Judenrein follows a man with a checkered past who must stop a world changing conspiracy. What was the inspiration for setup to this dystopian thriller?
I got the idea for this book when I started to see white supremacists become more vocal and visible in American politics, and face remarkably little official pushback – at least from the current president. These groups make no secret of their goal of driving the Jews (and a lot of other non-white groups) either out of the country, into slavery or death. I became intrigued with the possibility of a secret white supremacist group seizing power behind the scenes. This would be the ultimate “suits not boots” strategy for them, as they might call it.
Zack is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some ideas that guided his character development?
I have been involved in helping recovering drug addicts throughout the last 20 years. It’s not my job, but the work has come into my life. Through this experience, I’ve seen the potential for greatness that often hides inside the addict, waiting to come out. I have also felt that a great injustice has been visited on a generation of young Americans who were recruited to serve the US, but lost to forever wars and forgotten when they returned to civilian life. I wanted to bring this experience to life in the character. As an observant Jew, I’ve also seen a lot of young people get kicked out of orthodox life for various infractions and attitude problems. I wanted the character to represent the ambivalence I see in many of these young people. They believe in God and Torah. They love being Jewish. They just can’t fit into the orthodox world. That’s Zack.
The idea of white supremacists taking over the country and setting up 21st century ghettos was striking. What were some themes you felt were important to focus on in this book?
I wanted to focus on the slippery slope to neo Nazism in the US, and the shocking thing has been to see so many predictions made int eh book come true even in the last few months – with armed men, carrying swastika flags, threatening elected officials with death in protest of COVID lockdowns – only to be called “good people” by the president. This is much closer to us than we realize.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am working on a non-fiction book about cybersecurity, which I have written under a different name. I am also going to publish an earlier book, that never came out, that deals with some similar themes of inequality and injustice in the US, but told in the form of a thriller.
As a white supremacist movement stealthily takes the reins of power in America, it is again the Jews who are made out as scapegoats. Stripped of wealth and citizenship, they are made to live in 21st century ghettos that hark back to a sinister and murky past that many had thought would never return.
But things are about to get much worse. With the revealing of a planned terror attack that will place the blame firmly at Jewish feet and condemn millions to death, Zack is contacted by Jewish leaders in Detroit, begging for his help.
Reluctantly he agrees and before long he is mired in a conspiracy that will have far reaching consequences for his country, the Jewish population and even his own sanity.
As the clock ticks down, can Zack find a way to avert a looming disaster? Who is behind the conspiracy? And can he really trust anyone?
Posted in Interviews
Tags: author, author interview, book, book review, bookblogger, dystopia, dystopian, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, Harold Benjamin, jew, jewish, jewish literature, Judenrein, kindle, kobo, literature, mystery, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, science fiction, scifi, story, suspense, thriller, writer, writing
Carnival Panic is a dystopian game show where contestants must solve dangerous room puzzles to claim a life changing prize. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting novel?
The initial inspiration for this novel occurred when I walked through the Kyari Pamyu Pamyu museum in Roppongi Hills, Tokyo. While there, I saw a display called “Candy Forest!” with unsettling pink rabbit statues, seen here https://matcha-jp.com/en/688. As I exited, I thought that what I had seen would make a great horror story. I pulled out my notebook and began sketching and writing ideas. I wrote about 10,000 words and then got stuck and put the story away for a few years.
It wasn’t until I went on an outing to Sanrio Puroland that I was able to continue writing the story. I often describe that day as one of the most uncomfortably horrible experiences I have ever had at a theme park. I had agreed to go to Puroland with a couple of friends, not knowing exactly what it was. After entering through the theme park gates, I realized that I was completely outside of my comfort zone.
On top of the immense claustrophobia were the inescapable sensory explosions. The air was pumped with all manner of sweet smells, there was constant music from individual speakers to the parades, it was hot due to the high summer temperatures, and there were lights everywhere both strobing and stationary. And when we stopped for lunch, all the food was of the sweetest kind; candied and dessert versions of its real counterparts. In contrast to my unpleasant experience, my friends were ecstatic and enjoyed every moment of that theme park, playing on the toys, going on the rides, and shopping with childlike enthusiasm.
