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

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Interview with Author N. Lombardi Jr.

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

Born and raised in New York City, I left to see the world at age 24 as a water engineer in the Peace Corps. For most of my life, I had never entertained the idea of becoming an author. My career as a groundwater specialist kept me busy enough, filled with both adventure and satisfaction with my job. However, while in Kenya I fell in love with a woman, and this relationship was doomed from the start. As a kind of catharsis, I began to write a semi-autobiographical story which became Journey Towards a Falling Sun. As I said, it was the need to purge my emotions that drove me, without immediate plans for publishing, as I was in the prime of life as regards to my vocation. But in 1985, I did manage to get an agent who was very enthusiastic over the manuscript. After fifteen rejections by big publishing houses, however, I gave up and shelved it, abandoning any thoughts about being a writer. It wasn’t published until 30 years later.

In 1996, while working in Laos, I learned of the secret war that the US conducted for 9 years, and resulted in the aerial bombardment that has given that country the dubious distinction of being the most heavily bombed country of all time. As an American, I was ashamed of my ignorance of this matter, for I had never known of this secret war. I was so moved, I decided I would write an epic novel that would illustrate the consequences of that war which became The Plain of Jars, released in 2013. And from there my path as a writer began.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

The idea for Justice Gone came from a true incident – the fatal beating of a homeless man in California. It was such an outrageous act, recorded on video and uploaded to YouTube, that I wondered what would happen if someone who saw the gruesome video would mete out their own version of justice to the police officers involved.

The novel then, is a tale of what happens in a small town following the fatal beating of a homeless Iraqi war vet at the hands of police. A cascading series of events, from street protests to a vigilante shooting of three police officers leads to a multi-state manhunt for the vet’s war time buddy. A controversial trial attracting nationwide attention dominates the second half of the novel. The story ends with a twist revealing the identity of the cop-killer

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

Although deaths at the hands of law enforcement officers disturb me, I tried to avoid taking too strong a stand against the police, and just presented a possible (albeit extreme) scenario if this issue is not addressed. I also wanted readers to have a detailed look at the legal system in the US, i.e. the importance of lawyer tactics on both sides of the bench and of jury sentiment in deciding a case.

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4) What drew you into this particular genre?

First of all, I don’t consider myself a genre writer, I just write about things that move me. Having said that, as a reader I do enjoy mystery/thriller/suspense/crime, so I may be writing more of this kind of fiction from now on. It is much easier to write this sort of stuff than cross-cultural adventure novels such as my first two books, The Plain of Jars, set in Laos, and Journey Towards a Falling Sun, set in Kenya.

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

I would have to say, the policemen that beat Jay Felson to death – Why, when he was unarmed, did it take 6 cops to bring him down and beat him till he died?

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

I’m really not active in the social media scene, so I would have to say Goodreads, despite the fact I find Goodreads a bit exploitive and disdainful of independent authors. As a reader, it is pretty good. I tried Facebook, but it isn’t focused enough and being an old fart, I’m mistrustful of Twitter. I love book bloggers, thank god for them!

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

Although it sounds cliché, the first thing is to write well. Many independent authors, particularly those who self-publish, write with a quality barely above a high school student. You don’t have to be a wordsmith, but the book should not sound stilted. Read passages from a book by an acclaimed author than read your stuff. How does it compare?

Secondly, unless you’re with a big publishing house, be prepared to market your work. You should have a budget of $2,000 for this, even if you are very active on social media, because it’s always better for someone else to tout your book than you as the author. That means reviews, which can only result from exposure.

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

I’m in the process of fine-tuning another Tessa Thorpe novel, Woman in the Shadow. It takes place several years prior to the setting of Justice Gone, and is considerably darker, more of a psychological/suspense thriller. I actually wrote this before Justice Gone, but I was disappointed with the publisher’s reaction to it so I shelved it. Directly related to this, I’m looking for another publisher, so I hope it doesn’t take too long for the book to come out.

