Bruce Stein’s novel, Abraham’s Tears, takes readers on an educational and eye-opening journey surrounding the conflict in the Middle East. We learn the values and beliefs of two families- one of Israeli/Jewish decent and the other with a Palestinian/Muslim background. The question of what can be done to bring peace between the religions and the ethnicities is explored through an emotional and exciting tale, supporting Ghandi’s prophecy of “An eye for an eye makes a whole world blind.”
The two protagonists are Jamil Monsour and Jacob Goodman. Proud of their religion and heritage, they have strong views surrounding the reasons for the divided state of the middle East and solutions for peace. Jamil grew up believing he was a Shiite, then learns he was actually born a Sunni that had been adopted as a baby. Jacob grew up believing he was Jewish and was even serving in the IDF, only to learn that he was also adopted and had been born to an Arab/ Muslim family. The revaluation of their previously unknown identities comes as a shock to both young men, making them question their beliefs. This realization brings into question if someone is who they are born as, or who they are raised as. Through horrible loss and tragedy, hope is instilled in the end, as two women from opposing sides are brought together to fight for peace and an end to the senseless fighting and killings. Author Bruce Stein creates rich, believable and empathetic characters in his thought-provoking novel. I really enjoyed the thoughtful character development and the emotional journey the characters embark on.
Abraham’s Tears will appeal to readers looking for an educational novel. This is a thought provoking story that provides readers with different viewpoints and reasons for the events that are happening in the Middle East. This book brought a humanistic aspect to the topic, making it feel close to home. Bruce Stein has created characters that are easy to identify with. Seeing the way this conflict affects everyone involved, no matter where they are living, was an eye-opening realization.
Pages: 185 | ASIN: B009368OLE
Posted in Book Reviews, Four Stars
Tags: Abraham's Tears, adoption, arab, author, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, Bruce Stein, conflict, ebook, goodreads, humanistic, jewish, kindle, kobo, literature, loss, middle east, muslim, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, religion, story, tragedy, writer, writing
Children of the Elements
Brenna and Adara are twins living in England that spend their days with tutors and fancy automated machines. When not working on their schooling they’re reading from the Grimoire. From the Grimoire they learn of the Elemental Gods and pretend they were them. It wasn’t until they moved to Massachusetts that they began to realize they were different. On their first day of school they meet twin boys, Dimitri and Wyndham that share their same last name, Devins, as well as strange white streaks of hair. From there they realize they all have over-sized pets, a toad, lizard, owl and rat that just found the children and attached themselves to them. Slowly as they get to know each other they develop strange powers, telepathy, the ability to control elements, and the mysterious Grimoire that each has a part of starts morphing before their eyes. What does it all mean? How are they connected? Why are strange things happening to them? What happens when the stories they read as children suddenly start coming to life?
Children of the Elements by Ora Wanders, is set in a steampunk reality of the semi modern world. There are parts that remind me of early frontier times, the one room school house, the simple country life, but then she adds in the steampunk elements of automated machinery and clothing choices. It is a mix of modern and old and blends together in a fascinating way that makes sense to the story line. Each set of twins have similar backgrounds, only one parent, both moving from homes with lots of machinery to a simpler life and only bringing a few things with them, the Grimoire that seems incomplete to each set. When they meet, it is literally like puzzle pieces fitting together. The story is exceptionally well written and everything flows naturally and story elements occur organically. I could picture the characters clearly, the bickering and playing around that you expect from young adults comes out. I found it all relatable, even in the magical setting.
This was a book that I didn’t want to put down. The plot moves quickly, the character development is integrated with the plot, so you’re not weighed down with back stories and character development early on. All that information comes out as you meet the characters and see them interacting with their pets, teacher, and each other. They are typical teenagers with attitudes and short tempers, but you see them grow from the early pages to the end. Without giving away key elements, I can say that all four children are able to grow and see their potential while still retaining a child like wonder of the world. It has all the elements a reader of fantasy could want; magic, conflict, family drama, growth, and an open ending to continue the saga.
One of the most amazing things about this novel is the author. Ora Wanders is only ten years old! I could not believe this when I finished the novel and wanted to learn more about the author because I loved the book that much. I am looking forward to the second book in the series and much more from this amazing young lady.
Pages: 310 | ISBN: 1797718002
Posted in Book Reviews, Five Stars
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The False Prophet is set in a post apocalyptic America and follows Donald of Fisher, our unlikely hero, as he must confront an army raised to conquer the land. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting novel?
