Book Review: Embattled by Darlene Jones

What would you do if you discovered you were leading two lives? In Embattled, Darlene Jones makes this offhand question the plot of a beautifully compelling tale.

The science-fantasy novel opens with Em, a young female principal, who discovers traces of blood on her hands. Shocked and confused, she holds back from opening up just yet. She, instead, taps her memory in the hope for an answer, a clue, only to bring back the knowledge that she’d recently taken sides with the oppressed in a war. This is not the only instance. There are similar daring adventures tucked away in her memory, showing she’s been active in another way. Most amazingly, in this other life of hers, she’s a popular face around the world. Not only is she able to speak different languages, she’s popularly as known Miracle Madame; a superhuman who stops wars and brings about justice and equality for all. Even though it has been her wish since childhood to bring about positive changes in the world, her dual existence is more than just a coincidence. The reason transcends the physical. Her duality, ability to effect changes in the world, experience what it means to love and be loved, is a delicate task for Yves, a supernatural being answerable to higher powers. As a Drone—a rookie on a test to become a Power—Yves can’t afford to botch up this monitoring task. But when he lets his feelings for his subject challenge his objective, not only is the task thrown into questioning, he risks a sanction even a god dreads.

Written in the first and third person (limited) points of view, Embattled seems like a confusing read at first, but the reader will probably realize that this approach uniquely presents the supernatural and physical dimensions of the story. Jones excels in creating action scenes and character building. With Yves, his sister, Elspeth, and the Powers, bringing a supernatural feel to the story, a reader who isn’t much into sci-fi or fantasy, could be bored after the first few chapters. But Jones handles this well—despite the fact that these beings are supernatural, their involvement in Earth matters is minimal. Purposeful. I was very keen to see how our main character, Em, would fare in such a tricky plot—if her superhuman side would play out as yet another cliché as seen certain movies and book that fall into science-fiction and fantasy genres, if her superhuman side would interrupt the flow of her normal life. But neither of these happened; as I read, I was rather hooked on the intrigue surrounding her. It was satisfying to see she could also be romantic; she eventually fell in love with Ron (a supporting character) and this was of his volition as well. Their romance went on to knit the tale in style. The novel, Embattled, has a direct relevance to world matters. Jones uses the book as effective tool to question man’s role or decision to make wars instead of peace. Here is an excerpt, one of the several conversations that challenge the reader to reason likewise: “Em stared at him [Ron]. ‘Oh God, Ron, you may be on to something about foreign policy, international relations, and the balance of power. I know nothing. If all experts can’t agree, how can I possibly know?’ Thousands of years from now, will war prove, in some horribly twisted way, to have been a boon to mankind? Maybe war is part of the natural selection process, a warped version of the survival of the fittest.

I’m curious to learn what becomes of Yves, if indeed there will more on Em. So I will be reading the rest of the series (a four-book series). Even though I’m not much into sci-fiction and fantasy, I enjoyed reading the book and will highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good read.

 

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Product details on Amazon:

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 31, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 146646805X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1466468054

Author’s Blog: www.emandyves.wordpress.com

Author’s Website: www.emandyves.com

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Recently I had an  interview with Darlene Jones for which she was answered the following questions:

Me: The book Embattled is a tale which alternates between two realms. Do you believe there forces beyond human control, forces that are able to compel an individual?

DJ: Yes, I do, but what those forces are is a question I don’t have an answer for. I’m not religious and don’t believe in God, so why I have gods in my series is a mystery to me. I do believe in other beings. Vast as the universe is, we simply cannot be the only existing life forms.

As for those forces you talk about, how else do we explain our compulsions to do certain things? And I believe we must have lived other lives for how else do we explain déjà vu?

 

Me: What stimulated you to write Embattled?

DJ: Two things inspired Embattled. The first was my experience living in Mali. My bio explains that. The second came from a sense of romance. I wanted a love story that went beyond the norm. I thought I would write one book to get to the “happy ever after,” but the story took over and worked its way to four books.

 

Me: When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer?

DJ: It’s been a lifelong dream. I tried writing when I was very young, but didn’t go anywhere with it. For me, it seemed that I needed more life experience. Whatever the reason, I didn’t start writing until later in life.

 

Me: What early experiences influenced you?

DJ: Growing up on a farm with no other kids around, without electricity or radio or television meant that books were the most important thing in my life and thank goodness for that.

 

Me: As a writer, once you have the idea of a story, do you wait on inspiration or do you set a timeline for the writing?

