In her third book in the Community Chronicles series, Jenn Lees continues the adventures and perils of a world that is spinning into chaos after a major stock market crash. Set in the year 2061, Saving Time is the story of brave Scotsman and his companions who risk their lives to save Scotland from nuclear destruction. In a world where the government has deserted its people and bandits are always a threat, the story’s hero must take matters into his own hands even if that means risking a trip back in time to get the information he needs. Through her story of loyalty and betrayal, Lees shows readers the meaning of self-sacrifice for the betterment of all.
Although the book starts off a bit slow, I found the story line increasingly compelling as the book progressed. The topics of love, time travel, and impending worldly destruction that run throughout the book are ones that are likely to appeal to the reader and keep their interest. In terms of grammar, flow, and ease of reading, the book was well written and enjoyable.
I felt like the time travel part of the book was not as compelling as it could have been. It didn’t seem integral to the plot. The reasoning for traveling to the past seemed vague, especially when the information that the characters acquired from this journey was ultimately unnecessary in dealing with the nuclear threat. I thought that the surprise assistance that showed up for the ultimate resolution of the threat seemed coincidental and made the original plan seem unnecessary.
The characters were interesting and well developed. When they make their way through 21st century England, I enjoyed the outsiders perspective, but would have enjoyed a deeper contrast. Rory and Siobhan’s relationship reflects that kind of contrast and I savored the experience of watching the slow development of their characters.
Overall I thought the book was enjoyable, particularly after reaching the second half where the story really picks up speed. This would be well suited for anyone looking for post apocalyptic fiction with a time travel twist.
Pages: 255 | ASIN: B07PWYVYJC
“I am Theodore Callington. I have a family. And a home. I belong somewhere.” These longing words are spoken by Teddy, who has lived a tortured life. An orphan taken in by a murderous uncle, regularly beaten to a pulp. An escaped cowboy, loved by an adopted family but trampled in the rodeo. And an unwilling vampire, slowly feeling his way to redemption. What will happen when Teddy attempts to reclaim his humanity from the devilish vampire who made him what he is? Follow Teddy’s twisted and terrifying journey in L. Nightingale’s A Bite of the Past: Undying Love.
A Bite of the Past is an exploration of what it means to be human, and conversely, sub-human. It is a heartbreaking story of cruelty, rejection, and longing for the love and stability of a family. Teddy’s journey is also one of hopefulness, reconnection, and the ascendancy of good over evil.
As our devastatingly handsome and sometimes repugnant main character, Teddy is truly a tortured soul—one dealing with the excruciating pain of his past but also searching for the truth and love that lies between the horror. Through sheer will-power, Teddy salvages the memories that have been suppressed by his malevolent teacher—the ruthless László. Under his tutelage, Teddy is truly a gruesome creature who carries out deeds that are sometimes hard to read.
Nightingale’s prose can be disorderly at times—perhaps intentionally so, as a reflection of the muddled psyche of her main character. He is confused much of the time, piecing together fragments of memories while simultaneously trying to quell his inner demon. This confusion spills over to the reader who, at times, feels lost as the narrative doubles back.
The twists, turns, and major surprises of the book do keep the reader engaged through the final cliffhanging scene. Gruesome descriptions of fights and killings will appeal to fans of macabre action. The throwback scenes to the wild west are charming, and Teddy’s vernacular peppers the book with memorable sayings, such as “the temperature would drop like a naked gunslinger beefed on a Dodge Street.” Overall, the yearning for love will resound with all.
A tale of a wayward cowboy looking for redemption that will strike a chord with its readers.
Pages: 343 | ASIN: B07SGWRTCN
Issaura’s Claws, written by Katharine Wibell is the first book in the three book Incarn series. The story is set in the kingdom of Elysia, an island inhabited by two races: humans and theriomorphs. The novel focuses on themes of racial divides, trust, friendship and gender stereotyping. Interwoven are legends and traditions, gods, and mythical creatures. All are called to work together when the kingdom comes under threat.
The setting for Issaura’s Claws is the kingdom of Elysia. Although outwardly appearing united, socially, the kingdom is divided invisibly into two groups: humans and theriomorphs. This divide becomes evident to the reader in the opening lines of Chapter One; “Trouble. In the schoolyard, Lluava spotted a group of boys near a large oak. Definitely humans”. The reader feels Lluava’s pain as she describes these bullies and how they attack an innocent lamb. We then see her surprise and disappointment as she realizes that even her teacher sees theriomorphs as inferior. The author cleverly contrasts the beautiful setting with the social turmoil that exists in the kingdom. It is a clever way to address themes of stereotyping and racial divides.
