First, a sincere apology to Samuel for the delay in posting this review. But I got here 🙂
I applaud Samuel’s courage I revisiting this traumatic event and writing his story.
I was expecting “life lessons” neatly packaged from this writing, but it is not to be so. The true lesson, if there is to be one, is gleaned from how Samuel has steadfastly moved on in life bearing the scars, in a society which recoiled from his physical scars. And these scars also ran deep, and we see a man acknowledging the fears and pain he carried, and embodying gratitude.
Samuel’s inspirational story is a simple narrative of a life impacted by events beyond his control. I hesitate to say more of the event in question, other than it being a cautionary tale. This focal point of this story serves to remind the reader that the human spirit can surmount if the will is strong.
A story of trauma, healing and growth worth reading.
The author provided a copy of the book for an honest opinion.
When you read the book, you realize a great deal of research and analysis went into its making. There are a few good stories about players, as the title indicates, but there is an overwhelming amount of stats packed into the few chapters. I think that’s an overwhelming amount for me. For a baseball fanatic, and I use that word in a positive manner, this would be right up their alley.
The stories and stats included are from the early 1900s, until the new millennium. There are names I’ve never heard of and I’m surprised, considering names and situations they’re attached to.
I’m not going to give away the stories and the statistics, unlike some other reviews. There are comparisons between players as well as times. And even I could understand the significance. I’m not a baseball novice by any means, I’m just not an avid fan these days. That’s why I say this is more for someone looking to get the details they might not find elsewhere. Because the more you read, the more you know.
Fiction: WWII Historical Fiction/German Historical Fiction/Military Historical Fiction/Biographies of World War II. 646 Pages Print. Mount Sopris Publishing (March 31, 2020)
The ninth great-grandson of legendary privateer Captain William Kidd, Samuel Marquis is the bestselling, award-winning author of a WWII Series, the Nick Lassiter-Skyler International Espionage Series, The Joe Higheagle Environmental Sleuth Series, and a historical fiction novel centered on the infamous pirate, Blackbeard. His novels have been #1 Denver Post bestsellers, received multiple national book awards (Foreword INDIES, American Book Fest’s Best Book Awards, Beverly Hills Book Awards, IPPY, Next Generation Indie Awards, Colorado Book Awards), and garnered glowing reviews from #1 bestseller James Patterson, Kirkus, and Foreword Reviews. Book reviewers have compared Marquis’s WWII thrillers “Bodyguard of Deception,” “Altar of Resistance,” and “Spies of the Midnight Sun” to the epic historical novels of Tom Clancy, John le Carré, Ken Follett, Herman Wouk, Daniel Silva, Len Deighton, and Alan Furst. (Emphasis by Ronovan.)
In addition Sam has been the Kirkus Reviews Book of the Year Winner. Kirkus Reviews, founded in 1933 it has been considered one of the big two along with Publishers Weekly. To be selected for review is a sense of worth for an author. To be selected as a book of the year? I can’t imagine but can dream. (Kirkus Reviews is owned by Nielsen Holdings, 2010.)
In Soldiers of Freedom: The true story WWII Story of Patton’s Panthers and the Edelweiss Pirates, Samuel Marquis mixes his ability to capture authentic dialogue with his massive amounts of research to give societal issues and the human condition during the time not only by the obvious racial aspect but by nation and society ruled by a dictator and his self-important official and citizen followers. Marquis gives the experiences of the soldier as a person with thoughts and feelings beyond being in a war simply to be following orders and killing the enemy, but the rest of his life the experiences of war touches. This carries over to the military command level as well as citizens in the home nation of the Nazi regime.
With a book set in WWII Europe and involving the 761st Tank Battalion, there must be sensory loaded descriptions of battles; the roar of guns, the smoke, the smells, the confinement, but more than that, I am given the emotional mindset of a tank gunner, and his comrades-in-arms as they fight against the Nazi regime. Marquis does not stop there, he gives a taste of what it’s like to be a Black man in the 1940s and how that translates to being a soldier at war, while at the same time often outranking white soldiers who show disrespect, disregard, and disdain for them.
Getting flipped on its head, I then read about the physical and emotional state of a teenage German girl, who is resistance fighter with the Gestapo dogging her every step, a situation more treacherous than any man would face. She shows me not every German in WWII is either a Nazi, a Nazi supporter, or innocent of having blood on their hands.
The dialogue and action of the military and resistance fighters draw you in and give you a sense of being a part of a war environment, not just the battlefield of soldiers, but the battlefield of citizens fighting their own government. Marquis uses his research materials of government documents, biographies, interviews, and personal letters to great dramatic effect.
Soldiers of Freedom is told through the voices of three people; SARGENT WILLIAM H. BURNEY, a Black man from Harlem on Manhattan Island, New York who is a part of the 761st, GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON Jr, commander of the US THIRD ARMY, and 16/17-year-old ANGELA LANGE, daughter of a German Colonel, and member of the EDELWEISS PIRATES, a real German resistance group in Cologne, Germany.
While reading I can’t help but feel the frustration of the young Black soldiers not just during the war, but from the moment of sitting down with a recruiter and being told that you aren’t allowed to so much as try for what you dreamed of doing in the military and for your country, that you would have to take another route. I am surprised by the honesty of the recruiter considering the times. Frustrations continue wherever McBurney goes, from one camp to another, all in the name of training. The use of the JACKIE ROBINSON’s court-martial hearing is perfect to put an exclamation point on the 761st time in the US.
Samuel Marquis gives facts of history not taught to me even in my higher-level History courses at university, and that was as a History Education major. For example, the existence of the 761st TANK BATTALION, the reason for their formation, how they end up in Europe, and the impact they make on the war, which is huge. They are a large part of important moments. There are times in McBurney’s journey I want to punch so many people, run over them with my tank, or shot them with my big 76mm gun, preferably with a round of HE. I get to see the reaction of the German soldiers, and German citizens as well, misrepresented in every level from middle school through university. I learned what a HE was, as well as what a 76mm was and what it could do.
