Tales about animals, their ways of living, and their characters are always fascinating to me. In the book FoxHide: From HillCountry Farm, John C. Hill writes about a group of foxes and how they live. He narrates their adventures, the challenges they go through and the love they have for each other. One can almost visualize the foxes in their habitat when the author writes about them. I like that the author made the animals adapt some human characteristics. By doing this, he gets the reader to reflect on some traits human beings have and how they affect those that they live with.
This is an impassioned and thought-provoking work of literary fiction. The story is engaging and easy to follow and, rarely if ever do I mention the wording of a novel but, the diction here is excellent. FoxHide: From HillCountry Farm is the kind of book you would read and share with others as the stories are not only engaging, but also fun and funny. John C. Hill’s is accessible, I think, to different groups of readers; avid readers will appreciate the captivating narration, young readers will surely be enthralled with the animals, and literature enthusiasts will appreciate the subtle but profound depth of this book.
There are several themes and lessons that are explored in fascinating ways throughout the book. Major themes include family love, loyalty, dealing with foes, working hard, the power in unity and choosing one’s battles. Lessons on being the best version of yourself, honesty and being mindful of what you do are also displayed in the book in fresh ways.
FoxHide: From HillCountry Farm is a short read that could easily be completed in one sitting, but is nonetheless entertaining. FoxHide: From HillCountry Farm introduces readers to some compelling animal characters that find themselves in some humorous situations on a farm that any reader will enjoy.
Pages: 99 | ASIN: B08WCGTC98
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Jaime knows exactly how fortunate he is to be part of his adoptive family. His past is riddled with trauma and hardships, but he has managed to persevere and grow close to a whole new group of people he considers his true family. He spent his childhood and good portion of his adult life feeling unwanted and unloved. No matter what happens, he knows that his new family supports him and will be beside him every step of the way even if that means watching him delve into his past. Jaime knows that this is one journey he will not need to endure alone.
Night Air Descending: Book II from the Trilogy – The Life and Stories of Jaime Cruz, by T.P. Graf, continues following the life story of main character, Jaime Cruz. A reunion with his sister has been in the making for a while, and in this second installment, it becomes a reality. When Jaime contacts Zoey, he doesn’t expect to hear from her much less make a lasting connection. Above all else, he never expects to hear about her life-changing diagnosis.
Graf has a unique way of making Jaime’s stories feel palpable for the reader. I always feel that I am side-by-side with Jaime, watching his life unfold. There is a different feel to Graf’s first-person narrative style, and I have to say I enjoy it immensely. It’s comfortable and laidback which makes for an easy and smooth read. Graf’s characters each have wonderful quirks and offer readers relatable little nuances at every turn. Jaime never disappoints. The way in which he handles each crisis in his life is admirable and makes for an engaging storyline. The dynamic that exists between Jaime and his adoptive family is a loving one, and the one between him and his sister is genuine and touching.
The backdrop of the ranch and life out west is a perfect setting for Jaime’s story. Graf’s descriptions are not overdone and blend perfectly with his characters’ personalities. I cannot see Jaime’s storylines working in any other setting. The idea that he has gained a new lease on life meshes effortlessly with life in the west–beautiful, untouched horizons and land that remains protected from change. It’s the ideal fit for Jaime.
Jaime’s story, simply put, makes me happy. For all the hardships he has endured, his outlook is positive and his temperament remains even and patient through the changing circumstances. He is a sweet spirit I have truly enjoyed getting to know in Graf’s series.
Pages: 222 | ASIN: B08R7PZ2FG
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Rogue Moon Dreamer by Rayo Scala is a thrilling drama set in the late sixties and upt to modern times, carefully showcasing the progression of the life of young Ryker. 1960, a young boy is terrorized by nightmares foreshadowing an inevitable gloom. Ryker is an enthusiastic and defiant young seditious boy intended to be a conscious reformist but is somehow crushed by the cruel world; he is too disappointed in humanity and humans and convinced of their doom. Living a lonely life, will he be able to find peace, or is something else waiting for him? Is this world going to change for the worse?
The book is a captivating tale of the strong connection between humans, nature, and animals. Ryker is not a typical hero but finds his way into your heart with his ruthlessness and resilience. Ryker’s character grows on you and his journey becomes your own. His character arch is well developed, he is a radical, uptight young man who secretly grows weed, in the beginning but he evolves throughout the book, in truly riveting fashion, and becomes a compelling character at the end of this thought-provoking novel.
The books narration is observant and provides thoughtful commentary on humanity and society and its impending doom that is too scary but realistic. The carelessness of humans and their lack of foresight always draw in trouble. The book is fiction and doesn’t answer questions directly but shakes your beliefs instead, and makes you question recent developments, which have sadly taken a destructive path. This astute assertion is harsh at times but correctly points to self-sabotage and instant gratification of people.
