Upon Broken Wings by E.L. Reedy and A. M. Wade is not a light read, but it is a read worth your time. This dark, cathartic story is a unique meld of many genres; coming of age, gay positivity, and family all interwoven with religious flavor, life after death, angels and demons. Reedy takes us on a journey through a small, overly conservative community all the way to Purgatory in a way that makes sense. If the story has any weak points it can all be forgiven by the enthralling premise of the novel.
The story follows several boys at the verge of of adulthood; Andrew, who suffers from Aspergers, and Keenan, a brave gay boy who is coming to terms with his identity. A series of unfortunate events will lead to a gruesome assault that will require all the strength of their family and friends, dead or alive, to help them resolve.
Upon Broken Wings avoids obvious descriptions of the worst that the characters have to go through but the indication is enough to leave me seething and demanding justice. Add to it is the slow burn of sadness, loneliness and isolation that the characters feel, all the misfortune and all the lost chances add up to a dark and emotionally heavy reading experience. Reedy takes us through mud so we could feel all the anguish that made his characters behave the way they do. So when he finally, mercifully, starts to get us into a somewhat better place we feel like we earned it.
His characters are the best part of the story. They feel like real people and their motivations seem genuine, even when they are no longer among the living. And that’s a tall order with all the elements or death, gay identity and angels in it.
I felt that the dialogue was disjointed and the characters, especially young Casey, sometimes feel like intentional Mary Sues. Casey, Keenan’s brother, is a boy wise beyond his years and can also see angels. We are never given a reason for this ability. It serves the story and paints an emotional picture but I felt that it lacks depth. Similarly, Andrew’s Asperger is important for the story but we never see how it affects him in his day to day life. We are told but we are not really shown the consequences of living on a spectrum. I think this would have helped flesh out the characters.
The angels give a distinct New Age vibe. Their shallow philosophy of forgiveness and understanding along with healing crystals and other cliches works well because angels should behave like that, which gives this coming-of-age and coming-out story interesting and unexpected religious undertones. Upon Broken Wings is not a perfect story. But it is an interesting and original endeavor in this day and age that is. A rare novel, certainly worth your time.
Pages: 199 | ASIN: B07BZXWNBJ
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I really like a good mystery. The Lethal Legacy by JL Phelan was just that. I was flipping through pages as fast as I could. That is always my highest praise. The book opens with the discovery of a death on a beach in Costa Rica in 1914. The dead woman is an heir to the Mariani Cacao Company. Her name is Briana Mariani Delaney.
The story then jumps to present day to the interactions between Dr. Samantha Delaney and Karina Mariani Ortiz. They are the current heirs to the Mariani fortune. They do not know each other, but that is about to change as they try to unravel the mysteries surrounding the Mariani family. What starts as a simple curiosity to know more about family history soon becomes something else altogether.
One of the main draws for this book is its varied setting. It goes back and forth between New York City, Philadelphia, Miami, Costa Rica, Geneva, Caracas, Colombia, Paris, and Bordeaux. I found the descriptions of these cities very evocative. The action also moves seamlessly between time periods from 1881 to the present. Because of the skill with which the author moves between time period and characters, the reader never gets a chance to be bored.
Briana is at the heart of the book. She marries John Delaney and has 4 children. Despite the fact that she is a woman in a time when women did not take charge, she ends up largely running the Mariani family empire. As the Mariani family goes through many trials, Briana manages to keep them mostly on track.
Somehow, along the way, the family loses the company. This is the mystery that Samantha and Karina end up trying to solve. Along with the help of Samantha’s husband, Brett, Karina’s husband, Martin, and Karina’s father, Richard, they all become immersed in trying to find out what really happened on that beach so long ago. Nothing is what it seems though. Adding to the intrigue, they find themselves being anonymously threatened as well. Cryptic notes telling them to quit digging are left for them. They find themselves facing very real dangers along the way.
The book is very well written. It flows in a smooth and logical fashion, especially for a book with so many different time periods and locations. The author does an amazing job of keeping it all lively and interesting.
