Terrifyingly gritty is the world within Kill the Teachers: Mexico’s Bloody Repression of Human Rights by Robert Joe Stout. Reader will not find a kind world in this historical retelling of events from the not-so-distant past. Corruption, suppression and oppression are what wait for readers within these pages. It is important to read about the past in order to learn from it: to prevent ourselves from making the same mistakes again. However, learning is not the same for everyone. The brutal history of Oaxaca, Mexico is what readers are going to find themselves thrown into within this book. This small area that has never quite advanced with the rest of the country where dangerous men with big ideas crushed the spirits of those who lived there. Sometimes even ending their lives.
This book is a carefully researched and written recounting of life in Oaxaca. There are interviews with those directly in attendance of the rallies and demonstrations those who wanted reform. These first-hand accounts bring home the reality of what people were facing in this tiny state. Stout crafts his retelling of the events in his novel in easily digestible chunks. It is easy to be overwhelmed with the history, politics and subterfuge in books like this. Those who are not history buffs may be turned off by the content at first, thinking it too dense for their enjoyment. They’re not wrong, as a lot of information is covered in this book. This is not something you pick up to read while relaxing in the backyard.
That being said, the layout and the formatting of the book are reader-friendly. The chapters are peppered with quotes from interviews and the content is presented in a way that makes it easy for readers to absorb the information they are reading without feeling like they signed up for an intensive history course. The data is dense, but it is not difficult as it flows like a novel would. It is not dry and boring.
It is easy to see that Stout had a competent editor as the errors in grammar and style are minute. It is not easy to share the fragmented history to a world that is not familiar with its roots. Stout appeals to the reader in such a way that learning happens naturally.
Those who are looking for a political or historical thriller will find their needs met with Kill the Teachers: Mexico’s Bloody Repression of Human Rights by Robert Joe Stout as he shares the non-fiction reality of Oaxaca, Mexico. This is the real-life story of a state that has a bloody history. At times, this information is devastating to read, especially when the reader realizes that this did not take place hundreds of years ago, but within the last half-century. However, this truth is something that we should not avert our eyes from, but learn from instead.
Pages: 316 | ASIN: B07C883C1S
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Matt and Jim are living out their lifelong dream to uncover and provide undeniable truth that Noah’s Ark did indeed come to rest atop Mt. Ararat. With the help of Ann and a tragic story of her grandmother’s first love, Matt and Jim begin their journey with stunning photographs of the ark itself which have been hidden from the world in the most ingenious way possible. Luck is not on the side of the three adventurers, however. One dangerous situation after another impedes their progress on the path to the top of Mt. Ararat.
Richard Carroll has captured within the pages of The Lost Photographs a mere snapshot of the enormity of the task undertaken to uncover Noah’s Ark atop a frozen Mt. Ararat. His depiction of the dedicated team who undertakes this task despite all obstacles, both natural and incited by man, is riveting and tense. No one else has wanted anything more than Matt and Jim want to prove the existence of the ark, and absolutely nothing will prevent them from accomplishing what they have set out to do.
I have always found the search for proof of the ark’s existence to be fascinating. The Lost Photographs does not focus quite as heavily on the actual ark as I would like to have seen. Though it does center around the hidden photographs and delves into the excavation of the site itself, the book also has a parallel story line that sometimes takes the reader on a path away from the ark story line. I felt there was, perhaps, too much of an emphasis placed on the budding romance between the characters and the inner turmoil Matt experiences.
Carroll does a wonderful job of building interest with the backstory of the lost photographs of the ark. By tying the story of Ann’s grandmother, Jelena, and her friend, Yuri, with the teamwork of Matt and Jim, the author has created a seamless story that spans generations and is a wonderful testament to the timelessness of the ark’s story. I will say I was not expecting the tragedy that occurs centering around Yuri and his family. Carroll presents a moving depiction of Jelena’s love for Yuri and the mystery of his family’s fate.
