Songs in the Night: How God Transforms Our Pain to Praise by Michael A. Milton is a religious nonfiction audiobook narrated by Brenda J. Davis. The intent of this audiobook is to change the way that people view the suffering and tragedies in their life, to help them see that the “thorns” that afflict us serve to bring us closer to God. The author uses Bible verses, as well as songs and the quotes and testimonies of others, to illustrate how readers can find hope and inspiration in God’s word when dealing with personal crisis, spiritual depression, physical challenges, painful memories of the past, strained relationships, and looking toward the future with hope.
The questions for reflection (written by Theresa Gillis) at the end of each chapter were helpful in applying the author’s words to the reader’s own life, and useful resources for further study are provided at the end of the book.
I liked hearing the author’s reminiscences and personal reflections of his own life, especially when he was a boy, explaining how his past experiences taught and shaped him. It was encouraging to know that even pastors have times of self-doubt and struggle with the same issues as everyone else.
I enjoyed the narrator’s reading of this audiobook overall, but there was some times when words were emphasized unnecessarily, which distracted from the narrative of the book. While I appreciated the points that were being made in this audiobook, that good can come out of bad things, I much preferred the analogy of the storm as something that a person must weather, but in which we can see God.
This book has an inspiring message of finding light in the darkness to overcome the obstacles in life, which is especially needed at this time when so many people are feeling uncertain about the future and dealing with unexpected hardships and losses. It is a struggle to hold on to faith during difficult times, but these times are when faith is needed to most. This book helps readers see that God is working in their lives and that His blessings are appreciated more by those who have suffered and persevered.
Duration: 9 hours 7 minutes | ASIN: B089NDYYDT
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Eve is a young woman caught between what she wants to do and what she must do. She has been marked, cursed if you will, and survived a childhood of abuse from her sadistic grandfather. A cruel taskmaster and slave owner, her grandfather, knows of her ability to see the future and perceive the true intentions of others. He has squelched her ability most of her life, and his fear of her has led him to regularly administer abuses to her that far outweigh what he shows his slaves. Now, also facing the idea of an unwanted arranged marriage, Eve receives a letter telling her that her help is needed–and her life has been a lie.
The Dark Age Chronicles: Eve of Darkness, by T.L. Bailey and performed by Wesley Bruff, has all the darkness professed in its title. The title character, Eve, lives a life so full of turmoil and fear it’s a true miracle she has the strength to face each day. Her grandfather’s evil nature is incredibly difficult to imagine, and it has created a magnificent strength in Eve that rivals that of any superhero. Her gift makes her a liability, but the more she is feared and the more she is pursued, the more invincible she becomes. Bailey’s choice to have Eve be a young nineteen-year-old girl is a fantastic one. These are formative years, and the horrors Eve is forced to endure would make anyone at this age crumble and give up on life.
The narration by Wesley Bruff is absolutely mesmerizing. Straight out of the gate, readers will appreciate the tone with which he delivers the story, the change of accent, and modulation. A dark and horrifying story calls for a performance that can communicate the atrocities effectively, and Bruff does that tenfold. His narration makes me forget who and where I am–honestly a stunning performance.
Readers who enjoy fantasy will find Eve’s plight enthralling. Her journey is one of resilience and determination, and her story is one readers won’t want to put down. I highly recommend Wesley Bruff’s narration, as well. It is not often you find an audio book so full of rich visuals. The Dark Age Chronicles: Eve of Darkness, the audiobook, is not to be missed.
Pages: 352 | ASIN: B07D58BB71
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Tiny Tim is all grown up, and everything he loves and holds dear has been ripped from him. Upon the death of his dear friend, Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim begins to question each of his beliefs and the very faith that had been instilled in his family with the love of Scrooge himself years ago. Tim, now an adult, is faced with the loss of another of his dear loves, Becky. As fate would have it, Becky is simultaneously suffering through the most trying time of her young life on the streets with her young son and no place to lay their heads. Just as fate intervened fourteen years ago in the form of Ebenezer Scrooge, fate lays its hand on upon Tim once more.
Norman Whaler has crafted a beautiful tale of faith, hope, and love in his sequel to Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. Tiny Tim and the Ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge – Audiobook details the events surrounding and immediately following the death of an aged Ebenezer Scrooge. Tim Cratchit, once the young crippled boy benefiting from Scrooge’s change of heart in A Christmas Carol, is impacted most of all by Scrooge’s death.