“But it struck him as ironic that he and his fellow Negro tankers were about to cross the same ocean their African ancestors had crossed in chains; and that, in taking part in the struggle against Nazism, they were about to fight a war in the name of freedoms neither the men of the 761st nor their forbearers had ever enjoyed.”—Sergeant William H. McBurney, Tank Main Gunner, U.S 761st “Black Panthers”
What I enjoy a lot is the sharing of the experience the tankers both in battle and in the everyday life of a soldier. The difficulty the drivers and gunners have using these machines is incredible. How although the tanks can be lions, they can also quickly turn into lambs. I haven’t come across another book, of any kind, describing with such honesty what a soldier goes through in the confines of a war machine, regardless of the genre. I don’t know how they did it. I’d still be shaking, rattling, and my eyes would be bopping all around to this day. Then there is what McBurney reveals about German towns and the citizens they come upon. I have never given much thought to that part of the story, at least not down to that level. One reason for not knowing is, history books don’t teach about the Black soldiers of WWI and what they did in Germany. You must read to believe.
“Lord help us,” [Patton] said, pulling out a fresh cigar. “And Lord help me when this war is over.”
“Why’s that, sir? I would think you would celebrate.”
“No, Codman. With nothing to do, I’m going to be a [***]damn wreck and an absolute nuisance to my wife.” – Major Charles Codman and General George S. Patton Jr, Freedom Soldiers
That sampling of dialogue is just a little taste to help you get in the spirit of General George S. Patton Jr.
Patton is as flamboyant and audacious as I thought. Using diaries and letters, Marquis gives me the colorful language and stories Patton liked to tell, but more importantly, his feelings about soldiers under his command, as well as the Generals and commanders he must work with. Those feelings are quite surprising, not only for the tough-as-nails Patton but from a field general at all. I laughed, yes laughed, reading old Blood and Guts Patton’s
exchanges with GENERAL DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, as well as other generals, and his thoughts on the BRITISH FIELD MARSHAL BERNARD MONTGOMERY. And the honest opinions of Eisenhower, at least through research are eye-opening. What is revealed about the politics, perceptions, and egos of war and how they play out on the battlefield is not necessarily surprising, but are brutal when laid in front of you and you can’t help but see it and think about the outcomes.
The resulting command structure and atmosphere of the European Theater following Patton’s removal for slapping two shell-shocked soldiers in Sicily are painful to watch with Patton demoted then later given command of the US Third Army. How the war would have been different if not for his believing the soldiers were just trying to avoid fighting. No one had heard of PTSD in the 1940s. The press had a field day, but Patton had a powerful fan and ally waiting in the wings to help get him back in the war.
For the ugly truth was that every German was ultimately guilty for allowing Hitler and the Nazis to rise to power and hiding their head in the sand and turning their backs when the regime began singling out Communists, Jews, clergymen, and other racial, political, and social enemies of the Reich. – Angela Lange, Freedom Soldiers
Angela Lange is loosely based on real-life Edelweiss Pirate of Cologne, GERTRUD KOCH, but with elements drawn from events experienced by her comrades. I learn through Angela’s authentic filled voice and view, just how naïve and young these Edelweiss Pirates, who called themselves Navajos out of admiration for the Native American tribe, are in the beginning, but also how fast they grow up. Their main target is the Hitler Youth that patrols the town and enacts harsh punishment on those they deem conducting criminal or disloyal acts. The demented CRIMINAL COMMISSIONER FERDINAND KÜTTER of the Cologne Gestapo along with his interrogators are nothing but sadistic, rabid dogs who enjoy nothing more than torturing Germans and enemies alike until they get confessions, information, or death. Marquis settles into a groove with Angela’s story as the book continues. I witness the innocence, naivete, love, pain, tragedy, hope, despair, spirit, and determination throughout this young woman’s story and all while battling with the Gestapo. And not just any Gestapo, but some of the most factually brutal in the Nazi Regime, that were historical figures in Cologne.
As important as Patton’s story is, the 761st story is bigger and as big as their story is Angela’s story is the one that delivers a reality punch. We don’t think much about resistance within Germany unless we think of the Jews who hid from death and helped others escape it. Here we see German citizens fighting against the Nazis, not to help the Allies, but to take back the Germany they once knew.
WHAT I LIKED:
facts about unheard of people
a sensory experience from each view of the war
the action of the tank soldiers
how the 761st put aside bigotry for country
revealing details of the German citizens’ attitudes and the towns the 761st encounter
Patton’s loyalty and love for his men
the camaraderie among the US Generals in Europe
learning of and about the Edelweiss Pirates
continuing to learn about the types of Nazis through Marquis’ books (They aren’t cookie-cutter and all fall-in-line Nazis.)
the afterword information and further details of what happened next for these people
WHAT I LIKED LESS:
There are a few moments in Angela Lange’s story that don’t ring as emotionally engaging or authentic as they should be. I don’t mean the events don’t occur historically. What I mean is the telling of certain scenes are not as detailed or as emotional as they should be. Those parts that don’t capture the emotion of the scene do not take away from Angela’s experience, they lessen the impact in those specific scenes. It might be the nature of situations that gives hesitation to going deeper.
The book isn’t quite as smooth as I am accustomed to with Sam’s books, (I’ve read all the WWII series books, amazing series.) I put this down to the massive amount of action that takes place during this important period covered. Transitions within the three views sometimes take a moment to become clear as to who is speaking. I know the setting because that is clear at the beginning of each chapter. I just at times don’t know the individual speaking or spoken to. That could be me.
There are one or two, what I will rudely call minor, battles that I could do without the description of the battle, just given the information that the 761st wins and why it is important. This happens with several battles after the war turns heavily into the Allies’ favor. I always want the wins, losses, and strategic information. There are simply a few scenes where I feel like I’m reading the same scene from earlier, with minimal differences. Tanks do what tanks do, and similar battles occur, but at times there is a battle, though important, as every battle in WWII is, that can be told with just the telling of its victory and its strategic importance. Sam gives a few hugely important battles brief mentions, but we see their importance. In these cases, if Marquis went into detail, we would have more books to read.
