Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Robert Pielke - A New Birth of Freedom: The Visitor - Giveaway & Review - Blog Tour Stop

Sometimes the scope of human tragedy is too large to comprehend. The mind grasps for alternate explanations in order to come to terms with staggering loss. Robert Pielke's A New Birth of Freedom: The Visitor tries to reconcile the over 50,000 lives lost during the three day Battle of Gettysburg. How could the death toll be so catastrophic? How could the number of casualties be explained? How could men cut each other down in such a brutal way? Because according to Pielke, it never happened - not the way historians would have us believe.

His revisionist account takes a science fiction approach. What if an alien invasion were actually to blame for the carnage inflicted during the pivotal moment of the Civil War? Surely, 19th century cannonballs and gunfire could not have killed more Americans than the entire Vietnam War. Some other sinister force had to be responsible.

Enter Edwin Blair, a mysterious time traveling stranger from the 23rd century, a.k.a. the visitor of the title. In his time, Earth is on the brink of destruction. An infestation of locust-like, technologically savvy aliens has mercilessly descended on the planet killing humans like ants and devouring every type of vegetation in existence. The key to possible survival lies in tampering with their time travel abilities. Blair knows their spacecraft will appear over the Pennsylvania fields during the Battle of Gettysburg. The only way to stop them is a full out assault by the combined Union and Confederate forces in order to disable their ships stranding them in 1863.

Abraham Lincoln is the man that Blair must convince in order to set his plan in motion. In a fascinating look at the revered president, Pielke shows a shrewd yet deeply curious Lincoln. The depiction does Lincoln justice illustrating his intellectual and open-minded nature. While his advisers look upon Blair as a lunatic, it is Lincoln who believes his spectacular claims. His mind is able to grasp concepts like extraterrestrial life and computer science. The scope of his intelligence is not limited to the period of time in which he finds himself. He is able to look beyond his contemporary world and see the bigger picture. War is war and he knows that understanding the enemy - whoever or whatever it is - provides the only path to victory.

Another key figure in Blair's plan is General Robert E. Lee. He must convince the esteemed solider to lay down his weapons and join in a temporary truce with the Union army. Without the combined firepower of both sides, Blair's plan will not work. Lee does not disappoint. The distinguished gentleman stands head and shoulders above the field both figuratively and literally. He too is able to operate on faith. He does not understand what Blair is telling him, but he is willing to risk everything in order to at least give Blair's plan a chance.

What ultimately convinces Lee? Blair demonstrates the apocalyptic force of the aliens' weaponry. It leaves even a hardened warrior like Lee shaken to the core. While he may be unable to parse through the details of Blair's story, Lee cannot doubt the destructive ability of which he speaks.

It is intriguing to witness two of the greatest military minds of the 19th century grapple with the concept of an alien attack. Pielke provides a glimpse into how Lincoln and Lee might have handled things if they had been faced with such a possibility. Their stature, poise and determination serve as a source of comfort during a time when capable leadership would be of the utmost importance. Having leaders who can be depended upon during a time of crisis is something the American consciousness innately craves. If only the heroes of the past could save the country from its future problems, and through Pielke's account they are able to do just that.

Overall, a fascinating look at how the heroes of America's past strive to save its future.

A New Birth of Freedom: The Visitor by Robert Pielke is available for $14.95 at and at

eview copy provided by Robert Pielke.

Complete blog tour schedule at: A New Birth of Freedom: The Visitor Blog Tour

Congratulations to our winner: Debbie Penny!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Jeremy Page - Sea Change - Giveaway & Review

Some pieces of literature are art in its highest form. Sea Change by Jeremy Page is one of those books. He paints with words instead of merely constructing a narrative. His writing style is lyrical. He transports the reader into a world fully realized and created on the page.

Things begin in a surreal fashion. Guy and Judy are enjoying a carefree day in a secluded field with their preschool-age daughter, Freya. Page opens with the beautiful image of the young girl capturing a small bead of rainwater from a leaf. The peaceful moment is broken when out of nowhere, a wild stallion appears. He charges the unsuspecting couple killing Freya.

The setting shifts to five years after the accident. Divorced from Judy, Guy is living alone on a houseboat incessantly writing in a diary about what the couple's life would have been like if Freya had lived. He vividly imagines an alternative existence for the three of them. With maps filling the cabin, he envisions a family road trip across the southern United States. While fashioning this parallel world, ugly truths begin to emerge from his inner consciousness as he struggles to maintain a sense of what is real and what is not.

Stopping at a coastal pub where he once shared a poignant moment with Judy, Guy encounters Marta and her daughter, Rhona. Marta is a recent widow trying to come to terms with her husband's passing. Rhona, a wild child now in her twenties, expresses her grief through sexual provocation and suicide attempts. Despite the drama they bring to his solitary existence, Guy begins to feel an intimate connection to them. His feelings for Rhona are complicated. At times, he feels nothing but lust, or he looks at her like the daughter he once had who never had the chance to grow up. On the other hand, he looks at Marta as a kindred spirit who possesses the innate ability to truly understand him.

Throughout the book, nature is framed as a powerful adversary. In a foolhardy frame of mind, Guy heads straight into the storm clouds of the treacherous North Sea. As he struggles to stay alive, he has a ghostly visitation from Freya. Throughout he is desperate to get back to her, but he comes to realize she has been there the entire time. She has never left him, and never will.

The ending of Sea Change is quite extraordinary. Page knows what the reader wants. However, he doesn't take the easy way out with a predictable pattern. Instead, he hands the reins over to Guy. It is truly an inspired twist. One that garners a more appreciative response from the reader rather than if Page tied all of the loose ends in a neat bow. It is an open-ended conclusion, but that's what makes it more fulfilling.

Overall, the brutal power of nature pales in comparison to the tumult of one's inner life.

Sea Change by Jeremy Page is available for $25.95 at and at Penguin Group.

eview copy was provided by
New York Journal of Books.

Congratulations to our winner: Deb C.!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

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