Book Review: The Last Shadow Knight by Michael Webb

Author: Michael Webb
Release Date: 1st April 2021
Genre: High Fantasy
Series: The Shadow Knights Trilogy (Book #1)
Format: E-book 
Pages: 552 pages
Publisher: KDP
Blurb:
On the unforgiving streets of Karad, Veron grows up hungry, inexperienced, and stealing just to survive. After tragedy strikes, he is forced to decide what path his life will take. 

Opportunity arises when he discovers the last survivor of a secret organization called the Shadow Knights. Apprenticed to learn their ways, Veron begins to develop abilities he never dreamed he could have. 

Meanwhile, an enemy from across the mountains comes to destroy their kingdom’s way of life, and the Shadow Knights are the only ones able to stop him. As Veron fights to survive the city, he prepares to face his destiny.

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Last Shadow Knight by Michael Webb is an immersive high fantasy read.

I like the cover image of this book and as I read the book and finished it, it started to make sense to me, so I really liked the thoughtfulness behind it. This book was really interesting to read and very engaging. It is a delightful mixture of vivid and elaborate settings, strong characterisation, interesting concept and good writing along with great pacing and tension. So, for me, this book had it all. I enjoyed reading it and I am looking forward to reading the next part of this trilogy.

If you like reading fantasy books then I’d definitely recommend this book!

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

Book Review: My Sleepless Nights by Manohar Gandhi

Author: Manohar Grandhi
Release Date: 31st December 2020
Genre: Memoir
Format: E-book 
Pages: 62 pages
Publisher: 
Blurb:

✓ Are you struggling with insomnia?
✓ Are you living in anxiety related to sleep?
✓ Are you developing a limiting belief in sleep?
✓ Are you fighting with your brain and feeling shame?
✓ Are you waiting to fall asleep time every night?
✓ Are you spending the entire day thinking about sleep?

Hey there! I am Manohar Grandhi I am a software engineer by profession and have struggled for more than a year with all the above points.

I have written this book after struggling with insomnia and having sought intensive consultation with IITian turned Psychologist, Speaker, and Coach Karthik.

In this book, I have shared my firsthand experiences, struggles, and wins that helped me to turn intrinsic motivation into sustained motivation for reversing insomnia.
The methods I suggest in this book are easy yet effective. It worked for me. It is also working for tons of people and it will work for you as well because it is backed by science. The method I suggest in the book in reversing anxiety/insomnia has been in practice for around 5000 years. 
What will you get from this book?
1) Freedom from anxiety.
2) Peace of mind.
3) A process to get rid of anti-anxiety pills.
Here is my proposal–try the methods with an open mind and whole-hearted attempts, trust the process, and see the magical changes in your mind.
Imagine sleeping like a child without any worry, and not spending a single minute of the day being anxious about sleep. 
My question to you is –Are you ready to transform your life?
If your answer is yes, then scroll up and click the Buy Now

Review

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

My Sleepless Nights by Manohar Gandhi is a fact-based information-packed book on insomnia and how the author successfully over-came it.

I liked this book because of its simple language, easy to relate concepts and the generalised and non-clinical approach towards insomnia. We Indians have a tendency to not talk openly about mental health issues or even minor psychology-related issues, so this book comes at a good time when mental health should be on the list of everyone’s priority. The fact that the author used some stories to get across some points was impressive and overall the book provides a lot of valuable insights into the condition of insomnia and how one can try to defeat it in simple and non-clinical ways.

Please note that if you suffer clinical insomnia and have been clinically diagnosed with it then you might want to seek a doctor’s opinion and not rely entirely on the information in this book as it is a helpful guide, not a medical instructional manual.

I would suggest this book to readers of non-fiction literature and to those who have (or know anyone who has) insomnia. At the least, this book would provide a great insight into the condition itself.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

Book Review: Through Forests and Mountains by Margaret Walker

Author: Margaret Walker 
Release Date: 16th February 2021
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: E-book 
Pages: 392 pages
Publisher: Penmore Press
Blurb:
Yugoslavia 1942. 

Anton Marković didn’t believe in a girl with a gun. 

How could the Partisans win this war with only farmers, labourers and women for soldiers? The experiment was ridiculous. He should have stuck to the ships he knew and not be in a forest in Bosnia with a rifle in his hands, and a bullet in his head, and a woman by his side cackling like a throttled fowl in some dazzling display of hormonal triumph. 

Tito had allowed the girls from the villages to serve in combat roles, and Mara was all in favour of anything innovative for women. She had just shot her first fascist, and her face beneath Anton’s was exuberant, breathless and beautiful. 

He was at war, and clearly on more fronts than he anticipated. 

But could he save Mara from that brilliant and psychotic fascist she could not shoot? 

From the forests and mountains of Bosnia to the White Cliffs of Dover, the Nazis and the Ustasha battle the most successful resistance movement in Occupied Europe. 

Death to Fascism!

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Through Forests And Mountains by Margaret Walker is a beautifully written story about personal emotions and difficult situations (socially and otherwise.)

This book reads more like an experience than a story and takes the readers to the historical settings of upheaval in Yugoslavia in the year 1942. The historical backdrop is beautifully articulated and I was really impressed by the author penchant for details. The characterisation is brilliant and I loved the main leads, Anton and Mara, as well as the cast of secondary characters. All the characters had so much to offer to the story and the build-up of the plot, that it made the book a rich combination of a solid plot with equally strong characterisation.

This book covers a wide spectrum of emotions – from one’s love for their country and friendships between individuals to blossoming romantic relationship between the leads (that is built slowly and steadily.) Overall, this book is a highly engaging and entertaining read and I would recommend it to all readers, especially readers who love historical fiction works.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

Book Review: Banshee And The Sperm Whale by Jake Camp

Author: Jake Camp
Release Date: 16th February 2021
Genre: Literary Fiction, Philosophical, Satire, Dark Humour
Format: E-book 
Pages: 254 pages
Publisher: Pski’s Porch Publishing
Blurb:
A sunset wedding in Kona. An ugly secret discovered on an iPhone. Experimental philosophical marriage counseling. Time travel. Diver Neurons and Angel Neurons separated by Sea and Sky. Banshee and the Sperm Whale takes the reader on a journey into the unconscious mind of Martin, a biracial chef from Denver who suffers from a particular kind of overabundance. Along the way, a modern allegory unfolds, and everyday notions about self-knowledge, the nature of good and evil, and possibility of finding meaning and spiritual significance in the face of inexorable uncertainty are turned inside out.

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Banshee And The Sperm Whale by Jake Camp is a beautiful book full of deep and colourful ideas and concepts.

I absolutely loved this book because the author skillfully dissected a wide range of emotions. This book was so different from other contemporary literary fiction reads that I was overwhelmed with the joy of having found this gem of a book! I am truly grateful to the author for writing this brilliant book and letting his readers experience the dual nature of reality.

This book has a beautifully complex plot along with a well-written story that is highlighted by profound and introspective satire and an array of multi-layered characters. What else can you possibly ask for?

I’d recommend this book to all readers. This book is a must-read!

You can also read this review on Goodreads.

Book Review: A Brand’s Purpose – Less Unicorn, More Zebra by Laricea Ioana Roman-Halliday

Author: Laricea Ioana Roman-Halliday
Release Date: 27th January 2021
Genre: Non-Fiction
Format: E-book 
Pages: 105 pages
Publisher: 
Blurb:
Purpose is a journey, not a destination. More business leaders, marketers and customers need to become aware of true brand purpose and act upon it through business strategies, marketing campaigns and their wallet. This book challenges the way brand purpose has been deployed over the past few years and examines ways of correcting misconceptions and misuses by providing practical solutions and examples of what good looks like. We all have a role to play in the community, so stop dreaming about unicorns and be more zebra!

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A Brand’s Purpose – Less Unicorn, More Zebra? by Laricea Ioana Roman-Halliday is an informative, fact-based, no-nonsense book.

I liked this book because it taught me quite a few things. The structure of the book was good and the writing was good enough to compliment the book (considering it is more of a strategic non-fiction book.)

I would recommend this book to entrepreneurs and business folks, especially those of new start-ups as I think this book would provide a lot of value for them giving them great insight into understanding and accordingly connecting with their brand.

You can also read this review on Goodreads & Amazon.

Author Spotlight: Jake Camp

Welcome to TRB Lounge, the section of TRB dedicated to Book Promotions. Today, we are featuring Jake Camp, author of Banshee And The Sperm Whale, for our Author Spotlight feature.

About The Author

Born in Big Timber, Montana in 1973, Jake Camp is the son of an impressionist landscape artist and the grandson of an engineer and inventor.  He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in philosophy from Western Washington University and the University of Montana, and has been a community college professor and department chair since 2002.  An avid fly-fisherman and snowboarder, he lives in Arvada, CO with his sons.

Get in touch with author Jake Camp here:

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | YouTube | Email


Book Trailer


About The Book

A sunset wedding in Kona. An ugly secret discovered on an iPhone. Experimental philosophical marriage counseling. Time travel. Diver Neurons and Angel Neurons separated by Sea and Sky. Banshee and the Sperm Whale takes the reader on a journey into the unconscious mind of Martin, a biracial chef from Denver who suffers from a particular kind of overabundance. Along the way, a modern allegory unfolds, and everyday notions about self-knowledge, the nature of good and evil, and possibility of finding meaning and spiritual significance in the face of inexorable uncertainty are turned inside out.

You can fins Banshee And The Sperm Whale here:

Goodreads | Amazon


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author/book featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com


Author interview: Laricea Ioana Roman-Halliday

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Laricea Ioana Roman-Halliday for an author interview with TRB-team!

About The Author

Laricea Ioana Roman-Halliday 

Laricea Ioana Roman-Halliday is a business leader, marketer, mentor, public speaker and brand specialist who has built her passion for brand purpose on the back of her meaningful marketing career with various Fortune 100 companies. Her experience includes working with Microsoft, Google, Unilever, Huawei, Hyundai and many more. She is a big environmental advocate who truly believes in successful business done for good and is constantly curious about driving it forward.

You can find author Laricea here:

Instagram | LinkedIn


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

I am Romanian, living in London with my English husband and our chinchilla called Snowy. I am also very passionate about the environment and madly in love with all animals and plants. I have my own garden which I have been passionately working in for the past 5 years whilst also trying to explore as much as we can this beautiful planet. I have been to 65 countries so far, usually having a target of 5 new countries every year, however with the pandemic this has become really difficult to achieve. I even received a badge from Tripadvisor for one of the highest number of countries visited vs age. Another passion is diving, both my husband and I are certified advanced divers, with over 80 hours of diving all over the world, from Europe to the Indian Ocean, Mediteranean, Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The more we travel and dive, the more we realise how fragile the natural world is and how much we can do on an individual level to protect it. I am hoping that through my book, I will be able to raise awareness of this and encourage businesses and individuals to support the idea of profit for good rather than just profit.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

I set about writing this book from a desire to raise awareness around brand purpose, its critical implications for society and beyond and to provide the tools for making the right, informed decisions for both marketers and consumers when it comes to evaluating true brand purpose. There has never been such a desire to change, fix, improve, eliminate, or embrace actions that would make a difference to the current affairs and not only make us feel better about ourselves but genuinely help shape a better future. Specifically, for this reason more than half of consumers believe that brands play a greater role than governments when it comes to the future of this planet. Whilst this is all fabulous news for brands to be entrusted with such great confidence, some of them are taking advantage of this trend in an unorthodox manner. Thus, through this book I am hoping to highlight some of the issues around brand purpose and purposeful brands, attempting to better define brand purpose and dreaming to be able to make a difference in how people/consumers/marketeers perceive brand purpose and its real importance and power.
This book is addressed to a very wide audience: from consumers, to marketers, business leaders, entrepreneurs, founders, pretty much anyone who has an interest in sustainable businesses and future proofing the future.