Others have compared Samuel Marquis’ writing style to New York Times #1 Bestselling author, Ken Follett who has seen some of his books turned into movies and TV series. Also, another name mentioned is Adam Makos, another New York Times Best Sellers list author.
As for me, there is an author who wrote many historical fiction novels, the late British author John Gardner, an ex-Royal Marine commando, and Anglican Priest before losing his faith. I’ve read over 20 of his books, perhaps that is one reason I enjoy Sam’s books so much. Gardner’s historical fiction work includes the five-book Herbie Kruger Series of action encompassing WWII, the Cold War as well as subsequent events inspired by the two, and there is also the three-book Railton Family Series, which has ties to the Kruger books. If you are a James Bond fan, he wrote 15 novels, beginning in 1981 with License Renewed and ending in 1996 with Cold/Cold Fall. All of us know him for the 007 book GoldenEye, in who’s film adaptation Pierce Brosnan made his Bond debut. I’ve read most of them.
As one review states:
“Marquis is a student of history, always creative, [and] never boring…A good comparison might be Tom Clancy.”—Military.com
Obviously for fans of the authors mentioned above.
Those who enjoy digging into the personal details of historical figures.
Those who are interested in untold stories of African American History.
People who want to understand a little more about the imagery of war in ways not normally described in books or shown on film.
For those who like to understand the citizens of war, their struggles, fears, tragedies, and sometimes why they participate in a war.
Love That Moves the Sun: Vittoria Colonna and Michelangelo Buonarroti
He was the genius of his age; revered sculptor, painter, architect and poet; fiercely devoted friend; beleaguered artist to the popes; and a pilgrim in search of an elusive redemption.
She was a celebrated poet; dutiful daughter; adoring yet betrayed wife; powerful political voice; spiritual seeker; suspected heretic; and the only woman Michelangelo ever loved.
LOVE THAT MOVES THE SUN is not a simple Historical Romance, or love story. Yes, you have a telling of the friendship that the poet and what I would call a religious/social activist, Vittoria Colonna and the great artist Michelangelo shared, albeit it in a somewhat different manner, but who is to say what is what.
This is a book for every person that wants to learn about strong and influential women in Europe in the 1500s. The well described settings, character development and emotional atmosphere of the day envelope you in perfection and you forget to come up for air until the hour is so late your eyes drop or your stomach growls in protest of your neglect.
Most people see Michelangelo as one thing, an artist, perhaps too some he is the greatest. But you see with the turning pages and through Colonna’s voice that he had other depths, another purpose.
If you are not a normal fan of the Romance genre, with LOVE THAT MOVES THE SUN you receive a thoroughly researched and well-presented historical lesson that is wrapped in the velvet glove of Romance, just to trick those Romance fans into becoming History fans.
I recommend to the aforementioned genre lovers Linda Cardillo’s latest offering, as well as to those who are wanting to test the waters of Historical Romance for the first time.
This is where I would tell you a little about the author, Linda Cardillo, The problem is, there is no way I can do a cliff notes version of her life. Visit her website http://lindacardillo.com/ to see how a love of writing and Harvard Business School produce an award-winning author.
You can purchase her book at the following: (Indie Bound is the third logo in case some are not familiar with it.)
I am intrigued by the impact of internet on human lives. This book is about an aspect of it.
Title: everybody lies: What the internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are Author: Seth Stephens-Davidowitz Publishers: Bloomsbury Publishing, UK (2018) Format: Paperback Pages: 338 Genre: Non-fiction, Science, Technology, Psychology, Sociology
What’s it about?
As Steven Pinker(cognitive psychologist, linguist, and popular science author) states in the foreword, “this is a book about a whole new way of studying the mind” and, I would add, human behaviour.
This book is less about big data science than about the new innovative ways of thinking, of designing, and of approaching the questions we ask of our life.
Stephens-Davidowitz makes his points by regaling the reader with early Big Data collected through Google searches and clicks, predominantly. Facebook also features as with other Silicon Valley data companies. “everybody lies” gives new and interesting insights into matters such as the effect of assassination of leader on a country’s economy, or going to a great university equates to a better career or larger paycheck.
Stephens-Davidowitz provides a definition of “data” which is no longer limited to numbers or words. For a data scientist such as he, Big Data has four virtues. First, Big Data as “digital truth serum” as people are most honest without an apparent audience leading to honest data on say, sexual preferences or racial discrimination. It provide honest data. Second, it offers a way to run large-scale randomized controlled experiment through the click of the mouse. Third, Big Data allows us, through the large scale sample, to zoom in on subsets of people and with greater accuracy. Fourth, Big Data provides new types of data.
What’s logical and rational before is no longer enough nor are the experiment results accurate enough. The scope of our sample size has significantly increased withe the internet, so why think small?
That is not to say, as Stephens-Davidowitz points out, that Big Data is the answer but it is a valuable resource which we are ill-advised to ignore. Information is king or queen, and this is truer than before. Social science is becoming real science, Stephens-Davidowitz says. Why? Read the book.
Stephens-Davidowitz encourages us to approach this field with curiosity and creativity when contemplating how we use and manage data. Data however is neither good or evil; it is powerful. In “everybody lies”, he cautions against what Big Data cannot do and what we shouldn’t do with Big Data.
Would I recommend it?
Reading this book is a pleasurable journey. Highly recommended.
The Typist by Caroline Taylor available on AMAZON by clicking HERE.
The Typist by Caroline Taylor? Let me start out by saying that at 250 pages you’ll be able to read this one in one sitting if you choose to but actually because you can’t help it.
Set in 1960s Washington, D.C. the atmosphere is perfect. If you lived there during that time you would swear you were right back there again as you turn the pages. Taylor nailed it.
Judah Lundquist moves to DC to make a better life for herself after growing up having been used in schemes by her father and conflicting being bible thumped by her mother. That had to be confusing, but she finds the courage to move on and she ends up right in the middle of the deep end of secrets at an insurance company. Yes, an insurance company. Think about the 1960s and how easy it would be to do things less than the straight and narrow.
