Maya: Lifting the Veil by Amar B. Singh is a though-provoking piece of literature that is written in verse. The book contemplates the human experience, life and our desire to understand how and why life works. It philosophizes on the immense task of knowing God and what his intentions might be. With this idea, the story follows Krishna and Arjuna who meet on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. They are two spirited and valiant warriors, but stand helpless against nature and set out to search for fundamental answers from the Creator.
The most exceptional aspect about this book is how it utilizes enthralling poetic verse to relay a captivating story. It’s a gripping piece of epic poetry that creatively uses philosophy to explore questions we all have and answers we may never have. The story is told through a conversation that Arjun is having, which reminds me of how ancient Roman philosophers would often write their own philosophical books.
Arjun’s family meets a disastrous fate along their journey home. Arjun is distraught and in this moment we get to empathize with him. He questions God, his pain, and the meaning of life. The emotion is palpable and is amplified by the stirring poetic verses that Amar B. Singh expertly uses. Krishna is able to explain the cycle of life and goes on to wax philosophical about life, the human condition, and the world.
I enjoyed the peppering of eastern philosophy found throughout Maya: Lifting the Veil. You can think of this as a long form poem that artfully portrays one mans suffering through the lens of thoughtful reflection. This is a spiritual journey I think many readers will enjoy.
Pages: 77 | ASIN: B087C56K4B
A Dot You Are takes readers on a trip through the protagonist’s journey to rediscover his relationship with his long-lost father (and himself). What parts of himself are the results of his father’s actions when Antoni was just a child? Which parts were created through his own life choices and experiences? Our protagonist comes back to a long-lost world that is in direct juxtaposition from the one he was educated in and eventually realizes that he may not have ended up quite as far from his roots as he once thought.
For anyone who enjoys poetic storytelling full of imagery and metaphor, A Dot You Are, written by Manjula Wediwardana and then translated into English by Dilini Eriyawala, should certainly quench their thirst. The author does well to bring the reader into each of the compelling scenes throughout the story, but leaves plenty of room for the imagination to take over.
Antoni (protagonist) is on a mission to find his estranged father but has limited knowledge of where and how to find him. The village that he must go to on his search does, in fact, turn up the man he is looking for, but he finds many other things as well. Antoni’s journey back to the fishing village awakens certain aspects of his personality which then creates more questions than he had before. Duality is ever-present throughout the story which is a fact that serves Antoni’s role in the story well. He is an outsider with a deep connection to the village. Where there is divinity, there is also the mundane. Where there is warmth, there is also a sense of indifference and hostility. The author captures the nature of the world quite precisely while at the same accentuating the drama that makes it interesting and fun.
The beauty, the hardships, the simplicity, and complex human interactions all make up the experience of the fishing village. The examples of scenery that are described are so vivid that one can get a clear sense of the place. Having visited many fishing villages throughout Sri Lanka, I can say that the reader will finish this book with a deep understanding of what life for a Sri Lankan fisherman is like, what the village looks like, and how the daily activities of everyone unfold.
The atmosphere of A Dot You Are is aided by the language used throughout the story. Not only is there a heavy focus on a poetic approach focused on extracting beauty from everyday situations, but there are also phrases and manners of speech that can only be found throughout India and Sri Lanka. It is not overdone, however, and the reader can easily get a feel for the colourful personalities that make up the story. All in all, it is a magnificent read that has a bit of everything.
Translated into English by Dilini Eriyawala
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Think of the worst scenario you could possibly imagine. Got one? Chances are Joshua Squire can think of something worse. Angel Virus, Squire’s inaugural novel, paints a nightmarish scenario: all of the world’s children suddenly, inexplicably die. And the rest of world might not be too far behind. The story follows the lives of four people (Dutch: a Wisconsin metal worker, Jin: a small business owner in Beijing, Aletta: a European pediatrician, and Aysi: a teacher at a church in Africa) all of whom are recovering from past demons when the world starts falling apart. The novel wastes little time detailing the titular epidemic that kills the world’s children before zeroing in on the lives of these four protagonists. Squire, a poet by nature, flexes his linguistic muscles best in these personal scenes. At one point I found myself wishing that Squire would show the exposition instead of telling it. But when the narration focuses in on the individual suffering, the scenes cut deep enough to make the reader yearn for the safety of the omniscient narrator.
