It is a common notion that Africa has, and indeed ought to have, learned much from the west. This is not wrong; all cultures rightly learn from each other. But less is said of what there is to learn from Africa: from her stories, myths, music, proverbs, insights – and more. Here an acclaimed African scholar steps into the gap by uncovering for us something of the great legacy of African thought and practice in ways that will astonish many. Written with verve and authority and directed above all to students and sixth formers, this book will also delight and often surprise those who know something of Africa as well as those hitherto ignorant. Ruth Finnegan OBE FBA is Emeritus Professor The Open University, Foreign Associate of the Finnish Literature Bureau, and International Fellow of the American Folklore Society. An anthropologist and multi-award author, she has published extensively, chiefly on Africa, musical practice, and English urban life. Recent books include How is Language?, Fiji’s Music: Where Did It Come From?, her edited Entrancement: The Consciousness of Dreaming, Music and The World, and two prize-winning Africa-influenced novels Black Inked Pearl and Voyage of Pearl of the Seas.
Planet of Gods finds Peter quickly embroiled in dangerous political games instigated by powerful aliens on a far flung colony. This being the start of a series, how did you develop the idea behind this series and is that different from writing other novels?
Planet of Gods was my first professionally published science fiction novel featuring a protagonist who becomes a stranger in a strange land forced to participate in a game designed by a powerful and enigmatic alien intelligence. The idea for the series actually came from my fascination with the comic book superheroes who are born with or have acquired superhuman abilities as a result of an accident or a laboratory experiment. In any story, superheroes always interact with ordinary human beings without whom their story could not be told. Considering all this, I had an idea: why not place an ordinary person into an extraordinary world where he will not only be forced to fight for survival but become a symbol of resistance mentioned in the centuries old prophecy. By giving my protagonist a military background, I wanted to present him as a man with a sense of duty and honor as well as a person who is vulnerable physically and emotionally, because he is after all an ordinary mortal in an extraordinary situation.
I enjoyed planet Enigma in this book and it’s rich backstory. How did the idea for this planet start and change as you wrote?
Working on Planet of Gods was a great fun. Not only because I had an interesting idea for the book but also because I had managed to see it through to completion with the help of a team of dedicated professionals. Planet Enigma had to be a believable, yet fascinating world, which in most ways resembles planet Earth but falls under an alien influence. I designed the mysterious and immensely powerful alien red cloud that is made of evolved pure energy and which is virtually immortal. I thought that such powerful intelligence could have monitored human activity and expansion into space for centuries before deciding to conduct its on unique experiment on a planetary scale. As I was working on Planet of Gods, I wondered what would happen if half of the humans captured by the red cloud were given extraordinary powers and the other half remained ordinary human beings? So I gave these enhanced humans called Overlords the inhuman powers of accelerated healing, ability to fly at will, generate deadly plasma bolts and be immune to old age. When I placed Peter Blackwood into this world populated by these remarkable beings, the stage was set for an adventure designed by the alien red cloud to test the limits of human potential in matters of love, war and desire for power.
This is book one in your Enigma series. Where will the story go in book two?
Planet of Gods has a sequel titled Planet of Men. This is the last book in the series, but I hope it will present an entertaining conclusion of these two volume series. In the second book, Peter Blackwood becomes a powerful symbol of resistance against the rule of tyrannical Overlords and is helped in his task by the men and women who populate a mysterious Freedom Island, the only place on planet Enigma where Overlords cannot go because there they lose their powers and become ordinary human beings. The second book features Peter Blackwood’s new and old friends as well as powerful and vindictive enemies, who will stop at nothing to destroy him and prevent the change of their society. In the sequel to Planet of Gods, Peter Blackwood would be finally able to complete his mission and fulfill the centuries old prophecy and find a place where he could finally live at peace and earn his happiness. I hope my readers will enjoy the second book and follow Peter Blackwood on his final extraordinary adventure on a faraway planet.
Professor Peter Blackwood, a former Space Marine turned scientist, looks forward to retirement on a paradise resort planet.
A powerful alien intelligence in the form of a vast red energy cloud cuts Blackwood’s plans short, snatching him from the hyperspace highway, and catapulting him light years away to a remote planet in an unexplored region of space.
