Two Years of Wonder is a memoir detailing your journey towards recovery after an attempted suicide. Why was this an important book for you to write?
Initially writing the book was part of my healing process. Post hospitalization I didn’t have too many intentions of ever publishing it, just to complete it as a way to give a shape to what I had been through. But then as I began to share it with people who were curious about it they kept saying to me “this story has to reach a wider audience.” Then when the kids themselves told me they wanted their stories shared, I felt an obligation to finally get it out there.
Throughout this book you interweave stories of orphan children you helped in Nairobi. What were some themes you felt were important to capture in this book from their stories?
Resilience and hope. While the book contains some of the harrowing experiences of the kids which–I know–are painful for a lot of people to read, throughout even their worst experiences so many of these children demonstrate such a fierce determination to survive and even thrive. They do even to this day which is why I wanted proceeds from the book to go towards their further college educations so they can continue to have some of the same chances I had.
I found this book to be inspirational. What do you hope readers take away from your book?
I want to shine a light on the suffering of these children and how that is a stand in for the suffering all around us. As Dr. Helene Gayle says in the foreword, we don’t need to go to Kenya to find suffering an inequality our world today. A lot of us can just walk down the street. To that end, I hope it makes everyone a bit more compassionate, whether its for vulnerable children in Africa, at our southern border, or the addict/alcoholic on the street corner.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My next book will be available later this summer. It is called REAPER MOON: RACE WAR IN THE POST APOCALYPSE. It is my attempt to take on the toxic nature of white supremacy and white nationalism which have become resurgent in the United States right now. Link to the preview page on my website is here: Reaper Moon — Tenebray Press.
September 25, 2012 Ted Neill picked up a knife to cut his wrists open and kill himself. Post hospitalization and treatment for major depressive disorder, he wrote Two Years of Wonder, a memoir based on his journey towards recovery. In it, he examines the experience that left him with such despair: living and working for two years at an orphanage for children with HIV/AIDS in Nairobi, Kenya.
Neill interweaves his story with the experiences of Oliver, Miriam, Ivy, Harmony, Tabitha, Sofie, Nea, and other children, exploring their own paths of trauma, survival, and resilience. In prose that is by turns poetic, confessional, and brutal, Neill with the children he comes alongside, strive to put the pieces of their fractured lives back together as they search for meaning and connection, each trying to reclaim their humanity and capacity to love in the face of inexplicable suffering and loss.
About the Author: In addition to his time living in Kenya, Ted Neill has worked for CARE and World Vision International in the fields of health, education, and child development. He has written for The Washington Post and published multiple novels. His share of proceeds from Two Years of Wonder are donated to the children featured in its pages as well as other Kenyan based organizations that support vulnerable children and youth.
Mandarin Ducks continues to follow Li in 1630’s China as he continues to learn about his heritage and seeks to marry but is thwarted by politics between families. What were some themes you wanted to carry over from the first book and what were some new themes you wanted to explore?
The continuous thread throughout the whole series is Li Bing’s progress through the career trajectory of civil service scholar/administrators. At the same time, I want to provide readers with a glimpse into various aspects of Chinese culture and everyday life. The various subplots are meant to punctuate the contrast between the ideal and the real.
As with the first book, I found this story to be both educational and entertaining. Was it your intention to write stories this way or did this happen organically while writing?
I definitely set out to provide both education and entertainment in the series. In a sense, I’m documenting my own voyage of discovery, as I learn about the history and culture of a country about which outsiders know very little, and which is often misrepresented in Western depictions.
You stated in a previous interview that you taught and traveled through China. What were some of your stand out moments from your time in the country?
You are continually confronted by the contrast between the old and the new. One minute you can be standing in ruins that are thousands of years old and the next minute you can be traveling 300 km/hr on a high speed train. Another interesting aspect is the way in which the people reflect the unitary identity of being Chinese, while at the same time strongly identifying with the culture, food, language, and traditions of their own region or ethnic group. There are many Chinas within China.
