Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley by Carol Es Review

One woman’s harrowing journey through a tumultuous childhood and the back and forth struggle between living a “normal life” and being indoctrinated into Scientology comes to life in author Carol Es’s novel “Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley”.

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

TRIGGER WARNING: THEMES AND STORIES INVOLVING ABUSE, SEXUAL ASSAULT, DRUG USE AND SUICIDE ARE FEATURED IN THIS NOVEL. READER DISCRETION ADVISED.

One woman’s harrowing journey through a tumultuous childhood and the back and forth struggle between living a “normal life” and being indoctrinated into Scientology comes to life in author Carol Es’s novel “Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley”. Here is the synopsis. 

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The Synopsis

Six houses, five apartments, three motels, a Hollywood mansion, and a small vegetable farm. Moving 16 times before the age of nine is enough to screw with any kid’s head. Living with an unstable family, a mentally abusive mother, and enduring years of neglect and sexual molestation left Carol Es believing she was inherently bad. At 14, she decided to ditch a rootless, dysfunctional family circus, seeking something that might make her a better person.

She thought she found her answers in Scientology, but she thought wrong.

As a self-taught artist, writer, and drummer, Carol maintained an unbreakable bond with her passions as a means of survival. She exhibited her art and played music tirelessly in bands on Sunset Boulevard and the LA circuit. She toured the US and Canada, signed with Sony Music, but all the while, she’d been conditioned to hide and deny her own mental illness in order to stay true to the doctrine of L. Ron Hubbard—a man who claimed psychiatric treatment was an evil hoax.

In her book, Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley, Carol explains how it was even possible to be both brainwashed and live “normally” in the world of contemporary art and rock n’ roll.

After a tumultuous childhood and 20 years in the cult, Carol Es takes a huge stride out of fear and silence by sharing her true vulnerabilities and intense experiences. With gallows humor and a unique perspective, she invites readers into her confidence, laying bare her most raw and intimate revelations on her seemingly endless search for self-worth as a woman. In conversational prose, she manages to embrace the horrifically sad scenes of her past, her biggest embarrassments, and finds absurdities one can only laugh about through tears.

Illustrated with crude sketches throughout, Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley is a courageous, relatable story that will keep you turning pages to the very end.

The Review

This has got to be one of the most detailed and emotionally powerful books of not only an ex-Scientologist, but of a survivor in general. Having overcome so much hardship and struggles in her life, author Carol Es has delivered an emotionally driven, informative and down to earth retelling of the events that shaped her life, and her journey to overcome those experiences. 

While I will reiterate that his novel has some powerful themes and stories that can be triggering for some (and should not be read by anyone who is triggered by these stories or children), the story is one everyone should get an opportunity to read. The life led by the author has elements many people can find a way to relate to. Whether it’s the abuses she survived, the indoctrination in Scientology, (one of the biggest cults currently running in the world), a troubled childhood and family life and coming to terms with that while dealing with loss, the highs and lows of the music industry, and even those struggling with autoimmune illnesses like MS and Lupus, this novel has something most readers will be able to relate to and identify with. 

The Verdict

This is a must read novel of 2019. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say it’s a top contender for best nonfiction and top read of 2019 on my website. It’s has humor infused in a natural way, while also incorporating emotionally charged stories that not only showcase the worst of humanity, but also shows the power of resilience and fighting for a brighter, better tomorrow. An in-depth analysis of Scientology as well, viewers of the show conducted by former Scientologist Leah Remini or former scientologists themselves will be shocked, surprised and relieved to see someone give such an accurate and powerful account of what life in this organization is truly like. If you enjoy powerful memoirs, real life accounts of life inside of a cult and stories of overcoming great odds to find a brighter future, then grab your copy of Carol Es’s novel “Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley” on April 6th, 2019. 

Rating: 10/10

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Author Bio

Carol Es

Carol Es is a self-taught artist, writer, and musician born in Los Angeles. Using a wide variety of media, she is known for creating personal narratives that transform a broken history into a positive resolution. Her paintings, drawings, installations, videos, and books have been exhibited nationwide in venues such as Riverside Art Museum, Torrance Art Museum, Lancaster Museum of Art and History, and Craft Contemporary in Los Angeles. Some of her works can be found in the collections at the Getty and the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC. Her collaborative film was also featured in the 2015 Jerusalem Biennale. 

Awarded many honors, including several grants from the National Arts and Disability Center and California Arts Council, she is a two-time recipient of the ARC Grant from the Durfee Foundation, a Pollock-Krasner Fellowship, and the Wynn Newhouse Award. She has written articles of art critique for the Huffington Post and Coagula Art Journal, as well as having poetry published with small presses. She also received a writing grant from Asylum-Arts—a Global Network for Jewish Culture.

Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley

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Mental Health Awareness is a subject I get very passionate about. One thing that has helped me advocate for this cause has been my partnership with BetterHelp, a fantastic website that allows you to seek the help you need. If you seeking advice on the best online therapy websites, then click the link below and find the help you are looking for today!

https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/therapy/what-are-the-best-online-therapy-sites

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Elemental Series by Toni Cox Free Book Giveaway & Preorder News

LUKE – Book 4 of the Elemental Short Stories by TONI COX

Brought to Elveron by his Elven mother, Luke must learn how to make a living amongst the Elves as a Human. Thrust into the middle of a war between the Elves and the Vampyres, Luke’s education in medicine secures him a position as a Healer.

