Author Archives: Literary Titan

The Little Book of Greatness

The little Book Of Greatness introduces us to a man named David who seems to have given it all up. Sitting on a cliff, David is troubled. He has not accomplished his dreams and everything seems to be crumbling down. David is thinking about life, wondering why he is in his current situation. Lost in his thoughts, a man appears from the woods. Little does he know that this stranger would give him something that may enable him to hold on for a little longer.

Ari Gunzburg speaks to everyone through David’s story. He speaks to his readers, and makes them feel like they are not alone. I like the comforting tone used throughout the book. When giving advice, the author uses a tone similar to that of a therapist. He is encouraging and offers hope to the hopeless. This book is meant for those that are about to give up. Things may appear like they make no sense, but the author assures everyone that we are destined for the best. You cannot help but admire how amazing Ari Gunzburg is with his moving words. Through his words you not only learn more about yourself as an individual, but also get enlightened about life in general and how our thoughts shape our destinies.

Chapter 12 is one of my favorite chapters. In this chapter, the author focuses on putting it all together. I enjoyed reading the conversations between Regina and David in this chapter. Major lessons in this chapter are rearranging our priorities and focusing on what is important in life. The writing is incredible and the text is engaging. Ari Gunzburg is a great narrator and captivates his audience.

The Little Book of Greatness is a motivational book but it does not feel bland like some books in the inspirational genre. The author wrote distinctively, narrating stories of scenarios that happen in real life as he incorporates important lessons in the story. I recommend The Little Book of Greatness to readers that would love some encouraging text that will cheer them up and help them become better people.

Pages: 185 | ASIN: B08GH63H75

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Random Summer Storms: Book Three – Family


Dee is a surfer who has lived an eventful youth. Managing to survive one dangerous scenario after another, she has pretty much experienced it all. From swimming with Orcas to experimenting with drugs and trying to outwit known criminals, Dee and her friends knew no boundaries. Her summers were filled with one breathtaking encounter after another. She recalls these times fondly and describes the thrill associated with each of their close-calls with an unmatched level of nostalgia. As the years passed, Dee’s family grew and her family meets with their own challenges and successes. Theirs is a life many would look upon with amazement.

Random Summer Storms, by Denise Ann Stock, is the third book in contemporary fiction a series. Main characters, Dee and Ian, have a past rooted in turmoil. They have known nothing but drama since their youth on the coast of California. Wishing to leave their past behind and begin a new life, Dee and Ian set their sights on Florida for their fresh start.

Stock’s third book in a series is, by and large, a narrative. With few exchanges between characters, Random Summer Storms reads more like a memoir than a story with a clearly-defined sequence of events. Dee, the narrator, relates a detailed description of every family member’s activities and challenges. From her own husband and children to her extended family members, she paints a clear picture of each one’s celebrations as well as their business dealings, legal or otherwise.

Random Summer Storms is written in a unique style. While I prefer more dialogue in my realistic fiction, I enjoyed the feel of the memoir. I would have appreciated a little more organization to the story as I felt like it was a bit aimless at times, which left me with questions. This family fiction story felt as though it contained a little bit of everything, there was a motley collection of striking dilemmas and curious conflicts.

Random Summer Storms has the potential to be a truly engaging story, but I felt like the characters are not given an opportunity to flourish in a well-developed plot. Had Random Summer Storms been touted as memoir-esque and edited to read in a more diary-type narration, it could have been quite a fascinating piece of literature.

Pages: 252 | ISBN: 1952269474

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Stone Fever

Stone Fever: Erebus Tales Book 1 by Norman Westhoff is a captivating adventure story full of inspiring narratives! In the story, we follow Keltyn, a geologist who is exploring a now defrosted Antarctica. Keltyn is trying to find iridium around Mount Erebus, a volcano that the local Onwei tribe has predict will erupt soon! While on her mission, Keltyn makes friends with two teens from the tribe; Luz and Joaquin. While on their adventure, the trio grows, learns, and discovers the ulterior motives of a certain Oscar Bailey! Keltyn must find a way to stop Oscar before it’s too late!

Despite the hardships found within this story, Westhoff has managed to create a heartwarming tale that I could not get enough of! He touched on so many relevant topics, including colonization, global warming, and cultural diversity!

The character development was spectacular and a particular focal point of this novel. We watch Luz grow emotionally from a naïve young girl to a fierce young woman by the end of the novel. I must say, I really enjoyed Luz’s relationship with her mother in this book; it strayed away from the typical nuclear family unit.

The world-building was fantastic! Westhoff took a risk using the real-life issue of global warming as a plot device and world-building tool, but he handled it with grace and elegance. His portrayal of the issue left me with a hopeful outlook, despite it being fiction.

Westhoff’s storytelling abilities are also praiseworthy! He can keep you hooked from page one all the way to page 299; it is incredible! There was never a dull moment; wait until you get to chapter 13; you will not be able to put the book down!

