The United States has ceased to exist and a new and utterly foul nation stands in its place. Ruled by Lawrence Bowie and riddled with shades of slavery, white supremacy, and abounding ignorance of its citizens, this new nation is called Real America. Bowie is a tyrant who thrives on the adoration and unquestioning manner with which his followers hang on his every word. The power he possesses and the increasing hold he has over his newly-founded nation only grows as the people around him continue to relinquish their own beliefs, morals, and standards in exchange for increasing ignorance and poverty. Thriving on his own ego, Bowie grows more and more powerful as the world he has created suffers gleefully.
I am going to say right out of the gate that End Times by Michael McCord is one of the most psychologically disturbing pieces of political satire that I have ever read. McCord hits a nerve with virtually every paragraph. The things many US citizens have not been able to put into words, McCord easily spreads across his pages like so much sticky poisonous political jelly. With every chapter, the author manages to bring to light yet another aspect of the current political climate with vibrant and frighteningly obvious characters.
Bowie, the book’s main character, is as vile as they come. His narcissism is nauseating and will drive readers to loathe his every word–the hallmark of fantastic writing. McCord truly strikes a chord with this president-gone-mad and the way in which he manipulates everyone around him into believing his every word even when they know his intentions and realize he is a liar. The scope with which McCord is able to cover current events is quite amazing. He manages to include even the most minute aspects of the recent presidential election and the events that ensued.
One of the most striking aspects of McCord’s work is the way he magnifies his main character’s behaviors. All of Bowie’s speeches and each of his interactions with his minions displays a grossly inflated ego and a deep desire to be recognized as a winner at all costs. Though he isn’t portrayed as a creature of fantasy, he is, indeed, bigger than life and almost too incredible to be believed. His mannerisms and his monologues are terrifying.
McCord has given fans of political satire a quick read fraught with the worst of the worst in current events–an aspect that makes it beyond fascinating. I don’t often say this about books as I like to pour over word choice and let the author’s intent settle in as I read, but End Times, for me at least, was a book I found more appealing in audio. McCord uses some amazing and flowery language to describe the fall of the United States as we know it. I was much more comfortable listening to the book than working my way through the verbiage.
There is nothing out there quite like McCord’s take on the current state of politics in the United States. Readers who don’t mind a harsh look and deeply disturbing take on the U.S. government will find McCord’s work well worth the read.
Pages: 183 | ASIN: B07S4C3J2L
It has been a full trilogy of books, since we have come back to the main timeline of Joshua Landeros’ Reverence series. Having established an entire prequel series to flesh out his world, Landeros has come back to deal with the fallout and what is left of the UNR. Both sides have taken huge losses, but neither will retreat. And it will be up to the last Marconi, Damien, to rally the surviving UNR Cabinet to lead the country into this brave new future. Meanwhile, the Crimson Angels are in a difficult place, despite their successful strike on the International Summit. Gabriella will have to pick up these pieces and decide who she trusts more. All of this coming to a head to see who will end up in a grave or standing astride it, in this new installment of an epic military science fiction saga.
It is refreshing to be back in uncharted waters, having spent so long in the past, and Landeros ensures readers hit the ground running and wondering where all of our heroes of the past have landed after the last battle. The tension ramps up with little effort and with trademark pacing. The story unfolds with our cast of characters struggling against one another as they seek to either win the upper hand or to make sure they enforce justice.
Landeros’ prose continues to improve with each installment and his stories are becoming more and more complex, rather than a simple military sci-fi thriller they initial books were when the series began years ago. It is a pleasure to see how an author has not only grown, but developed his own flavor in the genre as well. This is another solid entry in the ongoing series and it shows little sign of slowing or stopping anytime soon!
Fans of military fiction or military science fiction should already have Avenge the Silenced on pre-order. Readers, who enjoy gritty action among thought provoking themes would also find themselves quite intrigued with this book.
Pages: 366 | ASIN:B07NNV7GKB
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Gazelle in the Shadows follows Elizabeth as she navigates a dangerous web of lies, betrayal and murder. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing novel?
