More Of Our Readers’ Favorites of 2021 #Bestof2021

Below are more favorites chosen by our readers as their favorite books of 2021. The link to buy each book can be found by clicking on the cover.

YOUNG ADULT

Just when Areum, daughter of a privileged family in the totalitarian state of Choson, thought she was free from her personal prison, her world collapses around her as her family is taken away in the middle of the night to a hell-like camp in the mountains where people who have strayed from the righteous path are brutally re-educated through blood, sweat, tears and starvation.

There she has to fight for survival together with the family she hates and is forced to re-evaluate every aspect of her life until then: her deep resentment toward her twin sister; her view of her father in the face of mounting evidence that he is a traitor with the blood of millions of fellow countrymen on his hands; and even her love and affection for the Great General – the eternal savior and protector of Choson, whom she had always considered her true father.

This is the first book in the Juche series. There are a total of three books available right now, with a fourth coming in May. Click on the cover to find purchase information for the whole series.

Jack Monroe and his friends have been volunteered to help out at Saint Nicholas’ Farms to start off their Christmas vacation. They quickly discover that they’ve been selected to not only help decorate the Christmas tree for a big ceremony but also to foil the plans of a secret organization known as the Shadows.

Despite having his own adventure, Jack is summoned once again to witness the life of Niko Monroe, who is clinging to the hope that he can find his friends, save his family, and free the Faithful from the tyrannical reign of President Julius Arrigo.

Join Niko and his companions – Maia, Rafe, Wiley, and Flick – as they travel the State of Ariel, defy state officials out to stop them, and lead a new generation of the Faithful to unravel Arrigo’s insidious conspiracy to destroy Ariel and the neighboring nation of Jakkobah in unending war.
Is there hope for the Faithful?

ROMANCE

Single mom Jess Davis is a data and statistics wizard, but no amount of number crunching can convince her to step back into the dating world. After all, her father was never around, her hard-partying mother disappeared when she was six, and her ex decided he wasn’t “father material” before her daughter was even born. Jess holds her loved ones close but working constantly to stay afloat is hard…and lonely.

But then Jess hears about GeneticAlly, a buzzy new DNA-based matchmaking company that’s predicted to change dating forever. Finding a soulmate through DNA? The reliability of numbers: This Jess understands.

At least she thought she did, until her test shows an unheard-of 98 percent compatibility with another subject in the database: GeneticAlly’s founder, Dr. River Peña. This is one number she can’t wrap her head around, because she already knows Dr. Peña. The stuck-up, stubborn man is without a doubt not her soulmate. But GeneticAlly has a proposition: Get ‘to know him and we’ll pay you. Jess—who is barely making ends meet—is in no position to turn it down, despite her skepticism about the project and her dislike for River. As the pair are dragged from one event to the next as the “Diamond” pairing that could launch GeneticAlly’s valuation sky-high, Jess begins to realize that there might be more to the scientist—and the science behind a soulmate—than she thought.

Maya Jackson has worked for a renowned New York City bridal gown brand for years and dreams of becoming Head Designer. She has the talent, she just needs a chance to showcase her unique style. Due to an illness, she’s always prioritized her career over her personal life until Maya’s father fractures his hip and she returns to Charleston, SC. While home for only a few months, she’s thrilled to find an opportunity at the local bridal gown boutique, never expecting sparks to fly with its owner…

A military veteran and widowed father, Derek Sullivan hopes to save Always a Bride from bankruptcy in order to preserve the legacy of his family. He also wants to reconnect with his estranged, twelve-year-old daughter, who is still recovering from the loss of her mother. The last thing he needs is a relationship with a beautiful, smart, complicated woman who will be leaving soon.

When Derek begins to fall for the lovely Maya, he knows there’s no future. But destiny has its own plans, and these two lonely people with big hearts discover that coming home to love is the best gift life can give.

NONFICTION

Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni offers a remarkable insight into the lives of Afghan women both before and after Taliban’s rise to power. The reader is caught up in the day-to-day lives of women like Sharifa, Latifa and Marzia, sharing their problems, dramas, the tears and the laughter: whether enjoying a good gossip over tea and fresh nan, dealing with a husband’s desertion, battling to save the life of a one-year-old opium addict or learning how to deliver babies safely.
Mary Smith spent several years in Afghanistan working on a health project for women and children in both remote rural areas and in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif. Given the opportunity to participate more fully than most other foreigners in the lives of the women, many of whom became close friends, she has been able to present this unique portrayal of Afghan women – a portrayal very different from the one most often presented by the media.

The undertow of the Great Depression becomes poignantly personal as we experience the travails of Leora and Clabe Wilson, a displaced Iowa farm family. Gritty determination fuels this family’s journey of loss and hope, a reflection of what many American families endured during those challenging times.

In this true story the Wilsons slowly slide into unemployment and poverty. Leora must find ways to keep her dreams alive while making a haven for her flock of seven children in one run-down house after another.

Philosophers and mystics ponder the mystery of these flashes. Pamela Wight writes about life flashes in her short stories that include family and friends, love and life’s challenges. Wight’s “Flash Memoir” promotes the belief that we all share sparks of the extraordinary that occur in our everyday life. Each short story is true and brings a smile of recognition to her readers: that life transports and enthralls us in all its confusing, amusing, challenging, and astonishing ways. Each story is light-hearted and short – like a flash – but be prepared for a page-turner that keeps you in your seat, smiling.


