Jack Dawkins by Terry Ward Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

In a fun and surprising twist (pun intended), author Terry Ward has given the world the sequel to a book no one ever would have thought they needed, Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. The book is called “Jack Dawkins”, and follows the legendary “Artful Dodger” as his story picks up after the events of the classic literary hit. Here’s the synopsis:

The Synopsis

After Oliver Twist intervenes to save Jack Dawkins – the legendary Artful Dodger – from transportation to Botany Bay, Jack embarks on what proves to be a perilous quest to discover his roots. Before he can say ‘Fagin!’ he’s battling to survive a devastating flood and rescue beautiful black-haired, green-eyed Lysette Godden, the girl of his dreams, from the hands of murderous villains. Jack and Lysette, searching for Jack’s parents, head to France and have an adventure there which tests their mettle and mutual love to the utmost and changes their lives for ever. 

Brilliantly and evocatively written, Jack Dawkins is a worthy sequel to Charles Dickens’s immortal masterpiece Oliver Twist. 

Hampered by her tendency always to want what she hasn’t got and an apparent inability to let go of the past, will Lucy ever find her elusive happy-ever-after? This witty, amusing, highly entertaining and fast-paced novel is sure to make you feel Lucy’s dilemma, and warm your heart.

The Review

This was a breathtaking and beautiful story that readers need to have in their lives. Oliver Twist is a literary masterpiece and classic, as many fans of author Charles Dickens knows. The legend of the Artful Dodger continues in this epic story of love, adventure and growing up in the face of great adversity. Taking a look at the classic literary character and giving him a heroic journey like no other, author Terry Ward has given the character a chance to truly complete his story.

The writing was amazing in this book. Capturing the voice and tone of Charles Dickens while giving the story a refreshing new direction, Jack Dawkins is poised to regain his legendary status in the literary world. Set against the backdrop of the return of Napoleon Bonaparte and the looming war with France, this story sees one young man forced to prove his worth against a world who seems to only see a criminal and a dead man walking. In a world where people are still judged guilty and hopeless at such a young age and never given a chance to thrive, this story is much needed and gives readers everywhere the chance to rejoin the Artful Dodger like never before.

The Verdict

Overall this was a truly amazing sequel and novel that I never knew I needed, but one that I could never go without. The imagery brings that era of English history to life in a way that keeps the reader engaged and brings a sense of classicalism to life like never before. If you enjoy the works of Charles Dickens, like historical fiction or want to see what happened to The Artful Dodger after the events of Oliver Twist, then Jack Dawkins by Terry Ward is the book for you. Pick up your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

https://amzn.to/2Nb1ZOv

https://twitter.com/tjohnward

Advertisements

The Plague by Don Lubov Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A look into the near future shows a deadly disease with a mysterious pattern, and the way life moves on from a major outbreak in author Don Lubov’s novel The Plague. Here’s the synopsis:

The Synopsis

The year is 2040. Robots have been safely and efficiently introduced into society. They are an integral part of our world, when a pandemic of global proportions arrives. 

Isolated deaths keep cropping up. Seeming random at first, a pattern begins to emerge. Dave Miller, an investigative reporter, pounces on the story. 

He explores his neighborhood and city, and finds death at every turn. His investigation leads to interviews with experts in various fields. Everyone is mystified. People are panicky. The deaths go global. The world is in chaos. 

Through his investigations, Dave learns that a most unusual plague is responsible. It is swift and thorough—Three billion people die in six weeks. The immediate questions are: What is causing this epidemic? Why does it affect some of us and not all of us?

The Review

This was one of the most intriguing Sci-Fi novels I’ve read. The combination of post-apocalypse style sci-fi with a theme of spirituality was something unique to the genre. The protagonist Dave Miller is our eyes and ears on the ground as this mysterious plague begins to wipe out portions of the world’s population. A man plagued with self-doubt, a case of claustrophobia and a mission to be a better husband than he has been in the past, Dave is thrust into this perilous journey to become the man and the reporter he was meant to be, all while looking into what The Plague truly is.

The story definitely held story telling elements similar to that of Stephen King’s The Stand. Getting to see so many different perspectives and stories from around the world as this plague hits was fascinating to read, while the story itself did a wonderful job of bringing our own problems and struggles in the world to light in a whole new way. The overall theme of love and hope really made me connect to the story as a reader, and the author’s perspective on how to truly evolve as a species was something everyone should read.

