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Literary Titan Book Awards January 2019

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.

Literary Titan Gold Book Award

Gold Award Winners

The Watchers: The Blood Dagger Series by [Hayes, Misty]Soul Born by [Breaux, Kevin]Five Fathoms Beneath by [Alcyone, J.R.]

Paper Heart by [LeBlanc, Jennifer]The Dragon of Hidden Treasures: Book 1 by [Troi, Juliann]<

Comrade Netai and the Chronology of His UG Days : An Inside Story of Naxalite Movement from Nineties by [Sanjay Lahiri]

Stockboy by [Duffy, Thomas]

Literary Titan Silver Book Award

Silver Award Winners

The Dragon Shifters at Southgate: Book Two of the Seers Series by [Leclerc, Sherry]Revelations (The Infinity Series Book 1) by [Westbay, Bellamy]The Emerald Cave (Ramsey Series Book 3) by [McPike, James]

Rathen: Into Bramblewood Forest (The Rathen Series Book 2) by [Smith, Grant Elliot, Stohler, Steven H.]Shipwreck Island by [McPike, James B.]

Degsy Hay - A Juvenile Redeemed: Everbody Deserves a Second Chance by [Montgomery, Brian S]

18 Cranes: Kaifeng Chronicles, Book One by [Campbell, Robert]Tilly and Torg - New Kids At School by [Crawley, Connie Goyette]

 

Visit the Literary Titan Book Awards page to see award information and see all award winners.

 

Degsy Hay – A Juvenile Redeemed: Everybody Deserves a Second Chance

Degsy Hay - A Juvenile Redeemed: Everbody Deserves a Second Chance by [Montgomery, Brian S]

In Degsy Hay: A Juvenile Redeemed, Brian Montgomery sets himself up as a modern day Horatio Alger or Charles Dickens, telling a tale of a hard-done-by young man who overcomes his humble beginnings to become something more.

Degsy Hay, born inside a UK prison to a heroin addict, inherits his mother’s chaotic life, as well as a mysterious diary with missing pages. At age 16, he’s released from McAlley-Stoke youth facility with no prospects. He spends a few months on the streets, during which he assembles a small entourage including a three-legged dog named Sadface, a girlfriend (and her young son) and several homeless tradespeople. Before long, though, he’s back in McAlley-Stoke, where, through a mix of violence and charisma, he quickly becomes the Gaffer, the big man in the youth correctional facility. He launches a reform campaign to encourage the young offenders to educate themselves during their incarceration and convinces (via a bloody riot complete with hostage-taking) the facility itself to treat its wards more humanely. All the while, a mystery around missing children and how they’re connected to the missing pages of his mum’s diary builds around him.

Montgomery gives his hero/narrator a distinct voice, rife with Cockney slang, locating him squarely in the rough and tumble housing estates of urban London, a lot of “nar’mean” this and “geezer” that. But for all his streetwise exterior, Degsy is a kind soul at heart and looks out for the people around him. It seems that everyone he meets has a lesson to teach him, even if they have to die a grisly death for him to learn it. The people closest to Degsy have a nasty habit of ending up dead, or filthy rich. Sometimes both.

For a book that tackles some extremely difficult topics like poverty, addiction, and child abuse, Degsy Hay can be a bit simplistic at times. It seems more concerned with showing how one extraordinary character overcomes these heinous hurdles with a plucky attitude and a few well-placed friends, and yet there’s an internal logic to it too. It’s Degsy himself who tells the story, and so why wouldn’t he place himself at the center and give himself all the credit?

On the surface, the story of a streetwise youth pulling one over on the world with nothing more than his wits, a few friends, and a three-legged dog should appeal to middle grade readers, but the very strong language and heavy theme of sexual abuse are better suited to older readers with a bit of maturity to process the trauma at the core of Degsy’s tale. More sophisticated readers, though, might find the very Dickensian style of storytelling a bit old fashioned. But then, we’re still reading Dickens, so why not? At any rate, the colourful language and Degsy’s unforgettable voice should keep them interested.

Pages: 180 | ASIN: B07K7VSQF8

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Paper Heart

Paper Heart by [LeBlanc, Jennifer]Paper Heart by Jennifer LeBlanc is a book of poetry that includes ninety poems. Many of the poems are about finding love and have a very uplifting message. Other poems are about lost love (whether through death or the end of a relationship), or loving someone who only brings you pain. The title of the book (Paper Heart) is appropriate because many of the poems are about how fragile love is, both precious and painful. Some of the poems the author included were very personal, especially the ones about the author’s mother. Other poems could speak to almost everyone, with universal messages. Most of the poems are about the past, some about living in the past. There were not as many about living in and enjoying the present or looking toward the future. Many of the poems were about darker topics, like addiction and loss and death. Other poems featured themes of regrets for things wished undone and things that can’t be undone, whether to self or others.

