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Forged Under Fire

Forged Under Fire (The Coalition Book 1) by [Kyra Anderson]

Forged Under Fire follows Amelia who, at eighteen, decides to fulfill her duty to her fledgling nation and answer the call to Mandatory Civil Service. Her best friend Bethany is going along with her, but this doesn’t make things easier. Amelia has to hide her love for her or else be arrested by the same country in which she serves. When Amelia comes in contact with a terrorist organization called the Coalition her life takes an unexpected, and dangerous, turn.

Author Kyra Anderson creates a repressive totalitarian government in a dystopian future that is deftly created with simple yet impactful language. The world created here reminds me of Gilead from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaids Tale. In Atwood’s book we only get a glimpse of the larger governmental, and terrorist, forces at play. Kyra Anderson places her audience in the trenches of a war on terror, and a governments war on its people.

To me, this novel succeeds at telling a thought-provoking story only because the protagonist is so compelling. Amelia’s story is something of a coming-of-age story, if you were coming of age under the yoke of an oppressive regime. The feelings Amelia has for Bethany are authentic and relatable. In riveting fashion Forged Under Fire explores themes of love, family, and sacrifice while never losing focus on entertaining the reader.

Forged Under Fire explores one characters emotional turmoil in a time where her sexuality is a crime. This social commentary is done lightly but effectively. Forged Under Fire is a thrilling dystopian fiction novel that sets the bar high for Kyra Anderson’s The Coalition series.

Pages: 305 | ASIN: B07TJJZ1D3

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Dreams Of Thunder

Dreams of Thunder by [Christian Cura]

Christian Cura’s Dreams of Thunder, the follow-up to Dreams of Fire, follows a familiar cast of characters – Daniela, Kara, Selene, and the rest of the Council – as they undergo life-altering revelations and fight off a vengeful demon army that threatens to endanger humanity.

Dreams of Thunder has two major plot lines – Daniela learning that she is a mystic being, alongside Saba Qureshi’s devious plot to avenge the wrongs done to her family by the Council.

The storyline involving Saba’s plan for revenge, and the Council’s response to the threat against humanity, is where the bulk of the action lies. The classic good versus evil struggle comes to life. Saba, a mystic who is hell-bent on creating a world devoid of mortals, wants to begin her conquest by using an army of demons and Canadian ex-convicts to wreak havoc in the greater New York City area. The Enforcers of the Council, many of whom hold official posts in government, see this threat and take it upon themselves to protect the mortals with whom they coexist. There are many battle scenes involving various Enforcers and demons, leading up to a final battle filled with carnage, revelations, and a final resolution for peace.

The only part that fell short for me was the character development surrounding Daniela Rivera. The story is so focused on the fight between Saba’s army and the enforcers that Daniela’s involvement in the plot feels more like an afterthought. Given the significance of her finding out that she comes from a line of particularly powerful mystics, I as a reader would have wanted her to play a more integral role.

There are depictions of violence and sexual acts so be warned, but it’s not over the top so I still recommend the book. Overall, Dreams of Thunder is a well-written young adult novel that anyone interested in magical and fantasy themes is sure to enjoy.

Pages: 155 | ASIN: B08JQRVS9H

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Literary Titan Book Awards October 2020

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

 

Visit the Literary Titan Book Awards page to see award information and see all award winners.

 

Farm Boy, City Girl: From Gene to Miss Gina

Farm Boy to City Girl is a unique, historical retelling of Gene’s (Miss Gina’s) discovery of their sexuality across decades. What makes this LGBTQ+ biography truly special is that it’s told in 3 parts – Farm Boy (1931-1949), Transition (1950-1959) and City Girl (1960-). Instead of getting just a glimpse of what life was like for LGBTQ+ people several decades ago, or in current times, we get what is truly a rare treat – following Gene’s (Miss Gina’s) story through many very important shifts in society and its acceptance, understanding the rights surrounding the LGBTQ+ community. 

Farm Boy to City Girl is essentially two life stories connected by a transition. It begins with Gene’s life growing up on rental farms in Iowa during the depression as a strict catholic farm boy. It’s here that we get an understanding of not only the time period but of Gene’s family life and how that eventually plays into the story of his sexuality and the struggle he has with acceptance. From there we enter the transition years, where Gene moves to Cedar Rapids and eventually St. Louis, which is where he begins to fully accept his sexuality and gender identity, exploring gay bars and drag shows, lovers and friends and ultimately begins living his life in the city as Miss Gina. Life as Miss Gina is suddenly put on hold after a sudden death that sends him back to Iowa to live on his family’s farm and face the difficult family drama that waits for him there. Gene eventually returns to city life in Cedar Rapids and St. Louis and dives fully into his identity and life as Miss Gina, through the ups and downs of what faced and continues to face LGBTQ people in the Midwest. We see just what courage it takes to live unapologetically in a world that will do everything to make being truly yourself harder.