From beginning to end, Whaler’s sequel to the beloved classic pays homage to the original plot and the beautiful transformation made by its key character, Ebenezer Scrooge. Though Tiny Tim, now all grown up, is the title character, he also exhibits a change of heart similar to that of Scrooge. Tim fights a battle within himself as he struggles to regain his faith. Whaler does a phenomenal job of adhering to the feel of the original book with his references to Scrooge’s character transformation. The reader watches as Tim fights a similar battle and, ultimately, wins with Scrooge’s help.
As a fan of the original tale of Scrooge and the Cratchits, I could not help but fall in love with the parallel story line and the magic of three as it again reared its head in Tim’s life. The sound quality and voice over is exceptional in this audiobook and delivers this lovely story in a clear and crisp manner. Scrooge’s reappearance from the afterlife is expected but quite fitting. Whaler has done Dickens proud with this quick read rich with character development and steeped with faith.
Duration: 1 hour 54 minutes | ASIN: B01NAJJLXP
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In The Guardians of Eastgate 2nd edition you had the chance to go back and rewrite some things that you felt needed to improve. What were the areas you focused on and how did you overcome the challenges?
The areas I focused on the most were dialogue and action – showing versus telling. I also took the opportunity to develop the characters and the seer people a little more. As the author, I already knew my characters, but I thought it would be good to reveal a little more about them to the readers as well.
It didn’t really feel like a challenge, exactly, to write more dialogue and action, and to develop the characters more. I think it was more of getting past an internal block on my part, rather than whether or not I could write that way. Once I started doing it, I really enjoyed fleshing out the story action and characters.
What I needed to do was to slow down and be patient, and to be confident in my story and my characters. What I mean by that is, I needed to allow the characters to live out the story in their own words and actions, instead of wanting to just hand it to the readers from a narrator’s perspective. I think there was a little nagging voice of self-doubt when I was writing the first edition that I needed to get past in order to put my story out there more fully.
Looking at the novel a second time, what were some things that changed for you while writing?
I think I rushed too much with the first edition. I had this idea in my head for over twenty years, and I wanted to get it out there to the world. There was a fear or an urgency where I think I worried that if I didn’t get it out there asap, I wouldn’t follow through and the story would never make it out into the world.
With the second edition, I had to take more time. I had hired a cover artist to do the covers for the rest of the series and I decided to re-do the cover of the first as well, so that the series would be uniform. Then we decided this would be a great time to work on the series and brand logos as well.
At this point in the game, I was also doing a lot of reading on the writing craft itself, such as on self-editing, outlining and structuring novels, and so on. Since the cover art, brand and logos would take a while anyway, and I would be putting out a second edition because of the new cover, I decided this would be a great opportunity to work on some of the elements in the first edition that I wasn’t happy with.
I think the overarching change for me here was that I realized I needed, and wanted, to slow down and enjoy the process. I read a lot and practiced, and I started to become more confident in my work and my capabilities. So, I feel more comfortable in putting more into the stories, which is essentially putting myself out there. I also believe I can better prioritize the story itself over getting it out there quickly. After all, a good, well-written story trumps getting it out there fast.
I understand that you have a third dan black belt in Taekwondo. What made you pursue Taekwondo and do you feel it helped you in writing fight scenes?
I have been a student of martial arts since I was 15 or 16 years old. I started in high school with Kenpo Karate. I’m from a small town in Newfoundland, and there were no other choices in martial arts around to consider at that time. You could say that my sensei had the market cornered in our area. But I really enjoyed it.
When I went to university, I switched to Aikido, mostly because I was a poor student, I lived on campus, and I didn’t have a car. So, I studied the martial art that was available to me on campus. It is a completely different style of martial art than karate or Taekwondo, teaching more about “moving off the line,” which I reference in my books, and using an opponent’s body weight and momentum against him or her. So, I am glad I practiced Aikido for those years because it gave me a different point of view and helped me to understand movement and defense better.
Once I began teaching, moved to a larger city, and had my own vehicle, I suddenly had more options available to me. I found a school that taught Taekwondo, and I really enjoyed it.
At one point, I decided to use my degree to work and travel, and I went to South Korea to teach English. For any who don’t know, Taekwondo is the South Korean national sport, and most young people study it at some point. I found out that a student’s father, who didn’t speak English, was a Taekwondo master with his own school. So, I asked my supervisor, a Korean man who spoke English, to ask if I could join his school, and he agreed.
Considering that the students in that Taekwondo school had one hour of lessons/practice FIVE days a week, and six days a week in every month leading to a test, I was able to progress quickly in the two years I was there. And I continued with it when I returned to Canada. After living in South Korea for two years, I now feel a connection to this particular martial art because I have a better understanding of the historical and cultural significance of it.
