Charley Brindley’s Hannibal’s Elephant Girl takes place in 229 BCE in North Africa. We’re treated to a thoughtful account of life in a river camp near Carthage. The delivery of the story is exceptional as the reader can effortlessly follow the various story lines in the book. There are more than one major character but the main focus is on a girl called Liada. We accompany this 12-year-old girl as she goes about her business and the adventures in the camp. The narration is simple but still managed to keep my attention. Different literary and stylistic devices are used to spice up the plot and every character is developed uniquely. The reader falls in love with some characters and loathes some due to how the author represents them. This connection brought me the most joy because the characters I was rooting for almost always won.
Liada gets rescued from a river by an elephant named Obolus. The savior elephant is among the many that are being trained for war at the camp. There is a war looming and every party needs to prepare for any situation. Despite getting rescued, Liada’s life is not all smooth as her memory seems to have faded. Liada is assigned some tasks, among them feeding soldiers in the camp. Yzebel, the woman who took Liada runs a cafeteria where soldiers go to eat. Yzebel is patient and understanding. She is one of the characters the I greatly enjoyed from the beginning. Yzebel, however, has a disgraceful son, but despite this, Liada continues to be the hardworking girl who keeps it together.
I appreciated Liada’s character as she is accountable for anything she does and treats everyone with courtesy. Liada’s daily tasks make her interact with different people in the camp. I appreciate how the author describes events in the book. Everything is detailed. The camp, soldiers, city of Carthage and the activities the characters engage in are well illustrated and one can easily visualize the happenings. Hannibal is one of the members Liada interacts with. Hannibal is in charge of the elephant army. Tin Tin Ban Sunia is another character that Liada befriended. Liada and Tin Tin Ban Sunia became friends despite the latter being mute.
The kind Liada and Yzebel, however, plan to save the poor girl from slavery. This was a bold but risky move as the two put themselves in danger. Their arrangement also revealed another side of the characters that I got to love. Charley Brindley makes a simple story more exciting with twists in the plot. The suspense and action the characters take make the reading thrilling. Hannibal’s Elephant Girl is engaging, with a balance of detail that allows your imagination to run. The characters are well developed and addictive to follow. This is a fantastic book with plenty of lessons for young readers.
Pages: 425 | ASIN: B07P9WJFWP
Mango Rash is a memoir of your time in American Samoa as a teen in the mid-sixties. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this memoir?
I started writing bits and pieces of my Samoa story when I joined a writers’ group in 2004. That was almost forty years after my time in Samoa, and for all those years I’d struggled to convey what it was like living on a tropical island as a teenager in the 1960s. All I could come up with was, “It was beautiful . . . It was a blast . . . “ and other generic responses that didn’t begin to capture the essence of the experience. So I started writing about that year as a way to not only fill in the details, but also tease out why living in Samoa made such an impression on me—something I’m not sure I completely understood until I finished writing the memoir.
Was everything you wrote from memory, or did you have to do research like dig through old photographs and letters?
Some events and conversations were so deeply etched in memory I could write them off the top of my head. Others surfaced as I looked through old photographs, played music from the time, and read letters and diary entries. One very good friend from high school days had saved all the letters I wrote her from Samoa, and those filled in so many details, including entire, verbatim conversations and descriptions of people and places. As I was revising the manuscript, a cousin unearthed letters my parents had written to her parents from Samoa. Those letters corroborated my accounts and provided even more details.
I appreciated the candid nature of your book. What were some goals you set for yourself as a writer for this book?
Interesting question! I think my main goal was to dig beneath the day-by-day recounting of events, extract the most pivotal events, and ferret out my reactions to those events, both at the time and forty to fifty years later, as I was writing about them. And then to keep making sure I was telling the truth, not only the factual truth, but also the emotional truth.
This is a lovely coming of age story that superbly captures a whirlwind of emotions. What do you hope readers take away from your story?
Thank you! I hope readers take away several messages from my story.
First, that even though our individual life stories may be very different, we all experience similar emotions at key points in our lives—adolescence, for one, but also other points along the way.
Second, that change is inevitable—nothing is permanent—but it’s good to consider which changes are beneficial and growth-promoting and which ones are destructive. Neither resisting change nor forging ahead just for the sake of change is the best path.
Finally, I think the most important message is that we all can learn so much from cultures other than our own if we open ourselves up to what they have to offer. Given all the mistrust and misunderstanding among different groups of people these days, this message can’t be stressed too often.
