Soleil’s novel Limbo Jubilee is a psychological drama written from the perspective of the West Virginian born Neala, who has to overcome the trauma and loss inflicted upon her at an early age and later becomes a psychologist in Arizona while still trying to find herself and her place in the world. While I won’t spoil it entirely, I do have to point out that she isn’t entirely successful, and the book becomes a narrative that slowly unwinds in the same way she does. Slowly, until finally it spirals to a fitting conclusion at the end of the book.
I was quickly taken in by Neala’s story, even as it is interwoven with her growing madness as her psyche breaks down. I was able to easily empathize with her character. You want her to pull through, and heal herself, like she promises she should at the beginning. Neala means Champion—the heroine should be a champion—but midway, as she begins to unravel you know it’s going to end in tears as she loses touch with reality, becomes convinced that she isn’t real, and eventually loses herself bit by bit until there is nothing left except something she has called the “Choisi”. This is wistful and somewhat somber but utterly compelling.
The book and narrative reminds me a lot of Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam because I felt like it carried much the same tone. Fans of Atwood’s work in that series will enjoy Limbo Jubilee as I did. In between the rational and recognizable are snippets of what really is happening.
The start of all of this is heavily foreshadowed in the first chapter, beginning with her trying to help her dying Aunt Betsy, and it is in this chapter that the seeds of her eventual anorexia and the lifelong battle with it are planted, as are the seeds of what will come later in the book. I had to read the beginning a few times to catch all the colorful nuances and each time I did, I found another snippet and hint of the prods and disconnects that eventually are Neala’s undoing by the end of the book. While it isn’t a book for the faint of heart, it is definitely one with plenty of potential that needs to be on the bookshelf of anyone that appreciates a complex and thought-provoking read. Not one word isn’t there that doesn’t serve a purpose — Limbo Jubilee has been masterfully written.
Pages: 193 | ASIN: B07ZTTK6BB
It all started with a nice man in a café. A man so nice he stirred sugar into her beverage. What followed was a series of lies and deceptions that led to the loss of her son. Lilly Reynolds finds herself trapped in a secret underground cell with a pool of water and an unlikely ‘friend’. She finds herself having to develop a weird friendship with a bigfoot Ox. Is there a hope of escape for Lilly? Does she suffer Stockholm syndrome? Is her perception of prison influenced by her ‘friend’?
White Harvest is thought-provoking and deeply disturbing. Everything from the strange sex and Lilly’s desire to be comforted by Ox are disconcerting to say the least. However, this is what makes the story good. Your flabbergast button will remain perpetually pressed. It is imaginative and creative. The author’s masterful portrayal of this warped world is a testament to author’s literary prowess. The author weaves a sufficiently graphic and well detailed account of Lilly’s experience.
Lilly is a likable woman. To some extent you will understand her strangely welcoming reception of Ox so soon after meeting. Then there is Ox, whose motivation I barely understood and who always seems like he could be genuine despite the mildly manipulative undertone. An undertone that could very well be imagined. It is so hard to decipher whether his is a façade or not. These are just examples of the author’s ability to create wonderfully appealing characters that have depth and dimension. The characters do as much for the book as the complex plot does.
White Harvest has a comedic nature with an element of darkness. It is all conspiracy theories with some truths too. The reader will enjoy all the references and lessons from Ox. I found myself engrossed in this strange tale of human nature. It is a tale about choices that human beings face from time to time. It is about the impact of situations versus the nature of the choices taken.
This is a book you take your time with. Consume every page in its entirety and enjoy looking at the world through Lilly’s eyes.
Pages: 345 | ASIN: B07YKBQZGC
Marcel Freeman is an ordinary man, prisoner of his ordinary life. He goes to work every morning, from his workplace he heads directly home and then goes to sleep. There is nothing special about his life until one day, something exceptional happens. He decides to leave work one hour earlier, without permission, without explanation. This decision seems trivial, but it will start an unlucky chain of events for him, soon he finds himself in the middle of a forest with strange people and he has to face danger, mystery, and crime. But the most important question is: can he run away from his fate?
The Silver is Mine by Jason Roger Phillips is a gripping mystery novel. The story is very impressive, the author creates a complex cryptic story after outlining more separate stories. The novel takes place in two different places: in a big city’s ghetto and in the countryside in Geronimo Bay. The weather is mostly rainy or stormy, which has a symbolic meaning and also provides a good base to the mysterious mood. I liked how the real and the imaginary events alternate through the story, and how all the dreams, metaphors and poems have a deep meaning.
The characters are introduced separately in the novel but their lives get connected somehow as the story unfolds. The main characters are well worked out and all of them have a very strong personality, even the young ones. Marcel is an average office worker, who gets tired of his boring life and the fact that the woman he loves can never be his. His character develops as the story goes on, first he is impulsive in his actions, but later he starts to make rational decisions in order to gain his freedom. Gemma, Marcel’s lover changes a lot also, from a rich, drug addict, co-dependent woman she becomes someone who has values and appreciates simple things, like other people’s love. Shippie’s character is very interesting, I think that her mysterious personality would be worth a separate book.