The only negative thing about the book is that, very occasionally, some of the dialogue felt stilted. At times, it seemed a little too formal. That was very rare though. It was very good. Any negatives were far outweighed by the positives. The fact that I could not wait to turn the page to see what was going to happen made this book a very quick read.
The book is also the third book in a series. I had not read the first two before reading this one. Reading The Lethal Legacy had me quickly adding the first two books to my “to read” list. That said, the book reads well on its own and didn’t require reading the first two to enjoy the story.
Pages: 296 | ASIN: B07C2973M1
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In your book In Search of Truth: A Course in Spiritual Psychology you provide insight into death, the afterlife and the purpose of life itself using your knowledge. Why was this an important book for you to put together?
For close to a decade my column on religion, philosophy and culture has enjoyed tremendous success. Over the years my views have changed, a refection I believe, of my own growth and inner conflicts pertaining to life, God and spirituality. The book conveys this conflict and what I refer to as, the evolution of spirit. I selected some insightful articles that are sure to evoke strong reactions in support of, and against my beliefs. Scores of articles have been left out but I do feel that this work, despite its paradoxical tenor is systemized and thematic.
Given the growing spirit of individualism in the face of excesses by the so called religious, I think the book is very timely and in many ways, a product of the cultural zeitgeist.
This book was about faith, but wasn’t directed at any one faith, and I appreciated that. Was this intentional or is this where your understanding leads?
Spirituality, religion, faith in something bigger than self, or faith in one’s own strengths, are part of our constitution. It is important for us to recognize and respect the divers opinions out there. Uniformity of thought in any discipline or pursuit, is counterproductive and an enslavement of the human spirit. More than ever, with the revolution in communication, we have a unique opportunity to learn from each other.
This is a collection of selected writings. What was the process like in selecting and putting this book together?
Great question. I could have looked at readers’ response to articles when they were first published and selected those that were most popular. I guess the result would have been an anthology or compilation of best articles based on ostensible appeal. However, I featured the most thought-provoking writings, those that buck the trend and allow for critical thinking and introspection. This is where I am at in my evolution, and I wanted to share my inner turmoil as I wrestled with life’s mysteries. At the same time, I was able to convey moments of self-assurance and the joy of self-discovery.
What do you hope readers take away from this book?
The book raises soul searching questions on so many subjects that we have grappled with since the dawn of time. What is truth? Is there an afterlife? Is suicide ever justified? Is reincarnation possible? Are there limits to human potential? I also delved into transpersonal psychology and consciousness studies…and of course, eastern spirituality. This is an eclectic offering that will definitely stir debate.
In Search of Truth: A Course in Spiritual Psychology by Glenville Ashby is an anthology of the author’s work. Ashby is a scholar in Philosophy and New Age Thought who first became involved in finding answers to the mysteries of spiritual life when his mother passed away in 1980. The culmination of his search resulted in a collection of writings with the latest, In Search of Truth, being something of a magnum opus that spans from 2003 – 2018. Ashby offers insight into a host of common questions from enlightenment and reincarnation to suicide and the hour of death, covering a plethora of topics in between, from the evil eye, to the third eye, to keeping an eye on the spiritual world (including a section on Ouija boards).
This is a fascinating collection offering something different than your usual books on spiritual psychology. It is fully accessible for those who may want to refer to it time and time again for spiritual guidance. If you are looking for an intellectual and stimulating read, with an openness to many different outcomes, look no further than In Search of Truth.
Posted in Interviews
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Wyndwrayth finds Nick living in an old farmhouse overlooking a mysterious island in Wales where he becomes intrigued by its ancient and deserted mansion. What served as your inspiration whilst writing this book?
Once, when travelling, I came across this deserted, majestic old mansion house. It looked ancient, decrepit, left mouldering to sink into the landscape. It was in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by overgrown trees and shrubs. It had lichens and green moulds staining its walls, ivy had invaded its broken windows which seemed to stare at me menacingly. The house had a presence, a brooding, ominous spirit that looked like it could swallow you whole. I remember thinking that it must have many stories to tell.
