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Into War Games, Into Community, Into the Army

Into war games, into community, into the army (HEARING OTHERS’ VOICES Book 26) by [Christophe Finnegan]

Into War Games, Into Community, Into the Army by Christophe Finnegan is an introspective memoir about how his love for board games in the war/military genre led to the author enlisting in the army. This reflective memoir explores how war games can shape a persons way of thinking, in beneficial ways if one joins the army, but also in other aspects of critical thinking and planning. This book has certainly gave me a different perspective of war games and I see them now as much more than simple games. They create a mindset and fosters skills that include observation, analysis, interpretation, reflection, evaluation, problem solving and decision making. Readers are also treated to a robust description of the community surrounding these war games.

Into War Games, Into Community, Into the Army opens like a novel in the thriller genre, or a suspense story; but when the authors stop arrives, it quickly changes its pacing into a more fun and casual narrative that is equally engaging.

What I enjoyed most about this book was how prevalent the authors passion about the subject is. It is semi-biographical, semi-informational, but completely absorbing. We get to learn about author Christophe Finnegan, what led to him joining the military, his time in the military, the war games community and gaming culture. All this packed within a book that is less than one hundred pages.

The book is packed with information and I found most of it to be very interesting, most of it new to me, but still accessible. I think the reason for the memoirs success is the way in which Christophe Finnegan is able to relate the games community to his own life experiences. It’s in this relationship that this book shines. Christophe Finnegan without war games would not be the same Christophe Finnegan. This is what I take away from this sharp and revealing book.

Into War Games, Into Community, Into the Army is an exceptional memoir of a unique man, living a unique life, that is relatable and thoroughly absorbing.

Pages: 67 | ASIN: B088ZR2B7L

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Tentoria

Tentoria by [Sorin Banu]

In Sorin Banu’s epic dystopian science fiction novel, man creates a group of human-like cyborgs called Tentorians to end a new world war in the 22nd century. From that point onwards, the Tentorians grow and morph into power-hungry killing machines. They pose a threat to all around them and end up being forcefully ejected from their first settlement by an alliance of nations of the earth. These Tentorians then proceed to create a sovereign state called Tentoria. Here, a new leader envisions a future marked by peaceful coexistence between Tentorians and the rest of mankind. But some powerful Tentorians would have none of that. These rebels set their sights on forcefully taking over the otherworldly Island as their new home. In a series of revealing and riveting events, Cole, a 27-year old Islander, a surprising ally and the Island’s authorities try to protect this unique piece of land. But how will this end? Will the soulless cyborgs seize the last place on earth where people could truly live as humans?

Sorin Banu pings us between the 21st and the 25th centuries as he tells a story of a fallen world. He  artfully illustrates what the earth might look like in the 25th century based on man’s hunger to continually tinker with technology. Banu’s fictional future is marked by stunning advancements in the development of artificial intelligence. But he doesn’t just create futuristic innovations many already envision; he shows us where such breakthroughs could lead humanity.

In this book, Banu suggests that man’s technological creations could come back to haunt him. According to Banu we could end up creating real-life terminators that would later turn on us. But the problem could even run deeper. We could lose our essence as humans.

To drive home his point, he uses an intriguing story line to highlight the things that make us human and how technology could take them away from us. And this wouldn’t be because we created cyborgs to fight our wars. It would be because we’d become overly attached to technology. As we seek greater control and improved solutions, nature’s imprints on our lives will slowly fade away.

The book’s central theme was just one of the many things that thrilled me. Amongst those other things was how Banu weaved the story. I could easily follow the plot even though the author was going back and forth in time. He was also smart enough to insert gaps that kept me guessing and coming up with plausible theories. Also, the characters were relatable, and I could share their emotions.

The book engages your mind, challenges you to reassess some values and appreciate both the limitations and privileges of being human.

Pages: 352 | ASIN: B07QF59Y92

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In the Realm of Ash and Sorrow

In the Realm of Ash and Sorrow was a unique historical fiction novel colored with themes of guilt, sorrow and suffering over all that had been lost. Although this was a very emotional novel, it wasn’t all negative emotions, it also had happiness, romance, and a (possible) love like no other, mixed in with some supernatural elements and fantastical hints of history. The story caught my attention in the first couple of pages, remaining consistently entertaining throughout with only rare moments that seemed to slow a bit due to necessary exposition. The detail throughout the book is absorbing and really pulls you into 1940’s Japan. When it came time for the atomic bomb to drop I could see the horror surrounding Micha as he searched for Kyomi, the burning bodies that he came across and the fear that he would never find her or Ai. I could visualize most every scene, which is something I truly appreciated in a novel that covered such a cataclysmic event that reshaped human history.

While Kyomi’s character was interesting I wanted to see more of her personality. Her character seemed monotone at first, but after awhile her character began to grow on me just as she developed in the novel. I liked Micah from the first page, I’m not sure if that’s because he was the first character introduced to me or because I could empathize with him, perhaps it’s because I felt bad for him after the plane crashed. I liked Ai’s character from the beginning as well, children are always fun characters and Ai was no exception. The three of them together made for a great read with interesting interactions and I liked some of the other spirits that they came across along their travels.

Something that made me enjoy the book even more was how the author used the actual terms used by the Japanese such as calling the military Kempeitai instead of using one of our military terms like Army, Navy, Coast Guard, etc. This happens frequently throughout the book which showed me that the author did thorough research for this book and it also helped me learn a few terms. This is an example of the authors dedication to historical detail in this book. Something that I praise the author for is the way that this novel helps you see different points of view from the American and Japanese sides in World War 2. It is also an exploration of Japanese culture at an interesting time in their history. It covers how the Japanese lived, their culture, their work, routines, the hardships they face and much more. I really loved having bits of history weaved into the pages and the way it gave me a new insight. History and fiction meld seamlessly in this novel to deliver a captivating story.

Pages: 344 | ASIN: B083Q4WRPD

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The Boy Who Saw In Colours

The Boy Who Saw In Colours by [Lauren Robinson]

The Boy Who Saw In Colours by Lauren Robinson is a story about a young boy who is coming of age during the time of WWII. There are many stories out there about WWII, but the perspective from a child who turns 13 on the day of the London Blitz introduces a new viewpoint to the devastating war. Josef and his younger brother, Tomas, are the sons of a mother, who is from a well-to-do German family, and a father who is Jewish. Their love story is doomed from the beginning and leads both boys down a heartbreaking path. After being stolen from their parents Josef tells the story of how he and his brother are sent to an elite German Youth school to be groomed into the next brainwashed generation of the Aryan Super Race.

Even though this is a book of fiction, it is based on real historical events. After Josef and Tomas are taken from their parents, they are thrown into the military-like German school where they are literally beaten into following Hitler. But as Josef is of part Jewish descent, he is always picked on and called ‘mischling’, a foul name for someone who comes from mixed blood.

Josef has a gift that gets him through this unthinkable experience though, he is a painter. Not just someone who makes a pretty picture on a canvas, but a creative who sees his entire world in different colors.

I love how Robinson writes; it’s like I am sitting in a room with Josef at an old age and he is telling me about his life as a child while the fire burns and we drink tea. Her style is lyrical in nature and you can tell that each word she writes is put there with great thought and on purpose.

This book was at times very difficult to read because of the way the children were treated to ensure their submissiveness to the Fuhrer, it was nauseating. At the same time, their story needs to be told, we need to learn from our horrible mistakes of the past and this book tells it like a sad love song, heart-breaking, but beautiful.

There are relationships however that do emerge that give glimmers of hope and love and let you have a softer heart for some Germans who knew they had to follow along or be killed. I highly recommend reading this book. I look forward to more books by Robinson and her unique style in the future.

Pages: 371 |ASIN: B088BBXLL7

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Universal Human Elements

Miles Watson Author Interview

Miles Watson Author Interview

Sinner’s Cross is a gritty look at WWII and the toll it took on a group of soldiers. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?

When I was much younger, I read a book by Charles Whiting called The Battle of the Huertgen Forest. It read just like a novel, and provided a horrifying, unrelenting look at this massive battle which killed 26,000 men, which somehow I had never heard of. I gradually began to understand that the reason the Huertgen Forest Campaign was unknown to the American public was because it neither began nor ended well, and saw many lives lost for very little return. It seemed tragic to me that only men who died in “glorious” battles are remembered or honored the way they ought to be. I wanted to tell their story, but in a way that concentrated on the universal human elements.

Each of your characters were well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?

All of them had their pleasures and their pains. The emotional arcs of Breese and Zenger were rather tough for me to write because they were suffering so much — Breese from fear, Zenger from doubt. Halleck was fun because he is so tough, but also so taciturn that all of his emotions are beneath the surface. Sinner’s Cross is a WW2 story, but Halleck is a classic Old West cowboy at heart. Anyone who says writing cowboys ain’t fun is lying to you.

I enjoyed how historically accurate this book is. What kind of research did you undertake to ensure the books authenticity?

I’m a history buff, have a degree in history, and possess an immense library of books on WW2, including a collection of material printed during the war by both America and Germany. Whenever I needed information, that was where I started.

However, I am of the opinion that if you want to read a genuine account of a battle, that’s what history books are for. Novels are there to put you inside the experience, and the best way to make situations real is to nail the small details — what type of tobacco the Germans smoked, what type of music the Americans listened to, what happens when a hundred pounds of high explosives hits a tree at supersonic speed. I am very proud to say that I’ve had veterans of the Army and Marines both, guys who fought in wars from Vietnam to Iraq, congratulate me on getting the atmosphere right.

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

I like to write in every genre, and right now I’m trying to finish an epic horror novel I’ve been toiling on for 2 1/2 years. I have several months of work ahead of me just to finish the first draft, so it’s anyone’s guess when it will see the light of day. However, the sequel to Sinner’s Cross is in the final drafting process as I write this, and I intend to release it in October of this year.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Sinner's Cross: A Novel of the Second World War by [Miles Watson]In 1944, Sinner’s Cross was just a point on a map: a muddy track through shell-torn German woods. Worthless…except to the brass on both sides of the war, who are willing to sacrifice their best men to have it. Men like Halleck, a tough-as-nails Texan who traded driving cattle for driving soldiers; Breese, a phenomenal actor who can play any part but hero; and Zenger, the Nazi paratrooper who discovers Hitler’s Germany is a lousy place to grow a conscience. Their lives and deaths will intersect at the place called Sinner’s Cross.

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They Had a Common Enemy

Kathryn Gauci Author Interview

Kathryn Gauci Author Interview

The Poseidon Network follows SOE agent Hadley who must root out a traitor in the network before their cover is blown. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting novel?

I wanted to show that for SOE agents working on behalf of the Allies, the situation in Greece was not easy. The political situation in Europe prior to and during WWII was very much one of division, and nowhere more so than Greece which had experienced great upheavals in their country in the early 20th century. However the Greek Resistance did pull together while they had a common enemy and their part in defeating first the Italians and then the Germans was to be admired. Women also played an important role too, as they had done in every war since The Greek War of Independence in 1821.

I also wanted to write the novel that was more a thriller in the style of Film Noir and the old classics, rather than another resistance story. The melting pot that Cairo was at that time was an ideal starting point. Characters in Rick’s Bar in “Casablanca” along with Harry Lime and his Viennese Nazi sympathizers in “The Third Man” were an inspiration too.

Larry is an interesting and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?

Again taking inspiration from Film Noir I wanted Larry to be a larger than life figure; a man’s man who loved women, yet was caught off-guard when he met Alexis. I tried to imagine the physiology behind such a man. He was, first and foremost, an adventurer, but all of us have a vulnerable human side – a soft spot. Alexis was his. I also wanted to show how he respected the men he worked with. The classic thriller writers and such authors as Steinbeck were a great influence for developing his character.

I enjoyed the historic details used throughout the book. What kind of research did you undertake to get things right?

I always try to get to know the places I write about. In this case, I lived in Greece for six years and heard stories from those who experienced the war firsthand. I have also visited Turkey and Egypt several time. I think this is vital as the atmosphere of a place gets into your blood. It is the sights, sounds and smells that touch the senses and give the novel light and shade.

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

My current WIP is another WWII story set in the Jura/Franche-Comté region of France in 1944. I was there for two and a half months 2019-2020, researching the Maquis, Resistance, and smuggler routes into Switzerland. It is a beautiful area of lakes, forests and mountains, and rich with stories of heroes and heroines in almost every village. Unfortunately, the Germans – particularly the Gestapo – could not have infiltrated the area so successfully had not been for the many collaborators, who were paid a huge sum of money for denouncing someone, particularly the head of a network. This time the protagonist is a woman. I expect to have it out by September this year.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitter | FacebookWebsite

The Poseidon Network by [Kathryn Gauci]

1943. SOE agent Larry Hadley leaves Cairo for German and Italian occupied Greece. His mission is to liaise with the Poseidon network under the leadership of the White Rose.

