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#BOOK REVIEW BY @COLLEENCHESEBRO OF “Which Half David,” BY AUTHOR Mark W. Sasse

Which Half David

  • Title:  Which Half David
  • Author: Mark W. Sasse
  • File Size:  1929 KB
  • Print Length: 347 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN:
  •  Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Publication Date: September 15, 2016
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  •  Language: English
  • ASIN: B01KG3ZHJE
  • Formats:  Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Religious & Inspirational Fiction, Christian Fiction, Drama, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

*The author provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review which follows*

In the author’s words:

“Is your obsession worth killing for?

American mission worker Tobin Matthews becomes a local hero and celebrity in the Sulu Republic when he inadvertently foils a gang of human traffickers. But the heroism cannot mask his desperate soul, which wrestles with a broken marriage and a crippling set of doubts. As he sinks to a new low, his brazen ex-lover arrives in Sulu with her own agenda. The Asian beauty quickly becomes the greatest temptation of his life, and he must decide how far he is willing to go to have her.

Which Half David is a modern twist on the centuries old tale of King David. Set against the lush backdrop of the fictitious Southeast Asian island nation of Sulu, it is the story of one man’s dramatic fall from grace, and his struggle to come to grips with both halves of who he really is.”

My Recommendation:

Imagine if you found yourself in a situation where you had to fight to the death in order to protect yourself and survive. Would you be able to take on the challenge? When Tobin Matthews is faced with this exact situation he follows his instincts and survives. The price is high, and he wrestles with his choices much as King David did in the Bible narrative.

Mark Sasse triumphs in the reciting of this spectacular tale of Tobin’s fall from good will. A beloved missionary to the Sulu people, Tobin makes a stand in the defense of the small village. The killing weighs heavy on his mind and acts as the catalyst which sets the rest of the story in motion.

What follows is a story of a man conflicted by his choices and how he must reconcile his deeds with his religious beliefs. Through the author’s careful depiction, the reader steps inside the heart and the mind of Tobin Matthews. Each situation in the story builds off of the last. Tobin soars to fresh heights of depravity which catapult him back to the reality of his deeds. In the end, he is driven to confront the truth about himself and the type of man he has become.

However, from the beginning, Tobin is portrayed as the guy who does no wrong. He almost seems too good to be true. As the narrative progresses and he is confronted with one decision after another, you start to see his armor crack.

Tobin is not actually a hero. He just happened to be in the wrong place at the right time, and then it was doing something self-destructive – getting drunk. But that is what I most liked about the character. He was human. He didn’t arrive at the right decision all the time. He had a good inside that he didn’t realize he even possessed.

This battle, between the good and bad halves of Tobin Matthews, is what made this story shine. The conflict is real, and anyone who reads this story will recognize facing some of the exact trials in their own lifetimes. It all comes down to choices.

I have been a reader of Mark Sasse’s books for a couple years now. “Which Half David,” is by far my favorite of all of his novels. I loved the fact that the story took place in Asia. It gave it a different personality from that of the Bible story, without changing the message.

This is one book you will not want to miss!

My Rating:

Character Believability: 5
Flow and Pace: 5
Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 5
Reader Enjoyment: 5
Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 stars

5gold-star3

 

 

Mark Sasse

Author, Mark W. Sasse

About Mark W. Sasse:

Mark is a proud Western PA native but has lived most of the last twenty years in Vietnam and Malaysia. His experiences in Asia have redefined everything including his palate, his outlook on life, and naturally his writing. You can find him most days cruising around Penang Island, eating the local delicacies and taking in the sun and exotic breezes as he looks for interesting places to write.

He has authored four novels with number five and six already somewhere on the horizon. His interests cast a wide net – from politics to literature – to culture and language – to history and religion – making his writing infused with the unexpected as he seeks to tell authentic and engaging stories about people from all walks of life. His writing is straightforward and accessible to all, especially those who enjoy writing injected with doses of Asian culture, history, adventure, and delightful humor. You never know what you might get when you pick up a Sasse novel.

