Blog Archives

To Never Know

To Never Know

To Never Know depicts the story of Steven Lewis, and how he is affected by his life choices, his stalled inertia, and forces far beyond his control.

To Never Know, by Thomas Duffy, is a millennialist coming of age drama centered on the late adolescence and early adulthood of the main character, Steven Lewis.  The story starts in 1994 in Queens, New York. Steven is in his Senior year of High School. Steven has a crush on a girl in his class, Kelly Brennan. She seems to be interested in him, finding excuses to interact by asking for his notes and a stick of gum. But he never works up the courage to ask her to Prom.

The story skips past graduation and things have changed for Steven. His life continues a downward progression: his grades are not as good at college as they were in High School, he drops out, takes some time off. He tried calling Kelly again, but he could not bring himself to talk to her.

A family friend encourages him to send Kelly a letter, so he does, on September 10, 2001. Keeping in mind that Kelly lives in New York, you can make some good guesses about where the story goes after that, but this story packs a lot more into it, as Steven’s life events continue to unfold.

This story is an exploration of millennialist worries and fears in a post-9/11 life: adulthood with its ever-increasing responsibilities, how to live a good life, intimacy, isolation, establishing one’s self-identity, and the existential fear of death. The story is deeply emotional, with conflicting emotions. The quality of writing is strong enough to convey nuanced emotions and details. There were a few copy editing issues, but none bad enough to detract from the powerful meaning of the story.

The title, To Never Know, gives some insight into the central themes within the story. There is a strain of philosophical agnosticism (not in the religious sense) that there are unknown unknowns in our lives and that tomorrow is never guaranteed. There is also the theme that there are “bells that cannot be un-rung.”  Steven cannot go and have the relationship he wanted. We will never know what life would have been like if one thing would have been changed in the distant past, and we cannot know what tomorrow will bring.

This book is good, but really heavy at times. It is intended for adult audiences, and probably best understood by older millennials. There are depictions of sex, death, terrorism, and coarse language. The content of the story takes an odd twist at one point, and the end is unexpected.

Pages: 208 | ASIN: B01K7RYJB6

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Truth and the Serpent

Truth and The Serpent by [Rutledge, J.]

The Truth and The Serpent written by J. Rutledge is a fantastic work of fiction that explores an alternate creation story than what we’ve been told. Instead of focusing on the man and the woman in the Garden of Eden, this book focuses on the Serpent. The creature known as temptation and sin.

The book shows the Serpent’s side of the story as a present day man. I found this to be a very interesting concept for the book, as this was a story that I’ve known since childhood and had blindly accepted that the serpent was bad.

I really enjoyed the wit of the serpent. And the detail with which his character is developed is superb. If I had to think about what the serpent was like in the Bible, the description in this book would’ve nailed it. The journey that the serpent goes on is a thrilling adventure as well.

I really liked the language of the book although Sometimes The Capitals On Words Like Time took a bit of getting used to. Apart from that, the way the book was easy to read and the prose flowed naturally.

I knew going into this book that it would be heavy on the religion, but I didn’t expect it to be as heavy handed in it’s delivery. It was clear from the start that the author had done his research. Everything was thoroughly examined and fit it’s backstory nicely. I just felt that there was an overabundance of biblical references at times. 

This book is very well written. The first line had me melting into the sunset the author painted with his words. That’s why, despite the heavy biblical tones, I was able to finish it. The strength of his writing and the imagery surrounding his words and concepts got me through it.

I really related to all of the characters and what they went through. It was clear that this was done on purpose so I could get the lessons that I was being taught, which wasn’t something that I expected from a work of fiction, but it’s what happened anyway. My curiosity was piqued often and I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. I had to go back and re-read pages as I was going through and consuming the information so quickly. That’s how you know you’re onto a winner.

Pages: 499 | ASIN: B01N7SVJO6

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Wrath of the Fallen

Wrath of the Fallen

Wrath of the Fallen by Kristopher Jerome is the first book in a series about the battle of good vs. evil with mankind stuck in the middle and suffering because of it. The war went on for thousands of years until one side seemed to beat the other into submission. It seems as though mankind gets a break as the demons and their minions seem to be disappearing. Trent, a Paladin of the Light thinks something’s not right and follows them with his friend Devin to discover what is truly happening in their world. What they find is more than they bargained for.