Having moved myself from Manchester to Wales the landscape here was also a big influence. The ancient monuments, the Norse connection and the lakes close, by inspired my research and my story grew from those influences. The Celtic connection to water and their mythology along with the Norse mythology also wove their way into my consciousness, combining with the memory of the intriguing mansion and Wyndwrayth was born.
Nick Swann is an intriguing character that I felt gained layers as the story progressed. What were some themes you wanted to capture while creating his character?
I wanted to create a male character who is childless, approaching and becoming middle aged. I wanted to explore how he became stuck in a time gone by because of the death of his wife and how he falls back on those times when he’s in trouble. The character has a deep loneliness, which creates a certain unhealthy introspection and self medication. In addition, I wanted to explore the usual problems of middle age; ill health and death of parents, changing of roles from son to carer and changing of profession. A lot of his character is established during the first book, Powderfinger, which creates his move to Wales. Nick knows he needs to shed the past and move on, to evolve. He is looking for a new place to be, a new profession, a new life. The unexpected appearance of Wendy Finch becomes an exciting turning point and I’m looking forward to seeing the long term effects it has upon him in the stories to come.
This is the second story in the Nick Swann Series. Where did you want to take this book that was different from book one?
In Powderfinger Nick is a probation officer who almost accidentally becomes embroiled in historical research into strange occurrences, which lead him unexpectedly into the world of the supernatural. His degree in History suddenly becomes of use to him and it reawakens his passion for discovery. It lifts him from his boring, hermit-like, everyday existence, bringing excitement, a sense of accomplishment and a possibility of a different future. It is this that I wanted to explore in Wyndwrayth. Here he moves from living in the past to exploring it. I wanted to establish him in this story as a professional researcher and investigator of both historical and supernatural events.
In addition I wanted to move his character forward, to becoming more pro-active in the story and to create a new partnership with Wendy Finch, to lift him from his lonely existence.
What is the next book you are working on and when will it be available?
My next Nick Swann story has the working title of Shacklady Rest and is presently in its first draft. It will team Nick and Wendy together in another dark and mysterious adventure, set in the brooding mountains of Snowdonia. I anticipate it will be ready to publish sometime next year.
This is the second horror novel in the Nick Swann series. This scary story finds Nick now living in an old stone farmhouse on the lonely and mysterious shores of Llyn Isaf, in Wales. He becomes intrigued by its mist-covered lake island, Ynys Y Niwl and its dark, ancient and long deserted mansion, Wyndwrayth.
Its moldering edifice holds many secrets and treasures, some of which draw Nick and his old friend Alan, into dangerous realms. Death stalks the island and as the dangerous spectral figures of The Millar of Souls, The Paladin and Gideon reveal themselves, it becomes increasingly difficult to discern between reality and dreams.
As the death toll rises, Nick finds himself, along with his new partner, Wendy and her Wolf, Mir embroiled in a struggle not just to maintain sanity but to stay alive.
Posted in Interviews
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In Eternal Bloodlines by J.C. Brennan, Amanda Rain Holston is a young woman living a very boring life. Her parents have been dead for five years and lives completely alone. She works as a waitress and finds it hard to even get up in the morning because of her tedious existence. A point that is captured perfectly by the picture frames she has with stock images of people in them. The one thing she does that she actually enjoys is going on long walks. It is on one of these walks that she discovers a ghastly sight: a dead body in the snow. This discovery changes everything and Amanda’s life will never be the same.
The book is set in Skidway, Michigan. Amanda has spent her life in the town and expects to grow old and die there, probably from boredom. She longs to escape the confines of the small town. The only good thing she has there is her best friend, Jessica.
The paranormal plot of this book has promise. It starts as a standard tale of a fantasy come true but with some quirky additions that turn this piece into a unique supernatural thriller. It definitely gets interesting when Amanda meets Mihnea. They bond immediately and their love story is sweet. The story loses me a bit with the attempts at making the dialogue fit a different time. It does not always work, and sometimes seems stilted, but it’s saved by the intriguing relationship that develops between Amanda and Mihnea.
