Monthly Archives: September 2014

People of Mars by Author Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli

People of MarsMars the fourth planet in our solar system and one that holds so much mystery for mankind. It is a planet that many feel is where man should next explore with manned craft. This is what author Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli is doing for her readers through her knowledge of the technical, scientific, and biological.  The next book in the Red Desert series, People of Mars, will reintroduce the reader to one Anna Persson.

The first book in the series, Point of No Return, saw Anna apparently running from the Isis module in a rover. She was being called from mission control back on Earth, and her ex was trying to get her to turn back. Hassan had followed her briefly in another rover only turning back when he was at the point of no return. Anna kept going and it became obvious to so many she was probably out to kill herself.

People of Mars does not open with what happens with Anna but takes the reader into the last moments of another woman. Michelle is her name and she is in an airlock. Her hands are bloodied and she begins to have flashes to what had happened to her. She had been slapped over and over again before she must have lost consciousness. The buzzing was bringing her back to reality and helped her realize where she was. The problem she’s in that airlock, and not in a suit. The doors are going to open and all she has tried isn’t stopping them. Will she get out? Yes, there is someone there looking in on her.  Is this her help, her salvation, or the one who put her in the airlock sealing her fate

This opening will show the reader that things are not right within the station. There will be tension in not just personal but sexual and professional. Abuse is happening within those walls and it’s not like the inhabitants can just go and take a long walk, or move. They are stuck with each other and there is even a chance a second mission could be terminated. This would cancel the introduction of new staff and a possible way home for Anna.  What is one to do with so much perceived mistrust with those she lives with?

Anna does stumble onto a potential break through that could change so much for those within the mission and maybe guarantee the second mission. The discovery is questioned as there is a potential of contamination in the tests, and thus another group of samples must be taken. It is upon this second sortie that Anna discovers something additional, and although unknown, when it becomes clear will lead to that faithful rover trip.

Author Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli continues with great character development with in People of Mars She will take the reader into the past of Anna and other characters. She will show prejudice, hate, fear, longing and so many other raw emotions within the different characters. You add this to the pure mystery of Mars and the book will become hard to put down. As discoveries are being made about the planet there are even more to be made within the pages of the book.

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Posted by on September 23, 2014 in Reviews


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Ten plus One Questions with Author Rosanne Dingli

Rosanne DingliRosanne Dingli is a native of the small island country of Malta.  She was living in Malta at the time the country became its own country after becoming independent in 1964, and immigrated to Australia in 1982. She got a great education and is able to speak three languages and has had a variety of jobs. She has been a teacher, lecturer, and numerous other jobs but writing is one role she has done well. She has written multiple novels, collections of short stories and some poetry. As a person reads her first novel Death in Malta you will see how much she loved her native Malta and her new home Australia.

Now on to her responses to the Ten Plus One Questions:


Question 1: What inspired you to write Death in Malta?

I knew my first novel had to be atmospheric and meaningful – so something about my birthplace was ideal. What better than a Mediterranean island full of history, secrets, and engaging characters? My protagonist is an Australian novelist, so seen through his eyes I could portray the island just as I remembered it, set sometime in the seventies or eighties, perhaps. I used nostalgia, history, and the magic of authentic locations to pull the reader in.

Question 2: Is there any significance to the name names of your main characters?

I always think very carefully about names – it’s important to have good memorable ones, that are not too ordinary, and yet not too strange. The meaning is usually abstract: complicated or complex, historic, or related to something about their features. They must also be authentically linked to the location.

Question 3: During the writing process did you find yourself thinking about any of your memories?

My memories of historic locations, yes. I rarely, however, include anything private or intimate such as my life events or particular feelings, even if my writing triggers memories. I find that my imagination is enough to conjure up a good story. Having said that, however: authors cannot escape their own particular way of composing a story out of what they know and understand intimately.

Question 4: What were some of your favorite books growing up?

I liked the novels of John Dickson Carr, Daphne DuMaurier, Georgette Heyer and John Fowles. And do you know what – I still do. But I have added a great number of others since my youth. I particularly like AS Byatt, Annie Proulx, Robert Goddard and Ian McEwan.

Question 5: Do you hear from fans of your books, and if you do what do they say?

Yes – social media makes sure that my readers follow me and make comments and observations, which I find can be either very helpful and flattering, or sometimes a bit too close for comfort. But there are ways of avoiding conflict or disagreement. Any contact is seen as friendly, and I welcome it.

Question 6: What was the feeling like when you saw the very first printed version of your book?

I can’t remember, because it’s a long time ago. Death in Malta was my first novel (2001) but it certainly was not my first book. My collected published and awarded poems came out in 1991, and I also edited a collection for the centenary of a Western Australian country town. Since 1985, individual pieces of mine have appeared in anthologies, literary supplements, magazines and journals all over Australia and on the internet, so being in print was a known feeling by the time my first novel was published. Mind you, receiving a box of books is always a good feeling – I’ve just opened five new ones, with copies of five of my books, so my hallway is now full of my writing.

