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Quite Unexpectedly

T.P. Graf
T.P. Graf Author Interview

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.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

Was it a chance meeting in the Daisy Cafe that brought a father and his boys from Macon, Georgia, descendants of slaves, into the life of a descendent of Swiss Mennonites, or was it the mysterious workings of the father’s grandmother, Momma Daisy? August Kibler tells the stories of his own life and the lives of Tyler, Johnny, and Jimmy through the tragedy and grief, and the joy and gratitude, that each discovered along the way. The generous spirit they share is a gift to any seeking greater understanding when you believe you have little in common. Yet it is through sharing that August discovers a deep reverence for Momma Daisy and Pappy Jemison, and for the legacy of love and mettle that defined their lives. August challenges our certitudes as, in his own life, he says, “I would rather have doubts and be wrong than to be certainly wrong.” Tyler and August bear witness to what might appear to be ordinary lives, yet which both see as nothing less than extraordinary.

Jam Sessions: Sometimes in Middle School, the best you can do is survive

Jam Sessions: Sometimes in Middle School, the best you can do is survive. by [Jerry Harwood, Myles Richardson, Timothy Sisemore]

Jam Sessions follows a middle school boy named Phillip who has to forge a new path for himself through a new school that he’s transferred to in the middle of the school year. Phillip struggles with bullies, but finds a creative outlet in Mr. Filter’s class where he starts the day with a writing prompt that sends Phillips imagination soaring. Now, if only he could apply that creativity and passion in his real life.

Jerry Harwood has created a cast of characters that are both easy to dislike and easy to empathize with. Chuck and his friends are easily unlikable and I loved Ashley, Daniel and Jaylan. I really liked all the teachers too, especially the language arts and P.E. teachers. I did feel like Phillips mom should have played a bigger part in the story, but it didn’t hurt the story in any way. From the first time we meet Chuck I thought that he was just a pain in the butt kid who likes to be a bully and embarrass people. Chuck and his gang of hooligans didn’t really evolve much but that honestly worked for the story because they continue to be the fundamental antagonists.

Jerry Harwood does a great job detailing what a panic/anxiety attack feels like, I could almost feel and see Phillip having his attacks. It was great that he found a way to cope with his attacks. Even at the beginning when the author is describing Phillip and his mom running away from home, everything is perfectly detailed. When Phillip is standing in the back of the room on the first day of school, you could feel him praying that he is invisible and then realizing that he really had been during that class because not one person had cared about him being there or noticed his presence. It was sort of sad.

The story flowed easily and was well written. I enjoyed the small cartoon characters at the beginning of each chapter and I liked how short the chapters were. I read the book in one sitting, because it was an enjoyable read and I loved that Phillip was able to turn things around which gave the book a feel good ending.

Pages: 214 | ASIN: B0868XNSH9

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Pandora’s Gardener

Pandora's Gardener

John Cranston had no aspirations to be a spy. He was a gardener for goodness sake, and enjoyed the mediocrity that came with the job. But as is often the case, the unexpected came knocking and suddenly John found himself in the middle of a plot involving an old friend, the Russians, secret societies, and crooked cops- just to name a few. To make matters worse, they all seemed to think he was on par with them in regards to secrets and skills. As each day pulls him further from his business as usual, John has to uncover and help stop a sinister conspiracy that is revealed to be a matter of world security. 

Pandora’s Gardener by David Mason is a fun and fast paced thriller that tows the line between the serious espionage of James Bond and the absurd escapades of Austin Powers. With each new obstacle that John comes across, Mason does an expert job of weaving the stories together until the reader is effectively hooked. To keep the mood from getting too heavy, even the situations that provide a real degree of danger are met with a ridiculous sense of humor that helps keep the events moving right along. It’s a classic tale of “good guys” versus “bad guys” but crafted in a way that makes it difficult to determine which is which, since so many of the characters are delightfully charming. The notable exception of course is our unlikely hero who insists, time and time again, that despite his apparent skills, he really is just a gardener. No one believes that, and hijinks ensue.

