Birds, Who Are They – A First Look by David Campbell Callender is a beautifully crafted audiobook that offers delightful insights into birds and their behavior. Before getting in touch with this book I had not imagined birds could be so fascinating.
First, we need to talk about the narration by Grace Winpenny. Her beautiful voice and interpretation take us into the journey of the book with much amazement and a curious attitude. Then there is the opening sequence, on which we learn to look at birds through new eyes. As the narrator explains their early childhood fascination with winged creatures, I felt as if I was seeing birds for the first time. The first passage is beautiful. And though what comes after is quite different, it is still amazing nonetheless. The book proceeds with interesting facts about birds, frequently comparing them to humans in their behavior. It is a curious association that makes us wonder how different could we really be from other species.
This is a short book so it is over when you least expect it. However, at its end, the sensation is that you have learned a lot in a short period of time and developed a whole new perspective and appreciation for something found in our daily lives. This book is a must for anyone who likes nature or is just curious about things in general.
Pages: 34 | ASIN: B09D8PLCCD
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Somewhere Enchanted is an incredible book that is beautifully narrated with an expressive and emotive writing style that is delivered with a mellow tone, making it easy to follow the story and trust the narrator.
J.F.T.’s Somewhere Enchanted tells a mesmerizing tale of a man whose love for his people makes him do the unexpected just to see those he cared about live comfortably. We follow Grettos, an intriguing main characters in the story, in his quest to look for more living space for his village and its declining people that are in trouble due to overpopulation. What I admired about the man was his will to do right by his people, sometimes by sheer force of will, even willing to break village rules and possibly sacrifice himself.
The forest is a forbidden area and is portrayed with a mysterious undertone that never really left me. Danger and risk loom, but does that stop Grettos? There is the fear of the unknown that always lingers throughout the story. His determination and persistence made him a wonderfully heroic character in this intrepid story where danger and risk are ever present. The narrator did an amazing job developing dynamic characters that are consistently intriguing. One could feel the difference in the narrators voice and tone when speaking about different characters and their roles. Somewhere Enchanted is a thrilling and adventurous story that is easy to follow. I recommend the book to fantasy enthusiasts who enjoy audio books that get begin quickly and are superbly narrated.
Listening Length: 37 Minutes | ASIN: B07YP11QS7
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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I listened to this novel as an audiobook and thoroughly enjoyed the narrator’s voice and dramatic affect along with character voices. This sultry novel brought to us by Randi Perrin introduces us to Char Brown. She is a 30-something woman working at a magazine with her closest, and maybe only, friends. She admires the slim, physique of her best friend, Jenny, and begrudgingly attempts to eat salads in an effort to attain a slim physique of her own. She has a strange relationship with her boyfriend, one where he hides her from his mom, so she’ll allow him to continue living at home. When I heard that part, I knew that Char clearly struggles with her self-esteem and you see this theme permeating throughout the beginning of this story.
Things quickly change for Char as the boyfriend breaks-up with her, in a terrible way, and leaves her feeling low and unworthy. Fortunately, she has good friends who get her out and suddenly her world changes and she is caught in a web of seduction woven by a handsome cowboy type…who also owns a wine bar and has a literature degree! I absolutely love how Darryl is immediately drawn to Char. For anyone who has experienced love at first sight you know how that feels and that it exists. Some people might find it creepy that Darryl was able to hunt down her phone number in under 12 hours, but I understand that when that intense chemical attraction occurs there is nothing that will stand in your way. This book brought back happy memories of my own meeting with my husband and how it took me by surprise and swept me away. For that reason, I had an extra appreciation while listening to this story.
It is always refreshing to read romance where the male character is working hard to build the confidence of his female interest out of admiration and respect. He doesn’t just try to bed her but shows an interest in who she is and truly finds her beautiful. It is so common for a woman to experience low self-esteem due to the world and men beating them down. It is nice to see Char experiencing this affection and adoration and starting to realize her worth. There is definitely a kink in the sexy cogs where Char is disillusioned and brought back to her former beliefs about herself but that is totally normal, and I appreciated that it wasn’t all just roses.
