Zack Love’s The Syrian Virgin: A Young Woman’s Journey From War in Syria to Love in New York (The Syrian Virgin Series Book 1)

Zack Love has recently published a new book that is in a very different genre to “Sex in the Title” which I read with great interest and enjoyment. In this new work Love shows us a much more serious side.

This is a book that deals with both big themes of our time on a geopolitical level as well as the ever present and very human drives for progress, recognition and love. The plot starts off with a gruesome bang in the Syrian civil war, setting the tragic scene and reminding us of the horror and vintage of that conflict. We move rapidly with our heroine to the USA where the author chooses to use a mixture of diary entries and letters to tell in retrospect large parts of the story. This is a neat artifice as we are introduced to more characters and see the story unfold through several perspectives.
Love handles the obviously treacherous minefield of politics and religion with straight forward sensitivity. At times it makes for challenging reading.

I note the sensitivity of the writing because it is almost too easy to either gloss over the issues or become altogether bombastic and rhetorical. The setting of the book is well thought out, considered and effective. There are many messages that we can take from this book and the culture clashes between Syrian and American, the differences in ideology and the more mundane considerations of growing up all find their way into the plot and while we may not find the answers here, we might feel a bit better informed and a little bit more aware of the difficulties.

The characters in this book seem initially generic but rapidly Love adds depth to each and as we move through the book it is clear that not all is what it might seem, secrets abound and who knows where the story might go next.
My only issue with the book is that it ended too soon. The stage is very well set for the next book.

This book was published 6th November 2014 and is described as:

Anissa is traumatized by the most brutal conflict of the 21st Century: the Syrian Civil War. In 2012, Islamists in Homs terrorize a Syrian-Christian community and destroy everything that a young woman holds dear. Narrowly escaping death, Anissa restarts her devastated life as a college student in NY. She is bewildered and lost — a virgin in every sense.

But despite her inexperience with men and life in the United States, Anissa is quickly drawn to two powerful individuals: Michael Kassab, the Syrian-American leader working to found the first Mideast Christian state, and Julien Morales, her Columbia University professor who runs a $20 billion hedge fund.

Complicating matters, Michael is still attached to his ex-girlfriend and Julien is the most sought after bachelor in Manhattan (and has hidden demons even his therapist can’t extract). Anissa’s heart and her communal ties pull her in different directions, as she seeks hope and renewal in a dark world.

WARNING: This book is about a young woman’s difficult journey: her escape from Syria’s Civil War, her transition to a new a country, and the relationships that she forms along the way, including her romantic interests in two very different men. The story is set against the backdrop of the Syrian Civil War and makes reference to violent acts, sometimes in detail. There is some occasional profanity and a few scenes that depict sexual intimacy. Accordingly, the recommended minimum age for readers is 16. The novel might be compared to books like “The Diary of Anne Frank” or “The Kite Runner.””


Veritas Liberabit Vos – Parts One and Two by R M M Walker

Published 25th October 2013
From the dust cover: “What would it take for you, to stop for a moment and imagine that everything you have ever understood to be true, everything you have learnt about the world you live in, and everything you have been told, could in fact be an elaborate fiction? If one piece of the veil of reality is shattered, what next?
Part One
A Skydive goes wrong and the participants share an experience that on the one hand gives them a definitive explanation for a controversial phenomenon, but on the other, sets before them a myriad of questions they decide to investigate. They go their separate ways and back to their normal lives, yet things aren’t quite the same and for some, life seems to have taken a twist towards the surreal.
Part Two
The group reassembles and discuss their findings. As alarming events are recounted, they are unified by what they hear; fear and shock grips them. What would normally be considered a bizarre suggestion, now appeals, and they set course to that end. As they continue to investigate and events unfold, how will the revelations ahead sit with them and could they turn back, even if they wanted to?”

My Ebook review: honestly I am not really a big fan of serial novels for some reason but I was interested in this one primarily because of its topic and because it came with two parts in one offering which gave it the feeling of a more full story.

Veritas Liberabit Vos is action packed and full of interesting undercurrents and in fact this is a story that gripped me from the beginning. I am a big fan of this sort of ‘what if’ fiction that takes into account some of the fringe aspects of the interpretation of our history.