I absolutely loved the rare glimpse into what it meant to be gay and gender-fluid in the 20th century. We get so many stories of what it is to be LGBTQ in our modern day but rarely do we get to see a story that not only sheds light on the depression-era 20th century but also every era between then and now. My only issue is that the first part (Farm Boy) can be a little difficult to follow as there are lots of names being thrown around given Gene’s large family, but if you take the time to flip back to his explanation of the family tree in the very beginning of the book it becomes easier to grasp who he’s talking about and how they play into the story and the family as a whole. Overall, this is such an important book.

Pages: 260 | ASIN: B088JVPBJ5

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Bi people are real – we exist

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J. Ross Victory Author Interview

Panorama: The Missing Chapter is a heartfelt memoir of your journey working and living in South Korea. What inspired you to share your experiences in a book?

In 2019, I wrote and published my first book, Views from the Cockpit: The Journey of a Son. The residual effect of publishing the book made me feel at peace with myself and the relationship I had with my father. Readers have also told me that Views from the Cockpit inspired them to take a different approach with their father or become more interested in forgiveness.

As I wrote my first book, I began to comb through my background of relationships. The story of Panorama bubbled up, and the time I spent living abroad in Seoul. I felt that if I shared it, someone could relate and benefit. Perhaps they could relate to escaping from problems, having secret relationships, or figuring out where they belong in the world. Not only was it interesting to reflect on these moments from my life, but in the real-world, a lot of stories surrounding bisexuality are not featured or appropriately categorized.

I appreciated the candid nature with which you told your story. What was the hardest thing for you to share in the book?

The hardest thing to share would be my social-political opinions about identity politics in America and how they’ve made me feel. Everyone can criticize anyone for anything, so I knew that I was opening myself up. When it comes to relationships and how people exist outside of heteronormativity – sometimes people just can’t understand anything else outside of that. Panorama not only exists outside of mainstream heteronormativity but also mainstream LGBT culture, which typically spotlights gay male voices. I was terrified to share a story from a minority group and criticize larger socio-political structures and members of those groups.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from your story?

There are a few things – Bi people are real – we exist and not only in a suggestive, explicit connotation. Bi people are a whole demographic of people, mostly invisible, in mainstream media and day-to-day social discourse.

Additionally, I hope people take away the importance of building bridges between communities. At the end of the book, I write about thought islands. We all want to feel safe and protected where we are. We all want to be seen and heard, and have our views get the most clicks and attention.

My goal is to build bridges, lift others, and make sure there are seats at the table for others who share in building. I also hope that people realize that the way people live, think, and behave does not put each of our identities and beliefs at risk. Somehow, if we can all get to a point to coexist, be slow to judge, we will have achieved something. I know that this is very optimistic, but I think bisexuality, in and of itself, focuses on people (men and women) and the things that make them unique.

You have another book, Views from the Cockpit. What can readers expect in that book?

Views from the Cockpit is a book born from pain. Father-son memories of plane watching at LAX quickly morph into familial dysfunction that ranges from divorce, resentment, to elder abuse. Views from the Cockpit uses airplane metaphors to tell a boy’s coming of age story into a man by reflecting on the living memory of my father – Claude B. Victory. Panorama is “the missing chapter” of Views from the Cockpit. However, both books can be read separately.

Author Links: GoodReads | Instagram | Facebook | Website

After enduring a panic attack which left the author attached to breathing machines around foreign doctors, the bisexual-themed Panorama—The Missing Chapter of Views from the Cockpit: The Journey of a Son, expands on the author’s experiences working and living abroad in Seoul, South Korea. 

After a friendship ignites and morphs into a curious tale of parallel souls with a Brazilian-American soldier serving in the U.S. military, Panorama reflects on the author’s contemplations to return to a crumbling family life in Los Angeles or to endure his life in Seoul for an end-of-contract cash payout, until things take an unexpected turn.

In Panorama, the author broadens his stance on the importance of moments spotlighting isolation and exposing the perks and ailments of escapism. With precise prose and a thought-provoking storyline that covers eating live octopus, philosophical debates about the gender of God, pregnancy, and bisexual erasure—Panorama stands tall as a connected yet separate story. Panorama puts biphobia under a microscope by exposing double discrimination with consideration to cultural intersections of race and religion.

Using the death of his father and brother as the linchpin to personal development, the author reframes pain and loss into resilience and personal achievement. He provides a template for readers to overcome limiting beliefs and turn their unique story into a source of empowerment.

The author reminds readers that as daunting as the vicissitudes of life, and no matter the view from the cockpit of life, the human spirit cannot, and should not, be restrained in loss or passion, and while truth may be the bitterest pill of them all, the effects of truth can bring us closer to an unbroken life.

The Empath’s Lover

In The Empath’s Lover: A Sci-Fi MM Romance Novella by Sidonie Savage, Davon Pax is the Chief Medical Officer and Microbiologist on the Explorer 2. Davon wakes from cryo-sleep after a ten year journey from Earth and is excited to be one of the first humans to explore Neptune and its moons. But before the crew can complete the mission, their research vessel is attacked. They are saved by an alien named Tulq’on, a Kyphomi Intelligence Officer who has been studying humans. He is injured, and Davon heals him. The two find themselves feeling unexpected emotions for each other. But unless Tulq’on can convince the Kyphomi that humans are worthy of life it will be the end of all humanity.