The sheer amount of plot lines, characters, and double crosses could potentially make for a dense and unreadable story, but instead everything works in perfect synch. As mentioned before, Mason is superb at crafting the story, ensuring that there is always something new around the corner, even as other loose ends are resolved. Every character adds a distinct flavor to the story, no matter how briefly they may appear, and while some of them aren’t given the resolution they may deserve, it doesn’t affect the tone of the book.

Pandora’s Gardner was enjoyable and fun to read from start to finish and if there is any complaint I have, it’s that it was long enough to consistently surprise me with its new developments, and that it never fully fleshed out John’s past, which was referred to occasionally. Even at that, I was never disappointed. It maintained an excellent balance between goofy and serious while John consistently plays the part of reluctant spy perfectly.

Pages: 466

Remnant

Remnant by [Daniel Peyton]

Anna is an unlikely but intriguing combination of being both a secret Chrstian and an astro-geologist. She is known as a Remnant, the last of the religious in a world that does not allow religion to exist. She is accompanied by her endearing and adorable sidekick, the robot Z. They both find themselves on a deeply challenging and mysterious mission that is taking place on a new moon, where life has been discovered. This new life also seems to contradict the knowledge that Anna has been fed so far- especially by one influential Dr.Syke.

Remnant is an enthralling yet charming read. Some of the ideas behind the faith vs science conundrums were handled in such a fascinating way- without insulting the intelligence of the reader. It sort of reminded me of a few scenes in the classic HG Wells novel, The War of the Worlds, in the manner with which it dealt with these potentially controversial subjects.

Although I would have loved some further explanation for the motivations behind the Planetary Science Commission’s decision to ban religion- I felt like it was smoothed over too quickly. I would have liked a deeper exploration of the debate between science and religion, but they are satisfying enough to move the plot forward and give Anna’s character motivation. This turned out to be better for me because I was skeptical going into a Christian science fiction book. The novel makes interesting points, but remains accessible to anyone.

The humor and dialogue in this book saves itself from too much seriousness and it’s a relief. Z was an exceptionally fun character and I think more science fiction novels should do themselves the favor of including a can’t-help-but-love-him/her sidekick. The pace was breakneck and the plot stuck around in my head a while after I finished it.

I’d recommend this one to anyone who wouldn’t mind their science fiction with a bit of religion. I felt more curious and attuned to the mysteries of this world and others after it after reading Remnant.

Pages: 482 | ASIN: B07SPCXCG8

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As the Daisies Bloom: A Novel

T. P Graf’s As The Daisies Bloom is as enchanting as it is charming. The story is intimately and poetically told. Like a well-written symphony, it has a rhythm and magnetism that is undeniable. It is especially hard not to fall in love with the main character, August.

While it is a work of fiction, this novel gives a heartfelt account of August’s life that is so touching, so authentic, and for lack of a better word so human. It is clear that this character was so thoroughly thought out, his experiences so beautifully brought to life.

Although the book starts with a chance encounter between August and a young family just freshly arrived in town, it ends in an interweaving of lives that we never see coming. The author also does well explaining the details of August’s life before this chance meeting and how the past has spilled into the present in interesting ways.

The fact that this book is written in August’s own voice, even with the accent and all, gives it an authenticity reminiscent of a memoir. What is more captivating though is that the author has managed to use this man’s seemingly simple life to draw attention to serious societal issues.

By easing us into topics like racism, sexism, faith, patriotism, and homophobia, he has personalized them, given them faces, invoking empathy and deep introspection. With neither insults nor judgment, he has made me think deeply about what it means to be human, to love, and to be loved.

Apart from the use of descriptive and almost poetic language, I also love that the author took his time to fully develop the characters in this book. Even though they are described as seen through August’s eyes, I could clearly picture each character. And not just physically, but who they are as a person.

It was clear what each one stood for and what was most important to them; something difficult to fit into 184 pages. Unexpectedly I found myself laughing with the characters and mourning with them, their struggles seeming so real to me somehow.

Pages: 193 | ASIN: B08CMPHL28

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Sex, Cons & Rock ‘N Roll

Dating can be hard. Online dating can be even harder. Between scammers, sleazeballs, and the all too rare sincere connection, it can be a pretty rough road. But if you never try, you may never have that chance to find love.

