Weekly Comic Book Roundup #3

DC Comics: Bombshells, Vol. 1: Enlisted

(DC Comics: Bombshells #1)

by Marguerite BennettMarguerite Sauvage (Illustrator), Ming Doyle (Illustrator), Laura Braga (Illustrator), Maria Laura Sanapo (Illustrator), Marc Deering (Illustrator), Stephen Mooney (Illustrator), Ted Naifeh (Goodreads Author) (Illustrator) , Garry Brown (Illustrator), Mirka Andolfo (Illustrator), Bilquis Evely (Illustrator), Sandy Jarrell (Illustrator)

Synopsis

In these stories from issues #1-6 of the hit series, learn the story behind this alternate reality where the Second World War is fought by superpowered women on the front lines and behind the scenes! It all begins with the stories of Batwoman, Wonder Woman and Supergirl.

Verdict

One of the strongest alternate reality worlds of the DC Universe. Getting to see the women of the DC Universe not only shine and showcase their heroism in their own series but to do so in a setting that was not known for recognizing strong women made this a wonderful read. In an age where feminism and equality are being fought for so strongly and women are more recognized now than ever before, it is important not to give up and relent in the face of adversity, and that is what this comic proves as it delves into the alternate lives of some of DC’s greatest heroes, from Mera and Batwoman to Zatanna and Wonder Woman herself. This is a must read for anyone who loves seeing empowered female characters take charge and fight against injustice and hatred with love, compassion and heroics like no other, and is the perfect introduction into this alternate world. 

Harley Quinn, Volume 1: Die Laughing (Harley Quinn (2016) #1)

by Amanda Conner (Writer, Artist), Jimmy Palmiotti (Writer)

Synopsis

Harley Quinn is back in this new jumping-on point Vol. 1 graphic novel from DC Rebirth!

Her name is Dr. Harleen Quinzel, better known to her friends and enemies as playful-but-deadly Harley Quinn. Her ex-boyfriend, the Joker, may be the Clown Prince of Crime, but Harley’s the Queen of Coney Island! So when a zombie apocalypse threatens her li’l seaside stretch of paradise, who else would ya call to save your butt?

In these action-packed pages, the baddest bad girl in the entire DC Universe joins forces with everyone from her gal-pal Poison Ivy to the leading lights of the New York City punk scene to take down anyone who stands between her and a good time–living, dead or undead.

The Harley Quinn powerhouse team of Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti joins forces with artists John Timms and Chad Hardin and draft a new beginning for DC’s craziest anti-hero in HARLEY QUINN VOL. 1: DIE LAUGHING. Collects HARLEY QUINN #1-7.

Verdict: 

It’s easy to see why Harley Quinn has quickly become DC’s most popular anti-hero, brandishing her own unique sense of whacky shenanigans and never give up attitude. With a humor and wit that definitely harkens to another comic book anti-hero (Deadpool people!), the comic book does a great job of not only providing outrageous comic book action and hilarious moments between the cast of characters, but subtly hints at the core strength of Harley Quinn being the family she has created for herself in the wake of her evil ex’s hold on her finally letting her go. It’s a great way to introduce the character into the Rebirth era and a fantastic book to jump into if you are just starting to read Harley’s stories. 

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New Avengers, Volume 1: Everything Dies

(New Avengers (2013) (Collected Editions) #1)

by Jonathan Hickman (Writer), Steve Epting (Illustrations), Rick Magyar (Illustrator), Jock (Cover Artist), Frank D’Armata (Illustrator)

Synopsis:

To prevent the collision of our universe with another, the Illuminati must reassemble…NOW!

It’s the most powerful and brilliant team in the Marvel Universe: the Black Panther, Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Black Bolt, Mister Fantastic, Namor the Sub-Mariner and the Beast against an infinite legion of parallel realities. Armed with the six Infinity Gems, the Illuminati gather to plan for the death of everything…but their task is complicated by old wounds, lies and secret agendas. But when the Illuminati experience their first dimensional incursion, can this loose brotherhood of end times trust each other enough to use the Infinity Gems in unison? And what new member will join the group? Jonathan Hickman and Steve Epting revamp The New Avengers in a multiverse-spanning saga!

CollectingNew Avengers 1-6

Verdict

A fantastic introduction into the Illuminati’s return in the Marvel Universe, and the road that leads to the inevitable Secret Wars story. The story of this group of individuals who are not only collectively the most intelligent people on Earth, but are willing to go to dark places that the other heroes aren’t in order to save their universe from utter destruction, is such an engaging and phenomenal character study of the Marvel Universe as a whole. Where do heroes draw the line and fight the impossible, and where do heroes cross the line for the betterment of their world as a whole? That is the amazingly complex question posed by this series, and combined with some gritty and intense artwork, this collection showcases a heavily mythology based storyline that will take the Illuminati members to the farthest reaches of the Marvel multiverse. A must read for any Marvel fan!

All-Star Batman, Volume 1: My Own Worst Enemy 

Written by: Scott Snyder (Goodreads Author) (Writer), 

Art by: John Romita Jr. (Penciler), Danny Miki (Inker), Dean White (Colourist), Steve Wands (Goodreads Author) (Letterer), Declan Shalvey (Artist), Jordie Bellaire (Colourist)

Synopsis:

A part of DC Universe: Rebirth!

