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Asian Waters: The Struggle Over the South China Sea and the Strategy of Chinese Expansion

Asian Waters: The Struggle Over the South China Sea and the Strategy of Chinese Expansion by [Humphrey Hawksley]

Humphrey Hawksley’s journalistic career, when paired with his fiction-writing expertise, make for excellent non-fiction writing. Asian Waters is a really comprehensive and digestible read, despite its extremely weighty content. Hawksley’s tone and choice of language remains simple yet informative throughout, despite becoming increasingly complex in terms of content matter. Hawksley also manages to maintain a sense of pace and excitement with his writing, as if it were a novel rather than a non-fiction guide, especially when delving into and combing through actual history, geography and social science.

Though there is a hefty scope to cover when it comes to the Asia-Pacific conflict, the South China Sea, Chinese expansion and the territory dispute associated, Asian Waters covers everything you would want to know about the topic without it feeling as if you are being overloaded with information.

You may be tempted to read it as an almanac for the specialist topic it covers, or perhaps as an academic accompaniment, but it also doubles up as a travel book and is arguably best consumed in this way. Asian Waters was fascinating in itself, just for my own interest’s sake, so I imagine that it  would be particularly enlightening to consume whilst travelling the very area it covers.

The focus on political tension between the countries of the Asia-Pacific is unpacked with great skill and tastefulness, but without wavering on the hardy facts. This is where Hawksley’s experience as a BBC foreign correspondent is most prominent – his understanding of the dynamics at play remains at the forefront of his writing.

Asian Waters is not simply a retelling of the history and politics which have been at play for years, or solely the facts and information which led to the current situation. There is also vital contextualisation that allows the reader to understand where these issues sit at the time of reading, understanding how a Trumpian government impacts the conflicts, or how the relationship between Moscow and Beijing influence the rest of the world.

Asian Waters connects all the branches of knowledge and intellect to give a clear retelling of the reality, including social influence, historical action which has taken place, and the geographical layout that facilitates as much. As well as clarifying the past and contextualising the present, it focuses on the future. The book predicts how the implications of what has happened and is happening will affect what is to come for Asia.

Pages: 304 | ASIN: B07MXDFQK1

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Dark Roots of American Politics

Michael McCord Author Interview

Michael McCord Author Interview

“End Times” is satirical look at a dystopian America that is eerily reminiscent of real life. What was the inspiration behind this thought-provoking novel?

I combined my own experiences as a journalist covering this political devolution in style and content to use satire to explain the collapsing political climate and set the stage for a Real America.

I’ve been asked numerous times in interviews and in speaking to groups how the Real America of my fevered imagination came about. I have said repeatedly anyone paying close attention to the dark roots of American politics since say 1980, or at least since 1994, would see something seriously amiss. In particular, in case you haven’t noticed, the Republican Party has gradually abandoned the idea of governing and embraced wholesale nihilism. They replaced it with a maniacal dedication to the snake oil of cutting taxes for the already filthy rich, filling the federal judiciary with as many unqualified and ideologically stupid judges imaginable, driving up federal deficits to science fiction levels, and generally mucking up the fragile nuts and bolts of democracy on a daily basis.

I chose a satirical fiction avenue because I wasn’t interested in writing a more conventional non-fiction book about what was happening.

Lawrence Bowie is an exceptionally developed character that I loved to hate. What were some themes you felt were important to capture in his character?

Good point: Bowie is either loved or hated with no middle ground. He was an amalgamation of five to six (real) Republican politicians known for their profound ignorance, incoherence and ability to lie without hesitation. In the first book (“The Execution Channel: A Political Fable”), one of the original concepts was the existence of a Congressional “Imbecile Caucus” and then I needed an incoherent and ignorant savant to lead them. This led to Congressman Lawrence C. “Demon Seed” Bowie of Texas who would go on to become the governor of the Real America Republic of Texas.