Moving to a South Pacific island from small town Oklahoma, sixteen year old Nancy Sanders trades cruising Main Street in search of tater tots for strolling sandy shores with islanders who feast on sea worms and summon sharks with song.
With a dash of teenage sass, MANGO RASH chronicles Nancy’s search for adventure—and identity—in two alien realms: the tricky terrain of adolescence and the remote U.S. territory of American Samoa. Against a backdrop of lava-rimmed beaches, frangipani-laced air, and sensual music, Nancy immerses herself in 1960s island culture with a colorful cast of Samoan and American expat kids.
But life is not one big beach party, Nancy soon finds, when she clashes with her parents over forbidden boys and discovers double standards in the expat community. Samoa, too, is experiencing growing pains as ancient customs collide with 20th-century ways. In the midst of all this, a hurricane shatters the peaceful paradise, delivering lessons in attachment and loss, strength and survival.
Like Nancy, readers of this unforgettable memoir will fall in love with Samoa’s biscuit-tin drum serenades, its mountains like mounds of cut velvet cushions, and its open-hearted people, who face adversity with grace. And just as Nancy does when her own health crisis thrusts her into a very different kind of unfamiliar territory, readers will draw strength from fa’a Samoa: the Samoan Way.
In language as lush as the island landscape, MANGO RASH enchants, entertains, and, ultimately, inspires with its message about embracing and learning from other cultures.
Passage of Time finds Elara struggling with letting go of her past while fighting a dictator that will destroy the planet. What inspired the setup to this thrilling novel?
Life inspired this novel. I want my readers to experience challenging situations through my characters eyes, and my hope is that they come away with tools on how to cope with life’s hardships. I want my readers to get more than just a great escape from reality.
Elara continues to be an engaging character. What were some obstacles you felt were important to her character development in this book?
Elara’s growth is something I wanted the reader to witness. She needed to experience “real life” challenges, and she needed to hit rock bottom to grow into a powerful young woman. Sometimes we feel as though we are stumbling through life, when in reality we are constantly evolving. The obstacles she faces in Passage of Time were essential to her growth.
The writing in this book was exceptional. What were some goals you set for yourself as a writer before writing this book?
My goal was to publish a book with zero regrets. Each book you publish should be better than your last. I wanted to challenge myself with Passage of Time by approaching topics I once feared. Domestic violence, sexual abuse, suicide, and war are tough to explore. This involved intense research and deep breaths. A plethora of emotions surfaced while writing this book because I wanted my readers to explore various reactions between characters. I wanted them to explore Elara’s mind. Passage of Time is the largest book in my series, and it took the longest to publish because I refused to rush the process. I spent countless hours doing revisions and edits. When I wasn’t writing I was reading. Reading is the most valuable tool for improving your craft.
Where do you see the Seeker of Time series going in the future?
I have BIG plans for the Seeker of Time series. I can’t give away all of my secrets but I will say this: books 4-6 are scheduled for publication.
Abandoned and betrayed, Elara struggles to let go of the man she loves while her fearless mentor encourages her to stand against the evil dictator who rules her home planet. To succeed, she must rise above the darkness and trust the voice near her heart.
The twins experience a setback after a deadly standoff with the Inner Circle. An act of love transforms Elara’s destiny, and an act of hate pushes Cyrus to his breaking point.
Zenith makes a bold move that disrupts the lives of everyone on Aroonyx. Samson gathers the citizens to prepare for war. An alliance is formed, and a traitor seeks revenge.
A tragic event in the West Village sends Elara tumbling further into the darkness, leaving her to face the masked dealer alone. Outnumbered and out of luck, the twins must rally the recruits to end Zenith’s reign.
As the epic battle approaches, the hands of time pause during a life-changing event, and a visitor from the past alters the future.
Passage of Time is the third installment in the award-winning Seeker of Time series. Meaningful lessons challenge the reader, sending their hearts on an emotional marathon that leaves them sprinting toward the finish line.
Tellus finds Queen Natylia on lock down and betrayal around every corner while every decision affects the fate of her kingdom. What were some ideas you wanted to carry over into book two and what were some new ideas you wanted to explore?