Although the story is engaging and interesting, I think the book’s value is in the effect it has on the reader. While reading, I stopped multiple times to think about what I read and even after finishing the book, I still keep thinking. Such an amazing novel!
Pages: 239 | ASIN: B01N2V2MT4
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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Sailor’s Psychology: A Methodology on Self-Discovery Through the Tale of a Semite in the Squall by Chester Litvin, PhD is a study in the fragmented identities of humans. Litvin uses the metaphor of sailors to equate to anyone on any sort of journey or voyage, either physical, spiritual, or psychological. Litvin examines many psychological splits present in people. He also explores self-awareness, finding completeness and wholeness of the human spirit, and provides navigation to sailors on how to get there.
The book appears to be a companion book to Litvin’s Escape from Kolyma: Aborigin is a Bear Region. It delves deeper into the story of Professor Stepan Kryvoruchko, PhD and the other characters from that book, and uses those characters to teach readers about the human psyche. In Sailor’s Psychology, Litvin refers to Kryvoruchko’s story often, so I think it would be beneficial to have knowledge of the aforementioned book before diving into this one. Without previous knowledge of the characters, readers may find themselves lost.
Litvin writes about a myriad of issues, but one thing that I picked up on in Litvin’s work that felt very poignant and important to our current society was his thoughts on religion. Litvin explained that very religious people felt as if they were the protectors of their own religion. They felt the need to hang onto tradition and preserve and protect the principles and belief system of their religion. In doing so, they ostracize new people and create an us vs. them mentality. This causes a rift between the very religious and those who are on the perimeter questioning whether to join or not. This system leaves out anyone who is forward thinking or looking for spiritual growth beyond the concrete dogma. The walling off of new parishioners by religious leaders was one of many self-contradictory practices that is examined.
Outside forces as well as personal ones are explained as the source of pscyhe fragmentation. Internal elements, both conscious and subconscious contribute to the wholeness, or lack thereof, of a person. Interpersonal relationships, family history, and other contributors are also at play. Litvin explains how Kryvoruchko’s family history of Nazi domination led to his multitudes of fears. He also explains that Kryvoruchko was self-aware enough to recognize and diagnose those issues and face them head-on.
This is a book that I think may be taken best over time, such as in a Psychology class or an extended study. As a study taken a section at a time, the load of the book would seem less daunting. It is heavy, complex and will take some thought to digest.
Pages: 250 | ASIN: B0792Y9K3V
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Chester Litvin, PhD has woven together an Orwellian world of doctrine, dogma, and propaganda in his book, Escape from Kolyma: Aborigin is a Bear Region. Psychological warfare has run rampant in the form of super-viruses that attack the psyche. Citizens are forced to beg, steal, borrow, and worse just to get by. Concentration camps and dictatorship have come back into fashion, and the people of Aborigin are suffering. The super-viruses are turning good people bad, and stripping the people of their personalities. They are being brainwashed and turning on each other. Professor Kryvoruchko is aware of the widespread infection, and may be Aborigin’s and the world’s only hope.
Many parts of the book are reminiscent of Hitler’s Germany, complete with propaganda and concentration camps. The cultural rift present is also indicative of a Hitler-like state. Convince one man he is better than another and he will let you pick his pocket. Give him someone to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you. That’s a paraphrase of a Lyndon B. Johnson quote about racism, but it applies here. Readers will draw many similarities between the culture of Litvin’s Aborigin and racism and “otherism” still found present all over the world. This is a divide-and-conquer mentality that worked wonders for Hilter, and still works in politics and socially in other areas.
The book is scary to me in its realism. I don’t believe that these are things that could never happen. I think psychological warfare isn’t a half-step from where we are now. In America, in particular, racism is still alive and well. People still continue to look down on groups of people they see as “less thans.” In the book, groups of people are stripped of every possession and jailed. They are killed. This kind of hatred for others is contagious. This kind of infection continues to spread if it isn’t stopped. I’m afraid we are closer to this kind of thing happening than I’d like to admit.
A part of the book that particularly bothered me was the children emulating the adults that they watched. Apparently, the children were also infected. They, too, were brainwashed. They mimicked what they saw being done before them down to raping and killing others. The children became thugs. There seemed to be an entire loss of innocence. This may be disturbing for readers, but it’s important. Children become what they know. They imitate what they see. This serves as a reminder for people to be worthy of emulation.
I will say that the book is complex. This wasn’t an easy Sunday afternoon kind of read, and with its subject matter, it shouldn’t be. I found myself re-reading parts that I didn’t understand. It was not always easy for me to follow. It requires some time and thought to get through. With that being said, sentence structure, grammar, and spelling were pretty impeccable.