On the train home, I knew exactly what I could write about and that became Carnival Panic.
What was the process like for imagining and writing the different rooms and puzzles you have in the book?
For the most part, the inspiration for the rooms came from various areas of Sanrio Puroland that I visited but with more sinister aspects. I also love to watch anime and at the time I was binging Deadman Wonderland so some of the themes from that anime made their way into the novel.
Your characters were all well developed and interesting. Who was your favorite character to write for?
Fletch. I enjoyed writing from her point of view because she is an unapologetic anarchist.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have two finished novels at the moment which I am querying for publication. A science fiction alien invasion novel called Darkness in a Sky of Embers and a narrative fiction novel called Elephants Have No Sleeves.
As for currents projects, I am working on a supernatural murder mystery that follows the main character, Tzipora, who comes back from the dead to find her murderer.
Candy makes the PonPon Bunnies sweet. Be careful if they’re angry. And watch out for traps! These are the dangers of competing in the Carnival Panic game show, a ruthless competition that tests the chosen competitors with mental and physical struggles. In order to claim the substantial monetary prize, the winner must solve a series of room puzzles and succeed in entertaining the fickle masses.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: adventure, author, author interview, book, book review, bookblogger, Carnival Panic, Catori Sarmiento, dystopia, dystopian, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, horror, kindle, kobo, literature, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, science fiction, scifi, story, suspense, thriller, writer, writing
It’s 2020, many years after the Civil Rights Movement and racism is still an issue. In fact, people seem to be radicalizing: white nationalists and Neo-Nazi movements are springing up everywhere. Imagine what would happen if a White Nationalist group infiltrated the highest office in the country, the white house. It would go from building a wall at the Mexican border to coming up with creative ways of rounding up non-white Americans. With human rights protected by the constitution and the UN, it seems improbable that one race would annihilate the others. But we should not underestimate the drive of a “higher cause.”
Judenrein, by Harold Benjamin, is a story about an elaborate plan for a fourth Reich called Reichsadler; only this time, it is not happening in Nazi Germany but the US. The conservative president has affiliations with a powerful and wealthy white nationalist group. The rounding up of Jews is already done. Now, the protagonist, a homeless American-Jew war veteran, has to stop this group before it finds a way to end all other races.
Harold Benjamin presents the story in simple, straightforward language. The way he describes the action-packed scenes helps create vivid imagery in your mind. To make it all so authentic, he throws in Jewish terminologies such as Yeshiva and Yarmulke. The direct speech by the members of the white nationalist group is as backward, gross, and infuriating as you would expect from a racist skinhead.
Perhaps the best thing about this book is the unconventional protagonist: A recovering junkie who got hooked after getting injured in service of his country. His country has now labeled him a terrorist due to his origins. From the very beginning, he is set up to fail. With so many obstacles and too few people to trust, his success seems far-fetched.
The story development is excellent. The first few chapters seem to talk about random people and scenes. But soon, the pieces start falling into place, and I couldn’t help but admire the creativity that went into making that possible.
Judenrein is a page-turner, full of action scenes and unexpected twists of events. Combine all that with simple language and short chapters, and you get a book you won’t put down until you reach the back cover. It is probably the most inspiring action-thriller I have read this year. It is an entertaining book with a thought-provoking message about racism, and shows how easy it would be to find ourselves back in a world where the color of your skin is a crime.
Pages: 260 | ASIN: B086BRZDPF
Fresh from a harrowing heartbreak, Zeon wakes up in what appears to be heaven. While he’s still trying to process the picturesque surrounding, he’s snatched by a flying alien and made to watch earth get destroyed. He soon discovers that what he saw was one of the numerous “earths” imploding. Now, he has a mission to prevent his planet from suffering the same fate. All he has to do is destroy another earth to preserve his. But this happens to be Mike’s home and he also has been tasked to save it by destroying Zeon’s universe. To help both men accomplish their mission, the messengers of the gods swap their consciousness and plant each as a mole on the other’s earth. It’s now a race against time to see who can save his planet. But who is the true enemy here? Is there more to this mission than meets the eye? Which earth will survive?
