Book Review: Mermaids Are Real: The Mystiq Prong by Bo Wu

Author: Bo Wu
Release Date: 23rd July 2018
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Series:
Edition: e-book
Pages: 342
Publisher:
Blurb:
“’Crabs talk?’ asked Benji.
‘Everything in nature speaks. Not everything in nature listens,’ said Octavius nodding Topside.”
Benji Fisher has spent the first twelve years of his life growing up in a small fishing town, Topside. He’s gotten used to the gang of dolphins who follow him on his surfboard and the voices he hears under the water; odd things that have, in their repetition, become part of normal everyday life.

However, none of that prepares him for the recruitment speech he gets from an octopus named Octavius and three of the dolphins the night before his thirteenth birthday.
What would you do if your ‘calling’ in life required you to take a leap/dive of faith? Would you take the plunge?

Review

★★★★

Mermaids Are Real: The Mystiq Prong by Bo Wu is a pleasant new young adult fantasy book with a nice concept and a strong plot. I enjoyed reading this book, though initially, it took me some time to get into it. But once I was hooked, it was difficult to not read it in one sitting.

The concept of this book is not only beautiful but also very well-meaning and has a lot to teach its readers. The way the author executed the plot and the storyline, it came across beautifully and the message of the story gets highlighted but without being too obvious.

In spite of liking the story, I felt that somewhere something important was missing from the book. I feel that the overall story would have come across much better had the writing been a bit stronger; it wasn’t bad, just not very polished. I think what this book really needed was a very strong and firm editing as it would have solved most of the issues  I came across while reading the book. Nonetheless, the story itself has a lot of potential, so that is the biggest positive for this book. The characterization wasn’t spot on but it was good enough to make me care for the lead character.

Overall, it was a nice, cosy read which read more like a middle-grade fiction than a YA novel. I’d recommend it to teens and adults alike who have a special liking for mermaids/mermen and the aquatic life.

this review is also posted on Goodreads and Amazon
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Book Review: Madrone by Jack B. Rochester

Author: Jack B. Rochester
Release Date: 15th July 2014
Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Series:
Edition: e-book
Pages: 340
Publisher: Wheatmark
Blurb:
The year is 1969. After an interminable four years under the boot of the US military, twenty-four-year-old Nathaniel Hawthorne Flowers is ready for his real life to begin. His plans are straightforward: spend as much time as he can with his girlfriend, Jane, finish college, and become a writer. But when Nate is denied admission to UC Santa Cruz, he decides that a bachelor’s degree isn’t necessarily the path he’s laid out for himself. He can learn about literature on his own, and he’ll have more time to write if he isn’t in school. His choice doesn’t sit well with everybody. Jane’s father asks Nate how he’ll support Jane without a degree. Jane’s mentor offers to pull some strings at SC if Nate agrees to become his student. And when a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity presents itself, even Nate is tempted by the allure of conventionally defined success. Picking up where Wild Blue Yonder left off, Madrone inspires us to consider how far we’ll go to remain true to ourselves.

Review

★★★★★

Madrone by Jack B. Rochester is a beautiful sequel to Wild Blue Yonder, which picks up where the first one left off giving a detailed glimpse into the life of the protagonist, Nathaniel Hawthorne Flowers, after he enters the next phase of his life and explores the world outside of the military.

Just like the previous book by author Rochester, I thoroughly enjoyed this book as well. I’m glad that I got a chance to read the first book so close to this one because the whole story of Nathaniel felt like a nice long movie. The writing was really good and felt apt for such a beautiful story. The characterization was great as instantly I was able to connect to Nathaniel, and was able to relate to him while he went about living his life in a world that was new to him.

The book is based in the 1960’s and the author has done a commendable job in enabling people like me, who never saw that era, to be able to live it through his amazing cast of characters. The settings did not only make the book very interesting but also very enjoyable.

It is a good book with a heart-warming story and exceptional writing to compliment it, sprinkled with a cast of characters that would steal your heart in a blink and I’d recommend it to everyone who loves reading a meticulously constructed story with fully fleshed-out characters.

this review is also posted on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: The Year Of Oceans by Sean Anderson

Author: Sean Anderson
Release Date: 12th February 2018
Genre: Contemporary Literary Fiction
Series:
Edition: e-book
Pages: 324
Publisher: Riversong Books
Blurb:
Hugo Larson is a retired accountant living in North Seattle. Having recently lost the person most important to him, he attempts to make a life for himself in spite of that gaping absence. While he spends his time swimming, gardening, and accomplishing the mundane tasks of everyday life, he also has several important relationships to manage. Adrian is Hugo’s caring but foolish son, a young man desperately in need of career guidance. Hugo’s brother, Martin, brims with positive energy and a life many would envy: a kind wife, an illustrious teaching career, and a darling granddaughter—but at the implications of retiring. Then there is Paul, a serene next-door neighbor and friend who is haunted by his own loss, who goes on adventures with Hugo through the city. Despite all this, Hugo faces the heaviness of existence, confronts towering questions, embraces and then pushes away those close to him. Through the course of one year, he faces his past, struggles with the present, and questions the future.
What waits for Hugo at the end of that year?

Review

★★★★

The Year Of Oceans by Sean Anderson is a sensitive book about dealing with loss, the overpowering and omnipresent grief that ensues and about individual growth. It was a very likeable read, albeit being on the heavier side of the spectrum.

It was very interesting to read about Hugo, the protagonist, and seeing his journey for an entire year after the loss of his beloved. Many times I found myself feeling a wide spectrum of emotions that the protagonist goes through – sadness, frustration, loneliness, disdain and emptiness. But as the book progresses, the author artfully shows the growth of the main lead in a way that felt very real and relatable.

I loved the writing of the author as it complimented the story well. The story had a good flow to it and I was able to navigate through it easily. I liked the story from start to end, and in spite of an unexpected ending, I felt it was very apt for the book.

The best part about this book, though, was that the subject of death and the grief that one has to cope with afterwards (which is a very tricky one) was handled, to my pleasant surprise, quite skillfully with the much-needed delicateness and subtlety. It was a bit hard for me to read this book as the subject of loss, personally, is agonising for me to handle, but I’m glad that the author respected a person’s sense of loss, in general, and worked gracefully around it, touching on the nerves only as required.

A wonderful book for a debut novel that I’d recommend to everyone and anyone who can handle reading about loss, grief and pain related to a close one’s death.

this review is also posted on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Souls Of The Dark Sea by A.F. Stewart

Author: A.F. Stewart
Release Date: 13th September 2018
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Horror, Supernatural
Series: Saga of the Outer Islands (Book #2)
Edition: e-book
Pages: 202
Publisher:
Blurb:
From the depths, darkness is rising…
Something ancient and powerful stirs beneath the sea of the Outer Islands. A creature strong enough to challenge Captain Rafe Morrow, God of Souls, for control of the dead and the survival of the living.
Still reeling from the aftermath of his battle with the Goddess of the Moon, Rafe and the crew of the Celestial Jewel find a mysterious shipwreck and strange tales of bones. Tasked by a new ally to find answers, Rafe stumbles on long-buried secrets shrouded in the shadows of the Nightmare Crow.
Now armies of the dead ascend from the ocean. And their master is not far behind.
Set sail on a new adventure with ghosts, gods and sea monsters!

Review

★★★

Souls Of The Dark Sea by A.F. Stewart is a dark fantasy novel with a strong plotline and good writing.

The book started out good, the progression was also decent but at some places the pace slowed dramatically and then picked up at unexpected places, making it a mixed bag of positives and negatives. The characterization, to me, felt a bit off but that might be because I haven’t read the prequel to this book.

On the whole, I liked reading this book; I might not have loved it but it was still a good read – dark (as promised), well-written with a good storyline and didn’t feel like it was a part of a series (as the blog tour promised) but I think I would have appreciated the characters in this book more had I read the previous book.

I’d recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a new dark series to explore.

this review is also posted on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: One Night’s Stay by C.B. Collins

Author: C. B. Collins
Release Date: 9th September 2018
Genre: Supernatural, Thriller
Series:
Edition: e-book
Pages: 476
Publisher: C.B.C. Publishing
Blurb:
Thirteen strangers check into the Sunset Inn hoping to find rest. When one of them is murdered in the middle of the night, the survivors realize they’ve found something else entirely; an ancient evil looking to satisfy an undying hunger. If the guests want to make it through the night, they’ll have to discover the secret behind the motel and the mysterious town it serves. However, in uncovering the truth, they might find that the town’s past is nowhere near as dark as their own.

Review

★★★

One Night’s Stay by C.B. Collins is a new supernatural thriller with a lot of potentials that serves as a perfect Halloween read.