The inspiration for this book came many years after the events happened in my life. Over the years, I rarely spoke about my former life as a diplomat in Yemen during the Iraq/Kuwait war nor my student life in Damascus but to those I opened up to, I was encouraged to write a book. Then in 2011, the civil war in Syria began and I felt a conviction to let readers know about the traditions and kindness of the Syrian people and the history and beauty of the country I had witnessed before the devastation.
Elizabeth is an interesting and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character?
Elizabeth’s driving ideals are to make her father proud by proving herself to him and to find love. Once a daddy’s girl, her relationship with her father deteriorates in her teenage years as her father implements stricter rules on her than on her older brother. She had always been an avid reader, dreaming of traveling to foreign lands. Her travels help her to escape her father’s harsh judgment and provide her with an opportunity to prove her worth to him and to herself. Because of her sheltered life, first with a Catholic upbringing and then in a diplomatic bubble, she is both emotionally and physically unprepared for her journey to Syria. She is remarkably naive and trusting of others and lacks rudimentary information about the country in a pre internet era. Her journey opens her up to the harsh realities of life where people are not always as they appear and after a series of innocuous and seemingly unconnected events, she not only discovers love but betrayal too. Facing many dangers, her strengths and courage are put to the test and ultimately she comes to appreciate her family and herself in new light.
You are a former employee of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London. How has your experience helped you write this book?
I worked in the Foreign Office between 1986 and 1991, initially in London and then in the British Embassy in Sana’a, Yemen Arab Republic. My experiences undoubtedly helped me to write my novel as the genesis of the story was born from my three years serving in Yemen. As told in the book, I unwittingly met the infamous George Habash, the founder of the PFLP, in Aden. This actual encounter played a crucial part in the story. Other true stories from my service involving MI6, the British secret service and foreign diplomats helped to create the twists and turns in the story arc.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
After graduating from Durham University, I went to work in Dubai, UAE for an oil shipping company. As I like to write fiction based on reality, the sequel is based in Dubai and my experiences working there. I am currently writing a story which follows Elizabeth who enters the ranks of the MI6. She is sent undercover to Dubai where she unearths an Iranian plot to undermine British and American interests in the region. The question is, will she meet Hussein again?
In the mid 90s, Elizabeth Booth is a young British college student studying Arabic at Durham University. With some travel and work already under her belt, she excels at her studies and is sent to Damascus to immerse herself in the language. Taken aback by the generosity and kindness of the people there, she easy slips into a life in the ancient city. She has friends, her studies, and even a handsome boyfriend. But things aren’t always what they seem. Soon, in a world where mistrust and disloyalty are commonplace, Elizabeth finds herself navigating a web of lies, betrayals, and even murder involving MI6, deadly terrorist factions, and the shadowy Syrian secret police.
Posted in Interviews
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Based on her own life, Michelle Peach has crafted an intriguing story in Gazelle in the Shadows. Some parts of the story are fictionalized according to the author. The novel opens with Elizabeth Booth who has been kidnapped. She’s battered and bruised and not sure who is responsible. Her British diplomatic immunity does not seem to be of any use to her at the beginning of the story.
We then cut to an earlier time on a cold, rainy April day in the north of England. She is in Professor Mansfield’s office, attending school at the Centre for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies in Durham University. Not sure where she will succeed, she decides to enter the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as a Diplomatic Service and she loves it.
Most of her life seems to have been about finding out who she is in her family. She grows up wanting to leave home and go on adventures. The point of meeting with her professor on that April day is to convince him to allow her to do her study in Damascus. She is the only student from her class going there. On the flight to Damascus, she is told by the flight attendant that there are no hotel rooms and arranges a place for her to stay.
Starting with the people on the flight, I did have to suspend disbelief somewhat to make myself believe that she could be as naïve as she was behaving. It seemed odd to me that anyone would trust a man on a flight and follow him afterward, even if he did work for the airline. It does seem to me that it would raise red flags.