DJ: I never set a timeline. Sometimes I work furiously for several days, other times I don’t write at all for days or even weeks. My work in progress started with one sentence that popped into my head. I wrote it down and ignored it. Then, looking at my list of possible novel ideas the sentence popped out at me and a story line appeared as if by magic. I wrote 30,000 words in a matter of days to get the plot line on paper. Now, I’m doing the re-write—fleshing out the story, building on the characters, adding details important to the plot. A lot of fun!

 

 

Mechanic Leigh by Eric Alagan

I want to use this blog to promote Mechanic Leigh, a book by my dear friend, Eric Alagan.  Yes, I know I’ve not yet read the book, but when you have the work of a talented author like Eric ready for your reading pleasure, you can’t help but feel excited. My excitement knows no limit. That’s why I want to use this medium to introduce you to his highly acclaimed book. Eric was kind enough to write a summary for folks like me who cannot resist a good read. You can find the summary of his book below its colorful cover.

 

Book Cover
Book Cover

 

Eric wrote:

Mechanic Leigh is a composite of boys I grew up with in 1960s Singapore and all his stories are our stories – not only mine. When I ran this series, what I found enlightening was people from all over the world (Asia, Africa, Europe and America) could relate to his experiences and antics. It was mind-blowing for me, as I thought our childhood in rural Singapore was somewhat unique. People who are now in their forties to sixties, will discover their growing up years in the pages of Mechanic Leigh. Younger readers will catch glimpses of their parents’ childhood.

Leigh also brings to bear a child’s perspective. For example, he muses that because of desperate poverty, “we searched for reasons to laugh but adults mistook that for mischief”. In another episode, he says, “we were poor but happy because we made so much out of so little.”

But his stories are not all pensive, in fact far from it. Every episode gives one belly laughs. For example,  when the teacher asked whether he “stole fruits today”, he vehemently denies and when pressed, replies “honest, I stole them last week!” He tears out pages from his dictionary to make paper boats to float in rainwaters. When his mother asks why his dictionary was so thin, his reply, “I loaned half to my friend – the half which contains all the words I already know.”

The book is peppered with similar ‘smart alec’ cracks. In fact, the opening episode is titled, “Smart Ah Leck” a distortion of the English ‘alec’ to the Chinese name, ‘Ah Leck’.

Writing this book, opened my eyes in many ways and reinforced my belief in humanity. Leigh captures it well, “When you read Mechanic Leigh, you’ll relive your childhood. Of this, I’m sure, because inside, we’re all the same.”

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Mechanic Leigh is one of the several books , Eric has authored. You can find more about his novels and business books by taking a trip to his blog. He blogs at www.ericalagan.net.

Away from writing, Eric is an aircraft engineer and a corporate man. He’s a friend worth having.

Details of Mechanic Leigh on Amazon:

  • File Size: 3563 KB
  • Print Length: 363 pages
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00KA70OLS

EN GARDE: MY BATTLE WITH BREAST CANCER by Ronnie Hammer

“We have two options medically and emotionally: give up or fight like hell”—Lance Armstrong

Book Cover of "En Garde: My Battle with Breast Cancer" by Ronnie Hammer
Book Cover of “En Garde: My Battle with Breast Cancer” by Ronnie Hammer

Open a conservation with anyone about cancer and you’ll learn that it’s either she or he has had the disease, knows someone who has it, or is always worried about the frightening possibility of another loved one or friend being diagnosed with the disease. In her book, En Garde: My Battle with Breast Cancer, Ronnie Hammer, talks of her fear, disbelief, and anxiety after medical tests showed she had cancer. As terrifying as the news was, she didn’t delay her treatment. She made up her mind  immediately that she would  undergo surgery. Even though her family were there to support her, once the doors of the surgery were shut, she felt alone and terribly nervous. To help deal with the situation, she visualized Percy, a tall very proper Englishman, as an embodiment of hope. Percy didn’t hesitate to come to her side. During her surgery he reached deep, took position like a fencer, and attacked the cancer cells with his umbrella.

Her successful surgery kindled her interest in biofeedback for which she went ahead to receive a training in the field. She now helps other people ready themselves physically and mentally to fight cancer and other related diseases. In her book, she also discusses how powerful anxiety can be. Like a scatter bomb, it can do a lot of damage to a person. With her step by step approach to achieving good relaxation, one is able to combat stress.

