Blog Archives

What’s Going On? How Can We Help?

What's Going On? How Can We Help?: the consequences of capitalism and actionable steps towards a healthy and sustainable future by [Freequill]

Human beings are on a cycle where obstacles seem to appear and fade only to reappear later. This is making it very difficult for progress to be effected. Human beings are having a difficult time dealing with the same age-old issues. The same hurdles over and over. The biggest cause of this is that only the symptoms of the problems are addressed. Rarely do we dig deeper to find the root cause. To really take stock of where we are as individuals and the human race in general and the journey that got us here. If you cut a plant’s stem, it will sprout again. However, if you pull the roots, it will be the last you see of it. If another similar weed does grow, it will be a completely different plant. This is the approach required to deal with the obstacles to progress.

Freequill declares right from the get-go that attempting to change the world is a big fete. He admits that the road will be bumpy and thorny. But, you will quickly realize that this road map leads to a better future, one that can calm the storm, settle the chaos and promote a more cohesive future for the human race. This daunting task is broken down into chewable tidbits. Bits that are simple enough to achieve but still highly intelligible and sensible bits to work with.

The book is quite well written. An activist piece of literature would probably throw the rules of grammar out the window but this book observes those to the letter. The sentence structure is beautiful. The tone and spirit of this book appealed to an intrinsic part of me. A part that made me want to change things. The structure and format of the book is progressive. It builds up slowly, letting the reader wet their toes first before drawing them deeper.

This is not a rant. This maybe a war cry but it is eloquent, articulate, well versed and well researched. It is obvious from the material and presentation that it took a lot of time, research, and energy to put this together. To give an accurate image of the situation and with it, an actionable plan of action.

The hardest part is the first step. This book is your first step. This book will ensure that your first step is not done in the dark. My perspective of things changed after reading this book and I felt more enlightened or, at least, informed. Caution: you will have a strong desire to do something about your new view of things. You will be compelled and provoked to take people with you on the journey. This is necessary read for every global citizen.

Pages: 234 | ASIN: B079SWY64Q

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The Masked Queen’s Lament

The Masked Queen's Lament (The Gift-Knight Trilogy Book 3) by [Madeley, Dylan]

Author of the epic fantasy series, The Gift-Knight Trilogy, Dylan Madeley brings to you the third and last in the series, The Masked Queen’s Lament. A brilliant novel that blends medieval times with on-going issues of the world we live in today.

A fantastical and medieval plotline combining elements of eccentricity, adventure, treason, power, knighthood and intrigue. The Masked Queen’s Lament continues Madeley’s narrative from books 1 and 2 (The Gift-Knight’s Quest and The Crown Princess’ Voyage) to conclude the dramatic twists and revelations conveyed throughout all three books.

The story is set in the medieval era where “Alathea enjoy[s] the feeling of all the thunder-men staring at her, not daring to blink, ready for her signal.” As a ruler of the land, the protagonist attempts to recreate a world in how she perceives it to be. However, all is not as simple as it seems. Alathea must reign in all of her troops in order to combat the wicked witch “Crown Princess Chandra Kenderley”. A real medieval plot line that allows the reader to envision concepts of reigning, power, control, and misjudgment.

Dylan Madeley does a fantastic job at writing fluently with regards to his characters. The characters are well described, and I was able to clearly envision what they would look and act like. The author clearly knows how to build his characters. Despite being the third book in the trilogy, Madeley still continues to keep the reader’s attention with these characters, reinforcing how their presence in the book is key to its success.

What I loved about this book is how the story follows the life of power and reigns. Think about this book like a Game of Thrones episode – packed full of terror, excitement, uncertainty, and conflict. As the story unfolds, the reader is made aware that the end result is going to be via battle, and who wins that battle is very much left in suspense until the very end. I won’t provide any spoilers for those of you longing to read this book, but what I can say is that the ending does not disappoint!

The only downside to the book is the flow. I found it slow at times, particularly in the first few chapters. However, the pace does pick up as the reader is subject to more action between the characters, and this is where it got more interesting for me. What makes for good reading is uncertainty, eccentricity, and uniqueness, and I believe the author of The Masked Queen’s Lament does this outstandingly. The grammar and punctuation is strong, and the narrative is creative and unique.