The Verdict

This was a fantastic read. Filled with great sci-fi/apocalyptic story telling devices, the message of hope plays strongly throughout this story, and readers will be drawn into the story of this mysterious plague and the true cause of why it choses it’s victims. If you love sci-fi, technology and spirituality, then author Don Lubov’s novel The Plague is a must read and should be gotten today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Photo+of+Don

Don has been happily married since 1976.

He was an artist for 34 years and exhibited his artwork at 3 New York City Art Galleries and the Heckscher Art Museum.

He spent 8 years teaching Art & Design at East Carolina University, McNeese State University, Suffolk County Community College.

He was a guest lecturer at Stony Brook University on “Hyperspace—A Visual Introduction to the 4thDimension”.

In 1985, he received a grant from The Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation for his work combining art & mathematics, with his “Quantum Pictures”.

He has written about spirituality and stress relief since 1971. He is the author of 9 books. 10 years successfully teaching his “Six-Step Path” at College of Central Florida Sr. Center, MTP College, and The Lifelong Learning College in The Villages, FL. He has taught his unique brand of meditation to over 2,000 people, who subsequently achieved a level of inner peace.

Don has written for Yahoo Voices, Beliefnet.com, and Kinja.com. His writings have been published in various magazines and books.

He has written the following 6 books —

     An End to Stress – spirituality and self-help

     The Plague – sci-fi cautionary tale

     Near Death in the Gila National Forest – a memoir

     The Side Job – a novel of a female assassin

     The Writers Bloc Club – an anthology of prose & poetry

     Frosty the Soulman – an illustrated children’s book

He has 3 YouTube videos —

      “The Grassroots Manifesto”,

      “Creativity Manifesto”

      “Spirituality Manifesto”

He created and developed “Pyramoids” – an energy-efficient building system, and taught this system at Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA.  One of his “Pyramoid” designs was accepted and juried in The World Trade Center Memorial Competition.

Memberships: The Writers Bloc Club, Del Webb, Summerfield, FL, 2006 – present

                         The Florida Writers Association, 2006-2013

                         The Metaphysical Group, Del Webb, Summerfield, FL, 2007-present

Classes taught: Spirituality (Life’s Purpose, I & II)

                           Creativity

                           Drawing

http://www.donlubov.com/

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07GCQQ4MJ/ref=x_gr_w_glide_ku_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_glide_ku_bb-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B07GCQQ4MJ&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

Near Death in the Gila National Forest by Don Lubov Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

This honest and thrilling memoir takes readers across the United States in the early 1970’s, when drugs, rock and roll and free love was still moving a new generation, in author Don Lubov’s Near Death in the Gila National Forest. Here is the synopsis:

The Synopsis

When his teaching contract is not renewed, a drug-taking, aimless, university art instructor heads out on a solo backpacking trip across the U.S. Two slick, wealthy drug dealers alter his trip. It’s 1971 and this novice hiker begins a painful series of learning experiences. From a rock concert in the woods, to an invitation to a lynching, to hitching, he plods on, one day at a time, to a purposeless future. Learning to live in the wild and taking a colorful variety of hitches, he detours to Acapulco, Mexico and a “Big” drug deal. Events beyond his control force him to beat a hasty retreat back to the U.S. In the midst of wilderness survival in fierce, desert heat and some brief, welcome female companionship, he has a spiritual awakening. Following this event, he gets hopelessly lost in the wild and prepares to die. Saved from death, he arrives in California, a fitting end to his cross-country trek. His California years include communes, a stabbing, teaching at Stanford and some letdowns. His life lacks direction and meaning. Finally, 41/2 years after leaving the east coast, he senses his purposeful future is in New York. He leaves California, not sadder, but a bit wiser, and heads East to meet his soulmate and a new beginning. 

The Review

This was a fascinating story of self-discovery. Each chapter brought a new and interesting story that the author experienced on his cross country journey, (with a brief detour into Mexico). The author did a fabulous job bringing the early 70’s to life in a somewhat familiar yet refreshing way. While some moments in the author’s life seem to reflect the experience of so many others in this era, we also get to see the various social, political and cultural divides that made up the world at that point in history.

From former friends who turned out to be racists, to an elderly gentlemen living alone in the wilderness and a town overrun by a rock festival full of drugs, free love and rock and roll, this book had a story in every chapter that kept the reader hooked. A memoir is only as good as the stories the author has to tell, and Don Lubrov does a marvelous job painting a picture of the experiences he had in his journey.