With his ship damaged and unable to escape, Blackwood encounters a distant human colony on planet Enigma, a world controlled by the red cloud and populated by mortals and powerful overlords—immortal human beings with godlike powers.
When Blackwood’s desire to escape is replaced by his intense scientific curiosity, he becomes a player in a dangerous socio-political game designed by the red cloud. It’s a game Blackwood cannot afford to lose—for on his shoulders rests the destiny of millions of people.
I Know When You’re Going to Die by Michael J. Bowler is a Young Adult fiction novel about a sixteen-year-old boy named Leonardo Cantrell. While working at a homeless shelter in Los Angeles, Leo meets a man who passes on a gift–or a curse–the ability to look into a person’s eyes and see their Death. He knows when it will occur, but the details of how it will happen are hazy. When Leo sees his friend, J.C.’s murder, he can’t stand by and do nothing. Can Leo and J.C. discover the killer’s identity and prevent J.C.’s death before it’s too late?
I Know When You’re Going to Die was a book I enjoyed reading because of the author’s unique writing style couple with an intriguing plot. The book raises many interesting questions and left me with many interesting fantasies in my own head; can you change the future if you know what’s going to happen? And even if you can change things, should you? What are the consequences of that decision?
I liked the mystery driving this story forward and I had a fun time trying to put the clues together in order to guess who wanted to kill J.C. The story is replete with red herrings and misdirection that left me spinning, I couldn’t figure out how all the pieces fit together until everything was revealed at the end of the book; which was fantastic. The inclusion of the old house with the secret passages was a fun element in the story.
I liked reading about the juxtaposition between Leo, J.C., and Laura’s typical teenage life, going to classes and dealing with bullies at school, and the life-and-death matter of the trio trying to figure out how they’re going to prevent J.C.’s murder.
Although I thought the characters were well developed, and interesting, I had a bit of an issue with some of the reasoning behind the characters’ actions. At times, it didn’t seem logical. For example, why would Leo automatically assume the killer was not after him when he had never looked into his own eyes in the mirror to see his own death?
But this is a mild issue born out of my fascination with the novel. I Know When You’re Going to Die is an enchanting novel that had me hooked right until the end.
Pages: 210 | ASIN: B07Z48BHH4
Transference explores the possibility of eternal life and its impact on society. How did this idea start and change as you wrote your novel?
Transference literally started off a two-page hot mess. (laughs) It was a short synopsis for a movie. It grew from there and sort of took shape on its own as I rolled it around in my brain over the period of a year or so. Once I decided that it should be a novel instead of a script, I fleshed it out, somehow, and then wrote the book in about 8 weeks. It’s hard for me to remember all the little details because I wrote it over seven years ago! I knew right from the start I wanted to tell a story similar to Star Wars (because my dad loved those movies) and I wanted to honour his memory by writing something I thought he would enjoy. And also, I wanted the book to contain sci-fi elements that I had not really seen in other works before. The concept of the soul being real and tangible actually came (loosely) from Ghostbusters. By the end of the developmental phase—and after all the many, many edits—I realized the book was very much about family in a way that I had never intended, or expected. And I’m so glad for it.
Barrabas is an intriguing and fun character to follow. What were some ideals you wanted to capture in his character?
I’m glad you liked him! Barrabas is interesting to me, too. I think that’s because he wasn’t written to be the protagonist. I feel like he finds himself surrounded by the real protagonists. That’s not to say he’s a bad guy, he’s just an everyman who was put into a bad situation by, among other things, being at the wrong place at the wrong time. The name Barrabas was always intriguing to me as well, and I’m not sure I can answer why that is. In terms of his character, though, I think he’s very much “me”… but also part of my brother… and my dad, too. He’s every important man in my life, basically. It’s funny to be talking about him in this way, because it’s almost as if I had nothing to do with his creation.
I found this book to be thought-provoking as well as entertaining. What were some themes you wanted to explore in your book?
