The Golden Cage is an inspirational book that shares your life experiences to help people break out of their personal cages. Why was this an important book for you to write?
This book was really important for me to write because I want to change the world for the better. I want to motivate and inspire others to really go for their hearts’ dreams instead of settling in their lives. I know that the world would be a more joyful and compassionate place if we were all following our hearts.
You use the golden cage metaphor throughout the book. How did this idea start and develop while writing?
I had a vision of the cage when I thought about writing the book. I really did not fully understand what it meant. When I started writing it, the entire meaning unfolded. I wrote 35,000 words of the book in two days. It was a download more than anything else.
I found this book to be uplifting. What do you hope readers take away from this book?
I would like my readers to know that they have the ability to escape their Golden Cages, and that they can do this by following some of the steps I outlined. I want them to know that they do not have to settle, but can really go for what they want and deserve in their lives.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m working on a book about pushing your edges and allowing fear to guide you into the unknown in a healthy way. It should be completed by the Fall.
Discover how to break free of life’s cages and follow your heart’s calling. Do you feel trapped in a relationship or career, going through the motions of life with little excitement or passion? Are you spending time dreaming about doing something different with your life? If this sounds like you, you may be living in a Golden Cage that brings you some measure of comfort and security, yet it does not fulfill your heart’s desires. The Golden Cage is a spiritual self-help book that will help you gain the necessary courage and skills to break free of life’s Cages and lead an empowered life in alignment with your heart’s true longing.
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Sam Blades is not your ordinary twenty-something. He has a girlfriend whose abuse he relishes, a job with company whose name could and should be attributed to that of a lingerie label, and an almost absurd fixation with The Matrix. Sam is, on the other hand, a curiosity to more than one person of interest. His job with Shimmering Dreams has made him a target, and poor Sam is none the wiser. Shimmering Dreams capitalizes on the technology that makes it possible to download one’s dreams and store them on mobile devices. Sam, caught in the middle of the “greatest invention its age” and the conspiracy surrounding its misuse, is about to meet face to face with those who want him out of the picture once and for all.
The Misplaced Man by Nick James is a short story/novella centering around Sam Blades, a young man newly-employed and eager to please his beyond demanding girlfriend, Bunny. Nick James is a master at humor, and his main character is his chosen vessel. Not meant entirely as a work of comedy, James provides several laugh-out-loud moments as Sam struggles in his day-to-day life with Bunny. It is rare for me to find the written word comical enough to emit an audible guffaw, but James definitely delivers. Sam’s personality more than makes the book; he is a memorable character in his own right and is well-developed in first-person accounts.
James’s choice to alternate chapters with varying first-person accounts is quite effective. The story, though brief, is packed full of descriptive and revealing scenarios which serve well to differentiate each character. As the reader, I was easily able to discern which character was taking his turn at bat without having to rely on the chapter title–James is just that good at character development.
It is worth noting that The Misplaced Man is a combination of realistic fiction and science fiction but leans heavily on the realistic fiction element. The book is much more about each character’s own personal conflicts than the underlying component of groundbreaking technology. As interesting as the concept of capturing dreams is, it is explored and detailed much less than some science fiction fans will likely expect.
Sam Blades is ruthlessly humorous and has the makings of a fantastic central character for his ensuing series. I recommend Nick James’s short story to anyone looking for a quick science fiction piece with strong characters laced with humor.
Pages: 155 | ASIN: B07K3Q6QRD
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18 Cranes follows a young boy as he prepares for an important civil servant exam while being tormented by nightmares. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing story?
The story was inspired by my own journey of learning about China, first through teaching Chinese students in Canada, and then through my eye-opening experience teaching and traveling in China.
Bing is an interesting character that continued to gain depth as the story progressed. What were some driving ideals behind his character?
Bing is a composite character, reflecting some the attitudes and behaviors I’ve observed in my Chinese students, but also embodying elements of historical and fictional persons I’ve read about.
This story takes place during the summer of 1630 in China. Why did you choose this time and place for your story?
The story takes place in the final years of the Ming dynasty, culminating in a monumental and highly consequential event that takes place in the city of Kaifeng in 1642. By starting in 1630, I’m building the necessary background for readers to understand the significance of the event when it takes place.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
18 Cranes is the first in a series of nine novellas, collectively known as, Kaifeng Chronicles. The second book, Mandarin Ducks, has been available for the past few months. The third book, Grand Canal, is scheduled for release in late January 2019.