Question 7: Do you continue to write?

I am now a full-time writer. Most people know that authors have to supplement their income with other jobs, so since 1985 I have worked as editor, lecturer, teacher, heraldic artist, graphic artist, EIC, travel consultant, cook, and more. Since giving up teaching in 2008, I have managed about a book a year. 2015 will see publication of my fifth novel.

Question 8: What is the message you want people to take away from the book?

I do not weave messages into my fiction. There is always a main premise, of course, which I hope readers pick up as they go, and there is always enough ambiguity in my main premise for readers to fill it with their own concepts. People always put their own meanings into ambiguity. I find that an excellent thing, because they invariably come back for more of my work, because they feel they can relate to it.

Question 9: If you could envision a future for your main character, what would it be?

I rarely do this. It’s up to the reader to concoct and imagine one. Most of my protagonists are men, who would probably go one with much of the same as in the novels and stories I write. According to Luke, my second novel, brings my only female protagonist to my readers. I think I might bring her back in another, so she does have a future. There is a supporting character in my second novel which returns in my fourth. He might even come back a third time, but I do not think of it as his future.
Question 10: Who are those in the dedication of the book, and their importance to you?

I nearly always dedicate my novels to my husband, because he is my first reader and most avid fan.


The + 1 Question:

If you had any one place in the world you could travel to for a book tour, where would that place be, and why?

I love Venice, and it would be fascinating to have a book tour there, even though it’s highly unlikely, since all my books are in English and getting them translated is a very difficult task. Even though I speak good Italian, translating is a specialist undertaking. Venice is a city I have returned to many times, and I’ve used it as a location in much of my writing. It has a particular atmosphere, and the people are quite unique.



Author of The Hidden Auditorium,
Camera Obscura, According to Luke, Death in Malta,

Counting Churches – The Malta Stories, The Day of the Bird,

The Astronomer’s Pig, Making a Name, The Bookbinder’s Brother,
and All the Wrong Places

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Posted by on September 16, 2014 in Interview


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Death in Malta by Rosanne Dingli

Death+in+MaltaMalta is a small, and I mean small, country in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. Its location is about 60 miles south of Sicily off the boot of Italy. The country is often a dot on maps and many have not really heard of the country. People may not even realize that the Maltese Cross is a symbol used for Veterans of Foreign Wars and often by Fireman. It’s an island I have a lot of interest in due to its rich and fascinating history and the fact my father was from the country.

Thus when I saw author Rosanne Dingli’s book, Death in Malta, I know I’d want to read the book. As I read the description of the book and saw a character shared the same last name as me, Micallef, I knew I had to read the novel even more. As I read the novel I came to find that Micallef is not the only name found in multiples within the Maltese phone book.

Death in Malta will take the reader into the world of fictional author Gregory Worthington as he comes to Malta to write his next great novel. Worthington is a writer of suspense novels and has the ability to write vivid stories that disturb some, and one of those people is his estranged wife Maggie.

As Worthington gets settled on the main island he will find himself meeting many within the small village he chose to live in. These people range from the local bar keeper, the local clergy and the blacksmith. The great thing about Malta’s past for this Australian author is at one time the country was a British Protectorate, thus many speak English. This will help him with the people, and eventually lead him to a story. A story that he will find is right underneath the roof of the small home he rents.

There is a story within the village of a young boy who one day just disappeared.  This is something that is a rare occurrence on the island and especially in a small village. People searched for the boy and he was never found. Worthington will use this as a basis of his book as he learns about the homes previous occupants. A simple wine maker and his wife who seemed a bit mad, and who had one point may have harmed her eldest son. A woman who was heard yelling at the boy leading to run from home for long stretches at a time to avoid her wrath.  She even went as far as locking the boy within a dark underground storage area to teach him a lesson. It’s this mystery that gets the writers creative blood boiling and will lead him down a path; he should possibly lie within the history of the islands.

Among the people the writer meets will be Doctor Phineas Micallef who has moved to the small village as he escaped one of the larger cities. The question will be did he escape or was he forced to leave. At a social gathering at the doctor’s home he will meet a woman, Patricia, who will take his breath away. She will help him explore the island more, help him find himself, and help him learn more about Maltese culture.

The book has no real time frame mentioned but as Worthington’s computer seems to have a dot matrix printer it must have been in the 1970’s or early 1980’s.  You get the understanding of the type of printer when there are references to perforated sheets from the printer and need to tear pages apart. This does not distract at all from the story and just puts it into a bit of perspective.

Author Rosanne Dingli does a tremendous job in pointing out the culture of many of the Maltese people. She also takes the reader deep into the psyche of the people and the customs on the islands. You will find yourself marveling at the people and what could be their “quaint” customs. You learn about the homes, festivals and most importantly the way they drive. I say this as I witnessed some of those driving skills on a visit to the island and it can cause a passenger to be a bit nervous.  The use of the busses is also mentioned and they are just as reliable and inexpensive today as the period of the book.

