The African Connection

(The Forgotten Child Trilogy, #2)

By Mark W. Sasse

BOOK SYNOPSIS

Fruit, Faeries, & Fascist Dictators. The Adventure Continues.

In part two of The Forgotten Child Trilogy, enigmatic beings from the realm beyond—Bee & Ash—team up once again with old Manhattan businessman Francis Frick. Joined by a mysterious new recruit, Frick must fight to bring master criminal Ulrich to justice and continue searching for the truth about the forgotten child.

A child has been saved, but with international master criminal Heinrich Ulrich still on the lam, no one is content—not Bee, not Ash, and most certainly not Francis Frick. As the FBI closes in on Frick’s dealings, Bee decides to recruit young Hatty Parker to help Frick exact revenge on Ulrich and search for another child to save. But when Bee’s actions begin to worry the realm beyond, her old nemesis returns to earth to thwart her plans and pit her against her beloved companion Ash, leaving Frick and his new sidekick to play dangerous time-travel games with a genocidal maniac.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads

MY REVIEW

I have read and reviewed several of Mark Sasse’s books and I have to say The Forgotten Child Trilogy is fabulous and are my favorites!  Book Two, The African Connection, is every bit as intriguing as the first book, A Man Too Old, for a Place Too Far. I recommend you read Book One first so that you have a good understanding of who the characters are and how they fit into the story.

One of the most endearing traits of The African Connection is the way the author takes you into another realm with characters like Bee, who is flighty and childlike, and Ash, who is more than patient with Bee, but who can be stern with her at the same time.  These two and Zette, who has more power than Bee or Ash, appear out of “thin air” first to Francis Frick and then to others. But don’t think they are ghosts, they are far more than that.

Sasse peppers the book with oodles of descriptive text to insert the reader into the story. He makes it easy to picture people, places, things, and yes, the otherworldly.  Now, I know you’re thinking you don’t like reading a lot of description, neither do I, but Sasse writes in such a way that it renders a necessary, sense of place, and is such an integral part of the story that you will enjoy every descriptive word.  I promise.

The story is coherent, and the characters are so lifelike you begin to think they are real. Mark Sasse has created another winner in my book.  Do I recommend The African Connection?  Without a doubt!

This book was given to me by the author in return for my honest review

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark W Sasse is a novelist and award-winning playwright and director. He vacillates on a daily basis between which genre of writing he enjoys the most. Luckily, he doesn’t have to choose! Sasse’s novels have been featured on curated sites such as Bookbub and Noisetrade, and his plays have been produced in New York, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, and Sydney, Australia. His play “The Last Bastion” earned him the 2018 Greywood Arts Winter Writing Residency in Ireland. He is also a three-time winner of the Best Script Award at the Penang Short & the Sweet Theatre Festival. His plays have won multiple other awards such as Best Overall Performance and Audience Choice Award. He won the Festival Director’s Award at the 2016 festival.

Sasse’s interests cast a wide net – from politics to literature – from culture and language – from history and religion, making his writing infused with the unexpected as he seeks to tell authentic and engaging stories about people from all walks of life. His writing is straightforward and accessible to all, especially those who enjoy a page-turning good story injected with doses of history, adventure, Asian culture, and unexpected humor.

After being an adamant standalone novel advocate, he’s changed his tune and is working on the epic Forgotten Child Trilogy. Book one, A MAN TOO OLD FOR A PLACE TOO FAR, released in December 2017, and the following two books will continue the story in 2018 and 2019. He finally found the story that required more than one book, and he’s thrilled with it. It’s a crazy mix of magical realism, history, and time travel, wrapped alongside the requisite human stories.

As for his plays, he’s fond of both the short play (10 minutes or less) and full-length formats. From 2011-2017 he wrote for and directed the drama ensemble The RLT Players, a passionate group of dramatic storytellers who specialize in the short play format. In September 2016, his experimental theatre piece “How to Build a Dictator” was featured as part of Penangpac’s Black Box Experiments series. His goal is to have it go into full production somewhere in the world. Any takers?

He currently teaches drama in Saudi Arabia.

HOW DID HE FINALLY GET HIMSELF WRITING?

