Project Bodi: Awaken the Power of Insight by Hosein Kouros-Mehr is a sci-fi fiction book that goes into an alternate world of Google and its reign in 2030 and beyond. Although it’s a fictitious book, there are so many parts of it that relate to the world that we currently live in so reading this book was like looking into the future. A scary and not so distant future. The book focuses on Google Health and the impact that artificial intelligence has on the future of work.
This book took a bit for me to get my head around, but once I did, I devoured it. I love reading about alternate worlds and dystopian futures and although this book was a somewhat dystopian future, the similarities between what’s happening in our world are obvious. Artificial Intelligence is scary because we don’t know much about it as a species and yet continue to use it with reckless abandon and for me, messing with things that we don’t fully understand can only lead to trouble.
How much of a role should artificial intelligence have within society? This book suggests that the way things are going, artificial intelligence should not only be expected but welcomed with open arms. However, as the story goes on, I felt more linked with Austin than I did with Beth. As much as I want to be hardworking and driven, my smartphone and social media is a constant and easy to access distraction from my work. Although I might have talent, it’s surely being squandered by my lack of dedication and focus to the task. It was refreshing to see this written in a non-condescending way as that is so often the case when people write about younger generations.
I found myself reading this book with ease. Although the book switches between three different characters, including the CEO of Google, the language is easy to understand and easy to follow. As we are dealing with some interesting concepts throughout this book, it’s a huge bonus that the perspectives that are shown in the book are easy to understand and easy to read and are delivered with relaxed and concise language.
I really liked the different perspectives that were shown throughout the book. It varies from the younger guy whose distracted yet shows promise, the senior worker whose given a mountain of a task with little room to fail and the CEO of the company that’s taking over the world. Despite these differences, the perspectives between them all show that there’s similarities there as well. The pressure to stay on top of your game in a world of never ending challenges and pressures. I liked the passages about subconscious. We often forget that our strongest tool is our mind and once we sharpen it, we can be unstoppable.
I really enjoyed this book. It was an easy and eye opening read that showed me what the future will possibly look like.
Pages: 219 | ASIN: B072QX9YZX
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Protector of Thristas takes place fifteen years after the tumultuous One Day War and Lisen is faced with something far more challenging than ever before. What were some important themes for you to capture in this novel?
I’ve taken on several archetypes in these books with an eye towards shifting what originated as masculine-oriented myths into their feminine equivalent. Lisen is the hero of a story in which she must overcome many obstacles, including her own self-doubt, to rise at the end of the original trilogy to the destiny she cannot escape. I looked at heroes, such as Luke Skywalker and King Arthur, and asked myself how this would look not simply with a “girl” as the hero but with a gentler and more sympathetic way of presenting the momentous events that occur in the story. The battle at the end of Blooded is a case in point. Lisen found a way to break through the fighting and turn the combatants towards a negotiated resolution rather than one in which many people died or were left physically or emotionally injured.
So, when I decided to explore Lisen and the others as adults, to look at the relationships and their children fifteen years on, I made another decision–to raise the bar and tackle an archetype I refer to as “the king must die and live again.” This myth can be found in many nature-focused cultures. The leader of the people sacrifices his life (or acts the sacrifice out in ritual) and goes to the underworld, then rises again, all of which is symbolic of the “burying” of seeds in the fall and their rising as plants in the spring. It is a form of fertility ritual. It is also, in some ways, the Christ story, but this time it’s a young woman.
I think this book did a fantastic job displaying how emotional a mother-daughter relationship can be, and family relationships as well. How did you develop these complex relationships? Anything pulled from real life?
My mother was not the nurturing type which left my father with that role in my life. In fact, Korin’s nickname of “Fa” is the way my father, in his later years, signed birthday cards and such. But there was more to it than that. As I foraged deeper into the story and the wounded relationship between Lisen and Rinli, I realized one very important thing. I had to be very careful about how I framed the discord between the two of them. The critique group I belonged to at the time loved the portrayal of the mother-daughter conflict, but I began to recognize that I had created a very “earth-centric/potentially sexist” struggle. In my experience, women in our culture learn at a very early age that they must challenge one another over the attention of a man. Men are taught a similar lesson, but it manifests differently. Men thump their chests and growl at one another (figuratively) or go out and kick a football around, whereas women get mean. And it often begins in the relationship between a mother and daughter and their desire for the male in their lives–the husband/father. It’s fairly subtle in most cases, but it’s there, and once girls become teenagers with all those hormones raging, they may not “desire” their father, but they want what their mothers have and the fight is on.
