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Control Their Own Chosen Path

Liza Gino
Liza Gino Author Interview

Imelda’s Secret is a historical fiction novel based on true stories from women during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. Why was this an important book for you to write?

I wrote Imelda’s Secret in the hopes to inspire and empower those who read about the Filipina “comfort women” and their continued struggle to find peace and justice decades after the end of World War II. After learning about the “comfort women,” I embarked on a mission to build awareness of their continued plight.

I did not want to write another war story. In this novel, I focused on the continued struggle by the “comfort women.” To survive, many of these women kept their torturous experience a secret that further exacerbated their situation because the alternative was nothing better. For the women who came forward were ridiculed, shunned, branded and sometimes killed. Those who endure with their secrets slowly devolve as their secrecy slowly destroys their lives and the lives of those around them.

If anything, the goal is to help empower individuals, especially women, to have courage and take their power to control their own chosen path.

I thought the historical accuracy of the novel was excellent. What type of research did you undertake to ensure things were accurate?

These were based on stories told to me by members of my family and friends of their own experiences. The first chapter was based on what my grandfather had to do to hide my mother and her siblings when the Japanese army stormed their next door neighbor’s house and how the river was filled with blood and headless bodies. I had a few eyewitness accounts on how male babies were thrown up in the air and sliced with a samurai sword. My very fair mestiza grandmother described how she had to cut her hair, wear men’s clothing, and roll in the mud to hide from the Japanese soldiers.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from your story?

I want to bring awareness to the “comfort women” and the struggle that still continues for them. I truly want my readers to be inspired and empowered to do more. Survival takes sheer will at times. Things may be insurmountable, but change begin with one step.

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

I am working on another women’s interest book and I plan to have it available next year.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn | Website

Award winning book is based on real-life accounts, “Imelda’s Secret” delves into the story of two cousins who are grappling with the emotional scars of being forced to serve as ‘comfort women’ during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines in World War II. Forced into sexual slavery, ‘comfort women’ were stolen from their families and stripped of their dignity. The stories of these women have been swept under the rug for far too long.

“Imelda’s Secret” is a story of story of hope, redemption, and strength. It exposes the experiences of ‘comfort women’ in the hopes of sparking awareness and advocacy in all who read it.

The Power of Us

The Power of Us (Us Duology Book 1) by [Skylar Shoar]

Skylar Shoar’s The Power of Us is utterly romantic. It follows the love story of Harly, a young billionaire and Cassidy, a college freshman. Although they come from entirely different worlds, they are drawn to each other from the first day they meet, their lives becoming deeply intertwined.

Naturally, they face many challenges, some instigated by family and others by foes. But they seem to be tenacious, at least when it comes to their love. However, something much greater than people’s opinions and reactions eventually threatens to wreak havoc on their union.

If there is one thing that makes this story so relatable, it has to be its main characters. Harly and Cassidy are so well developed, so well fleshed out that you would be forgiven for believing you know them personally. By writing the story from each of their perspectives, the author brings us into their inner domain, helping us understand why they act the way they do.

Apart from their love for each other, we also get a glimpse of how their childhoods informed the current personalities and thought processes. Moreover, we encounter powerful themes like loyalty, betrayal, revenge, and the need for belonging; all things that readers can identify with. But if I was to pick one thing that I loved most about this book, it would have to be its easy-to-read language. Its sentences are simple and clear, leaving little to the imagination.

While I enjoyed this story, I would have loved a more dramatic twist at the end, and a few more interesting facets that would make the story more unique in the romance genre and keep things from being predictable. The sex scenes, while steamy, reinstated the powerful man- innocent woman dynamic where I would have loved a unique twist. 

The Power of Us is perfect for a mature audience interested in new adult romance. Readers looking for a dramatic love story with riveting scenes of love and violence will find plenty to enjoy in Skylar Shoar’s provocative novel.

Pages: 452 | ASIN: B08LQQ6CMR

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High Tea with Ophelia

High Tea with Ophelia by [Eleanor Tremayne]

Eleanor Tremayne’s High Tea with Ophelia is a magnificent work of art. Not only does the author use beautiful poetic language but the plot is compelling. The book follows the story of an orphan, Sabriel Shelley as she overcomes fears and trials, especially in her love life. While the first chapter starts with some background into her childhood, the last chapter ends with a climactic resolution of her struggle with identity and the pursuit of love.

Mostly written from Sabriel’s perspective, this book is as intimate as it is detailed. Since you are privy to her innermost thoughts, it is commonplace to feel like you are Sabriel’s confidant. From page to page, you experience her great loves, greatest grief, and most humorous moments.

You even get extensive insight into the type of literature she loves and how it has shaped her identity. In fact, literature seems to be the focal point of this book, with characters going to great lengths to explain how their favorite literary pieces have shaped them. It seems to be the one thing that binds them all.

Even when the author temporarily switches to the perspectives of the other characters, this is the one thing that remains. Interestingly, there is a specific focus on famous female literary characters like Ophelia and Scarlet O’Hara. Through them, the author extensively explores the theme of feminism, especially its place in romance and relationships.

As such, subjects like the sexual objectification of women and oppressive societal norms come up often. But those are not the only themes that are covered in this book. There are also a lot of discussions on the supernatural and occult. All things considered, this book offers a perfect blend of romance, mysticism, intellectualism, and art.

I particularly like that the author includes a part on Sabriel reading one of the authors previous books (Destiny Revisited), further blurring the line between real life and fiction. It can be a little disorienting when the author jumps from Sabriel’s perspective to that of the other characters but it does help that she indicates whose perspective is about to be explored at the beginning of every chapter. With only a few grammatical issues, the novel was is still enchanting.

High Tea with Ophelia is a highly intelligent novel that deftly explores various issues while consistently entertaining the reader. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys classic literature or is looking for a thought-provoking contemporary fantasy novel.

Pages: 248 | ASIN: B08MV6Z5VQ

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She Had Spunk

P.J. Colando
P.J. Colando Author Interview

The Jailbird’s Jackpot follows a women who wins the jackpot after being released from prison and sets out to get revenge. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting novel?

This novel, The Jailbird’s Jackpot, is the fourth – and final – book in my Faith, Family, Frenzy!, series set in the American Midwest.

The first book, Stashes, had this logline/sales pitch: “Baby Boomer retirees gallivant around the country in a Winnebago leaving the family farm to their hapless son and his conniving wife. What could go wrong?” Well, some things went well, but much went wrong – and Amy was that conniving daughter-in-law. She had spunk, but her plans went awry and she took the fall for a guy that double-crossed her and she was imprisoned. Thus, when she’s released, she’s prim for revenge.

The book prior to The Jailbird’s Jackpot was The Winner’s Circle and had a similar plot: an unexpected influx of mega-millions bucks after purchasing a single lottery ticket on a whim. (both protagonists won the same lottery on the same day, so the payout was ‘only’ 1/4 billion bucks.) I’d set it up that way, to foreshadow this book. Great plan, eh!

So, I call The Jailbird’s Jackpot is the separate-and-equal sequel to The WInner’s Circle. I dedicated the book to “Amy, a classy-yet-sassy young lady who knows how to steer a plot.”

Amy is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?

Amy had a hard-scrabble early life. Her mother was schizzy and drunk much of the time, so Amy had to look out for herself and her younger brother. A high school teacher mentored her and Amy earned a scholarship to Michigan State University, where she snagged the handsome-and-coddled quarterback of the winning football team. She craved family, respect, and stability, but found small town life tedious and she wrecked her life. Now she’s returned to her main life goals – family, respect, and stability – in addition to her vibrant revenge for revenge.

Amy also gains redemption, as she forgives herself for the mistakes she’s made. An unexpectedly terrific outcome.

What were some themes that were important for you to focus on in this book?

Gaining friends and family, Redemption and achieving a better self. I feel that The Jailbird’s Jackpot is a new twist on the common Coming of Age story.

This is book four in your Faith, Family, Frenzy! series. What can readers expect in book five?

I feel that I’ve completed the Faith, Family, Frenzy! series… but Amy has a strong will. Further, she may/may not have fallen in love with her handsome parole office.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Website

REVENGE REWARD REDEMPTIONParolee Amy Breeden held herself together during nearly two thousand days of incarceration with a single-minded focus: to destroy the dude who did her in. Within hours of her release, Amy hits the lotto mega-million jackpot.“Living well is the best revenge,” her parole officer advises, but Amy is hellbent on revenge.A former Chicago crime boss, an estranged brother, a substitute mom, a zany house painter, a pre-imprisonment pal – and the handsome parole officer – complicate Amy’s quest for empowerment. When Amy’s longtime nemesis invades her haven, her ire ignites. She becomes more determined than ever to avenge herself.The aging crime boss enjoins her mission. Victory is finalized when she’s able to buy her mortal enemy’s thriving bar in a fire sale… and becomes the Boss. But is that enough? Will revenge result in satisfaction? Will her personal redemption require more than revenge and the monetary reward to live well?

Love & Homegrown Magic

Love & Homegrown Magic by [Patricia Bossano, Kelsey E. Gerard]

Patricia Bossano’s Love and Homegrown Magic is a coming of age novel that encompasses the life of Maggie, a woman caught between the folk magic she was raised with and the Catholic teachings instilled in her during her formative teenage years. The story is told in chronological order, beginning with Maggie’s rustic youth years in Ecuador, continuing with her journey into marriage and motherhood, and culminating with her golden years as a matriarch.

