Blog Archives

The Revelations of August Barton

The Revelations of August Barton by [Jennifer LeBlanc]

The Revelations of August Barton is a contemporary romance novel by Jennifer LeBlanc. A coming of age story which is a sequel to Tribulations of August Barton. This young adult book is a continuation of the life of August Barton and his love Rose. August is faced with many difficult challenges throughout the story that throw into question his and Rose’s ability to be together. This is a drama filled story with family secrets, confessions, drunken bachelorette parties and layers of family problems that all hit August Barton like a tornado. Will he be able to overcome them?

What I like most about The Revelations of August Barton is that it’s not a cliché teen love story, although it may seem like it at first. Jennifer LeBlanc is able to make the story relatable and believable and because of this I found the story to be immensely engaging. The Revelations of August Barton is full of weighty teenage agony that resonates with truth. In this story we get to see new sides of August Barton as he’s faced with new obstacles and I was amazed at how he continued to grow into a much more dynamic and layered character. This reminds me of a show that should be on The CW network, but maybe not as melodramatic as the shows on that television network.

I suppose I should give a spoiler alert, although it’s not much of a spoiler, August is able to solve his life’s problems and bring all the broken pieces together, but the way in which he does it was something I won’t ruin because I believe that is what this story is about. The journey of putting your life back together after it falls apart. This is one of the greatest milestones in this book. It shows readers just how strong one can be if they summon their strength and willpower into what they want. The main theme of the book is love and family and Jennifer is able to mingle these things into a rich heartfelt fictional story that left me a bit wistful. The life of Grandma Gertie, Rose, August, John and Diane is a perfect image of love and family. Although they are not perfect and they make mistakes, they do not give up on each other. They build each other up and most importantly, they forgive. Jennifer LeBlanc has done a fantastic job of using humor to bring levity to some weighty situations while also underlining some poignant themes. The book has strong language that might be a problem to some readers on the younger side, but otherwise I think it fits well in the college romance genre.

Pages: 155 | ASIN: B07F5JF3T5

Buy Now From B&N.com

The Court Of Outcasts

In her latest book, Allison Rose takes us through a roller-coaster of emotions finalizing in a hopeful yet uncertain ending. The Court of Outcasts is a contemporary fantasy novel filled with treachery, betrayal, and a twist of unexpected loyalty. While it begins with the main characters; Nola and Kelty, trying to adjust to their new normal, they are yet to realize how much weirder things could get.

With the introduction of a new foe, everything goes haywire as old enemies become new friends in the pursuit of a common good. Nola, though she looks like an ordinary teenager realizes that she is far from it. Torn between her mundane high school existence and the allure of the mystical faerie world, she embarks on a journey that will eventually force her to choose one of the worlds.

On the other hand, Kelty faces trials of her own. Battling with the uncertainties of her love life and the painful reality that she may never go back home, she has to make difficult decisions about who to trust amid chaos.

While the book does inspire a sense of awe and curiosity, it can be a little hard to follow if you haven’t read the previous book. For instance, the use of mystical language like ara can take a while to wrap your head around. However, the author goes through great lengths to explain foreign concepts in simple terms. She uses a lot of descriptive language to not only explain the woodsy setting of the book but also the emotional and psychological states of the characters.

This book gives you a clear description of both the physical and personality traits of each of the characters. The story begins with gentle explanations and hints about things to come. Yet, little can prepare you for the great plot twists ahead. The story seems to intensify from page to page until it reaches a breathtaking climax. As a reader, I am yet to get the resolution I need and have ended up with great fantasies about what is to happen next.

This is a great motivation to read the sequel if there will be one. Allison has done a phenomenal  job in capturing the emotions between characters and tension in scenes, although more could be done in developing the story of supporting characters like Sayra and Lark. Another aspect that is yet to be fully explored is the romance between Nola and her love interest.

