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Given To Me By Spirit

Jon de Graaff Author Interview

Jon de Graaff Author Interview

Friends of the Tsar is inspired by your personal experiences and your family history. Why was this an important book for you to write?

The diversity of my knowledge, which was given to me by spirit, was something too important to have lay dormant. The knowledge I accrued from many camping and four wheel driving trips was gained through life and death situations I encountered. If, by getting this information out to the world could save just one life, then I will have had good reason to write it.

The many miracles that kept my family and I safe on these learning adventures were so profound in that they were logic-defying, and I thought what better way to tell of my miracles than through an Australian character who entertained the Zuckschwerdts, my grandparents, with the narratives while snowed in.

What were some things that you felt had to stay true to real life and what were some things you took liberties with?

I felt that the horrific conditions in which my grandparents were successful in decamping from Russia had to stay true to life, also their personality.

I took liberties with the negative aspects of their plight because it would have been too depressing for a reader to continue reading. Too many family members were murdered by the Bolsheviks.

I also wanted to honour them with an acknowledgement of their plight after which they were positive in the rebuilding of their future together.

I felt like faith and family were important in the book. What were some themes you wanted to capture in this book?

The pivotal themes I wanted to capture were miracles, spiritual awareness, hope, danger awareness in nature, remembering ones heritage, and faith and family.

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

My mother, on the other side, wants me to write children’s books. My previous vocation as artist allows me to illustrate the books myself, and my eagerness to encourage young people to speak up when put in danger, especially when dad’s driving is too scary, strengthens my resolve.

It won’t be until this time next year that a book would be ready for publication, should I decide to do so.

Author Links: Facebook | GoodReads | Website

Friends of the Tsar: Miracles from Petrograd to the Outback by [de Graaff, Jon]

1917–The Russian Revolution. Danger and chaos abound, and the aristocratic Zuckschwerdt and Orloff families are desperate to escape to safety. Enter Blue, an Australian cattle-breeder with a big heart. Blessed by a heap of miracles from the Outback and beyond, he shares his gripping adventures with the snowed-in families. Blue has survived everything from bushfires to crocodile attacks.

With wolves and winter nipping at their heels, the Zuckschwerdts prepare to depart for the lucky country. Plunged into hostilities and espionage in Petrograd, they make a break for the high seas, only to find themselves in a deadly game of bluff with a German U-boat skipper.

Blue is in a predicament of his own when three of the Orloff daughters fall for his red earth charms. Will he find true love with one of them? And will his Aussie anecdotes help the family understand that awareness and preparation can spell the difference between life and death? As miracles begin to unfold, the Russian refugees discover the power of faith.

Inspired by Jon de Graaff’s personal experiences and his grandparents’ family history, ‘Friends of the Tsar’ is a thrilling tale. Spiked with humorous twists, tragic turns, perilous encounters, and life-saving lessons of survival. It offers spiritual insights into forgiveness and unconventional love.

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From The Abyss

From the Abyss by Vantar is a collection of poems that range in length, generally one to two pages long in four-line stanzas. I really appreciated the exceptional way that nature is brought to life in these poems. Sometimes this is in the way a bird or beast is described and others in the way we see a sunflower or how it feels to climb a mountain. These vivid descriptions go beyond the physicality of the object and delve into a feeling or sense of a thing. Along with this, many poems tackle a deeper or perhaps darker view of the world. The poems explore themes of beginnings and endings, of natural cycles of life, of loss, of depth, and of that which is hard to imagine. The poems are a fascinating mix of real and beyond real, bringing a little bit of magic through words into the world of nature. Vantar’s language was exquisite, both easy to read and sparking the imagination. I also like the way he uses references to lure the mind to images without having to explicitly describe them, like giving us the image of a Van Gogh sunflower in order to get to the idea of the sunflower following the sun before starting again.

