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Into War Games, Into Community, Into the Army

Into war games, into community, into the army (HEARING OTHERS’ VOICES Book 26) by [Christophe Finnegan]

Into War Games, Into Community, Into the Army by Christophe Finnegan is an introspective memoir about how his love for board games in the war/military genre led to the author enlisting in the army. This reflective memoir explores how war games can shape a persons way of thinking, in beneficial ways if one joins the army, but also in other aspects of critical thinking and planning. This book has certainly gave me a different perspective of war games and I see them now as much more than simple games. They create a mindset and fosters skills that include observation, analysis, interpretation, reflection, evaluation, problem solving and decision making. Readers are also treated to a robust description of the community surrounding these war games.

Into War Games, Into Community, Into the Army opens like a novel in the thriller genre, or a suspense story; but when the authors stop arrives, it quickly changes its pacing into a more fun and casual narrative that is equally engaging.

What I enjoyed most about this book was how prevalent the authors passion about the subject is. It is semi-biographical, semi-informational, but completely absorbing. We get to learn about author Christophe Finnegan, what led to him joining the military, his time in the military, the war games community and gaming culture. All this packed within a book that is less than one hundred pages.

The book is packed with information and I found most of it to be very interesting, most of it new to me, but still accessible. I think the reason for the memoirs success is the way in which Christophe Finnegan is able to relate the games community to his own life experiences. It’s in this relationship that this book shines. Christophe Finnegan without war games would not be the same Christophe Finnegan. This is what I take away from this sharp and revealing book.

Into War Games, Into Community, Into the Army is an exceptional memoir of a unique man, living a unique life, that is relatable and thoroughly absorbing.

Pages: 67 | ASIN: B088ZR2B7L

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Tentoria

Tentoria by [Sorin Banu]

In Sorin Banu’s epic dystopian science fiction novel, man creates a group of human-like cyborgs called Tentorians to end a new world war in the 22nd century. From that point onwards, the Tentorians grow and morph into power-hungry killing machines. They pose a threat to all around them and end up being forcefully ejected from their first settlement by an alliance of nations of the earth. These Tentorians then proceed to create a sovereign state called Tentoria. Here, a new leader envisions a future marked by peaceful coexistence between Tentorians and the rest of mankind. But some powerful Tentorians would have none of that. These rebels set their sights on forcefully taking over the otherworldly Island as their new home. In a series of revealing and riveting events, Cole, a 27-year old Islander, a surprising ally and the Island’s authorities try to protect this unique piece of land. But how will this end? Will the soulless cyborgs seize the last place on earth where people could truly live as humans?

Sorin Banu pings us between the 21st and the 25th centuries as he tells a story of a fallen world. He  artfully illustrates what the earth might look like in the 25th century based on man’s hunger to continually tinker with technology. Banu’s fictional future is marked by stunning advancements in the development of artificial intelligence. But he doesn’t just create futuristic innovations many already envision; he shows us where such breakthroughs could lead humanity.

In this book, Banu suggests that man’s technological creations could come back to haunt him. According to Banu we could end up creating real-life terminators that would later turn on us. But the problem could even run deeper. We could lose our essence as humans.

To drive home his point, he uses an intriguing story line to highlight the things that make us human and how technology could take them away from us. And this wouldn’t be because we created cyborgs to fight our wars. It would be because we’d become overly attached to technology. As we seek greater control and improved solutions, nature’s imprints on our lives will slowly fade away.

The book’s central theme was just one of the many things that thrilled me. Amongst those other things was how Banu weaved the story. I could easily follow the plot even though the author was going back and forth in time. He was also smart enough to insert gaps that kept me guessing and coming up with plausible theories. Also, the characters were relatable, and I could share their emotions.

The book engages your mind, challenges you to reassess some values and appreciate both the limitations and privileges of being human.

Pages: 352 | ASIN: B07QF59Y92

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In the Realm of Ash and Sorrow

In the Realm of Ash and Sorrow was a unique historical fiction novel colored with themes of guilt, sorrow and suffering over all that had been lost. Although this was a very emotional novel, it wasn’t all negative emotions, it also had happiness, romance, and a (possible) love like no other, mixed in with some supernatural elements and fantastical hints of history. The story caught my attention in the first couple of pages, remaining consistently entertaining throughout with only rare moments that seemed to slow a bit due to necessary exposition. The detail throughout the book is absorbing and really pulls you into 1940’s Japan. When it came time for the atomic bomb to drop I could see the horror surrounding Micha as he searched for Kyomi, the burning bodies that he came across and the fear that he would never find her or Ai. I could visualize most every scene, which is something I truly appreciated in a novel that covered such a cataclysmic event that reshaped human history.