I really enjoyed this book, but I found that there were some editing mistakes, to the point where I was a bit distracted; having to go back and reread some sections to make sure I understood them correctly. The book did pick up toward the end. The story became so interesting that I was able to overlook the mistakes a bit more easily. In my opinion, all the book needs is a good editor and I’ll be begging for more. I wanted so badly to focus on the unique and suspenseful story, because under the typos is a fresh take on the vampire genre, one that puts its methodically developed characters into a deadly and captivating world.
Pages: 177 | ASIN: B075G1GK4F
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Bound by a dark act of hate and despair, high school freshmen, Andrew and Kiernan, learn that their untimely deaths did not bring an end to their pain, but only began the suffering of those left behind. While his lost memories return, Andrew must master seemingly impossible feats, both spiritual and physical.
As a dark spirit stalks Kiernan through the borderlands of life and death, he must also face the pain his actions have caused his loved ones. To save both their souls, Andrew must convince Kiernan to return to life and open his eyes to the love and beauty which had always been there.
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Returning Souls begins when 67 year old Evie is on the edge of death and her soul is sent through multiple lives. What was the inspiration for a such a dramatic setup to your novel?
I wanted bring the reader into the realm of ‘pre-incarnation’ from the start of the book. I felt it was important to begin with the emotional impact of Evie’s event in her kitchen. This beginning was also a way to move straight into her personality and way of thinking in order to introduce her and immediately engaging the reader.
When writing this book, did you conduct research into reincarnation or an after life?
In preparation for writing about near death experience I read many books about the phenomenon, as well books about children who seem to have memories of a previous life from a very early age. These experiences are more prevalent in countries where reincarnation is an accepted idea, such as India or other eastern countries, or even South American countries. In these countries, people are more receptive to listening to children talking about being another person, having another mother and father, or about memories of other places and people. They are more apt to believe and actually research things children say about places and people, rather than thinking it’s just their imagination. I began study with a shaman about a year before starting to write Returning Souls. I did not study after life, but have always believed that anything is possible.
Did you want Evie and Astara’s characters to compliment one another or did you want them to be completely different?
I wanted Astara to be a very different person. As it turned out, I believe Astara is Evie’s alter-ego, someone she might like to have been growing up, someone who had more confidence in who she is and what is right for her. In this way I feel they compliment each other, while also contrasting in so many ways.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am currently working on a sequel to Returning Souls; I’m not sure of the title yet, still working on some ideas. The sequel takes place entirely in the prehistoric era, and expands on the lineage of the characters introduced in Returning Souls. I hope to have it available by end of 2018.
Evie D’Arico is just like any other 67-year-old retiree until a sudden stroke puts her life in jeopardy, and catapults her soul through multiple lifetimes. After drifting through a space where time has no meaning, Evie awakens to find herself in the body and mind of someone else. She realizes she is experiencing her soul’s past life on Earth as Astara, a young girl who lived during the Mesolithic Era of human prehistory.
Evie soon melds into Astara, who has just experienced the Girl’s Coming of Age rite, a ritual of the Golden Fish tribe. On her quest, Astara saw herself as a Three Face – a powerful combination of male, female and animal elements – making her a potential spirit leader. But the Holy One of the Golden Fish tribe does not want to acknowledge another seer within his realm, especially a defiant young female Three Face. Astara is given a choice either to live as an unremarkable woman of the tribe, or to leave her home and family on an unprecedented journey into unknown territory, and establish her own following as a Three Face.
Through living a few crucial days as Astara, Evie comes away with new self-knowledge and an appreciation for the courage of the young girl she was in a past life.
She still has unanswered questions about the meaning of her current lifetime. Her soul relives Evie’s life, recalling the impact of her sister Liliana, and reliving her upbringing during the 1950s and 1960s. She meets trusted Guardians along the way who help her recognize the end results of her own actions. As the disjointed revelations of her soul’s journey come together the puzzle of her life takes on new meaning, and she is faced with the possibilities of her own future.
Evie realizes she must decide who she really wants to be. Only she can choose the next stage of her soul’s epic journey through lifetimes.
What will she choose? Who will she be?
