Welcome back to my Thursday roundup of edgy reading, carefully timed to enable my followers to queue up their Kindles with a selection of intriguing journeys through time, space, and corridors of the mind! First let me express my gratitude to my growing audience. On the heels of Sunday’s post, The Firefly Connection, the blog passed 2,000 visits. This is over six months, which puts me on track to reach 4,000+ in my first year. That’s an average of about 11 per day, which is very satisfying, given what I’m doing here.
Now, before I offer you a list of books you can buy, I’m going to bring you a story you can read for free, and a link to a lot more of them. Richard Schulte gets a lot of air time on my Sunday blogs due to his Cool San Diego Sights blog, and his generosity with the material he posts there. But his other, perhaps first love is the crafting of elegant slice-of-life short stories which he shares on his other blog, Short Stories by Richard. His latest offering is Here We Go, a story about a child embarking on his first train ride . . . and maybe a great deal more, if you listen just right. Here we go:
“Maybe I love trains because they’re a lot like life,” explained a father to his young son. The two sat together on the City Park Railroad, waiting for the short ride around the duck pond to begin. “You’re always moving forward, seeing something new–”
The small boy looked excitedly out the window.
He wondered what he would see.
He knew he’d see a whole lot of ducks floating out on the calm green water, and fishermen on the muddy banks casting their lines hoping to catch a prize bass.
He knew he’d see the short wooden pier jutting into the pond, and the bench near the end where he and his father had fished last summer.
He knew the train would eventually go over a bridge. His father had promised there was a bridge. It spanned a small creek that bubbled down into the pond through a patch of cattails.
And then the train might turn to follow the creek.
Looking out of the train’s window, waiting for his short journey to begin, the boy imagined the branches of willow trees fluttering over the sparkling creek. And dappled sunlight on long leaves. And a flock of blackbirds rising. And, as the creek wound upward into the nearby hills, a curtain of pine trees ahead.
Then the train might enter the pine forest.
And black towering trees would close all around, like a place in a dream, wind-whispering, wind-whispering.
The boy thought of stories he’d been told.
His father had been a young man hiking alone in the forest. Miles from home. He had heard the faraway sound of a wild turkey. He had turned to follow the call. It is rare thing to see a wild turkey. A very magical and lucky thing. His father had plunged forward through the deep forest, over slippery autumn leaves, pushing aside tangled branches, always turning, because that wild call kept shifting, from direction to direction, distance to distance. No, he never found what he sought. But he had found his way home.
And the story of how his very old grandfather, for one instant, had glimpsed a rare white deer in the forest. Nobody else in that forest ever had. It was a chance encounter. Pure white. Like new snow. And then the vision had melted into shadow.
That magical deer was said to have vanished into the same dark trees where the boy’s great grandfather had faced a raging grizzly bear.
Perhaps, thought the young boy, he might also see a grizzly bear.
Then the train might emerge from the forest, climbing, winding, chugging over slopes of naked rock to high levels beyond the wildest turkeys, deer, bears. The cloudless sun, now so close, would shine brightly as the boy stared out the train’s window down upon a small patch of green forest and an endless world of hills, lakes and ponds scattered like shining pebbles below.
And then he would reach the highest mountain’s summit.
Suddenly the train rumbled and lurched.
“Here we go!”
© 2018, Richard Schulte
I didn’t seek permission to repost it, and if Richard asks, I will of course take it down at once, but the purpose of putting it here is to help a very deserving, and too-modest author gain some readership. There are a lot more like this on his web page, deep, subtle, layered with nuance, and riveting on multiple levels. Most of you read and follow my blog because you’re interested in the art of literature. Richard is a master painter on a rather small canvas, and he deserves to be read. Treat yourself, then, to some fine reading, and get to know an old-school gentleman of the first order.
