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Pushing Madness

Pushing Madness (Lisen of Solsta Book 6) by [St. Martin, D. Hart]

The epic that we have been following for the last five volumes comes to a triumphant end in the sixth volume of Pushing Madness by D. Hart St. Martin. Book six in the Lisen of Solsta series culminates the agonizing fracture of familial relationships, the travesty of war and the painful ache of loss. Those who have been following the series will wait with baited breath to see what has become of Rinli and Lisen. Those who may be new to the series will still find a fantastical adventure with exquisite world-building and careful character development. This is not a book or series to be taken lightly as the real, raw character portrayals are sure to hit readers close to the heart.

St. Martin has been crafting the saga that is Lisen of Solsta for nearly four decades. It is very clear that she is devoted to her tale and takes care in ensuring that each book is a seamless transition for her returning readers. Nothing feels out of place, readers don’t feel like they have missed pages of content at the beginning of a new book for they all pick up almost precisely where they left off. There is never a lag and all energy from the previous book carries over into the next as it aims for completion.

The beauty of a book by St. Martin is the intense character development and portrayal makes the reader feel engaged and invested in the outcome. The characters and their feelings are so visceral it’s hard not to think of them as actual breathing people. St. Martin carefully shows us the strain in the familial relationship of our protagonist family as the eldest daughter cements herself into the antagonist role. It can be hard to show the fracturing of a family relationship and still keep readers invested into all sides, but St. Martin does that well.

There are no screaming shortcomings for this book and there are no major issues with style or grammar. St. Martin has done the Indie Author title proud by carefully reviewing and editing her work with the help of others. This has allowed her to put out an excellent product that she should be very proud of.

Those who are looking for a fantastical epic that they can really devote their time and energy to should look no further than Pushing Madness by D. Hart St. Martin. This sixth and final installment in the Lisen of Solsta series brings the epic to a satisfying conclusion. This book serves to honor the energy invested by readers who have been following since book one and to entice readers who may be discovering the series with this final book. For a saga that took so many years to cultivate and write, the wait is worth it. The payoff is a carefully crafted story with characters that are easy to identify with and a story line that doesn’t waver or get lost; despite covering so many pages. This series is definitely a keeper and be worth several rereads.

Pages: 386 | ASIN: B07BVL6SXQ

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Two Down: The Inconvenient Truth

Two Down: The Inconvenient Truth by [Perkins, Suzetta]

Two Down: The Inconvenient Truth, written by Suzetta Perkins is a book which draws the reader into an entangled mess of classified government secrets and the trials and tribulations of military relationships. Military wife Persenia is married to Brigadier General Reggie, who’s been committing adultery for years, and she’s just about had enough of it. Fueled by a meeting with the woman she suspects to be his lover, she vows to divorce him and drag his name through the mud. But, this is all before he is called away on urgent business in the Middle East, where ISIS are increasing their presence.

Perkins narrates the story from a number of different viewpoints – mainly Persenia’s, but also from Reggie’s and Rasheed – a terrorist. The relationships are complicated and fiery, full of arguments and strife. Without the different narrators, it would be hard to keep up – but the variety allows a range of different perspectives. It doesn’t stop readers being on Persenia’s side though and feeling sorry for the women of the story, who are regularly messed around on by their husbands.

The book is an emotional one, powered by lots of strong feelings – thoughts of jealousy, revenge, and anger. But through this, we can see there had once been a lot of love in the ruined relationships, and can’t help but feel sad at the loss. Throughout, it’s easy to find yourself getting involved, which is a testament to how well the book is written. There does seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel with a suggestion of real love forming, amidst a story full of unhealthy relationships and immoral behavior.

Alongside the emotional turmoil is the contrasting stoic, male-dominated world of the military. Persenia is known for her upstanding reputation as a wife and party planner and has been Reggie’s rock, supporting him whilst he has built his career. This draws a comparison to what occurs behind different types of closed doors – such as people’s homes and in classified military offices. To the people looking in, Persenia and Reggie’s relationship is perfect and strong, and the government officers are handling the issues in the Middle East. From the outside, it all seems to be in hand. The issues that face military wives are highlighted – the extensive adultery, emotional and physical abuse from dominant men who are used to getting their own way. Persenia’s character also draws on the isolation that a military wife might feel, as she is moved from place to place as her husband is posted all over the country and overseas for months at a time.

