AND THE WINNER IS!! I am ashamed to say that I almost forgot to draw a winner for this blog post, BUT, I saved myself at the last minute. 🙂 The winner of the $10 Amazon Gift card is Stephanie Ortiz Jenkins!! Stephanie watch your inbox! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
It is always a challenge to pick just ten books from the many books I read each year. Because it was so difficult this year, I have listed a Bonus book and also some fabulous short stories. I hope you enjoy my Top Ten, and if you see a book that catches your interest, click on the purchase link and add it to your TBR list!
The RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB has set aside today as the day when you stop all self-promotion and instead promote someone else! Today I choose to share some recent reviews with you to support these authors and hopefully entice you to buy their stories!
Wow!! This story grabbed me and I wanted it to continue. Thankfully, Rhani has assured me this will turn into a novel.
Not only does the cover pack a punch, but so does the story! I was immediately drawn into the setting, the desperate times and desperate situations this story covers. To have to fight daily for survival is one thing in a prison such as Megamax is another. The ruthless Warden is trying to manipulate or kill Maxwell Drake by pitting him against the baddest of the bad in the arena for all to watch the blood flow. The story opens with Drake in battle, taking hard punches and giving hard ones back. He is the victor, but for what? Another opponent, another day is all that lies ahead unless he takes the Warden’s proposition. I was on the edge of my seat throughout this entire short story and found myself wanting more at the end. I do hope this author will consider turning this into a novel. Great story! It is full of high drama and heart-stopping action! It is well-written and error free, which is no easy feat for an indie author. Kudos to Rhani D’Chae!
This story took me on such a tumultuous ride from start to finish. I loved the boy branded as an Untouchable, who had a passion for reading and paid the highest price imaginable. You see education of any kind was forbidden to the Untouchables because they were not worthy to look upon the holy Sanskrit writings. I cringed when the punishment started because it was not only punishment for the boy, but his family as well, in the most horrific ways imaginable. I won’t give any spoilers, but I will say I held my breath until I reached the end of this graphic tale. I loved the ending and even though so many suffered and died, it wasn’t for nothing. I highly recommend this short read if you have the heart for it!
This is a very well written book that, even though it is fiction, gives a bird’s eye view into the horrors of human trafficking and child slavery. The story is set in Haiti and Dominican. Two American men, Tyler and John, take an opportunity to go on a mission trip to Haiti. Each are looking for an escape from their fresh and raw grief. Tyler, having lost his wife, Joy, to cancer, and John, who was Joy’s father, need to find some closure to their loss. What better way than to help with a mission in an impoverished country? But, what they encounter is beyond anything they could have ever imagined. Their mission changes from one of helping bring Christianity to lost souls, to one of trying to save a small child from a life of abuse and horror. The characters throughout this book, help deliver the story in such a way that the reader is drawn into their lives, into their fight for survival, and into their hope for escape. This is not a book for the squeamish or faint of heart. It exposes the raw evil, greed and inhumane acts that do occur on a daily basis, even in today’s advanced societal state. My hat is off to this author for having the courage to tackle such a hard subject and for the way he wove the story in and around the different characters. If you like heart-stopping drama about real happenings, you will enjoy this book from indie author, Mark Bierman!
Thank you for helping me support these three authors today!
It’s with great pleasure I bring Author, Fiza Pathan to you all the way from Mumbai India!
The Star Pupil’s Diary Entry
by Fiza Pathan
I had a wonderful day at school today. I got a star and I’m going to tell you all about it.
I’m eight years old, but I’m the tallest boy in the class. I, and the other kids in my neighborhood, study at the school down the block. Actually, our school was once something terrible; it was a disgusting Christian church, something called “Catholic.” The school officials tore it down and made it into a proper school for us kids.
So, I went to school today. I was the first one there so I got the biggest teddy bear to do my training with. The kids who were late got teddies that were way too small, the cheap ones that our soldiers stole from the hands of fleeing Jewish kids before they shot them in the head.
My teacher made us do our practice training in the morning. He handed us our daggers. We each checked with our fingers if they were sharp enough. Since I was early to class, I got to demonstrate. I put the dagger on the neck of the teddy and slit it the way my teacher had taught me to do. The other students followed me, but I was the best at cutting off teddy’s head.
“The jugular,” my teacher scolded another student who was cutting the wrong part of the teddy. “The jugular and do it slowly; it should make them cry.”
After dagger practice was over, we all sat and singing practice began. Singing is important; it touches souls and bring them closer to God.
We sang the national anthem. Teacher said I was the best singer and patted me on the head.
“Now, who knows a good English song, a hymn for our nation?” our teacher asked.