I am not a drinker but there was a lot of wine knowledge embedded in this story that a true connoisseur would enjoy. There are a lot of sexy wine metaphors as well! There is a little erotic action, but it is done respectfully and not in a raunchy or distasteful way. This was a fun read with a beautiful and romantic story that got me feeling all warm and fuzzy and wanting to relive my romance all over again.
Pages: 126 | ASIN: B073HF2LG8
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The Cold Trail follows Sean Kruger as he finally goes back to what he does best to solve an old cold case. Did you know how you wanted this book to start and end or did things change as you were writing?
I know how I wanted to begin. But since I don’t outline, my books start with a two or three-page concept. Once I am comfortable with the concept, I then start to write. While I use the original concept as a guide, the story will evolve as it is written. Once a first draft is complete, it is time to go back and see if the plot works. Both The Imposter’s Trail (Book 3) and The Cold Trail required major surgery after the first drafts were finished. Book 3 saw 30,000 words cut from an 85,000-word manuscript. Similarly, The Cold Trail needed numerous nips and tucks as the story evolved. In fact, the original ending was thrown out and completely rethought.
I really like how characters from past novels made a reappearance. Did you let the story dictate who came back, or did you pick certain characters to make a reappearance?
The characters I believe you are referring to are Roy Griffin, Ryan Clark, Jimmie Gibbs and Sandy Knoll. You are correct, I wanted all four in this installment. The reason is simple, they will play major roles in Book Five and Six. Additionally, I want to explore the Jimmie Gibbs character more in-depth. We discover more about him and some of his motivation in The Cold Trail, we learn even more in Book Five. First draft of Book Five is almost fifty-percent complete, so I have a good idea of what I want to do with these characters.
I believe the Jimmie Gibbs character is strong enough for a stand-alone novel. However, I have two stand-alone stories in the concept phase waiting for attention.
What was one challenging aspect of this novel, or at least something you thought long and hard about before committing to it?
The three missing college students from the first chapter was inspired by an incident in my hometown back in the early 1990’s. Three women, two who had just graduated from high school, disappeared from a home in the center of town. They have never been found, nor has anyone been charged with their disappearance. I was acquainted with the father of one of the women, he has since passed away. As a father myself, I cannot imagine the pain of not knowing where your child is, or if they are even alive. These thoughts still bring a chill to my heart.
The concept of this novel was developed several years ago. But I lacked a good avenue to pursue it. It was the perfect premise to bring Kruger out of retirement.
The final solution to the missing women, I use in the book, may or may not have a basis in reality. In most missing person cases, a body is usually found. Not in the case of the missing women I mentioned above. Something extraordinary occurred to these three souls.
It seems like Sean Kruger is finally back where he belongs with the FBI. Where will the next book find Sean and when will it be available?
A writer friend of mine told me Kruger retiring is getting old. So, keeping this critique in mind, I decided not to retire him again, at least until the series is complete. The Cold Trail leaves the reader with several questions left unanswered. This was done on purpose as Book 5 is based on answering these questions. There will be two incidents in Book Five which will be used to set up the sixth Kruger installment.
My plans are to release Book 5, the current working title is The Predator’s Trail, in late December of 2018 or early January 2019. My goal is to have Book 6 out eight to nine months later. After that, as I mentioned, I have several stand-alone stories I want to tackle. But, I can assure everyone, there will be more than six Sean Kruger novels as long as I can keep the stories fresh and exciting.
With the help of his friend, JR Diminski, retired FBI profiler Sean Kruger rescues a female graduate student after she is kidnapped from the university campus where he teaches. He finds the abduction too familiar. From 1999 through 2002 six female college students vanished, without a trace, from four different college campuses across the country. As the lead FBI investigator on those now cold cases, his failure to find the women and the person responsible still haunts him.
When JR discovers a clue to the identity of the kidnapper, Kruger comes out of retirement to re-examine the abductions. His ensuing investigation will lead him down a dark trail: one of dark money and even darker passions.
Will Sean succeed or will the past repeat itself?
Tightly plotted with the trademark twists and turns of a J.C. Fields’ novel, The Cold Trail will keep you turning pages late into the night.
