Mari Reiza’s Triple Bagger is the intricately woven story of one man’s experience in a company that takes him everywhere but leads him nowhere. Triple Bagger goes far beyond the story within a story format to reveal Vittal Choudhary’s correspondence with an editor eagerly awaiting the completion of his work. Reiza’s Vittal, the main character, reveals the intricacies of the corporation for which he worked in a first-person account alongside excerpts from the story he struggles to complete. Vittal, a man determined to work his way upward through Enterprise despite his growing displeasure, gives up more than most to succeed.
Mari Reiza has bravely addressed the corporate world with her novel Triple Bagger. She includes distinct images of cities around the world–Rome, London, New York. She has completed quite the narrative on the loss of oneself within the complexities of ladder-climbing and the desire to succeed. Vittal Choudhary, the central focus of the book, is a relatable character. His confusion, his desire for more, and his dissatisfaction with the things his life has afforded him make him a character I found frustrating–a feeling that does tend to create interest for me as a reader. Anyone who has ever felt even the most temporary disdain for his or her profession will relate to Vittal as he grapples with accurately telling his experiences within his own written account.
Reiza takes both meanings of “triple bagger” and manages to fit them neatly into the multiple storylines of her very involved novel. As Vittal writes, he addresses the definition as it pertains to one’s looks. The remainder of the book, the part in which Vittal details his life with Enterprise, builds on the interpretation of “triple bagger” as a corporate success story.
Though eloquently written, I found the style of Triple Bagger to be challenging. Reiza has chosen to include Vittal’s personal narrative along with letters to and from his editor, Nuria Friedman, in addition to text from the story Vittal is constructing. The jump from one perspective to the other and back again was challenging to follow. It is almost a story within a story within a third story. The constant shift between perspectives creates obstacles that detract from an otherwise memorable main character.
In addition to a complicated format, I found the rather large number of acronyms and long list of characters to be a bit overwhelming for the book’s length. Though each acronym was appropriate to the storyline and emphasized the absurdity Vittal felt with each of his positions as he made his way through the ranks of Enterprise, I felt they were too numerous from beginning to end. Reiza expertly defines a series of supporting characters. However, I found myself floundering a bit to recall each one’s particulars as the story progressed.
The plot itself has the potential to be much more gripping. Vittal’s disdain throughout the majority of the book is obvious, and the fact that he remains bewildered as to his corporation’s overall purpose is not lost on the reader.
Pages: 414 | ASIN: B06XWT55YW
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In Apollo’s Raven we follow a Celtic princess Catrin and her star-crossed Roman lover Marcellus on opposing sides of a fierce battle. What was your inspiration for the setup to this exciting series?
Since childhood, I’ve been an avid reader of mythology and legends that portrayed females as goddesses, warriors, and cunning sorceresses. I’ve always been drawn to bigger than life epic heroes and heroines who steered the destiny of their people. In my travels to London, I was struck by the statue of Boudica and her daughters riding in a chariot near the Thames River. I discovered that she was a celebrated warrior queen who united the Britons in a revolt against the Romans, almost throwing them out of Britannia in 61 AD. As I did more research, I became intrigued that Celtic women were considered as equals in this war-like society. The Roman historian Dio Cassius describes Boudica as having the mystical powers of a Druid. Other Roman historians wrote of Celtic women’s ferocity as they fought alongside their husbands.
The heroine Catrin is based on historical and legendary accounts of Celtic warrior queens such as Boudica in Britannia where women were held in higher esteem and could serve as warriors and rulers. The storyline of star-crossed lovers in Apollo’s Raven series is inspired by the legacy of Cleopatra and Mark Antony but with a Celtic twist. Archaeological evidence and sparse historical accounts suggest that Rome heavily influenced the politics of southeast Britannia prior to Claudius’s invasion in 43 AD—a political situation similar to Cleopatra’s Egyptian kingdom. I was also drawn to the tragedy of Mark Antony and his son, Iullus Antonius, whose downfalls were associated with powerful women. Their infamy cast a shadow on Marcellus, the great-grandson of Mark Antony, which will be further explored in the Apollo’s Raven series.
Your story is able to portray ancient Roman life in a believable yet entertaining way. What kind of research did you do to make sure you got everything right?
I did extensive research on the Roman life by reading books, journal articles, and blog posts by historians and archaeologists. Of particular interest are the written accounts by Julius Caesar which he sent to the Roman Senate as propaganda to support his military expeditions in Gaul and Britannia. I’ve also explored several Roman archaeological sites in Britain and France where scenes from the Apollo’s Raven series take place. Locations include Dover, Bath, Fishbourne Roman Palace, Colchester and Hadrian’s Wall in England, and Lyon in France.