It’s in these dark, visceral images where Angel Virus shines the brightest. Subtle details such as place names and character backstories invite close reading. But at other times the reader races forward at full speed as characters flee through the jungle, get entombed in the city, or suddenly discover that allies can become one’s worst enemies. In addition to great images, Squire successfully creates realistic characters who inspire empathy within the reader. The dialogue comes off as believable while still maintaining a poetic quality.
Unfortunately, Squire’s excellent descriptions and well written characters also work against him. Angel Virus takes place over a wide variety of settings and includes many secondary characters. All of this helps create a believable disaster on a world-scale. But trying to tackle this much material in a novella length story sometimes becomes disorienting. In addition, while each of the four protagonists add compelling drama to the story, they all follow a similar path. Since the story is relatively short, none of the protagonists are allowed to fully develop.
Overall, Angel Virus is an exciting first novel. While the scope of its story and lack of versatility in the heroes’ narratives threatens to hamper the novel, the writing is strong enough to keep the reader interested. The novel’s conclusion left me wanting more, and that’s exactly what this trilogy plans to offer. But even if you stop at its last page, Angel Virus compels you to consider the link between psychology and spirituality, the nature of good and evil, and why you should cherish your loved ones long after you finish reading it.
Pages: 96 | ASIN: B01JZXY0JY
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Weathering the Wicked is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
I definitely had this in mind when writing this series. I began writing this book at the ripe age of 12, believe it or not! I revised this story and started from scratch at 25 years of age, starting with a detailed outline of everything that would happen in the book.
The supporting characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
My favorite character to write for was June, the main character. This is because June is completely based off of my own life’s journey, experiences, and personality. That may make me sound a bit self-absorbed, but the reason writing this character was my favorite is because it was very therapeutic. As June goes through this journey, and is mentored by Jeremiah, Margaret, and Alexis, they were also mentoring me, even if unintentionally.
I learned a lot about myself while creating June.
The writing in your story is very artful and creative. Was it a conscious effort to create a story in this fashion or is this style of writing reflective of your writing style in general?
Honestly, a little bit of both. It is true that my writing style is more artistic and (almost) poetic by nature. However, I made it a point to really let my artistic writing strength shine in this series; I did this because I knew that the spiritual and fantastical theme in this book would appeal to artistic and creative minds.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
The next book that will be released will be book 2 of this series, The Chronicles of Folklaria. This will be released in December, but I don’t have a specific date yet. Of course, people can always sign up for my mailing list to be alerted with this information.
In book 2, Enduring the Energy, we will get to watch June grow into a true warrior.
I am also working on a book for a 2019 release that will be a new series for young adults called “Corrupted Enchantment Saga”. It will feature familiar fairy tale lands and characters who are fighting a corrupt government system.
How far would you go to rescue someone you love? Would you travel to a magic and spiritually enlightening land that would instantly change the course of your life?
If traveling to another realm wasn’t troublesome enough, befriending a fairy, developing feelings for Ryder, and facing off with a wicked sorcerer was enough to send June’s reality into a hazy mess.
From the ashes of mortal humanity rises a young female savior to take on the wicked forces of Folklaria. With the odds stacked against her, can June conquer her fears and uncertainties to rescue, not only her sister, but an entire land riddled with wicked magic?
God’s Phonetics: Unlocking the Mysteries of the Universe’s Origins, written by Balaji Mohan, follows a teenage boy, Bavyesh, who has dreams of becoming a scientist and discovering a theory that will unlock the mystery of the universe’s origins. Mr. Kamal, Bavyesh’s teacher, is determined to help Bavyesh on his endeavors as they work together to uncover the secrets of the world. Through the linguistics of language, the duo will join forces on a mission that will have them flying through space and time.
Will Bavyesh be able to uncover the secrets of the universe and pull off the experiment of the century?
God’s Phonetics: Unlocking the Mysteries of the Universe’s Origins kick-starts the story with simple lessons between a student and teacher. It then quickly becomes a thrilling action novel with adventures into space and discoveries that could end mankind forever. We are also treated with tastes of Indian culture sprinkled throughout the story as traditional Indian meals and cultural practices are weaved into the plot.
The essence of philosophy and spirituality is prominent throughout the book as Bavyesh reveals a deeper level of thinking regarding his ideas about life and the world. This is unlike other novels I’ve read about the beginning of the universe with its innovative ideologies that include phonetics as a major clue to the universe. At times the story almost felt non-fiction as it went to great lengths to describe galaxies and religion.
God’s Phonetics: Unlocking the Mysteries of the Universe’s Originsis no ordinary story. It’s unpredictable, filled with twists and turns that you would least expect. At first, I thought the story was going to follow a traditional storyline, however, I was drawn in by its unusual events punctuated by a shocking ending. There is also a technology element to the novel with machines and inventions that are described so accurately that you could believe that they were real.
There is a beautiful friendship between Mr. Kamal and Bavyesh as they bond together over their mutual interest in the wonders of the universe. I enjoyed learning about the two friends; watching the dynamic between them switch as the teacher becomes the student. It’s a reminder that we can learn from youth and their curious minds. Bavyesh’s parents, Neha and Kumar also have a relationship to be admired, beginning the novel with a family relationship that will put a smile on your face.
The way the novel is written is almost poetic, as the author describes each moment with a beautiful simplicity. There are hints of symbolism trickled throughout the story, including theories on the number seven and Bavyesh’s name which means “Lord of the Worlds, Lord Shiva, Intelligent, and All-Knowing”. The plot pushes the reader to consider the universe and what other life may exist in the world beyond our own.
I would rate this novel a 5/5 and would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a story that explores the philosophy of the universe whilst dabbling in a dash of action, friendship, and spirituality.
Pages: 112 | ISBN: 1948032414
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Father Michael Kieh suffered the loss of his family in Liberia as a child. Taken in at a Catholic center for children, he went on to become a priest. Father Michael was stationed at the airport in London, listening to confessions of passing travelers. He became involved with a crime that happened years before involving some of the most powerful people in London, and found himself drawn into a very dangerous situation. Through love, loss, and love again, Father Michael navigates the difficult terrain in which he finds himself, trying to heal his past through his actions in the present and his hopes for the future.
This book ended up being one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read in some time. I don’t read a lot of thrillers because I often find myself disappointed with how un-thrilling they turned out to be, but that was not a problem I had with A Burning In The Darkness. I was drawn in from the very first page, finding myself looking for stolen moments to sneak in a few more.
One quirk of the book is that it appears to have been written by a non-native English speaker, which left behind some stilted English. The first time I encountered it in the book I worried it was a bad sign, but on the contrary, I found that the mistakes in English made it quite charming, like listening to someone with an accent telling a story. Though there were some grammatical mistakes in it, on the flip side, much of the language was beautiful and parts of the writing were almost poetic. I found myself, more than once, reflecting on a beautiful turn of phrase.
I felt all of the characters in the book were well developed, and Father Michael was both sympathetic and borderline heroic. I had some strong feelings about nearly every character that appears in the story, and that’s not always an easy task to accomplish. A.P. McGrath did a wonderful job breathing life into each person in the novel, giving them their own personalities and making them deeply likable, or deeply detestable, driving the story forward with strong character development.
If I have one complaint about the story itself, it’s that everyone was perhaps a little too charmed by Father Michael. It seemed that everyone he met fell under his spell right away, and that seems rather too neat for me. I felt as though it was too easy for him to convince the right people to trust him and to help him.
All in all, I found this to be an addictive book. So much so that I was sad to say goodbye to the characters at the end and wish there was a sequel. This is my first exposure to A.P. McGrath’s work, but I will definitely be keeping my eye out for the next novel!
Pages: 253 | ASIN: B06ZYXJ1KL
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Limbo is a story of a man who accidentally becomes the Grim Reaper and is the most highly revered killer in Limbo. What was the inspiration for this original and fascinating idea?
I wanted to write something that Clive Barker might like. Only 50% joking. The other 50% started with a simple sentence that didn’t mean much: the Grim Reaper searches for a soulmate. Everything spun out of that. The name Grim the Reaper popped into my head eventually, which made him feel like a starting point for a character and led to a bunch of meaty questions:
“Well, what if the mythical figure of Death was just one of many?”