Readers who require action in their historical fiction will appreciate the many close calls and precarious positions in which Matt, Jim, and Ann find themselves. The desire to keep the ark’s existence hidden leads to an all-out battle when one of the terrorists’ operatives infiltrates the ark team. In addition, the entire expedition faces the utter devastation of an earthquake in the middle of their work.
Though I loved the premise of the book, references to historical events, and biblical truths, I would have preferred more of a focus on the discovery of the ark itself and less of a concentration on the romance between characters. The hints at the book’s conclusion to the unearthing of the Ten Commandments leaves the reader in the perfect frame of mind to want more from Matt, Jim, and Ann.
Pages: 320 | ASIN: B079GJN12N
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Once upon time, women struggled to gain notoriety capable of any feat besides household responsibility. The struggle was life and death in the resistance of recognizing the inevitable rise of women. Starting life in Italy with a wealthy protestant family. Sylvie idolizes her father Dr. Fiore. Sylvie has her hopes set on being one of the first female doctors known to the area. But when Sylvie is married off to a wealthy craftsman named Leon, in France, she quickly realizes that this dream may be out of her reach and possibly run the risk of death. Is Sylvie’s dreams worth dying for? This book starts our journey in a small town of Eze in Southern France in the late 1600’s and tells a fictional story based from real time events in our history. This is book one of a new short story series.
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The Spanish Inquisition in 1492 left no Jewish family untouched. The impact of this horrific period in Spain runs deep and it has had long-lasting effects upon Jewish families through the ages. Maria, a descendant of a Jewish family forced to convert to Catholicism, allows her gut feelings to rule her religious preferences, and she spends time researching her family’s hidden past. As she begins to find more and more clues, she realizes that her soul is true to her Jewish roots, and she sets out to turn her own life upside down even if it means alienating her Catholic family members.
Genie Milgrom’s Pyre to Fire contains two parallel story lines detailing the village of Fermoselle, Spain’s sudden and devastating conversion to Catholicism and descendant Maria’s slow but sure discovery of her family’s painful secrets. The quest Milgrom lays out as part of Maria’s search for answers is written in tandem with excerpts detailing Maria’s ancestors’ struggle in the 1490s. As a reader, I appreciated the parallels and the bounce between modern times and the historical descriptions. I am not versed in this aspect of world history and can easily say I feel equal parts of enlightenment and horror. Milgrom does a wonderful job of painting the trauma and the emotional struggle of the Jews in Spain being forced into conversion and threatened with their lives if they did not comply. Milgrom’s characters, based on her own lineage, help draw a painfully clear picture of the atrocities and the pain experienced by Jewish families who battled for centuries as a result of having to choose to hide their rituals, worship practices, and adherence to dietary restrictions.
I found the heartbreaking life of Maria’s ancestor, Catalina, and the circumstances in which she finds herself on the night of the inquisition to be among the most tragic I have read in historical fiction works. Catalina is faced with hiding, lying, and evading arrest. Her life, though she and her husband try everything in their power to make normal lives and honor their Jewish traditions, is a life of pure fear. Catalina is never afforded true happiness. Milgrom gives readers a tragic and historically accurate protagonist.
As I read, I had a little trouble getting past some errors that could have been prevented with proofreading. Two characters speaking within a single lengthy paragraph and some misplaced quotation marks and punctuation presented some challenges as I read.
This short read (just under 140 pages) gives readers a clear picture of the horrors inflicted on one group of people by another in the name of religion. Milgrom is helping raise awareness, encourage tolerance, and educating generations far removed from her characters’ lives. Readers who are interested in history and curious about the details surrounding The Spanish Inquisition will find Pyre to Fire a great addition to their collection of literature.
