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Lies that Blind

After being banished to Calcutta two years prior by his British father, Jim Lloyd decides to leave this place when the opportunity to live up to his ambitions presents itself. Lies That Blind by E.S Alexander is based on a true story taking place in Malaya during the 18th century. Starting off in India, Jim heads to Penang in Malaya to become Captain Francis Light’s new assistant in order to write a chronicle about this fame-driven captain. The readers will follow his new life in this new place where he needs to adapt and make trustworthy friendships.

This fascinating story is written using rich details and historical facts. The readers are brought into what life was like in Penang as if they were the ones settling there, and they witness the growing friendship between Jim and Light. It is clear that the author did a lot of research about the Malaya culture, embracing it without disrespecting it. This shows through Jim’s love for other cultures and mainly towards the Malay’s religion and ways of living. Furthermore, being a historical novel, this book contains a lot of trade and military tactics, allowing the readers to understand how trade used to work during colonial times.

While I enjoyed the book, I felt that the story seemed slow in some chapters; being told from Jim’s point of view, he describes some details that seem irrelevant and/or slightly dull. But I also appreciate how this gives the story an air of authenticity and shows how one’s interests and opinions can differ from another’s.

The author teaches readers a lot about this time period and about Malaya colonization while being respectful and not overlooking the harsh facts surrounding colonization. This exciting adventure novel gives readers a look at the trading aspects of the colonization of Malaya through a compelling coming-of-age narrative.

Pages: 278 | ASIN : B09HKXYT12

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A Winding Path to Flat Water

A Winding Path to Flat Water by Rob Soles tells the story of his great-grandpa, Henry Soles, who was taken from his parents when he was just a baby. Nishkiinzhig was Henry’s nanny and kidnapped him when she left with her tribe. Henry and Nishkiinzhig are forced to move around several times and to different places to get away from white settlers and other tribes. They stay at a home for widows and orphans where Henry, now known as Niniij, learns to hunt and help out around the home. Nishkiinzhig learns she has cancer, so she sends Henry out into the world to become a man and live his life. Soon after she passes away, Henry sets out to find the family he was taken from. He must also now reintegrate and reestablish himself in a white society.

Rob Soles has written an unpredictable, historical tale of Henry’s journey of finding a place for himself in society. The novel moves at a smooth pace and follows the different experiences that Henry goes through. Readers will love Henry as he is not angry at what happens to him, instead he still loves Nishkiinzhig and considers her his mom. His character is intelligent and capable and builds friendships with people along the way. Soles’ descriptions allow the reader to imagine what the characters in the story look like along with the surrounding areas. I enjoyed the many interesting characters in this novel; however, I would have liked to have heard more of what they were thinking and the motives behind their actions to connect more with them. The ending of this engaging novel leaves readers with much to think about, allowing them to take the story with them after they read the last page.

A Winding Path to Flat Water is a riveting story about American history, and western expansion told from a biographical fiction viewpoint. It gives readers an interesting look at Native American culture and what it could be like to live across two very different worlds.

Pages: 326 | ASIN : B09N8LH21H

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The Winds of Change: Making Peace with Asperger’s

There comes a period in every person’s life when things just fall into place– quite surprisingly. All the hard work and struggles culminate, resulting in nothing but pure life-changing events. And that’s what this novel is about. In Winds of Change: Making Peace with Aspergers, author Keiron Austwick creates an imaginary persona to reflect his own life story, narrating how one year significantly turned the direction of his life. 

Written in a diary format, this novel is a beautiful read. The author documents each month of the year 2018, recording the important life events that took place during this time. As the reader progresses through the novel, they come to realize that the year has been nothing less than ‘revolutionary’ in Rhys’ life. 

As someone living with Asperger’s, he has faced multiple challenges in life, which he managed to handle bravely. With every month unfolding before the reader’s eyes, it’s not difficult to realize that Rhys is slowly making peace with Asperger’s. He lands a new job, makes smart investments, and gets a new car– happily embracing the winds of change, or in other words, positive beginnings that are about to transform his life. The book brings along a feel-good ray of hope.

The language is straightforward, easy to read, and flows smoothly. The monthly records help the reader keep track of the series of incidents. Asperger’s is a condition that affects one out of a hundred people, and this book is a brilliant example that it’s possible to accept and overcome the hardships it brings with it and live a good life. This inspirational account compels readers to find the light at the end of the tunnel– something that’s perhaps going to come in their life like the refreshing winds of change. 

