ARC Review: Burly by Paul Drewitt

Author: Paul Drewitt
Release Date: 
Genre: Literary Fiction
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 226 pages
Publisher: –
Blurb:

Book Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Burly by Paul Drewitt is a beautifully written book with honest prose and an excellent plot.

I was hooked right from the stat and was thoroughly engrossed in the story till the ending. I really liked this book and was able to relate to all the characters as well. But for me the best part about the book is the narrative style of the author.

I’d recommend this book to all readers, especially to those who prefer reading literary genre.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon (after the book’s official publication date.)

Book Review: The Greatest Game by Greg Rajaram

Author: Greg Rajaram 
Release Date: 15th April 2021
Genre: Philosophy, Drama, Literary Fiction, Surreal
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 242 pages
Publisher: –
Blurb:
Ever since humans became self-aware, we have struggled to find the meaning of life. The price we paid for becoming intelligent was to become painfully ignorant of the difference between good and evil.

Adi, a 10-year-old boy, works together with two old philosophers as they try to unravel the prophecy of a promised King. With insatiable curiosity, Adi must work with the wise men as they rationalize with each other on why and how humans became intelligent. Together they attempt to answer some of the most profound questions related to existence. Does evolution end with human beings or is there an ‘Overman’ who can reach evolution’s pinnacle? Will this Overman be able to define values for humankind?
Centuries later a young boy promises his mother that he will always uphold the love that she has taught him. It is a promise that drowns him in the nectar of the gods. Krish grows up to be an engineer and joins a team of scientists as they try to create artificial consciousness in a machine.
Krish soon realizes that he has a bigger fight on his hands. A fight to preserve love in a desolate world. His quest for true love ultimately leads him down a path where he comes face to face with a fearsome snake delivering a kiss of death.
Humans have come a long way by questioning the nature of objects around us and pushing the limits of our intelligence, but it’s now time that we ask the greatest question yet: when does intelligence transcend to become consciousness?

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Greatest Game by Greg Rajaram is a philosophical read with complex characters and plotline that will leave you introspecting about life and everything else in its wake.

This book a very fresh take on a concept well-loved and widely accepted therefore it was very interesting to read this book. I liked the author’s narrative style and the fact that the book was layered with complexity, intrigue and knowledge very well. I also liked the characterisation as they were all well-developed and rounded characters.

I’d recommend this book to all readers, especially to readers of philosophical fiction.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

Things To Consider Before Applying For A Mortgage

mortgage is a way to use one’s real property as a guarantee for a loan to get money. Real property can be land, a house, or a building. Many people do this to buy the home they use for mortgage: the loan provides them the money to buy the house and the loan is guaranteed by the house. And in order to make sure that you can easily and hassle-free apply for a mortgage, especially in the post COVID condition, here’s a list of things to consider.

Things To Consider Before Applying For A Mortgage

1. Budget Considerations

If you want to qualify for a mortgage and avoid unnecessary hassle and scrutiny (and not to forget unnecessary stress and embarrassment) then it is a good idea to make sure that you get it on your first application itself. And that can be achieved by knowing your budget limits or constraints before even thinking of applying for the mortgage.
You can check out the latest Money Rates at Wall Street Journal website. You can also check out the Mortgage Affordability Calculator at Mortgage Calculators.

2. Debt-To-Income Ratio

There’s nothing more unappealing than a bad debit-to-income ratio especially when you are planning to apply for a mortgage. So try your best to get it under an acceptable limit and then apply for the mortgage. This makes sure that you won’t be rejected.

3. Downpayment

Mortgage lenders love a big downpayment, so the easiest way to lure them in (and also to think about your future, it would be better if you do this) – pay a high downpayment. It not only provides your profile a credibility but also helps you in the paybacks in the futures.

4. Credit Score

Boost your credit score by paying of your previous EMIs on time and by not defaulting under any circumstance. If you credit score is below a certain range then it shows up on your profile and chances are you won’t be entertained by the respectable money-lenders at all. SO make sure that before you go about trying to find the perfect money lender for your mortgage, first clean up your credit score. It will greatly improve your chances.

