Sinners Cross, by Miles Watson, is a deeply captivating historical fiction novel of the Second World War. This is an action packed story detailing the horrors of war and the people that must endure them.
This is not a watered down version of war, the battles are chaotic and gritty. I appreciated Mile Watson’s ability to place me in the field with the soldiers. The story focuses on a collection of well developed characters, each with their own issues not completely unique but well drawn and expertly unraveled before the reader. Having such well defined characters made me appreciate the terrible way in which war changes people.
The book is set in Germany during the Second World War and told from the point of view of soldier on the ground. We get to know what they fear, their motivation, how it feels to take the impact of a sniper bullet to the head only for it to be stopped by a M1 Helmet. How one would survive the cold in a fox hole knowing the chance of living to see the following day comes down to an unhealthy probability. To how your ears ring when you are accidentally within the range of an explosion. Sinner’s Cross is full of these types of details only soldiers can tell you.
The book begins with two characters, Duffy and Halleck, who have been fighting Germans for a while now. Each lost in their own thoughts, they engage in a sporadic and thinly worded conversation. Whenever Halleck’s drifts back to his thoughts, they give the reader a glimpse into the hopelessness of their predicament when he refers to their reinforcement as mere replacements. As a veteran I can appreciate the clarity with which the author paints the picture of war and how a soldiers mind might race.
This book was exceptional in it’s ability to make me question, not necessarily the motives of war, but the motives of those in charge of the battles in war. How human ineptness is either waned or magnified under such monstrously strenuous conditions.
I’m surprised Sinner’s Cross is a historical fiction novel. It’s full of historical details and military jargon that, I felt, were spot on, if not believable. This is an exceptional novel that is consistently entertaining, although dark it fits with the tone of what is a dark time in history. Any armchair historian will love this book.
Pages: 284 | ASIN: B07YS4T3TB
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The fifth installment of the Reverence series, Voice of a Crimson Angel, by Joshua Landeros is both an intimate and thrilling look at the lead up to his debut military science fiction series. Julissa Marconi’s life was pulled apart after her husband went into a coma. Her relationship with her daughter is on the brink of falling apart, friends have disappeared from her life, and the only solace she finds is at the bottom of a bottle. This all changes when Dr. Neeson offers her an open door to change her life and with the help of allies like Captain Halsey, and she grabs the opportunity to fight. The ever-scheming Chancellor Venloran has his own designs afoot for the expansion of the United Nation Republic.
With this new trilogy Landeros is giving background and context for his series, while also showing that the ever present villain of Venloran has been around for a long time in all of his power. If you’ve already read all the way up to Ballad of Demise, then this is another superb excuse to dive back into this torn apart world of super soldiers and war.
Landeros still manages to deliver on his strengths of dialogue and action. The beginning of this novel might start slow, but it picks up that familiar fast pace I have become accustomed to from this writer. Still heavily leaning into the military science fiction legacy, Landeros uses this to full effect in the near future of the United States and pushes it further with the backstory development of characters we haven’t either met or gotten fully developed in past stories.
While, the ending clearly makes room for a sequel, the novel itself is still satisfying on its own merit. It will be a treat to see where this new series goes and if there is something new waiting for us at the end, which we can hope. This stage setting series should please fans of the books and of science fiction in general with the way it keeps to the best tropes, while making fresh the well trampled ground of such narratives. Landeros keeps pushing his world deeper and expanding the horizon of both the characters and story line while managing to give readers a ride they won’t soon forget.
Pages: 207 | ASIN: B079H4FBKS
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The King’s Move follows cyborg super soldier William, who seeks vengeance after finding the latest weapon the Chancellor holds. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
The original idea was to have a straight forward revenge plot with Will pursuing Chancellor Venloran. As I wrote on, I wanted to give the supporting cast more to do and explore their own demons. It turned out to be just what the story needed because the original draft had far too much of the action delegated to Will. Giving other characters a chance to shine was a breath of fresh air.
The supporting characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
For this entry, I had a lot of fun writing Gabriella. I feel like she’s changed a lot since the first book where she was more naïve but optimistic. She’s become very jaded, more so than her brother and to some extent even Will. She’s tried to purge herself of all mercy and I wanted to explore how it has skewed her judgement.
