The Level Playing Field by John D. Kingston

A Japanese secret society is waging economic war against the United States in this fast-moving, well-executed thriller by debut author John D. Kingston.

The highly placed members of this cabal are killing anyone who gets in their way, and Florida financial executive Scott Maxwell is soon involved in a wild, intercontinental investigation into an economic threat that’s leaving destruction and dead bodies in its wake.

He’s joined by old friend Neil Porter and new acquaintance Tori Tahashi as they dodge bullets and escape one harrowing ambush after another in a desperate search for a solution to this far-reaching conspiracy. It’s no wonder the United States continues to maintain a staggering $1 billion-plus per week trade deficit with Japan. The game is rigged at the very highest levels of Japanese society.

Author John Kingston is clearly an expert in the intricacies of global macroeconomics, though he is always careful to explain in layman terms just what’s at stake in this startling scenario about world monetary domination. Indeed, it accounts for exactly why, more than a half century after its humiliating defeat in World War II, Japan has risen to such staggering market preeminence.

You’ll keep turning pages far past your bedtime to find out what happens next as protagonist Scott Maxwell and a dedicated cast of colorful supporting characters fight the deeply entrenched Japanese shakai from Tokyo to Washington, D.C.

Do the determined North Americans finally defeat this powerful adversary? And if so, how, when the consequences for even hinting at the existence of the secret organization means sudden death?

Download The Level Playing Field today and see what critics and readers alike are raving about. We look forward to a thrilling sequel soon.

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Siren Song by Ian King

Jamal Shirani stands sweating before a suspicious Heathrow customs officer, having just arrived from a jihadi training camp in Pakistan. John Buchanan “Jo-Buck” Brown bids farewell to friends and family on the eve of his departure for Parris Island and a tour in the war-torn Middle East as a newly minted United States Marine. And, somewhere deep in the subterranean confines of a rat-infested cellar, a kidnapped woman awaits a chance to escape repeated rape by any means possible.

What do these three characters, in far-flung corners of the world, have in common? They’re all fascinating players in the intricate, tightly woven plot of author Ian King’s superb new global thriller Siren Song.

We’ve all witnessed the violent results of a terrorist attack in the name of jihadi revenge against the West. But this book offers a wholly new, insightful glimpse into the hearts and minds of the zealots who conspire daily in places far and wide to carry out these willful, deadly assaults in the name of Allah.

The book’s characters come vividly to life under the author’s skillful hand to trace the often painful beginnings and misguided motivations behind the participants in the long War on Terror. Indeed, the narrative is often driven more by relentless and intense character study than by events.

Jamal survives his encounter with the authorities at the London airport and goes on to cultivate a dangerous cell of bomb-making jihadists of his own. A deeply disillusioned Jo-Buck draws black Xs on a calendar in the desert, counting the days until he goes home. And the unfortunate woman in the dank cellar finally achieves release from her physical confines; but is never completely free of its life-shattering impact.

It’s not a happy story, this fascinating literary mosaic of loosely connected vignettes. But it is an important one that takes the reader on the veritable emotional roller coaster often talked about in other books, but fully realized in this one. Love it or hate it, like a particularly controversial work of art, this well-crafted saga will leave its mark on your consciousness.

One chillingly bold act in particular will sear the date 12/25 in your mind for a long, long time.

One other unique aspect to this remarkable book is an occasional acerbic observation offered up by a disembodied, omnipotent deity, commenting on the relative absurdity of the goings-on far below Him. Some of His comments, while decidedly irreligious, are truly priceless.

Five-plus stars to Siren Song. It stands far above the current gamut of stereotypical Middle Eastern terrorist plot potboilers, and makes for an outstanding summertime — or anytime — read.

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Hemisphere – Part 1: The Head Employee Precedent by A.V. Osten

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Imagine a future world where creative thought is stifled — throttled back by sound frequencies and chips implanted into the brain.

This is just one of the startling precepts that permeate the chilling plotline of the exceptional new dystopian thriller Hemisphere by debut author A.V. Osten.

In the year 2217, a cosmic storm has wiped out most of life in the eastern reaches of Earth. But a new species of mankind has been born anew, shaped by the distorted and domineering vision of a single sociopathic woman: Dr. Arlene Eizenheim.

Preemptive genetic engineering, conception centers geared to creating and raising perfect little homo sapiens, and visual implants that feed digital media directly to the brain are but a few of the scientific breakthroughs she has helped bring into this arresting new apocalyptic world.

But her pioneering innovations come with a high price. The deliberately docile denizens of Hemisphere must obediently follow the life paths chosen for them, so Dr. Eizenheim’s ambitions of total world domination can become reality.