Winds of Change: Making Peace with Aspergers is the fictional biography of the author. The story itself, the flow of language, and the message it carries are all simple yet vital to living a happy and fulfilled life, especially when you’re struggling with a condition such as Asperger’s.

Pages: 176 | ASIN : B08L6Y1536

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Unfinished: The Inspired Life of Elisabetta Sirani 

Elisabetta Sirani, the subject of Unfinished: The Inspired Life of Elisabetta Sirani by Kelly Evans, was an Italian woman who lived in the seventeenth century. She faced numerous challenges as a result of her gender. Her life from age 9 until she died at age 27 is chronicled in the book, as are the challenges she had to overcome just because she was a woman living in the 1600s. This book provides a look into the life of an incredible artist who broke through gender barriers to achieve her dreams of becoming one of the most prominent women artists of the seventeenth century.

I enjoyed reading this historical fiction novel as it is one of my favorite genres to read. The author has done an excellent job of making readers feel like they knew Elisabetta, and they will really want to see her succeed. Andrea, Elisabetta’s famous artist father, was almost the villain as he constantly doubted his daughter’s skill simply because she was a woman.

My favorite aspect of this book was the relationship between Elisabetta and her sister, Barbara. I consider it to be one of the book’s primary focuses, and the bond that was formed between them allowed me to connect even more with the characters.

I appreciated the book’s history, information, themes of love and optimism. I liked learning about the baroque art era as I was not as familiar with it. Elisabetta’s works and commissions were exhibited throughout the narrative. The epilogue also gives historical context. Elisabetta Sirani is someone who was able to achieve success in a time when it was challenging for women to be taken seriously. Her story is one of perseverance in the face of adversity and is sure to inspire many readers.

Unfinished: The Inspired Life of Elisabetta Sirani is a fictional account of Elisabetta Sirani’s life based on factual information. This biographical fiction gives readers a look into the artist’s life with enough truth to understand the hardships she faced as a woman in the 1600s.

Pages: 357 | ASIN : B09Q1CHBWM

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Paths Meant To Be Traveled

Gary Lee Miller
Gary Lee Miller Author Interview

Finding Grace follows one woman traveling by bus to see her dying grandmother but the trip becomes a life changing and inspirational journey. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

An old Chinese proverb says, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” That was how Finding Grace came to be. With a single step. Unfortunately, the cause of that step was the passing of my wife of 45 years, Sharee, from leukemia. Thus began a long winding road of dealing with loss and finding an outlet for my grief. I don’t believe in coincidence, and there were an extraordinary number of occurrences which could have been attributed to coincidence. I know that sometimes we have an angel (or angels) on our shoulder which lead us down paths meant to be traveled. And so began my journey. They say to write what you know, so I did. While Finding Grace is a fiction novel, there is a tremendous amount of detail based on my first-hand experience with Sharee and her illness. The characters Judith meets on her journey materialized quickly, as did the idea for the cross-country trip. Then came the two main characters of Judith and Grace. The reason for a cross-country trip was easy, based on my losing Sharee. Grace was dying from leukemia and wanted Judith to come home to visit her before it was too late.

Judith Lee is an interesting and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character’s development?

Judith had a challenging childhood, facing poverty, bullying, and the loss of her parents at age 10. As adults we carry the baggage of the negative events of our childhood so Finding Grace explores how Judith compensated, as a child and as an adult, to survive her personal challenges. The bus trip forces her, unwillingly, to see what’s been missing from her life. As she meets the other characters on the trip, Judith begins to realize just how far she has removed herself from the real world, using her incredible wealth as a shield.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

One of the things I truly enjoyed while writing Finding Grace was using it as a vehicle to introduce a wide variety of themes that we, as a society and many individuals, face every day. While not deep dives into each, my characters each have different challenges, such as poverty, bullying, physical & mental abuse, alcohol & drug abuse, racial issues, serious disease, end-of-life caretaking, grief & loss, and others. While these are heavy subjects, the narrative of Finding Grace is mixed liberally with humor and laugh-out-loud moments that balance the journey for the reader. Plus, the bus trip gave me the opportunity to provide a travelogue of sorts, providing fun, interesting details about the places Judith sees and visits during her journey.

