Looking West: The Journey of a Lebanese-American Immigrant by Albert Nasib Badre Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

They say that everyone has a story to tell. Yet in our current political and societal struggles, we often forget that notion, refusing to listen to anyone else’s story other than our own. That is why stories like the one told by author Albert Nasib Badre in the novel “Looking West: The Journey of a Lebanese-American Immigrant” are so important. The story of a young person born into one world who must adapt himself into a completely different world, and not only that, but spends a life living as an immigrant in a new nation while struggling to find meaning in his life. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

In 1960, the Badre family emigrates from Beirut, Lebanon to the United States, a dream come true for fourteen-year-old Nasib. 


Nasib struggles to assimilate as a teen in Albany, New York. With limited English skills, he attempts to learn new customs, make friends, and adapt to a different culture. In Beirut, the Badre family was well-known and socially privileged. In America, they are unknown nobodies. Nasib adopts his father’s name “Albert,” and to further Americanize his name, young Albert becomes “Al.”

Despite the many frustrations and difficulties, Al’s ultimate goal is to become a successful American. The new anonymity actually inspires the young man. Excited by the opportunities available to him in his new country, he determines to make a potent contribution to society.

As he strives to adapt, Al reads voraciously, becoming increasingly interested in religion and philosophy. Books become his “American friends,” and reading soon prompts him to ask deep theological questions about his family’s Lebanese Protestant roots, his mother’s conversion to Catholicism, and the contrast between the Protestant and Catholic faiths. This ultimately leads to his Catholic conversion.

Al’s search for meaning in life leads him to social activism among New York City’s poorest. And, in time, to graduate studies, where his desire is to improve the human condition through information technology.

Al Badre– like many other American immigrants–works his way through hardship to achieve a meaningful place in his adopted nation.

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The Review

From memories of life in Beirut and breaking tradition by dreaming of life as a writer and teacher rather than a doctor or engineer, to discovering New York City for the first time, learning about life in Albany, NY, moving to two different schools and finally the study of philosophy, religion and history. This book felt like the perfect blend of memoir and world history, as the author experiences many staggering events that are often forgotten to history books, and still manages to bring a sense of personal connectivity to the narrative. The author’s story of differing life from his time in Beirut to America, as well as the adjustments to life in the United States and finding his place in the world feels both new and familiar all at once, as we see life through the eyes of someone not born into our way of life here in the United States, and yet seeing the same struggle we all feel to define ourselves in life and the universe at large. 

The author’s sense of detail shines through in every page of the novel. The way the author describes his experiences is so captivating and moving that the reader can instantly picture themselves experiencing these things with the author. One passage in particular described the port of Beirut, where the journey to the United States began for the author, and the way the author brought the smells and sights of the area to life were so vivid that it felt as if you were right there, witnessing the majesty of the Esperia passenger ship before our very eyes. 

The Verdict 

This is a fantastic read that many readers will enjoy. Those who enjoy memoirs and studies of philosophy and history will find themselves dazzled as we see the life of a man born in Lebanon and lived in the United States. A man of two worlds in a sense, readers will feel completely connected to the author’s journey and the life he builds for himself as the novel goes on, especially the emotional roller coaster he takes readers on when he finally returns to Beirut for the first time. It’s a fascinating story that shouldn’t be missed, so if you haven’t yet be sure to grab your copy of “Looking West: The Journey of a Lebanese-American Immigrant” by Albert Nasib Badre today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Albert Nasib Badre is an American author born in Beirut Lebanon. He immigrated to the United States with his family in 1960 at the age of fourteen. His family made Albany, N.Y. their first home in America where he attended a private Catholic high school through his Junior year. After three years in Albany, the family moved to Iowa City, Iowa, when his father accepted a professor position at the University of Iowa. He finished his senior year at Iowa City High School, then went on to the University of Iowa where he got a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies.  After college, he spent a year as a social worker in New York City. Deciding social work was not for him, he went on to pursue graduate studies at the University of Michigan where he got his Ph.D. in 1973.

He spent the next thirty years at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and today he’s Professor Emeritus of Computing. During his tenure at Georgia Tech, he was an international consultant specializing in designing technology to enhance the human experience.  Dr. Badre was an early pioneer in the field of human-centric design, with some thirty years of experience in human-computer interaction, learning technologies, and human-centric e-learning. His background combines expertise in the empirical methodologies of the behavioral sciences and the design approaches of the computing sciences. 

Dr. Badre authored numerous technical papers, is co-editor of the book Directions in Human Computer Interaction, and the author of the book, Shaping Web Usability: Interaction Design in Context, which was adopted in several dozen courses worldwide. His memoirs, Looking West, is the story of his coming of age immigration to America and subsequent conversion to the Catholic Church.