The question applies to the first novel, The Stonegate Sword as well as The False Prophet although it is not necessary to have read the first book in order to understand the second. The initial idea was to create a character with a world view similar to present-day America and place him in a society with very different values, such as Medieval Europe. I considered a time-travel approach, but then hit on the idea that in the future the world could enter a second Dark Age. So the main character, Donald of Fisher is a lore-man, steeped in the study of the past from an early age. Then circumstances forces him to take up a sword and take on the role of a warrior. The conflict between the evil figure in the west owes a bit to Tolkien and a bit to the prophecies of the last days in Biblical prophecy. I made no attempt to create the details associated with the Antichrist, except that if the imagery in Scriptures is taken literally, it sounds as if the final battles will be fought with antique weapons. I realize that this could be figurative language, but I decided to take it literally, and that implies, again, that a dark age lies in the future.
The story follows two characters, The False Prophet and Donald of Fisher, which I felt were two contrasting characters. What themes did you want to capture while creating your characters?
The story follows the archetypal “hero’s quest.” Don is the hero and must face adversity. The False Prophet is the anti-hero and he does not actually appear in the first novel, being only a rumor, a malignant force driving the forces of evil. In the second novel, he is revealed to be a ruthless despot of the kind with whom we are all familiar. The Prophet’s armies are the driving force behind much of the conflict that Don must face and overcome, though human frailties (his own and those of his companions) are other obstacles in his path.
There were many biblical undertones throughout the novel. Where do you feel you paralleled the Bible and where did you blaze your own path? And how did that help you create an engaging story?
The story of the novel does have some similarities to the Bible in that the Israelites were often raided by their enemies and the kind of weapons were similar. The military tactics I describe are probably not similar to those used in Bible days, although some of the principles are timeless. The use of walled cities reminds one of the Bible and also Medieval Europe. The political situation in the free cities east of the mountains reminds me of Israel during the time of the Judges, when there was no king, and “everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” The apostasy or falling away from the faith is prophesied in the Bible. The rediscovery of lost technology, for example, cannons, is a new path. The idea of a man of sin arising in the last days is found in the Bible.
The False Prophet is the second book in the Stonegate series. Where does book three take readers?
Book three will take place a generation later. The False Prophet was not destroyed, and the evil in the West rises again. It is up to the children of Don, Rachel, Carla and Howard to bring the saga to its final conclusion. Donald, now a middle-aged man, past his prime, attempts to mount an invasion of the West to overthrow the Prophet, but his attempts are met with disunity among his friends and overwhelming might of his foes. As to be expected, the victory depends on help from a totally unexpected quarter.
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This is the sequel to the award-winning Christian fantasy novel, The Stonegate Sword. All the major characters return, Donald, Rachel, Carla, and Philip.
Stonegate remains the key, and Donald returns to that great walled city and his beloved Rachel just as the hosts of enemy are also closing in. Part adventure, part love story, this epic saga covers the vast panorama of New Mexico deserts and Colorado Rockies in a possible future that looks very much like the medieval past. But duty, love, courage, and honor remain and are even more important than ever.
Posted in Interviews
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People, Cats, and Random Objects
Deity’s Soulmate follows a young goddess Gardenia as she sets out to create a better universe than the one mankind is in. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
The initial idea for the story actually didn’t blossom in book 1. I first started writing book 3 where Gardenia was banished by an evil sorcerer and a young man had to hunt down talismans to get her back so the war would end. After finishing half of book 3, I realized that my title- Gardenia’s Castle wasn’t of interest. Why should people care about her castle? Who is Gardenia? So the idea was born to show her beginning.
Deity’s Soulmate went through many drafts and two editions before I was satisfied with it. Characters have been added, conflicts had changed, and illustrations have helped transform the story into what it is now in the second edition.
Gardenia is a complex and deep character. How do you capture the thoughts and emotions of a goddess type character?
By making her human-like. I wanted Gardenia to be young, naive and it helped that I started working on her character in high school when I was young and naive, but only published it as a young adult. As I grew up so did my character. There was admittedly a long break where I didn’t think about her and so I was able to have a new outlook when I returned to her story.
It also helped that I wanted her to grow up along the way and meet characters that would complement her, mainly the dragons. I believe that the dragons were able to bring out her character the best.
This is a stellar second edition of Deity’s Soulmate. What were some things you wanted to change in this second edition?
Thanks to one of my editors, I realized that I needed to create more conflict. She told me to work on conflict for both of my published works so I thought for awhile on how to do that with Deity’s Soulmate. The conflict with the Fates happens in book 2 which I couldn’t really bring out in book 1 so I added Hera and her daughter. I, honestly couldn’t believe that I didn’t have Hera in the first book and adding her had been a great addition.
