The Warramunga’s War is a book that follows the Australian Army’s advances in the Middle East and Egypt. The main character, Jamie, is saved by an officer Jacko, who’s half aborigine warramunga. The book leads the reader through an adventure with Jamie and Jacko in the forefront, as they conduct counterespionage and work with real historical figures. They form a close friendship and work together to solve various missions. During their stay in Cairo, Jack and Jamie manage to work against German spies and continue the war effort onto their home turf after their job is done in Egypt. Jacko’s skills come into play near the final leg of the duo’s journey, needing to track down two wartime German Agents in West Australia.
The author describes events in vivid detail throughout the book. Greg Kater ensures the reader is taken through an action filled adventure full of twists, turns, and suspense with lighthearted moments throughout to provide moments of respite. One of these moments was at the beginning, where Jamie was unconscious and had a humorous moment with Jacko and a French nurse. The author also shows ample character development with our duo, showing how they evolve both in strength of friendship and their synergy with each other. They grow as friends and evolve to become better soldiers as well, and this evolution was something that was consistently interesting to me. I felt the part where Jamie develops a romance with someone added depth and emotion to an already well developed character. They seem to gain some level of experience from who they work with as well. Speaking of those people, the author’s level of dedication to research shows as well, with many areas being accurately described. The people he represents in the book are true to their original character and accomplishments.
While I enjoyed the narrative and the characters, I felt that the pacing, was inconsistent and sometimes abrupt. There is a part in the book where we’re zoomed into the future, which threw me off. Other than that small issue, The Warramunga’s War is an amazing read which shows a lot of spirit and has a unique take on old events.
Pages: 324 | ASIN: B07NJZFVJX
Lluava has horrifying nightmares that keep her from resting. In those very real and vivid dreams, she feels she will surely meet with her own death. Life for Lluava is every bit as harrowing and challenging as the dreams that plague her. At the tender age of eighteen, Lluava is chasing Therimorphs and fighting the elements of winter. Her heightened senses are the only thing keeping her going. She feels, she thinks, and she sees much more deeply than any other human. To complicate matters, her dual form isn’t exactly in her favor. Lluava seems to have everything and everyone against her.
Crocotta’s Hackles, by Katharine Wibell, is the third book in the Incarn series. With a complex plot spanning the series, Wibell offers readers yet another peek into Lluava’s life. Hers is a dual world; she lives two very different lives and struggles to maintain a solid balance between the two. When she and Apex find themselves in the middle of Leucrocotta, and isolated Theriomorph civilization, they are both overwhelmed with the possibilities that there may be others like it.
This fantasy adventure by Wibell breaks into areas seemingly unexplored by other novels in the same genre. The dual forms experienced by the main characters make for a truly interesting reading experience. Wibell’s characters are thoroughly developed and even secondary characters are given engaging scenes and dialogue that makes them easy to visualize. Truth be told, I am as taken with Wibell’s secondary characters as I am her cast of primary players. There is just something about the way she introduces each character to the plot that makes them easy to visualize.
One of the most enthralling aspects of Wibell’s novel is the point of view provided readers as they watch Lluava function in her dual form. It is a unique perspective and gives readers the opportunity to see her operate as an animal as she voices her thoughts as a human. Not many authors are able to pull this type of character development off without losing readers’ interest, but Wibell has written well-rounded characters and kept amazing consistency from one book to the next in this saga.
The gods, as described in Crocotta’s Hackles, are quite the entities. I am not always intrigued by books that have a mythical feel, but Crocotta’s Hackles portrays gods as less than holy and much more meddlesome and vengeful. This, in and of itself, makes Crocotta’s Hackles an engaging read. The havoc they wreak on Lluava’s life is no small part of the book’s plot and makes the main character’s predicament all the more challenging.
Fans of the fantasy genre will find Wibell’s work a welcome change to the vast majority of books currently available. A far as the saga itself goes, Crocotta’s Hackles is the most intensely focused of the three books. Readers who choose to explore Lluava’s dual worlds will not be disappointed.
Pages: 320 | ASIN: B07L1DLXBD
In The Final Wars Rage: Book 2 Bastien finds himself in danger once again and the deposed cyborg queen still lives. What were some new ideas you wanted to explore in this book that were different from book one?