The Verdict

This is a fantastic book everyone needs to read. The personal tale of one man seeking to find his place in the world and the adventures he goes on to discover who he is is something everyone can relate to. The imagery used to paint a picture of the various locations and adventures that the author went on made the story incredibly engaging and fascinating to read, and anyone who is a fan of memoirs or journeys of self-discovery will fall in love with this book. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copy of Near Death in the Gila National Forest by Don Lubrov today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Photo+of+Don

Don has been happily married since 1976.

He was an artist for 34 years and exhibited his artwork at 3 New York City Art Galleries and the Heckscher Art Museum.

He spent 8 years teaching Art & Design at East Carolina University, McNeese State University, Suffolk County Community College.

He was a guest lecturer at Stony Brook University on “Hyperspace—A Visual Introduction to the 4thDimension”.

In 1985, he received a grant from The Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation for his work combining art & mathematics, with his “Quantum Pictures”.

He has written about spirituality and stress relief since 1971. He is the author of 9 books. 10 years successfully teaching his “Six-Step Path” at College of Central Florida Sr. Center, MTP College, and The Lifelong Learning College in The Villages, FL. He has taught his unique brand of meditation to over 2,000 people, who subsequently achieved a level of inner peace.

Don has written for Yahoo Voices, Beliefnet.com, and Kinja.com. His writings have been published in various magazines and books.

He has written the following 6 books —

     An End to Stress – spirituality and self-help

     The Plague – sci-fi cautionary tale

     Near Death in the Gila National Forest – a memoir

     The Side Job – a novel of a female assassin

     The Writers Bloc Club – an anthology of prose & poetry

     Frosty the Soulman – an illustrated children’s book

He has 3 YouTube videos —

      “The Grassroots Manifesto”,

      “Creativity Manifesto”

      “Spirituality Manifesto”

He created and developed “Pyramoids” – an energy-efficient building system, and taught this system at Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA.  One of his “Pyramoid” designs was accepted and juried in The World Trade Center Memorial Competition.

Memberships: The Writers Bloc Club, Del Webb, Summerfield, FL, 2006 – present

                         The Florida Writers Association, 2006-2013

                         The Metaphysical Group, Del Webb, Summerfield, FL, 2007-present

Classes taught: Spirituality (Life’s Purpose, I & II)

                           Creativity

                           Drawing

http://www.donlubov.com/

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1722082526/ref=x_gr_w_glide_ku_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_glide_ku_bb-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1722082526&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

Dear Mr. Pop Star by Derek Philpott | Blog Tour and Review

It is my pleasure to be the latest stop on the fantastic blog tour for Derek Philpott’s novel Dear Mr. Pop Star. Before we get into the review, here is what the book’s about.

A collection of hilarious letters to iconic pop and rock stars with fantastic in-on-the-joke replies from the artists themselves: Eurythmics, Heaven 17, Deep Purple, Devo, Dr. Hook and many, many more…

A collection of hilarious letters to iconic pop and rock stars with fantastic in-on-the-joke replies from the artists themselves: Eurythmics, Heaven 17, Deep Purple, Devo, Dr. Hook and many, many more…A collection of hilarious letters to iconic pop and rock stars with fantastic in-on-the-joke replies from the artists themselves: Eurythmics, Heaven 17, Deep Purple, Devo, Dr. Hook and many, many more…For more than a decade, Derek Philpott and his son, Dave, have been writing deliberately deranged letters to pop stars from the 1960s to the 90s to take issue with the lyrics of some of their best-known songs. They miss the point as often as they hit it.
But then, to their great surprise, the pop stars started writing back… 
Dear Mr Pop Star contains 100 of Derek and Dave’s greatest hits, including correspondence with Katrina and the Waves, Tears for Fears, Squeeze, The Housemartins, Suzi Quatro, Devo, Deep Purple, Nik Kershaw, T’Pau, Human League, Eurythmics, Wang Chung, EMF, Mott the Hoople, Heaven 17, Jesus Jones, Johnny Hates Jazz, Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine, Chesney Hawkes and many, many more.

32765424_10155476226656546_7601827153092542464_n

Now, onto the review.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

How often has this happened to you? You are sitting in the car, bopping your head along to one of your favorite hit songs, and you suddenly start to think about the lyrics. You start to wonder, what does that lyric mean? What was the artists trying to convey in that moment? Well author Derek Philpott took this idea, and wrote an entire book detailing letters he wrote to several artists and bands and their responses in his novel “Dear Mr. Pop Star”. Here’s the synopsis:

The Synopsis

For nearly 10 years, ‘Team Philpott’, as their followers fondly refer to them, have been on a quite bonkers crusade, writing good old-fashioned letters to pop and rock stars (sometimes even sent to their home addresses with prior consent!), either picking up on genuine ambiguities within their lyrics or often deliberately misunderstanding them for comedic effect.