Litvin delves into some unpleasant scenarios for the sake of opening eyes it seems to me. He gives some reminders about how easily it is for us, as humans, to lose our humanity or to follow blindly as sheep. He keeps some underdogs in there for us to cling to as we grapple through the book. It’s not an easy read, but serves as an important reminder. As Churchill once said, “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.” This sentiment echos through these pages.
Pages: 432 | ASIN: B07N3SXLYV
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All Your Fears follows Kim, a seemingly normal person, but something sinister returns from her past. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
The inspiration for All Your Fears comes from different sources. The plot is loosely based on a crime that occurred in the UK some year ago. In order to create a compelling novel I needed to look at alternative ways to drive the narrative, make it interesting and keep the reader guessing. Hours of research furnished me with material gleaned from paranormal events and case studies centered around psychological disorders, particularly with reference to the emotion of fear and what causes it.
Kim is an intriguing character that continued to develop as the story progressed. What were some driving ideals behind her character?
The novel portrays the main character, Kim Robins, as a deeply troubled young woman with a huge emotional burden. She is basically a ‘good’ person: forgiving, compassionate and trustworthy. Most of all, though, she is vulnerable and therefore wary of people and their intentions. Kim’s mental state quickly deteriorates as the novel progresses, and reaches a point of no return. She does, however, possess an inner strength that enables her to fight on, as it were, in the search for spiritual release.
This novel expertly delivers mystery and suspense. Was the story planned or did it develop organically while writing?
Before I began writing the novel I planned the beginning and the end. I formulated several chapters, wrote them, and decided where to go from there. I found that ideas came to me during the writing. The characters, once fully formed, started to ‘speak’ to me; they take on a life of their own. As an author, you have to make sure you don’t deviate away from the plot otherwise it loses focus. The novel has a moral side to it and hopefully will ask the reader to make their own judgements on various aspects of the characters’ motivations.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
I am taking a break from writing and pursuing my other interests. I do, though, have an idea for another novel entitled, Chapter 13.
Kim Robins lives a contented life in a peaceful market town. One evening, she encounters a maniac driver who narrowly misses running her over. History teacher Jay Yeldon drives by moments later, takes her home and examines her sprained ankle. A romantic relationship soon develops, but as the weeks progress Kim is plagued by disturbing, bizarre incidents and mounting fear. Trusting nobody, she seeks spiritual help, only to be cruelly deceived.
Fearful that Kim will come to harm, Jay turns detective and discovers the shattering truth about the woman who loves him.
Someone is out to destroy her and will stop at nothing.
Jay faces a moral dilemma and becomes isolated. Undeterred, he conceives a daring plan to expose her enemy, but nothing prepares him for the unexpected, horrifying climax that changes his outlook on life forever.
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All Your Fears, a novel by Peter Hodgson is a riveting story of a troubled woman. Kim lives in a small town in England. She works in a hotel cleaning rooms and lives on her own with her Labrador, Smarty. From the outside, she lives a regular life by anyone’s measure. Underneath the surface, though, there is unrest. Kim hears voices and has hallucinations. Only small clues are given about her past and personal life. Is Kim struggling with a past that is haunting her? Is she, herself being haunted by a ghost or some other sinister force? Is she strung out? Is she suffering from a mental illness? The answer to these questions unfold as the story progresses.
Hodgson has spun together a masterful work laced with mystery. I love a good mystery, and Hodgson kept me guessing until the very last chapter. Nothing can be taken at face value and no one can be trusted. I suspected everything and everyone. Is something really happening or is it a nightmare or hallucination? At times, the reader won’t know until Hodgson decides to reveal the answer. Protagonist, Kim, often doesn’t know the answers herself. She doesn’t know up from down or real from imaginary.
I got invested in the characters from the start. I got wrapped up in Kim’s story and her relationships with the people around her, especially Jay. The characters were well-developed as layers were peeled back a bit at a time. Hodgson keeps his cards close to his chest in some areas to build the mystery and drama. Anyone who has been shocked to find out something about an acquaintance will sympathize with the story. I think that fits us all. We have all known someone who turned out to be someone far removed from who we thought they were.
I like Hodgson’s style. Even without giving the book a first person voice, the reader will be able to get a feel for the characters’ thoughts and feelings. Dialogue and the exposure of personal thoughts lets you delve into the characters’ minds. I also enjoyed how Hodgson set the scenes of the book through his meticulous descriptions. He makes the reader “see” the old streets crawling between weathered buildings. He describes old cottages in a way that makes you smell the damp air. His use of language makes you feel like you’re there in the town with them.
Hodgson’s well-crafted sentences kept me interested from the start. It is an edge-of-your-seat kind of read. I’d love to read more of his work.
Pages: 344 | ASIN: B07L4SXNFL
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