I also wanted to make the romance more realistic by adding an infatuation for Gardenia. My mother always told me that first relationships always fail and that’s a good thing because one needs to have a first relationship in order to succeed in the relationships that’s for forever so I added a young man into the story for Gardenia to like and I believe that helped her complexity.
Those two additions helped the story line and added little bits and pieces all over the second edition to make it great.
What are some of you sources of inspiration as a writer?
People, cats, and random objects. The two people that really inspired me to keep going with their honest feedback were the two editors (Kali and Laura). They were never afraid to tell me that I lacked elements in my stories which is important for an author. They pushed me forward and I will always be thankful to them.
My cats are amazing. They tend to be around when I write and one look at one of them makes my heart soar. They help to calm the storm whenever I’m lacking in inspiration and push me forward.
I have a collection of dragon figurines and those helped bring the dragons alive in Deity’s Soulmate. My sister, the artist was able to take elements of different figurines to create Ri, the dragon on the cover. She was able to see the scales of artmanship and bring Ri to life.
Also, sometimes inspiration comes from just holding a regular notebook with a pen. When I was waiting for my sister to try on clothing at a store, I sat on a chair and tapped my pen on my notebook surfacing an idea for my current work in progress – Into the Flames.
Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website | Blog | Pinterest
A sheltered schoolchild in a realm of condescending gods and goddesses, Gardenia goes to Earth on a dare to witness the unsavory side of mankind for herself. Believing she can do better, she undertakes the formation of an entire galaxy, but without permission from Zeus.
Zeus disciplines her by assigning an epic 13-fold creational lesson destined to take her a century to complete. But he is taken aback once more when she makes an odd choice. She vows to fulfill this knowledge quest by tracking down a lost race of dragons, and discovering the secrets they’ve kept since time began.
Searching the universe to meet even one dragon may be a fool’s errand, but that’s the least of her worries. For ancient wartime resentments linger between the nations of dragons and deities, and some dragons would attack Gardenia on sight!
Yet she ventures out undaunted, learning unexpected things about nomadic life, tender love, and mortal peril along the way. The biggest surprise of all, though, goes by the name of Ri. Ri may be the man of her dreams, the voice in her head, the dragon she’s seeking, or all these things and more…
Meanwhile, the Fates brew sordid plans of their own and Hera jealously sets traps and trials for Gardenia at every chance. What’s a young goddess to do? Flight or fight?
Posted in Interviews
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Trust in Faith and Magic
The Status Update follows Christine, a grieving mother, as she is presented with the opportunity to travel back and make different decisions that could save lives. What was the inspiration for the heartfelt setup to this emotional novel?
I wanted to write a character dealing with hopelessness and heading down a path of destruction, but who transforms. To reap the benefits of the gift, she has to trust in faith and magic, and she becomes hopeful.
The Status Update is a genre-crossing novel combining elements of science fiction and suspense as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
I was pleasantly surprised by readers who found The Status Update suspenseful. I was going for thought-provoking and hoping the twist on the time travel genre would keep readers engaged.
I felt that Christine was an intriguing character. What were the driving ideals that drove the characters development throughout the story?
I wanted to illustrate inner conflict and struggle. To highlight the tension between the two Christines, I use both third person and first person to tell her story. This “mirror” account was also designed to provide that sense of deja vu often invoked in time travel stories.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
The Status Update is my first piece of fiction. A lawyer by day, I typically write about law. I am incorporating law into my next fiction book, but with a supernatural twist. The heroin is a criminal defense lawyer who works with her dead ex-husband (a police officer) to bring about justice.
Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter
“Still grieving decade old losses and feeling the weight of new losses, Christine felt like everything was slipping away from her – her home, her physical health, her family. Upon a freak Facebook encounter with her younger self, she’s presented with a second chance. Has Christine finally lost her mind? Or has she been gifted with a rare opportunity to change the course of her life? And if this gift is real, can Christine convince her younger self to believe her and to heed her warnings?
What about the butterfly effect? Will Christine’s modifications result in some universal impact? Should she try to stop tragedy for all involved or should she be more careful, and instead just focus on protecting her family?
A new twist on the time travel genre, The Status Update is the movie Frequency meets the movie The Lake House meets the digital age.
The setting is Lewiston-Auburn, Maine and the time period switches between 2015 and 2025.”
Posted in Interviews
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