However, I do appreciate that the author could be saving this for the next book. Apart from what is on the surface, there are serious and compelling themes that subtly color the narrative. The ones that truly stand out are the importance of family and sense of belonging and perseverance through dark times. These are themes that I and many others can relate to, and it kept me devouring pages.

Pages: 246 | ASIN: B0851VPMPX

Buy Now From B&N.com

They Just Can’t Fit into the Orthodox World

Harold Benjamin Author Interview

Harold Benjamin Author Interview

Judenrein follows a man with a checkered past who must stop a world changing conspiracy. What was the inspiration for setup to this dystopian thriller?

I got the idea for this book when I started to see white supremacists become more vocal and visible in American politics, and face remarkably little official pushback – at least from the current president. These groups make no secret of their goal of driving the Jews (and a lot of other non-white groups) either out of the country, into slavery or death. I became intrigued with the possibility of a secret white supremacist group seizing power behind the scenes. This would be the ultimate “suits not boots” strategy for them, as they might call it.

Zack is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some ideas that guided his character development?

I have been involved in helping recovering drug addicts throughout the last 20 years. It’s not my job, but the work has come into my life. Through this experience, I’ve seen the potential for greatness that often hides inside the addict, waiting to come out. I have also felt that a great injustice has been visited on a generation of young Americans who were recruited to serve the US, but lost to forever wars and forgotten when they returned to civilian life. I wanted to bring this experience to life in the character. As an observant Jew, I’ve also seen a lot of young people get kicked out of orthodox life for various infractions and attitude problems. I wanted the character to represent the ambivalence I see in many of these young people. They believe in God and Torah. They love being Jewish. They just can’t fit into the orthodox world. That’s Zack.

The idea of white supremacists taking over the country and setting up 21st century ghettos was striking. What were some themes you felt were important to focus on in this book?

I wanted to focus on the slippery slope to neo Nazism in the US, and the shocking thing has been to see so many predictions made int eh book come true even in the last few months – with armed men, carrying swastika flags, threatening elected officials with death in protest of COVID lockdowns – only to be called “good people” by the president. This is much closer to us than we realize.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I am working on a non-fiction book about cybersecurity, which I have written under a different name. I am also going to publish an earlier book, that never came out, that deals with some similar themes of inequality and injustice in the US, but told in the form of a thriller.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsite

Judenrein: A Jewish Dystopian Thriller by [Harold Benjamin]Zack Gurevitz has had a checkered past. A Yeshiva boy, turned Green Beret, turned junkie, excommunicated by his one-time faith and now the potential savior of people he doesn’t even like.

As a white supremacist movement stealthily takes the reins of power in America, it is again the Jews who are made out as scapegoats. Stripped of wealth and citizenship, they are made to live in 21st century ghettos that hark back to a sinister and murky past that many had thought would never return.

But things are about to get much worse. With the revealing of a planned terror attack that will place the blame firmly at Jewish feet and condemn millions to death, Zack is contacted by Jewish leaders in Detroit, begging for his help.

Reluctantly he agrees and before long he is mired in a conspiracy that will have far reaching consequences for his country, the Jewish population and even his own sanity.

As the clock ticks down, can Zack find a way to avert a looming disaster? Who is behind the conspiracy? And can he really trust anyone?

Buy Now From B&N.com

They Walk Alone

They Walk Alone by Bob Kern is a memoir detailing his experiences caring for several loved ones with dementia. This is a personal story that will undoubtedly leave you on the edge of tears, if not crying. So be warned, this story is deeply emotional, but within these pages Bob Kern is also able to inform and educate others that are caring for a loved one with dementia.

They Walk Alone is striking in it’s ability to vividly paint the picture of Mamaw. I felt as if I was with the family, living the moments of joy and heartache. I don’t have a loved one with dementia, but this novel was able to enlighten me and now I am able to appreciate the difficulties one faces when caring for someone with this terrible disease.

