Ken Cressman’s book, Intrepid, is a futuristic adventure set mostly in space. We follow main character, Justin Thorn, and his engineer friend, Steven Wilson, as they take on a mission they never could have seen coming. Wars have broken out over race, religion, and even sports teams, dividing the United States. Martial Law has been declared. Military branches have dissolved, and the leftover scraps have been joined together to form the Military Defense Force. Justin, a former MDF pilot, has an anti-gravity capable ship named Pegasus pieced together from former military aircrafts, and the feds want it. Justin won’t let his ship leave without him. He volunteers to set out toward Mars. The mission is unclear. They will either fix faulty communication devices, rescue the nine people on the planet, or retrieve bodies. One of the nine is Justin’s ex and the love of his life, and all they know is there has been no communication between Mars and the Space Agency for months.
This is an edge-of-your-seat kind of book. Whatever can go wrong, does go wrong. A whole different set of obstacles is present during space travel than here on earth. Gravity, anti-gravity, air pressure and breathability, depleting food and fuel levels, meteor showers. It seems like every time things start going smoothly, something goes catastrophically wrong. Between Justin and Steven, they might as well have MacGyver on board though. They put their heads together to take on every problem that arises. The problems leave you woeful for the exhausted characters, but it keeps the excitement high. Risks are high, but so are rewards.
Justin is a loveable character. He is sort of a self-made man. He was a pilot with the military, but is now self-employed. He has taken advantage of the latest technology, and has built a ship equipped with anti-gravs (anti-gravity). He basically has formed a transport service, zooming goods around the globe. He does have space experience, and that comes into play when the Mars mission presents itself. He is also loyal. He doesn’t want to take the job if it means leaving Steven, his engineer and general know-it-all and problem-solver, behind. He also feels the need to be part of the team that goes to check on Kelsey, a member of the Mars research team who is also his former girlfriend and current love. Justin bravely puts his life on the line more than once for the good of the crew and the mission.
The book is packed with cutting-edge futuristic technology. Maia is also on board. Maia is an artificial intelligence computer system. Maia is ever-present and a pivotal tool when obstacles arise. Cressman does an excellent job of explaining the more technical parts of the book, including Maia. Technological advances are broken down where someone who is not scientifically or technically inclined can understand everything easily.
The element of the unknown also plays a big role in Intrepid. Space is vast and unimaginable without a million problems. The crew has no idea what they will find when they get to Mars. Will the research team all be dead? Will they find anything at all? Will there be a simple fix to their communication equipment? Will they walk into some sort of ambush? Will anyone make it back to Earth alive? The reader will find themselves questioning every next step as they follow the crew on their mission.
Ken Cressman makes everything so relatable and readable. It is technical at times, but the technology is effectively explained. I was all but biting my nails as the story progressed. I’d like to read more Cressman work.
Pages: 286 | ASIN: B07BB6R7YR
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Man on Ice follows Rake Ozenna of the elite Eskimo Scouts as he struggles to protect his family on the brink of World War 3. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
When I visited Little Diomede island in the Bering Strait in Alaska I was amazed at how close it was to Russia. Every morning, we stepped out and saw the Russian island of Big Diomede barely two miles away and occasionally a Russian military helicopter circling to land at the small base out of sight on the other side. It was time when US-Russian relations were taking a big dip. Many thrillers are written about Russia in Europe, but rarely on this real, live border where American and Russian territory meet. It is an incredible place because there are no border lines, no customs sheds, no marker buoys in the sea water or on the ice in winter – just wind, skies, birds, and emptiness. I just had to set a thriller there. The Russian island is run by the military. The American island is an Eskimo village with no government protection. What would there be to stop the Russians from just taking it? Why would they want to? What would be the reaction in Washington?
This book was able to take a rare look at the Eskimo people and culture. Why did you want to include them in this story and what aspects were important for you to portray?
