The Cruel Romance is a historical romance novel following the lives of Serafima and Vitya during WWII. What prompted you to write this emotional novel?
There are many books written about great battles and great generals. Much less about the dreadful effects of war and occupation on the lives of civilians. The stories of European women in their fight against the German invaders have become broadly familiar. The idea that ordinary Russian women who had to endure four years of Nazi invasion deserve the same prompted me to write The Cruel Romance.
Telling stories of unsung heroines is my humble tribute to the women who worked on the home front producing armaments, like Serafima from The Cruel Romance, or who were fighters on the front or partisans, like my heroine Lyuba from How Dare the Birds Sing, another book of mine.
Serafima and Vitya are intriguing and well-developed characters. What were some driving ideals behind their character development?
It was important for me to show not only good personality traits but also evil ones in my characters. So, Serafima, despite the horrible circumstances, developed into a kind and passionate person becoming stronger with every unfortunate turn in her life. But not like Victor, who developed—or maybe the dark parts of his character were hidden only to be revealed in critical situations—into a cruel person consumed with hate, ruining the lives of the innocent people because of some deeply personal feelings and, besides, using his position in the society to get a desired post.
I felt that the history and Russian culture and backdrop were well utilized. What kind of research did you undertake for this book?
Aside the fact that I’m Russian and the setting within which my characters acted is natural to me, every new work requires extensive research. The authenticity comes from many details. In my case, it came not only from books. I am greatly indebted to my parents who as children endured the German bombing, the hunger and fear and who shared their experience with me.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My next book, the second one in the Love and Fate series titled Too Many Wolves In The Local Woods goes live on May 5, 2020 as a part of the Road to Liberation boxset comprising ten books from USA Today, international bestselling and award-winning authors dedicated to celebrating the end of WWII.
On October 1941, in a small village outside Moscow, Serafima bids farewell to Vitya, a Soviet officer going to the front. With only moments left together, she places a cross around her beloveds neck and reluctantly releases him into a cruel world where nothing is certain, especially whether she will ever see him again.
Days later, Germans invade her village and take over her tiny house. Serafima and her mother must comply with orders, endure abuse, and stay put, or their village will be annihilated.
As World War II intertwines Serafimas and Vityas life with that of a young German violinist and a Russian intellectual, their destinies are irrevocably altered. Can they rise to the challenge of agonizing moral choices and learn to forgive and love again?
The Warramunga’s War is a book that follows the Australian Army’s advances in the Middle East and Egypt. The main character, Jamie, is saved by an officer Jacko, who’s half aborigine warramunga. The book leads the reader through an adventure with Jamie and Jacko in the forefront, as they conduct counterespionage and work with real historical figures. They form a close friendship and work together to solve various missions. During their stay in Cairo, Jack and Jamie manage to work against German spies and continue the war effort onto their home turf after their job is done in Egypt. Jacko’s skills come into play near the final leg of the duo’s journey, needing to track down two wartime German Agents in West Australia.
The author describes events in vivid detail throughout the book. Greg Kater ensures the reader is taken through an action filled adventure full of twists, turns, and suspense with lighthearted moments throughout to provide moments of respite. One of these moments was at the beginning, where Jamie was unconscious and had a humorous moment with Jacko and a French nurse. The author also shows ample character development with our duo, showing how they evolve both in strength of friendship and their synergy with each other. They grow as friends and evolve to become better soldiers as well, and this evolution was something that was consistently interesting to me. I felt the part where Jamie develops a romance with someone added depth and emotion to an already well developed character. They seem to gain some level of experience from who they work with as well. Speaking of those people, the author’s level of dedication to research shows as well, with many areas being accurately described. The people he represents in the book are true to their original character and accomplishments.
While I enjoyed the narrative and the characters, I felt that the pacing, was inconsistent and sometimes abrupt. There is a part in the book where we’re zoomed into the future, which threw me off. Other than that small issue, The Warramunga’s War is an amazing read which shows a lot of spirit and has a unique take on old events.
Pages: 324 | ASIN: B07NJZFVJX
Cecilia House by Simon Gandossi is a heart-wrenching retelling of a girl’s stolen adolescence. From the very first page, the author creates a gripping air of suspense and it sparks a desire to understand what happened in the past leading up to the initial scene. We are introduced to Ruth, who is going through her recently deceased mother’s belongings and comes across a revelation that has her reeling. Her mother, after suffering the loss of her entire family, ended up in an orphanage that did nothing to help her heal from her trauma but instead made it all worse. The only consolation is that from the perspective given, you know her mother survived. However, while she goes through the trauma, it is all consuming.
