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One Woman, Two Lives

One Woman, Two Lives by [Ajay Nair]

One Woman, Two lives, written by Ajay Nair, is a saga set in South India, describing the challenges women face as they fight the suppression forced upon them by the caste system. There are numerous characters in the novel, but it centers on one family: Kelu and Lakshami and their daughters Narayani and Bhavani. Although Kelu, father and husband is integral in the story, the novel focuses on the three women and their lives and their reactions to the challenges thrust upon them by the caste system. These three women are strikingly different in their approach and reactions to their situations. Lakshami, the mother, finds herself marrying a man of higher caste. Her character grows into this role, and her dialogue and actions change as her status does. Narayani, the eldest daughter accepts her position in life. Bhavani, the younger sister, is not as accepting of the situation. As she grows older, her attitude to the reality of the position of women is reflected in her conversations with her sister. Although tradition would suggest Bhavani show respect and subservience to her father, mother and elder sister respectively, she is often caught ‘speaking out of turn’.  When tragedy strikes, Bhavani engages in her biggest fight yet, breaking quietly from the chains of suppression to seek justice.

One Women, Two Lives is set in Southern India. The setting is well described, and immediately draws the reader into the novel. Outfits for weddings are described in exquisite detail, as are the venues and decorations. The description of the setting, both in terms of the greater setting of Southern India and the individual households are vivid and realistic. Not only does the setting quickly draw the reader in, the descriptions give an authentic feel to this thought-provoking story that reinforces the struggles of the caste system and the women within.

One Woman, Two Lives, is an emotionally-charged saga with insightful commentary on family life. The novel questions the concepts of fate and destiny and highlights the caste system constraints many women were subjected to. The simple structure, authentic characters and vivid setting combine to make Ajay Nair’s novel an enthralling read.

Pages: 121 | ASIN: B08XTSYYN8

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Willingness to Sacrifice

Patricia Catacalos
Patricia Catacalos Author Interview

Dual Duplicity follows a woman who dreams of becoming a physician but holds a secret that could ruin her reputation. What were some sources that informed this novels development?

While researching the Regency Era, I stumbled upon the biography of Dr. James Barry who is my inspiration for this story. His life choices were perfectly aligned with my protagonist’s desire and willingness to sacrifice to achieve her goals. And, I inserted Dr. Barry as an historical personality into my fictional tale.

Julia was a character that I loved following. What was the funnest scene for you to write for her character?

The scene I especially enjoyed writing was when Dr. Bennet Caldwell exposes Julia’s secret and offers her a proposition in return for his silence.

What were some ideas that were important for you to explore in this book?

Highlighting how women’s capabilities and talents were dismissed and suppressed by society. Also, the lengths to which a woman will go, regardless of risks to her reputation, to fulfill her dream.

This is book two in your 1832 Regency Series. What can readers expect in book three?

Gentle and Easy Death is Book 3 in this series. In this novel, someone is killing patients on a hospital ward and the question is…are these ‘mercy killings’ or are these deaths the handiwork of a serial killer? In either case, the perpetrator must be stopped.

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London, 1832…Miss Julia Maxwell has a secret and she fears that her twin Julian will unintentionally betray her while working as an intern with Dr. Bennet Caldwell, Viscount Holmes. If anyone should discover Julia’s secret, it would destroy Julia’s reputation and Julian’s chance to fulfill his dream of being a physician and surgeon. Already others, who wish Julian to fail, plot against him. Much to Julia’s surprise, it will be Bennet who will protect her and Julian.

Australian War Fiction

Matt Strempel
Matt Strempel Author Interview

War of the Sparrows follows a WWII veteran struggling with PTSD as he sets out on a mission of redemption to stop a killer. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The story came from an idea I had about a girl who lives in a loveless home and discovers an attic full of her parent’s things from when they were young and happy. I asked myself, why are the parents miserable? My great grandfather was a Rat of Tobruk, a veteran from World War 2, so that seemed a logical place to start. I wanted there to be an additional layer to the story of a war-veteran father struggling with civilian life, and thought his desire and actions to redeem himself could provide that. Hence, the story begins with the historical abduction of a little boy; a crime that haunts the town and provides Frank the opportunity to earn his salvation. If he can find the man responsible, of course.

