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Borne Out of Fighting

Toby Oliver Author Interview

Toby Oliver Author Interview

Duty and Betrayal is a political thriller following the intertwining stories of international spies and war criminals. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting novel?

I suppose the inspiration initially came from my childhood, listening to my mother and grandma describing their experiences of living in London during WWII, and in particular, the fear engendered toward the end of the war by Hitler’s so-called VI and V2 “vengeance weapons.” They were in effect jet propelled rocket torpedoes, capable of killing thousands of people at the press of a button, and technically, way in advance of anything the Allies could counter.

Jack Stein and Spencer Hall are intriguing and well developed characters. What were some ideals you wanted to explore with their characters?

Since the war Stein and Spencer’s lives had moved on inexorably, just as their world had moved on around them. But whilst they had their own agendas, their own remits and loyalties to their respective organisations (the CIA and British Intelligence), at heart there existed between them a kind of unwavering, undying bond and trust that can only ever be truly borne out of fighting for your lift in the midst of battle side by side.

I enjoyed the history and backstory used in this book. What research did you undertake to get things right?

I spent a year, or more, researching the background, not only the technical stuff, but some of personalities involved, including former Third Reich experts like Wernher von Braun, who eventually worked on the Apollo mission. I guess it’s an often forgotten aspect of WWII, that post-war, both the US and Soviet rocket programs coveted the expertise of their respective former Third Reich scientists and engineers. Many of whom found themselves at the heart of what would ultimately become known as the “Space Race.”

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Duty and Betrayal: The SS Brotherhood and the NASA Connection by [Oliver, Toby]

Everyone has a different agenda when a former Nazi scientist and a current NASA rocket expert arrive in 1960s London for a conference. International spies and war criminals alike are still looking to settle old scores from World War II.

Monitoring the conference are Spencer Hall of MI5 and Jack Stein of the CIA, top agents who became fast friends while fighting side by side for their lives. They’ve been called to protect their nations’ vital secrets, but one of them harbors his own plans for revenge. Meanwhile, Bernard Zimmerman, the NASA scientist, wants everyone to forget his past work with the Third Reich so he can create a new life in America. Unfortunately, both the Soviets , Mossad, and the Germans remember him all too clearly While Stein will stop at nothing to protect him, his loyal friend and intelligence source, Spencer Hall is consumed with a personal vendetta.

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Their Downfall

Steve Zimcosky Author Interview

Steve Zimcosky Author Interview

I enjoyed the illustrations throughout the The Haunting of Smock Hill. What was the art collaboration like for this novel?

I have an ongoing creative relationship with, I believe, one of the greatest artists ever. She goes by Ergoshwampy and we have collaborated on my last six books. When I get an idea for a drawing I relay to her what I am thinking and leave the complete design up to her. She never disappoints when it comes to the artwork. She also designs the covers for the books as well and again, I let her know what I am thinking of for the cover and she wastes no time in coming up with a fantastic cover.

The plot and it’s twists were really engaging. What were some challenges you set for yourself as a writer with this story?

The challenges were trying to make sure I had the historical information as close to accurate as I could get. The coal industry in the late 19th and earyl 20th century did not have a lot of information. I managed to get a lot from the Smock Historical Society. As I started out writing about a haunting I had an idea as to what it would be like if someone was using modern technology for their own reward and how that same technology could be their downfall. The ending I left open in case I want to continue the story.

Do you plan to write more stories about the town of Smock Hill?

Yes, I do plan on writing more. This was my third storyline that takes place in Smock. My first was a four part series on an old Tai Chi instructor who mentors a young boy back to health using Tai Chi and Qigong along with other Chinese health practices.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook

The Haunting of Smock Hill by [Zimcosky, Steve]A Dark Spirit has apparently returned to the former mining town of Smock, Pennsylvania, terrorizing the residents. Julia and her cousin Edward try to find out why it has come back and how to defeat it before the residents flee. What is this Dark Energy? What sinister reason does it have for returning?

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The Last King of the Mountain

The Last King of the Mountain: Book One of The True Queen of the Lathai by [Daytona, Camryn]

Ariawyn the elven princess of Lathai, daughter of Queen Aramaris, and last of the line of the Demon Queen. It is said that Lathai must be ruled by someone from the Demon Queen line or else the land will be destroyed. The problem however, Ariawyn does not want to rule. She feels unprepared and unfit to rule a kingdom she has not spent any time in since she was a child. Ariawyn does the only thing she thinks she can, she runs away. Her cousin Luthitan and Rune plan to take over the Lathai throne, not believing in the curse of destruction if Ariawyn does not rule. The magic, deceit, and mystery surrounding all will lead to a bloody end. Can Ariawyn save the kingdom she was born to rule.