Today, Dr. Badre and his wife live in Providence, R.I., near his son and family, where he leads a very active volunteer life, in service to the community.   

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Finding the Author online:

https://www.badremusings.com/

Amazon Link

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43691926-looking-west

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Interview with Author Joseph Amiel

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I’ve been a writer since Fourth Grade, when we were required to hand in a story every week.  I loved it. Even while working as a lawyer I continued to write.  An agent read three chapters of my first novel, now titled STALKING THE SKY, and sold it to a top publisher within ten days.  Magic!

2) What inspired you to write your book?

I had an idea for a short story, a murder mystery, and put aside what I was working on to write it.  I found I loved the form: Completing a novel could take a year or two, but I had finished the story in only a few days.  It’s the second in my new collection DEATH CAN DELIGHT: A TRIO OF MYSTERIES.  Almost immediately an intriguing title for a new story popped into my head, THE GIRL WHO SPOKE VENTRILOQUISM, but I had no  story.  While agonizing over possible characters and plot and getting nowhere, inspiration came in the form of a sudden recollection of the trip I and my family had made the year before to Ireland.  I have no idea where that unexpected recollection came from, but instead of dismissing it, I was aware enough to realize my subconscious had just presented me with the structure I had been searching for.  The third story was suggested by an incident involving Donald Trump: He was alerted by his lawyer that the pre-nuptial agreement with his new wife was about to expire and any divorce after that could be far more expensive.  His shocked wife soon received divorce papers. That story, the last of the three, is titled DEADLINE DIVORCE.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I’m a story teller, someone who writes to entertain and perhaps enlighten an audience of readers with an engrossing tale.  I named this collection DEATH CAN DELIGHT: A TRIO OF MYSTERIES because my purpose in writing the stories was to entertain my readers with wit, humor, drama, and surprises; as the title says, to delight them.  Their reaction and the book’s reviews suggest that the stories do that.

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4) What drew you into this particular genre?

The stories in the collection are murder mysteries.  I think almost every fiction writer plants mysteries of some sort in his/her work to keep the reader turning pages.  Murder, the whodunnit or whydunnit of that drastic act, provides the material for the most engaging mysteries with the highest stakes for the characters–and the reader–which is why book-stores shelves are packed with murder mysteries, All of my novels have a mystery at their core, several indeed murder.  My initial idea for JUDGEMENT DAY, about a judge everyone in town would kill if they could, led me to write it and then the other stories in the murder-mystery genre.  I don’t doubt I’ll be writing more stories in the same vein.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

 If I could sit down to converse with any character in the book, it might be Kyra, the sixteen-year-old high school student who narrates JUDGEMENT DAY.  I would want to know if the outcome of her and her family’s action against the judge, whom she had hated for a year, brought her satisfaction.  I have no doubt that what she ultimately did with that narration in the story’s surprise ending had to leave her “delighted.”

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Although I’m on Facebook [Joseph Amiel Author] and now Instagram [josephamiel9087], I would have to say that being able to communicate so quickly with my many followers on Twitter has been the most effective of the social media formats [@JoeAmiel].  Also I would guess that being able to get out the word, rather than waiting for people to find what I’ve posted, suits my personality.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

We live in an age when a neophyte author without an agent or an established publisher can put his/her work on Amazon and hope to develop a readership.  Crucial to continuing to write is believing that your work can be seen and not deposited in a desk drawer.  My advice about the actual writing is to do it, every day if possible.  One friend said he had a novel in him if he could only come up with the right first line.  I told him to start with the second line and just start writing–he would be rewriting everything anyway, probably even his precious first line.

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Full review on my website. Link in the bio.

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8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

As long as senility doesn’t set in, I’ll continue to write novels and short stories.  Story tellers have to tell stories.

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About the Author

Joseph Amiel is a novelist and screenwriter, as well as a lawyer. His novels include: HAWKS, BIRTHRIGHT, DEEDS, STAR TIME, and A QUESTION OF PROOF, which have been translated into over a dozen languages. His screenplay GAMES has recently been honored at several film festivals, as has his comedy series for the web AIN’T THAT LIFE.

He was graduated from Amherst College, where he studied English and creative writing, and from Yale Law School. He is married and has two children.

http://www.josephamiel.com/

In the Sun by Mixie Plum Review

A woman struggling with difficult news contemplates her future while looking at her past in author Mixie Plum’s novel, “In the Sun”.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

TRIGGER WARNING: THIS NOVELLA DEALS WITH THEMES OF DEPRESSION AND SUICIDE, AMONG OTHER THINGS. IF THESE SUBJECTS ARE DIFFICULT TO READ OR TRIGGERING, BE ADVISED. 

