AWAKE ~ Inspired Sci-fi Adventure

Review by Dana Taylor
December 21, 2012 marked the end of the ancient Mayan calendar. If you recall, many predicted the end of world in some cataclysmic event. Others saw it as the end of one cosmic age and the beginning of another. Well, we’re still here, so the first camp of believers must have been wrong. Or were they? What if a doomsday device had been set to explode. What stopped it? And herein lies the intriguing set up to AWAKE: The Legacy of Akara by Dayna Dunbar and Julia Nadine Padawer. From the book jacket–
Akara is Home to A Civilization Far More Evolved Than Our Own. Long ago on Akara, a planet in the Pleiades cluster, The Ravaging Era raged. It was a time of toxic greed, rampant warfare, and environmental devastation. Akarans were on the brink of extinction. Out of the turmoil, a critical mass of beings experienced an awakening, which sparked a spontaneous shift in consciousness across the planet and ushered in the Rebirthing.
A Thousand Years Later. Mobius–a candidate for the Discovery Corps, Akara’s elite space program–stumbles upon an ancient relic. The artifact reveals that a rogue space commander from the Ravaging Era attempted to colonize Earth. The legacy of his reign now places Earth in jeopardy.
AWAKE does a cracking job of setting up a classic Hero’s Journey with young Mobius, a less-than-perfect Akaran, given the mission to save Planet Earth. The opening chapters of the book jump between the four-fingered, big-eyed Akaran crew and the drug infested jungles of Guatemala. Diego, a slightly crooked jungle ranger, emerges as a secondary hero. Two story lines ultimately converge when the earthlings meet the E.T.’s and race the clock and numerous bad guys to save the world.
This tale is fun on several levels. Mayan legends and visionary spirituality add dashes of spice and flavor to the sci-fi adventure. Mobius, Diego and their small collected team are all individually interesting characters. Dialogue and action is laced with humor. There’s even a little romance between Diego and the rich American girl, Jillian. A little something for everybody here.
As I write this review Earth seems on the brink of our own Ravaging Era, so the book becomes a timely cautionary tale. We can go the path of destruction, as the doomsayers predict. However, we live in a freewill zone. Hence, a Rebirthing Era is also a possibility, if enough humans Awake.
Author Dayna Dunbar shares a deeply personal out-of-this-world experience in Sedona that changed the course of her life and ultimately inspired the book. She met co-author Julia Nadine Padawer at the University of Santa Monica, a school known for spiritual exploration. This collaboration took seven years to complete. Their work honing AWAKE into a well-paced, layered adventure results in a real page turner.
Enjoy Dayna’s intriguing real-life experience and then click over to Amazon and purchase a copy. Currently only $1.99 as an ebook.

Available at Amazon in paperback, kindle and audio version.

Otherworldly Humor in Sunnyside Up

Book Review by Dana Taylor
Rea Nolan Martin is not an ordinary writer, she is an extraordinary writer. Her progression as an esoteric visionary author (Mystic Tea, The Anesthesia Game) has been interesting to watch. Her new release, Sunnyside Up, takes her multidimensional writing to a new level. The novel revolves around the Somers sisters, Adelaide and Felicity, who run the Sunnyside Up Funeral Home of Outskirt, Kentucky. At first glance it appears Adelaide is the hard worker, trying to keep the 150 year old family business going while her sister, “Flitty,” is too fanciful and downright “touched” to be much good. Martin excels at writing engaging characterization, revealing Adelaide’s battered emotional state in her own words and thoughts. Kentucky colors the words and, indeed, it feels like maybe we’ve dropped into a macabre Mayberry.
Things are not as they seem. Felicity and Adelaide are caught up in a karmic connection, light and darkness spinning through time. It takes a while to figure out exactly what happened between these two. Layers of reality weave around them. Other characters who make up the tapestry of their lives ebb and flow. Mother, Julian (the forbidden love), assorted ghostly relatives, teachers and counselors all push the sisters to a climatic final reckoning.
What makes this a delight to read is the quirky humor laced throughout, including zany obituaries of the various family members now hanging out in the graveyard. Addie likes a good smoke and shot of whiskey. Flitty wears bizarre clothes conjured from the ether. By the end, Martin rips the veil between the earthly and heavenly realms. By facing their most traumatic moments, the sisters finally see deep truths and make their peace.
Rea Nolan Martin
Sunnyside Up is a unique and entertaining tale. Rea Nolan Martin continues to the pave way in the genre of visionary writing. Now available is several formats at Amazon.