This short novella was a quick and engaging read. I enjoyed the meeting of two worlds and reading about how Davon and Tulq’on interacted together when they first met and as they learned to communicate and discovered more about each other, both their differences and the ways that they were the same. I liked that they had compassion and respect for each other, acting selfless in putting the other before themselves, as they worked together to prove that their species could coexist. Due to the short length of the book, I felt that the conflict was resolved quickly, but I liked that the story had a happy ending for Davon and Tulq’on even though they came from different worlds.

It was interesting to learn the details of the Explorer 2’s mission at the beginning of the book, but I think this level of detail would have been better suited to a longer story, or for a story that was sci-fi fiction rather than romance. For a romance novella, the heroes should have met sooner in the story. This did not happen until after the first quarter of the book, which didn’t give the heroes much time to come to know each other before declaring their love. I felt that this was too rushed, and I would have liked the book to be a bit longer to allow for more focus on this aspect of the story. I also wanted to see how Davon adapted to life among the Kyphomi, and how Earth reacted to the introduction of the alien species. There was not much world-building and I would have liked to know more details about the Kyphomi and their society.

Pages: 76 | ASIN: B08H4W2YHF

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Silent Screams

Silent Screams by [Zachary Ryan]

Silent Screams by Zachary Ryan follows the lives of four high school friends forced to grow up due to a school shooting. Lane struggles with whether or not to come out to his friends while mourning the loss of his lover. Cass struggles to find someone to save her from her home life. Zachary deals with losing what she thinks makes her special. Ben finds his life of luxury torn away and struggles to figure out who he is without it. Being friends with the shooter, these four students battle with their own demons while attempting to cope with the guilt and responsibility they feel for their friend’s actions.

The raw emotion and authenticity of the characters is something that is outstanding in this book. I applaud Zachary Ryan for creating such imperfect characters that are so relatable. Each character deals with something different and grieves in a unique way. Each character, even background ones, go through so much character development and really grow up and learn how to trust and depend on each other. We get to see through each character’s eyes through point of view changes that happen each chapter. It’s refreshing in a way because you get to see into the heart of each of the four main characters and see their innermost secrets and insecurities. Silent Screams is a story about friendship, love, insecurities, trust, and the dangers of keeping secrets in for too long.

I enjoyed this book, but there were some times I had to reread a line because of a typo. There was also one background character who’s name was inconsistent, being Violet in some places and Valerie in others. However, this book is still thoroughly enjoyable.

Silent Screams was a roller-coaster of emotions from beginning to end. I am not ashamed to admit I cried a couple of times. This is the sort of book you pick up and can’t set down until you finished it. I’m not sure that I would class this as a feel good story but it ultimately leaves you feeling satisfied and rejuvenated.

Pages: 254 | ASIN: B08BK4DPN5

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Sleepwater Static

Sleepwater Static (Blue Helix Book 2) by [Kathrin Hutson]

Bernadette Maney is an elderly lady who left the comfort of her home for someplace unknown and along the way made friends who have become more like family. However, that family is now being threatened. The Wyoming Sleepwater chapter is in danger from the government and we find our eclectic group of characters on the run again. This is despite one pregnant member being so close to her due date and Bernadette’s arthritis being especially bothersome. Bernadette assumes they will be safe in a cabin in South Carolina. But will they? How will they manage to deliver an infant with everything that is going on? How will the Wyoming Sleepwater chapter survive having lost so many members?

This is book two in Kathrin Hutson’s Blue Helix sci-fi series. In this installment, we get to dive deep into Bernadette’s character and experience her wisdom. This book touches on issues like racism in a way that is powerful and effective without being annoyingly political. While it is a second in a series, the first is not a necessary prerequisite. The book handles revisits expertly. Providing just enough information from the first book to give the backstory but not overwhelming the reader with information or regurgitating the first book.

Sleepwater Static is an excellent piece of thought-provoking literature. Wyoming’s Sleepwater chapter persecution parallel’s contemporary societal issues. The fight for LGBT civil rights is a global issue, but in Sleepwater Static it is distilled down to a group of friends, and driven by well defined characters with special abilities that still must overcome humanities abhorrence to diversity.

Bernadette was only a little more than briefly introduced in the first book. In this book, we get to see her in all her arthritic glory, exuding wisdom and life experience. But character development was something I took for granted as it was well on display in the first book and carries over to book two. Bernadette returns home only to find that trouble is hard to elude.

Sleepwater Static is a story that is consistently entertaining. It reminds me of Netflix’s recent sci-fi movie Code 8. If you have a chance to pickup book one in the series then do so, it will make book two much more enjoyable. In either case this is a fun book that you shouldn’t pass up.

Pages: 397 | ASIN: B085S7ZG3S

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