I do think it helped me with my fight scenes. I know what is possible and not possible, how to move to attack, defend or counter attack, and so on. Of course, I write fantasy, so my characters can be faster, stronger and more agile than real humans (although, you might be surprised at what some Taekwondo students can do), but I believe my training helps me to keep it fairly realistic.
Of course, I love martial arts, and I love sparring. There is a part in the book when Maelona tells her friends that she loves fighting more than she should, and her trainer used to get mad at her for smiling when she sparred. That was me in my Korean Taekwondo school. My instructor didn’t speak much English, but he spoke enough to tell me, “No smile! Serious!”
I don’t really like people fighting in real life when it’s not for sport, but put it in a sport setting, or in an action movie (I love action movies), and I think it’s pretty exciting. I don’t know that everyone who reads my fantasy novels enjoy that same kind of thing, but I think that having this training enables me to better convey the anticipation, the skills, the subtleties, and the back and forth between opponents in a clear and exciting way.
Have you begun writing book two in the series? When will it be available?
The rough draft of Book 2 is about 85% complete. Progress lately has been slow, with working to get this first book out there, my full-time job and my family.
I am really enjoying the story and I’m looking forward to getting it out there. Most days, I wish I could devote more time to it, but there are other things that take priority at the moment. For example, I am looking into having this book, The Guardians of Eastgate, made into an audiobook. I have had a few readers ask about that prospect, and I think it is a good idea, so I want to try and make that happen.
My original goal was to have Book 2 ready to publish in mid to late spring. Now that I am looking into making an audiobook of Book 1, however, it will likely be published in the summer.
I will be posting updates on my website and social media, so stay tuned!
The magical realm of Sterrenvar is a world filled with fantasy creatures, swords, sorcery, action, adventure, seers, shifters and sorcerers. It is a realm divided by differences, where the inhabitants keep mostly to their own species or race. When a group of seers are warned through visions of an evil, dark sorcerer intent on ruling the realm, seer champion Maelona Sima must set out for Eastgate to defend a magical keystone that can help protect the realm. Along the way, she must gain allies and convince the differing peoples of the realm to stand together as one to save their world from its biggest threat in three-thousand years. This new, expanded and revised Second Edition of the Guardians of Eastgate (Seers Book I) includes an extra 12000+ words worth of added dialogue and extended scenes.
Posted in Interviews
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Humans are on a constant quest for self-actualization. We have a deep need to live in genuine serenity, to discover selves. People always seek to have full control of their mental faculties such that they can meditate without struggling too much.
Anam Cara: Your Soul Friend and Bridge to Enlightenment and Creativity will get one on the right path. To open the floodgates of creativity, one needs to have peace of mind and be free of emotional baggage. This audio book is a road map to using the soul friend to achieve these. The soul friend is a non-judgmental confidante who helps an individual live to their full God-given potential. The book urges the importance of the body in accessing the mind. The science of breathing is used as an example of how one can access their mind. By breathing properly, one relaxes and eventually accesses the deepest parts of their mind. The science of breathing is often used in meditation. One may argue that the soul friend would best be a therapist or religious leader but that defeats the purpose. The point of anam cara is candor and intimacy.
This book also guides the reader through the 42 confessions to the soul, these are essential in spiritual growth. Among the most important aspects of self-empowerment is selfless service. Glenville Ashby talks about being completely used up by the time of death. Giving oneself to the society with no expectations by doing the simplest of things like offering comfort to a troubled friend. Mr. Ashby also talks about thoughts creating reality. God would not punish his own creations by blessing some and leaving others in anguish. Humans are meant to create their own blessings through hard work. This is a very interesting point of view. It makes a lot of sense upon reflection. To further affirm his stand, Glenville talks about Hellen Keller and Stephen Hawking. Their outstanding positivity and contributions to the world are awe-inspiring. The author also introduces the master keys that unlock the portal to the soul. First on the list is gratitude. This is a testament to the adage; no man is an island. The responsibility to be genuinely grateful awakens a flame within humans.
Glenville Ashby has not written this book to malign other therapies but rather to give a counterproductive approach to enlightenment and creativity. The ideas in this book, supported by views from Buddhist principles and Christianity, will force readers to do a thorough audit of their lives. It calls for a shift in practice and thought. The book is well written and inspiring. It is a useful tool for one who seeks to put themselves on a path to true happiness and fulfillment. To live authentically and unencumbered by travelling back and experiencing the magic of humans’ true essence, the soul.
Quality of life is dependent on the choices one makes and the things they focus their energies on. Achieving self-actualization is a great place to start in seeking to live the best life possible. Anam Cara: Your Soul Friend and Bridge to Enlightenment and Creativity is a necessary audio book.