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

We live in a very troublesome world, which needs more than ever actions that speak more than words, consumers who act through their choices and businesses that put purpose above profit. I set about writing this book from a desire to raise awareness around brand purpose, its critical implications for society and beyond and to provide the tools for making the right, informed decisions for both marketers and consumers when it comes to evaluating true brand purpose. I am hoping that this book will make a difference on how businesses perceive, approach and apply brand purpose, which is for greater good, through genuine actions and a more empathetic approach towards consumers, society and the planet. My desire is for this book to enlighten the audiences, expand their understanding of brand purpose and its greater consequences and ultimately change the current state of affairs by being more like a dazzle of zebras and less like a lonely unicorn!

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

I have been working in marketing and advertising for a while now, so I have been exposed to a variety of brands – from cult driven, small, family run businesses to multi billion pound empires that have become modern days icons. One day, during a warm summer in London, I had completed a long brainstorming session with one of my clients, which concluded with a burning desire for the company to establish a new strategy that displays “purpose”. That was the moment when I realised that all of this was wrong; very wrong because what my client was asking me to do was to purely sell an image, portraying a behaviour that resonated with their current customers and potential new ones. However, for them, it was more important as to how they would advertise and market this new “purposeful” positioning and not how they could actually bring it to life with genuine actions and truthful communications. 

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

Around 5 months 

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today?

I do not consider myself a writer, as this is my first book, however I believe it’s more of a manifesto, a desire to raise awareness about an issue. I will have to wait and see what is the public’s reaction to this first book and if it is positive I will of course consider expanding on the topic and provide further inspiration and assistance to both brands and consumers. 

Are you working on any other stories presently?

No

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you to follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

Please see question 5, it all started with my brand experiences and because it felt very unjust and unfair, I decided I need to make my opinion more formal and also provide solutions and advice in terms of true brand purpose and ways of bringing it to life as a business. Lockdown and the pandemic helped me with the book writing as I wouldn’t have had normally so much spare time to sit down and write my ideas. So I have not given up anything per se to make this happen, however I was fortunate enough to do it during a time when the whole world has hit pause. There is a silver line in any cloud 🙂

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

I have collected first all my ideas in a little notebook over a few months since I first got the idea of writing a book. I then categorised them in chapters and then I start crafting each chapter. The first two months were most difficult as I was doing it after work, in the evening, so I felt quite tired at the beginning, but then the more I wrote, the more excited and motivated I began. And as I mentioned lockdown helped as I could do it over weekends as well and also over bank holidays, on sunny spring days in the garden. I always had a beautiful candle next to me and a cup of tea, this is my little secret to get inspiration, but it also makes me very happy to feel the beautiful smell of a candle and taste the hot tea on my lips.  

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

It was a combination of laptop and longhand with a pen as I adore to write 🙂

What are your 5 favourite books?

Non-fiction: Simon Sinek, Seth Godin
Fiction: Agnes Martin-Lugand, Elif Shafak, Ion Creanga (Romanian)

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I haven’t had this issue yet! 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Follow your dreams! If you have an idea, follow it to completion despite the hurdles you might come across. It isn’t easy, it requires a lot of time, dedication and patience, however when you hold you book in your hands for the first time, that feeling is so worth it! And also, knowing that your book will make a difference in this world, may it be cheering people up, inspiring them, helping them to go through difficult times, educating them or even being their companion for a short time, that makes all the difference. Never give up and follow your dream!

Thank you, Larecia, for your insightful answers!

About the book


Brand Purpose – Less Unicorn, More Zebra?

Purpose is a journey, not a destination. More business leaders, marketers and customers need to become aware of true brand purpose and act upon it through business strategies, marketing campaigns and their wallet. This book challenges the way brand purpose has been deployed over the past few years and examines ways of correcting misconceptions and misuses by providing practical solutions and examples of what good looks like. We all have a role to play in the community, so stop dreaming about unicorns and be more zebra!

You can find Brand Purpose here:

MyBestseller | Amazon Blurb


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Excerpt Reveal: Brand Purpose – Less Unicorn, More Zebra? by Laricea Ioana Roman-Halliday

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Laricea Ioana Roman-Halliday for sharing an excerpt from her latest release Brand Purpose – Less Unicorn, More Zebra?

About the book

Brand Purpose – Less Unicorn, More Zebra?

Purpose is a journey, not a destination. More business leaders, marketers and customers need to become aware of true brand purpose and act upon it through business strategies, marketing campaigns and their wallet. This book challenges the way brand purpose has been deployed over the past few years and examines ways of correcting misconceptions and misuses by providing practical solutions and examples of what good looks like. We all have a role to play in the community, so stop dreaming about unicorns and be more zebra!

You can find Brand Purpose here:

MyBestseller | Amazon Blurb


Excerpt

There is a lot of confusion around purpose, especially when it comes to a brands’ purpose, how they deploy this concept in their marketing efforts and then portray it to the world. We are currently living in some really troubled times (probably not the worst in human history); but nevertheless constantly bombarded with bad news, apocalyptic images and consistent negative updates across politics, nature, economics and many other verticals. So naturally, people as consumers and as citizens of this world turn their attention – more than ever to social and environmental issues. 

There has never been such a desire to change, fix, improve, eliminate, or embrace actions that would make a difference to the current affairs and not only make us feel better about ourselves but genuinely help shape a better future. Specifically, for this reason more than 60% of consumers believe that brands play a greater role than governments when it comes to the future of this planet. Whilst this is all fabulous news for brands to be entrusted with such great confidence, some of them are taking advantage of this trend in an unorthodox manner. 

Here I present this book, hoping to highlight some of the issues around brand purpose and purposeful brands, attempting to better define brand purpose and dreaming to be able to make a difference in how people/consumers/marketers perceive brand purpose and its real importance and power.

I just don’t want to stay silent anymore and marvel at how some big brands who have been silently chopping down trees from nature reserves are getting praised on a wider scale for improving and changing our society for good. I want to bring bad examples to your attention, but I also wish to define genuine brand purpose to inspire those companies out there who are fooling themselves (and at times, us) that their brand purpose is real.

Thus, I hope you will enjoy this book and become inspired to evaluate the brands you are working on as a marketer or the brands you are buying as a consumer through the lens of “true brand purpose”.


About The Author

Laricea Ioana Roman-Halliday 

Laricea Ioana Roman-Halliday is a business leader, marketer, mentor, public speaker and brand specialist who has built her passion for brand purpose on the back of her meaningful marketing career with various Fortune 100 companies. Her experience includes working with Microsoft, Google, Unilever, Huawei, Hyundai and many more. She is a big environmental advocate who truly believes in successful business done for good and is constantly curious about driving it forward.

You can find author Laricea here:

Instagram | LinkedIn


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Book Review: Forgive Us by E.T. Gunnarsson

Author: E.T. Gunnarsson
Release Date: 19th December 2020
Genre: Science-Fiction, Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic, Futuristic Fiction
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 231 pages
Publisher: Bragi Press
Blurb:
Three timelines. One dark future…
A new form of energy has poisoned the earth, leaving civilization in ruins. As decades go by, the inheritors of this devastation struggle to survive and reconquer a broken planet…
In 2099: Mankind emerges from the darkness. A lone rider named Oliver journeys east, seeking civilization beyond the Rocky Mountains. Braving the toxic earth and poison air, Oliver must battle a horde of deadly mutants as he unites a band of refugees into the first nation of this new world…
In 2153: Fledging nations clash over land and resources. London, a veteran of the wasteland, struggles to protect his adopted daughter Rose as the world decays around them. But little does he know, both he and his adopted daughter will soon find themselves drawn into a coming war…

In 2184: Simon, a descendent of those who fled the earth, lives on the great Arcadis Station. A gifted technician, he works vigilantly against those who rule his society with an iron fist. In the shadows, he will be the difference between enslavement or liberty…
Fans of The Gunslinger and The Stand will love Forgive Us. This epic novel takes readers on a post-apocalyptic thrill ride, spanning three generations of a ravaged earth…

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Forgive Us by E.T. Gunnarsson is a brilliant sci-fi post-apocalyptic book.

I LOVED this book because it had not 1, not 2, but 3 stories interweaved in such a manner that it completely blew my mind. The writing is fantastic, the plot structuring is excellent and the concept is really, really good. I loved the entire case of such rich and strong characters. This book moved forward at a steady and heady phase and I loved every second of it!

I love when books actually play out in my mind like a movie but what is a thousand times better about this boo is that it played out in my mind like a good effing role-playing video game!

If you want to get your mind blown by a new sci-fi, post-apocalyptic, dystopian, futuristic read then this book is for you! Highly recommended!!

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

Book Spotlight: Brand Purpose – Less Unicorn, More Zebra? by Laricea Ioana Roman-Halliday

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, we are featuring author Laricea Ioana Roman-Halliday for her novel Brand Purpose – Less Unicorn, More Zebra?

Brand Purpose – Less Unicorn, More Zebra?

Brand Purpose – Less Unicorn, More Zebra? by Laricea Ioana Roman-Halliday

Book: A Brand’s Purpose…Less Unicorn, More Zebra?
Author: Laricea Ioana Roman-Halliday
Page Count: 200
Publication date: 27th Jan 2021
Genre: non-fiction, business, marketing


Synopsis

Purpose is a journey, not a destination. More business leaders, marketers and customers need to become aware of true brand purpose and act upon it through business strategies, marketing campaigns and their wallet. This book challenges the way brand purpose has been deployed over the past few years and examines ways of correcting misconceptions and misuses by providing practical solutions and examples of what good looks like. We all have a role to play in the community, so stop dreaming about unicorns and be more zebra!

You can find Brand Purpose here:

MyBestsellerAmazon | Blurb


About The Author

Laricea Ioana Roman-Halliday

Laricea Ioana Roman-Halliday is a business leader, marketer, mentor, public speaker and brand specialist who has built her passion for brand purpose on the back of her meaningful marketing career with various Fortune 100 companies. Her experience includes working with Microsoft, Google, Unilever, Huawei, Hyundai and many more. She is a big environmental advocate who truly believes in successful business done for good and is constantly curious about driving it forward.

You can find author Larecia here:

Instagram | LinkedIn


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: E. T. Gunnarsson

Welcome to TRB Lounge!

Today, we are featuring E. T. Gunnarsson, author of Forgive Us, for our Author Interview feature.

About The Author

E. T. Gunnarsson

Mr. Gunnarsson grew up on a horse-rescue ranch in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado. He now resides in Georgetown, TX.

Once in Texas, he wrote his first post-apocalyptic book, “Forgive Us” while attending high school. Outside of writing, Mr. Gunnarsson is a purple belt in BJJ and a brown belt in Judo.

You can connect with the author here:

Facebook | Instagram | Reedsy Discovery | Twitter | Website



The Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin.

To start off, I learned how to read through World of Warcraft. It sounds funny, but it’s true. When I was taken out of school at around seven, I didn’t know how to read, write, or do math. While I was being tutored how to read and write, I played World of Warcraft, and as I slowly gained lingual skills, I applied them to the game which allowed me to go from wandering around all day to doing questions and leveling up my character.

I actually started writing when I was nine, though the literature I produced probably sucked, and never saw the light of day. I also started text roleplaying on platforms such as Discord, which led into my author career and where my writing skills first started.

I am also a Norse pagan, and I’m into woodcarving to create idols for deities and spirits.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

Forgive Us is told as three interleaved stories covering different timelines in the 22nd century.This part is not in Forgive Us but gives more info about the environment the survivors live in: The wasteland began way before the fall of civilization. It started with the widespread use of Ignium in the 2050s, and its continued use through the 2060s and 2070s. Ignium, an energy similar to electricity and plasma, is easy to create and extremely malleable, therefore economically better than electricity. Its downfall was its slight toxicity. With its widespread use by billions of people, Ignium slowly poisoned the soil, air, and worldwide ecosystem, leading to cataclysmic climate change and leading to the sixth mass extinction on earth. Combined with pollution such as trash and other waste, the oceans were killed, the sun was blotted out, and the soil itself became a mix of dirt, Ignium, and plastics.