The #1 New York Times best-selling author of Batman returns to the Dark Knight in All-Star Batman, Volume 1: My Own Worst Enemy! But he’s not alone. Critically acclaimed, legendary illustrator John Romita, Jr. joins him on this epic new series!

In this new graphic novel, Batman finds himself trying to help old friend Harvey Dent…now known as the villainous Two-Face! The Dark Knight accompanies his foe on a cross-country trip to fix his scarred face and hopefully end the Two-Face identity forever. But when the former Gotham City D.A. sets his plan into motion to free himself, what deadly secrets from the past will bubble to the surface?

One of the biggest creative pairings in DC Comics history share their take on one of the greatest heroes ever in All-Star Batman, Volume 1: My Own Worst Enemy!

Verdict:

This is a Batman pushed to the very edge and into the darkness like we’ve never seen him pushed before. The gritty nature of the artwork punctuates the dark nature of Batman’s battle to save the man behind the monster, Harvey Dent, as Two-Face threatens to tear Gotham apart. It’s also Batman at his lowest, as both villains and allies turn against the Dark Knight when Two-Face threatens to reveal the darkest secrets the city has to offer. When the world seems to be gunning for you, how does the Dark Knight remain vigilant in his quest? By sheer determination. The action and heart-pounding drama of the first volume in the All-Star Batman series sets the tone for the mature storytelling the caped crusader is facing going forward, and introduces a new terrifying foe that is sure to give Batman a true test of will and strength in the comics going forward. 

Shazam! Volume 1: 

Written by Geoff Johns

Art by: Gary Frank (Illustrator)

Synopsis

Young orphan Billy Batson has bounced from foster home to foster home, but he’s far from the ideal child. Brash and rude, Billy is a troubled teen that just can’t seem to find a calling. But after a fateful night on a subway car, that all will change.  

Brought to the feet of the magical wizard Shazam at the Rock of Eternity, Billy is imbued with powers beyond any mortal man. By shouting the wizard’s name–Shazam!–the young teen is mystically transformed into the powerhouse known as Captain Marvel! Now given abilities that make him Earth’s Mightiest Mortal at the utterance of a simple phrase, will Billy make the right choices and do what it takes to become a hero? Or will he succumb to the poor choices of youth–and the villainous Black Adam!

Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, the team behind the New York Times #1 best-selling graphic novel BATMAN: EARTH ONE, unite to re-invent Captain Marvel as a part of DC Comics–The New 52.  Collected here for the first time ever is the series of back-ups that ran in the pages of Johns’ critically acclaimed JUSTICE LEAGUE.

Collects JUSTICE LEAGUE #0, 21 and stories from JUSTICE LEAGUE #7-11, 14-16, 18-20.

Verdict

A fantastic companion graphic novel to the recently released film Shazam!, the comics bring the new story of Billy Bastion to life perfectly. The heartwarming and emotional story of a young foster kid who doesn’t trust anyone must learn to trust in the power of friendship and family as a new evil emerges from the depths and Billy is gifted with a fantastic power. The action is fantastic, as is the artwork. The inclusion of Black Adam gives fans a tease for where the series could go in the DCEU, and gives readers a chance to see the evolution of the character before the film was released. This is a must read DC graphic novel. 

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Dark Nights: Metal

Written by Scott Snyder (Goodreads Author)

Art by: Greg Capullo (Illustrator), Jonathan Glapion (Illustrator)

Synopsis

The New York Times bestselling BATMAN writer and artist team of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo re-unite in the epic event graphic novel DARK NIGHTS: METAL!

 The Dark Knight has uncovered one of the lost mysteries of the universe…one that could destroy the very fabric of the DC Universe! The dark corners of reality that have never been seen till now! The Dark Multiverse is revealed in all its devastating danger–a team of twisted, evil versions of Batman hellbent on destroying the DC Universe! 

 With appearances from heroes, villains and faces long forgotten, DARK NIGHTS: METAL will examine every choice a hero doesn’t take and every path they don’t walk, and open up worlds that are forged by nightmares. 

  Together on a single title for an outstanding fifty issues, Snyder and Capullo’s award-winning stories BATMAN VOL. 1: THE COURT OF OWLS, BATMAN VOL. 3: DEATH OF THE FAMILY and BATMAN VOL. 7: ENDGAME turned generations of Batman fans into a global horde of Batman superfans. With DARK NIGHTS: METAL, Scott and Greg will build on this strong foundation and broaden the scope of their storytelling to encompass the full expanse of the DC Universe.

 Collects DARK NIGHTS: METAL #1-6.

Verdict

The mythology of the DC Universe gets a horror based, terrifying new twist as the dark multiverse is introduced. The exploration of a multiverse made up of the fears and dark thoughts that creep through the minds of others within the normal multiverse was a genius idea, especially when focused on one of the most selfless heroes in the DC Universe: Batman. A hero who normally always has a plan, the concept of having to battle several evil versions of Batman who conquered their dark universes and have trapped Batman in the dark multiverse, it was chilling and fascinating to see the DC Heroes have to face their darkest fears and witness the near destruction of everything they held dear. From these pages one of the most terrifying new DC villains has emerged, the Batman Who Laughs. A twisted, “Jokerized” version of the Caped Crusader is a chilling thought, and sets up one of the most dangerous threats the DC universe has ever created. This is a must read for any diehard DC Comics fan, as it creates a truly memorable multiversal tale that lines up with tales such as Crisis on Infinite Earths and Final Crisis. 