Revolt is quietly brewing, however. Head Employee Mulder — a unique, lovable, and highly trained Collie — and his devoted Support Employee, James, are beginning to doubt, and then actively resist, the stultifying status quo imposed on the homogeneous citizenry of Hemisphere. In doing so, they start to form unlikely alliances with revolutionaries from the West and East, and prepare for revolt in this, the first installment of what promises to be a sensational series.

Join James, Mulder, and a host of other colorful characters as they begin their quest to return mankind’s destiny to human control. Rife with wry humor and often lyrical writing, the author makes this dystopian adventure story a rare read.

Five stars to Hemisphere for providing a fresh take on the dystopian genre of science fiction. It offers a welcome summertime diversion to move one’s mind off the real-world tensions that raise the specter of our own nuclear apocalypse.

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Collection of Poems by Vanessa Ngam

Visions of a young girl beaten, browbeaten and coerced, first by a brutal, insensitive parent, then by a thoughtless, predatory lover.

A fragile heart laid open, awaiting validation…

These are but a few arresting reflections drawn forth from a reviewer upon reading writer Vanessa Ngam’s simply titled but thoroughly thought-provoking Collection of Poems.

In her stunning and highly personal poetry, Ms. Ngam provides us with a rich reading experience that is at once arresting and poignant. Indeed, this slim volume of lyrical verse offers its audience a rare glimpse into the often tortured process of self-expression that is good poetry. Here’s a sample:

“Souls leaping with sorrow and thoughts / Arresting minds longing for true answers / Buried deep, deep, deep down in the cruel soul.”

Ms. Ngam’s verse evokes that rarest of reaction from today’s jaded reader: one’s undivided attention, while the writer shares her innermost thoughts. This collection does just that, with well-constructed couplets that peel back the thin veneer of “normal” existence to lay bare her fears, hopes and sometimes painful memories, autobiographical in the extreme, and frequently uncomfortable to read.

“In your image I saw in your face / The smile that never ceases, / The voice that sang at our knot ceremony, / An everlasting image.”

And,

“Outside is blurred, dark, cold, breezy and windy; /Thunderstorms are fighting each other. / It starts raining and the evening gets darker. / We get to bed with our hearts stolen away from us / By fear of nature and its elements.”

And, painfully,

“Tired of thinking / Tired of reflecting / Tired of writing / Tired of reading / Tired of searching / Tired of laughing / Tired of crying / Tired of cooking / Tired of relaxing / Tired, / Tired, / Tired of worrying. / Even tired of growing./ Tired, / Tired I cry.”

And, finally, a happy remembrance:

“Summer fishing / Down the lake, the smell of fresh lilies and roses / Butterflies dancing in the soft blowing wind / Fresh leaves and buds swimming with waves of water…”

Five-plus stars to this poet for her courage in setting down these soul-probing insights for the world to see. Few of us could bear to be so forthcoming, and we sincerely hope there’s a sequel soon.

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War Eternal: Book I: Angels’ Whispers by J.F. Cain

War Eternal: Book I: Angels' Whispers by J.F. Cain

Aranes, Superior of Angels, walks down the radiant golden hallways of the Celestial judgement hall to receive her expected punishment for saving the life of the mortal man she loves.

This is the arresting start to a superb, sweeping story of angelic influence in the affairs of man, written with lyrical finesse by first-time author J.F. Cain.

In Book One of the War Eternal series, Angels’ Whispers, Cain deftly immerses her readers in well-developed characters and rich, almost cinematic scenes that bring instant believability to this extraordinary tale of cosmic love.

The beneficiary of Aranes’ timely, lifesaving intervention is darkly handsome Alex Meyers, a hard-driving entrepreneur intent on revolutionizing the energy industry. From the pristine, yet treacherous, snowy slopes near Aspen, to Aranes’ etherial palace in another dimension, the author provides exhaustive detail on both the Angels that guard us and the Demons that constantly try to wreak havoc in the earthly plane.

In one explosive scene, for example, Alex barely survives a nocturnal encounter with a pair of fantastic warriors — one dark, the other light — back in the city, while in another, Aranes battles Lucifer himself on the brightly lit and tightly packed Manhattan Bridge. More human lives are in deadly peril as the Angels Hope and Wisdom — joined by the Archangel Michael — lend a fierce hand in the violent encounter, of which the hapless mortals are unaware. They think a strong wind is bringing on the buckling bridge.

It’s all part of a diabolical plan by The Lord of the Demons to attain world dominance — and sweep Aranes into his own arms.

Meanwhile, Alex is slow to believe the rapidly revealing truth behind his unprecedented recovery from what should have been a fatal skiing mishap. And more and more inexplicable questions surface about the beautiful and mysterious woman who apparently swooped out of nowhere to save his life.

