Chester Litvin, PhD has woven together an Orwellian world of doctrine, dogma, and propaganda in his book, Escape from Kolyma: Aborigin is a Bear Region. Psychological warfare has run rampant in the form of super-viruses that attack the psyche. Citizens are forced to beg, steal, borrow, and worse just to get by. Concentration camps and dictatorship have come back into fashion, and the people of Aborigin are suffering. The super-viruses are turning good people bad, and stripping the people of their personalities. They are being brainwashed and turning on each other. Professor Kryvoruchko is aware of the widespread infection, and may be Aborigin’s and the world’s only hope.
Many parts of the book are reminiscent of Hitler’s Germany, complete with propaganda and concentration camps. The cultural rift present is also indicative of a Hitler-like state. Convince one man he is better than another and he will let you pick his pocket. Give him someone to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you. That’s a paraphrase of a Lyndon B. Johnson quote about racism, but it applies here. Readers will draw many similarities between the culture of Litvin’s Aborigin and racism and “otherism” still found present all over the world. This is a divide-and-conquer mentality that worked wonders for Hilter, and still works in politics and socially in other areas.
The book is scary to me in its realism. I don’t believe that these are things that could never happen. I think psychological warfare isn’t a half-step from where we are now. In America, in particular, racism is still alive and well. People still continue to look down on groups of people they see as “less thans.” In the book, groups of people are stripped of every possession and jailed. They are killed. This kind of hatred for others is contagious. This kind of infection continues to spread if it isn’t stopped. I’m afraid we are closer to this kind of thing happening than I’d like to admit.
A part of the book that particularly bothered me was the children emulating the adults that they watched. Apparently, the children were also infected. They, too, were brainwashed. They mimicked what they saw being done before them down to raping and killing others. The children became thugs. There seemed to be an entire loss of innocence. This may be disturbing for readers, but it’s important. Children become what they know. They imitate what they see. This serves as a reminder for people to be worthy of emulation.
I will say that the book is complex. This wasn’t an easy Sunday afternoon kind of read, and with its subject matter, it shouldn’t be. I found myself re-reading parts that I didn’t understand. It was not always easy for me to follow. It requires some time and thought to get through. With that being said, sentence structure, grammar, and spelling were pretty impeccable.
Litvin delves into some unpleasant scenarios for the sake of opening eyes it seems to me. He gives some reminders about how easily it is for us, as humans, to lose our humanity or to follow blindly as sheep. He keeps some underdogs in there for us to cling to as we grapple through the book. It’s not an easy read, but serves as an important reminder. As Churchill once said, “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.” This sentiment echos through these pages.
Pages: 432 | ASIN: B07N3SXLYV
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Think of the worst scenario you could possibly imagine. Got one? Chances are Joshua Squire can think of something worse. Angel Virus, Squire’s inaugural novel, paints a nightmarish scenario: all of the world’s children suddenly, inexplicably die. And the rest of world might not be too far behind. The story follows the lives of four people (Dutch: a Wisconsin metal worker, Jin: a small business owner in Beijing, Aletta: a European pediatrician, and Aysi: a teacher at a church in Africa) all of whom are recovering from past demons when the world starts falling apart. The novel wastes little time detailing the titular epidemic that kills the world’s children before zeroing in on the lives of these four protagonists. Squire, a poet by nature, flexes his linguistic muscles best in these personal scenes. At one point I found myself wishing that Squire would show the exposition instead of telling it. But when the narration focuses in on the individual suffering, the scenes cut deep enough to make the reader yearn for the safety of the omniscient narrator.
It’s in these dark, visceral images where Angel Virus shines the brightest. Subtle details such as place names and character backstories invite close reading. But at other times the reader races forward at full speed as characters flee through the jungle, get entombed in the city, or suddenly discover that allies can become one’s worst enemies. In addition to great images, Squire successfully creates realistic characters who inspire empathy within the reader. The dialogue comes off as believable while still maintaining a poetic quality.
Unfortunately, Squire’s excellent descriptions and well written characters also work against him. Angel Virus takes place over a wide variety of settings and includes many secondary characters. All of this helps create a believable disaster on a world-scale. But trying to tackle this much material in a novella length story sometimes becomes disorienting. In addition, while each of the four protagonists add compelling drama to the story, they all follow a similar path. Since the story is relatively short, none of the protagonists are allowed to fully develop.