Posted in Interviews
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Becoming Samantha Colt is book 4 in the Larkin and Colt series. What did you want to accomplish in this book that pushed the series into interesting places?
When I began this series, I developed a detailed backstory for the main characters of Larkin and Colt. It was just for myself, so I would know who these people were, where they came from, and how they got to be who they were. Over the course of the first three books, I made passing allusions to some of the things in their past, like Larkin mentioning that Colt grew up homeless, their team being wiped out on a botched mission, things like that. Larkin also occasionally mentions some of the missions they’d done, if it happened to relate to something that was happening in the present. I never intended to write a detailed account of their pasts, but eventually it became inevitable. I felt the need to tell Sam’s story from her point of view, in her own words, to more fully explore the character. It was also an opportunity to fill in some of the details of things that had been mentioned in passing.
What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
Through the process of writing the other books, the character of Colt became clearer in my mind as I found out more about her. In the end, she wanted to have her story told, and I just had to do it. Once I started, the story almost seemed to write itself, as if she was telling it to me and all I had to do was write it down. I had the starting point and I knew where she ended up, so what I had to do was fill in the details of how she got there. With this book the story comes full circle, as the final chapter is identical to an early chapter in the first book, but this time told from her perspective.
Samantha is a strong character that is meticulously developed. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?
Many people who have read the books have said they were intrigued by the Samantha Colt character. Some have even said she was their favorite and wanted to know more about her. I had deliberately kept her sort of in the background, to make her more mysterious, and to keep her personality somewhat ambiguous. She was the main hero’s partner and sidekick, but there was always the sense that you weren’t quite sure what she would do. I think it made her seem just a little bit dangerous.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
I am currently working on a book entitled Intrepid. It’s a sequel to my previous book Pegasus, which is set about a hundred years in the future. In the previous book, the crew of Pegasus traveled to the moon and back. This time they’re going to Mars, and when they get there things go horribly wrong. Then they’ve got to figure out a way to get their crippled ship home before their food and air run out. It’s kind of a cross between The Martian and Apollo 13, and it should be out sometime in the Fall.
A nameless, homeless girl grows up on the streets of Baltimore. From a painfully young age she must learn to take care of herself, feed and clothe herself, and defend herself from those who would do her harm. When she’s arrested for shoplifting as a teenager she’s recruited by a mysterious organization, where she meets David Larkin and everything changes. He becomes her teacher, her mentor, her partner and eventually her best friend. This is the fourth book in the exciting Larkin and Colt adventure series, this time told from her perspective, in her own words, as she learns who she is, what she can do and who she can become.
Posted in Interviews
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Ken Cressman, author of Becoming Samantha Colt, has succeeded in creating a character who evokes both pity and something dangerously close to reverence. A “Jane Doe” in every sense of the word, Colt makes her way through life the only way she knows how and does so from a frighteningly young age. Surviving on her own for almost ten years, she educates herself, uses the nooks and crannies within Baltimore’s streets and stores to find refuge, and is virtually oblivious to the passing of time. Colt’s life is forever changed not once but twice when she accepts a job offer from the mysterious Ralph Browning.
Becoming Samantha Colt captivated my attention within the first lines of paragraph one. Ken Cressman’s main character is gradually revealed as Chapter 1 unwinds. He skillfully describes a character I visualized as the polar opposite throughout his opening chapter. The sudden revelation about her age and gender are extremely powerful and spur the reader to continue. Cressman, several times throughout the book, keeps the reader in check by revealing vivid descriptions of self-named Samantha Colt. I loved the tiny adjustments I was forced to make in my visualization of the character. Colt is as strong a character as I have ever seen–strong in both the skills Cressman has given her via his writing and strong as in memorable.
Cressman’s first-person narrative is truly compelling. I found his description of Colt’s life on the streets breathtaking. Her struggle to teach herself to read is touching and true-to life. She states, “No one was going to teach me, so I had to teach myself.” Environmental print plays a huge part in her self-education–learning from street signs, advertising, and packaging–she succeeds. Colt’s description of the effort involved in maneuvering the intricacies of the English language is spot-on.
