Noah’s Wife by T.K. Thorne is a 369-page novel selected as an OnlineBookClub Book of the Day for 25 February 2017. The Kindle edition is available from Amazon for USD 1.99 but there is a free sample. After reading the sample I couldn’t resist buying the complete novel. For those who tend to click on things too fast (buy buttons) be careful here. There are two novels with the same title if you search on Amazon. This is the one with the cover that looks like big waves are coming. The other one, Noah’s Wife by Lindsay Starck has people with umbrella’s on the cover and costs a lot more.

A reader’s immediate expectation is that we are going to read about a flood. It is no spoiler to mention that we will but it is a long way (pages) from the following opening two-sentence paragraph to the flood.

My name, Na’amah, means pleasant or beautiful. I am not always pleasant, but I am beautiful. Perhaps that is why I am trundled atop this beast like a roll of hides for market and surrounded by grim-faced men. (p. 1)

That sentence is why I couldn’t resist buying the book. This sentence appears in the prologue with the title 5521 BCE.

After the prologue, we shift back in time with Part I titled 5524 BCE followed by Part II titled 5521 BCE (like the prologue) and finally Part III titled 5500 BCE. This is followed by a highly informative 10-page postscript detailing the author’s research underlying the historical part of this fine historical fiction work. That is followed by a glossary of character names which appeared too late for me. Although I would appreciate a glossary appearance at the front of the novel, it would detract from the value of an Amazon sample.

Each part describes a significant period of her life when dramatic events happen. In part one, Na’amah deals with Asperger’s Syndrome. Her brother, Tubal, despises her and constantly tells her she is ugly and stupid. She is convinced she killed her mother with her birth. Tubal reinforces this idea every time he speaks to her. She does have a loving grandmother whose role becomes more important after her father dies while attempting to flee from a flood. Not THE flood, but a devastating one nevertheless for Na’amah’s village.

In part one Na’amah will become quite familiar and comfortable with Yanner, a friend with whom she will spend a lot of time in hills while tending sheep. There probably will not be a romantic relationship with Yanner. Na’amah will not encourage it. She is betrothed to Noah in a marriage arranged by her father. Noah has promised to wait several years before consummation of the marriage. It would be nice for Na’amah to get through puberty first. Noah is a lot older than Na’amah but is impressed by her direct speaking style. It seems she cannot lie and she tells Noah what she thinks of him upon their first meeting.

After Tubal becomes the head of the family upon the death of their father, Tubal notices that Yanner seems to love his ugly sister. Tubal may or may not hate Noah, but it was Tubal’s father that arranged Na’amah’s marriage to Noah, a marriage that Na’amah seems to accept. Tubal hates Na’amah and Yanner is Tubal’s friend. Tubal decides to make a change to the arrangement and promises Yanner Na’amah as his wife. This is done more out of his hatred for Na’amah rather than a fondness for his friend. This conflict between Na’amah and her brother will lead to her running away from her village. It will lead to her capture by slavers. They want to sell her and other captured women to their King. She will escape from the slavers and try to reach the refuge of a religious sect that worships a supreme power that is female.

Up to this point, there are no spoilers because by the title of the book readers can be confident that she escaped from the slavers and that Noah is the ultimate winner in the relationship department. After this point, spoilers become a problem.

This novel has a character driven story of the competition for believers in a true religion. Is the true religion patriarchal or matriarchal as far as legitimacy? Tubal fights many followers from the matriarchal camp. Na’amah is not interested in either being in power or acting as a power broker.

The book has interesting insights into building a really big boat. Noah uses methods of construction innovative at the time. An interior fireplace on a wooden boat was new. The attention paid to sealing material and the need for frequent maintenance is interesting. Notes on diversity in agricultural methods and distribution were interesting. Different results achieved by different groups living comparatively closely together might have encouraged socialization as one group discovered, perhaps through traveling trade shows and merchants, that the neighbors were a bit better off.