Overall, Angel Virus is an exciting first novel. While the scope of its story and lack of versatility in the heroes’ narratives threatens to hamper the novel, the writing is strong enough to keep the reader interested. The novel’s conclusion left me wanting more, and that’s exactly what this trilogy plans to offer. But even if you stop at its last page, Angel Virus compels you to consider the link between psychology and spirituality, the nature of good and evil, and why you should cherish your loved ones long after you finish reading it.
Pages: 96 | ASIN: B01JZXY0JY
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Ken Obi’s latest novel End It By The Gun features charismatic and determined Beck, who’s eagerness to get a top book deal and offer for a screen play, ruins his life. The book delves into Beck’s past, his relationships with women and writing and his latest novel. It is full of dynamic relationships with both women and men, family ordeals and political strife. There’s even a spattering of nature. The novel cannot be simply put into one genre as it ventures into fantasy, political thriller and drama, so there’s bound to be a part that everyone can enjoy.
The book can be split into two parts – the first half is about Beck and his life, his dream to become a famous writer and his relationships. The second half is his eleventh novel which features Abdoullah, Farouk, and Murktar and their deadly pathogen V1B6F3.
The first half is characterized by tumultuous relationships, between Beck and his family and women. It has a fast-paced style with a masculine tone and lots of underlying energy in the short chapters. There are twists and turns constantly occurring in the chapters that jump around different time periods in Beck’s life. He experiences strange meetings, fame and kidnapping. This style of writing is inviting and leaves the reader wanting more.
However, I felt that some parts the book were awkwardly written – “I read that to mean that he must have thought I had given up on dashing away”, and I thought that it could be overly descriptive for a book that means to move quickly. I also felt that there was a lack of sympathy for women in the book – Beck’s wife is made out to be crazy with no explanation, and his agent has no name for most of the narrative.
The second part of the book begins in a way reminiscent of a zombie apocalypse. This is the book that makes Beck famous. It has a science versus nature theme which ultimately turns political, alongside this runs the age-old battle between good and evil. The nature aspect of it focuses on an area called Shonga, which is untouched by humans. This part is the gem of the book and where the writing style really works. The vivid descriptions of the forest and way of life offer a rich picture which makes the reader long to be in nature with the characters, away from their urban lifestyles.
The characters in the second half of the book are presented in a linear fashion which evokes a level of understanding which is not present in the first half of the text. The characters in this part are all from different walks of life, which goes to show how many people can influence an event.
I thought that the tone of the book is inviting, quick and full of energy and I think many people would enjoy the interesting characters and fresh perspectives.
Pages: 228 | ASIN: B07DHK1PHF
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H.A.L.F. Origins follows Tex and Erika while they’re running for their lives against a deadly alien virus that is spawning an epidemic around the globe. What was the inspiration behind this idea and how did it develop as you were writing?
The idea of an alien virus was part of the H.A.L.F. storyline from the very beginning of my planning back in 2010/2011. But I planned that the Conexus (the “aliens” behind the virus) wanted to wipe out humans so they could take over the planet. That idea changed a bit when I had the later idea of introducing the M’Uktah, predator aliens from across the galaxy. The addition of the M’Uktah altered how the virus would be used. In general, as I developed the story, I kept looking for ways to make life more and more difficult for my characters! So in book three they are beset with the obstacle of both a virulent virus and alien predators trying to devour the population.
The story is fast paced and throws readers into the deep end of the action. How do you balance action with storytelling to create such a captivating novel?
Novels have lots of “moving parts” and finding balance between the elements is perhaps the greatest challenge. Action, character development, setting, plot, pacing, theme, dialogue, character arc–these and more are all part of the process. Having a fabulous content development editor helps a lot. Alyssa at Red Adept Editing has provided early feedback on all of the H.A.L.F. novels. She is great at helping me see ways to improve pacing, etc. Some of it though is intuitive, but intuition seems to improve with more writing experience. 😉
I enjoyed watching Tex and Erika’s relationship grow throughout the story. Was there story organic or did you plan it in advance?
I did not originally plan for Tex and Erika to end up together. When I wrote book one, I assumed that Erika would end up with Jack and that Tex as their relationship “complication.” But that’s now how it ended up and so yes, what transpires between Erika and Tex was organic. Writing their relationship was the most satisfying part of the writing process of this series.
This is book 3 in the H.A.L.F. series. Are you moving on to other stories or are you going to continue to develop this universe you’ve created?
I am finished with the H.A.L.F. stories and do not intend to write more about Tex or Erika (or Jack and Anna). I’m currently focused on development of an entirely new project that will be epic fantasy.
I may, however, write some shorts or perhaps a serialized story set on the planet of Uktah, the world of the alien predators from the H.A.L.F. series. There has also been interest by screen writers and producers in developing H.A.L.F. for television, so I’ll be working on that as well in the coming months. H.A.L.F. may show up on the small screen some day. 🙂
And I’m introducing a new writing challenge for the writing community called PENuary that will debut January, 2018. Inspired by Inktober, I’ll be writing a minimum of 20 minutes per day from a one-word writing prompt for each of the 31 days of January. I’m inviting other writers of all skill levels to join in this endeavor. You can read more about it here. I’m hoping that I end up with 2-3 cool ideas out of the 31 day challenge.
A deadly alien virus spawns an epidemic. Predators attack Europe. And a clandestine organization conspires to profit from chaos and forge a New World Order.
In this heart-pounding finale of the award-winning H.A.L.F. series, Tex, Erika and the rest are in a race against time. They fought for their lives. Now they battle to save our species.
Tex and Erika are fugitives and running for their lives. But when Tex falls gravely ill, a Navajo healer is his only hope for survival. Tex emerges from the ordeal changed in body and mind and with vital information: how to stop the predatory M’Uktah from overtaking the human population and destroying those he has come to love.
Erika Holt seeks a respite from the constant threats to her life but she’s not about to give up. As she and Tex launch a mission to shut down the intra-galactic highway used by invaders who prey on humans, she grows closer to her troubled half-human companion. But what about her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Jack?
Jack Wilson, with his friend Anna Sturgis, is on a mission of his own. He’s determined to destroy The Makers, an illuminati-like organization behind the H.A.L.F. program. It’s time to put an end to their schemes for world domination. Complicating matters, an anti-viral that could save millions from an alien virus has been stolen. As both alien and human forces line up against them, the destiny of all mankind is hand the hands of these young warriors. And time is running out.
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H.A.L.F Origins written by Natalie Wright is the third book in the H.A.L.F series. This book will please fans of the series, which is aimed at young adults. It takes a look at the characters that fans know and love, Tex, Erika and Jack Wilson. Tex and Erika are on their own adventures, running for their lives against the deadly alien virus that is spawning an epidemic around the globe. As well as predators attacking Europe and an organization whose conspiring to profit from chaos and forge a New World Order. It seems like these two have their hands full.
Tex and Erika need help from a Navajo healer when Tex falls gravely ill The healer is their only chance at helping Tex live. Thankfully, Tex emerges from the experience with vital information which will help stop the predatory M’Uktah from overtaking the human population. Sounds crazy, hey! Very intense.
I really enjoyed that this book had a pronunciation and definition guide at the start of the book otherwise I would’ve had trouble keeping up with whose who.
Another thing I really enjoyed was the sweet acknowledgment at the start of the book, as many acknowledgments are at the back and I didn’t realize that she had written so many words (300,000 to be exact).
The story is really fast paced and throws you immediately into the deep end of the action. The writing is really clever and immerses the reader immediately into the world of the characters. You can really tell that the author has crafted these characters with care, as they’re all very different and have a different tone. I’ve noticed with some of the other books that I’ve read, authors tend to just reuse personality traits, but that was not the case with this book at all.
With The Makers and predatory creatures who want to enslave the human race, I found this book to be very enjoyable and action-packed. It was very sweet to read Erika and Tex’s budding romance, as he’s half-human and she’s into someone else. That was relatable as hell, I mean, apart from the fact he’s half human. These two broke my heart again and again. Why did they make everything so complicated!?