Self-Published Saturday/Juche 3: The Storm of Storms

Self-published Saturday is my attempt to help Self-Published/Indie authors. These authors have to do it all, from cover design to editing to marketing and more. Saturdays are reserved for giving them a little bit of help with the marketing side. This week’s first offering is the third book in Adria Carmichael’s Juche series, The Storm of Storms. This is the story of a young girl and her family who are imprisoned in a concentration camp in the country of Choson, which most will recognize as North Korea. See my review and an insightful Q&A with the author, Adria Carmichael.

BOOK REVIEW

After learning Nari’s shocking secret, Areum’s plans change drastically. Her new plan is riskier and more dangerous than ever, but first they must survive a devastating storm that almost eliminates the food supply. Areum struggles to learn who she can trust as she tries to keep herself and Nari alive. Along the way, she begins to learn some things about herself and her family.

This third installment of the Juche series is packed with action, intrigue, and deception. Areum’s growth continues as she very slowly begins to see the truth, guided by Nari. Nari, though she is physically weaker than Areum, can be wiser and more perceptive, and each twin uses their own particular strengths to keep them both alive. 

In this heartbreaking but compelling series, we watch the depths of evil to which mankind can sink. At the same time, we see the strength of those who continue to fight against great odds. The characters are well written, and the intrigue between the prisoners and guards is interesting to watch. The devastating storm and its aftereffects are powerfully portrayed. As this heartrending journey continues, you won’t want to miss a moment.

COVER GRADE

Cover grade is a new feature from me. As part of stressing how important the cover is to getting your book noticed on Amazon, I am putting my opinion of the cover in the form of 1 to 5 stars. This is meant as helpful and not critical. It does not reflect on the overall book review. With the millions of choices readers have while scrolling through books online, your cover needs to stand out.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Adria Carmichael is a writer of dystopian fiction with a twist. When she is not devouring dystopian and post-apocalyptic content in any format – books, movies, TV-series and PlayStation games – she is crafting the epic and highly-addictive Juche saga, her 2020 debut novel series that takes place in the brutal, totalitarian nation of Choson. When the limit of doom and gloom is reached, a 10K run on a sunny day or binging a silly sitcom on a rainy day is her go-to way to unwind.

Q&A INTERVIEW WITH ADRIA CARMICHAEL

Tell us a little more about yourself.  Where are you from and where do you live nowWhat do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Well, I’m a project manager by day and a writer by night, and in between I have a family with two wonderful children. I also indulge in my passion for long-distance running as often as I can. I live in Europe, but I can’t be more specific than that due to the sensitive topic I’m writing on (North Korea has people who harass those who depict their country in a bad way). I am a summer person and spend most of the summer vacation in the garden or on day trips. Winter I would prefer to just hibernate through (with a short break for Christmas and New Year). But at least I can get a lot of writing done during those long, dark winter months.

I also write what I love, so I consume anything dystopian or post-apocalyptic, whether it is books, movies, TV series, or Playstation games. My favorite in that genre is the TV show “Jericho” because it lets you follow the disintegration of society day by day and not only shows it long after it has happened. I’m thinking of writing something along those lines after Juche.


What inspired you to write the Juche series?

It was about ten years ago now I think. Time flies. I had just read both the Hunger Games trilogy and Escape from Camp 14, which is about the only known person who has escaped that North Korean prison camp. While reading, I noticed there were quite a few similarities, such as one capital where people live in luxury and the rest of the country only works to maintain the capital’s wealth and power. The people there are used as slave labor. The camps/districts are surrounded by high-voltage fences and people are abused by vicious guards. District 12 is mainly used to extract coal, so is camp 14 etc.

So, I came to the conclusion that North Korea is a lot like Panem, if you take away all the sci-fi stuff, and would be a great setting for a story. I could only find one fictional novel that used this concept before me (the Orphan Master’s Son). That was the moment of inception. Then, a few years later, while I was researching, I watched a documentary which included two sisters from North Korea. The older sister had fled and was living a free life in China, but the other one was left in North Korea. With the support of the film crew, they managed to smuggle the younger sister across the border and set up a heartfelt reunion in her apartment in China. However, to my surprise, it didn’t work out like that. The younger sister was still completely indoctrinated and didn’t believe any of the bad things her older sister told her about their country and leaders. In the end, she just hopped on a bus and went back to the border. That encounter really fascinated me, and right then and there I decided I wanted to make the protagonist just as indoctrinated as that girl, and the story would be seen through her eyes as her beliefs are increasingly challenged by the reality around her. 


How many books are planned for the series? That is a good question. The thing is that I didn’t write Juche as a series. My original idea was that the story would fit in one novel. When it grew out of that, I thought – trilogy. Then five books. Now, my best guess would be 9-10 books in total, and I split them up where it fits the story and so as not to make them too long. There are however some divisions to be made, so if you think in terms of a TV series, book 1-4 would be the first season. 


Areum appears selfish and angry much of the time through the first three books, and her growth seems slow.  Her treatment of her parents is horrible.  Can you explain Areum’s bad attitude to us and is there any hope for growth?