The totally immoral Bowie arrived to take advantage of a cynical climate ripe for a rabid minority to worship a truly corrupt leader. This pied piper would mock and degrade his followers while demanding their total loyalty and calling it love. He promised the best traits of a national crime syndicate and a death cult. He would keep them entertained with blatant racism, lies, fear mongering, conspiracy theories, and embracing ignorance. Bowie, a true pathological narcissist, would be the first to tell you, he made his mark before Trump in part because there was no shortage of marks in Real America for his political con. Bowie’s career path would eventually lead to a Real America secession and glory as Emperor Supreme for Life of Real America. Bowie keeps the public stupefied with cruel spectacle and the excitement of secession and a 21st Century Civil War.

Your book delivers a stark view of America’s political future. What things do you see in your book as only fiction and what things do you see as possible?

“End Times” is meant to entertain and enlighten with equal amounts of satirical humor, zaniness, and shock. The book is not for the political faint of heart or for those who believe America is on the right path. In a sense it’s not unlike the ghost of Christmas future in “The Christmas Carol”. I’m not saying this or that will happen. I am saying this alternative universe of Real America has the same seeds of decay and fraying of the chords of civility and decency that we see happening each and every day now. Though some may disagree, our American democracy is fragile and ripe for further destruction. Real America is one many dark versions that could replace our current political system – if the slippery slope of more economic and social chaos, less accountability, crueler and blatantly racist policies, and destruction of democratic norms continues.

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

Penelope will the third and final book in the Real America saga. Hopefully, by 2021-2022 readers will experience the final showdown between Penelope the Psychic and Emperor Supreme for Life Bowie.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsite

End Times: More Great Adventures in Real America by [McCord, Michael]

Michael McCord’s provocative 2013 political satire The Execution Channel: A Political Fable was the first act of the Real America saga.

The saga continues with the fantastical and farcical End Times: More Great Adventures in Real America. Set in an alternative (yet eerily familiar) political universe, this tale of American dystopia answers the question: What happens when America goes politically bonkers?

The colorful cast is topped by the righteously amoral and thoroughly corrupt Lawrence C. ‘Demon Seed’ Bowie. After surviving an attempted coup in 2018, he has rebounded with his customary good karma. Bowie is Chairman, CEO, President, and toga-wearing Emperor Supreme for Life of Real America, Inc., the Confederate-admiring, whites-preferred, and corporate-run nation that seceded from Old USA in 2020.

As he nurtures a new country combining the best aspects of a national crime syndicate and a death cult, Bowie prepares for a 2021 Coronation Night extravaganza to celebrate his magnificence and dazzle the world. Though his apocalyptic destiny seems assured, a rising resistance and many foes conspire against him and threaten the Real American dream.

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Avenge the Silenced

Avenge the Silenced (Reverence Book 8) by [Landeros, Joshua]

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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My Emotional Turmoil

BJ Cyprian Author Interview

BJ Cyprian Author Interview

Shadow Resistance follows the lives of three women that quickly become entangled due a series of life changing events. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?

Originally, the novel started out as my personal response to the extreme shift the country saw in November 2016. As a triple minority, I felt a sense of pain, outrage, and confusion when I saw so much of the progress that was achieved virtually undone overnight. The increase in outward hatred towards people classified as “others” that accompanied this shift was also a large portion of my emotional turmoil. I will admit, the very first rough draft began more from a place of anger. However, it is true that time does soothe the mind a bit and I wanted to change my tactics. I felt like perhaps instead of anger, I should come from a place of using historical facts within a (what I hoped) was a gripping fictional plot. I feel like sometimes themes and facts in fiction are much easier received by some who have a hard time seeing the same themes in real life.

Dom, Rose, and Layla are intriguing and well developed characters. What were the driving ideals behind their character development?

