“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.
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.
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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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.
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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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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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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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 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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The world as he knows it is crumbling around him. Marc Bravo has just seen the twin towers in New York City fall and terrorism is on the minds of every American and dominates conversations across the globe. September 11, 2001 marks the beginning of a string of events that will change Marc’s life in a way he could never have predicted. When his parents go missing from their volunteer work with Doctors Without Borders, Marc drops everything to find them and bring them home safely. What Marc can never predict is what he will learn about their kidnappers, their true intentions, and how the entire world may ultimately be affected.
Alice Sandoval’s The New Holy Warriors is a timely piece detailing the events following the September 11th attack on the United States. Sandoval takes the story beyond the accounts that we have all seen and heard and breaks down the symbolism of the event itself. In addition, the author lays out for readers a story like no other as she follows Marc Bravo on a quest to find his missing parents who are assumed to have been kidnapped. Marc’s story and his journey for answers is based on true events and is stunning in every way.
One of the most striking elements included in Sandoval’s work is the way in which Islamophobia is addressed. In a very straightforward manner, the author reminds us all of the horrific treatment of anyone appearing to be of Middle Eastern descent. Via her main character, Marc, she drives home the fact that stereotyping immediately following September 11th was rampant and a danger to countless numbers of innocent people.
Another aspect of Sandoval’s story, which might go unnoticed by many, is the description she gives of the strange incidents in the skies above Mexico. Marc is treated to an elaborate explanation of the event and is informed that UFO sightings above Mexico are fairly commonplace. As this book reads as primarily nonfiction, it is almost chilling to listen in on the characters’ conversation about these “cigar-shaped” ships. As an added bonus to the already curious events, Sandoval includes the story of a suspected relationship between the Mayans, the pyramids, and Martians. The casual conversation included in this story inspired by real events is not in the least out of place, but it is truly fascinating.
Sandoval does not shy away from sharing the abject horror involved in terrorism and the groups involved. With color photographs and blatant captions, Sandoval openly shows readers the brutality carried out by organizations like Al Qaeda. If there was ever any doubt in the reader’s mind about the capabilities and intentions of terrorist organizations, Sandoval wipes it completely away with one swift stroke of the pen.
The New Holy Warriors is a fascinating and eye-opening account of terrorism as viewed through the lives of ordinary citizens. Marc, his brother, and best friend are the vessels by which Sandoval delivers an amazing story readers will wish was just that–simply a story.
Pages: 373 | ASIN: B0784QR76B
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The Incidental Jihadi follows Len as he begins to realize there is a complicated game being played between the communist and the west. What was the inspiration for the idea behind this thrilling novel?
Back in 2012 the coverage on the Syrian crisis was quite rampant on the news with the images of high profile Caucasian victims in orange being executed by the vanguard in black. Around that time after a few freak clicks on the web I came across the recorded brutalities against Syrian civilians on what was surely an underground website. There lay cataloged in various categories the shootings, be-headings and post bomb blast videos taken in Aleppo, Idlib and a few remote unnamed Syrian villages.After confirming the authenticity of the videos and their location a few times(which was probably the most shocking and challenging research I had ever done) those unknown victims begged to be heard. I realised that no one was truly reporting the situation on the ground and ‘the news’ is not just about facts like the body count! The news broadcasters were just screening out the details to reduce this ongoing tragedy to a mere topic for the fortnight. No one wants to see a beheading while shoveling food in their mouths and I get that. But we must make room in people’s minds on the actual impact of any war for that matter and that needs to be done with realism which is on the ground and preferably not censored. This formed an idea to read beyond the news and perceive it’s reality and the inspiration stayed throughout till I completed the novel.
Len is an interesting character that is motivated by his family and their safety. What were some themes you wanted to explore with his character?
Len could be anyone of us who is physically able and a well educated immigrant living in a country where his efforts pay him excellent results. However none of us are actually ever prepared for what the future holds for us and what choices we make if we are faced with distressing situations beyond our control mould us as a human being. Far from being perfect and having a slightly sycophantic bend
he will do what his superior asks him to do even if it seemed ethically wrong and this trait is quite human especially in ambitious individuals. Len is reckless in his ambition and he makes the mistake
of involving his wife Sara in a project that had a warning light beeping on it from the word ‘go’. He descends into rage anger and depression as they are marooned in the remote city of Qatmah, this is
again a denial in his own mind of the rash choices he had made to appease his superior and endangered the one person he loved. Wave after wave of shocking transformation in Len(his acceptance of a life in Qatmah, the change in his identity, his family’s abduction) and how he chose to accept it as a man shows how his character metamorphosed from someone in denial to someone who takes responsibility and acts appropriately and this is where Naim seems to be his alter ego but they are really the same person. I was hoping to show that come whatever a situation in life, the man who survives the longest is the one who does not live in denial of the responsibility of his actions. I wanted to explore his ability to keep doing the right thing even in the face of inevitable catastrophe.