When I started reading this book I was pulled into it so fiercely that for the first 30% of the story I was not at all ready to put it down! But, much to my dismay, as the story progressed, I started to feel a little distant as the plot began to drag and the characterization started to falter. It began to get more and more difficult for me to feel a connection with the characters that started to emerge as the main ones as the story progressed. And by the time I finished 80% of the book I wasn’t sure if it was the same book that I had started. Maybe it’s simply my monumental expectations from the story or maybe the story was that way, but I feel that overall the story progression suffered heavily after the first 30-40% of the story. The second half of the story was totally dominated by the first half and wasn’t able to live up to the expectations that were set in the brilliant first half of the story.

Still, it made for a good Halloween read with an engaging plot. If the characterization would have been better, I would have given this story another star, but it wasn’t. So if you like stories with a decent plot and can do with not-very-strong characterization in a supernatural setting then do give this book a try, you might enjoy it more than I did.

this review is also posted on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: A Recipe For Love by Lucy Madison

Author: Lucy Madison
Release Date: 5th October 2018
Genre: Romance, LGBT, Contemporary
Series:
Edition: e-book
Pages: 181
Publisher: Labrador Publishing, LLC
Blurb:
Piermont, New York. Danika Russo is 55, newly retired from a 30-year career as a mail carrier, and stuck in a rut. After putting her own needs on hold to care for her terminally ill partner and her unloving father, Danika is holed up the childhood home she inherited, a claustrophobic time warp from the 1970s complete with brown Formica and linoleum, and not sure what to do next.
Her best friend Natalie suggests making a list of things she has always wanted to do. Stepping outside her comfort zone, self-deprecating Danika opts for taking an Italian cooking class, not knowing that she will both impress the appreciative chef with her tasting skills and meet a mysterious younger woman there, Finn Gerard, who will capture her heart and teach her the recipe for love. But Finn is withholding a grim secret and, despite her initial passion, appears unable to commit to Danika fully. Will Danika allow herself to let go and fall in love for the first time in her life, even if there are no guarantees? Even if she must learn to let go?
This complex lesbian romance touches on themes of rediscovery and transformation, showing that while love can be the answer, real healing always starts from within.
Lucy Madison’s latest will appeal to fans of fine, well-crafted lesbian fiction and authors like Caren Werlinger. Readers will enjoy a bonus cookbook section at the back, featuring all the recipes mentioned in the book!

Review

★★★★

A Recipe For Love by Lucy Madison is a heart-warming and, in a non-traditionally way, an uplifting romance novel with well-developed characterization and a storyline to compliment it. I’m not a huge fan of LGBT fiction, mostly because it mainly focuses on the sexuality of people rather than the story or other conflicts in characters, but thankfully, this book was so much more than your regular lesbian fiction as it concentrated on the story and the character more than the label itself. And that was what I really liked about this book.

I enjoyed reading it and, for me, the best part was the beautiful growth of character of the protagonist, Danika. I feel that her conflicts, both inner and the main story conflict, were explored nicely and as a result, I had a great time reading the story. The writing was well and complimented the story well making this book a light, fun yet a memorable read.

I’d recommend it to all romance lovers. Though people who are not comfortable with lesbian relationships might not like it.

this review is also posted on Amazon

Book Review: Civil Hearts by Claire Gem

Author: Claire Gem
Release Date: 1st April 2018
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series:
Edition: e-book
Pages: 326
Publisher: Erato Publishing
Blurb:
He’s a sexy Southern gentleman–with epilepsy. She’s a widow scarred from her late husband’s brain cancer. Her new home, an abandoned antebellum mansion, is haunted by a Confederate ghost–and she’s a Yankee.
A widow with no family, web designer Liv Larson yearns for big change. After all, she can work from anywhere, right? Why not throw a dart at the map? She heads out of the big city for the rural South and falls in love as soon as she arrives—with the Belle Bride, an abandoned antebellum mansion.
Heath Barrow loves his country life, managing his antiques store in sleepy Camellia. But he’s lonely, and his condition—epilepsy—makes life uncertain. It’s already cost him a marriage. A new medication and the new girl in town have his heart hopeful again.
Sparks fly between Heath and Liv. But his first seizure sends Liv into a tailspin. Its mimics those her husband suffered before he died . . .
To make matters worse, Liv discovers she’s not living alone. Her challenge? Dealing with a Confederate soldier, one who clearly resents his Yankee roommate—even though he’s been dead for over a hundred and fifty years.

Review

★★★+1/2

Civil Hearts by Claire Gem is a fast-paced and enjoyable new paranormal romance book. The book was written well and it had a cast of interesting characters. I wasn’t particularly able to relate to the characters, but they seemed interesting enough for me to want to know what happens to them.

The story was a good blend of a romantic relationship and a ghost story. The pacing was good and the storyline interesting. I enjoyed reading this book as much as I can a paranormal romance book (I’m not a fan of the genre, so that’s something.) I’d recommend this book to all the genre fans and to those who’re looking to explore a new light read or a new romance author.

this review is also posted on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: TwoSpells by Mark Morrison

Author: Mark Morrison
Release Date: 21 February 2018
Genre: Middle-Grade Fantasy, Young Adult
Series:
Edition: e-book
Pages: 316
Publisher:
Blurb:
Sarah and her twin brother Jon are heirs to an ancient magical realm and its most valuable treasure, an enchanted library. The library endows readers with the supernatural means of crossing into the uncharted inner-sanctum of the second dimension, inhabited with peculiar and sometimes perilous creatures.
The children are emboldened with a wondrous mystical gift that no other being has ever possessed. But fate intervenes and triggers a disastrous inter-dimensional war that disrupts the fabric of time and space spanning multiple universes, tearing destiny a new and savage pathway.
The two must rescue their world from a phantom hybrid alien race controlled by a demented dark-wizard, Jeremy Sermack. They will either assimilate or be exterminated.
Will they be the saviors the prophets spoke of, or will they retreat to the perceived safety of their distant homeland?

Review

★★★

TwoSpells by Mark Morrison was a delightful read with a very engaging plot and decent story-telling. I enjoyed reading this book from start to finish and even though the characterization wasn’t perfect, it was good enough to take the story further. It wasn’t an overly loaded read and proved to be a light and breezy read.

I liked the tension in the book and the build-up was also pretty good as was the ending. It suited the plot and I’m looking forward to exploring more titles by the author. The world-building was good, the pacing was decent and the writing okay and overall it made for an enjoyable read which I’d recommend to all fantasy lovers who don’t mind reading a story with very young protagonists.

this review is also posted on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Deadmarsh Fey by Melika Dannese Lux

Author: Melika Dannese Lux
Release Date: 2nd May 2018
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Horror,
Series: Dwellers Of Darkness, Children Of Light #1
Edition: e-book
Pages: 674
Publisher: Books in my Belfry
Blurb:
Flesh and bone and hearts unknown, lead to the rath and your fate will be shown…
Deadmarsh. The name struck terror into the hearts of all who heard it. But to Roger Knightley, neither Deadmarsh the house, nor Deadmarsh the family, had ever been anything to fear. Nearly each summer of his young life had been spent in that manor on the moors, having wild adventures with his cousin, Lockie, the Deadmarsh heir. This year should have been no different, but when Roger arrives, he finds everything, and everyone, changed. The grounds are unkempt, the servants long gone. Kip, the family cat, has inexplicably grown and glares at Roger as if he is trying to read the boy’s mind. Roger’s eldest cousin, Travers, always treated as a servant, now dresses like a duchess and wears round her neck a strange moonstone given to her by someone known as Master Coffyn, who has taken over the teaching of Lockie at a school in Wales called Nethermarrow.
And soon after he crosses the threshold of Deadmarsh, Roger discovers that Coffyn has overtaken Lockie. The boy is deceitful, riddled with fear, and has returned bearing tales of creatures called Jagged Ones that claim to be of the Fey and can somehow conceal themselves while standing in the full light of the moon. What they want with Lockie, Roger cannot fathom, until the horror within his cousin lashes out, and it becomes savagely clear that these Jagged Ones and the Dark Wreaker they serve are not only after Lockie and Travers, but Roger, too.
Joining forces with an ally whose true nature remains hidden, Roger seeks to unravel the tapestry of lies woven round his family’s connection to the death-haunted world of Everl’aria—and the Dark Wreaker who calls it home. The deeper Roger delves into the past, the more he begins to suspect that the tales of dark deeds done in the forest behind Deadmarsh, deeds in which village children made sacrifice to an otherworldly beast and were never seen or heard from again, are true. And if there is truth in these outlandish stories, what of the rumor that it was not an earthquake which rocked the moors surrounding Deadmarsh sixteen years ago, but a winged nightmare attempting to break free of its underground prison? Enlisting the aid of a monster equipped with enough inborn firepower to blast his enemies into oblivion might be as suicidal as Roger’s friends insist, yet the boy knows he needs all the help he can get if there is to be any hope of defeating not only the Dark Wreaker and his servants, but an unholy trinity known as the Bear, the Wolf, and the Curse That Walks The Earth.
And then there is the foe named Blood Wood, who might be the deadliest of them all.
Racing against time, Roger must find a way to end the battle being waged across worlds before the night of Lockie’s eleventh birthday—two days hence. If he fails, blood will drown the earth. And Roger and his entire family will fulfill the prophecy of fey’s older, more lethal meaning…
Fated to die.