An emotive, fantastic, epic medieval storyline that is well-written and well-thought out by the author. Dylan Madeley has proven to be a great author, and this book is a great way to end The Gift-Knight Trilogy.

Pages: 476 | ASIN: B07DD18H76

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By God, Are They Isolated!

Humphrey Hawksley Author Interview

Humphrey Hawksley Author Interview

Man on Ice follows Rake Ozenna of the elite Eskimo Scouts as he struggles to protect his family on the brink of World War 3. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?

When I visited Little Diomede island in the Bering Strait in Alaska I was amazed at how close it was to Russia. Every morning, we stepped out and saw the Russian island of Big Diomede barely two miles away and occasionally a Russian military helicopter circling to land at the small base out of sight on the other side. It was time when US-Russian relations were taking a big dip. Many thrillers are written about Russia in Europe, but rarely on this real, live border where American and Russian territory meet. It is an incredible place because there are no border lines, no customs sheds, no marker buoys in the sea water or on the ice in winter – just wind, skies, birds, and emptiness. I just had to set a thriller there. The Russian island is run by the military. The American island is an Eskimo village with no government protection. What would there be to stop the Russians from just taking it? Why would they want to? What would be the reaction in Washington?

This book was able to take a rare look at the Eskimo people and culture. Why did you want to include them in this story and what aspects were important for you to portray?

The Bering Strait setting of Little and Big Diomede islands is native land. Before the Cold War Eskimos travelled back and forth between the islands barely recognizing Russia and America as two separate nations. The border was open to them. When it was suddenly closed during Cold War hostilities, families were separated, and still are today. The American Eskimo villagers of Little Diomede are some of the most rugged and determined people I have met. By God, are they isolated! Their environment is totally unforgiving. But they love it and have lived the land, sea and ice for generations. To make credible the stakes of a Russian incursion onto Little Diomede, I had to show this village as it really was, portraying the challenges of environment and community as well as the ingenuity the villagers use with the terrain, weather and local knowledge to win. At the end of the day, even if you’re the president of Russia or the United States, you do not mess with the Eskimos of Little Diomede.

Rake is an intriguing character that continued to develop as the story progressed. What did you model his character on and how did he change as you were writing the story?

Rake Ozenna is a blend of real life people whom I have met throughout my career as a journalist. Rake’s motivation compares to any character determined to make the best of his life and give himself a wider world than his small, isolated island community. He enrolls in the Alaska National Guard, taking every opportunity he can, eventually breaking the ceiling, making officer and captain. He serves in Iraq and Afghanistan where he meets Carrie Walker, a trauma surgeon, Brooklyn, white, middle class, professional. They both have a wild, independent streak, but their backgrounds couldn’t be more different. Rake adores Carrie and can’t believe his luck. As the action gathers pace, and Rake finds himself more and more alone and hunted down on the island, then on the ice, we see his characteristics of ruthless leadership develop. He needs to win, but is never sure if his skills and natural ability to carry them out are compatible with loving Carrie and whether the two of them could ever make the kids, nice house and white picket fence thing ever work. Interviewing many heroes over the years, I have found there are always two strands of motivation. One is the bigger cause of the country and the mission. The other is the lover, the child, the home community. Sometimes they run in parallel. Often, they clash.

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

I deliver the second Rake Ozenna political thriller at the end of May 2019 for publication later in the year. Many of the same characters, Rake, Carrie and Stephanie Lucas will be there and the location will be a wild, inhospitable place in the European Arctic.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitter | FacebookWebsite

Man on Ice: Russia vs the USA - in Alaska by [Hawksley, Humphrey]

An incident in the snows of Alaska could trigger the outbreak of World War III in this tense and twisting thriller.

When Rake Ozenna of the elite Eskimo Scouts brings his fiancée, trauma surgeon Carrie Walker, to his remote home island in the Bering Strait, they are faced immediately with a medical crisis. Then Russian helicopters swarm in.

America is on the eve of an acrimonious presidential transition and inauguration. As news breaks of a possible Russian invasion, Stephanie Lucas, British ambassador to Washington DC, is hosting a dinner for the president-elect.

Ozenna’s small Alaskan island community is suddenly caught in the crosshairs of sabre-rattling big powers. The only way to save his people is to undertake a perilous mission across the ice. Can he survive long enough to prevent a new world war breaking out?

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Blind Patriotism

Joshua Landeros Author Interview

Joshua Landeros Author Interview

Voice of the Crimson Angel Part II: Poison finds Julissa ready to take on Chancellor Venloran while the United Nation Republic is gearing up to take over Mexico. Was this book an easy continuation of part I or did you have to plan and develop the story before writing?

VOCA Part II took quite a bit of planning, up there with End of Knighthood Part III: Ballad of Demise. I knew telling the entire story of The Expansion from start to finish wasn’t really possible (outside of a very, very, long novel), so I isolated the events that seemed most important and then tied the main characters to them. VOCA Part II, I think more than any other of my previous work, challenged my use of setting. Writing tests an author in odd ways, and one of those ways for me was geography. The setting in question, of course, Mexico. How big is this city? Is it dry or wet this time of year? Is it a metropolis or a small town? Luckily, my story takes place in the future, so I can tweak things, but I prefer going off reality. The first round of writing left VOCA Part II shorter than I wanted, but the final product I’m most pleased with.

It seems that you pulled from our current political turmoil with Mexico over immigration. Was this intentional or did it happen organically?

Weird thing is at first, I was paying very little attention to the current situation. When I conceived of The Expansion, I was looking at it as a continuation of Manifest Destiny, where Americans expanded westward. The more I examined the history of expanded empires, The Expansion became more and more interesting to write. It went from being a small part of the original book to an integral backdrop for the Iranian characters. Now it’s the main focus in the VOCA trilogy. In future stories, I hope to explore neocolonialism more. Since 2016, immigration has become one of the most decisive topics in the American politics. It influenced me as I watched debates and heard different arguments, but it’s a bit different in VOCA Part II. In the book, the focus is more about imperialism reborn than the push for isolation that we’re experiencing now. What the book does do, I hope, is paint a picture of the circumstances that I feel are similar to current events. For example, I think no matter what side of the political spectrum you’re on, people accept that we live in an era where patriotism is a very touchy issue. Even critique from a person within the system can lead to harsh cries of them being “unamerican.” Blind patriotism, more than anything, fuels a beast like Venloran and his UNR. What I also wanted to focus on was displacement. Civilians can be turned into dissidents when pushed. People have forgotten that the Mujahideen that battled the Soviet Union was propped up by the United States. This same organization became Al-Qaeda, and in the age of the “War on Terror”, we’ve seen an upsurge in the formation of radical groups. I would argue that intervention, this need to intervene and ‘democratize’ other areas around the globe, fuels fundamentalists. Former New York Times writer Chris Hedges (who was fired around the start of the Iraq War) called the usage of violence a disease. Therefore “Poison” was the proper title for this installment. What I wanted to do with the book was take the “War on Terror” and move it closer to home. Instead of across the Atlantic in countries most Americans have never been to, I wanted to imagine it happening right next door.

Have you tried exploring other mediums for your series; games, comic books, etc? I ask because you have developed such a rich backstory already.

I’m not much of a gamer, so I’ve never really considered that route. Comics, however, have always intrigued me. I’ve always been obsessed with visuals (one of my worst habits was the tendency to doodle during class). Comics, namely graphic novels, have always been a favorite medium of mine. You can say a whole lot with just a single frame, and not to mention a good use of color goes a long a way in establishing the mood. The look of the cyborg uniforms, namely the overcoat, was inspired by the Blade design from Marvel comics, while the armor itself is actually manga-based. As a child, I’ve read my share of manga, including Dragon Ball. Unfortunately, I can’t draw all that well. If I could meet a comic book artist who wanted to tell a story from Reverence, I’d be honored to be a part of such a project.

If Hollywood came knocking, what actors would you cast in your main roles?

I’ve actually given some thought to this! After all, as I write I often listen to my favorite movie soundtracks. This helps me set the mood and envision a scene: scary might be Ennio Morricone, action-oriented Hans Zimmer, and somber along the lines of Michael Giacchino. Naturally, sometimes I envision certain faces of certain characters. The big one is Will, and for him I could see Will Smith or Denzel Washington taking the role. They are both older and can play action heroes, but all while still giving them emotional resonance. Another instacast for me is Liam Neeson as Chancellor Venloran. This is largely due to his portrayal of Ra’s al Ghul in Batman Begins (2005). He’s calm yet menacing, all without being over-the-top. One of my favorites to envision would be Jessica Chastain as Gabriella Neeson. After seeing her in Interstellar(2014), I was thoroughly convinced. She’s both gorgeous, tough as nails, and can portray a character who is anything but a damsel in distress (no thanks Cameron Diaz). Others are mind boggling. In the case of Marisol Leone, for example, it’s really hard to pin down. One of these days, I’ll sit down and sort them all out.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebook | Website

Voice of a Crimson Angel Part II: Poison (Reverence Book 6) by [Landeros, Joshua]Julissa Marconi is finally ready to be a soldier again, and now it’s time to take on the tyrannical Chancellor Venloran. With Captain Halsey and her daughter Zaneta by her side, the resistance is the last line of defense preventing the United Nation Republic from seizing the country of Mexico. The combat will prove bloody as Venloran sends his cyborg warriors to squash all opposition. As bullets fly and bodies pile up, Julissa will be forced to consider what she’s capable of. To defeat the enemy, she may just have to become the enemy. 

Welcome back to the world of the Reverence series with Voice of a Crimson Angel Part II: Poison. Witness the spark that lit the fire. 

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Literary Titan Book Awards July 2018

The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.

Literary Titan Gold Book Award

Gold Award Winners

Red and Blue: A Reimagined Fairy Tale by [Dubriel, Jolie]Voice of a Crimson Angel Part II: Poison (Reverence Book 6) by [Landeros, Joshua]

Expectations: The Real World Behind the Curtain of Time by [Sarah K-N]SLAY THE DRAGON by [Zubulake, Laura]

Man on Ice: Russia vs the USA - in Alaska by [Hawksley, Humphrey]Spare No One by [Scott, Zack]

My Lonely Room by [Vikara, John A.]

Literary Titan Silver Book Award

Silver Award Winners

A Memory of Solstice (Dark Ocean Book 1) by [Chandler, Caleb]The Lethal Legacy (The Legacy Series Book 3) by [Phelan, JL]The Ghost Years by [Katsonga, Mutch]

Upon Broken Wings by [Reedy, E.L., Wade, A.M.]The Matriarch Matrix by [Trencavel, Maxime]Damaged (The Damaged Series Book 1) by [Green, C. K.]

Where Wildfires Glow by [Katsonga, Mutch]Forever 19 by [Beechum, Kaye S.]

Weathering the Wicked (Chronicles of Folklaria Book 1) by [Penticoff, C.]Blindsided (Dear Grief Series) by [Gilbert, Dr. Chenee' L.]

 

Visit the Literary Titan Book Awards page to see award information and see all award winners.

 

 

 

Man on Ice: Russia vs the USA – in Alaska

Man on Ice: Russia vs the USA - in Alaska by [Hawksley, Humphrey]

There is never a dull moment in Humphrey Hawksley’s Man on Ice: Russia vs the USA – In Alaska. Not only is there intense action, the gripping story will keep readers glued to the pages until the story is done. This novel is carefully planned and executed in spectacular fashion and it’s hard not to feel the intensity with each sentence. We follow Rake Ozenna as he returns to his home island in Alaska with his fiancé in tow. Rake us a brilliant military veteran and Carrie Walker is a passionate doctor. The story begins with a medical concern over Rake’s niece struggling in childbirth and then explodes into a frontal assault between Russia and the United States of America some 48 hours before the inauguration of a new president.

This book explores the heighten tensions of looming war, the strain a relationship can undergo under such trying times, and the bonds that tie us to those we call family. Each of these themes is expertly crafted as if reading a biography of someone’s life. Characters change, for better or worse, but continue to develop as the story progresses. At first, it might seem overwhelming when readers realize just how intense the topics are that Hawksley is going to address. However, the humanity he affords his characters is genuine. Readers will feel an emotional connection to their fictional lives.