Lluava is the main character in this story. She is a seventeen year old theriomorph, (a race that appears human but has the ability to change into animal form) and it is evident from the beginning she is headstrong and determined. Unlike her mother and many other theriomorph’s she values the old traditions and has not succumbed to all things human like many others. When an army needs to be raised she volunteers without hesitation. She begins to break down gender stereo types when she is placed in the women’s camp to learn to nurse the sick. She demands to be trained in combat, and is eventually permitted to train at the men’s camp. It is there that she soon proves she is a force to be reckoned with.
Overall the story is interesting an easy to follow. The one aspect of the plot that I felt could be improved was the number of ‘traps’ Lluava and her friends fall into. She and her friends are portrayed as intelligent, so the number of blatant traps they seem to fall into becomes implausible.
Issaura’s Claws is an entertaining fantasy novel. Descriptions of the setting and characters are detailed and rich. The themes of the story parallel with dilemmas that society faces today. I look forward to reading the second book in this fantastic series.
Pages: 362 | ASIN: B01MZZB80P
Don’t Drink the Pink, by B. C. R. Fegan, is a children’s story about a little girl, Madeline, and her quirky grandfather who is always full of surprises. From the time that she is one year old, Madeline gets to choose one of her grandfather’s magical potions each year as a birthday gift, always following her grandfather’s warning not to select the pink one. Every birthday she is excited to discover what special ability the potion will give her that day. The tradition continues even as she gets older, but after her grandfather becomes frail and sick, she finally learns the secret behind her grandfather’s last surprise – the pink potion that she has been avoiding every year.
Fegan’s book is a fun and heartwarming story of the special relationship between a girl and her grandfather. I think that the book’s idea of magical potions and special powers will appeal to the author’s young audience and the consistent rhyming style is sure to grab the reader’s attention and keep them reading. The illustrations that accompany the text are well done, as usual, and give the reader delightful visual details that help create a connection to the story. Overall, this is a fun story that is perfectly suited to its audience. Absolutely fun, cute, and entertaining!
Pages: 40 | ASIN: B07SH1M437
The Journal, by R.D. Stevens, is the story of a young man’s search for his older sister after she goes missing in Cambodia and the police have given up looking for her. As he navigates an unknown country without any real plans, he realizes his trip isn’t just about finding answers to questions about what happened to his sister, it’s also about finding answers to questions he has about life. In his travels throughout Southeast Asia, as he meets people along the way who help to uncover the events of his sister’s life, he learns to challenge what he thinks he is capable of and to see the world in a different way. In the end, he learns a lesson about what is really important in life.
I thought this story was captivating and that Stevens did a great job of pulling the reader in through a relatable narrative. The narrator shares his thoughts, feelings, and fears with the reader in a way that seems real, relatable, and honest. The regular use of aphorisms in the story is a unique way to not only give the reader some food for thought, but also to help the reader understand the characters better and to get insight into what they are thinking. The way the author plays with time, switching between the current story line and the events of the past, helps to keep the reader’s interest and to slowly develop the characters and their personal histories in an interesting manner.
Although the book itself was compelling, I don’t feel like the title is. It’s vague, nondescript, and, in my opinion, doesn’t really capture what the story was about. In addition, although I found the plot to be well conceived, it bothered me that everything seemed to be a bit too perfect in some parts, a bit too coincidental in the way everything seemed to work out. I felt that the conclusion felt rushed. After taking so much care to build up the characters, the ending came in a few quick paragraphs that didn’t do justice to the complexity of the characters.
That being said, I really enjoyed the book. Although I think there is some room for improvement, the overall quality of the writing was exceptional and the story was engaging.
Pages: 253 | ASIN: B078C7SH7N
High Flying follows stunt pilot Skylar when she’s flung back in time and has a chance to investigate her origins. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
I have always loved time travel stories and have been intrigued by the idea of changing our personal history if given the chance. Our parents have a great deal to do with who we are as individuals but sometimes we don’t understand them and knowing about their past lives become a true education and door to our future. In addition, my father worked for United Airlines for years and I remember sitting on his shoulders, watching planes take off from the tarmac at LAX. I’ve had the opportunity to virtually fly around the world and the idea of bringing my passions together seemed perfectly natural.
Skylar is a well developed and endearing character. What were some themes that were important for you to capture in her character?
I wanted to creating a troubled young woman who was damaged by the choices her parents made and negatively impacted by the people she’s lost in her life. By being forced to experience her parents’ lives first-hand, she has the opportunity to grow, let go her anger and self hatred, and ultimately discover the compassion she holds inside.