Besides novel-writing, Sasse is a prolific dramatist, having written and produced more than a dozen full-length dramatic productions. He especially is fond of the short play format and has won the Best Script award three consecutive years at the Short & Sweet Theatre Festival Penang. His play, “Words to Say at the End of the World” won five awards this year including Best Overall Performance and Best Director. His plays and short musicals have also been produced in Kuala Lumpur and Sydney, Australia. Performances of his scripts also won Gold and Bronze medals at the Southeast Asian Forensics Competition 2014.

His professional background is as diverse as his writing. He holds Master’s degrees from California State University Dominquez Hills and Azusa Pacific University in Humanities and TESOL respectively. His undergraduate degree was in English, which helped him develop his passion for creative writing. He has extensive experience in teaching English, history, and drama.

On top of all of this, he loves to cook everything from gourmet pizzas to Mexican, to various Asian dishes. Flavor is the key to both his cooking and his writing. He very much hopes you enjoy the taste.

Published Novels and Short Stories of Mark W. Sasse
2016 Which Half David (release date TBD)
2015 A Love Story for a Nation – Kindle & Paperback
2014 If Love is a Crime: A Christmas Story – Kindle only
2014 The Reach of the Banyan Tree – Kindle & Paperback
2013 The Recluse Storyteller – Kindle & Paperback
2012 Beauty Rising – Kindle & Paperback

Make certain to connect with Mark through Facebook at Author Mark W. Sasse and his blog at MW Sasse.com.

Book Review by @ColleenChesebro of silverthreading.com

Colleen 5.3.16

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An @COLLEENCHESEBRO BOOK REVIEW OF “A Love Story for a Nation” @SASSEVN

A Love Story for a Nation

Title:  A Love Story for a Nation

Author:  Mark W. Sasse

Website: mwsasse.com

ISBN 10:  1514131978

ISBN 13:  978-1514131978

Pages: 232 pages

Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction

** This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. **

Slip into the pages of history as you step into another place and time where order exists by the totalitarian rule of a dictator. It is a struggle to live with such a meager existence until Gerald Sanpatri, an ex-writer meets Rosia, the love of his life. It is Rosia’s devotion and love that enables him to begin writing again. Gerald pours all of his pain and heartache into his tales, writing stories of a brave child who was not afraid to stand up for what he believed in to save the people of his land from the terrible despot that ruled over them.

After the last regime change, Gerald Sanpatri stopped writing because the dictator forbade it. Instead, he performed the duties required of him while sinking into oblivion, burying his past behind him. Little by little, as his past begins to resurface, Gerald is thrust to the forefront of a stealthy movement to overthrow the dictator of which he is not even aware.


markw_sasse.jpg

Author: Mark W. Sasse

In my mind’s eye, I kept searching for a country to place these horrific events into. Several came to mind and I questioned why the author did not specify a country in the writing of this novel. Finally, I realized that the place was not the main concern. It was the message that events like these occur all over our world today that finally resonated deep within me. It wasn’t the place, it wasn’t the dictator. It was Gerald’s peaceful response that motivated a country to change.

Lovers of historical literature and fiction will lose themselves in the events that Mark Sasse has woven around these characters. I finished reading this novel on the Fourth of July while, outside my window, fireworks were exploding celebrating the freedoms of all Americans. It was a poignant moment.

RATINGS
Realistic Characterization: 4/5
Made Me Think: 5/5
Overall enjoyment: 4/5
Readability: 5/5
Recommended: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4.5

Buy it at Amazon
Format & Pricing
Paperback: $11.99 US
Kindle: $3.99 US

Goodreads

Colleen_Silver_Threading

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

@ColleenChesebro

www.SilverThreading.com

The Reach of the Banyan Tree @sassevn Mark Sasse Q&A

 

Mark Sasse Author of The Reach of the Banyan Tree Banner ImageColleen Chesesbro, one of our Book Reviewers here at LWI brought author Mark Sasse to my attention after reviewing a book called The Recluse Storyteller (review). I believe her words had the basic meaning of “INTERVIEW THIS MAN!” His writing style blew her away due to its uniqueness. Then she did another review and she was submersed in his descriptions in The Reach of the Banyan Tree (review). With that in mind the first thing I asked Mark Sasse to share with us how he developed his writing style.