The complexity of the characters within this story is what kept me on the edge of my seat. Although I generally like it when characters are undoubtedly good or bad, it’s refreshing for me to read characters that aren’t always like this. This was the case with the main characters within this book, as you learn more and more about them as time goes on.
I really enjoyed this book. Is it the last one in the series? I hope not.
Pages: 377 | ASIN: B07263P84J
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Voodoo Child follows Army chopper pilot Maggie Child after she’s shot down over Iraq and her well-ordered life spirals into a paranormal nightmare. What was the inspiration for creating a zombie novel with such a strong female protagonist?
The positive feedback I’ve been getting about Maggie is really satisfying because it was kind of an outside the box decision. I thought moving away from the standard male action hero would give the books a unique perspective. The zombie genre tends to have main characters that are either Delta Force operators, or Joe Everyman heroes who blossom into post-apocalyptic commandos, so I wanted to go in a different direction. With Maggie Child I wanted to create a protagonist that was strong and capable, while still being emotionally vulnerable. That’s especially important given what she has to endure over the course of the book. Maggie is a trained soldier but her compassion and embracing her spiritual side will become her greatest strengths. I think she’s someone readers of both genders can get behind.
Maggie, Sarafina and Lavonia are the three main characters of this tale and they couldn’t be more different from each other. Which character do you feel you relate to and why?
Well each of the trio represents a distinct facet of human nature, with Maggie as the person of action, Sarafina as the spiritual and emotional conscience and Lavonia representing our basest instincts. I suppose Maggie is the one that I and probably most other people would relate to. We all hope that if a great duty were thrust upon us we’d rise to the challenge like her. I think it will be fun to watch her blossom from a good, strong person into a truly great one. BUT I freely admit that Lavonia is always a blast to write because she’s such a shameless, self-centered sociopath. She’s irresistible.
There are a lot of zombie novels out there. How do you feel Voodoo child stands out from the rest?
The biggest difference was taking zombies back to their supernatural, voodoo roots. The current wave (or tsunami) of zombie novels are inspired by George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, which reinvented zombie mythology. Thanks to Romero’s influence literary and cinematic zombies have evolved into thoroughly modern monsters, usually the byproduct of a mutated virus, military experiment or some other consequence of our technological society. That’s ironic because zombies are actually rooted in traditional Caribbean Voodoo- a very agrarian culture that hasn’t changed much in centuries. Taking zombies back to their voodoo origin allows me to explore the rich tapestry of voodoo spirits and legends. Later novels in the series will dive more deeply into that realm. It also meant I could discard the current “Zombie Rulebook” while inventing my own mythology. I think readers will enjoy the ride. Another difference is focusing on a core group of female lead characters, both as heroes and as the main human villain. I think that casts a unique light on the genre. I enjoyed exploring the characters relationships, particularly with Maggie, who, coming from an army background is very guarded about her femininity and romantic relationships, whereas the Sarafina, the Voodoo priestess is completely guided by her heart and emotions. They make an unlikely duo that not only forms a deep friendship, but also bond as master and pupil. And finally there’s the slightly twisted humor that underscores the action, which I hope is a welcome addition. Maybe Voodoo Child is the zombie novel for people who are growing weary of zombie novels.
Voodoo Child is the first book in a series and it does an excellent job of setting the stage for the story to come. Can you tell us more about where the story and characters go after book one?
We’ll discover that the supernatural forces at work will embolden other Voodoo spirits to come forward and assert themselves, turning the island of Fantomas into a brave new world of gods and monsters. This includes Marinette- The Lady of the Screech Owl, a spirit from the traditional Voodoo pantheon that’s considered so horrible only an insane person would evoke her. Pages from the ancient Voodoo spell book have been scattered across the globe, placing great power in the wrong hands. Sarafina will try to use her portion of the ancient text for good, but she’ll struggle with the book’s power to corrupt even the purest of hearts. Maggie will be grappling emotionally with her new role as a more than human warrior. To achieve that she’ll have to embrace her spiritual side, which isn’t easy for someone who, until recently, was a professed atheist. Plus (without throwing in too many first book spoilers) Both Maggie and Lavonia will be struggling with some severe mommy issues. The US Navy is heading for Fantomas to quarantine the island and render aid to its citizens. That won’t end well at all. Plus Talos Corporation is still in the mix and another rouge nation (not mentioning any names) has its eye on Fantomas. And of course Lavonia wants her lost money back, even if that means unleashing a zombie army to do it. It’s going to be full of fun, surprises… and monsters.