Skylar is orphaned when she was young and she tries to reconcile that throughout the book. What were some driving ideals that were important for you to explore?
I initially wanted to make readers aware of the thought process behind cutting—a troubling behavior that was introduced to me by a dear friend. It is more common that people would like to admit or believe and is becoming a common practice among young girls in our society. Bullying and isolation often leads to this method of dealing with anxiety, as well as physical or mental abuse. Skylar finds her release through martial arts and eventually flying. Her struggles with overcoming the neglect she’s known is what makes her a stronger person and a more endearing character in this story.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m currently working on a sci-fi thriller that involves reincarnation and stolen souls. So I guess I’m pushing myself to try genres outside of my comfort level, which has been great fun thus far. I typically write one book a year, so I would watch for this one in 2020!
Skylar Haines has struggled with personal demons most of her life, going to dark extremes to subdue anxieties rooted in her tragic past. On a perpetual hunt for the next adrenaline hit, she discovers a passion for flying and becomes a hard-edged stunt pilot, verging on obsession. In the sky, following her most daring airshow, she encounters a mysterious storm and almost collides with another aircraft, sending her into a perilous dive. Guided by a mysterious voice, she manages a safe landing but finds herself transported to another time.
Eight months before she was born. One week before her father was murdered.
Though baffled by her circumstances, Skylar soon arrives at a single certainty: Before her lies a remarkable chance to change her family’s destiny drastically for the better — or possibly even worse — depending on the choices she makes, before her window of opportunity closes.
Lily Fairchild details the life of a young woman through the challenges of her youth and her quest to have a family of her own. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing story?
My purpose in creating Lily was to follow an extraordinary pioneer woman through the various phases of her long life.
Lily’s character is refreshing, she is blunt and many times quite curt as she proves her point. What were some driving ideals behind her character?
The ideals behind Lily are here fortitude in the face of adversity, the insight that comes with embracing challenges, and the pervasiveness of love in her life.
The story takes place in 1850’s Ontario. Why did you choose this time and place for your story?
The book is set in the 1850s and beyond because I have always been interested in the history of my birthplace (Point Edward, Ontario) and the tumultuous historical events that impinged upon it and its citizens.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My fiction writing days are over (after 22 novels) and I now keep myself occupied writing poetry abut Point Edward and my upbringing there.
Lily Fairchild follows the life of a pioneer woman, born in the backwoods of Lambton County in 1840, throughout her long life, ending in 2019. During that time, she is witness to historical events that impinge on her life: the Underground Railroad, the coming of the railways, the discovery of oil, the Fenian raids, the first and second Riel Rebellions, the construction of the tunnel under the St Clair River, the Great War, and the flu pandemic of 1919. Lily struggles against the forces of history and the small tragedies besetting a nineteenth-century woman and, against the odds, bearing children, marrying three times and taking part in the founding of the village of Point Edward and its steady growth as a port and railhead. Hers is a heroic story.
Two Years of Wonder is a memoir detailing your journey towards recovery after an attempted suicide. Why was this an important book for you to write?
Initially writing the book was part of my healing process. Post hospitalization I didn’t have too many intentions of ever publishing it, just to complete it as a way to give a shape to what I had been through. But then as I began to share it with people who were curious about it they kept saying to me “this story has to reach a wider audience.” Then when the kids themselves told me they wanted their stories shared, I felt an obligation to finally get it out there.
Throughout this book you interweave stories of orphan children you helped in Nairobi. What were some themes you felt were important to capture in this book from their stories?
Resilience and hope. While the book contains some of the harrowing experiences of the kids which–I know–are painful for a lot of people to read, throughout even their worst experiences so many of these children demonstrate such a fierce determination to survive and even thrive. They do even to this day which is why I wanted proceeds from the book to go towards their further college educations so they can continue to have some of the same chances I had.
I found this book to be inspirational. What do you hope readers take away from your book?
I want to shine a light on the suffering of these children and how that is a stand in for the suffering all around us. As Dr. Helene Gayle says in the foreword, we don’t need to go to Kenya to find suffering an inequality our world today. A lot of us can just walk down the street. To that end, I hope it makes everyone a bit more compassionate, whether its for vulnerable children in Africa, at our southern border, or the addict/alcoholic on the street corner.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My next book will be available later this summer. It is called REAPER MOON: RACE WAR IN THE POST APOCALYPSE. It is my attempt to take on the toxic nature of white supremacy and white nationalism which have become resurgent in the United States right now. Link to the preview page on my website is here: Reaper Moon — Tenebray Press.
