Category Archives: Speculative

Nirvana Effect by Craig Gehring

THUMBNAIL_IMAGEReview: I knew going in, as most works  dealing with indigenous or tribal peoples from an outsider’s perspective, that the work can have aspects I find questionable and which I may be more focused on. Although the author clearly did have a certain story they wished to tell in a certain way, as the description relays, I found the “primitives” (as they repeatedly called them) to be very stereotypical, as well as the suggestions that most anything western was great, good, and beneficial.

It may not have been what the author intended at all, but in their attempt to build their plot: the primitives had to be morphed into caricatures. Especially to the extend they were throughout the whole book, I really feel Nirvana Effect would have been a more balanced, believable and memorable if the members of the Onge were treated as human beings. Just because a group of people or culture are not like one’s own, doesn’t necessarily make their way of life or them inferior to one’s own.

I found the plotting of the story predictable, with the protagonist doing almost everything just as you expect: being forbidden to view a ceremony, but of course he dismisses this warning because he wants to see it anyway. Naturally, he gets in trouble. Repeatedly. Doubtless, some readers may see the Onge tribes as just primitives, exactly the way the author wrote them, so they won’t be bothered by how they were portrayed, and they may like this book well enough. It wasn’t one I found especially readable, but I think it’s important readers give it a chance and make their own decision.

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Description: “A washed up missionary gets a second chance at his aspirations of a scientific career when he stumbles upon a jungle medicine that enhances mental and physical prowess. But the young native who discovered it has other, more devious schemes for the drug. What starts as simple research becomes a life or death struggle for power that reshapes the destiny of a primitive people and ultimately the fate of Earth.”

  • Paperback and Ebook
  • Published June 28th 2012 by Ring Publications LLC
  • ISBN 0615664660
  • ISBN13: 9780615664668
  • Available on Amazon.com.
  • Source: Author
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Clown by Paul Montgomery

CLOWN-WEB-smallReview: An intriguing premise can always catch my eye, and having a character whose face changes pattern daily whether they wish it to or not, was definitely one. And even as basically simple as the cover image for Clown is, I felt it strongly and strikingly conveyed most of the mood of the story: a kind of aimless wandering of Clown, both physically and emotionally.

That being said, it’s that same quality which made it rather difficult for me to progress through the book. Especially, at over 450 pages of roughly the same feel, I didn’t experience a sense of purpose, a build-up, climax or true resolution even if there are some scenes and characters who brightened or added complexity to the narrative. Overall, I just felt a number of revisions could have added focus and drive, which certainly can always be challenging to any author. Maybe I’ve missed the point of the work, but it’s listing as Book One suggests there will be more and many of the questions might finally be answered.

Description: “Fantasy, adventure, heroes, legends, dragons, and a man named Clown.

Clown never felt like he belonged. Even in the circus, where he was abandoned as a child, he never felt fully at home. Every day he woke to find his face wearing a different pattern, denying him the chance to ever see his true self. On a mountain, which no one else could see, he made a deal to save the life of a phoenix, and sparked an adventure which led him from our world to the world that once was. A world filled with old heroes and legends, gods and demons, ghosts and monsters.

From the depths of the earth, to the haven which once hosted gods, and on to the very moon, Clown’s path will lead him through triumph and sacrifice, discovering what it is to be a hero, and how the world can be shaped. And in doing so, he will learn why some deals are more dangerous than others, some souls are worth saving, who the mysterious Gabriel is, and maybe, just maybe, bring him face to face with a dragon.”

  • Kindle Edition, 455 pages
  • Published April 14th 2012
  • ASIN: B007UFS45Q
  • Available on Amazon.com, .uk.
  • Source: Author

Author Profile

I moved from Liverpool to London in 2000, and on to Kent in 2012.

I enjoy a variety of genres, but enjoy horror, fantasy, comedy and the occasional thriller the most. Accepting reviews is opening my eyes again, and I’m quite enjoying a few different tastes out there.

I cheerfully admit to being a bit of a geek (it’s our time now!), enjoying various comics, games, movies, etc. So you may find some random and relatively obscure references.

I’m happy to chat, offer ideas, feedback, reviews, promotions, interviews and help in any way I can.

Website: http://truejdk.com/

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Shadowed by Ken Hughes

Review: A very well-written, edited and formatted book, which was what notably caught my eye when first viewing Shadowed. Crisp, clean and thorough, it was a pleasure to see considerable care had been taken to present a professional appearance.

The premise of the story itself, someone discovering abilities in themselves they cannot fathom or understand, which distances them from other humans is a more common theme it seems these days. Paul, the main character, struggles with his heightened awareness, making choices and decisions after secretly observing sometimes nefarious others while still trying to protect his family and find out what happened to change him in this way.

Maybe it is why it took me a few tries to get started and finish, but I found I couldn’t connect with Paul and his motivations for the most part, nor the secondary characters with which he interacted. The story itself, however was told in a complex, suspenseful way other readers might enjoy.

Description: “He can hear a whisper across the block… and can’t remember why.

Open your mind, to a city where mystery chases up and down office back stairways, turns brother against brother, and plays out on frozen sidewalks where lives may be shattered if the enemy even looks at the ragged man passing by in the crowd—and even that man cannot guess what memory will be next to batter his mind.

Paul was no detective, no thief, only a student trying to get some distance from his father and brother. When he found himself marked by the power to enhance his senses, he had only that treacherous gift and what few tricks he dared to teach himself, to search for some explanation—or at least the chance to give it meaning by exposing a few petty corruptions.

Paul thought if he lived in poverty to keep his existence secret from the world, at least nobody could force him to use that gift as a weapon against others. But just when he thought he was untouchable, the last thing he expected shakes his world and drags him into the perils of his family, his power, and two women who each have a different claim on his life.

As Paul begins to play cat and mouse with enemies he can’t even name, he must break every rule that’s kept him alive, in every frantic chase and every gamble he makes to break his family free. And all the while, he knows his greatest enemy may still be what lies behind his own secrets.

If you think you know everything a paranormal thriller can do, take a closer look.”

To read more, see Chapter One.

SHADOWED can be ordered from any bookstore, and is available on AmazonAmazon Kindle, and Barnes & Noble, including free viewing of the first several chapters. (From the author’s website.)

  • An E-book and Paperback
  • Published May 12th 2012
  • Publisher: Windward Road Press
  • ISBN 0985048409
  • ISBN13: 9780985048402
  • Source: Author

Author Profile:

Ken Hughes is the author of Shadowed, a paranormal thriller published by Windward Road Press.

Ken has been living for storytelling since his father first read him The Wind In The Willows, and everything from Stephen King’s edge to Hayao Miyazaki’s sense of wonder has only fed that fire. He has worked as a technical writer in Los Angeles at positions from medical research to online gaming to mission proposals for a flight to Mars.

Website: http://www.kenhughesauthor.com/

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Interview with A.H. Amin, Author of “Psychs”

A. H. Amin was born in Iraq, and he had lived most of his life in Kuwait. He studied dentistry in Emirates in his first years and then he continued in Egypt.

He had first came across to his talent when he had met a group of students in Emirates who were discussing the making of a movie. After seeing how his ideas had impressed them, he started to take a little interest in literature.
He started finally after he came up with the idea of a new fiction thriller book, Psychs, which was his first published book, after he received good criticism about his new idea.

At present he continues to write the Psychs’ series, with the second one entitled THE REMNANT just around the corner and a new short fictional story inspired by true events that occurred in South Africa.

Links:

About the Author

What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?

I have a tendency to lean toward more than one genre, mostly thrillers, inspirational and adventure. I believe art is a single soul divided to all, so I believe by writing I am giving shape to that fragment lying within me. I like to inspire people and help them open their eyes and see what’s right, even through thrillers and adventures. One more reason why I write is because I love to challenge readers to balance themselves at the edge of their seats.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

When I became first aware of my talent. In my first year in college, I met students who were discussing the making of a movie, I gave them some of my ideas and they were really impressed. That’s where I realized I have the potentials to create and claim any world as mine.

