us by their sides. We would like to think, as parents, that we know our children and have everything under control. Life, however, makes plans that are often very different from our own. J. Mark Stacy is no stranger to the hardships of raising children. Stacy’s daughters are battling both drug addiction and the beast known as schizophrenia.

A Schizophrenic, Tapped & Skipped: Hope in the Midst of Madness, by J. Mark Stacy, is the no-holds-barred true story of one woman’s battle to remain hopeful in the face of overwhelming pain, fear, and utter destruction. When her daughter begins to show signs of schizophrenia as a teenager, their devastating journey begins. In addition to the battle with a crippling mental illness, the family must find a way to fight back against drug addiction.

Stacy’s book left me speechless. Her writing is raw; she holds nothing back as she shares her family’s story. From her initial shock to her own breakdowns, Stacy does not hesitate to tell readers how incredibly painful her daughters’ battles have been for everyone involved. Her work brings much-needed light to the struggle to treat mental illness and drug addiction. Prior to reading Stacy’s story, I had no idea how incredibly difficult it is for young adults battling debilitating schizophrenia to seek help from facilities. It goes without saying that Stacy’s book will be instrumental in changing the way mental illness and drug addiction are viewed by those of us who have never dealt with it firsthand.

Faith plays a huge part in the way Stacy is able to care for both of her daughters. As the years pass, readers see exactly how much she relies on her faith to do everything from simply riding in a car with her daughter to leaving her to live on her own. Stacy is able to give readers hope through her experiences, as crushing as they may seem.

The heart and soul that has been poured into this work is simply phenomenal. I highly recommend A Schizophrenic, Tapped & Skipped: Hope in the Midst of Madness to any family battling drug addiction or the effects of mental illness. Stacy is an ally who offers a revealing picture of her life while at the same time showing readers that hope does, indeed, exist.

Pages: 245 | ASIN: B09QJ7JZM2

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