From start to finish Man on Ice is, I think, about risk; what is risked and what is gained. It’s a complicated matter, writing about politics, especially in such a sensitive time. There are so many people, positions, relationships to carefully lay out. Hawksley doesn’t seem to have a problem with weaving a complex narrative that is easy for readers to follow, even for those who may not be politically savvy. This is part of what makes such a great novel and shows readers what a good writer Hawksley is. the fine attention to detail is what gives away the rich research that went into this novel, and Hawksley does his best to be respectful to Eskimo culture and portray the reality these people face in the far north. He takes a hard look at the struggles these people are facing and doesn’t shy away from harsh comments on the reasons why they are in the place they are.

The pace is fast and the energy is high in Humphrey Hawksley’s Man on Ice: Russia vs the USA – In Alaska. It’s a tense situation with Russia threatening invasion while America wrestles with its new president-elect and the delicate touch that politics requires. It’s a journey of one man who has returned home for tender reasons and who leaves his home slightly broken. This book takes a look at the human condition and dances with the delicate relationships formed within. It starts off with darkness and trepidation yet a small piece of hope, only to descend into a flurry of agony and tough decisions. This is more than just a political thriller.

Pages: 224 | ASIN: B079SG2VDG

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Voice of a Crimson Angel Part II: Poison (Reverence Book 6)

Voice of a Crimson Angel Part II: Poison (Reverence Book 6) by [Landeros, Joshua]

Joshua Landeros is at it again with a sequel to his prequel series with Voice of the Crimson Angel Part II: Poison. Julissa Marconi is ready to take on the ultimate villain, Chancellor Venloran. All that stands between the United Nation Republic and Mexico is the rebels, who seek to resist the tyrannical influence of the more powerful country. This struggle will not end cleanly as Venloran deploys his cyborg soldiers, which leaves Julissa questioning if she can really stop this assault. She may have to become what she fights.

And once again Landeros hits it out of the park with this novel and there is a maturing of his prose in a way that should greatly satisfy his readers. Poison centers around the conflict, or rather, Expansion, that the United Nation Republic is forcing upon Mexico. There is a resonance here with the current events of immigration and Mexico with the US, which does not make this seem like an accident on Landeros’ part. The engagement not only of the struggle of soldiers, but of entire populaces, bumps up the stakes of what has been up until now, a waltz down memory lane to contextualize his main Reverence series.

This installment breathes new air into the series and gives the prequel series more weight going forward. In some ways the look at the national conflict tends to make the conflict become too political and the characters are lost in the back and forth, but it eventually re-centers and the story becomes an intimate tale about identity and duty.

The style of Landeros is largely unchanged aside from his deeper engagement with thematic elements helping his subtle prose along. Robert Heinlein would be proud as would Atwood with his struggle to both dignify the society he has created, and draw parallels from our world to the world of Reverence. For the science fiction reader, there may be more thriller, political drama than one is used to, but we can always count on Landeros to bring the fight to us.

In the grander scheme of his series and world building, Posion begins to show the end game that will follow, since the Expansion is only a piece to Venloran’s ongoing long game. We all know the players who are involved at this point and it’s really just seeing it all unravel. Truly, a pulse-pounding thrilling read.

Pages: 226 | ASIN: B07BNTQRTJ

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Those Poor Souls Need Revenge

Geoff Nelder Author Interview

Geoff Nelder Author Interview

In Xaghra’s Revenge the past and present collide when paranormal forces seek revenge and force one couple to relive the past. What was the inspiration for this thrilling book?

Malta is a popular destination for us Brits. It’s foreign, hot and sunny but the locals speak English! What’s not to like? 12 years ago I attended a multimedia presentation in Malta about its history. I gripped my seat to stop falling off when I learnt that in 1551 pirates savagely abducted the entire population of the nearby island of Gozo. Most became galley slaves, labouring slaves in Libya and the young women in harems in Constantinople. Those poor souls need revenge. I gave it to them in Xaghra’s Revenge. The other inspiration is a pile of old rocks in the Gozo town of Xaghra. The Ggantija Temple is one of the oldest buildings in the world. Older than the pyramids and Stonehenge. When I hugged them I felt a buzz. They told me to include them in that historical novel so I did.