While Kyomi’s character was interesting I wanted to see more of her personality. Her character seemed monotone at first, but after awhile her character began to grow on me just as she developed in the novel. I liked Micah from the first page, I’m not sure if that’s because he was the first character introduced to me or because I could empathize with him, perhaps it’s because I felt bad for him after the plane crashed. I liked Ai’s character from the beginning as well, children are always fun characters and Ai was no exception. The three of them together made for a great read with interesting interactions and I liked some of the other spirits that they came across along their travels.

Something that made me enjoy the book even more was how the author used the actual terms used by the Japanese such as calling the military Kempeitai instead of using one of our military terms like Army, Navy, Coast Guard, etc. This happens frequently throughout the book which showed me that the author did thorough research for this book and it also helped me learn a few terms. This is an example of the authors dedication to historical detail in this book. Something that I praise the author for is the way that this novel helps you see different points of view from the American and Japanese sides in World War 2. It is also an exploration of Japanese culture at an interesting time in their history. It covers how the Japanese lived, their culture, their work, routines, the hardships they face and much more. I really loved having bits of history weaved into the pages and the way it gave me a new insight. History and fiction meld seamlessly in this novel to deliver a captivating story.

Pages: 344 | ASIN: B083Q4WRPD

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Universal Human Elements

Miles Watson Author Interview

Miles Watson Author Interview

Sinner’s Cross is a gritty look at WWII and the toll it took on a group of soldiers. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?

When I was much younger, I read a book by Charles Whiting called The Battle of the Huertgen Forest. It read just like a novel, and provided a horrifying, unrelenting look at this massive battle which killed 26,000 men, which somehow I had never heard of. I gradually began to understand that the reason the Huertgen Forest Campaign was unknown to the American public was because it neither began nor ended well, and saw many lives lost for very little return. It seemed tragic to me that only men who died in “glorious” battles are remembered or honored the way they ought to be. I wanted to tell their story, but in a way that concentrated on the universal human elements.

Each of your characters were well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?

All of them had their pleasures and their pains. The emotional arcs of Breese and Zenger were rather tough for me to write because they were suffering so much — Breese from fear, Zenger from doubt. Halleck was fun because he is so tough, but also so taciturn that all of his emotions are beneath the surface. Sinner’s Cross is a WW2 story, but Halleck is a classic Old West cowboy at heart. Anyone who says writing cowboys ain’t fun is lying to you.

I enjoyed how historically accurate this book is. What kind of research did you undertake to ensure the books authenticity?

I’m a history buff, have a degree in history, and possess an immense library of books on WW2, including a collection of material printed during the war by both America and Germany. Whenever I needed information, that was where I started.

However, I am of the opinion that if you want to read a genuine account of a battle, that’s what history books are for. Novels are there to put you inside the experience, and the best way to make situations real is to nail the small details — what type of tobacco the Germans smoked, what type of music the Americans listened to, what happens when a hundred pounds of high explosives hits a tree at supersonic speed. I am very proud to say that I’ve had veterans of the Army and Marines both, guys who fought in wars from Vietnam to Iraq, congratulate me on getting the atmosphere right.

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

I like to write in every genre, and right now I’m trying to finish an epic horror novel I’ve been toiling on for 2 1/2 years. I have several months of work ahead of me just to finish the first draft, so it’s anyone’s guess when it will see the light of day. However, the sequel to Sinner’s Cross is in the final drafting process as I write this, and I intend to release it in October of this year.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Sinner's Cross: A Novel of the Second World War by [Miles Watson]In 1944, Sinner’s Cross was just a point on a map: a muddy track through shell-torn German woods. Worthless…except to the brass on both sides of the war, who are willing to sacrifice their best men to have it. Men like Halleck, a tough-as-nails Texan who traded driving cattle for driving soldiers; Breese, a phenomenal actor who can play any part but hero; and Zenger, the Nazi paratrooper who discovers Hitler’s Germany is a lousy place to grow a conscience. Their lives and deaths will intersect at the place called Sinner’s Cross.