I personally find stories about battles against good and evil to be right up my alley. I’m a fan of shows like Supernatural that portray angels and demons in a different light than just wearing halos or poking people with pitchforks. The characters in this book are well written and easy to visualize. The battles were bloody, which didn’t bother me in the slightest. After all, this is a book about a war. If there wasn’t violence I would have been disappointed!

Trent has some issues that make him a realistic character, in my book. In reality, people are a bit twisted from their past and current situations. He was very lucky to have his friend Devin with him on the journey to keep from losing himself. I won’t say how, sorry. Read for yourself if you want to know!

The twists and turns of Wrath of the Fallen kept me reading when I should have been sleeping. I don’t often stay up to read a book, but I had problems finding a place to really stop at so that I could get some rest. For some reason, I had thoughts of Frodo taking the ring to Mordor with Sam. I am not quite sure why, since it was a bit of a different situation, but what can I say? Perhaps it was the adventure itself with two friends.

While the ending was abrupt, I get it. There are other books to the series and a cliffhanger was needed to keep you wanting more. I don’t mind this at all. If anything, this shows the art of a true storyteller. They can suck you into this new and magical world and leave you wanting more, not ready for it to end just yet. While I had not read a fantasy novel in quite a while, this book put me in the mood to go back to this genre for the next few books.

Overall there was lots of intrigue and drama to keep me reading, and the characters were very well written. I tend to get put off by things like paladins and things like that, but that is just me and one of my many quirks. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys epic fantasy stories about good v. evil.

Pages: 322 | ASIN: B01COENGR8

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Tempting Faith Book Trailer

“Where shadows of past sins are revealed in the Light”

Abandonment. Dark Amish secrets. And an unforgettable romance between the daughter of an American minister and a famous British music producer tormented by tragedy.

When magazine editor Faith Edwards must take an assignment away from her tightly controlled life to travel to London—or else—she is not prepared for the series of unfortunate events that follow, or her intense attraction to David Ashton, a man who condemns all in life that she holds dear.

Set against the haunting backdrop of Cotswold, an English medieval monastery nestled high against the raging sea cliffs, and spanning an ocean’s width of unrequited love, Faith and David are forced to battle their greatest fears—unwittingly setting themselves on a course to bind their fragmented hearts together.

But will the dark chains of bitterness, not so easily broken, threaten the light of their future?

Buy Now From Amazon.com

The Prophet and the Witch

The Prophet and the Witch (My Father's Kingdom #2)

The Prophet and The Witch by James W. George is a historical fiction book, continuing on from the first book, My Father’s Kingdom. The year is 1675, and four years have passed since readers joined popular characters such as Brewster and Linto in New England. The signs of war have been steadily brewing since, with so many individuals struggling to hold the peace. Inevitably, all efforts have proved futile, and the battle now begins between the English and the Indians. This is one of the most gruesome wars many will be privy to, but one which numerous people are determined to end, preventing further bloodshed and restoring peace to both sides.

The Prophet and The Witch is divided into three parts, covering the summer of 1675 to the summer of 1676. Within each section, the chapters are short and focused on some wonderfully developed individual characters as they contend with the implications of this war.

I was genuinely shocked at the obvious association between war and religion in this account. A huge proportion of the story focuses on the beliefs of the men fighting, highlighting how their personal religious understandings act as an explanation of why war is a necessity. The English see things, such as the turbulent weather, as the wrath of God’s displeasure, but then condemn what they see as mere pagan superstitions of the Indian tribes. However, if they were to reflect, they would soon see more similarities than differences in that both sides look for signs, albeit just of a different type!

As a reader, it is difficult to pick a side of this battle. The English Christians rely on the word of God, trusting they are doing his work in ridding a blasphemous tribe who butcher innocent civilians. Yet, to the Indians, the English and their own actions are similarly threatening! The reader never fully feels they can condemn either side, for each are doing what they see as their duty to survive. The question of religion therefore lingers throughout the book, quietly encouraging you to question whether man or God is responsible for this creation of war…

Israel Brewster and Linto are firm favourites throughout the story. Their portrayal is refreshing and their actions commendable, in an otherwise fraught and harrowing period. These two are both the savours of the story for me personally as they question man’s motives and speak out when they feel an injustice is occurring.

