Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Berlin Package by Peter Riva : A Review


BOOK TITLE: The Berlin Package

AUTHOR: Peter Riva

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1631580826

GENRE: Fiction / Thriller Crime

NUMBER OF PAGES: 320 pages

FORMAT: Digital / PDF

SERIES / STANDALONE: Book Two in the Pero Baltazar Series

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: I thank Laura Fabiani of iRead Book Tours for this review copy

SUMMARY:

Film producer Pero Baltazar thought he was taking a Berlin filming assignment. He needed the work, needed to get back in the saddle after fighting off a life-threatening experience in East Africa—alShabaab had attacked his crew, intent on a much larger terrorist attack. Suddenly he finds himself under orders from his part-time employers at the State Department and the CIA when he is handed a mysterious package. It’s an assignment he doesn't want. The problem is, it’s a job contracted by mysterious patrons who are prepared to kill him if he doesn't deliver. Pero—now in far too deep—turns to friends, old and new, to help him unravel the mystery of the package, uncover connections to Nazi concentration camp gold recently sold by the US Treasury, and thwart the ex–Stasi chief, now head of a powerful banking group. In this fast-paced sequel to Murder on Safari, Pero calls on Mbuno, his friend and East African safari guide, to anticipate the moves of his enemies as if they were animals—dangerous vermin—who have kidnapped both the film star and director. Mbuno’s tracking skills may keep them from getting killed—provided Pero can rope in more help and keep the CIA at bay. Exhilarating and expertly crafted, The Berlin Package (Yucca Publishing; April 2016) is a gripping, page-turning thriller set in post–German reunification Europe.

FIRST IMPRESSION:


REVIEW:

Only a few books draw me in so completely. They might not necessarily be bestsellers, nor do they need to be real page turners in the commercial sense. But sometimes, certain words, phrasing or character description, even visualisation of scenes, or a few random words like a quote, they attract my attention and manage to hold it until something else comes to occupy my time, and then I reluctantly leave the book. This book had one line about first class seats in airplanes that caught and held my undivided attention, and I am not even sure why. First to arrive, first to perish. And from then on, there was no looking back until I was about halfway through. The book begins with a high adrenaline plane engine failure. And from then on, it is only a race against time. Pero as the protagonist has actually started to attract the reader in me. Being a person who focuses more on supporting characters and their roles and appearances in the book instead of rooting for the protagonist, this was a bit rare for me. Starting with the mysterious package that causes so much of carnage, the story reveals only as much as is essential to keep the reader glued. The pace is even, steady and sometimes racy, but thankfully it never slackens.

Some things hold a longstanding mystery value associated with them. Nazi as a word evokes certain preconceived notions and emotions from a variety of people for various reasons. But it is good fodder for a suspense thriller and it actually works in the case of Peter Riva. He brings the resourceful, striking Pero, puts a package of Nazi gold in his hands, and makes him run to deliver it to one group while another chases him. Is it just the gold or is it something more? The mystery keeps developing and readers are left with little option but to keep reading.

I liked the writing. Except for dialogues at certain places, the flow was awesome, smooth and amazing overall. The plot itself was tight, clear and without many other sidetracks. And the little facts thrown in and woven seamlessly through the story are the highlights. While it was East Africa last time, this time the honors go to post world war 2 Germany, and it is equally interesting, if not more. Peter Riva has made me look for his other works, and has, in some way, attracted the reader in me.

WHAT I LIKED:

  • The plot is tight. It does not have many fillers.
  • Book seems well researched, with the right amount of interesting detail added to get the story along without being too descriptive or distracting.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:

  • Characters aren't as expressive as in the last book.
  • The dialogues could have been bit more coherent.
VERDICT:

A great standalone sequel

RATING: 4/5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Peter Riva has spent many months over 30 years travelling throughout Africa and Europe. Much of this time was spent with the legendary guides for East African hunters and adventurers. He created a TV series in 1995 called Wild Things for Paramount. Passing on the fables, true tales, and insider knowledge of these last reserves of true wildlife is his passion. Nonetheless, his job for over forty years has been working as a literary agent. In his spare time, Riva writes science fiction and African adventure books. He lives in Gila, New Mexico.

