Map of Kammbia

MarionMapForPrint_Large copy

Here is a map of Kammbia. The fictional world where my novel, Descendant of Destiny, is set in.  The land of Kammbia is divided into two regions:  North of the Great Forest and South of the Great Forest. There are four main cities in each region of Kammbia and they will be featured throughout this series starting in the Descendant of Destiny.

Cities North of the Great Forest: Santa Sophia, Santa Teresa, Alicia, & Issabella

Cities South of the Great Forest: Charlesville, Galicea, Fuente Pointe, & Adrianna

Charlesville and Santa Sophia are the two cities where The Descendant of Destiny takes place and are the main cities for the entire series.

I just wanted to give a little background into the fictional world of Kammbia.  I have created an author page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Kammbia where I give some more history of the land and cultures that inhabited it. Check out when you get a chance and don’t forget to “like” it as well.  🙂

The Descendant of Destiny by Marion Hill

cover

For those who have been following my blog, I briefly mentioned that yours truly is getting his first novel published this year.  Actually, it will be June 4th. I have attached the actual cover and spine for the book.  Here’s the back cover blurb:

What is Destiny?

 

Is destiny something to be shaped by your own hands?

Is destiny something to be shaped by other people?

Or is there a higher power that ultimately shapes our destiny?

 

This is the journey that Diondray Azur of Charlesville will discover when he finds out the existence of a book called The Book of Kammbi. The book reveals an ancient prophecy that needs to be fulfilled by a descendant of Oscar Ortega, one of the land of Kammbia’s greatest men. All signs point to Diondray being the one who will fulfill this prophecy. However, he does not believe in the prophecy and thus begins the journey towards his destiny.

More to come as we get closer to the publication date.  Also, this blog will move to my website in the next week or two.  I would like to thank all of those who have read my book reviews over the years and checked out the blog.  It is an exciting time for me as this life-long dream is coming to fulfillment.  I promise I will catch up with my blogging now that my novel is done.  🙂

 

Book Review 51: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

th-1

 

It has been interesting as a book review blogger to see what books you gravitate towards in posting a review. I have noticed in the couple of years of doing these reviews that you choose some books and some books choose you.

That was the scenario for Bel Canto by Ann Patchett.

I heard her interviewed on the Book Lust podcast last year and the host was asking Ms. Patchett questions about her latest novel, State of Wonder, when the host mentioned to the author that Bel Canto was one of her favorite novels. The host’s genuine enthusiasm about Bel Canto changed the entire interview and I sensed that Ms. Patchett appreciated her passion for that novel.  I knew I would read and review Bel Canto after that interview.

Bel Canto was loosely based on the Lima Hostage Crisis of December 1996. Where members of a revolutionary guerrilla movement took hostage of high-level diplomats, government and military officials, and business executives who were attending a party at the official residence of Japan’s ambassador to Peru, Morihisa Aoki, in celebration of Emperor Akihito’s 63rd birthday.

Ms. Patchett’s version left the country unnamed and the birthday party was for a wealthy businessman, Mr. Hosokawa. The home belonged to the vice president of this unnamed South American country and the hook of the novel revolved around Roxanne Coss, opera’s most revered soprano who performed at birthday party per request by Mr. Hosokawa. The businessman loved opera and the only reason he would have came to this unnamed country because his favorite opera singer was performing at the party.

The guerrilla fighters took hostage of the residence because they thought the president of the unnamed country would be attendance for the birthday party. And if they could have taken the president as a hostage, all of their demands for freedom and overthrowing the government would be realized. However, the president did not attend the birthday party and they decided to keep everyone else as hostages.

The strength of Bel Canto was the characters and their interaction with each other under this extreme situation. Patchett created a colorful, multicultural cast of characters (Russians, Italians, Americans, Japanese, Swedes, & Germans) that grabbed my attention and made it a fascinating read.

Roxanne Coss was definitely a “diva” in a stereotypical sense but after an incident early in their captivity, she began to reveal a warmth to her personalty that belied her ‘world renowed opera singer’ persona. Mr. Hosowoka grew as well and learned the meaning of love in an entire new way. Even of the some guerrilla fighters showed their humanity and reading the story made you hope for a different outcome to their eventual fate.

Most of all, Bel Canto was a romance novel in the best sense of that genre. It seemed that the novelist was asking the question, does love really conquer all?  I would write that Patchett gave a definitive answer to that question in this story.  But, I didn’t quite agree with it.

That will not stop me from writing from how much I enjoyed reading Bel Canto and would recommend the novel be added to your reading piles and discussed at your book clubs.

I’m pleased that Bel Canto chose me to read and review this fascinating story of crisis, opera, and ultimately of love and romance.

 

 

Wisdom of Kammbia 3.32: Favorite Reads of 2013

th

Another year has come and gone and I’ve read and reviewed 16 books for the blog in 2013.  I had a good year reading and looking forward to a better reading year in 2014.

Here’s my favorites in 2013: (click on the title to read that book’s review)

1) Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

2) Captives (The Safe Lands Book 1) by Jill Williamson

3) Cold Fire by Dean Koontz

4) Middle Passage by Charles Johnson

5) A Mind to Murder by P.D. James

6) The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith AKA JK Rowling

7) Gray Matters by Brett McCracken

8) All God’s Children & Blue Suede Shoes by Ken Myers

9) The Disappeared by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

10) Extremes by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

11) The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman

So what were you favorite reads of 2013?