5. Documentation

Be ready with all the documentation. You need to make sure you have the following things in place before you even consider taking a mortgage:

  • Your ID
  • Social Security Number & proof
  • Pay slips of last 30-60 days
  • I-9 from the last 2 years
  • Proof of any other source(s) of income
  • Federal tax returns
  • Recent bank statements
  • Details of long-term debits
  • All property-related documentation

Book Review: Pies To Die For – How to Live a Vibrant Life Despite a Fatal Diagnosis by Dr. Carole Weaver

Author: Dr. Carole Weaver
Release Date: 28th April 2021
Genre: Memoir, Non-Fiction
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 141 pages
Publisher: Carole Weaver-Linsner
Blurb:
Pies to Die for is a how-to against the bad stuff of living with metastatic cancer or other lethal diagnosis–the monsters that attack your frame of mind, so you can’t enjoy the time you have left. It is also a romp through art appraising: specifically, through the author’s husband and his clients who have lost art through death, debt, divorce, and disaster.

These stories offer hints about how to cope with something beautiful being gone, or they entertain you with the strangeness of human nature–even without stage four anything. This book is meant to give you tools for your journey, however long or short, so that you live vibrantly, gratefully, and with gusto till the end.

Review

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Pies To Die For: How to Live a Vibrant Life Despite a Fatal Diagnosis by Dr. Carole Weaver is a beautiful book full of gems such as some really good advice, hearty anecdotes, relatable moments of grief and laughter and, most importantly, a lesson on how we tend to ignore to live once we know about how we may die.

This book is written by a terminally ill author, and I would like to salute her for her courage to pen such a beautiful book under her circumstances. You can read between the lines about how passionate the author is about the things that she writes about and it is this particular thing that made me enjoy this book the most.

I would recommend this book to all readers of fiction and non-fiction alike.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Vampires Or Zombies?

Being a supernatural genre fan I am big-time into zombies as well as vampires (but if I’m being honest I am little biased towards zombies.) Anyway, so I’ve been trying to catch up all the zombie and vampire movies on Netflix and that got me thinking that I should do a post on it to keep a track of the movies I’ve watched so far, and keep returning to, on Netflix.

So here’s my list of 5 zombie movies that I like to re-watch every time I crave for some zombie action:

1. World War Z

Former United Nations employee Gerry Lane traverses the world in a race against time to stop a zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments and threatens to destroy humanity itself.

2. 28 Days Later

Four weeks after a mysterious, incurable virus spreads throughout the UK, a handful of survivors try to find sanctuary.

3. Cabin Fever

Five college graduates rent a cabin in the woods and begin to fall victim to a horrifying flesh-eating virus, which attracts the unwanted attention of the homicidal locals.

4. Dawn Of The Dead

A nurse, a policeman, a young married couple, a salesman and other survivors of a worldwide plague that is producing aggressive, flesh-eating zombies, take refuge in a mega Midwestern shopping mall.

5. Zombieland

A nurse, a policeman, a young married couple, a salesman and other survivors of a worldwide plague that is producing aggressive, flesh-eating zombies, take refuge in a mega Midwestern shopping mall.


As I said, I’m biased towards Zombies, so I’d recommend reading this post if you want to know which Vampire movies to watch on Netflix: Vampire movies on netflix.

Do share your favourite Zombie/Vampire flicks in the comments below!

Product Review: Covered UV-Protective Swimwear from Lyra

I’ve been one those people who hate wearing swimwear mostly because they are either too exposing or very vibrant and too colourful for my taste. But these swimwear from Lyra are a boon! I really like that they are available in full body covered variety and that too in such beautiful cover. You can check out their whole range here: Lyra Swimwear.

My favourite one is the Sofia Black one because it looks absolutely stunning and it is available in all sizes too.

I you want to buy a good swimwear, then do check these out before making a decision!

Character Interview: Fedor From Fedor by Brant Vickers

Today, we are featuring Fedor, the lead character from Fedor by, for our Character Interview feature.

