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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Dr. Matthew Lane, world-renowned archaeologist and the man credited with finally discovering the resting place of Noah’s Ark, is on the hunt again. This time, Matt, his girlfriend Ann Tyler, and his best friend and fellow archaeologist, Jim Morgan, have reunited to find the Ark of the Covenant and bring the world to a state of peace with proof of the existence of the Ten Commandments. Their adventure introduces them to Stephanie, a young woman with information that leads them to an ancient treasure and whose family ties brings them nothing but pain and sorrow at every turn.
Burned in Stone, the sequel to The Lost Photographs, by Richard Carroll begins much like The Lost Photographs–with nonstop action and the characters moving rapidly through one precarious situation to another. In this installment, readers see much more of Ann at the outset and her willingness to stay by Matt’s side no matter the level of danger. From jumping tandem from a plane to exploring ancient ruins, Ann sees little reason to doubt Matt until he comes out with the most unbelievable statement of all. As a reader, I was glad to see the author choose to have Ann display a certain amount of doubt in Matt’s incredible comments.
The introduction of an additional love interest adds a new layer to Carroll’s cast of characters. I am not sure exactly why, but Stephanie disturbed me. In addition, Matt’s inability to make a definitive statement about his love for Ann and make a clean break from Stephanie bothered me throughout the book. I am much more a fan of Ann than Stephanie even though Stephanie’s backstory is tragic and intriguing.
Carroll is a master with the backstory element. He expertly incorporates a detailed backstory into each of his books and builds a wonderful base on which to construct each plot. Stephanie’s tragic childhood and her unfortunate upbringing with her uncle and cousin make for fascinating reading and help to create a rich subplot surrounding Stephanie as well as her cousin Jack, the ultimate villain.
I must say that, as with the The Lost Photographs, I felt myself much more involved in the latter chapters than in the action-packed scenes in the beginning and middle of the book. The sign Matt is told to expect on the first day of spring is a phenomenal sight to behold. Carroll masterfully describes a scene unlike anything readers could ever imagine. From the moment Matt is told to expect a sign, I found myself trying to visualize what form it may take. The author crafts a breathtaking spectacle indeed.
Burned in Stone is much more about the search for the Ten Commandments than the commandments themselves. Carroll’s writing is seamless and devoid of vulgarity and cursing which makes it appropriate for a wide range of readers. Readers who are more inclined to enjoy adventure stories with just a touch of romance will find themselves completely wrapped up within the pages of Burned in Stone and the harrowing lives of Matt, Ann, and Jim.
Pages: 340 | ASIN: B079GGS89Q
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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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Expectations is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a mystery, suspense, and Christian fiction as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
I started writing this novel with one idea that carried my story from start to finish. My focus and intention did not change as my writing evolved. On the contrary, my original idea is what permitted the story to grow and twist and turn as it did.
The supporting characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
My favorite character is Ace Cadman. He is the most intriguing of these characters because all eyes in this story are on him. At the end of the day, everyone will be turning to him for answers. Or those who are against him will want to see what he is really worth.
What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
The initial idea behind this story was to show that God is real, that He is powerful, that He is not a historical figure, and that He loves His creation. It was to show that a spiritual reality does exist behind the curtain of time and that God and His army of angels do exist. It was to show how they fight for family, for children, for humans constantly. This idea did not transform as I was writing, it expanded…then exploded.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
The next book I am working on is a sequel to the first novel. It will be called Expectations II: The Familiar Spirit. I am hoping to publish this novel by December 2019 or 2020.
A pastor is faced with a dilemma when his twin nephews, sons of his only brother, cry out to him for help. Faced with all kinds of strange happenings and unnatural events in their house due to their parents adherence with the occult; the childrens fears push them to break a pact of silence established by their father regarding the secrets of their household.
How can Ace help his nephews without letting the dark forces that torment their lives affect his own family? The more he struggles to help the twins, the more the Secret Society to which the boys parents belong rage their war of evil upon him. Only a living God could help Ace overcome this war and emerge victorious. But will he; Ace Cadman, have the courage to step into the supernatural realm beyond the curtain of time when his God calls him on the scene?
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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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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
Silver Award Winners
Posted in Literary Titan Book Award
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The Matriarch Matrix is a unique blend of genres combining history and centuries of speculation regarding ancient alien invasions of Earth. What made you want to start writing this novel?
I few years ago I read a news release on the world’s oldest temple built 12,000 years ago at a site called Göbekli Tepe in the Anatolian region of Turkey. Somehow hundreds of nomadic hunter-gathers came together and built a complex of monolithic pillars weighing tens of tons each. 6,000 years before Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid of Giza, pre-pottery Neolithic man figured out how to work together to build a stone complex seemingly unrelated to ordinary living.
Archaeologists would say that mankind was far more advanced than we give credit for coming out of the Paleolithic age, coming out of the ice age. Alien theorists would say that Göbekli Tepe is further proof of alien intervention in human history. Given some believe this complex represents the oldest temple known to modern man, some may believe that divine inspiration guided mankind into the modern age.
