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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The Emerald Cave by James B. McPike is a fast novel. It’s not fast in the sense that it’s a short read. Rather, The Emerald Cave works by having prose and plotting that takes readers for a whirlwind of a story that involves action, firefights, terrorists, heists, and a dozen other elements that contribute to an engaging and incredibly engrossing novel. Being the third in its series, The Emerald Cave follows the story of Vince Ramsey, an Israeli detective searching for an arms dealer whose whereabouts are murky at best. He enlists the help of April Fulton, an expert on historical artifacts, and the two set off on an epic investigative chase that brings them from one part of the world to the another, with obstacles and betrayal meeting them each step of the way. The book is fast, and it starts off with a tense standoff initiated by terrorists of the Hezbollah organization. From there, the plot takes no chances, pushing onward with a feverish speed that helps heighten the book’s sense of urgency and impact. This is juxtaposed by appropriately placed moments of quiet that allows both the characters and the readers to ponder on events as they unfurl.
Beyond these points, The Emerald Cave shines in its effective usage of characterization. The relationship between April Fulton and Vince Ramsey highlight a realistic dynamic that allows the two to play off one another. Sequences in which the two work together in solving a puzzle or identifying various clues reveal key differences in the characters’ logical approaches and methodologies that help make each character feel individual. In certain moments, I found myself working out these puzzles with April and Vince, identifying my own thought processes and “aha!” moments in conjunction with their own. At the same time, there is a clear sense of growth these two protagonists go through as the novel moves forward and while some trends are easy to note, this sense of maturity one finds is rare in many stories today. This characterization is aided by James B. McPike’s effective prose. Sentences are generally terse and filled with the details necessary for the story. Long, drawn-out sections are rare to find and each word McPike utilizes is one that is necessary for the story being conveyed. This helps create a tense atmosphere that works incredibly well with the fast plotting designed by McPike.
As a whole, The Emerald Cave by James B. McPike is an incredible story that doesn’t let up. Events fly at neck-breaking speeds while readers becoming connected with the protagonists as everyone tries to uncover the mysteries and secrets the story presents. While the story could have used some additional quiet moments in order to allow the reader to collect themselves before continuing onward, The Emerald Cove remains an engrossing piece. The stories narrative design and effective characterization makes this story an incredible journey and an enjoyable ride.
Pages: 215 | ASIN: B07DSRKWR1
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When Sam Blades starts work at Shimmering Dreams, he hopes to climb the promotional ladder and bring security for himself and his girlfriend. Hailed as the greatest invention of its age, he would be working on new technology that downloads your dreams to your phone.
But, unbeknown to him, somebody behind the scenes is pulling the strings.
What lengths will someone go to when they are forced to repay a debt? Is Sam being set up as the fall guy to take the blame for dreams being used for nefarious activities? Who ends up taking matters into their own hands with drastic consequences?
Follow Sam’s tongue-in-cheek journey through a world of industrial espionage where he blindly battles against an alcohol-fuelled boss, a corrupt copper, a revenge-seeking hitman and a tone-deaf busker.
Posted in book trailer
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Going Dark follows Amelia as she tries to help journalists that have been kidnapped which has sparked an international incident. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
The idea of ‘Going Dark’ started to form in my mind as I spent nights working on the foreign desk at CBS. Those nights, I was alone in the entire studio, watching incoming video feed from our military forces stationed in Iraq. In 2006-07, the war was in full swing and we received daily updates on the progress and struggle people were facing during the war. The war zone wasn’t too far off from our foreign correspondent team stationed in Iraq, reporting from there. As I was sitting at my desk, I envisioned Amelia Sinclair (a foreign liaison in Going Dark) how hard and challenging must be to be separated from your family when your job takes you away from them, especially if you have young children.
Amelia and Jets are dynamic characters that are enigmatic and empathetic. What were some themes you wanted to capture in their characters?
Amelia had to sacrifice her career when she became a mother. Having children was not something she had planned on doing, but when it happened, she made the decision to stay back and take a desk job.
However, her thirst for adventure never fully went away. So, when her boss, Harold Fost, approached her with a proposition to oversee a covert assignment, she simply couldn’t resist. But Murphy’s Law tipped the scale against her and her friends and co-workers get kidnapped. I wanted ordinary people, the readers, who juggle work and family life to be able to relate to her and to the choices she makes along the way on this journey.
Jets is a complicated guy. He’d seen things most of us have not, working as a spy for the CIA. To me, he was interesting because, he believed in the cause set forth by the CIA, but he still had conscious and when he sees the wrong person is being blamed for crimes that she didn’t commit; he has to put aside his oath to the CIA and go with his guts, even if that decision could cost him his career.