The letters are eminently publishable in their own right, mixing sharp wit, confusion, and unarguable logic in relation to questioning the offending chart hits under scrutiny.

What makes this project especially deserving of attention, however, is that it has achieved a feat never before attempted or probably even thought of. With the missives online for all to see on what was becoming a hugely popular website, the artists quite unexpectedly started to reply, writing back in just as witty and articulate a fashion, politely pointing out exactly where the original letter went wrong…or right.

Also, crucially, nearly all of the responses were procured via ”the back door of the industry”, via roadies, mutual fans, cousins of bass players, and even other famous participants telling the artists directly of the Philpotts’ written pressing inquiries. This marvellous online community, which stretched as far afield as Europe, Canada, Japan, the U.S.A, Australia and Stoke, even cultivated and organically evolved the whole surreal venture by offering up willing stars that the authors would probably not have thought of corresponding with themselves, establishing contact through personal connections.

‘Dear Mr. Popstar’’ proudly features nearly 100 of the best letters and responses from famous and legendary names spanning the whole pop and rock spectrum, all relishing their involvement and revealing their own, in many cases, hitherto unknown humorous sides within what could well be the most interactive dialogue compiled between music stars and their audience ever undertaken. Of course, it is not always possible to reach certain targets, hence many unanswered observations are also included, as they were considered too amusing not to be.

Those to be saluted for their great sportsmanship are:- Deep Purple, Dr. from Dr. and The Medics, Nik Kershaw, Judas Priest, Starship, Tears For Fears, The Eurythmics, Wreckless Eric, Smokie, The Strawbs, The Belle Stars, Van Der Graaf Generator, Martha and the Muffins, Thunder, Squeeze, Dean Friedman, Fairground Attraction, The Ruts, Neil Innes from The Bonzo Dog Band, DEVO, Melanie, Alannah Myles, Ian Gillan, Was Not Was, Republica, Then Jerico, Dr. Hook, Toploader, Cutting Crew, Lindisfarne, Spinal Tap, Mott The Hoople, Fuzzbox, Men Without Hats, China Crisis, Mental As Anything, David MacIver and Rupert Hine (Quantum Jump), Timbuk 3, The Rezillos, Saxon, John Otway, The Human League, Chesney and Chip Hawkes, Tenpole Tudor, Shakatak, Katrina and the Waves, Eddie & The Hot Rods, Heaven 17, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, Matthew Wilder, Middle of the Road, Liquid Gold, The Christians, Paper Lace, Dodgy, Daevid Allen, Bruce Woolley, Sad Cafe, The Housemartins, Francis Dunnery (It Bites), Johnny Hates Jazz, The Wurzels, Peter Noone, Suzi Quatro, Strawberry Switchblade, Danny Wilson, Racey, Electric Prunes, The Waitresses, Fiddler’s Dram, Bauhaus, Climax Blues Band, The Jags, EMF, T’Pau, Nu Shooz, Owen Paul, Steve Hackett, Steve Ellis of Love Affair, Hazell Dean, The Knack, The Maisonettes, Del Amitri, The Skids, Jesus Jones, The Soup Dragons, City Boy, Modern Romance, Wang Chung, The Kursaal Flyers, Fischer Z, Bruce Thomas of The Attractions, Scarlet Fantastic, The B52s. Junior, Spear of Destiny, Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine.

Ultimately, this book explores how when a song is released into ‘the wild’ the artist loses all control over it, especially pertaining to its interpretation. It is also testimony to the community spirit capable of being created over social media and how positive and fun it can be.

The Review

I have to say, this was one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read in a long time. The humorous interpretations of these songs not only had me laughing but sometimes thinking about the lyrics in those songs and questioning things. Equally entertaining were the responses from the artists themselves. For instance I loved the letter to and from Tears for Fears about their hit song “Head Over Heels”. I love that song as it’s a classic, but not only hearing the author’s hilarious theory about the lyrics discussing things like chem trails and asking to meet in a public place rather than in private had me laughing out loud, while the band’s response detailing the incident that led to the song’s lyrics, including a failed attempt to ask a local weather girl out on a date that literally had the singer tripping and having his “head over heels” moment.

The book is incredibly witty and well written. The style of posting the author’s letters in the book as if on a professional stationary and then incorporating the artist’s responses was a stroke of genius on the author’s part. Music is a huge part of my life, as I not only write reviews for artists and incorporate music as inspiration for my own writing, but have music on constantly throughout my normal everyday life. Getting to see such a humorous and intimate look into popular songs and artists was a thrilling read to encounter.