He is tested to his limits to save the people he loves, but once the war is over, he realises his adventure has only just begun.

At the mercy of a fierce, red dragon; a wily, old court Healer; and a wilful princess, Luke embarks on a journey that will change his life forever.

Coming April 2019 – Pre-order NOW!

Haven’t read the series yet? Download ON FIRE, book 1 of the Elemental Short Stories, for free for the month of March 2019.

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About Toni Cox

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Born in Germany in 1976, Toni Cox moved to South Africa in 1991. Although she has spent much of her working career in the timber wholesale business, she is also an accomplished horse rider, has a diploma in project management, photography, and nutrition, and has a passion for books and all things fantasy.

From a young age, her dream had always been to put her imagination into words – give the stories life. When she was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in 2013, she decided life is too short not to follow her dream. So, with the support of her husband and three children, she began writing book 1 of the Elemental Trilogy in January 2015.

Toni Cox writes: Epic Fantasy – The Milky Way Chronicles (including The Elemental Trilogy), Young Adult Fantasy – (including The Elemental Short Stories), Sci-Fi Fantasy – The Andromeda Saga, Fantasy – The Dragonlore Series, Dystopian Fantasy – these are set on Earth, the first one (Resilient) will be released in 2019).

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Louisiana Latte by Rebecca Henry Review

Two sisters on a business trip find themselves reminiscing about their lives and discovering who the other truly is in author Rebecca Henry’s self-described chick-lit comedy, “Louisiana Latte”.

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

Two sisters on a business trip find themselves reminiscing about their lives and discovering who the other truly is in author Rebecca Henry’s self-described chick-lit comedy, “Louisiana Latte”. Here is the synopsis:

The Synopsis

Deb hadn’t flown in over 20 years. In 1989, at the age of 22, Deb was enrolled at Griffiss Airforce Base to become a commercial pilot. Somewhere between dating her yuppie fiancé and planning their wedding in Chicago, Deb developed claustrophobia—a fear of enclosed spaces. I blame the yuppie. Deb couldn’t get on a plane for love that day, but she could do it 20 years later for money. Money was worth dying for.

The Review

If you are looking for a humorous, quick-witted whirlwind story, then this is the book for you. The story follows Deb and her sister Becky, who travel to a business conference in Louisiana. Twenty years earlier, Deb found her career as a pilot over as claustrophobia took over. Now in the present, Deb is a self-described diva with an all consuming need for the finer things in life, even forgoing paying bills in order to have the latest handbag or jewelry. Meanwhile her sister Becky juggles being in awe of her confident and good spirited sister and the responsibility of running a business together and being a full time mother and wife as well. 

The story does a marvelous job of infusing humor into Deb’s incredible outgoing personality while showing the intimate moments from both fo the sister’s lives that define not only their relationship, but each other as well. Along the way Becky finds herself discovering exactly why her sister is the diva that she is, and finds a woman with more heart than anyone could have imagined.

The Verdict

This short read is a must buy book. A funny and feel good chick-lit comedy like no other, the story flows smoothly and creates a unique bond between Becky and Deb that is rarely felt in novels, and yet will feel real and familiar to many families out there. If you enjoy a hilarious and quick witted comedy, then be sure to grab your copy of “Louisiana Latte” by Rebecca Henry on February 28th, 2019. 

Rating: 8/10

https://rebeccahenryauthor.blogspot.com/

About the Author

I am a newly published author with one novel released and another book coming out for publication, in February 2019. I am also a world traveller, living abroad. I have many interests and hobbies in life, besides my greatest passion of all, my family. I am also a vegan, gardener, crafter, and I practice yoga regularly.

Treading the Uneven Road by L.M. Brown Review

Author L.M. Brown delivers a powerful collection of short stories that explores the connected lives of several people living in a small village in Ireland during the 80’s and 90’s in her upcoming book, Treading the Uneven Road.

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

Author L.M. Brown delivers a powerful collection of short stories that explores the connected lives of several people living in a small village in Ireland during the 80’s and 90’s in her upcoming book, Treading the Uneven Road. Here’s the synopsis.

The Synopsis

The stories in this linked collection are set in a small village in the Northwest of Ireland in the early 1980’s and 90’s. A by-pass around the village has rid them of their once busy traffic. The residents feel forgotten by the world. The need to reach out and be heard is explored in every story, from the young woman who starts to have phone conversations with her husband’s gay lover, to the dyslexic man who confronts his cruel teacher years later. 

The collection is not only about the characters need for salvation but it is about a society that is unraveling. In Amends, we hear about the Bishop who has fathered a child. A priest is beckoned by a dying man to be mocked. The world inside and outside the village is changing. In every story the characters need to make a choice on how they might carry on.