This is an exciting novel on par with Robert Ludlum or Tom Clancy novels. Did you start writing with this in mind of did this happen organically?
Tom Clancy was a master at setting up an engaging plot and building action in his novels. He is certainly an influencer in my writing. Another writer whom I admire is John Le Carre, unquestionably the undisputed father of spy thrillers. Both of these writers are exceptional.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I recently finished writing the second book in the Gabriel Jets series, called Political Whispers. Jets is a castaway in Afghanistan, having accepted a covert position, offered to him by Robert McKaine. Jets is in charge of a secretive drone program, most on Capitol Hill don’t know it even exists. The second book has more military overture and is action packed. Political Whispers is slated for release in early 2019.
Gabriel Jets is the CIA’s top agent, a man with a reputation of getting the job done, no matter the price. On a rare visit back to the States, Jets is dispatched to collect a video depicting the kidnapping of four U.S. journalists working undercover in Damascus, Syria.
Meanwhile, the U.S. president and his chief of staff, Robert McKaine, are called to the Situation Room to receive a briefing. Damascus is rocked by a terrorist plot that killed twenty-five innocent people.
A link between the two events is quickly discovered, with evidence pointing to the involvement of another U.S. journalist, Amelia Sinclair, a prominent foreign correspondent, with direct ties to the missing.
While Jets hunts for the video, he crosses paths with Amelia. In a blink of an eye, his mission is compromised as he believes she is being set up to be the fall guy.
As the U.S. government closes in to arrest Sinclair, Jets alters his assignment to help clear her name and track down the powerful men behind the ploy to draw in the country into an international scandal.
If Jets fails, the country he swore to protect, will go dark.
Posted in Interviews
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Amelia Sinclair, a foreign correspondent liaison for CWG news network, had worked on the bottom floor of the UN in a renovated steam-room for the last four years. Upon receiving a suspicious email with the subject line as her name written in Farsi, she opened the link embedded within to see a horrifying video. Fellow journalists, whom she knew personally, confronted with masked assailants. Going Dark follows Amelia as she tries to help her fellow journalists, one of which, whom she was very close to.
Simultaneously, the beginnings of a media frenzy are in the works as the government tries to prevent a leak of the video. To add to the chaos, a bomb detonates in Damascus, just outside of the hotel where the journalists had been staying before they were kidnapped. With 25 pronounced dead in Damascus, 4 American journalists kidnapped, and a seemingly related murder of a man on the streets of Brooklyn, everyone is on high-alert.
The author, Jolene Grace, gives two distinct perspectives throughout the novel. The first is the journey of Amelia Sinclair, from the UN basement level media department to a loft in Brooklyn. The reporter finds herself hurried along by her superiors as she tries her best to protect her fellow journalists who are held captive; whilst she herself is considered to be a suspect in their detainment.
The second perspective is from the inside of The White House, where the President is working on how to spin the situation to his advantage to gain a second term, whilst others are trying to hurry the CIA to gather intelligence. Equally, discussions are being had as to who to bribe and who can be trusted. This gives the novel a lot of freedom to explore espionage on multiple levels. An example of these two perspectives working together is when a sniper takes aim at Amelia Sinclair; Agent Jets is nearby and tries to help, whereas from inside the white house he has dropped off the radar.
Going Dark is full of tension, built up by a switching of perspectives at crucial moments, allowing the reader to hear both sides of the story. As the government tries to keep a lid on the story that numerous media outlets are trying to expose to the public, the reporter Amelia Sinclair tries to save her fellow reporters whilst being hunted down.
The reader, the characters and at times Amelia herself, question why she received the video in the first place. However, we also get the sense that she knows more than she is letting on. Among the possibility that there’s a government mole, leaked CIA safe-house locations, government tracking and a sniper on one’s doorstep, it’s hard to know who is the ‘good guy’ and who to trust.
Through it all there is a real sense of connection with the characters. For instance, Amelia is plunged into a situation where everything seems out of control. Sitting in a Philadelphia CIA stash-house and all she wants to do is call home to her daughter, Ava, and make sure she’s safe.
Jolene Grace creates so much tension in the book as none of the characters know, or at least don’t seem to know, the full story of what is going on. The author develops the characters superbly, and a real sense of empathy is created. But there is a fragility in knowing them as it’s hard to tell if they will live to see the next chapter or not. Everyone is at risk and everyone is on high-alert.