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In Search of Truth: A Course in Spiritual Psychology, by Glenville Ashby is a book of selected writings ranging from 2013 to 2018 which seeks to answer those questions that many of us struggle to comprehend. From death and the afterlife to the purpose of life itself, Glenville attempts to develop an insight into such matter using his knowledge. His hunger for awareness coupled with his Ph.D. skill set, make this an intelligent but thought-provoking read which is guaranteed to get the reader not just thinking but, hopefully, starting a conversation and sharing their thoughts on both Glenville’s writing and the subject at hand.
Admittedly, I was initially hesitant about reading this book just because I thought that Glenville was going to, like many others writing on such subjects, ignore those atheists and agnostics amongst us, myself included.
I respect all faiths and believe we are all entitled to develop our own concepts and ideas when it comes to the subject of spirituality. However, from reading similar books like this, atheists and agnostics are almost never included or referred to. Because of this, I tend to avoid such writing.
So, I could not have been happier when Glenville stated in his preface that he believed that all peoples views were equally important, regardless of their beliefs, or lack of.
I thoroughly recommend starting with Love is The Only True Religion. This collection can be referenced and dipped into as the reader deems it necessary, but this one is a tremendous eye-opening piece that should be read by everyone!
Glenville’s drive, passion, and dedication to his subjects allow him to objectively search for what lies behind the choices we make, the way we behave and how we approach such matters.
Each piece of writing is thought-provoking and comes at the subject from a neutral angle. Even though Glenville knows that some readers will not initially agree with his words, he works at posing a what if stance.
The book needs to be read with an open mind because that is precisely how I feel that Glenville has approached it. However, sadly I think this may be harder for some to do than others. Glenville has undoubtedly tackled those somewhat taboo subjects that many prefer to stay away from, with suicide, death and crucifixion controversy amongst them.
However, how Glenville takes on and expands on these subjects is commendable, and this is one of the reasons why I would urge for those uncomfortable about such books to read just one piece themselves before passing any such judgment. I can guarantee most will be pleasantly surprised.
This is a fascinating collection offering something different than your usual books on spiritual psychology. Fully accessible for those who may want to refer to it time and time again for spiritual guidance, if you are looking for an intellectual and stimulating read, with an openness to many different outcomes, then I can’t recommend In Search of Truth enough.
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No one has seen God’s library–or have they? According to Paul Tomenko, actress Katharine Ross is hanging out there. When he is chosen by God to visit his heavenly library and, in essence, save humankind, Paul obliges. Following his brush with death as a result of a car accident, Paul is matched by fate with the woman who almost killed him thus changing the entire course of his life. Author Alan Felyk’s Damaged Beyond All Recognition details the exceptional journey of Paul, the two true loves of his life, and their combined impact upon the universe.
Paul Tomenko is a truly fascinating character. From the trials and tribulations of his youth to his eventual discovery of his love for Maggie Mae and his work for the Creator himself, Paul is strangely relatable. I found myself cheering him on as his writing career reached extraordinary heights and grieving with him through his numerous losses.
Allie, Paul’s second first love as it were, is likely my favorite of the three main characters in Felyk’s work. It is virtually impossible to imagine a young woman so innocent and simultaneously capable of unknowingly holding the answers to the world’s most pressing dilemma. As Allie begins her writing career in earnest and essentially outwrites and outsells Paul, she maintains her selflessness and an unwavering loyalty to Paul. Her devotion to a man she isn’t sure she will ever have is stunning.
Not being a fan of science fiction, I fully expected to lose interest in the most detailed sections of text. Felyk, however, is a master at communicating the most intricate and advanced concepts. I found myself as engrossed in Paul’s visits to God’s library as I was in his relationship with Maggie Mae which he fought so hard to maintain through decades of trials.
I was rather amazed at Felyk’s take on God. The Creator is ultimately dependent upon others, and this mystified me as I read. The notion that Paul is able to help God was a difficult one to get used to. Once I let the idea settle in, I became increasingly fascinated with God’s helplessness. Felyk brings a certain level of vulnerability to God–something virtually unheard of in books addressing Christianity in any sense.
