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Keeper of Slaves

Keeper of Slaves: Book Two of Antebellum Struggles by [Erman, Dickie]

Collette should be one of the happiest women around. As the wife of a wealthy plantation owner, she has everything she could possibly want and lives in the home of her dreams. Her husband, however, makes living her best life impossible. As he has taken up with Amana, one of their slaves, Collette’s life has taken quite a tragic and sad turn. When Amana finds herself in just the right place at the ideal moment to save Collette’s life, both women begin to realize there is much more to their relationship than either of them could have ever imagined.

Keeper of Slaves, Antebellum Struggles Book 2, by Dickie Erman, traces the drama surrounding Trent and Collette Winters and the battle to survive via the Underground Railroad. Erman skillfully crafts a cast of characters who are deeply involved in making the Underground Railroad successful. The author appeals successfully to readers’ emotions and describes incredibly intense scenes of fearful and anxious moments of planning as the book’s main characters attempt to do what feels like the impossible given the time period and the extreme circumstances of their lives.

Even though Erman includes a brief summary of events from Book 1 at the outset, I feel there are several key elements I was missing as I read. Quite a bit of time was spent trying to visualize situations and subplots. There is a history between this entire cast of characters that is begging to be read.

I am beyond intrigued by the “ghost ship.” I found it to be a fantastic addition to the plot and was able to visualize each and every aspect of the ship and its lack of life, the missing supplies, and the eerie and overwhelming silence. Though it sounds a bit out of place in a story of this genre, it actually works quite well.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the concern I have over the dialect. While the bulk of the dialogue feels quite authentic, there are a few things I found distracting as I read. Accents and turns of phrase felt accurate throughout the book for the most part, but a few terms like “machismo” and “space aliens” struck me as odd and felt out of place for the book’s antebellum setting. Periodically, the reader is given the impression that the third person narrator is, indeed, part of the story. While this works in some cases, it doesn’t feel effective here. I was especially confused when, in the narration, the alligator that attacks Collette is referred to as a “gata.” The sudden switching on and off of the more personal narration is a bit difficult to reconcile with the rest of the book.

I am giving Keeper of Slaves, Antebellum Struggles Book 2, by Dickie Erman, 4 out of 5 stars. Fans of historical fiction who desire a bit of romance in their plots will enjoy Erman’s work. I highly recommend Keeper of the Slaves, Antebellum Struggles Book 2 to those who are particularly attracted to Civil War stories with generous amounts of character interaction and authentic dialogue.

Pages: 211 | ASIN: B07NN5ZF8X

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Seven Days in Lebanon

Seven Days in Lebanon by [Tremayne, Eleanor]

In the early 1900’s in old Russia, the beginnings of the Russian revolution are forming. The aristocrat class is in danger and families are making plans to escape before the war takes not only their homes and properties, but their lives. Olga is a young doctor and the only daughter of Natasha Vishnievsky. Her father arranges for her to escape, unfortunately things do not go as planned. Seven Days in Lebanon is a book filled with history and based off the real life of Olga Von Eggert Khadjieff, Eleanor Tremayne’s grandmother. The book covers three generations of women’s lives in the family and is weaved together through journal entries, memories, and an ambitious well off artist looking for meaning in his own life.

The story starts out in Russia, but quickly moves into Olga’s escape from the Bolshevik army and the journey she takes is not an easy one. Fate kept her alive on more than one occasion and her skill as a doctor kept her alive more than once as well. The beginning of the book goes into detail about her escape from Russia and, eventual marriage to Prince of Kiva, through journal entries and stories that Olga is telling her granddaughter Anastasia. Olga’s mother Natasha kept a journal of notes, family history, and memories meant for Olga. However, it was never reunited with her and ended up in the hands of Damian Tolbert a rich French artist that writes and shoots photography.

The story’s point of view jumps around a lot, going from Olga, to Anastasia, sometimes her parents, and to Damian. The time lines are also mixed and mingled, it is not told in a linear fashion rather just like it would be listening to a family member, bits and pieces here and there and you have to assemble it all together in order in your own mind. It is confusing at first but soon you realize that the writing style is slightly different for each point of view. It draws you in despite the jumps. Knowing this novel is based on real events that took place in the life of the author’s grandmother, Olga, makes the story that much more interesting. These are first hand events and stories passed down from one generation to the next, a lost tradition.