Dementia transforms the person you knew. Bob Kern captures that slow transformation eloquently and with warm sentiment. I could feel the love and I could feel the pain, and I appreciated how open and honest this book was. The stories shared throughout the book were stories we could all relate to, they were of people we all probably know, and this is what makes the book so sad. We can see in Mamaw our own grandmother.

They Walk Alone is a touching story about Bob Kern’s journey tending to loved ones diagnosed with dementia. He even details the loss of someone suffering from dementia. Readers get a personal account of Bob’s life as he moves through the different stages of dementia. If you enjoy true, honest, and impassioned stories that are also informative then this book is perfect for you.

Pages: 141 | ASIN: B06XDX1XCV

Buy Now From B&N.com

The Aqua Human

The Aqua Human by [J. Elizaga]

The Aqua Human by J. Elizaga is a beautiful short story about a young teenager in the Pacific during World War II. The protagonist, young Amaya, is thrust into a dangerous situation and must escape when she goes through a mysterious and unknown transformation. From here she discoveries fantastical new physical abilities underwater and must find her own way to survive.

There are many aspects of this short story that I loved from the very first page. The Aqua Human starts strong with an intense scene that immediately catches the reader’s attention. Even the very first paragraph hooks you as you are thrown into a confronting scene amid World War II. These first few pages introduce you to the protagonist’s father, Bayani, and the actions he takes here gives you a strong image of who he is and what he values above everything and everyone, which added a lot of urgency to this opening scene.

Even though this is an engaging read right up to the very end, I felt that the last quarter felt a bit desultory. Perhaps this was due to the nature of the short story format, if The Aqua Human had ten more pages the ending would be much more satisfying to me, otherwise I did enjoy the ending as it is.

The emotional intensity of this short story doesn’t decline from here but the pace does slow down and gives you time with the protagonist, Amaya, as she undergoes a mysterious and fantastical transformation. Personally, my favorite part of the story is right before the halfway point when Elizaga describes an absolutely beautiful setting of what seems like an entirely new and different world. It was during these parts of The Aqua Human that left me in awe and with an ongoing admiration for the author.

Pages: 60 | ASIN: B07W3DX48L

Buy Now From B&N.com

A Natural Extrapolation

Rose Noland Author Interview

Rose Noland Author Interview

The Master’s Garden describes the relationship between God and his children with a beautiful metaphor of a gardener and the host of plants to which he tends. What was the inspiration for this metaphor?

Jesus used the metaphor that He was the Vine, God the Father is the Gardener, and that we are the branches. I have over 40 years’ experience in dealing with plants, both professionally and personally so I understand how plants work more than the average person. It was a natural extrapolation for me to expand it to all plants. It came to me one day while hiking in the woods. It was really fun to write!

What were some themes you felt were important to focus on in this book?

God loves all of us and wants us all be to belong to Him and come under His care through His Son, Jesus.

God, the Master Gardener, wants to have a growing, dynamic relationship with each one of us. I tried to portray this with the intimate and personal discussions that New Dawn has with the Gardener.

Living as a Christian the way God wants seems impossible. That’s because we think we are to live in our own strength. Jesus teaches us the only way to live rightly is through His power and strength not our own. We cannot do it, but He can.

True significance and enjoyment, the Abundant Life, are achieved by living God’s way through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Violet’s character was delightful and well developed. What were some ideas that guided her character development?

Violet represents, in many ways, most of us who struggle with inadequacy and a longing to be loved and valued as an individual. New Dawn, the main character in the allegory, is me. While the allegory doesn’t exactly follow my life’s journey, it is a close representation of it. It is my story of how God has transformed this self-condemning, insignificant and pathetic person into one who now has joy, peace, confidence, and significance—true riches! All to the credit and honor of my magnificent Creator!

Do you have more stories planed that take place in Plantasia?

Absolutely! I am working on the sequel already, as well as several Bible studies and devotionals to go along with this first book.

