Joanne Keder’s novel, Welcome to Piney Falls, is an exhilarating mystery novel that delves into the history of a small town overlooked by most people. That is until Lanie comes along. Follow the stories of two powerful women, connected across time. Fiona Flanagan, a Scottish immigrant, marries and moves to America in the 1900’s. Lanie Anders, a businesswoman turned author, abandons her successful carer in marketing to rediscover herself. Upon her arrival in Piney Falls, she soon realizes is far from normal. She soon finds herself tangled in a curious cult and suspicious suicides.
In this piece, Joanne Keder, clearly demonstrates her knack for witty dialogue and a solid setting. The location is so tangible you’ll hear the sound of the rushing water and smell the Hemlock as you hike up Piney Falls with Lanie. I was also entertained by all the strange and memorable characters. From a nudist named November to a baker who names his pastries after constellations (sounds like they are out of this world, right?) In fact, the author captures their essence in such a lifelike way, you will wish they were real.
While the setting and characters are clearly defined, I did feel that the writing was a bit unclear and long winded in rare moments. The chapters were also surprisingly short, so some scenes felt rushed. It would have been a joy to spend more time sitting in the scenery of this small town. The story is also very plot-focused, as is often the case in a mystery novel. All that said, Keder does have talent when it comes to creating cliff hangers. I breezed through the book in no time at all to find out what happened next.
For the first novel in the series, it does a good job of sticking to the classic mystery novel genre. It starts and ends in a satisfying way and keeps you guessing. The themes of female empowerment and personal growth were also heartwarming and relatable as a reader.
If you want an easy to read mystery novel with quirky characters then Welcome to Piney Falls is the novel for you.
Pages: 224 | ASIN: B083FF56FZ
Keep Forever follows a Vietnam veteran who struggles with PTSD as he tries to piece together a meaningful life. This is a novel based on a true story. What is the origins of the story?
Anyone who was a teenager in the 60s’ and 70s’ has Vietnam firmly embedded in their history. It’s the story of my generation, and many of my girlfriends married veterans either right out of high school or when the men returned. Women played a part in-country, mostly as nurses and unsung heroines, but overall, it was a war fought by middle and lower class males, those who were not college bound or who were unable to get a deferment. As with every conflict, combat veterans are plagued with mental and physical burdens upon their return home, but none were vilified like the young men and women who fought in Vietnam. It stained their psyches, and many passed it down to their children – the second generation to suffer the effects of the most unpopular war in our country’s history. Wives were kept in the dark, the VA was not established until the late 80s’, and PTSD didn’t have a name. Aftercare was minimal, and many kept their unseen wounds bottled up for decades.
I fell in love with a Vietnam veteran in 1969, nine months after he came home. This guy, and many like him, were just kids. Surfing and attending community college one day, picking up a machine gun and participating in a bloody fight for their lives the next. We married almost a decade later, had two children, and divorced after eleven years. But there was always that link that never faded and a lot of guilt that I carried because I didn’t have the insight to deal with or understand PTSD at the time.
September 27, 2011 – My veteran and I had become close again and spent almost all our free time together. His health was failing, he suffered from depression, but it had become less intense and on this day he was at the top of his game. We were returning from a coffee date in the Village about a mile away from his home. As I waited at the bottom of the hill to make a left turn a half a block away from our destination, we were rear-ended by a vehicle twice as heavy as mine, going 45 miles an hour. Physically, we were not hurt. My car sustained $6,000 worth of damage. The impact of the collision triggered a PTSD episode in my veteran. Seventeen days later, on October 13th, he committed suicide.
The only way I found to cope with mine and our children’s grief was to write about the oppressive, lifelong burden he brought home and the collateral damage he left in his wake. At sixty-eight years old, I became a writer, but it was not a vanity project. Rather, it was an inspiration to share my story and honor all Vietnam veterans with a love story based on fact. I am not the only wife, and our children are not the only youngsters that live daily with the unseen wounds of a family member who suffers a lifetime with the memories and guilt of their participation in war. The other day, I saw a very potent cartoon on Facebook, posted by a Vietnam veteran. A soldier, rifle slung over his shoulder, head down and staring at the Vietnam Wall. At the top of the page, the caption read, “When was the last time you were in Vietnam?” At the bottom of the page, the caption read “Last night……”
What were some aspects of the novel that you fictionalized and what were some aspects you stuck close to the facts?