The character development is strong from the onset. Maggie is depicted as a determined and ambitious woman driven by her values. These characteristics make her a natural matriarch once she enters marriage and motherhood. Even when confronted with life-altering changes, she has a knack for making the best out of any circumstance. Her three daughters, Kelly, Lizzy, and Marie, have distinct personalities that are apparent from the time they are young girls. Their individuality is best reflected in the unique floral symbols that both define and connect all three women with their mother – and with the magic that serves as a fixture in the lives.

Bossano does an incredible job at using these floral symbols to depict the strong bond between Maggie and her daughters. This connection is both ethereal and dynamic, changing as each of the four women age and enter different stages in their lives. The floral symbols continue to remind them of not only their love for each other, but their ties to Mother Superior.

Alonzo’s role in the story – and Maggie’s reaction to the idea of him – is particularly interesting. He ultimately serves as a litmus test for her readiness to reconcile with the past. Her persistent decision to lock his letters away and ignore the thought of him is driven by her Catholicism-fueled devotion to her husband, Angelo. Only with Angelo’s passing and her daughters’ persistence that she let happiness in is Maggie able to come face-to-face with the man she left behind for so many years. It is at this crucial point that the story also comes full circle.

Overall, I enjoyed this read. A text does not need to be long to be impactful, magical or give readers a sense of completion. Love & Homegrown Magic is a page-turning tale that blends love, magic, family, womanhood, and purpose.

Pages: 322 | ASIN: B08HYDMDXV

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Literary Titan Book Awards November 2020

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.

Gold Award Winners

   

The Enigma Threat by Roxanne Burkey and Charles Breakfield

Silver Award Winners

The Touring Pro: A Person of Interest by Frederick L Malphurs

 

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

 

The Jailbird’s Jackpot

The Jailbird's Jackpot (Faith, Family, Frenzy! Book 4) by [PJ Colando]

The Jailbird’s Jackpot by PJ Colando is a fascinating story of parolee Amy Breeden who just won a lottery mega-million jackpot hours after being released from prison. She is not thinking of investing the money even after being advised by her parole officer. She is focused on Travis and getting revenge after being setup and having spent time in jail.

PJ Colando has written a fun and compelling revenge novel with the right balance of satire and suspense. Amy’s character, while far from perfect, is one that I instantly liked and was someone that I could root for, even in her pursuit of revenge. The plot of the story was consistently compelling and thoroughly entertaining. When Amy wins the lotto you find yourself frustrated because the character does not do what others would do, invest the money. But this is what keeps the reader invested and wanting to find out what happens next.

PJ Colando’s writing style is invigorating and refreshing. I love the author’s fresh ideas and unconventional characters that always broke stereotypes. The setting in the book was described in great detail which made the world itself into a character. The Jailbird’s Jackpot is a unique crime fiction story with a crazy revenge plot that ultimately leads to some thought-provoking themes of personal redemption. I keep coming back to one word when I want to describe this book; fun. This was a lively story with an amusing plot that I heartily recommend to anyone that is looking for a story with a bit of mischief and a lot of drama.

Pages: 376 | ASIN: B08FVJSWB9

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Don’t Give Up on Me

Don't Give Up on Me (An Otter Bay Maine Novel) by [Jodi Artzberger]

Don’t Give Up on Me begins with Amanda facing a deadly situation. After being attacked, officers are called to the scene which is the catalyst for an old flame to come back into her life. Ryker left Amanda heartbroken so long ago, and Amanda, rightfully, wants nothing to do with him. Amanda is left with no choice when he’s tasked with leading the investigation and keeping Amanda safe. Amanda is forced to deal with a man she has tried hard to forget, and old feelings come bubbling up to the surface. Can Amanda accept this man back into her life, and into her heart?

Don’t Give Up on Me is a riveting romance novel that explores an array of emotions that come with having your heart broken and your life threatened. Amanda is certainly dealing with a lot, and her inner turmoil and angst is something that kept this book consistently entertaining. Amanda is a bit naïve at first, but I enjoyed the slow evolution of her character.

The relationship between Amanda and Ryker added a much needed boost to this overall mystery novel. I would categorize this book as a lite-mystery, as its focus is on the compelling characters  within and their dramatic relationship. Jodi Artzberger explores themes of forgiveness, our relationship with God, and how people change through life experiences. These are powerful messages delivered in heartfelt moments throughout the book.

Amanda and Ryker have an intriguing history together. And exploring that history, and their current predicament, is the one thing that kept me coming back to this book. This story reminds me of a Lifetime made for TV movie; where the drama is palpable and the suspense is high. Jodi Artzberger has written an engrossing romantic thriller with an infusion of Christian ideals that makes this perfect for anyone looking for an exciting, but ultimately uplifting, read.

Pages: 228 | ASIN : B07WZ2R8X7

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