Author Links: Twitter | GoodReads | Facebook | Website

In the gospel of John, Jesus tells us that He is the Vine and His Father is the Gardener. He explains that His followers are the branches and need to remain in the Vine and bear much fruit. Have you ever wondered what Jesus meant by that or how remaining in the Vine might look in your daily life? Then enter into the fantasy world of Plantasia™ where plants come alive! This is a witty tale told by a grandmother to help her struggling granddaughter find true significance under God’s care. The Master Gardener created this beautiful world where plants can think, see, hear, and speak. He longs for all to come under His loving care and be grafted onto His beloved Vine. Through this connection, plants are able to flourish and reach their full potential. See what happens when a spindly rose, who yearns to be more than she is, meets the Master Gardener. Listen in on the conversations she has with the Gardener, Mighty Oak, Ginni (the Obedient Plant), and Mr. Bugleweed. Learn with her as she discovers the secrets of how to abide in the Vine and experience true riches. If you enjoyed the allegory Hinds’ Feet on High Places, you will love this allegory of abiding in Christ, the Vine!

Buy Now From B&N.com

With Curiosity and Wide Eyes

Lesley Mooney Author Interview

Lesley Mooney Author Interview

Cooking in a Teacup recounts your experiences in a kitchen in the Australian outback in 1952. What was the inspiration that made you want to capture this time in a book?

The main reason was to let my family of five girls and their families, understand how my life had been and what it was like then in the outback. They might find much of it monotonous as I tend to talk too much about myself. My coming from a religious boarding college life when aged fourteen which was restricting in certain ways, then going out into the bush for some years afterwards,, presented many profound changes for both me and my brother then.( Only partially going to grade ten was not a hindrance for finding a job later when in Darwin and it did not enter my mind then..)

I am so pleased you liked the story regardless of how it was written. I know I went through that life accepting whatever came along with curiosity and wide eyes, yet I followed orders with the knowledge that those people out there also accepted whatever occurred was part of their normal daily.

I enjoyed the humorous but honest recounts of your past. What is one experience from that time that you remember more clearly than the others?

Well, besides the worst one- that one of almost disappearing into the “big hole in the ground” , and the other one of nearly running a large truck off the road at night when driving home from Julia Creek—The main benefits were the new education I had received much earlier
from the young age of fifteen; and then the blessings of accepting and being able to live through those experiences. Truely, altogether it was the entire new living that life experiences, and having the patience and ability to watch, listen, absorb, and try to relax. Yet take part in the unknown chores of daily life, and admire the workers while learning so much from all those wonderful people I met. Enjoying their conversations and their natures, regardless of them carrying out their working jobs, which I often took part in.

When writing this book did you have to interview anyone or dig up any old photos to spark your memory?

No, all these details were always present in my memory with some never forgotten. I do have photos from most places I lived at.

I found your book to be ultimately inspiring. What do you hope readers take away from your story?

I would like to hope they actually do read some of the narrative without throwing it away in disgust and boredom.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads | Shashwords

This story relates to my own individual, genuine experiences which occurred, and I added others including the details of some years before from early 1945 and after, to explain my circumstances as they were then.

Just turning twenty one in 1952, my father wrote and asked me an odd question, which was to take on a job as a cook on a cattle station, up in North Queensland. Though ‘totally inexperienced’, this position sounded interesting and intriguing. New adventures lay ahead for me on that unknown part of the Australian outback. I doubt if my father even considered my lack of capabilities for this position at all. Later on this job also offered another one, with the bush nurse asking for me to come and nurse, care and cook for an elderly man at McKinley Qld, again my being absolutely inexperienced. These parts of my story included meeting new people, and happenings that occurred in my life, then and in the future.

As this is real life over periods of years, it also contains personal details of the author and family’s lives, and that of others.

This is not a cooking book and there are no recipes given, though a sense of humour would be appreciated.

Buy Now From B&N.com

%d bloggers like this: