“Tunnel Kids” by Werner J. Egli

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This is the story of a boy of about fifteen who travels through Mexico to the borders of the USA. Set in the 1990` s, at the beginning of the story the main character, Santiago Molina, reflects on his early life in a small village near the town of San Cristobal de las Casas in the east of Mexico. Soldiers have killed his father, his older sister has run off with a boyfriend, and now tensions between himself and his mother have caused him also to set off on the long trip to the States. After walking for several weeks he reaches Mexico City, where he is beaten up by a gang and then by the police after being arrested for stealing. Eventually, he is found by an unexpected benefactor who turns out to be a leading barrister and campaigner for justice, and who takes him home to his family and his large estate. Santiago is happy but leaves after venturing back into Mexico City to shoot the police officer who assaulted and abused him. The police are now after him. On reaching Nogales he joins in with the kids who live in one of the floodwater tunnels running below the city of this border town. The girl he is in love with is drowned in a flash flood. To start a new life he has to get to the end of the tunnel, on the other side of the border.

From the San Francisco Book Review:

Composed in beautiful, sensual, and lyrical language, Tunnel Kids by Werner J. Egli is an engaging story of Santiago Molina, a fifteen-year-old boy who leaves his small village near San Cristobal de las Casas and travels to Mexico City to start a new life. But his journey doesn’t end in Mexico City because Mexico is just another stop that propels him further toward the United States.

The story starts with a powerful, disquieting memory and reminiscences from the narrator’s childhood, including the inciting incident of Sta Claus whom the author describes as a gringo and his attempt to touch his elder sister improperly. The narrative moves on pretty fast and different conflicts are introduced. The author’s father is killed. His sister runs off and, unable to live in peace with his mother, he runs off to start a new life abroad. But as soon as he reaches Mexico City, things go awry for him. He is beaten by a gang and the police and arrested for robbery, but a kind man of justice takes him to his opulent home. The protagonist is fueled by a sense of revenge and goes after the police officer who abused him. But he finds himself in a place where there is no life, the floodwater tunnel of Nogales, where many children live and where he falls in love and loses the love of his life to the cold hands of the flood. To survive, he will have to travel to the end of the tunnel.

Tunnel Kids is a wonderful story, told in a powerful, clear, and exciting voice. The story is told in first-person narrative, and the author seems to have a unique mastery of this narrative style. The beautiful prose is enticing, featuring very powerful descriptions that capture the setting and the culture in vivid detail and clarity. I enjoyed the emotional insights and the psychological depth of the story as well as the internal conflict. The protagonist is a character who readers will love. It is also interesting to notice how the themes of love, family, death, crime, and adventure are seamlessly woven into the story. It’s a page-turner, an exciting and delightful read.

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“Gideon: The Sound and The Glory” by

Unsung heroes and murderous villains, hidden forever in ancient shadows, now leap to life – blazing onto the pages of revelation. Gideon, a lowly woodcutter, is blessed by an angel to be the savior of all Israel. He does not know why or how and shrinks from this dangerous mission. The commandment to conquer the Midian Empire as one man seems all but impossible. But Gideon’s confidence grows as God guides his every step until he stands fearless and faithfully fulfills his destiny as, “A mighty man of valor.” The fierce warriors, burning towers and devastated cities contained in Gideon’s Journey, are but silver threads that weave into a sweeping tapestry of ancient intrigue. Running through and stitching together the entire saga is The Lord of the Covenant, or The Baal-Berith, also known as Gideon’s mysterious Ephod of Gold.

From the Seattle Book Review:

