In the Orbit of Sirens by T.A. Bruno is a bone-chilling science-fiction thriller that warps fiction, fantasy, and reality in wonderful and scary ways. It begins when humanity is left stranded after a starship destroys the Sol-System. They head to Kamaria where an intriguing and deadly alien species is also in competition with them. The main characters of this book are Denton and Eliana, both of them intelligent and resilient people who go on an action-filled adventure to save their world. There are also flashbacks used to make a more detailed and well-drawn world, but these are well-written and only add to the non-stop momentum of the plot. It’s hard not to get sucked in from the get-go as fantasy and science mix to create a delightfully balanced and quick-paced story.
One of the author’s main skills is his ability to write a creepily believable alternate universe. Kamaria, the Earth-like planet, for example has many elements reminiscent of Earth but there’s just a few things that are off that make it a scary and seemingly hostile place. The mountains and rivers are strange and dreamlike, with strange arches and technicolor waters. And of course, the airborne bacteria causing the “lung-lock” affliction. Which is terrifying at any point of time, but especially when our own world is in a pandemic. It might be a little too close to home for people in search of pure, unadulterated escapism, but I personally enjoyed it and thought this plot element was woven in perfectly with the rest.
Eliana and Denton were endearing characters, both in how they were smart yet grounded and practical. I was on edge while waiting for their paths to finally cross. Although the story is broader than just their relationship, I found I was rooting for them two and found a lot of joy in their interactions. There’s a lot of creativity in the storytelling, both in the non-linear timeline and the way the worlds are built: with horrific aliens and the transmuting Undriel. It is a violent story without being nonsensical or gratuitous.
Ultimately, In the Orbit of Sirens is a story about humanity’s ability to fight the odds till the end and emerge stronger, if not victorious. I was grateful for the ending as I was definitely in need of such a sentiment, and I’m sure many people are too. Although it is a dark and atmospheric story, I think it ultimately shows the best in its characters and humanity in general, so it’s perfect for anyone who has even a little bit of interest in the science-fiction genre.
Pages: 516 | ASIN: B08L1BT3QS
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The Path Taken: A Father and Sons Journey to Santiago de Compostella by H. M. Rodriguez is an awe-inspiring story that is filled with wisdom, enlightenment, and history. Rodriguez recounts his time trekking the Camino Frances with his son Simon as they immerse themselves in the spiritually enriched offerings of the journey.
Inspiring is the first word that comes to mind after reading this memoir! Rodriguez’s interpretation of the world around him is heartwarming, even when he discusses upsetting subjects. His accounts of the stories’ he heard while on the trek were my favorite parts.
There were times where I did not agree with some of Rodriguez’s sentiments, but I understood the source from which they came. I think that is an important lesson to be learned from this book. We must try to understand others even when we disagree with them.
Despite the religious undertones, there is something for everyone to take away. You will feel wiser and more thoughtful after reading the book. Although Rodriguez has a simplistic writing style, he makes you think long and hard about life and how you live it. There was more than one occasion where I put the book down to reflect for a few minutes on my own life.
It is hard to critique someone’s personal story, so this is why I’m telling you how the book affected me and less about how I think of the story itself. The Path Taken: A Father and Sons Journey to Santiago de Compostella is a short but thought-provoking travel memoir that I enjoyed reading.
Pages: 77 | ASIN: B08L8B7J4T
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Filled with tips on brain health, nutrition suggestions, and the benefits of drinking water, Your Brain: The Engine to Your Body. A Fitness Trainer’s Guide to a Healthy Brain is exactly what the doctor ordered. Tracy L. Markley, fitness specialist, has gifted readers a phenomenal book that is brimming with ideas that readers can put to immediate use in their daily lives. Whether they want to improve their quality of life or are recovering from a brain injury, readers will find a long list of wonderful and practical tips that are all backed by science.