Mark W Sasse AuthorOthers have mentioned that I have a unique style, but I really don’t know. I just write from my heart (whatever that means) and see what comes out. I will say that The Recluse Storyteller certainly has a unique structure with the stories inside of stories, but that’s the only novel I’ve written with that kind of structure. I’m humbled that some people like my writing style. I try to keep it simple – try to keep it real. Other than that, I have no idea how I write.

Mark and I discussed how people perhaps over analyze a writing style and then lose something along the way, or those are my words.

This certainly might be true. I purposefully try not to compare myself to others. Actually, if you want to know the truth, I really don’t read anymore. I know that is sacrilegious in most author circles. One of the reasons for this is that I don’t want to be influenced by other styles and ideas. I don’t want to imitate anyone. I just want to be myself and let the words flow. I feel guilty at times that I don’t read. In the past I have read; I was an English major as an undergraduate and read through all the major periods. Hemingway was it for me. But now when I have free time, all I want to do is write. I just try to tell the story that is currently on my heart and hope that it makes sense and can touch someone else. It’s humbling when it does.

 

When I asked Mark specifically about his style that captivated Colleen after reading The Recluse Storyteller, he gave one of the most honest answers I think an author can give.

I just write from my heart (whatever that means) and see what comes out. I will say that The Recluse Storyteller certainly has a unique structure with the stories inside of stories, but that’s the only novel I’ve written with that kind of structure. I’m humbled that some people like my writing style. I try to keep it simple – try to keep it real. Other than that, I have no idea how I write.

The Reach of the Banyan Tree Mark SasseWhen I started getting into Mark’s background and even his present I was surprised. It turned out that this Lit Major in college who was from western Pennsylvania had actually been living in Asia for 20 years, 10 of those in Vietnam. Now he resides on the tropical island of Penang in Malaysia, the country our very own Florence is originally from.  That led us into the book of focus today, The Reach of the Banyan Tree.

My ten years living in Vietnam inspired The Reach of the Banyan Tree. I wanted to paint a picture of what modern day Vietnam is like, wrapped around an engaging story. It was the easiest title I’ve ever come up with. The banyan tree in the story stands as a symbol of the passing of time and how the past keeps reaching into the present.

Penang Port

Being a Historian  I became jealous that Colleen was the one that ended up reviewing The Reach of the Banyan Tree. But I wanted to know the wrapping and the reaching that the banyan tree represented. If you don’t know how a banyan tree comes to exist and grows, you need to look into it and things become clear and Mark’s genius jumps out at you.

The Reach of the Banyan Tree chronicles three generations of American men who have been impacted by Vietnam – one at the tail-end of WWII, one during the Vietnam War, and one in the year 2000 as a humanitarian worker. It’s about the women they love, and the generational ties between families. It’s also my treatise on Vietnamese culture.

Chip is a twenty-something who has run away to Vietnam to get away from the family business. He falls in love with Thuy, a young Vietnamese woman. Each of these characters symbolize family in different ways. Chip begins to learn about his family’s past from his grandfather’s diary when he was in Vietnam at the end of WWII. This learning process helps to even heal the issues he had with his father. Thuy, on the other hand, represents a formal and strict Vietnamese family which values status, loyalty, and obligation over everything else. These two characters are on a remarkable journey through 20th century Vietnam, trying to break the chains of family and culture just to experience a little love.

Mark told me he doesn’t like the labeling of genres but I did get him to share what elements he thought would be used to describe his latest novel to you, and to me as well really.

It is partly all of the following: historical fiction, contemporary romance, contemporary fiction, love story, war and adventure, cross-cultural, literary fiction. I don’t know what it is.