Camryn Daytona brings to readers a new take on the elves and dwarves races in her novel The Last King of the Mountain. This is the first book of the series and sets up an epic tale that will capture the interest of fantasy readers new and old. In the first few pages you may feel like this is a retelling of the same old stories we all know of the battle between elves, dwarves, and the mortal races. After the first chapter or two though you see Camryn Daytona’s unique perspective come forth. It is nice to see some common trends among the races that fantasy readers have grown to expect but the overall story line and plot is unique. Ariawyn’s back story is filtered through the main story line and you learn more about her past and how she ended up sheltered in Ellahil rather than Lathai where she is to rule. The novel is long, over 400 pages, but it is not filler or overdone long monologues. All the descriptions of the cities and details about Din Mehidnar are used to enhance the story line and move the character development along. Nothings feels like it is added just fill pages, Daytona is careful about adding the right amount of detail at the right time to keep readers interested and asking questions.

My favorite parts of this novel were watching Ariawyn go from the persona of a shy quite teenager that wants nothing to do with responsibility into a strong woman ready to take back her kingdom. Siveril is a close second to me in character development. He is a cranky sorcerer that is blind with a soft heart for Ariawyn but you don’t understand why untill you get through the novel. Illimon is another character that goes through huge growth through the novel, and I’m interested to see how he develops as the series continues. I didn’t find the politics of the novel overwhelming like some fantasy novels do, nor is the magic so absurd that you can’t realistically engage with the characters. This is a great beginning to a quest for returning Lathai to its proper ruling with dark moments and light moments that will leaving you smiling.

Pages: 399 | ASIN: B07YQF1Q5J

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Grass Miracle from the Earth

Grass Miracle from the Earth (Hearing Others’ Voices) by [Campbell Callender, David]

You may never really give much thought to the ground you walk on. To you, it is simply earth. You may not think about the grass covering it. However, there is a lot to that grass. That grass’ origin, history and even etymology are interesting. You might be wondering, what is there to be intrigued about. Grass plays a significant role in human life. Grass Miracle from the Earth presents a compelling bank of information about grass and everything related to it.

For a book about grass, this one is surprisingly interesting. Most people’s extent of knowledge about grass ends with the green color. Not many know that there are 10,000 grass species on earth. You will even find out that cats use grass for digestive reasons. Therefore this book, if nothing else, is incredibly informative.

After I started reading this book I found myself enjoying it more than expected and even looked forward to the next bit of information. The title evokes this sense of excitement and wonder as well as a tinge of curiosity. The information is engaging accompanied by pictures that support the content and make it wonderfully gripping. The author terms grass as ‘clothes for the earth’ right at the beginning, which is adorable, apt, and is an example of how this book is colored with quirk. Thoughtful information is conveyed in a friendly and informal tone. The language is simple with mild refrain from scientific jargon. The print is well structured with special attention to relevance thus keeping it short.

Ideally, this book is for educational purposes, and is written in a way that suggests that it is aimed at children. However, as an adult, you will find the information interesting enough to hold your interest. However, at times it breaks from the easy flow of information and reads more like a textbook. For example, page 28 discusses seed maturation and vasculature. The reader is directed to research these word, but I hoped this was presented in a simpler way. Understandably, this part is paramount to understanding the essence of grass.

Grass Miracle from the Earth is a brief but informative book that delivers a comprehensive overview of grass and inspires you to learn more about the thing many of us take for granted. This is an unassuming book that is informative and surprisingly absorbing.

Pages: 111 | ASIN: B082KYD8W9

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Unsung Heroines

Marina Osipova Author Interview

Marina Osipova Author Interview

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.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

The Cruel Romance: A Novel of Love and War by [Osipova, Marina]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?

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The Visitor From 4-D

An interesting kids chapter book is what readers will find when they pick up The Visitor from 4-D by Deborah Dolan Hunt. We come across the three Keating siblings who are visited by a tiny humanoid during a lightning storm. Not only does their visitor tell them about a parallel world in the 4th dimension, he even looks like one of the Keating siblings himself! So begins an adventure to help the inter-dimensional visitor return to his home.

The book is broken down into chapters that are easily digestible for young readers. The kids portrayed in the story are fairly realistic in their reactions and temperaments. There are some parts where the kids don’t exactly talk like stereotypical kids of their ages, but the core message of the story shines through.