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle, Paperback

PRICE $10.17 for Kindle, $11.69 for Paperback

BOOK LINKS: Amazon

Friday, May 13, 2016

Spotlight! Cover Reveal - Conspiracy at Meru Vikramaditya Veergatha # 2



First look at 
The Conspiracy at Meru 
(Vikramaditya Veergatha # 2)



Guardians of the Halahala 
(Vikramaditya Veergatha # 1) 
has a new look as well!


The deadly Halahala, the all-devouring poison churned from the depths of the White Lake by the devas and asuras, was swallowed by Shiva to save the universe from extinction.


But was the Halahala truly destroyed?

A small portion still remains – a weapon powerful enough to guarantee victory to whoever possesses it. And both asuras and devas, locked in battle for supremacy, will stop at nothing to claim it.

As the forces of Devaloka and Patala, led by Indra and Shukracharya, plot to possess the Halahala, Shiva turns to mankind to guard it from their murderous clutches. It is now up to Samrat Vikramaditya and his Council of Nine to quell the supernatural hordes – and prevent the universe from tumbling into chaos!

A sweeping tale of honour and courage in the face of infinite danger, greed and deceit, The Guardians of the Halahala is a fantastical journey into a time of myth and legend.


Reviews for Guardians of the Halahala

The story is interknitted with action, brilliant storytelling, and insightful of mythological and legendary elements that get under your skin and challenge the way you perceive history, as only few of the talented authors can. ~ Shreya Ganguly @ The Notepad Reviews

I am intoxicated, drugged, and floating in a world that has come to conquer my senses since the last few days. The world of Vikramaditya. The world carved by author Shatrujeet Nath. ~ Amrit Sinha on Goodreads

The quality of writing is powerful and beautiful, almost surreal. ~ By Manish Mahajan on Amazon

In fact the only disappointing thing about this book was that the second part isn't ready yet. ~ Srikanth Sarathy on Amazon


About the Author

Door-to-door salesman, copywriter, business journalist & assistant editor at The Economic Times; Shatrujeet Nath was all this before he took to writing fiction full-time. He debuted with The Karachi Deception in 2013, followed by The Guardians of the Halahala and The Conspiracy at Meru, the first two books in the Vikramaditya Veergatha series. At present, he is writing volume three of the series. Shatrujeet lives in Mumbai, but spends much of his time in the fantasy worlds of his stories.






Also by the Author;

(Click On the Cover for More Details)

This Cover Reveal is powered by b00k r3vi3w Tours


Why Talking About Balance Matters : Guest Post by Jae Ellard, author of The Five Truths about Work-Life Balance

WHY TALKING ABOUT BALANCE MATTERS

By Jae Ellard
Author of The Five Truths About Work-Life Balance
Simple Intentions Founder

