Some people are impulsive, and some are very calculating and measure every move before they make it. Others wait for someone to tell them what to do and when to do it. Then there is Jaime. When Jaime decides to begin life anew, he does it based on a movie. Not everyone can say they look to settle in the town in which a movie was set, but Jaime can. He’s a man with a plan to have no plan and looks forward to seeing what his future may hold in Fort Davis, Texas. With absolutely no idea how he will make a living and no long term plans, Jaime sets out on his own to make his way in the world.
Tumbleweed and Dreams: Book I From the Trilogy – The Life and Stories of Jaime Cruz by T.P. Graf, chronicles the experiences of Jaime Cruz as he starts a new life in a sleepy Texas town. He has left behind a life in California that was less than successful and has begun to haunt him. Jaime is looking for a fresh start in every aspect of his life, and holds out hope that he will not only find his way to a rewarding career but also to a meaningful relationship. As Jaime begins to shape his life in Texas, he meets and becomes close to one character after another, each with his or her own unique story to share.
This is a book as much about relationships as it is the main character’s plight. Graf has given readers a beautifully crafted tale. From the intricate descriptions of the diverse cultures found in Texas to Jaime’s thoughtful exploration of religion, the author shows readers a depth not often found in most works of fiction. Jaime is an especially introspective character, and readers find themselves growing closer to him throughout the course of his story.
Graf manages to keep readers enthralled with Jaime’s day-to-day experiences chapter after chapter. While this first in a series is not a thriller or especially dramatic in its own right, it is captivating due to the author’s ability to present a well-developed main character who reaches out and grabs readers by the hand and carries them along on the journey that is beginning to shape his new life.
I recommend Tumbleweed and Dreams: Book I From the Trilogy – The Life and Stories of Jaime Cruz to any reader looking for a beautifully penned tale of self-discovery and a strong main character who stands out in a crowd. Jaime Cruz, a memorable and relatable figure, will linger in readers’ minds far beyond the final page.
Pages: 210 | ASIN: B08P27HYBD
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Jack Sterling and the Spear of Destiny is the first installment in a suspenseful adventure series by author Ray Griggs. The story follows marine archaeologist Jack Spears. Tormented by his fathers mysterious disappearance and following the lead of a gold coin that proved the existence of an undocumented nazi U-boat allegedly containing Hitlers Spear of Destiny; a powerful artifact that according to legend, whoever weilds it holds the power to rule the world. Unfortunately for Sterling, he’s not the only one after the Spear, as there are powerful people willing to do anything to get their hands on it. Desperate to avoid the artifact from falling into the wrong hands, and to protect his friends and family, Sterling embarks on an underwater journey to retrieve the U-boat and its contents. He faces dangerous obstacles and uncovers dark secrets that may change everything. Will Sterling be able to pull through and do what’s right, or will he fall victim to the strong pull of the ocean’s secrets?
First time author Ray Griggs really got creative on this one, a washed-up archaeologist, a magical artifact, and a dangerous foe, all blend to make quite a thrilling historical fiction novel. The incredibly original plot is filled with cliffhangers and plot-twists that always kept me guessing. While I enjoyed this story overall I felt that there was some style choices, coupled with some grammatical errors, that slowed this story down a bit.
Jack Sterling is a well defined character that is intriguing and was a character I desperately wanted to learn more about. Sterling’s long-lost childhood friend Dymitry, offered the story a great relief, but the story remains focused on our protagonist’s development through this dramatic adventure. Jack was a character whos motivations were clear and the story is definitely one that thrives with a strong protagonist. The author leaves readers with a dramatic cliffhanger that perfectly sets up a series of novels that is sure to follow in the vein of campy theatrical adventures like Indiana Jones or The Librarians. Jack Sterling and the Spear of Destiny is an ambitions historical thriller that will take readers on a unique adventure.
Pages: 275 | ASIN: B08NTWC2NW
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Sarge made a promise, but he isn’t invested in keeping it. His men do not hesitate to remind him that he once told them that the Seventh Cavalry had made its last mission. Yet, here they are preparing again and listening to the list of orders to which they have all grown accustomed and about to set out on a rescue mission after which they all plan to rest, regroup, and recuperate. Once the group manages to agree on a leader for the mission, the wheels begin to turn and they are off on a path that will lead them again into the unknown.
The Last Mission of the Seventh Cavalry: Book Two, by Charles Brindley, picks up where Book One of the same name left off. Sarge, the fearless leader of the aptly named Delta Platoon, Alpha Company, Second Battalion, Twenty-Second Division of the Seventh Cavalry, U.S. Army, and his unique group of characters inhabit the lush home of the late Consul Lucius Aemillus Paullus. Their needs are more than met, and they are living their best lives. Duty, however, calls. They are needed immediately on a rescue mission that may take much longer than any of them expect.