The Bering Strait setting of Little and Big Diomede islands is native land. Before the Cold War Eskimos travelled back and forth between the islands barely recognizing Russia and America as two separate nations. The border was open to them. When it was suddenly closed during Cold War hostilities, families were separated, and still are today. The American Eskimo villagers of Little Diomede are some of the most rugged and determined people I have met. By God, are they isolated! Their environment is totally unforgiving. But they love it and have lived the land, sea and ice for generations. To make credible the stakes of a Russian incursion onto Little Diomede, I had to show this village as it really was, portraying the challenges of environment and community as well as the ingenuity the villagers use with the terrain, weather and local knowledge to win. At the end of the day, even if you’re the president of Russia or the United States, you do not mess with the Eskimos of Little Diomede.
Rake is an intriguing character that continued to develop as the story progressed. What did you model his character on and how did he change as you were writing the story?
Rake Ozenna is a blend of real life people whom I have met throughout my career as a journalist. Rake’s motivation compares to any character determined to make the best of his life and give himself a wider world than his small, isolated island community. He enrolls in the Alaska National Guard, taking every opportunity he can, eventually breaking the ceiling, making officer and captain. He serves in Iraq and Afghanistan where he meets Carrie Walker, a trauma surgeon, Brooklyn, white, middle class, professional. They both have a wild, independent streak, but their backgrounds couldn’t be more different. Rake adores Carrie and can’t believe his luck. As the action gathers pace, and Rake finds himself more and more alone and hunted down on the island, then on the ice, we see his characteristics of ruthless leadership develop. He needs to win, but is never sure if his skills and natural ability to carry them out are compatible with loving Carrie and whether the two of them could ever make the kids, nice house and white picket fence thing ever work. Interviewing many heroes over the years, I have found there are always two strands of motivation. One is the bigger cause of the country and the mission. The other is the lover, the child, the home community. Sometimes they run in parallel. Often, they clash.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I deliver the second Rake Ozenna political thriller at the end of May 2019 for publication later in the year. Many of the same characters, Rake, Carrie and Stephanie Lucas will be there and the location will be a wild, inhospitable place in the European Arctic.
An incident in the snows of Alaska could trigger the outbreak of World War III in this tense and twisting thriller.
When Rake Ozenna of the elite Eskimo Scouts brings his fiancée, trauma surgeon Carrie Walker, to his remote home island in the Bering Strait, they are faced immediately with a medical crisis. Then Russian helicopters swarm in.
America is on the eve of an acrimonious presidential transition and inauguration. As news breaks of a possible Russian invasion, Stephanie Lucas, British ambassador to Washington DC, is hosting a dinner for the president-elect.
Ozenna’s small Alaskan island community is suddenly caught in the crosshairs of sabre-rattling big powers. The only way to save his people is to undertake a perilous mission across the ice. Can he survive long enough to prevent a new world war breaking out?
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Voice of the Crimson Angel Part II: Poison finds Julissa ready to take on Chancellor Venloran while the United Nation Republic is gearing up to take over Mexico. Was this book an easy continuation of part I or did you have to plan and develop the story before writing?
VOCA Part II took quite a bit of planning, up there with End of Knighthood Part III: Ballad of Demise. I knew telling the entire story of The Expansion from start to finish wasn’t really possible (outside of a very, very, long novel), so I isolated the events that seemed most important and then tied the main characters to them. VOCA Part II, I think more than any other of my previous work, challenged my use of setting. Writing tests an author in odd ways, and one of those ways for me was geography. The setting in question, of course, Mexico. How big is this city? Is it dry or wet this time of year? Is it a metropolis or a small town? Luckily, my story takes place in the future, so I can tweak things, but I prefer going off reality. The first round of writing left VOCA Part II shorter than I wanted, but the final product I’m most pleased with.
