Blog Archives

And the Last Trump Shall Sound

And the Last Trump Shall Sound by [Harry Turtledove, James Morrow, Cat Rambo]

In the not-too-distant future, Mike Pence has ascended the ladder to the presidency, but the foundation that was laid during Donald Trump’s time in office still stands strong. The United States has become little more than a caricature of its former self as its people grow more and more extreme about almost literally every issue imaginable. Finally reaching a breaking point, the west coast declares its independence and comes Pacifica, prompting the northeast to consider following suit. As both nations adjust to the change, the stories that emerge range from terrifyingly feasible to laugh out loud absurd, with just a little of the bizarre thrown in for color.

And the Last Trump Shall Sound is a trilogy of novellas that explore a different aspect of the future of Trump’s America in the wake of Pacifica’s succession. Each entry is penned by a different author and as such, projects a drastically different voice. Although each story is connected and follows a linear timeline, using different authors helps to keep it fresh. 

“The Breaking of Nations” by Harry Turtledove illustrates the first days of Pacifica and the struggles faced by its leaders. Of the three, this one is easily the most frightening for its plausibility and passages that read more like non-fiction at times. Turtledove paints the picture of a future devoid of any semblance of morality or democracy and the people who want desperately to salvage what they can.

In contrast, “The Purloined Republic”, by James Morrow takes a more absurd approach to solidifying Pacifica’s status as an independent nation, a couple of years down the road. Taking a page out of classic spy and espionage novels, Morrow’s tone is much more tongue in cheek as our heroine Polly agrees to go undercover in the hopes of undermining Pence’s legitimacy, even among the most devoted Americans. What follows is a series of events that can only be described as both ridiculous and wildly entertaining. 

The final entry is “Because it is Bitter” by Cat Rambo, and this one gets weird. Set six years after the formation of Pacifica, it veers firmly into science fiction territory, and stops just short of portraying life in America as dystopian. It combines the implications of Trump’s future with a complete lack of privacy that raises plenty of questions about freedom and manipulation. It provides a fitting end to the trilogy as it leaves the door open for both hope and uncertainty.

For me, the opening story was the weakest of the three and made getting into the book a little slow, but it was nonetheless well written and a necessary read for the other two to make sense. I thoroughly enjoyed the differences in style and tone, and would love to read more from these writers in the future.

Pages: 257 | ASIN: B086Q1M8VQ

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A Nest for Lalita – Trailer

Meena Kaul is riding high in her position as director of Behera House, a safe haven in India for women who have survived domestic violence. But when the stock market crashes, Behera House loses its funding to expand. The right-wing Hindu Democratic Party (HDP), seeing an opportunity to win women’s votes before a national election, steps in with a multimillion-dollar grant. While Meena is reluctant to accept the offer, it is the only way for the project to proceed. Her worst fears come to pass when the HDP wins the election and begins to chip away at a hundred years of progress on women’s rights. Meanwhile, Simon Bliss, America’s foremost “green” architect, who had been commissioned to design the new facility, falls for the alluring Meena and is drawn into the perilous world of Indian politics. In his attempt to loosen the HDP’s grip on Meena and win her affection, Simon takes on reactionary politicians, shady priests, and crooked businessmen. In the process, he comes face to face with disturbing truths about his past, while Meena finds herself trapped in ways she never could have expected.

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The Demolition of Democracy: Has America Lost Its Soul

The Demolition of Democracy: Has America Lost Its Soul by [Ted Bagley]

The Demolition of Democracy is a compelling analysis of the policies and the behavior of the Trump administration and how they are destroying the democratic foundation of the United States. Ted Bagley has written this book as an attempt to get people to realize that it does matter who we choose to lead our country. This book delivers a clear perspective on the current state of the U.S. government and Ted Bagley does not sugar coat his words. The author seeks to open the reader’s eyes to the realities we live in today, and open them he does.

Ted Bagley shines a light on all the issues the country and world are facing. He fearlessly reviews and examines the broken-down of our political and judicial system and the absence of democracy in the country. The Demolition of Democracy takes a good look at the people at the top and the general climate of the country they operate in. This book makes it clear that the United States of America has been going through a dark period with less than proper leadership. Issues like racism and prejudice have become staples of the administration. Ted Bagley states his stance clearly, unequivocally, and with reverence.

This book is not for people who are easily offended as it can be viewed as aggressive, but I choose to see it as passionate. The Demolition of Democracy is a hard hitting book that investigates and diagnosis the political problems facing Americans.

Pages: 262 | ASIN: B07W8MJ1P2

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The Oppenheimer Alternative

The Oppenheimer Alternative by [Robert J. Sawyer]

The Oppenheimer Alternative by Robert J Sawyer is an exciting science novel inspired by true events. The book is sure to keep readers turning pages from the start. The story follows Robert Oppenheimer, the book’s main protagonist who many consider to be the father of the atomic bomb. Oppenheimer, a brilliant physicist, is put in charge of America’s project to create the atomic bomb as World War two rages across the globe. In a race against time, the protagonist is forced to work extremely hard as America seeks to outwit its allies and enemies alike in the quest to discover the strongest weapon ever made.