I am chuffed to bits to hear you say that. That was all I really wanted to do—to entertain and maybe, just maybe, make the reader think a little bit. And I’m talking to myself too as I say that. I wondered what it would be like if we could quantify the soul, or, at least to capture it, and then keep it here in this plane of existence. And if we could do that, then it just seemed to me that it was possible to move souls from body to body. With that came identity issues, and the conundrum of “playing God,” all of which intrigued me. But that’s all the heady stuff! (laughs) Ultimately, the book is about a lot of things; revenge, jealousy, rebellion, love, and family… and in the end I’m kind of asking the reader how far they’d be willing to go for what they love more than they love themselves.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
I love time travel, so my next book is about that. A few years back I started researching the theories behind it so I could talk about it competently, or at least sound competent. I’ve got the beginning and the end, it’s just getting through the center that’s the hard part for me. But, since I’ve got point A and point Z, I should be able to get there… eventually. I’d like to have it finished, edited, and ready to go by the end of 2020. But I’ve inadvertently thrown a monkey-wrench into my own head with Transference, and a sequel for that is now brewing in my mind. It seems to want to take precedence over anything else. Funny that, eh? (laughs) Also, I’ve written two children’s picture books that I’m so in love with (one is about clowns, and the other about snails) so I really want to get those out into the world for the little ones to enjoy with their parents.
Eighty years from now mankind has discovered the secret of eternal life. Human souls can be moved from one body to another through the process known as transference. Control of this new technology has fallen under the dominion of Jovian, a powerful prophet and head of the Church which governs every aspect of existence.
Banished to a mining colony on a distant planet for lawlessness is Barrabas Madzimure, the king of thieves. Only when Barrabas faces execution does he claim that another man committed his infamous crimes decades earlier. The authorities are suspicious. Is he the Madzimure of legend and a potential threat to Jovian’s new world order, or just another victim of transference?
The epic story of a personal mission, Transference takes the reader on a heart-racing journey through rebellion, revenge, self-sacrifice, and the soul’s search for identity.
When everything you believe about civilization is a lie, the ultimate power is truth.
“Readers of inspirational fiction will love this moving story that affirms the power of God’s mercy.”
A story about the struggle, passion, and adventure of faith, about the Truth that transforms lives…
The Alaska Territory, 1925: Thirteen-year-old Luke couldn’t be prouder of his father, whose heroic efforts have just saved thousands of lives. but his world turns upside down when dad abandons his family for a beautiful reporter from New York. Luke’s mother, Yura, vows to win back her husband and kill the woman who stole his heart, and she and Luke embark on an epic cross-country quest that will lead them to the Nevada desert, and to truths–and terrors–of which they’d never dreamed.
Reno, Nevada, 1930: Boxer David Gold, a Bible-school dropout who fights as the Pummelin’ Preacher, is nearing the end of his career and feeling hopelessly far from God. Then one day, a former call girl who hails from a railway stop called Las Vegas shows up at his door. She’s part of a rag-tag congregation whose pastor has been murdered; the killer is still at large, they haven’t a cent to pay David, but they need a fighting man to shepherd the tiny Church of the Heart Set Free. Her proposal seems sheer madness–after all, he’s not really a preacher, how can he possibly do these people any good? But the Spirit is at work; it’s already brought a mother and son from Alaska into his life, and now it’s telling him to say yes…
Las Vegas, 2011: Science Cable T.V. big-wig Tim Faber is an arrogant narcissist determined to prove that mankind has no need of God, while his producer, Joan Reed, is trying to regain the faith of her youth. They’ve come to Vegas to meet with 99-year-old Luke and David Gold’s grandson, Daniel, two men who hold the key to a mystery they must solve—and answers that will forever change their lives.
“I was mesmerized by the characters and how everything unfolded and linked together…”
–Just One More Paragraph (Musings of a Christian Wife)
“Bold and forthright writing that would set any heart on fire.”
–Christian blogger Miranda A. Uyeh
Dogs Don’t Lie by Lisa Shay is an exciting story that’s part murder mystery and part psychic fiction mixed with a hint of romance. Shay’s protagonist, Kallie, is a strong and independent woman. She is a veterinarian whose gifts go well beyond stitches and x-rays. She has developed the ability to clearly communicate with animals. Animals can “talk” to her in a way through feelings, senses, and visions. Kallie is called in to see about an animal at a murder scene, and soon becomes an invaluable resource to local authorities. She meets Ben, a detective on the scene, and soon it becomes apparent that Kallie and Ben’s relationship may go beyond work.