Perkins’ book is a story of intrigue – you really want to find out if the characters will reconcile and how they will react when all is revealed. It runs alongside a mysterious terrorist plot that adds pressure to the boiling relationships and forces the plot lines to meet and come to blows.

Pages: 320 | ASIN: B073MC9ZN7

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Sombristic

Sombristic by [Sebastian, S.A.]

Sombristic, written by S.A. Sebastian follows a close group of culturally diverse friends who are all at different points in their lives and relationships – some are married and some are just trying to figure things out. But, they are joined by the bonds of friendship that keep them grounded in their search for the right person. The title, a word seemingly coined by the author, means to be optimistic in the face of romantic sadness. This being said at the beginning gives the text a positive opening tone – it makes you think that the characters are going to try and be optimistic even when the going gets tough, and hopefully things will work out for all of them.

There’s also a brief but helpful character list at the beginning of the text as the story dives into the deep end in an active scene between a father, son, and friends – so it helps to know who’s who. The list was particularly useful as there is little introductory context, which was initially a little difficult, but the characters come into focus as you continue reading.

This book is written in the form of a play, or a conversation-based work, the text is mostly dialogue and is written in a relaxed style, reflective of each character’s accent with each one being subtly different. The ‘acts’ are usually short, and they jump between different situations and have time lapses throughout, so it can be hard to keep up with all of the different goings on. However, the easy to read style helps the reader stay immersed when they come back around to a previously mentioned character.

The conversations between the characters, when split into male and female groups are very typical of the gender ideals. The men discuss sports and their level of sexual activity and the women discuss clothes and relationship gossip. Although this might be reflective of the groups general stereotypes, I though it made them one dimensional. I wanted to see the characters interested in things other than the overall theme of the book.

I thought that the story was a little hard to follow, as it moved from scene to scene so quickly, despite the relaxed and attractive writing style that kept me engaged with interesting writing. The book incorporates long descriptive passages that are interesting and well written, suggesting that the script would perhaps be more engaging if rewritten as a novel rather than a play.

What the text does do very well is highlight the varied types of relationships and dating that exist in modern society, and explores how hard these can be to navigate. There is also some pretty funny references in this book that made me laugh!

ASIN: B07DW4J71W

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I am Still a Rose: In Spite of it All

I am Still a Rose: In Spite of it All by [Barbee, Tonya]

Tonya Barbee’s memoir, I am Still a Rose, details the struggle of a modern woman to find stability and true love for herself and her ever growing family. This book is Tonya’s version of events of her childhood, tumultuous love life and her change of heart. She has written this aiming to promote a healthy understanding and level of accountability for bad relationships and to educate women, young and old, about the dangers of unhealthy partnerships.

The book is refreshing to read. It’s a text about relationship struggle that does not place all of the blame on the male perpetrator or plead for sympathy from the readers. It is actually written in a very matter-of-fact and frank tone. Even when there are episodes with heightened emotion, which often occur in life, they certainly seem to have been written with a clear head.

One of the most prominent themes is the importance of family and motherhood. Tonya seems to rate her confidence in her weddings based on how many of her family turn up, and she is always grateful for the help her family, particularly her mother, provides in times of need – when she cannot rely on her current husband. Throughout her adult life she always does her best to provide for her children and stresses the importance of financial stability, which she did not have when she was growing up. Even when she suffers periods of illness and relationship breakdown, she still goes to work and earns a living for her family. She choses each man believing they will be beneficial for her children, as well as herself, always wanting to complete her family.

Due to her hard-working attitude, she represents female empowerment. She is the only constant parent in her children’s lives, despite her efforts. None of the fathers come to visit the children so she has to be both mom and dad. She even makes sacrifices for children that aren’t hers – as she wants her children to know their siblings. Whatever trouble comes her way she always bounces back, ready to conquer the next hurdle. Throughout her many relationships and responsibilities, she continues to climb the ladder at work and gain qualifications.

Tonya clearly explains that she takes responsibility for not listening to her gut instincts and the mistakes she has made and works to overcome them. Admitting this takes guts, and to admit it publicly and open yourself up to the world in writing takes bravery and pride. She uses her life experience with the view to educate women and to encourage them to listen to their own and their family’s instincts. She wants women to trust themselves enough to make bold decisions and to go it alone if they have to, because she knows they are more than capable.