Reece and Zita are interesting characters that continue to develop as the story progresses. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development?

I needed contemporary characters that were descended one from the pirates and one from the abducted. Oh what fun I had with them. A mumbling fart like Reece, who knew he had no luck with women and yet this great looker was interested. Thrown together by ancient spirits they were destined to be together, but of course like real life, nothing goes smoothly. Reece grows up quickly when one crisis after another trips him up, but he develops a backbone and maturity. Zita gains experience but her womanly ways always were sophisticated and she is able to support the fakwit Reece on and off until she realizes she’s in love with him for real.

The story is rich in historical detail. What research did you do for this novel to get the setting just right?

I’m a sucker for research in whatever stories I write. I stayed at the Preluna Hotel in Malta and traipsed all over both Malta and it’s little island, Gozo. Over the limestone surface and below in people’s cellars, which often had caves complete with stalactites and stalagmites. Hours I’d spent in the Melitensia and other libraries in Malta, up to my elbows in ancient deeds, records and emptied coffee cartons. So grateful was I that I donated a copy of Xaghra’s Revenge to the library and the librarian shook my hand only last week in gratitude. All the geography in the novel is accurate. Yes, I crawled into Calypso’s Cave on Gozo, really hugged the Ggantija massive stones and stood inside an Ottoman galley – that one is in a North Cyprus museum at Kyrenia Castle. A few yards away I nearly fell over a stone grave and too my shock saw it belonged to Sinan Pasha, the Jewish Ottoman Commander at both the abduction of Gozo and the siege of Malta in 1565. During the writing I returned many times though only the once to Tarhuna, Libya, in order to smell the aromas, see the wildflowers, and meet the real people.

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

I run a short story critique group. It forces me to write at least six shorts a year in between novels. The publisher of my ARIA Trilogy (scifi / medical mystery based on the unique premise of infectious amnesia) commissioned me to put together a collection of surreal shorts. I’ve called it INCREMENTAL because they all have an element of something getting smaller, or bigger. For example a noise the world hears one day getting louder by a decibel every day. A pothole appears in a Madrid suburb and doubles every day – without stopping. Do you know it would only take 46 days to swallow the planet, but it still doesn’t stop. There’s historical fiction in there too. It’s being published by LL-Publications later this year.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsite

Xaghra's Revenge by [Nelder, Geoff]When Reece and Zita become lovers, past and present collide as the spirits of their ancestors force them to relive one of the greatest battles of the 16th century.

Xaghra’s Revenge follows the fate of a sixteenth century abducted family, and of two contemporary lovers thrown together by the ancients. Reece and Zita are unaware that one descends from the pirates, the other from the abducted family. While ancient Gozo spirits seek revenge, so do the Ottoman Corsairs, who intend to roll back history, and this time win the siege of Malta.

The history is real. The places are authentic. The tension and excitement are palpable.

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Forgotten Letters

Forgotten Letters by [Raeber, Kirk, Acevedo, Mario]

Forgotten Letters is a beautifully told story of family, love, faith, and war that focuses on Robert Campbell, an American and his love interest, Makiko Asakawa, who is of Japanese descent. The two meet as children when Robert’s family stay with Makiko’s family in Yokohama during the 1920s to 1930s. It’s during this time that a relationship is formed between the two. Robert’s family eventually moves back to the United States while he is still in school, but Robert and Makiko vow to see each other again and maintain their bond by writing letters to each other. It is not until the 1940s, with the attack on Pearl Harbor and the outbreak of World War II that the two are reunited. The novel delicately pieces together the story of these two individuals living through death and devastation as they fight to get back to each other.