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Aren’t The Emperor’s New Clothes Grand by Philip M. Fishman Review

A humorous, insightful and honest exploration of one of the most controversial leaders of the United States takes shape in author Philip M. Fishman’s novel “Aren’t The Emperor’s New Clothes Grand”.

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

A humorous, insightful and honest exploration of one of the most controversial leaders of the United States takes shape in author Philip M. Fishman’s novel “Aren’t The Emperor’s New Clothes Grand”. 

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The Synopsis

A satirical expose’ comparing Trump to the Emperor in the tale by Hans Christian Andersen. Pointing out that his words and deeds echo those of previous and current dictators, and make him, in the author’s opinion a threat to our Constitution and Republic.

The Review

This novel does an incredible job of highlighting the vast amount of hypocrisy that goes into the Presidency and the man that is Donald Trump. Using detailed research and examples to showcase the lies and deceit the current U.S. President has told, the author delves into a wide array of aspects of Trump’s presidency and failed promises, and lists out the many ways in which these promises became lies. 

From the President’s claim of love for the military despite dodging the draft, to the long string of Tweets, interviews and campaign speeches that showcase the President’s long standing racism (with plenty of examples from his past to highlight this aspect), this book does a fantastic job of drawing the reader in and picking apart the facade of the President’s history and persona. 

A fairly quick read, the author’s writing is on point, creating a very succinct and straight to the point dialogue directly to the reader that feels authentic and factual in every turn. The way the author uses the classic Hans Christian Anderson novel “The Emperor’s New Clothes” to highlight the vanity and facade of Trump’s legacy and campaign. No matter how much he and his White House shout all of the “amazing things” he has done in the office, the facts don’t lie, and they are there for anyone to see so long as they are willing to look themselves.

The Verdict

This is a book that is both humorous and a wake-up call to anyone either living in the United States or anyone watching the events unfolding in the United States on just how dangerous a man this is. While the hypocrisy is evident in every turn and the author does a marvelous job of highlighting that in a great satirical way, the author also showcases the horrors of the President’s actions and sentiments while in office, and the truly horrible things he is willing to do while there, so long as it benefits him. An informative read that will also provide a bit of a chuckle, this is a novel you won’t want to miss. Be sure to grab your copy of “Aren’t The Emperor’s New Clothes Grand” by Philip M. Fishman today.

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

I have been fascinated by science since age five or six, when I got a telescope for a birthday. At that point I was going to be an astronomer, but that changed when I got my first chemistry set at about ten. 

B.A. Chemistry Indiana University 1961. 

First lieutenant Army Chemical Corps 1963. Last assignment – Executive officer technical intelligence detachment.

Retired in late 2002 after a successful career with a number of chemical companies including one that I started and a second that I co-founded in 1974 for recycling and disposal of waste chemicals.

After retirement became a consultant and then a teacher. 

Now in my fourth career as a writer.

My first book was a memoir of a brief teaching career that I began when I was 66. Title is “Teacher’s Gotta Dance”, available presently only on Kindle. Second book was a rebuttal to Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth”, titled “A Really Inconvenient Truth-The Case Against the Theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming”. My latest is a novel, titled “Secession- A Republic Reborn”. 

Also a podcast interview (not the same). The interview starts seven minutes or so into the podcast. 

https://audioboom.com/posts/6109981-podcast-anson-knowles-7-15-17.

The Plain of Jars by Nick Lombardi Jr. Review

A grieving mother who lost her son to the Vietnam War learns years later that the ashes given to her by the military may not belong to her son after all, leading her to a journey of discovery that will leave her and readers shocked in author Nick Lombardi Jr.’s novel “The Plain of Jars”.

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

A grieving mother who lost her son to the Vietnam War learns years later that the ashes given to her by the military may not belong to her son after all, leading her to a journey of discovery that will leave her and readers shocked in author Nick Lombardi Jr.’s novel “The Plain of Jars”. 

The Synopsis

2014 Dayton Literary Peace Prize entry!

What would you do if you found that the bones and ashes you were given by the Air Force were not the remains of your loved one? Dorothy Kozeny, a 64-year-old widow from a small town in Ohio, after getting no answers from the relevant authorities, decides the only thing to do is to go to Laos herself to search for the truth concerning her son’s fate. In 1990, accompanied by a trusted Laotian called Kampeng, Dorothy travels deep into the mountains of rural Laos, attempting to trace her son’s path through inhospitable terrain, an unforgettable trek that provides her with a rewarding, often humorous, and at times frustrating, cross-cultural experience. All clues lead her to a mysterious figure, an alleged CIA operative left over from the war, living in a remote and hostile area deep in the jungle. The second part of the book traces the life of this enigmatic character hiding in Laos, the two main characters linked through Dorothy’s son.