Frank is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Frank is a fixer who likes things to be orderly and well-maintained. He is meticulous in everything he does, from his house, to his job as a builder, to the injured birds he cares for in his aviary. But his psychological trauma prevents him from mending the relationship with his daughter. We know Frank is an inherently good man who wants to do the right thing but, after his experiences in the war, he believes he has a terrible price to pay to balance his moral ledger. He’s also in a unique position in terms of his military experience to be able to bring that about.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

1930s-1950s Australia is the setting for this book, a period of time that was in a coming-of-age for the nation. We lost our innocence in a way. People didn’t lock their doors, they were bouyant after the end of WW2, there was a sense of relief, and of pride in our valiant contribution to the defeat of Nazi Germany. But I also thought it unrealistic that many of the returned men and women would just be happy to be home and get on with their lives unaffected. There’s plenty of recent work that explores PTSD in more modern conflicts, especially out of the US, but I haven’t come across much in the way of Australian fiction. The other thing I have often felt was that our Australian troops have always been lauded as soldiers beyond reproach but I thought it naive to think that our boys would have all served honourably at all times. While I was typesetting the book, it was announced there was to be an investigation into Australian soldiers and potential war crimes committed against civilias in Afghanistan. That really resonated with me and confirmed what I felt was a story that hadn’t really been explored, as I said, in Australian war fiction. Ultimately, in WOTS, we witness the loss of innocence of our protagonists and how each approaches the aftermath.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

My next novel is another Australian story called Things are Always Blowing Up in Bangle. It’s a lighter-themed novel that I hope could be available in 2021, but with work and family, that will be a miracle. The hero of the tale is Douglas Jones, the town’s station master. A mild-mannered gentleman who loves his trains and his detective novels, Douglas becomes entangled in Australia’s most famous art heist when the getaway driver is revealed to be living nearby. Bangle is a (fictional) remote mining town in country New South Wales that is famous for two things: the red dust that coats everything, and the abandoned artilery range just out of town. Every night at dusk, kangaroos migrate across the range and detonate unexploded ordinace. So, as the old boys at the pub love to tell the visitors, ‘Between the mine and the exploding kangaroos, things are always blowing up in Bangle.’

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The guns of World War II have been silent for years, but for veteran Frank Miller, there is no peace.

It’s been almost a decade since Frank returned from the horrors of Tobruk a celebrated war hero. But, like so many veterans, he is a broken man. Witness to unspeakable atrocities, he is emotionally paralysed, tortured by guilt, and preparing a final mission to earn his salvation: bringing justice to a killer lurking in the neighbourhood.

Now, on the night of the Rats of Tobruk ten-year reunion, his darkest secrets are going to be uncovered. With a daughter as curious as Francesca, he was never going to keep them concealed forever; it was only a matter of time before she found the key to his hidden attic.

Dual Duplicity (1832 Regency Series Book 2)

Dual Duplicity (1832 Regency Series Book 2) by [Patricia Catacalos]

Dual Duplicity by Patricia Catacalos is an enchanting story of Julie Maxwell, a young eligible bachelor who becomes involved with Lord Wesley, a doctor working during the cholera crisis. While she becomes quickly intrigued with her new love interest, she quickly realizes the complexities within their developing relationship, adding some conflict and challenges to their acquaintanceship. As close family and the relationship’s intentions are called into question, Julia must explore much more than she initially expected.

The story progresses quickly, giving the reader a clear picture of each character, their place within Julia’s life, and where they stand in greater society. Julia quickly learns how integrated her life becomes with Lord Wesley, even from a respectable distance. As her brother works with the doctor as an intern, these developments wield incredible attention within an ever-expanding circle of associates and connections.

As the characters develop, a few unexpected plot twists emerge, changing the storyline’s trajectory and building the reader’s anticipation to discover more. The book’s pace moves quickly and steady enough to keep the reader engaged without missing any details or diminishing any events. You discover that every description is key to the characters, their goals, and the story’s direction.

I thoroughly enjoyed the story’s development and how one layer of plot twist unravels carefully to unveil another. Each chapter paves the way for another exciting shift in events that keeps the reader turning one page after another. Lady Maxwell is a spectacle that doesn’t disappoint, and she’ll keep you and the other characters on your toes with her unparalleled sense of wit and intelligence.

Good storytelling is what gives readers incentive to enjoy a page-turner from beginning to end. Dual Duplicity is an exceptional example of fantastic narration, offering readers a bird’s eye view of every move and twist without revealing too much at once. The characters are exciting and fun to follow from one scene to the next. I highly recommend treating yourself to a thrilling story with captivating characters with nostalgic visuals of a decadent era.