I liked the range in the various poems, covering many different emotions (from sadness to great joy), and the dichotomy of themes of darkness and light. There are varying structures to a number of the poems, and I liked the different styles, that they weren’t all the same.

My favorite poems were the ones with inspirational messages, like Be Every Color of the Sun. I liked how the title of several poems were spelled out as the first letter of each line of the poem. But these titles weren’t just random words, they were appropriate to the poem, as well.

Some of the poems were very short (only a few lines long). A few of these poems almost felt unfinished, and they left me wanting more. They felt as though they ended too soon and could have been expanded upon. Some of the poems were very similar in theme to other poems, seeming like a continuation of earlier poems (though not the shorter ones).

One poem, Vicious Cycles, had dialogue in the middle of the verses, which was unique and unexpected in a book of poetry.

Many of the poems reminded me of my favorite songs or a line from the lyrics because they had the same feeling, and I enjoyed that aspect of the author’s writing.

Pages: 138 | ASIN: B07KDPCV4N

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East Wind Blowing

East Wind Blowing by [Leeward, C. U.]

East Wind Blowing is one of those books I get a hold of and feel grateful for the content. The author describes her life when living with an alcoholic. For close to two decades, she was married to an alcoholic who had no limit in his drinking. How unfortunate it was as the alcohol robbed her and her family of great times and a quality life. The author describes the types of alcoholics, what they do and what usually goes on in their heads. I loved reading the bit on how to handle cases of extreme alcoholism. It was refreshing, getting to know how to deal with those around us who seem to have thrown their lives at the brown bottle.

C.U. Leeward starts the book by narrating her story. Her childhood, the happy memories with her father, her brother, and all the wonderful things she loved doing in her early years. Her story was pretty much the normal story people tell. A beautiful tale, growing up, being adults and living life how we want. It was a happy tale up until she started talking about the alcoholism of her husband.

Having to raise a family with an alcoholic husband was not easy. I imagined how she persevered even when it would seem best to leave, just because of the kids. She sat and hoped, waiting for her alcoholic husband to change, but all was in vain. Talking about her helping her husband work at their construction company made me empathize with her. She was working as required but could see no paycheck. What a brave woman she was. I truly admired her.

East Wind Blowing is a great book. One thing that makes it good is that I was able to see addicts and alcoholics from a different view after reading the book. The saddest part was when the narrator could not see how damaging the abuse she got from her alcoholic husband was. “Oh I must’ve just overreacted to the situation; Why I must of exaggerated—yes that’s it; No No . . . it simply didn’t happen;” she would say. It took a while before she realized how bad it was. It was killing her as she stayed busy raising a family and running their joint business.

Alcoholism is not a pleasant thing. Through C. U. Leeward’s story, we can see how much wreckage it causes in families and among friends. There is no beauty in living with a person who can’t control their drinking. It drains the life out of you and in no time, you see yourself break into pieces. I like that C. U. Leeward boldly shared the ups and downs of her life. Her book is remarkable in more than one way. Her way of highlighting the plight of alcoholics is commendable.

Taking care of addicts of any drug may be challenging, but eventually one learns how to handle them in the appropriate way. There are important tips the author gives to both alcoholics and their victims. East Wind Blowing was a book worth my time.

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Pages: 256 | ASIN: B0792WD2V7

One Love

One Love by [Duffy, Thomas]Thomas Duffy’s book, One Love, is a tale of both love and heartache. Protagonist Tim is torn between a “what might have been” sort of love and another that is actually in front of him. Duffy doesn’t paint over the ugly parts of love, instead highlighting them. He exposes what love looks like in real life, not some fairy tale version that we were taught in the movies. Duffy doesn’t shy away from the flaws and complexities of his characters. His is a raw and honest account of entangled and intertwined relationships that examines what we sacrifice for love, and the love we may sacrifice for security.

A book has to really grab me from page one for me to read it quickly. I got through this one in two days, even with other things going on. I was pulled in. I was fascinated and wanted to see what happened from page to page. I went through a range of emotion with the characters. I wanted to hug Tim and slap him sometimes at the same time. The same went for Louie and Melody at times. I felt like I was peeking in on intimate details of lives I shouldn’t be seeing but wanted to see at the same time. Thomas Duffy pulled back the curtain on real life. He exposed what everyone tries to hide.