In 2016, more time came into my life and I wrote a story line pitting people with these three inherent beliefs into a search for a legendary object which will save the world from impending war. A key theme is what has happened in the past continues to happen throughout history. Mankind continues to repeat the same issues, the same themes. But to what end?
Zara endures many horrors, but becomes a woman who is true to her roots and a follower of her faith. What was the inspiration for Zara’s character?
As I crafted the story in early 2016, the lands south of Göbekli Tepe had been conquered by the Daesh, or ISIS as the West calls this group – a name which evokes religious stereotyping. In researching the lands around this temple, I read about the Kurdish women who fought the Daesh in all female units. So I decided to make the main female character a Kurdish woman who fought for her people’s freedom. As I researched the Kurds, their culture, their history, their centuries of oppression, Zara’s character became more complex and dark as a metaphoric reflection of what Kurdish women have endured. Hence I made Zara Khatum a woman who fought Saddam as a teen, then Assad as a young adult, and finally the Daesh only to be captured by the latter.
The horrors of her past life, the darkness she carries in the story, combines the biographies of Kurdish women, accounts by social workers treating Kurdish women refugees, the news stories of the Kurdish struggles, and documents from international governing bodies investigating human right violations in Iraq, Syria, and Turkey, including institutional violation of women en masse.
What has happened to Kurdish women is a continuance of the horrors women have suffered repeatedly in periods of genocide or cultural/racial oppression throughout time. The accounts in Bosnia are very similar to that of the Kurds. Similar accounts are told in WWII between the Germans and Russians, with the Japanese to the Koreans and Chinese. History repeats itself in the worse ways.
I made an active decision not to pull punches in describing this oppression staying true to the multitude of actual accounts. But I made the ancient race, the giant Reindeer warriors, the originating perpetrators as to not condemn anyone in the present as to avoid the equal horror of stereotyping a group of people based on the crimes of but a few. I understand for some readers, this reality is too much. I opted to stay true to historical accounts as we must learn from our past follies in order to prevent the same horrors from happening again. In a number of European countries, they teach the past in this way so people will be sensitized to not repeating the bad of what happened in the past.
My inspiration to bring Zara’s story to life in this manner came from the words of a 22-year-old beta reader from Germany: “I would actually like to extend my gratitude. I can’t explain how touching it has been to read about a character like Zara. I think it sends a really strong message home that people seem to really forget. We can all be subject to rape. The world isn’t pretty. And it doesn’t matter how strong you are. But through everything, Zara is so incredibly beautiful. I think that’s important. Whether she agrees or not, she’s a stronger person for everything she’s been through. Thank you for not writing her as some typical rape victim. Thank you for creating something so much more powerful.”
What the portrayal of Zara did for her as a person gave me the conviction to bring this story to others. To bring strength into people’s lives.
I enjoyed the intuitive technological advancements juxtaposed with a glimpse into 9500 BCE. What were some themes you wanted to capture with this story?
The first theme is that culture did not start with written history. The wisdom we believe came from the Greeks and Persians through their writing likely came from their predecessors from oral traditions passed down through the centuries before mankind learned to write. For all we know, themes in our lives today came from the end of the ice age through stories passed from one generation to another.
Another addresses the dangers and opportunities of the modern digital age. Is the advancement of science, of technology leading to dystopic world? The recent FB data privacy issue is only an example of the magnitude of such privacy incursions all over. But what if the collection of information worldwide could lead to the cure for the worst diseases, could lead us to a greater prosperity and peace? Is the body collecting that data for these ends so bad after all? I built that notion into the book’s villain who in end professes in his Machiavellian way he was only trying to save us all.
The last, the most subtle, and yet the most important is the human tendency to pass judgement early and form stereotypes and harmful impressions about other people who are different from them. Zara has been a victim of this trait by others to her, but she does the same until she hears “the voice”. I made her Muslim to show the metaphoric example of what religious discrimination does to negatively form a child’s life. Like other forms of hatred and discrimination, Islamaphobia shaped her belief of the world only to be changed by her meeting her other half from the other side of the world. The book is written in a way that if the reader passes judgement too early they will not glean as much as those who are patient. Peace in this world will us striving to understand each other.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The Matriarch Messiah is the working title. What is “the voice”? Is it good or bad? From the divine or anther planet? What secrets lay buried in the Crimea? The protagonists travel through the pyramid lands of China, through Jerusalem, and finally back to where the originating family came from in the Crimea.
The first half of the book is with four alpha readers. Four of the most intelligent, insightful, powerful, and well-read women I know. Release maybe by the end of this calendar year.
Kidnapped again. But this time by the oligarch who saved her from kidnapping by the Daesh. And he wants her to do what? With whom?
Meet Zara – a woman of great depth, courage, faith, and human frailty who only wanted to follow the path of love and peace. But a dark, violent past haunts her from which she cannot escape. Destiny calls her to shake up her life and partner with her exact opposite from the other side of the world. Together they must discover the answer to an ancient legend from the world’s oldest temple locked in their DNA. Only through finding a certain love as told by an ancient matriarch will they unlock this mystery and stop the next world war.
The fate of Earth is now in their hands in an all-encompassing narrative of conflict, salvation, and the struggles of womankind across the ages in this dark, intriguing science-fiction fantasy epic.
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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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