Every kid was stumped. They knew plenty of English songs, some of them were American. But you couldn’t sing those songs anymore. They knew “If I Was Your Boyfriend” by that Justin Bieber nonbeliever and “That’s What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction, another group of nonbelievers—may the devil plague them!
But no one knew a hymn in English to our cause. Not a single kid. Well, everyone except me!
I raised my hand and teacher smiled.
He asked me to stand up and sing in place.
The other kids turned to look at me. They were jealous because they were not as smart as me.
I put my hands behind my back and stood straight like I do when singing the national anthem. I opened my mouth and began to sing:
We for the sake of Allah have come under the banner,
We for the sake of our Caliph have torn the world asunder;
We for the sake of our raped sisters will kill the ones responsible,
We for the sake of our nation will die, but not before we become incredible.
I didn’t know the meaning of raped, but daddy had taught me this song while we were fleeing India to come here, to this land of milk and honey. Daddy taught me a lot of songs and hymns as we fled India. We almost got caught, but our fake passports worked. Daddy is so smart. He is now working as a soldier here.
“Bravo, my son,” my teacher said, and he shook my hand. The other kids clapped, but some spat on the ground with disgust.
“Bravo, my son,” my teacher said again, holding me by the shoulders and looking into my eyes. “You are a gem of a man already. You get a star for this.”
And I did; a star made of metal shining like gold, the ones soldiers put on their uniforms. I was so proud that I couldn’t stop smiling.
The teacher then said it was almost time for prayers, but before that, did any of us kids know who we were deep in our hearts? Many kids answered:
“We are Allah’s blessing in flesh.”
“We are the terror of the Westerners.”
“We are the protectors of our faith.”
“We are true worshippers of the almighty.”
But the teacher said all their answers were wrong. I knew that too, because I knew the real answer. Teacher then asked me, “Tell me, son, who are we?”
I smiled, fiddling with my gold star before answering: “We are men who love death just as some people love their life; we are soldiers who fight in the day and the night.”
My teacher clapped, and so did the other kids, except for the ones who yet again spat on the floor and gave me angry looks.
We spent the rest of the day praying, going to the mosque that was once a church. They called it Lutheran, which sounds so ugly. I then came home, and here I am writing in this diary, which Daddy gave me to record the fun time I’m having here in this new country, the place where Allah truly lives with his beloved people.
I’m so happy to have earned my star. I’ll wear it tomorrow to the next beheading on the main square of those bad men who were trying to escape heaven, this place where we stay. I love beheadings. I take pictures of it on my uncle’s cell phone. I love the blood, snapped bones, and torn veins the best.
Tomorrow, our class will burn crosses at the beheading. I will burn not a cross, but a small statue of Mary, mother of that prophet who sinned against us. I’ve never burned her before, not because I haven’t gotten a chance to do so, but because . . . her eyes, her eyes when they look at me are funny.
Well, it’s time to go for prayers. I shall write later.
Alif Shifaq of the ISIS children brigade,
3 Bel Anif Mansion,
Sultan Saladin Road,
March 12, 2015.
After the fall of ISIS in Raqqa, an American soldier with his entire team were on the ground for inspection purposes. It was the year 2017, and the whole city had been razed to the ground.
The American soldier’s name was Emmanuel, and as he walked over the immense quantity of rubble, he spotted something.
It was a diary. A bit battered due to the bombing, but in good shape.
The hand of a preteen was found holding a pen beside it. The hand only. Not the rest of the body. The body had been incinerated.
Emmanuel lifted the diary and dusted it. He took it along with him, jumping over a pile of dusty teddy bears with their throats cut.
“City of the dead,” Emmanuel intoned, as he opened the diary to read. The first thing he read was an inscription in black ink from a fountain pen. It was done in calligraphy—skillfully done.
We are men who love death just as you love your life,
We are the soldiers who fight in the day and the night.
Emmanuel sighed and turned a page.
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The month of May is designated as National Get Caught Reading month!!
What a fantastic holiday month for readers and writers! I’ve been an avid reader since I could first make out words in the Dick and Jane primary readers. The image below is me when a story captivates me!
So, in honor of this fabulous month, I’m going to list some great books I’ve read recently!