Within the book, there are over eighty poems each managing to be unique while connected. Vantar accomplishes this through the use of similar themes, sticking to the natural world for the most part, and by repeating keywords from one poem to the next. I found it hard to pick favorites from the book because there were so many stanzas and lines that really sparked my mind but ‘Sunflower,’ ‘Nightingale’s Song,’ ‘The Star Triangle,’ and ‘Zenith’ stuck out to me. The book is filled with so many beautiful poems that it is easy to read through and find several that speak to you. I would say that if you like reading poetry, especially poetry about nature and thought, that this is a must read. The language is intricate and subtle which makes each poem easy to read while still holding a stunning beauty. This is the kind of book that makes a wonderful gift, or a fun book to leave on your coffee table to read a poem or two in the morning to get you thinking about the world.

Pages: 126 | ISBN: 1479776483

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Genesis: The Infinity Series Vol. 2

Genesis (The Infinity Series Book 2) by [Westbay, Bellamy]

A genesis is a beginning: a source, a founding moment. Though Bellamy Westbay’s Genesis is the second volume in the Infinity Series, readers will have no doubt that this tome marks a beginning. The odyssey opens with the beguiling Gwen in grave danger. Though angel Alex is the only being, mortal or celestial, who can ultimately save her, the antidote for her current troubles comes from a source seemingly bent on her demise. Follow Alex, Gwen, and Jasper on an epic journey through a bewitching multiverse, one haunted by evil forces, fantastical creatures, and a series of confounding quests.

In this odyssey of good versus evil, of human nature and the divine, Westbay tackles love, lust, and redemption. She also explores motivations more primal: eternal enmity, darkest jealousy, and destructive cunning. Westbay’s storytelling moves at a heady pace, switching between the questing trio and Gwen’s best friend, facing her own predicament. The book is surprisingly sparse in some places—a run-in with an eloquent dragon comes to mind—but delves deeper in others, offering vibrant descriptions of other universes and their inhabitants, including ethereal Callidora and Eva with her siren song. Vivid details aside, the plot is the star of this show and Westbay moves it forward with skill.

And what an intriguing plot it is. Genesis operates where divine beings move among mere mortals. At first I struggled with a Cinnabon-eating angel but I was quickly won over by Alex’s supernatural powers, very human weaknesses, and impressive wingspan. He is simultaneously angsty and arch. For a celestial being and polyglot to boot, he can be frustratingly obtuse: he knows little of human nature and often his epiphanies land with a thud. Even so, he captivates readers as the boulder-smashing, beast-slaying hero of our story.

If Alex is Odysseus on an epic journey and Eva a Siren, Gwen is Helen of Troy. Though not exactly “the face that launched a thousand ships”, Gwen is certainly the being that launched a thousand cherubic fantasies. The amorous undertones in Genesis know no bounds: whilst Gwen clings to life, both the misguided Jasper and the ardent Alex lust after her. Readers feel relief when Gwen revives and apprehension as death draws near. This epic journey is exhilarating and well-told. Westbay is a true storyteller with a gift for weaving familiar themes into a fascinating new world.

Pages: 414 | ASIN: B07DXP2Y8D

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Universal Truths

Debjeet Mukherjee Author Interview

Debjeet Mukherjee Author Interview

Voyages is a collection of poetry that inspires reflection while also helping readers grasp a deeper meaning of poetry. Why was this an important book for you to write?

Voyages was my way of showing to the world how I perceive the everyday things that go unnoticed. My philosophy coupled with my thoughts in order to point out some universal truths about human nature. The collection is almost like a guide which will take anyone through their teenage years and relive their memories.

What is a theme you find yourself drawn to when writing?

I believe in the abundant goodness that lies in every person. Luck always guides you to be someone greater than yourself. The infinite energy of the cosmos brings balance and harmony to our thoughts, if we allow them to. Every day promises new opportunities which help us move higher and these are the themes I deal with. My writings have inspiration and love.

One of my favorite poems from the collection is ‘Prayers Alive in Hope’. What is your favorite poem from the collection?

Wow! Thanks. “Prayers Alive in Hope” is indeed one of my best poems. My favorite poem would be “Heavens Face”. It was written when I was 15 years old after reading Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist”.