There are some harsh topics and some graphic details involving death, and rape, and murder. However, they are told from the perspective of facts and not in a sensational manner. It is just how things were back in that time. There are times the stories feel like a history lesson and times like a day dream. The mix of styles makes this book intriguing and you want to keep reading it. The sad and brutal events are mixed with hope and promise of a better future.

Aside from the history element, seeing Anastasia discovering her heritage is probably my favorite part. How things from the past, little things like that raven imagery all start build a bigger picture for her and she grows into her heritage that prior to Olga’s death she said she didn’t care about. This is a great telling of a family and their history told in a manner that is fun and engaging and not like that of an autobiography or history book. This would be a great choice for anyone looking for a book club book or discussion group.

Pages: 386 | ASIN: B07NJJTGYJ

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The Money Trail

The Money Trail (The Sean Kruger Series Book 5) by [Fields, J.C.]

The Money Trail is another excellent edition to and Sean Kruger series. Once again we meet Sean Kruger and his band of intriguing friends. It’s obvious that Fields cares about his characters as the development of core characters that have been present throughout the series is extremely well done. There’s just enough action to get your heart pumping and just enough drama to have you on the edge of your seat.

It takes skill to keep readers coming back again and again to read about the same characters in slightly similar situations. It can get redundant and boring when executed poorly. That is not what readers will find in this book. Lovers of the Sean Kruger Series will only find more of what they’ve come to love and expect out of Fields. His characters are well developed, the action and drama are paced well and the twists and turns will have readers guessing with just the right amount of bait. It’s hard to put down a book in the Kruger series once you’ve picked it up and The Money Trail is no exception.

Fields has been writing these books for nearly five years. That’s a long time to keep characters straight and ensure that you don’t have them acting out of turn. Clearly Fields has a method to his madness as every book further develops the characters personalities and honors their growth from installment to installment. His books have won awards and are sure to influence a generation of readers. High praise for someone who began as an Indie writer making a break on their own.

Reading an installment of the Sean Kruger Series can be bitter-sweet. There is the thrill of the read: finding out what Kruger is up to now, where he will go and who he will bring with him. But there is also the disappointment when it ends because you simply want more. The Money Trail by J.C. Fields brings out that feeling effortlessly. It’s such an engaging read that is engrossing and fun. This book is an excellent installment in the series and I can’t wait for the next thrilling drama he gets caught up in.

Pages: 349 | ASIN: B07MTMCCDQ

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The Odds of Gods

THE ODDS OF GODS: Why Christians Should Not Tell Lies by [Campbell, Rush O. C. ]

The author of “The Odds of Gods: Why Christians Should Never Tell Lies”, Rush O.C. Campbell, starts out his narrative in a no-nonsense manner that is as efficient as it is descriptive. We get to know the characters that are important to the story, one by one, and in much detail, through a semi-predictable pattern. In fact, by the 20th character description, it begins to feel a little more like a character reference guide meant to be referred to later as you are reading through the story. Once the character descriptions are finished, however, the reader is in for a nice surprise.

The style of writing employed in this book is perfect for anyone who loves theater and film. Instead of building up atmosphere and nuances for the reader through sensory connections and context clues, the setting, room descriptions, facial expressions, tone of voice, direction of speech, and pretty much every other useful bit of information is conveniently laid out for the reader to see. The writing actually feels a bit more like a screenplay than a novel, and there are a lot of readers who will certainly appreciate the tact and skill employed by the author.

An interesting aspect of the book is that Campbell is writing about real people, in the real world. There is very much a sense of realism and humanity in the conversations that take place, and the based-on-true-events story invites readers into the world of the author.

The reader follows Rashman, a Jamaican-English man, and several other characters through a series of conversations relating to the common perception of Christianity and how things might not be quite as simple as many make them out to be. In fact, the book is intended to pave the way to a renewed process of thought towards the Bible and is full of notions meant to bring believers the salvation they so fully crave. The story is interesting, takes many twists and turns, and the character relationships and interactions are rich and engaging. Rashman is a man sure about his beliefs and following him through this story is certainly unique and thought-provoking at the same time.