The characters remain, along with the action, some of the best parts of the novel. What is your writing process like?
My writing process is probably hardest in the beginning. I try to plan things out with a synopsis and before each chapter is written I like to have a detailed set of events in mind. The easiest, and most fun, part is putting the meat on the bones. After that comes editing, which I like to do as I go before letting a professional give it an additional look.
This is the third volume in your Reverence series. Will there be another book? If so, where will it take readers and when will it be available?
I have a lot of books planned for the series. The finale to the EOK arc will come in September, latest October. I’m editing it as of now and trying to get the pace just right. The next book we’ll see the Crimson Angels try to launch a counterattack on Chancellor Venloran. Unbeknownst to them, Will is wrestling with the offer given to him by Vanzetti. A ticking time bomb is how I would describe the story, and I’m confident it will be a blast for readers.
Posted in Interviews
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You know a story is good when it makes it to the fifth installment. A story needs to be captivating, with intriguing characters and compelling action. Readers will find all of that and more in Joseph D’Antoni’s Captive Threat. This book is an addition to his ever-popular Wade Hanna series. It’s easy to see why these books have been able to sustain themselves for so long. The life that Wade leads is not typical at all. This includes his romances. Here we find a story steeped in action with heart-pounding risks and careful planning. Those who enjoy a great action-packed crime/military intelligence novel will definitely be entertained by what occurs within these pages. Where will Wade end up this time? Will he finally get to move forward in his relationship with Megan? Or will this task finally end up being too much for him?
While this is an installment in a series, it is not wholly necessary to read the previous four books. Yes, they will provide important backstory, but D’Antoni writes in such a way that a reader will not be lost. Even the complicated aspects of Wade and Megan’s relationship is not lost in this book. It is difficult to write in such a way that you can captivate newcomers without leaving them confused. A master of his craft, it is clear that D’Antoni knows what he’s doing. At first, the book doesn’t even feel like it’s about Wade at all, but about Megan. About what she is going through after her return to American soil. She has suffered an ordeal and D’Antoni takes the required time to have her move through these complicated feelings and post-traumatic experiences. This is how you capture readers.
The character development is very well planned and carefully laid out. When you have existing characters that have been carrying on for books upon books it’s easy to swap out romantic partners or close friends in favour of an exciting new character. It is clear that our author has spent the time energy required to foster and develop the relationships from existing installments. This is something not many serial authors can accomplish. Coupled with character development are the action scenes as Wade and company foray into their battlefields. Nothing feels out of place or too over the top. There is a pleasant balance between story development and a good old-fashioned fight.
If you are looking for a book that is exciting to read while giving you those complicated portrayals of human emotion then you have found what you are looking for in Captive Threat. It’s an excellent example of a crime/military novel married to dramatic elements done right. For the series to have gone on for as many installments as it has, it is clear that something is being done right here. There is even the potential for another installment into the Wade Hanna series based solely off how our adventure ends. Your heart will race for more than one reason as you devour the words in this tale. But still we are left wondering, where will Wade end up now?
Pages: 389 | ASIN: B01M3OAV36
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End of Knighthood Part II: The King’s Move keeps the action blazing forward! The second installment, by Joshua Landeros, follows rebel cyborg super soldiers and continues the story of William Marconi, who seeks vengeance from Chancellor Venloran. After finding out what latest weapon the Chancellor holds, rebel fighters Captain Halsey and Gabby, were lured into a trap and are at his mercy. This sets the stage for what the rebellion needs to do. Will, who started this rebellion, may get his chance to achieve his vengeance and end it, but the cost may be even too great for him to bear.
The King’s Move wastes no time in getting back into the thick of the action and picking up where we left off in the first. The action does not break and the events become more heinous as we reach the book’s climax and the tragic conclusion. Landeros continues to borrow the best from classic military sci-fi authors with short, clipped sentences and telling “only the facts” when denoting action and danger. His world building is subtle and should please any reader who pays attention to the craft of writing. With this second part in his series Landeros has escalated the conflict and moved the stakes to an even higher plane.