My MacArthur by Cindy Fazzi Review & Blog Tour

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

Author Cindy Fazzi tackles one of the United States most prominent military figures and the mysterious love affair he had with a young Filipino woman in the highly acclaimed novel, “My MacArthur”. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

The year is 1930. The place: Manila. Douglas MacArthur is the most powerful man in the Philippines, a United States colony. He’s fifty years old, divorced, and he falls in love at first sight with a ravishing young Filipino woman. He writes her a love note on the spot. Her name is Isabel Rosario Cooper, an aspiring movie actress. One glance at his note and she thinks of him as “my MacArthur.” 

MacArthur pursues his romantic obsession even though he’s breaking numerous taboos. She reciprocates his affection because he could open doors for her financially struggling family. When MacArthur is appointed the U.S. Army chief of staff, he becomes the youngest four-star general and one of America’s most powerful men. Out of hubris, he takes Isabel with him to America without marrying her. Amid the backdrop of the Great Depression, their relationship lasts until 1934. After four years of relationship, MacArthur leaves Isabel for fear of a political scandal. 

The general goes on to become the iconic hero of World War II, liberating the Philippines and rebuilding Japan, while Isabel drifts in Los Angeles unable to muster the courage to return to Manila. 

The Review

As a fan of history and looking past the curtain of fame to see the true people these historical figures were, I found this story truly fascinating. A fictional story about a true love affair, the often explosive, raw and destructive affair between the famed General MacArthur and the young aspiring actress Isabel makes for a powerful and engaging read.

It truly was interesting to see the famed military leaders fascination and love for the Philippines, and the author did a wonderful job of bringing the setting to life on every page. The blend of Philippine and American cultures shone through in every chapter, and set the affair in a whole new light as the two broke taboo after taboo in both countries in order to be together. 

The Verdict

This is a must read novel, and a fantastic example of historical fiction that is so well written that it could easily be reality. Giving a voice to an era and to people who have remained mysterious in their relationship with one another for decades, it was truly interesting to see the chemistry between the two, both the good and the bad. If you have a fascination with history, Filipino culture or fantastic writing overall, then you need to grab your copy of My MacArthur by Cindy Fazzi today.

Rating: 10/10

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Print Length: 285 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Sand Hill Review Press

ISBN: 9781937818968

My MacArthur is now available to purchase on Amazon.com as an e-book (and print) as well as at Barnes and Noble.

About the Author

Cindy Fazzi is a Filipino-American writer and former Associated Press reporter. She has worked as a journalist in the Philippines, Taiwan, and the United States. My MacArthur, published by Sand Hill Review Press, is her literary debut. She writes romance novels under the pen name Vina Arno. Her first romance book, In His Corner, was published by Lyrical Press in 2015. Her second romance novel, Finder Keeper of My Heart, was published by Painted Hearts Publishing in 2018. Her short stories have been published in Snake Nation Review, Copperfield Review, and SN Review.

You can find Cindy at –

Check out the rest of the My MacArthur tour and all of these other incredible sites!

Find the perfect gift for everyone on your list with the Barnes & Noble Gift Guide.

— Blog Tour Dates

November 5th @ The Muffin

What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Stop by Women on Writing’s blog and read an interview with the author Cindy Fazzi and enter to win a copy of the book My MacArthur.

http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com

November 6th @ Coffee with Lacey

Get your coffee and stop by Lacey’s blog where she share her thoughts on the book My MacArthur. 

http://coffeewithlacey.wordpress.com/


November 7th @ Beverley A. Baird’s Blog

Stop by Beverley’s blog and find out what she thought about Cindy Fazzi’s book My MacArthur. This book is sure to entice historical fiction readers everywhere!

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

November 8th @ The Frugalista Mom

Stop by Rozelyn’s blog and catch her thoughts on the historical fiction book My MacArthur.

https://thefrugalistamom.com/

November 9th @ The Frozen Mind

Grab a blanket and stop by the blog The Frozen Mind and read their thoughts on the incredible historical fiction book My MacArthur.

https://thefrozenmind.com/

November 11th @ Bring on Lemons

If life hands you lemons, read a book! Come by Crystal’s blog Bring on Lemons and find out what she had to say about the book My MacArthur.