When I asked Mark to describe his book in one word he said ‘Legacy’. Then I asked what what message he thought The Reach of the Banyan Tree gives its readers.

We can’t escape the past. We can run away from it for a time, but its reach is endless. We eventually have to come to grips with who we are. The symbol of the banyan tree is fleshed out well in the novel, teaching us of the bonds of family and history. Those bonds are not easily broken. Some bonds should be preserved, but others need to be carefully removed. But it’s a painful process.

Mark is the definition of write what you know. His books are about where he is, not where he wishes he was or what he wishes he could be. As a drama teacher and a person who does the casting for productions Mark lives in creativity. When some authors escape from writing at times, even reluctantly so, Mark is “always escaping to writing”. His life in drama, that creative eye and mind seeing the world in a different way. In fact that’s how he came to be an author.

I always wanted to write, but I spent twenty years doing hardly any of it. But those twenty years were a period of preparation. I started writing seriously when I began collaborating with a group of high school students on an original play back in 2007. I had so much fun that the collaboration (and production that followed) got me hooked on writing drama. I turned one of our dramas into a novella, Spy Blue, and that gave me the courage to try writing my first novel, Beauty Rising, with I published in December 2012. Since then, I’ve published two more with another on the way. I’m totally hooked.

I haven’t had the honor of reading any of Mark’s work YET but I am already a fan. Here are a few of those things fans like to know.

Since I’m in Malaysia, let me go with Teh Ais – Malaysian sweetened milk ice tea. Completely addictive. (I confirmed with Florence here at LWI and she agrees it is so good.)

Honestly, when I have free time, I write, not read. My reading consists of news, opinions, blogs, and other interesting stuff that catches my eye. I have a lot of interests: politics, economics, tech, culture, life, entertainment, etc … haven’t read any books in a while though.

No representation. I’m a proud indie author! Since I publish independently, my advice is write a quality book. That’s the key. Don’t settle for good enough. Push it and make it the best it can possibly be. Take criticism in stride and learn from it. Then push the book out there. And write another one.

As you know Mark is not just a one book guy, nor is he a novella and two book guy. I asked him about what he’s done and what he’s doing now.

My first novel was Beauty Rising, released in Dec 2012. It’s about a thirty-something going-nowhere man, who is convinced he needs to take his veteran father’s ashes to Vietnam and bury him. As he steps out of his comfort zone, he experiences a soul-awakening and an unlikely love interest. I followed up that novel with my second one, The Recluse Storyteller, in Oct 2013. It’s a fascinating story about a recluse who tells stories to herself about the neighbors she spies on. However, as the recluse begins to have contact with the people of her apartment, those neighbors begin to realize that her stories have something to say about their own lives.

My fourth novel is finished. I just sent it out to some readers for feedback. It’s entitled “A Love Story for a Nation” and is scheduled for release in mid 2015. I’m very excited about this one. I’m also 15,000 words into my fifth novel, set in a fictitious southeast Asian island. Besides that, I just re-wrote a musical script which I’ll be producing with my drama troupe in the spring of 2015. Lots of good stuff ahead!

One thing you will notice is that Mark doesn’t rush his novels. I have to say many Indie Authors push those books out as fast as they can. Mark practices what he preaches about putting out quality. Building up a catalog of books will pay off over time. A catalog of quality books that is. Mark was a great interview. I could feel the effects a culture had on him in his answers and even in his thoughts about writing. He lets the heart lead and he follows. When I get the chance I am going to read this book, and the others if possible. I’m not as avid a reader as I once was because of a concussion I suffered but I do make the effort when I see something special. The Reach of the Banyan Tree is going to be added to that list. Connect with Mark at the places mentioned below, and buy every book he has written.  And once you’ve read a book, you know what to do then . . .

Read a Book, Write a Review.

Writers Blog: www.mwsasse.com Find out what more about Mark that you didn’t read here.