The Verdict

This is a must read book! A hysterical, laugh riot that gives pop and rock fans alike a fresh perspective on their favorite artists, bands and songs, Dear. Mr. Pop Star is a fun filled ride through music history. Author Derek Philpott does a wonderful job of weaving these letters together in a funny way, and the contributions of the artists themselves makes this a true page turner like no other. If you haven’t yet, pick up your copy of Dear Mr. Pop Star by Derek Philpott today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Derek and Dave Philpott are the nom de plumes of two ordinary members of the public, working with help from a small family and, crucially, a worldwide social networking community. Neither they, or anybody assisting with the creative aspects of this project had any connections with the music, entertainment, media or publishing industries whatsoever at the time of its commencement. Despite these humble origins, however, they now find themselves in the bizarre but enviable position whereby many pop stars and people within these circles are their friends “in real life’” (whatever that means!). Many artists consider “getting a Dereking” as a badge of honour, and, as one has participant succinctly put it-

‘’This is an ingenious and extremely inventive concept. You have given us a platform to answer questions that have been asked of us for years by our fans, and respond on a public platform of immense fun. You’ve created a weird and wonderful world loved and admired by 1,000s of people worldwide, and you have your own army of loyal fans. That pretty much makes you part of ‘us lot’ now!’’

Excerpt

Dear Hazell Dean,

I found your song on the internet whilst looking for how to get to friends in Hazeldene, Chieveley.

In these celebrity and appearance-obsessed times it is admirable that you are searchin’ (looking for love) for a man who needn’t be handsome or have fortune or fame.

I fear however that you may be setting your sights a bit low, Ms Dean. You appear, rather than ”looking for someone to share your life” with’ on nights out with friends or on tentative dates, to be ”seekin’ ” a long-term partner either on the train, or, more worryingly, as reinforced by your disclosure that you ”want no disguises”, a Police I.D. Parade, as you ”move on down the line”.

It is suspected that your judgement may have been impaired by ”never sleepin”’ and that there is no guarantee that a stranger on the Underground, or for that matter, from the Underworld is likely to be ”sweet and kind’.’

”Whatever You Do, Wherever You Go”, Ms. Dean, I implore you to be cautious in your quest and not to explore ”every place you can”.

Yours

Derek Philpott

Dear Mr Philpott

Think not of “Searchin’” as a light-hearted missive, extolling the virtues of promiscuity.

No! This work should be considered a seminal piece – a late 20th Century celebration of the seeking of love above all else.

“Searchin’

Looking for love

All the time I can.

Searchin’

Looking for love

I’ve got to find a man.”

This is not a transient pop song, but should be compared as contemporary to the popularist lyrics of Byron, Browning, Rossetti and Wilde.

Were these great romantics ever concerned by the trivialities of sleep sir? I think not.

As the great Oscar Wilde himself wrote:

“You don’t love someone for their looks, or their clothes, or for their fancy car, but because they sing a song only you can hear.”

Additionally, aspersions cast on my predilection for members of the criminal fraternity are most unwelcome and unfounded,and I would therefore be grateful if you could leave me to my insomnia and romantic musings in peace.

Further to this, over the past 35 years I have received 100’s of photographs of dull establishments bearing any vague semblance of my name, in its many variants. The highlights of which include a B&B in Blackpool, and cattery in Crewe and a hovel somewhere slightly South of Brighton.

Why people presume these will interest or even slightly amuse me, I do not know.

Would you enjoy receiving a steady and annually persistent selection of “Philpotts Avenue’s”, “Philpotts Crescents” and “The Philpott Home for the Perpetually Ridiculous”? The novelty wears off very quickly I can assure you.

Quite frankly Mr Philpott the locating of your friends at Hazeldene, Chievely, is of absolutely no interest to me whatsoever.

Yours aggrievedly

Hazell Dean

You can find the book and the author at the links down below, and be sure to check out the official blog tour graphic to see where the blog tour will be next!

Social Media and Blog Tour Info

Blog Tour Flyer black 2

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40719521-dear-mr-pop-star

https://unbound.com/books/dear-mr-pop-star/

@DerekPhilpott   Twitter

https://www.facebook.com/ThePhilpotts/

http://amzn.eu/93h4fYH    Amazon 

Barnes & Noble Halloween Collection: Get spooky with The Nightmare Before Christmas, costumes, books, toys, movies & more!