Review

When I first came across Deadmarsh Fey by Melika Dannese Lux, I was quickly convinced to read this title because it seemed very interesting but unfortunately, it turned out to be insanely lengthy and full of exhaustive exposition. There are a lot of details and an insane amount of wandering. It took me 3 days to complete the first 1% of the book and somehow I managed to plough on till 5%, not wanting to give up on the book, but it was for nought because same old exposition continued (even more so than before.)

The story idea seemed good, but it was thwarted by the descriptions and the wanderings, then same two elements that put down the characterization as well. Overall, it wasn’t for me.

this review is also posted on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Isidora: The Life, Mind and Memories of an African Phoenix by Kally-Jay Mkwawa

Author: Kally-Jay Mkwawa
Release Date: 24th June 2018
Genre: Memoir, Non-Fiction
Series:
Edition: e-book
Pages: 50
Publisher:
Blurb:
Spending the better part of your life being called a good listener, a weirdo, a hermit or a ‘mirror of ugly truths’ and a walking-talking memory machine isn’t at all what it’s cut out to be. To a large extent, it’s a lonely life. You arrive into this life without even meaning to and suddenly it seems that you carry the weight of the whole world on your shoulders. You get sucked into it quite easily and coming up for a breath of fresh air is not easy at all.
This is an account that will give the reader, an idea of what Isidora has encountered in this beautiful, yet twisted and noisy place called the world. It’s not a long story with a happy ending (at least not so far). Rather, it’s about the reasons for her tears, worries, the unending voices in her head and the blows that life threw at her. It’s also about those precious moments of sheer joy and last, but certainly not least, her encounter with Him. Hopefully, sharing her story will find others who can relate to it and make them feel they’re not alone. Writing this work has been like an ‘extension’ of herself whilst overcoming her fear of hurting people or being compelled to ‘walk on eggshells’. It’s one of her legacies and as always, has been her type of therapy. May it be a type of therapy or an inspiration for you too.

Review

★★★

Isidora: The Life, Mind and Memories of an African Phoenix by Kally-Jay Mkwawa is a memoir full of interesting experiences of the author.

I liked the book as it was an easy and a quick read. It was a deeply contemplative read and some of the introspections of the author were interesting and presented an illuminating glimpse into her fascinating world. The cultural, environmental as well as emotional insights provided in the book were quite enjoyable.

My only complaint is that the first 7 chapters of the book focused solely on guys the author encountered in her life. As a writer and an editor, I feel that it didn’t serve as the right hook (or to be precise, the right first half of the book.) Being a memoir, I understand the book needs to deal with all the major aspects of the author’s life, but it would have been better if those chapters were placed in the latter half of the book, making the first half more about her than about those guys.

Other than this issue, it was a good read. and I’d recommend it to non-fiction reads.

this review is also posted on Goodreads and Amazon

ARC Review: Extinction 6 by Hosein Kouros-Mehr

Author: Hosein Kouros-Mehr
Release Date: 12th December 2018
Genre: Dystopian Fiction
Series:
Edition: e-book
Pages: 305
Publisher:
Blurb:
By mid-century, Arctic oil drilling accelerates global warming and triggers famine and world war. A team of scientists launches Project Titan to reverse climate change and end fossil fuel addiction. Without a radical solution, humanity faces catastrophe.Earth’s sixth mass extinction is underway. One hope remains.

Review

★★★★

Extinction 6 by Hosein Kouros-Mehr is a very well-written dystopian read that highlights one of the most serious issues that threatens the entire planet.

First off, the book was a fantastic read – it was equal parts enjoyable, interesting and thought-provoking. Once I started the book, I was easily able to flow through the pages at a very fast speed which says a lot about the smooth flow of the writing and the simple yet effective use of the language. The plot progression was good and the pacing decent.

I liked the characterization, though I wasn’t able to overly connect or relate to the protagonist. Still, I enjoyed the story enough to not have a big problem with it and overall it was a very good read.

I enjoyed the book right until the very end and want to keep exploring more titles by the author. I’d recommend this book to all dystopian and sci-fi reads and to those who take a special interest in the main subject – climate change.

this review is also posted on Goodreads and Amazon (not yet available on the ‘Zon)

RMFAO Buddy Read: Strange Weather by Joe Hill

First off, I’d like to share a good news that we’ve crossed first 500 members at RMFAO! For those of you who don’t know what RMFAO is, it is a book club/group on Goodreads where book lovers from all over the world share their latest reads and reviews and participate in exciting year-long challenges and buddy reads.

Coming back to the topic, for the month of October this year, we’re hosting a buddy read for Strange Weather by Joe Hill at RMFAO. The buddy read would be lead by Cheryl, one of the moderators at RMFAO.

I’ve been waiting to read this book since its release last year! I got the hardback copy of it as a birthday gift from Vishal in December itself, but then we planned to have a buddy read for this book in October, so I saved it for later and finally, after a long and arduous wait, October is here and I’m super thrilled to read this book! The best part is that this book fits in the Horror genre so it makes it easy for all of us who are participating in RMFAO 2017 Genre Challenge (October – Horror) challenge to count it in.

If you want to read this book or like horror fiction or want to explore it then come along and join us. This is a month-long buddy read so you can join in anytime as long as you finish the book by the end of the month.

You can find the main discussion thread for Stange Weather buddy read here.

If you want to know more about RMFAO then you can check out this page: RMFAO

Ciao ❤

Book Review: Incoming! by Thomas Josef

Author: Thomas Josef
Release Date: 10th June 2018
Genre: Memoir, Non-Fiction, Autobiography
Series:
Edition: e-book
Pages:
Publisher:
Blurb:
INCOMING is an intimate view of one man’s highs and lows during his four and half years of work as a military contractor at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.
Thomas’ account explores the oftentimes melancholy details of working in a war zone, but equally delves into the beautiful cultivation of lasting friendships, libidinous love affairs, and the many other ways one must find to help them endure a life away from home and family.
Through his vivid recollections of training as a marathon runner, as well as the amorous but sometimes tumultuous exploration of life as a gay man on a military base, Thomas offers a political and social commentary along the way. For every harrowing moment dealing with personal or wartime bleakness, there’s an equally uplifting reminder that we find peace and happiness within ourselves and those we choose as companions.

Review

★★★★

Incoming! Life Of A Contract Warrior In Afghanistan by Thomas Josef is a remarkable account of his days with the military.

A very well-written book that is brought out by the fact that every emotion and every incident of the book felt not only real but also relatable. The background of the war zone served as a really engaging component. The writing was beautifully descriptive and kept me up at night wanting to read more and more.

I enjoyed reading this book a lot as it made me feel a plethora of different emotions. But more than anything else, I like this book because I was able to feel a connection with the author and felt that the writing was honest.

If you like reading non-fiction and memoirs then you must definitely read this book.

this review is also posted on Goodreads and Amazon

Author Interview: Kally-Jay Mkwawa

Welcome to the TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome Kally-Jay Mkwawa, author of Isidora – The Life, Mind and Memories of an African Phoenix, for an author interview.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kally-Jay Mkwawa

Kally-Jay Mkwawa (a pseudonym), is a lady of 30 years living and working in
Tanzania and is the author of Isidora – The Life, Mind and Memories of an African
Phoenix. She gained her undergraduate degree in Bcom Law (majoring in law and
minor in business management) which she was awarded in South Africa and is
currently working for an NGO dealing with provision of medical assistance in the
country whilst pursuing her MBA with the University of South Wales, the latter
being via distance learning.
She’s always been a lover of reading and collecting books, a passion through
which (in addition to formal education) and, possessing a mind louder than words
she can actually utter, has enhanced and inspired her to start writing. Her writing
is more of a born talent since she’s never had classes in literature or the arts which
would have enabled her to grow further in the field. To her, writing is a form of
therapy and a way to tap into her imagination.
Besides her love of writing, Kally-Jay has a passion for lending an ear to people
who most of the times need someone to listen to, music and watching series or
movies.
She draws inspiration for writing from travelling, reading fiction novels and devotional books and conversations with close friends and family and, anything that is ‘out the box’ or living life not conforming to society’s normal set standards. She strives to write stories from real life experiences and thus, living an essence of herself in them and what she’s personally been through in life and epiphanies she’s come to in the process.

 you can connect with the author here
instagram | linkedin | goodreads


The Interview

 

can you please tell my readers a little bit about yourself?