I explore the following three ideas in this book:
1) The concept of redemption is addressed through Bastien Lyons. He ends book one and starts book two as a monster, one ravaged by guilt for the destruction of New Paris. The Final Wars Rage is partly his journey towards correcting his deviated moral compass and better understanding his strained relationship with the memory of Father Paul (and God by extension).
2) What does it mean to be human? Is existence only possible through flesh and blood, or are there other mediums that can allow consciousness to continue? The idea of transcending physical limitations to become something more is a core theme of this book – I don’t want to give away too much, though. Folks will just have to read the book 🙂
3) Cutting-edge technologies can have unintended consequences. In our world, the best example is social media. Who would have ever thought when logging into Friendster or MySpace back in the early to mid-2000s, that one day these applications’ successors (Facebook & Twitter) would wreak havoc on human psychology and political systems. In the world of Bastien Lyons, it’s the green fogs that helped ravage Earth, the AI entity, High Council which took over Port Sydney, and Alic… err… can’t give away too much.
This is an intriguing novel that is high in social commentary. Was this intentional or did this happen organically while writing?
Intentional. Writing, irrespective of genre and theme, presents an excellent opportunity to shine a spotlight on humanity, in my opinion. When a story effectively addresses more than its immediate characters and plot points, it can be very satisfying.
If Hollywood came knocking who would you cast as your main characters?
I’d strive for cultural authenticity, so here’s my list:
- Bastien Lyons – Stanley Weber
- Belle Dubois – Léa Seydoux
- Marie Dubois – Eva Green
- Frank Crone – Hugh Jackman
- Reo Honda – Ryo Yoshizawa
- Alice Smith – Margot Robbie
Are you working on book three in the Final Wars series?
Yes – trying to aim for early next year. Folks can sign up for my mailing list to keep in the loop here: SAwritesSF.com
BASTIEN LYONS CAN’T MOVE ON WITH HIS LIFE, AND THAT MIGHT KILL HIM.
Despite escaping to the moon’s Nippon One colony with a new identity after a failed effort to save New Paris from destruction, he finds himself amidst danger again. The brutal world of the twenty-third century has dark plans. Parisian ruins send shockwaves through the remaining two civilizations of the solar system, Nippon One and the Port Sydney colony on Mars, shaking the tenuous peace between them. Bastien understands political tensions all too well and knows something terrible is about to happen. Trade wars erupt to signal deeper conflicts to come. Pirates lash out in revenge at Port Sydney for wiping out Parisian euphoria drug factories. Yakuza wage gang wars to control the remaining euphoria on Nipponese streets. If that wasn’t enough…
MARIE DUBOIS LIVES, AND HER SURVIVAL THREATENS HUMANITY.
The deposed cyborg queen has escaped the destruction of her New Paris, and Martian General Frank Crone recognizes her menace could rip apart the fragile peace. His digital overlords, an AI construct that enforces treaties, cannot learn she’s alive and ready to return to mayhem. He’ll do whatever it takes to rid the world of the defrocked demagogue before she is discovered, even if it means tilting his moral compass. Frank’s deadly goal not only demands the skills of his petri-dish humanoid Lieutenant General Alice Smith and the Nipponese royal police chief Reo Honda, it also needs an outside killer. Bastien wants to stay alive by staying away from that work and far from Marie. But he needs to rescue civilization in a world where…
THE FINAL WARS RAGE.
Sergeant James Alexander and his crew have cheated death. Where they landed when they abandoned their plane isn’t nearly as important as the century they landed in. Small things around them begin to add up very quickly as they try desperately to acclimate themselves to their surroundings only to find themselves left with more questions than answers. As they venture out, they begin to meet more and more people with weapons unlike their own who are not in any way fearful of the soldiers. One thing leads to another and Alexander’s crew begins to realize they have fallen into the past with no foreseeable escape.
The Last Mission of the Seventh Cavalry by Charley Brindley tells the tale of a group of soldiers bound for Afghanistan when fate intervenes with a plan none of them could have predicted. Brindley’s cast of characters is unique, and their banter, despite their extreme circumstances, is refreshing and engaging. The dynamic between characters feels true to life, and their exchanges mimic genuine relationships between coworkers.