The Review

This was a powerful and emotional story that focused on the pain and loss families feel for loved ones lost to war, the horrors many soldiers witness and are forced to become a part of during war, the injustices committed during the Vietnam War, and the struggle to let go of violence and hatred to lead a more peaceful and happy life. 

While the story did a great job of showcasing both the more modern day struggle of a mother looking for her long thought dead son and the past of the son’s journey through a hellish war, his attempt to escape it, and those who ruthlessly fought to stop him, the true heart of this novel was the backdrop of Laos and the Plain of Jars themselves. 

Those unfamiliar with the history of this area and site should know that during the Vietnam war, more bombs were dropped by the U.S. Military on the Plain of Jars in Laos than in the entirety of WWII, and over 80 million of these bombs remain a constant danger to the people there as they failed to detonate at the time and remain hidden in the area. This story highlighted the struggle of the people of Laos and the horrors they and the soldiers in the country bore witness to during this war. The savagery in which soldiers and operatives were trained to become monsters, and the struggle to use peace and non-violence to combat that savagery, took a major portion of this book and readers will instantly connect with the characters as a result of this particular piece of the story.

The Verdict

This was a gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, impactful and engaging read that fans will not want to miss. Author Nick Lombardi Jr. does it again with this memorable story that captures the era and history of this devastating war, and brings to life the unpleasant truths of the loss and pain it caused on both sides. In the end however, what truly stood out amongst all of this horror and heartbreak was the love and passion for which a mother fought to either find her son or at least get the truth of his passing out for the world to see. A mother’s love can be felt in every chapter of Dorothy’s tale, and makes her son Andrew’s backstory all the more powerful. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of Nick Lombardi Jr.’s novel “The Plain of Jars” today!

Rating: 10/10

I’m happy to share this link from my friends at BetterHelp for anyone looking for the best online therapy sites. Be sure to click the link to find out for yourselves.

https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/therapy/what-are-the-best-online-therapy-sites/

About the Author

Author Nick Lombardi Jr. has spent over half his life in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, and he speaks five languages. An event in California in 2011 in which a homeless man was beaten to death lead Nick to write his newest novel, Justice Gone. Nick now lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. 

Online: FacebookAuthor Website

’Til the Last Snowflake Falls (The Adventures of Fawn #1) by Al E. Boy Review

A young reindeer seeking a life of excitement and adventure finds more than she bargained for as her adventures soon become more dangerous than she could have ever known in author Al E. Boy’s novel “’Til the Last Snowflake Falls (The Adventures of Fawn #1)”.

A young reindeer seeking a life of excitement and adventure finds more than she bargained for as her adventures soon become more dangerous than she could have ever known in author Al E. Boy’s novel “’Til the Last Snowflake Falls (The Adventures of Fawn #1)”. 

The Synopsis

“I want some fun and excitement! I don’t care how dangerous it is!” Even if your parents are legendary reindeer Comet and Vixen, life can still be pretty boring. Fawn is a precocious youngster who starts sneaking out of the stable every day looking for fun, excitement…and friends. She’ll find them all…but she’s also going to encounter more than her share of danger! 

The Review

The author does a fantastic job of creating a wholly unique and original Middle Grade Action/Adventure story that incorporates both new characters and classic fairy tale and holiday characters readers will know and love. The story focuses on the power of friendship, family and the pros and cons of seeking adventure and a life outside of the one you know. It also highlights the struggles of youth to connect with others and the natural rebellion many children face when they become their own person. 

A mixture of a middle grade action/adventure story that explores the innocence of youth and a rich setting filled with magic and wonder, this story does an excellent job of drawing the reader in and creating a story that both naturally feels like a holiday read and yet could be enjoyed any time of the year. 

The Verdict

A story of exciting adventures, shocking twists and turns and a magical ending that speaks to the nature of this wonderful tale, author Al E. Boy is a natural born storyteller who does a great job of creating fresh new takes on classic characters. With a whole new cast of characters for readers to fall in love with, this is a story you won’t want to miss, so be sure to grab your copy of ’Til the Last Snowflake Falls by Al E. Boy today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Through almost 40 years as a Santa Claus, Al E. Boy developed quite a repertoire of tales to explain and answer the many questions children ask about Santa, the North Pole, his reindeer, and his friends, the elves.

It was this collection of tales which prompted him to begin writing The Adventures of Fawn. Through the young daughter of legendary reindeer Comet and Vixen, he’s been able to weave an exciting, colorful, imaginative world which will delight readers of all ages!

Mr. Boy not only hopes you enjoy these tales, but make reading them part of your Christmas traditions, as well.

Additional info: ‘Til the Last Snowflake Falls was awarded the Bronze Medal in Dan Poynter’s 2017 Global E-book Awards, is listed as ‘Recommended Reading’ with The US Review of Books, and was awarded an Honoree Medallion by indieB.R.A.G.. In addition, it has garnered a number of favorable reviews.

Links: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NRZO920

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36291145-til-the-last-snowflake-falls

http://aleboysnowflake.wixsite.com/fawn

Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/The-Adventures-of-Fawn-740272912731782/

Monkey Man by M.N. Snow Review

A futuristic, punk-style story brings four very different individuals together in a world few would recognize in author M.N. Snow’s novel “Monkey Man”.

