The Aqua Human by J. Elizaga is a beautiful short story about a young teenager in the Pacific during World War II. The protagonist, young Amaya, is thrust into a dangerous situation and must escape when she goes through a mysterious and unknown transformation. From here she discoveries fantastical new physical abilities underwater and must find her own way to survive.
There are many aspects of this short story that I loved from the very first page. The Aqua Human starts strong with an intense scene that immediately catches the reader’s attention. Even the very first paragraph hooks you as you are thrown into a confronting scene amid World War II. These first few pages introduce you to the protagonist’s father, Bayani, and the actions he takes here gives you a strong image of who he is and what he values above everything and everyone, which added a lot of urgency to this opening scene.
Even though this is an engaging read right up to the very end, I felt that the last quarter felt a bit desultory. Perhaps this was due to the nature of the short story format, if The Aqua Human had ten more pages the ending would be much more satisfying to me, otherwise I did enjoy the ending as it is.
The emotional intensity of this short story doesn’t decline from here but the pace does slow down and gives you time with the protagonist, Amaya, as she undergoes a mysterious and fantastical transformation. Personally, my favorite part of the story is right before the halfway point when Elizaga describes an absolutely beautiful setting of what seems like an entirely new and different world. It was during these parts of The Aqua Human that left me in awe and with an ongoing admiration for the author.
Pages: 60 | ASIN: B07W3DX48L
Metal Like Me by D. W. Saur is a sweet story about acceptance. The author has lovingly crafted an endearing story that will inspire children to learn about diversity and inclusion. Kids will learn that being unique is a gift and we must all embrace it. It does not matter if others are like us or not, as long as we are comfortable with ourselves and not afraid of showing the world who we are. There is no one thing that defines us and we all have different sides. Children will benefit from the life lesson presented in this story, that if others are not willing to make an effort to get to know us then we must step up and put the effort to know them. That’s how we can celebrate true friendships and meaningful relationships. Metal Like Me approaches the topic of bullying in a unique way that makes it easy for parents and children to start a discussion. I definitely recommend this well written, short and easy to understand book as it will teach children a positive way to identify themselves. The illustrations by Danielle Green are beautifully simple with a rough sketch like illustration that will make it easy for kids to relate to. The fantastic artwork excellently captures the unique voice in this charismatic children’s story.
Pages: 50 | ASIN: B0863JJ2WG
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The Master’s Garden describes the relationship between God and his children with a beautiful metaphor of a gardener and the host of plants to which he tends. What was the inspiration for this metaphor?
Jesus used the metaphor that He was the Vine, God the Father is the Gardener, and that we are the branches. I have over 40 years’ experience in dealing with plants, both professionally and personally so I understand how plants work more than the average person. It was a natural extrapolation for me to expand it to all plants. It came to me one day while hiking in the woods. It was really fun to write!
What were some themes you felt were important to focus on in this book?
God loves all of us and wants us all be to belong to Him and come under His care through His Son, Jesus.
God, the Master Gardener, wants to have a growing, dynamic relationship with each one of us. I tried to portray this with the intimate and personal discussions that New Dawn has with the Gardener.
Living as a Christian the way God wants seems impossible. That’s because we think we are to live in our own strength. Jesus teaches us the only way to live rightly is through His power and strength not our own. We cannot do it, but He can.
True significance and enjoyment, the Abundant Life, are achieved by living God’s way through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Violet’s character was delightful and well developed. What were some ideas that guided her character development?
Violet represents, in many ways, most of us who struggle with inadequacy and a longing to be loved and valued as an individual. New Dawn, the main character in the allegory, is me. While the allegory doesn’t exactly follow my life’s journey, it is a close representation of it. It is my story of how God has transformed this self-condemning, insignificant and pathetic person into one who now has joy, peace, confidence, and significance—true riches! All to the credit and honor of my magnificent Creator!
Do you have more stories planed that take place in Plantasia?
Absolutely! I am working on the sequel already, as well as several Bible studies and devotionals to go along with this first book.
In the gospel of John, Jesus tells us that He is the Vine and His Father is the Gardener. He explains that His followers are the branches and need to remain in the Vine and bear much fruit. Have you ever wondered what Jesus meant by that or how remaining in the Vine might look in your daily life? Then enter into the fantasy world of Plantasia™ where plants come alive! This is a witty tale told by a grandmother to help her struggling granddaughter find true significance under God’s care. The Master Gardener created this beautiful world where plants can think, see, hear, and speak. He longs for all to come under His loving care and be grafted onto His beloved Vine. Through this connection, plants are able to flourish and reach their full potential. See what happens when a spindly rose, who yearns to be more than she is, meets the Master Gardener. Listen in on the conversations she has with the Gardener, Mighty Oak, Ginni (the Obedient Plant), and Mr. Bugleweed. Learn with her as she discovers the secrets of how to abide in the Vine and experience true riches. If you enjoyed the allegory Hinds’ Feet on High Places, you will love this allegory of abiding in Christ, the Vine!