As I mentioned in the second question, my aim was to create a protagonist who is a victim of indoctrination and to see the world as the story develops through her indoctrinated eyes. She is herself not aware that she’s indoctrinated and thinks it’s the others who “don’t get it”. On top of that, she is a strong-minded fourteen-year-old girl with family issues and everything else that comes with that. So, yes, her behavior in the beginning of the story is appalling, which at first makes the reader dislike her, but as the story progresses, it becomes increasingly clear that she is the greatest victim – the totalitarian regime didn’t only take her freedom, they took her mind as well. In essence, what I try to explore in Juche is how much reality her indoctrination can withstand before breaking… if it breaks at all. You will have to read the books to find out if her mind will be freed or not, but as to the question “is there any hope for growth”, the answer is definitely yes 🙂


Obviously the subject matter of your series is very heavy.  How do you provide a glimmer of lightness or hope now and then

I would say that since Areum starts out hating her family (parents and twin sister) more than anything, the lightness and hope comes from the changes in those relationships over time, even if the situation they’re in becomes increasingly impossible. Also, Areum is an extremely strong character that refuses to give up. She doesn’t take anything lying down, but fights and wins more often than not, and I hope the reader is along for the ride and roots for her. Also, if you have a morbid sense humor like me, there are a few treats here and there as well.


Do you have plans for writing any other series?I have several ideas (one of which I mentioned before), and considering the writing style I have developed, all of them are likely to become series. But I’m not sure if I will start sketching on any of them before I have finished Juche. I’ll see how I feel after the fourth book. 


What does your writing day look like?

I really wish I had writing days, but in reality, I have a 9-5 job and a full time family, so I write nights and weekends whenever I have some time and energy to spare. I do like writing, however, so it would be nice to be able to do it full time some day. 


What self-publishing lessons or tips have you learned thus far that you can share with new writers?

I have learned a lot these past 2-3 years, but I’m sure I have only started to scratch the surface. One thing I would advise, though, is to focus on the story. Your writing will develop over time, but the story needs to be compelling from the start. The book that helped me understand this was “Story Genius” by Lisa Cron, so would highly recommend that one to start with. Secondly, the end product is not only the text you produce. It’s also the editing and the cover design. It’s important to get those right, and that’s easier with direct communication, so I would recommend using freelancers. If you go with a larger service provider, all communication will go via a coordinator, and then you can’t shoot off random questions, the lead time is longer, and the number of misunderstandings grows ex

Adria, thank you so much for answering my questions and providing us even more insight into your characters, your writing, and this series.

BUY LINKS

*Kindle Unlimited Subscribers can read this for free.

BOOK 1 and BOOK 2 are currently part of a free promotion until the end of the day today (Saturday September 18th). They can also be read free by Kindle Unlimited Subscribers anytime.

*If you buy the book(s), please leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, as well as anywhere else you review books.  Some people feel very daunted by writing a review. Don’t worry. You do not have to write a masterpiece. Just a couple of lines about how the book made you feel will make the author’s day and help the book succeed. The more reviews a book has, the more Amazon will promote it.

*Please click on the “share” buttons below and share these books with your Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress followers. A little bit of help from all of us will help self-published authors go a long way!

 

Book Promo: Juche 3: The Storm of Storms

*Not a book review. Review will be posted later.

Juche copy

To celebrate the release of The Storm of Storms, book #3 in her YA Dystopian saga, Juche, Adria Carmichael is giving the first two installments away for FREE! From September 14th to the 18th, you can download The Demon of Yodok and The Weeping Masses on Amazon for zero dollars!

Juche part three - eBook - CopyThe Storm of Storms (Juche #3)

Publication Date: September 15th, 2021

Genre: YA Dystopian/ Survival

A highly addictive Young Adult Dystopian Survival Saga that will keep you glued to the pages.

Nari’s shocking revelation in the watermill changes everything in an instant, and Areum is once more faced with an impossible decision. Will she betray her sister in order to save her life, or support her and let her die? In the midst of this struggle, the storm of the century hits the camp, and life goes from hard to impossible overnight. Areum slowly comes to realize there is only one way to ensure their survival.

To escape!

But how can they escape from an escape-proof prison camp? And even if they would get past the ferocious dog patrols, the machine gun-equipped guard towers and the electrified barbed wire fence… will she be willing to condemn everyone they’re leaving behind to an inescapable end through torture and death?

Amazon

The Demon of Yodok (Juche #1)Juche part one - eBook - Copy

JUCHE [dʒuːtʃe]

Just when Areum, daughter of a privileged family in the totalitarian state of Choson, thought she was free from her personal prison, her world collapses around her as her family are taken away in the middle of the night to a hell-like camp in the mountains where people who have strayed from the righteous path are brutally re-educated through blood, sweat, tears and starvation.

There she has to fight for survival together with the family she hates and is forced to re-evaluate every aspect of her life until then – her deep resentment toward her twin sister; her view of her father in face of the mounting evidence he is a traitor with the blood of millions of fellow countrymen on his hands; and even her love and affection for the Great General – the eternal savior and protector of Choson, whom she had always considered her true father.