Ignium’s usage became a dependency, and by the time that it was discovered to be extremely damaging to the planet it was too late. Many major companies depended on it and funded campaigns to cover up the damage it caused.

During the 2070s, the world became destabilized and eventually collapsed. The population soared to roughly 14 billion, countries collapsed from resource, water, and food shortages. Despite the amazing technology of the 2070s, major parts of the population died due to illness and starvation as unemployment (in the US) soared into 60%.

Toward 2078, Europe collapsed into war between its nations while the US fell into a three-way civil war. At the same time as a world-wide pandemic and world-wide economic collapse, this broke the country. The pandemic which started in India, ultimately left India, the Middle East, and Africa in a broken state with most of the population dead or dying.

During 2079, the last powerful countries on Earth (such as the USA, Russia, and China) declared war on each other over the last resources on Earth. After a few nukes, bombs, chemical weapons, mutagenic bombs, and more, civilization finally came to a crumbling halt.

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

If there is a single message that can be derived from Forgive Us and the Odemark series as a whole, it’s to be green. In the series, the sky is blotted out from pollution and trash is everywhere, layering the ocean and earth. It is the idea of not poisoning our world. There are many other messages in Forgive Us, like caring for those you love, that war is hell, and that tyranny never dies but should not be stood for.

Who is your favourite character in this book and why? 

I have to say that Oliver is my favorite character because he matches the perfect description of a wasteland survivor. He is the lone wolf that many post-apocalyptic works feature, he is the grizzled, mentally scarred survivor he fights and claws to live. His storyline also represents the wolf of power/greed, which is an evil predator.

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

There is no specific inspiration for Forgive Us. Rather, Forgive Us and the Odemark series was born from a love of post-apocalyptic fiction, a gap in the genre, and years of interacting with the genre. For example, there are many influences for many aspects of Forgive Us. The father-daughter relationship between London and Rose is seen in many games (see the Dadification of games), the wasteland is inspired from Mad Max, the Fallout Series, and 9, and the conflicts in the book are inspired from history and the media mentioned before.

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

It took me two years to write Forgive Us, starting when I was sixteen and ending when I was eighteen. The first year consisted of the actual writing as I learned the twists and turns of creating a book, while the second year consisted of editing, which was a long process of more learning.

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today?

In five years I hope to finish the Odemark series, along with starting a new series in my high-fantasy world which is currently still in the works.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

Currently, I am writing the prequel to Forgive Us, Abandon Us, which will show life in theold world, the downfall of civilization, and show who the Outsiders really were.

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

I love post-apocalyptic fiction. I think it makes for great movies and great games when done well. Forgive Us came to me one day, so it was really the genre choosing me rather than me choosing the general. I learned to write in high-fantasy settings, so I hope to transition back one day.

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you to follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

I decided to become a writer when I started Forgive Us in 2018. Being a writer is not easy in general, but I am lucky to have an extremely flexible schedule that allows me to work a lot without sacrificing anything beyond free time that I’d otherwise waste.

Following the course of being a writer comes with a lot of ups and downs. The ups would be positive feedback on your work or success in writing, and the downs would be writer’s block, negative feedback, and self-doubt. Fortunately, I think the ups make the downs look small because when you’re so high up, falling a little bit does seem so far.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

I’m boring when it comes to writing. I generally sit down, try to play some music that fits the genre I am writing in, and write. I usually have tea while I write, but not always. If I am doing serious writing, I will remove all the distractions around me and just write. No distraction writing is a really easy way to burn out in my opinion, and is really boring, so I usually avoid it.

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I have dysgraphia, so it’s hard to write with a pencil or pen. I prefer the power and utility of a computer or a laptop, since it allows me to edit and create with ease.

What are your 5 favourite books?

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien is one of my favorite books, simply because it’s the Lord of the Rings with lighter reading, and serves as a wonderful introduction to the series. The Poetic Edda by Snorri Sturluson is my second favorite book, since it serves as a pillar to understanding Norse Mythology, and as an important religion text. I also love Maus (Art Spieglman), 1984 (George Orwell), and Rise of the Lich King (Christie Golden).

When it comes to authors, I absolutely love Stephen King and Tolkien. My father read the Dark Tower series to me when I was little, which I think has a subconscious influence on my writing. Tolkien is the father of all modern fantasy, and without him I would not have my childhood game World of Warcraft, or the inspiration to make a high fantasy world.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

When it comes to Writer’s Block, a due date gets me out of it. If I feel pressure to write, I will write, and that’s how real writing works in my opinion. It’s a job, and a job does not wait for you. If you struggle with Writer’s Block, you either have to wait for it to go away or break through it.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

If one wants to seriously write, it has to be treated like a job. A job has hours, due dates, and expectations, and writing should be no different. Without it, procrastination and no results rule. For me, I have a daily word count I have to reach, and a chapter/page amount I have to reach per week or month.

Thank you, Mr Gunnarsson, for your interesting answers!


About The Book

Forgive Us

Three timelines. One dark future…

A new form of energy has poisoned the earth, leaving civilization in ruins. As decades go by, the inheritors of this devastation struggle to survive and reconquer a broken planet…

In 2099: Mankind emerges from the darkness. A lone rider named Oliver journeys east, seeking civilization beyond the Rocky Mountains. Braving the toxic earth and poison air, Oliver must battle a horde of deadly mutants as he unites a band of refugees into the first nation of this new world…

In 2153: Fledging nations clash over land and resources. London, a veteran of the wasteland, struggles to protect his adopted daughter Rose as the world decays around them. But little does he know, both he and his adopted daughter will soon find themselves drawn into a coming war…

In 2184: Simon, a descendent of those who fled the earth, lives on the great Arcadis Station. A gifted technician, he works vigilantly against those who rule his society with an iron fist. In the shadows, he will be the difference between enslavement or liberty…

Fans of The Gunslinger and The Stand will love Forgive Us. This epic novel takes readers on a post-apocalyptic thrill ride, spanning three generations of a ravaged earth…

You can find the book here:

Amazon
 Barnes & Nobel BookBub Goodreads |  Lulu NetGalley


To read more author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Excerpt Reveal: Forgive Us by E.T. Gunnarsson

Welcome to TRB-Lounge, the section of TRB dedicated to book promotions. Today, I’d like to welcome author E.T. Gunnarsson, for sharing an excerpt from their latest release Forgive Us.

Read on to get a sneak-peek into this amazing new read!

About The Book

Three timelines. One dark future…

A new form of energy has poisoned the earth, leaving civilization in ruins. As decades go by, the inheritors of this devastation struggle to survive and reconquer a broken planet…

In 2099: Mankind emerges from the darkness. A lone rider named Oliver journeys east, seeking civilization beyond the Rocky Mountains. Braving the toxic earth and poison air, Oliver must battle a horde of deadly mutants as he unites a band of refugees into the first nation of this new world…

In 2153: Fledging nations clash over land and resources. London, a veteran of the wasteland, struggles to protect his adopted daughter Rose as the world decays around them. But little does he know, both he and his adopted daughter will soon find themselves drawn into a coming war…

In 2184: Simon, a descendent of those who fled the earth, lives on the great Arcadis Station. A gifted technician, he works vigilantly against those who rule his society with an iron fist. In the shadows, he will be the difference between enslavement or liberty…

Fans of The Gunslinger and The Stand will love Forgive Us. This epic novel takes readers on a post-apocalyptic thrill ride, spanning three generations of a ravaged earth…

You can find the book here:
Amazon | Barnes & Nobel | BookBub | Goodreads | Lulu | NetGalley


Excerpt

Chapter I

‘Memory’

8:46 PM, December 31, 2099

Silent, empty, and cruel. This was the nature of the wasteland.

The wasteland was a vast expanse of ruins, sand, and dying life beneath a polluted sky. This was the new world. It was created by humanity in 2079, and it was the world that they now had to brave to survive. 

The downfall of the old world happened slowly. Humanity did not know it, but their cunning and technology became their undoing. In the great battle between Mother Nature and humanity’s dominion, there was no winner. 

The sound of a thunderous engine erupted throughout the eerie wasteland as a motorcycle sped along the ancient roads. Upon it was a survivor, alone and braving all odds. His name was Oliver, a thirty-six-year-old man who had grown up in the old world.

Oliver was a refugee from the wild and untamed lands near the Rocky Mountains. He fled East, guided by the hope that the East would be better, though he could feel in his gut that it wouldn’t be. The only solace he had were stories from traveling caravans and survivors who spoke of growing settlements in the East.

Oliver was pursued. Not by man, not by beast, but by time. Starvation, dehydration, exposure, all of these were barely kept at bay by luck and experience. His current and most dangerous pursuer was the weather. 

The pollution haze above blocked out the sun. As night approached, the world slowly became pitch black and freezing cold. The darkness parted before the headlights of his motorcycle, yet Oliver felt vulnerable. 

Parallel to the road were telephone poles, some of which had tilted or completely fallen to the ground. The surrounding wasteland was desolate and empty, occupied by rocks and sand dunes. 

Oliver wore an old-world smart suit that was on its warmest setting. He also wore a coat made out of animal hide over his smart suit. He had traded for it a while ago, and it had saved him from freezing to death many times already. Still, he shivered.

A gas mask covered his face. It was vital for survival in the wasteland; without it, the toxic air would corrode Oliver’s lungs. It was old and worn, created in a factory in the old world. Still, it worked much better than the makeshift masks that most people wore. Finding filters for the gas mask was easy; they were everywhere.

There was a grim face beneath the intimidating gas mask. Oliver’s brown eyes reflected a man whose past was full of pain and hardship. Through the visor, they seemed tired. The light that most people have in their eyes was dim in Oliver’s. He also had deep curves between his brows and fatigued laugh lines. His skin was dark and covered in colored blotches, irritated and damaged from the wasteland air.

Oliver focused on his current task: finding shelter for the night. Such searches were often painful since he had to be picky about the buildings he used. Some were too unstable to hold up against the wasteland’s extreme weather; some were too hard to get into, others occupied.

He paused at a fork in the road, gazing down each path. After a few seconds, Oliver turned the motorcycle right and sped off. The sand-covered asphalt in front of him rose into a hill. Oliver followed the road and arrived at a parking lot. In front of him was an old, wooden church that was leaning to one side. A few cars sat parked in the parking lot, their paint stripped by sandy winds and their frames rusted out by time. The church itself had shattered windows and holes in every wall. Oliver had to make do. It was too dangerous to search for better shelter with night fast approaching.

The thunderous engine cut out as Oliver parked and turned off his motorcycle. The world became silent again. Only faint wind could be heard in the absence of the engine’s power. Oliver turned on a flashlight that was attached to the side of the gas mask. Next, he grabbed his gun off the back of his motorcycle. Holding it with two hands, he turned toward the church. Oliver’s boots met the ground with quiet clicks. These were combat boots, tough and made for smashing jaws. 

He swallowed nervously. Though anxious, Oliver felt safe with his Railshot Rifle in hand. It was beautiful, a flawless combination of a railgun and a shotgun. He checked the top port of the gun before entering the church. The gun had plenty of scrap metal in it, ready to shred flesh and bone instantly. Next, he checked the round blue energy meter above the trigger. Oliver felt sure there was enough charge to keep him safe.

He moved toward the entrance. The flashlight pierced the darkness, allowing him to see the gnarled and twisted vines covering the church. They looked so dry that it seemed like they would crumble to dust if Oliver touched them. The twin doors that blocked off the entrance to the building posed no challenge. One was hanging weakly from its hinges, while the other had broken off and now laid on the floor.

Step by step, he entered the church, walking over a fallen door and looking up into the steeple. The lonely church bell still hung far up there. It was rusty, kept in place by a few frayed ropes, gently moving back and forth.  Each time the wind gently moved it, Oliver heard a distant “ding” from the steeple. 

The bell seemed so lonely. It was a reminder that this place was once the center of a community. Where were they? He assumed that they were all long gone, lost to the last twenty years. 

The interior of the church was desolate and destroyed. The hard, wooden floor inside had a layer of sand and pebbles. Each time Oliver took a step, a quiet crunch followed.

 There were broken benches and piles of rubble everywhere. Oliver wondered if any ghosts still sat on those benches. Were they at peace, or were they suffering? Many parts of the walls and roof had collapsed upon the altar and benches lining the church. Oliver looked around cautiously, taking in the looming structure.

Here was once a holy site that held peace, now defiled by the wasteland. To Oliver, all of it was just firewood.

The place was empty of any living presence. The only recent trace of human activity was a single piece of graffiti over the altar. Oliver examined the graffiti, stepping upon the altar to wipe some dust off of it. 

“GOD HAS ABANDONED US!”

Oliver frowned and stepped down from the altar, turned around, and started to gather pieces of wood. The graffiti was unsettling. Oliver breathed uneasily as he moved around. Once he grabbed enough pieces, he formed them into a campfire at the center of the building. Oliver took off his backpack and laid it beside him. It was an old, rugged backpack that held most of his belongings. There were some holes in it, and its fabric was so worn down that the once blue-ish fibers were black and dirty. The backpack held a bedroll, food, gas mask filters, incredibly precious bottles of water, and bags of scrap metal.

He dug inside the backpack and pulled out a tesla lighter. It was old, given to him when he was younger. On one side was a company logo that was almost invisible from wear. He flipped the cap open and turned it on. Arcs of energy formed between two metal rods, the arcs humming and dancing.

Oliver lowered the lighter down to the campfire. First, there was smoke, then after a few moments, a small flame appeared. Oliver nurtured the flame until it engulfed the small campfire. Once it was going, he unstrapped the bedroll from the backpack and laid it out beneath a bench near the fire. Oliver felt happy as he basked in the warmth of the fire; his shivering slowly stopped as he turned off his flashlight and sat down.

The church creaked and moaned from the rough winds outside. The sounds made Oliver uneasy. He stared at the fire, his face wrinkling in thought as he contemplated the church. People still clung to Christianity in the new world, though their beliefs had changed over the past two decades.

Many were afraid of old churches. Some said that God had punished humanity for their sins. Sin was thought to be the reason why the world was like this now. Many believed that the Devil lived in old holy places like this church. Oliver didn’t believe in all those stories, but the idea still creeped him out. He imagined the evil, horned demon dancing in the shadows with the flickering flame, laughing at his ignorance and plotting to steal his soul.

While warming up from the heat of the campfire, Oliver gazed at the device on his forearm. It was a Smartwrist, similar to a smartwatch from the early 21st century. He turned it on and checked the time. It was nine o’clock, three hours until midnight. New year, new century, same problems. People used to celebrate the new year, drink, and make merry. Not anymore.

With nothing else to do, Oliver decided to eat dinner. He grabbed the backpack and dug through it, procuring a vial with a full meal inside of it. Processed cubes of synthesized meat and vegetables composed the meal, food from the old world. He frowned bitterly under his mask as he looked at the vial. Oliver unscrewed the lid, quickly lifted his gas mask, emptied the vial, and put his mask back on in one swift movement. Instead of throwing away the vial, he put it back in his backpack for later use.

Oliver looked like a chipmunk with so much food in his mouth. Stuffing too much food into his mouth was a bad habit Oliver had; as a matter of fact, he used to be called “Chipmunk” by his family. The artificial food tasted like stale popcorn. Oliver’s metal teeth chewed through the stuff easily. While he was eating, Oliver thought about his last visit to a dentist in the old world.

He remembered having his teeth pulled out to be replaced by 3D printed metal teeth that wouldn’t break or decay. The pain from the procedure was brutal and lasted a few days after the surgery. For many, it was once a rite of passage, marking the transition from teenager to adulthood. Everyone went through it, and, in Oliver’s opinion, he was happy to have metal teeth. Suffering tooth decay from the inability to deal with his hygiene was the last thing Oliver wanted. They looked like real teeth anyway and didn’t turn yellow.

Oliver’s gaze shifted to the doorway of the church. Outside, there was the darkness of a polluted world. There was no grass, but there was still some life, mostly brown, dry, and barely alive. The winds were blowing fiercely as always. A blackish color tainted the air, and waves of dust sailed over the ground with the tremendous force of the wind.

A discontented exhale left his lips as he closed his eyes. Oliver tried to remember a time when the sky didn’t constantly have a dark haze over it. Growing up in a cramped apartment, Oliver heard stories of when there were still green fields and blue skies. He believed the stories only because he had seen pictures that captured those forgotten times, though some doubts lingered in his mind. No matter how hard he tried, he could never recall a bright, sunny day. All that came to mind was the sky darkening as time passed.

He struggled to remember a day when he didn’t have to wear a gas mask to go outside. Oliver recalled that every indoor space had a sort of airlock before anyone could enter. He would walk in, have doors closed behind him, then have the room completely emptied of air and refilled with filtered, clean oxygen in a few seconds. 

Oliver checked the time again. Two hours until the new year. He put more wood on the fire to push the biting cold away.

A pained moaning interrupted the peace as the sparks and flames engulfed the new fuel. Oliver let out a startled gasp, holding his breath and looking toward the sound. Far away outside the church, Oliver could hear footsteps approaching. Oliver barely made out the shapes of figures in the darkness outside, human shapes with extra arms, faces, and body parts fused into them. They were human mutants, the fiendish nightmares of the wasteland.

Oliver hastily stood up and snuffed out the fire in front of him with a boot before laying down flat. He reached out for his weapon and held it, his heart throbbing with dread. The noise and the moans were the worst part. The faint silhouette of their horrid, mutant forms was all Oliver could see in the darkness as memories of being chased, attacked, and more slowly crawled back and made his skin feel cold. They came close to the church, horribly close. Their footsteps and hoarse breathing filled the air.

Oliver heard bodies brush against the sides of the church as they walked past, their footsteps passing slowly and beginning to fade. Oliver carefully stood, proceeding to investigate the church. Had he been seen? Did they know he was here? Nothing. Nothing seemed to be hiding among the ruins, and he heard no more sounds outside. A relieved exhale left his lips as he returned to the fire and knelt beside it, trying to start it again.

Abruptly, footsteps quickly approached from behind. Oliver swung around with his gun ready as he heard them. At the same time, something his size crashed into him, causing him to see stars.

It knocked the gun out of his hands and sent Oliver to the ground. He landed with a pained grunt. In an instant, his knife was in his hands. Despite his surprise, Oliver immediately retaliated against the figure he could barely make out.

The beast shrieked as he plunged the blade blindly into its body. Its arms thrashed, mouth gnashing at Oliver. He stabbed again, then again, the thing falling on top of him. Its shrieking grew higher in pitch, a rough hand striking Oliver in the head. The strike made him blink, stunning him but not stopping him from stabbing.

With a tremendous kick, Oliver threw the creature off and began stomping the monster into the floor. Every smack made it squirm less, its whole body growing still after a while. As he stopped, Oliver heard a rasping breath from it. He stomped again out of spite. Oliver wasn’t going to give it mercy. He lifted his mask and spat on the dying creature. As he did, he caught a whiff of its rancid, sweaty smell.

Oliver listened to the creature as it occasionally let out pained squeals. He started the campfire again, the flame slowly growing from the church’s dried, ancient planks. In the light, Oliver could make out the creature dying before him. It was a mutant, shaped like a human with a face fused partly into its shoulder. A useless limb extended from its belly, while a stunted leg dangled from the calf of its right leg. Stab wounds covered its body, blood seeping from each.

Oliver relished its suffering. He watched it trying to fight again, weakly twisting and squirming. It growled and gurgled, painfully bleeding out. After five minutes, it gave in and collapsed completely. Once the mutant was dead, Oliver remained wary of any more creatures. Fortunately, none came to avenge the mutant that he had just killed.

Oliver felt a stinging sensation on the side of the head where the mutant hit him. He rubbed it, causing his face to scrunch as he winced. It must’ve been another mark. 

“That’s going to bruise,” he whispered to himself.

His skin was rough and covered in scars, damaged from the toxic air and the violent wasteland. Even if it did bruise, it wouldn’t stand out.

He checked the time again — only forty minutes to midnight. The wind outside began to batter the creaking church. The structure’s stability was questionable, but there was no option to find shelter in another building. Oliver moved his bedroll under a bench and got inside of it, keeping his gun close at hand.

He played games on his Smartwrist to pass the time. Oliver felt a sinking sensation of emptiness when his thoughts dwelled on these games. In his youth, games and social media were a major part of his life. Oliver had followers, friends, people that he still kept in touch with years after losing face-to-face communication. Sometimes, Oliver had met his old friends in virtual worlds. The thought caused his fingers to meet the port where the VR chip went, the object that connected the Smartwrist to the VR equipment he once had.

The world felt more desolate than it already was when these thoughts of loneliness came to him. He remembered virtual games too and how many hours of his life he lost to them. Gaming was a happy memory that made him smile when thinking about all the friends he had made, especially those from strange places. Now, survival was lonely and harsh. Whenever humans met one another, it was either shoot or run.

The last thirty-five minutes passed in the blink of an eye, and before Oliver knew it, the last minute before New Years arrived.

As the last minute dwindled, Oliver released a relaxed, drawn-out exhale. He counted it in his head, one Mississippi, two Mississippi. Oliver mumbled it under his breath until the last ten seconds. He turned off the Smartwrist and lifted both arms in the air with spread fingers.

“Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one… HAPPY NEW YEAR!” he whispered as loudly as he dared.

The year was 2100, and Oliver was still alive.


About The Author

E.T. Gunnarsson

Mr. Gunnarsson grew up on a horse-rescue ranch in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado. He now resides in Georgetown, TX.

Once in Texas, he wrote his first post-apocalyptic book, “Forgive Us” while attending high school. Outside of writing, Mr. Gunnarsson is a purple belt in BJJ and a brown belt in Judo.

You can connect with the author here:

Facebook | Instagram | Reedsy Discovery | Twitter | Website

Book Review: Promptly Written (Vol. II) by Ian Lewis and Matt Sugerik

Author: Ian Lewis & Matt Sugerik 
Release Date: 29th November 2020
Genre: Short Story Collection, Mix of – Speculative Fiction, Thriller, Horror & Slice of life
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 231 pages
Publisher: 
Blurb:
Join authors Ian Lewis and Matt Sugerik on a unique storytelling journey in which each use an identical writing prompt to create a work of short fiction. As originally heard on Season 2 of the Promptly Written Podcast.

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Promptly Written (Volume 2) by Ian Lewis & Matt Sugerik is a really interesting collection of short stories that I enjoyed reading thoroughly.

I am a sucker for good short stories because if done well, they have more power and offer way more than a full-length novel without the reader having to spend a lot of time reading them and these stories were precisely that. Well-written, succinct, terse and entertaining. I liked all the stories and was left wanting more.

I’d recommend this collection to all short story readers, especially to those who are looking for new authors to explore.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

Buying A Property In The Post Covid Market

Indian, including myself and my family, love investing in two things – property and gold, no matter what. Even though 2020 was a difficult year for the entire world, it hardly affected this deep-rooted habit of obsessively investing in gold as well as properties. The real estate market in India saw a downward dip in the initial months of the lockdowns, but since the lockdowns were eased, India, being one of those few countries that are already on the path of recovery from the economic damages caused by the global pandemic, saw an upward climb in the real estate market.

Now, Indians are investing in property as much as (if not more than) before. Nothing will deter the Indian population from investing in a good piece of land or a well-built house or apartment. Though, one significant change that can be observed in the priorities of the Indian buyers while considering a new house is to look for the extra space to be able to establish a home office. During the pandemic, while many lost their jobs, a lot of people were asked to work from home, and thus began the new culture of working from home in India. Where earlier, this concept was only rarely seen in a few new start-ups, today we all have accepting working-from-home as the new normal.

According to Magicbricks COVID-19 Property Buyers Sentiment Survey Pune, the city where I live, is one of the 2 least affected cities in the Indian real market sector post-Covid-19.

The Economic Times, India

So when Vishal and I also began looking for a place to buy, our priorities included having two separate home-offices/workspace for both fo us. Earlier where we shared one of the biggest rooms in our bungalow as our shared office space, we are now looking for an even bigger place to have our 2 separate workplaces so that we both can do our work dedicatedly throughout the year.

Many people, including us, now actually prefer this way of life to the old one where one had to constantly be away from home in order to pay the bills. Now you can simply stay at home and do the work. But of course, the most important thing that is needed is the privacy of the extra room or space and that is why post-COVID, people are looking for bigger places and extra rooms in apartments.

In fact, with the humongous evolution of digital markets and the need for social distancing, there are now various ways in which you can not only view the properties online on innumerous websites but can also calculate the mortgage online when you plan or decide to buy/rent a property. One such website is Mortgage Calculator.

This website has a lot to offer – it can quickly and efficiently estimate mortgage affordability based on one person (or even two people’s) income, you can also find graphs of loan repayment along with monthly and yearly amortisation tables and printable amortisation schedules, etc. Even though this website is primarily for the UK market, it suits the needs of every country’s market and has personally helped me in calculating the mortgage for the property we are planning to buy.

Buying a home is a huge deal for us and I am personally really grateful to such online devices that can help buyers to not only view but also help in the planning of one’s finances. Corona has affected the entire world, but in a way, it has brought the entire world together too.


Book Review: Bayan by Pramudith D. Rupasinghe

Author: Pramudith D. Rupasinghe
Release Date: 29th April 2018
Genre: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Sri Lankan Literature
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 272 pages
Publisher: Vor Press
Blurb:
In the serene tempo of classical Soviet literature charmingly merged into modernity, Bayan is a unique blend from among the work of Pramudith D Rupasinghe. 
Bayan begins in the sunny Ukrainian summer and ends with a hidden, deeply meaningful message. It is not only the story of a strange, bearded old man who finds solace and a soulmate of sorts, in a traditional string instrument, while facing a common narrative of his era; it is a commentary on life, and a celebration of the ultimate coming of age. 

It juxtaposes the failure of physical strength and faculties to the accumulation of immense emotional fortitude. It lulls you into feeling safe in spite of the passing of transient seasons, the waning of political ideologies and the inevitable disintegration of the corporeal being. 
Bayan tells about changing world`s order, revolutions and the ravages of time, the music of life will go on.

Bayan is the only novel by a Sri Lankan author to be translated into Polish, Ukrainian, Burmese and Hungarian languages. And its German, Russian, Hindi and Sinhala translations have been added among the books of Sri Lankan authors translated into other languages. 

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Bayan by Pramudith D. Rupasinghe is a beautifully written book full of, and highlighting, a wide spectrum of emotions and emotional sensibilities.

It is difficult to summarise my opinion of reading this beautiful book because it was nothing short of an out-of-the-world experience and simply cannot be expressed in words. This book takes you on a journey to a time and place where you’d be struggling between contrasting emotions of wonder and revulsion. It is not an easy feat to write about the times of war and the post-war world because they both are two subjects that need a very good, and thankfully, Dr Pramudith – the author, did it so wonderfully well that I was left in awe.

This book is written beautifully well, interspersed with odd letters and poems, which made the experience of reading this book even more realistic. The characterisation was brilliant and I ached and pained for the plight of the characters. This book not only helped me understand the emotional background of many people who might have experienced the events told in this book but also made me reflect on the present times and how far the world has changed today from those of the earlier times.

This is a very good book that I will recommend to all readers, of all genres because it is an experience that no one should pass on.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

Book Review: Trigger Point by Douglas Misquita

Author: Douglas Misquita 
Release Date: 14th January 2021
Genre: Adventure, Thriller, Suspense
Series:
Format: Paperback
Pages: 401 pages
Publisher: Pencil
Blurb:
Smuggling himself into Europe despite an Interpol Red Notice? Possible. Avenging a German BKA officer? Easy. Evading special ops teams hunting him for the secrets he possesses? Impossible. 
Things are about to get more… interesting for Luc Fortesque.
An escaped terrorist threatens a landmark dialogue between Muslims and Christians. More terrifying is the theft of a bioweapon from a secret vault operated by the Holy See. That the damaging news is not public hints the weapon will be detonated. 
With cataclysm imminent, the world’s oldest espionage agency – the Vatican’s L’ Entity – must get to Luc Fortesque first, hoping he might possess the cure.

Accepting an off-the-books mission, former DEA agent, Raymond Garrett, intends to put an end Colombian drug lord, El Fantasma. But El Fantasma has a mission of his own for Garrett.
Treachery and corruption infect the highest reaches of religion and government, and Fortesque and Garrett must confront their past to be truly free of it.
If they survive the confrontation.

Review

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Trigger Point: A Luc Fortesque adventure thriller by Douglas Misquita is a heart-pumping rush of adrenaline that will definitely leave you asking for more.

I have one word for this book, and that is – Wow. I am not a huge fan of Indian authors but author Douglas’ book totally blew my mind. It was jam-packed with high octane action taking place in beautiful and exotic settings and well-built characters. And to top it all off, the writing was simply amazing! This is a well-written book, with strong characterisation, great pacing, high tension and brilliant concept. This book had so much going on that I simply couldn’t put it down even for an hour!

If you’re looking for a fast-paced and action-packed book with amazing locations or settings this you should definitely read this book! I’d highly recommend it to all readers.

You can watch the video for the review of this book on my IGTV channel here:

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

Book Review: From Legend (The Reeve #1) by Ian Lewis

Author: Ian Lewis
Release Date: 8th April 2019
Genre: Alternate history fiction, Fantasy, Suspense, Mystery
Series: The Reeve (Book #1)
Format: E-book 
Pages: 252 pages
Publisher: 
Blurb:
Sober, serious, and driven, Logan Hale is the highest peace officer in Beldenridge, and he knows his city better than anyone: the labyrinthine streets, the vaulted architecture, and all the dark corners where tales of mutations and a vicious enemy still linger like hushed secrets. Logan is quick to dismiss these accounts as part of a storied past with which he’d rather not contend, but when a suicide investigation leads him to believe there’s something more sinister at hand, he questions whether that near-forgotten lore isn’t the stuff of legend after all. 

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

From Legend by Ian Lewis is the first book in the alternate historical series The Reeve.

The first thing I loved about this book is the cover art! I absolutely loved it and once done with the book I was really happy (and grateful) that the high expectations set by the cover were fully delivered by the author in this book. I enjoyed this book tremendously and the many elements it had to offer to a speculative fiction lover like myself. I loved the writing, the world-building, the characterisation as well as the fast pacing and high tension throughout the story.

I liked how the author interweaved the alternate historical settings with fantastical elements and used old lores, legends and fables to build intrigue as well as the perfect atmosphere for keeping the reader on edge. I would highly recommend this book to all readers who like reading speculative fiction, fantasy as well as alternate history and also to those who are looking to explore a new author or a new series. This book would be a really good pick for most readers.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Character Interview: Kimiko Chou from Kimiko Chou, Girl Samurai by Con Chapman

Welcome to TRB Lounge!

Today, we are featuring Kimiko Chou, the lead character from Kimiko Chou, Girl Samurai by Con Chapman, for our Character Interview feature.

About The Author

Con Chapman

Con Chapman is the author most recently of Rabbit’s Blues: The Life and Music of Johnny Hodges (Oxford University Press), winner of the 2019 Book of the Year Award from Hot Club de France. His work has appeared in The AtlanticThe Christian Science MonitorThe Boston Globe, and a number of literary magazines. His young adult short story, “The Vanishing Twin,” appeared in the March/April 2015 issue of Cicada

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Twitter


The Interview

Welcome to TRB! We are really excited to have you over. Please give our
readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin.

My name is Kimiko Chou.  “Chou” is my given name and means “butterfly.”  I was born a twin with a brother, Tadashige, or “Tada” for short.  My father is a samurai warrior—Kimiko Kiyotaka.  My mother stayed at home and took care of me and my brother.  We lived in the city of Ōita, Japan. 

What is your age and what do you do for a living?

I am twelve years old.  I am returning to Japan after a long journey to find my father, who had gone off to invade Korea with other samurai.  

How do you like to spend your free time?

Before my mother and brother were killed, I led the life of a typical Japanese girl of our city.  Tada and I would play, my mother would instruct me in gardening, housekeeping, art, poetry—and the tea ceremony.

Please share some of your beliefs, principles, motivations and morals (can be social, religious or political or, etc.) Anything that will help us get to know you better.

My family was Buddhists.  It may seem strange that a warrior such as my father followed a religion of peace, but samurai believe that Zen Buddhism helps them find inner peace and enlightenment to strengthen themselves, both in battle and in their daily lives.

Tell us something about your family and childhood.

My family was a happy one until the day when robbers invaded our house and killed my mother and brother while my father was off on an invasion of Korea.  From that day until I was reunited with my father, I was a wanderer, traveling with a ronin—a samurai who has been dismissed by his lord—and his page, Moto Mori, a young boy who was older than me.

Tell us something about your dreams and aspirations? Were you able to achieve them or are you planning to?

My aspiration at this point is to return to my home in Ōita and rebuild my life with my father.  He is without a wife and a son, and I am without a mother and brother.

What is your biggest fear in life? 

After what I’ve been through, there isn’t much I fear.  But my father is all I have left, and I could not bear to lose him.

How would you describe your life in one sentence? 

My world was a happy one until it was turned upside down by the death of my mother and brother, and I was forced to fend for myself to be reunited with my father.

What is the worst thing that has ever happened to you?

Losing my mother and my brother in a single day, when robbers invaded our home while my father was away.

Did it change you for the better or the worse?

Obviously, things became worse, but there was nothing I could do about it—they were gone, and nothing could bring them back.
But I became more self-reliant, and I experienced a great adventure, even though it was harrowing at times.  And I was reunited with my father.

What are your plans for the future? 

To return to Japan with my father and start our life over again.


Kimiko Chou, Girl Samurai

KIMIKO CHOU is a girl on a mission. Her mother and brother have been killed by robbers in 14th century Japan while her father, a samurai warrior, is off on an invasion of Korea.
Chou (“butterfly” in Japanese) narrowly escapes death by hiding while the robbers ransack her home, then—dressed as a boy in her brother’s clothes—she goes in quest of her father. Alone on the road, she takes up with Hyōgo Narutomi, a former samurai who has been dismissed by seven previous masters, and Moto Mori, his page.
The three of them—man, boy, and girl—make their way across Japan along with Piebald, an old horse with a curious spot on his coat that resembles a Fenghuang, the mythical bird that rules over all others in Asian mythology. Together this unlikely trio experience a series of adventures and narrow escapes until Chou and Mori—but not Narutomi—land in Korea. There, as a spy for the Koreans, Chou searches for her father-across enemy lines!

You can find Kimiko Chou, Girl Samurai here:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


To read more author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Con Chapman

Welcome to TRB Lounge!

Today, we are featuring Con Chapman, author of Kimiko Chou, Girl Samurai, for our Author Interview feature.

About The Author

Con Chapman

Con Chapman is the author most recently of Rabbit’s Blues: The Life and Music of Johnny Hodges (Oxford University Press), winner of the 2019 Book of the Year Award from Hot Club de France. His work has appeared in The AtlanticThe Christian Science MonitorThe Boston Globe, and a number of literary magazines. His young adult short story, “The Vanishing Twin,” appeared in the March/April 2015 issue of Cicada

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Twitter



The Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin.

I’m a writer on the side—it’s not my day job.  I’ve written young adult fiction before (“The Vanishing Twin,” Cicada Magazine, March/April, 2015) but this is my first YA novel.  My most recent book was about Johnny Hodges, Duke Ellington’s long-time alto sax player: Rabbit’s Blues: The Life and Music of Johnny Hodges (Oxford University Press).  Kimiko Chou has a samurai theme because I’m interested in that now-abolished caste whose members were, at the same time, warriors and artistic; they were highly literate and wrote poetry; their motto was “The pen and the sword in accord.”  

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

It has a “meta” aspect to it, in that it is introduced by a character—Etaoin Shrdlu—who says that he translated the work.  He is as fictional as Kimiko Chou, though.  This technique—sometimes referred to as a “framing device”—explains how it is that the reader is holding in his or her hands a first-person account from the 14th century.  It is used in the novel by Thomas Berger, Little Big Man, one of my favorite works (and one that I think is underrated).

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

Not sure there’s a particular message I want readers to take away from the book, but characters reveal themselves to you as you create them—Pygmalion style.  Chou is hardened by the tragedy at the beginning of the book, but doesn’t miss a beat and embarks on a new life.  Along the way, she finds that her first impressions about people don’t always turn out to be correct, but even those who she grows close to—such as the boy page, Moto Mori, who is her companion on the journey—have their flaws that are in need of mid-course corrections.

Who is your favourite character in this book and why? 

The ronin, or fallen samurai, Hyōgo Narutomi, who leads the two children on their expedition.  He is a failure who refuses to acknowledge that fact, and carries on despite having no real hope of ever realizing his ambition; to become a samurai again, after having been dismissed by seven masters.

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

I had a lot of time on my hands waiting for a publisher to get back to me on a proposal—over a year.  At some point I threw up my hands and decided to start on another project.  I’ve written two novels before, one of which (CannaCorn) is a baseball novel with a character who thinks of himself as a latter-day samurai in his role as a relief pitcher.  I read a YA novel about a boy samurai, and Women Warriors: An Unexpected History by Pamela Toler, which includes stories of female samurai.  I did a little research and didn’t find any YA novels about girl samurai, and decided to write one.

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

Once I got going, not that long, maybe a year.  I had to do some research on Japanese history during the period when the samurai first came to prominence, the 12th to the 14th centuries, and also on Japanese geography, to get the details of a Japanese invasion of Korea down.

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today?

I’d like to be able to write full-time, but I’ve got a long ways to go.  I’d like to write a sequel to Kimiko Chou if there’s a demand for it.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

I am currently writing a history of Kansas City jazz for Equinox Publishing, a British publisher.

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

The novel (or novella, it’s not that long) seemed right for this story.  I also write plays, histories, poetry, humor, and short-form journalism.

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you to follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

?  It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was  in high school.  I became a sports reporter for my small-town newspaper when I was a junior in high school, after I hurt myself and couldn’t play football anymore.  I got a newspaper reporting job right out of college, but found I wasn’t very good at going up to strangers and asking them embarrassing questions, which is essential to the job.  So I had to find some other path, which took a while.  I wrote an article on jazz for a Boston-area “underground” paper, but didn’t have much success pitching freelance articles.  I decided I needed to get a book written, and chose the 1978 pennant race between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, which no one had written about.  Red Sox fans didn’t want to be reminded about it, since they blew a big lead and didn’t make it to the World Series, and Yankee fans weren’t interested since it wasn’t a big deal to them—they went on to win the World Series, so the win over the Red Sox was insignificant by comparison.

I self-published the book, The Year of the Gerbil (the word “gerbil” refers to a scornful nickname the Red Sox hung on their manager that season).  This was back in the bad old days when self-publishing was expensive.  I took money out of my savings to finance it, and had to do all the marketing myself.  I wrote a lot of letters to bookstores, made personal trips to ask bookstores to stock it—very naïve.  I’d send copies to various newspapers and magazines, got maybe two reviews.  Then I sent a copy to the Business Editor of The Boston Globe because he had mentioned how Boston and New York had similar rivalries in business and sports; the Yankees back in the day were perennial winners, the Red Sox went 86 years without winning the World Series, and New York is a much bigger business market than Boston.  To my surprise, he wrote a glowing review of the book in the Business Section of the paper, the book got named to a list of 50 essential books about the Red Sox, and while I never made back my initial monetary investment, I had a start on a reputation in that I could name a book I’d written and people might actually want to read it.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

.  I have to write at the beginning and end of the day since I have a day job.  If I wake up early I’ll try to produce a paragraph or two before going off to work, and at night if I’m not too tired I’ll try to do it again.

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

?  I write on a computer, as it’s much faster, even for drafts.  The one exception is playwriting; I’ve had twelve plays published, and because you’re just writing dialogue, not exposition (other than stage directions), it’s easy to get a lot down with just a pen and a pad of paper.

What are your 5 favourite books?

The books I’ve read the most, multiple times, are:

  1. The Moviegoer, Walker Percy (novel)
  2. The Sweet Science, A.J. Liebling (non-fiction, boxing)
  3. True Tales from the Annals of Crime and Rascality, St. Clair McKelway (non-fiction,         crime)
  4. George Ade and Ring Lardner, Midwestern humorists
  5. And the Holy Trinity of Southern female writers: Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty, and   Carson McCullers

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I had writer’s block when I got out of college, wanted to be a writer, and couldn’t get anything written.  You only have writer’s block if you want to write and can’t, so I can’t say I had writer’s block when I more or less gave up on writing for a while.

It’s sad but true, as far as I’m concerned and one of my friends who had writer’s block and couldn’t finish his Ph.D. dissertation, that getting thrown into a job where you have to write, or going back to school and being under pressure to produce on a daily basis will cure you of writer’s block.  The problem then is—you have no time to write because you’re busy.

For the most part that’s the situation I’m in today; I have to find time to write around my work, which forces me to become more efficient and not have a beer and stare off into space and think about the Great American Novel I’ve got in me down deep inside.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Well, you’ve got to look the part on paper.  I bought a book on manuscript preparation and writing book proposals (the Writer’s Market book, “Formatting and Submitting Your Manuscript”), which gave me some guidance on presenting yourself as a writer.  Where before I’d do things wrong (like sending in a non-fiction article without querying first), I at least had a sense of what an editor or publisher who might actually buy something from you expected it to look like when it came in over the transom.

Thank you, Con, for your insightful answers!


About The Book

Kimiko Chou, Girl Samurai

KIMIKO CHOU is a girl on a mission. Her mother and brother have been killed by robbers in 14th century Japan while her father, a samurai warrior, is off on an invasion of Korea.
Chou (“butterfly” in Japanese) narrowly escapes death by hiding while the robbers ransack her home, then—dressed as a boy in her brother’s clothes—she goes in quest of her father. Alone on the road, she takes up with Hyōgo Narutomi, a former samurai who has been dismissed by seven previous masters, and Moto Mori, his page.
The three of them—man, boy, and girl—make their way across Japan along with Piebald, an old horse with a curious spot on his coat that resembles a Fenghuang, the mythical bird that rules over all others in Asian mythology. Together this unlikely trio experience a series of adventures and narrow escapes until Chou and Mori—but not Narutomi—land in Korea. There, as a spy for the Koreans, Chou searches for her father-across enemy lines!

You can find Kimiko Chou, Girl Samurai here:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


To read more author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

ARC Review: Dead Fish And What the Blue Jays Know by Debbie Ann Ice

Author: Debbie Ann Ice 
Release Date: 22nd April 2021
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Satire
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 272 pages
Publisher: Bedazzled Ink Publisher, LLC
Blurb:
It’s the year 20-something—a changed yet still complacent America—and Lorraine Mulderon is mad. She’s mad that dying fish litter the shores of her small Connecticut coastal town. She’s mad birds seem to be dying, possibly indirectly related to fish deaths. She’s still mad about a wave of crow deaths over a decade ago. But, mostly, Lorraine is mad at the lack of madness.

She makes speeches. She phones lazy, and now corrupt, legislators. She is ignored. What has happened to passion? What has happened to our country? And now, what has happened to Lorraine? Lorraine disappears during a protest march. Her daughter, Haley, writes a letter to the world explaining her mother—someone who confronts grief and tragedy the only way she knows how and has depended upon those who tenderly watch over her—her daughter, certain friends, and a flock of blue jays.
However, as the blue jays reveal, Lorraine is not so tenderly watched over by the forces working against her.
It’s a dark future and our nation has normalized tragedy; however, DEAD FISH touches upon these intense themes with hope and humor. 

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Dead Fish And What the Blue Jays Know by Debbie Ann Ice is a beautiful book about passion, love and loyalty. When I started reading this book, I wasn’t really sure what it was about and if I was going to like it much, but only a couple of pages into the story and I knew that it was going to be a great read. And to my utter satisfaction, it turned out to be that and so much more.

This book not only has a well-written plot but the concept itself is really good and necessary in its own right. I loved the characters and was able to connect and relate to them. The pacing and tension are apt and compliment the story beautifully.

I really enjoyed reading this emotional, at times funny and beautiful read and would definitely recommend it to readers of literary and women’s fiction.

You can also read this review on Goodreads

Book Excerpt: Kimiko Chou, Girl Samurai by Con Chapman

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Con Chapman for sharing an excerpt from his latest release Kimiko Chou, Girl Samurai.

About The Book

KIMIKO CHOU is a girl on a mission. Her mother and brother have been killed by robbers in 14th century Japan while her father, a samurai warrior, is off on an invasion of Korea.
Chou (“butterfly” in Japanese) narrowly escapes death by hiding while the robbers ransack her home, then—dressed as a boy in her brother’s clothes—she goes in quest of her father. Alone on the road, she takes up with Hyōgo Narutomi, a former samurai who has been dismissed by seven previous masters, and Moto Mori, his page.
The three of them—man, boy, and girl—make their way across Japan along with Piebald, an old horse with a curious spot on his coat that resembles a Fenghuang, the mythical bird that rules over all others in Asian mythology. Together this unlikely trio experience a series of adventures and narrow escapes until Chou and Mori—but not Narutomi—land in Korea. There, as a spy for the Koreans, Chou searches for her father-across enemy lines!

You can get this book here:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


Excerpt

My name is Kimiko Chou, and this is my story.  I have set it down so that it will live after me, for other girls to read.  They may find it hard to believe, but it is true.

My given name “Chou” means “empress child butterfly.”  It was given to me at my oschichiya—naming ceremony.  I was swathed in white, like a little cocoon, pure as I came into the world.  Like every other aka-chan (“little red one,” loving term for a newborn baby), I wore only this color of godliness for seventeen days.  From then on, I was clothed in the colors of the world, and not just the pure shade of ame, the lofty sacred world of the gods of heaven, the ama-tsu-kami.

            It should not surprise you that I came to live as a samurai, for the way of the samurai is death, and I was born, so to speak, in death.  When robbers invaded our home and attacked my mother and brother, I hid in the alcove—the tokonoma—that is found in the main room of a samurai’s dwelling, and in which is displayed a single beautiful object for contemplation.  I held myself still and breathless while the robbers ransacked the house for money and weapons; they looked only for things of material value, and so didn’t notice me.  I pulled my clothing over my head like a sea urchin in order to save myself.

            How, you ask, is such conduct worthy of a samurai, if the samurai, faced with a choice between life and death, must choose the latter?  Well, we all want to live, and we form our thoughts according to our will.  But at that moment, I was not a samurai, and I had no master.  I had no aim in life, other than to survive.

            When the robbers departed, I was alone.  My mother Hino and my brother Tadashige were both dead.  My father—Kimiko Kiyotaka–was gone, part of a force that had invaded the kingdom of Koguryo (current-day Korea).  I did not know when or if he would return.  I was eleven years old.  

            I was fearful, and for good reason.  The robbers could be seen moving from house to house, repeating their acts of thievery and violence.  Tada and I had recently undergone the ceremony of genpuku, by which we had formally been recognized as adults.  I was to prepare for marriage, he was to prepare for war.  I received a mogi (a pleated skirt), he—a samurai helmet.  If I became my twin brother, I would be able to defend myself from the assaults of the robbers, and I would not be an object of attraction to them.  And so I donned the garb of the samurai at an age when most girls had just begun to play the coquette.  I was close to Tada, as twins will be, and so I had absorbed much of what he had learned in his training to become a samurai.  Now I would become him, and adopt his name.  

            There was nothing left of value in our home except food, and so I cooked some rice and made onigiri (rice balls).  These I packed into Tada’s hakama (pants), and I set off on a quest to find my father, although I knew it might take many years.  I saw myself in the eye of my mind having many adventures before we would be reunited.  I would be a woman then—if I could find him before he died.

            I took with me my mother’s weapons:  Her naginata.  This is a spear with a curved blade at the end.  It was used by women in defending their homes when their samurai husbands were absent from the home.  With its long shaft, it could be used to keep a male opponent at a distance, thus allowing a woman to fend off a man stronger than her.  Next, her tanto, a dagger favored by women because of its short length and capacity for camouflage.  When sheathed, it looked like a fan, and could concealed as an item of innocent adornment until needed.  Finally, her kansashi, a hairpin that is a woman’s weapon of last resort.  Six inches long, it innocently keeps her hair in place but can be pulled out to pierce an attacker’s chest or throat when he is on the point of overcoming her.

            I started out on the road that led towards the sea.  I wanted to go to the place where my father would land when he came back, and if that did not happen for some time, I wanted to find a way to go search for him, on a fishing boat or a bigger craft bound for Korea.  I must have made a forlorn-looking sight.  My brother’s kataginu (sleeveless jacket) hung loose about my shoulders with its exaggerated shoulders, and while I was tried to put on a brave face, my heart was empty—my mother and brother gone, my father far away.  I was all alone in the world.

            The road was a muddy path, the color of my mother’s clay cooking pots.  On either side were bright green hedges of grass that gave way to rice paddies.  I was headed in the direction of the Tsushina Strait, towards a sky that was full of rain coming up from the sea.  It was tinged with grey and blue and pink, like the inside of an oyster’s shell.  It was hard to be hopeful, but I tried to walk with a forceful stride, to show the world that I was determined.

            After a while I heard the clip-clop of a horse coming up behind me.  I did not turn to look, as I wanted to give the rider the sense that I wasn’t a young girl he could trifle with, I was a samurai on a mission.

            As the horseman drew nearer, he called out to me in a curt manner.  “You there!”

            I turned my head slowly to the left, but did not stop walking.  He must know that I would not stop for anyone.  He called again—“You!”

            I kept walking, but said “Yes?”

            “Where are you going?”

            “Hirado.”

            He laughed.  “And how will you get there?”

            “I will hire a boat.”

            “With what?”

            “Never you mind.”

            Upon hearing those bold words, he dug his heels in his horse’s side and rode in front of me, blocking my way.

            “Are you a samurai?” he asked with a mocking smile.

            “I am a samurai’s page.”

            “And who is your master.”

            I hesitated just a moment.  “You would not know him, he lives far from here.”

            “Then how did you come to be all by yourself?”

            I was silent, out of words.  I should have foreseen that I would be questioned, but I had not given thought to the story I would tell.

            “Well?” the man asked.  “Who are you, and what do you have to say for yourself?”

            I fought down a lump in my throat, and spoke.  “I am Kimiko Tadashige.  My master is dead.  I am on my way to seek my father, who is in Korea.”

            The man rubbed his chin, sizing me up.  A boy came up behind him, dressed much like me, but in shabbier garments.  I guessed that he was a page to this samurai and, from the looks of his clothing, had been traveling with him for some time.  Perhaps, I thought, the man on horseback was a ronin, a samurai without a lord.

            “I am Hyōgo Narutomi,” he said with a fierce voice, as if he wanted to scare me and not just say his name.  “This is my page, Moto Mori.”

            The boy bowed slightly and looked me over.  His eyes seemed to see a rival, or even an adversary, even though I was just a stranger walking along the same road.

            “I could use another page,” Narutomi said with a tone of cold calculation, as if I were a fish in a market.

            I did not know what to say.  I would be out of food soon enough, and I wanted protection from robbers and others with malice towards me.

            “Where are you going?” I asked.

            “The same place you are,” Narutomi replied calmly, as if that settled the matter.

            I looked off to the horizon behind Mori to my left, and Narutomi ahead of me.  There was no shelter, and no other road to be seen, all the way to the end of the world within my view.  What choice did I have, other than to continue with my concocted story about where I came from, and where I was going?

            “All right,” I said, without enthusiasm.  “I will come with you.”


About The Author

Con Chapman is the author most recently of Rabbit’s Blues: The Life and Music of Johnny Hodges (Oxford University Press), winner of the 2019 Book of the Year Award from Hot Club de France. His work has appeared in The AtlanticThe Christian Science MonitorThe Boston Globe, and a number of literary magazines. His young adult short story, “The Vanishing Twin,” appeared in the March/April 2015 issue of Cicada.

Follow the author on Twitter @conchapman


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Graphic Novel Review: Mr. Flopsy, Whispers from God: A Lesson on Being Still by Christi Eley

Author: Christi Eley
Illustrator: Aries Cheung
Release Date: 8th January 2021
Genre: Children’s Fiction, Christian Fiction
Series: Mr. Flopsy, Whispers From God
Format: E-book 
Pages: 40 pages
Publisher: Cottontail Publishing
Blurb:
Mr. Flopsy, Whispers from God is an early reader storybook that shares the simple message and guidance from a pet bunny to help your child find stillness and peace. By connecting with animals, children learn to see and hear God’s love and feel secure as they learn to be quiet, patient, brave and trusting. Written in a rhythmic bouncy script, Mr. Flopsy,

Whispers from God: A Lesson on Being Still provides a platform for your child to begin their own relationship with God and is reaffirmed by the gentle words and affirmations of God’s love through the Bible verse “Be still and Know that I am God” Psalm 46:10. Join Mr. Flopsy on this heartwarming adventure that will inspire your child for a lifetime!

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Mr. Flopsy, Whispers From God: A Lesson On Being Still by Christi Eley is a colourful short graphic novel for children that helps them understand how to be still.

This book series is very unconventional and teaches different important verses from the Bible in a very simplified and easy to understand way for children. And this particular book talks about how to show children the wisdom in being still. I suppose this book is especially for those children who are always loud and have extra energy that seems to drain everyone around them – I’ve seen a couple of such children myself. So this book teaches the children how exactly to sit quiet and still while also focusing on the fact that sometimes it is actually good to just relax and be.

The illustrations in this book are really good – very cute and attractive, and I am positive the children would love studying them and might even draw a couple of them for themselves.

This book would be great for parents who like reading bed-side stories to their children, even if they are not a Christian, they can always use the trick given in this book to modify and apply according to how they see it fit as per their own religion and customs. In particular, I think, this book would be really beneficial to those parents who have hyperactive children in calming them by way of positive reinforcement.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: William Ottoway’s Utopia and other stories by Christopher Griffith

Author: Christopher Griffith
Release Date: 28th May 2019
Genre: Fantasy, Historical, Comedy, YA, Short Story collection
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 126 pages
Publisher: 
Blurb:
William seeks contented ease, not tragic hardship; Rick loves simple melody, not its mysteriously melancholic effect upon him; Emily dreams of anything but having to work another day for darkly comic Carol; Saman is overcome by revenge fantasy, but the subject of his vengeance wants only reconciliation; and young Will Shakespeare’s dream is to act, not write though the latter as history tells comes eagerly calling for him instead. Each protagonist definitely planned something else when life, in form of these unfolding stories, haply intervened!

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

William Ottoway’s Utopia by Christopher Griffith is a vibrant short story collection of diverse nature showcasing different varieties of narration.

This collection contains 5 tales and I liked reading all of them. I liked this book mostly because of the assorted nature of all the stories. They all had a very different setting, characterisation, narratives, and ever time periods and crossed different realms even. Each and every one of them was very different from each other but equally good and engaging. I liked the way characters were brought to life in a fitting way and the pacing that was set by the clever use of varied types of sentence structures.

I’d recommend this book to readers of all genre especially if they like reading experimental styles of narrative prose.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

Book Review: AfterLife: Waking Up From My American Dream by Carlo Pietro P Sanfilippo

Author: Carlo Pietro P Sanfilippo 
Release Date: 19th December 2020
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir, Self-help
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 158 pages
Publisher: 
Blurb:
Are you living on purpose, or are you frustrated that the things you thought you wanted-the house, the furnishings, the yard, the car, the “stuff” and all its required maintenance-are preventing you from having the time and money to live the life you want? When the American Dream becomes an agonizing hamster wheel, perhaps it’s time for a change.

Carlo Sanfilippo followed that prescribed path of marriage, kids, house, stuff. He was living the American Dream, the life he was “supposed” to live; not a life that he wanted, not a life that fulfilled him. Nothing felt authentic. Nothing felt like fun. Nothing felt like his idea. And when faced with some devastating losses, he realized he was living a half-life.
If you’re a person who has a nice life, but aren’t living your dream, join Carlo on this journey of breaking out of a prescribed life to one of discovery, mental and emotional release, spiritual delight, and new mastery.

Review

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Afterlife: Waking Up From My American Dream by Carlo Pietro P Sanfilippo is a beautiful book about hope and dreams and finding happiness.

I loved reading this book because the author used a brilliant mix of varying emotional graphs such as loss and grief interlaced with happy and hopeful moments. This book felt very true and spoke to me on a level that I quite I wasn’t expecting. This book has a lot to offer to each of its readers because it is full of moments of despair and anguish that everyone goes through. It often treads the precarious and mostly misunderstood waters of self-love and the entire curve of being able to reach a point where one can identify it as not being selfish. So I would like to commend the author on his brilliant effort into pulling it off. And for touching on so many themes that are universally resonant.

I would definitely recommend this book to each and every one as it has so much to offer!

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: To The North by Evan L. Grove

Author: Evan L. Grove
Release Date: 4th December 2020
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: The Awakener Duology (Book #1)
Format: E-book 
Pages: 390 pages
Publisher: 
Blurb:
Emily Lee wants nothing more than to live her life in peace, safe in the comfort of home with her father. But when he falls prey to dark magic, trapping him and countless others in a foreign land, she is forced to take action. Compelled only by the desire to save him, Emily travels to the northern nation of Odelia in search of a means to free her father from his terrible curse.

Lehksi Olent works as a private investigator, helping those uncover the truth that is often shrouded by a world of magic and mystery. Together with her brother, Marty, she now travels the Odelian countryside in pursuit of the growing unrest taking place within the heart of a country torn asunder by unseen forces.
When their paths converge, Emily and Lehksi’s lives will be forever changed. Two paths, one future. Be it for the good of all, or for a singular desire, the fate of Odelia lies within their choices. And should they prove lacking, the world of Oul might never be the same.
To the North is the first novel in The Awakener Duology, an adult urban fantasy that explores what it means to discover the dark truths of an unforgiving land. It takes place in an alternate reality set in a pre-digital world, one that is governed by magic and corporate influence. Two young women must navigate numerous challenges in order to protect what is important to them, but in doing so they will make discoveries that may drive a wedge between them.

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

To The North by Evan L. Grove is the first book in The Awakening urban fantasy duology. It is a very conceptually refreshing book and I really enjoyed reading it.

The characterisation was good, the world-building was great and the narration was good and complemented the story well. I love reading fantasy and thankfully this book met all my expectations. It is a good fantasy read, especially considering that this is the first book in a duology. I’m really looking forward to reading the sequel to this book.

I really liked this book and would recommend this book to all fantasy readers.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

ARC Review: Lodestar by Daniel Hagedorn

Author: Daniel Hagedorn 
Release Date: 10th February 2021
Genre: Science-Fiction Fantasy
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 330 pages
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Blurb:
How do humans survive after a massive pandemic that has devastated the population? Rather than living amid continued chaos and panic, the surviving population enjoys a thriving life thanks to the assistance of the network, a vast system that connects everything and everyone. The network protects from the virus while allowing everyone to lead their best life. Every dream and desire can easily be attained.

14 years into this networked world, David, one of the creators, wakes up to find that he is no longer connected. Is he the only one? And why, for what purpose? David feels almost like waking from a dream only to discover a technologically advanced world, full of beautiful and spectacular things, but all may not be what it seems. What is the difference between a dream and reality? What is the nature of experience?

Follow David as he wanders through a vast maze, uncovering layer upon layer in his search for truth. Recalling his former life, he must choose between what he feels, his natural compulsion to question everything, and what is good for humanity. The Lodestar takes you on a deep look into philosophical questions surrounding technology and its role in humanity.

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Lodestar by Daniel Hagedorn is a riveting new sci-fi fantasy read that will pull you in right from the start and keep you hooked till the very last page. I really liked this book because in spite of being a technological read it had a lot of philosophical threads weaved in throughout the story which made it a very interesting and a thought-provoking read.

I liked the characterisation, vague-ish as the main ones were I really enjoyed reading about them. The writing was good and complemented the plot well. The concept, for me, was a complete win-win, and the plot structuring was good. Overall it is a nice read and I’d highly recommend it to all sci-fi readers who like reading about philosophical themes and fantastical elements.

You can also read this review on Goodreads.

Book Review: Warborn (Legends Of Heraldale #3) by Brian McNatt

Author: Brian McNatt 
Release Date: 22 October 2020
Genre: New Adult Fantasy
Series: Legends Of Heraldale (Book #3)
Format: E-book 
Pages: 435 pages
Publisher: 
Blurb:
Beneath the sins of the past, some souls are broken, some rise stronger, but all are changed. Princess Galaxy is lost. The cruel machinations of Lord Mordred have robbed the hippogryph of faith in the past and all those she most trusted. With appeals to the grand leader of gryphonkind, Lady Quetzal, falling on deaf ears, Galaxy must journey to the eastern city-state of Gateway, the last of the great nations standing against the might of the Unicorn Empire.

There she contends with a bloodthirsty general grown wary of hope, a lone king grown weary of war, and a blind prophet knowing ever more than she’s telling. Meanwhile, Brynjar and Owain find themselves the prized captives of Empress Nova herself. Lost deep in the heart of Avalon and threatened on all sides by the mad Lord Mordred, the conniving Lord Thoth, and the eldritch Lord Beauty, they will need the most unlikely of allies if they want any hope of escape . . . or survival.

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Warborn by Brian McNatt is the third book in the fantasy series Legends Of Heraldale.

You can read my review for the other books in this series here:

Legends of Heraldale by Brian McNatt
Past Sins (Legends of Heraldale #2) by Brian Natt

Having read this series from the start, I was really curious to read the 3rd book as I really liked the story so far. Needless to say, I had a lot of expectations from this book and thankfully, the book delivered everything it promised and I expected it. I really enjoyed reading about some familiar characters from the earlier two books as well as some new ones. The world-building was very intricate and the book helped me refresh my memory of some of the bits that I had forgotten.

The story was every bit as full of adrenaline as the last two books, and some more. There were some really good new concepts and creatures that kept me glued to the book. I really liked this book because it took steered the story into yet another, albeit perilous, new direction and I love where it is headed.

This book has a lot to offer to fantasy readers and therefore I highly recommend (not only this book but the entire series so far.)

You can also read my review on Amazon

Book Review: How the Ə Got Producted by N.K. von Stade

Author: N.K. von Stade
Release Date: 
Genre: Humour, Sci-fi
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 256 pages
Publisher: 
Blurb:
A childhood trauma leaves N. yearning for connection and vulnerable to the seductive but damaged Jeremy Sakhdvar, a young product liability attorney with a technology vendetta. Their one-sided relationship ends abruptly when Jeremy marries another woman and runs for elective office. Adrift but resilient, N. mines a series of seemingly random hookups for the raw materials she uses to reinvent herself. N. becomes a prominent lobbyist for the biomedicaltechnology industry and, years later, a top official with the Bureau of

Biomedicaltechnology. Throwing herself into her new position, N. meddles in a plot by a group of antitechnology dissidents to suppress the Ə, a technology that purports to improve human connectedness. The dissidents blow the whistle, provoking an investigation by a U.S. senator and crusading presidential candidate named Jeremy Sakhdvar. Their confrontation pits the regulatory deep state against big tech in a battle to a draw, settles an old romantic score, and clears the way for the Ə to change the world forever.

Review

Rating: 3 out of 5.

How the Ə Got Producted by N.K. Von Stade is a fun satire read about an independent and passionate female protagonist and is unique in its own right.

This book is very unconventional and for that, I did enjoy reading it. It is the story of a protagonist who is trying to navigate through the difficulties of her one-sided love life while at the same time trying to fight for what she truly believes in, in her professional life. The introduction of Ə makes the story very interesting and the book then takes a turn that is both fun to read and interesting to learn about.

I enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to sci-fi reads who don’t mind a romance sub-plot underlined with satire with a streak of feminism.

Character Interview: David from The Lodestar by Daniel Hagedorn

Welcome to TRB Lounge!

Today, we are featuring David, the lead characters from The Lodestar by Daniel Hagedorn, for our Character Interview feature.

About The Author

Daniel Hagedorn

Daniel Hagedorn lives in Seattle, Washington, where he was born and raised, with his wife and elderly dog. An alum of Pacific Lutheran University with a couple of humanities degrees, he now splits his time between writing and helping various businesses and entities do what they do. He has written a number of novels, poems, and countless other musings. The Lodestar is his first published novel.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Author’s Website | Facebook


The Interview

Welcome to TRB! We are really excited to have you over. Please give our
readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin.

My name is David Jones. I would tell you more about myself, but I am not entirely sure. I have bits and pieces of memories, experiences that I feel like I lived, but I have my doubts because I live in an age where reality and fantasy mix. Some of the time, I feel like I have two minds, that I am of two wits, and I can’t always reconcile which is which, and which is me. Who am I? I don’t always know.

What is your age and what do you do for a living?

I am probably in my thirties. Again, I don’t know for sure. I don’t feel any older or wiser, however old I am. As I live in a world that celebrates youth, everyone looks young. No one looks like their age. Even my sense of time, which is how we mark age, seems altered. It might be a strange thing not to know how old I am, but it’s not anything I think about it. There’s no fixation on age when everyone appears perpetually young. Retirement is not even a concept. We all have jobs, essential and important jobs. I am a systems analyst class 1A (A for Architect). I monitor and keep track of things, same as a lot of people, but what I keep track of is more important, yet my job isn’t any more important than another. This is a paradox I readily accept. Without everyone doing their job, our world would cease to function. Everyone has purpose and they know it.

How do you like to spend your free time?

I spend my free time much like everyone else. There is the SIM, the simulated, virtual world, a construct we use for both work and pleasure as the SIM can be shared with real people or representations of people, simulacra. I have memories of doing other things, reading and walking and traveling to new places, but I also have firmly in my mind, the SIM. I don’t know for sure if I went to those places or if it was merely an experience in the SIM. I have books, the great works of fiction and other ideas. I don’t remember reading them, but I know I have read them. Why? Because I have notebooks full of things I’ve written, my thoughts and recollections as well as ideas that could only have come from those books.

Please share some of your beliefs, principles, motivations and morals (can be social, religious or political or, etc.) Anything that will help us get to know you better.

It’s not that I don’t believe in God. I happen to be in a world where the concept of God no longer exists. You see, with the network, God remains unnecessary. We are beyond good and evil. I am not sure how I feel about that. I have a sense there is a God within us all, but I don’t know how to explain it because no one understands God. I believe strongly in quality over quantity, that certain things cannot be measured by a number, a metric, reduceable to a single value. In fact, I never believed the network could be programmed to understand the human condition. To me it has never been so much what something looks like, but what it actually is, what lies beneath, not the surface appeal but the underlining form. In the world I live in, seeing is believing and the world we see, like the people and places, is undeniably beautiful and perfect. Is there any need to go deeper?

Tell us something about your family and childhood.

I do not remember much about my family, even my childhood. Again, I have mere fragments that come to me, but I wonder whether they are real or just things I have experienced in the SIM. I have memories of childhood, we all do. The summer, being out of school, the seaside boardwalk with its carnival sounds and amusement park attractions. But how real are they? I wonder. When I visit my therapist in the SIM, she tries to get me to talk about my family, about my father, in particular, but I can never quite get there. It seems to me she knows more about that part of my life than I do. She says that I know, that I could know many things, yet I tell myself I don’t know, so it’s just a cycle I can’t break out of. I am not sure I believe her. I know my therapist is a product of the combined knowledge of psychotherapy, that she has a window into who I am, but if all that were really true, then why doesn’t she just tell me what I should say? Oh wait, that was before we were all connected. I don’t know if I’ve been in therapy since.

Tell us something about your dreams and aspirations? Were you able to achieve them or are you planning to?

Once I had dreams, real dreams, perhaps even hopes. It’s not fair to say I don’t have them anymore, rather I just know they are different. I once believed I could do great things, be accomplished because I had a purpose. I struggle to know that purpose now that I am not connected to the network. I know I have Marta, she’s my lodestar, and that somehow she is meant to guide me. Even Dante needed a guide. But I don’t know what we’ll find if we make it out of the network. What’s on the other side? And supposing we do get there, and it’s inhabitable, is there anything left of humanity? I am careful not to have too much hope, to believe too much in anything except Marta. I had my doubts at first, but I know she is real. So, for the moment, all I can believe in is Marta and I.

What is your biggest fear in life? 

I fear that I cannot change who I am, that I cannot alter what has been set in motion, and like Sisyphus, all my efforts will be doomed. I disconnected myself from the networked world for a reason. But why? And was that something I did or someone else? Either way, maybe I am meant to do something that I am unable to do? That thought paralyzes me. That I am simply not good enough. 

How would you describe your life in one sentence? 

Am I just a cog in the machine, or have I found there is no machine?

What is the worst thing that has ever happened to you?

The worst thing that happened to me must have been something in the childhood I can’t remember. Those were formative years. Whatever happened then, fixed itself in my head, imprinted its code upon my brain such that I have a distrust for systems, of unity, of groups of people making decisions for the common good. Ultimately, the brain constructs our reality, and without the network assistance, I have to rely on my instincts which tell me to question everything.

Did it change you for the better or the worse?

There is good and bad that comes from every experience. The very thing that at times is a great strength, is a great weakness too. Like kindness. It’s good to be kind. However, being too kind can result in being taken advantage of. In that sense, my skepticism is useful, but it is also the very thing that has driven me apart from people. At a certain point, I have to take a leap of faith and accept things, but more often than not, I am reluctant to make the jump. And yet, rather than even trying, I tend to want to plunge to the depths, so rather than ascend, I descend. I push people away, push them too far so that it takes an extraordinary effort and determination for them to remain. And yet, I found Marta. Or she found me. That must be something special.

What are your plans for the future? 

Love is the mystery of all mysteries. I find myself imagining a future with Marta, but where that is and what that entails, I don’t know. If we make it out of the network, I know we will look different. Maybe even we will seem different. Will we still love each other? Is our connection really that deep, beyond the mere appearance of our bodies? What will we be like left to our own devises? I don’t have the answers. All I have is Marta, my lodestar. 


The Lodestar

How do humans survive after a massive pandemic that has devastated the population? Rather than living amid continued chaos and panic, the surviving population enjoys a thriving life thanks to the assistance of the network, a vast system that connects everything and everyone. The network protects from the virus while allowing everyone to lead their best life. Every dream and desire can easily be attained.

14 years into this networked world, David, one of the creators, wakes up to find that he is no longer connected. Is he the only one? And why, for what purpose? David feels almost like waking from a dream only to discover a technologically advanced world, full of beautiful and spectacular things, but all may not be what it seems. What is the difference between a dream and reality? What is the nature of experience?

Follow David as he wanders through a vast maze, uncovering layer upon layer in his search for truth. Recalling his former life, he must choose between what he feels, his natural compulsion to question everything, and what is good for humanity. The Lodestar takes you on a deep look into philosophical questions surrounding technology and its role in humanity.

You can find The Lodestar here:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound


To read more author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com