Readers will find themselves identifying with the characters. They are all flawed in some way or another, and that makes them more identifiable. Louie’s addiction, Tim’s stagnant career and failure to commit, Melody’s indecisiveness, Cindy’s crippling anxiety. Duffy covers the gamut of dysfunction. Chances are that each reader will see his or herself in at least one of the characters. I appreciated the realism and admittedly saw myself in a character or two. Everyone has a “what might have been” scenario or two. This book lets readers vicariously live one of those scenarios out.

I’m not a romance novel fan. I wouldn’t call this your average romance novel by any stretch. However, there are some sexual scenes in the book. They are not overpowering to the rest of the plot. They feel necessary and relevant to the story. You’ll find much more concentration on the feelings of the characters and their daily lives than sex, but it is there. -And, it is important to the story.

This one was a real page-turner for me. The writing was simple without being boring. There was no pretense. No stuffiness. I was completely interested in the lives of the characters from the first page until the last and found myself wanting to know more. The characters felt real. They were well-developed. I feel invested in their lives. I want to know what else happens.

The book is brilliantly written. It was a very easy read. The pace was perfect, and the plot flowed well. The characters felt real. I can’t say enough good things about this writer. I’d love to read more of his work.

Pages: 263 | ASIN: B00PAE4HV4

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Slay the Dragon

Slay the Dragon is an action-packed mystery about a man named Cesar Rosada. He is descended from a line of coffee farmers, a former professional athlete and now a rising politician with a single goal; to help the working class of his country. He is determined to fight for the rights of his people but there is one crisis he can not see a way out of, the opioid addiction. Working as the minister of finance he will stop at nothing to fight against corruption. This leaves him with a choice that will test his own morality.

This book was written by author Laura A. Zubulake who worked for years on Wall Street and is a frequent world traveler. She has written non-fiction before, but Slay the Dragon is her debut fiction novel. The prologue got my attention from the very beginning and is an engaging start to an intriguing novel that hits on a subject that is destroying families and individuals in America. Slay the Dragon does a fantastic job of using fiction to understand a complex problem, and helps you visualize the enormity of the opioid crisis today. I enjoyed how the world unfolds slowly, detail by detail, we get to piece together a seedy world reminiscent of the show Narcos. César’s character development reminds me of George R.R. Martin’s characters. They are characters changed, dramatically, by circumstances out of their control, and they’re just trying to adapt.

This story is exciting, dangerous, thrilling, and full of adventure. Cesar is the kind of character you can’t help but root for with his pure ideals and determination to help those around him. When his actions enter a moral gray area you can empathize. How do you find such entrenched corruption? Zubulake has written a world that feels real in its gritty depictions of South American politics.

From beginning to end this book held my attention and kept me guessing. This is definitely the book for you if you like political thrillers that leave you thinking long after you’ve closed the book.

Pages: 289 | ASIN: B07BH2VMNQ

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Real or Imagined

Lisa Diaz Meyer Author Interview

Lisa Diaz Meyer Author Interview

All Roads Destined is a collection of stories from fantasy to science fiction with links back to your first collection. What was the inspiration for this collection of stories?

As for the Outposts, I wanted to continue on since I’d left it as a cliffhanger in All Roads Home. I then felt I wanted to bring more loneliness and some addiction awareness into the equation as these subjects, real or imagined, can be sad and frightful.

I felt that this book was a bit darker than the last collection. What were some themes you wanted to capture while writing this book?

I did want to go darker, bring more science fiction in but based off subjects that make people uncomfortable. Again the addiction issue, some odd poetry. As you said in your review, the short story The Crone was your favorite. It was also mine, too. And I love when something like that can just come upon me, the imagery and the way I want it to be read.

You also included a selection of poems in the section titled The Fragments. What was your favorite poem from the collection and how did you pick which poems made it into this collection?

The poems or fragments I write in between or even during a WIP. My favorites in this book were Clocks and The Water Globe, both having to do with the passage of time.

What is your process like for writing short stories? Does it differ from longer novels?