As I researched Roman historical events and culture, I also tried to understand their mindsight. In Rome, the male head, the paterfamilias, had complete control over his family—wife, children, and slaves. If they disobeyed him, he had the power of life and death over them. Women were held in higher esteem in Celtic societies which is in sharp contrast with the paternalistic, empire-building Romans.
Catrin is a princess, yet she is not fragile. She’s tough and trains to be as strong as her sister. What themes did you want to capture while creating Catrin’s character?
It is my hope that modern women can draw on the rich traditions of the ancient Celtic civilization where females owned property and could become rulers and Druids. These women fought, hunted, rode horses and used weapons, just like the men, to protect their homeland.
Deeper themes that will be explored in the Apollo’s Raven series as Catrin matures and faces new challenges on her journey of becoming a warrior queen are as follows:
- Coming of Age
- Power to change destiny
- Sacrifice and love
- Corruption of power
- Quest for redemption
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am in the process of finishing Book 2: Empire’s Anvil, which should be available by the summer of 2018. The epic tale continues when King Amren accuses Catrin of treason for abetting her Roman lover, Marcellus. She must prove her loyalty to her father and people by forsaking all men and defending her kingdom even to death. Forged as a fierce warrior, she begins a quest to redeem herself and to break the curse that foretells her father’s kingdom will be destroyed. Yet, when she is reunites with Marcellus, she must face her greatest challenger that could destroy her life, freedom, and humanity.
The world is in turmoil. Celtic kings hand-picked by Rome to rule are fighting each other for power. King Amren’s former queen, a powerful Druid, has cast a curse that foretells Blood Wolf and the Raven will rise and destroy him.
King Amren reveals to his daughter, Princess Catrin, the grim prophesy that his former queen pronounced at her execution for treason to him.
The gods demand the scales be balanced for the life you take. If you deny my soul’s journey to the Otherworld by beheading me, I curse you to do the same as mine. I prophesize your future queen will beget a daughter who will rise as a Raven and join your son, Blood Wolf, and a mighty empire to overtake your kingdom and to execute my curse.
Catrin is trained as a warrior and discovers she is the Raven and must find a way to block the curse of the evil former queen. Torn between her forbidden love for her father’s enemy–Marcellus, the great-grandson of Mark Antony–and her loyalty to her people, she must summon the magic of the Ancient Druids to alter the dark prophecy that awaits her.
Will Catrin overcome and eradicate the ancient curse? Will she be able to embrace her forbidden love with Marcellus? Will she cease the war between Blood Wolf and King Amren? Will she save Ancient Britannia?
Posted in Interviews
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When a historical fantasy grips you from the very first page, you know you are in for an excellent read. With Apollo’s Raven by Linnea Tanner, we are brought into the world of the not-so-distant past when Rome set their sights on Britannia. We follow the experience of our protagonist Celtic princess Catrin and her star-crossed Roman lover, Marcellus. On opposing sides of a battle that grows fiercer with every passing day. There is more to this tale than love and war for magic and mysticism are part of the lifeblood of our characters. This is more than a tale of might and magic. This is also a tale of a woman coming into her own as a powerful warrior and a strong mystic. Catrin has faced uncertainty and hardship even within her own family. When pitted against the Roman Empire will she find the strength she needs to survive?
When you write a story that has its base in history, research is a must. You cannot simply write whatever you wish and hope that it makes sense. Tanner realizes this and does her best to research her time period. How people acted, how they dressed, their beliefs and their mannerisms are carefully reviewed in this tale. At the end of the book she does acknowledge that the Celts did not leave much written history. This is a blessing for a writer though, because it leaves an open creative license. Since they didn’t keep records, who is to say that the druids did not behave in exactly the same way they did in this book? This is where the fantasy aspect comes in. Tanner is careful not to get too carried away and the tale feels believable and relatable.
Tanner begins each chapter with a brief excerpt. This gives the reader a sense of where the story is going. This can be a useful tool when you take long gaps between readings. While there is some slightly graphic content, a teenager would find this to be a friendly reminder of what is about to happen and can help jog the memory if they haven’t picked up the book in some time.
The way Tanner portrays women in this book is also very empowering. Our protagonist is a princess, yet she is not fragile. There is no Snow White here. She is forged with fire and metal and trains to be able to reach the pinnacle of fortitude her eldest sister has. For a young woman who is trying to figure out where she belongs in her world, this tale is relatable to other young women in our timeline who are also trying to figure out where they belong.
If you’re looking for something entertaining with a fast, action-paced rhythm, Apollo’s Raven by Linnea Tanner is a definite must. The first in a series this book firmly establishes backstory while also being able to stand alone if necessary. It’s a very exciting read and readers of all ages and genders will find something to identify with in this tale. How will things turn out for Catrin? What will happen with her relationship with Marcellus, scion of the Roman Empire sent to oppress her people? You’ll have to read and find out.