Sasse remembers writing his first play when he was about thirteen. It was about Queen Esther and the only person he ever showed that play to was his mother. In college, he wrote lots of poetry, even love poetry for a certain girl. But once he graduated, his writing confidence was shattered, so he gave it up for the next twenty years. He doesn’t recommend doing that! He went to China to teach English in 1992 and eventually moved to Vietnam to do the same in 1994, shortly after the U.S. lifted the embargo against their former enemy. He lived in the exotic Vietnamese culture with his family for nearly ten years. After many life-changing experiences, Sasse’s new-found taste for history sent him back to school to pick-up a second Master’s degree, this one in Humanities. This led to a shift from teaching English to history as he moved to Malaysia in 2006. Little did he know, however, that all of this was building up to another major shift which would get him back to writing.

On a whim in 2007, he embarked on a collaborative project with a group of students to write and produce a play, resulting in the original stage play “Monkey Love Potion.” It was such a fun and rewarding experience that he decided to try it again the following year. Before he knew it, he was hooked and that was the beginning of his love affair with live theatre. After writing and successfully producing four original full-length scripts, he finally got the nerve to try his hand once again at a hidden desire which had defeated him many times over the years – novel writing.

In the summer of 2011, he embarked on the journey of writing his first novel. His greatest worry was reaching the magical 50,000 word mark, so he could officially call himself a novelist. When the story, “Beauty Rising,” clocked in at over 60,000 words, he was shocked and happy. But not content. He didn’t know what to do with the novel, and he convinced himself that it would sit idle until he wrote a second novel. He hated hearing the words “one-hit wonder” echo in his head. So, in the summer of 2012, he wrote “The Recluse Storyteller.”

Feeling a little more confident, he decided to focus on exposing his work to the public in order to receive some feedback. In December 2012, he independently published “Beauty Rising.” When the first review from an online book reviewer was posted and it was over-the-top positive, he was flying high, and if he never wrote another word in his life, he would have been content. But that contentment was not to be. He was now hopelessly hooked on both play writing and novel writing, and he hasn’t looked back since.

He has published five novels with six already finished and ready for publication in 2017. Number seven will be his first sequel and will be available sometime in 2018. He is grateful for all the readers who have joined him on this journey of creativity.

ON A PERSONAL NOTE

Sasse loves to cook everything from pizza to Thai. He’s coached softball or baseball for the past ten years, and he’s been a much too loyal fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates since he was 9 years old–another item he’s hopelessly hooked on. He enjoys travelling, visiting historical sites, and sitting by the beach or other scenic spot with a laptop, an idea, and a lot of time. He has a lovely wife and three wonderful children and one really cool son-in-law – he’s Korean, keeping with the Asian theme of his life. He has an active blog (www.mwsasse.com) where he writes frequently about history, writing, culture, and life. He loves to hear from readers, so he hopes you’ll stop by his site and say “hello.”

Author Biography taken from Amazon.com

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A Man Too Old for a Place Too Far

The Forgotten Child Trilogy Book 1

By Mark W. Sasse

 

Book Blurb

If she wanted help changing the world for one forgotten child, she chose the wrong man. Seventy-two-year-old Francis Frick would scorn his own family to close another deal. But Bee doesn’t see the world like you or me. She is an optimist, searching for potential where none exists, and so she hovers above Frick’s bed every night, eating pomegranates and waiting for his eyes to open to the possibilities. One night, it finally happens. A rogue droplet of juice slips through her fingers and hits the sleeping Manhattan businessman on the forehead, thrusting him on a series of baffling adventures to some of the twentieth century’s most brutal regimes—all to help Bee save a forgotten child of history.

A MAN TOO OLD FOR A PLACE TOO FAR is part one of The Forgotten Child Trilogy—a one-of-a-kind adventure that mixes time travel, magical realism, and historical fiction into a contemporary story about an old man, his estranged daughter, and a tiny flying person in a white robe, who chooses to believe that anything can happen with enough prodding and an endless supply of pomegranates.  (Goodreads)

My Review

Francis Frick is a modern-day “Scrooge” who would do anything to make another business deal.  He is friendless, and his only daughter is incessantly challenged by his callousness, but she made a deathbed promise to her mother to look after him. Bee, a fairy-like being, makes him her project, and what a project he is!  Bee and her friend Ash thrust Frick into a series of journeys into the past where he is literally dropped into some of the most dangerous and ruthless moments in history.

This story is well fleshed out with notes of magical realism, suspense, and history.  For me, this is a perfect combination.  In addition to several main characters, there are numerous auxiliary characters, but I had no trouble keeping track of who is who.