This work walks a swift pace through a large swathe of paranormal activity and combines it neatly with a broad band of characters and good old fashioned bad guys. In one sense some of the characters are relatively generic but that is not a problem because their approach to understanding a chance joint experience is what really matters. When we have the diversity of characters we are able to see the story from a number of different angles and it helps to bring rapid depth to the story.

This is a book worth reading and even though it is a serial novel it is actually pretty complete. It will appeal to paranormal enthusiasts and conspiracy lovers out there.

Did I enjoy it: yes, I would really like to read the next installments.

Ebook Interview: Mia Hoddell author of the Elemental Killers Series

About the author: “Mia Hoddell lives in the UK with her family and two cats. She spends most of her time writing or reading and loves anything paranormal. Mia always had a love of writing but never reading. She was more interested in sports and hated sitting still – despite getting three poems published before the age of sixteen. Finally though, she found some novels that captured her interest and developed a love of reading which is now one of her favourite hobbies.

Mia began with poems before moving on to short stories. Although she enjoyed this, Mia found she had too much to tell with too little space, so later on she created her first series ‘The Wanderer Trilogy’ and from there other ideas have emerged. With a total of nine books planned at this moment, she is busy working on her second series ‘Elemental Killers’ before moving onto the next idea on her ever growing list.”

Ebook interview with author Mia Hoddell:
Tell me about your cats, some say they have a link to the paranormal, any thoughts on that?
I’ve never heard of them having a link to the paranormal (besides witches) before but if it’s true it may explain a lot of their behaviour…
I love my cats to bits, although they are polar opposites. One is a grumpy old man (think the Grinch x10) and the other is a needy, loving and hyperactive ball of fur, who I swear has separation anxiety (he’s cuddled up to me as I write this now). All in all, they keep me entertained, are great company and although lying on my keyboard isn’t helpful to the writing process it’s definitely warm on winter evenings.

A classic question: how did you get into writing and what particularly interests you about the paranormal?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember and still have poems from when I was 4 years old. My writing just progressed and grew with me. I managed to get three poems published in separate anthologies between the ages of 12 and 16 and then I moved on to short stories in my high school English classes (it was the only homework I enjoyed). However, I hated the restrictive word limit of short stories so at 14, I began writing my first novel. Since then I’ve just continued writing as it’s something I love and am passionate about. I’ve always been taught to follow something you love and it’ll bring happiness – so far that advice hasn’t been wrong!
Personally, I find writing in the paranormal genre allows my imagination to flow more. I love being able to create new worlds, creature and characters as I find it more interesting than contemporary writing. It’s also what I read a lot of, which helped me pick the genre.
You are about to release book 2 in the Elemental Killers just a few months after the release of the first book, was this an important goal?
It was actually this time last year that I first released Deadly to Love. However, it underwent a major re-edit so was re-released in February. I do want to get my books out there as quickly as possible, as for marketing purposes it helps to keep your name up there. I also don’t like to keep my readers waiting. Although, I am a perfectionist so I won’t release something I’m not happy with.
At the moment I am trying to write a book every month and release one every few months. I have a year off which I’ve dedicated to writing so I’m trying to complete as many first drafts as possible.
Book #1 was well received, but did it get the attention you hoped for?
I’m still working on promoting it and getting it out there now. I know it’s not going take off overnight or without a lot of hard work but so far I’m pleased with the results I’m getting. I’m finding the longer I stick at it, not only do I get better and more knowledgeable, but the results are better.

What do you feel are the biggest challenges for getting your books in front of readers?
The major challenge is just getting noticed in such a vast and competitive market. Self-publishing is great as it gives everyone the opportunity to get their work out there but then that also becomes a problem as the market is so competitive. The whole promotional side of writing is all a learning curve really. I find things that work as I go along and then repeat those and forget about the things that haven’t done so well.
What can your readers and fans expect next?
Well, I finished writing Elemental Killers #3 last month so I’m in the process of editing that right now. I’m also writing a new, New Adult action/suspense book with a paranormal twist and Elemental Killers #4 (the final book). I have been delaying that though because I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to Serena and Kai yet.