Lessons from the Frogs I’ve Kissed is a heart-wrenching and personal story of love and loss. Why was this an important book for you to write?
“If there’s a book you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” –Toni Morrison
The writing and sharing of my story became a significant journey of healing for me. I felt the universe was fully supporting my writing as the memories were downloaded and I was able to recall the most intricate detail and communicate my feelings and memories in relatable words. I realised then that not only was this book meant to be written as part of my own healing process, but that it also needed to be shared with others, as there are plenty of people out there who could benefit from the lessons I had learned. This truly was the book I wish I had when I was going through any one of my painful break-ups at any given time. During the process I realised the more honest, raw and authentic I was with myself, the more relatable my story would be. So I threw myself under the bus a few times, in order to make sure this is not a one sided, man hating tale, as there were always two people in the equation. It has been written with cringe-worthy honesty and dashes of humour to keep a somewhat heavy subject matter light and enjoyable.
I appreciated your willingness to share difficult moments in your life. What is one piece of advice you wish someone had given you?
One piece of advice that I wish someone had given me is that we tend to fall in love with our partners potential. We keep hoping and waiting for our situation to improve. What we don’t realise is that is just the kind of cake we bake with our partners, and that our relationships are unlikely to change into the fulfilling relationships we are hoping for. The dynamics between two people is set in the beginning. You will not magically be attracted to someone or earn their respect if it was not there from the onset.
You detail an abusive and destructive relationship, but I found the book to be ultimately uplifting. What do you hope readers take away from your story?
I really hope to give my readers perspective on their own relationships, whether they are good or bad ones, just something to compare them to. I also wish to give hope, hope that true love and happiness does exist. One of my big realisations was that in order to meet someone who could genuinely love me and I love them, I had to find self-love first, and I think this was one of my most valuable lessons.
One of my readers stopped me in the local shopping centre to let me know since reading my book she had the full realisation that she is married to a Pete, and she is now certain she needs to get out of her marriage, When I hear feedback like this I know my book is here for a reason.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
I had to laugh when I was first asked this question. My book hadn’t been been out for three days after working on it for almost 5 years and people were already wanting to know when they could expect my next book. I had a rather sticky court case recently when I was sued for parental alienation. There is definitely a book there which I feel will help other women and men in similar situations. I guess I need to get my writing cap on soon.
I invite you to be a fly on the wall as I revisit all my significant adult relationships and share the invaluable life lessons I have learnt over the last 20 years. In my most desperate moments, whether dating or married, I searched for a book that could give me some much-needed perspective on my current circumstances. That book did not exist – until now.
Many of us have been in romantic relationships which feel incredible in the beginning but end up in trauma, regret and despair. How do we stop ourselves from becoming locked in cycles of abuse? What are the unconscious dating patterns that underlie our romantic interactions? How do we know what we are looking for in a partner ? And most importantly why do we need to learn to love ourselves first? Written with dashes of humour and cringe-worthy honesty, I am sure you will find Lessons From the Frogs I’ve Kissed to be an entertaining and powerful read, which should help you in your own personal journey in finding ever-lasting love and happiness.
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Plum Rains on Happy House follows an American who is trying to turn an Inn into a school but is thwarted by the house’s strange creatures. What was the inspiration behind this unique story?
I live in Japan, and it’s a place I know well. The book’s dedication probably says it all:
This book is for Japan. It’s the place I call home—though it may not want me to. For over 25 years I have grappled with the dos and don’t’s of my host country, destroying the language in conversation, giving up, resuming more study, eventually resigning myself to the boundless plateaus of almost-speech.
And Japan abides. Like a patient steward, it absorbs the frolics and the ribbing, while providing a solacing habitat in which to write and teach and parent and grow.
I came over to Japan in the 80’s and I’ve lived in some pretty seedy guesthouses—what we call gaijin houses. In creating the residents of Happy House, I just mingled the characteristics of a few of the unique people I’ve met over the decades in Tokyo and in Los Angeles. In some cases, I didn’t need to exaggerate at all.