Readers are allowed to see Colt experience a myriad of firsts, thus adding to the appeal of her story. From her first car ride to her first sexual experience, Cressman has included it all. My heart ached for the young girl when she realizes that she is sleeping on clean sheets and has clean clothes for the first time.
The suspense and action Cressman has developed fascinated me from beginning to end. Becoming Samantha Colt is much more than the story of how a young girl survives despite being one of Baltimore’s young “Jane Does.” Her natural survival skills make her the ideal candidate for a job and extensive training with a mysterious group of people working undercover for the FBI, the military, and other government entities. Somehow, Cressman has circumnavigated the typical avenger-type action plot and created a crystal-clear, endearing character in Samantha Colt.
I feel that Colt’s first-person account is compelling and contains all the right elements to make it appealing to a variety of readers. Cressman has succeeded in writing an action story without excessive cursing and vulgarity which I appreciate as a reader. I would like, however, to have seen more character development with Larkin and Cora. Both were strong influences in Colt’s newfound family. This is a definite reread for me, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a fast-paced book with a memorable main character.
Pages: 162 | ASIN: B01MT8IICG
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Part of the Family examines the experiences of the children who came to England from the Kindertransport during the Holocaust. I believe you delivered a compassionate view of this dark time in history. Why was this an important book for you to write?
Before this book, there was one document that attempted to set out in detail the Christadelphian involvement in the Kindertransport––and that was Dr. Chana Kotzin’s thesis that evaluated the reaction of a handful of Christian groups to the Jewish refugees in the 1930s. She was able to go through a lot of the correspondence that took place and really examine the refugee committee side of the Christadelphian involvement––but she was not able to look into the individual stories themselves and how the children lived when they eventually did come to a family. When I attended the Belfer Conference in 2015 at the United States Holocaust Memorial and Museum, the instructors emphasized 10 methodological principles when teaching about the Holocaust, and one of those standards very much resonated with me: translate statistics into individual people. History is not simply about statistics and generalities, but is rather about the lives of individual people. We constantly hear about the six million, and yet so often, the number loses its meaning, not simply because it is such a huge number, but because it is not focused on the individual. When the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust is mentioned, it should be remembered that these people were fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters. When we realize the individuality of the people that we are learning about, it makes them much more relatable and the lessons from their experiences become much more relevant and powerful for us. This was huge for me, and being a writer, lecturer, and teacher, I very much feel a responsibility to tell their stories. A number of the stories told in this book have not been recorded in any way before. As I interviewed the “children,” one of the major things that stood out to me was that they constantly used the phrase “I was part of the family.” Over and over, they emphasized to me that they felt loved and cherished. There were certainly exceptions, as there always will be––but I was amazed at the things that I heard from them. One man, whose story will hopefully be included in volume 2, when I asked him what he would say to the family that had housed him, if he could say one final thing to them, without hesitation, said “I love you.” Though he had not seen them for decades, he still felt that feeling very acutely and strongly––he had become part of the family. Thus, I began to ask myself why these people had such experiences–and the answer came out very clearly, as you mentioned in your review. The Christadelphian families did this and cared for these children because they felt a kinship and a love for the Jewish people. Their beliefs brought them to action––and for me, that was a very powerful statement about the importance of beliefs. In today’s world, it feels as though beliefs are often downplayed and that many are trying to put our the statement that doctrines and beliefs don’t matter––as long as someone is good. While I certainly stand for the idea of tolerance, I think that in attempting to all get along, we cannot lose the lesson that beliefs really do make an impact, and that they can influence us for good or for ill. Therefore, I hope that this book will not only inspire others to help one another, but will also encourage all of us to look at our own beliefs and ask ourselves what kind of influence our beliefs have on our own actions.
The Christadelphians were a small christian group who helped many children during this time. Do you think their compassion and determination were reflective of their religion or their personal moral character?