Natylia started off as a pretty naive character. A bit pampered. But she’s always been courageous, and her moral compass has always directed her in the right direction; which was why, despite her fears, she left the palace in Imber. I really wanted to expand on that. Character growth is astronomically important to me. A person doesn’t have experiences without evolving, so why should a character? I think in Tellus, I wanted Natylia to figure out a little bit more what it meant to be a leader, but also to sacrifice for the people she loves . . . as well as those she’s destined to protect. And while her mental health is taking a beating, I really want to make sure my readers know that just because she’s struggling, doesn’t mean she’s any less of a strong person; something she definitely shares with Camion.
In a more physical regard, the end of Imber is kind of a dungeon crawler. While I love the idea of continuing that, I really wanted to open up the world a bit and show off a bit more of what Araenna has to offer—and I think the cover does a pretty good job of showing what’s in store! 😉 But Imber was very stationary to Natylia’s lands, and the world is so much bigger . . . which, I think also helped give her some perspective.
Natylia continues to be a captivating character. What were some obstacles you felt were important to her character development in this book?
So, Natylia has a bit of a selfish streak. It’s part of her having this life where she never wanted for anything. The problems she faced growing up felt, to her, astronomical to her at the time, but now she’s facing much realer things. I wanted her to grow from that. While I think she started that journey in Imber, I thought it was really important that she realize in Tellus how her actions and choices can affect the people around her, and I’m really excited to show off what she’s learned overall in Ventus. She’s become a much stronger woman, and even though no one ever stops growing, I think the lessons she’s learned have not only made her a better queen, but a better friend and partner as well.
You’ve previously mentioned that you played the Elder Scrolls games. What race from that game do you find yourself always choosing when creating a character?
I love this question! I gravitate toward Elves in almost any fantasy games that I play. And I tend to stay far from humans. But that’s not always true, because the character I’m playing in Skyrim currently is I think a Nord?
Tellus is book two in the Thanatos Trilogy. Where does the final story go and how far along are you in writing it?
The final story will deal with cleaning up the mess that has been created in the first two books. Natylia still has a lot of work ahead of her, not only dealing with with betrayals and revealed secrets from Tellus, but also the new the situation she found herself in at the end of book two! I’m already 35,000 words into the first draft, and I’m currently aiming for a July release.
After a disappointing venture into Emberlyn Forest, Queen Natylia of Thrais is feeling anything but confident. To make matters worse, the Council is now involved, placing her on lockdown to ensure she rules her kingdom as appointed.
But she knows the Scepters are out there. At any moment those magical keys could be used to release four dangerous Titans from their prison far beneath Saphir Lake. If Natylia fails to find the Scepters before they fall into the wrong hands, her kingdom won’t be the only one to suffer.
With the support of Jyn, Camion, and Meryn, Natylia sets out to hunt these ancient relics before war and death can destroy Araenna. And when a former love gets tangled into the mix, Natylia is forced to learn the true meaning of forgiveness.
Betrayal haunts her every step, but the fate of Araenna depends on her every decision—and a test of power may cost her everything she holds dear.
Including her own life.
The Adventures of Jules Khan – A Teenage Muslim Superhero, introduces the world to a fictional project that is shifting the narrative on how teenagers and adults consume faith, fiction and entertainment in mainstream media. This unique and creative story is a narrative on North America’s newest Superhero Jules Khan…
An enormous responsibility is bestowed upon Jules Khan. He is basically still a child and could not possibly fathom the true meaning of this responsibility. The whole of humanity is depending on him for survival. He must keep the book safe. Most importantly, he must keep the book away from the National Weapons Association. He will use his natural superpowers while relying on prayer and friends to remain grounded. He is about to uncover many secrets and find information that will rock him to the core. Will mankind be saved from the evil association?
Karim K Devji has crafted a thrilling and action filled tale of human triumph. He has masterfully woven a tale of a brave young man who is not expected to fulfill his role quite so efficiently but does so anyway with gusto and wisdom. He has told a story the only way it deserves to be told; with great energy. This story pulls in the reader right from the beginning. You get to meet fascinating characters and wander in the mind of Jules Khan freely. The author is a very vivid storyteller, using descriptions that are breathtaking.
As the story takes us through Jules’ journey of bravery, I was inspired by the lengths this young man goes to to bring peace to the world and his determination to instill the idea of respect for all regardless of their life choices or situations.
The book touches on numerous sensitive topics from religion to politics. In this era of over-sensitivity and overreactions, these are very difficult topics to converse about. However, the author navigates that particularly muddy puddle with expert ease. Everyone is represented in this book and does not focus on any one religion. The Adventures of Jules Khan – A Teenage Muslim Superhero is a wonderful adventure book that delivers a message of peace and respect to whoever reads it.