Under A Coyote Moon (Vol I of V) by Josh Holliday Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

The struggle of illegal immigrants entering the United States gets a new perspective in author Josh Holliday’s novel “Under A Coyote Moon (Vol I of V)”. Here is the synopsis:

The Synopsis

A (Memoir of Migrant Forced To Travel 2,000 Miles From El Salvador Atop Trains & Swim The Rio Grand River) and other True stories of migrants travels and troubles and prices they had to pay to reach the Mexican/American border; then how they managed to sneak across and enter the U.S. complete with 50 Color Images to enhance the stories.

The Review

Now in full disclosure to the audience and the author, I myself lean more to a democrat way of thinking and political mindset than Republican. I mention this not because I like talking about it often, but in this day and age there are many topics that I feel need to be spoken about in an open and honest way. This book brings up a major topic of debate that is incredibly relevant and needs to be discussed. Before I begin I want to applaud the author for contributing 25% of proceeds to help children caught up in the illegal immigration struggle. No matter what side you fall all, everyone should agree that children are innocent and shouldn’t be persecuted.

The author does a great job of highlighting the struggles of immigrants entering the United States illegally. While it may be illegal, the horrors they face in their home country forces these innocent people to flee for their lives, believing in the promise the US once represented of hope and a beacon for all the world to look up to. Sadly because of their desperation and need for safety, others take advantage of their situation. From the tight border patrol agents doing what is mandated and capturing anyone crossing the border, to the criminal “coyotes” and those running stash houses for immigrants who mistreat those crossing the border and keep them for days or even weeks until they are paid.

For me as a reader and reviewer, I must approach this and look at the topic from my own belief in a democratic society. The need to help and stop the heinous mistreatment of immigrants and the horrible policies of the current US administration is something I fully believe in. While a system of vetting immigrants is smart, locking up and separating children from their families and punishing those seeking to escape violence and persecution (i.e. abused women and children, young men seeking to escape gangs who want them to join them, families fleeing police brutality, etc) is horrendous and needs to be stopped.

The difficult thing is this topic can be very divisive, as are all politics. While I personally feel immigration and the current state of immigration shouldn’t be politicized, it’s the way things are for now. We are talking about peoples lives here, and we should be respectful and willing to lend a hand. The propaganda surrounding immigration can be discounted with a little bit of research and open mindedness. While I am a democrat, pro-Obama person, I try to keep an open mind and look at things from both sides. Yes gang violence in South America is a problem, as are drugs. Yet not all illegal immigrants are part of the problem. Instead they are seeking to escape those problems, and if given the chance could help improve our nation as a whole. We are a country of immigrants after all, who settled here (and conquered, let’s face it), seeking to escape persecution themselves, do we not owe it to the people south of the border to give them that same chance?

This review is a lot longer than most, but I feel passionately about this topic and live in a time where one cannot be silent and sit on the sidelines. I applaud the author for showing both sides of the immigration struggle, as it shows that no matter what our differences may be, the recognition of great injustice and the need for acceptance is a universal trait we can all get behind. While there are a handful of grammatical errors that could be improved in future novels, this first entry into the series showcases the author’s commitment and detailed research into the topic. Impressively the stories told reflect the real life struggles of many immigrants, both from the point of fleeing their homes to being trapped by criminals on both sides of the border and the hardships they have to endure for most of their life because of their “illegal” status.

The Verdict

Overall this was a fascinating read. While I may disagree on some points from a political belief’s standpoint, I do agree that immigration is an issue that needs a fair, safe and caring approach. I think the author did a great job of showcasing the struggles of immigrants based on his interviews with some of those immigrants. If anything, this book makes me yearn for the day where we can truly be a nation of equals, no matter what your race, gender, sexual orientation, or even nation of origin. I believe in the original idea for the United States, which was to be the land of the free and the home of the brave. While the nation has it’s dark moments in history, (like we face now), I have to hold onto hope for a brighter, more accepting and peaceful tomorrow. If you haven’t yet pick up your copy of Josh Holliday’s “Under A Coyote Moon (Vol I of V)” today!

Rating: 7/10

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1129615945?ean=2940156146307

About the Author

Josh is a former carpet layer and carpenter who lived and worked in California from 1970 to 2000. He now lives in Florida where he divides his time between writing interesting books, managing Real Estate part-time and playing the Blues-Harmonica.

Additionally he plays bottleneck guitar and writes songs.