On one level Plum Rains on Happy House is a detective story. A fellow named Harry Ballse invites the protagonist, nicknamed the Ichiban, to Japan. But the residents of Happy House all deny any knowledge of this mysterious Harry Ballse.
Some readers may pick up on the references to the 1973 film The Wicker Man, about a policeman who is lured to a Scottish island to investigate the report of a missing child. It’s a game of deception. The islanders are playing with him. The paganism and the sexual activity the sanctimonious policeman finds so objectionable are simply part of the selection process—to see if he possesses the characteristics to burn in their wicker effigy so that the village will have subsequent successful harvests.
In Plum Rains on Happy House, the Ichiban must undergo his own horrific sacrifice to appease the house. My novel is in many ways a tribute to that remarkable film, and it has the same foundational plot lines, but I’ve laid down a hearty layer of satire and lots of cross-cultural lunacy.
There are some weird and fascinating things happening in this story. Was this an easy outlet for your creativity or was there some effort put into creating these things?
Nothing is easy. If women will forgive me the metaphor, creating Plum Rains on Happy House was like giving birth—it hurt a lot. There were points when I considered giving up because it was just too hard. I’m not a funny person, but I have little trouble dreaming up wacky stories and characters. The residents of Happy House had to be distinctively quirky. I didn’t know how bawdy things were going to become, or how much depravity would creep its way into the story. But once I had the characters they took charge, and I relegated myself to being, more or less, their stenographer.
Dialog was also something I paid close attention to. Of course, sharp dialog is vital in any story, but for this kind of back-and-forth humor to succeed, I felt it really had to have zip. Just like a comedian practices his delivery line, the dialog exchanges had to have real punch. As with most writing, dialog should say a lot , with very little. The communication isn’t in the words being said but in the subtext. Good dialog says it without saying it. One quick example from Chapter One has the resident of Room 3 (nicknamed The Goat) explaining to the new resident about his missing foot:
“I saw you looking at the bottom of my leg.”
The Goat scowled. “Obviously, you can see that no longer exists.”
“It’s in Cambodia.”
The Goat went into a cross-eyed fluster. “What is?”
Sometimes readers need to work a bit to understand the exchange, and I think they appreciate that. Dialog is an organic process. It’s the way characters talk in my head, and I think I know how to write them because they are all a part of me. It all works toward satisfying the element of what a good scene often comes down to: one person trying to get something from another.
Mix that in with the baffling idiosyncrasies of Japan and its language, and the vexing stages of culture shock, which frame the Ichiban’s adventure in Happy House, and readers have a lot to juggle, especially those uninitiated to living in other countries. I’m hoping this confusion is a part of the magnetism of the story. On top of that, one should remember the old guesthouse is haunted:
“Happy House is an amoeba everlasting, a floating world—capturing and sealing the self-indulgence of the red-light districts, the bordellos and the fleeting, delightful vulgarity of ancient Japan, an eternal time capsule of the flamboyant and the boorish.”
What do you find is a surprising reaction people have when they read your book?
The book has received mixed reviews. Of the five books I have up on Amazon, Plum Rains on Happy House was the first to receive a customer review of one star—perhaps rightfully so: the reader was “disgusted” by some of the more explicit scenes, and I think that was my fault; the earlier cover gave no indication of the sexual content within, and this poor woman was clearly ambushed. With the one star, I know I’m finally an author, and wear it as a badge of honor.
There are, however, cultural elements in the story that some will not understand: the usage of the various slipper customs inside a house, the daily beating of the futon, the laundry poles, the shockingly steep stairwells, the neighborhood garbage trucks that play cute tunes to let you know they’re coming, the confusion between the colors of blue and green.
The dichotomy of substance versus form also plays an important part in underscoring the tension—in the way one swings a tennis racket, or walks in a swimming pool, or plays baseball, or eats particular dishes: What should predominate—what you are doing or how you are doing it?
On another level, the story examines language acquisition and the role of structure within the learning process. The residents all have their various opinions: As teachers, should English be taught through some kind of lock-step formula, or would one be better off approaching it in a more hands off manner, rather like painting? Everyone seems to have an opinion.