Pages: 228 | ASIN: B07GWX74HJ

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The Light from Darkness

The Light from Darkness: A Story of the Civil War (The Life and Redemption of Teddy Miller) by [John Bebout]

The Light From Darkness follows Teddy Miller who, after years of sending unanswered letters to his father, decides to break his father out of Fort Jefferson, a behemoth of a prison. Author John W. Bebout has written a fast-paced action-adventure novel with lots of sharp twists as Teddy gets himself into more trouble than he anticipated.

The Light From Darkness is a short novel but suspenseful historical adventure novel that captures the heart of the reader and guides them Teddy’s emotional turmoil. Readers are provided with a quick section at the beginning of the story to know what Teddy sets out to do and from there the adventure begins, many things open up to Teddy and challenge him which makes him feel guilty, unsure, and lost. Most of these moments will pull at readers heart, if not fully allowing them to empathize with the character.

This is a fast paced story of the Civil War that sets a quick pace early on that rarely stops for details. The charm and humor embedded within the story provides a nice contrast to the emotionally-charged adventure that Teddy sets out on. Numerous times I found myself chuckling or grinning. This made the atmosphere a bit more light-hearted and fun in contrast to some heavy moments. This all paired well with the prose which was simple and easy-to-read, which works especially well with short novels.

The author effectively made the setting both grounded and vibrant even with the tense undertones of opposing cultures and peoples existing. This was achieved through the side characters being fun and lively while also making clear how uncaring and, at times, destructive nature can be, especially when at sea for long periods of time. Even when Teddy was not at sea, he seemed to stay close enough which allowed for new characters to be introduced while still holding love for the ocean.

The Light From Darkness is a riveting historical fiction novel that follows an intriguing character on an unforgettable journey that readers will certainly enjoy.

Pages: 193 | ASIN:  B08SHTPCSP

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War of The Sparrows

After the gruesome events that took place in Tobruk, Libya; celebrated war veteran Frank Miller returns to his hometown to get on with his life. He gets a stable job and has a loving daughter. However, as happens with many war survivors, he suffers from PTSD. Frank is unable to emotionally connect with anyone and is haunted by the horrors he was forced to witness and commit. When the ten-year-reunion for Tobruk veterans takes place, Frank fears for his integrity as his darkest secrets resurface in the face of a curious daughter as she closes in on his attic and everything hidden within. So when a new mission in the deserts of northern Africa arises, Frank accepts in the name of redemption. Only this time rather than facing german troops he must find a feared child murderer.

War of The Sparrows is an emotionally-charged historical fiction novel. This stirring book by Matt Strempel narrates events of Tobruk during the second World War in an engaging and emotionally resonant manner. An event not as well known by many people but just as bloody and gruesome as famous dates such as D-Day. Frank Miller, our protagonist, is an emotionally detached Australian war veteran, and his character feels genuine throughout the novel and was someone I could really connect with. He is protective of his secrets and fears their exposure to his daughter. Francesca is Mr. Miller’s daughter, she is loving, curious, and intense at times but always with the intention of taking care of her father. What makes these characters feel real is that they are based off of the author´s actual family members, so he describes them in a way that is familiar and with a hint of his real emotions towards them.

The writing is beautiful, perfectly portraying PTSD and showing flashbacks of the events that caused it. Not only is the book quick-paced and entertaining to read but in a way it’s very educational on the events described. There are not many accounts of what happened during this time as opposed to the same old war stories we see in the media.

Reminiscent of Julia Navarro´s Tell Me Who I Am and perfect for fans of historical fiction and action/suspense. An amazing storyline, educational content, historically accurate events, and real and relatable characters all combine to make War of The Sparrows a story that is dramatic and engrossing.

Pages: 324 | ASIN: B08VKWCX3Y

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Her to Journey Through Healing

Susan G Mathis
Susan G. Mathis Author Interview

Devyn’s Dilemma follows a young woman trying to escape her past and finds much more than a job at The Towers castle on Dark Island. How did the idea for this novel start and change as you wrote?

I took three trips to Singer Castle (The Towers) with the docent of the island. What a joy it was to envision Devyn walking and working there! Her story developed deeper with each trip to the island, and so did her backstory as her brother got meaner and meaner.

Devyn is a charming character that I loved following. What were some sources that informed her character development?

I love interweaving the real characters (the Bournes) and imaginary characters like Devyn and Brice, though sometimes it’s challenging. As Devyn’s relationship grows with the other characters, she developed quite naturally. But, I must admit, there were times when she decided to do something unusual and I had to question her motives. Smiles.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Hope is a theme woven throughout all of my books because it’s so needed in this day and age. But with Devyn, I wanted her to journey through healing from family abuse and a low self-esteem—and she did.