Scarlet Reign: Malice of the Dark Witch by R.D. Crist Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A chilling and fantastic new look at the YA Fantasy genre, author R.D. Crist is set to release “Scarlet Reign: Malice of the Dark Witch”. The first in a series, this new YA adventure takes a classic supernatural group of individuals and gives them a brand new spin. Here is the synopsis:

Synopsis

After the unexplainable death of her mother on the eve of Natalie’s fourteenth birthday, she is suddenly forced to grow up. Compelled to leave her dismal and deceptive life behind by a mysterious woman who claims to be an old relative, Natalie carries with her the highly coveted, scarlet stoned ring she reluctantly retrieved from her mother upon her death. 

Following Natalie’s irreversible decision, she unexpectedly finds herself alone and thrust into a peculiar all female orphanage where her arrival was strangely anticipated by the inhabitants, and greeted by some with ire. Ultimately, young Natalie must quickly learn to fend for herself against bullies, unexplained forces, a male suitor, and something lurking for revenge. Does she have both the strength and resolve, and can she set the past aside, to uncover the secrets necessary in order to fulfill her destiny?

The Review

This novel was fantastic. With the YA genre stronger than ever before, the author has found a way to not only create compelling characters and a heart-wrenching story, but make the story have a fresh twist in the YA Fantasy world. The story follows a classic young woman thrust into a hidden world theme, but takes this theme and pairs it with the emotional realm of loss and what children experience after the loss of a parent.

What I really enjoyed was how the author managed to not pit two different groups of supernaturals against one another, but instead showed how a group of supernaturals can have division within itself, and how there are good and bad people in any group. The writing was evenly paced, descriptive and yet left readers with enough space to imagine the scenarios in the novel playing out. The action started from the first page and only escalated from there, leaving readers on the edge of their seat as they waited to learn the secrets of this orphanage and where Natalie truly belonged.

The Verdict

This is a must read for any YA Fantasy fan. With fall approaching and the Halloween season approaching, this is the perfect book for YA fans to jump into to begin their holiday adventures in literature. A powerful story that promises an engaging and shocking series, author R.D. Crist has done a fantastic job of creating a world worth diving head first into, and I for one cannot wait for the next book’s arrival. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copy of Scarlet Reign: Malice of the Dark Witch today!

Rating: 10/10

Here is the book website: www.scarletreignbooks.com

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41555714-scarlet-reign

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Scarlet-Reign-Malice-Dark-Witch-ebook/dp/B07GTPZ4KN/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1537547997&sr=8-1&keywords=scarlet+reign+malice+of+the+dark+witch

Author Bio

R.D. Crist is a psychotherapist who generates creativity via long walks and majestic views of nature. True inspiration to write, however, derives from personal hardships that have sparked a desire to help others manage life’s various struggles.

Although R.D. Crist has only released one book, three have been written and several more begun, which span a variety of genres.  The focus of these stories are intended to center on Crist’s favorite dynamics of a story – personal conflict, relationship development, inner growth, and social revelation.  Each story is created with a greater purpose to stimulate a person to reflect on common challenges, be they personal, interactive, or in principle.

Childhood influences include Ray Bradbury stories and character conflict movies like Twelve Angry Men.

Socializing, listening to people’s stories, spending time with family, and relentlessly exercising (as if those last ten pounds cared) are some of Crist’s favorite ways to pass the day.

Pre-Order Hottest Top Toys of the Season – order today at BN.com!

Interview with Author Karl Steam

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?’’

                Once upon a time, I wanted to be a park ranger and wildlife photographer. Camping, fishing, and canoeing were my favorite pastimes. I liked to learn about nature and often checked out national geographic documentaries from the city library. The things I learned inspired me to write a few nonfiction animal books as a kid. I would staple paper together, write interesting facts about a particular species, and illustrate my books with cut out magazine pictures. To this day, nature influences most of the things I write.

               During middle school a teacher told my class that kids can do anything. He once had a student who wrote a book and a different student of his could take apart a lawnmower, put it back together again, and it would still work. I wasn’t interested in lawnmowers, but I did like the idea of writing a book. I figured if some other kid could do it, I could too.

               I tried writing my first novel a few months later. It wasn’t very good. O.K., it was horrible. I gave up after a couple pages and decided to postpone my writing career until I had a few high school writing classes under my belt.

               I wrote off and on for many years, but never seriously. I told myself in high school that I would have more time to write once I was in college. In college I told myself I would write more once I graduated. After graduating, I married and had children. One day a story came to mind, but I told myself that I would have more time to write it once my kids were grown. That’s when I realized I was on the path to becoming an old man, who shakes his head and wonders why he never wrote a book.