Weird thing is at first, I was paying very little attention to the current situation. When I conceived of The Expansion, I was looking at it as a continuation of Manifest Destiny, where Americans expanded westward. The more I examined the history of expanded empires, The Expansion became more and more interesting to write. It went from being a small part of the original book to an integral backdrop for the Iranian characters. Now it’s the main focus in the VOCA trilogy. In future stories, I hope to explore neocolonialism more. Since 2016, immigration has become one of the most decisive topics in the American politics. It influenced me as I watched debates and heard different arguments, but it’s a bit different in VOCA Part II. In the book, the focus is more about imperialism reborn than the push for isolation that we’re experiencing now. What the book does do, I hope, is paint a picture of the circumstances that I feel are similar to current events. For example, I think no matter what side of the political spectrum you’re on, people accept that we live in an era where patriotism is a very touchy issue. Even critique from a person within the system can lead to harsh cries of them being “unamerican.” Blind patriotism, more than anything, fuels a beast like Venloran and his UNR. What I also wanted to focus on was displacement. Civilians can be turned into dissidents when pushed. People have forgotten that the Mujahideen that battled the Soviet Union was propped up by the United States. This same organization became Al-Qaeda, and in the age of the “War on Terror”, we’ve seen an upsurge in the formation of radical groups. I would argue that intervention, this need to intervene and ‘democratize’ other areas around the globe, fuels fundamentalists. Former New York Times writer Chris Hedges (who was fired around the start of the Iraq War) called the usage of violence a disease. Therefore “Poison” was the proper title for this installment. What I wanted to do with the book was take the “War on Terror” and move it closer to home. Instead of across the Atlantic in countries most Americans have never been to, I wanted to imagine it happening right next door.
Have you tried exploring other mediums for your series; games, comic books, etc? I ask because you have developed such a rich backstory already.
I’m not much of a gamer, so I’ve never really considered that route. Comics, however, have always intrigued me. I’ve always been obsessed with visuals (one of my worst habits was the tendency to doodle during class). Comics, namely graphic novels, have always been a favorite medium of mine. You can say a whole lot with just a single frame, and not to mention a good use of color goes a long a way in establishing the mood. The look of the cyborg uniforms, namely the overcoat, was inspired by the Blade design from Marvel comics, while the armor itself is actually manga-based. As a child, I’ve read my share of manga, including Dragon Ball. Unfortunately, I can’t draw all that well. If I could meet a comic book artist who wanted to tell a story from Reverence, I’d be honored to be a part of such a project.
I’ve actually given some thought to this! After all, as I write I often listen to my favorite movie soundtracks. This helps me set the mood and envision a scene: scary might be Ennio Morricone, action-oriented Hans Zimmer, and somber along the lines of Michael Giacchino. Naturally, sometimes I envision certain faces of certain characters. The big one is Will, and for him I could see Will Smith or Denzel Washington taking the role. They are both older and can play action heroes, but all while still giving them emotional resonance. Another instacast for me is Liam Neeson as Chancellor Venloran. This is largely due to his portrayal of Ra’s al Ghul in Batman Begins (2005). He’s calm yet menacing, all without being over-the-top. One of my favorites to envision would be Jessica Chastain as Gabriella Neeson. After seeing her in Interstellar(2014), I was thoroughly convinced. She’s both gorgeous, tough as nails, and can portray a character who is anything but a damsel in distress (no thanks Cameron Diaz). Others are mind boggling. In the case of Marisol Leone, for example, it’s really hard to pin down. One of these days, I’ll sit down and sort them all out.
Julissa Marconi is finally ready to be a soldier again, and now it’s time to take on the tyrannical Chancellor Venloran. With Captain Halsey and her daughter Zaneta by her side, the resistance is the last line of defense preventing the United Nation Republic from seizing the country of Mexico. The combat will prove bloody as Venloran sends his cyborg warriors to squash all opposition. As bullets fly and bodies pile up, Julissa will be forced to consider what she’s capable of. To defeat the enemy, she may just have to become the enemy.
Welcome back to the world of the Reverence series with Voice of a Crimson Angel Part II: Poison. Witness the spark that lit the fire.