I’d never talked about balance until I was well into my 30s, and then the topic came up only after I collapsed at work in front of my colleagues from adrenal fatigue. My first real conversation about balance was with my doctor, who told me I needed to quit my job as an executive producer at a Fortune 50 software company.
Yup, that was the first conversation I’d ever had about balance. And it left me with few options: I didn’t want to quit my job – I loved my job. Deep down I knew it wasn’t my job or the company that made me collapse. I had a role in it, too, but I wasn’t sure what role I played. I also knew I wasn’t alone in this experience, because after I collapsed many people approached me wanting to talk or introduce a loved one who had also collapsed, if not at work, then at the mall, the gym or in the kitchen.
Thankfully, I’m stubborn and I didn’t listen to my doctor. I kept working, but began to create awareness around why I was doing what I was doing. Like a scientist, I made myself a research subject. I spent a year learning to set boundaries, owning my yes’s and no’s, meeting with people who shared similar stories, and studying all I could on the topic – from brain and body science to mindfulness – to help me understand why I and many others around the world were doing what we were doing.
What I discovered during that year of research inspired me to start my own business seven years ago with the purpose of helping others make talking about balance a habit. I learned most people don’t know what balance means for them, so talking about it often happens too late – when a balance crisis hits.
To talk about balance is to express who we are and what we need as our lives shift and change, as circumstances, events and personal growth take place. In talking about balance we tell others what we need to feel supported and to sustain ourselves so we can thrive at whatever we choose to do.
To talk about balance is to be human. And we do not stop being human when we walk into our workplaces.
Talk about balance – especially at work – is a conversation many of us avoid. It’s not because we don’t want to share our feelings and experiences; rather, for most people, it’s a conversation we’re not in the habit of having. Moreover, it comes with a mix of fear and shame of being perceived as weak if we dare set a boundary around our human capacity.
But if we can’t talk about balance, then how can we expect to create sustainable environments – at home, school or work – where humans thrive and prosper, rather than repeat the burnout-recover-burnout cycle?
If we don’t talk about balance, we can never hope to attain it. Let’s get talking.

Spotlight! The Five Truths About Work-Life Balance by Jae Ellard

The Five Truths About Work-Life Balance by Jae Ellard




Book Description:  

Work-life balance has nothing to do with work. Really. It also doesn't matter what words you use to describe it. The fact is, most people share a similar desire to create easy joy and meaningful engagement across the roles, relationships and responsibilities that make up life.

Our current habits and perceptions often get us stuck and prevent us from creating the life we desire. Get unstuck, learn the truths about work-life balance.

​Buy the book:  Amazon

Meet the author:  



After years in senior communication roles crafting content for executives, Jae collapsed from stress-related adrenal fatigue. This life-altering experience propelled her to research human behavior, neuroscience, mindfulness, and organizational relationship systems.

In 2008, Jae founded Simple Intentions and developed the Mindful Life™ Program, which includes four group coaching workshops to generate reflection, awareness and action at the organizational and individual levels. Jae has taught the skill of awareness to thousands of employees at multinational corporations in more than 50 countries including China, Russia, India, Japan, Brazil, United Arab Emirates, Germany, United Kingdom, Norway, and the United States.

Jae contributes to the Awareness at Work column for Mindful Magazine, the Healthy Living section on Huffington Post as well as the Simple Intentions blog. Jae has a master’s degree in Communication Management from Colorado State University and a bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Communication from Metropolitan State College of Denver. She holds certificates in co-active coaching and organizational relationship systems coaching and is the author of seven books.

Connect with the author:   Website   Twitter   Facebook


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Guest Post by Peter Riva, author of The Berlin Package

Peter Riva, author of Murder on Safari and The Berlin Package talks about his books and experiences!

One of the things I regret in writing the book The Berlin Package, was that my editor removed some of the fun food sections. Okay, they were not so integral to the plot, but I managed to leave some of them in, like the Saanen hotel dinner and the restaurant in Berlin, because, well, heck, when I travel, food plays a big part.

Okay, sometimes the food is not all about my appetite but the animals around me… This giraffe was in Kenya in the mid-80s


Sometimes it’s just me feeding the cows early in the morning.



Okay, back to the book… everything in the book, insofar as place and travel are concerned, have formed part of my life for over 50 years. Some has changed more recently, and I am always amazed how much Europe stays the same even though parts change. You can no longer get the train for Paris from the Zoo Gardens station as they have built one of the world’s most wonderful train stations in central Berlin now. The Russian train still comes through and, yes, the little mother is still in charge of the sleeper. Waking up in Paris with the thought of warm fresh croissants and a cup of hot cocoa to dip them in … darn, food again.

Where was I?

Ah yes, the book… the facts in the book are accurate. Aren’t the Stasi frightening? And yes, we have Nazi concentration camp gold in the Federal Reserve in lower Manhattan… although everyone wishes we didn’t. And yes, some gold recovered from a mine shaft in Austria (a salt mine) was found to be radioactive in the ‘80s… which is what gave me the idea. Imagine if you could hide a wolf in sheep’s clothing… or in this case hide a sheep in wolf’s clothing while you take the wolf away for some evil purpose…. Enjoy! No nightmares… Pero saves the day (with loads of help from his friends).