Pages: 399 | ASIN: B07H8WV36R
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Extinction 6 by Hosein Kouros-Mehr is a fascinating novel that finds itself straddling a variety of themes, writing styles, and motifs. In this novel, one can witness the conjunction of several major literary genres. From bleak dystopian imagery and post-apocalyptic ruin to deeply intense mystery and intrigue, Extinction 6 provides enough twists and turns to keep any reader engaged. Taking place in the year 2066, the reader is introduced to a world mostly underwater. Following a sharp rise in global temperatures by an average of 8 degrees Celsius, sea levels drastically increased and major settlements like San Francisco were submerged. In conjunction, animals and plants have completely vanished. Beyond this, the world appears to be plagued by war and corporate espionage. Battles for oil fields and small scraps of territory appear to occur daily, while depressing news bulletins ring out, highlighting decreases in rations or celebrating the smallest of military victories. In this dystopian future, greenhouse gases continue to be pumped at alarming rates, and it becomes clear to some that the world is facing its sixth, and potentially last, extinction crises.
Hosein Kouros-Mehr expertly uses this setting to deliver a story that is captivating and vividly written. There is a profound amount of world building conducted in this novel and the story’s framing gives readers a holistic experience at what life in this dreary world would look like. Through the use of multiple perspectives and point of views, Hosein Kouros-Mehr provides readers with an inside and personal look at the various dimensions that take place in this world. In some chapters, readers will become intimate with a forlorn lover embroiled in major geopolitical developments. Other sections masterfully showcase the experiences of an aggressive and cunning CEO. These different perspectives are woven in a way that provides keen connections and startling insights.
The writing itself is suspenseful and tense. The diction wastes no time in putting the reader through long segments of empty description and word padding. Every sentence is deliberate and has a definite sense of immediacy. Every word counts in a world that is slowly ticking towards oblivion. This is aided by Hosein Kouros-Mehr’s wonderful sense of pacing. While the writing is forward facing, it still gives readers the time to engross themselves in the world. Details about the major corporations and the nations that inhabit this world are peppered in where needed and helps to provide depth to the world. Many of these elements come into play throughout the course of the novel, and the pace in which these details become relevant greatly benefits Kouros-Mehr’s deliberate writing style. If there is any issue in the way in which Hosein Kouros-Mehr presents his work, it is the fact that the large cast of characters can lead to some confusion. This is somewhat alleviated by the clear characterization and literary role each character plays, and as a whole, this critique does not detract from the novel.
Extinction 6 by Hosein Kouros-Mehr is an incredibly tense story about what our future could easily look like.
Pages: 248 | ASIN: B07HB5Q24P
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In Raven and the Panther by John Fennell II, readers meet very normal Barbara Ann, nicknamed “Raven” by her loved ones, a girl from rural West Virginia who, due to a shocking series of events, becomes an international spy in order to carry out a mission of revenge.
Raven’s story begins with her idyllic life – a perfect boyfriend completely devoted to her, a loving family, and a clear future pursuing work in the coal industry and caring for her aging mother. However, within a few short months and after several deaths, all of that is taken from her, and it’s not long before Raven’s excellent detective skills reveal it was the work of an organized crime unit right in her own small town. When she is given the opportunity to join a rival organization as a spy, she jumps at the chance to eventually even the score.
This story follows Raven as she faces the impossible question of following her heart or seeking an unknown and dangerous future in order to obtain justice. Readers will find themselves also asking how far they would go to do what they believe is right and what they would be willing to give up to find peace.
Raven’s quest is characterized by lots of spy bad-assery and revelling in watching a sexy, woman with a grudge toy with and rough up unscrupulous fat cats who think that their wrong-doings will never catch up to them. Raven’s organization takes down corruption at its most disguised level as they fight to preserve the conservative values that the book purports are sustaining America’s true way of life. If you want a story where right and wrong are black and white and the bad guys get what is coming to them, this story is extremely gratifying.
Readers are also treated to several steamy scenes which utilize a lot of creative terminology for bedroom extravaganzas. Removing these scenes from the book would make for a much shorter story, so plentiful are they, so get ready for the throes of passion and then some.
If readers can come to terms with the over-the-top dialog (“You know, Raven, during the day my heart is filled with love, and my dreams at night are only of you,” or “You bet, Naci. I love you so much. I don’t know how you do it, but your timing is perfect. I love our lovemaking”), a bit hard-to-follow scene transitions, and the suspiciously natural knack Raven shows for the spy industry, then they will love this book filled with swagger, romance, betrayal and action. From posthumous secrets to tracking down Nazi war criminals to covert Swiss bank accounts to international espionage to potato festivals, this book is one consecutive adventure after another.
Find out if Raven succeeds in her lifelong mission of tracking down the parties responsible for the deaths of those she loves, if her intrepid work will ever catch up to her, and if she can reconcile her quest to find peace with the ruthless deeds her new life demands.