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

A futuristic, punk-style story brings four very different individuals together in a world few would recognize in author M.N. Snow’s novel “Monkey Man”. 

The Synopsis

Cyberpunk?  This ain’t it.

Steam-punk?  Wrong again.

This is New-Burn® Coal-punk, set in the present of a slightly altered, not too distant future.

Belay that, call it future-punk and be done with it.

Global warming fixes have overshot their mark and boomeranged the world into global cooling. With global cooling came the flooding of the lower Great Lakes. Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland, Toronto, etcetera—all flooded out. A majority of the refugees have been relocated to The Zone, the formerly named Twin Ports of Duluth, MN and Superior, WI—now the third largest city in the North American Protectorate, and easily the coldest.

Four people are drawn together in this wintry port city on the far western edge of Lake Superior.

–Delores Manning, a shrewd, New York femme fatale chasing her ex-husband and the money he stole from her.

–Wally Moon, back from his fifth combat tour, on three different continents, in a world perpetually at war.

–Julie Newman, recently a civilian, laying low and wondering if it’s paranoia, or is someone really after her.

–Finally, Danny “Java” Vacha (Vuh-SHAY)—who is definitely NOT a private detective. What he is is a combat vet who lives as far off the skyline as possible. However, he has been known to occasionally look into things and, perhaps, to settle the odd score or two for people. And with all the dry-grade digital and wet-grade bio military enhancements he has endured, he can be quite effective at that job.

In Wally Moon’s words, “Think of Java as Robin Hood… with a lead-pipe.”

Bundle up and enter their bleak world.

And watch your back.

The Review

What really stands out about this novel above all else is the effortless way the author blends so many different genres into one narrative. One moment readers are in a future punk style setting filled with people who have been physically and mentally altered or enhanced, and then in the next readers are exploring a noir style mystery with a futuristic military and espionage thriller bend. Yet the narrative never feel confusing or overstocked, instead bringing a new natural mixture of genres that really works in the reader’s benefit. 

The characters themselves are also a huge draw. In this futuristic, cataclysmically different world the author has created, the characters feel both cinematic and relatable all at once. The core connection these characters share speaks of a story of makeshift families, struggles with the vices of our world and the horrors of war on the human psyche. These deep, emotional and wonderfully told elements of the characters only serve to better enhance the narrative set in this action-packed punk world. 

The Verdict

This is a new punk style novel that any fan of cyberpunk, Neo-noir style punk or any other reader of the overall genre will absolutely fall in love with. It’s an evenly paced read filled with twists and turns, and creates a detailed image of the scenes playing out in the reader’s minds. From mind control and sexually driven body modifications to military black ops and the bonds of a self-made family, this adult noir-punk style novel is beautifully written and a must read book in 2019. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of M.N. Snow’s “Monkey Man” today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

M. N. SNow’s fiction has been published in “Decimos-We Say” and “Oeuvre Magazine.” Snow’s first novel, “The Helper”, was published in 2017. The author was also a contributing writer for “Reader Weekly”, in Duluth, MN. SNow’s bio includes years as a public radio host and anchor, primarily in the south Florida market, but also for Wisconsin Public Radio. M. N. is also a published poet, a published cartoonist, and a former Marine Corps NCO. The author’s time is divided between Key West and the south Florida mainland, with occasional trips back home to The Zone.

Soteria: The Crisis Forge By Roberto Arcoleo Review

Two very different brothers from another world must find a way to save two worlds and discover the truth of their purpose on Earth in author Roberto Arcoleo’s novel “Soteria: The Crisis Forge”.

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

Two very different brothers from another world must find a way to save two worlds and discover the truth of their purpose on Earth in author Roberto Arcoleo’s novel “Soteria: The Crisis Forge”. 

The Synopsis

SENT TO EARTH TO SAVE IT, MARK AND JASON MUST UNRAVEL THE TRUTH OF THEIR MISSION BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE.

While on a routine transportation run, an ore hauler from the planet Eldern discovers that humans on Earth have developed nuclear capabilities. What’s more, they learn an asteroid is on a trajectory that will destroy all known life on the planet forty years in the future. The Council of Eldern decides to intervene. A plan is drawn up and twin emissaries are sent to Earth to save it.

Mark and Jason grow up and settle into Manhattan in the 1960s. With protests, vibrant art, and a thriving music scene, the city is pulsating with energy and the future looks bright. More powers are revealed to the twins but few details about their mission are provided. As the time grows closer for them to fulfill their duty, they sense that things are not as they seem.

With the fate of both planets in the balance and time running out, can Mark and Jason unravel the truth before it is too late?

The Review: 

This book is an interesting and creative blend of classic sci-fi world building and mythology mixed with an infusion of late 60’s/early 70’s culture and style from Earth that makes this a fun and exciting read. The mix of otherworldly powers, alien worlds and world ending threats somehow feel natural when combined with relatable characters, stories of newfound love and the honest look at different relationships and how they grow or fall apart. 

Showcasing the very different outlooks on humanity and life in general between the two brothers Mark and Jason as they grow older was interesting to see, and the author did a great job of not wasting time building a lot of backstory before diving head first into the book’s narrative. It was an evenly paced read that held many twists and turns and created a fun new sci-fi mythology many can get behind. 