Pages: 400 | ASIN: B06XJQ74H6
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Book 3 in the Dreadnought Collective series returns to the home of Terry and Sandra Tumbler. Terry and his wife plan a return holiday to Turkey, recalling their last visit with their grandson, Seb, when his tour group from the Sombrella Syndicate got into trouble in the underground city of Derinkuyu. They’d like to go again to see it at their leisure. Terry invites several couples who had accompanied them on an earlier visit to Santiago. Since they’d had trouble on that particular tip, Terry sweetens the deal by booking a luxury version of fast-travel flying cars, colloquially known as “potties,” to speed them on their way.
On arrival in Istanbul, the five couples embark on a grand tour of historic sites on a large coach, shared by a group of Spanish tourists. During their travels, Terry meets with a mysterious man named Marius. Marius asks Terry for help regarding Alien visitations, and Terry is delighted. His love of researching UFO phenomena may help save lives, and Marius may be able to explain the odd dreams Terry is having. When the tour visits the ancient hospital of Asklepion, the true nature of the “Magic Carpet” tour coach (dubbed the Turkish Floater by Wilf) is revealed, and the travelers slip back in time to witness ancient Rome in person. This leads to uncovering the mystery of the aliens who have been living under the auspices of the Sombrella Syndicate, and a threat to earth.
If you can’t tell by the irreverent names of the vehicles, this is a very funny book. The Time Slipsters is a delightfully fun read. It crosses genre borders as easily as the Magic Carpet crosses timelines. The story spans science fiction, travelogue, historical fiction and comedy while showing a vibrant world of the future and the past. Terry is a loveable rogue, and his gaffes are both funny and important to the story. Laughing at phallic rock formations and obsessing over bathroom facilities in ancient buildings could be jokes, but they may come in handy later.
But the trip is not all fun and games. When the ship begins to slip between time zones, the travelers are under very explicit orders to stay away from the locals. One of them foolishly ignores that advice, and like any time travel story, what you do in the past can have a ripple effect into the future.
The author’s imagination is truly fantastic. Even the little details of this future world are well fleshed out. There’s the concept of Democracy on Demand that allows people to guide their government by instantaneous voting. And sure, the flying cars are neat, but what about smart suitcases that carry themselves to and from your hotel, or having delicate surgery performed by nanobots while you sleep? I can’t start on the alien technology without spoilers, so you’ll have to read for yourself.
One thing I liked was the occasional break in the intrigue so I could wander the streets of ancient monuments along with the characters. It’s clear the author has visited these places and wants to share these remarkable places and their histories with others.
Though Seb Cage Begins His Adventures was a book aimed at young readers, The Time Slipsters is decidedly more adult. The adult humor and a few sexual references, though never explicit, wouldn’t be appropriate for a young reader. If you like SF, time travel stories, or dry British humor, you’ll like this book.
Pages: 291 | ASIN: B018MLKT7M
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Another Self throws us into the life of a girl who has been broken of all spirit and self-esteem, but by her wits and grit she becomes the richest person in ancient Rome. What was the inspiration behind this fascinating novel?
The sad truth is, this story is inspired by my own life. Because of undiagnosed dyslexia and ADHD I left school at a young age with no qualifications and, more importantly, ‘no’ self-esteem. Like Julia in Another Self I became successful while believing myself undeserving, even deceitful.
The writing in your story is creative and filled with twists. Was it a conscious effort to create a story in this fashion or is this style of writing reflective of your writing style in general?
From the age of 5 until a complete mental breakdown in my late 40’s, I was too ashamed to write anything down. After a psychiatrist diagnosed my dyslexia I started to write spontaneously. This story quite literally poured out of me and took its own course. The character may be a woman and the story set in ancient Rome, but Julia is experiencing the real agony of my own life.
Julia’s character is like none other I’ve read this year. What were some of the trials that you felt were important to highlight the Julia’s development?
Writing Another Self was like therapy for me. Searching for the words that sent Julia on her journey of discovery helped me understand how I could achieve so much while believing myself so completely worthless. Now, I’m a little in love with Julia because she and I have been through so much together.
Can you tell us more about what’s in store for Julia and the direction of the second book in the Our Eternal Curse series?
In book two, Another Tribe, Julia’s character is forced to confront racism in the southern states of America during the civil war. In book three, Another War, she must come to grips with her guileless part in causing The First World War. At the end of book three we learn why Julia has been Eternally Cursed, but I won’t spoil it for your readers.
Julia, brilliant yet humbled by cruelty and abuse, overcomes great disadvantage to become the richest person in ancient Rome. Living a double life, she wields power from behind the scenes to bring vengeance down upon those who wronged her. When her schemes ensnare Rome’s two greatest generals, Lucius Cornelius Sulla and Gaius Marius, Julia provokes civil war and condemns herself to suffer for the sins of her past.