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Sinner’s Cross

Sinner's Cross: A Novel of the Second World War by [Miles Watson]

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 Poseidon Network

The Poseidon Network by [Kathryn Gauci]

The year is 1942 and the world is knee-deep in the Second World War. The world is split with countries taking sides to either fight from the Axis Powers or the Allied Powers. The Allied Powers had risen up to ward off and halt the growing plague of Germans, Italians and Japanese- the Axis Powers- who decided that their countries’ original boundaries were too small. The latter, led by Mussolini, Hitler and the Emperor, had gone on a rampage annexing countries through bloody and violent take-overs. It is within this orchestra of madness we find ourselves in a hot, sunny and sandy city of Cairo in Egypt in Kathryn Gauci’s The Poseidon Network.

The Poseidon Network throws readers into a scintillating world of love, betrayal, murder and war. In this fast-paced and intricately written novel, we see the world from the point of view of Hadley, a British spy working for the Special Operations Executive, commissioned by Churchill, and holding a cover as a newspaper correspondent. His cover is essential to keep him alive in these dangerous times where Egypt is teaming with Greeks, Germans, Italians, Arabs and Britons- all with different vested interests in the ongoing war. It was a dangerous time for sleuths. The Greeks were rooting for the victory of their countrymen against the Nazi back in Greece with a few undesirable characters supporting the enemy of their people. The British were, on the other hand, preventing the imminent occupation of Egypt by the Italians. It is during this time, in his usual foregoing, that Hadley chances upon a creature of mesmerizing beauty, dark haired and enshrouded in attractive mystery. At this point the book picks up a quick pace that kept me on edge with suspense. Would he get to talk to her? Does she eventually fall in love with our ‘good ol’ boy’, Mr. Hadley? Then suddenly a girl is found dead on the banks of the Nile. Is it our mystery girl?

The cover, with sepia pictures of a lady, a sleuth and soldiers, done in a minimalistic style, I think accurately represents the style and period in which this engaging story is told. Once you are a few pages in, you come across Kathryn Gauci’s foreword informing you that the book is a fictional account of real events that occurred during the World War II. True to her word, the book is pin point accurate on the dates and times, events and certain people that were significantly involved in the war. The author has done impeccable research and uses it to colorize and energize this historical romance novel that invites readers into a globe-trotting mystery that is easy to grasp but hard to crack.

Pages: 360 | ASIN: B07ZJJ1NG8

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As They Struggled to Survive

Robert Saniscalchi Author Interview

Robert Saniscalchi Author Interview

Bullets and Bandages: Bond of Brothers is a thrilling action story following the true stories of a Vietnam veteran. What inspired you to write a book about Rob and his comrades?

This book was inspired by my older brother Patrick’s stories about his tour in Vietnam. Through his words, I was given a unique insight into what it was like for our men and the bond that grows between them as they struggled to survive.

The book is inspired by true events. What were some things you wanted to keep accurate and what were some things you took creative liberties with?

I tried to keep the battle scenes and the military logistics as close to his words as possible. Some of the non-combat scenes are from my own experiences growing up in that time in our history.

This was an overall a heartening story of friendship and faith. What were some driving ideals that guided your writing?

My love of country, my pride in my brother and our military motivated me; I had a story and it needed to be told.

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

I have a new thriller just out, and available titled Butterfly Lake. I also plan on continuing the Bond of Brothers line, with a new book about the war on Terrorism and the men and women who defend us from this evil threat.

Author Links: Twitter | Goodreads | FacebookAuthor’s Website

Bullets and Bandages: Bond of Brothers by [Robert Saniscalchi, Autumn Conley, Matt McAvoy]Raw and Powerful! Bullets and Bandages, was inspired by the true stories of a US Army Field Medic, Vietnam 68-69. Through those stories, the author was given the unique insight into the Bullets and Bandages of war. Parts of this book are also about the author’s own experiences, and that time period in our history. The trails and victories of Rob and his comrades pull you into a world of survival through willpower, tenacity, and wit. Bullets and Bandages, a story of love, faith, friendship and humanity. What was it like for our military, and their time of war, as they fought together to survive in the Jungles of Vietnam.

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Centuries Old Prophecy

David Crane Author Interview

David Crane Author Interview

Planet of Men follows Blackwood as he seeks the Heart of the Sun in an underground labyrinth protected by ancient monsters. Where did you want to take this novel that was different from book one?

