Blog Archives

Burned in Stone

Burned in Stone by [Carroll, Richard Ira]

Dr. Matthew Lane, world-renowned archaeologist and the man credited with finally discovering the resting place of Noah’s Ark, is on the hunt again. This time, Matt, his girlfriend Ann Tyler, and his best friend and fellow archaeologist, Jim Morgan, have reunited to find the Ark of the Covenant and bring the world to a state of peace with proof of the existence of the Ten Commandments. Their adventure introduces them to Stephanie, a young woman with information that leads them to an ancient treasure and whose family ties brings them nothing but pain and sorrow at every turn.

Burned in Stone, the sequel to The Lost Photographs, by Richard Carroll begins much like The Lost Photographs–with nonstop action and the characters moving rapidly through one precarious situation to another. In this installment, readers see much more of Ann at the outset and her willingness to stay by Matt’s side no matter the level of danger. From jumping tandem from a plane to exploring ancient ruins, Ann sees little reason to doubt Matt until he comes out with the most unbelievable statement of all. As a reader, I was glad to see the author choose to have Ann display a certain amount of doubt in Matt’s incredible comments.

The introduction of an additional love interest adds a new layer to Carroll’s cast of characters. I am not sure exactly why, but Stephanie disturbed me. In addition, Matt’s inability to make a definitive statement about his love for Ann and make a clean break from Stephanie bothered me throughout the book. I am much more a fan of Ann than Stephanie even though Stephanie’s backstory is tragic and intriguing.

Carroll is a master with the backstory element. He expertly incorporates a detailed backstory into each of his books and builds a wonderful base on which to construct each plot. Stephanie’s tragic childhood and her unfortunate upbringing with her uncle and cousin make for fascinating reading and help to create a rich subplot surrounding Stephanie as well as her cousin Jack, the ultimate villain.

I must say that, as with the The Lost Photographs, I felt myself much more involved in the latter chapters than in the action-packed scenes in the beginning and middle of the book. The sign Matt is told to expect on the first day of spring is a phenomenal sight to behold. Carroll masterfully describes a scene unlike anything readers could ever imagine. From the moment Matt is told to expect a sign, I found myself trying to visualize what form it may take. The author crafts a breathtaking spectacle indeed.

Burned in Stone is much more about the search for the Ten Commandments than the commandments themselves. Carroll’s writing is seamless and devoid of vulgarity and cursing which makes it appropriate for a wide range of readers. Readers who are more inclined to enjoy adventure stories with just a touch of romance will find themselves completely wrapped up within the pages of Burned in Stone and the harrowing lives of Matt, Ann, and Jim.

Pages: 340 | ASIN: B079GGS89Q

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the LOST PHOTOGRAPHS

the LOST PHOTOGRAPHS by [Carroll, Richard Ira]

Matt and Jim are living out their lifelong dream to uncover and provide undeniable truth that Noah’s Ark did indeed come to rest atop Mt. Ararat. With the help of Ann and a tragic story of her grandmother’s first love, Matt and Jim begin their journey with stunning photographs of the ark itself which have been hidden from the world in the most ingenious way possible. Luck is not on the side of the three adventurers, however. One dangerous situation after another impedes their progress on the path to the top of Mt. Ararat.

Richard Carroll has captured within the pages of The Lost Photographs a mere snapshot of the enormity of the task undertaken to uncover Noah’s Ark atop a frozen Mt. Ararat. His depiction of the dedicated team who undertakes this task despite all obstacles, both natural and incited by man, is riveting and tense. No one else has wanted anything more than Matt and Jim want to prove the existence of the ark, and absolutely nothing will prevent them from accomplishing what they have set out to do.

I have always found the search for proof of the ark’s existence to be fascinating. The Lost Photographs does not focus quite as heavily on the actual ark as I would like to have seen. Though it does center around the hidden photographs and delves into the excavation of the site itself, the book also has a parallel story line that sometimes takes the reader on a path away from the ark story line. I felt there was, perhaps, too much of an emphasis placed on the budding romance between the characters and the inner turmoil Matt experiences.

Carroll does a wonderful job of building interest with the backstory of the lost photographs of the ark. By tying the story of Ann’s grandmother, Jelena, and her friend, Yuri, with the teamwork of Matt and Jim, the author has created a seamless story that spans generations and is a wonderful testament to the timelessness of the ark’s story. I will say I was not expecting the tragedy that occurs centering around Yuri and his family. Carroll presents a moving depiction of Jelena’s love for Yuri and the mystery of his family’s fate.