But the intelligent young woman doesn’t back down as the stories moves on although she is a bit naïve about certain things, it still doesn’t stop her.
You get twists and surprises by the end. The only thing I can say against the book is that it that is a bit slow to begin with, which I have found to be common in books lately. I think we as a society are just used to things being crammed into an hour or two hour filmed piece that we forget that books just like this one are behind what we see on screen, just cut up and pieced together. So keep reading and you’ll get in to a groove and finish before you know it.
Who is Caroline Taylor?
Formerly from Washington, D.C., Caroline Taylor is an award-winning writer and editor living in North Carolina. She has written two mysteries—What Are Friends For? (Five Star-Cengage, 2011) and Jewelry from a Grave (Five Star-Cengage, 2013)—and is the author of Publishing the Nonprofit Annual Report: Tips, Traps, and Tricks of the Trade (Jossey-Bass, 2001). Her short stories and essays have appeared in several online and print magazines. She is a member of the North Carolina Writers’ Network, Sisters in Crime, and Mystery Writers of America. Visit her at http://www.carolinestories.com
Title: The Amorous Heart: An Unconventional History of Love Author: Marilyn Yalom Publishers: Basic Books, Hachette Format: Hardback Pages: 277 Genre: Non-fiction, History
What’s it about?
As the title suggests, this is a book about the history of love, and so much more.
Ever wonder how the heart icon ❤ came to symbolize love? And why is the heart organ linked to love? It wasn’t always so. Of course, this begs the question – what is the meaning of love across the ages?
The earliest depiction of the heart icon is found in 6th century BCE in what is now Libya. Then it was not associated with love but rather a representation of a seed, a sign for contraception. By 6th century AD Persia, it was symbolic of grapes, vines and wine – abundance. It was in the 13th and 14th century that the heart icon came to signify love. How?
This book traces this evolution in Western culture from ancient times – Plato’s metaphysical idealism of “love” to “Ovidian love…embedded in the flesh, with the “heart” a lofty euphemism for the genitals“.
It traces the narratives of love associated with Eros and Cupid. Does carnality and passion undermine love? Is love pure?
Is heart the locus of love?
Yalom’s research took her from medieval times through Catholic and Protestant traditions (where literature, royalty and religion enmeshed) to literary figures in the likes of Shakespeare and Austen to scientific writings as she laid out the trajectory of love and heart.
“The Amorous Heart” tracks amor (sensual love) and caritas (noble love) across the centuries and tells the story of the origin of the word “romance” to the tales of “true love” where “everything is permitted for those who love” taking it beyond the questions of morals and religion.
It gives an interesting account of the age-old discourse between the religious heart versus the amorous heart when Christianity separated sex and sensual love thus delineating the act for procreation and the passion which gave rise to it.
What does history say of the heart’s ability to love one or more persons? Can it? Ought it? How are heart and love tied to marriage and the place of woman? For it wasn’t always that love is a desired prerequisite to marriage.
It is interesting for me to discover for example, present narratives of “one’s true love as one who brings out the best in us” and the notion of “unconditional love” are not modern concepts. They can be traced to the songs of the troubadours of 12th and 13th century France, Spain and Germany who professed the same.
This impressive book provides a story of the social evolution of the iconography of the heart, of the sexes in relation to our capacity to love; it serves to demonstrate our natural instinct for love and erotic expression.
Would I recommend it?
A fascinating read of a phenomenon we take for granted and for which we believe we are entitled – love.
What do you get when you combine an ex con-artist, a big man in Hawaiian shirts and a fried food loving bulldog? A dang good story.
Daughters of Bad Men is what I am hoping is the first in an ongoing series with a strong female lead Private Investigator, and get this, there is no man having to bail her out of situations or being all lovey dovey to her. Jamie Rush is legit PI with some great supporting characters, a comic relief but protective best friend (Cookie) and the best possible breed of dog you could ever have, the English Bulldog named Deuce. (My alma mater is the Bulldogs.)
In this novel Jamie is asked by her estranged con-artist half brother to find his daughter, who has gone missing. Jamie hesitates because there is a huge trust issue but since it involves the niece she once loved like her own she caves and starts the search. Her investigation leads her to shady side of Port Arlene, TX, a nice little Gulf Coast winter haven for the snowbirds of the north based on Port Aransas, TX, which is across the Corpus Christi Bay from the city of Corpus Christi.
We meet Erin, the high class but young bookie who likes to treat her silver and blue haired snow bird clients well and like family and Marissa the daughter of the local crime boss. I hope to see a lot of both in books to come. Erin has something to prove by going her own way and making her business venture work and Marissa is already a force to be reckoned with. I seriously want to see Cookie and Marissa together, which would be an interesting development considering the history between the families. Read the book to find out what I mean.
This book succeeds in what I believe it intended to, a great story AND giving a comprehensive background of all the major players in the Port Arlene universe. You close the back cover knowing exactly who Jamie is, the role Cookie plays and who the various elements to watch out for in town. Deuce, the bulldog, is as great and needed addition to the family by giving comic relief and showing another side of Jamie instead of the tougher PI side.
I give this a 4.5 out of 5 only because it took me a couple of chapters or so to get into the story. So you guys keep reading and you will really enjoy the world building Laura creates.
I definitely want to review future Jamie Rush stories.
Get DAUGHTERS OF BAD MEN at Amazon by clicking the “BUY ON AMAZON” link in the Amazon Book Cover Image below.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Laura Oles is a photo industry journalist who spent twenty years covering tech and trends before turning to crime fiction.
She has published over 200 articles in retail and consumer magazines and
has served as a columnist for Digital Camera Magazine, Memory Makers Magazine, Picture Business, PhotoInduced, Cafe Mom) and others. Her book, “Digital Photography for Busy Women,” was named a photography category finalist in USA Book News.com’s ‘Best Books’ awards.