A woman struggling with difficult news contemplates her future while looking at her past in author Mixie Plum’s novel, “In the Sun”. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

A novella inspired from a life lived; almost lost, & lived again

The Review

This short novella is a beautifully written story expressing the hidden pain both physically and mentally many people suffer from, and the various ways that people cope or don’t cope with it. Whether it’s through a painful and heartbreaking decision or a wild and hilarious sense of humor that gets a person through each day, the story showcases the highs and lows of living with depression and through difficult circumstances in life. 

The author’s passion and emotional connection to the story are felt in every page. Written in a voice that speaks of honesty, humor and charm while delving into some of humanity’s darkest and most painful subjects and themes, the novella takes great strides to not only highlight the importance of mental health and being proactive about caring about the people in our lives who suffer from it, but about showcasing the very real circumstances in life that force our futures to be taken out of our own hands, no matter how desperately we try to retain control. As someone who suffers from depression myself and has advocated for mental health overall, I felt a deep connection to both the author’s own personal struggles and the story itself, and felt as invested as other readers will once they read this story.

The Verdict

Witty, charming and heartbreaking all at once, this is a must read novel that readers will not soon forget. It’s the kind of novel that leaves an impression long after it’s been read, and yet it’s something that everyone who can read it should read it. If you haven’t yet, be sure to pick up your copy of “In the Sun” by Mixie Plum today.

Rating: 8/10

https://www.instagram.com/abottleaplomb/

Material Value: More Sustainable, Less Wasteful Manufacturing of Everything from Cell Phones to Cleaning Products by Julia L.F. Goldstein Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

An in-depth study of how materials like plastic and metals are not only made, but how businesses can use new knowledge to extract these materials without any damage being done to human life and the environment as a whole take center stage in author Julia Goldstein’s book, “Material Value: More Sustainable, Less Wasteful Manufacturing of Everything from Cell Phones to Cleaning Products”. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis 

Have you wondered why gold is so expensive or why so little plastic packaging is recycled? This highly readable book with a unique perspective on environmental sustainability answers these questions and more.

Readers will learn:

How metals and plastics are made and what happens when they are recycled The challenges that manufacturers face when trying to make their facilities and products less toxic and less wasteful How manufacturers can extract the value of materials while doing less damage to human health and the environment The role of individuals, agencies, and governments in improving the use and reuse of materials How regulations can stifle or promote innovation How smart companies are embracing the triple bottom line–profit, people, planet–to yield creative solutions that make manufacturing safer and less wasteful Why some big corporations painted as evildoers deserve a second look. How reporting standards are making it easier to get a full picture of a company’s environmental footprint The author explains concepts clearly and concisely through compelling examples and personal stories. Hear the journeys of:

A business owner recycling scrap from airplane manufacturing A former geologist running a chain of donut shops Two entrepreneurs committed to improving e-waste processing An executive promoting social and environmental responsibility at a major electronics company A chemist developing safer cleaning products Consultants helping businesses embrace practices that save resources and money Other business professionals devoted to making the world a better place Concerned citizens with or without a background in manufacturing or business will find surprising answers to the questions facing companies as they work toward making better use and reuse of materials. Readers will come away with a new awareness of the steps they can take to help the business world succeed in making manufacturing more sustainable and less wasteful.

The Review

Not only is this nonfiction title informative and descriptive, but relates the knowledge of this specific field in a relatable way that is not difficult to understand, which is something that truly stands out from other textbook style novels. Using her expertise in the field and study of materials science, the author uses a mixture of personal anecdote, first hand accounts and detailed examples to drive the points she is making home.

From challenging the differences between companies who care about the environment and those who only worry about the perceived image of “sustainability”, to theories and visions of a specific plastic that in theory could capture carbon emissions, and in that same theory envisioning a field of trees made of this material in an effort to reduce the carbon in our environment, the author explores the ins and outs of the field in great detail, and gives both business owners, others in the field and interested readers a chance to really see what it takes to make a more sustainable and less wasteful manufacturing society as a whole. 

The Verdict

This is a must read for anyone interested in materials science and the more sustainable way to maintain a business in manufacturing. It’s through, intelligent and relatable all at once, and gives new and fresh insights into how to make our world safer yet retain a high end manufacturing business all at once. From studying how materials are made and the different elements of the periodic table that are required for said materials, to the safe practices that could be implemented to keep people and the environment safe, to mining operations of material and how various countries and their specific working conditions due to war, this novel explores it all. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of “Material Value: More Sustainable, Less Wasteful Manufacturing of Everything from Cell Phones to Cleaning Products” by Julia Goldstein today.