Readers who require action in their historical fiction will appreciate the many close calls and precarious positions in which Matt, Jim, and Ann find themselves. The desire to keep the ark’s existence hidden leads to an all-out battle when one of the terrorists’ operatives infiltrates the ark team. In addition, the entire expedition faces the utter devastation of an earthquake in the middle of their work.

Though I loved the premise of the book, references to historical events, and biblical truths, I would have preferred more of a focus on the discovery of the ark itself and less of a concentration on the romance between characters. The hints at the book’s conclusion to the unearthing of the Ten Commandments leaves the reader in the perfect frame of mind to want more from Matt, Jim, and Ann.

Pages: 320 | ASIN: B079GJN12N

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A Spiritual Reality

Sarah K-N Author Interview

Sarah K-N Author Interview

Expectations is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a mystery, suspense, and Christian fiction as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing? 

‎I started writing this novel with one idea that carried my story from start to finish. My focus and intention did not change as my writing evolved. On the contrary, my original idea is what permitted the story to grow and twist and turn as it did.

The supporting characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?

My favorite character is Ace Cadman. He is the most intriguing of these characters because all eyes in this story are on him. At the end of the day, everyone will be turning to him for answers. Or those who are against him will want to see what he is really worth.

What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?

The initial idea behind this story was to show that God is real, that He is powerful, that He is not a historical figure‎, and that He loves His creation. It was to show that a spiritual reality does exist behind the curtain of time and that God and His army of angels do exist. It was to show how they fight for family, for children, for humans constantly. This idea did not transform as I was writing, it expanded…then exploded.

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

The next book I am working on is a sequel to the first novel. It will be called Expectations II: The Familiar Spirit. I am hoping to publish this novel by December 2019 or 2020. 

Author Links: Website | Facebook

Expectations: The Real World Behind the Curtain of Time by [Sarah K-N]

A pastor is faced with a dilemma when his twin nephews, sons of his only brother, cry out to him for help. Faced with all kinds of strange happenings and unnatural events in their house due to their parents adherence with the occult; the childrens fears push them to break a pact of silence established by their father regarding the secrets of their household.

How can Ace help his nephews without letting the dark forces that torment their lives affect his own family? The more he struggles to help the twins, the more the Secret Society to which the boys parents belong rage their war of evil upon him. Only a living God could help Ace overcome this war and emerge victorious. But will he; Ace Cadman, have the courage to step into the supernatural realm beyond the curtain of time when his God calls him on the scene?

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Pyre to Fire

The Spanish Inquisition in 1492 left no Jewish family untouched. The impact of this horrific period in Spain runs deep and it has had long-lasting effects upon Jewish families through the ages. Maria, a descendant of a Jewish family forced to convert to Catholicism, allows her gut feelings to rule her religious preferences, and she spends time researching her family’s hidden past. As she begins to find more and more clues, she realizes that her soul is true to her Jewish roots, and she sets out to turn her own life upside down even if it means alienating her Catholic family members.

Genie Milgrom’s Pyre to Fire contains two parallel story lines detailing the village of Fermoselle, Spain’s sudden and devastating conversion to Catholicism and descendant Maria’s slow but sure discovery of her family’s painful secrets. The quest Milgrom lays out as part of Maria’s search for answers is written in tandem with excerpts detailing Maria’s ancestors’ struggle in the 1490s. As a reader, I appreciated the parallels and the bounce between modern times and the historical descriptions. I am not versed in this aspect of world history and can easily say I feel equal parts of enlightenment and horror. Milgrom does a wonderful job of painting the trauma and the emotional struggle of the Jews in Spain being forced into conversion and threatened with their lives if they did not comply. Milgrom’s characters, based on her own lineage, help draw a painfully clear picture of the atrocities and the pain experienced by Jewish families who battled for centuries as a result of having to choose to hide their rituals, worship practices, and adherence to dietary restrictions.

I found the heartbreaking life of Maria’s ancestor, Catalina, and the circumstances in which she finds herself on the night of the inquisition to be among the most tragic I have read in historical fiction works. Catalina is faced with hiding, lying, and evading arrest. Her life, though she and her husband try everything in their power to make normal lives and honor their Jewish traditions, is a life of pure fear. Catalina is never afforded true happiness. Milgrom gives readers a tragic and historically accurate protagonist.

As I read, I had a little trouble getting past some errors that could have been prevented with proofreading. Two characters speaking within a single lengthy paragraph and some misplaced quotation marks and punctuation presented some challenges as I read.