Indigo by D.C. Belga. What do time travel, invisibility, ruthless assassins, mind-control, insanity, witches, artificial intelligence, drones, a plague, and a blue dog have in common? Indigo – this seventh juggernaut in the Pseudoverse Series – is one-third science fiction, one-third horror, one-third fantasy, and one-hundred percent astounding historical fiction. During the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and some suggest even today, several million people have been unwillingly snatched up off the streets, drugged, and tortured at the hands of the American CIA, the Canadian government, and the Russian KGB for the purposes of producing an actual “Manchurian Candidate.” Inside Indigo, we introduce you to Harmony Gemma Wells, Granddaughter of the infamous science fiction writer H.G. Wells, kidnapped for programs initially devised by DARPA and called by the CIA Bluebird, Artichoke, MKUltra, MKDelta, and MKNaomi. These mind-control experiments go horribly wrong very quickly for the victims of these heinous experiments deep inside their satellite lab in Moscow. Will Harmony escape and finally find peace of mind and possible retribution as ruthless assassins are sent to track her down using her own invention, MOTT? The Russians unleash a monster upon themselves as Harmony’s genius, Steampunk attitude, DMT, invisibility, her dog Chronos, and her own broken psyche in the aftermath of these experiments all help guide her towards her ultimate goals, vengeance, and sanity. Take a wild ride with us as we introduce a brand new cast of colorful characters, her dog Chronos always at her side who likes to “take a bite” out of evil, and a government agency who might or might not be who they claim to be. This is the incredible, raw, gritty, and enthralling mind-ripper, Indigo. 99¢ on Kindle.
Warriors and Fools by Harry Rothmann. Warriors and Fools is not just another book about the Vietnam War. It is different from most. Unlike some others, the author is a veteran of that conflict, and a retired military officer with nearly thirty years’ service. He has spent much of the last three decades studying the war and taught a course on Vietnam at a prestigious senior military war college. This book is also different from others because it is a story not just of the American decisions and actions during the war. This Vietnam War story uses the latest, ground breaking research and released documentation of the war from the Communist Vietnamese side of the conflict. Consequently, the book delves deeply into the decision making, strategies, motives, and goals of the North Vietnam leaders as they waged their war for unification, first against the French and then against the Americans. The book also uses memoirs, interviews, and oral histories of former South Vietnamese leaders and combatants to discover their views on their struggle to form a new nation free from communist aggression. Warriors and Fools is both broad and deep in scope in its narration of the Vietnam War story. It takes the reader from the White House’s oval office and Hanoi’s Politburo room, to the Pentagon’s and North Vietnam Army’s command centers, to Vietnam’s mountain and rice patty battlefields to show the determination, deceit, foolhardiness, mistakes, courage, and horrors of war from the views of both sides. While it examines multiple participant views, overall the book seeks to answer one specific question – why did the US fail to achieve its principal objective to defend South Vietnam from communist aggression? The story’s findings and conclusions are neither orthodox nor revisionist. Those trying to gain insights on how American civilian leaders lost the war that its military could have won, or how the US Congress, Press, or Antiwar activists convinced the Public to stop its support will be disappointed. None of these traditional ‘answers’ on why the US lost are really valid. Rather, as this story explains, the answer is much more linked to human factors, interactions, and relationships. In this case, the interrelationship between American civilian and military leaders and advisors was extraordinarily divisive and dysfunctional. So much so that it resulted in flawed, timid policies and foolish strategies that led to defeat. Moreover, that troublesome interrelationship was primarily a result of mistrusts, misunderstandings, and misperceptions on their roles, responsibilities, and what they thought would lead to a positive end to the war. In addition, primarily because they were either ignorant of the nature of war or overconfident from their past experiences, civilian and military policymakers ignored or misunderstood their enemy. Warriors and Fools should be of interest to those who served in the war, and serious students and teachers of this event and period. It is not intended as light reading, or for someone trying to get just a brief understanding of what happened there and in America at the time. $9.99 on Kindle.
The Seventh Guard by Francis Halpin. A severely sarcastic and disgruntled Best Buy employee, Robert Lowden, unravels a new fate, far beyond his frustrating existence as a repair agent. After discovering a mysterious message hidden in the underpinnings of our everyday world he feels compelled to follow it . . . wherever it may lead. Robert embarks on a dangerous and fast-paced adventure that tests the strength of his relationships and his physical and mental fortitude, while a menacing opponent works to end his journey and his life. 99¢ on Kindle.
Out of Time by Ernesto H. Lee. “When your past calls, don’t answer. It has nothing to say.” Unless your name is Sean McMillan – in which case you had better answer and listen carefully. Out of Time is the first in a series of books that introduce the reader to Sean McMillan, “The Dream Traveler.” McMillan is a detective assigned to a cold-case squad, but he is no ordinary detective. With a unique ability to travel back in time through the medium of his dreams, finding evidence and solving a long forgotten murder should be a foregone conclusion. However, Sean soon discovers that changes to the past to influence the future can have unexpected and deadly consequences. The past is not the past, the future is not set and nothing in life is certain. Open your mind and join the “Dream Traveler” on his journey back to the past. $2.99 on Kindle.