The best thing about the book is that the author created such a compelling main character that it was easy to be captivated by her and sympathize with her plight. I was able to go through all of her changing emotions with her and even grow with her as the years progressed.
At times, the language of the novel was somewhat simplistic but this seemed to be more of a reflection of the character at the time. The characters were well developed and as dramatic as the events were in the book, it was all very realistic. At the same time, the subject matter was presented with a certain level of detachment that kept me continuously engaged as opposed to being overwhelmed by the events. The themes of family and friendship were prominent throughout the novel. The concept of chosen families also played a significant undercurrent role.
I like that the author didn’t strive to portray any unrealistic future whether unrealistically positive or unrealistically negative. Overall, Cecilia House was an extraordinary read, with a gripping ending.
Pages: 322 | ASIN: B07YNH1VXT
Endless Incarnation Sorrows: A Spiritual Odyssey of Mortal Imprints on Earth is inspired by a true story. The reader gets to experience life through riveting main characters whose distinct roles are revealed one by one. Lala, daughter of Rebekah bas Sora, and Hassam, son of Mohammed el-Din, gets to, unfortunately, undergo suffering due to the sins committed by her mother. Lyveva, a lovable character who enjoyed good relationships, battles abductors, arises victorious and gets to be recognized as a solid healer. The other main character was Lucja, who I was easily able to empathize with. The story of Lucja is mostly told from an enclosed Auschwitz. This place smells of slavery and dissoluteness. Every character was distinct and allowed me to view the story from different angles.
The story is narrated throughout different years and I like how well-defined life was for each of the generations, and how the reader can easily notice the differences. Lala was an unlucky character. Her birth was considered ill-fated since Rebekah, her mother had an atrocious union. It is such a disgrace that some women in the book had to suffer for things that were considered sins. Lala was born in the deserts of Judea and experiences some extreme struggles. Through the lives of such women, the author shows us how unfair life can be and how women endure affliction just to exist. The stories about the women are melancholic and somber, but their resilience inspires hope.
The author narrates every historical tale with ease, giving credence to the impression of a true story. Lucia Mann’s style of description is fluid and rich and engages the reader throughout the narration. Lucy Mann is able to make the reader pause and reflect with some dramatic and emotional turn of events. She takes you through extreme experiences and makes one understand that life can be complex sometimes. I loved reading the thought-provoking parts of the book as they helped me view life as it is in a different cultures. Reincarnation is a major topic in the book, and the exploration will make you question life as it is and the purpose of living.
Endless Incarnation Sorrows: A Spiritual Odyssey of Mortal Imprints on Earth is an excellent book for readers that love engaging literature possessing depth and intelligence. The conversations in the book are fresh, the lessons immense, and we see how women can be superhuman.
Pages: 255 | ASIN: B08222HXKQ
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There is a certain quality about people who make valuable contributions to history. They seem to have an uncanny ability to remain focused on their goals and to overcome their hurdles with stoic determination. Such is the story of one Angelo-Giuseppi ‘Hank’ Luisetti. Some people may not know who this is, including some basketball fanatics. However, the fact remains that Hank revolutionized basketball. Madness is his story of courage, focus, determination and immeasurable passion for the game.
The legacy of Hank Luisetti should never go unrecognized. He lived an inspiring life of hard work and motivating those around him to be better. Mike DeLucia tells his story in a compelling manner. He pulls in the reader right from the introduction with a peek into Hank’s life before basketball; being taught not to question God and a whole delve into his life during basketball. You will get to see the struggles as a ‘different’ kid. Nothing has been held back. This book is marked with candid banter and a knack to inspire the reader.
The book does not discriminate between demographics. It is enjoyable by anyone of any age. It is written in simple language. It weaves the plot of Hank’s life in a way that keeps you interested in how one person can be such a pillar of strength, not only for his self but for others too. You will find all the spirit, joy and heart of the game and the man himself captured between the lines of this book. The story is told in such vivid detail that you can almost see the sweat trickle down Hank’s face. You can feel his heart beat in his chest every time he was on the court.
Mike DeLucia uses true events but has created fictional characters to support the plot. These characters are properly built with enough backdrop and dimensions but it is done so carefully so that they do not overshadow the purpose of the story. They are great characters that will appeal to the reader. These characters will affirm that truly no great man becomes so without a few trusted people to him along the way.
There is a lot to learn from this book. You do not even have to be a fan of basketball. You could know absolutely nothing about the sport but you would still enjoy it. Madness: The Man Who Changed Basketball is a trip into the heart of one of the greatest sportsmen of all time.