This short read (just under 140 pages) gives readers a clear picture of the horrors inflicted on one group of people by another in the name of religion. Milgrom is helping raise awareness, encourage tolerance, and educating generations far removed from her characters’ lives. Readers who are interested in history and curious about the details surrounding The Spanish Inquisition will find Pyre to Fire a great addition to their collection of literature.

Pages: 228 | ASIN: 1976594510

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Laugh, Cry, Get Angry and Love Them All

Lea Ann Vandygriff Author Interview

Lea Ann Vandygriff Author Interview

Seasons takes place in a small town that’s struck by a tornado, which sets of a series of terrible events. What was your inspiration for this novel?

I grew up in a small town much like Rhinehart. Many people think small town life is ordinary and simple. Not always the case. Although the book is fiction, some events were actual in nature. Rhinehart is a community riddled with secrets, devastation, gossip, deception and violence. On the other hand, the community is filled with compassion, kindness, joy and forgiveness. The book is designed with colorful and unique characters and events for a reason. My hope is that everyone who reads the book would identify, connect and be inspired by the community of Rhinehart.

You use faith as a guide to help your characters overcome obstacles. What were some themes you felt were important to capture?

One theme that transpires over and over is forgiveness. There is an instance in the book where a victim’s forgiveness is upsetting to the reader. While it is not the most popular outcome, it does cause you to think about how your decisions affect others.

Another theme would be to do what is right and love your neighbor even when they don’t deserve it. The community comes forward to help a family that has caused nothing but trouble and aggravation to the town. This is a theme I would hope the readers would practice among their own neighbors. There is a feeling of incredible accomplishment when you can set aside your differences and do what is right.

There are so many interesting and intriguing characters in this novel. Who was your favorite character to write for?

I had so much fun creating them all. I would say the most fun to write is the interaction between Aunt Ida, the sassy grocery store owner and Sheriff Richards, the pot belly law man. The two are always matching their wit and the Sheriff usually loses. Daniel’s brothers are wild and unpredictable, they keep the community on their toes. Aubree the young teen is the glue that connects the characters. She has a heart of gold and sees the good in everyone.

The characters are all special and the variety of personalities will cause you to laugh, cry, get angry and love them all at the same time.

I felt like this book ended perfectly for a sequel. Are you planning to write a follow up book?

Yes! The second book Seasons Justice is Not for The Weak is a little over half written.

The second book takes you into the High School years for Aubree and her friends. Daniel and his brothers return to Rhinehart and begin their rampage once again. Aunt Ida and Uncle Leo go missing and a search begins. Derek and Dillion take advantage of the fact the Sheriff is busy, to go on a crime spree. Phil their father trying to stop them finds himself on the run for their crimes and a man hunt is underway. The brothers as always go home to roust at their grandmothers. Daniel protecting the Sheriff does the unthinkable. Unable to live with what he has done runs away. Aubree is kidnaped by a local man who is mixed up and has a history of being violent. The community must come together to find her. In the mist of all the tragedy one of wild brothers finds himself for the first time on the right side of the law and helps apprehend a criminal. He turns to Jesus for help in putting his family back together and sets out to look for his father and Daniel to bring them back home.

The rest of the story is in process, even I can’t wait to see how it’s going to end. Lol.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsiteBlog

Seasons: Once Upon My Innocence by [Vandygriff, Lea Ann]In Seasons, we explore the loss of innocence when adversities hit a little southern town. We often ask, where is God in all this? What happens when you have difficult choices to makechoices that will affect everyone around you? How do you find answers to why God allows terrible things to happen to good people? How do you feel about God when his answer to your question is no?

The world around us is harsh, and we long to feel safe and special. Perhaps in Seasons you will be able to find that, by one young girls journey through innocence lost, you can learn to accept, forgive, and find comfort in the strength God has given her in some of the darkest days and endless joy that surrounded her life.

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Expectations: The Real World Behind the Curtain of Time

Expectations: The Real World Behind the Curtain of Time by [Sarah K-N]

Expectations: The Real World Behind the Curtains of Time by Sarah K-N is a Christian fantasy novel. Sarah spins a riveting, well written story of two brothers caught in an ancient battle of light and darkness. There is magic and ancient curses, angels, demons and other popular staples of Christian faith sharing a page with intriguing secret societies. Expectations uses the Christian faith to give us a story that is fun to read while not being preachy.