The idea of structure comes to the forefront again when discussing what one character, Sensei, calls the hidden structure of the house, which, like the neighborhood (or any cityscape in Japan) appears as an amorphous sprawl. But look underneath this sprawl and one sees the organism. Sensei says that the randomness, or chaos, embraces a flexible, orderly structure, and he likens the house to an amoeba that has the ability to alter its shape. Similarly, this amoeba can be seen as a microcosm of Japan as a whole.
What are you currently working on and when will it be available?
I’ve finished the first few drafts of a story about Special Needs teens who discover time travel. But the adult teachers at the school find out what’s going on and abuse this ability to travel back into time for their own selfish needs. It turns out the ones with the Special Needs are not the teenagers—who are all somewhere on the Autism spectrum—but the supposed grownups, and it’s up to the teens to save the day. It should be out in autumn.
Thanks for having me!
The American in Room 1, however, is dead-set on turning the derelict Happy House into a burgeoning English school.
The house has other plans, and Room 1’s attempts are thwarted by a freakish creature that lives under the floorboards called “the Crat”.
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Dom is a computer engineering genius in her own right. Rose’s instincts when it comes to human behavior are fine-tuned. Layla has the gift of an incredible memory. All three women are true forces with which to be reckoned and phenomenally good at their jobs. When Dom, a virtual recluse, is approached for help in solving a violent death, the lives of the three women quickly become entangled. Dom, Rose, and Layla reiterate that we are all one quick internet search away from an interaction we may or may not want.
B.J. Cyprian, author of Shadow Resistance, has created a world effortlessly blends fantasy and realistic fiction. With the elements of advanced artificial intelligence looming large in Dom’s storyline, readers are treated to science fiction laced with humor and heavily layered with relevant current events. While I’m not a fan of most historical fiction novels, I more than appreciate the references Cyprian includes in her characters’ story lines. Especially effective is the way in which the author works in the black and white doll experiment into Rose’s subplot. Cyprian knows how to hit readers where it matters. This is just one of the aspects of her writing that helps make her book so worthy of praise.
The entire scenario involving SARA is quite amazing. I don’t want to call SARA a character as it were, but I would feel remiss if I didn’t mention how incredibly fascinating her contribution to the book actually is. At times, Dom almost plays second string to the artificial intelligence she herself created. The back-and-forth between the two is entertaining to say the least and simultaneously frightening. To think that SARA is Dom’s only connection with the outside world is, in many ways, sad. In introducing Dom as somewhat of a hermit, Cyprian has given a certain richness to Dom’s story line and made her views of injustice all the more fiery.
Cyprian does a beautiful job of weaving history into every aspect of her plot. Page after page, she seamlessly meshes mentions of countless historical figures into the dialogue between characters. From impromptu history lessons given by Rose to the background revealed by Rose and Robert’s visit to Larry’s apartment, the book feels less like a lesson in history than a conversation on the front stoop of an elderly neighbor.
This unique work of fiction is a must read for anyone seeking technologically-based crime dramas. In addition, Cyprian’s work holds a special appeal for those who appreciate historical accuracies and current events woven throughout their fiction. The more I read, the more I found Shadow Resistance qualifies as a mystery. It’s impossible to fit Cyprian’s work into one slot–and I’m not sure I want to. It deserves a category of its own. Kudos to Cyprian on an outstanding first novel.
PagesL 648 | ASIN: B07NQKYGVP
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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
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Lawrence Thornberry thinks he is ready for his year in Japan. However, nothing could have ever prepared him for the experience he is about to have. An experience he can never truly understand but astonishingly accepts. He discovers new elements everyday. Some of these strange things would deter anyone but not the Ichiban. A nickname he got because of the room he was assigned, room number one. This American English teacher teaches at the Slop Bucket. When he is not there he encounters strange things at the Happy House. Strange things that are brought on by the rain. Just a good old Japanese experience.
One of the strange but weirdly comfortable things is that this story is told by crow. A tale that slides seamlessly from first to third person and back. The crow has strange characteristics of its own. Note the overuse of the word strange. It is a recurring theme in Plum Rains on Happy House. The crow though not exactly living in Happy House is one of the many eclectic characters in the book. Michael Greco has done a good job of building otherworldly characters but still maintain a light touch. Another grumpy but delightfully humorous character is the Goat.