Pages: 251 | ASIN: B07N87N384
Duty and Betrayal: The SS Brotherhood and the NASA Connection by Toby Oliver is a smart novel that takes place in the early 1960s, following various members of the intelligence communities of the United States and Great Britain. After the end of World War II, the Western powers sought to capture/recruit former Third Reich scientists to advance their own technologies, essentially beginning the Cold War. One of these men, Bernard Zimmerman, has caught the attention of Spencer Hall of MI5 for a very personal reason. Jack Stein of the CIA is brought in to help, and the two get to work. Is the SS still active, even after World War II? Will Spencer be able to act logically and safely in his quest to uncover these men? Then, of course, there’s Joyce and all of the emotions connected to Spencer’s past relationship with her making things even more thrilling.
I really appreciated the dialogue in this novel, which was consistently sharp and nimble. With any historical fiction novel that focuses on intelligence and spying, there is quite a bit of dialogue. Oliver does well to make the dialogue both interesting and logical. The characters are well crafted that each line they speak and each choice they make, I found myself thinking, ‘Yes, of course that’s what he would do.’ It’s so well-written, I would believe the author if he told me that all of these events actually happened.
If there is any weak point in the story, I felt it would be in the first couple of chapters which are heavy on some of the characters’ back stories, but almost all of the information provided in these areas is relevant and useful in understanding who these characters are, making this a very minor issue.
This book reads exactly the way an old school spy movie would play out. No big flashes from explosions or high-tech gadgetry like we get from these stories now. Just operatives using their investigative and deductive logic skills to investigate, interrogate, and do what they can to capture the individuals they need.
This is an exceptionally well written book that is persistently entertaining and compelling.
Pages: 212 | ASIN: B01N1JLYRC
Author Ben Z. Rose brings to life the legendary hero of the New England Militia during America’s War of Independence. Born in Colonial New Hampshire to Scotch Irish immigrants, John Stark survived Indian captivity, and later fought alongside the British in the French and Indian War as part of Rogers Rangers, the legendary militia company which pioneered the tactics of today’s U.S. Army Special Forces. Stark’s first-hand exposure to second class citizenship in the British army fueled his desire to enlist in the Continental army and prevent a humiliating defeat at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Later, his surprise attack against British hired mercenaries at the Battle of Bennington turned the tide in favor of the young American army.
Ben Z. Rose focuses on a handful of people in John Stark’s life in an effort to gain insight into his motivation and character. These include his wife, Elizabeth “Molly” Stark, who hailed from a prominent Puritan family; his oldest son, Caleb, who enlisted in the Continental Army at the age of 15; Robert Rogers, founder of the colonial ranger force that bears his name; Seth Warner, captain of the Green Mountain Boys who fought for Vermont’s independence; fellow New Hampshire General John Sullivan, and General Horatio Gates, who rivaled George Washington for leadership of the Continental Army.
John Stark inspired the phrase “Live Free or Die—Death is not the greatest of evils” in a letter to the citizens of Vermont. Stark’s sentiment at the time was clearly intended to warn against another British invasion, which occurred a short time later when the British burned down the US Congress during the War of 1812. As we live in an age when the pendulum swings between concerns over government intrusion into our lives and the necessity to confront our overseas enemies, Stark speaks to us today with the same relevance as he did more than two-hundred years ago.
Amulet’s Rapture finds Catrin, a princess of Britannia, a warrior, and a druidess ending up a slave to a Roman. How did the initial idea for this novel develop and change as you were writing?
The overall story idea is based on the legacy of Mark Antony and Cleopatra but with a Celtic twist. The inspiration for the primary character, Catrin, is Boudicca, a warrior queen who united the British tribal kingdoms in a rebellion against Rome in 61 AD and almost succeeded in kicking them out. Originally, Amulet’s Rapture was intended to be the first book in the Curse of Clansmen and Kings series. However, after receiving feedback from critique groups, editors, and agents, I decided to start the story earlier in ancient Britannia so readers could better understand what Catrin lost when she is enslaved. Fantastical elements were also added to give the story a flavor of the Celtic and Roman cultures through their mythology and legends.
I always enjoy your character development in your books. What were some obstacles you felt were important to Catrin’s development in this story?