Book Review 49: The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman

th-2

One of the things, I have tried to do as a book reviewer for this blog is to read fiction outside of my comfort zone. I believe it’s important to stretch your reading experience and grow as a reader in the process. It’s too easy to only read in the genre you are comfortable with and never leave your favorite reading neighborhood.

I get this sensibility from my love of music.  I can go from Pop to Old School R &B to Gospel to Jazz to Salsa and to Rock when I’m listening to music.  But, in the literary world there’s an unwritten rule that if you only read Science-Fiction and Fantasy, then you must stay there as a reader.  Or if you only read Christian Fiction you better not read Secular Fiction.  I must admit I do not understand that unwritten rule.

My hope is that readers would take more chances on reading outside of their favorite genre.  What’s the risk? You may not like it.  I’m sure there are books in your preferred genre that you have not liked.  I want to spend time reading things I comfortable with.  Well, being comfortable can make you stale and doesn’t challenge you.  What’s wrong with being uncomfortable and getting challenged once in awhile?  I know there are plenty of reasons (excuses) for reading the same old thing.  We only live once, right?

Sorry for getting on my soapbox, but after reading The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman brought those thoughts from the prior paragraphs to mind. I had not read anything by Hoffman before and I had heard about her reputation as being one of the best contemporary novelists working today.

I saw this novel in the local used bookstore here in San Antonio and picked up from the shelf.  The cover intrigued me and I read the blurb and decided to make it my last read and review for 2013.

What if you were struck by lightning? How would that affect you emotionally? Would you try to find comfort or solace in others who had the same fate? Would you open yourself up to love? How would treat your family and friends?

All of those questions are answered in the story. The novel is narrated by unnamed woman who has been struck by lightning in her home state of New Jersey. She grew up with a distant mother and had a lukewarm relationship with her older brother.  Because of those family relationships, the narrator was dubbed the nickname, The Ice Queen.

However, she decides to move to Florida after her ordeal in order to become closer to her brother, who has become a professor at a local university. Also, Florida is the lightning capital of America and her brother is doing research into lightning-strike victims.  (I’m a native Floridian and this was another reason why I chose to read this book.)

The narrator meets another lightning-strike victim named Lazarus Jones. The two have a passionate romance but she begins to find out that Lazarus may not be whom he said he was originally. The narrator learns a lot about herself through this affair and begins a process of character growth because of it.

Also, there is an event with the narrator’s brother that begins to bring the two closer together.  The brother remembers reading fairy tales to the narrator while growing up and that bond becomes an important discovery as he is dealing with this event in his own life.

The Ice Queen is a beautifully written, well-told story of a woman’s transformation after tragedy.  Also, Hoffman shows the role of fairy tales and how the power of story could be used as a healing balm.  I would recommend The Ice Queen and it was a good way to end my reading year of 2013.

Book Review 48: Extremes by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

th

What happens when a rogue scientist decides she wants to kill an entire moon city with a virus in order to create her own version of a superhuman race? That question is the basic plot of Extremes by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.  Extremes is the second novel in the multi-genre Retrieval Artist Series.

Miles Flint has become a retrieval artist after quitting the police force in the first book of the series, The DisappearedRetrieval Artists are basically intergalactic bounty hunters that track down people who have disappeared in order to escape punishment from the human-alien societies created in this series. Most retrieval artists usually work outside of the law. But, Flint’s background as a detective and his strong moral compass has caused  him to be conflicted as he works on his first assignment as a retrieval artist.

He is chosen by a major law firm to investigate a former retrieval artist work on tracking this rogue scientist, Frieda Tey.  In the process, he comes across a murder at the moon marathon on the colony of Armstrong.  Flint finds out his work for the law firm and the murder are connected.  As a result, he meets up with his old partner, Noelle DeRicci, from the police force who is investigating the murder. The two work together to solve the case and begin to understand that there’s a new dynamic in their relationship now that Flint is a retrieval artist.

Extremes is another solid novel in the Retrieval Artist series that combines elements of traditional science-fiction and mystery into a genre gumbo I enjoyed reading.  Rusch is an old fashioned storyteller where characters and plot both work together to create a solid story.  No fancy or superfluous prose that distracts from the story.  This novel was refreshing to read and I’m looking forward to reading and reviewing Consequences, book three of the series.  Recommended.

Wisdom of Kammbia 3.31: The Descendant of Destiny by Marion Hill

unnamed-1

Here’s the cover to my upcoming novel, The Descendant of Destiny.  

I have been working my novel for the past several months and not blogging as frequently.  I’m planning for a March 2014 release of my novel.  Here’s a brief overview of the story:

The Descendant of Destiny is a Christian Contemporary Fantasy Novel and the first book of the United Kammbia Trilogy.

My novel tells the story of Diondray Azur, who has been chosen to go to Santa Sophia, a city in the fictional world of Kammbia.

However, Diondray is a member of the Azur Family of Charlesville. The Azur Family is the ruling family of Charlesville and they would never allow him to go to Santa Sophia.

The world of Kammbia is divided into two regions: Northern and Southern. Santa Sophia is the major city of Northern Kammbia and Charlesville is the major city of Southern Kammbia. The Kammbian Forest separates the two regions. The citizens of Northern and Southern Kammbia do not interact with each other.

However, there is a prophecy revealed in the Book of Kammbi that ties the two regions together in the past.  The Book of Kammbi is the sacred book for the people of Northern Kammbia. Diondray Azur will become the person that is the fulfillment of this prophecy and unite the two regions into one.

More to come.

What do you think of the cover?