Oh the words. The author has a special gift. He weaves words into a beautifully crocheted poncho. A poncho that envelopes the reader in pure literary induced ecstasy. An example is that bit where Titty is introduced. It is so funny and accurate, I imagine. The reader cannot help but picture it. Speaking of which, the character development in this book is quite good. Not in a way that one can relate to them but in a way that makes the reader comfortable. The reader feels at home in a house that requires a symbiotic relationship between it and the resident. It is uncanny how that can be possible.
It is truly wonderful that despite the Ichiban noticing some peculiarity as he was trekking up to the house. He kept going. He continued to see the crooked house but it was like he saw something completely different. Like all the strange things were supposed to be part of the experience. It is good to take things in stride like that.
There are two issues with this book. While the language is well utilized, it still requires a bit of polishing. The plot is unique, but the story is confusing at times. Bits that arise abruptly and disrupt the flow of everything. Some people may like this as it brings a little unpredictability to the story.
This is an entertaining book with interesting characters and an imaginative creative plot. All of that and a whole lot of quirk.
Pages: 248 | ASIN: B07DWQ3R68
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What do you find is a common misconception people have about humor?
The most common misconception about humor is you have to be born funny to use your sense of humor. Not true. Think of humor like a muscle, if you exercise it, it will get stronger, if you ignore it, it will weaken. Anyone can exercise their sense of humor and practice using it more.
I find that some people have a good sense of humor, while others do not. How does having a good sense of humor play into the habits you describe?
We are all on the bell curve of humor with some apparently more comfortable using humor and others less comfortable. Past negative experiences with humor, such as being teased or criticized for their sense of humor can definitely make one more hesitant to use their sense of humor. Some have even been mocked for the sound of their laughter. This discomfort can be overcome and practicing these humor habits can help one become more comfortable with their sense of humor.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Just in the concept stage right now, I’m looking at doing a book on the role of humor in leadership. I also have a children’s book in the works called “The Frog Who Couldn’t Jump” for children with arthritis.
“7 1/2 Habits To Help You Become More Humorous, Happier & Healthier” is an easy and fun book to read. The practical applications on how to improve your sense of humor make this a ‘keeper.’ This book reveals the mysteries to improving your sense of humor to be happier, healthier, have better relationships and make you a more humorous person. This funny, uplifting and endearing book will teach you the secrets of using humor to decrease stress, cope with adversity and enhance the good times. It tells the story of one man’s rise from the depths of illness and chronic pain to the heights of success attributable to his daily humor habits. He explains his discovery of how the simple use of HUMOR can transform your life and the world you live in.
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Cuffed by You captures the romance, comedy, and drama of the last two books and takes it to a new level. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
It’s funny but one of my readers who has been with me from the start suggested that I use a meme that I posted as a scene in one of my books. That scene ending up being the attempted drowning scene in Addicted to You. To pay homage to my reader I named Kayla after her. Cuffed by You sort of took on a life of it’s own. I knew that I wanted Kayla to have her own book because who doesn’t love a good woman who was pushed to the brink receive her happily ever after? Who better than to be brought down by craziness than the series’ man-whore Marc. I thought that it was fitting that he would go from never wanting to person, to ending up with five. Really, the characters took on a life of there own and I was just along for the wonderful ride.
I enjoyed the depth of Kayla’s character. What was your process to bring her character to life?
I wouldn’t say that I had a process. Being a stay at home mother of three, it was easy to grasp what she would be like daily. All I had to do was add in what I would feel like if my husband ever did that to me and bam, she came to life. I think that a lot of women are able to relate to Kayla regardless of whether they’re married and have kids. What happened to her is a woman’s fear. Of course we want her to come out on top and with a much better man than ever before. The fact that Marc was so sweet and loyal to her children was just a huge plus and is what really stole her heart. It’s easy to guard your own heart, but when someone loves your kids as much as you do…well cupids arrow sticks.
I really enjoy the level of detail you give to each character. If Hollywood came knocking who would you cast as your main characters?