Laura’s short stories have appeared in several anthologies, including
Murder on Wheels, which won the Silver Falchion Award in 2016. Her debut mystery, Daughters of Bad Men, was a Claymore Award Finalist. She is also a Writers’ League of Texas Award Finalist. Laura is a member of Austin Mystery Writers, Sisters in Crime and Writers’ League of Texas.
Laura lives on the edge of the Texas Hill Country with her husband, daughter and twin sons. When she isn’t writing or working, you’ll find her serving as the family Uber driver or at her kids’ sporting events.
After several years of watching soccer, she still can’t tell when a player is off sides. She spends too much money in bookstores. Visit her online at https://lauraoles.com.
I was provided a complimentary copy of this soon-to-be published book in exchange for an honest review.
Title: Awaken A New Myth: Goddess Warrior on the Hero’s Journey Author: Karen La Puma To be published: Soul Source (10 Jan 2018) Format: Paperback Pages: 204 Genre: Non-Fiction – Spiritual
What’s it about?
“Awaken a New Myth” is the first of 10 spiritual books (A Toolkit of Awakening Series) Karen La Puma has written after nearly 3 decades as an astrologer, hypnotherapist, reiki master and spiritual counsellor.
Weaving the work of Carl Jung, particularly of the Collective Unconscious and archetypes, and Joseph Campbell, in his mythological exploration of the hero’s journey, Karen La Puma proposes a new way of being.
“Awaken a New Myth” entreats readers to discover our light, to have courage to take this journey of discovery. It is premised on our belonging together as a greater Whole. The book is divided into 4 parts (Overviewing the Journey, Answering the Call, Appreciating the Positive and Discovering Purposeful Living) which mirrors the 12 stages of Joseph Campbell’s mythic structure of the Hero’s journey, the journey though taken embodied as the Warrior Goddess.
The abstract language La Puma used can be inaccessible to readers new to the spiritual path, predominantly undefined terms except for the Glossary towards the end.
The use of italicized words and capitalized abstract nouns (eg. Archetypes, Source, Essence, True Nature, Love, Divine, Being) are distracting and confusing, as I attempted to fully grasp their meaning as La Puma intended them. Perhaps it is La Puma’s intention to leave her message abstract and open to her readers’ subjective interpretation?
Awaken a New Myth is a book of ideas, rather than a theoretical exposition. It is a book with heart, and to engage the mind, greater depth is required. Nevertheless, La Puma puts forth her model of the “Goddess Warrior Magnetically Creating the Hero’s Journey” as the “answer for these quickening times, because we now have the ability, the map, and the keys to awaken and co-create a better world”.
Despite the language perhaps more suited to those already on spiritual and mythical paths, the message is a call to live authentically with a willingness to step up to our best self.
As a self-help book, Awaken a New Myth poses many reflective questions to guide readers on the Warrior Goddess’ Hero Journey which readers dedicated to the practice will find insightful answers, and for whom this resonates, a new way of being.
The sub-title “A Brief History of Tomorrow” caught my attention, and as my daughter said, “of course! You are a nerd”. 🙂
Title: Homo Deus: Brief History of Tomorrow Author: Yuval Noah Harari Publishers: Vintage Arrow (3 April 2017) Format: Paperback Pages: 400 pages Genre: Non-Fiction – Literary
What’s it about?
What is the meaning of life?
What is the purpose of life?
What compels human evolution?
What motivates human society?
What is the future of humankind?
Yuval Noah Harari attempts to answer these questions and provides, as indicated in the sub-title, a possible future based on human history. It is a book about an apocalyptic future in which technology plays a major role.
Harari is a history professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, whose widely-acclaimed 2014 book “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” plotted the history of human activity. “Homo Deus” (literal translation to Latin, man-god) is thus a sequel, if you like, to “Sapiens” in charting what the future will hold.
Harari is quick to qualify his hypotheses, that should this book enlightens and thus changes the future away from the trajectory which he predicts then he has done his job. Ominous, doesn’t it?
It is Harari’s proposition that for this century, humans’ search for meaning will be directed at playing God – to create new life forms and as intelligent designers of our own Utopia – that is to achieve bliss, immortality and divinity. This is contrasted with historical human activity geared towards merely meeting our basic needs of overcoming sickness, hunger and war.
“The entire contract [between humans and modernity] can be summarised in a single phrase: humans agree to give up meaning in exchange for power.” And for this, there will be a price to pay.
Against the backdrop of rapid technological advancement, Harari suggests we will live in the age of data-ism, in which our faith in data and algorithms will be sacrosanct, as our faith in God was. And with the accelerating rise of technology and machines, long-term future is not imaginable nor predictable. Thus, his initial qualification.
The book does not envisage the end of humanity, rather humanity as we know it. It perhaps serves as a warning against mindless and unconscious reliance on technology and data, and it begs the question: which would you choose – consciousness or intelligence?
And let me end with this – quoting Harari:
The rise of AI and technology will certainly transform the world, but it does not mandate a single deterministic outcome. All the scenarios outlined in this book should be understood as possibilities rather than prophecies. If you don’t like some of these possibilities you are welcome to think and behave in new ways that will prevent these particular possibilities from materialising.
Would I recommend it?
Yes, especially to readers interested in alternate or different perspectives, and willing to explore diverse conceptions of human civilisation.
I wasn’t sure what I would find – a good reason to read any book 🙂 . And then I cried. Not to worry, you may not as the propensity to break into tears is subjective.
Title: Braving the Wilderness: The quest for true belonging and the courage to stand alone. Author: Brene Brown Publishers: Penguin Random House UK (Sept 12, 2017) Format: Paperback Pages: 194 Genre: Non-Fiction – Spiritual
What’s it about?
You would be certified as having lived under a rock if you have not heard the name “Brene Brown” – a research professor at the University of Houston, Texas and author of numerous bestselling books. Her TED talk “The power of vulnerability” is a must-watch.
“Braving the Wilderness” is Brene Brown’s latest book investigating the landscape of connection and belonging in our human experience. To what or whom do we belong? What is true belonging? Why is connection necessary? The sub-title “The quest for true belonging and the courage to stand alone” gives away the premise of the book – that it is takes courage and we must stand alone to belong.