Pages: 228 | ASIN: 1976594510
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My Lonely Room is an outstanding contribution to the world of literary world, tacking themes of belonging and loneliness. The author, John Vikara, provides a novel which opens up a whole range of emotions. From feelings of isolation to intense moments of journeying-through, Vikara’s emotional rollercoaster of a story provides nothing more than a personal and intimate style of writing that gets the book off to an excellent start.
Set in the fifties, the reader is able to envision what life was like back then (for all those lucky younger readers), or recap on childhood memories (for our more mature readers). Vikara tries to write stories that appear to be realistic, creating a sense of nostalgia. Jimmy’s journey for companionship and experience allow the story to move at a steady pace, whilst constantly maintain the attention of its readers.
What struck me the most whilst reading My Lonely Room is how the writing left me feeling slightly pessimistic. The protagonist, Jimmy, grows up in a world where he feels like he never belongs. Everyone finds comfort in one place or another. Whether that comfort is in a person, a particular place, or a particular thought, everyone is able to ‘zone out’ and enter that place of pure comfort and safety. For Jimmy, his bedroom is the only comfort that he can find.
One of the great things that Vikara articulates in his writing is the importance of real-life issues. The author of My Lonely Room reinforces key issues which are undoubtedly present in our everyday lives – we’re simply oblivious to it! Issues of isolation, relationships, fears, friendships and journeying on are all real life ideas that the majority of readers can relate to. As a reader of this personal journey into a world that is quite off-putting to some, I found it a truly remarkable account of events, which left me feeling slightly overwhelmed, pessimistic and a sense of sadness.
This book really opened my eyes to a new genre of books. A book that was easy to follow, written with flair and creative thought, and the author’s skill of plotting and maintain the story are some of the reasons as to why I have rated this book a solid 5 out of 5 stars.
I can honestly say that I have not read and enjoyed a book as much as this book. Whilst I think that the ending of the novel was not as strong as it could have been, I think that John Vikara is an inspirational writer whose ideas and thoughts are put across in an interesting, intense, and captivating way.
An articulate, creative and highly imaginative novel blending an array of themes and emotions with real life experiences. Hats off to the author of this guide. An enjoyable read for the right reader who shows a similar interest to that of the authors.
Pages: 141 | ASIN: B01N7YYC4T
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THE RIGEL AFFAIR is a novel based on real events and the life of Navy Seal Charlie Kincaid. Part Cherokee, born into Southern poverty, Charlie trained as a diver and became the leader of the war’s first underwater demolition team. His men experienced their first test, moments after the strike on Pearl Harbor, rescuing twenty-eight U. S. sailors trapped in the sinking USS California. Their missions sent them to New Zealand, Australia, and a dozen Pacific Islands, into the most dangerous combat areas on that side of the world. They dove and carried out clandestine missions under horrific weather and health conditions while constantly facing attacks by Japanese troops, bombers, and submarines.
But Charlie’s life was not all hardship. Even as the bloody war ground on in Europe and the Pacific, he fell in love. Her name was Mattie, and she lived in New Zealand. Their love story offers a tender counterpoint to gritty battle scenes throughout the novel. The book is framed around actual love letters sent by the couple, newspaper accounts from 1941-44, material from various archives, and documented events involving Charlie’s ship, the USS Rigel. We’ve also interviewed surviving shipmates.
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Adolf Hitler ruled Europe with an iron fist. With his political promises to desperate people, he spoke of a reign that would last 1,000 years. Under his command humanity entered a new dark age. Tales were told of horrors taking place in the East – of railroad cars, of ovens, and death. There was just one “detail” he kept to himself.
When Hitler survives an assassination attempt on his life, his secret is discovered by those in command. A secret beyond the realms of reality!
A German U-boat Captain is ordered to transport Adolf Hitler to a secret military base in Norway, during the closing days of the Second World War. While on this mission, he discovers that there is more to Germany’s “Führer” than meets the eye. To his horror, the Captain discovers the Third Reich’s darkest secret: Hitler is a vampire!