She is literally a stranger in this new land and finds herself offending without meaning to. For example, when she drops bread on to the ground, she does not realize that bread is a sacred food and should never be wasted. She finds that navigating this new, strange land is not as easy as she had expected. I did love her descriptions of the exotic locale. She really brings the countryside to life with her writing.
This story is filled with mystery and suspense. This story was interesting to be because, unlike most books I’ve read, it’s about a place I knew little about when I started reading. The cultural issues that arise throughout the story are every bit as interesting as what is happening in the story. The only negative about the book is that I felt I knew what might be happening early on in the story even though I was not entirely correct. Despite that, the author has crafted a story that kept me turning pages way past my bedtime.
Pages: 327 | ASIN: B07CPX2WH5
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Dom is a computer engineering genius in her own right. Rose’s instincts when it comes to human behavior are fine-tuned. Layla has the gift of an incredible memory. All three women are true forces with which to be reckoned and phenomenally good at their jobs. When Dom, a virtual recluse, is approached for help in solving a violent death, the lives of the three women quickly become entangled. Dom, Rose, and Layla reiterate that we are all one quick internet search away from an interaction we may or may not want.
B.J. Cyprian, author of Shadow Resistance, has created a world effortlessly blends fantasy and realistic fiction. With the elements of advanced artificial intelligence looming large in Dom’s storyline, readers are treated to science fiction laced with humor and heavily layered with relevant current events. While I’m not a fan of most historical fiction novels, I more than appreciate the references Cyprian includes in her characters’ story lines. Especially effective is the way in which the author works in the black and white doll experiment into Rose’s subplot. Cyprian knows how to hit readers where it matters. This is just one of the aspects of her writing that helps make her book so worthy of praise.
The entire scenario involving SARA is quite amazing. I don’t want to call SARA a character as it were, but I would feel remiss if I didn’t mention how incredibly fascinating her contribution to the book actually is. At times, Dom almost plays second string to the artificial intelligence she herself created. The back-and-forth between the two is entertaining to say the least and simultaneously frightening. To think that SARA is Dom’s only connection with the outside world is, in many ways, sad. In introducing Dom as somewhat of a hermit, Cyprian has given a certain richness to Dom’s story line and made her views of injustice all the more fiery.
Cyprian does a beautiful job of weaving history into every aspect of her plot. Page after page, she seamlessly meshes mentions of countless historical figures into the dialogue between characters. From impromptu history lessons given by Rose to the background revealed by Rose and Robert’s visit to Larry’s apartment, the book feels less like a lesson in history than a conversation on the front stoop of an elderly neighbor.
This unique work of fiction is a must read for anyone seeking technologically-based crime dramas. In addition, Cyprian’s work holds a special appeal for those who appreciate historical accuracies and current events woven throughout their fiction. The more I read, the more I found Shadow Resistance qualifies as a mystery. It’s impossible to fit Cyprian’s work into one slot–and I’m not sure I want to. It deserves a category of its own. Kudos to Cyprian on an outstanding first novel.
PagesL 648 | ASIN: B07NQKYGVP
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The Chosen by Ray Corbitt is an interesting that is perfect for the fans of the political thriller genre. It’s substantially deep and entertaining.
A program is put into place to create a pool of leaders who are trained from a young age with certain values not easily found within the societies they are destined to lead. The children are from a variety of backgrounds, but they all share the fact that they are highly intelligent and display the potential necessary to lead.
There are many positive aspects of The Chosen but the one that strikes the loudest is the realism that is interlaced with imagination. The people, the places, and even the situations are all believable to the point that it really doesn’t take much work on the part of your reader to picture everything being described as if it were news of some real event. The lives seem real, the pain and suffering feel authentic, and the author does a fantastic job leading the reader through the lives on display.
I felt that the character introductions, while well described, could have been a bit less formulaic. I would have appreciated more variety with the character introductions. That said, the characters were very well developed and varied making them both believable and easy to form relationships with. Creating characters that seem as though they have been plucked straight out of real life can be a bit of a challenge for even the most seasoned authors but Corbitt certainly has a talent for it.