Hofsetz’s Challenges of the Gods is a sci-fi novel that cuts across three worlds: earth as we know it, another version of earth and a surreal world called Pangea. Hofsetz stretches our imagination as he paints vivid pictures of Pangea’s outlandish reality and points our attention to the peculiarities of the other earth. I mean, imagine an earth where the shaking of the head indicates an interest in casual sex. That’s Hofsetz’s other earth.
Hofsetz’s weaves every detail of fiction together to deliver his themes strikingly. Chief amongst his ideas is how man’s blind loyalty can cause him to abdicate his senses. According to Hofsetz, we can easily be manipulated when we believe the other party is too good to do evil.
Furthermore, Hofsetz highlights man’s disposition to conflict and his ability to empathize with even the enemy. It is this trait that distinguishes (normal) man from a bloodthirsty maniac. He also touches on betrayal (we have quite the knack for that, don’t we?) and its far-reaching effects on the victims.
Speaking of victims, it’s a miracle Hofsetz’s penetrating sense of humour did not literally crack my ribs. The main character’s knack for silly thoughts, conversations between the characters and the culture of Hofsetz’s earth (Jora) all filled the book with hilarious moments. Hofsetz also did well to catch me unawares with some shocking plot twists.
If you’re a fan of sci-fi and a reader who needs something to help you wind down, Hofsetz’s book should do a great job.
Pages: 269 | ASIN: B07KNCXDSX
Tags: author, book, book review, bookblogger, C. Hofsetz, Challenges of the Gods, dystopian, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, mystery, nook, novel, post apocalyptic, read, reader, reading, science fiction, scifi, space adventure, story, suspense, thriller, writer, writing
Lost Frequencies: The Soul Prophecies by Caitlin Lynagh is a book that gives you all the benefits of escapism while maintaining a terrifying sense of reality throughout.
It is about a group of people in a dystopian world, trying to survive against all odds. Their world is ravaged by the carelessness of their ancestors. They have to struggle for their basic necessities, all the while fighting back an evil but pragmatic corporation.
The novel switches back and forth from the past, and between dream sequences filled with strange prophecies. I found this a little disorienting. But it provided great contrast and detail to their fictional world. It was also quite fast paced, so it took me a while to get a hang of all the things taking place, especially the dream sequences.
The world itself was reminiscent of The Hunger Games, albeit more exotic and more relevant. Especially considering how their world came to be from climate change and being indifferent to the state of the planet.
Some of the secondary characters were totally adorable- particularly Ehi and Zerren. I felt immediately connected to them and was rooting for them throughout. Apart from these few, however, there were a lot of other story lines of characters I did not particularly care about. They had interesting side plots, but I wish the focus had remained more on the main few.
The objects in this world were also incredibly fascinating- like Lif, a biological metal that can be manipulated with thoughts. The differences between the humans and Iyeekans were very interesting and creative.
If pressed, I would probably describe this book as a science fiction adventure, but that would almost be unfair. This is because the book almost transcends genre. Even the planet’s reality seems not so distant from ours. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a scary yet hopeful science fiction experience.
Pages: 310 | ASIN: B07T943KDL
Experiment X: Revolt finds Dr. Thaddeus bombing landmarks and vilifying Karen and her friends. What were some ideas you wanted to explore in this book that were different from the first two books?
I simply wanted the battle to move outside of the Lab and to show how easily war can appear in someone’s backyard. You never think it’s going to happen to you, but it could.
Karen’s narration was exceptional in exploring the anxieties and discomfort she felt. What were some challenges you set for yourself as a writer in this book?