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Book of Matthew Part I is a tale of forbidden love in rural Missouri in 1850 which was a tumultuous time in the U.S. What was the inspiration that inspired the setup to this intriguing novel?
It all began with a conversation. I had just started dating the man who is now my husband and we were still getting to know one another. He asked if I would vote in the upcoming election and I replied, “of course I will. My ancestors fought and died to give me the right to. Without their sacrifices I wouldn’t be able to vote, own property, read, let alone attend my university. I wouldn’t even be able to date you.” After that conversation I started to wonder how difficult it would have been to have an interracial relationship centuries ago and my first book was born.
I have always been a lover of suspense, mystery and horror so I decided to write in these genres. My goal was to create a Jack the Ripper sort of villain, while maintaining the drama, romance and personal conflicts that make characters relatable and memorable.
While growing up I noticed a double standard in regard to history. If you were white and you wanted to trace your lineage back to the Mayflower this was perfectly acceptable. People were intrigued to hear your family’s history and they encouraged and praised your vast knowledge of a bygone era… but if you were black you were often discouraged from learning anything about your ancestry. I was told things like, “Black people need to leave the plantation,” and “Black people live in the past and need to just forget things.” Yearning to educate myself about the past is not the same as living in it. I didn’t desire someone to blame or scapegoat, all I wanted was the same answers that other races of children were encouraged to seek out.
When I received correspondence from readers in England, France, Ireland and several countries in Africa they applauded my stories and said, “Wow! This was a fascinating look at American history.” Not Black history, nor African American history. Other countries acknowledge this topic as American history because that’s exactly what it is. When I am criticized for this subject matter my response remains the same,
I don’t write racist literature. Nor do I write black history. I write American history.
The book touches on sensitive social topics rarely discussed, slavery and the dynamic between master and slave. What were some themes you wanted to capture in this story?
The main theme I wanted to capture was that every form of this institution was morally reprehensible. When I grew up in school most of my teachers refused to teach this subject whatsoever. We would skip over huge chunks of our textbooks just to avoid it. The few who did teach about it romanticized the hell out of it, and made it seem acceptable because “most slaves were like part of the family” …I actually heard this more than once. What I desired to express in this story was that even if you were a house slave who was treated better than others and much like part of the family, merely being owned endangered your life because someone has diminished your social standing from that of a human being to that of a piece of property. This fact alone placed even the best treated of slaves at risk for kidnapping, rape and murder with no law enforcement to save them.
Second, I wanted to make it known that when some of us are slaves, we all are. Destitute white men, minorities and women of all colors were treated as second class citizens because of that system of inequality.
Third, I wanted to acknowledge all the people who were adamantly opposed to slavery and fought against it at every turn. 400 years of Americans are blamed and villainized for what some people did. Though slavery was socially acceptable, not everyone agrees with 100% of what is socially acceptable. Disagreeing with social norms is what makes us individuals. Fighting against corrupt social norms is what makes us heroes. The people who stood against these heinous acts are rarely recognized, but without them our society would’ve failed to evolve.
Sarah is a slave that is targeted by a serial killer that murders with impunity. What were the driving ideals behind Sarah’s character development?
The driving force behind Sarah’s character development was the total lack thereof I have witnessed in similar stories. In many of the plantation novels I have read the slaves are faceless one-dimensional victims who serve as little more than background for white main characters. The female slave characters were poorly developed and served as little more than objects of lust incapable of inspiring true feelings of love and affection. Reading a plantation novel with no black main characters is like reading Memoirs of a Geisha with no geisha. These stories failed to capture my attention and I found the characters unrealistic and totally unrelatable. When I wrote a book I was determined to make sure there were black main characters as well as white ones, and that ALL of my characters have depth and unique personalities. I wanted Sarah’s character to have hopes, dreams, ambitions, drama and romantic conflicts of her own. I yearned to put a human face on a slave character, an aspect rarely seen in books of this nature. Though there have been many forbidden lust stories in this genre I wanted to give Sarah an against all odds forbidden love story readers wouldn’t soon forget.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Revelations: The Colburn Curse is a prequel to Book of Matthew that traces the Colburn family back to their beginnings in New Orleans, Louisiana. In this story Matt Colburn Sr. is a young plantation heir who has been given the duty of protecting an aristocrat named, Arial. He falls madly in love with the elusive heiress, but she is hiding a deadly secret that has made her the target of the Louisiana Strangler, a secret that endangers everyone she holds dear, especially Matt. This book is already available for purchase on amazon.com.