I’m a Tanzanian lady living and working in Tanzania and am the author of Isidora – The Life, Mind and Memories of an African Phoenix. My given name is L.J. Mkwawa even though for the purposes of publishing my work I’ve picked the pseudonym of Kally-Jay Mkwawa. I attained my undergraduate degree in Bcom Law (majoring in law and a minor in business management) which I was awarded in South Africa.


please tell us about your book?


My book is generally about life stages, epiphanies that one comes to whilst encountering different people and experiencing different situations. It’s about love (in most of its facets), friends, family, memories one collects during one’s life and personal growth. I’d say parts of it are quite emotional but I’d rather readers look at the bigger picture. I’ve put an essence of myself in the book as well.


how long did it take you to write it?


I’d actually started scripting the chapters for quite a while but, the process had actually been on and off since I’d had to juggle work, family and school. But ideally, I’d say it took me less than a year to complete it since I’d set a deadline of my birthday in 2018.


why did you choose this topic?

Wow (chuckles). This is definitely one of my favorite questions. I chose the topic/ title because ‘Isidora’ which ideally means ‘gift of isis’ or in other different stories, she was an empathetic woman always overlooking herself and putting others first whilst in history she is said to have been quite reserved as well. This is something which talks about Isidora’s character. The subtitle ‘Life, Mind and Memories’ is simply about her life, the way her mind works and the memories she’s kept instilled within her that’s somehow shaped and still shaping her character. ‘African Phoenix’- a phoenix is a mythological bird who at the end of its life, goes in flames and, out of the ashes it is reborn. This portrays the various stages and trials that Isidora goes through by experiencing different situations and encountering different people and in signifies that no matter how trying a scenario/ experience is for her, she lives to see another day. And, ‘African’ is just the fact that it represents the story being based in Africa – Isidora’s home. Having said that, I therefore chose this title for my debut book.


which writers in your field inspire you?


The actual fact is that I haven’t quite read a lot of books by non-fiction authors, but the few that come to mind are such as C.S. Lewis, Susan Cain, Sarah Young, Stephen Covey and the like. In all honesty, I’ve read more fictional books than non-fiction and I feel it’s perhaps because I’m quite particular about a writer’s writing style.


what inspired you to write?

I’ve personally grown up to have very few people I can speak to or confide in, and thus, there more times when my mind tends to be louder than my mouth or the number of times I speak. I also easily always find myself thinking a lot (most especially about deeper meaning of issues in and of life) and thus, writing is my way of emptying my mind. This is especially because most times not a lot of people would understand what I’m saying (thus appreciating my level of ‘weird’) or relate to what I’m saying. Writing is my type of therapeutic exercise. When a thought or an epiphany (be it spiritual/religious or general, comes to my mind, it even gets to a point of getting a headache. Thus, I’d grab my laptop or a pen and notebook and just pour it all out.


are you working on any other project(s) right now? if yes, what are they?

I’m currently working for an NGO dealing with provision of medical assistance in the country whilst at the same time, I’m pursuing my MBA with the University of South Wales, the latter being via distance learning. I also manage a vacation home on a part-time basis (this being a family venture). At the same time, I’m still writing and thus, in the process of writing my second book as well.


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


I prefer writing with a pen in any notebook of mine I can find and when it’s something I feel I can include in a book, that’s when I use my laptop (or, my phone when the urgency to get a thought out of my head gets too overwhelming).


what are your 5 
favourite books and 5 favourite authors?


  • K. Rowling – All the Harry Potter Books (wouldn’t be fair to pick just one)
  • Susan Cain – Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking
  • Nora Roberts (definitely too many books of hers to mention as I’ve read (still reading) a lot of them and equally loved all of them),
  • Stephen Covey – 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  • Dan Brown – Angels and Demons


non-fiction deals with a lot of facts and real-life study. how do you deal with the all research work?

Honestly, it’s really not that much of a challenge for me at the moment and this is simply because debut book is about things or people I’ve encountered or experienced or, have in one way or another played a role in. This is be it through conversations with my close circle of friends or my family or, at times, through reading work from other non-fiction writers/ authors (something which isn’t at all hard for me since reading another form of relaxation for me. I’m a certified book junkie!). I also think non-fiction isn’t solely about research all times, it’s just the mere fact that it’s based on true or real life occurrence of events.


what advice would you give to new aspiring authors in your genre?

I reckon each person has a story to tell about oneself and it doesn’t matter if it’ll be a bestseller or not or, whether you’d be praised for your heroics or be laughed at. The point remains that you have a story which has somehow shaped their character and made you who you are today; it is your testimony. If you touch one person, one million or all 7 billion, you’re in a position to inspire, change or motivate someone. With your story, another person would grow and learn to do and be better, why not share it? I encourage aspiring authors to speak up and let them be heard. It’s one which through which you can definitely make a difference.

Most times it’s not easy to make your mark in this world, so even if you’ll eventually be writing for an audience or readers, initially, you can write for yourself. Do it for you! This piece of advice was hammered into me by one of my closest friends and she said ‘do it for yourself woman! Be your own fan’. It took a lot of debating and second guessing myself to have finally decided to publish (and self-publish at that, a field I was completely clueless about) but I did it for me. And it still amazes me that so many people praise the fact I published and that they appreciate my writing.


Thank you, Kally-Jay, for all your honest answers and for the insightful and exciting answers! 


ABOUT THE BOOK:

Isidora – The Life, Mind and Memories of an African Phoenix

Spending the better part of your life being called a good listener, a weirdo, a hermit or a ‘mirror of ugly truths’ and a walking-talking memory machine isn’t at all that it’s cut out to be. To a large extent, it’s a lonely life. You arrive into this life without even meaning to and suddenly it seems that you carry the weight of the whole world on your shoulders. You get sucked into it quite easily and coming up for a breath of fresh air is not easy at all.

This is an account that will give the reader an idea of what Isidora has encountered this beautiful, yet twisted and noisy place called the world. It’s not a long story with a happy ending (at least not so far). Rather, it’s about the reason for her tears, worries, unending voices in her head, the blows that life threw at her, about those precious moments of sheer joy and last, but certainly not least, her encounter with Him. Hopefully, sharing her story will find others who can relate to it and make them feel they’re not alone. Writing this work has been like an ‘extension’ of herself whilst overcoming her fear of hurting people or being compelled to ‘walk on eggshells’. It’s one of her legacies and as always, has been her type of therapy. May it be a type of therapy or inspiring for you too.

book links:
amazon and smashwords

To read other 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

Bookstagram 101

Contrary to what most of the bloggers and vloggers suggest, I have a separate Bookstagram for my book blog, The Reading Bud. I created my Bookstagram account when it became clear to me that I might actually become an author and would need my Instagram for writing-related and personal pictures photos rather than the book-related pictures that I read and review. So on 1st April 2016, I created my book-related Instagram account, aka Bookstagram, and over the course of the 2 years I’ve had it, I’ve learned a lot about book photography.

TRB’s Bookstagram – @TheReadingBud

If you’re a regular Instagrammer then you might know that posting consistently good-looking pictures is not an easy task; some days are better than others, yes, but some days are worse. What is even more exhausting is to maintain a schedule for posting pictures along with having to edit these pictures to make them look more presentable. And don’t even get me started on the wearisome and dull task of coming up with captions for each and every picture.

TRB’s Bookstagram – @TheReadingBud

I’ve been asked, by emails obviously, about how I maintain my Bookstagram. Now, I do not have a lot of followers or a really, really snazzy account (though I do think my account is pretty cool), I guess, why I get asked about my Bookstagram is because I manage a decent Bookstagram in spite of being an author and pretty much managing around a hundred other accounts on various platforms. God only knows managing one Ig account is difficult enough and I have two! Along with a separate Fb page for TRB as well as a Twitter account (and I’m not even starting on the three different blogs I manage, including this one.) So I decided to do a couple of articles on how I tackle Bookstagramming and how I manage to keep surviving this endless whirlwind.

If you’re new to Bookstagramming or are planning to create your own Bookstagram, this might be a good place for you to start as you’d get the first-hand experience of someone who was (and still is in many ways) an amateur. If you’ve already begun your big journey and realize that you can do better with a bit of some tips and tricks (we all can always do with some tips and tricks) then you’re at the right place. And if you’re a pro, then do share your advice with the rest of us in the comments below to help us learn from your experiences.