Facebook Page: Author Mark W. Sasse

Twitter: @sassevn

Email: sassevn@yahoo.com

If you clicked the title of Mark’s books you’ve already been to Amazon, if not click the book covers and you’ll be there in seconds. Also you can get them in paperback  at pretty much any retailer.

Spy Blue Mark Sasse AuthorBeauty Rising Mark Sasse AuthorThe Reculse Storyteller Mark Sasse AuthorThe Reach of the Banyan Tree Mark Sasse

 

 

 

 

“In a moving work of sweeping scope, The Reach Of The Banyan Tree explores themes of love versus loyalty, desire verses duty, destiny versus fate, and family versus the individual – illuminating the familial ties that either bind us together or tear us apart.”~Literary R&R

“He weaves his extensive knowledge of Vietnam and the splendor of the countryside into his writing, as he did in ‘Beauty Rising;’ and with such vivid narratives, I could see the story unfolding in my mind. I love the compassion and complexity he puts into his writing. “~Marilou George of Confessions of a Reader

“This romance spans fifty years through three generations of American men whose lives are interwoven through the women they love, their courage to face reality, and the lifetime friendships they forged.  I loved the richness of the characters and the rites of passage into adult-hood that each endured.”~Colleen Chesebro of LitWorldInterviews

 

Much Respect

Ronovan

Ron_LWI

 

 

 

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BOOK REVIEW BY @COLLEENCHESEBRO OF “The Reach of the Banyan Tree” @SASSEVN

The Reach of the Banyan Tree

Title: The Reach of the Banyan Tree

Author: Mark W. Sasse

Publisher: Mark W Sasse (June 29, 2014)

ISBN-10: 1499713002

ASIN: B00LE5MNP0

http://mwsasse.com/

Pages: 301

Genre: Historical romance, Contemporary romance, Fiction, Historical fiction

*A copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review, which follows.

I was instantly transported back into time to August 1945, French Indochina, where Charles Regal Carson, an American soldier with the OSS Deer Team, was tasked to assist Ho Chi Minh and General Vo Nguyen to fight against the Imperialist Japanese in World War II.  What ensues is a hauntingly lovely contemporary romance filled with suspense and intrigue that brought me to tears, as I lived through the lives of Charles (Cha Le), Mai, Long, Thuy, and Charles III.

From there, Charles’ (Cha Le’s) story unfolds through the chaotic life of his grandson, Charles Regal Carson III, (Chip) who in the year 2000 left the family oil business to pursue his own ventures in Vietnam.  Surrounded by the natural beauty of Vietnam, Chip falls in love with a young woman named Thuy. Their love leads them on a journey of discovery though cultural differences, language barriers, and age old traditions that lead them to face some ultimate truths in their own lives.

This romance spans fifty years through three generations of American men whose lives are interwoven through the women they love, their courage to face reality, and the lifetime friendships they forged.  I loved the richness of the characters and the rites of passage into adult-hood that each endured.

The banyan tree plays an integral part in this story. To me the banyan tree represented the hearts of the people of Vietnam.  The tree celebrates life by leading you through the lives of Chip, his father, and his grandfather representing the reach of family ties through the generations.  I also gained a new insight into the ancient culture of Vietnam where family loyalty at all costs is still represented in modern society.

Sasse’s descriptions of the Vietnamese countryside placed me within the story.  I could see the emerald green rice paddies, and I could feel the heat and humidity that is Vietnam.  At times, I felt like I could even taste the food and wine, so detailed were the descriptions.

The cultural and societal differences between Vietnam and America were an uncomfortable truth I had to reconcile with myself.  Women in many Asian cultures are not valued as much as males are.  I was struck by how the death of the only male child in the family was viewed as a total sense of failure for the family.  The loss was such a deep scar that it consumed them and left them unable to move forward.  I was awed that these feelings and beliefs were so deeply ingrained within the culture of Vietnam and still exist today.

What struck me the most was that even though these cultural differences plagued the characters, their love and honor to each other overcame all obstacles placed before them.  I was taught that love and family truly live on through the reach of our ancestors.