As ideologies collide, Robert is forced to choose between his beliefs and what is right. The story is set across various backgrounds but the main being wartime United States as seen through the eyes of various scientists who were hired by the government to create the greatest weapon known to man. The author expertly uses dialogue to engage his audience in the story creating a truly captivating aura around the book in general. The use of vivid description by the author proved to be a key aspect in promoting the development of the plot and also in engaging the author’s audience. There is good character development in the story as the author describes the protagonist’s emotions and feelings in the most vivid way possible keeping the story interesting from the beginning.

This riveting story tackles various moral issues that face humanity in such a tumultuous time. The author clearly shows the struggles that people in positions of influence and power face in maintaining a picture of perfection and fulfilling expectations placed upon them by society in general. This book really captures the feel of that era, and I enjoyed how emotional this novel is, which I suppose was a surprise to me as I didn’t expect it to be this dramatic.

The story has several bits of foreign language which you may not understand, but certainly lends the book some authenticity. In addition to this, there are several references to poetry which the reader may not know, but is still thought-provoking. Robert J. Sawyer has crafted a master piece of science fiction that presents an alternate history that is absolutely thrilling.

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Judenrein: A Jewish Dystopian Thriller

Judenrein: A Jewish Dystopian Thriller by [Harold Benjamin]

It’s 2020, many years after the Civil Rights Movement and racism is still an issue. In fact, people seem to be radicalizing: white nationalists and Neo-Nazi movements are springing up everywhere. Imagine what would happen if a White Nationalist group infiltrated the highest office in the country, the white house. It would go from building a wall at the Mexican border to coming up with creative ways of rounding up non-white Americans. With human rights protected by the constitution and the UN, it seems improbable that one race would annihilate the others. But we should not underestimate the drive of a “higher cause.”

Judenrein, by Harold Benjamin, is a story about an elaborate plan for a fourth Reich called Reichsadler; only this time, it is not happening in Nazi Germany but the US. The conservative president has affiliations with a powerful and wealthy white nationalist group. The rounding up of Jews is already done. Now, the protagonist, a homeless American-Jew war veteran, has to stop this group before it finds a way to end all other races.

Harold Benjamin presents the story in simple, straightforward language. The way he describes the action-packed scenes helps create vivid imagery in your mind. To make it all so authentic, he throws in Jewish terminologies such as Yeshiva and Yarmulke. The direct speech by the members of the white nationalist group is as backward, gross, and infuriating as you would expect from a racist skinhead.

Perhaps the best thing about this book is the unconventional protagonist: A recovering junkie who got hooked after getting injured in service of his country. His country has now labeled him a terrorist due to his origins. From the very beginning, he is set up to fail. With so many obstacles and too few people to trust, his success seems far-fetched.

The story development is excellent. The first few chapters seem to talk about random people and scenes. But soon, the pieces start falling into place, and I couldn’t help but admire the creativity that went into making that possible.

Judenrein is a page-turner, full of action scenes and unexpected twists of events. Combine all that with simple language and short chapters, and you get a book you won’t put down until you reach the back cover. It is probably the most inspiring action-thriller I have read this year. It is an entertaining book with a thought-provoking message about racism, and shows how easy it would be to find ourselves back in a world where the color of your skin is a crime.

Pages: 260 | ASIN: B086BRZDPF

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The Dark Trail

The Dark Trail by J.C Fields is another thrilling entry in the continuing Sean Kruger saga. This time FBI agent Kruger must try to determine who killed his friend… who happened to be the deputy director of the FBI. As part of the investigation he is granted access to the deputy director’s computer where he uncovers a spreadsheet of dates, times, and case file numbers. The deputy director started a secret project on a suspicion, and it got him killed. Join Kruger works to find the killer while piecing together his friends work to see it to its completion. This story is not a simple ‘whodunit’, it goes so much deeper than a simple assassination.

What I liked most about The Dark Trail was the healthy balance between gripping thriller and slice of life storytelling, which seems to be a knack for J.C. Fields. The primary plot revolves around the dramatic drive to solve a shocking murder, and secondarily resolving the sinister threads hanging from a dangerous knot of secrets. Just when I thought I was getting tired of the thriller genre, J.C. Fields tosses in the B plot to keep your interest piqued before ramping up into the A plot. Kruger is a man who is equally defined by what he does and how he takes care of his family. He believes it is critical to walk the line of not upending his wife’s career and his children’s childhood but also not “waste away” after his agency mandated retirement on his 57th birthday. He could take a promotion into management, but that would force the family to move. It’s a decision he views as selfish, but if he does not solve the A plot before his 57th birthday it might not get solved at all. That would be even worse. The balance of A plot and B plot was so masterfully woven together that once I started reading, I could not put this book down. I think this story could be enjoyed by any adult reader, even if you have never given the thriller genre a try before. A suspenseful political thriller to rival Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan series.

Pages: 301 | ASIN: B084PZ8JZ4

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They Had a Common Enemy

Kathryn Gauci Author Interview

Kathryn Gauci Author Interview

The Poseidon Network follows SOE agent Hadley who must root out a traitor in the network before their cover is blown. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting novel?