Coming back to where I was, I’ve decided to do a couple of articles which will be on the following topics:

  • Photography
  • Editing
  • Scheduling
  • Captioning
  • Socializing

So stay tuned for my Bookstagram-related series of articles in the coming weeks.

I’m not a pro in any way, but I have been complimented enough times regarding the way my photography has evolved and well, I’ve worked pretty hard for it too as I love photography in general. But photography is not all that is needed for maintaining a Bookstagram account, you need to be able to edit the photos too, otherwise, you’ll end up with almost good photos and not the good ones. I’ve been fortunate to have studied photo editing when I studied 3D animation film-making, but to be honest, Bookstagram pictures can very well be edited with free software and sometimes even directly with Instagram’s various settings. And I am not talking about filters, I’m talking about adjusting every aspect fo the picture by oneself, as filters are just the quick fix and rarely give the desired effect. Though, sometimes filters do come in handy in order to determine which shades of light to use to make the picture look ‘perkier.’

There is so much to share on this subject that I’ll better stop right here for now and get started on the next post for the first topic – photography.

If you have any suggestions or any questions related to Bookstagram then do not hesitate to comment below.

Book Spotlight: Isidora – The Life, Mind and Memories of an African Phoenix by Kally-Jay Mkwawa

About The Book

 

Book Name: Isidora – The Life, Mind and Memories of an African Phoenix

Author: Kally-Jay Mkwawa

Publisher: L.J. Mkwawa

Genre: Non-Fiction, Family & Relationships

Page Count: 88

Release date: June 2018


Synopsis

Spending the better part of your life being called a good listener, a weirdo, a hermit or a ‘mirror of ugly truths’ and a walking-talking memory machine isn’t at all that it’s cut out to be. To a large extent, it’s a lonely life. You arrive into this life without even meaning to and suddenly it seems that you carry the weight of the whole world on your shoulders. You get sucked into it quite easily and coming up for a breath of fresh air is not easy at all.

This is an account that will give the reader an idea of what Isidora has encountered this beautiful, yet twisted and noisy place called the world. It’s not a long story with a happy ending (at least not so far). Rather, it’s about the reason for her tears, worries, unending voices in her head, the blows that life threw at her, about those precious moments of sheer joy and last, but certainly not least, her encounter with Him. Hopefully, sharing her story will find others who can relate to it and make them feel they’re not alone. Writing this work has been like an ‘extension’ of herself whilst overcoming her fear of hurting people or being compelled to ‘walk on eggshells’. It’s one of her legacies and as always, has been her type of therapy. May it be a type of therapy or inspiring for you too.

buy here
Amazon and Smashwords

 


About The Author

Kally-Jay Mkwawa

Kally-Jay Mkwawa (a pseudonym), is a lady of 30 years living and working in
Tanzania and is the author of Isidora – The Life, Mind and Memories of an African
Phoenix. She gained her undergraduate degree in Bcom Law (majoring in law and
minor in business management) which she was awarded in South Africa and is
currently working for an NGO dealing with provision of medical assistance in the
country whilst pursuing her MBA with the University of South Wales, the latter
being via distance learning.
She’s always been a lover of reading and collecting books, a passion through
which (in addition to formal education) and, possessing a mind louder than words
she can actually utter, has enhanced and inspired her to start writing. Her writing
is more of a born talent since she’s never had classes in literature or the arts which
would have enabled her to grow further in the field. To her, writing is a form of
therapy and a way to tap into her imagination.
Besides her love of writing, Kally-Jay has a passion for lending an ear to people
who most of the times need someone to listen to, music and watching series or
movies.
She draws inspiration for writing from travelling, reading fiction novels and devotional books and conversations with close friends and family and, anything that is ‘out the box’ or living life not conforming to society’s normal set standards. She strives to write stories from real life experiences and thus, living an essence of herself in them and what she’s personally been through in life and epiphanies she’s come to in the process.

 you can connect with the author here
Instagram | LinkedIn | Goodreads


 

Book Review: Walking With Peety by Eric O’Grey

Author: Eric O’Grey with Mark Dagostino
Release Date: 10th October 2017
Genre: Memoir, Non-Fiction, Autobiography, Animals
Series:
Edition: e-book
Pages: 320
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
Blurb:
Eric met Peety when he was 150 pounds overweight, depressed, and sick. After a lifetime of failed diet attempts, and the onset of serious diabetes due to his weight, Eric went to a new doctor, who surprisingly prescribed a shelter dog. And that’s when Eric met Peety: a middle-aged and forgotten shelter dog who, like Eric, had seen better days. The two adopted each other and began an incredible journey together, and the bond of unconditional love they formed forever changed their lives. Over the next year, just by going on walks, playing together and eating plant-based food, Eric lost 150 pounds, and Peety lost 25. As a result, Eric reversed his type 2 diabetes, got off all medication, became happy and healthy for the first time in his life, and even reconnected with and married his high school sweetheart. WALKING WITH PEETY is perfect for anyone who is ready to make a change in their life and for everyone who knows the joy, love and hope that dogs can bring to human lives. This is more than a tale of mutual rescue, this is an epic story of friendship and strength.

Review

★★★★

Walking With Peety by Eric O’Grey is a beautiful memoir about the author’s journey, along with an adopted dog, full of hope, lots of ups and downs and love.

This book is a beautiful tribute to the love and happiness an animal brings into the life of a person. A very enjoyable book with honestly that reflected in the writing. It was a very touching and warm read. It proved to be a very inspiring story which left me feeling motivated to change a couple of things in my life that I might be taking for granted.

I’d recommend it to the readers of non-fiction genre as well as to those who love animals or are going through rough times and can do with a bit of a pick-me-up.

this review is also posted on Goodreads, NetGalley, and Amazon

Book Review: Cleaving Souls by Chauncey Rogers

Author: Chauncey Rogers
Release Date: 10th October 2017
Genre: Horror, Supernatural, Thriller, Suspense
Series:
Edition: E-Book
Pages: 225
Publisher: 
Blurb:
Some dangers you cannot outrun. Some nightmares do not end when you wake.
Something is watching Katherine Harris. She can feel it when she goes out. She can feel it inside her home. She feels it in her bed. Her husband, Alex, wants to blame her anxiety on her pregnancy, but he’s often away for work. He doesn’t know what it’s like to be stuck in a small town, to be trapped in a tiny house on a run-down street, to be alone. Kat does, and the feeling only grows worse.
Whatever is going on, Kat’s certain that it’s far more serious than pregnancy jitters. When Alex takes Kat on a second honeymoon to get her mind off things, it becomes far more dangerous as well.

Review

★★★★+1/2

Cleaving Souls by Chancey Rogers is a super fast-paced supernatural read that is literally un-put-down-able.

Wow, what a suspenseful and goosebumps-inducing ride! The first part (out of all 3) was my favourite as the suspense built up was so perfect that it was literally impossible to put down the book! The characterization wasn’t overly relatable for me, but it felt very realistic and seemed apt for the story, so it served the purpose well.

A very well-written book with simple and smooth writing which made for a very quick read. The flow of the writing was so good that I finished this book in less than 48 hrs when I wasn’t even planning on reading it and happened to pick it up randomly on a whim, earlier than I had planned.

My only complaints are the slight slack in pacing around the 70-90% mark in the ebook and a somewhat down-played climax-built up. Just before the end, the plot progression suffered because of downplaying the main conflict of the story. It wasn’t bad as suck, but I feel that given the thrilling Act I and the sensational Act II, this part, Act III of the story could have been so much better in terms of tension, pacing and overall progression of that bit. Thankfully, the ending made up for this little negative, the only negative in the book.

I’m sure as hell looking forward to reading other books by the author! And I’d recommend this one to all supernatural and horror fiction fans and to those who won’t mind reading an unsettling or pregnancy-related story.

this review is also posted on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: On The Devil’s Side Of Heaven by Roger Peppercorn

Author: Roger Peppercorn
Release Date: 9th January 2018
Genre: Mystery, Crime, Thriller, Suspense
Series:
Edition: E-Book
Pages: 583
Publisher: Wallace Publishing
Blurb:
With the drop of a judge’s gavel, Walt Walker has finally lost everything. The badge and gun he used to carry and the moral certainty of right and wrong, good and evil that used to keep him grounded. Now Walt, sans gun, gets his badges from an Army Navy store. He spends his days in South Florida, working for a boutique insurance firm as their investigator. He spends his nights in dive bars, trying to forget the mess he has made of his life.
Ronald Jacobs always preferred the title Human Resource Manger to Hitman. But now that he’s retired, he can concentrate on living in the shadows as a respectable gentlemen farmer. Far from the reach and pull of his past life.
Their transgressions are behind them but a chance encounter and a failed assassination attempt sets the two of them on a collision course of violence and retribution. Hunted by contract killers, the law, and corporate bag men, they are pursued across the unforgiving adobes and the sweeping vistas of the Mesa Valley in Western Colorado.
Survival means putting their past in front of them and their differences aside, because in this world the only thing that matters is to cast not others on the devil’s side of heaven, lest you be cast in with them.

Review

★★★+1/2

On The Devil’s Side Of Heaven by Roger Peppercorn is a hard-boiled crime thriller packed with lots of action and suspense.

This book proved to be a decent crime thriller and delivered what it promised – lots of suspense and thriller laced with tons of action and drama. The mystery was good, the characterization decent (though not overly powerful) and the pacing good. The writing was good and consisted of various POVs which turned out to be very interesting and engaging. There were several excellent twists and turns that kept me hooked to the book and the ending paid off well.

The only complain I have about the book is that it was too long. Maybe if some of the cliched scenes weren’t there then it might not feel a bit of a drag at some places, but otherwise, it was a good book. I’d recommend it to all crime, mystery and thriller readers.

this review is also posted on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Bitcoin For Blockheads by Theme Thomas

Author: Tasheme Thomas
Release Date: 20th August 2018
Genre: Non-Fiction
Series:
Edition: e-book
Pages: 70
Publisher:
Blurb:
Whether it’s your hip grandma, tech-obsessed nephew, or the businessman who wants to cut right to the chase in order to capitalize on this new asset class, Bitcoin For Blockheads will make sure you’re in the know. This book speaks at a conversational level for those casually interested in Bitcoin and blockchain technology but it doesn’t sacrifice the intricacies that make the technology so wonderful.You can expect to learn about the history of peer-to-peer technology, the technological development of bitcoin, the economics behind it, and so much more!

Review

★★★+1/2

Bitcoin For Blockheads by Tasheme Thomas is a very informative book on the concept of Bitcoin and the blockchain technology.

As someone who had almost no idea about what Bitcoin was and the things it entailed, I am really glad that I read this book. It was an easy read and presented all the concepts very clearly and in a very understandable way. The content itself felt rich and even if I wouldn’t have been able to grasp the context of everything described in the book, I know a LOT more about Bitcoin than I ever did before! The best part was that the book was very short, so I did not find myself wandering even for a second, as generally happens in case of technical books.

I’d recommend it to everyone who is interested in Bitcoin and wants to know more about the subject in under an hour.

this review is also posted on goodreads and amazon

Cover Reveal: Bitcoin For Blockheads by Tasheme Thomas

Welcome to the TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Tasheme Thomas, for the cover reveal of his upcoming book Bitcoin For Blockheads.

Presenting the simple yet elegant cover of Bitcoin For Blockheads


About The Book

Bitcoin For Blockheads is a primer to the world of cryptocurrency. This book covers the history of Bitcoin, the development of the technology, the underlying economics, and so much more. This book is written in a casual tone but doesn’t sacrifice the intricacies that make the technology so interesting. Whether it’s your hip grandma, tech-obsessed nephew, or the businessman who wants to cut right to the chase in order to capitalize on this new asset class, Bitcoin For Blockheads will make sure you’re in-the-know.

You can buy Bitcoin For Blockheads here:

amazon and website

 

About The Author:

Tasheme Thomas

Tasheme Thomas is an Educator who studied Mathematics at UNC-Chapel Hill. During the course of his studies, he fell in love with computer science and philosophy. The intersection of these topics brought him to cryptocurrency. Having originally invested during his college years, it wasn’t until he graduated that he really dove into the cryptosphere. After a brief stint working on entrepreneurial ventures and freelance programming, Tasheme began teaching Middle and High School mathematics. His experience teaching highlighted the need for education about cryptocurrency, which prompted him to write Bitcoin For Blockheads.

Twitter | Instagram


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: Thomas Josef

Welcome to the TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome Thomas Josef, author of Incoming! Secrets Of A Contract Warrior In Afghanistan, for an author interview.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Thomas Josef

Thomas Josef is a native of Wisconsin and a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. He hiked the epic 2,200+ mile Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine in his mid-twenties. Thereafter, he served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tunisia, North Africa. He studied Spanish in Mexico, Guatemala, and Ecuador. With his passion for travel and adventure, he took a military contractor position with a Fortune 500 engineering and construction company to serve the Warfighters of Afghanistan. This is his story of that time and his first book.

 Facebook | Amazon | Goodreads | Website


The Interview

Can you please tell my readers a little bit about yourself?


I was born and raised in Wisconsin, and I’m a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. I took a short time off between my sophomore and junior year of college to hike the epic 2000+ mile Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine.
From 1989 to 1991, I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tunisia, North Africa as a community service worker helping local farmers manage greenhouses. We were ordered out of the region by decree of the State Department because of the initial Iraq-Kuwait conflict that escalated to the Gulf War.
With my Peace Corps assignment cut short and the US is on the brink of war, I decided to travel to Mexico and Central America where tensions were much more subdued. I learned Spanish in Mexico and Guatemala. When I returned to the states, I endured my career with the State of Texas and continued to reside in Austin.
After nearly ten years of service to the state, I was looking for a change in my career and one that would offer an excellent compensation package and travel opportunities. I decided to take a military contractor position with a Fortune 500 engineering and construction company to help serve the Warfighters of Afghanistan. During that time I started to write about daily accounts that became the premise of my book.


Please tell us about your book?


Life as a military contractor working in a war zone is very different, yet fascinating as you can imagine. It’s more about attitude than aptitude. It takes a unique personality and character to stick it out in a war zone and probably more so for a gay man on a military base.
Every day in a war zone, you’re reminded of death. We were working seven days a week, 12 hours a day. Frequently it’s melancholy, but there’s also beautiful cultivation of how you handle your work and what you do outside of work. I worked out nearly every day. I trained to run marathons. I made lasting friendships, had libidinous love affairs, and knowing you’re working alongside our men and women in uniform serving our country as well as our NATO allies made the experience rewarding.
I have a passion for life and adventure and things out of the ordinary, so I decided to keep a journal of the highs and lows of my experiences and feelings during this time in Afghanistan. I started writing stories and sharing some of them as newsletters back home. I had several friends tell me I should compile the newsletters and make it a book. So I did.


How long did it take you to write it?


The book spans four and half years of my time that I served in Afghanistan. It took me another four years after my service to rewrite, rethink, and rework the book for publishing.


Why did you choose this topic?

It’s a memoir, and I wanted to share some of my thoughts and feelings of war that are not shared in newspapers or magazines, how I was able to find peace and happiness in a place that reminds us of dark and gloom almost every day, and that it’s more about the journey, not the destination.


Which writers in your field inspire you?


I’ve always been fascinated by writers that wrote about their life experiences, thoughts, and how they handle things on a daily basis. A few writers that inspired me are Sylvia Plath, Anne Frank, Alice Walker, Khaled Hosseini, and Kevin Powers.


What inspired you to write?

Life’s an adventure. I think it’s great to live and talk about my unique life and experiences that are outside of the norm.


Are you working on any other project(s) right now? If yes, what are they?

Not at this time. I want to see how this book is perceived before I pursue another.


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


I prefer to write using a computer or laptop. I can’t imagine how writers did it before computers.


What are your 5
favorite books and 5 favorite authors?


The five authors that I mentioned that inspired me to write are also on the list of my favorite books:
  1. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  2. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  3. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  4. The Kite Runner and 10,000 Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  5. The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers


Non-Fiction deals with a lot of facts and real-life study. How do you deal with the all research work?

My memoir is a real-life study, so I guess that portion speaks for itself. I made several political and social comments in my writing on topics that I explored and researched. I have a personality trait as a thinker and analyzer. I love to study subjects that interest me, so it’s something I enjoy to find differences in thought and perception, but also familiar ground.


What advice would you give to new aspiring authors in your genre?

As a friend and fellow author told me, “Everyone has a story to share; share yours.”


Thank you, Thomas, for all your honest answers and for the simple yet powerful writing advice! 


ABOUT THE BOOK:

Incoming! Secrets Of A Contract Warrior In Afghanistan

INCOMINGis an intimate view of one man’s highs and lows during his four and half years of work as a military contractor at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.

Thomas’ account explores the oftentimes melancholy details of working in a war zone, but equally delves into the beautiful cultivation of lasting friendships, libidinous love affairs, and the many other ways one must find to help them endure a life away from home and family.

Through his vivid recollections of training as a marathon runner, as well as the amorous but sometimes tumultuous exploration of life as a gay man on a military base, Thomas offers a political and social commentary along the way. For every harrowing moment dealing with personal or wartime bleakness, there’s an equally uplifting reminder that we find peace and happiness within ourselves and those we choose as companions.