Amazon

The Weeping Masses (Juche #2)Juche part two - eBook

Areum’s hopes to be set free from the brutal political prison camp holding them is crushed, and the heinous assault on her sister plunges her into a state of shock and horror… and puts her on a collision course with her family. All hope seems to be lost. Just when she is about to give up, however, a disturbing revelation is made… and as the evil of the camp is given a face, Areum finds a new purpose to keep fighting.

Revenge!

But first they need to survive, and with the constantly harshening conditions and her family being targeted from all directions, daily life in Yodok turns into a never-ceasing fight to evade imminent doom.

On top of everything, an impossible tragedy strikes Choson, and the unquestionable truth Areum has built her life around is challenged to its very core.

Amazon

About the Author

AC Logo 2

Adria Carmichael is a writer of Young Adult Dystopian fiction with a twist. When she is not devouring dystopian and post-apocalyptic content in any format – books, movies, TV-series and PlayStation games – she is crafting the epic and highly-addictive Juche saga, her 2020 debut novel series that takes place in the brutal, totalitarian nation of Choson. When the limit of doom and gloom is reached, a 10K run on a sunny day or binging a silly sitcom on a rainy day is her go-to way to unwind.

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Book Blitz Organized By:

R&R Book Tours

Blog Tour and Book Review: Wilson Indeed

*Book Review near the bottom of the page

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Book Blurb :- In The Market Square, the fantastical setting for all his dream activities, Wilson Armitage is able to take night classes on any subject and absorb a wealth of knowledge from just a few hours of sleep.  As though logging into a wifi of dreams to download information.  As his childhood passes, both wary of and reticent to acknowledge his extraordinary ability, Wilson attempts to lead a normal life and stay beneath the radar of family and friends.At the age of seventeen however, his cover is blown by Daisy Meadowcroft.  During a chance encounter in The Market Square, they agree to meet the next day and are propelled from a dream world into the reality of a coffee shop in the centre of Manchester.  Enthralled by their shared gift, they strike up a close friendship and encourage each other to seek a rational, scientific explanation for their unique talents.

Butterfly Assassins, the second book in the trilogy, is available on Amazon.

In a recent survey, 85% of people said yes to the question: “Do you believe there are things out there that science can’t explain?”

If you’re one of those 85%, you’ll love The WiFi of Dreams series.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steve Walsh

For twenty years Steve Walsh honed his skills in prose as an advertising copywriter; the ‘ideas’ man in a Manchester based marketing agency that carried his name.

In the late 1990’s he stumbled into the world of the dotcom entrepreneur and his claim to fame is as the creator of the hotel booking service, laterooms.com and the first car insurance comparison site, easycover.com. So, the birth of Meerkats, a Welsh opera singer, and being confused.com might be considered as down to him, for which he apologizes. 

He now uses his vivid imagination and gentle Mancunian wit to write visionary fantasy novels with bold concepts. Wilson indeed, the first book in his trilogy The WiFi of Dreams takes the reader on a richly imagined, fact meets fiction adventure story to which we can relate and feel we can touch. A whimsical interrogation of the inexplicable and fundamental tenets of our lives – the role and meaning of dreams, the nature of the hereafter, hard and soft science, a love story – what more can you want? 

BOOK REVIEW

I was captivated by this imaginative novel that immediately throws you straight into the action on the first page. At first, this book seems to be going a certain direction, but suddenly you realize you are reading something extraordinary and going on an amazing adventure with the intriguing young Wilson. Going to school in his dreams, Wilson can speak several languages, restore classic vehicles, perform life-saving medical procedures, and more, and he is still a kid.

When he meets Daisy in the dream state and they decide to meet in the real world, that’s when the fun really begins, and when danger starts to lurk ever closer. From the dream world to the real world, Wilson’s abilities soon become known to the “powers that be.” When Wilson and Daisy investigate the disappearance of Vanessa, the mother of Wilson’s best friend, they truly begin to shake things up.

Wilson Indeed is a captivating mix of fantasy, science and mystery that will take you on a fascinating ride into the world of dreams. Through Wilson and Daisy, we can explore the possibilities of what can happen when the fantastical world we visit when we sleep crosses into real life. This is the first book in the Wifi of Dreams series. I highly recommend this to fans of Fantasy, Young Adult, Mystery, and Science Fiction, as well as those who love genre mashups.

Thank you to Zooloo’s Book Tours for a copy of this book. I also purchased one on Amazon. My opinions are voluntary and are my own.

This is a 5-star read for me. I will note, however, that the book needs a better cover. The cover should be as fantastical and imaginative as the story.

BUY LINKS

BUY WILSON INDEED (BOOK ONE)

BUY BUTTERFLY ASSASSINS (BOOK TWO)

Self-Published Saturday: August 7, 2021/Torn Between Worlds

This is the newest edition of Self-Published Saturday, where I highlight self-published books and their authors. As you know, self-published authors have to do their own marketing, and I hope with this feature to help spread the word about their books.

Due to popular demand, I am changing Self-Published Saturday slightly. I am going to post more than one, and sometimes several, Self-Published Saturday features every Saturday. So this is the first of two Self-Published Saturday features I am putting up today. My first feature is Torn Between Worlds by Nancy Blodgett Klein. Told in diary form, it is a young adult story of immigration from Mexico to the US to Spain. As always, if you buy the book, please remember to leave a review. This is so important for self-published authors.