The characters remain, along with the action, some of the best parts of the novel. His rather wide cast of rebels and villains are all a thrill to read and fun to follow as they attempt to achieve their various goals. The book remains a blend of sci-fi/thriller that would keep any fan of those two genres satisfied. The dialogue shoots back and forth between the characters as fast as the bullets, keeping the pace quick and the readier on the edge of their seat. These are a welcome distraction from the brutal carnage that sometimes occurs.
The lack of description hurts this work at times, which it makes up for since with prose that has improved since the last installment. He continues to borrow heavily from screenwriting techniques, with consistent dialogue on almost every page, while providing only deep description of the action scenes. His fast pace style will suit casual readers as well as those used to thrillers and military sci-fi.
The King’s Move is an exciting bridge that keeps the reader entertained and swept away on the plight of these rebel cyborgs. Anyone who enjoys a military science fiction thriller will find their palates pleased with Landeros’ work and hungry for the third installment.
Pages: 156 | ASIN: B073WHFL24
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Typhoon by Fire by Ryan Grimbly is a fun read! We follow Ace Mcdagger, who teams up with Captain Loxwell of November squad, to rescue her teammates who are scattered in the forests of Malaysia. Three years after basic training in combat and the use of magic, while studying monsters that roam the world, Ace and his team will be put to the test. A rogue scientist was the quarry of Captain Loxwell and remains at large. The joint effort is faced by many obstacles including psychic anomalies, scientific experiments gone awry, and a storm that threatens to consume the region…the Typhoon of Fire.
Grimbly’s writing is one that ensures good pacing. He gives us a small introduction to Ace and Shimon, two of the main characters, showing their roots of where they came from. The prose reads well and quickly, which for a novel such as this is a plus. The blend of genres is a notable factor considering I feel this fits into a military thriller, paranormal, or even urban fantasy. The book could even count as young adult with the playful elements within, but some of the language may be too intense at times for teens. The fact that this blend seems rather seamless is a good reason for any reader that likes these genres to pick this book up.
The prose is strongest with the interplay of Grimbly’s characters. Ace, Shimon, Tiffany, and Loxwell all have brilliant dialogue with one another and they feel like living characters who come off page. It is one of the reasons why I felt this book was such a pleasure to read in the first place. This along with the action that bristles in the scenes that fill most of the book, makes sure to keep the reader turning the page. The blend of military training, magic, and psychic powers may be off putting for some readers, but I think Grimbly manages to balance all of these genres surprisingly well.
Despite all of this, the book is not without some flaws, which include some of the plot and description. I won’t spoil the plot here, so I can’t say much on that front. I will say that those remarks do not mar the good points of this book. Grimbly does skimp on the description and enough that I often became lost in some of his scenes. And as a reader there is nothing more disconcerting than realizing that you’ve lost the sense of “space” that a character or characters exist in.
With all of this in mind, the novel is a wild ride that does not let up until the end. The book is part of a series that I may check out in the future as well. I would encourage fans of urban fantasy, paranormal, and military fiction to take a dive into The Typhoon of Fire.
Pages: 474 | ASIN: B00UYRYZVE
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Swallow follows a young German woman during WWII as she struggles to follow her dreams and become a pilot. What was the inspiration that made you want to write such a humanizing story?
I was flicking through some old magazines in a medical waiting room a few years ago and came across an article on WW2 ace fighter pilots. It was a fascinating read, so I took to the internet and was blown away by the material on this subject. I found the story of a young German pilot, Hans Phillip, particularly inspiring, though tragic. It was heart-breaking to read about and see the many images of these young men yet to live their lives. Many of the photographs were candid, showing just how very ‘human’ they really were.
Gabi is a fierce, bright woman who stampedes her way onto the runway. What guided you through Gabi’s development?
I like a strong, female protagonist determined to get her way! Much of Gabi’s development is drawn from personal experience. I was once a young business graduate struggling to get on in what was predominately a man’s domain. I jumped at any opportunity to get ahead, as does Gabi. She’s emotional, stubborn and insecure, facing the same challenges that we all face at some time in our lives: life and death; love and loss; hope and despair. Sadly, the harsh reality of war makes this natural transition through life profoundly tragic for Gabi.
This story takes place in Germany during WWII. What research did you do to make sure the history and locations were accurate?
