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Archive for the ‘Book of the Month’ Category

After the War, Before the Peace

By Sharon Poppen

Copyright 2002 by Sharon Poppen

Published by Xlibris, paperback $22.95 ISBN10 1-4010-6545-7, eBook $9.99 ISBN10 1-4535-8286-X

After the War, Before the Peace is Sharon Poppen’s stunning debut novel set in the years following the American Civil War. With stunning characters who leap off the page and into your imagination and meticulous attention to detail Poppen’s novel is more than the story of one family ravaged by Civil War and left to rebuild their lives in a world that refused to acknowledge things like basic American civil rights, compensation for war crimes or the prosecution of war criminals.

The story of the Farrell family, whose patriarch, as well as two sons fought for the Confederate States of America and the wife and two younger sons left behind in Summerville, South Carolina will cause you to experience the gamut of human emotions from outrage and fear to love and joy. It is a tale of the triumphs, tragedies and deeply personal experiences of a family first torn apart by war, then separated by the need for retribution and revenge. It is a story of love that can overcome any obstacle, as well as love that fails to rise to the occasion and meet the challenges put before it. It is one family’s story that was echoed multiple times throughout a war ravaged country, where, in the author’s own words, “citizen fought against citizen.”

I found myself caught up in After in the War, Before the Peace within the first few pages. I read in bed sick, because I couldn’t put it down. I read it long past bedtime once I was recuperating because I just had to know what was going to happen next. When I awakened in the morning I reached for along with my morning cup of coffee. For seven days the Farrells were an integral part of my waking and sleeping moments and at no point in time was I sorry I had invested so much time and energy into their story. It left me deeply satisfied and looking forward to the sequel Lita’s Story – A Meandering Tale, which is due to be released sometime in the future by Virtual Tales Publishing who incidentally have also picked up After the War, Before the Peace for re-release sometime in 2012. For now though After the War, Before the Peace can be found through Xlibris and on Amazon’s website. Pick up a copy, it’s a wonderful novel I’m sure you’ll enjoy.

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Fever Dream

by Preston & Child, copyright 2010 by Splendide Mendax, Inc. and Lincoln Child

published by Grand Central Publishing, Hachette Book Group,237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017, ISBN 978-0-446-55496-1

Fever Dream by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child is a stunning trip into the mind of the criminal, the insane, and downright devilish. Exquisite writing brings the characters and scenes of Fever Dream to vivid life as you meander down the twisted path of discovering ‘who-done-it’ in a twelve-year-old murder only recently uncovered.

FBI Special Agent Pendergast, the rather strange and somewhat dark hero of our story is a complex and infinitely interesting character who brings an added dimension to the typical detective of mysteries. He even has his own “Mr. Watson,” a NYPD cop named Vinnie D’Agosta who sees the clues Pendergast misses and encourages him to keep going in his darkest hour.

The murder in Fever Dream is highly personal for Pendergast. It involves the twelve-year-old murder of his wife Helen, previously thought to be an accident. From there the story evolves with a few surprises along the way.

What follows is a passage from the early pages of Fever Dream:

“Pendergast and his wife had left their hut and were in the dining shelter, guns beside them, sitting in the soft glow of a single bulb. There were no stars – the night had been overcast, the darkness absolute. They had been sitting there, unmoving and silent, for the last forty-five minutes, enjoying each other’s company and – with the kind of unspoken symbiosis that characterized their marriage – preparing mentally and emotionally for the hunt ahead. Helen Pendergast’s head was resting on her husband’s shoulder. Pendergast stroked her hand, toying now and then with the star sapphire on her wedding band.

“You can’t have it back, you know” she said at last, her voice husky from the long silence.

He simply smiled and continued his caresses.”

Fever Dream by Preston & Child is a literary mystery in the best of the old tradition coupled with modern science and information. You can’t miss it.

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Imago Chronicles Book Two: Tales from the West

By L. T. Suzuki

Copyright 2002, L. T. Suzuki, ISBN 978-1553696568

Imago Chronicles Book Two: Tales from the West by L. T. Suzuki continues the story of Nayla Treeborn begun in the first volume, A Warrior’s Tale, which incidentally is optioned for a major motion picture. Tales from the West introduces a palate full of new characters and a new adventure and a new love for Nayla. Will this love be more faithful to her than her first love was? You’ll have to read to see.

Tales from the West is artfully crafted with a scintillating storyline and a constant escalation of tension that will keep you turning the pages. I read this 413 page book in three days. I think I only stopped to grab coffee so I would have the energy to keep reading because I had to know what was going to happen next. Nayla Treeborn is a character near and dear to my heart and I can’t wait to read the rest of the books in the series.

In Tales from the West a great quest is undertaken by seven men, six humans and one elf. Of the males all are warriors save one, an innocent, a boy, the young squire of one of the princes in the party. Together the party is destined to try to protect humans and elves from the coming of a get evil, the dark lord Beyilzon and his mighty army. If they fail, the worlds of elf-kind and humankind will be lost. It is an all or nothing situation.

The young squire is stolen from the party by emissaries of the dark lord and this is where Nayla enters the picture, battling the emissary who has the boy and freeing him. Nayla flees after the battle to pursue her own quest. Due to her stature and her battle skills all are left wondering who the boy or young man who came to their rescue was. Then Nayla comes to their rescue a second time, leading the group to safety after a hazardous turn of events. It is at this junction that the party learns their rescuer is actually a woman, who can not only carry her own weight, but best any man among them. After some consideration part of the party asks Nayla to join them on their expedition. Not everyone likes this idea but after giving it due consideration Nayla, and because of one member of the party in particular and his role in relation to her own people, Nayla decides to join forces with the expedition.

As usual Suzuki, a master at martial arts herself, brings all her knowledge of this art to bear in the fight scenes making them realistic. Her writing skill makes the scenes steal your breath away. At every turn she is the consummate professional drawing into the world of her creation with artful imagery and storytelling.

What follows is a passage from Imago Chronicles Book Two: Tales of the West:

“At the mouth of the Gap where the pass opened up into Darross, Markus and Arerys caught up to Faria. An Expression of utter shock was etched across this knight’s face as he took in the carnage. His mind was reeling, unable to comprehend the magnitude of the devastation that lay before him.

Nicobar, his childhood home, was now but a memory. And against the night sky, King Sebastian’s castle was a stark silhouette, dark and abandoned. The banners bearing the golden dragon, the heraldic symbol of Darross that once flew high and proud over the castle walls were now conspicuously absent.

Faria’s eyes scanned the darkened landscape littered with the dead. Everywhere, there lay body after body. He dismounted from his steed as he gazed at the fallen knights and soldiers before him.

“How can this be?” gasped Faria, shaking his head in disbelief as he swallowed back his mounting rage.

“This would only have happened if the captain was killed at the onset of the battle,” determined Markus. “The ranks collapsed and mayhem ensued.”

“Do not say that!” growled Faria. “The captain is not dead! He cannot be dead!”

Ignoring Markus’ words, Faria frantically raced from corpse to corpse, searching the faces of the knights once in King Sebastian’s service.

“Faria, we must move on,” ordered Arerys. “There is nothing we can do for these men.”

The Elf’s words went unheeded as Faria scrambled from one knight to the next. As he came to a body that lay near the banner bearing the emblem of the golden dragon, Faria fell upon his knees. Many arrows had pierced the knight’s body that lay before him. Arerys and Markus came to Faria’s side.

Carefully, he removed the helmet, gently cradling the dead man’s head in his arms as he trembled, overwrought with sorrow. Faria began to weep for this lost life.

“Who is this fallen knight you grieve for?”questioned Arerys, as he knelt by Faria’s side.

Gazing up at Markus and the Elf, through his tears Faria spoke: “Here, in eternal sleep, lies the protector of the House of Northcutt; trusted servant and loyal knight to King Sebastian.”

“He was the captain?” determined Markus.

“He was my brother, Davenrow Targott,” responded Faria, a sad sigh escaped him as he lay the younger sibling down. “The one I had appointed to captain the army in my absence.”

Tales from the West is full of examples of the personal tragedies and triumphs of a people who have literally set out to save the world. Its tension is finely tuned, its characters skillfully drawn and it storytelling exquisitely set forth. Tales from the West is a prime example of why fantasy and adventure is such a wonderful release for those who, like me, love it.

Please note that with some booksellers this book is listed as the first in the series. To avoid confusion look for the words Tales from the West in the title or search for it by the ISBN number. Currently the book is available only in electronic format for popular reader applications and in a pdf version although a print version will be available in the near future. If you purchase the book in deluxe PDF version through the author’s official website at http://web.me.com/imagobooks it is numbered correctly as the second book in the series.