Sasse is an expert story teller.  He weaves colorful characters that possess great compassion and an emotional complexity that I seldom see in romance novels.  I was deeply drawn to these characters.

This book has something to offer everyone. A splash of true historical facts, passionate love, action, and intrigue will take you on a journey you will not easily forget.  This story will remain in a soft place within your heart.

mark_w_sasse.jpgMark Sasse’s Author Interview here on LitWorldInterviews appears Friday, Dec. 5.

RATINGS:

Realistic Characterization: 5/5

Made Me Think: 5/5

Overall enjoyment: 5/5

Readability: 5/5

Recommended: 5/5

Overall Rating: 5

 

Buy it at:  Amazon

FORMAT & PRICING:

Paperback:  $11.25 USD

Kindle:  $2.99 USD

 

Colleen Chesebro

Colleen_Silver_Threading

 

 

 

@ColleenChesebro

SilverThreading.com

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BOOK REVIEW BY @ColleenChesebro OF “The Recluse Storyteller” @SASSEVN

Recluse Storyteller

(Image Credit: Amazon)

http://mwsasse.com/

Title:  The Recluse Storyteller
Author:  Mark W. Sasse
ISBN:  1492241253
ISBN13: 9781492241256
ASIN:  B00FOBQ464
Published:  October 6, 2013 Kindle Edition
Pages:  239
Genre:  fiction, suspense, drama

When I first met Margaret Pritcher, the recluse storyteller, I was not sure what to think.  At first I thought she was a psychic, or even mentally challenged, because she somehow spiritually channeled deeply buried secrets from some of the apartment dwellers in her building by weaving their stories into her own life.  I was intrigued by her storytelling methods. 

Margaret is an outsider in the world she lives in. A typical recluse, she worked at an online job to support herself.  She only went outside her apartment at night, when she thought she would not run into people she knew.  Her strangeness works for her benefit though, and I felt like I wanted to protect her because of the way she was portrayed. 

Not far into the book, I realized that she could not control when or where these stories came from.  They seemed to flow from her very soul, almost as if she was possessed.  Each of the stories Margaret told seemed to intertwine within each person’s own personal story.  With the reciting of each narrative, Margaret became weaker and weaker as her own life unraveled from her dedication to her story telling. Through the telling of these stories, Margaret and her friends find the wisdom to face their own demons and to accept themselves for the people they had become in this life.

From “Red Hat,” Mr. Cheevers, Mrs. Johnson and her twins Pam and Sam, to the Reverend Davies, and Janice, Margaret’s only living relative, I felt myself drawn into the intertwining threads of their lives and the moments that seemed to define each of them.  The story of the Vietnam Veteran gave me a glimpse into a world torn with war, split second decision making, and remorse at the hand of fate.  I was deeply moved by the journey each character took in the story telling. 

Mark Sasse writes with an unusual narrative, almost akin to stream of consciousness writing, which pairs nicely with Margaret’s personality. At first, I felt like the book was hard to follow.  Nevertheless, I found the characters to be mark_w_sasse.jpgintriguing, and the more I read the more I began to understand how the writing style was all about Margaret and the telling of her stories.

I felt the book emphasized how much we all share together in the realm of humanity.  Just as the lives of the characters in this book intertwined, so do our lives with many other people.  In addition, I felt that each character seemed to have a lesson to learn.  I could see that our lives are just that, a series of events which teach us something about ourselves we did not know to begin with.

I immensely enjoyed this book and the style that it was written in.  Mark Sasse’s attention to detail made Margaret and the cast of characters realistic in my eyes.  I would recommend this book to anyone who is searching for the answers and meaning in everyday life. 

 

Ratings:
Realistic Characterization: 5/5
Made Me Think: 4/5
Overall enjoyment: 5/5
Readability: 4/5
Recommended: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4.5
 

Buy it at:  Amazon
Format & Pricing:
Paperback:  $9.89 New
Kindle: Free

 

Colleen Chesebro

Colleen_Silver_Threading

 

 

 

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