In the late summer of 1630, 23-year old Li Bing writes the provincial level imperial examinations, the first step towards entering the Chinese civil service. He is tormented by a dream of 18 cranes, and as he awaits his exam results he seeks out insights from those around him to help him understand his dream. In the end, he learns more than he imagined.
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Skeins follows a group of Indian woman as they travel through Europe learning something about life, each other, and themselves. What served as your inspiration for this uplifting novel?
Both my novels relate to a world well-known to me: urban educated India. I have been travelling a great deal for the past 14 years and I undertake at least one group tour overseas each year. Though the itinerary for the tour described in Skeins is similar to that of a group tour I undertook with Cosmos© in 2015, the similarity ends there as the tourists in the latter included men and women of varied nationalities. Also, when I had traveled to Ireland in 2016, my suitcase had not been transferred in time to the connecting flight by the airline staff at Munich airport during transit. These experiences sparked off my imagination, which led to the birth of Skeins.
There is a great collection of women from several generations in this group. Who was your favorite character to write for?
It’s like asking someone who is your favourite child. Each woman character is alive in my imagination with her own distinct personality, dreams and circumstances. They are all resilient as I don’t sympathize with whiners. I like women who get back on their feet after a hard tumble and find their own path in life without seeking sympathy or support. However, I particularly empathized with the characters Sandra D’Souza and Vidya Rao who are caught in a conundrum and need to make tough decisions.
I enjoyed how the characters each had their own story that contributed to the depth of their character. What were some themes you wanted to capture in this book?
Though the novel is a breezy read, it deals with serious societal issues related to women. I feel very strongly about the thwarting of women’s emotional, professional and intellectual independence and expression by a patriarchal society and a dominant partner who limit her role to that of a mother and a comfort provider. The novel also depicts the generic issues of social hierarchy, aspirational lifestyles, the violence within and without our homes, loneliness and dementia.
What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have a few ideas that I am exploring. When that creative spark is ignited, I know I will not take longer than two months to pen the story and edit it.
With a galaxy of identifiable characters from modern urban India depicted with light-hearted mirth in a travel environment, the novel explores serious issues, such as the quest for an independent identity and economic independence, the violence within and outside our homes, the loneliness of old age and the need for constructive channelization of youthful energy. Spanning events across a little more than a year, Skeins depicts how self-expression and a supportive environment trigger a cataclysmic effect and stimulate the women to realize their dreams.
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For most of his life, Bing has prepared ceaselessly to take the civil servant examinations, with little time for anything beyond the collections of texts that dictate political matters. Passing the exams would be the first step in following his father’s path, and also determine nearly everything else about his future. Finally, the day to begin them has arrived, and Bing faces the grueling challenges before him with understandable anxiety, but also a necessary determination. Outside of the exam compound, however, his focus is frequently drawn to a mysterious dream that recurs almost nightly, as well as a glimpse into history from his beloved grandfather.
In 18 Cranes by Robert Campbell, we’re introduced to Bing, his loved ones, and some of the traditions of village life in 17th century China. With an engaging narrative and colorful descriptions of Bing’s world, 18 Cranes does an excellent job of holding the reader’s attention, even while discussing a subject as mundane as civil servant exams. Despite a lack of any real action, the story never seems stagnant. Of course, there’s more going on than just rigorous testing. Bing is also suddenly plagued by a recurring dream, the meaning of which eludes him. The reader learns a lot about Bing and his relationships with his loved ones over the course of several expertly crafted conversations that examine each part of the dream, which always ends with 18 red-crested cranes ascending into the sky. The number 18 in particular holds special intrigue and multiple explanations are suggested for its meaning. To further the feeling of mystery, toward the end of the story, Grandfather Ai begins to tell Bing about the origins of their family. The short oral history is enough to stoke Bing’s stifled imagination. Restricted by his strict studies, Bing has never had the opportunity to read many legends or works of fiction and his curiosity, although kept under control, nonetheless exists. Grandfather Ai’s revelations also provide an interesting twist for the reader.
The uncertainty of the future is an overarching theme throughout the book and is explored through both tangible avenues, like Bing’s performance in the exams, as well as in deciphering the symbolism of his dream. There is also a considerable emphasis placed on Bing’s age, with repeated mentions that he could be one of the youngest people to ever pass the exams on the first try. Because of this, it reads a good bit like a coming of age story.