There’s a certain pace with short stories that I prefer. I may be inspired to write a longer novel one day, just not yet.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsite

All Roads Destined: A Collection of Dark Fiction and Poems by [Meyer, Lisa Diaz]Destiny is what we bring to the world where the roads are stained with tears and blood, and paved in eternal stone. In Part One, the continuation of The Outpost Trilogy shifts from post apocalyptic to science fiction. Part Two, The Enduring contains five dark fiction short stories. Part Three, The Fragments include fifteen poems of urgent struggle and destination. New York author, Lisa Diaz Meyer relates to the odd, macabre & funereal. ALL ROADS DESTINED is the second of her ALL ROADS trilogy.

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The Ghost Years

The Ghost Years by [Katsonga, Mutch]

The very personal story of The Ghost Years by Mutch Katsonga will give you a first class seat straight to the heart of hell. And you will thank Katsonga for it. This first-person narrative follows the life of a young man caught up in the life of drugs in detail that is rarely found in literature. Katsonga is pulling no punches in showing us the mind of a junkie in this satisfying novel. While sometimes getting very close to it, The Ghost Years is careful not to put its characters into situations just to prove a point. What it does is allow them, and the reader, to grow as people in this hard-hitting and memorable study of the seedy underbelly of society. Several action scenes and a couple of twists and turns keep the story going to its well-earned conclusion.

I felt that many events that the main character had to endure do often seemed to be laid out just to have him fail. The character of Buzz, for example, with his never-ending optimism and somewhat expected twist revelation does come off as a narrative tool more than a real person. But still, somehow it works, and the story is better for having him in it.

Katsonga’s style of writing could be best described as “tell, don’t show”. I felt that exposition was overused to get us into the mind of the main character. Lines and lines of text are expended on questions about life, death and society. Because of this, I felt like the narrative and the view of the world appeared to be spoon-fed to me.

However, the advantage of this style quickly gets the reader up to speed. We are left with a great understanding of the motivation that drives the story line. The logic that his character follows is consistent and that was Katsonga’s goal all along. Some may not approve of the drug use in the story, just as in life, but we can give his character that one thing he was craving his whole life – understanding.

Previously moot and tired questions about the meaning of life get a whole new context when asked with an empty stomach and the craving for a new “hit”. The Ghost Years will have you asking about the reasons that make you get up in the morning – are you doing it because you are told to do so or because you choose to? How far do you have to drift aimlessly before you decide to take a direction for your life?

The Ghost Years by Mutch Katsonga gives us several clear and memorable lessons about the value of choice, life, drugs and society in this crude but honest and hard-hitting book.

Pages: 179 | ASIN: B079KSFGSS

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Blowout Summer

Blow Out Summer by [Stock, Denise Ann]

Dee Dee is a surfer, an aspiring tennis player, and a girl who is always up for a good party. One summer in particular stands out in her memory as she reflects upon her life. With her close band of friends around her, Dee Dee sets out to thoroughly enjoy her summer off and does not hesitate as she goes about seeking the company of friends new and old. Her “blow out summer,” as she calls it, teaches her some valuable lessons and gives her time to reflect on her own choices as she learns who is worthy of her affection and trust and who falls short.

Set in Huntington Beach, California, Blow Out Summer, by Denise Ann Stock, reads less like a novel and much more like a memoir. The conversational tone of the book makes it a quick and easy read. Dee Dee’s reflections on her experiences with the drug trade and her laid back approach to her participation in drug trafficking read shockingly smoothly. For as deeply involved as Dee Dee seems to be in buying and selling illegal substances, she seems much less concerned than she should be. I attributed her naivety and lack of real concern to the time period, the mid 70’s.

I found myself waiting for that one point in the story that would point to a gripping climax. Everything in Dee Dee’s eventful summer points to an action-packed high point. However, with all her close calls, second guesses regarding her associates, and her relationship woes, there never came that one moment where the entire book seemed to pull together. Reading much more like a diary of the summer, I was a little disappointed not to see a resolution to many of the dilemmas created by the main character and her friends. I believe I was more determined to find answers than Dee Dee herself.

The one scene providing the most harrowing visual comes when Dee Dee’s friend, Jaycee, makes a frantic call about a possible overdose. I felt, as a reader looking for answers, this was an ideal opportunity for the plot to tie neatly together with some life-changing decisions being made on the part of both Dee Dee and her friends. As in real life, however, secrets prevail, and not much changed for those most deeply entangled in drug use and trafficking.

As pleasant as Dee Dee seems throughout the story and as much as her remembrances of her eventful summer kept me interested, I felt the overall story was missing something. The memoir style of writing Stock uses is appealing and will suit readers seeking a fairly light read without highly stressful rising action.