Torn Between Worlds is the life story told from the diary of Isabel, a nine-year-old girl who is taken by her father from Mexico to the United States, not through Customs, but through the desert in a trip arranged by a coyote. This young adult coming of age story takes Isabel from Mexico to the United States, back to Mexico, and then to Spain. Along the way, she relates historical events such as the September 11th, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, deadly protests in Mexico, and the horrific 2004 Madrid train bombings. We are shown both Isabel’s daily life and world events through her diary, as her father takes her back to Mexico and she ends up going to Spain with her mother, who is fleeing prosecution in Mexico for her political activism. The author Nancy Blodgett Klein does a good job in this epistolary novel, as we see Isabel grow through her written voice from a 9 year old to a teenager, and then beyond. Although Isabel is a middle-grader for most of this story, I would recommend this only to young adults and above, as it contains very sensitive subject matter, such as violence and rape.

I downloaded a copy of this book on Kindle Unlimited, where subscribers can read it for free.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nancy Blodgett Klein

(In Her Own Words) Torn Between Worlds was my first novel while Life Lessons was my first non-fiction work. Both were published in 2021. I worked as a journalist for 15 years in Chicagoland, starting out as a police reporter in Chicago. I also worked for the American Bar Association Journal, writing hundreds of articles on political, social and legal topics. Later on I was a public school teacher, including to many students from Mexico. I now live in sunny Spain with my husband Rick. I received a bachelor’s from Tulane University in philosophy and a master’s in journalism from Boston University. Later, I earned a second master’s in education from Roosevelt University. I love to read and am a member of two book groups and one writers group in Spain. I am passionate about travelling too. I write a blog called spainwriter.home.blog covering a wide variety of topics.

LINK TO BUY

AMAZON *Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read this book for free.

Two Reminders before you go:

  1. If you buy the book(s), please leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, as well as anywhere else you review books. This is very important to self-published authors.
  2. Please click on the “share” buttons below and share these books with your Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress followers. A little bit of help from all of us will help self-published authors go a long way!

Self-Published Saturday, July 31, 2021

This is the newest edition of Self-Published Saturday, where I highlight self-published books and their authors. As you know, self-published authors have to do their own marketing, and I hope with this feature to help spread the word about their books. This week’s feature includes two books, both by Brett Salter. They are books 3 and 4 of his Talisman Series. I reviewed Books 1 and 2 already, and I have provided links below. The Talisman Series is a young adult/middle grade fantasy adventure–with dragons! As always, if you buy the book, please remember to leave a review. This is so important for self-published authors.

Book Review: Windy City Ruins (Book 3)

In Book 3 of the Talisman series, Rome, Julian, and Mrs. Case head to New York to meet with a contact and learn more about the talismans and their mission. Circumstances land them in the “Windy City” of Chicago, and they meet new friends and face new challenges. With targets on their backs and evil drawing ever closer, they continue to search for information on how to defeat the Tyrant King and his armies. I continue to enjoy this series, as Rome and Julian learn even more about talismans and their mission, and they meet fascinating new friends along the way. Rome continues to grow and learn. While I was still frustrated with Julian’s rudeness early in the book, he begins to show some growth as well. The group meets even more players in this game and we are introduced to another type of dragon. There is a shocking surprise that will provide more challenges than ever. I continue to be fascinated by the dragons in this series and the good vs. evil battle as a whole. Brett Salter has given us a fascinating world to explore in the Talisman series.

Book Review: The Battle for Verdana (Book 4)

Rome and Julian’s search for true synergy takes them to the forests of the Pacific Northwest where they search for answers and deal with the ever-pursuing enemy. More surprises and new friends await them in the latest book in the Talisman series.

Wow! Five stars for this one as Rome and Julian continue to grow in strength and humility. There are ups and downs, and a fantastic surprise at the end that will not disappoint. As always, epic battles abound, and I really enjoyed the character growth I saw in this book. This book teaches kids important lessons in integrity, humility, and team building. A team is made up of those with different strengths and talents, and I am glad to see this lesson shown so well in these books. I am looking forward to Book 5 and the adventures that await.

LINK TO MY REVIEW OF BOOK 1: THE SEARCH FOR SYNERGY

LINK TO MY REVIEW OF BOOK 2: RIDERS OF FIRE AND ICE

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brett Salter

Brett Salter’s background in writing stems mostly from the inspiration he found as a kid in Fantasy and Sci-Fi books. These include The Chronicles of Narnia, The Xanth Novels, The Time Quintet, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and everything from Shakespeare to Dr. Seuss.  In his formative years, he joined several punk rock bands and wrote songs, poetry, and short stories aplenty.  As an adult he took on a dare and wrote The Talisman Series.  He has published four books in this series so far:  The Search for Synergy, Riders of Fire and Ice, Windy City Ruins, and The Battle for Verdana.

BUY THE TALISMAN SERIES

You will find links buy all four books of the Talisman Series by clicking on the photo above.. Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read them for free.