Shay does an amazing job of giving the animals in the story a “voice.” The way the words are written come across in a way that you could imagine an animal would communicate. The animals pick up on things that people wouldn’t likely notice. They see, smell, and observe things in a much different way from a much different perspective. Shay writes these communications in short choppy sentences. “Warm sunshine. Insects buzzing. Sweet grass. The scent of fresh turned soil.” This is a brilliant way of conveying the stories of our four legged friends who can be such important witnesses.
I love a protagonist like Kallie. She is a tough girl. She is strong without being hard. She can handle herself for sure. She doesn’t need much help from anyone, but decides to let someone in now and then. I love her grit and independence. As stated, she is tough but animals certainly soften her edges. This is something that most everyone can identify with. She’s very relatable. Another relatable theme is her somewhat meddling mother. She’s constantly commenting on her clothes. She’s always looking to set her up with a potential mate. She’s basically in her business. Kallie resists, but keeps a close relationship with her family.
Kallie and Ben feel like an age-old boy meets girl kind of story. More aptly, it’s city boy meets country girl. It’s subtle, but Shay conveys a little spark from the moment the two meet. There is some good-natured ribbing between the two from the start. This is a far cry from a typical romance novel. However, their budding relationship gives some relief from the heavy murder mystery story-lines.
The book has a comfortable pace. It is well written with no noticeable errors. It has excitement without being overwhelming, and lulls without being boring. It is a good mix of heart pounding moments and simple everyday life. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The human/animal exchanges between Kallie and the animals showed a fascinating dynamic. I also enjoyed the relationship between Kallie and Ben. I’d love to read more by Shay.
Pages: 191 | ASIN: B07XJTNPPC
In WOMAN, V.P. Evans demonstrates that great things come in small packages. In a collection of short stories, Evans is able to open the eyes of her readers to the violent experiences of women all over the world no matter their backgrounds.
In 60 pages, she is able to explore an expansive range of the incredible strength many women have in simply persevering day to day at a disadvantage which they inherited the moment they were born, both physical and systemic. She makes the reader understand that though the women in her stories are victims of such violence, these same victims are also heroes.
The stories, together, explore the unique experiences of women and do so in a way that doesn’t simply lay sensationalized snippets at the readers feet. After finishing the collection, the reader will ponder what it means to give birth, to go through the awkward realizations of a young girl going through puberty, to be raped, to lose yourself as the dependent spouse, to survive by any means. Perhaps as powerful as what she says in her short stories is what is unsaid. The stories are also about the silences which are accepted among women as their burden to bear. They will leave the reader horrified, angry, but most importantly aware of the danger that women face just for being a woman. Hopefully, it will leave the reader with a desire to educate others and dismantle the societies which drive such horrific acts. WOMAN is a must read for anyone who wants to learn about the experiences, and resulting strength, of women throughout the world.
Pages: 69 | ASIN: B07NS3G5V9
What I Tell Myself First: Children’s Real-World Affirmations of Self Esteem by Michael A. Brown features a complete list of both positive and realistic comments for children related to everyday situations. From beginning to end, Brown gives young readers brief but focused affirmations they can use when faced with most any feeling. Included in Brown’s book are blanks for children to personalize comments.
Michael A. Brown’s children’s book provides readers with an excellent source of support as questions and self-doubt may arise throughout early childhood and into early adolescence. The author has thoroughly analyzed all possible situations and handed readers fantastic phrases to recite in preparation to meet their challenges head-on. From friendships to the stresses of school, from work ethics to bullying, Brown includes phrases that are easy to commit to memory and inspiring in every way.
As a third grade teacher, I can see Brown’s book as a fabulous addition to a guidance curriculum. In addition, What I Tell Myself First would serve as a great conversation starter during individual counseling sessions with students who find it difficult to express themselves. Zoe Ranucci’s illustrations are wonderful representations for a wide variety of readers. I am eager to see more books of this caliber from Michael A. Brown–elementary and middle school educators are in dire need of books like this one.
Pages: 30 | ASIN: B07ZF2QD8B