It’s not long before he finds himself involved with a beautiful and intriguing woman whose past is shrouded in mystery.
In a country where hardship, destruction and political instability threaten to split the Resistance, and terror and moral ambiguity live side by side, Larry’s instincts tell him something is wrong.

After the devastating massacre in a small mountain village by the Wehrmacht, combined with new intelligence concerning the escape networks, he is forced to confront the likelihood of a traitor in their midst. But who is it?

Time is running out and he must act before the network is blown. The stakes are high.

From the shadowy souks and cocktail parties of Cairo’s elite to the mountains of Greece, Athens, the Aegean Islands, and Turkey, The Poseidon Network, is an unforgettable cat-and-mouse portrait of wartime that you will not want to put down.

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Leave My Ashes On Blackheart Mountain

Leave My Ashes on Blackheart Mountain by [Dave Matthes]

When your work is savage and your world is cruel, it’s hard to find your heart. Mahoney knows this better than anyone. He lives in a world that was burned to the ground many years ago, and he knows nothing but cold, hard truth and scavenging his way through life. With the love of his life waiting behind hoping for his safe return, Mahoney is dispatched on a mission to deliver a prisoner for execution. Not one to be left in the dark, Mahoney finds himself struggling to figure out how he has arrived on the legendary Blackheart Mountain. What should have been his opportunity to hand over the one thing everyone around him wants most, may just turn into the moment that changes his life.

Leave My Ashes on Blackheart Mountain, by Dave Matthes, is the thought-provoking tale of Mahoney, an outlaw of sorts who has made his home working for the powerful but evil Gunther Ostrander. Mahoney, by and large a loner, is accustomed to taking care of things his own way. Living in the remnants of a world he never really knew, he often uses violence as his go-to with little remorse.

I was immediately taken with the setting of Matthes’s book. This post-apocalyptic scene is striking in that it mimics the feel of the Old West in both character and setting. From the brief mentions by characters of modern times gone by to the hints of modern technology, readers are taken on quite a visual thrill ride as they try to piece together each scene. I am not a fan of westerns, but this particular book is so much more and carries readers on a captivating journey into the author’s imagination.

The notion of an almost mythical Blackheart Mountain and the ways in which it impacts the main character are fascinating to read. I am a huge believer in drastic changes as a character is developed throughout a story, and Matthes succeeds in carrying Mahoney through some major challenges to mold a character not to be forgotten. From his kindness and almost subdued nature with Cassandra to his quiet viciousness when threatened to his experiences among the Tuskatawan people, Mahoney takes shape before our eyes, and his spirit is almost palpable.

I highly recommend Matthes’s unique tale to anyone who enjoys westerns and modern takes on the genre. I think readers will be pleasantly surprised at how well the mix of action meshes with the tender character development that takes place throughout Matthes’s gripping novel.

Pages: 350 | ASIN: B086TZ41WX

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Passing on a Legacy

Nicholas John Powter Author Interview

Nicholas John Powter Author Interview

The Young follows a war veteran who must take up arms to protect his family and friends from the evil forces in the Deluge lands. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?

Well i was watching the fellowship of the ring one night and i thought wouldn’t it be cool to make my own universe with its own lore, characters, environment, creatures, supernatural entities etc. and i was really inspired by that Tolkien fella and so i decided i would try my hand at making a story about the battle between good and evil on an epic scale.

Sven is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some ideas that guided his character development?

Well i made him across between Aragorn (LOTR) and piccolo (DBZ) and i wanted to make him an over the hill warrior who struggles with his own wrongdoings, sins so to speak and have him to be tested with his loyalty and devotion to his family and his faith.

I thought that this story was about good ultimately triumphing as long as there are people who believe. What were some themes you felt were important to the story?

Well i felt that good always wins and triumphs in the end particularly when their likewise minded people behind it and that its essential for mankind to have the three major components in life: family, country, god i think those fundamentally extremely important to humanity particularly in this mythology. But the ultimate theme of the book is passing on a legacy onto your offspring, your young and making sure you raise the next of kin properly with those three major components taught to them.

When and where will this book be available?

I think it should be available within in this year if things goes according to plan with production and should be available on GoodReads and Barnes and Noble.

The Young – Book Review

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