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Imago Chronicles Book One: A Warrior’s Tale

By Lorna T. Suzuki

Copyright 2003 by Lorna Suzuki, printed by Lightning Source, distributed by Ingrams and also available from the author’s website at http://web.me.com/imagobooks

ISBN 978-0-986724-0-2-2

Imago Chronicles Book One: A Warrior’s Tale by Lorna Suzuki is currently under negotiations for film production. This isn’t surprising as the storyline for the book is action-packed and engrossing. The lead character, a half-human, half-elf young woman is strong, yet very vulnerable, but not in ways that are easily discernible, even to the reader’s eye.

The heroine, Nayla Treeborn is taken away by a family friend after her father beats her. Nayla is taken to a hidden colony far to the north of the city where she grew up. Nayla is hidden amongst a fierce band of people who are also spiritual warriors, called the Kagai. It turns out the Kagai knew, and admired Nayla’s mother, Kareda Bansho. Wanting to leave her past behind her, Nayla takes on a mortal name given her by her mother and becomes Takaro Bansho, leaving the identity of Nayla Treeborn behind her as she enters the Kagai warriors’ town of Anshen.

The Kagai are kind people and under their tutelage Takaro flourishes. As time goes by she is taught the ways of the Kagai warrior and her long life allows her to extend her studies through multiple generations of Kagai masters. The down side of this long life is she sees so many friends pass away, but at last, she becomes a Kagai warrior.

The action scenes in Imago Chronicles Book One: A Warrior’s Tale are extremely well written. I believe this is due in large part to Suzuki’s twenty-five years of martial arts experience. She brings realism to the fight scenes that is often lacking in fantasy books.

Imago Chronicles Book One: A Warrior’s Tale is Takaro’s/Nayla’s story. It is of the battles she fights we hear. It is of her love that we are told and like her we long for its fulfillment. It is her passion, for life, for the people she protects, for those she loves and cares for, and even for those whom she despises that we care about. It is her life we wish to see preserved at all costs and throughout the novel we are brought time and again to situations where it is quite conceivable our heroine may not survive, especially since the novel opens with a scene where she is at last, preparing for death.

What follows is a scene from Imago Chronicles Book One: A Warriors Tale

“…for soon, you shall be asked to take up arms to join your brothers,” said Yaruke. “Your task will be to memorize the areas; the lay of the land Medaru shall be leading our men into. If any of the men become separated, it will be your job to see the warriors to safety. And as you are now trained in the art of healing, your task is to administer to the care of the wounded until they can be delivered back to Anshen.”

“Will I be ready?” asked Takaro. “Will I be leaving any time soon?”

“You are as ready as you will ever be. And yes, you will be leaving soon,” answered her master. “I had received word from the east that the Emperor has sent forth another army to enter our lands. He plans to invade our country before the next full moon.”

“And I shall be going this time?”

“Unfortunately, yes,” answered Yaruke, with a dismal sigh.

“How can that be unfortunate? I have trained for this a good long time, master. I have seen too many of my brothers go off to battle, some never to return. I feel a need to go; to fight by their side.”

“Are you not scared?” queried the warrior priest.

“I cannot deny that deep down, I am scared, but I am more scared of failing than I am of dying,” she responded in a small voice. “I am afraid that I may not have the courage to face the enemy when the time comes. I worry that I may lack the bravery to rise up against our foes to do what you and your forefathers have done.”

“What do you define as courage, Takaro?” questioned Yaruke.

“A warrior who is courageous is one who can boldly charge into battle and willingly slays the enemy, as quickly and as many as possible,” she answered with conviction. “And he can rise up to each occasion to do battle again and again without wavering.”

“No, my child, this is not courage. Any seasoned warrior can enter battle and not think twice about the situation he is about to face.”

“Then what does it mean to be courageous? asked Takaro, curious to learn more.

“The measure of one’s courage is not dependent on the number of heroic feats one undertakes, or the number of foes taken down in battle,” explained Yaruke. “Instead, true courage arises when one is forced to face his absolute worst fears, to be truly frightened, yet still find the courage to rise up and meet the challenge. Now that is true courage.”

Takaro considered her master’s words and with a sigh, responded: “Whether this type of courage is within me, is yet to be seen. I suppose I will not know until the moment of truth.”

“Let it not be said that there is not one of us; my father, his father, or his father’s father who did not question this the first time we were asked to take up arms. It is like a baptism by fire, not until you are tried in the heat of battle will you discover your true courage,” Attested the elderly warrior. “For my part, I have shared with you all that I can of warriorship. I have imparted the wisdom of my forefathers on to you. And through you, I hope to keep our traditions alive for as long as it is need to secure peace and justice in our realm.”

“I will try to do you proud master,” promised Takaro, bowing deeply in respect.

“I know you will, little one. I hold great hope for you,” said Yaruke. His eyes twinkled with pride as a smile creased his aged face. He gave her hand a gentle squeeze of reassurance.”

Imago Chronicles Book One: A Warrior’s Tale is a fantasy full of touches of realism. It speaks with action, love and wisdom. It draws you deeper into the story and into the fantasy as you continue to read. I highly recommend this book. Remember, if production negotiations go well look for it as film or another type of media.

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The Faithful

By Jonathan Weyer

The Faithful by Jonathan Weyer is an absolutely stunning debut novel in the emerging genre of Christian horror. While many may think that term is any oxymoron Weyer proves that not only do the two go together, but they can do it extremely well.

Weyer’s main character, Pastor Aidan Schaeffer is undergoing a crisis. He’s lost his faith in God, is embroiled in the middle of an investigation involving the ritualized death of his former girlfriend, and is being attacked by demonic forces. Furthermore, some parishioners of his are having strange occurrences at their home and the wife is having strange dreams that seem somehow prophetic.

Pastor Schaeffer’s former girlfriend was just one in line of women killed by a group seeking to resurrect an evil power. They are seeking to perform ritualized murders at places of power, drawing on the energy of the places to help them accomplish their purpose.

The Faithful includes a modern group whose purpose is to stop demonic actions. They are referred to rather tongue-in-cheek by Pastor Schaeffer as Ghostbusters, though he is warned not to use the term in their presence as they would fail to find any humor in it. Thought at first to be ruled against by the Bible, Aidan is shown that is not what the Biblical passages in reference actually say. Men, and women, have to have a way to combat evil and this group goes as far as possible in their attempt to stop the evil permeating their town from coming to fruition.

Weyer’s skill is unsurpassed as he spins a tale of the macabre that leaves you turning each page desperately longing for more. Once I started the book I couldn’t put it down except to go to sleep at night. I found each page leading me further into a mystical and at times terrifying world that showed glimpses of the other side of goodness, kindness and Godliness and left me hoping the good guys would prevail, even though this is far from assured in this page-turner.

What follows is an excerpt from the book:

“Detective Brown, I’m a minister, and like doctors, we often get calls at three in the morning. On that night, I got the call at about 11:00. A member of our congregation called to say her husband was having severe chest pains.”

Jennifer traced a finger along her scar.

“And you rushed right off to be there?”

“I did…”

…”Can you tell me their names?”

“Yeah, of course, Olan and Edna Wilkes. It turns out Olan just had a bad case of acid reflux, thank God, but it took them about seven hours to get that diagnosis right.”

“You stayed the whole time?”

“Of course I did.”

“Why?”

“Um, because I didn’t want Edna to be alone while her husband might be having a heart attack.”

“You care that much?”

Okay, enough was enough.

“I’m sorry, Detective, does this have anything to do with Amanda’s murder?”

“It could.”

“What, are you trying to establish my alibi? Am I a suspect or something? I said, staring at them, not quite believing the direction the conversation had taken.

“Yes, actually, that’s exactly what we are trying to do?” Lieutenant Weaver spoke.

The Faithful by Jonathan Weyer is a must read for this fall season. Curl up under a blanket beside the fire, relax, as much as possible given the nature of book and enjoy the thrill-ride. Just make sure you leave plenty of lights on.

The Faithful by Jonathan Weyer, copyright 2010 by , Publication date October 1, 2010 by Brio Press, Distributed by Interface Media Partners a sister company of Lerner Publishing, Author Website http://www.JonathanWeyer.com Publisher Website http://www.BrioBooks.com ISBN 978-0-9826687-0-2, available from Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, Amazon, other online and local book retailers

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