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Extinction 6

Extinction 6 by [Kouros-Mehr, Hosein]

Extinction 6 by Hosein Kouros-Mehr is a fascinating novel that finds itself straddling a variety of themes, writing styles, and motifs. In this novel, one can witness the conjunction of several major literary genres. From bleak dystopian imagery and post-apocalyptic ruin to deeply intense mystery and intrigue, Extinction 6 provides enough twists and turns to keep any reader engaged. Taking place in the year 2066, the reader is introduced to a world mostly underwater. Following a sharp rise in global temperatures by an average of 8 degrees Celsius, sea levels drastically increased and major settlements like San Francisco were submerged. In conjunction, animals and plants have completely vanished. Beyond this, the world appears to be plagued by war and corporate espionage. Battles for oil fields and small scraps of territory appear to occur daily, while depressing news bulletins ring out, highlighting decreases in rations or celebrating the smallest of military victories. In this dystopian future, greenhouse gases continue to be pumped at alarming rates, and it becomes clear to some that the world is facing its sixth, and potentially last, extinction crises.

Hosein Kouros-Mehr expertly uses this setting to deliver a story that is captivating and vividly written. There is a profound amount of world building conducted in this novel and the story’s framing gives readers a holistic experience at what life in this dreary world would look like. Through the use of multiple perspectives and point of views, Hosein Kouros-Mehr provides readers with an inside and personal look at the various dimensions that take place in this world. In some chapters, readers will become intimate with a forlorn lover embroiled in major geopolitical developments. Other sections masterfully showcase the experiences of an aggressive and cunning CEO. These different perspectives are woven in a way that provides keen connections and startling insights.

The writing itself is suspenseful and tense. The diction wastes no time in putting the reader through long segments of empty description and word padding. Every sentence is deliberate and has a definite sense of immediacy. Every word counts in a world that is slowly ticking towards oblivion. This is aided by Hosein Kouros-Mehr’s wonderful sense of pacing. While the writing is forward facing, it still gives readers the time to engross themselves in the world. Details about the major corporations and the nations that inhabit this world are peppered in where needed and helps to provide depth to the world. Many of these elements come into play throughout the course of the novel, and the pace in which these details become relevant greatly benefits Kouros-Mehr’s deliberate writing style. If there is any issue in the way in which Hosein Kouros-Mehr presents his work, it is the fact that the large cast of characters can lead to some confusion. This is somewhat alleviated by the clear characterization and literary role each character plays, and as a whole, this critique does not detract from the novel.

Extinction 6 by Hosein Kouros-Mehr is an incredibly tense story about what our future could easily look like.

Pages: 248 | ASIN: B07HB5Q24P

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The Zimbabwean War of Independence


Jonathan Hatendi weaves a tale of abduction, terror, and young lives forever changed. The most frightening aspect of Hatendi’s writing lies buried deep in the fact that his words are true and lay before the reader the events of his own life prior to Zimbabwe’s successful acquisition of independence in 1980. As a civilian surrounded by guerillas and day-to-day routines fraught with danger and the ever-present element of the fear of the unknown, Hatendi survived to tell a tale like no other. The fact that Hatendi is here today to share his story is a testament to his strength and the determination of the people of his country.

Hatendi’s account of his life during secondary school and the torment he endured is titled The Zimbabwean War of Independence. Hatendi jumps right into the striking events and leaves the reader no time to breathe. While trying to process the fear and overwhelming barrage of emotions he and the other young people may have felt on the night of their abduction, I was left wondering how he and his classmates were able to psychologically survive in the months and years that followed. The author’s style of writing and plainspoken manner translates well into text and helps readers visualize the blatant abuse and the true horrors of the times.

The abduction itself is, by far, not the only striking aspect of Hatendi’s story. He relates several events prior to his abduction and following his return. Hatendi writes openly of the way children were forced to witness death and destruction and describes both the realization for the need of counseling and psychological help and the lack thereof. He shares the atrocities page by page as they relate to the young men and women forced to endure lives of fear always questioning their next move.

