Book Review: Levant Mirage

Levant MirageA few months back Oliver shot me an email. I had given his previous book, Marsh Islandan honest and fair review. He asked if I would be interested in giving his new book a read, and possibly reviewing it for him. At the time, I had given up reviewing books, but since I had reviewed his book once, I thought why not. I replied that I would be interested and sent me a copy of his newest novel, Levant Mirage.

The book follows Adam Michaels, a Major in the Army, who after an incident on the battlefield sees his once promising career derailed as punishment. It’s not until an attempted kidnapping that his career is mysteriously rehabilitated, he’s promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, then summarily retired and sent on an undercover assignment, all stemming from a Ph.D. dissertation he worked on some ten years prior. His question is why?

He is thrust into a world of intrigue, of betrayals and half-truths, a world where he forced to survive by his skill, and blind luck. His life is put at risk, not knowing what’s truly at stake since those in the know refuse to tell him the whole story. He finds colleagues murdered, sees one assassinated in front of him. He soon uncovers the horrible truth, of a terrorist plot to use his technology to bring about the end of civilization as we know it.

Michaels is in a race to save America and mankind from a catastrophe of apocalyptic proportions. He turns to his grandfather, a titan of industry, and familial friends to assist him, not knowing who else to trust. The normal rules of government and diplomacy no longer apply, so he enlists his former commander, a new representative in Congress to circumvent normal procedures. With annihilation closing, he puts everything on the line as he puts his last ditch effort to save humanity, battling traitors and saboteurs unknown, risking everything, including his life.

But will it be enough?

At first, I’ll admit, I had a hard time following what the story was about. Military and political intrigue, to be sure, but so what? Sure, there was a love interest thrown in to complicate the issue, but it would become clear what the story was about.

Levant Mirage is a story of its time. Oliver F. Chase wrote a timely novel of religious and political upheaval, of groups that would pervert the name of God in order to usher in their vision of the apocalypse and the world. There’s also the element of how the political game is played, a government that doesn’t trust itself, of various agencies holding on to secrets that threaten America’s survival, incapable of doing anything else but follow an obsolete protocol, to its own detriment.

At its center is the protagonist, whose research has been hijacked in order to create a world-ending weapon, and therefore is the only man who can save the world. As such, he becomes a target of terrorist groups and governments seek to destroy the west, especially Christianity and the democratic powers.

It’s a scenario that’s all too real given our time in history. There’s no lack of men and women who become radicalized and take up the anti-democracy mantel to betray their fellow countrymen. It’s a story that’s all too often on the evening news as of late.

While the book is a work of fiction, there’s enough truth that it is in a way a warning, that our freedom and our lives hang precariously in the balance. With this in mind, I absolutely recommend this book to all my readers. It’s gripping, chilling in its delivery, and leaves the reader on the edge of their seats, needing to know what comes next, and how the world could possibly survive.

I mean, from what I read, I’m sure I’d be dead, but I won’t hold it against the author. I just hope it remains a work of fiction.


 

List of Book Reviews
Next review –  Illusion
Previous Review – Ready Player One

Replacement reader

I broke my Kindle. I have to say that although I’m a fan of actual books, and the feel and smell of their pages, having a Kindle is actually convenient at times. It’s easy to carry around, and you have access to several books, and you can store pictures, music, and other media. It’s all kinds of awesome.

And I broke it. In the spirit of full disclosure, I broke it almost a year ago. What happened is that I dropped it one to many times, and the screen cracked. It remained usable for several months, and in all that time I planned on getting a new screen, but I never did. What I did get myself is a smartphone instead. No more ancient flip phone technology for me. I embraced the modern communication age and I forgot all about my Kindle.

My phone is useful for lots of things, but reading books is kind of a chore. It’s smaller than I want, and holding my phone for hours on end just doesn’t appeal to me. And reading on my computer is also a pain. Laptops are cool and all, but I don’t want to lay in bed with a computer on my chest, or stuck at a desk or table. I like to lay in bed and read, or on the sofa, reclined in the seat of my car. In other words, I want to get cozy. It’s hard to do with my laptop.

A few days ago, on a whim, I looked up Kindles and I saw that the prices have dropped significantly for the Fire 7. Now it’s the bottom tiered product, more than $100 cheaper than when I first got it, but it’s more than enough for what I want it for. I placed my order a few minutes ago. Unfortunately, it’s still not here. Drat you Amazon!

I have a book to finish reading and reviewing by Monday, but I’ll have it in before my next book is due. True story, I bought the actual paperback book for Illusion, which is currently sitting of my to be read stack of books, but that third book? I’ll be reading the hell out of it on my Kindle Fire 7.

Kindle Fire 7: This isn’t a commercial, but you can still give me money for advertising it on my blog. What? How many visitors do I get on here? Er…It’s bed time, and man am I sleepy.

Slowly forward

If this was NaNo, I’d be losing. I’m currently at 13,195 words, and though I could be further along, I’m not. I haven’t set an arbitrary nightly word goal to meet. I’m just writing as much as I feel like writing for at least an hour, and I’m not even making that. I may have to go back to a word goal.  At least I would be making some progress.