I’ve read and loved all of Mark Sasse’s works and this book is possibly his best so far.  There is no reason for me not to award five stars to A MAN TOO OLD FOR A PLACE TOO FAR.

The ideas expressed in this review are my own observations.

About the Author

Mark is a proud Western PA native but has lived most of the last twenty years in Vietnam, Malaysia, and Saudi Arabia. His overseas experiences have redefined everything including his palate, his outlook on life, and naturally his writing.

He has published six novels – the sixth being book 1 in his very first trilogy – The Forgotten Child Trilogy. Books 2 & 3 will be following soon behind.

His interests cast a wide net – from politics to literature – to culture and language – to history and religion – making his writing infused with the unexpected as he seeks to tell authentic and engaging stories about people from all walks of life. His writing is straightforward and accessible to all, especially those who enjoy writing injected with doses of culture, history, adventure, and delightful humor. You never know what you might get when you pick up a Sasse novel.

Besides novel-writing, Sasse is a prolific dramatist, having written and produced more than a dozen full-length dramatic productions. He especially is fond of the short play format and has twice won the Best Script award at the Short & Sweet Theatre Festival Penang. His plays and short musicals have also been produced in New York City, Kuala Lumpur and Sydney. His play “The Last Bastion” was awarded the Greywood Arts Winter Residency 2018 in Ireland. Performances of his scripts also won Gold and Bronze medals at the Southeast Asian Forensics Competition 2014.

His professional background is as diverse as his writing. He holds Masters degrees from California State University Dominquez Hills and Azusa Pacific University in Humanities and TESOL respectively. His undergraduate degree was in English, which helped him develop his passion for creative writing. He has extensive experience in teaching English, history, and drama.

On top of all of this, he loves to cook everything from gourmet pizzas, to Mexican, to various Asian dishes. Flavor is the key of both his cooking and his writing. He very much hopes you enjoy the taste. (Goodreads)

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The Heart Stone Chronicles

Book 1: The Swamp Fairy

By Colleen M. Chesebro

 

Synopsis

Fourteen-year-old Abigail Forester, recently orphaned and a Ward of the State of Illinois moves from Chicago to Florida to live with her aunt, her last living relative.

Aunt Magnolia becomes Abby’s Guardian and together they claim an ancient inheritance of land that has been in Abby’s mother’s family for generations.

Abby wears her mother’s most sacred possession – a stone pendant in the shape of a heart forged from a giant mystical stone found on the very swamp land that Abby now owns.

However, Rafe Cobb, a greedy land developer, has other ideas. He wants Abby’s land for himself and he is willing to stop at nothing to own that land.

All Abby wants is to be part of a family again and to learn to ride horses with her two new friends, Savanna, Blake, and Cash.

The swamp slowly gives up some of its secrets and Abby is summoned by a primeval nymph who teaches Abby that her true destiny is to protect the primeval nymphs from evil in an ever-changing modern world.

Can Abby save the swamp and the Naiad Nymph Clan from certain destruction before it is too late?

(Synopsis from Colleen Chesebro – Fairy Whisperer)

My Review

The reader is introduced to fourteen-year-old Abby Forrester at her birthday party.  With her mother deceased and her father missing, Abby is under the supervision of Mrs. Burger from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and lives with her mother’s best friend, Maxine, in Chicago.  But Abby is about to move to Blackberry Ridge near Pensacola, Florida to live with her Aunt Magnolia. Before she leaves, Maxine gives Abby two of Abby’s mother’s possessions – a heartstone necklace of green calcite and the deed to a tract of land in Florida. But Abby, herself, has another gift which we discover when she meets Beauregard Louviere and his dog Sam on the bus to Pensacola.

The story is filled with well-developed, believable characters and lots of action to keep the reader turning the pages.  Abby’s Aunt Magnolia who welcomes Abby into her home with open arms is a favorite. Savannah, who lives next door to Aunt Magnolia, becomes Abby’s best friend, the kind of friend every teen needs to have.  Abby’s antagonist, Rafe Cobb, has evil for his middle name.  Of course, there are swamp fairies, as the title suggests, but I won’t give anything away about them. Abby is a strong character, but even so, sometimes doubts crept in. I loved the way she managed to combat her fears with positive thinking.  Abby is a kind and thoughtful girl who will work her way into your heart.

The plot is coherent and, though a lot was going on, I had no difficulty keeping track of the who, what when, or where of the story.  With excellent pacing, I felt no lag in interest.