Warriors and violent battles are present throughout Biblical times and beyond. Fueled by hatred of other tribes, the struggles for land, treasure, and resources permeate the landscape. The warrior Barak wages a vicious battle to take the village of Ophrah. With a little help from a female warrior named Jael, the tide of the battle turns. He is successful, but casualties are many. The casualties include the brothers of Gideon, a smart, unassuming woodcutter. Nothing much is expected of him; he is married to a woman who his father picked out. He is enamored of a young woman he encounters in his village named Drumah. She is set to be sacrificed to the God Baal. Gideon is visited by an Angel with a message from God. Gideon destroys the altar and saves Drumah from certain death. Gideon is chosen to fight for the Israelites. Gideon assumes command of his fellow people in battles against the people from the East such as the Midianites, who have fought for land in many pitched battles. Gideon is motivated by his brothers’ brutal deaths. He fights despite hunger and refuses help from cowering tribes. Gideon and his rag-tag group emerge victorious in their skirmishes. He takes vengeance on those who refused to help, emerging as a hero in his village. He takes Drumah as his concubine, along with many women he saved as well as widowed. He also sires many offspring, but his victory comes at a price that will echo throughout the coming years and decades with the Ephod of Gold. The worship of a new idol curses the family of Gideon, where one son engages in tyrannical rule. The son’s reign is typified by fear and power plays which include the wholesale slaughter of many brothers. By the time of the emergence of the underdog David, will the curse of this idol be broken? Gideon: The Sound and the Glory is a vivid and violent take on the religious strife that spanned the BC era. Greed, paranoia, jealousy, and lust are the overwhelming characteristics running through the veins of the men who highlight this book. Violence is seen as a necessary means to an end, whether in war or in power-grabs. The false idol that is worshiped only brings about doom and destruction to the worshiper. An interesting historical fiction read that will make a companion read to the Bible. A-!

Ostium Mini Episode: EMU #2 – Lost

Dave has some more secrets and personal details to share in this second EMU episode: Lost.

Written and performed by Alex C. Telander.

If you want more Ostium, why not become a patron on our Patreon page, where for just $2 a month you’ll get access to an exclusive brand new mini episode every two weeks (and this includes all through the offseason); and during the regular season of the show you’ll get access to new episodes a full week before everyone else. Alternatively, you could also make a one-time donation and help support Ostium on this site.

And if you wouldn’t mind leaving Ostium a review on whatever app or program you use to listen to podcasts and that way people can see what you’re saying to convince them to listen to Ostium.

Thanks for listening and see you in two weeks.

“Agents of Dreamland” by Caitlin R. Kiernan (Tor, 2017)


Caitlin R. Kiernan’s Agents of Dreamland has everything you X-Files buffs could want: FBI agents, clandestine government groups, conspiracy theories up the wazoo, a mystery shrouded in an enigma sworn to secrecy, and the possibility of one really terrifying alien species.

In a ranch house close to the Salton Sea on the San Andreas Fault, east of San Diego, the brainwashed Children of the Next Level await their carefully scheduled transcendence under the commands of the cult leader, only there’s something much scarier going on here than drinking some strange Kool-Aid. A day later beyond the very distant orbit of Pluto, the New Horizons probe suddenly loses contact with the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.

Meanwhile, in a town in Arizona made famous by an Eagles song, a covert government agent known as the Signalman meets with a very strange woman. The Signalman has been in this line of business for a long time; he’s seen a lot, but the events unraveling in his life and his world right now are a whole new variety of terror. He was at the ranch house and saw the end of it all there, while wearing a high-level contamination hazmat suit. The woman has information for him, she has seen so much and seems to know the future, next to her the Signalman feels like a small child, but he has to do his job. And do what he can to keep the wheel turning.

For a short novella, Agents of Dreamland has so much packed into it, it feels like a full novel, and by the end the reader may be wishing for another two hundred pages. Told through back and forth chapters, it’s a story that forces the reader to put the pieces together and it’s not until the very end that the full puzzle shows itself.

Originally written on April 28, 2017 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Agents of Dreamland from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

Ostium Mini Episode – EMU #1: In the Beginning

Welcome to the Ostium offseason. In the first mini episode you get to meet one David Fothergill Attenborough Windsor, host of the new show Enigmatic Mysteries of the Unknown, talking about his discovery of something very strange.

Written and performed by Alex C. Telander.

If you want more Ostium, why not become a patron on our Patreon page, where for just $2 a month you’ll get access to an exclusive brand new mini episode every two weeks (and this includes all through the offseason); and during the regular season of the show you’ll get access to new episodes a full week before everyone else. Alternatively, you could also make a one-time donation and help support Ostium on our website.

And if you haven’t already, please leave us a review on iTunes or whichever app you listen to your podcasts on. Why not join me in reviewing one of the shows you listen to every #AudioDramaSunday.

If you’re looking for some other podcasts to listen be sure to check out our recs page.

See you in two weeks with another mini episode!