I couldn’t let this be the basis for Lisen and Rinli’s conflict, so I struck out on my own to find something that didn’t smack of the sexism in the “typical” tension that can tear a mother and daughter apart. And although I may have no control over the enculturated eyes the reader brings to the story and her interpretation of what she sees in that relationship, I had to be true to my commitment to present Lisen and Rinli sparring not over the mean-girl stuff that can mess with a mother and a daughter but over the betrayal Rinli feels at her mother’s use of her as a bargaining tool to bring a war to an end. Add to that the fact that Lisen is not the nurturing parent in the family, and it becomes clear, in my eyes, at least, that their relationship was likely doomed no matter what Lisen did.
Rinli is resistant to the idea that she has her mother’s magic abilities. How did you handle magic in this novel that was similar and/or different from the previous novels?
In some way, I think the magic became more central to the story than it had been previously. I have always played the push as something unacceptable but sometimes necessary, even to Garlans who are pretty accepting of most hermit magic. As a Thristan, Korin distrusts hermits and what they can do, and Lisen has a powerful gift. This presented its own set of problems in the first trilogy and ultimately tore them apart. Now, with Rinli growing up and it becoming obvious to both of her parents that she has inherited her mother’s gift, Lisen and Korin have to make their peace over the magic thing and then band together to convince Rinli that the only way to stay safe amongst magic-fearing Thristans is to master her gift in order to control it. This is where that conflict I mentioned above manifests with Lisen trying her damnedest to reach out to Rinli and Rinli turning away. (I had one reviewer say, “So many times I just wanted to scream ‘Say I LOVE YOU!'” which would, of course, have simplified things a great deal. But it was about the magic in Lisen’s mind, and “I love you” wasn’t in her lexicon.)
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I began a followup to Protector of Thristas with the idea that it would be the final book in the series. I had to find a way to put down the characters and the world I’d created in order to move on to something new. Five books. The series would be five books. I was adamant with myself. Then as I wrote and wrote and wrote, I began to realize that this was going to be one hell of a long book. I set a word limit at which point I would break it up into two books. I’m still on first draft, and I am within 2500 words of that limit I set. It’s definitely going to be 2 books. Because I’ve been making changes that affect earlier scenes as I go along, I must finish the entire tome before officially splitting them up. (And even then, I’m probably going to produce draft 2 of both books together, incorporating all the necessary tweaking at one time, before I turn to book 5 of the series and complete it.) All of this is to say, that this has taken far longer than I wanted it to take, but I continue to move forward.
As regards where we go from here, having sent a young person as flawed as Rinli through the experience of dying and rising from the dead, I discovered (upon working on the final two books) a character who is not doing well emotionally at all. It’s been an interesting trip. Rinli was originally intended to be the character to whom Lisen would pass the baton, but she turned out to be a character very different from what I had expected when I began. Her last words at the end of the book blew me away, coming as they did as I was writing that last scene, and they set the tone for the remaining story. I had to ask myself “what does a world broken by Mantar’s Child look like?” It took a while to answer that question. Now first draft is finally winding down for books 5 and 6, and all I can say is “whew, what a ride!” “When will it be available?” I’m hoping for some time early in the new year for book 5 and spring for book 6.
Fifteen years after the One-Day War, Lisen, now Empir Ariannas, has developed into a just and capable leader. Together she and Korin have created a union of two souls based on respect, commitment and love, and their family has grown. In addition to Rinli, their daughter who made her first appearance in Blooded, two more children have joined the family, completing their complement of three complicated adolescents.
Now the sixteen-year-out Rinli prepares to take on the mantle of Protector of Thristas, a title destined for her in the treaty that ended the war. The Empirs of Garla have carried this title for hundreds of years, and Lisen anticipates changes once she hands this single title on to Rinli at the girl’s investiture. But the prophesy of Mantar’s Child, upon which Lisen and Korin depended in the treaty negotiations fifteen years earlier, refuses to remain but a convenient myth, and with the advent of the fulfillment of the prophecy, an epic begins.
