Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.
When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review:
a CIPA EVVY Award Winner for 2017!
The Vicissitudes of Fortune
by Bob Siqveland
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Five teenagers from diverse backgrounds are brought together by a war. A Japanese, a Jew, a Native American, an African American, and a white kid from middle-class America form an interdependent relationship in the jungles of Vietnam. They become the most highly decorated squad in a war they don’t understand, but their relationships transcend the social structures of racism formed through historical injustices, and they remain best friends for decades. Their iconic leader, Billy Stone, one day finds himself entangled with a Medicare scam dreamed up by his sister’s husband. For his sister’s sake, he must find a solution. The livelihoods of the others form within the law enforcement communities in their individual and collective quest for justice as they grow from boys to men of great character.
Even the strongest of character has its flaws, but these men are the best of the best, and there is only one adversity they cannot overcome. From the Selma-to-Montgomery march, the internment camps of WWII, the poverty and desolation of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation; to the estrangement of a father and son and a suicide of great consequence, this team of five becomes one. At the same time, there are “takers” like Billy’s brother-in-law who infect the American system. They need to be brought to justice, but the price will be high. On the smallest of scales, this is an epic tale of how the dream of a world community can become a reality.
* courtesy of Amazon.com
Featured Review: ““
This cinematographic novel examines dreams for a better America against a callous political system.
Bob Siqveland’s The Vicissitudes of Fortune is an epic tale of five racially and socially diverse young men thrust into the sweltering jungles of Vietnam to fight a new kind of war for a reason they do not understand. With their lives in each other’s hands, they band together to become the war’s most decorated squad, bound by one of the strongest and most enduring of human bonds: the brotherhood of soldiers who have borne the hell of war together.
Weaving fictional narrative with historical information, Siqveland traces the lives of these five soldiers––a Native American, a Jew, an African American, one of Japanese descent, and a middle-class white kid—placing them in the midst of the tumult of twentieth century America with its racism, greed, social inequity, and class distinctions.
The overarching story is that of squad leader Billy Stone, whose beloved younger sister is endangered by her husband’s involvement in a massive Medicare scam. When the scam is revealed with tragic results, the bond between these courageous and honorable men is all that holds them and their families together.
Siqveland provides startling facts and behind-the-scenes information on some of the pivotal events and personages of the past century, vibrantly bringing to life everything from World War II and the Japanese internment camps, to the wars and broken treaties that marked US relations with Native American tribes, to Haight-Ashbury and the “Summer of Love.” Justice, or the lack thereof, is another strong theme, and Siqveland’s five protagonists all come to work in the legal system, the FBI, the CIA, tribal leadership, or law enforcement.
Siqveland writes with fire and passion, but his characters are also convincing in scenes of quiet reflection, love, and tenderness. Some descriptions are necessarily graphic and disturbing. At their beginnings, historical sections tend to be long, slowing the narrative flow.
As events draw to a climax, the pacing picks up; almost every chapter ends with a cliff-hanger, impelling forward movement. Descriptions are vivid and colorful, and emotions ranging from rage to the sweetness of love are handled with subtlety and skill.
Dialogue is authentic in feel and tone, and settings are colorfully drawn. Characters are fully developed, both believable and sympathetic. Along with their strength, courage, and high ethical standards, their flaws are also revealed, making it easy to relate to their struggles and care about them. A final scene proves disappointing, as two characters escape the consequences of their crime.
Cinematographic in scope, Bob Siqveland’s The Vicissitudes of Fortune pits hopes and dreams for a better America and a safer, saner world against the egomaniacal quest for power and money that infects the political system at all levels. Conspiracies, cover-ups, and secrets abound, while against this dark backdrop, the character, dignity, and love of five young soldiers shine like a beacon that spans decades, giving hope for future generations.
– Reviewed by Kristine Morris of ForeWord Reviews
What Other Reviewers Are Saying …
Drawing on his background as an Army Captain commanding a field artillery battery, Bob created this riveting tale of five men from diverse backgrounds who served together and bonded during the Vietnam war. Their story is interwoven with a modern-day journey through character, greed and corruption relevant to today’s political landscape.
Engaging characters and crisp dialogue provide enlightening background on subjects as diverse as native American history, Medicare scams, treatment of Japanese Americans during World War II, politics, social inequity and race relations.
Bob’s often stream-of-consciousness writing includes philosophical thoughts and anecdotes which highlight the theme of justice / injustice in all forms. ultimately it’s a reminder of how dignity and character can make a difference in our world.
– Amazon Reviewer Avid Reader
Siqveland truly is a master storyteller! And, this book is a real page turner. The plot is well conceived, and the characters are interesting and come from such varied backgrounds. It is those varied backgrounds that allow Siqveland to incorporate a number of historically important events of the time. The history buffs will find the facts well-researched and accurate, and all of us will enjoy being reminded of those important events. Another fun characteristic of Siqveland’s work is the inclusion of several proverbs and famous quotes everything from Confucius to Churchill.
– Amazon Reviewer T.K. Campbell
ATAI: Tell us a little about you.