The novel opens up with an ancient tale of jealousy, locusts, an ancient pact and it just gets better after that. Ace Cadman, the main protagonist of the story, must battle the occult secret society and somehow stay alive in a world where angels and demons pop up on almost every page. But the main attraction of this book is the style that Sarah K-N carries to the very last page. Characters have motives that make sense and do not contradict the actions that took place just half a page ago. Expectations: The Real World Behind the Curtains of Time masterfully handles exposition, dialogue is lively, and Sarah K-N describes the world in just enough detail before having her characters take over the story.

Especially interesting is the way Sarah handles the divine characters – these beings feel older than time even though she spent only several sentences on their description. Their archaicness is an asset, not a flaw, in telling the story. For example, an angel with a flaming sword is a character that is very much out of place in the modern world but Expectations uses this to its advantage. Simply put, angles are supposed to be out of place in our world and when they do show up, just like their malevolent demonic cousins, they add weight to the situation that other characters find themselves in.

Perhaps the hardest thing that Sarah K-N had to do to make the story work is to bring the spirit of the Old Testament on to her pages. And she did it masterfully. This is not the world where angels and demons walk the Earth fulfilling some shallow, New Age tripe task. These angels and demons are forces beyond our comprehension, spirits of old, just like they were thousands of years ago to our ancestors. Angels are fulfilling the commands of their Lord and demons will shower mortals with impossible gifts and power but will snatch your soul the first chance they get.

The conflict between good and evil is masterfully done. You start to understand, even from the first pages, why someone would give their soul to evil. Their decisions, doomed as they are, make sense in the given moment and you will find yourself asking if you would make the same choice if put through the same tests.

This page turner is one of the most riveting reads you will ever find, no matter if you are a person of faith or not. The story, a classic tale of good vs evil, will keep you going for hours and will not disappoint.

Pages: 424 | ASIN: B0794LRWPN

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For the Devil Has Come with Great Wrath

For the Devil Has Come with Great Wrath by [Plant, Emma]

For the Devil Has Come with Great Wrath by Emma Plant provides a glimpse of what havoc the Devil and his disciples wreak when they come to earth for the End of Days and in search of Emma Plant. Emma, a young Office Manager, notices that things aren’t quite normal in the valley where she lives. Accidents and fatalities are on the rise, and Emma herself is even visited by strange people and creatures that seek to do her harm. She is visited one night by two gnomes who explain the devastation that is taking place and seek to whisk Emma away into the mountains that overlook the valley. Their goal is to hide and protect Emma from the Devil while he wages war against civilization. It is in the mountains that Emma is introduced to more fantastical creatures, such as witches and fairies, and it is also where she begins to make a new life for herself – a life that is a far cry from the one she once knew.

Author Emma Plant adds interesting fantasy elements to her novel by the inclusion of a variety of mythical creatures, such as gnomes, fairies, witches, demons, and other creatures. The novel is entertaining in that each type of fantasy creature has its own magical powers that are displayed throughout the novel. For example, Ben and Ella, the gnomes that help protect Emma have the ability to shrink larger items in order to be able to carry them easily. Another interesting element of the novel is that, apart from the demons, these characters work harmoniously together. Abela, the witch, provides guidance and protection to Emma, the fairies provide powers and protection to the gnomes, and so on and so forth. These magical characters add a creative depth to the novel.

However, I felt that there was a lack of detail and explanation in the novel. I did not understand why demons are inhabiting earth and wreaking havoc. More importantly, I did not understand what the Devil wanted with Emma. What exactly makes her the center of his attention? I think that there wasn’t enough explanation given to fully develop the events. I felt like there was an overabundance of ‘telling’ rather than ‘showing’. So, I felt I was reading long sections of text rather than an organic delivery of information while the story is unfolding. But with this story being part of a trilogy, I feel much more comfortable knowing that there is two more books on the horizon that will dig deeper into this world and it’s characters.

I felt like the climax was not as climactic as it could have been. Emma spends nearly two years hiding in the mountains. During that time, she reunites with a former flame and they have a family together. Much has happened to her as a person, but it’s a small detail in what, I felt, was the overall point of the novel. Towards the end of the story, Emma is hiding out in Abela’s house when the Devil decides to unleash his wrath on the valley that was her previous home. I expected that the Devil would eventually make his way up to Abela’s home and try to take Emma away. But I expected a battle between the Devil, Emma, and her protectors up in the mountains; however, the devastation doesn’t make its way to the mountains and stays contained within the valley. I felt that there was no real climax or resolution that is reached by the end of the novel. Ultimately, I felt like this novel lacked character development that makes me invest in the characters. For the Devil Has Come with Great Wrath by Emma Plant is a fascinating fantasy story with many opportunities for a surreal story that plays off of biblical legend.