The writing style also captured my attention. It’s simplicity made the story easy to follow and a joy to read. There was never a moment where I had to go back and reread a passage due to intricate text, which can be a common issue amongst indie authors. The chapters where Keltyn was narrating were my favorite!

Stone Fever: Erebus Tales Book 1 is a thrilling adventure story that touches on important topics while always entertaining the reader.

Pages: 386 | ASIN: B085YF4RWG

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Taking Time

The last person you’d expect to take on the role of time travel pioneer is Marshall, who is not your typical hero. Rail thin, six foot three, and not the least bit athletic, he’s hardly inconspicuous. Nonetheless swayed by the perks that come with working on a top secret new project, Marshall is nervous and insecure in his new role. But he’s far more concerned about the necessity of travelling through time naked than he is with the situational ethics of doing so. Mike Murphey’s Taking Time: A Tale of Physics, Lust, and Greed is part science fiction, part thriller, and part light comedy. The work treads the line between something more scientific, with discussions surrounding the theories and laws related to time travel, and almost slapstick humor, mostly derived from the characters appearing in front of each other naked. 

The characters are well developed; all thrown together into a strange environment early on in the book; tightly integrating their relationships and inner conflicts and allowing the reader to get to know them more. Sudden flashbacks dramatize the otherwise smooth narrative, while the explanations of the concept of time, of dark matter, and physics more broadly, eventually give way to the stark reality that the project Marshall has been hired to work on is being used by both governments and large corporations for their own ends. 

Taking Time is a fun book that blends lite versions of the science fiction, thriller, and comedy genres without fully embracing one. You may find yourself chuckling in parts, and enjoying the entertaining twists and turns, if you’re able to suspend your disbelief for a few short hours. Taking Time kept me sufficiently entertained with its charm and humor. 

Pages: 358 | ASIN: B087PP8DPL

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Rough Way to the High Way

Rough Way to the High Way by [Kelly Mack McCoy]

All Mack wants to do is deliver a truckload of swinging meat to Chicago and forget about his troubles. After the tragic death of his wife, he hands over his ministry to a junior preacher and returns to his first job as a truck driver. But things take a dangerous turn his first time back on the road. Someone is hell-bent on ensuring Mack doesn’t make it to Chicago in one piece. His adventure is further complicated when he picks up a mysterious hitchhiker. To make matters worse, he appears to be caught in the middle of some agribusiness hanky-panky involving top government officials and an imprisoned crime boss.

Rough Way to the High Way is Kelly Mack McCoy’s first novel, and I could hardly tell. McCoy writes with poise and fluency that pulls you in and keeps you captivated. This Christian fiction novel takes you on a journey along the highways while looking through the lens of a preacher-turned-trucker.

McCoy’s delightful mix of colorful, humorous conversations, light-hearted banter and a twist laden plot did an excellent job of keeping me engaged. Not to mention that there was this mysterious hitchhiker that kept me guessing about his actual identity all through the story.

McCoy also provides a rich reading experience with his choice of words and how he strings them together. The man genuinely has a way with words. This is visible in how he describes metaphysical scenarios using figures of speech and analogies that bring those elements to life and turn them into vivid images. I also loved how he offered faith-based insights, enlightening stories (I was very touched by Horatio Spafford’s story) and philosophical toppings.

The author zooms in on several issues, with one being the pain of losing a loved one. He shows that after such tragedy, our strongest anchors, including our faith, can be jolted by the tremors of grief and despair. McCoy also reminds us of the possibility of learning life lessons from the unlikeliest of sources.

Rough Way to the High Way is definitely one for your virtual and physical bookshelves if you are a fan of thought-provoking and exciting Christian fiction.

Pages: 268 | ASIN: B07MQS9819

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Merren and the Heron

Merren and the Heron by [Tony Dow, Darya Shchegoleva]

Merren and the Heron, by Tony Dow is an adorable story about a class of children visiting the zoo. Their teacher instructs them to take a picture with an animal that rhymes with their name. As the children wander around the zoo, they struggle to get their pictures. Then, an even worse problem arises, they can’t find their classmate Merren! As the kids continue to search for Merren, they still haven’t gotten their pictures and now there’s too much to worry about!

Tony Dow’s story is filled with lovable characters and exciting rhymes. It engages young readers, allowing them to learn rhyming structure, while solving a fun mystery. The drawings on every page have colors that pop, making it even more appealing. Overall, Dow provides a story that children can read many times without getting bored.

I am giving Merren and the Herren, by Tony Down 5 out of 5 stars. Its mystery filled storyline and use of engaging literary techniques makes the story stand out from most children’s books. Its colorful drawings bring the characters to life and makes the audience even more absorbed with the story. Merren and the Heron is one of the most unique children’s stories I have read this month.