As with the saying, you cannot truly love others until you truly love yourself, the same applies to true belonging. Brene Brown calls this “belonging so fully to yourself that you’re willing to stand alone”, “a wilderness – an untamed, unpredictable place of solitude and searching”. Supported by immense research data, anecdotal ad personal stories, “Braving the Wilderness” posits that until we brave this wilderness, we cannot arrive at true connection with and belonging to the world.
This is a deceptively simple book to read, using inclusive language that connects and in her own voice, Brene Brown provides a blueprint, practice she calls it, contained in the acronym B.R.A.V.I.N.G. to traverse this wilderness.
This book open doors to greater insights, and a lover of alternate perspectives in particular will love this book.
Speaking her truth and giving readers the space to find theirs, this book is not a self-help book. Rather it is a book encouraging us to think for ourselves, to be ourselves, to embrace the humanity within us, in these times of polarised opinions and dysfunctional connections. It urges its readers to find their own wilderness, though “the price may be high, the reward is great”.
Would I recommend it?
Though as I said you may not cry, this book is sure to spark a recognition within you, a truth which will cause you to explore the life you live. Approach with curiosity.
Wow! This was an amazing read. It’s hard to write up a brief summary of what this book is about because there was so much going on. It opens with bodies falling, bullets flying and it doesn’t stop there. I’ve read a lot of science fiction novels and I have to say this is one of my favorites. So much blood was shed during the course of this book as the world of Frihet rebelled against Earth. Earth’s only chance for victory is the alien ship Spearhead, run by Joniskyredread, a Sklalen, who we refer to simply as Jon, and his human friend, Bryant Johnson.
There are a lot of characters throughout this book and they all seem to pop out from the pages. There are obvious evil ones, good ones and the ones we don’t know whether or not we can trust. No matter which side they’re on, the characters are to be remembered. In reference to Jon, though, I sometimes had a hard time keeping in mind that he was an alien. We’re reminded of his gray skin now and again; however, being referred to as Jon throughout most of the book just made him seem human.
The writing was tight and well done. I almost heard the war going on within the safety of my own home. My biggest issue was the POV. I noticed it especially toward the ending that we’re in one character’s POV and suddenly we know what the other is thinking or feeling. I don’t think it happened too often earlier on but it’s possible I overlooked it because I was too engrossed in the tale. It’s also possible it was meant to be that way in order to help the speedy pace. Either way, I prefer to focus on one person’s mind. Additionally, what really gnawed at me were the use of characters’ thoughts. I like it when authors italicize the thinking so it’s kept separate from the narration. This author didn’t do that. There were a lot of times when it’s a lone sentence in a paragraph, making it first person. After that one sentence, the narration would continue a new paragraph in its usual third person, until a short paragraph later, it’s back with a lone sentence in the first. It just struck me as awkward. But still, I rate this book as amazing. I feel any science fiction fan or any war lovers would enjoy this book. It’s a thrill ride you need to buckle up for.
Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 stars
Born in 1959 and getting older by the hour, Neil Davies writes Horror and Science Fiction. When not writing books, he likes to write and record music with his son, as The 1850 Project, and paint. His favourite authors are, in no particular order, Richard Laymon, Steve Gerlach, Arthur C Clarke, Frank Herbert, H Rider Haggard, Guy N Smith, H G Wells, Bram Stoker, Dennis Wheatley, Connie Willis, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Graham Masterton, Sax Rohmer… with more being added all the time. His favourite musicians include Nightwish, Nils Lofgren, Kansas, Led Zeppelin, Prince, Cat Stevens, Jimi Hendrix, My Chemical Romance, King Crimson, Yes, Spock’s Beard, Gentle Giant and lots more. In art he admires the cover work of Chris Foss and Bruce Pennington, and maintains a healthy dislike of modern and abstract art. He’s still writing and refuses to stop however much people ask him to. Expect more published works soon.
“Sarabande” is a story of two people navigating through their lives, bound by their pasts which they must reconcile in order to have a chance at a future they want.
Colin Ashe is a man losing his identity. He suffers from epilepsy which is triggered by music. His anxiety surrounding the possibility of unexpected occurrences keeps him away from a job he loves, and costs him the respect of his wife and potentially the love of his son. Then Colin digs up a box buried in his backyard some twenty years ago by a then young girl.
Anna Brawne is now a renowned cellist, committed to music and Bach. She had buried the box with its secrets to maintain a connection to the one place she calls home.
This box forges a link between her and Colin, creating an intimacy which is the catalyst for the events to follow. With the death of her mother, Anna broke free from the bonds of expectation, only to encounter Colin’s desperate attempt to hold on to his.
Where does integrity lie, in the this age of online connection? Is emotional intimacy enough to sustain a life longing to be complete? Will love redefine the measures of a real life?
What fate awaits Colin and Anna?
Would I recommend it?
Yes, Sarabande is a beautiful love story of triumph and love. I could not put it down and I’d bet neither will you.
And I cannot resist – here is Yo-Yo Ma’s interpretation of JS Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 (Sarabande).
Although I’ve read novels based on aliens, and I wouldn’t turn down a chance to read books about aliens, it’s not technically my type of thing. I tend to be very picky with the alien genre. Spirit Raiders is about such: alien abductions, the threat to humanity, advanced technology, and first contact…pretty much everything a die-hard science fiction fan would enjoy.
The plot was complex, very slow moving, filled with a lot of technical things I had trouble grasping…mostly because I’m not very technical-inclined. While much of it was science fiction, the reality of some of the technological terms was very well-researched to make the fiction appear realistic. Sometimes, I had to re-read the information to grasp what it was saying…remember, I’m not much of a technical person, so at times, the information didn’t do enough explaining for me. Other times, however, I was overloaded with information and caught myself skimming a tad.
With a little bit more editing, the writing could have become tighter and stronger, earning a higher rating. I like to be shown what’s happening during the scenes, rather than being told. It helps me visualize better, even if I’m reading about things I just don’t understand.