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

November 13th @ Mommy Daze: Say What??

Want to know what this mom had to say about the book? Stop by Ashley’s blog and read her thoughts on the historical fiction book My MacArthur.

https://adayinthelifeofmom.com/

November 16th @ Amanda’s Diaries

Find out what Amanda had to say about Cindy Fazzi’s historical fiction book My MacArthur in her review today.

https://amandadiaries.com/

November 16th @ Chapters Through Life

Stop by Danielle’s blog where she spotlight’s Cindy Fazzi’s book My MacArthur.

https://chaptersthroughlife.blogspot.com/

November 19th @ Madeline Sharples Blog

Be sure to catch today’s post over at Madeline’s blog author Cindy Fazzi shares her tips for writing fiction about a famous person.

http://madelinesharples.com/

November 20th @ Let Us Talk of Many Things

Visit today’s blog where you can catch Cindy Fazzi’s post on overcoming prejudices against romance writers.

https://ofhistoryandkings.blogspot.com/


November 21st @ Mam’s Rants and Reviews

Stop by Shan’s blog where she shares her thoughts on the historical fiction book My MacArthur.

https://shanelliswilliams.com/

November 25th @ The World of My Imagination

Catch Nicole’s review of the book My MacArthur and find out what she had to say about this fantastic book.

http://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com

November 26th @ Break Even Books

Stop by the Break Even Books blog and read Cindy Fazzi’s article on the pros and cons of using a pen name.

https://breakevenbooks.com/

November 28th @ Charmed Book Haven Reviews

Visit Cayce’s blog and check out her thoughts on the book My MacArthur by Cindy Fazzi.

https://charmedbookhavenreviews.wordpress.com/

November 29th @ Memoir Writer’s Journey

Start your journey today at Kathleen’s blog Memoir Writer’s Journey where author Cindy Fazzi talks about the challenges of writing different genres.

https://krpooler.com/

November 30th @ Joyful Antidotes Blog

Want a joyful way to start your day? Stop by Joy’s blog where she reviews the incredible historical fiction book My MacArthur.

https://joyfulantidotes.com/

November 30th @ The Uncorked Librarian

Make sure you stop by Christine’s blog and read what she thinks about the book My MacArthur.

https://theuncorkedlibrarian.com

December 1st @ Charmed Book Haven Reviews

Visit Cacye’s blog again and read her interview with author Cindy Fazzi.

https://charmedbookhavenreviews.wordpress.com/

December 2nd @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Start your morning out right by reading Anthony Avina’s review of the book My MacArthur. 

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

December 2rd @ 2 Turn the Page Book Reviews

Visit Renee’s blog when she reviews Cindy Fazzi’s book My MacArthur and interviews the author.

https://2turnthepagebookreviews.blogspot.com/

Book Excerpt:

Douglas MacArthur. Her pulse quickened as she read the name. His neat handwriting exuded confidence, but just the same, his note struck her as an anomaly, a mistake. The white man who acted as his messenger stood next to her at the bar. 

Men of all ages filled the Olympic Boxing Club, waiting for the fight to begin. Filipinos, Americans, and Europeans caroused and mingled freely here, unlike the Elks or the Army and Navy Club, which banned Filipinos. The foreigners sat at the tables, drank Cerveza San Miguel, and smoked cigars. The Filipinos stood at the cheap section of the club, jostled and bet among themselves. 

“I’m Captain Ed Marsh, by the way.” The messenger extended his hand.

An American officer in civilian clothes. It was Saturday night, after all. 

“A pleasure to meet you, sir.” She shook his hand, but withheld her name. 

Isabel Rosario Cooper came to the club in search of her brother, or rather his car. She needed Ben to drive her to the Manila Carnival. 

Women didn’t come here because they didn’t watch boxing, so when she stepped inside the club, she’d grabbed everyone’s attention without trying. The men had erupted in whistles and cheers. The crowd had parted as she crossed the room. Just the way she liked it. She was born to part crowds—to turn heads. For an aspiring actress, every place was a stage. 