Pages: 360 | ASIN: B01C58JXJI

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Take it in Stride with Patience, or Die

Dave Matthes Author Interview

Dave Matthes Author Interview

The Sounds from the Hills Go Away When the Sun Goes Down explores the lives of three “downtrodden, gutter-decrepit, low-living” people as they battle with their demons while leaning on one another. What were some of the stand out moments for you when writing this story?

Stand out moments… I would have to say some of the quieter, more introspective scenes in which the three main characters collide with from time to time. These moments of theirs are aimed to define them or break them entirely, or both. Particularly, some scenarios in which a resolution is expected to eventually come to fruition, but never does, because many times in life that is what happens. Or a resolution won’t be surmised for an unfathomably long time, and during those long stretches we can either take it in stride with patience, or die.

Once again you are able to amaze me with some realistically gritty characters. Where does the seed for a character start and what is your process for developing them through the story?

In most cases, any character I write, whether he or she is a major character or just an ornament on a mantle in the background, I begin with myself… as I’m sure most writers do. But where the emotion comes from, generally when I’m alone at night after a really, truly bad day at work. The birth of a character’s emotions can also come from the moments immediately following a delicious meal I’ve just enjoyed. So I can’t really say there’s one single place it all comes from. Almost every character I write, they start out as one type, and by the end of the book they become something entirely unintended, and not just because of the story. But because somewhere during the months of which the writing takes place, I think that a part of me sometimes changes depending on what’s going on in my own life, and sometimes… not always- but sometimes that bleeds out onto the page.

The title for this book is interesting. What was the inspiration for the title, and why did you choose a blank cover?

The cover was once full of color and pretty chaotic. But once I finished the first draft and really took a step back to look at everything, I felt a certain pull towards The Beatles’ White Album. And the theme of purity. In the book, the purity of the human soul is constantly at stake, whether it was lost long ago and there might be a chance to regain a sliver of it, or it’s literally on the brink of total collapse. How that theme is encompassed by all of the characters and where it steers them through their adventures, which can take them in very random directions, or keep them on a steady “forward” path, was a big part of why I chose the cover to be what it was. In a way, it serves as a figurative blank slate, no matter what situation we find ourselves in. The title, on the other hand, went through probably the most changes I’ve ever shifted through while writing a book. The title began as something very simple, I can’t remember exactly but it was very one or two-worded. Boring. And didn’t at all convey anything. The title that I landed on at the very end, I feel, paints a picture of emotion. It doesn’t necessarily have to do with any physical scene of the book, and for everyone I think it will be different. But for me, when I read the title, I picture a very, incredible quiet night. Like taking a deep breath, and being engulfed by absolute relief that the day is over with.

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

The next book I’m currently working on is another story involving Arlo Smith, of The Mire Man Trilogy. The book takes place between the events of Book II and Book III, during his mid-twenties, where he meets a person who introduces him to really good jazz, and a very particular kind of nightlife away from home, when “home” starts to sometimes feel like a prison. It’s a sort of a love-letter to Kerouac’s “On the Road”. It’s tentatively titled “Electric Gypsies Beneath the Whiskey Tree”, and I hope to have it finished by next year some time.

Author Links: GoodReadsFacebookTwitter | Website

Boots and Bonnets Inn, an isolated motel of questionable quality positioned just outside Moab, Utah, is home and haven to a handful of self-proclaimed societal outcasts who for better, worse, or much worse, have found their way here just in time to live out the rest of their lives. Among these longstayers is Wendel Trope, a slightly overweight almost-nihilist who survives within this little realm of “contentedness” by exercising his right to medicinal and alcoholic experimentation, while battling ruthless anxiety attacks and the “you owe me for last week’s stay” death stares of Jerry, the hotel owner. Holding his proverbial hand in an off-kilter, symbiotic friendship through this chapter of his life is Fag Bush Betty, the motel’s infamous “anything goes” prostitute, who may have more to her history than simply a catalytic reason to defile her own spirituality. And anchoring Betty, is Lotus, a young girl who harbors a shattered past and an as-of-yet untainted future that will inevitably bring her to the doorstep of Moab’s most unforgiving roadside motel. “THE SOUNDS FROM THE HILLS GO AWAY WHEN THE SUN GOES DOWN” is a story without direction, without hope, and most importantly without a beginning or an end. It is simply an examination of the present moment during a fragment of time in the lives of several of what society considers downtrodden, gutter-decrepit, low-living, and expendable, taking place in a corner of the world most only have fleeting nightmares about.

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