I wanted to show that for SOE agents working on behalf of the Allies, the situation in Greece was not easy. The political situation in Europe prior to and during WWII was very much one of division, and nowhere more so than Greece which had experienced great upheavals in their country in the early 20th century. However the Greek Resistance did pull together while they had a common enemy and their part in defeating first the Italians and then the Germans was to be admired. Women also played an important role too, as they had done in every war since The Greek War of Independence in 1821.

I also wanted to write the novel that was more a thriller in the style of Film Noir and the old classics, rather than another resistance story. The melting pot that Cairo was at that time was an ideal starting point. Characters in Rick’s Bar in “Casablanca” along with Harry Lime and his Viennese Nazi sympathizers in “The Third Man” were an inspiration too.

Larry is an interesting and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?

Again taking inspiration from Film Noir I wanted Larry to be a larger than life figure; a man’s man who loved women, yet was caught off-guard when he met Alexis. I tried to imagine the physiology behind such a man. He was, first and foremost, an adventurer, but all of us have a vulnerable human side – a soft spot. Alexis was his. I also wanted to show how he respected the men he worked with. The classic thriller writers and such authors as Steinbeck were a great influence for developing his character.

I enjoyed the historic details used throughout the book. What kind of research did you undertake to get things right?

I always try to get to know the places I write about. In this case, I lived in Greece for six years and heard stories from those who experienced the war firsthand. I have also visited Turkey and Egypt several time. I think this is vital as the atmosphere of a place gets into your blood. It is the sights, sounds and smells that touch the senses and give the novel light and shade.

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

My current WIP is another WWII story set in the Jura/Franche-Comté region of France in 1944. I was there for two and a half months 2019-2020, researching the Maquis, Resistance, and smuggler routes into Switzerland. It is a beautiful area of lakes, forests and mountains, and rich with stories of heroes and heroines in almost every village. Unfortunately, the Germans – particularly the Gestapo – could not have infiltrated the area so successfully had not been for the many collaborators, who were paid a huge sum of money for denouncing someone, particularly the head of a network. This time the protagonist is a woman. I expect to have it out by September this year.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitter | FacebookWebsite

The Poseidon Network by [Kathryn Gauci]

1943. SOE agent Larry Hadley leaves Cairo for German and Italian occupied Greece. His mission is to liaise with the Poseidon network under the leadership of the White Rose.

It’s not long before he finds himself involved with a beautiful and intriguing woman whose past is shrouded in mystery.
In a country where hardship, destruction and political instability threaten to split the Resistance, and terror and moral ambiguity live side by side, Larry’s instincts tell him something is wrong.

After the devastating massacre in a small mountain village by the Wehrmacht, combined with new intelligence concerning the escape networks, he is forced to confront the likelihood of a traitor in their midst. But who is it?

Time is running out and he must act before the network is blown. The stakes are high.

From the shadowy souks and cocktail parties of Cairo’s elite to the mountains of Greece, Athens, the Aegean Islands, and Turkey, The Poseidon Network, is an unforgettable cat-and-mouse portrait of wartime that you will not want to put down.

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Quando Dormo

Quando Dormo (When I Sleep) by Edward Izzi is a suspenseful thriller about Dr. David Fazio, a pro-life obstetrician, divorced twice, and as handsome as he is philanderous. Dr. Fazio is not shy of flaws, personal and otherwise, with an army of scorned women in his past and severe insomnia while also being known as a sleepwalker. At a time where multiple family planning clinics are being burned to the ground, Dr. Fazio’s pro-life views and unknown night-time sleepwalks catches up to him as authorities are determined to find this “Abortion Arsonist”. It especially does not help when he wakes up with burns on his hands one morning. Quando Dormo is a well-written and enticing novel with in-depth characters and intertwining relationships.

One of the most interesting parts in this novel was the relationships between the myriad of characters that appear throughout the novel. At least fifteen characters are introduced and even though that may sound overwhelming, Izzi masterfully crafts these delicate intertwining relationships between each one of them.  These relationships that have been created at first seem disconnected but as the novel moves on, it is revealed how everyone relates to each other in some way or the other. This ultimately leads to the mystery aspect of the story and gives readers a satisfying feeling once everything is understood.

Quando Dormo is set in modern-day Chicago, there is not a lot of setting description which can be considered a downside, but Izzi finds a way to compensate for this. Mainly, through his characters, the way they speak to each other, and the few different cultures that appear throughout which is true to real world Chicago. Speaking of which, Italian culture is explored authentically and amusingly through the main character, Dr. Fazio’s heavily Italian family. Dr. David Fazio may not be an extremely likable character as he is a known womanizer and the story delves into some of his previous girlfriend’s lives and their, not so favorable, feelings toward him. However, we do see his positive traits and fascinating character growth throughout the novel.

A fair warning should be given before people go into this compelling novel. There are many contrasting and controversial opinions on pro-life and pro-choice from different characters. And the actions that some of these characters take are extreme which can be unpleasant to some readers. But if this doesn’t bother you then you are in for an entertainingly provocative tale.

Pages: 394 | ASIN: B085XQY8XX

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