As a mother of two and a teacher who was recently diagnosed with Meniere’s disease, I am especially interested in the tips regarding improving brain function. Markley’s research and experience in brain health are thorough and organized for readers in an easy-to-follow, relatable format. Markley also gives many tips for gentle exercises that can further improve balance and thereby enhancing both hearing and brain function.
I highly recommend Your Brain: The Engine to Your Body. A Fitness Trainer’s Guide to a Healthy Brain to anyone that is dealing with issues surrounding brain health or any caregiver that wants to learn more about ways to encourage brain function for their loved ones or patients.
Pages: 13 | ASIN: B08KHNVH1Q
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After all… by Maria Trautman is the author’s story of the abuse she endured and her path to forgiveness. Maria was born to a mother who simply didn’t love her. To her mother, Maria represented a time in her life she couldn’t get past. Maria was a source of pain for her mother and her mother let that pain bleed into every moment of her child’s life. Maria’s grandmother was the only one who showed her true love in her childhood. After her grandmother passed away Maria went back to live with her mother. Throughout her stay with her mother, Maria long suffered abuse and manipulation from the hands of people that she should have been protected from in the first place, starting with her mother. Through desperation and conscientious acts, Maria moved to Canada to live with her aunt.
Despite knowing this is a memoir, nothing could have prepared me for the harsh reality that the author faced. The story of Maria is a heart wrenching story that will make you feel helpless, anger, and empathy with every word. Trautman’s writing is powerful, raw, and inspiring. I commend her for being able to share her traumatic story with the world and still find peace through faith. Her story gives hope to readers and shows us that no matter what we face we can still be a better person. The first half of the book is difficult to read and I had to put the book down a few times to compose myself. Don’t let this stop you from reading the book as this shows just how shocking Trautman’s story is and just how effective her words are.
This book hits close to home for many readers but there is hope and Maria is proof of this. Through faith and forgiveness Maria is able to rebuild herself as a person and start a life. You get a feeling of redemption and happiness when you finish reading the book.
Prepare yourself for the harsh reality of this book. The raw anguish, the struggles, and strife. After all.. It just might be worth every heartbreaking moment.
Pages: 221 | ASIN: B08KBSH81R
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My Life My Story My Journey & A Tall Tale is an autobiography that details how meeting your twin flame forever altered the trajectory of your life. Why was this an important book for you to write?
This was an important book for me to write for the simple reason. As more and more people become awakened to their spirituality. And the soul’s evolution continues. Clarification and answers can be found in other souls documented journeys. Letting them know that they are not alone. And insane they are not. The importance of this book is to engage the reader and open their hearts to the spiritual beings that they are. And to let their souls fly far beyond the density consciousness of the third dimension.
What were some themes that were important for you to focus on in this book?
The twin flame phenomena was of great importance for me to focus on in this book. For without Theresa this book would never have been written. Her being the catalyst to my awakening. Paved the way for the book to unfold and transpire to what it has become. It is our story to share with the world. In hopes that the reader will embrace the reality of the soul’s evolutionary process. That is upon mankind at this time.
What is one thing that you hope readers take away from your story?
I hope that readers will take away from this book. The fact that we are all spiritual beings have an experience in a human body. And that we will all awaken at one time or another. And hopefully our story will engage the reader to search further into the realms of their own spirituality.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am working on a continuation of My life My story My journey & A Tall Tale. Written in real time as it has unfolded. At this time I have no idea when it will be available to the public. Book two is complete and I am working on book three at this time. I have been very humbled at the reviews received so far. And send out sincere gratitude to those who decide to open the book and read its pages. I thank Theresa once again for giving me the courage to speak my truth to the world.
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Get A Hold Of Yourself helps reader develop faith as a strong foundation for personal actualization. Why was this an important book for you to write?
This book arose in response to witnessing people struggle trying to live up to other’s expectations about what the spiritual and religious life consists of. I believe every human being has the capacity to develop their own faith convictions and beliefs. This book is my attempt to instill confidence in people of faith to make that move.