This is book two in your Thousand Islands Gilded Age Series. What can readers expect in book three?

I’m writing chapter twenty at present, and it’s contracted to release Spring 2022. I must admit, I’m having a blast with this one.

It’s called Peyton’s Promise, and here’s the idea: It’s the summer of 1902. Peyton Quinn is tasked to prepare the grand Calumet Castle ballroom for a spectacular 200-guest summer gala. But when her pyrotechnics father becomes ill, she takes over the plans for the fireworks display despite being socially ostracized.

Patrick Quinn, Calumet’s carpenter and Peyton’s childhood chum, hopes to win her heart, but her unconventional undertakings cause a rift. Peyton must ignore prejudices and persevere, or she could lose her cool, lose Patrick’s love and respect, and forever become the talk of local gossip if she fails.

Susan G Mathis is an international award-winning, multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. Susan has been published more than twenty times in full-length novels, novellas, and non-fiction books.

Her first two books of The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, Devyn’s Dilemma, and Katelyn’s Choice are available now, and book three, Peyton’s Promise, comes out Spring 2022. The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, Christmas Charity, and Sara’s Surprise, and her newest, Reagan’s Reward, are also available. Susan’s books have won numerous awards, including two Illumination Book Awards, the American Fiction Award, the Indie Excellence Book Award, and two Literary Titan Book Award. Reagan’s Reward is also a finalist in the Selah Awards. Visit http://www.SusanGMathis.com for more.

Susan is also a published author of two premarital books, two children’s picture books, stories in a dozen compilations, and hundreds of published articles. Susan makes her home in Colorado Springs and enjoys traveling around the world.

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Longing for love, can she escape the shadows that follow her to Dark Island?

1910, Thousand Islands, New York. Others may consider The Towers castle on Dark Island an enchanting summer retreat, but to Devyn McKenna, it’s a prison. Yet as she works as a maid for Frederick Bourne, former president of the Singer Sewing Machine Company, her life blossoms under the kindness of his family and fascinating entrepreneurs such as J.P. Morgan, Thomas Lipton, and Captain Vanderbilt. But more than anything, the growing friendship of Mr. Bourne’s valet, Brice McBride, begins to pry away the painful layers that conceal Devyn’s heart.

Brice is drawn to the mysterious Devyn even though he’s certain she’s hiding a secret, one far more dangerous than the clues they find in The Towers that hint of a treasure on the island. When Devyn is accused of stealing Bourne’s investment in Vanderbilt’s New York City subway expansion, he might not be able to protect her.

The Seventh Circle

The Seventh Circle by [Thomas Bauer]

The Seventh Circle by Thomas Bauer is an impassioned historical fiction novel demonstrating the human race’s inhumanity towards others. The novel is a literary gem set in the little Bavarian town of Fussen during the Third Reich (Nazi Germany), showcasing horrors endured by people due to inhumane laws. Karl, the son of an affluent business owner, is accused of homosexuality, which is illegal during this period. He is kept in a Nazi concentration camp and endures physical, emotional, and psychological trauma at his captors’ hands. Will Karl survive this horrific trial, or is he doomed forever?

In an intense and soul-wrenching manner, Thomas Bauer writes traumatic incidents that will stay with you long after you have finished reading the novel. The writing is unfeigned brutal and keeps you engrossed till the end. Some of the scenes are sexually explicit and horrific. The details unfold in a manner that makes it difficult to experience for a sensitive reader. One of the book’s beauties is the relationship between Karl and his mother, who is aware of her son’s sexuality and supports him, but this relationship isn’t explored much. Other than the phenomenal storyline, the structure of the book is also well organized. The chapters are synoptic and meaty, with no space for fluff writing or floundering. The story begins as a simple love story, but slowly turns into a sinister tale of terror, betrayal, abuse, and survival instinct.

The only issue I faced with the book was the use of uncommon and unfamiliar terms for which I had to use a dictionary. Still, it increases the writing’s authenticity, and improves my vocabulary. Bauer is unmercifully realistic and honest in his depiction of this story. His attention to detail and detailed descriptions give the reader some visceral experiences.

The book is an extraordinary tale that brings awareness to the crimes against sexual preferences and society’s discrimination, which is prevalent today. The book will interest anyone who loves reading emotionally charged historical fiction that accurately portrays the time frame. While the subject matter is depressing, it is a must-read for the present generation, unaware of the degree of historical oppression faced by the LGBTQ community.

Pages: 230 | ASIN: B08FMTTP69

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