When I started stringing the beginning, middle and end together in my head, I knew I had to place the two main characters, Paul and Elizabeth, in a position that would make their love story believable. I had never written or published anything prior to this endeavor, so I drafted it in my head before I ever put pen to paper. While the story was inspired by the life I shared with my veteran and our children, it became my mea culpa, my deepest apology for not understanding the gravity of PTSD and making choices that were unwise over the course of our history. The childhood years of Paul and Elizabeth are pure fiction compared to mine and my Veteran, but I felt the need to structure their early losses, weave them into the storyline and create a common thread for making their attraction to one another a natural evolution of their friendship.
I did create the character and personality of Paul in the image of my Veteran, but Elizabeth, I have to admit, was created from the perspective of what I learned and dealt with after my veteran took his life. She was a better version of me, but also a reflection of most wives who live with and love Vietnam veterans.
The anguish depicted in difficult, heartbreaking scenes was real, even though some were embellished for better or worse. My veteran was kind and funny, never a harsh word for anyone, but was also a hoarder. He truly did resemble Santa Claus at the end of his life, with an extra fifty pounds that added a cumbersome gait to his 5’8″ frame, thick white hair grown to shoulder length, and a long beard he rarely trimmed. He carried a duffle bag with him just to get coffee or go to a movie, adored our children, and had a host of idiosyncrasies that were as endearing as they were frustrating. Both my Veteran and the character, Paul, received purple hearts and suffered from PTSD. The suicide attempt and subsequent hospitalization were factual, along with many other descriptions of their home, and surroundings. Truth and fiction were interwoven throughout the second half of the novel, although out of context in some instances. The most important reality to me was the ice cream cone with Elizabeth’s name…yes, there really was an ice cream cone with my name on it, which I still have in a Tupperware container after thirty years. My veteran, I discovered when I sifted through his accumulation of inanimate objects, had never thrown it out. That one item was the inspiration for the title, KEEP FOREVER, as we are an amalgam of memories, good and bad, that linger, remind, soothe and terrify all of us throughout our lives. As in the book, my Veteran scrawled the words, “Keep 4Ever” on everything from taxes and bank statements, to Christmas cards and shopping lists. Nothing was ever thrown out…certainly not his memories.
Paul’s death was the most important chapter that I wrote. It was difficult to re-live, but it purged my soul because I got to change history. It was my novel, my story, and I could make any ending I wanted, so I strayed from the truth in the manner in which he died; however, I drew on the experience of my Veteran’s funeral to describe the pomp and circumstance and the emotional good-bye to a member of a military family that is laid to rest in a National cemetery. I hope this bittersweet story helps to convey the sacrifices of all our veterans, especially those who served in Vietnam, and reminds readers that not all wounds are visible.
I thought this book was an emotional story. What were some themes that were important for you to focus on?
In my mind, and in speaking with many Vietnam veterans that I know personally, collateral damage to wives and children was a topic that had not been explored in a historical, Vietnam-era story. Most are memoirs of service members in battle, and written from the point of view of one person. I tried to capture the roller-coaster that exists with all family members, from birth through adulthood, in an effort to highlight how the internal battle of a veteran affects the entire family unit. I also wanted to make the point that most veterans refuse to speak of their pain, and what they keep bottled up inside is the most damaging to themselves and their loved ones.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
This is the 2nd edition of KEEP FOREVER, and a deeper version than my first that was self-published in Feburuary, 2018. In between then and the re-release in March, 2020, I wrote and published MY NAME IS ROSE, another nostalgic story, about a young girl raised in a commune during the 1970s’. It has become an Amazon #1 Best Seller, as well as a first-place winner in an International Book Competition in 2019. KEEP FOREVER also topped the Amazon Charts soon after the second release, with #1 spots in New Releases, Vietnam War History, 1960s’ History of the US, and 1960s’ American History.
During my first nine weeks of quarantine, I completed the first draft of my third novel, MIRACLE. And yes, another piece of nostalgia, which seems to be what I am drawn to. The story revolves around two young women in the 1950s’. One lives in Southern California and must come to terms with the fact that four unsuccessful pregnancies leaves adoption as the only option for herself and her husband. The inability to qualify with the adoption agency due to their advancing age – almost thirty was old in the 50s’ – steers them towards an alternative solution of adopting a child outside the United States. During this time, the Canadian government created maternity homes for young women who were without a spouse or family assistance. After giving birth, it was understood that they would leave their baby behind for adoption by a suitable couple. The second young lady finds herself in a position that demands she reside in one of these homes for the last part of her pregnancy as she agonizes about the ultimate sacrifice she is being forced to make. Ultimately, these two women are destined to connect, but the ending is not as one might suspect. I hope to have MIRACLE ready for publication by mid-2021.