The story takes place in WWII era and captures the feel of the time and place well. The author’s commitment to the story and the intended message are announced in no uncertain terms by the simple brilliance with which the book is presented. It is rare to find a action packed book that would be suitable for both children and adults but The Adventures of Jules Khan- A Teenage Muslim Superhero is able to entertain and inspire.
Jules Khan should be a welcome addition to the MARVEL or DC Superhero Franchise as their newest Avenger or hero that uses his tremendous earth based superpowers and pluralism to easily handle the bad guys.
Pages: 169 | ASIN: B07F1GYLN4
Tags: A Teenage Muslim Superhero, action, adventure, author, book, book review, bookblogger, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, Karim Kassamali Devji, kindle, kobo, literature, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, story, The Adventures of Jules Khan, writer, writing, young adult
Marley and Richard have only just met, but the spark is there, and it is real. Things begin to move quickly when Richard comes to work in the same business as Marley. In addition, he is strangely close to their new manager, Ross Gilmore. The buzz in Marley’s office is all about Ross and the wealth that he has accumulated. However, Marley’s sights are set on Richard, and she is much less concerned about his association with the new man in charge. With dreams of marriage, a family, and a horse farm of their own, Marley and Richard set out to make a life together. Something… just a little hint of something… isn’t as simple as it seems.
Marley Faces Reality, by Lesley J. Mooney, is the story of Marley Bollane, a young woman working hard and waiting patiently for her turn at love and a family. Unlike many in her peer group, Marley has chosen to remain a virgin until marriage. She doesn’t realize how quickly that marriage will arrive when she meets Richard. Their relationship moves quickly and all seems well. There remains something quite unsettling about Richard’s friend and business associate, Ross. Marley can’t shake the feeling, but she also can’t put a name to it.
The underlying and brewing drama is drawn out well throughout the book. Mooney keeps readers guessing and makes it interesting to watch Marley try to piece together the clues she begins to pick up along the way. Marley’s life with Richard moves along at a rapid pace, and the reader becomes easily absorbed in all of their triumphs.
Though the main characters’ lives move along quickly in the first few chapters, it takes a while to get to the meat of the story. When it finally happens, the author brings readers in headfirst. The drama is well-planned, multiple characters are impacted, and Marley is still clueless enough to keep readers yearning for more. When she fails to notice the changes in her children and the impact her brother-in-law has on their lives, readers become irate for her.
Ross, who begins the book as a mystery, becomes quite the villain, and does so fairly abruptly. He returns in one way or another throughout the plot. Whether he is in a face-to-face confrontation or whether previous dealings with him come back to haunt Marley and Richard’s little family, Ross is always there. His presence helps make the book much more than the romance it seemed at the outset.
There are some points in the beginning of the book where the dialogue feels a bit wordy. Some of the exchanges between characters feel much more like narration than genuine exchanges between two characters.
Readers who enjoy an element of romance in their thrillers will find Mooney’s work satisfying. Mooney has created relatable characters, a dramatic story-line with multiple twists and turns, and a heroine to be remembered.
Pages: 276 | ASIN: B07ZNC36XG
Sex and sexuality have changed quite a bit in the last decade. It is therefore only natural that the approach to sex education be changed to fit with the times.
Dr Doug Hammack’s book, Rethinking Sex Ed, is a guide to help parents bridge the generational gap that tends to stand in the way of effective sex education. He suggests that a symbiosis between religious and societal teachings on sexuality would be most beneficial. The book details the progression of sex education and shows the reader how and when teachings ceased to be effective.
The book is well written and delivered in an even tone that seeks to inspire the reader to change their stance on their own sex education approach. The book is diplomatic, not fully supporting one approach to the detriment of another. The author acknowledges the importance of all approaches. This book only advocates for amendment of sex education to make it more palatable to the current generation. The author has a very good grasp of the material and is well versed in this subject and speaks from a point of expertise. It would therefore be safe to say that this is a reliable guide book for anyone willing to keep their mind open.
This book is very short which is wonderful, because this could be heavy material with an important message. Dr. Hammack has the ability to keep the reader well engaged and on track with the message. It takes special skills to write a book about sexuality that does not pin point and focus on a particular orientation. The basis of all love and sexuality is the same. We are all inherently the same. In that sense, this book is suitable for anyone regardless of their sexual orientation. It is not even specific to parents either.