Although Protector of Thristas includes the familiar faces and settings of the young adult Lisen of Solsta trilogy, it begins a new adventure for an older and often wiser Lisen and her allies. Looking at their world through their matured eyes, the book takes on the heroic tragedy that the trilogy could only hint at. Return to Garla. Enter its mystical environs for a new encounter with Lisen and her world’s gender-free culture. The adventure awaits.
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Hart St. Martin takes us back to the lands of Garla and Thristas in Protector of Thristas, a novel that takes place fifteen years after the tumultuous One Day War. Rinli is the daughter of Korin and Lisen, and due to a prophecy created at her birth, she’s destined to be the Protector of the desert land of Thristas. While trying to guide Rinli on her path to becoming Protector, Lisen is faced with something far more challenging than ever before: she must do everything in her power to gain her teenage daughter’s long-lost sense of trust.
After becoming so invested in the Lisen of Solsta trilogy, I was thrilled to grab a copy of Protector of Thristas. There’s nothing I enjoy more than watching a fantasy world evolve over generations. Lisen and Korin have three children – Rinli, Nasera, and Insenlo – but Rinli is the only one who has a prophecy that she must fulfill.
Through highly emotional moments in the novel, the story definitely emulates how exhausting it is for the whole family when they are all separated. The story jumps between Avaret (the city where Lisen rules as Empir of Garla) and Thristas, where Rinli is required to stay for periods of time. The two lands have a very tense relationship, which forced Lisen to designate Rinli as the Protector of Thristas in an attempt to resolve these issues. As a result, Rinli and Korin must travel between the two lands several times a year.
As a sucker for romantic subplots, I loved seeing how fifteen years of marriage has impacted Korin and Lisen – due to the constant traveling on Korin’s end, they’ve grown even closer than they were in the first trilogy. Their bond even causes Korin to develop psychic-like powers, where he can sense when something bad is happening to Lisen or Rinli.
One of my favorite things about this novel is how Rinli has Lisen’s stubbornness and Korin’s perceptiveness, and her development throughout the novel kept the story captivating and fun. Something that separates her from her mother is that Rinli has an affinity for the desert land of Thristas, and her loyalty to Thristas is compounded by her close relationship with Madlen, her most trusted companion. She is especially resistant to the idea that she has her mother’s magic abilities, and this gets her into trouble at a few points in the novel.
Themes of forgiveness and trust pop up throughout the novel, highlighting the tense mother-daughter relationship between Lisen and Rinli. Hart weaves this tension throughout the entire plot, bringing the reader closer to these characters. Lisen can’t forgive herself for sentencing Rinli to her fate as the Protector of Thristas, while Rinli struggles to trust her mother. When Rinli discovers she may need her mother’s wisdom in order to understand her responsibility as a Protector, the two begin to develop a relationship.
Protector of Thristas is an emotional rollercoaster, to say the least, and it’s a breath of fresh air in a sea full of action-forward fantasy novels. As entrenched in fantasy as it is, this novel does a beautiful job of capturing raw human emotions of happiness, anger, sadness, anxiety, and fear, especially when dealing with challenging mother-daughter relationships and the connections between a parent and a child. The cliffhanger ending left me feeling some of those emotions myself, and I can’t wait to see if Hart will continue sharing more adventures from this world.
Pages: 452 | ASIN: B01E7NYLRI
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Lisen is not your average seventeen-year-old hermit in the mystical land of Garla. D. Hart St. Martin’s first book in the Lisen of Solsta series, Fractured, takes us on Lisen’s complicated journey of discovering her destiny in a land where people will pay a high price to obtain power. After spending seven years on Earth, Lisen is brought back to Garla to fulfill her fate: become the Empir, bring peace to Garla, and prevent her tyrannical brother from taking over the throne. With the aid of nobles, captains, and magical hermits, Lisen learns how to adapt to the pressures of her new life, embrace her destiny, and win the battle raging inside her head.