While I found the prose easy to understand and engaging, I felt that the story could get a little didactic at times, but no less intellectually invigorating. The colorful moralizing punctuating this stirring book is intriguing, but I would have liked to have been shown ideas through the narrative rather than directly told.
Rogue Moon Dreamer is an enjoyable and suspenseful and provocative read. The idea behind the book is endearing and contemporary, it’s what we all need to hear in today’s times.
Pages: 308 | ASIN: B07DZMS2ZY
Seeds in the Desert Wind is the final book in the trilogy of The Life and Stories of Jaime Cruz. Did Jamie’s story end the way you had imagined when you first started writing the trilogy or did it change while writing?
As I wrote chapter one of “Tumbleweed and Dreams” (book one), I knew that Jaime would by logical extension of the region have interactions with the ranching community. I had no notion that he would be taken in by the ranching family that “adopts” him. In fact, I recall early in the book after the Cardona’s explain who the rancher is that Jaime sees in the grocery store, Jaime writes that little did he know how intertwined their lives would become. When I wrote those words, the author also had no idea how the lives would be intertwined. Somehow, I just knew they would.
It wasn’t until near the end of book one that I knew I wanted to keep the story going—that there was much more to tell.
What were some things you learned as a writer after completing this trilogy?
I learned just how hard it is to work with a dialogue heavy story and keep it from being tedious as you work to keep track of who is speaking to whom. While I could have let Jaime tell more of the story, I felt to do so only robbed the characters of what made them endearing to me (and I hope my readers).
If you had to cast characters for a movie version of your novel, who would play the leads?
None come to mind though I can see Jane Lynch (coach on Glee) making a pretty convincing Sallie. I would hope for a very strong casting director who really “got” the book to find relative unknowns well-suited to the peculiarities of each character. Particularly, in the case of Sallie, Billy and Ernesto, the match of physique and personality is integral to defining their character as well as the musical talents needed for Jaime, Billy and Ernesto.
Do you have plans to continue this story in a different book or will you start a new book?
If I write more based on these characters, I’d like to do so from the perspective of Sallie’s memoirs where she takes us back to the early days of the ranch and how her parents shaped her life as well as bring the readers along up to the present.
If I live long enough, I’d love pick up the story with Noah as the narrator and lead us through his grandparents and great aunt’s death as well as putting up with the two old men, Billy and Jaime, that share the ranch life with him.
Regarding possible other works in other locales, I shall have to wait and see if inspiration comes.
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Jaime is one of several folks on the ranch who work hard, plan meticulously, share a common faith, and love those around them fiercely. He leads a full life and is part of a strong, close-knit family. Faith is a huge part of their lives, and that faith is put to quite the test when college-aged Quinn returns home to live with her father bearing news that may bring a significant change to the plans they already have in motion.
Seeds in the Desert Wind: The Life and Stories of Jaime Cruz, Book III, by T.P. Graf, is the third in a series chronicling the life of main character and narrator, Jaime. His life on the ranch is laidback, eventful on an average scale, and steeped in faith. The cast of characters surrounding Jaime are actually much more well-drawn and easy to visualize than Jaime himself. He serves as the reader’s window to life on the ranch and the guide throughout the experiences that shape the family’s dynamic.
Graf tackles some highly relatable topics in this third book in the series. The controversy surrounding Quinn and her pregnancy news is timely and will, no doubt, resonate with readers. Quinn is welcomed into the fold and, even though she faces questions and side-eye from many, she finds her place and is surrounded by love and protection from those on the ranch, no matter their initial reactions. The theme of unconditional love is prevalent in Graf’s work even if it is peppered by hints of tough love.
I am intrigued by Jaime. We hear so much about the lives of the other characters and so little about Jaime’s. It truly is as if we are watching him live his life and seeing everyone else through his eyes. The reader hears very little introspection from Jaime but can see the results of his thoughts and actions in the events as they play out. It is a truly interesting way to position a narrator in a realistic fiction story that gives off the feeling of a biography.
I love the backdrop of the ranch and the tight knit group of characters. Every quirk, every nuance, and each daily challenge make this story relatable and enjoyable. Jaime is a fascinating narrator. I highly recommend Seeds in the Desert Wind: The Life and Stories of Jaime Cruz, Book III, by T.P. Graf, to anyone looking for a book that wraps around you like your favorite blanket and touches your heart in a unique way.