Hatendi provides little in the way of dialogue as his book is written in first person and reads similarly to a journal account citing events and detailing remembrances of his journey to adulthood. The manner in which Hatendi records his memories is unique and provides readers, as much as is possible, with a relatable account of his experiences. I was, at times, shocked at how easily he seemed to be able to express some of the most horrifying scenes in such basic terms.

Hatendi has given the world a unique and private account of a life lived under duress and a life survived despite insurmountable obstacles. To have made it through a war for independence as a child and be willing to share the story of that fight with the world is admirable and, quite frankly, nothing short of amazing. Hatendi is to be commended for the unique eloquence of his writing and his willingness to share with the world his life as one of Zimbabwe’s survivors.

Pages: 110 | ASIN: B07F1XHN5J

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The Twisted Crown

The Twisted Crown by [Richmond Bunkley, Anita]

The Twisted Crown​, the newest historical fiction novel by Anita Bunkley is a fascinating look into the post-Civil War South. Focused on the story of a free black woman from the North, Eva Phillips takes advantage of the abolition of slavery in the South to embark on a treacherous journey to South Carolina to try to find the mother who gave her a chance at freedom as a child. Along her way, readers meet a captivating cast of characters ranging from cunning professional gamblers to complex carpetbaggers to innocents turned corrupt by hardship. Eva has to navigate a part of the country decimated by the bitterest of fighting as it struggles to regain its footing. And like Eva, readers will never know if the character with the checkered past they just met will be someone who can be trusted or or who will surprise them with an unexpected betrayal.

Along the way she meets up with Chicago lawyer and profiteer Trent Hartwell who, against the recommendations of his new Charleston acquaintances, offers to help Eva in her quest. Although he came to the South to benefit from the financial opportunities blossoming in the wake of so many people’s misfortunes, he can’t quite understand the unwritten rules governing the South about the proper roles of white people and black people and why there should be any difference.

This book also sheds light on the important and dangerous work that took place during this time by black activists to promote equal participation in government for all races. This work made many who benefited from the pre-war social structure very angry and prone to violence, so the lobbying had to be done secretively.

While the story is solid and flows well, I thought that the characters and dialogue lacked some depth. This book kept me very engaged, however. The quick pace, many edge-of-your-seat situations, and several sultry moments kept me reading along without any lulls.

I also came away with a much clearer understanding of what life in the South was like after the Civil War for both whites and blacks. I didn’t know the depth of poverty freed slaves were faced with and this book provided a very interesting example of the creative and sometimes unfortunate ways that people used to survive and start a new life. Anita Bunkley is famous for writing stories that show what a famous period in history was like from the perspective of black women, and I really appreciated having the opportunity to experience this after so many other Reconstruction books (Gone With the Wind, That Bright Land, ect.) only focus on the white experience. This is important because, clearly, this was a period where the African-American experience is integral to understanding the situation appropriately.

I highly recommend joining Eva on her exciting voyage to the land of her birth and learning more about the United State’s most interesting periods of history in ​The Twisted Crown ​by Anita Bunkley.

Pages: 336 | ASIN: B07G7GPX2F

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Their Ultimate Degree

D. Hart St. Martin Author Interview

D. Hart St. Martin Author Interview

Pushing Madness brings your Lisen of Solsta series to a close. The series took many years to write. Was this an emotional book for you to write?

I was so focused on finishing the damn thing that I didn’t have a chance to get emotional. Writing it in concert with the previous book (Breaking Worlds) meant I wrote 200K words before I could call it done in first draft. So when I came back to Pushing Madness after publishing Breaking Worlds, it felt both new and old to me. On the other hand, there’s this which I wrote in the “About the Author” section for Blooded, book 3 in the series. “The other thing I’d accomplished [on completing the first trilogy], though I hadn’t set it as a goal, was to show a hero saying ‘let’s not fight; let’s find another way to work it out,’ thus ending a war before it got beyond its first day.” This time out with book 6, Lisen couldn’t end the war the easy way. The easy way had led to dire consequences, and those consequences played out to their ultimate degree in Pushing Madness. I saw only one way to end it–a sad and unfortunate way to end it–so I did it. But unlike the feelings ending Blooded brought out, I felt relief, relief that I could get up and walk away. It was long past time, and I was grateful.

Who were some important people in your life that helped you write this book and series?

Well, there was my canary in the mine, Daniella, who never failed to ask the precisely right, simple question when I would orally outline what was coming next to her. She was the only person I shared the raw thought process with, and she, in turn, gave me valuable feedback–questions like “how does Nalin feel about that?” when I was contemplating a story I never ended up telling. Simple question, story-devastating answer. I also turned to friends for encouragement when I fell into the abyss of I’ll-never-get-this-right. One friend constantly points out, “You’ll figure out,” and that has become a bit of a joke between us. Because it’s true; I always do figure it out. Also the writers in the workshop I attend weekly have done nothing but support me and question every possible misstep. I highly recommend a critique group to anyone who wants to write. You can never fool your peers, and if they’re gentle the way the writers in my group are, they are a true blessing. A friend I met on line and who lives on another continent offers her best to any of my endeavors. And finally my sister, who writes better than I do and offers critique and love for free.

We finally get to see what happens to Rinli and Lisen. Was this planned all along or did things change as you were writing the series?

Lisen’s journey always stretched out to at least the moment Rinli comes of age, but it was a very different story with a very different ending. As I’ve said before, Breaking Worlds and Pushing Madness were written together in response to the question “what does a world broken by Mantar’s Child look like?” 200K words later, I had the answer. But that answer did not come easily. There were many starts and stops along the way. In particular, Rinli’s motivation of the people of Thristas was tricky and required several retakes before it flew properly. I usually write with a beginning and an end in mind, and I thought I knew the ending when I started writing the first draft of the two books, but it changed several times. Lin-Manual Miranda’s words from Hamilton come to mind: “Who lives, Who dies, Who tells your story?” I may have been telling the story, but for a long time I didn’t know who lived and who died.

Will this be the end of the Lisen of Solsta world? Are you moving on to other works or do you think you will revisit this world again?

It’s the end. For now. I may go back to it one day if I live long enough. In the meantime, I’ve published a paranormal romance called Soul Doubt: A Rock-and-Roll Faust, set in the 60s, which pits a young musician and his lady against evil incarnate. And I’m working on a new YA fantasy series, working title Into the Forsaken Forest, with a young female hero who has issues with her mother. I’m enjoying building a brand new world although I’d forgotten how hard it is. Like childbirth, you forget the pain once the child is born, but the labor pains of totally new characters, totally new world and totally new plot and subplots can be excruciating. (I’m kidding/not kidding.)

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebook

Pushing Madness (Lisen of Solsta Book 6) by [St. Martin, D. Hart]Return for one last visit to Garla and Thristas where the Thristans follow an untried leader of sixteen into war. Where a spouse and a daughter must each withhold their plans from the man whose thoughts could betray them. Where a girl of twelve may rise up to meet the challenge of trying to save her mother. Where magic sometimes exacts a price that could prove to be deadly.

Pushing Madness brings Lisen of Solsta’s saga to a close with battles waged in both Garla and Thristas using weapons of war and the defenses of the mind. Lisen’s daughter Rinli has vowed to “break the world,” and the havoc that ensues as she endeavors to fulfill that promise could obliterate the peace Lisen instituted sixteen years earlier with the Treaty of the One-Day War. Only one opportunity remains to avoid destruction, and it all rests in the hands of a twelve-year-out girl.

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My Tattered Flag

A poem by Jeffrey Cooper.

Pushing Madness

Pushing Madness (Lisen of Solsta Book 6) by [St. Martin, D. Hart]

The epic that we have been following for the last five volumes comes to a triumphant end in the sixth volume of Pushing Madness by D. Hart St. Martin. Book six in the Lisen of Solsta series culminates the agonizing fracture of familial relationships, the travesty of war and the painful ache of loss. Those who have been following the series will wait with baited breath to see what has become of Rinli and Lisen. Those who may be new to the series will still find a fantastical adventure with exquisite world-building and careful character development. This is not a book or series to be taken lightly as the real, raw character portrayals are sure to hit readers close to the heart.