As with Book One, Brindley does a brilliant job of making fantasy feel like a part of history. His characters are all stand-outs with well-developed backstories he shares with readers in this installment. Getting to know each one right out of the gate helps readers understand each and every idiosyncrasy and how they relate to the mission at hand. Again, I am in awe of how Brindley manages to make his writing come across as realistic while giving it all the elements of a full-blown epic fantasy.
Humor is a large part of Brindley’s work. As serious as the mission is, the characters never fail to include quips and jabs at one another that make the reading less heavy. Not a scenario passes where the characters don’t insert humor and cutting remarks aimed at keeping the overall mood light and the characters more relatable.
I highly recommend The Last Mission of the Seventh Cavalry: Book Two to any reader who enjoys fantasy adventure as much as they crave well-developed storylines. Fans of strong female main characters will find Brindley’s work especially satisfying–nowhere else will readers find a more diverse and intriguing group of leading females.
Pages: 291 | ASIN: B08STJTJBL
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In The Shadow Of The Kingmakers by Vahid Imani is a thrilling historical fiction novel set in 1920s Iran. We follow James Malcolm a British spy stationed in the Middle East during a tumultuous time in history. Malcolm plans on sabotaging American interests in Persia, but before his plan can unfold an international scandal erupts. Malcolm is thrown into the middle of a dangerous fight for oil and power between American diplomats, double agents and soviet spies.
Author Vahid Imani’s writing captured my attention from the start of the story and held it to the very end. The book is a little over 300 pages but because the story is so enthralling the pages go by quickly. The reader immediately travels back to 1920s Persia. The setting of the story is vividly described and expertly sets up an exotic backdrop to this rousing story. The plot of the story is complex, as international politics usually are, but Imani’s writing is smooth and gently eases the reader into the plot, making the story and the various characters easy to follow.
Throughout the story you begin to sympathize with Persian people and their families because they are in the middle of a political battle and are essentially collateral damage. The characters are expertly developed, grounded and easy to empathize with. I was able to easily connect with Malcolm because I understood his motivations. This leads to some really hair-raising scenes as you get fully invested in the character and the dangerous situations he finds himself in become much more suspenseful.
Author Vahid Imani has shown readers a different side of the petroleum industry as well as the key players involved. In The Shadow of the Kingmakers is an explosive and gripping read, with intense characters all set against a turbulent historical backdrop. Readers looking for a fast and complex historical thriller will find themselves lost in this story.
Pages: 322 | ASIN: B07NHC5XGX
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Dance of Hearts is a riveting retelling of a classic story with a strong female protagonist and some clever twists. What drew you to Cinderella’s story and inspired you to rewrite this fairy tale?
The story began as a writer’s challenge, but I was immediately taken with the idea of re-writing it as a study in manners, like a Jane Austen tale. Re-telling classics so they appeal to a modern reader can be tricky since many of the heroines in these tales aren’t the sassy heroines we tend to read about today. The difficulty for an author is how we can write characters that remain true to the original and to a historical romance, while also making them enjoyable for modern readers.
I enjoyed the direction of Melinda’s character. What were some things you wanted to keep the same from the classic story and what were some new traits you wanted to introduce?
I feel the essence of the Cinderella tale is of a person who is downtrodden but still succeeds despite their challenges. She takes a chance to do something she otherwise wouldn’t and it pays off for her. Similarities to the original tale include a family situation that is not ideal, being the unpaid servant of the family, and a chance at true love.
While there is no glass slipper in Dance of Hearts, there is a magical dress given as a gift by a mysterious benefactor. The role of “prince” becomes someone more real in this Jane Austen world where fairy magic is present.
What was the funniest scene in the story for you to write?
Probably this won’t be the same for readers, but when Melinda has to chomp on her toast in order to remain silent for it was a realistic gesture we all have had to do when around relatives at some time or another. LOL.
Do you plan to write other stories based on literary classics?
Yes, Dance of Hearts is the first in a series where each tale is a standalone. Beauty and the Beast is retold in the next story, Price of a Rose. This collection will include fairytales familiar to many readers but also some lesser known fairytales that will be enjoyable due to being fresh and new.
Posted in Interviews
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Intrepid Spirit follows a disgraced Navy Lieutenant as he’s given command of an old warship and uses it and his intellect to stop a terrorist plot. What was the inspiration for the setup to your riveting story?
I combined my long-standing fondness for USS Constitution, US naval history and the age of sail with the events of 9/11. As Constitution was built to fight the Islamic terrorists of 200 years ago, it occurred to me to put her back in a fight that has apparently never really ended.
Moses Redding is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?