There is no lack of action in Brindley’s work. From the first chapter, his characters are entrenched in a battle to understand their situation that moves quickly into a battle for their lives. Readers who appreciate well-drawn fight sequences and intricately described battle scenes, will appreciate Brindley’s work.
Cover to cover, the characters’ reactions to their surroundings and the people they encounter serve as a wonderful contrast to the time period in which they have found themselves. Brindley throws in the perfect number of references to modern technology in juxtaposition to the primitive weapons and lack of simple things we take for granted such as calendars and clocks. Consistency is key in books of this genre, and Brindley manages that with ease.
One of the most endearing aspects of Brindley’s cast of characters is the compassion shown by Alexander’s crew during a time of war. Characters one might expect to be brash and full of cold reactions in time of war are actually tenderhearted and loving. Their desire to tend to the injured and not only assist the wounded but provide genuine comfort is captivating. These traits add another layer to the already engaging characters.
History buffs will enjoy Brindley’s work. The author has gone to great lengths to include historically accurate information in his writing. Watching as the inhabitants of the past experience bits and pieces of the future is as fascinating as it is entertaining.
Rarely does one find a truly perfect blend of past and present, but Brindley has given just that to his readers. Memorable characters wrapped in a unique story line make for one fantastic read and lay the groundwork for what I hope are more books with Alexander’s crew.
Pages: 473 | ASIN: B07N6K1DRZ
The Final Wars Rage: Book 2 is a thrilling and intriguing science fiction book that will make you fall in love with the author’s mind. The book is the second novel in ‘The Final Wars’ trilogy. One of the most stimulating things in how the author writes is how keep makes your mind occupied throughout the book. I was always kept at the edge of my seat waiting for the next, sure to come, plot twist. S. A. Asthana showcases their creativity and imagination in this book, creating some of the characters so adeptly that I became attached to them. The book does not start with intense action, but rather a slow and simple introduction that prepared me for the events that were to follow.
Bastien Lyons had escaped from the filthy and unforgiving streets of New Paris to live on the moon colony Nippon One. Bastien had chosen a different identity. But even with the new identity, he is still in danger. It was a shame that even with all the efforts, Bastien could not afford to save New Paris from getting damaged. The shockwaves of the damaged civilization were spreading through the solar system. I appreciated the palpable friction between the two. The damage was bigger than all could have imagined.
Bastien is prudent and sharp-eyed in his own unique ways. He could see the tension and was aware that something terrible and destructive was bound to happen. Profession wars occurred, thus indicating the possibility of extreme and intense battles. Pirates hit back to avenge the elimination of Parisian euphoria drug factories and gangs. The Yakuza started wars to be in charge of what is left on Nipponese streets. Meanwhile, cyborg queen Marie Dubois survived on. All of this goes to show how deep the backstory goes, and how intricately all of these different ideas interweave in a captivating way that kept me glued to the pages.
The Final Wars Rage: Book 2 places you in a dystopian world where anything is possible. The technology combined with Japanese culture, war, Artificial Intelligence, violence and belligerence in characters made the book a unique read that is high in social comentary. The conversations between allies and enemy camps were entertaining. S. A. Asthana has written a book that will leave science fiction fans yearning for more.
Pages: 313 | ASIN: B07WV5ZRWM
Michelle Reagan, alias Eden, is a CIA covert operator who conducts secret missions all over the world, and does what only a few can: take away someone’s life without getting caught. But having an undercover profession like this is not easy. Michelle works hard to be successful and gain the recognition of her boss and colleagues while trying to maintain a personal life and relationship. Every day, Michelle has to live with a burden, the moral consequences of killing innocent people. But can she handle it without going insane? And can she succeed and stay alive in this dangerous, male-dominated career?
The Confessions of Eden by Scott Shinberg is by far the best espionage thriller I have read this year: rich in action, danger, and unexpected turns. The plot is made up of Michelle’s reminiscences. This novel serves as her memoir in which she tells her story. The missions mentioned in the book are gripping and adventurous and filled with dangerous events. I liked the way the short stories and the descriptions of the missions came after each other and, despite the time gaps, there was no break in the story line, everything just falls into place to create a bigger story.