Gargoyle by Christopher Slayton. By day Victor Fortune, heir to his family’s wealth and assets, was an industrious businessman. But by night he was the Gargoyle, a masked vigilante who spent his nights protecting his home city of Chicago. One night while off duty Victor and his brother Elijah find themselves opposed by a dangerous group of people led by a man known as the Judge. Together Victor and Elijah fight off the ambush, but at the cost of Victor’s life. With Victor dead, Elijah finds himself taking on his brother’s responsibilities as the Gargoyle, and discovers the harsh learning curve of what it takes to be the vigilante. But in the midst of adjusting to his second life Eli must rise to the occasion of being more than a man in a mask, but a hero, or die trying. Free on Kindle [reg 99¢].
The Bishop of 12th Avenue by Ray Lucit. When you grow up on the violent streets of a dying world, the first thing you learn is to mind your own business. So when eighteen-year-old Jacob Walker stumbles across three federal agents torturing an old man by a church, Jake can’t explain why he bothers to rescue the old guy. As he lay dying, the old man makes a strange sign with his hand, and after mumbling something in an ancient language, he slides a ring on Jake’s finger. What Jake doesn’t know is that he is now the last hope for a group of believers, or Churchers, living outside the dying city. Even now forces are massing to destroy the strangely naïve Churchers, and although Jake knows nothing of bishops, gods or churches, any chance that this remnant can survive will depend on The Bishop of 12th Avenue. Set in a post-apocalyptic world suggested by centuries of Christian prophesy and legend, The Bishop of 12th Avenue tells of a desperate fight for survival, an epic battle between good and evil, and a young leader’s struggle to understand the difference. 99¢ on Kindle [reg $3.99].
Entangled by J. Evan Stuart. Sometimes things can happen that alter your life forever. For eighteen year old Connor Evans it was being framed for the murder of his parents. Being on the run and evading the local authorities who are convinced he is guilty, Connor knows it’s only a matter of time before he is caught. His only hope lies with a young detective brought in to look over the case. For twenty-four year old Detective Sonya Reisler, an unexpected visit from Connor leads her to open her own investigation into the murders. As Sonya tracks down the evidence she needs, she finds the real danger may not be from getting too close to the actual killer, but getting too close to Connor. As the lines between what she should do and what she wants to do become blurred, Sonya puts her career at risk to prove Connor is innocent and finds their fates have now become hopelessly entangled. With time running out, Sonya and Connor learn the killer is planning to strike again and the price needed to pay to stop him may be more than careers and freedom. It may cost them their lives. $2.99 on Kindle.
Read the review that put me onto this here.
The Cult by Grant Griffin. Before the cult, John Stevenson lived a life full of girls, parties, and friends; something many high-schoolers can only dream of. However, that was before the cult. The cult took everything from John in a single night; they killed his parents, kidnapped his sister, and most important of all, stole from him his own identity. Now, robbed of his treasured youthfulness, John holds the capacity for one thing, and one thing alone… revenge. The police might of let the cult get away unscathed, but John has no intentions of doing the same. However, when the time comes for such a bloody war of revenge to be waged, John meets Amy… causing John’s desperate situation to be flipped on its head completely. This leaves him with a single choice; give in to his overwhelming desire to find the people who wronged him, and avenge his family’s death, even if that means jeopardizing Amy’s life; or find comfort in his new-found love, and turn away from his almost certain demise if he stays on the path of vengeance. 99¢ on Kindle until Sunday [reg $2.99].
Can’t Buy Me Love by Martin Humphries. It’s the sixties, and London might be swinging, but not for our girl, Edith. Raised in a miserable home full of anger and hate, life for poor Edith seems to hold little hope. But she finds plenty when she teams up with her older gay cousin, Ronnie, who makes her his mission with a plan to re-shape her into the fabulous young woman he knows she deserves to be. Once free of her father and her weak, defenseless mother, her transformation is swift and dramatic. Suddenly, life is an exciting adventure, full of twists and turns, as Edith’s coming of age becomes a roller-coaster ride of glorious highs and frightening lows, including a father who comes back to haunt her. But where will it take her, and how will it end? Who will win, and who will lose? This special Can’t Buy Me Love bonus edition offers the first two of six volumes in the The Cost of Loving Series. If you like stories of success over adversity, family dramas and sexual diversity, then you will love Martin Humphries’ bitter-sweet voyage of discovery through some of the most exciting years in living memory. Years chock full of changes of every kind, when being gay usually spelt trouble with a capital T. Free on Kindle [reg 99¢].
And that’s 30 for today. Join me Sunday when I’ll be talking about my life post-retirement, and the options available to me going forward. See you then!