September 25, 2012 Ted Neill picked up a knife to cut his wrists open and kill himself. Post hospitalization and treatment for major depressive disorder, he wrote Two Years of Wonder, a memoir based on his journey towards recovery. In it, he examines the experience that left him with such despair: living and working for two years at an orphanage for children with HIV/AIDS in Nairobi, Kenya.
Neill interweaves his story with the experiences of Oliver, Miriam, Ivy, Harmony, Tabitha, Sofie, Nea, and other children, exploring their own paths of trauma, survival, and resilience. In prose that is by turns poetic, confessional, and brutal, Neill with the children he comes alongside, strive to put the pieces of their fractured lives back together as they search for meaning and connection, each trying to reclaim their humanity and capacity to love in the face of inexplicable suffering and loss.
About the Author: In addition to his time living in Kenya, Ted Neill has worked for CARE and World Vision International in the fields of health, education, and child development. He has written for The Washington Post and published multiple novels. His share of proceeds from Two Years of Wonder are donated to the children featured in its pages as well as other Kenyan based organizations that support vulnerable children and youth.
Mandarin Ducks continues to follow Li in 1630’s China as he continues to learn about his heritage and seeks to marry but is thwarted by politics between families. What were some themes you wanted to carry over from the first book and what were some new themes you wanted to explore?
The continuous thread throughout the whole series is Li Bing’s progress through the career trajectory of civil service scholar/administrators. At the same time, I want to provide readers with a glimpse into various aspects of Chinese culture and everyday life. The various subplots are meant to punctuate the contrast between the ideal and the real.
As with the first book, I found this story to be both educational and entertaining. Was it your intention to write stories this way or did this happen organically while writing?
I definitely set out to provide both education and entertainment in the series. In a sense, I’m documenting my own voyage of discovery, as I learn about the history and culture of a country about which outsiders know very little, and which is often misrepresented in Western depictions.
You stated in a previous interview that you taught and traveled through China. What were some of your stand out moments from your time in the country?
You are continually confronted by the contrast between the old and the new. One minute you can be standing in ruins that are thousands of years old and the next minute you can be traveling 300 km/hr on a high speed train. Another interesting aspect is the way in which the people reflect the unitary identity of being Chinese, while at the same time strongly identifying with the culture, food, language, and traditions of their own region or ethnic group. There are many Chinas within China.
This is book two in your Kaifeng Chronicles. Where does book three, Grand Canal, pick up?
Book three takes place on the Grand Canal, as Li Bing travels north to Beijing to write the metropolitan examinations.
In late autumn 1630, Li Bing prepares to depart for Beijing to write the metropolitan examinations. Before he goes, he learns more about his heritage from his maternal grandfather and hopes to marry his childhood sweetheart Xiaoyun. However, political intrigue between his father and hers has the potential to derail more than just his marriage.
It’s not every day that we come across a historical work with as much life in it as we see in Left for Dead at Nijmegen: The True Story of an American Paratrooper in WWII. The level of research and attention to detail that went into the retelling of Eugene Metcalfe’s harrowing tale of survival is shown in spades. The reader has no problem understanding not only the physical situations faced by the main character but also the emotions and state of mind.
The author of this incredible story is hard to identify. Marcus A Nannini is certainly the one who organized and wrote the book, but he did such a good job putting it together that you just can’t help but think it is Gene himself telling you his own story. To add to that effect, Nannini puts a lot of focus on Gene’s sense of humor and personality.
The conversations between important members of the SS as well as many other details seem almost too good to be true from a historical perspective. Nannini dutifully constructs images and characteristics of the POW camps that his subject was forced into that were previously unknown. This work, therefore, is as important to historical study of the period as it is a riveting and fascinating tale.
The story starts off with Gene Metcalfe at school and illustrates his departure from his home, family and friends. Looking to do his part, Gene sets off and quickly finds himself shipping off. From the title, the reader knows there is going to be a traumatic event from the get-go, but what transpires afterwards is quite unpredictable. Left for dead, captured, moved from camp to camp, and bearing witness to many horrifying things, it is hard to believe at times that Gene is going to make it. Even more impactful are the ways that Gene gets himself through the atrocities he experiences.
The writing is direct, simple, and honest, relaying the same feeling that you get from the main character. Left for Dead in Nijmegen, written by Marcus A Nannini and published by Casemate, a resounding recommendation to readers of historical novels.
Pages: 256 | ASIN: B07QM86WDW
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