What is a common misconception you feel people have about faith?
A common misperception regarding faith is everyone worships the same God. Everyone does not worship the same God. Many faiths have no god. Take Buddhism, for example. It is more a philosophy and spiritual practice than a belief system. There is no god to worship in Buddhism. Those who refer to Judeo-Christian-Islamic faith trace their roots to one God, but even those followers may conceive their worship and prayers to be different from one another. I encourage people to trust their sense of the holy, however they name it. Be free and know that you can pray to whomever or whatever you choose. You may choose not to pray at all. Perhaps, meditation or spending time quietly is your prayer. This book helps readers define their unique spiritual experience, or what I refer to as “transcendence.” That means experiencing being in contact with something beyond everyday, mundane experience of the world. Sometimes, being in nature and realizing how beautiful the earth creates a feeling of oneness with the universe. That feeling is an example of experiencing transcendence. Most importantly, the book encourages readers to accept that different beliefs and practices can co-exist and maintain their truth. We are capable of believing and practicing different spiritualities without insisting one is superior or more true than another. There is a spiritual community for every belief and conviction. The book encourages readers to seek out or create a spiritual community that nurtures their spirit.
You serve as the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Las Cruces, New Mexico. How has your experience helped you write this book?
Unitarian Universalism is a faith that welcomes all people. Every UU is different, so being a minister to people with varying convictions and beliefs forces me to ask each person about their personal stance on spiritual practice. I must listen deeply and respectfully and respond, accordingly. One person will practice Paganism while another will live as a humanist or atheist. This book is based on real-time and honest experience, spiritual practice, and community-building. It is not a religious or spiritual manual based on theory. It was written with an appreciation that there are many ways live out your faith convictions. All are valid (as long as you don’t cause harm to self or others). Being a UU minister has provided me years of experience in the parish helping hundreds of people live out the faith convictions with genuine authenticity.
What is one thing you hope readers take away from your book?
I want readers to trust their intuition, experiences, and the knowledge they’ve accumulated throughout their lives and use that wisdom to develop deep spiritual convictions and faith practices that create joy and lead them toward confident living.
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Afterworld follows Leon as he discovers a new world after death and explores questions of life and the afterlife. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?
As you rightly identified in your book review, there were various religious aspects in my book. As a child, I was raised to be a Christian, and since have found myself towards a more agnostic approach in life for many different reasons.
The story is built on that from start to finish while adding in ideas of other religions and gods. If they are indeed real, who is to say one way or another for sure and what is undoubtedly right or wrong in the grand scheme?
So that’s where the story came from which I started back around 2010. When my grandfather passed away in February, that is when I got back to completing the book.
Leon is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?
Both Leon and his grandfather are actually heavily inspired by my own life and my grandfather’s. My grandfather was a farmer and always did his best to help people as he could, and others did the same for him
when he was battling his cancer and no longer able to farm his wheat fields. I created Leon knowing those factors, and what I strive to do is to help those around me, best I can. I honestly do find our world more mundane than not, you see fantasy movies and read stories, and the possibilities are endless; yet, we seem to be stuck in a world full of the mundane. So I guess you could say that the way I was raised, and what I’ve learned over the years from taking a look at myself are essential factors behind his development. There is still plenty of room for growth in both Leon, and myself, so hopefully, you’ll see that when the sequel finds itself completed.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
Humanity, as a whole, can do some extraordinary things if we are willing to come together. We just need to be willing to set aside our own aspirations and greed for only a little. You definitely get a glimpse of what humanity has the capabilities to do, both on the positive, and on the grim darker side. Other than religion, my political nature definitely played a role in this book. I think, for the most part, we are starting to see people come together more as a society than run apart. You can see this through things such as the European Union, United Nations, WHO, etc. Even if they are not perfect, and some actors shouldn’t be in the positions they are, it at least gives hopes that our world is closer. The fact that we are willing to communicate at all to solve things shows just that. This doesn’t always work, but it is better than if it weren’t there at all.