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Julia L F Goldstein holds a PhD in materials science and started her career as an engineer before migrating to journalism in 2001. She now writes white papers and other technical marketing content for companies manufacturing a wide variety of products. Julia is active in her local writing community and leads the Seattle chapter of the Nonfiction Authors Association. When she’s not writing, she enjoys playing flute and piccolo and participating in triathlons.

www.jlfgoldstein.com

Death Can Delight: A Trio of Mysteries by Joseph Amiel Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A short collection of stories brings about three mysteries that delve into the various motivations behind taking a life in author Joseph Amiel’s Death Can Delight: A Trio of Mysteries. Here is the synopsis:

The Synopsis

3 murderous mysteries! 3 mystifying murders! A trio of stories imbued with the wit, drama, complexity, and surprises that characterize author Joseph Amiel’s novels. 

In “The Girl Who Spoke Ventriloquism”, a U.S. army vet intent on killing a man who committed a vicious crime meets an enchanting violinist performing in a Killarney pub. She can’t speak but, oh, does he get an earful from her talkative friends! Their next stop: Ireland’s Charlie Chaplin Comedy Film Festival. 

“Judgement Day” centers on Kyra and P.B., teenage girls raised by lesbian moms who have been a couple all the girls’ lives—until P.B.’s mom walks out with her to marry a man! And not just any man, the one everyone in town would kill if they could. But some things should be kept within the family. 

In “Deadline Divorce” a billionaire divorces his wife just before the expiration of their pre-nuptial agreement, cutting her off without a cent. When hubby dies without a will and his now ex-wife stands to inherit nothing, her hustling lawyer swings into action. He hasn’t got a clue.

The Review

While a short read, the novel hits readers from the first pages as the character driven stories of murder bring the reader to attention. Exploring the motivations that drive people to murder, themes of passion, love, family and greed take center stage as the reader finds themsleves going back and forth between hating the victim and challenging the killer’s morality. 

The author does a fantastic job of questioning what, if anything, justifies death. While society cannot allow itself to condone murder, are there people in this world who deserve death? The author forces the reader to ask these questions and see the lengths these characters are willing to go to in order to exact their own form of “justice”. The buildup to the deaths is emotional and inviting as it allows readers to get to know the would be killers, and in the aftermath of the crime either readers will find themselves empathizing with the killer or killers, or shouting in frustration and shock as the true motivations are revealed. 

The Verdict

A novel of questioning morality and intense crime thrillers, the author really does a masterful job of creating memorable murder mysteries that will keep readers engaged and talking well after the stories end. An intriguing look into the crimes that often go unreported and the people who take it upon themselves to right wrongs, “Death Can Delight” is a masterful murder mystery short story collection that deserves to be read. Be sure to pick up your copy of Joseph Amiel’s novel today!

Rating: 8/10

About the Author

Joseph Amiel is a novelist and screenwriter, as well as a lawyer. His novels include: HAWKS, BIRTHRIGHT, DEEDS, STAR TIME, and A QUESTION OF PROOF, which have been translated into over a dozen languages. His screenplay GAMES has recently been honored at several film festivals, as has his comedy series for the web AIN’T THAT LIFE.

He was graduated from Amherst College, where he studied English and creative writing, and from Yale Law School. He is married and has two children.

http://www.josephamiel.com/

Written in Blood by Layton Green Review

A cop seeking a life of relative peace by taking a job in his former hometown in North Carolina finds horror when a gruesome murder teases the arrival of a serial killer in author Layton Green’s “Written in Blood”.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A cop seeking a life of relative peace by taking a job in his former hometown in North Carolina finds horror when a gruesome murder teases the arrival of a serial killer in author Layton Green’s “Written in Blood”. Here is the synopsis. 

The Synopsis 

Detective Joe “Preach” Everson, a prison chaplain turned police officer, is coming home. After a decade tracking down killers in Atlanta, and with a reputation as one of the finest homicide detectives in the city, his career derailed when he suffered a mental breakdown during the investigation of a serial killer who was targeting children. 

No sooner does Preach arrive at home in Creekville, North Carolina–a bohemian community near Chapel Hill–than a local bookstore owner is brutally killed, the first murder in a decade. The only officer with homicide experience, Preach is assigned to the case and makes a shocking discovery: the bookstore owner has been murdered in exactly the same manner as the pawnbroker in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. 

With the help of Ariana Hale, a law student and bibliophile who knew the victim, Preach investigates the local writer’s community. As their questions increase, a second body is found, this time eerily resembling the crime scene in a famous Edgar Allan Poe novella. Preach and Ariana realize that their adversary is an intelligent, literate killer with a mind as devious as it is disturbed–and one or both of them may be his next target.