I wanted to distinguish the novel from the usual action/adventure military thrillers. I wanted it to be a more satisfying and enduring read. For that it had to have characters and human conditions the reader can relate to and become more emotionally involved with. I wanted to make the story as much character driven as plot driven. For that I needed a main character that needed a character arc to create conflict and resolution. He had to be a navy hero, suggesting an alpha male, but with a history and a complexity that creates both problems for himself as well as solutions for the broader conflict in the story. He was a lot of fun to write, especially the humorous parts. Making the ship herself a character that affects Redding’s transformation, and that he connects with, was key to completing that arc and setting Redding on a course to fulfill a destiny for the both he and the ship.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
The most important one was the creation of a terrorist plot that was both global in scope and believable. I wanted the stakes to be as high as possible. A lot of research went into learning, for example, the number of terrorists organizations operating here in the US and around the world. That was eye opening, as was researching the relevant parts of the Qu’ran and the interpretations of them by Muslim scholars.
To carry out that plot, I wanted an antagonist who would be the equal of Redding. To lead a world-wide jihad, he would have to be brilliant and ruthless, but also charismatic and with a special quality that would destine him to that role. That need created Colonel Farzad, who prompted more research into mid-east politics and Islamic beliefs to build an authentic and very special character. Even that special quality he needed was the result of research into celestial events in that region in a year when Farzad could have been born, as well as Islamic culture with respect to such events.
Romance and magic were also important themes and, let’s face it, they go together. Sailing is a very romantic experience and I would ad a magical one at that. Constitution’s history includes recorded episodes of haunting. That played into my desire to make her a character in the story and one that affected not only the character arc of Redding, but the outcome of the epic battle itself. I wanted her to be like a giant sea creature with a cosmic connection who is seemingly aware of the humans riding on her decks and her place in history. Much to his surprise, Redding develops a kind of love affair with the ship that parallels his relationship with Dr. Miriam Hanna, another complex character with a history of her own that creates barriers between herself and Redding.
Finally, history itself was an important theme. The story ties the ship’s history, which is also the origins of the history of the US in the middle east, with the present day geopolitical landscape in that region, adding a hook and a twist to the story that I think only Constitution could provide.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m working full time to get this novel published. All my energy is going there, but I have another military story in mind to write next. It’s a WWII story that will also need a lot of research, but should be both challenging and fun to write.
Author Link: Website
Posted in Interviews
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Fuse returns to Burma in 1941 to look for Kayin. He left Raji behind in Virginia to recuperate from her ordeal, but she promised to join him later in Mandalay. It has been eight years since Fuse and Raji left Burma on the ill-fated training mission to Ethiopia. Since then he has not heard anything from Kayin. She is probably married by now or at least in a relationship with someone, but he has to find out, just to be sure she’s all right. What he discovers at the old hotel is something completely unexpected.
Posted in book trailer
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If you’re looking for a heartfelt coming of age story, you should definitely read Mike DeLucia’s Being Brothers. This book takes readers through the life of Jackie, an 11-year old boy growing up in the Bronx in the 70s. It specifically focuses on his relationship with his brother Sal and how their mutual love for baseball brought them together.
The fact that the brothers’ story is told as a screenplay written by Mark Marino, a writer who digs into his own life to birth the character that is Jackie, makes it even more intriguing. The story within a story narrative allows us to be in a unique position where we are both an insider and an outsider, creating an intimacy that is hard to replicate.
Moreover, the author’s knowledge of baseball is so vast that the game scenes could be mistaken for real-life events. But if there is something that truly warms the heart, it is the part of the story where Jackie realizes that despite appearances, his brother always had his back, from birth in fact. Needless to say, this story has a strong family theme to it, with the love and comfort of Jackie’s being at the foundation of the narrative.
The book also succeeds in bringing to life the realities of male bonding and friendships, especially those formed in childhood. With the 70s as a backdrop, it almost feels like this narrative was set in simpler, sweeter times. The music titles the author adds to his scenes also add a subtle realism to them.
Honestly, the only minor thing I could complain about would be that sometimes the jump from scene dialogue to prose can be disorienting especially when Jackie is in dialogue. The jump between Jackie talking in the first person and then referring to himself in the third person is a little odd.
Otherwise, Being Brothers is extremely well written and easy to read. Moreover, the perspective of Mark Marino adds a layer of reality that many writers can relate to. For instance, when he catches his own grammatical errors and talks about all the rules that govern writing, he pulls any writer in. Ultimately, the author has done a great job at making us care about Mark and Jackie and even clearly see the Jackie in Mark.
Being Brothers is an thoroughly entertaining story that expertly integrates sports in a compelling coming of age story with a literary prowess that only author Mike DeLucia can pull off.
Pages: 162 | ASIN: B08LGJB71H
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