To rate “The Odds of Gods: Why Christians Should Never Tell Lies,” by Rush O.C. Campbell, one would have to consider the content. The book is definitely entertaining and immersive. The subject matter is certainly for a very specific audience, however, and the subject matter is nothing short of heavy. If you are a follower of the Christian faith and feel yourself prepared to challenge your current perceptions of how well you are following the teachings of the Bible, this book is definitely for you.

Pages: 288 | ASIN: B07NB13JLT

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Space Rogues

Space Rogues: The Epic Adventures of Wil Calder, Space Smuggler by [Wilker, John]

An epic sci-fi tale that is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. This story is both mesmerizing and terrifying at the same time. Wil is testing an experimental space pod that ends up on the opposite side of the solar system, NASA can’t find him, and their probably not going to be able to bring him back, anyway.

Fast forward many years, and Wil is still in outer space, he has somewhat given up on the chance of being rescued, he’s basically an outer space bad guy, who smuggles and gets away with a lot of stuff he really shouldn’t, but who’s going to arrest him? The space police? He’s now looking for a crew to help him deal with the all out war that is happening right in front of his eyes.

After being captured by a ship from another galaxy, Wil is ready to fight back. He really has nothing else to lose, so why not? If you’re looking for a lighthearted space saga, then this is definitely a book you’re going to want to pick up. I love that it doesn’t take itself too seriously, there are tons of pop culture references, and there are many homages to pop culture themes. It’s enjoyable, relaxing, and definitely funny. People who enjoy shows like Farscape and Guardians of the Galaxy will get a kick out of this.

There were times that Wil would do or say things and I was completely flabbergasted, but also I totally believed that this is something that he would do. He is at the point in life where he really doesn’t care anymore, because he knows he’s probably not going to make it back to earth, so he just does what he wants and people have to do deal with it.

The writing was great, it was easy to read, and fun to enjoy, it didn’t matter if I had 5 minutes to read or an hour, I could get sucked into the story quickly, and it was easy to pick up right where I left off. I can’t wait to read the next books in this series.

Pages: 422 | ASIN: B07H7QXWKT

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The Dark Age Chronicles

This is such an easy book to get lost in! I had so much fun reading this, I cannot wait to read the next book in this series. I have found a new love for these fantasy type books that create an incredible world that you can’t help but feel like you are a part of. The fact that this book had so many mythical components as well as incredible characters and a fantastic story line just makes it even more intriguing.

If you are looking for a book that speaks to you, one that makes you feel like you are a part of something, then this book is definitely one you are going to want to pick up. When Eve realizes that she is the light in the dark days, after being abused and treated like a servant all of her life, it’s incredible. It was like watching an abused dog be taken in by a loving family, the way that the author describes the things that happen in this world, especially to Eve, it’s unbelievable, but you don’t want to put the book down because you are rooting for Eve to defeat evil.

There are two other books in this series that I cannot wait to get my hands on, there are just so many elements of this series that I wish it were a movie, or television show. You watch this story unfold in front of your eyes, and it’s like you’re no longer reading, you’re actually there, taking part in the action yourself. That’s how you know you found an incredible book, when you no longer feel as if you’re sitting on your couch but rather in the throes of action.

I definitely recommend this book to people who want some adventure, mystery and thrill in their stories. Eve is an incredible character, who doesn’t take any backtalk from anyone and is willing to put her life on the line for the good of mankind. Even though she is beaten down, and has been her entire life, she rises again and again to defeat the evil that has come to try and steal the life out of everyone around her. I cannot wait for you to read this book and love it as much as I did.

Pages: 349 | ASIN: 1980483159

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The Tribulations of August Barton

The Tribulations of August Barton by [LeBlanc, Jennifer]

The Tribulations of August Barton by Jennifer LeBlanc follows the somewhat unwilling adventures of a young man who feels as if the world is on his shoulders. August Barton is a  nerdy college freshman with growing anxiety not helped by the declaration of his parent’s decision to divorce. Never mind first-year classes, his growing independence, or even girls, the struggles within his own family becomes almost too much for him to bear. At a time in his life when he should be stepping out into the world and spreading his wings, the worries of his life pull him back into the safe confines of his residence hall where he can be with his Star Wars collection in peace. However, his charismatic grandmother (a woman who really has lived life to the fullest) has other ideas for her grandson, which leads to a series of adventures where August can finally learn to live out his own epic saga and find his own happy endings outside of the ones he’s seen in the science-fiction stories he loves.