The Verdict

This is a must read novel. A phenomenal first entry in what promises to be an exciting new sci-fi series (one can hope), the book is an adult narrative filled with passion, romance, action and unbelievable sci-fi powers and technology that both seem out of place in the era of the novel’s story and somehow fits in all at once. This is a book you won’t want to miss, so be sure to pick up your copy of Soteria: The Crisis Forge by Roberto Arcoleo today! 

Rating: 10/10

Guest Blog Post: What I’m Writing Now, Now That My Novel Is on the Shelves By Madeline Sharples

Hey everyone, Author Anthony Avina here. I’m honored today to be sharing with you this guest blog post from author Madeline Sharples, author of the recently reviewed book, Papa’s Shoes, in association with Women on Writing Tours. I hope you all will enjoy it and please make sure to comment on this post and share it as well. Enjoy everyone.

Hey everyone, Author Anthony Avina here. I’m honored today to be sharing with you this guest blog post from author Madeline Sharples, author of the recently reviewed book, Papa’s Shoes, in association with Women on Writing Tours. I hope you all will enjoy it and please make sure to comment on this post and share it as well. Enjoy everyone.


I didn’t think I had another book in me after I finished my novel, Papa’s Shoes. Writing that took a long time even though I didn’t work on it straight through all those nine years. But when I had finished the tenth revision, I felt my book writing days were over.

However, I started to get itchy to write something else when I started querying publishers – exactly what I did in 2010. I started my novel while I was querying publishers for my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On.

I took one look in the mirror and realized from my aging face that I’m at that stage in my life when I have almost all of it to look back on. I just turned seventy-nine, and my mirror told me I looked it. 

So I thought I could write a memoir from an old wise woman’s approach to turning eighty. I could write about the secrets of staying married to the same man for forty-nine years and living in the same house for forty years. Really where have all those years gone? And really that brings up another big question – how much time do my husband and I have left anyway, and what are we doing to prepare for our last years? Or better yet, how we’re handling our lives right now as we age – each at a different paces. Yes, I decided another memoir or even two are a real possibility. The options are endless: how we’re still working at surviving the loss of our son in 1999, what we eat, how we sleep, my health and exercise program, about our travels, and what do we do all day at our age.

Another thing that triggered my decision to write this new memoir is the many people my age who are sick or have died. Just yesterday I heard about the death of a wonderful work colleague and friend much younger than me who died of a massive heart attack. With those facts in mind I decided to bring aging healthy into the book. I am very fit for my age. I workout every day and eat healthy. Why couldn’t I write a memoir about aging healthy? 

I hope readers will take a good look at themselves and what they are doing to live the rest of their lives successfully. I hope they will take my examples about what to do and what not to do as I age seriously. For example, I recently spent a few days with my cousin who is four years younger than I. She is out of shape and doesn’t eat very healthy. But while I was with her we took long, fast walks every day, and she’s still taking them even though I’m not with her. She says I was an inspiration to her. I hope to be an inspiration to all my readers. 

I also have to contend with the hardest parts to write: 1) the lasting effects of our older son’s suicide death in 1999, 2) my married son and daughter-in-law’s decision to live a married life without children, and 3) some regrets about decisions I’ve made over the years. I know all of us have life experiences that are hard to write and talk about. We also have regrets. Hopefully my writing about these things will engage my readers in thinking how they’ve lived their own lives and what they can improve on for their futures.

So far, I’ve written the first draft to this brief outline:

PART ONE

  1. What stage of life I am in right now
  2. A little looking back – maybe incorporate my reunion experiences of seeing old classmates and being in the neighborhoods where I grew up
  3. What I see when I look in the mirror
  4. My daily routine
  5. What I do to take care of myself
  6. How much I like my privacy and alone time
  7. My physical maladies
  8. My emotional life 
  9. My depression and suicidal thoughts
  10. I say I’m a writer, but what do I really write
  11. My writing routine
  12. My volunteer life: South Bay Cares and WriteGirl
  13. My married life
  14. How my son’s death affects my life now
  15. What about no grandchildren – how has that affected my relationship with my son and daughter-in-law
  16. How I spend my time
  17. Friends and relatives – how much I back away
  18. What I see for the future
  19. What’s next on my bucket list
  20. End of life directives
  21. My beliefs or lack thereof of an afterlife, and my lack of a spiritual life

PART TWO

  1. What advice I give to those heading my way

PART THREE

  1. How I feel about turning eighty and repairing for my imminent 

About the Book:  

Papa’s Shoes, a work of fiction about immigration with a feminist and historical bent. At 99,968 words, Papa’s Shoesis a stand-alone novel with series potential.

Ira Schuman is determined to move his family out of their Polish shtetl to the hope and opportunities he’s heard about in America. But along the way he faces the death of three of his four sons, a wife who does not have the same aspirations as his, and the birth of a daughter, Ava, conceived to make up for the loss of his boys. Ava grows up to be smart, beautiful, and very independent. 