Murder on Safari by Peter Riva : A Review


BOOK TITLE: Murder On Safari

AUTHOR: Peter Riva

ISBN/ASIN: B00W5T8LB4

GENRE: Fiction / Thriller

NUMBER OF PAGES: 352

FORMAT: Digital / PDF

SERIES / STANDALONE: Book One in the Pero Baltazar Series

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: I thank Laura of iRead Book Tours for this review copy

SUMMARY:

Only a reality TV producer and an expert safari guide can stop a terrorist attack.

Every adventure starts at the fringes of civilization. For expert safari guide Mbuno and wildlife television producer Pero Baltazar, filming in the wild of East Africa should have been a return to the adventure they always loved. This time they’d be filming soaring vultures in northern Kenya and giant sea crocodiles in Tanzania with Mary, the daughter of the world’s top television evangelist, the very reverend Jimmy Threte.

But when a terrorist cell places them in the crosshairs, there is suddenly no escape and they must put their filming aside and combine all their talents to thwart an all-out al-Shabaab terrorist attack on Jimmy Threte’s Christian gathering of hundreds of thousands in Nairobi, Kenya.

The problem is, Pero has a secret—he's been working as a clandestine courier for the US State Department for years. If anyone finds out, it may get them all killed. Exciting and expertly plotted, Murder on Safari is a gripping, edge-of-your-seat thriller set in the great wide-open plains of East Africa

FIRST IMPRESSION:

The book came to me as a part of a bok review tour. While there is nothing really engrossing in the blurb or the title, what attracted me was the setting. Having read (and reviewed) a few books based in Africa, something about the country and its unaltered wild structure attracts me. There is a raw beauty to the continent, and any mention of any countries of Africa, especially the ones with the exotic images of animals brings to the fore of my mind pictures and scenes from nature and wildlife undisturbed by human presence. This is why I rarely pass up a chance to read any book set in this region.

REVIEW:

A short while before I actually began reading this book I had read an exciting short story (by an entirely different author) set in Africa, amidst the wild and untamed natural land of safaris. So without breaking stride, I began reading this so it was not hard for me get into the groove. The beginning was a bit slow but the details looked like they were setting the perfect scene for the upcoming thrilling events. And the book did not disappoint because I got involved in the storyline, but that did take some effort on my part, and it was hugely helped by my love of most things Africa.

The plot is simple - A wildlife film producer, Pero Baltazar, goes to Kenya to shoot vultures in their natural habitats. He is accompanied by his trusted safari guide. Things go well until one of their own is found dead under suspicious circumstances. Not wanting to make a big deal out of it, they relocate, but trouble follows them. In comes Mary, daughter of evangelist Jimmy, an expert on crocodiles. The setting in Tanzania isn't peaceful as the suspense becomes larger. A single death seems only a precursor or omen when they receive a threat from terrorists. But who is the intended target. Is it Mary,or Pero himself. And what secret is Pero keeping to himself. How does that affect the lives of everyone involved? Would they be able to stop the terrorist attack?

When I talk about how well the story has been written, I would have to mention two things. It is not the best of narratives, often having changes in pace. But one good thing about this is, if you are a reader who has patience for reading descriptions, and applying them to the scenes at hand, then this book is a movie directed in your head, with little input from you. Peter Riva combines the intricate details about Africa in his narrative of the story and if you read them with interest, they contribute to the story beautifully. This is not just about the scenes and locations, and the simple geographical details. It is also about the in depth politics of the countries we actually know very little about. The right political mind will use this book as a beginning to their journey of 'discovering Africa'. In short, it will make you feel nostalgic and whimsical about a place you might not even have visited.