The only other complaint is more of a preference issue than anything else. The descriptive style employed by Corbitt for The Chosen strays a bit from the treasured ‘show, don’t tell’ philosophy that controls how the writer’s world opens itself up into the readers mind. I would have preferred more contextual clues to the straight descriptions offered.
For a short read directed squarely readers begging for a good suspense novel, The Chosen deserves four out of five stars for its originality and ability to bring readers into the writer’s world.
Pages: 182 | ASIN: B0794Y4WLD
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Max Kenworth, a former Delta Force officer and nuclear weapons expert, is tasked with stopping a major attack on US soil in this thrilling adventure.
FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) has stolen a cache of man-portable nuclear devices from a secure American facility in Panama. The weapons end up in the hands of ex-special forces officer Bart Madison. With the help of ISIS, drug cartels, and a US senator, Bart is planning to use the devices to create an atrocity in the American heartland.
Max is briefed on the situation by SOCOM (Special Operations Command) and teams up with FBI agent Gail Summers and Mossad agent Danya Mayer to find the weapons before they can be used against American citizens. The three will face opposition from both foreign enemies and so-called allies as they follow Bart’s trail across the continental United States. Their foe is intelligent and well connected, but the three of them are determined to stop this terrorist before more lives are lost.
Patrick Parker tackles today’s most important issues in this sociopolitical suspense novel. He uses Six Minutes Early to explore the tension between intelligence agencies, holes in national security, and threats from around the world.
Posted in book trailer
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Voice of the Crimson Angel is the final installment of the prequel series to the ongoing Reverence saga. Joshua Landeros returns with all the sound and fury of his sci-fi military thrillers, but we find our heroine, Julissa Marconi, on the defense having lost to Chancellor Venloran previously. The resistance is going to have to dig deep as they find themselves cornered, unable to retreat and unwilling to give in. It will be up to either side or who is willing to sacrifice their humanity in order to win.
Landeros has continued to thrill and amaze with this prequel series, especially with the expansion of his near-future world. His characters are desperate and heroic, even if they give into their more violent natures. The action is brutal and quick, the pacing crisp and fast. At times, I was thrilled I’d read more than I had originally aimed, because I didn’t even realize how quickly pages were flipped.
Julissa is a fun character and one that I am sorry to leave behind as this series comes to a close. Landeros does a good job of making everything balance on a knife’s edge with tension and also does not shy away from wrapping everything up so as to naturally lead into his Reverence series proper. The brutal efficiency of our cyborg soldiers alongside their quiet humanity is a fun dichotomy and one of the reasons why this series remains so fun to come back to.
The only things I won’t miss from this, is the telling of a story that is already somewhat understated in the previous books. And I won’t miss Chancellor Venloran as an antagonist. Landeros has the skill to do more and expand even further into his world, so we should be able to leave this prequel series behind and forge ever on into the future.
Fans of Landeros will not be disappointed and readers who enjoy military science fiction or even political thrillers should be able to feel right at home here. Buckle your seat belts for a thrilling last ride with Julissa Marconi.
Pages: 248 | ASIN: B07F5LPD1S
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Rick Daly is in the midst of multiple battles–the least of which is the struggle to finally find a way to be happy, settled, and live a normal life. Working and trying to establish a business of his own in the Philippines, Rick Daly meets and unwittingly falls head over heels in love with the young woman he hires to be his secretary and sidekick. When he realizes he loves Marilyn and wants to change his wild ways, he finds that his past is looming closely and threatens his relationship as it tests his loyalty to Marilyn and their, now uncertain, future.
John Spencer, author of Brownout, is clearly a fan of world history. His novel featuring Rick Daly is woven intricately in and out of historical truths. In addition, Spencer even tackles the controversial issue of the Holocaust and the doubt surrounding its existence. Spencer covers a broad range of events and drops his characters and their various subplots strategically into these events from the book’s beginning to its surprising finale.