She might not have had the fairy tale ending like she wanted, but did end up with a great sense of pride and independence and a very strong bond with her children and family.

Pages: 159 | ASIN: B07DSTYFWR

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Deja Vu All Over Again Book Trailer

At fifty-five, Nate Evans is a washed-up Hollywood screenwriter whose life has gone to hell in a handbasket he climbed in to by dumping his high school sweetheart 40 years ago. The girl who got away, Julie Cooper, was widowed at a young age and left to raise her two kids alone after her husband was whapped to death in a tragic carwash accident. Nate has always been obsessed with his high school days, and when he learns Julie is single and working at their alma mater in his hometown, he writes a script and follows it to recreate their teen years in hopes of starting his life over. It’s the ultimate mulligan… Except that Julie is afraid of growing old alone, with a life where the only men she’s intimate with are Ben & Jerry and their Chunky Monkey ice cream, so she settles for security by deciding to marry her boss at the school. Even though Nate’s return and his Peter Pan view of life, draws her out to rediscover the spirited girl she used to be, she rejects his attempts at a relationship because he burned her once and she doesn’t trust him. You can hardly blame her, except that she doesn’t see her rat fink fiancé is in serious need of finking and Nate needs to torpedo the relationship before she gets hurt, without becoming collateral damage himself. He writes a script for “Happily ever after” and puts it into action knowing that if he gets caught it will be Déjà vu all over again.

Available at Black Tie Books

Survival by Escaping

John Vikara Author Interview

John Vikara Author Interview

My Lonely Room is an emotional novel that tackles themes of belonging and loneliness. Why was this an important book for you to write?

It reflected the era of my childhood and the struggles of a young life in a non-politically correct world. It was meant to show that indifference and bullying were going on long before the present, and that it was accepted as part of growing up. The challenge was to overcome these incidences of being singled out because of not having been taught how to engage with society. But the challenge was very hard to overcome when the difficulties of a weak foundation are the starting point. I also wanted to highlight the era and the lower middle class urban youth of the time, rather than the television versions such as Father Knows Best and Leave it To Beaver depicting more affluent characters who really didn’t have any real problems in comparison.

Jimmy’s character was intriguing and I felt that you developed your characters well. What were some themes you wanted to capture while writing your characters?

Probably the most important theme was belonging, finding your place in a family, whether it be a blood family or a substitute family, as long the group accepts you for who and what you are. This applies to both Jimmy, who is looking, and Johnny, who has found. The theme of indifference, from Jimmy’s father, the landlady, the kids on the block right down to the ticket booth woman at the pool, who knew something was wrong but didn’t want to get involved. The theme of misdirection, trying to dissuade someone from their passions into a humdrum robotic existence, such as Jimmy’s mother—although consciously unwittingly from her own development—continued to push upon him. The theme of survival by escaping into a world you can cope with and where no one will enter without your approval.

This book explores issues in interesting ways like isolation, relationships, and fears. Was there anything from your own life that you put into the book?

A huge part of me went into this book. They say to write about what you know. Who do you know more about than the being you spend twenty-four hours a day with? I learned early to isolate myself from that outside cruel world and escape to my own means of entertainment and survival. In fact, I still have several copies of the Gastruck Kids. My relationship with my parents wasn’t great, but that could be said of most teenagers—of any era. There were many times my relationship with my friends was stronger than that with my parents. But, of course, there was always a home, even though with a lonely room, waiting for you.

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

I have nothing going on at the moment, but I would like to say that My Lonely Room is the prequel to a series of books I had written that began with The Vandals. Most of the characters go on into adulthood in the subsequent Adjuster, National Defense and Auld Lang Syne. They’re all available on Amazon.

Author Links: GoodReadsAmazon

My Lonely Room by [Vikara, John A.]Life wasn’t so great when you didn’t have much of a relationship with your parents or the ability to play street games while growing up in the fifties. You would rather be secluded in your lonely room, using your imagination to write stories and draw comic books than to be drowned in negativity by your mother or humiliated by your peers. All of this can change for Jimmy Yadenik when he meets Johnny, his soon to be mentor and member of the Vandals, and he applies for membership. But the transition won’t be easy.