Book Links:

Amazon | Goodreads

 

To read other 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

Audiobook Review: Rebecca Of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin

Author: Kate Douglas Wiggin
Narrator: Ann Richardson
Release Date: 
8th December 2017
Genre: Classic, Children’s Fiction
Series: 

Length: 8 hours 11 minutes
Publisher: Post Hypnotic Press Inc.⎮2018
Blurb:
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm has delighted readers for over 100 years. Published in 1903, when girls were inevitably depicted as pretty, gentle and proper, Rebecca Rowena Randall burst onto the scene of children’s literature. Sent to live with her prim and proper Aunt Miranda, who is expecting her much more demure sister, Rebecca is a “bird of a very different feather”. She has “a small, plain face illuminated by a pair of eyes carrying such messages, such suggestions, such hints of sleeping power and insight, that one never tired of looking into their shining depths….” To her Aunt Miranda’s continual dismay, Rebecca is exuberant, irrepressible, and spirited – not at all “proper” or “demure”. She wins over her aunt soon enough, and the whole town, and thousands of readers and listeners everywhere.
In 1904, author Jack London wrote Kate Douglas Wiggin: “May I thank you for Rebecca?…. I would have quested the wide world over to make her mine, only I was born too long ago and she was born but yesterday…. Why could she not have been my daughter? Why couldn’t it have been I who bought the three hundred cakes of soap? Why, O, why?” And Mark Twain called Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm “beautiful and warm and satisfying”. This recording, narrated by Ann Richardson, whose sweet voice has a facility for accents and character voices, is a satisfying listening experience you’ll want to revisit. Upcoming from Post Hypnotic Press is a new annotated print/eBook edition of this book, with illustrations from the original publication and a new introduction, as well as a work-book f…

Review

★★★★

Rebecca Of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin and narrated by Ann Richardson is a beautiful audiobook that is a must read (must-listen?) for everyone.

It is a beautifully sweet book with a lovely young girly-girl character at its heart who will win your heart by the end of the first chapter itself. Unlike many other readers, I have not yet read Anne of the Green Gables (a reference I came across in many reviews for this book while deciding whether to accept this book for review or not) so I can’t offer any comparison, though what I can say is that this is a very thorough book full of moral lessons and hearty anecdotes of a time that is long gone and is always remembered. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book because of the colourful narration which was fun to listen to.

I’d recommend this audiobook to everyone who loves reading (or more specifically, who loves listening to audiobooks.)

This Review Is Also Posted On Audible and Goodreads


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Book Review: Wild Blue Yonder by Jack B. Rochester

Author: Jack B. Rochester
Release Date: 1st August 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series:
Edition: e-book
Pages: 306
Publisher:
Blurb:
“Nathaniel Hawthorne Flowers, eh?” said First Sergeant Wilford H. Buford. “That yer real name or one you picked up out there in fairyland Cally-forny?” “Wild Blue Yonder” is the coming-of-age story of Nathaniel Hawthorne Flowers, a smart but sheltered boy from suburban Chicago whose beloved father suddenly dies, resulting in his flunking out of college. It’s the 1960s, so he gets a draft notice but joins the Air Force to avoid going to Vietnam. Nate’s adventure takes off as he tries to understand the military mindset and the massive social disruption going on in America. His journey takes a Kafka-esque turn when he is sent to Germany to become a military newspaper correspondent whose stories will never see print. Existential, psychedelic, fun-filled and laced with the rock ‘n’ roll of the times, “Wild Blue Yonder” is the story of Nate finding his personal and spiritual values as he discovers the love of a girl and the meaning of family and friendships.

Review

★★★★★

Wild Blue Yonder by Jack B. Rochester is a beautifully written historical fiction book with such realistic characterization that it takes the book to a whole new level of awesomeness.

I truly enjoyed reading this book; it had great writing, really good characterization, very nice pacing and tension and the plot-progression was really, really good. And on top of all this, the story was not only realistic but also very emotional and deep, which made reading this book so worth it. I was pulled into the story right from the start and was in it for good till the very end. The conflicts felt real and the backdrop was fantastic. Overall, it is a very, very good book.

I’d recommend this book to the readers of historical fiction as well to those who are looking for a refreshing new dramatic story and won’t mind the backdrop of war.

this review is also posted on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Our Frail Disordered Lives by Mary M. Schmidt

Author: Mary M. Schmidt
Release Date: 1st June 2018
Genre: Horror-Comedy, Supernatural
Series:
Edition: e-book
Pages: 188
Publisher: Lulu Publishing Services
Blurb:
Larry Kavanaugh is an ordinary kind of guy. He’s got a nagging wife and two kids, both annoyingly gifted. No matter what he does, there is no end to what his family needs. What’s a regular, everyday guy to do? Well, he cuts a few corners, obviously—one very big corner in particular. He sells his soul to the Devil. Maybe it’s not the actual Devil, but Larry is ready to make a deal with one of the Devil’s minions. He meets some demon whose name he can’t remember. Funny, it was right on the tip of his tongue, a name of something you step on. Roach the Demon has sort of good intentions. He just wants a re-write of Dante’s Inferno with himself as the star. Roach goes after Larry as a rogue operation. He needs to make a point to his boss, Satan, so he uses the body of a human to follow Larry around and stir up trouble. He offers Larry an airtight guarantee that nothing could possibly go wrong. After all, Larry doesn’t feel like he has much to lose—or does he? Even Roach might be in over his head this time.

Review

★★★

Our Frail Disordered Lives by Mary M. Schmidt is a unique story about a guy who sells his soul to the devil a demon in order to make his life better and what follows is a litany of situations one could do better to stay away from.

A very unique story with lots of drama and twists and turns to keep the readers entertained throughout the book. Overall speaking, I liked the idea of the book, the main concept that is, but felt that it needed more polishing in terms of the execution of that concept. The writing was okay but the characterization, for this kind of story, felt weak, and that was my biggest issue. The pacing was good and the plot progression okay, but I really felt that if I would have been able to connect with the main character, Larry, a bit more then the story would have meant even more to me.

Still, it proved to be a pretty quick and easy read. So if you’re looking for a fresh quick read then this might be for you if you’re okay with reading stories with not very relatable characters and care about the story more than characterization.

this review is also posted on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Caina by Joe Albanese

Author: Joe Albanese
Release Date: 5th July 2018
Genre: Crime Comedy
Series:
Edition: e-book
Pages: 124
Publisher: Mockingbird Lane Press
Blurb:
Twins tend to be closer than typical siblings. They often share a bond that is oftentimes unexplainable.*
For some reason that bond didn’t apply to Grant and Lee Tolan. Grant was always the responsible one. Lee, on the other hand, was always in trouble and in jail, self-destructing to the point the twins hadn’t seen or spoken in years.
In trouble with the Irish mob who wanted him sleeping with the fishes, finding Grant dead of an apparent suicide, Lee did the only thing that made sense. He switched identities.
Instead of making life easier, Lee is plunged into a world the Irish and Italian crime families, the Mexican cartel and the DEA. Pitting one against the other, Lee enlists the help of friends to save his own life. He will need a miracle.
But Grant’s secret is the biggest shock of all for Lee and he must re-evaluate his entire life.

Review

★★★★

Caina by Jow Albanese is a very entertaining crime comedy about a guy who knows only one thing – how to get in trouble.

It was a very interesting read. The narration was good because more than a book it felt like a movie running in the head.  The writing was solid, the characterization was decent and the plot was very exciting. The well-placed twists and turns kept the story engaging and the high action kept me entertained throughout the book.

The ending was really good and felt apt tot he entire plot build-up. The dialogues were good and made the book, again, feel like a film.

A very quick read in which the author’s sense of humour shone through quite well. Overall, this book is a complete action-comedy package and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for an entertaining quick read.

this review is also posted on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Spencer’s Risk by Andy Greenhalgh

Author: Andy Greenhalgh
Release Date: 17th April 2018
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Dark Comedy
Series:
Edition: e-book
Pages: 185
Publisher:
Blurb:
SPENCER’S RISK is a dark comic novel. Burnt out and broke, university Drama lecturer Spencer Leyton is a compulsive gambler, estranged from his wife and children and driving his career over a cliff. His some-time friend Justin invites him to a high-stakes poker game. (‘Justin could sell snow to the Eskimos – literally. For some months he had sold cocaine to the Inuit community in Copenhagen’.) The game ends with Spencer owing £10,000 to Paula Malone, the head of a criminal gang.
At work, Spencer is sexually obsessed with a wealthy and glamourous student called Eva. She commits plagiarism,
an offence usually punished by expulsion, but bribes him with £3000 to keep quiet about it. Spencer has inside information about a football game, so he bets the £3000 on it, and that is when things really start to go wrong…
Eva demands the leading role in the College Showcase Production, with disastrous results. (‘Eva was not wearing the costume she had worn in the Dress Rehearsal. Eva was wearing a sporran. And very little else’)
Paula’s deadline runs out. It looks like curtains for Spencer Leyton…

Review

★★★★

Spencer’s Risk by Andy Greenhalgh is a delightful and enjoyable new contemporary read with lots of dark humour highlighted by sarcastic undertones.