Pages: 223 | ASIN: B08T9X2V7Q
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Robinson, IL is a collection of very short stories by Dennis Milam Bensie that explore life on the path less traveled. Classified as flash fiction, the stories are only a few pages long, but still manage to imbue enough emotion to be powerful and thought provoking, a fact which speaks of the talent the author possesses. Most of the stories focus on the LGBTQ community and the difficulties that come with it, both externally and internally. The tone of each one varies as much as the subject matter and ranges from somber, to flippant, to absolutely wild, and everything in between. There are even a few that have an almost science fiction feel to them. Overall, the author’s ability to convey so much in so few words is remarkable, as the more serious of his stories really make you feel the self doubt and angst that is a part of growing up and accepting who you are. The less serious ones are no less interesting and will leave you definitely wanting more of the world he’s created. And what would a book be without a touch of humor? There are unexpected laughs sprinkled throughout and when they do happen, they come naturally, again showcasing how easy the author conveys everyday slices of life.
The LGBTQ themes are explored from multiple perspectives in the collection. In one, it’s a son looking for assisted living placement for his gay father. In another, parents are trying to help pay for their child’s gender reassignment surgery. Often, the tales are told in the first person by someone within the community, sometimes happily, sometimes at odds with themselves. The variety of voices and perspectives add depth to the very human emotion and dilemmas that are presented.
While it’d be easy to say I wish the stories were longer, I really believe that their length is a huge part of their strength. The bite sized portions of humanity move quickly, but stay with you long after their few pages are done and leave you imagining so much about the characters. Robinson, IL is a stirring and well crafted collection of fictional short stories that find strength in their brevity while still delivering thought provoking commentary on life.
Pages: 123 | ASIN: B08ZCZVKSF
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Sin Eater by Amanda Denham is a riveting dark urban fantasy novel that explores of identity, memory, and facing your past. The story follows Jayde Holloway, a young woman with an incredible but troublesome gift. She has returned to her small hometown in the southern states for a specific purpose – to make someone forget. She is forced to spend her life hiding behind disguises, but in an unguarded moment she meets a duo who cause her to question her calling, and she finds herself longing to escape, what seems to be, her inevitable destiny.
The opening language is carefully chosen; at this point you don’t know who is telling the story. The flashbacks quickly build suspense, and without knowing what was so catastrophic or why, you are instantly intrigued.
What I really enjoyed about this novel was the unique tone that is effortlessly conjured; I got a bit of a dystopian world vibe with vaguely foreboding overtones and a sense of adventure underlying all of it. Jayde’s relationship with her work handler, Jak, is defined by a claustrophobic sense of manipulation, as when she seeks his permission to visit her former home. At all times, you feel eyes following her.
I do wonder why, if Jayde is required to be anonymous and forgettable, her costumes are so outlandish. If that’s an intentional contradiction, then that relationship could be more clearly articulated. In either case, it was something I looked forward to.
Sin Eater has one of the most compelling lead characters I’ve read this year. The idea behind the story felt original, with some insightful moments and vivid imagery.
The ending left me feeling a combination of hopeful and doubtful. Hopeful that Jayde will overcome what or who controls her, and doubtful that it could be possible. It’s so very nearly an excellent conclusion to what was an imaginative paranormal adventure.
Sin Eater was superbly original, with a well-articulated tone that I relished, and a thick atmosphere that one will only find in top shelf fantasy.
Pages: 220 | ASIN: B08WKS8XJ6
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HEAVENLY follows a man who is given a second chance at life after he dies and comes back as another man. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
I based the premise on an idea which begs this question: If you were to die unexpectedly, would you feel that you lived a satisfying life? I think people are pursuing their financial goals and personal goals every day but rarely do they stop and take the risks necessary to live a truly fulfilling life. Some of those risks include reaching out to other people. Without other people, it is not possible to live a full life. That is in my opinion, of course. It’s human connections and interactions that make this life worth living. We may not get a second chance like Peter does in the book so we better be prepared just in case we have to answer to a higher power about the lives we’ve lived here on Earth.
This is the ninth book that you’ve written. What were some things you’ve learned as an author that you’ve used in this book?
I learned that not everybody will relate in the same way to every single book I write but I also discovered that every book is unique. HEAVENLY says everything I ever wanted to say about life and the possibilities that await us when we die. I have no regrets about writing it nor do I have regrets about any book I’ve written. Each book I wrote had a purpose and a story to tell. Whether or not everyone relates to that story is another topic altogether. I hope other people can get something positive from the books as well. If they don’t, I can’t make any apologies. Everybody is different and I’ve learned to understand this fact.
Your characters, as usual, feel authentic. Were you able to relate to your characters while writing them?
Of course, I felt a connection to the characters in HEAVENLY, almost more so than in any other book I’ve written. I feel the characters I write so deeply and hope others can see that the central characters I write are full of passions and dreams. I want my books to have relatable characters first and foremost. That is the goal I strive for in each and every book. I see myself in both John and Peter in this particular novel.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am working on a film criticism book. I also do movie criticism on the side and I’m writing a book called “100 Movies I Love” which details my analysis of 100 movies I absolutely adore. It should be out by the end of the year. Movie fans, take note. Some classics and some modern day classics are discussed in great detail!
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