Fractured by D. Hart St. Martin is a captivating story of heroism, greed, and fulfilling one’s destiny; but what makes this novel so unique is how the characters, and the world itself, break gender stereotypes and social norms. Fractured is Book One in the Lisen of Solsta series, and this book focuses on the life of Lisen Holt, or rather, Lisen of Solsta. The novel begins with the kidnapping of seventeen-year-old Lisen on a beach in California. Once she comes to her senses, Lisen finds that she’s been taken to Garla, a world that resembles the magical-medieval world of Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings. Astonished with every new discovery she makes, Lisen learns about her new “home” in Solsta, the land of hermits (people with mystical powers who are removed from society). Most interestingly of all, Lisen discovers that she used to live there as a child, but due to a prophetic vision, her guardians hid her away on Earth for seven years to ensure no harm came to her. Thus, when she returns to Garla and Solsta, Lisen feels both uncertainty and vague familiarity, and her memories (and necropathic skills) slowly return over time.
What I loved most about the novel is that it plays with the idea of who (or what) is truly in charge of shaping our “path” in life. It calls into question the idea of fate, and Lisen initially pushes against her destiny when she’s told that she’s the heir of Garla. Lisen also suffers from a memory lapse and must go through extensive training with Captain Rosarel and Holder Corday before she can take over as Empir (or ruler), in order to prevent her tyrannical brother from ruling Garla. I find this theme particularly interesting when combined with the “hero’s journey” plotline, as Lisen is much more complex than the archetypical “hero.” Throughout the novel, Lisen goes through stages of grief once she discovers she can no longer access her old life back on Earth, but several events throughout her journey prove what her life’s purpose truly is.
While some of the minor characters’ voices (such as Eloise and Nalin) were drowned out by the main characters, Lisen is truly brought to life through Hart St. Martin’s fluid and compelling writing style. I thought Lisen’s personality was fun and authentic; Hart St. Martin accurately captured the sassy attitude of a teenager who’s forced to learn a whole new way of living (I mean, who wouldn’t be sassy about that?). While she seems to have accepted her fate by the end of the novel, it’ll be interesting to see where Lisen’s “destiny” takes her next.
Pages: 317 | ASIN: B0098RN2KG
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What would it be like, if more than two-thousand years later Christ walked this earth again? Would he be confused by the spread of technology or would he already know about it from having watched over mankind from above? João Cerqueira tackles this idea and more in his novel Jesus and Magdalene. There is much for Jesus to consider when he returns to the world of man. Such logical concerns as his paternity and the vehicle he decides to use to come back to earth. Scarcely is Jesus walking among men once more then he meets Magdalene. She is the newer version of her biblical-self: wrapped up in an environmental movement with Judas, Mary, Peter, James and others she works towards renewal of the earth. As if it was simply meant to be, Jesus joins her on her mission and we are left to wonder how much of the stories in the bible will play out again.
If there is anything Cerqueira does well in this book, it is describing situations and surroundings. There is an explanation at the beginning of the novel where our author lays out his experience with Christianity and his thoughts on the matter. This is beneficial for those who cherish their faith and may take issue with the idea of a modern-day Jesus Christ. This should come as a comfort to those readers as Cerqueira certainly means no disrespect.
However, while the writing is a plus, it is also a minus. Cerqueira is almost too descriptive or flowery with his language. His metaphors and similes are beautifully written but they cause the story to feel heavy. This, in turn, causes the read to be quite heavy and rely on the intellectual prowess of the reader. While this is not completely a negative for the reader who prefers something a bit more intellectual, for the casual reader this can be a detriment.
The portrayal of technology and the development of character relationships is well played throughout the entirety of the tale. If you have never been an avid reader of the bible or studied any sort of religion while in school, you will not be lost. You can think of Jesus and Magdalene as a tale of two young adults who are trying to make a difference in the world. If you are familiar with these texts, you will find that there is much that overlaps with Cerqueira’s story. It is evident that the man has done his research and is not afraid to use that in his works.
The language that author João Cerqueira uses is beautiful. For a reader looking for something heavier, thought-provoking and requiring footnotes, you cannot go wrong with Jesus and Magdalene.
Pages: 324 | ASIN: B01IS20VQY
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Chaste is the third book by Jesse Teller in the Tales from Perilisc. In Teller’s prior book, Legends of Perilisc the god Cor-lyn-ber is mentioned the father of Hope and Light; Chaste focuses on Cor-lyn-ber and his followers in the small town. The town of Chaste is a remote town dedicated to Cor-lyn-ber that has been overcome with a deep sickness. Five strangers to the town arrive and all their destinies take a turn. The book is dark and filled with detailed violence. It is not for someone looking for fairies and elves. The theme of rape, abuse and murder run though the whole book revealing a dark and sick society struggling to find the light again.