The key as to what obstacles Catrin must overcome in the story is highlighted in Chapter 4: Roman Training. In a scene, Catrin has a vision of her dead father who tells her what she must do to become a warrior queen to take back her kingdom from her treacherous half-brother, Marrock. She must summon stamina from nature (her own inner essence) to endure hardships of slavery and rigors of training with Roman soldiers. She must learn how to deal with both enemies and friends. She reluctantly embraces her corrupt and cruel Roman master like a stern father from whom she learns how to maneuver through changing political winds, transforming her weakness into strength. Most of all, she must understand how her utmost trust in those she loves is a double-edged sword that can be used against her. Though she deeply loves Marcellus, her Roman husband and ally, she must ultimately face and overcome obstacles by herself. She can only rise above unfortunate circumstances by understanding herself and by harnessing her inner darker forces to survive and to seek vengeance on those who have maltreated her.
In Amulet’s Rapture, Catrin transforms from a naïve fifteen-year-old girl into a worldly young woman who must forge her own destiny. This book sets the stage for the next book when she must ally with former enemies and friends to confront Marrock.
What were some goals you set for yourself as a writer when starting this book?
My goal was to write a quality book within a year of the last released book, Dagger’s Destiny. I strove to write the best story I could by having the manuscript thoroughly critiqued and professionally edited and formatted. The story must have a unique theme and character development that resonates with readers. I was open to revising the original plot whenever it was inconsistent with the characters or was headed in the wrong direction. For example, I changed the last chapter in Amulet’s Rapture because the original ending was not in keeping with Catrin’s transformation. The revised ending threw a wrench in the plot of my next book, Skull’s Vengeance, but I consider this a challenge to add new twists in the overall tale.
Although Catrin is the rightful heir to the Celtic throne in Britannia, she is lucky to be alive. After witnessing the slaughter of her family at the hands of her half-brother, who was aided by the Romans, she is enslaved by a Roman commander. He disguises her as a boy in the Roman Legion with the belief that she is an oracle of Apollo and can foretell his future. The sole bright spot in her miserable new life is her forbidden lover Marcellus, the great-grandson of the famed Roman General Mark Antony.
But Marcellus has been wounded and his memories of Catrin and their secret marriage were erased by a dark Druidess. Though Marcellus reunites with Catrin in Gaul and becomes her ally as she struggles to survive the brutality of her Roman master, he questions the legitimacy of their marriage and hesitates to help her escape and retake her kingdom. If their forbidden love and alliance are discovered, her dreams of returning to her Celtic home with Marcellus will be shattered.
Charley Brindley’s Hannibal’s Elephant Girl takes place in 229 BCE in North Africa. We’re treated to a thoughtful account of life in a river camp near Carthage. The delivery of the story is exceptional as the reader can effortlessly follow the various story lines in the book. There are more than one major character but the main focus is on a girl called Liada. We accompany this 12-year-old girl as she goes about her business and the adventures in the camp. The narration is simple but still managed to keep my attention. Different literary and stylistic devices are used to spice up the plot and every character is developed uniquely. The reader falls in love with some characters and loathes some due to how the author represents them. This connection brought me the most joy because the characters I was rooting for almost always won.
Liada gets rescued from a river by an elephant named Obolus. The savior elephant is among the many that are being trained for war at the camp. There is a war looming and every party needs to prepare for any situation. Despite getting rescued, Liada’s life is not all smooth as her memory seems to have faded. Liada is assigned some tasks, among them feeding soldiers in the camp. Yzebel, the woman who took Liada runs a cafeteria where soldiers go to eat. Yzebel is patient and understanding. She is one of the characters the I greatly enjoyed from the beginning. Yzebel, however, has a disgraceful son, but despite this, Liada continues to be the hardworking girl who keeps it together.
I appreciated Liada’s character as she is accountable for anything she does and treats everyone with courtesy. Liada’s daily tasks make her interact with different people in the camp. I appreciate how the author describes events in the book. Everything is detailed. The camp, soldiers, city of Carthage and the activities the characters engage in are well illustrated and one can easily visualize the happenings. Hannibal is one of the members Liada interacts with. Hannibal is in charge of the elephant army. Tin Tin Ban Sunia is another character that Liada befriended. Liada and Tin Tin Ban Sunia became friends despite the latter being mute.
The kind Liada and Yzebel, however, plan to save the poor girl from slavery. This was a bold but risky move as the two put themselves in danger. Their arrangement also revealed another side of the characters that I got to love. Charley Brindley makes a simple story more exciting with twists in the plot. The suspense and action the characters take make the reading thrilling. Hannibal’s Elephant Girl is engaging, with a balance of detail that allows your imagination to run. The characters are well developed and addictive to follow. This is a fantastic book with plenty of lessons for young readers.
Pages: 425 | ASIN: B07P9WJFWP