Besides having a feisty relationship with her overly-protective mother, Ava falls for the college man who directs her high school senior class play. With the news that she wants to marry a non-Jewish man, Ira realizes that his plan to assimilate in the new world has backfired. Should the young couple marry, he must decide whether to banish his daughter from his family or welcome them with open arms. Even though he won’t attend their wedding, he makes her a pair a wedding shoes. In his mind, theshoes are simply a gift, not a peace offering. 

·        Print Length: 286 pages

·        Publisher: Aberdeen Bay (April 27, 2019)

·        Publication Date: April 27, 2019

·        ASIN: B07R7MQ6CM

Praise:

“From an insightful storyteller, Papa’s Shoes, is a heartwarming story of courage and love. Author Madeline Sharples has created an epic journey with intriguing twists and surprises along the way. From days of old in Poland to cultural and economic realities in America, this is an awe-inspiring novel about families, generational history, and the incredible power of change. You truly won’t want to put it down!”

—D.A. Hickman, author of Ancients of the Earth: Poems of Time

“Author Madeline Sharples tells the intimate story of an American family, of immigration, tragedy, renewal, and love with grace and the delicate touch of a poet. There’s a raw kind of sweetness in this rich and epic saga.”

—David W. Berner, author of The Consequence of Stars and A Well-Respected Man

“An immigrant family’s braided history – its conflicts, losses, and secrets – come to life in Papa’s Shoes. With loving attention to detail, Madeline Sharples transports readers from a Polish shtetl to the Illinois town where Ira and Ruth settle, and shows us the intimate workings of their

marriage. This family’s triumphant journey to the American Midwest will inspire you long after

you’ve closed these pages.”

—Eleanor Vincent, author of Swimming with Maya: A Mother’s Story

A longer synopsis

On a cold and pouring night in Sokolow Poland, Ira Schuman carefully steps over the red mud puddles on the streets, sad, weary, and soaked. He dreads what he’ll find when he arrives at his two-room house in the Jewish section of the stetl. He envisions his mourning wife, Ruth, angry he wasn’t home when three of their four boys died during a flu epidemic.

As he enters the silence in what was once a home full of the loud voices and cries of little boys is deafening. However, he can’t wait to embrace Ruth, comfort her despite his own grief, and tell his surviving son about his love for America.

Ira’s goal is to become Americanized and bring what’s left of his family to a small town in Illinois, when he has enough money and an established business. Ruth doesn’t want to leave Poland and the graves of their three dead sons.

After their initial cold and difficult reunion, Ira keeps his promise to impregnate Ruth before he goes back to Illinois. Three years later he sends her the money to follow him to Illinois with their son age 10 and little girl, Ava, age three. Ruth agrees to leave Poland because of fears that the Russian army will recruit her son.

After a short stay in Chicago, the family moves to Danville IL, where Ira joins his brother in their shoe-making business. Though free of his long hair, beard and forelocks, and wearing modern clothes without the four-cornered yarmulke he threw into the Atlantic Ocean, Ira wants to bring a semblance of Orthodox Jewish life to his family and his new town. He creates a synagogue, hires a rabbi, and arranges the delivery of kosher meats. He also begins an affair with a chubby but curvy redheaded widow. Ruth, who smothers Ava and tries to keep her a little girl, has grown fatter and more unkempt, always wearing the same tight-fitting black dress she wore in Sokolow. She wants no part of Ira’s synagogue work.

Ruth keeps her hold on Ava, antagonizing her daughter. They argue continuously throughout Ava’s school years. Ava gets the lead in her senior high school play, and she and the director, a student at the local college, strike up a relationship – she tells her parents they are just friends when he picks her up to take her to school events.

Her brother, in law school in Chicago at nights and working in the textile business during the day, comes home and warns his parents that if they don’t move her away from this gentile, he will take her to Chicago himself. Ira agrees to let Ava go; Ruth does not. In the end her brother’s argument wins. Ava, ever respectful of her parents and out of her love for her brother, tells her director friend that she must leave. They are devastated but stay away from each other until the day before her departure.

In Chicago, Ava’s brother introduces her to a suitable man. He’s a bit of a milk toast, messy, and not very motivated in school or business, but he’s nice and attentive so she goes out with him for quite some time. Her rationale is that dating him will protect her from meeting someone she could actually fall for. She also experiences the modern ways of young women in the 1920s. She goes to dance halls and speakeasies, speaks flap talk, works as a seamstress, designs her own short and swingy dresses, and lives freely away from her mother. Her suitor proposes, but Ava says, “What a pretty little ring,” instead of yes.

After continued pleas from her director friend and her still undying love for him, Ava returns to Danville as a mature and determined young woman. She withstands a blow-up with her parents when she tells them she wants to marry her gentile friend. Ira throws her out.  That night he goes to the synagogue to say the mourner’s kadish for his daughter but decides to break up with the red-headed widow and mourn his relationship with her instead. To assuage his guilt, he makes her a pair of shoes that she wears at her wedding.

While Ava is sad not to have her family with her at her wedding, she is hopeful that her mother and father will come around. Her biggest fear is that she will never see her brother again, the man she loved and looked up to all her growing up years. However, she is happy with her decision to marry her love no matter how they feel.