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

The next book will be VOYAGES Volume II – A Collection of Short Stories available end 2019/early 2020. I occasionally release small short story booklets and one such has already been published titled “A Rural Coincidence” which is available on Amazon. The next short story booklet will be released on Mother’s Day titled “The Farewell”.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsite

VOYAGES Volume I :  A Collection of Poetry by [Debjeet Mukherjee]

Voyages Volume I is a collection of poems written to break the notion that poetry is an art comprehensible only by the elite. Understanding good poetry becomes easy when there is a guide to help understand all those complicated words and lines. Keeping in mind the feelings of the reader, a small quotation has been provided at the end of each poem, carrying a message of what the preceding lines were all about. This style of writing has been chosen as most of the time we fail to understand that poetry is very much a part of our life.

Whether it be sharing good wishes everyday on social media or going through some lovely quotations to uplift our moods, life is just one big book of poetry that we refuse to understand in popular culture. Just like a ship embarks on a voyage, searching and exploring new continents through vast reaches of the ocean; our life too embarks on a journey of adventures which are best described in poetry. I believe this collection would be able to help readers appreciate poetry as a whole and live up to every possible expectation.

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Free Yourself

Free Yourself is a collection of intimate and engaging poetry written by Juliana Garcell. The poems are written in various styles and in various formats which helps to keep things interesting. The poetry sometimes hits on current social and political topics, but there is an overall focus on love, loss, and identity. Especially the struggle with identity in the face of love and loss; but having to define it in this way is somewhat limiting as I feel the poems are about much more.

I enjoyed this collection and found the poems to be lyrical, as if written for a song. Each poem has its own focus, although they area about slightly similar topics. The emotions expressed are often raw and painted in vivid detail with colorful connections and allusions to nature and culture.

Each poem is impactful, if not relatable, and I was able to understand each one. Understanding a poem is important for me, as I feel that poets often go off on some abstract ideas. But this collection is down to earth, and simple to follow, which makes the message ring clearly.

I appreciated the poems that left me with singular emotions at the end, but I really enjoyed the poems that were able to do the same work with just one or two lines. ‘Free My Expression’ is one of my favorite of the shorter poems, with the line “want you to stay but I always run away”. And the very last poem, which I believe is untitled, is probably my favorite of the collection because it manages the same emotional impact as one of the longer poems with only four lines.

I recommend this collection to anyone who enjoys poetry that is emotive yet easy to understand. The collection is short, but I suggest you give yourself some time to stop and ponder the thoughts, concepts, and ideas conveyed in each of these poems as this is an engaging assortment of passionate poetry.

Pages: 56 | ISBN: 1483622444

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Irreversible Changes

Hosein Kouros-Mehr Author Interview

Hosein Kouros-Mehr Author Interview

Extinction 6 is a vivid and detailed story about Earth’s 6th extinction event and the effort to try and stop it. What was your inspiration for the idea behind this novel?

Based on recent papers in Nature and Science, it looks like global warming is accelerating. We have until 2030 to make significant chances to our greenhouse gas emissions or we face irreversible changes to the climate. I wanted to bring awareness to this issue by painting a picture of a world devastated by global warming

There are many interesting characters throughout the novel. Who was your favorite character to write for?

Manos Kharon, the billionaire who would rather destroy the Earth than see his profits fall.

This novel touches heavily on climate change and global warming. Is this something that you think is only science fiction, or is it a serious concern?

You can read this article for yourself – https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/07/world/climate-change-new-ipcc-report-wxc/index.html

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

I will hold off writing any more novel until I retire. It will be far more fun to write when I don’t have a day job 🙂

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook

Extinction 6 by [Kouros-Mehr, Hosein]

By mid century, Arctic oil drilling accelerates global warming and triggers famine and world war. A team at Google launches Project Titan to reverse climate change and end fossil fuel addiction. Without a radical solution, humanity faces catastrophe.

Earth’s sixth mass extinction is underway. One hope remains.

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River’s Child

When Mavin Cedarstrom heads to the Svalbard Seed Vault for another day on the job, he can’t possibly imagine the turn his life is about to take. His former life gathering seeds as an assistant to his favorite professor pales in comparison to the life he leads working in the exclusive and formidable vault housing samples of every seed variety in the world. Mavin’s job helping to protect and preserve the future of the planet’s primary food source leads him on a journey like no other when he awakens to find himself in what he soon learns is the future–the distant future.