Book One was designed to deal with Professor Peter Blackwood’s introduction to the world of planet Enigma, where he was delivered against his will by the powerful and mysterious alien intelligence, able to snatch the ships from hyperspace and use their crews for its strange and often dangerous experiments in human condition and survival. In the first book, Peter Blackwood becomes a stranger in the strange land, where he is forced to survive and adapt to the new environment until he gets to know the locals, the descendants of the people captured and exiled to planet Enigma centuries ago. In Book Two, informed by both the red cloud and the local rebels against the ruling tyrannical supermen, Blackwood once again has to go against his will to become a chosen messiah to fulfill the centuries old prophecy and eventually accepts this mantle in order to bring justice to the people he likes and wants to protect.

I enjoyed the imagination behind the weapons and battle methods used. What is your writing process like to come up with these ideas?

I am a huge fan of military history, and when I was working on the Book Two, I was inspired by the weapons and battle tactics used by the great generals from the ancient times to the present. My writing process included the detailed study of the applied military tactics depending on the situations Peter Blackwood has found himself in. In the book, Blackwood is not only a scholar, but also a former Space Marine officer with many years of experience in the field. I knew that this combination of knowledge and experience would greatly assist him in his survival and eventual defeat of his enemies who are very powerful and posses a great destructive potential. While working on this novel, I was trying to apply martial arts and military strategies of many talented battlefield commanders. There were three main principles of strategy and tactics that remain true from the ancient times to the present: concentration of force, deception and knowledge of the terrain. My greatest influence for this novel came from the Sun Tzu’s Art of War, which is still considered one of the greatest books on strategy and tactics ever written.

What were some surprising reader reactions you’ve had to book one, Planet of Gods?

Authors are often surprised by their reader’s reaction to their work, especially when the readers are introduced to the sequels. I was surprised a few times when some of my readers said that they had no idea which book they liked the most first or second. I realize that the readers have expectations, and many of them are realistic. Some of my fans were saddened by the death of Sachiko Nomura, while others have told me that as a main protagonist, Peter Blackwood could not love two women who were both dear to him and would have to make a choice. I was also surprised by the reader’s mentioning comic books and how my novel reads as a graphic novel where the readers have to visualize what is happening and imagine what the characters might look like form my descriptions. I do enjoy to surprise my readers when I can, whether by a plot twist or a powerful dramatic event that influences their feelings. Many readers get attached to certain characters and are sad to let them go, even if their sacrifice was necessary. I do get surprised a few times when I read novels written by other authors. Most of them are pleasant!

What can readers expect in book three in the Enigma series?

The Enigma series was planned as a two book series which clearly defined storyline, plot and structure. Initially, I considered to write it as a singe novel without breaking it into two parts. Back in 2013, when I was working on the first draft, I did not consider myself sufficiently experienced author to attempt the creation of a singular large novel in excess of four hundred pages. Breaking the storyline into two parts gave me enough space to maneuver without being overwhelmed. In the second installment of the Enigma series, Peter Blackwood fulfills the wishes of the mysterious alien red cloud, defeats the evil overlords and finds love of a beautiful woman on the planet he has come to love. Book Two marks the decisive and ultimately happy end for the main protagonist for everything he has endured. I am currently working on another science fiction novel whose main character is inspired by that of Peter Blackwood. Working on both novels was a great fun!

Author Links: Goodreads | Facebook | Website | Amazon

Planet of Men (Enigma Book 2) by [David Crane]

Professor Peter Blackwood has managed to escape the wrath of the powerful overlords. Brought back from the edge of death by the red cloud and assisted by the rebel smugglers, he finds refuge on exotic Freedom Island. Protected by the island’s magical soil that turns overlords into mortals, Blackwood should feel safe. But he cannot hide there forever.

Overlord Empress Yuka Sato and her chief henchman Edward Grant are preparing a massive invasion of Freedom Island. Torn between his love for his overlord mentor and lover Sachiko Nomura, and strong-willed and fierce tribal warrior Lita Sandir, Blackwood finds a new source of spiritual and physical strength to complete his mission. Now he is more than a man; he is a living and enduring symbol of revolution….

As the fate of planet Enigma hangs in the balance, Blackwood must fight for survival and the lives of all he holds dear. Deep under the island’s surface, inside an underground labyrinth protected by monsters of ancient legend, Blackwood must find and unleash the Heart of the Sun, an ancient super weapon that will end the rule of the overlords forever.

It’s time for Blackwood to finish the game and reveal his true destiny.

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