18 Cranes is subtitled “Kaifeng Chronicles Book One”, in reference to the village that Bing’s maternal ancestors came from. I’d be excited to read the rest of the series and follow Bing further through the avenues of his life. The abundance of detailed descriptions make it easy to picture the aspects of Bing’s village life, from the shores of West Lake to the flowers in the gardens. This book is an interesting and well written story that moves at a good pace.
Pages: 123 | ASIN: B07C8LC32H
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Skeins by Richa Gupta is the story of a large group of globe-trotting Indian women who take a trip to see the sights in Spain and Portugal. The women are similar in heritage, but vary widely in age and experience. Even though they are from the same general area, they also differ in culture and socio-economic status. As the women grow closer, they let each other into their personal lives. They confide in each other and share secrets, regrets, hopes, and dreams. However, it’s not one big happy slumber party. Some of the women find some serious trouble along their journey.
Overall, Skeins was a pretty easy read. The grammar and sentence structure is impeccable. I didn’t find any errors at all. If anything, there were only a few turns of phrase that only suggested that the author’s roots were different than my own. That’s not a bad thing.
If I have any complaint, it’s that the cast of characters was very large. I found it hard, at times, to keep the names of characters and their story lines straight. There seemed to be so much going on at once between all of the background stories.
I enjoyed the diversity of the characters. I especially enjoyed the diversity paired with the camaraderie that the women enjoyed. They came from all walks of life, different social classes, and different customs to form one big, instant family. They seemed to get along very well. They will make readers hope for these kinds of quickly formed but long lasting friendships.
Readers will also identify with the problems that the women face. They discuss the not-so-perfect aspects of their lives without giving the story too heavy of a feel. The story doesn’t bog down or get lost in their troubles. They simply state what’s going on in their lives, but characters don’t seem to dwell too much for the most part. For a story that deals with adultery, a crime ring, decades old grudges, etc., it is a decidedly uplifting tale. The women tackle their problems instead of becoming victims of circumstance.
I liked that Gupta showed the women as strong, powerful, and independent. None of them were “just a wife” or “just a mother.” None of them were leaning too hard on anyone but themselves. In a country where women aren’t generally in hierarchical positions, it was refreshing to see these women being so self-sufficient. Still, they walked the line between traditional arranged marriages and living their dreams, while sometimes doing both with one foot in each world. They seek out independence, their wildest dreams, and love all at once.
The book feels light-hearted in nature. I enjoyed that combination woven with real-life issues. I enjoyed the cultural journey following the women from India touring the Iberian Peninsula. The characters felt real. I’d love to see one of the characters step forward to star in a sequel.
Pages: 312 | ASIN: B07HP6ZPYM
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Some loves cannot be contained within a single life. Such is the story of Kathleen and James. Two high school sweethearts, from North Carolina, that had that love at first sight moment, knew they were soul mates, and for them it is not just a cliché phrase. When an accident occurs and ends their lives too short everyone around them is left at a loss. Their best friend Nancy at their funeral however, quotes James saying they will be reborn again to find each other and love again. James is reincarnated as Joseph far away in Saint Louis. At the age of five he starts remembering dreams, but the dreams are old memories from James. With the help of Dr. Simms the family is able to piece together the past life Joseph relives each night in his sleep. But where is Kathleen? Will Joseph find her again? He believes he that he will; it will just take time.
Many cultures around the world believe in reincarnation. This is a topic I have never given a lot of thought to, but after reading Love After Life by Richard Sieg, I am willing to believe it could happen. It really touches on your emotions, the passion Kathleen and James felt for each other, it is what couples dream of having. One of the obstacles this novel tackles is the Christian view that reincarnation is not possible and to even consider it is blasphemy. Joseph’s family is able to overcome these beliefs due to the overwhelming evidence Dr. Simms compiles. The same however is not the case for Kimberly. Her Southern Baptist family refuses to accept she had a past life, and further despise Joseph. They are an example of the saying, ‘money can’t buy happiness’ and ‘looks are everything’. It breaks my heart reading how they treated Kimberly growing up, and especially after she meets Joseph. The interactions are filled with conflict, passion, and a deep sadness. All Kimberly wants from her family is love, but all they are concerned with is appearances. This is the complete opposite of Joseph’s family once Dr. Simms brought his dad around to things. Joseph gives Kimberly everything she is craving, love, the missing piece of herself as Kathleen, and a family that loves her the way she is.