All through the narrative, be it the major or minor characters, the details are amazing. The characters stay true to form and the intrigue and suspense keep the reader going. Even minor characters are given crucial story space and if ever the editor's eraser should have been at work, they could cut out only some part of the descriptions. The mystery and suspense element are kept alive through most of the book to culminate in a nice racy ending. This book is valued more for its description and detailing than the murder angle which has become a common genre nowadays. Overall, a difficult verdict - not for readers who are easily distracted. But actually a treasure trove of information woven as a story.

WHAT I LIKED:

  • The description of Africa
  • The characters being distinct and well developed, considering the geographical variations of the homelands
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:

  • At many important points in the story, the pace slackens, slowing down the reader
  • For a story of this genre, the excessive descriptive details allow for distraction, rather than adding to the plot
VERDICT:

A thrilling mystery carefully placed among folds of information about a beautiful continent.

RATING: 4/5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Peter Riva has spent many months over 30 years travelling throughout Africa and Europe. Much of this time was spent with the legendary guides for East African hunters and adventurers. He created a TV series in 1995 called Wild Things for Paramount. Passing on the fables, true tales, and insider knowledge of these last reserves of true wildlife is his passion. Nonetheless, his job for over forty years has been working as a literary agent. In his spare time, Riva writes science fiction and African adventure books. He lives in Gila, New Mexico.

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle, Paperback

PRICE $10.04 for Kindle, $11.38 for Paperback

BOOK LINKS: Amazon

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Characters in 'The Cadence of Gypsies' - Guest Post by Barbara Casey

THE CHARACTERS IN THE CADENCE OF GYPSIES
By Barbara Casey

Once in a while when you are writing a story, you will create a character that, from that moment on, just won’t leave you alone. I can honestly say that the three FIGs—Dara, Mackenzie, and Jennifer in my book, The Cadence of Gypsies—are like that. Getting to know them has been a journey in itself. Each girl is so unusual, being a genius, an orphan, and with special talents. That in itself is interesting, but it goes much deeper. Each of these girls, in spite of her abilities, feels flawed. Together, they give each other the support and permission they need to be different. That frequently gets them into trouble as they constantly look for ways in which to express themselves creatively. When a new, bright, young teacher gets assigned to “look after” them, there is nothing that is impossible for them to achieve.

Like her three charges, teacher/mentor Carolina Lovel is also an orphan, although she didn’t find out until her 18th birthday. Also like Dara, Mackenzie, and Jennifer, she holds a secret deep within her soul. It is how she is able to cope with not knowing who her biological parents are and why they gave her away. When she decides to share her secret with the FIGs, it builds the trust and love they already have for one another to a level that can never be destroyed, and takes them on a journey to Italy where they discover gypsies and the most mysterious manuscript in the world—the Voynich Manuscript.

When I finished writing The Cadence of Gypsies, I knew I wasn’t finished—or, rather, Dara, Mackenzie, and Jennifer weren’t finished with me. The sequel, The Wish Rider, will be released on May 5, and a third book in this series (T HE F.I.G. MYSTERIES) is under contract for publication next year.

The Cadence of Gypsies by Barbara Casey : A Review


BOOK TITLE: The Cadence of Gypsies

AUTHOR: Barbara Casey

ISBN/ASIN: 978-0982081280

GENRE: Fiction/ YA/ Mystery, Thriller

NUMBER OF PAGES: 182

FORMAT: Digital / PDF

SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: I thank Laura Fabiani of iRead (Italy) Book Tours for this review copy!

SUMMARY:

On her 18th birthday Carolina Lovel learned that she was adopted and was given a letter written by her birth mother in an unknown language. After years of research she travels to Italy on a mission to find the truth about her past. Carolina is accompanied by three extremely gifted but mischievous students the FIGs from Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women. 

In an effort to help their favorite teacher, the FIGs will have to use their special abilities to decipher the Voynich Manuscript, the most mysterious document in the world, and the one thing that is strangely similar to what Carolina was given. Their search will take them into the mystical world of gypsy tradition and magic, more exciting and dangerous than any of them could have imagined.