Who or what was your inspiration for writing?

My father is a writer, he gave me some guidelines when I started and of course, many other writers out there have helped in conditioning my talent to be better through their writings. Like James Patterson, Paulo Coehlo, Dan Brown, Matthew Reilly, and Charles Dickens.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I like listening to music or playing some on the piano. I like watching old movies, most of them have better dialogues and stories because they don’t get cocky with over use of effects. I like jogging, and I enjoy doing new stuff. Just recently I started doing Yoga.

What books are currently on your nightstand?

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, and Aleph by Paulo Coehlo. Those are the new ones I bought recently and looking forward to devour.

Do you remember the first novel you read?

Oh yes, The Lake House by James Patterson. It was right then where I understood why most people say the book is better than the movie, it’s because we are the directors, and there’s nothing better than our own imagination.

What would you like readers to know about you the individual?

I’m an old man in a young man’s body.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

James Patterson, he writes in many genres and I have never picked a book of his that I didn’t like.

Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.

I’m somewhat implosive.

Your Writing Process

What excites you about writing?

That moment when you crash the writers block, I love it when that wall collapse and I get the ‘THAT’S IT!!’ sensation.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Patience when you condition your idea, otherwise you’ll waste what could have been the best work of literature, also, write, write, write, and then write some more, the best author in the world could be out there and we may never know about her or him, because he or she was too lazy to sit down and write.

 

What would you consider is your favorite part of a book to write? The beginning, the middle or the ending?

I love the middle part, how to make the story reach to that shocking, loving or inspiring conclusion is an art. Beginnings are easier to make and can be simply adjusted later on.

Is there any other genre you have considered writing in?

I do have a romance novel in mind. I’m also considering writing a historical fiction novel, something with honor or legends. But until I find something unexplored yet, it will still remain as a consideration.

Do you listen to music or have another form of inspiration when you are writing? 

Yes actually, I listen to music or jog to seek inspiration. When I do either I stimulate my subconscious, best ideas come from there since our conscious is too busy with our reality. Best medicine to writers block, I’d say.

Most people envision an author’s life as being really glamorous. What’s the most unglamorous thing that you’ve done in the past week?

I got to clean – or should I say format – my apartment. It was a tiresome job that I have been postponing since I came back from my vacation.

 

How long does it take you to finish a book from start to submission?

My first work took me a year and 9 months, the second and third were written simultaneously and were done within 2 years and 5 months. So I’d say an average of two years.

Do you prefer writing series books over non series or does it matter?

I do what the story wants. I don’t force her, I let her take control. So the way I see the story will look better is how I would present it. I have no preference, the idea decides for me.

What is the best and worst writing advice you have ever received?

The best writing advice I had was ‘read!’ One must develop the sense of writing and knows what it takes to be at that league. I don’t remember having any bad advices; I guess I was lucky with that.

Do you track work count or write a certain number of hours per day?

I write 1000 to 2000 words when I can sit and actually write.

Have you ever had one of those profound “AH-HA!” moments while you were writing?  Would you be willing to share it?

Yes I had. I’ll just give you a preview about it… I placed a person inside a prison, under the mercy of merciless men. His first attempt to escape ended up with him loosing both of his hands. He stays there, trying to live and only hope for someone to find him… years have passed, hope was an illusion he still clings on… I had to find a way to make him escape, a man with no arms in prison…. And one day, I shouted ‘AH-HA!!’… That’s all I can share for now.

What was the most uplifting moment you’ve experienced during your writing career?

I was on vacation visiting my family, I went to a mall and saw a bookstore where I know my book was in… and there it was, on the list of the best selling fiction. So far this is my favorite moment.

Your Books

Your book is about to be sent into the reader world, what is one word that describes how you feel?

Frightened, I guess. It did well locally, so I hope it will do better out there.

What can we look forward to in the upcoming months?