Who knew MacArthur sat amid the boisterous horde? She read the note again. I can’t help but notice your gracious presence. I would love it if you can favor me with your company. Please join me for dinner at The Grand.

This time, the words made sense. Not a blunder on his part or a misinterpretation on hers. The message hit her like a jackpot—bigger than the Carnival Queen title that her best friend, Nenita, aimed for. He was the most important man in the Philippine Islands. He could open doors for her and her family. 

She stopped herself from blurting out a yes!  She couldn’t afford to give herself away. Nothing compelled a man to pursue a woman more than her lack of interest. 

“Who’s Douglas MacArthur?” She stood with the note in one hand and her silk purse in the other hand. Chin up and chest out, despite the sweat underneath her lace blouse. Her skirt squeezed her waist and constricted her breathing, but she’d worn it because it displayed her figure. The stifling humidity now made her regret her choice. Even the garter belt and stockings itched in such heat. 

“You’ve never heard of Douglas MacArthur?” His eyes widened. 

She shook her head. A saxophone wailed, distracting them both. They turned toward the elevated boxing ring—empty. Below it, a band warmed up. 

Captain Marsh offered her a pack of Lucky Strike. “Care for a cigarette?”

“Why, thank you.” She tucked her purse under her armpit and took one stick, which he lit with a lighter. They stood side by side, watching the band.  

“Do you see the gentleman in the middle?” He pointed at a table not far from the band. “White suit. Gray-striped tie. Do you see him?”

“Yes.” 

“That is Douglas MacArthur.” 

The man stared at her while smoking a long-stemmed pipe, the bowl shaped like a corncob. He didn’t smile. The band played a jazz-style rendition of a Filipino folk song. The audience, packed ten deep, hooted and screamed for the fight to begin, but MacArthur didn’t even blink.

She glanced at his note again before inserting it in her purse.  “This is nice. But I don’t know him.”

“It’s unbelievable. You really don’t know him?”

She shook her head and shifted her weight to one hip. 

“He’s the Big Cheese!”

She arched her eyebrow.

“Major General MacArthur is the most powerful American not just in the Philippines, but in Asia.”

She took a drag on her cigarette. “I know what big cheese means, thank you.”

MacArthur stood out in his expensive suit, slicked-back hair, and intimidating pipe, but he was as old as her father, if not older. His title was commander of the U.S. Army’s Philippine Division, though everyone treated him like a king. 

He stared with a cool expression, pretending to be uninterested. The man was an actor. Perhaps they were not too different.

You Dear Sweet Man by Thomas Neviaser Review

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

A fascinating blend of science fiction, fantasy and real world advertising create a unique and exhilarating read in author Thomas Neviaser’s novel You Dear Sweet Man. Here’s the synopsis:

In an attempt to bring his fast food company back to the heights of success it previously enjoyed, a CEO decides to change its image to include a healthy food venue.

The use of a sophisticated, beautiful, adult film model as the centerpiece of the ad and two youthful computer nerds, specializing in holography and animation, leads to a most intriguing and ingenious advertisement ever invented that only responds to vibrations of whatever vehicle on which it is attached; hence, an exciting yet subtle motion to entice viewers to concentrate on the company’s message.

The Ultimate Advertisement!

Of course, there are antagonists who are trying to sabotage the efforts of the company, but these attempts are thwarted through the devious and innocent maneuverings of the computer wizards.

The model’s temper leads to revenge when her suggestions for the ad are repeatedly rejected by the CEO and board members, and she secretly uses her sensuality and paranormal skills to telepathically force the creators of the ad to produce ads to include unhealthy food images such as burgers and fries. She invents an alter-ego to serve as a replacement for herself in these ads; however, there is one component missing. To finalize her ad, there is a need to add a contrasting overweight and unattractive man. To find that person, the alter-ego must leave the ad, become a human image, and succeed in seducing such a man to return to the ad with her.