A Bot with a Heart

Book Review by Dana Taylor

SET MY HEART TO FIVE is a book that pretty much defies description. It isn’t like any other book you’ve ever read. Author Simon Stephenson creates a bright futuristic tale starring a “bot” named Jared. In the year 2054, after the great Internet crash, when too many people could not remember the name of their first pet passwords, the world changed irrevocably. Jared is a bot dentist, living in Michigan. He is made from human DNA, but he is not human. He is a bot, akin to a glorified toaster or microwave. A feelingless machine to cheerfully do the work that humans don’t like to do, like root canals.

Bots are designed to perform functions with a smile on their soulless faces. The fact that modern entertainment has created an industry devoted to portraying “killer bots” has turned them into a perceived necessary evil. People are suspicious of bots. A malfunctioning bot is reported and immediately “wiped” or even incinerated.

Of course, our hero bot, Jared, isn’t your run-of-the-mill AI. Through watching pre-crash films, he has developed FEELINGS. Bots are logical machines, they don’t have feelings. But Jared evolves beyond his programing into the specter of emotions. His logical mind struggles to analyze and understand the human experience of feelings and emotions.

While the AI-becoming-human isn’t a fresh story line, the satirical observations on human behavior is what sets this book apart from the rest. Seen through the eyes Jared, humans are the most illogical and bizarre of creatures. Jared embarks on a journey from Michigan to LA with the dream of writing a screenplay that will change the minds of humans about bots. Story line tension is provided by an inept inspector from the Bureau of Robotics is in pursuit of the wayward bot. Through Jared’s Everyman adventures, we see ourselves and the society we have created. Through the laugh out loud excellent narration of Christopher Ragland in the audio version, the absurdity of human behavior is revealed again and again, usually punctuated with Jared’s exclamation, “I cannot!”

By the end, Jared has experienced all the highs and lows of human experience– fear, joy, love , loss and compassion. In fact, he may be an improvement on the human race. Author Simon Stephenson has penned an insightful satirical gem.

I picked up the audio version at Chirpbooks.com for $4.99, which will be at that price through June 2021.

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Santa Discovers the Aloha Spirit

ALOHA SANTA is on sale for $1.99 in the Kindle Store through December 16!

Amazon US Amazon UK

Website special! $10.00 Author autographed copies available while supplies last. Send me an email at SupernalFriends@yahoo.com to request your copy.

ALOHA SANTA began as a performance piece for the Na Leo Lani Chorus Christmas show in Honolulu a couple of years ago. Encouraged by chorus members to turn it into a children’s book, I enlisted the wonderful artist, Jaana Baker, to do the illustrations. Jaana’s bright pictures really bring the ALOHA SANTA story to life.

Enjoy the new book trailer:

Available in print and ebook at Amazon.com

A lovely Christmas tale told in sweet sing song rhyme, with gorgeous illustrations that bring the story of Mrs. Claus forging the way for Santa and crew to relocate to Hawaii. A great Christmas gift for the kids on your list, that adults will also delight in. Amazon Customer

Santa Goes Hawaiian

Mrs. Claus is so over cold weather ~~~

Twas a chilly night at the North Pole,
Santa snoozed by a fire in a warm, woolen stole.
A bang of the door ruined his sleep.
Mrs. Claus stomped in with soggy, wet feet.

