Echoes of Light, by Jani Viswanath, is a compilation of poems and short stories with the common underlying theme of hope, compassion, and love for the world around us and the people in it. The book consists of five poems covering five major themes of death, mortality, uncertainty, nostalgia and love. Additionally, there are six short stories that are set across the world with a common thread of compassion and humanity that perfectly sets the tone of the book. The stories take us from pandemic struck Indonesia to the caste system of India, and each story manages to stir up deep emotions of humanity that make us feel for all the people that Viswanath talks about.
The short stories evoke deep emotions. Written beautifully and in sweet, simple language that is easy to consume, these short stories talk about ordinary lives and their struggles. In less than twenty pages, the author makes us feel for the characters, empathize with their struggles and bring the story to a satisfying conclusion about how they conquer them. A cherry on the cake is the individual brief introductions to the theme before every poem and short story and the epigraphy to the book, which help set the tone for the upcoming story or poem. These small things, this focus on details, provides an overall soothing literary experience for the reader. Everyone indeed will find something that they cherish in this book.
Echoes of Light is an impassioned book with wonderfully immersive stories and beautiful overarching themes. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for an uplifting read, which connects with their heart and soul and truly speaks to them. The poems touch upon the futility of human life and bring up a myriad of emotions, so the readers are in for a emotionally-charged journey of discovery.
Pages: 180 | ASIN: B097P8N83S
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Inside Isla by Liz Breen, is an impassioned tale following Isla, a suburban mother of two children who is living in a loving home as a writer. Inside Isla, as the title suggests, is a peek inside Isla’s life as she herself writes a novel about Gem Fallon, Isla’s fictional main character in the story she is writing. This emotionally charged women’s fiction story takes place in modern day London, where Isla is a busybody, navigating through the struggles of being a writer and a homemaker, raising children and keeping everything together at the same time.
This is a simple but poignant story of a writer experiencing the travails of life. While not filled with nail biting tension it is a delicately woven story that explores deeply emotional moments in life. The story slowly reveals Isla as a complex and stirring character that goes through an enthralling transformation.
At first glance, the pacing of the story is slow. Not only do we sit through Isla’s thoughts, her struggles with her kids, and a marriage that is falling apart, we also see the things, Isla’s main character Gem, is going through. Isla, our novelist, pours her soul into Gem. When she wants to escape her life, she sits and writes. Words flow through her fingers as Isla escapes into the world she has created. With her emotions, she breathes life into Gem. This methodical exploration of a writers life is compelling and provides a unique insight into a lifestyle few live.
My favorite parts of Inside Isla were when Isla would think about Gem, especially when she thinks about ending her own book and how she will have to part with her own characters, I love that, but I may be biased being a writer myself.
Inside Isla is an emotionally resonant book that invites readers into a personal story that feels authentic and meaningful.
Pages: 218 | ASIN: B091KVMGCJ
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Where I am Standing is a thoughtful collection of short stories that provide subtle but potent commentary on life. What inspired you to write this collection of stories?
The book is about a hometown which, little by little, witnesses ruins in all aspects there. It is a narrative of valuable spiritual and worldly lives that are gradually destroyed and turned into ashes. The name of the book “Where I am standing” illustrates the place a human is born and stands on his root, hometown. This can be interpreted as every human being’s life status encompassing all sorrows, joys, struggles and desires.
Did you write these stories specifically for this book or did you write these stories over time?
I have written the stories over time since each story was an inspiration through gradual degradation of human’s life around me.
My favorite story from the collection is ‘Human Being’. Do you have a favorite story from this book?
As you know generally it is almost impossible to choose one of them, but I can tell you some of them are different; Scarecrow-The Alley- Titanic, War, Lost, and My Shadow.
What are some themes you wanted to explore in this book?
The themes mostly deal with the human values which are about to vanish as well as all symbols of life in every individual’s life span.
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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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