Kirk Raeber does an excellent job of handling the intricate details of the novel. There are a lot of historical components to this piece, and the author weaves his fictional story into American and Japanese history among other components of the novel flawlessly. Firstly, Robert’s father is a preacher; therefore, a lot of his lessons for a young Robert are based on scripture and particular Bible verses. Robert often returns to these Bible verses during trying moments in his life. It’s clear that the author had some knowledge of the Bible and took great care in picking out the right verse during difficult moments in Robert’s life. Secondly, the author seems to be aware of American and Japanese culture during the time period that the novel spans. Also, even though this is a fictional story, there are historical elements weaved into it, such as the attack on Pearl Harbor and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Raeber does not skip over these aspects of history, but rather he weaves them into Robert and Makiko’s story, illustrating not only how these unfortunate events impacted these two fictional characters, but it can also be reasoned that his telling of their story resonates the mood and despair of those that actually lived through the experience. It’s clear that Raeber took care while writing these events to make sure that he handled them with accuracy.

A small note of criticism lies within the secondary characters of the novel, Robert and Makiko’s son and daughter. The whole story begins when the adult children are going through their deceased parents’ belongings and stumble upon the letters that the two lovers exchanged long ago. This then leads into Robert and Makiko’s storyline, and the reader isn’t returned to the characters of the adult children until the end of the novel. While Robert and Makiko’s story is obviously the focus of the novel, it would have been nice to be returned to the adult children periodically throughout the novel. The placing of these two characters at the very beginning and very end of the novel creates a disconnect with them, and it leaves one questioning their purpose overall. It’s very possible that Robert and Makiko’s story can be told without the mention and inclusion of their children as characters.

Overall, Raeber’s Forgotten Letters is a beautifully told story of love’s triumph over distance, death, and war. This novel is highly recommended to those that might have an interest in World War II, 1940s Japanese culture, or anyone who just enjoys a good love story.

Pages: 406 | ASIN: B01HQFFXYY

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Honor Among Outcasts

Honor Among Outcasts (DarkHorse Trilogy Book 2) by [Protzel, Ed]

The Civil War was filled with pain, suffering, and too much death for both the North and the South. The often-untold stories of suffering and valor are those of the slaves and former slaves. Out in Missouri and Kansas some of the most brutal fighting occurred, not from the armies, but from guerrilla warfare. Honor Among Outcasts continues the story of the Dark Horse inhabitants that have joined the Union Army as soldiers in the Missouri State Militia Ninth Calvary. This is a story of how a group of former slaves fight for their freedom along with their half Indian partner. They face war, racism, and the loss of family and friends, and a multilevel conspiracy; but through it all, their spirit and honor never waver.

Ed Protzel uses historical fiction to bring light to things that went on during the Civil War. While the story of Durk and Antoinette is fabricated there is truth underlying their situation. Generals in the war often didn’t agree with the side they were on; but cared more for their political status than the men they sent off to die. Colored soldiers were especially expendable and were not given adequate supplies and provisions to fulfill their missions, yet few cared. Protzel does an amazing job showing the fear for each decision and action that the soldiers in the Dark Horse regiment had to make. It was never a simple decision of what makes the most sense, it was always about, what will keep us alive the longest while maintain honor. Paralleling their story, is the one of the women from the Dark Horse plantation. These women could not join the army, so they had no protection when all their papers are lost. This was a common issue among freed slaves. You could not go anywhere without your documentation or you were at risk of being put in jail or hung. This fear is so prevalent in the writing.

Reading about the harsh conditions in Missouri that the soldiers lived in is hard, starvation, lack of medical care, equipment shortages in the way of horses and weapons. Soldiers being sent out with little more than their bare hands to fight off guerrilla attacks. I know growing up and learning history I never heard about the guerrilla warfare and the complete brutality of it all. It didn’t matter who you supported, they were merciless and only cared about collecting the spoils of war. Killing meant nothing to these mercenaries. Double agent spy’s playing to whatever side they could is not a far-fetched idea and I’m sure it happened more often than even Protzel makes mention of. Lives and families torn apart and those left alive must suffer from it all.

Reading Honor Among Outcasts, I can see where Ed Protzel got the title. Everything is stacked against the Dark Horse group, men and women, but through it all they retain their honor. They refuse to take the easy way out of things to save their own lives. As I read this book I wanted to see the happy ending, I wanted everything to be okay, but true to real life, that isn’t always the case, not everyone will live, not everyone has a happily ever after. There is still another book in this series and I look forward to reading it to see what happens with the remaining Dark Horse members’, just maybe they will find peace.

Pages: 269 | ASIN: B077YRFB9J

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