About the Author

Madeline also co-authored Blue-Collar Women: Trailblazing Women Take on Men-Only Jobs (New Horizon Press, 1994), co-edited the poetry anthology, The Great American Poetry Show, Volumes 1, 2 and 3, and wrote the poems for two photography books, The Emerging Goddess and Intimacy (Paul Blieden, photographer). Her poems have also appeared online and in print magazines, e.g., in the 2016 Porter Gulch Review, Yellow Chair’s In the Words of Womyn 2016 anthology, Story Circle Network’s journals and anthologies, the Best of Poetry Salon 2013-2018, and the Vine Leaves Literary Journal: a Collection of Vignettes from Across the Globe, 2017.  And her articles have appeared in the Huffington Post, Naturally Savvy, Aging Bodies, PsychAlive, Story Circle Network’s HerStories and One Woman’s Day blogs, and the Memoir Network blog. One of Madeline’s essays has also appeared in the My Gutsy Story Anthology by Sonia Marsh. 

Madeline also co-edited Volumes 1 and 2 of The Great American Poetry Show, a poetry anthology, and wrote the poems for two books of photography, The Emerging Goddess and. Besides having many poems published in print and online magazines, writes regularly for Naturally Savvy, and occasionally for PsychAlive, Open to Hope,and Journeys Through Grief and The Huffington Post.


Find Madeline Online:

website/blog

Facebook page 1

Facebook page 2

Twitter page



———-Blog Tour Dates

Launch Day – June 3rd

Madeline Sharples launches her tour of “Papa’s Shoes” with an insightful interview and giveaway at the Muffin!

June 4th @ Coffee with Lacey

The lovely Lacey reviews “Papa’s Shoes” by Madeline Sharples and shares her review with readers at Coffee with Lacey. This is a blog stop and review readers won’t want to miss!

https://coffeewithlacey.com/

June 5th @ Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews

Lisa Haselton interviews well known author and memoirist Madeline Sharples about her latest novel “Papa’s Shoes” – the story of a Polish shoemaker and his family as they settle in America. This insightful interview is one you won’t want to miss!

http://lisahaseltonsreviewsandinterviews.blogspot.com/

June 6th @ Beverley A. Baird

Beverley A. Baird shares her thoughts after reading the touching story of a Polish shoemaker and his family as they settle in America – “Papa’sShoes” by Madeline Sharples is a book that is sure to please readers!

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

June 7th @ Linda Neas

Today’s guest author at Words from the Heart with Linda Neas is none other than well-known author and memoirist Madeline Sharples. Today, her guest post is titled “How I reinvented myself from a technical writer and editor to a creative writer – and at my

age.” Heart from Madeline and learn more about her latest novel “Papa’s Shoes”! 

https://contemplativeed.blogspot.com/

June 12th @ Linda Neas

Last week, readers at Words from the Heart with Linda Neas read a guest post penned by Author Madeline Sharples and today, Linda will share her review of Madeline’s latest novel “Papa’s Shoes”. This is a blog stop you won’t want to bypass!

https://contemplativeed.blogspot.com/

June 18th @ Selling Books with Cathy Stucker

Cathy Stucker interviews Madeline Sharples at Selling Books. Readers will flock to learn more about Sharples and her latest novel “Papa’sShoes”.

https://www.sellingbooks.com/

June 26th @ Linda Appleman Shapiro

Fellow author and memoirist Linda Appleman Shapiro shares her review of “Papa’s Shoes” by Madeline Sharples. Don’t miss Linda’s insight into this touching story of one Polish shoemaker and his family as they move to America!

http://applemanshapiro.com/category/book-reviews/

June 27th @ World of My Imagination

Nicole Pyles reviews the latest best selling novel “Papa’s Shoes” by Madeline Sharples – readers will delight to hear what Nicole thinks of this crowd pleasing story of one Polish shoemaker and his family!

https://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com/

June 28th @ Deal Sharing Aunt / Vicki Brinius

Vicky Brinius reviews “Papa’s Shoes” by Madeline Sharples. Find out how she feels after reading this touching story of one Polish shoemaker and his family as they settle in America.

http://dealsharingaunt.blogspot.com/

July 2nd @Author Anthony Avina

Fellow author Anthony Avina reviews “Papa’s Shoes” by Madeline Sharples – this is a touching story of one Polish shoemaker and his family as they settled in America.

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

July 2nd @ Amanda Sanders

Amanda of Amanda Diaries reviews Madeline Sharples latest novel “Papa’s Shoes” – read Amanda’s review and add this lovely story to your TBR pile today!

https://amandadiaries.com/

July 4th @ Author Anthony Avina

Readers at Anthony Avina’s blog will delight with today’s guest post and author interview with Madeline Sharples – learn more about her and her latest work!

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

July 5th @ Lisa Buske

Lisa Buske shares her review of “Papa’s Shoes” – the latest novel by Madeline Sharples and a touching story of one Polish shoemaker and his family as they settle in America.

https://www.lisambuske.com/

August 12th @ Kathleen Pooler’s Memoir Writer’s Journey

Readers and writers alike will want to stop by Memoir Writer’s Journey to hear from Kathleen Pooler and friend / fellow author Madeline Sharples as they discuss Madeline’s latest book “Papa’s Shoes”.

https://krpooler.com/