The story is vivid and detailed in it’s account of people and places. What research did you undertake for this novel?
Besides the research into the distressing underground video material on the executions, I started reading up on the Middle Eastern conflict to understand it’s origins starting right after the end of the Second World war particularly around the time when the United States started exerting it’s political clout over Britain and France back in the fifties. That was just for historical perspective though as my perception changed after I met a few of the Syrians who had come to London to take refuge( we would never call them refugees, it just seemed a derogatory term to use). Their stories told in straight english sentences was as heartbreaking as it could be and the videos, the history and their accounts all tied together with the information I gathered from Arabic and African news journals. This was a point of view that people seldom saw and that is what I brought into the novel. In terms of geographical locations, names and places mentioned throughout the novel, they are all actual places and the actual novel gets more gripping when you lookup the places on, say, google maps and find that every bit of the descriptions including terrain, the people and even the castle. They are wonderful examples of actual places that are existing on the edge of the war and peace that keeps waxing and waning over the region.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I don’t believe I have completed Len’s development yet and there was a huge though entirely unintentional open end in this book: that of the fate of his wife. Len and Sara have a way of staying in my head, so there will be a final conclusion on their fate in my next book. I learnt a few lessons from my first novel, The Incidental Jihadi and this time I want to do justice to Sara and Len and the people they
have known and cared about. For this reason this is going to take at least a year in development and a year in editing. I just want it to be perfect.
Twenty-nine year old geologist/surveyor, Len Berkowicz has everything to live for: a wonderful companion and a successful career working for a major oil exploration company when his career mentor and friend, Eric decides to send him to a risk prone oil exploration project in the Golan Heights.
In his journey he assimilates the true nature of the ‘holy war’ through the eyes of his comrades, realising that a far more complicated and subtle ‘game’ played between the communist and capitalist powers on the ground.
Will Len succeed in his mission that seemed doomed right from its inception?
Can those of us living in the West be able to keep the dust at bay on our home turf when we decimate every Arabian state to rubble?
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Whatever He Wants: The Pleasures and Perils of Power By Joan Conning Afman is a contemporary story set in West Palm Beach, Florida. The books starts with Mel Martinelli and Sam Abrams, two unethical businessmen, looking for an up-and-coming politician to groom for state senate. They want a man they can control, who will serve their own interests. They decide that David Shepherd, a young, handsome lawyer is the ideal candidate. David insists that he will not be a party to anything illegal, and with their insincere assurance that they would never ask him to do anything like that, he agrees to their proposal to fund his campaign. Mel goes so far in his machinations as to encourage a romantic relationship between his daughter, Michelle, and David, which eventually leads to marriage. Will David’s ambitions cause him to act contrary to his beliefs? Or will he stand firm against others’ attempts to compromise his determination to do what is right?
Michelle Martinelli is a controversial character that had me shaking my head at the beginning of the story. She was entitled and snobbish, with no ambition and was supported by her rich father. She was a character perfectly created to be hated. She was drawn to a man based on his looks alone, without any thought for what kind of person he was. What I really enjoy about the characters in this book is how they evolve over time. Michelle starts to develop some redeeming qualities as time passes, although still unlikable, I was impressed with how well developed here character was.
While the books started with me loathing Michelle, I had the opposite feeling of David Shepherd. He seemed to be an ethical man who refused to comprise his principles for others. But as the story progressed, he abandons his scruples and becomes corrupted by power. This slow decline into the very worst sort of politician reveals how someone can change, and the contrast is stark and revealing–accepting bribes, having an adulterous affair, fathering a child with a woman who was not his wife, contemplating and condoning murder to further his own ends.
I enjoyed the author’s writing style, it flowed easily and was frank and to the point with only a few editing issues. The story was well paced but there were a few sections where I would have enjoyed a little bit more information before the story moved on. The story follows the development of the characters over the course of more than twenty years so there were points where there are large time jumps leaving me with a few questions in an otherwise well written story.
This is a fascinating story that examines how people change over time. This is a character driven story that I highly recommend to anyone who likes stories that put humanity to the test.
Pages: 190 | ASIN: B0793QKWYF
Tags: alibris, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, christian, ebook, faith, fantasy, fiction, florida, goodreads, ilovebooks, indiebooks, Joan Conning Afman, kindle, kobo, literature, nook, novel, politics, publishing, read, reader, reading, religion, religious, shelfari, smashwords, story, The Pleasures and Perils of Power, West Palm Beach, Whatever He Wants, writer, writer community, writing