Well, I have planned for my sequel to be out by the first quarter of next year, it’s getting closer and I can’t be more excited. A Kirkus review is on the way too.

 

What kind of research do you do for your books? Do you enjoy the research process?

I visit the public library and do it the old school way. I prefer that because being there I feel like I’m absorbing a writer’s aura in an osmosis way. I also ask university professors and physicians questions that help me imagine and clarify to the readers what I have no knowledge of. So as you can see, it is a little tiresome job which I can’t get enough of, I love it.

 

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

Kind of both, I place my outlines but when I connect the outlines and see the big picture I tend to change bits and pieces of my manuscript.

 

If your book is available in print, how does it feel to hold a book that has your name on the cover? 

When I first held my book my older brother had a baby on the way, I told him ‘This is the feeling you’ll experience when your kid arrives.’ So it was like holding my first born child, it was the best feeling so far.

 

Your Characters

 

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

Richard Linklater quoted from Thomas Wolfe in Before Sunset, saying…
‘We are the sum of all the moments of our lives, and anybody who sits down to write is gonna use a clay of their own life, that you can’t avoid.’
I was able to imagine my fictional characters from my reality; my family, my friends, from my times in the university, my brief time I spent working as a timepieces salesman, or even from a nickname of a beloved. It all left an impact on me, and now they are being shared with the world.

Is it hard coming up with names for your characters?

A little, finding memorable and unique names or common names. It all depends if I want a character to be remembered, forgotten or ignored. The latter is placed for strategic purposes.

 

Which of your stories would make a great movie?  Who’d play the lead roles?

‘Psychs’, I have two main characters, one named Hassan Ali, I can’t place a face on him yet, the other is named Adam Goldfish, I picture Joshua Lee Holloway or Adrien Brody as him, they both look cool when they are angry. Also I see Marsha Thomason as the leading role for my character, Elizabeth.

Is there a character from one of your books that resonates deeply with you?

Adam Goldfish… It took me a while to mold him, he was a tough one to crack.

Random Questions

Name one website you visit every single day.

I would have to say youtube.

  • Published: August 25, 2012
  • Publisher: Author House
  • Description: “It started with a feeling, followed by a realization, then ended up into a future. All that started by the tragic event of his birth and revealed by a near death, and ever since, he had never been alone.Sequential events started to occur in two cities, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, escalating into chaos. At that point, he finds himself in an enigma he’s not aware of its cause. Using his miraculous gift, which gave him knowledge and guarded him, he will be placed in that chaos to try and figure out the truth, and for that, he is being marked.In these perilous times, he can only hope for a miracle, other than the one he has.”

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“The Albaru” by Paul Franceschi

Review: The Albaru is a short but complex tale, and I felt the description of the story itself was somewhat more understandable than some of the scenes within it. I found it intriguing, and the premise quite unique, as I often do when listening to a language that I basically know, but when local idioms are inserted, for example: I can find myself losing the thread of the conversation for a time.

Set in the future of our current reality, somehow The Albaru still had the feel of an ancient tale, as a man and his wife deal with some of the ordinary complications of daily life at their rural estate when they become fixated on a certain word, the ‘albaru.’ This discovery leads them to a wonderous discovery that is the solution to their personal conundrum.

Description: This speculative fiction short story deals with the fate of endangered languages in the mid Twenty-first Century and people struggling for preserving words that are on the verge of disappearing.

“There were the “orphan-words,” which were not so much sought after, and then there were the “full-words.” An orphan-word was a rare word, no longer used, whose sense had been lost: no one knew what it meant. The full-words in contrast, were rare words–even extremely rare–that were on the verge of disappearing, but whose meaning had been preserved. Between orphan-words and full-words, there was a large price difference, for a full-word was considered a gem.”

English translation of the story originally published in Corsican and French.

  • Published: February 13, 2012
  • ASIN: B007948BLA
  • Genre: Science Fiction, Speculative, Short Story
  • Available on most Amazon websites offering e-books.
  • Source: Author
  • Author website: http://www.paulfranceschi.com/

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