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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
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Adolf Hitler ruled Europe with an iron fist. With his political promises to desperate people, he spoke of a reign that would last 1,000 years. Under his command humanity entered a new dark age. Tales were told of horrors taking place in the East – of railroad cars, of ovens, and death. There was just one “detail” he kept to himself.
When Hitler survives an assassination attempt on his life, his secret is discovered by those in command. A secret beyond the realms of reality!
A German U-boat Captain is ordered to transport Adolf Hitler to a secret military base in Norway, during the closing days of the Second World War. While on this mission, he discovers that there is more to Germany’s “Führer” than meets the eye. To his horror, the Captain discovers the Third Reich’s darkest secret: Hitler is a vampire!
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There is never a dull moment in Humphrey Hawksley’s Man on Ice: Russia vs the USA – In Alaska. Not only is there intense action, the gripping story will keep readers glued to the pages until the story is done. This novel is carefully planned and executed in spectacular fashion and it’s hard not to feel the intensity with each sentence. We follow Rake Ozenna as he returns to his home island in Alaska with his fiancé in tow. Rake us a brilliant military veteran and Carrie Walker is a passionate doctor. The story begins with a medical concern over Rake’s niece struggling in childbirth and then explodes into a frontal assault between Russia and the United States of America some 48 hours before the inauguration of a new president.
This book explores the heighten tensions of looming war, the strain a relationship can undergo under such trying times, and the bonds that tie us to those we call family. Each of these themes is expertly crafted as if reading a biography of someone’s life. Characters change, for better or worse, but continue to develop as the story progresses. At first, it might seem overwhelming when readers realize just how intense the topics are that Hawksley is going to address. However, the humanity he affords his characters is genuine. Readers will feel an emotional connection to their fictional lives.
From start to finish Man on Ice is, I think, about risk; what is risked and what is gained. It’s a complicated matter, writing about politics, especially in such a sensitive time. There are so many people, positions, relationships to carefully lay out. Hawksley doesn’t seem to have a problem with weaving a complex narrative that is easy for readers to follow, even for those who may not be politically savvy. This is part of what makes such a great novel and shows readers what a good writer Hawksley is. the fine attention to detail is what gives away the rich research that went into this novel, and Hawksley does his best to be respectful to Eskimo culture and portray the reality these people face in the far north. He takes a hard look at the struggles these people are facing and doesn’t shy away from harsh comments on the reasons why they are in the place they are.
The pace is fast and the energy is high in Humphrey Hawksley’s Man on Ice: Russia vs the USA – In Alaska. It’s a tense situation with Russia threatening invasion while America wrestles with its new president-elect and the delicate touch that politics requires. It’s a journey of one man who has returned home for tender reasons and who leaves his home slightly broken. This book takes a look at the human condition and dances with the delicate relationships formed within. It starts off with darkness and trepidation yet a small piece of hope, only to descend into a flurry of agony and tough decisions. This is more than just a political thriller.
Pages: 224 | ASIN: B079SG2VDG
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Joshua Landeros is at it again with a sequel to his prequel series with Voice of the Crimson Angel Part II: Poison. Julissa Marconi is ready to take on the ultimate villain, Chancellor Venloran. All that stands between the United Nation Republic and Mexico is the rebels, who seek to resist the tyrannical influence of the more powerful country. This struggle will not end cleanly as Venloran deploys his cyborg soldiers, which leaves Julissa questioning if she can really stop this assault. She may have to become what she fights.
And once again Landeros hits it out of the park with this novel and there is a maturing of his prose in a way that should greatly satisfy his readers. Poison centers around the conflict, or rather, Expansion, that the United Nation Republic is forcing upon Mexico. There is a resonance here with the current events of immigration and Mexico with the US, which does not make this seem like an accident on Landeros’ part. The engagement not only of the struggle of soldiers, but of entire populaces, bumps up the stakes of what has been up until now, a waltz down memory lane to contextualize his main Reverence series.