Pages: 251 | ASIN: B01L0FLHY6

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Allegories of Biblical Narratives

Arnold Holtzman Author Interview

Arnold Holtzman Author Interview

The End of Days follows the tragic story of Avrum as he spends his young life making his way to America to build a life for himself and hoping to reunite with his brother. What was the inspiration for the setup to this emotional novel?

TO THE END OF DAYS can best be understood when the characters and episodes are visualized as allegories of biblical narratives. The saga begins with the covenant between God and Abraham (through his mother). That covenant is in effect a prophesy that foretells of the forced separation between the brothers (the separation between the tribe of Judah and the “lost”, or dispersed tribes of Israel – and their eventual reunification.

Avrum and his brother share a tight bond with one another that I truly appreciated. What were some themes that guided you when creating their relationship?

Ianuk, the giant lumberman at the start of the story is the Pharoah of biblical Egypt who held Avraham (the Hebrews) for those years in slavery. The Hebrews then cross the Red Sea to the land of Can’nan (here the water crossed is the Atlantic – and America is the “promised” land). Bella reflects the infamous Golden Calf, Fanny represents the extremely fanatic biblical clerics obsessed with purity (the Essens) – those responsible for the destruction of the temple and the loss of Jerusalem. “The Doctor” (among the woodsman) and “Strulevitch” in Montreal represent Sodom and Gomorrah. Israel’s prophets are represented in Kapitolnik. Avram’s battle with the street gang that so violated Fanny reflects the wars of Israel against those who had so violated the Holy Land and Jerusalem and successfully redeemed it – bonding with an evolved Fanny. The reunion at that time between Avrum and his brother reflects the reunion between all the tribes of Israel in the rebirth of the land (the ingathering of the exiles)

I felt myself immersed in the sights and sounds of early 1900’s America. What kind of research did you do to ensure you maintained accuracy?

I am 80 years old born in Montreal to parents who reached Montreal in the 20″s. No research was necessary.

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

There are 2 other books I would like to share with you: Dead-End Sex – 42 accounts from the 42 years of my clinical work as a psychologist. These introduce serious problems with intimacy and failures in relationships, and explaining their core failures. Neurotic Children as Adults: a book as much for people who suffer their lives going nowhere as for truly caring mothers of young infants.

Author Links: GoodReads | Amazon

To the End of Days is a pulsing theater rich with allegories of Old Testament narratives. This is the story of a heritage delivered by a mother to her very young sons in the last hours of her life. It is a heritage which man could not modify, time could not temper, and the expanse of oceans could not distance from their lives. This is a book of secrets. The steamy alchemy of will, fate, and destiny deliver a kaleidoscope of everything human and inhuman in man. It is an epic saga charged with life and the thick rich of blood. where lawlessness and anarchy are the vehicles of timeless and inexorable laws of this universe. But all that was promised becomes delivered.

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Seasons: Once Upon My Innocence

Seasons: Once Upon My Innocence by [Vandygriff, Lea Ann]

The first chapter of Lea Ann Vandygriff’s book, Seasons: Once Upon My Innocence, is entitled “A Quiet Little Town.” That’s exactly what Rhinehart is. Rhinehart is a southern ranching town where everyone knows everyone else and everyone else’s business. It is Mayberry-like and seems picture-perfect until things go a little off the rails. A tornado and a few menacing characters sweep through town wreaking havoc on the townspeople and shaking both their homes and their faith. Especially shaken are the town’s younger citizens who can’t reconcile one question in their young minds. “Why does God let bad things happen to good people?”

Vandygriff takes us through a season of disaster, desperation, hope, and forgiveness within this close-knit community. It seems like every time one thing comes together, something else falls apart. We are introduced to a cast of characters that range from sweet, Godly, and endearing to violent, neglectful, and unstable. Fortunately, there are more former than latter. Most of the book seems to center around 8th grader, Aubree, her brother Randy, and their parents, Clyde and Dolores. A large focus is also placed on a trio of brothers who have been dropped into the lap of their elderly grandmother.

Many parts of the book made me long for a time when neighbors were more than the people we wound up living beside. They were family. They were there at a minute’s notice to help with whatever was needed. Whether it was cleaning up after a tornado, helping an old lady with her groceries, or befriending the new kid with a bad reputation at school, the people of Rhinehart stuck together through it all. Being raised in a small, southern town myself, I found myself identifying with the town and the people. I saw myself and my family in the characters.