Hmmm, that’s a pretty tough question. I’m not really sure because I haven’t really based them off of any celebrities. I know that some authors use inspiration boards for their characters but I don’t. Let’s see, I love Alexander Skarsgard, I most certainly wouldn’t mind him playing either Marc or Rocco. Tom Hardy has to be in there somewhere because…Tom Hardy. Luke Evans would be great as Morris. I think Eddie Cibrian would make a great JJ because of his dimples. Tyler Hoechlin would make a great Damon and Declan. He has the body and broodiness of Damon but also the smile and sweetness of Declan. Huh, I guess that wasn’t very hard after all. Thanks for making me look up some hot celebs!
What is the next book in the in the SAPD series and when will it be available?
The next book in the series will be JJ and Sage’s story titled Protected by You. I’m hoping to have it out by May 5, 2019, but we’ll see. Every Indie author knows that a million and one things can go wrong when it comes to self-publishing, so wish me luck!
Kayla has had a pretty crappy year. Cheating husband? Check. Getting arrested for trying to drown him? Check. Getting handcuffed by the world’s hottest cop? Check. Raising four kids alone? Check. Cheating ex-husband being a complete nuisance? Check.
Obviously, it makes sense that she wants to stay as far away from the opposite sex as possible. The only thing she cares about is her family and work…well and maybe keeping her battery supply fully stocked. Of course, staying away from the opposite sex would be a lot easier if a certain Viking looking police officer didn’t seem to be everywhere that she is. It would also be a lot easier if he would just stop flirting with her. Doesn’t he understand that she’s a mess on the best of days? A mess with four kids! What man in his right mind wants a woman who’s crazy with a ton of kids?
Marc is the type of man who enjoys variety in life…if you know what I mean. But he hasn’t been able to get a certain crazy jilted woman out of his mind for the past year. Unfortunately for him, he likes a woman who’s a little crazy and Kayla has just the right amount. He knows that the last thing that she probably needs in her life is a man like him. But it’s like fate is even trying to help him. She is everywhere these days and he’s not going to look a gift horse in the mouth.
He’s a man who always has a plan. His newest one? To get Kayla to be his. Pretty simple right? Sure, if you don’t factor in that she doesn’t want a man. And that she has four kids. And that her ex-husband is the biggest piece of trash that he’s ever met. And if you don’t include meddling family members. Sure, this will be a piece of cake. What could go wrong?
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This physiological thriller is amusing and engaging right from the start. Act one introduces us to the characters, all of which I found interesting but one more particularly so was Purvel Schlignatz. He’s a graduate student who is focused and open-minded, but gets convinced to do things that he sometimes does not subscribe to and I was not comfortable with the influence that Pelvin Penisovich had on him.
The drama and romance blended easily and were equally entertaining. I loved how Purvel Chlignatz was ready to risk everything just to be with Kitty Walters. I closely followed the drama that led to Pelvin Penisovich and Dronah Stackbut’s break up and learned a few things about friendship along the way. The romantic themes explore how pals and lovers sometimes get betrayed, and the result is anger that could be destructive.
Dolly Gray Landon’s story is exciting if not interesting and filled with characters with quirky names having engaging conversations. Melody wasn’t a favorite for me, but not for a lack of character development, quite the opposite. Her attitude and lack of empathy made me dislike her character. She was full of herself and abused the influence she had. I, however, appreciate that the author made her one of the main characters, as her role added more spice in the book. I also got to learn a few new words, as the jargon used by the Stool candidates was compelling. ‘Nadaism’ is one of the words I found to be amusing throughout the book.
Everything from the plot, literary stylistic devices used, character and writing style were excellent. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading plays and wants to enjoy a good story. Keep a dictionary handy as this story will surely increase your vocabulary.
Wealth, power, the socialite life, education, relationships, and peer influence are some of the themes covered in the book. The author’s sense of humor is subtly apparent throughout and serves to deliver a larger satirical story that kept me laughing, entertained, and quickly flipping pages.