Right out of the gate, Mark Daniel Seiler introduces readers to an intriguing set of circumstances. He wastes no time in keeping his audience guessing as to both time and place. The opening pages of River’s Child reveal a scene with an amalgamation of characters with varied backgrounds. It isn’t until Mavin reaches the vault itself that the reader is treated to the splendors of technological advancements. Seiler springs this futuristic setting on his readers in a wonderful contrast with the opening bar scene.

Reading River’s Child is akin to reading three different books, but it works well. Mavin’s time working in the vault and the tragedy that befalls him when he reports to work that fateful fall day are a far cry from the way he is found and worlds apart from the scene that greets him when he is pulled from beneath Earth’s surface. Once he and his rescuer/guide, Simone Kita, make the year-long trek to civilization, the story takes on a completely different feel which somehow also makes sense. To say that Mavin has taken a step into the past would not be wrong, nor would it be wrong to say he is almost light years in the future upon being pulled from the remains of the vault. Seiler presents for readers a picture of an Earth recreated after its destruction and, somehow, simultaneously archaic and advanced.

Seiler’s choice to make males subservient and females revered in the new world is both refreshing and entertaining. Simone, a strong woman in many ways, teaches Mavin the proper way to show respect and how to remain demure in his foreign surroundings. The author has pulled from multiple cultures to create the portrait of a lesser sex in this futuristic world which blends ancient customs with the discovery and mastery of unique and highly developed talents. Simone’s amazing ability to control space and time is superhero-like and takes the reader as much by surprise as it does Mavin the first time she tries to discreetly display it.

Seiler offers readers a picture of  what is essentially a post-apocalyptic world that is different from any I have read. He takes readers on a journey that begins and ends with the soul survivor of a catastrophic event and allows them to watch as he struggles to find his place among those who now inhabit Earth. Seiler peppers his writing with the perfect amount of suspense and humor as he weaves this unforgettable tale.

Pages: 312 | ISBN: 1947003399

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Don’t Call Me Chip

Don't Call Me Chip by [O'Donnell, Neil]

Don’t Call Me Chip, by Neil O’Donnell, is the story of one determined chipmunk and the battle he undertakes to save his human and the creatures who share his yard from an ill-intentioned family. Mikey, an eccentric old man and former Marine names the adventurous chipmunk Timothy, provides him with a small store of seeds, and thus steals his heart. Timothy, having lost his home, takes up residence in Mikey’s yard and makes it his job to protect and serve as a way of showing his gratitude and love for the old man–his new friend.

I have to say, I did not expect to fall in love with Don’t Call Me Chip–but that is exactly what happened. O’Donnell has masterfully captured the thoughts and feelings of the wild animals in his work and presents them in a way not seen in any other book or short story. Timothy, telling his own story for the majority of the book, is boisterous, cantankerous, and contemplative. The reader is privy to all of Timothy’s thoughts as he evolves from a suspicious chipmunk to a loving and protective pet.

All really great books have those little moments that take your breath–moments that seal the deal for the reader. For me, that moment arrived when TImothy refers to Mikey as his new friend. It seems a small and otherwise benign line out of the many more humorous and action-packed passages, but it carries a hefty weight for me. Timothy, a loner like Mikey, misunderstood and underappreciated, makes a lasting connection in that moment.

The shift from first person to third person at the end of the book threw me for moment, but I enjoyed the change in point of view. O’Donnell gives readers the feeling of an age-old story by backing up and giving a broader picture of Timothy’s final ordeal.

I am giving Don’t Call Me Chip a solid 5 out of 5 stars. I truly loved the characters–big and small. Mikey, who could be anyone’s elderly neighbor, is lovable and the obvious underdog. Resilient and focused, Timothy makes for the perfect main character and, in his own right, tiny hero.

Pages: 85 | ASIN: B079GTSKZR

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The Three Lives of One

The Three Lives of One by [Mooney, Lesley]

A massive tsunami destroys the island home of a little girl. Left without a family, she is rescued by missionaries who name her ‘Patchula’ or ‘Patches’ and take her to Darwin, Australia. What follows is a story of misfortune and tragedy; adoption, death, abuse, forced prostitution, but also of hope as Patches finds joy and meaning, especially in her talent for photography and singing, in spite of the pain. Spanning Australia, America and Japan The Three Lives of One by Lesley J. Mooney is a sweeping tale which carries us across time and continents in search of love and fulfillment.