Pages: 13 | ASIN : B08LBQX961

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Black Oak: The Loveless Chronicles: Chapter 1

In Titus Murphy’s Black Oak lies a story both riveting and enchanting. It contains a variety of characters and storylines, keeping you on your toes all through your reading. In summary, it follows the events happening in the small town of Wichita across different timelines; 1782, 1815, and the present day.

By depicting parallels and interconnections between these three timelines, it weaves a tale of love, magic, and destiny. As expected from any Young Adult Fantasy book, it is filled with mystical creatures like witches and jackals (hybrids of vampires and werewolves).

But what I truly find interesting about this book is that throughout the narrative, there seems to be a backdrop of suspense. The author has developed the plot in a way that you’re not really sure who to trust. Nobody and nothing is ever what they seem to be in this town. As such, with every page I read, I was constantly waiting for the next shoe to drop.

It also helps that this story reads easily, with tons of dialogue to break down the prose. However, while the fact that there are several main characters instead of a single protagonist makes it quite similar to real life and allows the author to draw interesting connections, it also means that a lot of characters are not fully developed.

I get a sense that this could be because this book is written to be the first one in a series though; leaving the author with several more venues to build on the characters. Truth be told, it is ultimately these missing details that make a reader yearn for more, curious about what will happen next. But if there is one element of this book that can definitely be improved upon, it is the grammar. There are a few errors here and there; something that can be polished up with some quick editing.

That aside, I love how the author subtly incorporates themes of racism and faith, making the narrative much more personal and relatable. The fact that even the readers don’t know who the villains are is a nice touch as well, giving this book some mysterious vibes. All things considered, Black Oak is a great read that will surely enchant and entertain any reader.

Pages: 275 | ASIN: B08KRQDCGY

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Canada’s Great Unsolved Murder

Ann Shortell
Ann Shortell Author Interview

Celtic Knot follows a young girl who’s caught up in a murder mystery that has national consequences. What was the inspiration for turning this historical event into a thrilling mystery novel?

It was true inspiration, through a dream. I awakened with the vision of a girl, writing by candlelight, “I was on the other side of the door when Mr. McGee was shot.” I knew she meant the 1868 assassination of Canadian Father of Confederation T. D’Arcy McGee. Irish rebels were blamed, and one was hanged for the crime. Yet this remains Canada’s great unsolved murder mystery.

Clara is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?

Thank you, Thomas. Readers have described Celtic Knot as “Alias Grace meets a dark, twisty Anne Of Green Gables”. Certainly, Canadian author L.M. Montgomery’s heroines, such as Anne Shirley and particularly her writer protagonist Emily Byrd Starr, served as inspiration. There’s a bit of Jo March in Clara as well. Yet Clara is a young female immigrant, the ultimate outsider viewing a strange new world with the particular gaze of a post-famine Irish-Catholic (& one hiding her late mother’s scandalous mixed-marriage to her negligent Anglo-Irish Protestant father.) Clara is bright, & surrounded by powerful men, yet absolutely powerless—except for her education, her knowledge of events, and her ability to ferret out information. She must work as a domestic servant to live, and must always make a fine calculation to balance her ethical duty and her best interests.

I enjoyed the historical references used throughout the book. What research did you undertake to ensure things were accurate?

There is a plethora of information available about McGee and his assassination, including books, trial transcripts, his own writings, newspapers of the day, and letters of prominent politicians & their civil servants. There is also no dearth of lore surrounding this story in the Irish-Canadian community, to this day. Much of what I’ve written is factual, but I’ve also learned facts and then taken great liberties with them. The trial is a representative pastiche, and I invented some character backstories and subplots—including the ending. One fact that still intrigues me: when slain, McGee did in fact have a recently-completed, politically-sensitive manuscript that went missing.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

Yes, Thomas, young Clara Swift off having more misadventures–this time amidst a western Canadian rebellion, followed by high-level American Washington D.C. political intrigue, all of which culminates in a border raid of Canada by Irish-American Civil War veterans. This work-in-progress is titled An Irish Goodbye A Clara Swift Tale, and its publication date is Clara’s—and my—latest mystery.

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1868 Ottawa

Politician Thomas D’Arcy McGee is assassinated. As Prime Minister John A. Macdonald cradles his friend’s bloody head, he blames transplanted Irish terrorists: the Fenian Brotherhood. Within a day, Patrick James Whelan is arrested. After a show trial, Whelan is publicly hanged.

That much is history. Did Whelan do the deed?

What if Clara Swift, a mere slip of a girl, sees the trace-line of a buggy turn off Sparks Street, moments after the murder? What if housemaid Clara understands her dead mentor’s shorthand, and forges an unlikely alliance with the Prime Minister’s investigator? And ends up being trusted by the condemned man’s wife — and by Lady Agnes Macdonald . . .

Celtic Knot.
It’s reimagining a crisis that tested a new country.
It’s history with a mystery.
It’s A Clara Swift Tale.

And it all begins with a shot in the dark.
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