Army chopper pilot Maggie Child has a reputation for being fearless, professional and, above all, rational. But when she’s shot down over Iraq her well-ordered life spirals into a paranormal nightmare. Alone, wounded and surrounded by hostile forces, Maggie is rescued from certain death by a demon straight out of Dante’s Inferno. Then, barely alive, she’s abducted by a private military corporation conducting insidious medical experiments. Her escape from their covert hellhole lands her on a Caribbean island where an evil voodoo spirit and a psychotic female dictator are conspiring to unleash an apocalyptic zombie plague. Then she uncovers the most terrifying secret of all—her own destiny. It seems a Voodoo oracle has ordained her the only warrior capable of saving humanity from a supernatural Armageddon … whether she wants the job or not! But saving the world isn’t a one-woman job, so she teams up with a trio of unlikely heroes—a conspiracy obsessed marijuana smuggler, a Voodoo priestess with an appetite for reality television, and a burnt out ex-mercenary. Together, they’ll take on an army of the walking dead, with the fate of humanity resting in their eccentric hands. Voodoo Child, Book One: Zombie Uprising is the first novel in a new horror series packed with supernatural thrills, rousing adventure, dark humor, Voodoo lore and plenty of zombie stomping action. But a word of warning; don’t shoot these zombies in the head … because that just makes them mad!
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Nex Mexico, 1947. A spaceship crashes on Earth during an exploratory mission from Planet HG-281 and leaves behind a 12-years-old alien. His name is Whatsit and he belongs to the Chrysallamans species, gigantic lizards with extraordinary mental powers, which enable them to control the humans’ brain and ultimately destroy them. The U.S. military takes custody of the young alien during a covert operation on the site of the crash, led by Major Jim Blunt. Shortly after, in Washington, a governmental committee calls a meeting of prominent scientists to inform them of the presence on U.S. soil of the young alien and alert them of the incoming danger of an invasion of Planet Earth by the Chrysallamans. Taking into consideration that Planet HG-281 is around 30 light years from the Earth, they estimate an invasion will come in 60 years. A bright young doctor, Diane Hoffmann, comes up with the original idea of studying the DNA of extraordinary human beings in order to isolate the genes that make them special. Those genes could be then translated into a vaccine against the aliens’ mental powers. Major Blunt finds the idea brillian,t and he takes off with Hoffmann to Tibet where they will bring Whatsit to visit a teenage Dalai Lama. The Lama is able to communicate with the alien through telepathy and he reassures Blunt and Hoffmann of the alien’s good nature and gratitude towards the soldier who was taking care of him. Once taken a sample of the Lama’s DNA, the two go on to meet a strong man in Germany and then a Skullreader back in the U.S.A. in order to collect their DNA too. A dormant virus – engineered to become active at a chosen time- is eventually developed so that humans can be ready for the invasion to come sixty years later. The first to be inoculated is Major Blunt, the soldier who raised Whatsit as a son and the now husband of the brilliant scientist who synthetized the substance. A leap in time brings us to the 70s, briefly, to meet the young son of Blunt and Hoffmann, Tom, on his way to a military career. In 2014, as feared, the Chrysallamans come back and spread terror and destruction all over the world. Till they meet Tom Blunt, the brave son of Jim Blunt.
The Origin of F.O.R.C.E by Sam Miller brings 70’s sci-fi films and literature about alien invasions into the new era. Anyone who enjoys a science fiction novel for the science will definitly enjoy this book. I found the idea of DNA manipulation in the book to be novel in it’s application to the problem and well defined in it’s descriptions. There were a lot of great twists and the storyline was entertaining, which is why it was dissapointing that the characters, I felt, were underdeveloped. But a lack of in-depth character analysis is compensated by a constant flow of action. This leaves the novel feeling more like a script, but that certainly makes it a good candidate to be converted into a movie. I absolutely cannot wait to read book two Dawn of Chrysalis.
Pages: 373 | ISBN: B010T04A2O
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