The book is written in beautiful yet un-flowery prose which is at times poetic. Mooney conjures up place incredibly well, and I found the movement between different continents particularly fascinating –the depiction of the sights, sounds and geography of these places gave me total wanderlust! The description of the tsunami and the wreckage and devastation that follows is extremely affecting and pulled me into the narrative immediately. Mooney is also skilled at portraying her time periods, which begin in the 1920s and move to the 1980s, and the changing biases and turbulent politics of the times.

There are many themes running through the narrative including womanhood, nature and environment, religion, the importance of family, and the value of keeping faith and resilience in times when despair seems never-ending. Although many terrible events occur in Patchula’s life, the book is ultimately about hope in the face of the unknown and what we can achieve if we have the strength to carry on.

Mooney has written a large and diverse cast of characters, and the world she has developed seems utterly real. Patches in particular leaps off the page as a fully-formed individual. Some of the mistreatment she endures is quite harrowing and difficult to read, but it feels very honest. Her hardships elicit great empathy in the reader; I was constantly rooting for her to overcome all of the tragedy in her life and felt completely invested in her development. The more peripheral characters are also well-drawn and prove to be quite emotive, some invoking feelings of intense anger!

One aspect of the book that bothered me slightly was the pacing. We are introduced to Patchula’s predicament, and the narrative subsequently moves very swiftly through the first part of her life and I would have liked this introduction to the story to be slightly more drawn out. Despite this, the rest of the book has a really good tempo, and because there are so many unexpected twists and turns I was always eager to find out what would happen next in Patches’ story.

This book moved me to tears, but it also gave me a great sense of hope. I finished it feeling as though I had been on a long journey–and an extremely rewarding one at that.

Pages: 361 | ASIN: B074M3LW12

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Think… Stand Up.. & Walk Tall

Think..Stand Up  Walk Tall

Think… Stand Up.. & Walk Tall is a guide to learning self-hypnosis and meditation that will help you to learn the tools required to manage your own life, challenges, and relationships. Learn to move from the “Default Mode” into the “Divine Mode” in order to have a fulfilling and meaningful life. Ancient teachings will assist you on the way as well as compelling poetry and thought-provoking passages that will open your mind to change and development. Finally, take control of your life and unlock the secrets to enrichment and satisfaction of the soul.

Think… Stand Up.. & Walk Tall, written by Eliyahu Kelman, is a journey towards creating a life where you are in control of your reactions and circumstances.

Prepare to be immersed in a place where you feel as though the author is directly talking to you and connecting with your soul. Make sure you have some time set aside to read the chapters as the book is hands-on, meaning you will be asked to do activities or meditations to ensure your mind is in the zone. Eliyahu Kelman re-iterates the importance of “Think, Stand Up and Walk Tall” to the reader and it quickly becomes the underlying message throughout the practices in the book.

The perspective the author provides will be life-changing. It urges you to consider your own life and how each of us come with our own little handbook of who we are, how we respond and how we react. This book seeks to enlighten you on what other people’s handbooks may divulge and what to do when your own life circumstances are overcome with tragedy.  It challenges you to acknowledge the effects of your behavior on other people and how to take control of your life.

There are elements of history throughout the novel as you explore ancient times, sages and galaxies of thousands of stars and planets. You will be taken on a journey that weaves between the ancient teachings and scientific discoveries and how they actually intertwine and parallel the same teachings. The book also explores repetition and how we repeat activities or lessons in order to remember them and how the activities or thought processes found in this novel are no different. It also reminds us the importance of connection and loyalty with your friends and family and how we must all come together to work in harmony.

One of my favorite passages in the book prompts you to imagine people as universes. If you were to hurt a person, you would be hurting the universe and therefore potentially affecting everything that universe could achieve. It’s a bit of an abstract way to think about people but it is just one example of how Think… Stand Up.. & Walk Tall prompts you to alter and open your mind to different types of thinking.

I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a self-help book that will teach you the importance of self-hypnosis and meditation. Ensure you have a quiet space and time to soak up the wisdom presented through the words of Eliyahu Kelman.

Pages: 261 | ASIN: B01MUG7220

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