The main characters are Father Frank, Cheryl the barmaid and self-appointed watcher of the town, and the five strangers, Ambul, Ruther, Sai, Sob, and Trevonne. Cheryl watched her parents die, her mother and battle and her father murdered. They were the religious leaders for Cor-lyn-ber and Cheryl from that point on lost all faith in her god. The first half of the book is all about the devastation of the town, the murders of their children, the sickness and evil that penetrates the land and people. The reader learns little about the five strangers only getting pieces of their history bit by bit. Trevonne is wizardass in training, she arrives in the town of Chaste weak and sick. Sob, an assassin and thief has taken on the role of protector of her. Ruther appears to be the leader of their group with a no nonsense mentality. Ambul and Sai call themselves brothers but they are not related. Sai is known as the great swordsman and dreams of a woman each night where they continue their love saga from afar. Ambul is referred to as the gentlest and good man known to man. He is an innocent and pure of heart, with a secret past.
The five strangers arrive in the town right after the death of another child. They all feel there is a wrongness in the town. The first night there Sob is out looking for jewelry to steal and comes in contact with the killer of the children. She recognized there was something evil and not human from the start but wasn’t staying around to investigate further. Meanwhile, back at the tavern and inn Ambul goes missing after a fight with Sai. The fight was brought on out of nowhere, the towns sickness already infecting them with its poison. From here the story of finding their missing friend, discovering the source of the sickness and purging the town of the poison is told.
The story of Cheryl is key to the novel, and she goes through a drastic transformation. Like all major transformation in life hers is a hard story and she learns lessons of pride and sacrifice. She also learns just how much control the gods of Perilisc have over her life and that of the world around her. She learns that her destiny is set by them, not herself. She must face her past, and Cor-lyn-ber himself.
Overall this book is not for the reader looking for a happy ending fantasy novel. This is fantasy at its darkest. Abuse, demons, and torture are key themes and some are described in vivid detail. If you can get past all that, the story is one of transformation, overcoming evil and delivering justice.
Pages: 244 | ASIN: B01J0FVC9S
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Legends of Perilisc is a collection of short stories that tell the mythological struggles of royalty, immortal love, unruly wizards, and lost heroes. Did this book always start out as a collection of short stories, or did you write the stories individually and later decided to consolidate them?
The stories were written individually. Many of them were written many years ago as a way of answering questions. I needed to know things about my world, like how it was created, and where certain things came from. Every world has a creation myth. I needed one of those. I wanted dragons, and I needed to know where they came from. Some stories in here helped me deal with my own demons and come to terms with my past. Some of the stories bind together books I would later write. Others were just dream stories. For instance, I always dreamt of knowing how Clark and Ferallorn met. To Love A Beast came from this desire. The plan was never to publish this book. It shouldered its way in when I realized I wanted to give prospective readers a look at the world to help them decide if they wanted to commit to reading one of my novels.
What is your favorite story from the collection and why?
I have two. The Apprentice’s War showcases a wizard named Saykobar. It is exciting to see his introduction to the world. It gave me a thrill to write the first words of his story because Saykobar goes on to do many great and terrible things. He shapes the course of the world. It was fun to watch him shrug up from the ground like the bud of a poison flower.
Then there’s The Stalwart. This was the first short story I wrote about Perilisc. I wrote it in 2005, sent it out to magazines for publishing, and received a handwritten rejection letter. I was told the story had promise, but there were major things wrong with it, major things wrong with the world it was in. No one source has had a greater impact on the creation of this world than that one letter. It focused me, helped me realize what I was doing. It’s my favorite of my many rejection letters, and I’m lucky to have gotten it.
Simon the Bard seems to be the only consistent character through the different stories. He travels the world claiming to be a simple story teller, but seems to be much more. What were your ideas when creating this character and did he turn out as planned?