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My Lonely Room

My Lonely Room by [Vikara, John A.]

My Lonely Room is an outstanding contribution to the world of literary world, tacking themes of belonging and loneliness. The author, John Vikara, provides a novel which opens up a whole range of emotions. From feelings of isolation to intense moments of journeying-through, Vikara’s emotional rollercoaster of a story provides nothing more than a personal and intimate style of writing that gets the book off to an excellent start.

Set in the fifties, the reader is able to envision what life was like back then (for all those lucky younger readers), or recap on childhood memories (for our more mature readers). Vikara tries to write stories that appear to be realistic, creating a sense of nostalgia.  Jimmy’s journey for companionship and experience allow the story to move at a steady pace, whilst constantly maintain the attention of its readers.

What struck me the most whilst reading My Lonely Room is how the writing left me feeling slightly pessimistic. The protagonist, Jimmy, grows up in a world where he feels like he never belongs. Everyone finds comfort in one place or another. Whether that comfort is in a person, a particular place, or a particular thought, everyone is able to ‘zone out’ and enter that place of pure comfort and safety. For Jimmy, his bedroom is the only comfort that he can find.

One of the great things that Vikara articulates in his writing is the importance of real-life issues. The author of My Lonely Room reinforces key issues which are undoubtedly present in our everyday lives – we’re simply oblivious to it! Issues of isolation, relationships, fears, friendships and journeying on are all real life ideas that the majority of readers can relate to. As a reader of this personal journey into a world that is quite off-putting to some, I found it a truly remarkable account of events, which left me feeling slightly overwhelmed, pessimistic and a sense of sadness.

This book really opened my eyes to a new genre of books. A book that was easy to follow, written with flair and creative thought, and the author’s skill of plotting and maintain the story are some of the reasons as to why I have rated this book a solid 5 out of 5 stars.

I can honestly say that I have not read and enjoyed a book as much as this book. Whilst I think that the ending of the novel was not as strong as it could have been, I think that John Vikara is an inspirational writer whose ideas and thoughts are put across in an interesting, intense, and captivating way.

An articulate, creative and highly imaginative novel blending an array of themes and emotions with real life experiences. Hats off to the author of this guide. An enjoyable read for the right reader who shows a similar interest to that of the authors.

Pages: 141 | ASIN: B01N7YYC4T

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Travels with the Doggie Lama

Travels with the Doggie Lama by [Tanzer, Lily]

There is no relationship like the one between an owner and a pet. Each pairing is unique and has its own set of quirks and idiosyncrasies. However, there exists no bond stronger than the one between an animal and the owner when they have saved one another. That is the essence of the connection between Lily and Keisha. Lily, trying to make her way post-college and post-boyfriend, faces the heart-pounding fear and helplessness of a young woman who narrowly escapes a home invasion. On the heels of her ordeal, her snap decision to become the owner of a tiny and rambunctious ball of fur leads Lily on an string of adventures that change the course of both of their lives.

Lily Tanzer, author of Travels with the Doggie Lama, has shared her most intimate experiences with readers. These intimacies aren’t the normal ones; they revolve around the amazing connection she found with her puppy, Keisha. Their relationship goes far beyond a doting owner and a loving pup. Lily and Keisha are connected on a spiritual level, and it becomes increasingly clear throughout the book that Keisha is as much a soulmate to Lily as any human.

The author lays out, in no uncertain terms, the trials and tribulations of being a first-time dog owner. Her descriptions of the utter devastation caused by such a tiny force of a nature within the confines of a small apartment will hit home with every dog owner. Her doubts and financial fears resonate with any reader who has struggled to make ends meet while feeling the overwhelming desire to put the needs of one’s pet before his or her own.

Tanzer delicately addresses the relationship she has with her parents–another relatable element of her story. Readers are privy to Lily’s most embarrassing money struggles and her resignation when her father steps in to save the day. College graduates struggling to make their way and find ways to hide those battles from their parents will appreciate the author’s descriptions of her humiliation upon hearing from her banker father.