In the end, she uses his hunger for a burger and fries to coerce him into entering the ad. As he does, he finds himself in an unexpected predicament from which there may be no escape. As a result, she considers the ad complete, falsely believing the ad will exist forever.

This story is like Mad Men and Black Mirror combined into one whirlwind of a show. The story is told from many different angles, from the fast food company desperate to revitalize their business to the overworked average Joe who falls into a fantasy world with the company’s model and the two tech whiz’s who bring the technology to life. The story does a great job of highlighting how easily manipulative ads can be and the way people can get sucked into fantasy worlds when their lives are so full of unexpected and unfulfilling things.

I loved the story itself. It was well written, and did a great job of exploring every aspect of the plot. The characters were sometimes relatable, sometimes annoying and always engaging, just as people in our daily lives are. The added sci-fi and fantasy element to this otherwise drama story was very fun to see unfold.

Overall I loved the story. Author Thomas Neviaser does a phenomenal job of creating an engaging and thoughtful read while entertaining audiences through every page. The story was evenly paced and did a great job of fleshing out it’s roster of characters. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copies of You Dear Sweet Man today!

Rating: 9/10

Links for my Books:

You Dear Sweet Man: https://www.amazon.com/YOU-DEAR-SWEET-Thomas-Neviaser/dp/0976018527/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498314450&sr=8-1&keywords=thomas+neviaser and  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/you-dear-sweet-man-thomas-neviaser/1126599897?ean=9780976018520

The Way I See It: A Head-to-Toe Guide to Common Orthopaedic Conditions 

http://www.amazon.com/Way-See-Common-Orthopaedic-Conditions/dp/0976018519/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1451428717&sr=8-1&keywords=neviaser

The Comb in the Urinal: And other Perplexities of Life

http://www.combintheurinal.com/

Man’s Unofficial Guide to the Use of His garage:

http://www.mans-garage-guide.com/

Wrecking Balls by Joe Giambrone Review

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

Friends become rivals in the cutthroat world of stand-up comedy in author Joe Giambrone’s Wrecking Balls. Here’s the synopsis:

Set in the world of stand-up comedy, Charleston and Gary are on the verge of comic greatness: broke, wasted, and floundering through life. As Charleston turns 30 he faces an existential crisis. His comedy career in the gutter, he considers leaving the life. That is until Gary pilfers one of his joke ideas. Then it’s comedy Jihad to the death, and there can be only one. 

Reviews: 

“A fun read, J. Giambrone has a talent for edgy humor, emotional baggage and quirky characters.” 

-Tome Tender Book Blog 

“I laughed, cringed, and overall found it a fast and enjoyable read… I’m so happy this book fell into my hands. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a good laugh. You won’t be disappointed.” 

-Theresa on Goodreads

Now a fair amount of warning for this book: this is not a book meant for the faint of heart. Geared towards an adult audience, expect a lot of strong language and jokes that some might consider offensive. However one thing that I think is tackled well in this story is what should and shouldn’t be considered inappropriate in our society. There are definitely areas that don’t need to be joked about or made light of, and there are some areas of comedy that come across as abusive or offensive in today’s world. However there are times where our need to find and root out social injustices go too far, and a crude yet simple joke could be twisted into a far more sinister thing than it originally was. This novel explores that a lot yet without making it obvious that it does so.

The novel itself is filled with a great insight into the minds of not only comedians or competitive people in general, but into the minds of those who are so desperate to be remembered that they are willing to do anything to get there. The surprising thing about this book is just how vicious the rivalry gets between the two friends. The author does a great job of mixing the war games between the two comedians with a helpful dose of character development, as we get brief glimpses into aspects of Charleston’s character that a lot of people will be able to identify with. Most notably we witness a man who begins to question the path he put himself on. A man who begins to wonder whether his dreams and all the work he’s put towards said dream are enough to win the day, or if it was all for nothing. We’ve all been in that headspace before, and it’s interesting to see this character wrestle with that kind of mind game while fighting for comedic glory in his professional life.