I have made some headway however. I’m on chapter 3 and well on my way to creating my two main characters. They haven’t met yet, and that’ll have to wait a couple more chapters, but their paths are aligning slowly. Soon they will meet.

But what when they meet? I’ve been working this story for years, coming at it from one angle and then another. I fixed the issue with Giada, the idea of her being a high priced prostitute just didn’t work for the character. I still needed her to rub elbows with the rich and powerful, but a prostitute was clearly the wrong choice, a decision made in revenge towards someone who hurt me. I’m over that now!

I feel like I’m working a puzzle, trying to piece together a narrative that fits with what I already know about them, and that fits what’s already been written, while discarding that which makes a lie out of my characters. It’s a frustrating exercise, but it’s one that I admit I’m enjoying.

 

Starting fresh

I hate being a writer sometimes. It’s not that I hate writing, but the discipline required can be a total drag. I think that’s why most people fail at writing, or really at life for that matter. The ones that are successful have to be tenacious. Pursuing a dream doesn’t guarantee success, but giving up certainly guarantees failure. How many of us stop without realizing they’ve given up? How many times have I done that?

I’ve fallen into that trap as of late. It’s discouraging when you feel that you’re not making progress. Part of my problem is that I’m unwilling to let go of my work. Letting go means allowing myself to fail and that’s a problem sometimes. It’s scary to put myself out there for others to judge and criticize. Let’s face it, some people are assholes just to be assholes. Maybe they’re unhappy with themselves and deal with it by tearing others down. Who knows?

Looking at my blog stats, I’ve noticed a downward trend in page views stemming from my own lack of posting. I felt I didn’t have anything new to say, that I was repeating the same empty promises, sounding like a broken record about what I wanted to do and where I was going. Even my book reviews flatlined, breaking promises to read and review a few. I’m rectifying that now, but getting started is going to be troublesome. I’ve lost my mojo.

We’re already twenty days into 2016, and though the time of resolutions has come and gone, maybe it isn’t to late to set some goals for the year. My first is I’m going to post twice a week at the very least. Second, I’m going to write at least an hour a day. I need to reestablish my habit. Third, I’m going to publish a short story twice a month. I’m also going to push myself out of my comfort zone and dabble with other genres. That’ll be an interesting writing exercise!

Lastly, I’m going to write and finish Giada’s novel and start begin reworking Son of the Father. I want to tell Bishop Mendoza’s story, and I have for years. He isn’t a one off story but rather a series, beginning with Giada. I want to discover the road he took and see the reason why he isn’t some one-dimensional religious leader. He’s a real person with real issues and a history that wouldn’t recommend him for anything other than a life in prison.

But he grew up, changed his life, and found a calling out of a depraved life. He dedicated himself and has been a model priest, but the ghosts of his past begin to haunt him, giving ammunition to those who don’t like him. It’s the kind of story I like to read. I find church intrigue to be intriguing.

My writing, I’m discovering, is a journey of my own choosing. Were I to be honest, I would have to say I want my writing to be the engine that propels me out into the world. I’m not an adventurer, but I would like to be able to travel the world, see new places, especially those of historical value. I want to live in Rome, visit England and Germany, hell even see the other states of this great country. I want to have that freedom to explore which in turn will give weight to what I write.

Maybe it’s a pipe dream, but it’s not one that I’m willing to give up on. If anything, writing allows me a way out of the tedium of everyday living. I can explore without  having to leave the comfort of my home. I can do that with reading, but as the writer, I can dictate the flow of events. I like that. I just have to make myself do that.

Some of my favorite reads

Morris West

Shoes of the Fisherman
Clowns of God
Lazurus
Emienince

Greg Tobin

Conclave
Council

David Osborn

The Last Pope

NaNoWriMo 2015: Day 8

NaNo-2015-Participant-Badge-Large-SquareI’m still chugging along, somehow managing to keep myself on par. This is probably one of my better writing experiences I’ve ever had. Today I squeezed out 3584 words, bringing my November total to 14226, or almost a thousand over par. No need to pat me on my back. I’ve already done so.

I don’t know if this novel will be worth a damn. The premise as imagined is a good one, or so I think, but I’m having trouble moving it along. I’m writing chapter 5, and I’m just getting to the part where the action begins. This is moving glacially slow, or so I fear. I want the story to start. I want some action. Nay, I demand it.

I’m setting up the trigger, and by the end of this chapter I’ll have my main character on the run, fearing for her life. At the same time, she’s going to have to deal with her feeling towards her ex, her feelings of betrayal and abandonment, and her own fears. She’s spent years going from one abusive relationship to another, until fearing for her life, she shut out all hope of a romantic attachment.

I hope I get it right soon. This is harder than I had expected, but I suppose it always is. Writing is less a sprint than a long distance run. You don’t always see where your going, and there are a ton of obstacles waiting to trip you up, but everyday it gets a little closer, and the story may take unexpected turns, but you have some notion of what the finish line will look like, and you direct your story accordingly.