About The Author

Brant Vickers

Brant Vickers started work as a caddy and delivered flowers in Southern California before going into the military. He’s lived in three foreign countries and seven states. He later found his true profession and calling working with students with special needs where he met some of the most endearing and loving people on the planet. His memoir, Chucky’s in Tucson, reflects those 18 years. This led to his interest in Fedor and his imagined story. Brant lives in Arizona with his wife, Cheryl Ann.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:
Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads 


The Interview

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

Thank you very much. My name is Fedor Adrianovitch Jefticheff and I was born in 1868 in Tbilisi, Georgia, part of Tsarist Russia. I traveled with my father for several years in a small carnival throughout Russia and Europe. A few years ago I was given the chance to become part of the Black Tent in the famous and gargantuan Barnum & Bailey’s sideshow.

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

It’s now 1900 and I’m 32 years old. We’re currently on a several year tour of Great Britain and Europe. P.T. Barnum presents me as Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Boy in what is commonly called Barnum’s Freak Show. Several of us don’t like that term, but many of us embrace it and deal with the peculiars of our physical infirmaries. This is how I’m forced to make my living. I have no alternate form of employment. As my manager in Russia, Grigory always said, “If they pay in rubles we give them a show; it’s a show we provide.”

How you like to spend your free time? 

I have been a voracious reader since my mama started reading to me in my early childhood. We read books in German, English, and, of course, Russian. I am now fluent in both reading and speaking those languages. Her favorite author was Leo Tolstoy, as is mine now. But I have been fortunate enough to meet several writers throughout America. I have developed a close friendship with Mark Twain, who by the way is a fan of the circus. Also I have met, among others, Herman Melville, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Louisa May Alcott. I hope to meet several more here in Europe.

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.)  

I have had to develop a strong attitude to my predicament in this world. My friends and I in the Black Tent cultivate a strong constitution to our lot in life. People pay to gawk at us, but it is the only method, at this time in the world, for us to make a living. My best friend in Russia once said, “I don’t think being ordinary is such a benefit and something they should proud of.” Or as my friend Mark Twain said to me one day, “There was never yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an impossibility. Inside the dullest exterior there is drama, a comedy, and a tragedy!”

Tell us something about your family and childhood. 

I have long, thick, silky dark hair all over my body. Everywhere. My papa had the same. Our life in Tbilisi was harsh and poor. Even when my papa could get work we rarely had enough to eat and after my beloved mama died, we went on the road with Grigory. His show was small but I had several close loving friends. At age fifteen I met the Tsarevich Nicholas II and shortly after a scout for the Barnum & Bailey Circus. My life changed dramatically after that and I’ve made many more friends whom I live and work with, and consider them my family now. 

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

I have recently met the love of my life and her name is Krao Farni and we suffer from the same malady, but have fallen in love. As Mr. Tolstoy said, “all, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love.” My biggest aspiration is to make enough money and live with Krao comfortably in peace.

What is your biggest fear in life?

I have a fear of not succeeding with my greatest aspiration.

How would you describe your life in one sentence? 

I have traveled and seen more of the world than I ever dreamed. My infirmity has made this possible. If not for it, my life as an uneducated peasant in Tsarist Russia would have been very meager. We were, for all intents and purposes serfs. “You can’t throw too much style into a miracle and you my friend are a miracle,” Mark Twain said of me, and I would suggest that sums up my good fortune in life.

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

Living in the wondrous, magical, and unpredictable world of Barnum & Bailey’s Circus brings tragedy along with its marvels. Losing close friends to misfortunes in our world also brings some sadness. Along with gaining much, I’ve lost a few of my dearest friends.

Did it change you for the better or the worse?  

I must again quote from my legendary tutor and life long spiritual guide Mr. Tolstoy, “There is only one thing in this word worth dedicating your life to and that is creating more love among people…” If the people, who pay to gawk and be frightened of Krao and myself, can see us and realize we live this life with dignity and love, maybe they would understand there are many ways to live. 11. What are your plans for the future?  We are planning to wed upon our return to the United States and look forward to an early retirement and spend our days reading and enjoying each other’s company. I’ll leave you with one more quote and you can probably deduce who wrote it: If you want to be happy, be. And thank you for the opportunity to share my life and thoughts with you.


Fedor by Brant Vickers

“You can’t throw too much style into a miracle, and you my friend are a miracle,” Mark Twain says to Fedor Adrianovitch Jefticheff, also known as Jo-Jo The Dog Faced Boy. Fedor lives, travels, works, and loves among the haunting cast of performers in the Black Tent Sideshow of P.T. Barnum’s Circus in the late 1880s.

Fedor not only survived, but also profited by being a memorable and unforgettable human curiosity. Along with being an intelligent and avid reader of Tolstoy, Twain, Alcott, and Melville, he has remarkable interactions with a myriad of other world-renowned characters, one being Nicholas II the Russian Tsarevich. This proves that more than just being a “sideshow,” there was a lot of individuality and heart to this “dog-faced boy.”

Richly authentic, dramatic, beautifully written, and always thought-provoking, Brant Vickers tells Fedor’s story in an epic account of this young man’s extraordinary life.

You can find this book here:
Goodreads
| Amazon

Book Review: Presence, The Play by William E. Jefferson

Author: William E. Jefferson
Release Date: 1st May 2021
Genre: Surreal Fiction, Fantasy
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 262 pages
Publisher: Mason S. Haynie
Blurb:
Presence, the Play offers a penetrating perspective on the vital role personal presence plays in the essence of life. This timely, captivating novel speaks to a growing hunger for a way of life that’s real and tangible, the opposite of an artificial existence lived in a realm of mediated connectivity. 

The protagonist of Presence, the Play is a playwright and monk named Script who lives on the Isle of Estillyen. On the opening night of Presence, Script’s long-awaited play, he suffers a devastating fall in the theatre balcony and lapses into a prolonged coma. The novel plays out in Script’s comatose state. 

Presence, the Play offers a meticulously crafted storyline evoking the imaginative prose of J. R. R. Tolkien, the spirited perception of C. S. Lewis, and the dramatic flair of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Readers will join Script on an epic mission to save the Isle of Estillyen from the forces of darkness, experiencing many daunting adventures along the way. 

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Presence, the Play by William E. Jefferson is a surrealist fiction story that cannot be expressed in words and can only be experienced. I was really impressed with the author’s use of language and the vivid imagery that was painted throughout the words to describe and narrate some of the scenes.

This book had a great concept and the characters were well-built. The book had a good pace and the tension graph made it very interesting throughout.

I’d recommend this book to readers who like to read experimental fiction and like surreal fantastic elements in stories.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

Online Gaming: Then (1990’s) and Now (2021)

I remember the time when I was a kid stuck to playing only with my video game console (Nintendo) but my elder cousins, the “cooler” ones at least, playing games on their new computer sets. Yes, I belong to the era when computers just made their big appearance. And whenever I’d tell them to move away from he screens because even I wanted to play their online games, which was only fair as they always played on my console ALL THE TIME! They’d be very, very reluctant. And I soon found out why.

My first online game was of course, Mario bros. Initially I had some problem getting used tot he arrow keys and the chunky spacebar instead of my remote control, but pretty soon I got the hang of it. My next favourite, and something that I still love, was Tetris.

Since then the gaming world has evolved so much that even a sci-fi book couldn’t have predicted. And the consoling system changed entirely because of the entrance of Sony’s Play Stations, something I own myself (PS4) and X-Boxes. But through all this evolution, something else evolved too – online gaming, yet at the same time, somehow miraculously it offers the grace and the nostalgia that keeps me turning back to them again and again.

Thankfully, even today, Tetris is one game (among many others like Contra and Tank) that I can still play with the simplicity of the 1990’s.

This is one of the places I get my fix of online games these days: Plays.org

If you also love online gaming, then do share your views and platforms of your preference in the comments section below.

ARC Review: Ecclesia’s Table by Mason S Haynie

Author: Mason S Haynie
Release Date: 29th June 2021
Genre: Dystopian Fiction, Speculative Fiction
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 368 pages
Publisher: Mason S. Haynie
Blurb:
The world is a wasteland. It always has been. Moshe, Amaru, and Reenu have never known anything other than the desert wasteland that raised them. When the rumor arises that something other than barren landscape could be out there, the three of them make haste for an abundant future. Upon arrival at this established society, the group quickly learns how and how not to get along amidst group dynamics and seemingly sinister mystery. The trials and social politics that Moshe, Amaru, and Reenu face teach them that some rules are useful and some are meant to be broken. Have a seat at Ecclesia’s Table.

Review

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Ecclesia’s Table by Mason S Haynie is a unique dystopian novel set in a fictional world with a unique twist and a refreshing take on the genre itself.

This book is different from any other dystopian book I’ve ever read and therefore it was enjoyable to read. The characterisation was good and the concept was great. The world-building though could have been a little better had the author focused on the exposition for the place at least. Other than that I have no issues with the book and actually enjoyed it. It felt like a self-contained novel in the entirely of the book.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

Book Review: Dear Me: Letters to Myself, For All of My Emotions by Donna Tetreault

Author: Donna Tetreault, Elisena Bonadio (Illustrations)
Release Date: 15th March 2021
Genre: Children’s Non-Fiction
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 36 pages
Publisher: Donna Tetreault
Blurb:
Dear Me, Letters to Myself For All of My Emotions teaches young children how to recognize and manage the emotions they feel throughout the day. Through a series of letters that begin with, Dear Me, a young child writes down his feelings. These letters allow him to recognize that he can change how he feels while practicing self-kindness and compassion.

Dear Me serves as a guide to help kids learn about expressing feelings, understanding those feelings, and then deciding what to do about them in ways that are healthy, helpful, and kind. The book models several approaches for parents, but, more directly, models how children can develop the social-emotional skill of managing emotions by naming emotions, journaling, and mindful breathing.

Beautiful illustrations support this empowering message designed to help children understand and appreciate all of their emotions.

Dear Me, Letters to Myself For All of My Emotions teaches children:
– Self-love
– Self-regulation
– Self-advocacy
– Managing emotions
– Empathy
– Journaling
– Mindful breathing

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A beautiful children’s book I would highly suggest to all parents for their little ones. It teaches the kids about self-love, which I think, is very unique and one of the biggest plus points about this unique and amazing book!

You can also read this review on Goodreads.

ARC Review: Winning Streak – Tales and Trivia of the 40 Most Popular Board Games by John-Michael Gariepy

Author: John-Michael Gariepy
Release Date: 13th January 2021
Genre: Humour, Non-Fiction, Games
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 196 pages
Publisher: Popcorn Roulette
Blurb:
Did you ever wonder:
♞ What makes Clue the best movie based on a game franchise?
♝ What does the doubling cube in backgammon do?
♜ How trains are even supposed to operate in Ticket to Ride: Antarctica?
♛ How the designer of the board game Pandemic feels now that he’s lived through an actual global pandemic?
♚ Whatever happened to the Monopoly game show from the 90s?

Based on Ranker’s poll of almost 400,000 votes, these games define us. From multiple-award winning masterpieces of the past decade, to indestructible classics still going strong after 5,000 years of play, these are the games you must play before you die. Well, except for Sorry!. That game is a blight upon this list and mankind as a whole. 

Excuse me. What I’m trying to say is that I wrote this book about games, and I thought you might like it.

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Winning Streak: Tales and Trivia of the 40 Most Popular Board Games by John-Michael Gariepy is a fun, informative and entertaining read about the most iconic and loved games int he history of games!

This book was deliciously entertaining and I enjoyed reading ever scrap of information this book had to offer. I loved the writing style of the author because it made the book a quick and easy affair and the straightforwardness only made it all the more engaging.

I would definitely recommend this book to everyone because this book contains trivia and fun bits about games we all have played or heard of at some point or another. So do go for it as it an a delightful and quick read!

You can also read this review on Goodreads.

Book Review: Reflections of an Anxious African American Dad by Eric L. Heard

Author: Eric L. Heard
Release Date: 13th January 2021
Genre: Memoir, Non-Fiction
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 73 pages
Publisher:
Blurb:
The purpose of this book is an awkward discussion of Eric Heard’s life to his son. He talks about his life in a candid way that tries to explain his anxiety as an African American dad. It is an open and honest account of his life through the life of a child that has been through a lot in his life. It is a reflection on his life that has been shaped by his childhood experiences.

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reflections of an Anxious African American Dad by Eric L. Heard is a heart touching memoir about the author, his son and the stories they have as well as their experiences.

I found this book very emotional, honest and interesting as it was quite a unique experience for me to understand and know the story from the perspective of an African American person. Though at the same time, this book has a lot of things that I was able to relate to, so I’d say that it has a lot to offer to its readers.

I found the narration very simple, elegant as well as introspective and found myself drawn and submerged in the stories and experiences shared by the author in an elegant way. I’d recommend this book to everyone who reads memoirs. It is a quick read and that too an interesting one with unique insights.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

Book Review: An Inkling, A Backpack And All The Time In The World – Travelling On A Whim by Tamara K. Bryant

Author: Tamara K. Bryant 
Release Date: 20th October 2020
Genre: Travelogue, Memoir, Non-Fiction
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 465 pages
Publisher:
Blurb:
After a great stay in Thailand, Tam and her friends, Casey, Valerie, faced with the sad reality that they only had two more days left before the fun ended and they had to board a plane for home.

It was too soon. She’d only tasted a teeny bit of Southeast Asia and didn’t want to leave go back to her “real” life. But she knew she had to go home. Her flight was booked. She had a job and family to go back to. She couldn’t just stay. Or, could she? What if Tam didn’t go home yet? What if she explored the vast and exotic land of Southeast Asia…by herself…solo? 

But was she ready to be on her own? The thought of traveling alone without her friends, terrified her. “On the other hand,” she thought, “would I ever get another chance to really experience Southeast Asia?”

Terrified and excited at the same time, Tamara K. Bryant followed her heart and bravely stepped onto the road that led her to the most exciting and amazing year of her life!

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

An Inkling, A Backpack And All The Time In The World – Travelling On A Whim by Tamara K. Bryant is an exciting tale about solo travel and adventures (as well as hazardous yet funny misadventures) experienced by the author.

This book was a very quick read because it was very engaging as well as interesting and fun! I enjoyed reading this book because it had so many different elects in the story that it was hard to put this book down. A simple yet thoroughly entertaining read that I’d recommend to anyone who likes travelling and dreams about travelling solo (which I am sure everyone does, at some point or the other in their life.)

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

Excerpt Reveal: Reflections of an Anxious African American Dad by Eric L. Heard

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Eric L. Heard for sharing an excerpt from his latest release Reflections of an Anxious African American Dad.

About the Book

Reflections of an Anxious African American Dad

The purpose of this book is an awkward discussion of Eric Heard’s life to his son. He talks about his life in a candid way that tries to explain his anxiety as an African American dad. It is an open and honest account of his life through the life of a child that has been through a lot in his life. It is a reflection on his life that has been shaped by his childhood experiences.

You can find this book on:

Amazon | Goodreads

Excerpt

This episode jolted me into making another connection between my childhood and how I was acting as a parent with my son. I would take actions to ensure that what had haunted our family tree for generations would not happen to him. I knew it would require some radical steps. One of those actions was writing a book that he can share with his family after I leave this earth. When he thinks about the times I would not go with him to the baseball game or to his school assembly, this book will provide the answers when he reads between the lines.

 I hope this book will help others who don’t have their stories told anywhere in media. There are other African American men dealing with their childhood experiences and wanting to insulate their sons and daughters from the echoes and continued grasp of systematic racism. I grew up during an era of seismic changes that saw whole communities decimated. The mental anguish quietly pushed African American dads to find a way to deal with an unforgiving world. These dads are looking to raise kids while at the same time reconciling crushing pain. I would like this book to be an acknowledgment of that pain and let them know they are not alone.


About The Author

About Eric L. Heard

Eric L. Heard currently lives in Bowling Green, Kentucky with his wife, Sonya, of 17 years and his son, McKinley. Eric is a graduate of Florida State University with a BS in Engineering. He also has a Master’s Business Administration from Indiana University and Master’s of Manufacturing Operations from Kettering University. He is an Army Brat who has lived in the Southeast United States, Germany, and Japan. Please contact me at ericlheard@hotmail.com, if you have any questions or need to contact m

You can contact Author Eric here:

Email | Amazon | Goodreads

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: 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.