A Country Among Countries by R.L. Dean is a science fiction thriller with deep socio-political commentary. The lives of many characters are intertwined and move towards a satisfying climax. Tetsuya is concerned with ideas of justice and duties and carries the burden of his past mistakes as a cop. Misaki and Middleton are caught up in a complicated game of loyalty and trust where neither can give up their secrets without harming the other. Compton is a soldier struggling with the pressure of tough decisions that lay ahead of him. The UN is intending the economic ruin of Mars by creating a dependence on the businesses on Earth. All of them are connected through Ganymede, a planet where the assassination of Governor Jung had occurred.
There are interesting illustrations woven throughout by R.L. Dean that builds a delightful tension before the chapters. All the characters are given a rich inner life. All their motivations and behavior came from a natural place. I almost felt like I was part of their group, and that is definitely the biggest strength of this book. The characters are three-dimensional and feel alive that you can’t help but feel that this is happening somewhere in an alternate universe. The banter between Asha and her dad was endearing and adorable. There’s also a lot of diversity in the characters- even though some of their origins are not explicitly mentioned, a variety of cultures are portrayed in a realistic manner. In the science fiction that I have encountered, this is a pretty uncommon element, but greatly appreciated. On the flip side, there are hordes of characters present in this book. So it was a little hard keeping track of all of them, but I found that making a note of their names and the relations in a text file helped.
Of course, since it is a science fiction novel, there were some fantastic and fascinating gadgets and devices- like the air recycler systems and the “boxes of water” in hatch pads. I was intrigued by the descriptions of the different spaceships and the inter-space transportation. There are some parts of the story that felt like a commentary on the ongoing political situation in some countries. Especially when a character shares the same name as a leader of one of the most populous countries in the world. However, this didn’t bother me much as the fictional aspect is obviously kept at the forefront.
A Country Among Countries is a thrilling space adventure, with something in it for everyone, especially for people interested in examining the modern political world from a new perspective.
Pages: 265 | ASIN: B08PSBYZB2
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What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
Well, it started off as a love story and that continued to be the prevailing theme throughout book 1, as Mark and Sharon’s relationship continued to blossom. But later, the idea of the town of Black Oak took on a life of its own, with the people, the history and the setting evolved. It was so organic, that I had to cultivate that and build it out, so that as the love with Mark and Sharon grew, so did the richness of the narrative in the town, paralleling one another perfectly. As the sequels to book 1 are written, I think readers will be delighted as to how the landscape vastly changes and brings them along on a journey they least expect. I like to dramatically shift the prose of the story so that people are never comfortable or find themselves reading a predictable novel. You have to be prepared for something ‘new’ each time you crack open the next book. That’s why the first books is titled as “Chapter 1.”
How did the mystery develop for this story? Did you plan it before writing or did it develop organically?
I have always been intrigued with the paranormal; a world beyond the natural that peeks into the spiritual one. Black Oak is a town that is immersed in a rich fictional history of witches, warlocks, wolves and such, that people will find familiar as the art of storytelling is concerned, but the original spin that did with the traditional stories of old, makes it feel rich and new. That was the why of the story, but the mystery – the what and the how – came about in the characters and how their individuals lives play out over time. Each person is linked to the past of Black Oak, while having their own issues in the present that they must deal with, like ordinary people do all the time. I started with the past as a foundation for their narratives, and then the organic growth of each person came about by their present day tales that are quite natural and relatable to the reading audience.
This is Chapter 1 in The Loveless Chronicles. What can readers expect in Chapter 2?
Escalation! It will all be bigger. Everything in Chapter 2 will be directly linked to the setup of the story in Chapter 1. The characters’ story arcs will be bigger, the setting widens – with new locations being brought into the mix – and the action revs up as we get more paranormal themes weaved into the prose. Also, the backstory about Navartis is further explained to give a depth to the story that most people are not expecting. Readers will be un for a real treat.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: author, author interview, Black Oak, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, ebook, fantasy, ficiton, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, mystery, nook, novel, paranormal, read, reader, reading, story, supernatural, suspense, thriller, Titus Murphy, urban fantasy, writer, writing
Afterworld follows Leon as he discovers a new world after death and explores questions of life and the afterlife. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?
As you rightly identified in your book review, there were various religious aspects in my book. As a child, I was raised to be a Christian, and since have found myself towards a more agnostic approach in life for many different reasons.
The story is built on that from start to finish while adding in ideas of other religions and gods. If they are indeed real, who is to say one way or another for sure and what is undoubtedly right or wrong in the grand scheme?
So that’s where the story came from which I started back around 2010. When my grandfather passed away in February, that is when I got back to completing the book.
Leon is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?