The Review

The author has truly captured the serial killer thriller and classic “whodunnit” storytelling theme that has defined crime thrillers. The emergence of a disturbed serial killer with a penchant for literary based crime scenes immediately grips readers in a tight embrace as the investigation takes twists and turns the reader will never see coming. 

While the characters really provided the insight and emotion of the investigation, it was the setting that really captivated me in this story. As I lived in North Carolina for a number of years, not only did I feel personally connected to the location of the story, but the concept of a small town harboring the same level of deceit, crime and seedy underbelly that one would normally expect in a large city was truly fascinating to play out. We see this often in the novel reflected in the protagonist, as Preach sees the hard hitting criminal underworld setting he thought he left behind show itself throughout the investigation inside this seemingly peaceful small town, something many people are beginning to see in our world today.

The Verdict

This was a truly captivating read. Heart-pounding action and shocking character twists that will leave readers hanging off of the author’s every word, this is a must read novel in the crime thriller genre. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of the novel “Written in Blood” by Layton Green today. 

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Layton is a bestselling author who writes across multiple genres, including mystery, thriller, suspense, horror, and fantasy. He is the author of the popular Dominic Grey series, as well as other works of fiction. His novels have topped numerous lists (including a #2 overall Amazon bestseller) and have been nominated for major awards, including two finalists for an International Thriller Writers award. Layton is also the co-editor of International Thrills, the online magazine of ITW (International Thriller Writers).

In addition to writing, Layton attended law school in New Orleans and was a practicing attorney for the better part of a decade (even though he still resents having cut his hair for that first interview). He has also been an intern for the United Nations, an ESL teacher in Central America, a bartender in London, a seller of cheap knives on the streets of Brixton, a door-to-door phone book deliverer in Florida, and the list goes downhill from there. Currently based in Durham, North Carolina, Layton has traveled to more than sixty countries, lived in a number of them, and has a burning desire to see every country, city, beach, moor, castle, cemetery, twisted street and far flung dot on the map.

www.laytongreen.com

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Memoir From Hell by Stephen Ross Review

A young man begins the painful journey of recovery by sharing the gristly details of a hellish childhood that changed him forever in author Stephen Ross’ novel “Memoir From Hell”.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

TRIGGER WARNING: This novel contains story elements involving physical and mental abuse (including those involving children), as well as themes of domestic abuse. If these things are too upsetting or triggering for readers, reader discretion is advised.

A young man begins the painful journey of recovery by sharing the gristly details of a hellish childhood that changed him forever in author Stephen Ross’ novel “Memoir From Hell”. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

A child’s life should be idyllic: filled with friends, abundant joy, and carefree days of endless possibility. But that was not to be for Jake Malloy and his little sister, Dory. Their lives traversed paths upon which no child should tread.As a young adult trying to overcome the past, Jake chronicles the events that destroyed the possibilities and turned life for the Malloys into a living hell. Will Jake and Dory ever be able to lead normal lives? Only time will tell.A fictional memoir not for the faint of heart.

The Review

This is a painful yet important and well written novel. A top read contender for best literary fiction/drama/thriller, author Stephen Ross has expertly brought the heartbreaking reality of domestic abuse and childhood trauma to life. Studying the effects of abuse on the mind a young person who grew up in a truly harmful environment, the author creates realistic and relatable characters that bring the raw emotions of that situation to the forefront, instantly connecting with readers.

The themes and story elements of the story are both powerful and hard to read at times. Yet in this very quick read, the message that comes through has never been more important than it is today, as violence (especially violence against children and domestic violence), seems to be getting worse and more rampant, and the need for the laws to change have never been more apparent. 

The Verdict

This is an emotionally charged novel that needs to be read. Haunting and painfully relevant, this novel is a horror story that challenges the concept of monsters, as it proves that the true monsters are often hiding in plain sight, and could be hiding inside the people we should be able to trust the most. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of “Memoir From Hell” by Stephen Ross today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Stephen Ross was born in LeMars, Iowa, in 1948. He lived in Fremont, Nebraska, from the age of five until he left home to attend the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. After college, Stephen taught business courses at Nebraska Technical College for two years prior to moving to Los Angeles, California, to pursue an acting career.

During his eight years in Los Angeles, he not only acted, but gained extensive experience as a waiter. He moved to San Diego, California, in 1981 to attend law school at the University of San Diego, and practiced law there until retiring in 2017.

Website: www.stephenrossauthor.com

Facebook: StephenRossWriter

Twitter: StephenRoss48