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

I have written the screenplay for Finding Grace, with the goal of bringing it to the movie or TV screen. Right now I’m in the process of edits and rewrites. My hope is to get the attention of some production companies, believing an adaptation of the book would be highly entertaining and appealing to a very broad audience, demographically.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website | Instagram

The award-winning novel Finding Grace follows a young girl, Judith Lee, who grew up with her very poor grandmother, Grace, and grandfather, Virgil, in Nashville. She is bullied and mocked in school, but she is smart. She goes on full scholarship to Vanderbilt and upon graduation, moves to California, eventually starting her own tech company which becomes extraordinarily successful. As the story progresses, readers learn these facts in bits and pieces, not realizing until the very end that Judith is a highly successful woman of immense wealth.

Grace calls Judith with a dying wish…for Judith to travel from Los Angeles to Nashville to come visit her. But there’s a catch. Judith must make the journey by bus.

Each day of Judith’s journey becomes a story on its own, as the people she meets and places she visits along the way challenge her to rethink her life. Finding Grace is about Judith’s transformation back into the real world during this journey as a result of the people she meets on the bus, how she deals with the imminent passing of her grandmother, and how all this changes her life’s future plans. There are tears and laughter throughout, with interesting characters whom readers would recognize from their own lives. Today, more people are reflecting on what is and is not important. Finding Grace provides food for thought on many levels.

Dancing On Sloane Street

Dancing On Sloane Street by [english golightly]

Dancing On Sloane Street recounts the adventures of a young and impulsive 17 year old model. This book is written in an autobiographical style with the protagonist as its sole narrator. Such an intimate first person point of view makes it seem almost like a diary. As English, our protagonist and narrator, goes from one place to another, strung along by her rich or influential clientele, her life goes on wildly with some unexpected twists and turns, finally ending with her decision to return to a silent contemplative lifestyle, leaving behind the limelight of the modelling industry along with its risks and perks.

The story covers a fascinating subject that is captivating in and of itself. The protagonist plunges off into the world of illegal and often inappropriate practices as she describes her personal experiences as a young model during the 1990’s. I was taken in by the candid language that has a fluid quality to it and keeps the audience engaged throughout this fictional biography. English gets taken advantage of, betrayed, cheated, and lied to but after everything what stands the test of time is her grit and emotional strength to try to live life according to her own terms.

There are countless times where the protagonist, as well as other characters, objectify or implicitly degrade and judge people based on their physical appearances. This is reflective of the culture this story takes place in. While the impromptu escapades of the main character have a particular charm in the beginning of the story, towards the end we realize the characters act in a self-destructive way. This makes this story both a thrilling coming-of-age story and also an intriguing character study of various people in the industry.

Dancing On Sloane Street is a provocative and compelling story that provides a unique look at an exotic lifestyle, and English Golightly captures it in an entertaining way.

Pages: 191 | ASIN: B00KR9KU1S

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Akil and Jafari

AKIL AND JAFARI: VOL.1 HOW TO SELL YOUR SOUL by [AYURA AYIRA]

Akil and Jafari (Volume 1-4) by Ayura Ayira is a story about two boys who are childhood best friends turned rivals. Despite his health issues, life was better for Akil Chistopher than for many others, including Jafari Omar, but he still wanted more. With dreams of escaping a life of poverty in Africa and going to America, the pair hope to gain money and fame by becoming professional mixed martial arts fighters. But then a series of poor decisions leads to Akil accidentally shooting and killing his father. Jafari takes the blame and ends up sentenced to seven years in juvenile detention for the fatal shooting. Will the forced separation caused by the dark secret they share turn out to be the end of their friendship?

I liked the interactions and banter between Akil and Jafari when they were kids and missed that lighthearted tone and bits of humor during the rest of the story after events seemed to place a wedge between the two. I also liked the aspect of the story where the ghost of Akil’s father visited him and offered him encouragement when he needed it most. The story had a happy ending, which I was glad to see after all the struggle and strife that Akil and Jafari went through.

While I enjoyed this impassioned and thoughtful story, I felt that it ended abruptly. I wanted to know what happened after the two former friends were finally reunited, and to learn a bit more details about Jafari’s motivations for his actions. The story was told from Akil’s point of view, but I would have liked to see parts of the story from Jafari’s point of view, as well.

The focus on their close friendship in the beginning, which was my favorite part of the story, seemed to be replaced by a love interest for Akil in later parts of the book, giving this novel a surprising romantic element.

Akil and Jafari is a riveting story that will appeal to readers looking for a rousing and dramatic book of two intriguing men who face adversity in different ways.

Pages: 179 | ASIN: B09B2ZJQXN

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