Both Leon and his grandfather are actually heavily inspired by my own life and my grandfather’s. My grandfather was a farmer and always did his best to help people as he could, and others did the same for him
when he was battling his cancer and no longer able to farm his wheat fields. I created Leon knowing those factors, and what I strive to do is to help those around me, best I can. I honestly do find our world more mundane than not, you see fantasy movies and read stories, and the possibilities are endless; yet, we seem to be stuck in a world full of the mundane. So I guess you could say that the way I was raised, and what I’ve learned over the years from taking a look at myself are essential factors behind his development. There is still plenty of room for growth in both Leon, and myself, so hopefully, you’ll see that when the sequel finds itself completed.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
Humanity, as a whole, can do some extraordinary things if we are willing to come together. We just need to be willing to set aside our own aspirations and greed for only a little. You definitely get a glimpse of what humanity has the capabilities to do, both on the positive, and on the grim darker side. Other than religion, my political nature definitely played a role in this book. I think, for the most part, we are starting to see people come together more as a society than run apart. You can see this through things such as the European Union, United Nations, WHO, etc. Even if they are not perfect, and some actors shouldn’t be in the positions they are, it at least gives hopes that our world is closer. The fact that we are willing to communicate at all to solve things shows just that. This doesn’t always work, but it is better than if it weren’t there at all.
This is book one in your Next Life series. What can readers expect in book two?
So, this is where things get a little bit complicated. The Next Life series deals directly with Leon and his journey and struggles with the events in Afterworld and our universe. There is also the Next Life Universe series which is where the website gets its name, which may or may not be connected directly with Leon or even with each other. I’m building a universe that I like to call the mix between Stephen King and DC comics. The next book coming out is The Ripper which deals with the mysterious story of Jack the Ripper in a whole new perspective on the character. This will eventually be woven in with the Next Life series, so it’s worth the read. The third book will be The Desperado’s Tale which then tells of someone from a different world, that’s all I’ll say about that one. Then finally we pick back up with Leon in my 4th book Untitled (Next Life, #2). This will deal with Leon upon his return to Earth and in search of an ancient weapon. Along the way, you will see him encountering those that linger in the shadows. You will get a glimpse of this aspect in The Ripper, but it will be expanded upon in this book. Then there will be the witches and others that Leon will come in contact with and you’ll see how those relationships develop. All this as he tries to make his way back to Afterworld in a race against time. For every day on Earth, there are 100 days that pass by there.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: adventure, afterworld, author, author interview, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, chrisitan, dark fantasy, ebook, fantasy, ficiton, goodreads, James G. Robertson, kindle, kobo, literature, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, science fiction, scifi, story, writer, writing
Merren and the Heron, by Tony Dow is an adorable story about a class of children visiting the zoo. Their teacher instructs them to take a picture with an animal that rhymes with their name. As the children wander around the zoo, they struggle to get their pictures. Then, an even worse problem arises, they can’t find their classmate Merren! As the kids continue to search for Merren, they still haven’t gotten their pictures and now there’s too much to worry about!
Tony Dow’s story is filled with lovable characters and exciting rhymes. It engages young readers, allowing them to learn rhyming structure, while solving a fun mystery. The drawings on every page have colors that pop, making it even more appealing. Overall, Dow provides a story that children can read many times without getting bored.
I am giving Merren and the Herren, by Tony Down 5 out of 5 stars. Its mystery filled storyline and use of engaging literary techniques makes the story stand out from most children’s books. Its colorful drawings bring the characters to life and makes the audience even more absorbed with the story. Merren and the Heron is one of the most unique children’s stories I have read this month.
Pages: 13 | ASIN : B08LBQX961
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Brand-new treasury agent Kristi Blocker is tasked to find two missing coworkers in the vast Atchafalaya Basin: a swamp larger than Rhode Island.
But after Kristi herself gets kidnapped, things get complicated. Fighting for her life, she escapes to the depths of the swamp. Meanwhile, the Sheriff of St. Mary Parish asks Hawk Theriot – the swamp ranger – to find Kristi. The only federal warden in the Atchafalaya, he knows the area like the back of his hand.
With corrupt cops, private investigators and federal agents all having their own spoon in the same gumbo, can Kristi and Hawk figure out what happened in the swamp, and bring those responsible to justice?
Posted in book trailer
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A Gentleman Killer’s Society is an intriguing book that will have a chill running down your spine. The story follows James, a young boy whose loner lifestyle lands him in an eccentric and deadly group. James gets to be part of a serial killer book club, a group which despite making him feel like he belongs, gets him to engage in dangerous activities. The innocent James, who the reader gets to understand slowly, morphs into a character with a killer mind. Taking the life of another human being is no easy task as James comes to learn. James has no guts to kill yet all eyes are on him. The character also gets into a dilemma as, despite not wanting to kill, James does not want to leave the group as he feels the members are now in his close circle.
Noah John is raw with his words, brutal with the character formation, unforgiving when it comes to scenes, and very creative. The main story is like no other. As a reader, you are constantly surprised by the turn of events as Noah John adds various exciting elements in his narration. Nothing prepares you for the gory scenes and the unmerciful nature of the main characters. Reading A Gentlemen Killers’ Society gives one the impression of being an extra character in a horror film.
I loved the paradox that was James, his conflicting self made him an unusual character that I enjoyed following. The author’s characters are odd, uncanny, solid, and expressive. The development of the plot, growth of characters, and mystery surrounding some of the characters made the book a consistently compelling read. I enjoyed the satire in the book. There are some parts of the story that are hilarious, leaving the reader in stitches. One of my favorite things about Noah’s writing is how he introduces characters. The way each character is described gives you an understanding of the characters’ physique and their mental state, which is needed in such a riveting psychological thriller. A Gentlemen Killers’ Society is an engrossing crime thriller that expertly uses satire to deliver some thought provoking commentary on society.