“That’s it,” she said. “I’m sick of this cold place,
the ice, wind, and snow always stinging my face.
What’s worse, I get chased by a big polar bear,
and Santa, I think that you don’t even care!”

It’s my great pleasure to announce the publication of ALOHA SANTA. Two years ago I wrote the verse to perform in my Sweet Adeline chorus Christmas show. My singing sisters encouraged me to turn the fanciful rhyme of Santa and Mrs. Claus moving Hawaii into a children’s book. Illustrator Jaana Baker brings the story to life with her clever and charming pictures.

ALOHA SANTA is now available in paperback at Amazon. Delight the youngsters in your life with this bright, fun holiday tale. Makes a delightful gift.

                    

20% of all royalties from November 25 thru December 25 will be donated to the Na Leo Lani Chorus of Sweet Adelines International.

 

Order at Amazon today!  ALOHA SANTA

The Mystical Mind of Amy Harmon

by Dana Taylor

Bestselling author, Amy Harmon, has turned into one of my favorite wordsmiths. I discovered her when her time-travel tale to 1921 Ireland, What the Wind Knows, was offered as an Amazon first read. Harmon focused on a historical era I knew little about. She wove real-life political figures of the day with fanciful time travel elements of a young woman caught between two decades.

I decided to go back to the beginning of her books to explore the world of Amy Harmon. Her earliest works follow “write-what-you-know” sage advice. Amy Harmon is a “girl from Utah” and her first heroines are girls from Utah. The stories fall into the romance genre, but even her earliest stories show signs of greater writing skill and imagination than most genre writers. Amy expresses love, loss, angst, and hope in broad verbal brush strokes.

Mystical elements appear in many of her works. Her 2012 book, Slow Dance in Purgatory, is a high school romance, but the hero is a ghost…well, sort of. With The Law of Moses in 2014, Harmon’s books leap a level in mysticism and maturity. Moses is a troubled teen who sees dead people. They torture him with messages which he translates into haunting paintings. The love story with small town girl, Georgia, is intense and takes many turns before they find their happy ending. Moses must master his mediumship capabilities and use them wisely. Dealing with grief is a strong under current of the book.

Harmon followed the story lines of several other small town characters in more books, Making Faces, A Different Kind of Blue, Running Barefoot, to name a few. Then she switched gears into a full fantasy shape-shifter adventure with The Bird and the Sword two book series. Heroine Lark, is a forbidden Gifted one dwelling in a mythical kingdom. She can call things into being, but is forced into silence. Mental telepathy comes into play when the hero (who happens to be a handsome king) hears her thoughts. He uses her Gift to save the kingdom from terrible predators as their love story grows. Harmon spreads her writing wings in a fairy tale setting worthy of any Disney movie.

She returned to historical fiction in one of her most popular books, Sand and Ash, listed as a “religious romance.”  Set in Italy during World War II, the story revolves around a Jewish woman hiding from the Gestapo with the aid of her childhood friend, now a Catholic priest. Personally, I’ve been-there-done-that with World War II stories. Leon Uris (Exodus) and Herman Wouk (Winds of War, War and Remembrance) and a slew of vintage films back in the day set the era indelibly in my mind. I have yet to read this one. Still, I’m sure it’s another great Harmon yarn.

This week I finished her latest tale, The First Girl Child. Somewhere along the line, Harmon developed a fascination with Norse mythology. From her fertile imagination, Harmon conjures a society of Viking clans and the priests who understand the power of Runes. Mysticism abounds as Harmon expands the romantic formula of boy-meets-girl into a rich tapestry of court intrigue, prophetic priests, a false princess, and a reluctant hero of superhuman strength.

Harmon’s superhuman strength is her ability to plumb the human range of emotions. She wrestles with issues of integrity, loyalty, betrayal, devotion, and love, all wrapped in adventure and drama. Looking for a good book? Try one from Amy Harmon.

Bright Blessings,

Dana Taylor