St. Martin has been crafting the saga that is Lisen of Solsta for nearly four decades. It is very clear that she is devoted to her tale and takes care in ensuring that each book is a seamless transition for her returning readers. Nothing feels out of place, readers don’t feel like they have missed pages of content at the beginning of a new book for they all pick up almost precisely where they left off. There is never a lag and all energy from the previous book carries over into the next as it aims for completion.

The beauty of a book by St. Martin is the intense character development and portrayal makes the reader feel engaged and invested in the outcome. The characters and their feelings are so visceral it’s hard not to think of them as actual breathing people. St. Martin carefully shows us the strain in the familial relationship of our protagonist family as the eldest daughter cements herself into the antagonist role. It can be hard to show the fracturing of a family relationship and still keep readers invested into all sides, but St. Martin does that well.

There are no screaming shortcomings for this book and there are no major issues with style or grammar. St. Martin has done the Indie Author title proud by carefully reviewing and editing her work with the help of others. This has allowed her to put out an excellent product that she should be very proud of.

Those who are looking for a fantastical epic that they can really devote their time and energy to should look no further than Pushing Madness by D. Hart St. Martin. This sixth and final installment in the Lisen of Solsta series brings the epic to a satisfying conclusion. This book serves to honor the energy invested by readers who have been following since book one and to entice readers who may be discovering the series with this final book. For a saga that took so many years to cultivate and write, the wait is worth it. The payoff is a carefully crafted story with characters that are easy to identify with and a story line that doesn’t waver or get lost; despite covering so many pages. This series is definitely a keeper and be worth several rereads.

Pages: 386 | ASIN: B07BVL6SXQ

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Infinity: Quest for the Holy Grail

Infinity: Quest for the Holy Grail by [DuBois, Catalina]

Sarah is married to a man she hardly knows and is not sure she knows how to love. Matthew, her husband of many years, has not seen Sarah since their union when she was a girl of only eight years. Raised in a convent and reunited with her husband, the knight, Sarah is in complete awe of the horrors of battle and the danger in which he must place himself to protect her. When Sarah steps in to save the kingdom from Matthew’s nemesis, she makes a sacrifice far greater than Matthew could ever have expected.

Infinity: Quest for the Holy Grail by Catalina DuBois is the third book focusing on the characters Sarah and Matthew. In varied settings and with slight name changes, DuBois manages to create stunning visuals with mind-blowing action sequences centering around a love affair for the ages. Sarah and Matthew are standouts in all three books, and Infinity: Quest for the Holy Grail features Sarah in her most unique position yet. Sarah is simply captivating in the role of the lover willing to sacrifice everything to save others. DuBois takes readers through Sarah’s thought processes in a way that is personal and moving and does so without the advantage of using first-person point of view. She has successfully created a female lead she is able to mold and shape into a woman of strength and enviable courage across time periods and ever-changing settings.

As with DuBois’s first two Infinity books, I am amazed at the manner in which the author is able to incorporate elements of fantasy into the historical romance genre. Two genres that sound worlds apart are brought together seamlessly in Infinity: Quest for the Holy Grail. With the introduction of the cyclops, I have to say I was at first a bit surprised. DuBois has a phenomenal knack for easing the reader into a realm fraught with surreal creatures and making the reader immediately comfortable with the blend of genres.

Imagery is, beyond the shadow of a doubt, DuBois’s forte. DuBois creates extraordinary images to draw readers into the reading in her masterfully crafted prologues. Infinity: Quest for the Holy Grail is no exception. As Matthew’s parents observe him from the balcony, the tension in the air is almost tangible. The image of a young Matthew riding away and being watched by parents holding a most devastating and crushing secret is poignant. DuBois manages to structure that scene to first touch the reader’s heart and then, out of nowhere, break it in two.

When reading a mix of fantasy and historical fiction, I appreciate an added level of mystery, and DuBois provides that perfect blend of genres. Readers looking for another angle on the quest for the holy grail and storylines featuring Sir Arthur, Medusa, and Lancelot will find DuBois’s writing to be a fresh look at these classic tales.

Pages: 205 | ASIN: B0791BBNZ3

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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.

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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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