Michelle Reagan is an ambitious, hard-working agent, or assassin, who grows more confident as the story progresses. At first, she suffers from the psychological consequences of killing someone whose only fault is to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, but then, as her character develops and transforms from Michelle into Eden, she learns how to handle it. Her boss Michael and her two colleagues play an important role in Michelle’s life, and I appreciated how they supported her character development and I felt like they bring out another dimension to her character which really rounds her out. Because Michelle’s private life is built upon lies, she has difficulties finding and keeping a partner without getting exposed. This contrast between personal and private lives is something that I found intriguing and well balanced in this book.
Scott Shinberg is a talented author who can make you feel like you are in the middle of a CIA office with undercover agents. He catches the reader’s attention with the very first sentence and holds it right to the end. I look forward to reading the next Michelle Reagan novel.
Pages: 333 | ASIN: B07PTPHTXS
Die to Live Again is a story about Tanya, a young woman whose existence becomes a perpetual question when the world faces nuclear destruction. She is one of the lucky few who survive and for a time she is housed in one of the pre-prepared military shelters. This arrangement does not last. She goes from being a preferred informant for a budding dictator to an outcast, left to survive off the contaminated wasteland. For a while she has Jack, her boyfriend with her. This also does not last as two humans are no match for the unfiltered aftermath of nuclear destruction. Jack dies and she finds herself transformed but surviving. Soon enough Tanya realizes the existence of humanity is under threat and it is up to the survivors to decide what new Earth looks like, this time, with mother nature paving the way.
David Crane combines post-apocalyptic confusion and political drama in some exciting ways in this captivating book. Although most of the action takes place on the American mainland, we still get a glimpse of what happened around the world. This perspective was a very interesting take and political drama lovers will undoubtedly find it engaging. All of this balances well with the friction between nature and scientific input. There is even a religious aspect that is explored. These aspects are the underpinnings of human existence, and I felt that the spiritual inclusion added an intriguing dimension to this novel. The combination of politics, science and religion makes for a possibly overwhelming experience but I felt that it was balances just enough to never become too much. Additionally, although there are several drastic turning points throughout the novel, they are rarely, if ever, predictable.
Although this is a well written novel, I felt that there were some inconsistencies in the timeline, and a few things seemed too unrealistic. I would have liked the buildup and explanations of occurrences to be more robust.
Overall, this is a fantastically engaging novel that I found to be both interesting and entertaining; both things I’m starting to associate with David Crane novels.
Pages: 334 | ASIN: B00FZW20AQ
Left for Dead at Nijmegen follows the extraordinary true story of an American paratrooper in WWII and the challenges he faced to survive in enemy hands. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this biography?
In 2014 I was in the process of drafting a series of WW II first person “remembrance pieces” for a WW II publication. I came upon Gene Metcalfe while researching the subject and drove out to interview him. By the end of the first interview, which ran more than five hours, I knew I had a story that needed to be told in a hard-bound, full-length book.
Life interfered and I was unable to pick up again until the summer of 2017. A publisher, Casemate Publishers, in response to my query, stated an interest in Gene’s story. Gene was all for it so I transcribed my tapes and re-wrote all of my notes into a book outline and began researching. In October, 2017, Gene and I commenced twice weekly meetings. I learned his sense of humor, his views on life and the War and many other aspects of his personality.
I researched every facet of what he relayed to me, and quite a bit more. I found it necessary to read the 1968 biography of Heinrich Himmler “Himmler” (Roger Manvell and Heinrich Frankel) as well as “The Private Heinrich Himmler” (Katrin Himmler and Michael Wildt.) I expended in excess of 2,000 hours piecing together Gene’s story.
As an aside, there is reference to a castle in one of the chapters. I could find no trace of it until I found it was actually referenced in Himmler’s biography. I have a “no stone unturned” research philosophy.
Observing Gene as he described grisly details of his experiences and proceeded to explain how humor got him through the ordeal impressed me. His sketches have a humorous flair too, as one can see from those he drew for the book. I will admit there was more than one time he had me on the edge of my chair, even when I was hearing the story for the 8th time.