Some of the history/locations came from personal sources. My mother was born in Königsberg, East Prussia and fled to Saxony as a war refugee during WW2. Many of her recollections of the war and this part of the world have been incorporated into the story. As a child, I also visited relatives in East Germany several times and can still remember towns such as Meissen and Dresden quite vividly. But my primary source was Google. There is so much material about WW2 and the Luftwaffe on the internet. Admittedly, not all sources are reliable but with some cross-referencing, you get a good feel for what’s legitimate. My biggest issue was deciding what to include and what to leave out as I didn’t want to bog down the story with superfluous detail!
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
I’m currently working on a prequel to Swallow – The Sparrow and The Peacock, covering the early years of Max Richter from his childhood through to his romance with Mary Dehaviland and the birth of Gabi. Like Swallow, it’s set in Germany and covers historically significant periods such as WW1 and the stock market crash of ‘29. I’m aiming to have the book published sometime late 2018 – early 2019.
Set against the dramatic backdrop of World War II, Nazi Germany, Swallow is the story of a young woman destined to fly. Gabriele Richter, the daughter of an ambitious German general, connives her way into the Luftwaffe, becoming Germany’s only female fighter pilot and ‘ace’. Flying like a swallow, she defends the Fatherland with the gusto and fearlessness of youth, confronting death on every sortie and living by the Luftwaffe edict “Fly till we die”.
On the cusp of womanhood, Gabi also learns about love. She shares her heart with Heinz, a young, impulsive ‘fledgling’ pilot set on becoming a war hero. She bares her soul to Hans, an ambitious flight commander whose love is troubled with demons of self-doubt. She gives herself to narcissistic Kurt and his scar fetish, comforted by his unwavering loyalty. She confides in RAF Wing Commander Arthur Wilson, living in hope to love again…
But, after discovering her beloved father, General Max Richter, has been implicit in horrific war crimes against humanity, she turns her back on the Fatherland, helping the enemy restore and fly Germany’s latest weapon, the Me-262 fighter jet.
With the end of war imminent, Gabi’s tragic destiny is fulfilled, leaving General Richter to face retribution.
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The war between the North and the South has made its way to the Arab Territories. Theoretically allied with the North, they instead decide to put up a forcefield to sequester themselves and block the Southern fighters. The Arab Territories quickly realize that their enemies in the South are much stronger, smarter, and more dangerous than they ever suspected. The war for the South to take Pearson Station in space continues to rage on, as both sides try to develop technologies to protect themselves and exploit their enemy’s weaknesses. Despite being spread between more than one fighting front, the South proves to be a formidable enemy for everyone that falls in their cross-hairs.
Across the Realm, Book 2: When Two Tribes Go To War by Isobel Mitton is the second in the Across The Realm series. After finishing the first one, I couldn’t wait to get hold of the second one and jump right in. It did not disappoint. Because there was less backstory to set up in the second book, things moved at an even faster pace than in Book 1, keeping me flipping the pages long past bedtime.
The Arab Territories are a part of this book, and I felt like the presentation of the people living there was a bit negative. A lot of Islamic beliefs are addressed in it, and I felt like they were largely being treated as backwards beliefs, rather than legitimate religious beliefs. I didn’t find this to be an overwhelming feeling, however, and it did a wonderful job illustrating the differences between the characters in the Arab Territories, versus the rest of the North and the South.
One of my favorite parts of the series is the skill with which Ms. Mitton creates differences between the characters in various parts of the realm. Each type of character is distinct. Although some characters are purely good, there are a number of characters that I both loved and hated in full measure in different parts of the book. Her ability to paint three dimensional characters that are incredibly realistic in their flaws and their strengths is part of what makes the book so addictive.
Another strength of the book is the way no one side is being treated as wholly the bad guy. It’s presented primarily as the warring sides not understanding one another, and not understanding each other’s ways, being the source of the primary problem. Both sides believe in the other’s inhumanity and are unable to comprehend their actions and behaviors. Even as they capture and examine one another, they are not looking for the common humanity between them, but rather seek to locate the other’s weaknesses.
All in all, this has been a great series to read so far. The book kept plowing ahead, gaining energy rather than losing it. Though I have not read a great deal of science fiction in this past, the Across the Realm series is inspiring me to read more.
Pages: 256 | ASIN: B01MUHOLM3
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