Posted in Interviews
Tags: adventure, author, author interview, book, book review, bookblogger, christian, christian fantasy, christian fiction, Creating Authentic Relationships Between Companies and Consumers, ebook, faith, fantasy, fiction, garden, god, goodreads, jesus, kindle, kobo, literature, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, religion, Rose Noland, story, writer, writing
Cooking in a Teacup recounts your experiences in a kitchen in the Australian outback in 1952. What was the inspiration that made you want to capture this time in a book?
The main reason was to let my family of five girls and their families, understand how my life had been and what it was like then in the outback. They might find much of it monotonous as I tend to talk too much about myself. My coming from a religious boarding college life when aged fourteen which was restricting in certain ways, then going out into the bush for some years afterwards,, presented many profound changes for both me and my brother then.( Only partially going to grade ten was not a hindrance for finding a job later when in Darwin and it did not enter my mind then..)
I am so pleased you liked the story regardless of how it was written. I know I went through that life accepting whatever came along with curiosity and wide eyes, yet I followed orders with the knowledge that those people out there also accepted whatever occurred was part of their normal daily.
I enjoyed the humorous but honest recounts of your past. What is one experience from that time that you remember more clearly than the others?
Well, besides the worst one- that one of almost disappearing into the “big hole in the ground” , and the other one of nearly running a large truck off the road at night when driving home from Julia Creek—The main benefits were the new education I had received much earlier
from the young age of fifteen; and then the blessings of accepting and being able to live through those experiences. Truely, altogether it was the entire new living that life experiences, and having the patience and ability to watch, listen, absorb, and try to relax. Yet take part in the unknown chores of daily life, and admire the workers while learning so much from all those wonderful people I met. Enjoying their conversations and their natures, regardless of them carrying out their working jobs, which I often took part in.
When writing this book did you have to interview anyone or dig up any old photos to spark your memory?
No, all these details were always present in my memory with some never forgotten. I do have photos from most places I lived at.
I found your book to be ultimately inspiring. What do you hope readers take away from your story?
I would like to hope they actually do read some of the narrative without throwing it away in disgust and boredom.
This story relates to my own individual, genuine experiences which occurred, and I added others including the details of some years before from early 1945 and after, to explain my circumstances as they were then.
Just turning twenty one in 1952, my father wrote and asked me an odd question, which was to take on a job as a cook on a cattle station, up in North Queensland. Though ‘totally inexperienced’, this position sounded interesting and intriguing. New adventures lay ahead for me on that unknown part of the Australian outback. I doubt if my father even considered my lack of capabilities for this position at all. Later on this job also offered another one, with the bush nurse asking for me to come and nurse, care and cook for an elderly man at McKinley Qld, again my being absolutely inexperienced. These parts of my story included meeting new people, and happenings that occurred in my life, then and in the future.
As this is real life over periods of years, it also contains personal details of the author and family’s lives, and that of others.
This is not a cooking book and there are no recipes given, though a sense of humour would be appreciated.
Her World is a creative collection of women’s literature from writers around the world and published by Her Place, Any Region. What is Her Place, Any Region and how does Her World support your cause?
Her Place, Any Region is a non profit organization which supports women and their families personally, professionally and emotionally. Through a myriad of resources we help women overcome devastating life circumstances such as homelessness, job loss, divorce and death of a spouse or child.
Our organization supports other benevolent and charitable causes through collaborative efforts. Her World, Creative Collections, is a compilation made up of women’s works from around the the world who have donated their works to support the programs in Her Place, as well as other causes of which they chose.
100% of the profits are donated to charities and benevolent causes.
Her World brings women together through the art eclectic, sharing their experiences, their talents and their hearts. Her World is a glimpse of what Her Place is really about, and why it is so important to have the support for these circumstances women face throughout life that traditional resources lack.
What was the collaboration like with all of the authors to put the compilation together?
Creating Her World started as an idea in 2011. Her Place was already in the works, and through that development we found that these creative women expressed themselves in ways that was unprecedented. The talents these women have come from such a deep place of sincerity and love, and bringing them together in print was powerful.