More slowly still, an intriguing and incredible possibility surfaces.

Is Alex destined to fulfill an ancient prophecy in which he, as an incarnated Hero from eons past, faces off in a final fight with Lucifer to finally fling the forces of darkness out of existence forever? Or will The Fallen One be successful at last?

As the dark soldiers of chaos and the legions of light line up for a final, titanic battle for the destiny of mankind, you’ll keep turning these well-edited and meticulously written pages to find out what happens next. And did we mention the book’s libidinous love scenes, without which no Angels and Demons tale would be complete? They’re definitely there, tastefully rendered, yet simmering with sensuality.

Five stars to Angels’ Whispers. We await Book Two with great anticipation.

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Amazing Entrepreneurs by Charles Margerison

Amazing Entrepreneurs by Dr. Charles Margerison is nothing less than a fascinating glimpse into the hearts and souls of 25 world-shaping businessmen and women.

This erudite — yet highly readable — volume profiles some of the best-known names in twentieth century industry: telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell, airplane pioneer William Edward Boeing, and automotive powerhouse Henry Ford, to name but a few.

Dr. Margerison’s arresting style of presentation for these fact-filled vignettes is at once informative, inspirational and lyrical, arranged in a free-flowing style that compels the reader to move seamlessly from one “autobiographical” thought to another.

Little-known factoids bump against major career milestones as each entrepreneur tells his or her story. For example, everyone remembers Bell’s famous summons to his assistant over the first successful telephone line:

“‘Mr Watson-Come here-I want to see you.’ It was March 10th 1876. Our test had worked (and) it was the start of a revolution that changed the world.”

Yet, you may be surprised to learn that Bell also invented the now-ubiquitous metal detectors found everywhere from airports to rock concerts — in an effort to locate the bullet that killed President James Garfield.

Similarly, you may recall Thomas Edison’s famous quote: “‘Achievement is ‘1% inspiration and 99% perspiration’.” But few know that all his lifelong contributions to the development of the light bulb, the kinetescope (movie projector) and the X-ray machine would not have happened without the crucial loan of a single dollar bill from a friend when he was penniless and starving on the streets of New York City.

Finally, the book details many lesser-known entrepreneurs, like Madam C.J. Walker, who revolutionized hair products for black women and subsequently became ” a millionairess.” Along the way, she provided invaluable philanthropical assistance to civil rights groups like the fledgling NAACP, and, upon her death, left three-quarters of her fortune to charity, saying:  “‘Free enterprise needs to support the society on which it depends.'”

This book is a rousing celebration of the power of positive thinking and perseverance. Indeed, the one thing each of these 25 trailblazing business leaders shared is arguably the single most essential ingredient for long-term success: the dogged drive to never give up.

Five stars to Amazing Entrepreneurs. It’s sure to inspire a whole new generation of future innovators.

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Jake & the Dragons of Asheville by Brian Kacica

Jake Winston is just your ordinary thirteen-year-old boy who breathes fire.

Seriously?

He discovers his unique talent one beautiful fall day in Asheville, N.C., and finds his life  forever changed. YA standout author Brian Kacica has penned a stellar new novel, Jake and the Dragons of Asheville, and it’s spellbinding.

He provides a startling start to Jake’s journey in exploration of his singular heritage, which is native American infused with dragon blood — known as Destovans. Jake’s grandfather, Don, a rugged ex-cop who also happens to share the awesome bloodline, begins teaching Jake about his newfound powers — then is sidelined by a disabling stroke.

After that, Jake must go it largely alone, relying on best friend Arnie to help him get through the myriad of mystery surrounding his quest to find the Dragon King deep inside the Forest of Asheville.

It’s a harrowing, adventure-rich odyssey as Jake probes the depths of both the storied forest — filled with talking animals and sinister military drones — and his own emerging manhood, into which he’s been forced to grow way too early because of an incident involving his father early in the book.

However, best bud Arnie is also put out of the action just before Jake begins his greatest task and dons the almost messianic mantle for which he is destined — the saving of the world’s remaining dragons.

This is a finely wrought, well-crafted and meticulously edited story with wonderful humor and relatable characters of all ages. Even though it’s clearly geared for a Young Adult audience, just about anyone can get easily wrapped up in Jake’s improbable quest — which is skillfully rendered very believable by the author.

Some of his colorful dialogue and turns-of-phrase are priceless, such as this gem, hidden within a fortune cookie:

“A statue will be erected for you one day. Be kind to pigeons.”

In a great read that abounds in precarious situations, noble quests and dry humor, this novel never disappoints. Five-plus stars to Jake and the Dragons of Asheville. We hope there’s a sequel in the wings.

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