Q&A With Brett Salter

Brett Salter was kind enough to answer some questions for me, and I thank him again for taking the time out to do that. Here is the Q&A below:

What inspired you to write the Talisman Series?  I’ve told this story a bunch of times.  And it’s completely true.  My mother dared me to write a book off a premise we came up with together, and I just went with it.  Before I knew it, I had the first book done and since it ended on a cliffhanger, we were like, “What next?”.  I realized that I liked writing so much that I just kept on going.  Now, I’m sitting on 4 self-published books and 7 more waiting in the wings (get it?)

What is the main message you want readers to take away from this series?  I think the main thing I want to impart on young readers is to always take that first step into adventure.  It could be a situation in real life or cracking open a book and following along with characters.  Preaching creativity is really what I strive for with my life and my kids’ lives.  I want them to be passionate about their interests and always be creative because this world need creativity now more than ever.  

How is Book 5 coming along?  Can you share the title yet, and how many books do you have planned for this series?  I plan on releasing the 5th book of my proposed 12 by winter of this year! It needs an edit or two….or three or four. And it needs some cover art, but it should be out early 2022. Book four ends with a pretty big cliffhanger regarding our heroes and their powers.  Well, that DOES get resolved, but the 5th book opens so much more trouble for our heroes in the form Darkbrand threats. Plus, we get a ton of reveals regarding the “big bad’s” plans, more Talismans, and we maybe, possibly, definitely get to visit a new dragon den???  I have several titles in the mix, but I have not settled on one yet.  This book is going to be a little darker than the previous 4, so I need title reflective of the darker turn in the series.  I’m open to suggestions

In your bio you mention being inspired by the Chronicles of Narnia and the Lord of the Rings, among others.  Both series feature scenes with dragons, of course, and Eustace from the Chronicles of Narnia even turns into a dragon at one point.  Obviously Eustace was a boy who was turned into a dragon and Rome finds out he is a dragon disguised as a boy.  However, is Eustace an inspiration of sorts for Rome?  That’s an interesting question.  I think the idea of Rome transforming into a dragon may have unintentionally been inspired by Eustace Scrubb or perhaps a similar character from another work of fiction.  But I will say this.  The main difference between Euastace and Rome is that Eustace’s transformation furthers his character development by forcing him to look at his attitude and behavior and change the way he treats people for the better.  Whereas Rome’s transformation is meant to be more in keeping with his destiny.  Confirming he is a dragon DOES change him for the better, but It’s more of realizing his future than trying to make up for past indifferences.  I do see the similarities though.  

What other authors are you reading now?  I read everything E.C. Meyers puts out because most of his books are cannon side projects to my favorite show RWBY.  I’m reading “The Breadwinner” by Deborah Ellis alongside my son for a school assignment.  I just finished “Sirens of Titan” by Kurt Vonnegut.  And, I intend to start “War for the Oaks” by Emma Bull on a friend’s recommendation.

Do you have any other series planned for the future?  Abso-lutely!  I do have the humblest beginnings of a second series in the works.  I have the plot of the first book and the “Legendarium” already put to paper (or hardrive).  That series will be a work of portal fiction mixed with destiny fiction and entail more adult themes as compared to The Talisman Series.  I came up with the idea in between writing books 8 and 9, and I WILL eventually get around to writing that series.  Maybe after I put out book five of The Talisman Series this winter.

Thanks again to Brett Salter for his great responses to our questions!

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Book Review: Children of the Origin Project

Jake, Alex, and Sarah are foster kids out on a joyride one night in a “borrowed” truck belonging to their group home. When they witness the crash of a UFO, they approach the scene and find a wrecked spaceship with a dying giant inside. The giant transfers his knowledge and memories to them before he dies, and the three lifelong foster kids suddenly find themselves part of a war between worlds.

This well-written middle grade to young adult sci-fi adventure will take readers to the stars. Jake, Alex, and Sarah find themselves being guided by the knowledge of the giant, Sawan, who has left them his memories, and they eventually realize that they are needed to go on a mission to save Sawan’s world, and maybe their own.

This is a captivating, literally out of this world story with vivid characters and thoughtful, purposeful world-building. Using a clever combination of technology and philosophy, Asa S. Rubin creates a story that is both exciting and thought-provoking. Jake, Sarah, and Alex suddenly find themselves with the growing ability to understand the language, thoughts, writings, and very nature of an alien race of people, the Kenali. The Kenali are divided into two opposing factions who are basically forced to work together in order to fight takeover from the evil Anatrus and their powerful super-soldiers. Jake often uses his experience as a foster kid to try and understand the situation in which the Kenali find themselves. Underneath all of this are deep philosophical questions about the origin and meaning of the existence of the Kenali, the Anatrus, and other peoples and worlds.

I have only a bit of constructive criticism, and it is regarding the dialogue. The character Alex has a speech impediment, and the way in which the author has chosen to add this to the dialogue is hard to understand and interrupts the flow of the book.

Fans of young adult/middle grade science fiction, philosophy, and friendship reads will enjoy this story.

I downloaded a copy of this book on Kindle Unlimited, where subscribers can read it for free.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Asa S. Rubin

(In his own words)

I grew up reading classic adventure authors like Jules Verne, sci-fi/action novelists like Clive Cussler, and more literary story-tellers like Richard Russo. As a kid, I tried my own hand at writing and quickly discovered that I couldn’t help but combine all my favorite genres together, so that any of my stories had plenty of action, extensive sci-fi, and a healthy dose of psychological or philosophical musings to go along with them. That trend I’ve never been able to stop, but now I’m finally ready to put my stories out there for the world to see. 