As the Daisies Bloom follows the life of August and shows how relationships and love have lasting effects. What was the inspiration for the setup to this emotional story?
The inspiration came to me quite unexpectedly. I woke up one morning with the opening chapter in my mind and the characters came to me as I began to write down the story. I have written free verse over the years and the reference to the “Stories for Tyler” which August describes as his tiny systematic theology are Bible characters stories I wrote a few years ago and decided to work in as a companion to this work. (That book is also on Amazon under the title “August Kibler’s Stories for Tyler.”)
August is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?
I think the review addressed this perfectly. I wanted to convey the complexity of racism, sexism, militarism, patriotism and the judgement the gay community faces from religion in particular in as compelling and compassionate a voice as I could muster.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have written a sequel which is also set up in the memoir style where Tyler (as executor) finds a file on August’s computer which delves into more of August’s ancestry, life as a child, college days and finally in Boone bringing everything back to the present with the Marvel-Jemisons. I plan to release this in January assuming my friends reviewing it now find it compelling enough to proceed.
Rose has not lived the easiest of lives and doesn’t exactly have too many people who will miss her when she’s gone. When she is presented with the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to England to restore a Victorian era home, she doesn’t immediately jump at the chance due to her own plethora of misgivings and fears. Vaughn, the homeowner, is a convincing individual, indeed, and coerces Rose into making the trip. His motives, however, aren’t what Rose assumes, though his intentions may just have a far-reaching impact on Rose’s life. Once the two reach Vaughn’s home, Rose’s life is no longer her own, and the world as she thought she knew it is forever changed.
Crimson Dreams, by Georgiana Fields, is the story of one woman’s introduction to the world of the Dhampir. The time-traveling Vaughn plays an important role in Rose’s transformation from unsuspecting designer to Dhampir sidekick and part-time detective. The two make a perfect team, and the sexual tension between them is both palpable and handled tastefully by the author.
Vampire stories are among my favorites, and I am always more than critical of details and plot holes. Fields, however, is one author to be commended and followed closely. She has set up quite the scenario with Rose’s leap from modern day to the year 1900. The inclusion of Jack the Ripper and the current onslaught of killings in modern day Atlanta is timely and keeps the two dimensions flawlessly linked. Rose makes the ideal partner for Vaughn as he goes about assisting Scotland Yard in finding the killer.
Fields writes some of the most memorable and relatable secondary characters. It is easy for such characters to get lost in a plot so involved, but she has managed to involve Sara and Aileen in parallel plots that both hold readers’ interest and keep them invested in their stories. Good writers know how to do this; excellent writers actually get it done. Fields has mastered it.
One element that always seems to lack in many vampire stories is that of emotion. Fields’s book, however, is brimming with second-guessing, empathetic moments, and remorse and regret. Vaughn is unlike any other character in this genre. He is somehow more human in his emotions than most I know. Fields has blended a vast array of powerful emotions into a fictional character and succeeded in creating a story for the ages.
It is not often that I want to immediately reread a book, but Fields has grabbed my attention, focused it with laser-like accuracy on her characters, and hypnotized me with her unique and engaging plot. An absolute must-read for anyone who even thinks they enjoy a good vampire story.
Pages: 452 | ASIN: B07GQBW359
Tags: author, book, book review, bookblogger, crime, Crimson Dreams, ebook, fantasy, fiction, Georgiana Fields, goodreads, historical, kindle, kobo, literature, murder mystery, mystery, nook, novel, paranormal, read, reader, reading, romance, story, supernatural, suspense, thriller, vampire, writer, 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
A Little Bit Extraordinary by Esther Robinson
A Saint and a Sinner by Stephen H. Donnelly and Diane O’Bryan
Silver Award Winners
Mountain Heat by Natrelle Long
Pandora’s Gardener by David C Mason
Posted in Literary Titan Book Award
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Pompeii: The Peacock Murders’, written by Lorraine Blundell, is set in the interesting and famous city, Pompeii, as young women start disappearing and a series of unique and recognisable murders are occurring throughout the city. It follows characters Cletus Asper, an undercover investigator, and his assistant Felix as they attempt to solve these bizarre murders and delve into the horrors of the past. All the while, the active volcano Vesuvius erupts.
This is a historical mystery thriller set in Pompeii and filled to the brim with interesting and engaging characters. To start off with the best aspect of the novel is the setting, Pompeii.
Lorraine Blundell went through great lengths to accurately portray this renown city and it is evident in all aspects of the story. From the ‘simple tunics’ to the ‘silk-made stolas’, from the ‘volcanic lava paved stones’ to the ‘coloured frescoes of peacocks and theatre masks’, it’s obvious that the setting is packed with historical accuracy. Not only this, but it is consistently told in engaging ways, not once did I find myself skimming any of these parts.