Rethinking Sex Ed is an important book that I think is especially important in this time of so much sexual confusion. Children are growing up lacking the appropriate sexual curriculum and therefore never really attain that maturity. This is a recommended read for educators, young adults, and parents.
Pages: 186 | ASIN: B07JK5H6B5
The Modronovich Incident by RL Dean is a sci-fi mystery set in outer space and told from the perspective of Beatrice, a pilot and wreck driver. She is tipped off about a mysterious case in which the Modronovich, a cargo ship testing an advanced Newtonian drive, went missing. Bea is intrigued by this case and pulls some strings to get a crew on board so that she can take a deep dive to find it. However, after facing endless obstacles and dead ends, she is forced to give it up. Until, a figure central to the case finally appears. Bea is finally able to put together the missing pieces and finds a shocking revelation at the heart of the puzzle.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book- I read it in just a few sittings and found it nearly impossible to put down. Not only are the premise and plot captivating, but the perspective from which it is shown is also perfectly captured. Beatrice is the perfect window into this futuristic world- the secrets, conspiracies, and revelations are portrayed through her eyes. From the first scene itself, RL Dean masterfully creates an air of suspense and tension, without losing me on an overdose of tech jargon.
RL Dean also managed to create strong female characters in powerful positions. They were ready to save the day, irrespective of which situation happened to arise. Their voices were deftly handled for the most part, except for a few questionable allusions to the ‘women love shopping’ trope. Especially Bea, who handled professional trouble and a petulant mother like any real woman do, with exasperation and a determination to bring her life back on track.
Another aspect that I found great joy in were the ‘Harvey Editorial’ snippets at the beginning of each chapter. They offered short insights, dialogue, or debate on the current day affairs of the future. They were funny, quirky, and often harkening back to our very own 21st century. These were everything from a sassy quip on a politician to a gloomy proclamation of the world ending (I guess some things never change).
All in all, this is a rewarding and thrilling read from start to finish, and I would recommend it to everyone.
Pages: 171 | ASIN: B07Z282VB4
Dvorah is the only child of Eleazar and Ajalon, and as such she is trained in many different skills to help her parents. Her childhood in Israel is simple, but happy, surrounded by family and friends. One day, late in her teens, her entire life changes when she receives a message from God telling her to sit in judgement of the disagreements between others. She does this to great acclaim for three years before being given an even bigger task- to lead an army of thousands in war, alongside her cousin, Barak. The battle will change their lives and shape their future together.
In Dvorah: Prophetess, Judge, Warrior, M.J. Lalli tells of Dvorah’s life and lessons on her way to becoming the jewel of Israel. The book begins slowly, detailing Dvorah’s daily life with her playmates, time in training inside the wool tent, and time spent learning to make perfect bricks. Through it all, Dvorah’s persistence, precision, and level headedness are consistently referenced as some of her most remarkable traits. In the meantime, Lalli paints a vivid picture of Biblical-era Israel and infuses the text with many stories from the Bible, but never seems overtly religious. Many of the stories are told in the context of Dvorah’s challenges and belief. Other characters don’t feature very prominently, with many of them coming in and out of the narrative just a time or two, and some others appearing only once. Dvorah and her horse Zenja are the most constant players in the tale.
Faith, and remaining true to how you have been taught, stand as the primary themes of the book. Throughout the course of the novel, Dvorah never strays from the faith and religion she was raised on, and in due course is rewarded for her diligence. As a contrast, her childhood friend Simona is used to illustrate the dangers of straying from the path of their religion, suffering all manner of tragedies along with her sins.
Dvorah herself is a well written and well-rounded character that succeeds at her tasks, but never in a way that feels convenient or out of place within the narrative. She works hard for what she achieves. The book is also well written in that it has a religious foundation but doesn’t once feel preachy in the way it’s presented. However, the slow start makes it difficult to get into the story, and the parables, while relevant, are often long winded. The second half of the book does pick up the pace dramatically as Dvorah fulfills the second of her heavenly callings. Dvorah: Prophetess, Judge, Warrior is a thought provoking novel that many will enjoy reading.
Pages: 246 | ASIN: B07VG5J8H7
The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.
Gold Award Winners
Silver Award Winners
Posted in Literary Titan Book Award
Tags: 50 shades of truth, action, adventure, author, author award, book, book award, book review, bookblogger, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, mystery, nonfiction, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, romance, science fiction, story, supernatural, suspense, thriller, writer, writing