What I liked most about this book was the honest way the author portrayed the racial prejudice in the southern part of the United States in the 60s. Noemie Bellerose is a girl of mixed race and until her family moves to North Carolina, she has no idea that she is considered an outcast because of her race. With a mother of color and white father, she finds that she is not accepted in either community. But, the torture doesn’t end there. With the death of her mother, her father becomes an abusive alcoholic and does not hold back on the punches in his rages. He blames Noemie’s little brother, Gerry, for their mother’s death and often takes his rage out on the young boy. Noemie is a girl-driven. Driven to make a better life for her and her little brother, driven to get an education, and driven to look out for her father, even despite his abuse. But, when Richard Winters rides his Harley Davidson Chopper into the small North Carolina town, looking for refuge and escape from a heartache so big it forced him to run, things begin to change for Noemie. But, not just for Noemie, for Richard too. With a steel lock around his heart, he is sure nothing can get through, but Noemie does. The racial prejudice is horrific. The abuse Noemie suffers at the hands of her father and others in the small-town is horrific, but the love she finds with Richard is redeeming. I loved this story. I have to admit that I was almost ready to put the book down by the third chapter, as it got off to a slow start. But into the fourth chapter, I was hooked and couldn’t stop until I reached a satisfying conclusion. Steamy romance, racial prejudice, everlasting friendships, and steely determination drive this story.
If this sounds like your cup-of-tea, you won’t be disappointed!
I have loved every Mae Clair book that I’ve read and this one is no exception! The way she intertwines the past and present to build the entire story is fantastic! When the empathic Jillian Cley crosses paths with Dante DeLuca who communicates with spirits in the other world, things are bound to get interesting. And they do. Jillian struggles to control her sensitivities and has a service dog, a Husky, who helps to ground her. There are a lot of characters in this story. But, I never had trouble keeping up with who was who and the role each played, even as the author switched back and forth between present day and the late seventeen-hundreds. As the reason for the curse is revealed, the plot gets thickened with a grave-robber and the release of monsters who had been held in the infamous Hode’s Hill cemetery. There are nail-biting scenes and I couldn’t put the book down. I had many late nights until I finished it. Suspenseful, engaging, compelling, other-worldly, and gripping are words I’d use to describe this story. My hat is off to this author for successfully writing in two different time periods effectively! This is a GREAT read if you love suspense, paranormal happenings, and relatable characters! I highly recommend it!
I fell in love with Clay Colby’s character in Broday’s Men of Legend Series when he was introduced in book two as a ranch hand. Even then, I wanted him to have a happy ending and to know more of his story. In this book, Linda Broday did more than give Clay a happy ending. She gave him an unforgettable story! A character also introduced in the Men of Legend Series, Talley Shannon was a fugitive. Along with several other women, they hid in a canyon and existed with the help of Luke Legend. They had escaped from a torturous insane asylum. Both Clay and Tally have deep wounds and scars and their journey to redemption is not an easy one. Broday keeps the reader on the edge of their seats as they follow along with bated breath, hoping and praying that the two will finally break through the walls of their hearts to be united as one. If you love the 1800s time period, plenty of action, tension, conflict and steamy romance, you will love this first book of the Mail Order Bride series!
I read two poetry books in April and loved them both! You don’t have to be a lover of poetry to enjoy these two intimate compilations.
I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of poetry. The author covers every subject from nature to the deepest part of the human psyche and soul. While I loved all of the poems, a few stood out to me personally like, “Splendor” where the beauty and aliveness of a spring day are expressed in flowing descriptive phrases. “The Journey” is deeply profound portraying the metaphor of life to that of a tiny bird struggling to ride out a storm. This author’s musings from the back of a Harley particularly captivated me. I went along for the ride! But, the section of the book, “The Emotions – Darkness and Light,” is hands-down my favorite section of the book. Each poem expresses life’s journey and the varying aspects of the dance. If you love well-written poetry that touches on every aspect of life and living, you will enjoy this book of poetry from D.L. Finn!
A fantastic collection of honest, heartfelt poetry that takes the readers on a journey through good times and bad. She writes about a health scare that could have easily ended her life. She weaves nature, family, love and faith through her writing. If you love REAL poetry – poetry that moves you, you will enjoy Miriam’s book!
And finally, a book that really opened my eyes to some of the unforgiving views about sexuality in the middle east.
The collection of short stories in this book from India-born author Fiza Pithan deals with a most delicate subject matter. Not only does it encompass stories of transgender people, but lesbian, homosexual, bisexual and asexual people. Two things about these stories struck me. #1 is that this author writes so well in a language that is not her native tongue. I commend her for the well-written stories. I did not spot even one typo throughout the book. The second thing I want to commend her for is the honesty and eye-opening reality of how people are tormented, tortured, ostracized and even killed in Mid-Eastern countries for their sexual preferences and/or differences. Reading these stories makes me truly glad I live in America. If you are looking for stories that, although are fiction, shed a light of truth on these issues, you will enjoy each of these!
Hopefully, you saw something here that caught your eye! It is quite a variety of genres, but I love reading all types of books.
So, grab one and let’s make May a month for memorable stories!