This is book two in your Kaifeng Chronicles. Where does book three, Grand Canal, pick up?
Book three takes place on the Grand Canal, as Li Bing travels north to Beijing to write the metropolitan examinations.
In late autumn 1630, Li Bing prepares to depart for Beijing to write the metropolitan examinations. Before he goes, he learns more about his heritage from his maternal grandfather and hopes to marry his childhood sweetheart Xiaoyun. However, political intrigue between his father and hers has the potential to derail more than just his marriage.
It’s not every day that we come across a historical work with as much life in it as we see in Left for Dead at Nijmegen: The True Story of an American Paratrooper in WWII. The level of research and attention to detail that went into the retelling of Eugene Metcalfe’s harrowing tale of survival is shown in spades. The reader has no problem understanding not only the physical situations faced by the main character but also the emotions and state of mind.
The author of this incredible story is hard to identify. Marcus A Nannini is certainly the one who organized and wrote the book, but he did such a good job putting it together that you just can’t help but think it is Gene himself telling you his own story. To add to that effect, Nannini puts a lot of focus on Gene’s sense of humor and personality.
The conversations between important members of the SS as well as many other details seem almost too good to be true from a historical perspective. Nannini dutifully constructs images and characteristics of the POW camps that his subject was forced into that were previously unknown. This work, therefore, is as important to historical study of the period as it is a riveting and fascinating tale.
The story starts off with Gene Metcalfe at school and illustrates his departure from his home, family and friends. Looking to do his part, Gene sets off and quickly finds himself shipping off. From the title, the reader knows there is going to be a traumatic event from the get-go, but what transpires afterwards is quite unpredictable. Left for dead, captured, moved from camp to camp, and bearing witness to many horrifying things, it is hard to believe at times that Gene is going to make it. Even more impactful are the ways that Gene gets himself through the atrocities he experiences.
The writing is direct, simple, and honest, relaying the same feeling that you get from the main character. Left for Dead in Nijmegen, written by Marcus A Nannini and published by Casemate, a resounding recommendation to readers of historical novels.
Pages: 256 | ASIN: B07QM86WDW
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Scooter and Carla have to deal with lots of drama and backstabbing behind the scenes. They face off with Jocasta Binns. On the other hand, there is also a scooter bound gang led by a silver haired goon wreaking havoc on the gardens in the most contemptuous way. The Funeral Service is saddled with tension between the ‘siblings’.
The author has weaved quite the hilarious tale set in a funeral service establishment. The story highlights the inner workings of managing such an establishment which, it turns out, is like any other family business. The story is so vividly narrated that the reader cannot help but join the world.
The plot is well developed and fast paced and the characters are multi-dimensional. This makes it easy for the reader to visualize them and get acquainted. It is particularly interesting how Jocasta is introduced to the reader. She is introduced with her crackling fingers and her scandalous origin. She is not fazed by her old age and remains stoic and a force to be reckoned with. The Jocastrator can withstand anything and anyone. She inspires the kind of admiration that is mixed with fear. Then there is Scooter, who seems very sweet and charming. He is like the sunshine that peeks through the curtains in the morning. Then Charlie, the poor old man who has been turned into a mere informant for the brothers. Every character has a backstory and their uniqueness shines through regardless of their role in the story. This is one of the biggest strengths of this book.
Scooter Nation contains all the elements of a great novel. Thoughts and ideas flow seamlessly while moments of laugh out loud humor keep you engaged in a story that is surprising at every page turn.
This is a book I can see myself reading again because the characters, incontinent though some may be, make you want too keep coming back. It has managed to surpass expectations which were already high from the first installment in the series. A perfect book for a good chuckle.
Pages: 196 | ASIN: B07RQ92W83
The war the world feared finally came except this was a different kind of war. One fought between the living and the dead. The living lost.