This is book one in your Next Life series. What can readers expect in book two?
So, this is where things get a little bit complicated. The Next Life series deals directly with Leon and his journey and struggles with the events in Afterworld and our universe. There is also the Next Life Universe series which is where the website gets its name, which may or may not be connected directly with Leon or even with each other. I’m building a universe that I like to call the mix between Stephen King and DC comics. The next book coming out is The Ripper which deals with the mysterious story of Jack the Ripper in a whole new perspective on the character. This will eventually be woven in with the Next Life series, so it’s worth the read. The third book will be The Desperado’s Tale which then tells of someone from a different world, that’s all I’ll say about that one. Then finally we pick back up with Leon in my 4th book Untitled (Next Life, #2). This will deal with Leon upon his return to Earth and in search of an ancient weapon. Along the way, you will see him encountering those that linger in the shadows. You will get a glimpse of this aspect in The Ripper, but it will be expanded upon in this book. Then there will be the witches and others that Leon will come in contact with and you’ll see how those relationships develop. All this as he tries to make his way back to Afterworld in a race against time. For every day on Earth, there are 100 days that pass by there.
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The Case of the Golden Helmet is the story of one man’s investigation into a complicated case of tax evasion that spans two countries. What was the inspiration for the setup behind this story?
The inspiration was personal. Over 40 years ago, when I was a junior auditor with the Canada Revenue Agency, just after graduating from university, I had a very similar experience and the file was referred to special investigations. I left before I knew if it had been accepted – starting my career in the financial services industry. The character, Al Edwards, is very much based on the much younger me.
I enjoyed the mystery at the heart of this novel. Was this planned before writing or did it develop organically while writing?
The story was both planned and organic in a way. The story, as noted above, was based on personal experience. I tried to think about what resources the special investigations section would have at its disposal in today’s world of electronic communications and the ability to transfer or move monies without the need of physical cheques, etc. At the same time as I wrote, I developed ideas of what might happen in a certain instance. For instance, the discovery of the safe in Jacqueline’s house came to me as I was writing the section where the authorities were searching her home. Similarly, the cars being towed that were parked at the Tim Hortons seemed a similar extension of leaving cars there for a prolonged period of time.
As to the two-part structure of the story, I wanted an investigation and then resolution, I thought about the old Dragnet series and the original Law and Order TV show, where there was an investigation, told from the side of the investigators, and then the trial.
Tom is an intriguing and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?
Thank you for that compliment. I actually knew a man of that name many years ago when I was in the Canadian navy between high school and university. (As a kid I had want to join the RCMP, but when I applied, I was a quarter inch to short by the standards of the day.)
In any event, I thought of Tom as sort of modern-day Joe Friday, a just the facts sort of guy. As I wrote his character developed, he gained a wife, he flirted to get information and became a real investigator. He, of course, took direction from the higher ups, but also took initiative to dig into details and think outside the box. As example is taking an appraiser to an open house supposedly as his wife. I don’t think many people would think about doing that.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Good question. Since the editor really seemed to like my writing style I’ve been thinking about another book. (The current one was spread over two years as we are retired and we like to travel and I was doing other things.)
I’ve done the set-up for a possible book dealing with a protection racket being run in a visible minority community. It’s run by people outside of the community, but the result (which is noticed by the police) is a dramatic reduction in crime in that community. Preliminary audits conducted by CRA auditors determine that funds are being paid to a third-party organization. But preliminary investigation indicates such organization does not exist other than as a recipient for the money transfers. So, of course, as well as being illegal, it also isn’t paying income tax.
As I have no personal experience with that type of investigation, I’ll need to do more research than for the first book, so I really don’t know when it will be ready. However, my wife seems to have faith in my keeping busy and has suggested a location for a possible third book. So, I guess, I’ll keep busy and out of her hair for the foreseeable future.
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