The Infinity series is based on the many star crossed lifetimes of Sarah and Matthew. I wrote this series for readers who enjoy historical suspense but prefer a tale with less violence and adult content. Three of the ten books are already available on amazon.com.
Book of Matthew II: Ancient Evil will be released December 2018.
Women of color are not a priority of law enforcement in 1800’s Missouri. They are not even considered human. These social injustices allow a serial killer to run rampant. Sarah, a beautiful black slave, finds herself in the crosshairs of a monster who murders with impunity. The only one concerned with her plight is the master’s son. Will Matthew find the strength to rescue this slave girl, even if he lacks the courage to admit he’s in love with her…
It’s Jack the Ripper meets Roots in this pulse pounding historical thriller. House of Whispers packs the chills of a Stephen King book, the romance of a Nicholas Sparks novel and the in your face irony of an M. Night Shyamalan flic.
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Return of the Sagan follows a bookish young man as he wrangles his crew on a mission to save Earth and humanity. What served as your inspiration while writing this story?
As a prehistoric archaeologist, I have long dreamed of exploration of the cosmos and the past. My fieldwork centered on digging into the deep past for which no written records have surfaced. I can’t begin to explain how overpowering it is to uncover mysteries through digging and analyzing artifacts. It is a job that takes considerable time and patience as if you dig to deep, you can easily destroy valuable information. We only get one shot, so we have to be careful. For those interested in archaeology, I encourage them to see if local museums or colleges are operating excavations and having volunteer days – that way you can experience archaeology and avoid damaging/losing critical information. As for studying the cosmos, my wife already told me I can’t go to Mars 😞
As for the timing of the novel, my beloved Uncle Paul Leary was battling cancer so I wrote the story with him as a main character. He was able to read some of the story before he passed. My writing could never do justice to the lovely man that Uncle Paul had always been. We all miss him terribly.
Francis is a book worm that loves to quote his favorite authors. Is this an extension of yourself or did you have to research these quotes?
Totally me. Francis is named after my brother, Francis Aloysius O’Donnell. He was my parents’ first child who died at birth. I have often wondered what he would be like. Given my brother Ned and I (along with my sisters Moe and Sandi) can quote fantasy and scifi books all day long, it just seemed to fit that Francis would also be a bookworm like the rest of us. Mom and Dad were veracious readers and constantly encouraged us to read whenever we had the chance. Probably my favorite quote all-time is from Tolkien: “not all who wander are lost.”
The re-population of some of the world’s endangered animals was beautiful to visualize. What scenes did you have the most fun writing?
The mastodons and dire wolfs. I am a prehistoric archaeologist, and my specialty is in the woodlands of North Eastern North America. The people I studied lived side by side with Mastodons and the only reasonable prehistoric predator to suit the story, prehistory and climate was the dire wolf. After the book was published was when I saw Game of Thrones, a show I adore. I got the first season as a gift and then proceeded to watch the first three seasons over the course of two weeks. I then read the books after. I wish I would have encountered GOT before I wrote my novel as I would not have included dire wolves. I have referenced other extinct species from North America in my books before, particularly giant sloth, but for a predator in SAGAN, I would just conjure up something other than wolves because of GOT, though wolves are prehistorically accurate for the area and dire wolves would really be the only predator to fit the circumstances in the story. I did very much enjoy Francis’ stand on the bridge – total throwback to the Bridge of Khazad-dum. When I was a kid, my older brother Ned was devastated when Gandalf fell in the Fellowship of the Ring. Thankfully he read the next book quickly and was ecstatic to say the least. Gandalf’s stand was just so moving. When I got to the bridge standoff in SAGAN, I couldn’t help but make that connection.