What really comes through in this book is not just a love of Malta, but for Worthington’s love of his homeland Australia. Dingli does a beautiful job of telling the readers about both countries, never truly painting either in a bad light. You get the feeling either place is one you would want to visit or live. As you read about the travels and searching for truth on the main characters story you wonder what happened to the boy. You discover the great character devlopment and find some great interactions and how one culture can differ from another.  You wonder about the reactions of others within the book and what mysteries may lay under the earth of this small country that is so full of history why did he chose this story. The only way to find out is to read Death in Malta, and the great addition to the novel is at times we get a peek into the story that Worthington is writing which adds to the suspense of the book.

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Posted by on September 10, 2014 in Reviews


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Labor Day, Falling Behind and Crickets.

Labor Day is a period that many workers across the United States get a day off in celebration of labor. I was one of those many people that had the day off, and with good planning had Friday previous off too. So what does this mean?

It means I fell a bit behind in my reading, blog work as the 40 hour a week job sure had same demands on one less work day. So, instead of posting a book review this week has been quite. You’d say crickets invaded the blog with the silence coming from my end. Thus it’s time to scare the crickets away, dust away the cobwebs and clear the mind.

I’m going to share with you the books I currently have in my readers list for the blog so you can see what I’m reading.

Death+in+MaltaDeath in Malta is Author Rosanne Dingli’ first novel. This is one book I contacted the author about a review as it is set in Malta. My father’s family is from the small island and one of the characters shares my last name of Micallef.

Here is the Book Description from Amazon:

Disillusioned and depressed, Gregory Worthington sets off from Perth in search of inspiration. He arrives in Malta full of resolve to reignite a flagging writing career. Quaint surroundings, the potential of a love affair, and the antics and warm-heartedness of villagers he befriends fuel his imagination, but his writing brings him more disquiet and confusion than he could anticipate.

What is inspiration, and what is the reality behind the disappearance of little Censinu Mifsud, a ten year-old boy who was never found? There is a twenty year-old secret in the village, one Worthington resolves to unravel, to turn into a novel, despite warnings from a retired doctor and the antagonistic parish priest. They are ambiguous about his involvement with a young Maltese woman, but are very clear about one thing: the author has no business nosing around his old rented farmhouse, looking for clues and disturbing the past.

Poignant and moving,
punctuated by comical scenes and passionate
interludes, Death in Malta is a powerful novel of love and loss,
disappointment and dislocation – curiosity and consequences


The next two are listed in no special order.

People of MarsAuthor Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli has released her second book in her science fiction series, “Red Desert”, titled People of Mars. This is on my electronic book stack as one of the upcoming reviews.

Description here is from Goodreads:
After 995 days on Mars, the enthusiasm of the Isis crew has turned into frustration and intolerance. Their research hasn’t provided the hoped for outcomes, the resources at their disposal are insufficient, and NASA had previously cancelled the launch of a second mission, which would have brought more colonisers and equipment to the planet.
Relationships among the five members of the expedition have become difficult. Station Alpha is home to a complex web of conflicts, secrets, alliances, and rivalries.
Now a new launch window is about to open, but the news from Houston isn’t reassuring at all. While the finding of a possible ice sac might give a positive turn to the events, Anna, embittered by the unusual behaviour of Robert and the cold war against Hassan, is considering the opportunity to return to Earth.
When death strikes amongst the five inhabitants of Mars, Anna finds her only possible choice is a solitary escape.
But Mars has got an incredible discovery in store for her, a key to a mystery hidden in the depths of Valles Marineris.

The first book is “Red Desert – Point of No Return”.
The third book, “Red Desert – Invisible Enemy” (a novel), will be published at the beginning of 2015.

Note for the reader: this book is written in British English.


Sun GodThe remaining book in my stacks is by author Elliot Baker and titled, The Sun God’s Heir.

Description again from Amazon:

When an ancient evil awakens, one young pacifist is all that stands between the world’s freedom and the red tide of slavery.

In 17th century France, a young pacifist kills to protect the woman he loves, unwittingly opening a door for the reincarnation of an ancient Egyptian general determined to continue a reign of terror begun three thousand years ago.

Taking up the sword will not be enough. Rene must reclaim his own ancient past to stop the red tide of slavery from engulfing the world.

Joined by a powerful sheikh, his sword wielding daughter, and a family of Maranos escaping the Spanish Inquisition, they fight their way through pirates, typhoons, and dark assassins to reach Morocco, the home of an occult sect that has waited for Rene through the eons.


I should point out and thank Julianne Snow at Siren’s Call Publications for sharing with me a LARGE number of the books the company has published. I plan on reading more of those books and fitting many into the blog after I finish those listed above. I will not be stopping taking any further requests for reviews, but just a note one of the Siren’s Calls books may be reviewed first.

Now, followers you are up to date on what has kept me from reviewing the last week, and what I have planned to come. Here’s looking forward to the review of Death in Malta next week and more to come.

Here’s how you can contact or follow me:


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Posted by on September 6, 2014 in Reviews


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