For those who haven’t read the first book, there is an extensive summary at the beginning of book two, instantly bringing readers up-to-date with the action so far. You never feel like you are at a disadvantage because of this.

The Prophet and The Witch is expertly written and instantly engaging from the first few pages. An exceptionally drawn historical fiction account. I was captivated by this very well-structured book, and would recommend as one of the more intellectual of reads.

Pages: 375 | ASIN: B0755QL6CR

Buy Now From Amazon.com

A Dangerous Discovery

A Dangerous Discovery

A Dangerous Discovery by Zachary Brock is a thrilling book about two men, Ace and Zeke. Ace had rough beginnings as he grew up on the streets of Latin America and had to do things as a child that no one should have to do. However, there was a chance encounter that completely changed his life and he is now reaping the rewards.

Together with his best friend and mentor Zeke, they run an international corporation, constantly enjoying the perks of wealth, social standing and luxurious travel. A new buyout of a company in Peru should run as normal, except this specific company has a secret that the Vatican will kill to protect.

Sounds awesome, hey! It sucked me right in. I love conspiracy theories about things like this and reading this book just feeds my obsession even more. It was a page turner simply because I was hooked on the Vatican stopping at nothing to protect this secret from coming out. You eventually discover why they stop at nothing and oh boy, is it a big secret.

There are two stories going on throughout the entire book but they eventually come together in the end, so it all works out. It was initially hard for me to keep track of at some stages, but that’s probably because I was reading it so quickly. I would have appreciated a clearer break between the two storylines. I think it would have been better if one chapter focused on one storyline and then switched in the next chapter. Which would help me keep track of the story while I was furiously tearing through pages.

I enjoyed the banter between Zeke and Ace. I found it funny, especially considering that the first chapter immediately throws you into a conversation where Zeke is anxious about ‘doing a sixty-nine’ with a girl he’s on a date with. He doesn’t even know what it means but that doesn’t stop Ace from being in hysterics. Reading the banter between the two of them was like hanging out with my own friends, it was easy to read and funny most of the time. You could clearly read the bond between them, which is a sign of great writing by Brock.

The story gets dark at points, which gives the book a good contrast to the comedic banter. I really enjoyed reading this book. I hope there’s a second one. I’m giving it a 4 out of 5 stars for the clever banter and conspiracy theory that the Vatican runs the world and will stop at nothing to protect itself.

Pages: 280 | ASIN: B06XQ4ZB83

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Treasure on the Southern Moor

Treasure on the Southern Moor is set in the eighteenth century, during the golden age of sail, and shows how gentlemen sailed the raging seas. Written by Joshua A. Reynolds, this historical fiction novel takes the faithful crew from Plymouth, to West Africa, and back to Plymouth, with only the guidance of an old map that was given to the captain by an old sea friend.

Back Description: The thrill of the sea – the song of the ocean winds – out sails and up anchor! – guided by the compass and stars – as a poet once said, “to the lonely sea and sky”. It is the eighteenth century, and the sailing vessel is the only way to travel the raging seas. The Southern Moor sets sails from England to Africa with a crew of forty-two persons, guided by a captain with his son and daughter, where those of the trusted crew hope to find treasure with only the guidance of a map an old friend of the captain’s had given him and a handful of the treasure itself, brought back from the African shoreline. With the smell of cooking from the galley, you may find them about on the weather decks reefing the sails or lashing down the ship’s boats, or listen to the captain play on his fipple flute with the accompaniment of the cello and violin. Hear the ocean waves lap against the bows, or have cataracts of sea water come flooding over the main deck in the midst of a raging storm.

In Plymouth, England, there are those few friends of the captain who wonder if he will ever return. Is the Southern Moor, newly finished vessel and never before tested in the ocean waters, strong enough to sail through storms and cannon fire to reach the warm lands of the African shoreline and make the same journey back? With all of its rectangular sails billowing in the wind, bowsprit brass tip of heather shining in the sunlight, and the polish of the wood shining without a fingerprint to be seen, the Southern Moor leaves the harbor of Sutton Pool to test itself in the ocean and plough the stormy seas. . .