There are many interesting comments on peripheral supporting information that are provided as bonus entertainment. The frequent referral to cave paintings could have been left out entirely but the inclusion contributes a lot to how some of the characters support their beliefs.

This is a thoughtful read, something not to be rushed, and something the reader may want to come back to, especially when referring sections to friends.

This may not be suitable for strict, orthodox believers of the Christian religion who believe in a literal meaning of every word in the Bible.

A Gathering of Warriors by George Vigileos is a 180-page novel of spirituality, fantasy, and, for some, inspiration. Those with beliefs that lie exclusively in one religion will probably not like this novel. Those with no belief in faith and the inherent natures of man, animals, and plant life probably won’t enjoy this. But for those who can suspend their beliefs or can admit to the existence of other belief systems, this novel is fun to read while at the same time provoking reader reflection. This was an OnlineBookClub Book of the Day (BOTD) for 24 February 2017. To enter one of their giveaway programs I had to download a sample and make a few comments. There was no need to download only a sample as the book was priced as free. After downloading the entire book I didn’t stop at reading a sample but read the entire work in one sitting. I was impressed.

There is a craving in humanity for a return to a oneness or wholeness that occurred at the beginning of the world. The wholeness was shattered when discord and competitiveness arrived after people were tempted by some dark force. Although there was an on-going struggle between good and evil throughout time, there was always a core of medicine men, priests, shaman, and witches who held knowledge that would bring people together. There was a thought of constructing a high tower to facilitate communication and bring tribes together. These people were hunted down and persecuted by those with dark motives.

The reader contributes his own interpretations to what is presented here and what relationships might exist between the reader’s beliefs and what is suggested here. I saw the story of the Garden of Eden, the Tower of Babel, and the persecution of enlightened people who seem to sporadically show up in history: the scientists, thinkers, outstanding religious figures, philosophers, and notable humanitarians. Allusions to several different religions are made throughout the novel: Buddhism, Christianity, Hindu, Islam, Tao, and various supreme beings venerated by the indigenous tribes of North America. The Aztecs and Maya also receive mention.

The novel reads almost like a Lonely Planet travel guide but with a lot more excitement due to some of the mystical characters that take part. It is right that the story should read like this. There is an irony in the way and to whom the story is told but I consider the revelation of that irony a spoiler.

According to a story told by a very old man of indeterminate age while sitting around a campfire, the story goes something like the following:

Two groups of people begin journeys of discovery in two different parts of the world. They may be doing this at the same time or maybe not. It doesn’t matter because they never meet. In each group, a leader will emerge and provide the eyes through which the reader will see many things on the physical journey. During dream states, the reader will be a fly on the wall and observe many events which will be interpreted later through character dialogue and introspection.

He-Ping begins his journey in southern China. Living in a monastery, he practices martial arts and looks forward to ever-increasing challenges to his advancement in martial arts. But threats from the Emperor make it clear that the monks must disperse and stay concealed as much as possible for a long period of time. As the Emperor’s threat grows ever nearer, He-Ping is directed to flee and become a center for new learning when the faith can become again visible. He-Ping travels for years; he goes to Mecca, he goes to Egypt. He is not a senior mentor, rather he learns from others wherever he goes.

In the Americas, Siminee is a baby when her family is massacred by conquerors seeking gold. A jaguar carried her away from the on-going massacre and delivered her to a neighboring village where she was raised. In her later teenage years, she went to another village where she met an elderly medicine man, Seneca. She disappeared again and showed up in a cave used by Seneca. She had a captive, the man who destroyed her village. Seneca convinced her not to kill the man by showing her the evil spirits that were in the knife she was carrying. Seneca was the spiritual adviser to Jiminee for the rest of the novel. His primary purpose was to pass on knowledge of what had to be done to establish a bridge between an idyllic world long passed and the present world with its imperfections. The ultimate idea is that the imperfect world would disappear. Seneca continued his role as an educator until his final disappearance.

Throughout the novel, the following observations are given in various forms by Seneca, He-Ping, and the narrator. The author’s words provide the best guide to understanding the central point of the work. His words should also spark reader interest (and download of the book).