Overall this was an enjoyable read. A must read for any adult readers out there interested in the behind the scenes aspect of stand up comedy, be prepared for a sometimes funny, sometimes dramatic and often vulgar filled adventure. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copy of Joe Giambrone’s Wrecking Balls today!

Rating: 8/10

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B073HQYKHP/ref=x_gr_w_glide_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_glide_bb-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B073HQYKHP&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

Joe Giambrone

j.giambrone@live.com

 http://www.joegiambrone.us

Blog:

https://jgiambrone.wordpress.com

@joegiambrone

Book Blitz: Better Than This by Author Tia Souders

 

Better Than This
By: Tia Souders

Releasing February 13th, 2018
Clean Reads

Blurb

What can keep a dream alive?

 

Before the car accident that changed everything, Samantha Becker was a happy and loved little girl. Ten years later, Sam, now 18, lives under a dark cloud—largely ignored by an alcoholic mother who never recovered from her loss and ruled by an overbearing father who blames Samantha for the family tragedy. And yet, the troubled teenager has a dream that keeps her going, and an extraordinary musical talent that could take her all the way to Julliard…and far beyond.

 

Following her heart, however, means defying her father, who has his own plans for his daughter’s future.  Then, in the wake of another devastating personal catastrophe, her dream is irreparably shattered, and in her pain and anger, Samantha acts out recklessly. But her salvation could come from a most unlikely trio: a handsome college student, a hopeful little boy…and an older neighbor woman whose caring and secrets will change Sam’s world forever.

 

A powerfully moving addition to the ranks of superior YA fiction, Better Than This by Tia Souders joins Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park, Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why, the novels of John Green, and other prime examples of contemporary teen literature.  Souders tells the heartbreaking, yet ultimately transcendent story of 18-year-old Samantha, whose remarkable musical abilities could be her escape from a family devastated by tragedy and steeped in guilt, sadness, and recrimination. But when a terrible accident seems to destroy her dreams for the future, Sam discovers a new path forward and new hope when she becomes involved with a remarkable young boy and his grandmother, a caring older neighbor who guards a secret that will change the troubled teenager’s life forever.

Cover

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37930697-better-than-this

Buy Links:    Amazon

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078WW6L5X

 

 

Author Info

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Tia Souders is the author of bestselling women’s fiction novel, Waiting On Hope and the upcoming award-winning young adult novel Better Than This (formerly titled Freedom Road). When she isn’t writing, she’s likely renovating their century home. She’s a wine-loving, coffeeholic, with a sweet tooth and resides on a farm in rural Ohio with her husband and children.

 

Author Links:  Website | Facebook | FB Street TeamInstagram

Website:  http://www.tiasouders.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/tiasoudersauthor/

Facebook Group/Street Team: https://www.facebook.com/groups/359632431141710/

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/tia.s.writes/

 

 Music.jpg

Excerpt

My mother crashed into the kitchen, knocking over the wine glasses nestled on the hutch. Mumbling something incomprehensible, along with accusations that someone rearranged the furniture, she stumbled and fell. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the raised knife poised again above the apple.

My father said I shifted my hand on the island, distracted by my mother. A totally plausible explanation—if it were true.

My eyes widened as I stared down at the halved fruit, now drenched in my blood. The pain came in startling, pulsing waves until my entire hand felt as though it was engulfed in flames.

My heart threatened to crash through my chest, as I struggled to comprehend what happened. I vaguely recalled screaming in the background. Where it came from, I’m still unsure. Possibly me, or my mother. I barely noticed my father’s panicked voice as it rang in my ears, nor did I feel it when he squeezed the dish towel over my hand.

I don’t recall moving. I don’t remember speaking or moaning in pain. All I remembered is the sight of the blood-stained cloth shifting, noting the missing finger, and thinking This is my fretting hand.

Music2

Interview with Tom Starita

I had the pleasure to speak with author Tom Starita, author of the book “Growth and Change Are Highly Overrated”. Check out some of the amazing things he had to share with us.