Treasure on the Southern Moor is expected to be in print within two weeks’ time! Check out his website for purchases and updates.

Recommended for family reading. They were specially written for children but have something that all ages can enjoy.

Joshua A. Reynolds

Joshua A. Reynolds

Joshua A. Reynolds writes to restore Christian virtues and family values back into society. He is a member of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and holds to the reformed faith of Christendom. Russell Kirk’s conservatism most closely aligns with his political views, and his desire is to redeem the innocence of the “permanent things” in literature. One of his main goals in storytelling is to allow the reader to understand better theology, history, and more wholesome ways of living in a simple imaginative way. Some of the authors that have inspired his imagination are C. S. Lewis, Edith Nesbit, Frances Burnett, Mary Dodge, Beatrix Potter, Kenneth Grahame, and Lewis Carroll.

To find out more about Joshua A. Reynolds, please visit his website at www.conservativecornerstones.wordpress.com.

 

A Dialogue For Change

Ben Burgess Jr. Author Interview

Ben Burgess Jr. Author Interview

Black and White is contemporary novel focused on interracial couples and the stigma they endure. Why was this an important novel for you to write?

I felt with everything going on in the world today, this book was needed. I want this book to help improve the world or at least get people to start talking and create a dialogue for change. The world can be an ugly place and I wanted to show that ugliness so that people can also appreciate the beauty.

The story is set in a city filled with crime and focuses on the animosity between black communities and the police. You take a balanced perspective in your story, do you feel that is something that is lacking today?

I feel there is mistrust on both sides when it comes to the Black Communities and the Police. I feel that both sides need to work on change and the only way that can happen is with dialogue. I want this book to help. I’m an NYPD Detective and I feel that it’s important that Cops acknowledge that there are some cops who are prejudice and pray on minorities but at the same time it’s important that minority communities don’t assume that every cop is corrupt and prejudice. I feel society forgets that cops are people too. I feel that sometimes some cops become so calloused from the job that they began to see minorities as bad. Balance is the key to everything. Understanding each other helps also. I talk to communities often and sometimes after I explain certain situations to the crowd, they understand things better and have less animosity. Sometimes the community members help me see things differently than I do through the lenses of being a cop. In order for the world to get better, we all have to change.

Did you put any personal life experiences in this book?

I put some personal life experiences in all of my books. “Ben”, “Ebony”, and even “Bill” and “Becky” are all parts of me. At times I felt like Ben where I felt my own race believed I wasn’t “Black” enough and I was too “Black” for some White people. I know the struggle of dealing with the public at protests like Ebony. I’m an NYPD Detective. Like Ebony, before I became a Cop, I hated cops and I became one to make a difference in the world. I’m heavily involved in urban communities and I’m in an interracial relationship. I’m similar to Becky because I wrote this book to change the world. I wouldn’t want to alter it or tone it down. I love this story the way it is and my writing is important to me. I’m similar to Bill because I grew up in Queens Bridge. Despite growing up in a low-income family, I didn’t let my environment hold me back. I’m also a huge basketball fan and play regularly. Some of the situations and even dialogues in the book I have actually had or have been involved with. I like to put some of my real experiences in my stories because I believe it helps them feel more authentic.

What is one thing that you hope readers take away from Black and White?

I want readers to understand that we all have biases, we all have assumptions and stereotype, but it’s important not to base our actions and decisions on these things. It’s important to get to know people and not assume that a certain race is all the same. I want people to read this book and understand that love is love. It doesn’t matter what race your partner is, be with anyone you love. I also want people to feel comfortable in their own skin. Ben and Simone were examples of two characters that struggled with that and it’s important to know that until you have love and appreciation for yourself, you can’t truly do the same for someone else.