“What if Grim used to have a life? Yes, he was John Grim. What the hell happened to him?”
“Who or What made John Grim this way, why did It create this perverse society?”
One led to the next and it all just made me really curious. I wanted to answer those questions by telling myself the story because I’d always dreamed of writing a horror novel and it seemed like the kind that wouldn’t bore me into not finishing it. I wanted to write something that to me would be strange and different, poetic at times and gruesome at others, something that felt big and conceptual. The kind of story I’d want to read. So I crammed a ton of my inspirations in there. Nerds like me that have a keen eye will pick up the overt references or subtle nods to Nightmare on Elm Street, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Candyman, Hellraiser, Preacher, Nightbreed/Cabal, Cabin in the Woods, John Dies at the End…there’s a bunch more. Just little treats for horror fans inspired by the same stuff as I am.
The TL;DR version — There’s a lot of autobiography in this book, and this excerpt of the still-living John Grim holding his first freshly completed manuscript sums it up:
What he recalled most vividly about that simple moment was the pride, the heft of the pages in his hands, heavy with the monster that lived and breathed inside of them. The buoyancy of seeing his insides spilled in black ink on white pages, dreaming of the story being passed lip to lip.
I felt that the tone of the novel was dark and I appreciated the grim consistency. Did you plan the tone and direction of the novel before writing or did it come out organically as you were writing?
Darkness in all its forms is just fascinating to me. It’s the same reason heavy metal pleases my ear and happy major key music grates on me. Happy, clean cut endings, perfect heroes that are morally incorruptible, all that kind of stuff bores me at best, irritates me at worst. But I still believe in a form of the lighter side of things. A big part of the overall concept of Limbo before I put pen to paper was balance. I wanted the emotional moments to matter because they were born out of darkness. So I tried to push both sides as far as I could go. I know the results aren’t for everyone, because there are some pretty messed up scenes in Limbo, but there’s also this tragic story of two people who truly loved each other and fell into this insane situation that I think has a satisfying, unconventionally beautiful ending. So, definitely intentional, but thankfully it all came together pretty organically, while eating mostly non-organic chips. Chips were a big part of writing Limbo.
Grim is not the only character in Limbo. There are also friends, strangers, and even deities. What was your favorite character to write for?
I’ll have to cheat. It’s a split between the Maker of Limbo and Dora, John Grim’s sarcastic and strong re-incarnated soulmate Dora. Spoiler alert, but Limbo’s physical landscape and the Maker of Limbo are one and the same, cobbled together with endless miles of dead flesh and filled with an insane, vast web of consciousness made up of countless distinct personalities. I pushed myself to make the different physical forms the Maker appears in surprising, sometimes shocking, sometimes funny or sad. Writing this single, incomprehensible entity/deity with this assortment of both coherent and incoherent voices was incredibly fun. Dora I loved just as much because I wanted her to be a real badass. Though Grim the Reaper is the titular character searching for her, Dora is the real hero of Limbo. Brave, unrelentingly honest and endearingly bitter, someone who does what needs to be done, no matter the consequences. It’s hard to say more about her without ruining the surprises she brings, but suffice to say I wish Dora was someone I knew in real life.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will that be published?
I’m splitting my time between two projects. One is a big collection of charcoal illustrations of monsters, demons, ghouls and oddities I wish I saw in my sleep. The other is a big collection of one sentence horror stories called Brief, Horrible Moments. Aiming for late 2016 or early 2017, but here’s three stories from the collection so far that are on the ‘lighter’ side of the spectrum:
It laid its hands on my shoulders, still staring at me from across the lake.
Pulling the long black hair out from the drain didn’t bother me until I realized it was attached to something.
My father was causing a scene as usual, slurring his words and attacking pew after pew of terrified mourners who had gathered for his funeral.
This is a story of a man who accidentally becomes Grim the Reaper, the most highly revered killer in Limbo. A place beyond time and space as we know it where psychopaths compete for perverse honour and status as they carry out their deathly duties. As Grim struggles to hold onto the memories of the life he’s lost, he discovers that the insane being who shaped him (and the course of existence itself) may have sinister plans for the one thing he values most. In Limbo, the end is only the beginning.
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