This story compares to the classic coming-of-age tale Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger in its overall themes like loss of innocence and personal growth of a young man. However, I will say that August Barton is a more likable protagonist than Holden Caulfield! August “Augie” Barton’s altruism for his loved ones and his quirky charm make him a lovable character to follow throughout the book. Other interesting characters in Augie’s life enhance the quality of this book, one in particular: his grandmother! Gertie is such a wild and fun lady. I wish I could know her in real life! I honestly would read a whole spin-off novel about her life because seeing the world through her eyes sounds like a treat. The overall humor and grace of this novel as Jennifer LeBlanc’s authentic characters deal with very real  problems that we all can face in life. The Tribulations of August Barton just proves how there can be such wondrous beauty in the everyday and in the hardships we all face. No doubt, Jennifer LeBlanc earns a full five stars, and one new permanent fan of her works.

Pages: 176 | ASIN: B01M7TF1N1

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The Darkness Within Him

Michael A. Greco Author Interview

Michael A. Greco Author Interview

Project Purple follows volunteers on a broadcasted experience to recreate American colonization that turns deadly. What was the inspiration behind this unique idea?

“Project Purple” Is about thirteen Americans who recreate the lives of the early colonials for a worldwide on-line audience. They don’t know their ordeal has been gradually, brutally altered by their organizers, and a struggle for food, shelter, and survival turn deadly as an Arctic winter approaches.

The seed of this idea emerged from a conjoining of two mediums—the first being a PBS TV series called Colonial House back in 2003, and the second being an extraordinary novel about the harrowing saga of the Donner party called “The Indifferent Stars Above.” Somehow, the ordeals of these people from different centuries fused.

I think “Project Purple” seeks to understand what it takes to draw on one’s inner survivor. I just started thinking: What could a writer do to give this story more adversity and more propulsion?

Rigor is a detective from Las Vegas who sets out to help the volunteers. What were some driving ideals behind his character?

I wove Rigor into the story to give it another layer of depth. On the surface he’s an upstanding guy. He’s initially driven by noble ideals, but as his story unfolds, we see the darkness within him, too, and that’s why he’s been selected for new “projects”. The Rhizome, the shadowy multi-national underground faction, knows his history.

This novel is able to capture the history of American colonialism and modern dystopian ideals. What were some ideals you wanted to explore in this book?

I guess I wanted to capture the idea that civilization is a thin veneer we lay across the bubbling magma of nature, including human nature. Occasionally, like a volcano, the magma erupts, and we fall through the crust, scratching and gouging for our lives. Then a new world order begins, with an entirely new language, and with an entirely new taxonomy: a new way of ordering and naming things in life—the Rhizome.

The thirteen Americans are under the impression they’re showcasing the early seventeenth century colonial way of life for a worldwide audience; that they can teach others by reenacting “a simpler, purer time in their national experience, to the roots of the nation they are today, to the infant of America.” Of course, the Rhizome isn’t impressed by any of that. What it wants to learn from the Americans is all together different.

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

The project I’m on now, “Assunta” is a three-part trilogy about a man who comes to believe in the divine. It’s a physical and spiritual journey from the gates of Hell to the highest portion of Heaven. The story is built on a framework of references to the great poem “The Divine Comedy” by Dante Alighieri. There are three books: Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. I’ve just finished Book 3, and will publish them in one month intervals, starting in early March with the first Book, Assunta: Inferno.

After I finish the Assunta trilogy, I’m returning to sequels of The Cuckoo Colloquium —about six teens lost in the rain forest of Borneo, because the characters have so much depth and the story so much fuel remaining. I hope to have book #2 of what I’m calling the Cuckoo series out by autumn, 2019.

I believe that memorable characters make memorable tales. One of my favorite writers, Samuel Becket, for example, shows us lunatics in trashcans, or characters who set themselves on fire. He had great insights into what is true, and he makes it funny. I think that’s my job, my goal—to write characters and stories that are absurd, violent, childish, but that resonate with truth.