The war was a series of ups and downs, sometimes happening in a dizzyingly fast sequence. Gene found it to be a matter of bending to the flow of events or being overwhelmed and succumbing.
I intentionally set out to write a book that conveyed the essence of Gene Metcalfe. In my opinion it was the best approach to truly convey what, and how, he experienced WW II.
The historical accuracy was exceptional in this, even down to the smallest detail. What kind of research did you undertake to write this book?
I read three books, including one book that focused only on the Nijmegen aspect of Market Garden. I researched US Army debriefing reports of POW’s and information on every base where Gene was stationed. I also read after-action reports.
I am a researcher by trade. Along the way I accumulated an entire box of print-outs. What pleased me the most was coming across the most rare and perfectly timed photo possible, the encounter with two older German soldiers. It took me six months to get permission to use the photo. The uniformed Dutch guide in the photo apparently did the “dirty work” and is the man who disappeared before the combat patrol encountered the tank. Mike, the bazooka-man, was carrying a bag of hand-grenades as in the rush to jump from the plane he left his bazooka rockets on the floor.
I understand that your “intention was to convey the essence of” Eugene Metcalfe. What were some important ideas or themes you felt were important to convey to readers about Gene?
I felt it important to provide Gene’s background as the basis for better understanding who he was and why he was/is that man. The fact he was an only child, but “not my mom’s favorite” played a large part in the formation of his personality. He was on his own.
He was talented as an artist and musician and is gifted with the ability to draw or paint anyone or anything he has come into contact with. The sketches in the book, though produced by Gene in 2018, are accurate reproductions from 1944-45.
I wasted little time in establishing his sense of humor. Without it, Gene would not have survived and there would not have been a Left for Dead at Nijmegen.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Nannini: Midnight Flight to Nuremberg, from the coal mines of Pennsylvania to the Explosive Skies of Nazi Occupied Europe in my next WW II biography and is ready to go. In this new book I actually spent weekends at the subject’s home interviewing him. I anticipate it will be considered to be at least as good as Left for Dead at Nijmegen and is jammed with photos, some of which have never before seen print.
I am in the process of placing Midnight Flight and, and four additional books, with an appropriate publishing house. If all goes as planned, I will have two new books on the market next year.
Left for Dead at Nijmegen recalls the larger-than-life experiences of an American paratrooper, Gene Metcalfe, who served in the 82nd Airborne during WWII. From his recruitment into the military at Camp Grant to his training with the 501st Paratroop Infantry Regiment at Camp Toccoa, it wasn’t until D-Day itself that he first arrived in England to join the 508th PIR.
When Metcalfe boarded the C-47 which would drop him at Groesbeek Heights, just outside of Nijmegen, Holland, he was handed a box of twelve dozen condoms by an over-confident British lieutenant. He was to be among the first to jump into what should have been a picture-book meadow, free of German troops. Instead, it was defended by three German anti-aircraft cannon emplacements.
As he jumped into a hail of bullets and exploding shells he watched his plane roll over and plummet into the ground. It was at that moment he realized the condoms had either been a bad joke or the planners of Operation Market Garden had seriously underestimated German resistance. Gene was listed as KIA and left for dead by his patrol, who presumed the worst when they saw his injuries from a shell explosion.
The rest of his story is equally gripping, as he became a POW held outside Munich, being moved between various camps ridden with disease and a severely undernourished population. Eventually, after making an escape attempt and being captured within sight of the snow-capped Swiss mountains, his camp was liberated by American troops in April 1945.
Gene’s story is both remarkable for his highly unusual encounter, and his subsequent experiences.
Avenge the Silenced picks up where we left off after the deadly events of 2065 that changed the world. What were some driving ideals behind this story?
Firstly, I wanted to expose the inner workings and thought process of the Crimson Angels and UNR leadership and soldiers. These different perspectives, that of the politician, the soldier, the freedom fighter, and the civilian, help flesh out a world that isn’t always as simple as it appears. Secondly, I wanted to explore government responses to acts of terror. Sadly, in this day and age, there are very few countries that are untouched by terrorism. It’s that real-life fear that I wanted to be reflected within the world I’d created. Of course, it’s a double-edged sword: for every bit of technology and policy meant to prevent such acts, freedom is curbed. I hope readers walk away from AvS cautious of this.