If you’re one that loves aliens and you can understand a bunch of technical mumbo jumbo, then I recommend you taking the time to read this book. Don’t be put off by the slow-moving parts. It took me a few chapters to really get into the story. Once I did and continued reading, I was pleased to find that it ended with a well-built, action-packed climax
Savio is a resident of Mumbai, India, who grew up on everything sci-fi. Science Fiction has its own charm of unravelling mysteries, boldly going where no man has gone before [yeah I know it is from Star-trek :)] and to seek and find explanations for the unexplained. This is more or less what excites a true sci-fi enthusiast.
Savio is one of the enthusiasts too and he is presenting his own version here. Mystery surrounds us in many ways and it is mammoth in proportion to what we know. No one knows what lies beneath the ocean; no one knows what lies beyond our solar system; no one knows how vast the universe is; no one knows if any other extra-terrestrial form exists, but still the pursuit of knowing the unknown will continue unabated and will continue to excite us. This excitement is what Savio attempts to bring out in his books.
Savio is blessed with a supportive family and has a day job in India. Writing is his passion and he also writes for many blogging sites. When not writing and not working, which, of course, happens a lot of time, Savio likes to while-away and watch sci-fi movies.
“The Museum of Modern Love” by Heather Rose traces the soul of Arky Levin, a film composer. Arky is separated from his wife, Lydia. She has asked him to keep a promise. And he does. So why is he troubled? In his restlessness, he wanders into the MOMA and sees Marina Abramovic in The Artist Is Present.
The novel spans the 75 days in which Marina performed between the months of March and May of 2010. It goes through the seven phases of a project, as identified by Marina, being:
So it is that the lives (as projects) which intersect Arky and Marina’s eventual encounter are changed.
This is a story of love, and how we perform love every day.
Love accounted for so many things. A series of biological and chemical interactions, A bout of responsibility. An invisible wave of orality that had been romanticised and eternalised. A form of required connection to ensure procreation. A strategic response to prevent loneliness and maintain social structures.
When Lydia said, “[g]o and write. Make wonderful music. Know that I love you. Have no regrets” then shouldn’t Arky do what she has prescribed?
That is what Arky believes, until he is compelled to discover love’s true gift. And this compulsion is through the art of Marina, whose performance in the MOMA demonstrated the power of connection and the magic of “being seen” by another, beyond the material visibility that is reflected through the context of this novel – the New York rich and celebrities who came to sit with Marina.
This is a story of courage, Arky’s and the participants in “The Artist Is Present” with Marina; people at the crossroads, like Jane, who observes the performance then leaves wondering,
Had it been enough to sit on the sidelines? Had she somehow missed an opportunity for something life-changing, some act of courage?
The courage to not succumb to the should and ought of this world, to face the uncertainty of beginnings.
This is a story of connection – to our past, to each other in the present, and to the future. That we hold the history of us and humanity within us. How we are shaped by the convergence of our past, present and future.
Now, day after day, he looked into the human face, painted with curiosity, and he saw the abyss of history within a human heart. Everyone was its own beaten, salvaged, polished, engraved, carved luminous form.
A connection to our raison d’être – of being open and available to that which calls to us, soul-deep, and honouring it.
All that they are is stored up loud and insistent inside them. But what does it take to be an artist? They have to listen. But do they listen? Most people are filled up with a lifetime of noise and distraction that’s hard to get past.
If Arky’s life is a project, what is the gift? His to receive or to give?
Would I recommend it?
“The Museum of Modern Love” won the 2017 Stella Prize. A thought-provoking and enjoyable book definitely worth checking out!
It’s very rare that I would be tempted to give any book more than a five-star rating. If I did do that, then Cory Barclay’s Devil in the Countryside would be one of the few. It’s 1588, and a killer is terrorizing the German countryside. It’s rumored to be the legendary Werewolf of Bedburg. Investigator Heinrich Franz is assigned to find the killer, seeking help wherever he can get it. A priest attempts to keep the peace amongst the townspeople, while he attempts to fight against the temptation of a young woman that could destroy his most basic beliefs. They find themselves wrapped in mysteries, steering through the political and religious landscape of the 16th century.
Devil in the Countryside was an extremely tightly written novel, keeping me on my toes the entire time I was reading. I did not want to put it down. The characters were three-dimensional and realistic…very memorable. In my minds-eye, the book played like a movie. I felt as though I was watching the scenes unfold so much, that at times, I had to remind myself that I was in the 21st century. I felt it was that good.
You’ll not only want to find out who—or what—is piling corpse after corpse, you’ll want to find out what secret these characters are withholding from everyone else. You’ll want to find out if they can force temptation out of their minds. You’ll want to find out everything you can about this book.
The story is action-packed from the second it begins until the ending, leaving the reader on the edge of their seat. There were times when the dialogue didn’t seem up to par with the time; however, that didn’t even matter. The scenes were painted beautifully. For readers that enjoy historical fiction, werewolf hunts, and murder, I recommend giving Devil in the Countryside a try. It’s a must-read!
As far back as he can remember, Cory Barclay has always loved the “big picture” questions. How much knowledge did humanity lose when the Library of Alexandria was burned down? Why has the concept of Heaven remained intact, in one form or another, throughout most of human history and how has it impacted life on Earth?
And even before that, when he first began writing stories in grade school, he’s been fascinated with histories and mysteries. Whether Norse mythology, the Dark Ages, or the conquests of great leaders, Cory’s been that kid who wants to know what’s shaped our world and write about it. Especially the great unsolved mysteries.
So Devil in the Countryside was a natural for him.
Born and raised in San Diego, he graduated from University of California, Santa Cruz, where he studied Creative Writing and Modern Literary Studies. He’s also a songwriter and guitarist, and – no surprise – many of his songs explore the same topics he writes about – the great mysteries of our crazy world.
Devil in the Countryside is his second novel and he’s hard at work on its sequel.
For me who’s struggling to see how five months of 2017 is nearly over, I took a mental break and reached for “The Scent of You”.
Title: The Scent of You Author: Maggie Alderson Publishers: Harper Collins Publication date: 1 April 2017 Format: Kindle, Paperback Website: maggiealderson.com Pages: 512 Genre: Fiction – Contemporary; ChickLit
What’s it about?