In between writing, I’ve gotten degrees in physics, aerospace engineering, and medicine, practiced as a physician, and even done some work for the government. It’s been an interesting ride, and all of these experiences I’ve sunken back into my stories to make them more realistic and authentic. I’ve also climbed a few mountains, gotten hardcore into ultralight backpacking, and most importantly, married my beautiful wife. 

I hope you enjoy my stories. If you’d like to reach me, please email me at nephillim.cotop@gmail.com. And if you’re into hiking, maybe I’ll see you out there on the trail.

BUY CHILDREN OF THE ORIGIN PROJECT

AMAZON

*Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read this for free, or the ebook is just 2.99 to buy outright.

BARNES AND NOBLE

MY AMAZON REVIEW (“HELPFUL VOTES APPRECIATED“)

Self-Published Saturday: July 17th, 2021

Here is the newest edition of Self-Published Saturday, where I highlight great self-published authors and introduce you to their books. As you know, self-published authors have to do it all, from editing to cover design to marketing. My hope for this feature is that it helps authors in their marketing efforts. This week I am featuring Riders of Fire and Ice by Brett Salter. This is the second book in the Talisman series, a middle grade/young adult fantasy series with dragons! See my review below.

As always, if you decide to buy the book, make sure and leave a review. Reviews are very important for self-published authors, and really all authors, as it helps spread that so important word-of-mouth that can make your book a success. Please also share this post on social media by using the Twitter and Facebook buttons below. Feel free to reblog this as well. We need our self-published authors to get as much attention as possible.

BOOK REVIEW: RIDERS OF FIRE AND ICE

Rome is a boy, but has learned he is really a dragon who can take human form. Julian is from a family of well-established knights. Together they are a brotherhood, and they are descendants of dragon/knight alliances of old. They have been searching for complete Synergy, and although they have found a shadow of it, full Synergy is still not in their grasp. Full Synergy will give them the use of all of their powers. They head off in search of answers in order to fight the evil that is coming.

Rome and Julian head to London on a school trip, chaperoned by a principal who is giving Rome suspicious vibes. Although they do plan to educate themselves on this trip, it has nothing to do with school. They want to find out more about Camelot and its connection to Synergy. Along the way, they meet new friends and new enemies, get the answers to more questions, and develop more mysteries to explore.

Although this is the second book in a series, it can be read as a standalone because there is a synopsis of Book 1 in the prologue. If you want to avoid spoilers, read Book 1 before looking at the prologue. Rome is really growing as a character, learning about his abilities, and questioning his background. Julian still has a lot of character flaws and his treatment of others sometimes annoys me, but the author begins showing us the reasons behind his behavior. The battles in this book, as always, are fierce and entertaining, as Rome grows in strength and wisdom and faces even fiercer enemies. Julian’s character development is much slower, but there are hints of maturity to come. More clues are provided in the mystery of the talismans, and Rome gains some much-needed allies.

This is an engaging and creative YA/MG fantasy that continues to ask the question: What if you found out you were a dragon? The answers take Rome on the adventure of a lifetime.

Four and a half stars, rounded up to five on sites with no half star option.

I downloaded this book on Kindle Unlimited, where subscribers can read the whole series, which currently consists of four books, for free.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brett Salter

Brett Salter’s background in writing stems mostly from the inspiration he found as a kid in Fantasy and Sci-Fi books. These include The Chronicles of Narnia, The Xanth Novels, The Time Quintet, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and everything from Shakespeare to Dr. Seuss.  In his formative years, he joined several punk rock bands and wrote songs, poetry, and short stories aplenty.  As an adult he took on a dare and wrote The Talisman Series.  He has published four books in this series so far:  The Search for Synergy, Riders of Fire and Ice, Windy City Ruins, and The Battle for Verdana.

BUY THE ENTIRE TALISMAN SERIES ON AMAZON (Kindle Unlimited Subscribers Can Read It For Free)

THE TALISMAN SERIES WIKI FAN PAGE (SPOILERS!)

*REMINDER: AS ALWAYS, IF YOU DECIDE TO READ THE BOOK, PLEASE LEAVE A REVIEW. THE AUTHORS APPRECIATE THIS SO MUCH!

MY AMAZON REVIEW (“HELPFUL” VOTES APPRECIATED)

Self-Published Saturday: June 19, 2021

Today’s Self-Published Saturday feature is The Search for Synergy, the first book in The Talisman Series by Brett Salter. As always with self-published books, be sure to leave a review if you decide to read it. Reviews are extremely important for self-published authors who have to do all of their own marketing.

#BOOK REVIEW: The Search For Synergy

Rome is a 14 year old boy who suddenly finds himself seeking out fire and danger.  When he accidentally sets the neighbor’s tree on fire in an unusual way,  he catches the eye of a schoolmate, Julian.  Julian begins watching Rome closely and soon discovers what he suspects is true.  Rome is a dragon, and Julian will be his knight counterpart, once they achieve Synergy and get their full power.  They are descendants of dragon and knight families of old.  Together, they can save the world from dark forces that are coming.  Rome soon meets Mr. Jones, who has been training Julian for this moment since he was seven years old, and they begin to try to unlock the secrets of Synergy.