Posted in Interviews
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Another Self throws us into the life of a girl who has been broken of all spirit and self-esteem, and we’ve very often reminded of that. Perhaps that is why this extremely strange story catapults us through Ancient Rome and how this one damaged girl manages to take it all down with her.
While the beginning of the story is a bit confusing, especially when you have no idea why everyone wants to kill this poor girl for, the middle of the book catapults you through this insane spider-web of lies, deceit and pure financial carnage. If you ever wanted lessons on how to overthrow a government, destroy a black market and basically scare the daylights out of a houseful of poor slaves, Julia is your teacher. Though thoroughly damaged, she manages to corrupt all of Rome and herself at the same time. Did I mention that she was pretty mentally damaged?
In all honestly, the game she plays is fairly amazing. Outside of her time wallowing in a glass of wine or gazing lovingly at a piece of jewelry she doesn’t own, Julia turns out to be an incredible sponge of knowledge which helps her to become the guru of all things dirty and deceitful in the underbelly of Rome. Like a string of Cash and Loan stores, Julia becomes the wealthiest person in all of Rome, and very few people know that she is the one to do it. She strings up her victims in little chains of events that will make your head spin, and at some point, have you cheering for her until it all comes crashing down.
If the beginning didn’t exist, and the ending didn’t punch you in the face with unanswered questions and situations, the middle of the book would be an amazing tale of a poor unwilling slave girl who became the most powerful person in an ancient civilization. The sheer width of power that she gained from one well thought out plan and the manipulation of a powerful force who’s heart she stole, it needs to be read and admired. Take notes, as it can show that if you put your mind to it, as damaged as that might be, you can achieve anything. Even if you have an incredibly damaged mind from years of mental and physical abuse. Just pointing out how often you must remember that she’s mentally damaged, as the author will remind you just as frequently. Ignoring that fact, reading about how a city can be overtaken by any mentally equipped individual was a fun ride. Though a lot of people were hurt for it, watching someone get revenge from those that hurt them is very satisfying as well.
Hopefully a lot of questions will be answered as you travel through the series and through time with Julia’s character. She seems to gain a new life every time her old one ends, and hopefully this book can do that as well. Let’s go Julia, on to your next adventure.
Pages: 287 | ASIN: B00G4QWIZY
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Mirror, Mirror at 1600 D.C. is an enticing book shrouded with romance and mystery. When a mysterious man named Harrison Rossetti is in Rome working for the US government, he has a chance encounter with journalist Hannah Littleton. Their lives are changed forever as an unexpected love blooms. While preparing for their wedding, Harrison is called away for a top secret project leaving Hannah alone with her fears. Harrison is then swept away in an unexpected, dire situation. Life or death decisions are made at every turn. The country’s security and future are at stake. Meanwhile, Hannah befriends Harrison’s longtime friend, Pope Josetta; unfortunately, under some less than desirable circumstances.
Follow the unexpected twists and turns of this mind – catching novel. Edward Galluzzi leaves you on the edge of your seat. His use of imagery and vocabulary captivates the audience and places them directly in the hair tingling situations. Friendship, Love, Sacrifice and Duty are all highlighted within these pages. While Harrison is portrayed as a secretive man, it is evident that he is a loyal companion once you break through his shell. He is committed to the people he truly cares about. The use of friendship adds an additional dimension to the story line. You find yourself feeling for these unexpected friends. The story of Harrison and Josetta, for example, leave a sense of awe and respect. The relationship between Greg and Harrison tiptoes on the line of professionalism and friendship. This leaves the reader questioning the next move from each.
Love sets an undertone throughout the story. Galluzzi does an exceptional job at catching the hearts of readers and leaving them longing for their own Harrison and Hannah love story. My heart ached for the lovers amidst their separation. While the love is admirable, it can reach peaks that I wish would dive a little deeper, at times you find yourself absorbed in a passionate moment eagerly awaiting the next move only to be left hanging. Sacrifices must be made, especially in Harrison’s line of duty. Sometimes, ones that break your heart and leave you feeling empty. I do wish some of Hannah’s fears and doubts would have been expressed and explained a little deeper. Harrison’s emotional responses to such sacrifices were held on the delicate balance described in ways that rendered the reader sympathetic.
The sense of duty is noble. All sacrifices were made in the wake of duty and respect. An empowering sense of patriotism coupled with disbelief on just how far someone might be willing to go in the name duty continually engulfs the reader.
As stated previously, the twists and turns of this novel keep the reader consumed. The mind is constantly trying to skip to the next scene to find out what happens. I personally found it to be a quick read simply because I had to know what happened next.
Pages: 256 | ISBN: 0981024610
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