Liam, a former soldier in the war against the dead, had done everything he could to hold back the enemy but in the end he joined the other survivors in the only safe place left— underground.
Now Liam helps keep the last of the living safe in the subway tunnels, scavenging food by day, hiding by night, all the while haunted about how they lost the world above them. He always believed the dead had help but he could never prove it.
He would soon learn he was right all along and that there is no safe place to hide from extinction—underground just might turn out to be everyones tomb after all.
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Tags: action, apocalypse, author, book, bookblogger, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, horror, john grover, kindle, kobo, literature book trailer, mystery, nook, novel, post-apocalyptic, read, reader, reading, story, suspense, thriller, trailer, underground revelations, writer, writing, zombie
Commander James Cody disappeared into a wormhole created by his own invention 100 years ago and is currently only a fable. This is all unbeknownst to him. He shares a cell with a creature so perfect she might as well have been conjured up in his head. She is the leader of a fierce group of fighting women. With mutual mistrust between them, can they come together to make it out alive?
The author has woven a delightfully strange and completely engrossing plot that bounces between James past and his present. The story evokes different kinds of emotions at different junctures which leaves the reader feeling bereft when the story comes to an end. The story pulls the reader in and goes on a whirlwind journey through different time periods as well as through Commander Cody’s mind.
The story moves quickly and efficiently. The setting is drawn so realistically, and scientific facts handled so deftly, that it’s hard to tell fact from fiction at times.
The book has a classic plot that is elevated with unrelenting wit and some lighthearted moments. The Optical Lasso is filled with shocking twists and action packed scenes colored with creative genius.
I enjoyed the characters in this book and thought they were all uniquely different yet relatable. Lt Cat is not to be messed with but she still maintains her femininity in a way that makes her character likeable. Commander James is friendly and extraordinary all at the same time. I found him to be a wholesome contradiction. Both characters were unexpected but still captivating and interesting.
This book is suitable for young adults and adults alike. It has characters the YA crowd can admire and be inspired by. They might not completely connect with the interactions but they will for sure love the plot and Marc’s imagination. The adults can relate to the characters and simply enjoy the adult adventure they embark on. You’ll feel like you’re on a first name basis whit the characters by the end of this book.
Pages: 349 | ASIN: B07QFC1WZL
King Gravynmere of Vanosia has sent some of his best soldiers to investigate strange stories in the nearby border town of Faxon. The men will soon learn there is more truth than fancy to these stories, for something walks in the fields, something with cloven hooves and fire dripping from its hands.
The king rallies his son, Prince Quinn, his entire army and all of the Kingdom of Vanosia to confront the very forces of darkness in an epic tale of adventure, magic and mystery as the veil between their world and Perdition grows thin.
Join the Prince as he battles for his land, his people and his beloved on a mission that will take him to ends of the world and back, through pain and sacrifice, war and horror as what is below claws its way to above.
Ena and her father are coping with multiple sudden changes in life as they have known it for centuries. They are giving up Ena’s younger siblings, and they are watching as the age-old practice of the pleasure dens are done away with. Nothing is as it should be in their world. When Ena is approached by Blodeuwedd, the matchmaking goddess, to run what she describes as a simple errand, Ena takes the opportunity. Little does she realize that agreeing to help Blodeuwedd will lead her to some of the most challenging moments of her life while opening her eyes to her true self.
Tarrant Smith jumps right into the action with Resurrected Darkly. From the first pages, the reader is swept into Ena’s world and given a myriad of clues as to her origins. Ena’s willingness to appease the goddess, Blodeuwedd, and venture into a strange castle alone make her an appealing character and one worth calling a favorite. Readers following Smith’s Darkly series will be pleased to see that Ena, in previous books, is the focus of this installment. As intriguing as her character is in the previous books, Ena endears herself to readers with the unique characteristics she possesses as both a dragon and fey.
I was excited to see Crank as the male focus in this book. I tend to gravitate toward secondary characters in novels, and Crank is one who caught my eye in previous books. His gruff demeanor and bluntness add an element of humor to Smith’s books. Crank, however, takes a dark turn in Resurrected Darkly. Readers will hurt for him as he faces a struggle beyond anything he has faced before. The guilt he bears is overwhelming and has grown into a burden that is almost more than he is able to bear.
Smith includes descriptions of “the enchanted” in her work; humans who have been taken into the fey realm to serve the fey. They seem to live simple lives, almost robotic, but their roles are quite complex. Ena, who has more of an affinity for the enchanted than most, shows actual emotion over the enchanted.
I found Resurrected Darkly to be the most engaging of the books in the series. The dynamic between Ena and Crank is simply enchanting. The impact that Ena, a hardened soul herself, has on the tormented Crank is just short of miraculous. I enjoyed watching the growth that took place between the two.
Smith brings together a multitude of characters from the first four books of her Darkly series as she heals one of her most engaging characters from an unspeakable trauma. Readers who enjoyed the first four Darkly books will be more than pleased with Smith’s fifth installment–a fantastic addition to the romantic fantasy series.
Pages:282 | ASIN: B07NMKM7CH
Cora, not part of the upper crust of society, is considered a low ranking fey. A handmaiden with an iron-clad memory, Cora has not forgotten Neb and the hurt he caused her in the past. Neb is as unseelie as he is unsavory in Cora’s mind, but he has other plans for the two of them–plans over which he has no control. While a romance is the furthest thing from Cora’s mind, she has no way of knowing that Neb will be the one to make plans for so very much more than a fleeting romance. Neb is about to change the course for both their lives no matter what it may take.
Tarrant Smith has added yet another colorful book to her Darkly series. Surrendered Darkly follows Cora and Neb on their journey back to one another and along a tumultuous and unlikely courtship. Cora is a strong-willed fey with a mind of her own, and Neb is determined to figure out why he feels so drawn to Cora, a woman he is convinced he should remember.
Blue, a mother figure to Cora and a goddess in her own right, is a truly interesting character. She has many layers Smith reveals throughout the book. Perhaps Blue’s most striking characteristic is her tendency to mother over Cora. As with all of Smith’s characters, I am always amazed and somewhat taken aback by their appearances in human forms. Sometimes I feel as if I am reading two different books.
Smith shows readers a little more of the reactions given by mortals. When Neb finds himself in town, readers are able to witness along with Neb the reactions of the humans around them when Neb isn’t quite in his full human form. It’s refreshing to see that the mortals around the seelie and unseelie are not totally oblivious to them. I find that adds a nice layer of believability to the fantasy being woven by Smith.
Of the Darkly books, I find this one to be the most steeped in romance though it lacks the frequent love scenes. The basis of this installment is the relationship, or lack thereof, between Neb and Cora. The entire plot centers around deep feelings taking over Neb and how he will deal with them. Cora, on the other hand, has a battle to wage within herself as she faces Neb a second time following her previous heartache. Readers who are fond of deep-seated romances will enjoy this fourth book in the series.
I am always intrigued by Smith’s abilities to write characters who are tied together emotionally and by their abilities.
From the first page, this romantic fantasy engages readers with the lives of colorful characters and explores realms via two headstrong main characters, Neb and Cora. Theirs is a story fans of romance won’t want to miss.
Pages: 266 | ASIN: B005ZWIIWK
- Ask yourself: can you afford to work in the wrong job for the wrong organization?
- 86% of employees are looking for a new job
- There is a 33% increase of heart attacks on Monday mornings
- Poor management in U.S. companies is associated with 120,000 deaths every year!
- This book turns the tables by putting you in control—by putting you in a position to assess whether YOU want the job. (You’re not the victim, helpless in job decisions)
- Know what you want and need. Be purposeful and intentional with your job search and choices. (Interview the interviewer (the book is full of questions with explanations as to why to ask them and what information it brings you).