The overarching plot line that kept me coming back for more revolves around Paul and Maggie Mae. To say that readers will envy their dedication to one another is a huge understatement. As years and miles separate them, they do not waver in their loyalty to one another. Felyk proves he is adept at fantasy and equally as skilled at writing heartbreaking romance.
I am giving Damaged Beyond All Recognition 5 out of 5 stars. I can’t imagine readers will find anything lacking in Felyk’s work. His characters have it all: humor, an undying loyalty in each other, a drive to save the world, and an appreciation for all things science. Paul, Maggie Mae, and Allie can hold their own against any characters in recent books of the same genre.
Pages: 367 | ASIN: B077VJGJCD
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Redemption details the rise and fall of a line of vampires dominating Clarke’s Summit, which is home to a plague dating back to the 1700’s. What attracts you to vampire fiction?
I grew up watching a lot of horror and sci-fi, although it was some time before I got into reading any of the literature. I think the first thing that attracted me to vampire fiction was the story potential in their great longevity, the fact that they are virtually immortal. Another compelling aspect of vampire fiction is the fundamental struggle they represent between light and darkness, good and evil, and how people can be seduced by their desire for power, immortality, and even sexual desire.
In one scene in Redemption, the vampire Lydia illustrates this for us in how she tempts Mike Gaston with the fact that she has remained beautiful and unaffected by age or disease in over two hundred years. I think this is one reason why the vampire genre has grown “softer” in recent decades, with television shows like Forever Knight and films like the Twilight Series: A lot of people want what vampires have – power, beauty, immortality – and they’re doing their best to try and capture these elements while skirting the darker side of the legend. This is a major factor in why I wrote the Descendent Darkness series as I did. To phrase it biblically, vampirism is “a covenant with death and an agreement with hell.” I wanted to return to the core of the legend: vampires as the living dead, seduced by an inhuman darkness that is at war with the light.
Lydia, an ancient vampire is seeking vengeance on the three remaining members of the town’s founders. I found her character to be well developed. What was your inspiration for her character?
First off, I went with a female because females are traditionally the victims in vampire literature, and I thought it would be interesting to depict one as a master for a change. Frankly, I’m surprised that it hasn’t been done more often.
As to her character, I drew it from the description Richard Gaston provides of her in Redemption, as one who has turned her back on the light and the image of God. She’s not a victim; she actually chose to be what she is. She is the embodiment of deliberate, calculating evil, a force that feeds on the living world like a parasite. Mike Gaston describes her eyes as “thin ice over deep water,” and this is also illustrative of her character. Her human facade is just that; underneath it all, she’s a true monster, and was even before she became one of the living dead.
This is book three in the Descendant Darkness series. What were some new things you wanted to introduce into your series in this book, and what were some thing you felt had to stay the same?
The original title of this book was End Game, and that sums up the approach I took with it. The first book set the stage and lined up the pieces. The second book set them into motion. The third book is all-out war, a fight to the death. With this one, I had to bring all of the various elements I had established together, intersect all of the characters and plotlines, and resolve the whole mess in a believable fashion. That was the main thing that had to change: I couldn’t run independent subplots anymore. Everything had to mesh.
As for what needed to stay the same, well, the best stories are character-driven, and it was my primary task to ensure that established characters continued to be the people readers had come to know, even though they found themselves in new situations.
Will there be a book 4 in the Descendent Darkness series? If so, what would that story be about and when would it be available?
No, the book series is complete. I’ve told the story I wanted to tell and don’t have anything else to add, although I will miss Mike and Holly. It’s amazing how characters tend to grow on you through the writing process. I originally conceived of the series with a truly dark ending, but as the story developed I found that I couldn’t let it go that way. The characters themselves ended up driving the plot.
“Now boast to me again, old man. Tell me what strength there is in you to contend with me.”
After twenty-one years, that which the men of Clarke’s Summit feared most has been realized. The evil they prayed would stay buried for eternity has risen, intent on destroying those who imprisoned it and drawing their loved ones into darkness.
In the war between good and evil, victory can be had only at the price of blood. Now as Mike and Richard Gaston race against the coming night, and those they care for most fall around them, they must prepare to offer the most precious blood of all on the altar of their family’s redemption.
Posted in Interviews
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