Listening Length: 2 hours and 27 minutes | ASIN: B01DCHO3XW
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Anam Cara is a Celtic term meaning, “soul friend”. In the days of the Druids, an Anam Cara served as a confidante, an advisor, and confessor. This book reintroduces the power of having a “soul friend”. Today, we can enjoy this spiritual benefit. A soul friend listens, understands, and is never judgmental. By clearing one’s conscience, learning to let go, forgive, and atone, we experience the magical power of our soul. We are reborn and begin to realize our potential. This book teaches us how we can transform our lives by following simple but powerful teachings. Ashby offers the listeners minor and major keys to unlock their fullest potential. Minor keys include meditation and journaling, while some of the major keys are atonement and forgiveness. Eric Ober, media consultant and former president of CBS News, said, “This is a truly inspirational book on overcoming inhibitions and roadblocks in order that we maximize our creativity and quality of life.” University lecturer Dr. Jerome Teelucksingh said, “This unique publication will benefit persons who seek to rid themselves of emotional baggage and attain a peaceful mind.”
Posted in book trailer
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A coming-of-age tale set in 1975 New York during Tom Wolfe’s “Me Decade”, Stainer follows the misadventures of a naïve Jewish Columbia University student named Benjamin Steiner, who, on the night of his 21st birthday, meets not only the sweet girl of his dreams, a lovely young lady named Rebecca Glaser, but also an unprincipled drug-loving rogue from Princeton called P. T. Deighland. As the days pass, Ben’s immature inability to resist temptation and an overwhelming need to be “cool” gradually cause him to fall under Deighland’s malign influence until, at an impossibly glitzy Princeton party, he encounters and becomes spellbound by a ravishing but predatory high-fashion model named Anthea Montague.
When Rebecca returns from an unexpected overseas trip, Benjamin’s unreasoning jealousy over her friendship with another boy casts a shadow on their budding relationship. A series of rashly imprudent decisions abetted by Deighland and the model leave Ben feeling guilty and angry. At an ill-fated summer barbeque, he wrongly explodes at Rebecca and soon plunges headlong into a reckless self-destructive downward spiral, culminating in a horrific confrontation with Anthea Montague that brings his life crashing down in ruins.
Against the background of a vanished period in American history, Stainer offers a bittersweet nostalgic trip back to a less complex world, during a time of incautious excesses that, while deceptively fun and carefree, in due course forced many unwary youngsters like Benjamin Steiner to learn some necessary – but terribly painful – lessons about growing up.
Posted in Special Postings
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Apocalypsia by Jerry Veit is a saga in the best sense of the word. I was able to read the complete edition of this work, which consists of three books and three parts per book. They detail a post-apocalyptic Earth after what appears to be, for all intents and purposes, the end. Demons comb the land, freed from Hell and what is left of humanity struggles to survive and trust one another. It is left to small bands of warriors to come together and unite the warring factions, otherwise they will all perish with the rising of a new demon army.
The vision that Veit has for this world is expansive. It is also a fun blend of science fiction, fantasy and post-apocalyptic. These elements may seem to much for the casual reader but for Veit they are all ingredients that lend themselves to the epic that this work is. The edition I have, has a couple, very thick appendices, which was helpful for the wide cast of characters Viet details in all of these stories. Some of the terms, locations and overall history of this Earth is also given. All in all the world building that Veit skillfully brings to life is very present and rich for the reader to sink into and lose themselves.
I found Veit’s prose to be stilted in places and I wonder if his work would hold up better in an audio book or audio drama form. He did not shy away from any action and made sure the story kept moving through these pages, especially as the conflict became more and more intense until the dramatic conclusion. He does follow the time tested formula of having a band of hero’s and a singular villain, bent on destruction. The setting he built around this formula is what refreshing for this type of tale and the considerable scale he chose to write it in. The story itself could have been confined to two books but with drawing it out into a third he was able to deepen the plot just enough to please the reader. I won’t say anything else in that regard, lest I spoil the story.
What was difficult was the way that Viet chose to tell his tale. He took some grammatical liberties that a seasoned reader may have trouble reading at first. The most notable one is that Veit does not use traditional dialogue tags or quotation marks but instead uses names labeling who speaks (i.e. ADRIAN: Welcome to Apocalypsia). This is similar to how one labels dialogue in screenplays, which I am aware is in Veit’s background.
All in all Apocalypsia is an epic tale of loss, bravery and learning what it is to be human. Lovers of quests and end of the world tales will find something to enjoy here.
Pages: 387 | ASIN: B0726374N1
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