Pages: 306 | ASIN: B07P3L7C7R
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The first thing that caught my eye even before getting to the first chapter of the book was the dedication part. The author styled dedication as ‘deadication’ and I thought, wow, is this a typo? Reading on, the author explained that the misspelling was intentional because he was dedicating the book to every dead person he knew. I thought that that was cool, and sort of funny. Here I was getting ready to read a book that would make me more humorous, happier and healthier, and what do I find at the beginning? Some funny word. I immediately knew that I was in for a good read. David Jacobson also had a livication part; dedicating the book to all living people.
In chapter one, the author states that you should treat humor as a necessity, not a luxury. The author writes that you should make humor a priority in your life. I agree with him because, with humor, life stops being too serious. Humor will help you improve your attitude, physical and mental health. On using the self-effacing humor, the author writes that it is good because you will let others know your humor, and they will be comfortable knowing that you know they know.
Habit four was my most favorite of all. The habit reads “Use the power of humor to positively influence you and others.” I couldn’t agree more. It is evident that by bringing in humor even during tense situations people feel a little bit relaxed. By reading and adapting this habit, you will help those around you better their own well being. There is no harm in being a little funny with your friends around. Humor makes the environment more cheerful and more fun to be in. The sixth habit was a good one too; humorize – Combine humor with other aspects of your life.
I kept wondering why the author wrote about 7 and 1/2 habits. Why did he half it? Why not write about either 7 or 8 habits? The author explained that he wrote the half habit because you don’t need the entire habit for it to work. The half habit is also the most challenging to maintain. “Mastering your thoughts” is the last and half habit. It is not easy to master your thoughts. The good news is that if you manage to master them half the time, you’ll be doing twice as well.
Every book lover should read this book because the book is educational and amusing. I also recommend the book because it makes you view humor and life differently, and enables you to see the light side of things. The best part is that the book is a light read so you will finish reading it sooner than you realize.
Pages: 167 | ASIN: B07L23YS7C
Tags: 7 1/2 Habits To Help You Become More Humorous, alibris, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, david jacobson, ebook, education, fun, funny, goodreads, happier, healthier, humor, ilovebooks, indiebooks, kindle, kobo, literature, mental health, non fiction, nook, novel, publishing, read, reader, reading, satire, self help, shelfari, smashwords, spirituality, story, writer, writer community, writing
Sam Blades is not your ordinary twenty-something. He has a girlfriend whose abuse he relishes, a job with company whose name could and should be attributed to that of a lingerie label, and an almost absurd fixation with The Matrix. Sam is, on the other hand, a curiosity to more than one person of interest. His job with Shimmering Dreams has made him a target, and poor Sam is none the wiser. Shimmering Dreams capitalizes on the technology that makes it possible to download one’s dreams and store them on mobile devices. Sam, caught in the middle of the “greatest invention its age” and the conspiracy surrounding its misuse, is about to meet face to face with those who want him out of the picture once and for all.
The Misplaced Man by Nick James is a short story/novella centering around Sam Blades, a young man newly-employed and eager to please his beyond demanding girlfriend, Bunny. Nick James is a master at humor, and his main character is his chosen vessel. Not meant entirely as a work of comedy, James provides several laugh-out-loud moments as Sam struggles in his day-to-day life with Bunny. It is rare for me to find the written word comical enough to emit an audible guffaw, but James definitely delivers. Sam’s personality more than makes the book; he is a memorable character in his own right and is well-developed in first-person accounts.
James’s choice to alternate chapters with varying first-person accounts is quite effective. The story, though brief, is packed full of descriptive and revealing scenarios which serve well to differentiate each character. As the reader, I was easily able to discern which character was taking his turn at bat without having to rely on the chapter title–James is just that good at character development.
It is worth noting that The Misplaced Man is a combination of realistic fiction and science fiction but leans heavily on the realistic fiction element. The book is much more about each character’s own personal conflicts than the underlying component of groundbreaking technology. As interesting as the concept of capturing dreams is, it is explored and detailed much less than some science fiction fans will likely expect.
Sam Blades is ruthlessly humorous and has the makings of a fantastic central character for his ensuing series. I recommend Nick James’s short story to anyone looking for a quick science fiction piece with strong characters laced with humor.
Pages: 155 | ASIN: B07K3Q6QRD
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