Gloria Moodie has looked for love in all the wrong places, all the right places, and all the places in between. In her book Sex, Cons, & Rock ‘N Roll- A Tale of Love, Passion, and Betrayal! she gives an abbreviated glimpse into her journey to find a genuine connection, mostly through the use of online dating sites. Moodie moves quickly through the stages of her life, giving a brief synopsis into each of her serious relationships, and even some of the less serious ones. She injects her stories with both humor and humanity. There’s a sincerity to Gloria Moodie’s book that is rare and I wanted to dive deeper into the stories she tells, but they were often too brief for being way too interesting.

Throughout the book, Moodie focuses on the people who prey on others online, and the damage it does to those sincere in their search. Having been the target of scammers in the past, she makes an effort to educate others to prevent it from happening to them as well. She provides many useful tips and helpful resources that will assist you in furthering your research after you’ve finished this book.

Sex, Cons, and Rock ‘N Roll succinctly illustrates the pitfalls of putting yourself out there. Gloria Moodie’s anecdotes were engaging and funny and I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a light memoir that’s also informative.

Pages: 180 | ISBN-10: 1525575341

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Bird People – Trailer

After moving from New York City to rural Illinois, writer Letitia Moffitt met veterinarian Ken Welle. As she began to share more of her life with him, Letitia realized this would also mean sharing her time with animals. Yet she never suspected how tense, terrifying, and noisy those moments would be. Ken loved birds—big, beautiful macaws in particular—and he did not merely want to own them. He wanted them to fly free.

Bird People tells the story of Ken’s struggle to make his dream come true, and how Letitia found her own way to share that dream. It’s a tale of love, delight, sorrow, adventure, and truly massive amounts of work, as Ken and Letitia trained the birds – a blue-and-gold named Boston, and a green-wing named Phoenix – and transformed their living space to be not just bird-friendly, but bird-centric. It’s the tale of two adult humans, the dog who helped them find each other, and the birds who became the focus of all their lives. It’s a story about living your dreams, even when they don’t turn out how you expect. Above all, Letitia Moffitt’s touching, inspiring, often-hilarious memoir is a reminder that hard times are as valuable as good times, and that all the moments matter.

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Worldshaper

Worldshaper (Worldshapers Book 1) by [Edward Willett]

Worldshaper by Edward Willett is an exciting supernatural adventure story that builds on a unique premise to deliver a mesmerizing story. Set in a small town, the book delves into the life of Shawna, a seemingly normal woman whose perfect life takes a suddenly deadly turn. Her best friend is killed. But after experiencing this horrific event it’s erased from existence, including her friend. Shawna then encounters a mysterious stranger that  helps her understand what is happening to her, her world, and comes to find out that all of it is threatened by an evil entity.

Worldshaper has one of the most unique setups to a story that I’ve read this year. Shawna has a supernatural ability to shape worlds to her liking, although she doesn’t know it. This sets up the story to be a learning experience where we as the reader learn along with Shawna as she’s learning about it. Delivered in the first person we get to see Shawnas wit and charm first hand. She becomes endearing and fun to follow. Shawna starts out as somewhat of a reluctant and naive hero, a bit cliched for the fantasy genre, but what makes this novel stand out from the rest is the extraordinary journey that she goes on, exotic worlds that she visits, and the dramatic twist at the end. To say I didn’t see the twist coming at the end would be an understatement. I don’t think anyone will see it coming. You should read this novel for the fantastic ending, if for nothing else.

What I liked the most about Worldshaper was the world building, but it was also something that slowed the story’s pace a bit. Edward Willet has obviously put a lot of thought into building not just one world, but a universe of shaped worlds. It’s all presented to the reader up front, which can be a lot to take in, but readers who enjoy deep world building and unique design will enjoy the meticulous development of the backstory. Sprinkle in some offbeat characters and dramatic turn of events and you have an exceptional supernatural story that is highly engrossing.

This is book one in Edward Willett’s Worldshapers series. This sets the bar high for the series. With most of the Worldshaper mythology established here, other novels are surely primed to deliver non-stop fun and entertainment. Worldshaper is thoroughly entertaining, rarely dull, and always fun.

Pages: 368 | ASIN: B0782XSM22

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