Bob Siqveland: I’m now 73 but am happy to say that friends and relatives still tell me to “grow up.” I tell them, “I know a bunch of grown-ups and they’re not much fun.” I tell those that will listen to find their passion. I have five or six passions, all on the right side of my brain. These include painting, wood carving and music (as a recording artist and songwriter). I once considered getting an MRI just to see if I even had a left brain. But, among the ironies of life, I have been involved in left brain businesses most of my life, primarily as a venture capitalist and manager. I have to credit my time as a Commander in the Army for nurturing certain leadership qualities that I have carried forward in my career. I have started a number of companies in the past 50 years and currently work in the gaming industry. I don’t think I will ever retire. I love the motion and energy of being productive, plus to re-tire, you must have been tired in the first place…which I never was.
ATAI: How long have you been writing?
Bob Siqveland: I have been involved in written communications most of my life, but in 2003 I decided to write a novel. It was a response to the disclosures from a John Jay College of Criminal Justice study about pedophilia in the Catholic Church. As a Catholic, I was angry and titled the book accordingly. The story ended up being about growing up in the 1950’s and 60’s, not unlike Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye.
ATAI: What was your most recent release?
Bob Siqveland: The Vicissitudes of Fortune
ATAI: What do you love most about writing?
Bob Siqveland: In a nutshell, the creativity. Like a painting, or a wood sculpture, creating art from nothing and have people say, “loved it. I laughed, I cried, and almost everything in between.” That is the reward.
ATAI: What do you find most challenging?
Bob Siqveland: Almost everything after having finished my manuscript. The fun is over, now I need editing, publishing quotes, marketing gurus, etc. and, the least fun requirement—$$Moolah.
ATAI: Where do your ideas come from?
Bob Siqveland: Something someone said, a verse from a song, a personal reaction, I write it down, then add a sentence which turns into a paragraph which becomes a chapter. After that, my metaphorical creative horses break out of the corral and run to the four winds. I lose control and at some point, stop to catch my breath, recruit some help (like an editor) to go round up the mustangs. Almost seems that I’m not steering the story, it’s pulling me along. That probably sounds weird, but segues to your next question.
ATAI: What is your writing process?
Bob Siqveland: Most unconventional I’d have to say. Jack Kerouac’s On the Roadmight have been the best example of “stream of consciousness” writing. I understand. I have no outline or structure. Something strange happens. Where I find myself searching for a word or a name in conversation, when I write, there is uninterrupted flow…like magic. I keep forging ahead until the bell rings, then I bring in the reserves to clean up the mess. Kind of strange, huh?
ATAI: Do your characters (or message) ever seem to have a life of their own or an agenda of their own?
Bob Siqveland: With my characters, I sometimes feel a conflict of interest. Playing God with these people’s lives is emotional as well as creative. I gave birth to an iconic character who became my friend, developed him and then killed him to make the story work. I felt sad; a strong sense of loss. I didn’t write for two days. Some of my readers were mad at me for doing that, but it made the story work.
ATAI: What’s your favorite part of your book (or one of your books)?
Bob Siqveland: In The Vicissitudes of Fortune, Billy Stone, a Vietnam vet goes to Mexico to put his life in perspective. My sentient radar is on overload as he purges his demons. His time there is special to me as the author. He sits down to watch and absorb a sunset.
Only once did his mind get caught up in thoughts about Nam, that being when a flock of pelicans did their dive bomb thing, not far off shore, snapping up the surface fish as they submerged and took off again with gunny sack chins full of wriggling appetizers. They would circle and come back for more, the first batch probably still wriggling in undigested stomachs. In any event, it sparked the vision of diving Douglas A-4 Skyhawk’s strafing the jungles with napalm, and in the heat of the day, he shivered.
And so tomorrow became today while certain events that happened yesterday lost their clarity and faded into a bigger and more generic timeframe called the past, slipping away like grade school best friends forever, whose names and faces become harder to remember, while strangely, one might recall the faces of the parents. Time has been called a thief, but for the dispassionate, it’s but a pickpocket; for those who lust from the very depths of their spiritual marrow for connection to every grain of life’s essentia, time is a mugger, and Billy had always been a person of passion.
If there were dog days of summer in Mexico, they were different than the northern hemisphere intensity, and for Billy they were metaphorically, puppy days; soft and warm and fuzzy, with eyebrows that said a hundred things, and nights when sweet pup breath and a pink tongue seemed to lick the wounds of a survivor in a loving effort to bring solace. A little at a time, it did. Still, like puppy tails, Billy’s mind was in constant motion. The only truth Billy knew for sure was that he had lived, others not.
ATAI: What are you working on next?
Bob Siqveland: I’m just not sure. This story took a lot out of me. I’m not sure I can do any better. We’ll see.
ATAI: Where can people find you online?
Bob Siqveland: http://bobsiqveland.com/
ATAI: Thank you for sharing with us and our audience.
Bob Siqveland: Thanks for reading this interview and I truly wish all you writers much success and great reward.
– review on Authors Talk About It