It was a very enjoyable book and I had a good time reading it. The characterization was good which was a big plus given the entire story heavily depended on the main protagonist, Spencer. He was very believable and pretty relatable. Even though he landed up in extreme situations, I was able to relate to his worries and dilemmas and hence, was able to connect to him easily.

The writing was clean and good and the author’s clever sense of humour shone through the entire book nicely. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a light and refreshing contemporary book.

this review is also posted on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: The Business Launch Code: A Step By Step Guide To Starting Your Own Business by M. Salek

Author: M. Salek
Release Date: 19th July 2018
Genre: Non-Fiction, Businesses and Start-Ups
Series:
Edition: e-book
Pages: 274
Publisher: Polymath Publishing
Blurb:
Everything you need to know to start a business, step by step.
Starting a business doesn’t need to be hard, and it certainly doesn’t need to be confusing.
If you’ve ever considered starting a business (or in the process of starting one), then this is the book for you.
Inside the book, you will learn:
1. 10 mistakes new businesses make, and how NOT to fall prey to them
2. How to give your business an edge
3. The people you should talk to before starting your business
4. The qualities that are important to start and grow a successful business
5. How to test your ideas (this way you can find out if your idea has potential or not)
6. How to determine if your business idea can be profitable (& why you need to do this before you start)
7. How to find out if people will buy
8. The different ways to fund your business (including how to start a business with no money)
9. A quick, fun and effective way to plan your business (create a business plan in less than 15 minutes!)
10. Branding for a new business, and what you need to know
11. The crucial steps most new businesses miss
12. Why it is important to take care of the small things (& how these can significantly improve your business)
13. The 5 things you need in place to create a solid, sustainable business (you need these if you want to create a business that won’t disappear overnight)
14. The optimal structure for your business
15. How you can get great people on board (for free!)
16. The 3 main positions every business needs to fill
17. How to cut your initial business costs to nearly zero!
18. ‘Sensitivity Analysis’ – what it is and why you need to know about this (this can make or break a business)
19. A creative strategy for building partnerships (and how it can also help you cut costs & increase profits)
20. 9 proven tips for coming up with a great business name
21. How to create an effective business card (business cards don’t need to boring…!)
22. A quick list of the records you need to keep to stay out of trouble
23. A 5-minute checklist to help guide you start your business the right way
24. How to make your business finally happen
The Business Launch Code offers essential information, insights, and exercises on what it takes to create a successful business. Each step takes you closer towards creating your own business, while at the same time minimising the risks.
This book goes beyond conventional wisdom and combines standard procedures with the latest developments and updates so that you get an edge when starting your own business.
By following these steps, you will find the knowledge, insights, and confidence you need to finally start your business..

Review

★★★+1/2

The Business Launch Code by M. Salek is a very informative book on starting a new business which also gives helpful insights for established businesses.

Unlike many business books, this book had content that was surprisingly well-written. Many authors of business books concentrate only on the content they’re putting forward and pay little to no attention on the way they write it. They do pay attention to the way they present the content in the way of organisation, but the writing is heavily suffered in such books. So I was pleasantly surprised when I read this book as the ideas are not only put forth in an organized way, but also in a well-written manner.

This book was well-researched and was pretty helpful. The insight into the whole starting-a-new-business scenario in today’s world was very useful, something that I’m sure new entrepreneurs would really appreciate. What better way to start a new business knowing what are the main things that tend to go wrong in 90% of the cases?

It was an easy and interesting read, with well thought out chapters and the points made in each one of them. I liked how the facts, relevant examples and information were presented in an effectively simple way.

I recommend this book to people with new startups and even to the ones who already have established businesses as it is a quick read and also because extra knowledge never hurts.

this review is also posted on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: The Boxcar Baby by J.L. Mulvihill

Author: J.L. Mulvihill
Release Date: 12th July 2013
Genre: Steampunk, Dystopian, Young Adult
Series: Steel Roots Series (Book #1)
Edition: e-book
Pages: 274
Publisher: Seventh Star Press, LLC
Blurb:
The Box Car Baby introduces the character of AB’Gale Steel who was born in a boxcar on a train bound for Georgia, according to what her papa told her. Bishop Steel, a mechanical engineer for the Southern Railroad, found his adopted daughter snuggled in a basket of cotton on an otherwise empty boxcar in the train yard. When no one came around to claim the baby, Bishop Steel, rather than relinquish the child to the State only to end up at the Workhouse someday, smuggled her home to raise as his own. The name on the boxcar he found her in read, A B Gale Logs, and so he named the baby AB’Gale.
But if the mystery of who her real parents are isn’t enough for fifteen-year -old AB’Gale, Papa Bishop goes missing. Worried for her family and afraid of having to spend her life at the Workhouse, AB’Gale goes into town to see if anyone’s seen her papa, only to find a deeper mystery. At the train station no one seems to know who her papa is even though he’s worked for the Southern Railroad for thirty years.
An encounter with a strange Hobo-man, who claims to know her father, results in the acquisition of a leather eye-glass tube that he says belongs to her papa. Before AB’Gale can question him further the man runs away. When she gets home, she finds the Crushers taking her grandma off to the Oldies-home, so she hides until they are gone.
AB’Gale finds that the leather tube contains a map of the United States, with markers made by various towns across the country. By each marker is a word or a name written in her papa’s handwriting.
Alone, and with only the clues of the map to go by, AB’Gale has no choice but to set out on her own to find her Papa.

Review

★★

The Boxcar Baby by J.L. Mulvihill is a steampunk dystopian with a very interesting plot which unfortunately wasn’t executed well.

Considering the beautiful covers of all the three books in this series, I was expecting the book to be really good and polished, but unfortunately, it proved to be a bit of a disappointment. I have the entire series with me and I was really excited about it, but there is so much telling and not enough showing in this book that it gets difficult to read after a couple of pages itself. Plus, the story progression is way off than should be allowed in an edited book.

The writing was too simple and there was a lot of wandering. The characters felt flat and the overall connection was not established (though I was able to see the effort the author put into it, but it simply didn’t work.)

this review is also posted on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Watch Me by Jody Gehrman

Author: Jody Gehrman
Release Date: 23rd January 2018
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense
Series:  
Edition: Physical
Pages: 308
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Blurb:
Kate Youngblood is disappearing. Muddling through her late 30s as a creative writing professor at Blackwood college, she’s dangerously close to never being noticed again. The follow-up novel to her successful debut tanked. Her husband left her for a woman ten years younger. She’s always been bright, beautiful, independent and a little wild, but now her glow is starting to vanish. She’s heading into an age where her eyes are less blue, her charm worn out, and soon no one will ever truly look at her, want to know her, again.
Except one.
Sam Grist is Kate’s most promising student. An unflinching writer with razor-sharp clarity who gravitates towards dark themes and twisted plots, his raw talent is something Kate wants to nurture into literary success. But he’s not there solely to be the best writer. He’s been watching her. Wanting her. Working his way to her for years.
As Sam slowly makes his way into Kate’s life, they enter a deadly web of dangerous lies and forbidden desire. But how far will his fixation go? And how far will she allow it?
A gripping novel exploring intense obsession and illicit attraction, Jody Gehrman introduces a world where what you desire most may be the most dangerous thing of all.

Review

★★★★

Watch Me by Jody Gehrman is a very enjoyable fast-paced psychological thriller with good characterization and a very intelligent story-line. This book reminded me a lot of a book I read a couple of years ago (I have totally forgotten what was the name of the book and the bestselling author duo, though I do remember it was a British book), this one was very similar to that. And most of the plot was kind of the same, but the ending was totally different and the creep in this book came across as a kind of well-meaning psycho (I’m sure it doesn’t make any sense, but you’ll get it once you’ve read the book.)

The story progression is what I really loved about this book along with the detailed exposition. The characters were good and believable enough and the pacing excellent. Though, in spite of all this, I feel that the ending was a bit abrupt and unclimatic. I mean, here I’m reading the book enjoying where the plot is going with high-intensity drama and the high stakes and as I turn the page the book ends with an anti-climactic turn of a page. Now that was a big turn off.

Still, I’d rate the book high as I loved every bit of it except for the last 2-3 pages. If you love thrillers and fast-paced stories about psychopaths and sociopaths then you must read this one!

this review is also posted on Goodreads and Amazon