Don’t forget to read the beautiful haiku written by the author that precede each chapter.

I would recommend The Heart Stone Chronicles – Book 1: The Swamp Fairy to teens and young adults and anyone who enjoys a book with a bit of fantasy, fairies, and heartwarming characters.  I am looking forward to the second book in The Heart Stone Chronicles series.

About the Author

Colleen M. Chesebro is a writer of cross-genre fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. Her debut novel, a YA fantasy series called, “The Heart Stone Chronicles – The Swamp Fairy,” was published January 2017. The book reveals the story of Abby Forrester, a 14-year-old orphaned girl who is entrusted with saving a community of fairy nymphs from certain ecological destruction. Along the way, Abby learns about friendship, love, and what it means to actually belong to a family.
Colleen’s writing explores ecological situations in the multicultural world of today. She combines real-life historical events into her writing to create experiences that will continue in the hearts and heads of her readers.
A veteran of the United States Air Force, Colleen is also a retired bookkeeper. She has an Associates Degree in Business Administration, and another Associates Degree in the Arts, which she uses to combine her love of writing with her passion for all things creative.
When she is not writing, Colleen enjoys spending time with her husband, dogs, children, and grandchildren. When time permits, she also loves gardening, cooking, and crocheting old fashioned doilies into works of artistry. She lives in the United States with her husband and her two Pomeranians, Sugar, and Spice. You can learn more about Colleen and her writing on her website colleenchesebro.com. (Biography from Goodreads)

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Dust Bunny Fairy Tales

The Legend of the Dust Bunnies
a fairy’s tale

Dust Fairy Tales: Absolutely Aggie

Both By Michelle R. Eastman

And Illustrated by Kevin Richter

 

My Reviews

The Legend of the Dust Dunnies - a fairys taleFairies enter your house at night, and yes, it’s true, they spread dust, spider webs, and crumbs EVERYWHERE.  That is, all but one very sad and lonely fairy named Artie. Artie collects thread, lint, and hair.  What does he do with it?  Artie makes a dust bunny to keep him company. When all of the other fairies see it, they each want one too, so Artie sets about making dust bunnies for everyone. And, now you know!

Michelle Eastman’s The Legend of the Dust Bunnies: a fairy’s tale is a delightful story about where dust bunnies come from. Every child is sure to love this wonderfully illustrated book with colorful characters and lilting text.

Dust Fairy Tales: Absolutely Aggie is the second book in the Dust Bunnies series. Aggie is an awkward, unconventional fairy. She just doesn’t fit in with theAggie_Cover_Front_v2_Lo other fairies.  Aggie tries to join the fairy band but her bagpipes are too loud, and she isn’t dainty like the rest of the fairies.

Each evening as the fairies played, Aggie would find a dark corner, and with tears in her eyes, she would hug her dust bunny. One night a little cherub heard her, invited her to join their band, and told her, “You don’t have to be perfect, to find your perfect fit.”

This lovely story is my favorite of the two because it teaches children that individuality is okay.  You don’t have to be just like everyone else to fit in. Once again, Kevin Richter has illustrated this book with the same charming little fairies as he did with The Legend of the Dust Bunnies: a fairy’s tale.

These charming books would make the perfect gift for either a young boy or girl.

Genre: rhyming picture book for ages 4-8

Available as e-book, hardcover, or paperback

 

Michelle EastmanAbout the Author

Michelle Eastman is the author of Dust Fairy Tales: Absolutely Aggie as well as The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale. Michelle’s books take a lighthearted approach to the compelling desire kids have to fit-in. The stories validate the need we feel for acceptance, while imparting a subtle message about the joy that can come from embracing one’s individuality. The lively, rhyming stanzas and vivid illustrations appeal to boys and girls alike.

Michelle began her career as an elementary teacher in the West Des Moines School District. At Iowa Public Television, she wrote and produced educational content.

Her work with children, and passion for picture books, inspired her to found the literacy initiative Picture Book Pass it On (PBPiO), to get free books to kids in need.   http://www.facebook.com/PBPiO

When she’s not chasing dust bunnies, or her two cats, she likes to cuddle up with a good book and her son. Michelle lives in Waukee, Iowa. dmeastman@msn.com

Michelle donates $1 from each book sold to Operation Christmas Child.

Books are for purchase on her website, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online retailers.

www.michelleeastmanbooks.com

www.facebook.com/michelleeastmanbooks

 I received both books from the author in exchange for an honest review of each.