Vandygriff weaves a lot of scripture into her writing. Those who have suffered tragedies in the book are directed to the Bible for answers. Every meal in Aubree’s house is blessed. Prayer is always the answer. Church is a big part of the community. Aubree and her middle school friends find it so hard to comprehend why God lets bad things happen. They are always directed to the Bible and particular verses for answers, and reminded that forgiveness is a huge part of being a Christian.

One particular scenario did bother me in the book. Without going into too much detail, a man abused a young girl. There were no consequences for him. He was forgiven with hardly a blink. There was no accountabilty and no amends made, yet he was still allowed to be around the girl and her family as usual. I wouldn’t have been as forgiving. It was explained as the Christian thing to do, but I don’t know if readers will be able to reconcile themselves with this part. I couldn’t.

That being said, there are plenty of breaks thrown in to lessen the weighty themes the book contains. Plenty of comedy is exchanged through family dynamics and middle school friendships and drama. Often, situations in the book start out as tense and serious, but end with characters laughing. This eases the calamities and stress that the characters find themselves in.

There are some parts that are left intentionally unresolved. Some problems reintroduce themselves on the last page of the book. It is left open-ended. It definitely begs for a sequel.

I will say that there were several spelling errors that I think could have been caught with another once-over by an editor. I also had trouble, at times, pinpointing the era it is set in. Party line telephone circuits are mentioned, but other things seem much more modern in the story. Otherwise, the story seemed to flow well. The characters and the messes they find themselves in are interesting. I’d love to see what happens to the townspeople of Rhinehart next!

Pages: 274 | ASIN: B079647HZH

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Forgotten Letters

Forgotten Letters by [Raeber, Kirk, Acevedo, Mario]

Forgotten Letters is a beautifully told story of family, love, faith, and war that focuses on Robert Campbell, an American and his love interest, Makiko Asakawa, who is of Japanese descent. The two meet as children when Robert’s family stay with Makiko’s family in Yokohama during the 1920s to 1930s. It’s during this time that a relationship is formed between the two. Robert’s family eventually moves back to the United States while he is still in school, but Robert and Makiko vow to see each other again and maintain their bond by writing letters to each other. It is not until the 1940s, with the attack on Pearl Harbor and the outbreak of World War II that the two are reunited. The novel delicately pieces together the story of these two individuals living through death and devastation as they fight to get back to each other.

Kirk Raeber does an excellent job of handling the intricate details of the novel. There are a lot of historical components to this piece, and the author weaves his fictional story into American and Japanese history among other components of the novel flawlessly. Firstly, Robert’s father is a preacher; therefore, a lot of his lessons for a young Robert are based on scripture and particular Bible verses. Robert often returns to these Bible verses during trying moments in his life. It’s clear that the author had some knowledge of the Bible and took great care in picking out the right verse during difficult moments in Robert’s life. Secondly, the author seems to be aware of American and Japanese culture during the time period that the novel spans. Also, even though this is a fictional story, there are historical elements weaved into it, such as the attack on Pearl Harbor and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Raeber does not skip over these aspects of history, but rather he weaves them into Robert and Makiko’s story, illustrating not only how these unfortunate events impacted these two fictional characters, but it can also be reasoned that his telling of their story resonates the mood and despair of those that actually lived through the experience. It’s clear that Raeber took care while writing these events to make sure that he handled them with accuracy.

A small note of criticism lies within the secondary characters of the novel, Robert and Makiko’s son and daughter. The whole story begins when the adult children are going through their deceased parents’ belongings and stumble upon the letters that the two lovers exchanged long ago. This then leads into Robert and Makiko’s storyline, and the reader isn’t returned to the characters of the adult children until the end of the novel. While Robert and Makiko’s story is obviously the focus of the novel, it would have been nice to be returned to the adult children periodically throughout the novel. The placing of these two characters at the very beginning and very end of the novel creates a disconnect with them, and it leaves one questioning their purpose overall. It’s very possible that Robert and Makiko’s story can be told without the mention and inclusion of their children as characters.

Overall, Raeber’s Forgotten Letters is a beautifully told story of love’s triumph over distance, death, and war. This novel is highly recommended to those that might have an interest in World War II, 1940s Japanese culture, or anyone who just enjoys a good love story.

Pages: 406 | ASIN: B01HQFFXYY

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