It was a fun project, and it took a lot of trust from the women to allow us to create this and treat it with the respect it deserves. We started pulling together pieces in 2016, and after a few attempts to complete it, we focused for 4 months straight to finalize it though the end of 2019 into 2020. The women were incredibly patient and were still on board throughout the 4 years.
There are 33 women from around the world featured in Her World, so you can imagine it was quite a project.
The final result was exactly like we imagined it to be, and we are all very happy with how it came together.
If someone wanted to get involved with Her Place, Any Region how would they do that?
Her Place, Any Region, has various programs within it; CreateFam, Glimpses, and Books, Bands, Businesses and Brands. While our primary focus is Glimpses, which is centered around helping women re-establish themselves after devastating life changing circumstances, CreateFam is community/volunteer focused and not gender specific, and Books, Bands, Businesses and Brands is a resource for women with businesses.
People can learn more about all of our programs and contacting us through our website http://www.her-place.org.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
We are currently accepting pieces for our next book: Another Year in Her World. We anticipate it to be released February 2021.
Her Place, Any Region, introduces you to Her World, Creative Collections. Enjoy a literary journey through the experiences, hearts, and minds of 33 women from around the world. Compiled in one single readable book, view life from the eyes of phenomenal female artists and authors in the form of photography, song lyrics, book excerpts, personal life experiences, prose, and poetry. We hope you enjoy this incredibly broad spectrum with which these stories are written, bringing women together to share a glimpse into each other’s lives, during a time unifying the population of women is more important than ever.
In Tokyo Traffic detective Hiroshi is once again called in, to solve a crime that involves human trafficking and crypto-currency scamming. Did you know what criminal themes you were going to use for this novel or did they develop while writing?
The theme was there from the beginning, but only in an abstract way. The concrete actions and decisions of the characters, along with the motivations and results, shaped the themes and made it something to see and touch and feel. The interesting part is how they develop inside the characters. As those broad themes became embodied in the characters, they came alive.
At first the theme of human trafficking threatened to swamp the whole story. It’s too big and too horrible. The more I thought about it, the more I wondered how can they get away with that? How can something so vicious and inhumane just keep going? And who’s “they”? Part of the answer is cryptocurrency. Follow the money to where theme meets characters. Some people will cast aside all human feeling for money, and cryptocurrency makes that easier. Its hidden, digital, clean. Of course, the way of the future will probably be all kinds of digital currencies, but the downside is how people use that illicitly, and for such terrible purposes.
This being book three in your series was there anything new you wanted to introduce into Hiroshi’s character?
He moves in with his girlfriend and works at being with her and not sleeping in his office on a pull-out futon. That’s hard work for him. Overall, Hiroshi gets a bit more of his footing in this novel. His skill set is limited, so he bumps against his own limitations, but he learns to pay attention to what he stumbles onto, what he suspects but isn’t sure of, and what others tell him. An intuitive accountant may sound like a contradiction, but aren’t we all some kind of contradiction? We all have that internal division between our different sides.
What were some challenges you set for yourself as a writer with this book?
This one took me a lot longer to finish than the second one. The tricky part was having three main characters. Before I’d always just focused on two. Adding that third one made the story exponentially harder to keep track of. Braiding the three threads of the bad guy, the victim and the detective, plus the people on their side, was tricky. It was like passing a point-of-view baton. The race kept going as each character carried it a bit further. But to me, that’s very Tokyo-like, different kinds of stories flung together.
It was also a challenge to have two young women as main characters. Sukanya doesn’t know Tokyo at all and Chiho knows Tokyo all too well. So, those two different young women and their different views of Tokyo were hard to get right. But I felt their point of view was important. They see the city so differently than I do, but that’s the interesting part. I’m not sure I set those as challenges for myself, writing is enough of a challenge in and of itself, but those became the challenges to tell the story the way I wanted to.
Does Tokyo Traffic end the story for detective Hiroshi or do you have other novels planned?
I have two more in the Hiroshi series already outlined. The one I’m working on right now is titled Tokyo Overtime. It’s about the pressures of the workplace. What other country in the world has a word, karoshi, for death from overwork? After that, I’m planning to write about the whole fish industry, which is very big business in Japan. Two years ago, one of the owners of a sushi chain restaurant paid the equivalent of three million dollars for a single six-hundred-pound bluefin tuna! After that, I have notes for a standalone with sumo wrestler-turned-detective Sakaguchi and Detective Takamatsu is ripe for a prequel about his early, rough days. So, I’ll see where those lead. I’m looking forward to finding out.