I definitely wanted this novel to be female forward, particularly females of color. All three characters are compositions of my outer self, my inner self, and/or people who are close to me. Dom is the character that is the closest to my outer self. Many people who know me personally reach out to me after the first 2-4 chapters and say, “You’re Dom.” I would like to hope most authors use an aspect of themselves and their outlook in their main characters and that it’s not a sign of some weird narcissism on my part. Like Dom I’m an extreme introvert and an empath. Some of the stories of her past are things that actually happened in my life. (I only wish I had her computer ability and money!) While I do have some personality traits of the other two women, Rose is a combination of my wife and another good friend of mine who is an educator. Layla is inspired by my best friend in some ways.

As far as development, I wanted each woman to have their own special skill to bring to the table. I knew I wanted a sci-fi component to the story as I am a pretty big nerd, so I made Dom a tech genius. I also wanted a psychological/behavioral psychology piece. As my wife is a therapist I chose that vessel for Rose. I have known people who have had an eidetic memory in the past, which fascinated me, so I definitely wanted that as well, which I assigned to Layla. As far as their back stories and other character development, those were just as much a surprise to me as they were to the reader. I didn’t plan much of that, it just became organic to the story.

This novel expertly uses history and modern social issues throughout the book to create a thought provoking story. What were some themes you wanted to capture in your novel?

First and foremost, we are all human. When you strip away the labels, the physical, emotional, gender, sexuality differences, we are humans. We focus so much more on trying to be more important and better than others that we forget we are pretty much the same. Actions have consequences, and often those consequences can last for generations. This was what I wanted to get across in the historical component of the novel. If we refuse to acknowledge and accept how history affects the present, we are doomed to repeat it in the future. Another important theme I wanted to embrace was the concept of community. It seems that in today’s social media world, we are connected with everyone but don’t have a true real community of support. Those are probably the major themes for this novel. I touched on others like religion, sexuality, education, policing etc that I hope to go into in future installments.

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

Currently I’m working on two books. Of course, I have the 2nd installment of Shadow Resistance in the works. However, as I just released this novel less than 6 months ago, I don’t want to rush the production of the 2nd book. I am piecing out the main arc before I take it up in earnest. (But rest assured the cliffhanger is handled within the first few chapters.) I’m also working on another standalone mystery/thriller surrounding a grief support group.  I don’t have an expected release date for either. I want to make sure they are up to the same caliber or better than my first novel, but I hope one will be ready to go by Q4 2020.

Author Links: GoodReads Twitter FacebookWebsite

In this intriguing, page-turning, and slyly humorous tale, readers will find themselves pulling for three unforgettable women confronted with an unusual opportunity to address age-old social, political, racial, and economic hot-button topics. Dominique “Dom” Samuels is a wealthy, reclusive computer genius living a life full of anxiety evoked by tragedy. Her acute awareness of the injustices suffered by minority communities makes a logic-based artificial intelligence program of her own creation preferable to people. Until, that is, a man appears on her doorstep with an ingenious idea that turns her isolated existence upside down.Rose Jenkins is a tough but compassionate urban school counselor with a mission to protect at-risk youth from the heartbreak of drugs and violence that took away two of her brothers. When another brother, Robert, is released from prison, healthy and free from his addiction, he opens her eyes to a mysterious group with an entirely new take on social justice. Layla Green is a police crime scene technician who finds herself at the scene of a grisly murder with no physical evidence and an unidentifiable victim. Then Layla’s eidetic memory zeroes in on one solitary clue — a video game console. When a stranger helps Layla and her partner, Rachel Vasquez, access the console’s protected files, things take a twist none of them could have predicted.Shadow Resistance leads its readers on an innovative, thought-provoking journey — and to a new take on timely social topics. Even as this book serves up its compelling story, it delivers an invitation to step into the shoes of those who may be different by remembering the humanity of others.

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WAKE UP AMERICA!

When you find yourself wondering why society at large seems to be on a self-destructive path with little hope for survival, one of the most refreshing things that you can find is the idea that not all is, in fact, lost. That idea can mean many things to many different types of people. Whether the thought that we can still turn things around gives people hope or goes so far as to create a road-map for future success, any idea or discussion breathing new life into failing systems is a positive addition to our body of knowledge. Charlie Petersen, long-time technology management specialist turned author, seems to be a good source of game-changing ideas, and many of them make a lot of sense.

