The Prophet and the Witch: A Novel of Puritan New England (My Father’s Kingdom Book 2) by James W. George

Never has history been brought more vividly to life than in the pages of The Prophet and the Witch, where a colorful cast of characters awaits readers eager to get behind the scenes of one of America’s greatest forgotten conflicts.

Join master historical storyteller James W. George for this riotous, yet sensitive, retelling of King Philip’s War — the struggle to subjugate the native American population of 1670s New England to colonial rule. It’s also a tale full of rich portrayals and unsettling situations. Here are a few snapshots:

Defrocked Puritan minister Israel Brewster tames and marries fiery beauty Constance Wilder. Captain Benjamin Church and Captain Samuel Mosely lead a bloody but futile assault on an entrenched native American stronghold. And Linto, holy advisor of the Wampanoag tribe, agonizes endlessly about telling  elders to fight the English deep in the treacherous swamps rather than head-on. But this tactic slowly turns against the proud warriors until only a handful are left.

Indeed,  there is no shortage of conflict — actual and psychological — as the saga unfolds at a rapid rate. But the pacing is superb, and the author still manages to build in complex characterizations that propel even minor players far into the reader’s imagination.

Linto improbably quotes Biblical verse to Metacomet, the Wampanoag chief, as they stoically endure their long retreat. Elsewhere, Brewster falls in to fight alongside — and eventually against — flamboyant militia man Dutch Cornelius in one especially disturbing scene. And, along the way, another shocking revelation rivets readers’ attention to a mysterious murder, reminding us all that history is fashioned, for good or ill, by ordinary human beings, not exalted heroes.

“It’s a cruel world, Linto, and men need to kill for what they believe in,” philosophizes Metacomet’s war captain late in the narrative.  “Men need to kill and die for the things and people they love.”

This is a remarkable book that should be required reading for anyone who believes that history is just a dry procession of facts, dates and faraway places. The Prophet and the Witch roundly belies that truism, and those who read it will eagerly await more from this talented writer.

Amazon Link

Advertisements

The LGBTQ Meditation Journal by Christopher Stone and Mary Sheldon, Edited by Kris Jacen

Published by MLR Press

In a world fraught with daily tension and crippling strife, we often need a place to which we can go for inner peace. And if we carry the added burden of self-identity issues, we may even need to live there.

You may be surprised to know that such a place is easily found — and Christopher Stone and Mary Sheldon have created a guide to finding it– within minutes.

The LGBTQ Meditation Journal is a remarkable collection of empowering exercises aimed primarily at a segment of the population that has gone too long without solace and recognition of self worth.

If you’re in the LGBTQ community, you can, through these sensitive, inspirational meditations, finally quiet those inner voices of self-doubt and self-esteem — the ones keeping you from telling the world who you really are. Here’s an example of what you’ll find in these pages:

“’Is being gay or bisexual normal? Are they mental illnesses? Am I gay or bisexual? And what if I am neither completely heterosexual, gay, lesbian, or bisexual? If my fluctuating sexual orientation falls between the cracks, what then? Will I spend my life on the fringe of society? Will my family and friends disown me?’”

The authors go on to offer empathetic advice and encouragement, wrapped around easy meditation drills.

“We need to understand that in the eyes of the Universe, we are unique and perfect spiritual beings,” the authors explain, “(We are) beloved, supported, and worthy of everything wonderful.

“You must love yourself right now — just the way you are. Use the meditations … to help in that regard. For those without self-love, they may help you to cultivate what you lack. For the already self-loving, the meditations can assist you in building upon existing self-love.”

In Part Three, the authors speak to friends who may know someone in LGBTQ pain, afraid to “come out.” To these folks, they offer a unique visual exercise:

“Envision this friend standing in front of you, and explaining why he is afraid to come out. Perhaps he believes his family/friends would reject him. Perhaps he feels it would have negative repercussions in the workplace. As he speaks, visualize his every word becoming a silky strand of gossamer the moment it leaves his mouth. As your friend continues to talk, watch the strands begin to wind themselves around him, trapping him, until finally, he is encased in a large cocoon of his own fears.”

They then go on to explain in vivid detail how you can help this friend cut away that cocoon to emerge with a glad heart and clear future.

Finally, in Part Five, they suggest a novel exercise that can help deflect ridicule from small-minded, hurtful bigots. Here it is:

“First, you need to think of a small movement or gesture that is easy to do, innocuous and unobtrusive. It can be touching a special talisman, such as a ring that you always wear. It can be putting your thumb and third finger together, forming a circle. It can be putting your hand up to your ear for a moment. Whatever you choose, this will be your Magic Gesture.

“Second, think of an affirmation to accompany your Magic Gesture. Two possibilities are: ‘I am rising to a different level; nothing can hurt me.’ Or ‘I am Love and Positive Energy; I am completely safe.’ Come up with something that will proclaim your willingness to soar to a higher level and your acknowledgment that nothing on a lower level can hurt you.”

Five stars to The LGBTQ Meditation Journal. These are sensible, practical exercises that can deliver incredible dividends on the time spent in doing them. Follow them, embrace them, and live them each and every day until you, too, can come “out,” and see what it’s like to experience a fully transformed life.

Amazon Link

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.

Amazon Link

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.

Amazon Link

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

Click here to view the book on Amazon

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.

Amazon Link

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.

Amazon Link

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.

Amazon Link