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

My next novel will be a story celebrating the strength of Mothers. I’m writing a story about three different types of Mothers in three different situations and I’m calling it “Mothers.” I hope to have the novel out in time for Mother’s Day.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | GoodReads

Black and WhiteWhen the prestigious law firm of Wayne, Rothstein, and Lincoln catches two major cases—a rape case where a White NBA star allegedly raped a Black stripper, and a murder case where a Black rapper allegedly killed a gay couple and two policemen—Bill O’Neil and Ben Turner are tasked to handle these racially charged litigations. The cases hit emotional chords with the two lawyers and force them to reckon with their interracial relationships and families. Will the racial tension of their cases destroy them or make them stronger?

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Many Stories to Tell

Mary L Schmidt Author Interview

Mary L Schmidt Author Interview

When Angels Fly is a gripping retelling of one woman’s personal and painful experience with life. What was the inspiration that made you want to write down the experiences from your life?

I became sick and I felt the need to take my journals and digitize them. I knew I would write a book eventually back in 1990. That year was a rough one for me and my family personally and I’ve kept journals most of my life. I had many stories to tell but I wasn’t quite ready mentally or emotionally in going headlong into a 300 plus page book. When 2013 rolled around, I knew then that I was going to put words and stories from my journals into digital format.

You do a wonderful job of capturing your emotions in every retelling. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?

The hardest and most difficult part initially was actually going into and reading my journals from 1989 – 1990 as my first book is a memoir. I knew my book had to be written and I knew the many messages in my book needed to be published, so that hopefully I could help others through difficult times in their lives or the lives of others they knew. The timing was right as I had left nursing in December 2012. My first book was extremely difficult since the stories were real. Some days I could write one sentence and then I was done for the day. Other days I could write more.

On really tough days I wanted to just stop and sometimes I did for a week or so. Yet I knew in my mind that I needed to finish my book and get it out to the public. I knew all along what the beginning, middle and end would be and I wondered about publishing my book as well. Now that my book is published, I feel a deep sense of peace within myself.

You touch on topics like abuse, suicide and domestic violence. What do you hope readers take away from your story?

My book reaches a wide group from teenage on up to geriatrics and many facets of humanity itself. I know that my book will help others in dealing with such a wide variety of life’s issues, and that no one needs to feel alone in their own situation. My aim isn’t to convey only sadness and family dysfunction but to convey to others who have been in my situation (or similar) that strength and courage can be attained, and that there are options available. Women and men, too, can get out of abusive situations and the cycle of violence can stop. Losing two boys to Heaven changed my life forever. I want to encourage others who have suffered the King of Loss that anger at God is normal, and that faith in God will come back to them. I want those parents to know they are not alone. If a parent loses a child to a horrid illness, I want those parents not to feel misguided gilt. I want to encourage parents on how to be an advocate for their child and how to reach out for help when the pain overcomes them.

This book is a carefully crafted retelling of some of the most private moments of your past. But what about your future? What do you look forward to and how has your outlook on life changed?

I have made peace with the wrongs in my past. This doesn’t mean that those things never happened, the hurt is still there, but one must forgive others in order to move on in their life on this beautiful blue sphere called Earth. With my health so poor, I just take things day by day, and I try to spend as much quality time with immediate family as I can.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsiteGalleryIMDbPRO

When Angels Fly by [Jackson, S, Raymond,A]

We often find ourselves daydreaming about what our futures will be like. This may be especially true if one lives in an environment most would consider less than desirable. Some are lucky to find their futures much like their childhood dreams. Others find the paths to their dreams strewn with hurdles.

Growing up, Sarah dodged her mother’s blows. She often hid in her room crying about her life. Still, she believes in her future and the happiness it can bring. In their book When Angels Fly, authors S. Stevens and A. Raymond tell Sarah’s story–their stories. The authors use their journals to describe Sarah’s experiences of family dysfunction, strength, courage, faith, abuse, grief, and so much more. You’ll read how, like many, she attempts to escape from her mother’s abuse through marriage. And like many, she learns it is not a viable alternative. Then Sarah experiences a parent’s ultimate tragedy twice, the deaths of her sons, Joshua and Eli.

When Angels Fly is about much more than the telling of a family’s tragedy. It is also the story of finding faith after it has wavered. Most of all, it’s a story of love lost and found.

Buy Now From Amazon.com

%d bloggers like this: