Book Review: New Beginnings (The Island Expats #1) by Deb McEwan

Book Details:

Author: Deb McEwan
Release Date: 29th May 2021
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: The Island Expats (Book #1)
Format: E-book 
Pages: 114 pages
Publisher: –
Blurb:
A chance meeting. A Mediterranean island. A dead body. 
When damaged ex-detective Matt Elliott stops to help a stranger in the drizzly English weather it’s the catalyst for changes in his life he could never have imagined.  
Elena Lacey accepts Matt’s help and her safe, predictable future is thrown upside down. Neither of them knows what new beginnings are signalled on the beautiful island of Souvia, especially their association with a crime borne out of passion, revenge, and jealousy.
New Beginnings is the first novella in The Island Expat series. A two-hour cozy mystery read with a touch of romance, set on the fictional Mediterranean island of Souvia.

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

New Beginnings by Deb McEwan, the first book in The Island Expats series, is a well-written and very entertaining cosy mystery.

I loved reading this book because it had a great plot, well-written story and nicely developed characterisation. This book had everything I expected when I started reading it and successfully delivered on the promise it made – a fun-filled Mediterranean Island cosy mystery.

I liked the characters and was able to connect to most of them, including the side characters. I would definitely recommend this book to all cosy mystery readers.


You can also read this review on:

Goodreads


Amazon


ARC Review: Cenotaphs by Rich Marcello

Book Details:

Author: Rich Marcello
Release Date: 26th July 2021
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Slice-Of-Life, Literary Fiction, Romance
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 200 pages
Publisher: Moonshine Cove Publishing
Blurb:
AFTER A CHANCE MEETING, AN OLD MAN AND A MIDDLE-AGED WOMAN CHART AN UNCONVENTIONAL PATH FORWARD.
When Ben Sanna, a contemplative retiree with a penchant for helping people, and Samantha Beckett, a secretive New York City hedge fund manager, meet by chance in a small Vermont town, they enter into a tenuous relationship. Over several weeks, Samantha and Ben open their pasts inch by inch, sift through their futures consciously, and come to terms with the strength and depth of their bond. A meditation on redemption told in alternating chapters of musings and scenes, Cenotaphs is about platonic love; the ways we close ourselves off in reaction to pain and what happens when we open ourselves up again; and the deep, painful legacy of loss.

Book Review

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Watch this review on my YouTube channel

Cenotaphs by Rich Marcello is a beautifully written book about platonic love. It is an unusual love story about a retiree and a girl who is decades younger than him.

The characterisation was brilliant and helped me feel a strong connection to the main characters, Ben and Samantha. The writing was great and complimented the story beautifully. The concept is unique and engaging and the execution of the plot was flawless.

I’d highly suggest this book to all readers, especially those who like a well-written love story that goes way beyond the normal conventions and explores the depth of characters’ emotions.


You can also read this review on:


Goodreads


Amazon


YouTube


Book Review: Aerth’s Aetheric Aegis: The White Mantle by Velora Venn

Book Details:

Author: Velora Venn
Release Date: 3rd June 2021
Genre: Fantasy, New Adult Fiction
Series: Aerth’s Aetheric Aegis (Book #1)
Format: E-book 
Pages: 469 pages
Publisher:
Blurb:
The Aerth’s Aetheric Aegis series is new adult fiction the blends the genres of steampunk, fantasy, science fiction, dystopian, and romance.
A young woman named Elvira Evenfall has grown up in the ruggedly remote, yet enchanting Falsvik Islands with her grandfather. Her life in a simple fishing village is quaint and serene, but that all changes when a looming threat to the world suddenly invades her tiny corner of it.
A swarm of suspicious bats with enigmatic origins known as the Curse, which can infect people through their bites, transforming them into horrible, bat-like monsters, endangers all human life and now is made very real to Elvira and her loved ones.

Dark and controversial secrets about her family and identity also begin to surface, and before long, she’s faced with a major decision: to accept the mystical and versatile energies known as aether and assume her role as an Aethaumaturge in order to join the precarious fight for the security of Aerth, or hold onto the comforting life she so loves?
This choice is made all the easier when it is revealed that her own parents, who were thought dead, are actually still alive. Elvira’s priorities quickly change to wishing to find and return them home safely.
Her decision instantly results in a corresponding new danger, though, forcing her to flee from her peaceful village. A secret society of Aethaumaturges promises to keep her safe in Brume, the impressive and imposing capital of the country of Lluminox.
A host of obstacles and an assortment of characters are met along the way. While she struggles to gain control of her new powers, she also must decipher her similarly new, unanticipated romantic feelings for two separate individuals — one male, and one female.
It becomes increasingly clear, through her interactions, that the world isn’t just plagued by a pandemic, but also an elite ruling class of superior people who often exploit the underprivileged and abuse their power. These people, known as Ascendants, are a vestige of the Archaic Era, a technologically-advanced time period from hundreds of years prior that was considered the pinnacle of mankind, but concluded with civilization collapsing and the destruction of nearly all humankind, due to the ancient peoples’ malice and selfishness.
Let’s hope history doesn’t repeat itself.
Join Elvira and crew on this whimsical, wild ride through a retro-futuristic time. Meet humanoid and animal automata, witness powerful, magic-like abilities, and discover the many mysteries awaiting both Elvira and the reader along the way.

Book Review

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Okay, let’s start with the cover of this book! Truly magical!? Am I right? Just by looking at it any reader is bound to be intrigued and would want to read the story right away.

Aerth’s Aetheric Aegis: The White Mantle by Velora Ven is an action-packed book with highly relatable, flawed and badass characters. The character development in the story is simply phenomenal; the main protagonist Elvira is one of the most unique characters I’ve ever read! Yes, she has her flaws but with the help of her close ones, she tackles everything that comes her way. I really enjoyed reading about her journey. The other thing that I loved in the book was the relationship dynamics in the story. I won’t delve into much detail because SPOILERS!, but I ended up really enjoying the drama going on throughout the book. It is filled with beautiful and amazing artwork throughout, which made the book compelling for me.

With its intriguing plot structure, some highly powerful characters, and their development, Velora Ven has delivered an action-packed thrilling and enthralling adventure for the readers. If you want to dwell in a different world that is captivating and refreshing, I would highly suggest you pick this one up. 

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

Author interview: Rich Marcello

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Rich Marcello for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Rich Marcello

Rich is the author of five novels, The Color of HomeThe Big Wide CalmThe Beauty of the Fall, The LatecomersCenotaphs and the poetry collection, The Long Body That Connects Us All. He also teaches creative writing at Seven Bridges’ Writer Collaborative. Previously, he enjoyed a successful career as a technology executive, managing several multi-billion dollar businesses for Fortune 500 companies.

As anyone who has read Rich’s work can tell you, his books deal with life’s big questions: love, loss, creativity, community, self-discovery and forgiveness. His novels are rich with characters and ideas, crafted by a natural storyteller, with the eye and the ear of a poet. For Rich, writing and art making is about connection, or as he says, about making a difference to a least one other person in the world, something he has clearly achieved many times over, both as an artist, a mentor, and a teacher.

Rich lives in Massachusetts with his wife and Newfoundland, Shaman. He is currently working on his sixth and seventh novels, The Means of Keeping and In the Seat of the Eddas, a follow-on to The Latecomers.


You can find author Rich here:
Website | Email  | Goodreads


Interview

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

I’ve been writing full time now for ten years and plan to do so, if all goes well, for the rest of my life. When I started, I had a goal in the back of mind to publish ten books before all was said and done. Cenotaphs is my fifth novel and my sixth book, so I still have a ways to go, but I remain committed to that goal. 

On a personal note, I love Newfoundlands and, in particular, my eight-year-old Newfie named Shaman. When I write in the mornings, she is normally at my side.

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

I was really interested in writing about a man and woman, separated in age and circumstance, that form a deep emotional bond. Few books are written about platonic love between a man and woman. In the rare cases when that kind of love does happen, it tends to be a deep and honest love. Once I got Ben and Samantha’s connection clear in my mind, the book wrote itself. I was just a conduit telling their story.

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

That love, in its truest form, a form where two people truly see each other, can be redemptive, even for those who don’t believe they are worthy of being redeemed.

Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

I equally love Ben and Samantha. They are such different people on the surface, but underneath they’re driven by the same things. Cenotaphs is their story, and that’s why I chose to tell it from both of their points of view. 

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

As I mentioned above, not many books are written about platonic love between a man and a woman. I wanted to explore this topic in addition to the topic of redemption for those people who don’t believe they deserve it.

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

A couple of years. 

What are your writing ambitions?

I plan to keep writing for the rest of my life.  I hope to make it to ten novels before I’m done. 

Where do you see yourself 5 years from today?

Going to my writing studio each morning to work on a new novel, Shaman at my side.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

I’m working on two novels, The Means of Keeping, about the climate crisis, and In the Seat of the Eddas, a follow-on to The Latecomers.

Thank you, Rich, for your insightful answers!
You can read Rich’s previous Interview here and the review of his book The Latecomers here.


Books by author Rich Marcello


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: Deb McEwan

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Deb McEwan for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Deb McEwan

Following a career of over thirty years in the British Army, Deb and her husband moved to Cyprus to become weather refugees. 

Deb loves spending time with her husband Allan and rescue dog Sandy. She also loves writing, keeping fit, and socialising, and does her best to avoid housework. 

She’s written children’s books about Jason the penguin and Barry the reindeer and young adult/adult books about dogs, the afterlife, soldiers, and netball players. 

You can find author Deb here:
Blog/Website | Amazon | Goodreads


Interview

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

Before I started writing books I enjoyed writing rhyming verse and wrote poems/ditties for several friends and colleagues who were moving on to pastures new. I wrote a poem for my niece and her fiancé and was honoured when they invited me to read it at their wedding in 2013.

I started writing song lyrics in the early noughties and collaborated with a few local musicians. I co-wrote a song ‘We Belong Together’, for our 25th wedding anniversary and presented the song to my husband as a surprise. It’s very cheesy but he loved it! You can listen to all my songs here: https://www.debmcewansbooksandblogs.com/my-songs/

I hate cold weather! My extremities turn purple when I’m cold (literally) so my husband and I decided to settle somewhere warm when I left the Army in 2013. That’s why we live in Cyprus. When I’m not writing I work part-time for a military charity and enjoy keeping fit and hanging out with friends and our dog!

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

I’ve based the series on a fictional island (Souvia) rather than the island of Cyprus to give me some flexibility with the police procedures. However, whenever I describe any of the locations I have a place I’ve visited in Cyprus in my mind’s eye.

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

In an ideal world you reap what you sow and the characters pay the price for their crimes. Karma is very satisfying!

Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

Elena is my favourite character in this book. She’s hard working, a bit nosey and can be quite naïve, despite what life has thrown at her in the past. Like one of my close friends who’s also a successful businesswoman, Elena’s found her soul mate a little bit later in life and is making the most of it.

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

I’ve wanted to write a cozy mystery series since writing my ‘Island Dog Squad’ series of novellas which are based on our rescue dog, Sandy. (Book #1 is free for subscribers at this link https://dl.bookfunnel.com/wdh6nl8p08 ) I also wanted a break from my ‘Afterlife’ series for a while so this felt like the ideal time to do it.

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

Each of the books in this series are approximately 30k long and I already had ideas for the first three. When I’m into my stories I aim to write 1000 words each day so finished the first draft in a month. From first draft to completed book takes about another month to six weeks, depending on how busy my editor is.

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

I’d like to write about 12 books in this series, more in my ‘Afterlife’ series and to also expand my standalone book about netball players into a series. I might even write another in my ‘Unlikely Soldiers’ series so guess that takes up most of the next five years! 

Whatever happens writing is in my blood and I’ll carry on for as long as I am able.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

Although I’m concentrating on this series for now, ideas for the next book in the afterlife series often pop into my head. Jotting them down means I can forget them for the time being and come back to them later.

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

Variety is definitely the spice of live and I love writing in multiple genres. (Supernatural Suspense (Afterlife series), Action and Adventure/Military (Unlikely Soldiers) Women’s Fiction (Court Out, A Netball Girls’ Drama), Children’s Fiction (Jason the Penguin books and Reindeer Dreams for 3-8 year olds), Cozy Animal Mystery/Action and Adventure (The Island Dog Squad novellas)). 

I’ve also co-written a non-fiction book entitled ‘Zak My Boy Wonder’. It’s a short, harrowing, but inspirational true story of a mother’s fight for her son’s survival and acceptance in society, and how the military authorities deserted her family when they needed them most. 

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 had a very busy career in the British Army but have always wanted to write. I had confidence issues and never thought I’d be good enough. We have an illness in our family (Huntington’s Disease) and when I discovered that one of my brothers had the disease but that I didn’t, I considered myself very lucky and decided to make the most of my life. I haven’t looked back since.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it? And how do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I get up at 6am and write for an hour before going to my part-time job between 8am and 2pm. Then I write some more when I get home from work. I’m a speedy typist so I type all my stories on the computer at home. I stick to this routine at weekends too as I’m at my most creative first thing in the morning.

I write a rough plot for the first three or four chapters and then the end of the book. I always know the ending but sometimes my characters surprise me by taking unexpected turnings to get there. My characters are like real people to me and often surprise me. Some of my friends find this quite weird but that’s the way it is.

What are your 5 favourite books?

That’s such a difficult question so I’m not going to answer it! I loved reading Enid Blyton books when I was a youngster then Wilbur Smith books when I was a little older. Now I mostly read books by Indie authors such as Jean Gill (I love her Natural Forces and Troubadours series) and I’m currently reading ‘How Icasia Bloom Touched Happiness’, by Jessica Bell. It’s a fascinating story set in a future dystopian world where immortality can only be granted to those who follow the rules. I change genre depending on my mood and am always up to reading new authors.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

A good walk sets the ideas flowing and always seems to work wonders.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

As someone once said, ‘Writers write’. So follow your dreams, go to your happy place, and get writing!

Thank you, Deb, for your insightful answers!

Books by author Deb McEwan


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: Palm Lines by Jonathan Koven

Book Details:

Author: Jonathan Koven
Release Date: 12th December 2020
Genre: Poetry Collection
Series:
Format: E-book 
Pages: 53 pages
Publisher: Toho Publishing
Blurb:
These heartfelt poems speak to a transformative journey “to rediscover love as both a question and an answer.” Seeking hope, honoring family, finding love, accepting time’s passage, and understanding gratitude are all major themes explored in this dreamlike collection. 

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A book that’s dedicated to the writer’s family, does a phenomenal job of capturing raw emotions, love, nature and of course family. The book is divided into three parts: Life line , Heart line and Head line. 

The first section of the book gives the readers the nostalgic feeling of one’s childhood and appreciates various other small natural elements. While reading some lines I was so struck at the beauty through which these small nature filled elements were added by the the author. With lines like, “if I focus on the branches, they’ll sway maybe singing” the poet literally tugs on the reader’s heartstrings. All the poems, have this fresh, pleasant aura to them, too many emotions packed that makes you feel love the most. Even though at times the mood of the poems may appear melancholic the end message the reader receives is life is wonderful. 

The second section I feel talks about the adulthood and life’s hardships and the wonderful feeling of loving and being loved. Some poems are filled with longing and hope that makes the readers feel a certain kind of intimacy with the writer. I loved how the poet was able to capture cities and everyday life in his poems and the message at the end of the section again was love and how important family is. Though at times being melancholic, Jonathan Koven does a fantastic job of portraying emotions flawlessly. Inspite of having many emotions throughout all poems, the one emotion that is highlighted and repetitive is that of love. With lines like

"Another and another.
It cannot be denied
there are those who remember,
and those who love." The poet makes it quite clear how highly he regards this feeling of love. 
The line that was my personal favourite was "Love crawls over
your heart. 
Maybe you stumbled into a dream,
and then, into this body." Lines like these made me feel that the book was worth reading. 
The last section dwells on longing and how love can be so painful and fruitful at the same time, while reading, I was so in awe of some lines like,
"I would try to steal it all
as tide fills in, to hold anything
before drowning—but
it is better to let go." 

One word to describe it was simply beautiful. The poetry at times feel like a haunting melody and the raw emotions and memories captivate the reader from the very start. If you are a emotional person like me, then Jonathan Koven’s lines will at times tug at your heartstrings and leave you feeling vulnerable but at the same time you’ll be struck by how hauntingly beautiful and mesmerising the words are. 

Captivating, Raw, Emotional, Melancholic and filled with unconditional love, is how I would describe Palm lines. It’s a very quick read and one can finish it in one go, if someone wants to know the importance of love and family and wants to feel emotions I highly recommend one should pick this one up. 

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

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.