In my family, there were fantastic storytellers. I wasn’t concerned with playing with my siblings and my cousins. I wanted to be standing by the poker table in the haze of smoke, listening to the adults tell wildly inappropriate stories. I always wanted to tell those kind of stories, always wanted to tell a story well. So I apprenticed under the great storytellers of my family, learning everything I could about how to craft a description and how to nail a climax. Simon is a result of that training. Stories are important. It’s how we understand who we are and the world around us. Stories give us power, the power of knowledge and the power of understanding. That was the concept behind Simon Bard. He’s a wandering storyteller. But he only goes to the people who need to hear the story. He goes to the heroes that need light cast upon the world around them in order to commit acts of bravery and startling deeds of wonder. Simon has shaped the world. He helped craft it and he loves it. He is trying to provide guidance. He is exactly how I planned him to be, and I’m very proud of him.
Will readers ever get to find out what “The Escape” is?
Yes, The Escape is so important. It is the defining moment of my world. It provides the B.C. / A.D. point for my history. The Escape is a world-changing event. It brings about much hope and much despair. I can’t tell these stories without it. It will be revealed in books to come, and its effect will forever change the face of my world.
Will there be another book that tells more stories of the land of Perilisc?
Oh, man. Is this ever a firm and resounding yes! Perilisc is the platform for 26 books. I have 21 of them written, and today I started the 22nd. In rough draft form, I have written 10,600 pages of Perilisc story. I have five more novels to write before I set Perilisc down for a moment and concentrate on other places. Perilisc is the name of a continent, not a world. These novels tell the story of that continent. But after these books have been written, I cast light on other corners of the world. I have conceived three acts to my career, and after these 26 Perilisc novels, I will have finished Act I. There is more Perilisc coming. I have decided to publish a book every six months for the next 32 years.
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By Summer’s Last Twilight is the latest novel from horror author Robert J. Stava, set in the deceptively sleepy New York state village of Wyvern Falls. The book continues a long line of Stava’s work set in Wyvern Falls, and as such contains a great deal of information that may not be clear to the newcomer reader. Characters emerge, engage, and disappear – or get killed, since according to Stava that’s his favorite thing to do in a horror novel – without much in the way of apparent rhyme or reason, though there is a core group of heros and villains to tie the story together.
The nexus of the plot focuses on the nefarious work of the villain Steven Crowley, the latest descendant in the line hailing from the Occult provocateur Alistair Crowley – the latter infamous for his no-holds barred orgies and invocations of arcane rituals. In this story, though, the orgies and rituals have a sinister metaphysical purpose, shattering the membranes that separate our dimension from that of maddening demons who want to feast upon our flesh and our very sanity.
Steven Crowley has managed to worm his way up to the top of this quiet little town, his arcane calculations proving that this town would be the optimal spot to perform his ritual. A hurricane late in the summer washes a body out into a tree, catching the attention of the local plucky teenage gang of racial stereotypes who inevitably get to the bottom of things.
A man named John Easton is the grown-up that helps them get to the bottom of this, facing off against snakelike thugs like Razor and Weatherman who seem more motivated by violence for its own sake rather than any kind of humanity, however perverse it may be. Easton has numerous torrid affairs – this book drips with explicit sex, if that’s your thing – all of which end in bizarre disaster and let him sort of elbow the reader and go “women, right?”
Easton’s affairs include a near-sexual encounter with the breathy 15 year old French girl which, while going uncompleted, remains the most horrifying event in the entire book. Women don’t really get to do too much in this book except be lovers or mothers or crazy ex-girlfriends or literal objects of sacrifice, but so it goes in the world of Wyvern Falls.
There’s plenty of violence too, which would be remiss of a horror book to forget. The violent scenes are some of the most lovingly crafted and passionately executed sections to be found, giving the book a clear claim to the genre.
However, there’s too much of everything else. The horrific moments of the book are few and far between, interspersed with vast sections where characters sit around and explain things to one another.
Such lengthy exposition can somewhat be forgiven, given the by-design arcane nature of the source material. Crowley’s cult drew upon vast swaths of information that would be unfamiliar to the average reader today (or indeed to anyone ever) and Stava does an admirable job with providing expository backstory through the several interludes that intersperse the main story line.
All in all, though, the book remains in its own little world – if you are the type of reader who already enjoys this genre or Stava’s work in particular then you’ll find yourself right at home.
Pages: 288 | ISBN: 1515150747
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