First off, thank you. So, you know when Tony Stark has a panic attack and he has to deal with anxiety? Well, for some reason, seeing a super hero go through this helped me a lot with my own struggles. I wanted to give my readers the same thing. Knowing that having anxieties, fears, discomforts, etc. doesn’t make you weak can be a powerful thing. If these super soldiers can feel this, then why can’t you or I, right?
The science inserted in the fiction, I felt, was well balanced. How did you manage to keep it grounded while still providing the fantastic edge science fiction stories usually provide?
I wanted to keep it as realistic as I could. This isn’t a story that’s meant to be set in the future, but the present. It’s merely the beginning of a potential dystopia, a sci-fi world placed directly into our own.
What plans do you have for the series in book four of your Experiment X series?
There is no book four as of yet. However! There will be a prequel trilogy to the series told from Jack’s point of view. This trilogy starts when Jack is about eighteen, and it dives deeper into the horrors of the Lab. You’ll also learn things about the Subjects that they don’t talk about in the original trilogy. Plus, you’ll get to meet more Subjects from Experiment A.
Nothing will stop Karen Turner this time. Doctor James Thaddeus is attacking her once peaceful hometown; he’s bombing beloved landmarks, killing hundreds of innocent people, and smearing the names of Karen and her friends. Karen now has complete control over her Fire Element powers, and she is more determined than ever to burn the infamous Lab to the ground once and for all!
Jack Cortex, her best friend and mentor, once again steps up to the plate, splitting a large group of the super-powered Subjects into teams with a plan to finally gain their freedom—and keep it. Karen knows that if the Lab—and Thaddeus—aren’t destroyed for good this time, the other Subjects of the Experiments will continue to be abused and tortured until they take their last breaths. Doctor Thaddeus thinks he’s safe, but she’s coming for him.
Not everyone will make it out alive.
The hunter will become the prey.
Experiment X: Revolt by Nikki Haase is a dystopian science fiction novel about the lives of the Subjects, creatures with special powers that were created in the Lab. These Subjects realized they were being manipulated by the malicious and charming Doctor James Thaddeus who has the ulterior motive of creating his own army and ruling the world. Once these Subjects have escaped and are out in the real world, they soon realize it is no longer a battle of Subjects vs Thaddeus. Rather, due to Thaddeus’ connivance, the whole world views them with suspicion and judgement. After a botched mission, the media furthers the fear mongering surrounding this group. However, if they wish to save the ones they love, they must find a way to take down this despot.
At the center of all this is the narrator Karen. She offers a wonderful window into the lives of the Subjects: their anxieties and discomfort in this world that they are unaccustomed to. The plot, which follows the superheroes as they are framed for wrongdoing by a charming sociopath, is well-executed and moves at the perfect pace. It’s not a series of jam-packed action scenes. Rather it takes the time to develop characters and their complex dynamics. However, the narrative was not at all difficult to latch on to.
If you missed any of the previous books in this series, starting here would be like starting any of the Marvel movies midway: even if it’s a lot of names and superpowers to remember, you can pretty much immediately understand what is going on.
The perspectives of different people throughout the story were explored very well. The Subjects were a believable bunch in a realistic situation. Even though it’s a premise that’s worn thin, I was able to empathize with nearly every Subject’s flaws and troubles. Although Thaddeus was a bit two dimensional, the sheer amount of negativity with which he was portrayed made up for any sympathy I may have had left.
Experiment X: Revolt is a quick, fun read for anyone who is into the likes of the Marvel and DC cinematic universe. Even if you’re not, it’s great for a thrilling adventure fantasy.
Pages: 221 | ASIN: B07L7WJ7K5
The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.
Gold Award Winners
Silver Award Winners
Posted in Literary Titan Book Award
Tags: author, author award, book, book award, book review, bookblogger, dystopian, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, horror, kindle, kobo, literary award, literature, mystery, nonfiction, nook, novel, paranormal, read, reader, reading, romance, science fiction, story, supernatural, suspense, thriller, writer, writing