“The Scent of You” is Australian author Maggie Alderson’s 10th novel. It is a story of loyalty and of letting go, of following your heart or your head, and the conflicts within.
Hippolyta Masterton-Mackay, Polly to her friends, is a mother to Lucas and Clemmie, both of whom are away at university. She is also a successful blogger, an initial hobby which is now work, and a yoga teacher.
Polly is daughter to Daphne, a glamorous model at 85 years of age and living in a posh retirement home. Though she was quite emotionally absent from Polly in her younger days, Daphne now seems to have great insights into the dilemma her daughter is facing. The dilemma – Polly’s husband has vanished after declaring his need for space. What is Polly to do?
It is through her perfume blog in which she wrote of how scents evoked memories, and vice versa, which causes her to chance upon Guy, a gifted perfumer making a break in the world of scents. Guy quickly became one of her inner circle, but could there be more?
Around the same time, Polly reconnects with an old school friend, Edward, with whom she had shared an innocent kiss on the beach. Chum, a nickname for Edward, visits his stepfather at the same retirement home in which Daphne resides. And before long, Polly and Chum are taking long walks in the country, familiar and comfortable with each other’s company. Is familiarity a better choice than the excitement of Guy?
As Polly grapples with her bewildering situation of lost husband and emerging relationship, she is supported by her yoga students, Shirlee in particular.
What will Polly do? Will Polly take this opportunity to realise who she wants to be?
Would I recommend it?
“The Scent of You” is light and entertaining, a worthy beach holiday read. Or read anywhere really.
This book is filled with warm characters, lovable and flawed. Pick it up and enjoy!
Ratings: Realistic Characterization: 3/5 Made Me Think: 2/5 Overall enjoyment: 3.5/5 Readability: 3.5/5 Recommended: 3/5 Overall Rating:3/5
A story with its beginnings pulled from the headlines of today and realistic events that could happen, The Red Line gives a scary look at a what if of the near future.
First of all, I liked the book overall. The pacing was good, and everything was well developed. However, for my own personal taste there was almost too much detail. I know the author intends to give a comprehensive covering of all the aspects of the what if scenario but I personally didn’t need to know the shot by shot coverage.
That being said, it was done well and you could feel the tension in each scene. There is definite realism in the story. I like that we don’t get all sunshine and roses throughout the book. We do get realities of war even when it hurts, and that hurt is to the plus of the author’s talent. You feel the losses that take place. I would recommend this book to anyone that really gets into war stories and likes to feel the action.
I recommend this book to anyone who really gets into a good war story with real events occurring.
Love, happiness, sadness, and more fill Don’t Worry, Life Is Easy. This book is a sequel and at first you get the impression you might needed to have read the first book to understand some of the relationships but you really don’t. You quickly figure things out.
Diane, the widow who lost both her husband and child, has returned to Paris and has bought her literary café, Happy People Read And Drink Coffee, from her parents. Her energetic and comic relief friend and employee Felix is still present and bolsters up Diane during her moments of sadness and despondency.
Diane doesn’t really know what to do with her emotional life. She thinks the bookstore is enough for her but something is missing. A new relationship presents itself while old friends resurface in her life to face unsettled questions.
The characters are well developed and not one dimensional at all. The relationships are well done, make sense, and honestly are done so well you might cry by the end of the book. (I admit to nothing.) If you’ve ever faced a loss in your life and then been given the chance to fill that gap with something new, you will get this book. It’s a fairly good paced book and you could read it in a day if you dedicated yourself to it, or in two very easily. I like the fact that situations aren’t overdone or go on too long and are not repetitive. Some books replay the same scenes over and over but this one gives you something different throughout the book. The only repetitive thing in the book is some of the characters going outside to smoke a cigarette and even then something happens.
The Wager is written as a cross between a romance novel and a play. We meet two very distinct characters and we quickly fall in love with them. Sarah Dumont is a famous actress, rich, grew up in a prominent family as the oldest child. Because of her status, she is driven, focused, and pretty much snotty. Matt Shepard is not rich, who was the youngest child growing up on a farm. Matt is working hard at putting pieces of his life back together, friendly and sly.
The two meet based on a wager: Sarah is challenged that she wouldn’t be able to earn Matt’s attention. Sarah’s first intention was to have him make furniture for her in LA. Then when the wager is made, I felt like something was missing within the story line. Sarah wants furniture, then the woman tells her Matt wouldn’t meet with her no matter. From there, it seems Sarah’s immediately offended being told she wouldn’t be able to get Matt out on a date. I felt I needed something more to explain.
When they finally do meet, from there on, the two personalities clash and are full of hilarious banter. You can’t help but love them. I also love the use of Doodle, Matt’s dog, in the story. It only made me love Matt all the more. I found him to be very charismatic and charming.
The writing style flowed nicely. The only thing I wasn’t too fond of was that the narrative repeated pieces of the dialogue and vice versa. Having to read too much repetition made me skim more than I’d like. However, it was easy to get the feel of the southern accent. Whether you’re Midwestern, southern, northern or from Mars, readers will find themselves slipping into a southern accent.
Sometimes it was difficult for me to gather the feelings of the characters but I think it’s really up to the reader. After reading parts of the scene, I would go back and reread in order for me to get the sense of how they felt during the incident. I feel this is primarily due to the fact that it’s more of a play (or movie/TV script).
Regardless of the few “negatives,” I thoroughly enjoyed the read. It had humor, it had tears, it had love, and of course, a hidden moral to the story.
Mike Brister was born in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1952. His father worked for the Illinois Central Railroad and in 1955 was transferred to New Orleans, Louisiana. This began a lifelong relationship with one of the most unique cities in the world. Eventually, the family would return to Jackson.
Mike received degrees in mathematics and spent his working career as a consulting actuary. Now retired, he has written his first novel. He has made numerous trips to Haiti and plans more. The hope is that the novel is a fun read and allows for the purchase of goats for families in Haiti.