As a lifelong pet owner, I appreciate the way Tanzer traces the relationship between Lily and Keisha over the years and Keisha’s various reactions to the people in her life. It doesn’t take too long to begin picturing Keisha as more of a spirit than a dog. Her vibrancy and her complete dedication to Lily as she moves their two-person family across the country jumps off the page. When Lily’s life takes a turn and she finds love at last, Keisha is right there beside her to show her approval of the expanding family. And when Lily’s long-awaited pregnancy occurs, Lily’s concerns about coping with jealousy overwhelm her. There isn’t a pet owner-turned-new parent out there who won’t relate to the ride Lily takes on that emotional roller-coaster.

Tanzer’s book is well-written, easily relatable, and manages to show pet owners yet another facet of the owner-pet dynamic–one that extends beyond the closeness we all recognize and borders on the spiritual.

Pages: 366 | ASIN: B07BD2SBSH

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Grandma’s Secret Blessings: A Memoir with a Twist

Grandma's Secret Blessings: A Memoir with a Twist by [JohnEgreek]A chance encounter in the park leads Yianni to develop a relationship with a family similar to the one in which he grew up and in need of the same love, unconditional support, and unfailing guidance provided him by his grandmother once upon a time. His recurring meetings with little Christina, her parents, grandmother, and brothers reveal more interesting and, sometimes, amazing coincidences between their family and his own. Eager to share the stories of his youth and finding more reasons all the time to reveal his most troubling and painful secrets, Yianni begins to save his newfound family while he saves himself in the process.

Right out of the gate, JohneEgreek strikes a powerful chord in Grandma’s Secret Blessings: A Memoir with a Twist with his emotional reaction to his first encounter with three-year-old Christina. Yianni is clearly missing a piece of his heart due to the strained relationship with his son. The fact that he has never met his young granddaughter, Aubrey Rose, eats away at his soul, and the warm reaction he feels from Christina’s mother and brothers begins to fill that tremendous void. It is difficult to read without becoming overwhelmed with emotion at Yianni’s thoughtful reflections upon each of their storytelling sessions.

There exists an entire demographic of readers who will relate to Yianni’s description of his childhood. The abuse and unrelenting savagery with which his father throws his way from a tender age is unbelievably horrific. To find that Yianni is able to grow, thrive, and find a way to cope with his past is truly amazing. His story gives readers hope and provides them with a virtual shoulder on which to lean as they battle their own childhood demons.

Yianni’s grandmother, the basis for his strength, is a phenomenal woman indeed. She provides young Yianni with all the love and protection he needs once he loses his grandfather, his idol. The advice flows freely from her day after day, and she builds Yianni’s self-esteem when his father has beaten him down. Her words alone are enough to heal Yianni’s spirit.

The regular meetings Yianni has with Christina’s family are fascinating to say the least. I was stunned at the coincidences he discovered week after week between his own lineage and theirs. I felt as though the story was leading to an aha moment in which a secret relationship was revealed–that’s how coincidental and numerous the connections are. Story after story, Yianni builds a life with Christina and her parents–even her reluctant father, Ray. I have to say, I was more than pleased to see the final turn of events involving Ray and Yianni.

I give Grandma’s Secret Blessings: A Memoir with a Twist by JohneEgreek 5 out of 5 stars. To have so freely opened his life to the eyes and ears of the world is an admirable thing indeed. The years he spent being abused by his father and the time he spent living as the one sibling his father refused to love shaped JohneEgreek into a man who can heal others with his own stories.

Pages: 316 | ASIN: B077PLR98B

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Now You See Her Book Trailer

15-year-old Luke Gray is in shock—his girlfriend Lonnie is moving, and he can’t follow her. Before she leaves, he gets her to promise to wait for him until they are 18. With Lonnie gone, Luke falls into a whirlpool of depression and fear. He tries to stay afloat via sarcasm, 1970s music, and fantasy.

And then a new girl appears on the scene, Sherry, who seems perfect. Without giving up on Lonnie, Luke begins dating Sherry, and she keeps him on this side of insanity. His parents, though, notice disturbing changes in his behavior… and eventually Luke realizes that his relationship with Sherry has limits they can’t move beyond. So he befriends Julie, a clever, down-to-earth girl he quickly grows to love. But when Julie finds out that Luke has never let go of Lonnie, he’s forced to either try to find Lonnie or turn his back on her forever.

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