Brownout incorporates numerous storylines which are, at times, difficult to follow. The bulk of the novel is based on Rick Daly’s life in the Philippines and his relationship with Marilyn, a woman who strives to remain true to herself and her beliefs but sends Rick many a mixed message during the course of their relationship. Spencer’s writing relies heavily on the reader’s penchant for sexual situations as these scenes are prevalent throughout the book, giving the overall book as much the feel of a romance novel as a work of historical fiction.
I feel it’s worth mentioning that the intimate aspect of the relationship portrayed between Rick and Marilyn is complicated at best. As much as Marilyn maintains that she will remain a virgin until she is married, she feels torn between keeping her word and satisfying Rick. I was quite taken aback at Rick taking advantage of Marilyn and violating her trust.
The parallel storyline involving Chris, Rick’s uncle, and his children is a tragic one and is more engaging and engrossing than Rick’s plot. I found that my attention was held much more readily while reading of Chris’s heart-wrenching loss and the immense struggle he faces with each of his children. As I read, I continued to anticipate that Chris would be a more prominent part of the book’s overarching plot and was disappointed that his family’s drama was not more fully explored.
While Brownout is exceptionally well-written, I felt that the subplots were somewhat disjointed. Each of Rick’s subsequent and fleeting relationships added depth to the story but simultaneously added an air of confusion. While all of Spencer’s characters are rich and well-developed, the connections between them seem lacking. The historical accuracies are spot-on and related via Spencer’s characters in a way that makes them conversational and engaging. Readers who appreciate historical fiction and seek an element of romance will find Brownout to their liking.
Pages: 503 | ASIN: B07GGYBJY1
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Activism is high on Netai’s list of priorities, or at least he thinks as much. As a member of the working class and a young man who is loyal and determined, Netai finds himself deep in the throes of the Naxalite during the decades of the eighties and nineties. While his involvement in the ever-increasing political movement increases, so does the tension within his parents’ household. His mother, afflicted with cataracts, struggles day in and day out while his hard-working father faces his own inner turmoil at being asked by his son to host the members of the resistance. Nowhere is the battle for emancipation so strongly felt as in Netai’s own household.
Sanjay Lahiri’s Comrade Netai and the Chronology of His UG Days traces Netai’s battle with his own participation in the resistance. As he goes about work in the mines, he is privy to a firsthand look at the suffering of the men and women employed there, the reality of back-breaking work, and the hardships of the working class. Lahiri paints painfully clear pictures of the desperation of the mine workers’ struggles in day-to-day living. The bulk of Lahiri’s effectiveness is nestled neatly in his main character’s own horror at the atrocities he witnesses. The author leaves nothing to the imagination as he describes the most shocking scenes of life as a mine worker. When Netai finds himself in awe of the scenes he witnesses, the reader is pulled along as an unwilling participant. Lahiri’s writing is vivid and exceptionally effective.
Details are Lahiri’s strong suit. On every level and in every way, Comrade Netai and the Chronology of His UG Days exists as a portrait of life in activism. A work of political fiction, Lahiri’s book provides a unique peek into the intense consideration given to decisions, elections, and organization of a revolution. Readers see the true rigors of rallying around a cause.
For me, nowhere was Netai’s struggle as clear as when it is pointed out to him that he has not had a change of underclothes and has exposed himself to infestation by chillars, insects growing in hay. Netai’s lack of hygiene is but one of the signs of the way in which his dedication to the cause is wreaking havoc on his psyche.
Lahiri’s key character, Netai, demonstrates an endearing eagerness despite the hardships he endures. He is an inspiring character filled with bright-eyed optimism and a strong desire to learn the ins and outs of the political processes involved in making change possible. As he is offered the opportunity to represent the state, his enthusiasm is positively contagious.
Comrade Netai features well-drawn characters and a relatable main character who wears his heart on his sleeve and exhibits humanitarianism along with a certain level of blind innocence. The subplot surrounding Netai’s parents is engaging and powerful. Comrade Netai is a must-read for any fan of political fiction and activists across causes and continents. Lahiri unites readers in a common bond–justice.
Pages: 506 | ASIN: B07JP3F1W6
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