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I’ve had many and varied careers. In more or less historical order, I’ve been a motorcycle mechanic, a race engine builder, a teacher, an academic, a hard rock miner (silver), a book editor and ghost writer, a commercial writer in print and video, a novelist, a mason, a wood-fired artisan bread baker and a teacher of that craft. Some, if not all, have overlapped in time and continue.
A Few Men Faithful, the first novel in the Kavanagh series, was awarded the IndiePENdents Certificate and Seal of Good Writing in October 2013 (www.indiependents.org). In the Review, UK, Karen Andreas said of it: "Jim Wills’ A Few Men Faithful is the very best of reads. It starts off with epic action and, before you know it, you are not only sucked into the story but also deeply involved with its protagonist, Danny Kavanagh....This is compelling reading indeed. A Few Men Faithful is strong, fascinating historical fiction very well done." (http://thereviewgroup.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/karen-andreas-few-men-faithful-by-jim.html ). Christoph Fischer, here on Smashwords and on Amazon: "I personally enjoyed the political part the most for the objective and factual way the conflict was described, particularly the third part of the book when the Irish fighters split over the treaty, which of course bears relevance up to the present. This is a great achievement." Geoffrey Preston on Smashwords: "I think you have exceptional writing skills that jam packed this book." Marc Schuster in Small Press Reviews: " The prose throughout is clear and reminiscent of Hemingway, particularly in instances where Wills describes battle. Clear writing and strong characters make this a novel (and, presumably, series) worth reading, especially for those interested in the last century of Irish diaspora history." There are others in similar vein.
The second Kavanagh story, Philly MC, has been well reviewed both on Smashwords and Amazon. Christoph Fischer: "In Philly MC, he focuses much more on just one man and his inner torment, making this a brilliant character study and a rewarding experience. Jack's moody personality was as interesting as the setting, a very authentic portrayal of the 1960s....A great book."
Volume III, Shooter in a Plague Year, has gotten five-star treatment as well. Patrice O'Neill-Maynard on Amazon: "Shooter in a Plague Year is an astonishing book. It gallops forward at a remarkable pace and gathers us all up into intrigue, politics, betrayal, and heart rending and scintillating scenes of open-hearted love, half truths, and promises. Author Jim WIlls has a literary style that winds a story with thoughtful fire and makes us think, speculate, and figure out the subplots as the lives he follows digest the clues they get as to what is actually happening and who it is they can trust.... It is a great book. Read it!" Christoph Fischer: "In Shooter in a Plague Year Jim Wills returns to the Kavanagh family once again, the third installment of this inspired series....The book is well written, tension and plot move smoothly and the dialogue is also well done, particularly where the different accents need to be emphasized phonetically. A thriller as much as political novel this is a gripping read....After Philly MC it is also a great move in the context of the series."
The fourth and most recent title is A Hard Gemlike Flame. Christoph Fischer: "The book is a surprising addition to the saga but it certainly freshens and livens up the selection in the series so far....Thematically it complements the other books in the series very well."
on May 21, 2013 :
Congratulations. I totally enjoyed this book and think it is very well written. I love your turn of phrase and descriptive way of writing and felt for most of the book I was actually there with the men who were your characters. There were times I was on the edge of my seat and other times where I got to take a breath. I think you have exceptional writing skills that jam packed this book.
(reviewed long after purchase)
on May 21, 2013 :
Growing up in Scotland, our history lessons had a much sanitized version of Irish history, yet there were enough 'stories' around to hint at another side to the 'history'
Jim Willis has lifted the lid on a period of history my British history books whitewashed or ignored.
The language is more than likely true to the times. The behaviour of the 'freedom' fighters will be too.
To the author... you have done what I tried to do with Hold the Faith (The Apostle John Series) Lift the lid on a period of time and present that life through the characters.
I believe you succeeded. Well done. I have no hesitation in giving you 5 stars, although I will warn potential readers that it is not glossed over. This was life, warts and all.
I will be interesting where you take this series :)
(reviewed long after purchase)
on Feb. 14, 2013 :
"A Few Men Faithful" by Jim Wills is the first of the Kavannagh stories, a series of books about the conflict between the Irish and the English. This book is a competent, well balanced and informative work of art.It deals with the establishment of the IRA in addition to the IRB and it focuses on the years before and after the 1921 Treaty that separated the Southern Republic and the Northern Irish part of the UK.
The story revolves around Daniel Kavannagh and his involvement in the fight against the British but it touches the lives of many other fighters and their families, love interests and the clergy. Through this we get a clear picture of the various positions that different parts of the Irish population took in the battle - and the reasons behind them.
There is a preamble to the book in which the extent of the suppression in Ireland is described, a wise choice for any writer of historical fiction, since it relieves the story teller from feeding historical facts through the dialogue of characters who would already know those facts. Instead we learn about the organisation and lack of coordination of the gradually splitting Irish brigades/ army, the dangers they went exposed themselves and their families to, the endless series of assassinations and executions, hunger and civilian life at the times.
As native German I learned a lot from this book but never felt talked down to or taught something. The history could also be seen as the background for the love story between Daniel and Sophia, which runs as parallel story to the political part of it. I personally enjoyed the political part the most for the objective and factual way the conflict was described, particularly the third part of the book when the Irish fighters split over the treaty, which of course bears relevance up to the presence.
This is a great achievement.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)
Salvatore A Sgroi
on March 06, 2012 :
I never was one for reading history books. Unless it was a time of great interest to me they rarely could hold my interest long enough to complete cover to cover. I'd find myself skimming and reading only the most interesting sections.
I must say Jim Wills has a way of putting together fact and fiction in a way that draws you in and holds onto you.
I look forward to Jim's follow up historic novels and his future writings and recommend them highly.
Sal A Sgroi, New Jersey, USA
(reviewed the day of purchase)