Pages: 312 | ASIN: B077GSBRZ7
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Few debut books attempt to achieve what J. I. Rogers set out to achieve, and even fewer are able to create a story that is so unlike everything else out there. The Korpes File is one such work and a stellar debut novel for Rogers. Nash Korpes, a technician, born a Diasporan, the underclass of his world. When he is marked by the ruling class as a threat due to his genetic make-up, it is up to his own intelligence to fight back against not only the ones who hunt him, but the entire ruling class that looks down on everything from their comfortable high-rises.
The goal of Nash and fighting what is essentially the 1% in Korpes’ world is both thrilling and interesting. And danger is never far from the characters in the form of corporate assassins, mass killings, and political intrigue. It is truly a dangerous, but wondrous world to inhabit all at the same time. The city states hide underground from the caustic rains on the surface, while the elites work on new ways to maintain control by subverting the masses under them.
Both a gritty thriller and action-packed adventure, The Korpes File is a fast-paced race to the end, as Nash attempts to survive in this dystopian world. Yet, all of our investment isn’t solely spent on Nash, but on the plethora of other characters who fill these pages. The multiple points-of-view is surprising, especially in a first novel, but Rogers is able to pull this off by making sure all of his characters are dynamic, and at their core real “people.” This was probably one of the best parts of this book, and feeling all of their motivations and emotions was a particular pleasure, especially in a genre when the focus can rely too much on background technology or plot. Some of the pacing at times became a little strange with Rogers’ choice to skip over years in places, but it seemed to be a wash by the end.
It isn’t often that a dystopian thriller can rise on a new set of legs, but Rogers sure does that here and makes sure that the start of his new series starts off running. This book will be a pleasure to readers of all genres, as long as they can tolerate a gritty undertone and sometimes brutal violence. If they can trust Nash, then they will be in good hands.
Pages: 342 | ASIN: B06XCZNTK7
Tags: 942 series, action, adventure, alibris, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, battlestar galactica, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, dystopia, ebook, espionage, fantasy, fiction, future, gene hacking, genetics, goodreads, gritty, ilovebooks, indiebooks, intelligence, ji rogers, kindle, kobo, literature, nook, novel, poltics, publishing, read, reader, reading, science fiction, scifi, shelfari, smashwords, space, spy, star trek, story, suspense, technology, The Korpes File, thriller, writer, writer community, writing
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
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There is never a dull moment in Humphrey Hawksley’s Man on Ice: Russia vs the USA – In Alaska. Not only is there intense action, the gripping story will keep readers glued to the pages until the story is done. This novel is carefully planned and executed in spectacular fashion and it’s hard not to feel the intensity with each sentence. We follow Rake Ozenna as he returns to his home island in Alaska with his fiancé in tow. Rake us a brilliant military veteran and Carrie Walker is a passionate doctor. The story begins with a medical concern over Rake’s niece struggling in childbirth and then explodes into a frontal assault between Russia and the United States of America some 48 hours before the inauguration of a new president.
This book explores the heighten tensions of looming war, the strain a relationship can undergo under such trying times, and the bonds that tie us to those we call family. Each of these themes is expertly crafted as if reading a biography of someone’s life. Characters change, for better or worse, but continue to develop as the story progresses. At first, it might seem overwhelming when readers realize just how intense the topics are that Hawksley is going to address. However, the humanity he affords his characters is genuine. Readers will feel an emotional connection to their fictional lives.
From start to finish Man on Ice is, I think, about risk; what is risked and what is gained. It’s a complicated matter, writing about politics, especially in such a sensitive time. There are so many people, positions, relationships to carefully lay out. Hawksley doesn’t seem to have a problem with weaving a complex narrative that is easy for readers to follow, even for those who may not be politically savvy. This is part of what makes such a great novel and shows readers what a good writer Hawksley is. the fine attention to detail is what gives away the rich research that went into this novel, and Hawksley does his best to be respectful to Eskimo culture and portray the reality these people face in the far north. He takes a hard look at the struggles these people are facing and doesn’t shy away from harsh comments on the reasons why they are in the place they are.
The pace is fast and the energy is high in Humphrey Hawksley’s Man on Ice: Russia vs the USA – In Alaska. It’s a tense situation with Russia threatening invasion while America wrestles with its new president-elect and the delicate touch that politics requires. It’s a journey of one man who has returned home for tender reasons and who leaves his home slightly broken. This book takes a look at the human condition and dances with the delicate relationships formed within. It starts off with darkness and trepidation yet a small piece of hope, only to descend into a flurry of agony and tough decisions. This is more than just a political thriller.
Pages: 224 | ASIN: B079SG2VDG
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