An abundance of characters appear throughout this novel, which can be troublesome, as sometimes a reader does not get the chance to understand, relate, or even like the characters of a novel if there are so many of them. Pompeii: The Peacock Murders evades this well in some areas and not so well in others. A few times, I found myself interested in a character only for them to never appear outside of that page. That being said, those that were explored were done well and Blundell did a good job in showcasing motivation and interests.
Other than the setting, one of the biggest aspects of this novel is the mystery. When this was first introduced, it was very intriguing and a bit heart-breaking. And while it continued to be so, eventually Pompeii: The Peacock Murders turned more to the motivations of characters, which is not harmful. In fact, it’s the opposite because doing so expanded our knowledge and judgement of certain characters. The reveal was satisfying, some readers will definitely guess who the culprit is but even though my prediction was right, it was still satisfying. And that, in my opinion, is the sign of a great mystery.
Ultimately, this is a fantastic historical fiction novel that was an enjoyable read and those who love this genre will have much to dive into.
Pages: 288 | ASIN: B08G4JX8ML
Tags: author, book, book review, bookblogger, crime, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, historical, history, kindle, kobo, literature, Lorraine Blundell, murder mystery, mystery, nook, novel, Pompeii: the Peacock Murders, read, reader, reading, story, writer, writing
The Boy Who Saw In Colours chronicles the life of a boy who’s family collapses and he’s sent to Hitler’s elite school. What was the inspiration for the setup to this emotional novel?
Many of the ideas for The Boy Who Saw In Colours came to me as a bit of a fluke. The first piece of inspiration came to me in the form of a photograph that was taken of a young, German boy, crying when he was captured by the Americans. The photograph spoke to me on a very personal level and I found myself doing research into Hitler Youth, where I came across the elite schools. When I watched interviews with some of these boys as men, I was inspired by the acts of kindness I heard about that took place during those very dark times in Europe, when people were finding beauty in the ugliest of circumstances.
Josef is an interesting and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?
I knew from the beginning that I wanted to write a real child. Often times in media, children are either portrayed as extremely annoying or very bland. I didn’t set out to write a complex character, even though that is the goal for many writers. I just wanted to write a real one. The main thing that stood out the most to me about Josef was his passion for art and the beautiful way n which he views the world. When I was sick and tired of the entire thing, that one story within the others made me think the book was worth publishing. After all, it is the little stories that define us.
I enjoyed the unique perspective you presented of Nazi Germany during WWII.
What were some themes you felt were important to capture?
That is always a difficult question to answer in regards to The Boy Who Saw In Colours because there are many themes, and I could write a ten-page essay on it. One of the main themes is about the dangers of fascist ideologies and hatred, and how they can be accepted by otherwise good people. Josef does not agree with Nazim but feels that he has no choice but to comply.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
For my next novel, I’ll be staying closer to home. It’s a story that centres around ‘The Troubles’ of Northern Ireland during the ’70s. I don’t yet have a release date set.
Posted in Book Reviews
Tags: author, author interview, book, book review, bookblogger, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, historical, historical fantasy, history, kindle, kobo, Lauren Robinson, literature, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, story, The Boy Who Saw In Colours, world war two, writer, writing, wwII
The Westons loved their farm, where they raised their children, and now grandchildren , and they loved their life. Nothing could prepare them for the sudden loss of Jack, the families rock, and the immense grief they all felt until he made his appearance from the other side.
It was twenty days after Jack’s passing when he first came through to his daughter, Lauren, and made contact with her. His wife Ellie, had seen him a few days later in the family room T.V. silently staring back at her, he had been trying to make contact with her, but found that to be more challenging. Lauren was epileptic and took anti-seizure medication that slowed her brain down and Ellie thought that’s how Jack was able to contact her so easily.
The next few months would bring many surprises and heartache communicating with Jack, he befriends another spirit he meets on their beloved farm that was murdered a hundred and seventy years ago by his parents who ran an unsavory business. Once Jack has Mathews trust, then all the other spirits come forward and want to tell the Westons about all the terrible events that happened out at the farm, and the brutality of the previous owners so long ago.
Most of the victims were young children and as many as five thousand perished there at the hands of the “runners” of the child sex trafficking operation that started around 1813 and operated for almost forty years. They had been waiting so long to tell their stories to the living so they could move on and they were entrusting Jack and his family with their kept dark secrets to set them free.
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