The whole concept of hidden dragon and knight families with special bonds and powers from the time of King Arthur is exciting and interesting.  The beginning 30 percent or so of the book is spent on Rome learning about who and what he truly is.  Then the first epic battle between good and evil happens, and it is awesome.  I enjoyed this hidden world where dragons are real and live among us, knights are still training to save the world, and evil creatures keep trying to break through into Earth from the void.  

The friendship and bond between Rome and Julian is believable and fun.  The evil creatures we’ve seen so far, the Garms, are powerfully described.  Rome’s fantastical transformation is a joy to read and experience along with him. This start to The Talisman Series reminds me a little bit of Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, and The Chronicles of Narnia.    I am looking forward to reading the next book in this series, Riders of Fire and Ice. 

Although I have seen this book described as middle grade fiction, which would be roughly ages 8 – 12, I think kids under the age of 13 should read it only with parental supervision, and I would categorize it as young adult instead of middle grade.  The battles with evil creatures could be scary for young kids, and the fact that Julian has been trained by Mr. Jones since he was seven and the two of them keep a lot of secrets from his parents set off some alarms for me. 

Even as someone who is in her 50’s, I truly enjoyed the start to this young adult series.  After all, as C.S. Lewis said, “No book is really worth reading at the age of 10 which is not equally—and often far more—worth reading at the age of 50 and beyond.”

I have rated this gem of a book four and half stars, rounded up to five on sites without a half star option.

I downloaded a copy of this book on Kindle Unlimited where subscribers can read it for free.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brett Salter

Brett Salter’s background in writing stems mostly from the inspiration he found as a kid in Fantasy and Sci-Fi books. These include The Chronicles of Narnia, The Xanth Novels, The Time Quintet, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and everything from Shakespeare to Dr. Seuss.  In his formative years, he joined several punk rock bands and wrote songs, poetry, and short stories aplenty.  As an adult he took on a dare and wrote The Talisman Series.  He has published four books in this series so far:  The Search for Synergy, Riders of Fire and Ice, Windy City Ruins, and The Battle for Verdana.

BUY THE ENTIRE TALISMAN SERIES ON AMAZON (Kindle Unlimited Subscribers Can Read It For Free)

THE TALISMAN SERIES WIKI FAN PAGE (SPOILERS!)

*REMINDER: AS ALWAYS, IF YOU DECIDE TO READ THE BOOK, PLEASE LEAVE A REVIEW. THE AUTHORS APPRECIATE THIS SO MUCH!

Self-Published Saturday: June 12, 2021

Here is my weekly installment of Self-Published Saturday, which is devoted to helping self-published authors promote their books. As always, if you decide to buy this book, please make sure and leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, and any other site where you review books. This week is devoted to Book 2 in the Juche Series, The Weeping Masses. You can find a link to my review of Book 1 and the Link to preorder Book 3 at the bottom of this page

THE WEEPING MASSES

This is now the second book of the  fantastic Juche series, which the author says is currently planned as a nine book series. As the book opens, something terrible has happened to Areum’s sister Nari, and Areum is reeling, trying to take care of her family but also burning with the desire for revenge.

 The  terror at the camp continues, and Areum does what she can to survive.  When she and Nari are assigned to a work group, more challenges arise.  Areum struggles to protect her family and herself as the terrors of a concentration camp rain around her.  She begins to make difficult choices and uses her skills as a gymnast and martial artist to survive. However, she takes risks for which there must be consequences. She also makes alliances which she knows may fall through at any moment.  Will Areum and her family survive, and what new horrors lay in wait for them?

This excellent dystopian series continues to shock and provide a realistic look at an evil military dictatorship. The first 20 percent of this book is very dark and bleak, but you have to expect that from a concentration camp.  Then the story picks up steam and the author throws in little glimmers of hope in the midst of all the darkness.  This is a realistic read and makes you wonder what you would do to protect yourself in a situation like this.  Areum is thrust into many ethical battles by her cruel overlords.  Areum’s struggles with evil captors, difficult choices, and her own rage are well written by the author.  Surprises abound in this novel, and the reader will be on the edge of their seat.  I would recommend this to anyone interested in dystopian fiction or historical fiction, as you will recognize the Kingdom of Chosun as a country that exists today.

This book is available on Kindle Unlimited, where subscribers can borrow it for free.  It is also only $3.49 to purchase outright on Kindle.

LINK TO BUY BOOK TWO: THE WEEPING MASSES

MY AMAZON REVIEW OF THE WEEPING MASSES (HELPFUL VOTES APPRECIATED)

LINK TO MY REVIEW OF BOOK ONE, THE DEMON OF YODOK

LINK TO BUY BOOK ONE, THE DEMON OF YODOK

LINK TO PREORDER BOOK THREE, THE STORM OF STORMS

REMEMBER AS ALWAYS TO LEAVE A REVIEW IF YOU BUY THE BOOK. REVIEWS ARE SO IMPORTANT TO SELF-PUBLISHED AUTHORS.