“When the humans’ evolutionary path led them to become part of the Earth story, their beings were still in anya (at-one-ment) with the inherent goodness of humanity, and with the planetary being.” (p. 162)

“The world of harmony, they knew – and it was good. Yet what lies beyond that, in a world of no harmony, they did not know. As soon as the humans knew the answer to that question, they forgot the experience of harmony. Suddenly, it all changed.” (p.163)

“Within humanity, both dreams lived; the one that was committed to taking the path unknown, that led to moving away from harmony with the laws of the universe, that denies the basic goodness of humanity and the underlying oneness of all; the other, of a yearning to rediscover the oneness once experienced, moving towards a harmony now lost.” (p.164)

I recommend the book to people like myself who have avoided works in this genre for the most part. I will be more careful now to at least read samples before I judge a book. This is a well-written book that I will recommend to many of my friends.

Highly recommended YA novel for Adults

We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson is a remarkable account about the coming of age of Henry Jerome Denton from his perspective as a much-persecuted 13-year-old. The reader will have to read most of the novel before discovering the complete name of this protagonist. Through most of the novel, he will be identified with the name “Space Boy,” a title he despises. This is not a whining, complaining account; it is delivered more from a position of resignation, hints of despair, and an acceptance of the inevitability that the world will end on 29 January 2016. Since that is a given, absolutely nothing that happens prior to that point has any meaning. The only possible alternative will occur if the aliens convince Space Boy to hit the Big Red Button. Without Henry’s agreement to do this, planet Earth will cease to exist

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Keep Your Friends Close and …

The Cabin by Amy Cross is a 171-page horror novel published in November 2015 and available from Amazon at the low price of USD 0.99 or free with a Kindle Unlimited subscription. For Anna, it begins as a story of renewed friendship with Marit, a friend who has invited her to see the “real” Norway. Anna, along with Marit and her friends Jennifer, Joe, Daniel, and Christian will spend several days in a cabin that is remote from everything and everywhere else. Marit serves a valuable service as an interpreter for Anna. Anna has zero knowledge of English. Except for Marit, the others feel free to turn their English off and on depending on their moods. Marit, as Anna’s close friend, appears to accept her role as an interpreter as an obligation to her friend.

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All the Worlds Fit to Print

The Printer From Hell by Amy Cross is a 150-page story about (refer to the title). Published in June 2016, it was on sale for USD 0.99 from Amazon or it can be downloaded for even less with a Kindle Unlimited subscription. I chose to read this book because of the author. Amy Cross writes good stuff IF this is a category you like. Gore and violence abound. Since she has written more than 100 paranormal, horror, and fantasy novels, there must be a bunch of readers that share my interest.

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Audition for an Oscar

Oscar’s Night by Matt Shaw is a self-described extreme novella on the Amazon book page. People familiar with Matt Shaw’s writings will not be surprised by this; readers expect it. Looking at the cover, the very top line above the author’s name are the words “Horror’s Darkest Imagination.” The bottom line has the words “A Psychological Horror,” (there seems to be a word missing but that is quibbling). Somewhere close to the middle of the cover are the words “Some Scenes May Disturb.” I look at this as three warnings, especially the one with the word “disturb.” If some of the stuff in this 57-page extreme novella does not disturb, the reader may want to return his dictionary to a shop for a definition adjustment. There is outrageous material here. I have abandoned reads that have gone as far as this as completely useless in terms of entertainment or message.

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Not So Scary Stories

Short Scary Stories by Bruce Savage is a 98-page collection of short stories available for USD 0.99 from Amazon. I feel comfortable investing such a small amount for what could be an entertaining collection of short stories. I am looking for short reads to encourage others to develop an interest in reading. Now, on to see if my investment was justified.

A spoiler alert of the review, not of the short story: If you are a student in one of my classes, proceed to my last paragraph which is followed by a final sentence. See if you come up with the same conclusion I did as far as numbers.

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