Author Links: Goodreads | Facebook | TwitterWebsite

Thirteen Americans volunteer for a unique three-month project to recreate America’s early colonial experience for a worldwide on-line audience. The colonists have been deceived. They don’t know their ordeal has been gradually, brutally, altered by their organizers, and a genuine struggle for food, shelter and survival turns deadly as an Arctic winter approaches. Is there some point to this insanity? The besieged Americans (including a police detective who throws his world away to rescue a colonist he knows only as the Goatwench) must find the primal survivor within themselves to counter the ever-increasing violence they face—all to the attentive schooling of their multi-national audience.

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Forgotten by the Sun – Trailer

Amika Fernandez’s life is nothing out of the ordinary…until she meets Rhayne Welkins. Soon captivated by his very presence, Amika finds herself wrapped up in this mysterious intruder into her world—and the secrets he’s brought with him.

In a world where nothing is as it seems, and stories once believed to be mere myth are anything but, an ordinary teenage girl must decide between the life she knows, and the life she might have—if she can handle the truth about the world in which she lives.

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Decades to Resolve

K.B. Laugheed Author Interview

K.B. Laugheed Author Interview

The Gift of the Seer follows Katie and Hectors journey across the continent as they learn more about each others ways. What was the inspiration for the setup to this series?

I had a fairly bad childhood, but when I was seventeen, I became captivated by Native American history, and I have never looked back. I have spent my life studying Indian history, cultures, and stories, and I even went on to get a Masters Degree in English with a specialty in Native American literature. After having read dozens and dozens of captivity stories from the 17th, 18th, & 19th centuries, I wanted to write a book to share what I learned with people who have neither the time nor energy to dig through all those old documents.

Katie and Hector are dynamic characters with an interesting relationship. What were some driving ideals behind their characters?

I see Katie and Hector as metaphorical representatives of their people. They are endlessly intrigued by one another, even as they also pose a very serious threat to each other. Because they formed a physical bond before they understood much about each other’s worlds, they created a conflict that takes them decades to resolve–which is, oddly enough, equally true of almost all young lovers who get married and have children! So one of the basic premises of the story is that relationships are hard, whether those relationships are between individuals or nations, and finding common ground is an ongoing challenge. But, oh!–meeting that challenge is definitely worth the effort!

I enjoyed the nuanced world views and philosophies in the book. What were some themes you wanted to explore in this book?

I was very intrigued by the idea of writing a story that could be read on multiple levels. If you are interested in American Indians, you can read this book to learn more about Native cultures. If you are interested in complex marital relationships, you can read this book to find out how one “odd couple” made a difficult marriage work. If you are interested in personal identity issues, you can read this book to see how someone who suffers from chronic self-doubt deals with the challenge of living up to other people’s high expectations. If you are interested in Spirituality, you can read this book to ponder the role Spirit can play in the everyday life of humans. And if you just want a fast-paced adventure story, you can read this book simply for the thrills and chills.

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

I was working on an intriguing manuscript three years ago, but I gave it up when I could not see how the story ended. Then my mother died, and I suddenly understood exactly how that story ended. Now that I have finally gotten The Gift of the Seer into the hands of the public, I am returning to my unfinished manuscript, and I hope to have something readable by mid-2020.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | GoodReads

The Gift of the Seer by [Laugheed, K.B.]

Katie O’Toole’s epic adventure began in The Spirit Keeper (Plume 2013) when she was rescued from a 1747 frontier massacre in Pennsylvania only to find herself chosen as the “Spirit Keeper” of a dying Indian Seer. She hesitated to accept this mysterious obligation until she fell in love with the Seer’s bodyguard, an Indian man she called Hector.

In The Gift of the Seer, Katie and Hector continue their journey across the continent, but the more Katie learns about the peculiar ways of her husband’s people, the more she dreads arriving at their destination. Will anyone believe she is the Spirit Keeper she pretends to be? Equally troubling, Katie knows the Seer expected her to prove his Vision—a Vision which foretold of infinite Invaders coming to his world—but to prove this prophecy, she must give his people the great Gift he also predicted. The only problem is that Katie has no Gift to give.

Years pass as she desperately searches for a way to fulfill her promise to the dead Seer, but when his former rival threatens to expose her as a fraud, Katie finally understands that her life and the lives of all the people in her new world hang in the balance. That’s when she knows she must give a Gift—she must—before it is too late.

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