Pages: 316 | ASIN: B07W462R4C
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The Little Breadwinner by Lucia Mann is about the Civil War that destroyed and raged in El Salvador. Thousands lost their lives, and those left behind were terrified, lost, alone, and wondering what future they would have after such horrors and tragedy. Going beyond telling us about the war, the author lets us go more in-depth and get a more personal account. In doing so, we feel a personal connection to the characters that make this a story that needs to be told. One woman, in particular, is Estella. She suffered and was brutally traumatized by soldiers. Throughout the story, you find yourself wondering, will she too be lost before the war ends?
The war was brutal, and I wanted to weep throughout this story. I feel that this is the reaction that everyone will have reading this heart-wrenching book. It’s a good thing for people to read because many people don’t know their history or any other history, and we don’t learn or evolve by staying ignorant. Don’t think that this is a book for you to enjoy (at least not that way). This book is meant to teach you something and draw attention to how awful things happen to good and innocent people in war. You can feel the author’s emotions, and the writing was done so well that you won’t have any difficulties understanding the message she wanted you to see.
I felt like I was inside the story because of how well the author wrote it. I also felt like my heart was breaking as I continued reading because I imagined the war and the people’s suffering. As a sensitive person, I did have to stop a few times, but that was only because I felt so sad that this was based on real events. The author is someone I will read again because of her powerful descriptions and writing ability—notably, the ability to connect you to characters like Estella. I also appreciated that there were facts because I wanted to be as informed as possible and felt that that was something the author had done successfully.
Pages: 272 | ASIN: B08JMCZ7VR
Tags: author, book, book review, bookblogger, ebook, fantasy, ficiton, goodreads, historical fantasy, historical fiction, history, kindle, kobo, literature, lucia mann, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, story, The Little Breadwinner, war, War and Survival in the Salvadoran Heartland, writer, writing
Hinterland follows Nicholas who must care for his daughter and wife amid dramatic events. What was the inspiration for the idea behind this novel?
Hinterland took eight years to write. It went through a lot of stages of development, but the story was always about the incident that occurred when Kate was a child and the consequences that had on her relationship with Nicholas. The inspiration came with Kathleen. I remember the first time she appeared on the page and she was such a strong character there was no ignoring her. It took many drafts to get her back into a corner, and to let Kate have a bigger part.
With Hinterland, it was little snippets that inspired me. The scene where Kathleen’s dresses are spaced apart in the wardrobe and Nicholas and Kate stand before them, feeling the reality of her absence has stayed throughout, and I believe when I wrote that one scene the story started to unfold.
Nicholas is an intriguing and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?
The question, can a person change, was a driving force behind this novel- Also there is the notion of the cycle of abuse and our ability and need to change it. From the start, Nicholas’ childhood was marred by his father’s drinking and violence. He loved and hated that man. Nicholas would have wanted acknowledgement from his father, but he was also afraid of becoming a man just like him. This duality is what drives Nicholas. This aggression that simmers under the surface and his gentle love for his daughter are two very separate parts of him, though both scare him.
The former because an act of violence years ago cost him the love his life. While his love for his daughter makes him feel small and helpless. There were a few times over the years where I questioned if I liked Nicholas. Ultimately, I believe the mistakes he makes are done for the right reasons but is very much up to the reader to agree or disagree.
One reviewer wrote that she felt an air of evil around Nicholas, another wrote that he was a caring and loving father, and neither interpretation surprises me since Nicholas’s actions are open to interpretation.
The novel explores many different kinds of family issues. What were some themes you wanted to focus on?
From the very first draft of Hinterland, I wanted to examine how childhood trauma can affect the adult. At first, Kate was a young woman trapped in a bad marriage, and to gain the strength to escape her controlling husband, she needed to understand what happened with her mother, but it didn’t take long before I realized I had to start with Kathleen and Nicholas and move on from there.
The novel also examines the harmful consequences of keeping secrets in a family, especially regarding mental illness and how quickly we can judge those who suffer from mental illness. Nicholas felt that Kate would be better off without her mother, but he was not the first person to suggest this. How can we make these assumptions? Are we correct? Would Kate have been better growing up with her moods and unpredictable behavior or shadowed by her absence? Can we assume what is best for the children in these circumstances? These themes as well as the question of whether or not a person can change pushed the story forward.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I recently finished “Our Wandering’ which is examines memory and how we choose to remember details.
It’s set in Ireland. Mona’s younger sister Stace ran away for the first time when she was thirteen, but it wasn’t the last time. The family were constantly afraid Stace might take off. When Stace runs away again at twenty-two, Mona searches for her, while questioning what happened when they were children. Through memory and searching, Mona begins to unravel the truth and paint a picture of her sister that is completely different to what she once believed.
My agent has the book. Hopefully, we’ll be hearing something soon, but there is no date set now.