The novel starts out with James and Kathleen and moves to Joseph’s story growing up. The mix or story and timelines is easy to follow and flows organically because James and Joseph are the same person inside. I enjoyed the conflict with Joseph’s father, his struggle to accept things while his mom is just there by his side, not understanding but accepting what was happening. When his father finally accepts that Joseph is the reincarnation of James, it is a touching moment and sets the tone for the remainder of the story. You see how this shapes his life over how Kathleen’s life is shaped. Their lives are interesting and realistic and you can’t help but keep reading to see where they end up.
Pages: 235 | ASIN: B079VVWHDQ
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Ken Obi’s latest novel End It By The Gun features charismatic and determined Beck, who’s eagerness to get a top book deal and offer for a screen play, ruins his life. The book delves into Beck’s past, his relationships with women and writing and his latest novel. It is full of dynamic relationships with both women and men, family ordeals and political strife. There’s even a spattering of nature. The novel cannot be simply put into one genre as it ventures into fantasy, political thriller and drama, so there’s bound to be a part that everyone can enjoy.
The book can be split into two parts – the first half is about Beck and his life, his dream to become a famous writer and his relationships. The second half is his eleventh novel which features Abdoullah, Farouk, and Murktar and their deadly pathogen V1B6F3.
The first half is characterized by tumultuous relationships, between Beck and his family and women. It has a fast-paced style with a masculine tone and lots of underlying energy in the short chapters. There are twists and turns constantly occurring in the chapters that jump around different time periods in Beck’s life. He experiences strange meetings, fame and kidnapping. This style of writing is inviting and leaves the reader wanting more.
However, I felt that some parts the book were awkwardly written – “I read that to mean that he must have thought I had given up on dashing away”, and I thought that it could be overly descriptive for a book that means to move quickly. I also felt that there was a lack of sympathy for women in the book – Beck’s wife is made out to be crazy with no explanation, and his agent has no name for most of the narrative.
The second part of the book begins in a way reminiscent of a zombie apocalypse. This is the book that makes Beck famous. It has a science versus nature theme which ultimately turns political, alongside this runs the age-old battle between good and evil. The nature aspect of it focuses on an area called Shonga, which is untouched by humans. This part is the gem of the book and where the writing style really works. The vivid descriptions of the forest and way of life offer a rich picture which makes the reader long to be in nature with the characters, away from their urban lifestyles.
The characters in the second half of the book are presented in a linear fashion which evokes a level of understanding which is not present in the first half of the text. The characters in this part are all from different walks of life, which goes to show how many people can influence an event.
I thought that the tone of the book is inviting, quick and full of energy and I think many people would enjoy the interesting characters and fresh perspectives.
Pages: 228 | ASIN: B07DHK1PHF
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Beguiled is about every person who ever had dreams that were interrupted by cultural mores, by discrimination, or by their own shortcomings. Miriam Levine, born in 1900, dreamed of going on stage, until an almost fatal mis-step forced her to postpone her “real life.” A serendipitous offer compelled her to confront her inner demons and society’s expectations. As Glinda, the Good Witch of the South in the Wizard of Oz, she recites at age 16: “You’ve always had the power, my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.”
The story is inspirational for young people and their parents who dearly wish to access the American dream. The historical context of the decades before the Great Depression, the role of immigrants and women’s suffrage parallels tough political dilemmas that the US faces today.
Will Miriam have the gumption to follow her dreams? Will those dreams yield her the happiness she seeks? Or will she find that her childhood fantasies “beguile” her to seek ‘fool’s gold?’
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A dream. A memory. That’s all Brij remembers of her past – as well as the fact that she was abandoned by a dirt road at the age of three. After getting picked up by a passing stranger who seemed to know everything about her, she lives the next fourteen years of her life in an enormous nuclear power plant, performing high-intensity sports games inside the plant’s five-mile reactor for spectators – people who keep the plant operating. Most days, she doesn’t mind. Then again, she doesn’t have a choice – if she refuses to perform, she’s at risk of being abandoned all over again. When mysterious images start haunting Brij during the performances, she begins to wonder if her life in the plant is real. No matter how much she tries to ignore them, they keep coming back. A series of strange events start to unfold that ultimately leads her to make a choice – whether to live a lie, or face the truth of what she really is, and why she’s here.
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