Do you think you will write more stories about the crew of the USS Carl Sagan, or continue Francis’s story in some way?
I already have plans to write the story of the initial crew of the Sagan that left Earth centuries earlier. As for Francis, I have contemplated his leading the building of a ship and a subsequent sea voyage, but I have many other projects that need to be finished first.
300 years ago, USS Carl Sagan blasted off from overpopulated Earth in search of survival. Returning to Earth, the USS Carl Sagan finds humanity now extinct and Earth populated by deadly, once extinct pre-historic predators.
What disaster eradicated mankind? Was it man-made or of natural origin? One thing for certain: survival for the USS Carl Sagan and its crew will difficult at best, as while humans are no longer inhabit the Earth , they left behind deadly machines to guard the airspace against space invaders. The commander and the crew of the returning Earth ship will have to overcome those unexpected fool-proof sentries. And the machines are not the only obstacles for the travel-weary men and women of USS Carl Sagan to overcome. If they want to re-inhabit Earth.
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Forgotten Letters follows Robert and Makiko as they overcome many obstacles for family, love, and faith, during a tumultuous time in history. What was the inspiration for this heartfelt novel?
The inspiration for my story was a dream that I had 15 years ago. The entire story was in my dream. I did not have a recurrent dream ever again but the story was always on my mind. I would think about the story frequently but told no one about the dream for years. I then told my wife and several good friends my dream. They were spellbound and when I finished they said I should write a book. I put the project on hold for over 10 years and started to put the story on paper 4 years ago.
Robert and Makiko deep and well developed relationship. Was there relationship planned or did it develop organically while writing?
Robert and Makiko’s relationship was always part of my dream. As the book developed so did their relationship change. I had several beta readers help make very good suggestions during to project. In fact we added a few sentences to the book just before printing that solidified their relationship.
You wrote this book with Mario Acevedo. What was the writing collaboration like?
Mario Acevedo is a very talented and professional author who has produced a number of very good books. To name a few “Werewolf Smackdown, Blood Business, Rescue From Planet Pleasure” and many more. Mario was very easy to work with and has a wonderful imagination. Mario and I worked very well together and I thank him so much for all his input.
This book was able to get many historical and biblical details correct. What kind of research did you undertake for this book?
The research we did was a great deal of fun and good learning experience. For a majority of the facts we used Google but we each relied on our military backgrounds to help with those facts. In the beginning of my dream there was a big earthquake in Japan early 1900’s. I thought Japan always has earthquakes so I did research for that time period . I found that in 1923 the “Great Kanto“ earthquake destroyed both Tokyo and Yokohama with shaking and fires. The fires were started by the open hibachi stoves in most houses at that time.
Remember three things when reading Forgotten Letters a spider, baseball and birthmark. These three items will be introduced at the beginning of the story and again introduced later on. I think the reader will smile at reading each of the words again.
A trove of forgotten letters reveals a love that defied a world war.
In 1924, eight-year old Robert Campbell accompanies his missionary parents to Japan where he befriends a young Makiko Asakawa. Robert enjoys his life there, but the dark tides of war are rising, and it won’t be long before foreigners are forced to leave Japan.
Torn from the people Robert has come to think of as family, he stays in contact by exchanging letters with Makiko, letters that soon show their relationship is blossoming into something much more than friendship.
The outbreak of total war sweeps all before it, and when correspondence ends with no explanation, Robert fears the worst. He will do anything to find Makiko, even launch himself headfirst into a conflict that is consuming the world. Turmoil and tragedy threaten his every step, but no risk is too great to prove that love conquers all.
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