FIRST IMPRESSION:

There aren't many titles that would make me go in search of a dictionary. Maybe it was just me who didn't know what 'cadence' meant, or maybe it was the author's genius, I had to search for the meaning before I could begin reading in peace.

When the Cambridge dictionary threw this at me,

cadence /keɪ.d ə n t  s/ noun [ C ] VOICE

1. the regular rise and fall of the voice

I was more than eager to continue reading the book to know what it held. The summary was short, revealing next to nothing, but still engaging enough.

The cover image was not very spectacular and did not hold my attention.

REVIEW:

Kud ce vjestica do u svoj rod?
(Where should a gypsy go if not to her kin?)

From this quote on the very first page before the prologue, the book drew me in. A woman's search for her biological parent is bringing her back home - something that is true to all cultures. The book showed an eerie familiarity with me in the way it ended the first chapter - all was as it should be - something in those words rang a bell, and signalled that I was in for some more magic!

On one hand, we have Carolina, a teacher who learnt that she had been adopted as a baby. She learns this life changing secret at 18, and as is sort of a norm in YA novels, she is made aware of this fact by a letter in an indecipherable language. Determined to go in search of her biological parents, Carolina is waiting for a chance. On the other end there are three girls, on the brink of their graduation, having a lot of time and energy in their hands - at least enough to pull pranks on those around them.

Carolina finds a job at a school for gifted children. She watches the acutely intelligent girls' pranks going overboard and decides to take the girls on an adventure, hoping that their superior intelligence and capabilities would help her on her quest to find her biological parents. The story takes us on a beautiful journey from then on, full of secrets, history and folklore, with the twists coming one after another. The book is a page turner, having no real slackening moments. The characters are well developed, many of them etched in my memory for some time to come. The book ended sooner than I would have liked it to, and that is saying something!

I guess I expected a YA story to be targetted at that age group of audience. But The Cadence of Gypsies surprised me, and made me thankful, yet again, that I don't choose books based on their target audience alone. This book will delight young and old readers alike. I liked many things about the story. Be it the young and enthusiastic gifted teenage girls who realise the importance of pulling their gifts together to help their teacher, or the young Carolina and her search for her biological parents, or the resilient aged gypsy woman who does not let the sadness of losing her child to adoption affect her purpose of life but still yearns and aches for her - every character is strong, well developed and touches the reader's heart. And the symbiotic way in which they all help each other somehow makes the book an even more engaging read.

I loved how the book traversed from North Carolina to the sleepy yet happening Italian village and how her description of Gypsies and their folklore seemed so detailed and enticing. I have not read a detailed book on this culture before, and I am glad I started with this book because it somehow made me love the culture - and that is the power of the story, and Ms. Casey's words! Would definitely read more books by her. 


WHAT I LIKED:

  • Unpredictable twists, some memorable
  • The tone of the book matching the title!
  • The feisty characters. I am forever thankful for the story not having a 'damsel in distress being rescued by a dashing knight' angle!
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:
  • The cover image could have been a bit more interesting
  • There are a few typos and odd phrasing that could have been corrected.
VERDICT:

When a book makes you want to read more works of the author and about the culture she has based the book on, you know that book has enthralled you!

RATING: 4.5/5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Barbara Casey is the author of several award-winning novels for both adults and young adults, and numerous articles, poems, and short stories. In addition to her own writing, she is an editorial consultant and president of the Barbara Casey Agency, established in 1995, representing authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan.

In 2014 Barbara became a partner in Strategic Media Books Publishing, an independent publishing house that specializes in true crime and other cutting-edge adult nonfiction.

​Barbara lives on a mountain in Georgia with her husband and three dogs who adopted her: Benton, a hound-mix, Fitz, a miniature dachshund, and Gert, a Jack Russel terrier of sorts.

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Hardcover, Kindle

PRICE $4.02 for Kindle, $16.95 for Hardcover

BOOK LINKS: Amazon