I think that the answer is certainly both. Recently I had the privilege of interviewing a woman who had come to England from Germany––and who had actually lived with two different families after coming to England. I think her story helps to explain the way in which the Christadelphians acted both based off of their strong beliefs about the Jewish people, and also personal moral character: This woman told me that when she first came to England, she was chosen by a family and completely ignored. This was not a Christadelphian family––and the woman didn’t know what religion they were, if any. But, they brought her to their house, put her in her room, and never spoke with her. Eventually, she said, she went hysterical. She started screaming, banging on the floors, banging on the walls––because she had no interaction with anyone. Because of that experience, the Jewish refugee committee was contacted, and she was removed from that family. From there, she went to live with a Christadelphian family in Birmingham. She stated that the first day that she met them, they had a German/English dictionary and tried to talk with her.
When she got to the house, they tried to help her learn English––pointing at their dog and saying “Billy” (subsequently, she thought that all dogs were Billys…).
She stated that she felt like part of the family. I think that the dichotomy between her two experiences can show what life with Christadelphians could have been like if they had acted simply out of a belief that they should help the Jews. When the Jewish children came to England and lived with the Christadelphian families, they did not have to treat them like family members. They did not have to try to learn German. They did not have to tell them bedtime stories. They did not have to try to correspond with the child’s parents back in mainland Europe. But they did. I think that housing the children and in that sense “saving them” could have been considered enough to say “I helped the Jews.” But, the Christadelphian families, for the most part, out of their moral character, attempted not only to help the children, but to give them the best life that they could provide––just as they did with their own children. We were privileged enough to get together with a professional videographer and put together brief interviews (5 minutes each) with Mrs. Ursula Meyer and Mrs. Rella Adler. Both of them share how the treatment that they were given was as though they were daughters:
Part of the Family is not only well written but it’s also well researched. How much research did you undertake for this book and how much time did it take to put it all together?
Oddly enough, I began the research for this book last December. I was simply blown away at how well things came together. Ursula Meyer was the first person that I was able to contact, and we conducted our interview on January 19th. From there, the project just came alive. I had Christadelphian families from all over the world contacting me to tell me that a Jewish refugee had lived with them throughout the war. One of my major rules, however, is that I don’t write about someone and publish it unless I can get their approval for what I have written. And thus, hearing about all of these Jewish children that had lived with Christadelphians presented a problem––how to contact them? A number of Christadelphian families had kept in contact with the Jewish children, and so they could actually get me in touch with them, but in other cases, once the Christadelphian parents passed away, and sometimes the children, the younger generation only knew that their family had housed a refugee, but sometimes didn’t even know their name. Attempting to find the refugees and interview them about their experiences was simply amazing. I’ve called all over the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. I’ve had conversations with people in Israel, Australia, Spain, and Sweden. Yet, perhaps one of the most exciting experiences was when I was presenting on the Christadelphians at a meeting of Kindertransport survivors, and one of the men seated at my table explained that he come to this very meeting because he had lived at Elpis Lodge, the hostel set up in Birmingham by Christadelphians! I had no idea––and here I had been having lunch with him! This book came together in a matter of months––something which still astonishes me. Yet at the same time, as things kept coming together, I found myself working at it all the time––often getting up at 4:30, just because I was so excited that another survivor had emailed me, and so I couldn’t sleep anymore.
Part of the Family is the first volume in a series. What will the next volume be about and what will the whole series encompass?
Lord willing, I hope to have the second volume finished this December, as well as an audiobook for this first volume at the end of August. The goal of the entire series is to tell the individual stories––and thus, my hope is that I can keep contacting survivors and their families to tell about their experiences when they were saved from Hitler by coming to England and living with Christadelphians. Thus, volume 2 will be more stories, and so will volume 3. I currently have about 35 testimonies that I would like to write!
In 1938 and 1939, via a movement known as the Kindertransport, thousands of Jewish children were taken from Nazi-occupied territories to safety in Great Britain. They came to a new family, a new country, and a new life. Approximately 250 of these children were sponsored by Christadelphians, a small Christian group. Often the Holocaust is considered in terms of statistics: how many perished and how many were affected, so much so that at times the individual stories are lost in the numbers. This series examines the experiences of the individuals who came to England as children, and lived with Christadelphians. Ten of these child survivors, and their families, participated in the effort to bring about this first volume. These are their stories.
Posted in Interviews
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