Has your perception of the story changed since you went back and wrote the prequels?
Oh yes, definitely. For one thing, my perception of the story expanded. The first four books were concerned with the viewpoints of UNR citizens and rebels. Starting with the VOCA trilogy, we are slowly starting to get a global view of what’s at stake in the story. This reflects a personal view of mine that is shared by probably billions of others: we should strive to better our nations, but it should never be at the sake of other countries and their people. We should strive to see the viewpoint of others at all times.
What is one reaction that readers have to your books that surprises you?
The Reverence series is usually known for either fast-paced action and/or its alarming dystopian setting. There have been a few different responses, however. One reaction that always surprises me is how people zero in on religion in the story. I did not intend for either side to be outright saints or demons, but readers have often referred to characters such as Will and Halsey as saviors, even Messiah-like. The interpretation is interesting and there are a few parallels. I’m glad readers can get different things from the book series.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
First there was Reverence Itself. Then there was the EOK arc which was a direct follow up and brought Will and Venloran’s storyline to a close. Then there was the VOCA arc, serving as a prequel for the entire series. AvS is the first entry in the Scourge of men arc, and next up is Reverence: Creeping Darkness. We will continue to follow characters such as Gabby Neeson, Captain Halsey, and Patrick Noels, while exploring many new characters as well. The scale, as readers will find out, has grown massively. What I’m most excited for is Vanzetti editions to the story. I enjoy writing villains, and he is one of my absolute favorites to write. I won’t spoil anything, but I will say this: Chancellor Venloran is DWARFED by Vanzetti. If Damien hopes to win against the forces of Europe and their allies, he may have to cross a line even Venloran dared not touch.
The next Reverence entry will be available around summer 2020. Long wait, I know, but fans won’t have to wait too long. I’m also working on my first urban fantasy novel. I’m aiming for a December 2019 or January 2020 release date for that one.
Last we left off, October 23, 2065 went down in history as a night of bloodshed. The International Summit was rocked by an attack led by William Marconi. After hours of brutal fighting, the smoke cleared and revealed heavy losses on both sides. Even though both sides are wounded, neither will back down. Damien, the son of Will Marconi, must rally the surviving UNR Cabinet to lead the country and carry out justice. Under their tutelage are the nation’s deadliest cyborg warriors, among them Pamela King and Ptolemy Jethro, but who shall command them?
Meanwhile, Gabriella must pick up the pieces of their attack on the International Summit. The Crimson Angels should be rejoicing, but instead they are near broken. On top of that, their allies are weary of their every move. With enemies seemingly on all sides, she’s no longer sure who to trust.
Watching from atop his tower, Secretary General Vanzetti revels in the upheaval. There is money to be made and graveyards to fill, and the man will see his own vision to the end. Unlike all the others, however, he is determined to do so with a smile. The story continues with Avenge the Silenced.
SCOTLAND’S FORGOTTEN HEROINE…
Daughter of The Chief of Clan Farquharson, young Anne was the envy of her peers… until she made the mistake of marrying for love!
The man she married was Angus Mackintosh – 22nd Chief of Clan Mackintosh and one of the most powerful men in the Scottish Highlands. At first, Anne was blissfully happy. But the year was 1745 and Bonnie Prince Charlie was about to step off a boat on the west coast of Scotland and plunge the nation into war.
Angus Mackintosh was a serving officer with the British Army and joined the brutal ranks of troops hunting the young prince down. To her horror, Anne realised she would have to choose between her husband and her country.
She raised a regiment of 500 men and joined the prince. This young woman, with little experience of combat, led her men into battle against regiments of the British Army led by “Butcher” Cumberland. As her clansmen fought their way through the fog at Dornoch, “Colonel” Anne Mackintosh was suddenly reunited with her husband… but not in the way she wanted.
Everything Anne did, during her hectic life, was for love. She married for love and then she picked up the broadsword for love. This novel follows her adventures through the chaotic events of the last Jacobite Rebellion on a sometimes heroic, sometimes tragic, journey that led her clansmen into clouds of sulphurous gunsmoke at The Battle of Culloden with bullets coming thick as the rain falling from the dark skies.