Running from a life she didn’t choose, in a city she doesn’t know Sukanya, a young Thai girl, loses herself in the vastness of Tokyo. With her Bangkok street smarts, and some stolen money, she stays ahead of her former captors who will do anything to recover the computer she took. After befriending Chiho, a Japanese girl living in an internet café, Sukanya makes plans to rid herself of her pursuers, and her past, forever.
In Tokyo, street smarts aren’t always enough
Meanwhile, Detective Hiroshi Shimizu leaves the safe confines of his office to investigate a porn studio where a brutal triple murder took place. The studio’s accounts point him in multiple directions at once. Together with ex-sumo wrestler Sakaguchi and old-school Takamatsu, Hiroshi tracks the killers through Tokyo’s music clubs and teen hangouts, bayside docks and byways, straight into the underbelly of the global economy.
As bodies wash up from Tokyo Bay, Hiroshi tries to find the Thai girl at the center of it all, whose name he doesn’t even know. He uncovers a human trafficking ring and cryptocurrency scammers whose connections extend to the highest levels of Tokyo’s power elite.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: author, author interview, book, book review, bookblogger, crime, crime fiction, crime thriller, cryptocurrency, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, international mystery, kindle, kobo, literature, michael pronko, mystery, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, story, suspense, thriller, Tokyo Traffic, writer, writing
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
The Albatross: Contact by Connor Mackay
IZ – The Saga: Creation by DDWLEM
Silver Award Winners
Book of Chaos: From 22 Back to 21 by Yin Dolmah
Posted in Literary Titan Book Award
Tags: author, author award, author recognition, book, book award, book review, bookblogger, childrens book, christian, crime, ebook, education, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, history, horror, kids book, kindle, kobo, literary award, literature, mystery, nonfiction, nook, novel, picture book, read, reader, reading, romance, science fiction, story, suspense, thriller, writer, writing
Carnival Panic is a dystopian game show where contestants must solve dangerous room puzzles to claim a life changing prize. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting novel?
The initial inspiration for this novel occurred when I walked through the Kyari Pamyu Pamyu museum in Roppongi Hills, Tokyo. While there, I saw a display called “Candy Forest!” with unsettling pink rabbit statues, seen here https://matcha-jp.com/en/688. As I exited, I thought that what I had seen would make a great horror story. I pulled out my notebook and began sketching and writing ideas. I wrote about 10,000 words and then got stuck and put the story away for a few years.
It wasn’t until I went on an outing to Sanrio Puroland that I was able to continue writing the story. I often describe that day as one of the most uncomfortably horrible experiences I have ever had at a theme park. I had agreed to go to Puroland with a couple of friends, not knowing exactly what it was. After entering through the theme park gates, I realized that I was completely outside of my comfort zone.
On top of the immense claustrophobia were the inescapable sensory explosions. The air was pumped with all manner of sweet smells, there was constant music from individual speakers to the parades, it was hot due to the high summer temperatures, and there were lights everywhere both strobing and stationary. And when we stopped for lunch, all the food was of the sweetest kind; candied and dessert versions of its real counterparts. In contrast to my unpleasant experience, my friends were ecstatic and enjoyed every moment of that theme park, playing on the toys, going on the rides, and shopping with childlike enthusiasm.
On the train home, I knew exactly what I could write about and that became Carnival Panic.
What was the process like for imagining and writing the different rooms and puzzles you have in the book?
For the most part, the inspiration for the rooms came from various areas of Sanrio Puroland that I visited but with more sinister aspects. I also love to watch anime and at the time I was binging Deadman Wonderland so some of the themes from that anime made their way into the novel.
Your characters were all well developed and interesting. Who was your favorite character to write for?
Fletch. I enjoyed writing from her point of view because she is an unapologetic anarchist.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have two finished novels at the moment which I am querying for publication. A science fiction alien invasion novel called Darkness in a Sky of Embers and a narrative fiction novel called Elephants Have No Sleeves.
As for currents projects, I am working on a supernatural murder mystery that follows the main character, Tzipora, who comes back from the dead to find her murderer.
Candy makes the PonPon Bunnies sweet. Be careful if they’re angry. And watch out for traps! These are the dangers of competing in the Carnival Panic game show, a ruthless competition that tests the chosen competitors with mental and physical struggles. In order to claim the substantial monetary prize, the winner must solve a series of room puzzles and succeed in entertaining the fickle masses.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: adventure, author, author interview, book, book review, bookblogger, Carnival Panic, Catori Sarmiento, dystopia, dystopian, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, horror, kindle, kobo, literature, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, science fiction, scifi, story, suspense, thriller, writer, writing