Learning about differences, helping others in their time of need regardless of their origins and teamwork are all important messages to be sending to kids in the targeted age-range of this book. Doing so in a story format helps kids learn lessons without realizing they are.

The Visitor from 4-D is a fun story about inter-dimensional travel and siblings working together for the greater good. The Visitor from 4-D by Deborah Dolan Hunt is an entertaining book with an amusing plot and lively characters.

Pages: 32 | ISBN: 1644677849

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The Warramunga’s War

The Warramunga's War by [Kater, Greg]

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

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Cecilia House

Cecilia House by [Gandossi, Simon]

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

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The Henna Witch

The Henna Witch by [Scherzinger, GJ]

Evil is everywhere. The one place we expect to be free of it is in our dreams, but even those are sometimes not free from the grip of terror and the foreboding sense of impending doom. Men and women are waking in cold sweats and glancing about in a feverish daze trying to convince themselves that it was just that–a dream. The most amazing and terrifying part of it all? These men and women cannot free themselves from these larger-than-life nightmares–and they are having identical experiences. Their sleep is no longer safe and their dreams are certainly not their own.

The Henna Witch, by G.J. Scherzinger, is the enthralling account of Ashia Verena’s mission to defeat a sorceress invading dreams and creating a long path of terror among mortals. Ashia, with a massive task in front of her, sets out to do what no other Guardian can. She isn’t alone on her mission, however, and finds herself facing the task of hosting a young girl on a mission all her own.

Scherzinger writes beautifully with vivid imagery and creates details that lead the reader on a fantastic visual journey. What we, as readers, are not able to conjure, Scherzinger lays out masterfully before us. Where some authors of this genre lean toward flowery language, Scherzinger manages to keep his narrative straightforward and simultaneously descriptive and elegant.

As a reader who is more interested in the relationships between characters, I am pleased with Scherzinger’s approach to writing. The Henna Witch is filled with rich dialogue between characters. The author includes dialects that give his characters an added appeal and make it even more likely readers will become lost in the plot.          

I have to note that there were times throughout the book that Hansel and Gretel came to mind. For some reason, the imagery conjured by Scherzinger brings about the dark feel of the age old fairy tale–definitely not a bad thing at all for this fan of grim tales. 

Yet another plus to The Henna Witch is the length of chapters. Scherzinger keeps his chapters concise and brings each one to a fitting end that urges the reader on to the next. The book is overall a quick read and difficult to put down.

The budding friendship between Ashia and O’la is a precious thing. As their travel ensues, Ashia attempts to be both a mentor and a protector. The two grow closer and Ashia shows O’la how to live off the land and become more in tune with the animals. I enjoyed being able to see Ashia’s thoughts as she observes the fruits of her labor with O’la. Her own desire to not mother her too much is relatable.

The Henna Witch is easily one of the most engaging books in the witchcraft/fantasy genre I have encountered. With a surprisingly relatable cast of characters and an engaging and fascinating plot surrounding the phenomenon of dreams, it will appeal to readers across genres.

Pages:  235 | ASIN: B07MHZQLND

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Cycles of the Phoenix

Cycles of the Phoenix: The Whole Interlaced Souls Series by [Nicholas, C.A.]

Cycles of the Phoenix is a series of three books by C. A. Nicholas including Sanity’s War, Strange and Kaya: Where Have You Been. All stories that explore the human condition. The stories told by the author are sad and exciting in equal measure. They deliver different emotions for the reader at different turns. These are unique stories told sincerely and from a  provocative perspective by a father and daughter duo.

The stories touch on impassioned emotions such as betrayal, sexual abuse, trauma, mental illness, and violence. These ideas are captured by the humanity of the characters in the story, and shows how people hide behind facades and smile through the pain. The stories are told with an easy but expressive voice, making it feel as though each character was created as a metaphor with the intention of provoking thought. These stories took me a while to figure out. However, when I did I appreciated the nuances as well as the spirit of the prose.

Cycles of the Phoenix is not the kind of book you read as you wait for your coffee order. This book feels like it has a mind of its own. It feels like the characters are driving the story. Like C. A. Nicholas was merely the vessel for the story. The characters and the stories each have different voices. It feels like the author is constantly changing tack. There is so much emotion tucked in every line. This book is not afraid to delve right into the pits of human turmoil. It is the kind of book that goes as deep and as far as it needs to.

You may find yourself having trouble going past the first chapter. However, the further you go the more rewarded you will be by this strange but brilliant literary experience that hurdles you along an emotional roller-coaster. Take your time with this novel, and you will love it.

Pages: 306 | ASIN: B07RKSD7L8

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