“New York: 2140” by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit, 2017)


Reading a nice, long Kim Stanley Robinson novel is like going on a great vacation: you have a decent idea where you’re going, you know it’s going to be for a while, you know you’re going to get up to some great adventures and have a great time, and you never want it to end. In his latest book, New York: 2140, from the cover and the title, the reader might think they have a good idea what they’re about to get stuck into, but this is a Robinson novel after all, so the reader may get a few things right, while others will be shocking and thrilling and completely surprising.

Most science fiction novels involving a distant and changed future would begin with a long description on how this world got to be this way, but this author does it a little differently, introducing the main characters with P.O.V. chapters that educate the reader on the character and his or her background, and indirectly on the world, how it is and a little about how it came to be this way. Eventually there are chapters from a somewhat omniscient character looking to tell the reader how things went how over the last hundred and fifty years. In this way, Robinson eases the reader into his 600+ page book, like a multi-layer delicious cake where each layer entices you that little bit more.

Let’s introduce our lead players. There are the two friends, coders, who hatch an idea to shake up the entire world economy, and then they just disappear. There’s the market trader guy who does magical things with stocks and shares and makes plenty of money doing it; he’s used to getting things his way, money, women, power. There’s the internet star who travels around in her zeppelin trying to save animals and get herself on camera with or without clothes for her millions of viewers. A building super from Eastern Europe who is much more than that and excels at solving problems. There’s the cop, a detective, New York’s finest, who is always drowning in work, but that’s because she’s damn good at her job. And then there are the two boys who appear to be orphans and not registered anywhere, and they’ve just found something buried under the ground, beneath the waters, under the long stares of the semi-submerged skyscrapers. The characters find themselves drawn together in a most unusual journey.

New York: 2140 is a look at a future world that has suffered a lot, as seen and experienced through a unique group of characters who find themselves unexpectedly drawn together. It’s a complex, diverse and fascinating group with an incredible backdrop of a world that is constantly in flux. And then there’s the hurricane . . .

Originally written on April 28, 2017 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of New York: 2140 from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“Gringo” By Dan “Tito” Davis

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Dan “Tito” Davis comes from a town in South Dakota that’s so small everyone knows their neighbor’s cat’s name. But once he got out, he made some noise. While at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, he started manufacturing White Crosses, aka speed, and soon had the Banditos Motorcycle Club distributing ten million pills a week. After serving a nickel, he got into the weed game, but just when he got going, he was set up by a childhood friend. Facing thirty years, Davis slipped into Mexico, not knowing a word of Spanish, which began a thirteen-year odyssey that led him to an underground hideout for a MedellIn cartel, through the jungles of the Darien Gap, the middle of Mumbai’s madness, and much more.

From the San Francisco Book Review:

We’ve all heard it said that truth is stranger than fiction. I can’t say this is always true, having read some very strange pieces of unconventional fiction, but I can say that truth is sometimes just as wild and exciting as fiction, and Gringo is the perfect example of that.

Dan Davis, also called Tito, has lived an extraordinary life, and I am lucky enough that a man with the skills of Peter Conti was willing to help him tell his story. The book opens with what I consider the literary variant of a television teaser: a prologue which shows where the author’s life will go, featured just before a first chapter, which goes back to the author’s childhood. While at times this may seem like a cheap trick, when used effectively, it can stir excitement and maintain the reader’s interest. This prologue falls into the latter camp, and all through the first few chapters, I found myself wondering just what would lead Tito to flee to Central America and where his life would go from there.

That’s not to say that I skimmed through those chapters, looking eagerly for the time when the action would pick up. While I was eager to reach the part of his life which would feature his flight from the law, those early chapters were far from wasted. They gave me insight into Tito’s personality, allowing me to understand who he is and how he reached the part of his life that would form the endpoint of the book.

The story begins with Tito – still merely Dan Davis then – as a young Midwestern man, looking for some way to make money. He settles on selling drugs, and from a little ambition, a little know-how, and some good luck in knowing the right people, he finds himself with a nascent drug empire on his hands. This part of the book alone could make a compelling tale, but the story continues from there. Betrayed by someone he thought he could trust, Davis finds himself hunted by the government, and he abandons his family to flee the country, making his way to Central America. Once there, he does not merely lie low but sets about building a life for himself.

Tito has lived a fascinating life, one well worth reading about, and I was enthralled by every page. Tito’s ambition and know-how lead him far past his humble Midwestern beginnings, and his rise and fall made a tale well worth reading, one which I would recommend to anyone.