Having gone through surgery myself, I find Ronnie’s visualization technique very helpful. Before I read her book, however, she’d suggested that I invite Percy over to help me cope during my surgery. In truth, it did. I’d like as many people as possible to read this book and to share it with their loved ones as well as those among us who are ill.

 

 

Product detail on Amazon:

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Release date: October 24, 2013

Language: English

Number of pages: 132 pages

ISBN-10: 149358411

ISBN-13: 978-1493584116

 

You may also like visit Ronnie’s blog HERE. She blogs about true stories, sometimes spicing them with humor.

 

THE ULTIMATE WONDER—WORLD STORIES ILLUMINATING DEATH by Skywalker Storyteller

 

Cover Photo of The Ultimate Wonder by Skywalker Storyteller
Cover Photo of The Ultimate Wonder by Skywalker Storyteller

Death is a haunting and rarely discussed topic. To man, it is the end of a phase or life here on Earth. But is this really so? Have we taken a moment to pause and reflect on death, the way we want to embrace this inescapable moment? In her book, “The Ultimate Wonder—World Stories Illuminating Death,” Skywalker has taken the giant step to write about this end she aptly calls The Ultimate Wonder.

Served with a preliminary introduction where she, in a concise manner, tells of her view about death from both personal and religious perspectives, one can’t help but read further and keenly too. Segmented into various parts, the short stories within take place in various parts of the world and at various times. I found some of these stories so moving, they stayed with me for days. A few examples are “Kenelinda” and “A Mother’s heart.”

Until I read Skywalker’s book, I’ve not come across an anthology (of poems and short stories) where death, the central theme, is presented in a rather soothing and enlightening manner. Skywalker’s compilation is a book you can relax to, or even share with family members and friends. Each story is a fountain of gentle words and metaphors meant not only to entertain and inform, but also to prepare man without pain or fear for this end. This ultimate wonder.

 

For more details on this brilliantly written book, you can visit Skywalker’s site: www.rigzenchomo.com

 

Poetry Book Review: Suroor of the Soul

Cover Photo of Suroor of the Soul. Pic source: Amazon
Cover Photo of Suroor of the Soul. Pic source: Amazon

With the various styles and contributions to contemporary poetry, “Suroor of the Soul” makes for an uplifting and fascinating reading. It’s a meticulously sectioned book co-authored by Soumya Vilekar and Shaheen Dhanji; two wonderful poetesses whose love for nature, true happiness, metaphysical knowledge and exploration, soul discovery and its ultimate journey cumulatively amplifies a reader scopes via their poems.

Not short of fine imagery—a few of which are subtle or complex judging by their metaphysical exponent—or verse paragraphs of commendable artistic quality, both poetesses seek to approach their audience in four ways (sections). Section-I gives credence to the soul, its birth, growth and endeavor. A poem from this section that sits nicely with me and I think I’ll still remember for some time to come is The Lost Fawn. A touching narrative, it metaphorically points to man’s journey through life and his interaction with the divine. Section-II is a smooth continuation of the first section where the soul seeks love in others, the failure and heartaches that may come as a result, and then its new purpose to establish a path to true happiness. Section-III is an elaborate  effort via words and rhythm that tells of the soul’s voyage; the quest to discover the divine power—God Himself. This is most evident in a poem like God or Religion, a poem of the mortal and divine dialogues. Section-IV, a conclusive portion, proudly cradles the title of the book. In this section, we are acquainted with the joy and ecstasy the soul goes through at last and about the craving to become the “perfect being” after it must’ve realize the power behind surrendering to the will of its Maker.

Overall, the poetry book does not wish to give the impression that there is a particular religion or channel that can effectively connect man with his Maker or Diviner Ruler. The fact is, however, that both poetesses have recognized that true happiness can indeed be achieved through self-discovery, recognition of real beauty, and exploration of where the soul could possibly reach.

After reading this book, I can say that I now appreciate metaphysics, a branch of philosophy, even more. Also, there is a new sense in poetry presentation and healthy thoughts about religion and spiritualism  that comes with the book.

If you like poetry with a touch metaphysics and insight into spiritualism, true happiness, and religion then this book is for you.

*I have received a free copy of this book in return for a review*

LINKS:

AMAZON: http://www.amazon.com/Suroor-Soul-The-ultimate-happiness/dp/1484914759

SOUMYA VILEKAR’S BLOG: http://soumyav.wordpress.com

SHAHEEN S. DHANJI’S SITE: http://shaheensultandhanji.weebly.com/