1) What was your inspiration for Growth and Change Are Highly Overrated?
A) We’re going way back to the weekend before Valentine’s Day in 2013. It was the lowest point of my entire life. I was alone and I had the flu. Not just the flu, like the worst flu in the history of modern medicine. I’m actually in the Weehawken Journal of Medicine because my strain was so rare and severe. 

 

When I finally awoke from a three-day coma late Friday night I was starving. I looked outside my bedroom window and saw eight inches of snow. No big deal. The falling snow looked straight out of a Bob Ross painting and as I gazed out I appreciated the beauty of the situation. I leaned forward to appreciate the beauty even more and saw my car had been buried by the plow. 

 

I would not be going out for food. 

 

No matter, I wasn’t in any condition to drive so I made my way to the kitchen to find a takeout menu. I began dialing the Chinese place on the corner when I noticed the time on my microwave said 11:30pm, thus killing my dream of takeout.

 

Okay, okay, it’s not the end of the world. I’m not the best of cooks and I’m not in the mood to cook but I was starving so I opened my fridge and found the absence of food. I looked in the freezer and found empty ice cube trays. I opened cabinets and found shadows where boxes once stood. At that moment I realized I had hit rock bottom. I was sick, alone and in danger of starving to death.

 

I also realized that this would be a great way to start a book! So I dragged my decaying body to the computer and started typing. That’s when Lucas James’ voice appeared crystal clear in my mind and I just kept typing.
2) What would you say is Lucas James biggest driving force in this book? 
A) Himself. He has one long term goal, rock n roll immortality and is blind to everything else. That means he has no short term goals other than attaining his one long term goal. That means he lives hour to hour, day to day figuring out how to turn whatever situation he’s in to his advantage.
3) What theme do you hope your book embodies to the readers?
A) That there are shitty people in this world and there’s nothing you can do to change that. Sometimes people fall into the trap of dating someone, or befriending someone who is toxic and will only bring doom and misery into your life. This book is about what happens when you don’t walk away from the doom.

OR if you’re an optimist…

It’s about trying to succeed at life, on your terms. Consequences be damned.
4) What inspired you to become an author?
A) I was seduced by the thought of being paid to make things up. Anyone can be a liar, but a professional liar? That’s something.
5) If you could sit down for a meal or drink with Lucas James, what would you ask him?
A) That’s a great question! First of all I would know in advance that I’m paying. If I wanted to act high and mighty I would ask him if he realizes the damage he causes to the people who care for him? Of course that would lead him to get defensive and the dinner would end right then and there.

If I wanted to shoot the breeze with him I’d ask what’s the first thing he’ll do when he officially becomes a rock god.
6) What social media tool or site has been the most beneficial to building a readership?
A) Facebook has been my best friend. It’s an easy way to connect with people and convince them to like my author page for updates. *cough* @TomStarita* cough
7) What advice would you give to any aspiring writers out there?
A) That you have chosen the hardest path for survival and to have a backup plan. That success is limited and victories are fleeting. But the moment you hold something that you created in your hands is one of the best feelings in life. You’re guaranteed to live forever.
8) What are your future plans? Any new books on the horizon?
A) My current plans are to do anything and everything to introduce Lucas James to the world. After that it’s see where the tide takes me. I have ideas that are percolating around right now but nothing imminent. I think the next goal is to write a script. When I’m on my deathbed I’d love to know that I wrote books, created a cartoon, putzed around a podcast and wrote a movie. 

I just want to end this by saying that my sister recently came down with a nasty cough. She went to the doctors and was told that antibiotics wouldn’t work in a situation like this. It’s too far deep into the metacurlis lining of the lungs. Obviously my sister was upset and asked if antibiotics wouldn’t work what would? He placed her chart down on the counter, took a deep breath and removed his glasses.

This made my sister even more nervous.

“Tell me doctor. What can we do?” He looked her dead in the eyes and said,

“Your brother has to make the New York Times Best Seller’s List for his book, “Growth and Change Are Highly Overrated.”

If you don’t want to buy my book I understand. It might not be for everyone. But think of my poor sister. Coughing. Buy my book for her.

Please?
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