This installment breathes new air into the series and gives the prequel series more weight going forward. In some ways the look at the national conflict tends to make the conflict become too political and the characters are lost in the back and forth, but it eventually re-centers and the story becomes an intimate tale about identity and duty.
The style of Landeros is largely unchanged aside from his deeper engagement with thematic elements helping his subtle prose along. Robert Heinlein would be proud as would Atwood with his struggle to both dignify the society he has created, and draw parallels from our world to the world of Reverence. For the science fiction reader, there may be more thriller, political drama than one is used to, but we can always count on Landeros to bring the fight to us.
In the grander scheme of his series and world building, Posion begins to show the end game that will follow, since the Expansion is only a piece to Venloran’s ongoing long game. We all know the players who are involved at this point and it’s really just seeing it all unravel. Truly, a pulse-pounding thrilling read.
Pages: 226 | ASIN: B07BNTQRTJ
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Forgotten Letters follows Robert and Makiko as they overcome many obstacles for family, love, and faith, during a tumultuous time in history. What was the inspiration for this heartfelt novel?
The inspiration for my story was a dream that I had 15 years ago. The entire story was in my dream. I did not have a recurrent dream ever again but the story was always on my mind. I would think about the story frequently but told no one about the dream for years. I then told my wife and several good friends my dream. They were spellbound and when I finished they said I should write a book. I put the project on hold for over 10 years and started to put the story on paper 4 years ago.
Robert and Makiko deep and well developed relationship. Was there relationship planned or did it develop organically while writing?
Robert and Makiko’s relationship was always part of my dream. As the book developed so did their relationship change. I had several beta readers help make very good suggestions during to project. In fact we added a few sentences to the book just before printing that solidified their relationship.
You wrote this book with Mario Acevedo. What was the writing collaboration like?
Mario Acevedo is a very talented and professional author who has produced a number of very good books. To name a few “Werewolf Smackdown, Blood Business, Rescue From Planet Pleasure” and many more. Mario was very easy to work with and has a wonderful imagination. Mario and I worked very well together and I thank him so much for all his input.
This book was able to get many historical and biblical details correct. What kind of research did you undertake for this book?
The research we did was a great deal of fun and good learning experience. For a majority of the facts we used Google but we each relied on our military backgrounds to help with those facts. In the beginning of my dream there was a big earthquake in Japan early 1900’s. I thought Japan always has earthquakes so I did research for that time period . I found that in 1923 the “Great Kanto“ earthquake destroyed both Tokyo and Yokohama with shaking and fires. The fires were started by the open hibachi stoves in most houses at that time.
Remember three things when reading Forgotten Letters a spider, baseball and birthmark. These three items will be introduced at the beginning of the story and again introduced later on. I think the reader will smile at reading each of the words again.
A trove of forgotten letters reveals a love that defied a world war.
In 1924, eight-year old Robert Campbell accompanies his missionary parents to Japan where he befriends a young Makiko Asakawa. Robert enjoys his life there, but the dark tides of war are rising, and it won’t be long before foreigners are forced to leave Japan.
Torn from the people Robert has come to think of as family, he stays in contact by exchanging letters with Makiko, letters that soon show their relationship is blossoming into something much more than friendship.
The outbreak of total war sweeps all before it, and when correspondence ends with no explanation, Robert fears the worst. He will do anything to find Makiko, even launch himself headfirst into a conflict that is consuming the world. Turmoil and tragedy threaten his every step, but no risk is too great to prove that love conquers all.
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In the distant future, religion is against the law, and the Earth is a war-torn world ruled by an insane United Nations. All military forces are put on high alert when an ex-bishop of the outlawed “Catholic Church” decides to steal an artifact called “The Shroud of Turin” to help save the Earth from herself. He claims to have the power to use the cloth to help bring about “The Second Coming” – but what’s even more terrifying: he might just do it!
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The art and science of manipulation has been formally and informally studied and dissected a countless number of times.
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