               I write more often now. Don’t take my word for it though. Go check out the stories I’ve published.

2) What inspired you to write your book series?

The concept for the Kids vs. Nature series began after I read an article about someone who had been lost in a forest while cross country skiing. The article’s author considered this person’s experience to be an example of a great survival story. Yes, the person did survive a one-night ordeal in a forest, but I disagreed with the notion that it was a great example of surviving in the wilderness.

                The main concern of the lost person was that they would freeze to death during the night, so they continuously skied throughout the ordeal to generate body heat and stay warm while they spoke to their spouse on a cell phone. As the night wore on, the person still could not figure out what trail they were on and began to get tired of skiing. They were also thirsty and feared that without water they would become dehydrated and die, and this fear continued to be a concern until the person was eventually discovered by rescuers.

                Nowhere in the article did the writer point out that this person was skiing, which means there was snow on the ground which could have been eaten to hydrate the lost person. Nor did they point out to readers that it’s typically recommended to remain in one location if you’re lost in the wilderness, so that you don’t wander further way from your original location. This makes it easier for rescuers to find you, especially if you have a cell phone and are able to alert others of your predicament.

                Now, can I say for sure that I would have remained calm and thought clearly if encountered with a similar situation? No, and this person did survive so I applaud them for everything they did do right. However, I couldn’t help but think that I would have handed the situation differently, and the reason why is because I had read so many wilderness survival stories as a child.

Through stories such as Hatchet, My Side of the Mountain, Island of the Blue Dolphins, and Sign of the Beaver, I learned a considerable amount about surviving in the wilderness. Tactics to for staying warm, creating shelters, and how to obtain fresh water. Though I have never had to put this knowledge to practice, I do believe that if I were to find myself stranded in the wilderness my odds of survival would be much greater due everything I have learned.

This realization gave me a deeper appreciation for the literature I read as a child. I realized these stories had the power to help save people’s lives. This made me wonder what other survival stories were on the market today. What new stories are captivating young readers and providing them with similar information.

I was surprised and disappointed to discover that very few popular books have been published in this genre throughout the past twenty years. Most of the top sellers continue to be the same stories I read as a child. So, I decided to contribute to the genre and create some fresh stories for those that share my interest in action, adventure, and the great outdoors. That day I began to develop the plot of the Kids vs. Nature series, and I think they do a good job of accomplishing the goals I set out to achieve.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your books?

Like any good book or series there are multiple themes and messages I hope readers take away from these books. The main one, as mentioned before, is that I hope readers learn things that will help them to survive similar situations, should they every become lost in the wilderness. A lot of factual information and strategies have been added to the back of each book in order to help accomplish this goal. I also tried not to sensationalize the stories too much. Most of the situations the characters encounter remain simple and realistic to things average people might experience in real life.

                Because the characters in the series encounter many different ecosystems, I also designed the books be informative. Readers will be able to learn about different animals, plants, and environments.

                Lastly, there are various social issues involved in the stories. Friendships, social group dynamics, and bullying are matters frequently encountered throughout the series. Characters have to work through prior perceptions of one another in order to grow and develop from one book to another. Hopefully readers can relate to some of these issues and find the lessons that the characters learn to be applicable in their own lives.

4) If you could sit down with any character in your book series, what would you ask them and why?

I would like to sit with Tyler. He’s an odd, quirky guy but has a lot of admirable traits. I wouldn’t have anything particular to ask him. I’d rather sit and listen to him talk.

5) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I’m not active on social media. Perhaps I should be. Writing time is precious. To get writing done you have to chose not to do other things. Limiting social media and television are two main ways that I carve out time during the week to make progress on my stories.

I have a website where readers message me. They also send letters in the mail. As far as developing readership goes, most authors will say that the best way to gain readers is to publish more books. I’m still beginning my writing career, but hopefully when people read stories like the Kids vs. Nature series they will want to go back and read others I have written, like Purple Pup. If they really enjoy these stories, perhaps they’ll tell others about them too. Theoretically, the more stories I complete the more opportunities new readers will have to find my works.

6) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

If you want to be a writer, you need to write. Do what you can to dedicate some time to this. Don’t expect your first writings to be very good either. It usually takes many years to develop your skills. Expect your first book or two to be unworthy of publishing. This is normal. Keep trying until you finish one that is.

7) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I’m currently writing a young adult historical fiction novel. It takes place during the most recent ice age and will feature Paleo-Indian characters. Beyond that, it’s difficult to say what the future holds. I will continue to write and focus on projects that inspire me the most.