Wake Up America covers a lot of ground but is centered around the idea that if we, as global citizens, don’t change our ways we are headed for destruction of two types: war and/or depression. The author, Charlie Petersen, argues that in an ever more globalized society we all have a responsibility to choose a brighter path to planetary stability and harmony.

As it would seem pretty clear that most of us aren’t willing to initiate the kinds of changes that are required to avoid a meltdown, Petersen presents his ideas for change as being ones to be taken up by the governments of the world. He maps out a solution to reduce the dependency on oil and gas, while at the same time focusing on the coming water crises. Petersen discusses what would be required for a global paradigm shift and discusses why those holding power currently are not prepared to act, although they are aware that action is needed.

How can the status quo be reimagined? Who or what forces would be responsible for initiating a new approach? The author of Wake Up America goes to great lengths to answer those questions and more in this important work.

Wake up calls usually come in a couple of varieties. Those which are too far-fetched to do anyone any good, and those that deliver logic and science together with a solid dose of reasoning to make sense of it all. Wake Up America, published by Matchstick Literary, is the latter. All in all, Wake Up America contains in depth research and unique approaches to solving the current problems facing our world.

Pages: 344 | ISBN: 1642540447

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Front Porches to Front Lines

Front Porches to Front Lines: One Small Town’s Mobilization of Men, Women, Manufacturing and Money during World War One by [Perlsweig, Simon]

Simon I. Perlsweig’s historical account of the lives of the author’s great grandparents and the communication between them shows a great deal of what life in Springfield, VT was like in the 1910’s. It is very possible that without this work, much of what Perlsweig writes about in Front Porches to Front Lines: One Small Town’s Mobilization of Men, Women, Manufacturing, and Money During World War One, would never have been pieced together. It is a real pleasure to be able to experience this slice of history. Simon Perlsweig does this astoundingly and it is clearly evident that he put his heart and soul into his work.

Perlsweig’s book takes readers to Springfield, and more importantly, into the lives of a couple whose lives were greatly affected by WWI. There was, of course, the impact on the couple in question, Lawrence and Gladys, but readers are shown how everything else in the small Vermont town was changed forever, as well, and to make matters worse, war wouldn’t be the only problem faced by this couple.

Historically speaking, this work is a gem. There is a wealth of information on virtually every aspect of life in the United States in the early 20th Century, and even when the familial part of the work is not considered, Front Porches to Front Lines holds its own as a historical text due to the attention given to the social, economic, and political issues, among many more.

The research is thorough, and the writing style employed by the author is academic, while at the same time being accessible to a diverse audience. With such a breadth of information contained within the pages of this book, it’s definitely a plus using language that is not too complicated.

Another aspect of the book that many readers should enjoy is the fact that there is a large amount of authentic memorabilia from the period, including recruiting posters, family photos, government documents, and much more.

Simon I. Perlsweig’s Front Porches to Front Lines, published by Husky Trail Press LLC, is certainly a work that should not be ignored. It is not everyday that we are invited into the human experience of those who lived through one of America’s most trying times, and it’s even rarer that we get such a personal touch as the one here.

Pages: 221 | ASIN: B07MY6GLD5

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Hitherto & Thitherto – Trailer

A memoir of four decades into the future set against the backdrop of difficult times in the United States, starting from late 2010 and ending in 2045. This is the story of an unusual American family as they struggle against the convergence of oncoming economic hard times, social ills and political instability. From witnessing a complete economic collapse to the unfolding of a race war to a full-scale revolution, the family matriarch’s dream of riding the success of American civilization, instead veers to living the nightmare of the country’s demise.

This is the only futurology book where three of the predictions in the book have, in such a short amount of time, manifested: the disintegration of the Iran nuclear deal, Trumps tariff wars and the Russian meddling in US affairs. Read to find out further…

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The Chosen

The Chosen by [Corbitt, Ray]

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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