The Review

This is a fantastic short story collection. Filled with heart, passion and fantastic character development, the story flows naturally and makes for an even paced series of stories that build this village’s life in unique ways. Exploring this unique time period and showing off some of the many problems people living in Ireland faced on a daily basis was an inspired choice, highlighting the changing world around them and how some people accepted this change, while others fought it wholeheartedly. 

From the hostility towards anyone who comes out or is found to be gay in a very religious community to the trouble that comes from  parenthood and how some people aren’t made to be mother’s or father’s. Exploring marriages, friendships and everything in between, this emotional roller coaster of a short story collection is truly unique and brings some heartfelt struggles to life.

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The Verdict

This upcoming collection is a must read 2019 book. An interesting journey of individuals with their own personal struggles and how those struggles affect others really shone brightly in the novel. Amends in particular is one short story you won’t want to miss, as the story takes readers into shocking directions and forces the reader to ask themselves how our elders prejudices affect us, and how they can affect others. If you haven’t yet, be sure to preorder your copy of L.M. Brown’s “Treading the Uneven Road” today (or grab your copy of the book if it’s already released)!

Rating: 8/10

https://www.amazon.com/Treading-Uneven-Road-L-Brown/dp/194438880X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1548732149&sr=1-1&keywords=9781944388805

Justice Gone by N. Lombardi Jr. Review

An emotionally and politically charged thriller like no other, author N. Lombardi Jr. is set to release one of the most relevant and headline grabbing novels of the year with his upcoming release, Justice Gone.

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

An emotionally and politically charged thriller like no other, author N. Lombardi Jr. is set to release one of the most relevant and headline grabbing novels of the year with his upcoming release, Justice Gone. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down. A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr. Tessa Thorpe, a veteran’s counselor, is caught up in the chase. Donald Darfield, an African-American Iraqi war vet, war-time buddy of the beaten man, and one of Tessa’s patients, is holed up in a mountain cabin. Tessa, acting on instinct, sets off to find him, but the swarm of law enforcement officers get there first, leading to Darfield’s dramatic capture. Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and ageing blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. Can they untangle the web tightening around Darfield in time, when the press and the justice system are baying for revenge? Justice Gone is the first in a series of psychological thrillers involving Dr Tessa Thorpe, wrapped in the divisive issues of modern American society including police brutality and disenfranchised returning war veterans. N Lombardi Jr. is the author of compelling and heartfelt novel The Plain of Jars.

The Review

My first reaction to this novel was simply…wow. Between the relatable and attention grabbing characters to the heartbreaking and straight from the headlines story and the vivid imagery, this novel truly came to life in ways few novels are ever really able to get to. The issues discussed through the character’s struggles, from homelessness and racism to police brutality and neglecting the needs of those suffering from mental health struggles (most notably in this novel war veterans), made this novel feel not only gripping and engrossing, but important.

The complex issue of right and wrong takes center stage as readers have to not only see the horrible crimes the police are able to commit against citizens, but the tragic cycle of violence that occurs when these issues are left unchecked. I recently saw an interview in which a student remarked that what’s moral and ethical is not always what’s legal, and this novel really brings this sentiment to life. At what point do we start standing up to immoral acts that are protected by technically legal tactics? Do we as a society share any responsibility for crimes committed due to these injustices or the lack of care for those suffering through traumatic mental health struggles? That’s what this novel delves into as the mystery behind the brutal killings of three cops slowly but surely get untangled throughout the book.

The Verdict

This is a must read novel of 2019! Full of edge of your seat twists and turns and a story that touches on the pulse of our current society, this novel excels in every way, delivering a story full of heart and emotion that doesn’t always pair with a good thriller, but in this case it does and then some. If you haven’t yet, be sure to preorder your copy of Justice Gone by N. Lombardi Jr (or grab your copy if you’re reading this after February 22nd, 2019), today! 

Rating: 10/10

Justice Gone is the first in a series of psychological thrillers involving Dr. Tessa Thorpe.

Publication Date
February 22, 2019

GOODREADS LINK:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40398725-justice-gone

NETGALLEY:

https://www.netgalley.com/catalog/book/152931

Amazon link – 

Author Bio


Author Nick Lombardi Jr. has spent over half his life in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, and he speaks five languages. An event in California in 2011 in which a homeless man was beaten to death lead Nick to write his newest novel, Justice Gone. Nick now lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. 
Online: FacebookAuthor Website

Previous Titles from this author
Journey Towards a Falling Sun (9781782794943), Roundfire, 2014. 

The Plain of Jars (9781780996707), Roundfire, 2013.

Categories
FICTION (General)(FIC031030) -> Thrillers (General)(FIC031030) -> Legal(FIC031030)
FICTION (General)(FIC022040) -> Mystery & Detective (General)(FIC022040) -> Women Sleuths(FIC022040)
FICTION (General)(FIC031010) -> Thrillers (General)(FIC031010) -> Crime(FIC031010)

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Legal Reserves by James Rosenberg Review

Three friends who made it through law school and settled into their post-law school lives find themselves forced into a legal battle like no other in author James Rosenberg’s “Legal Reserves”.

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

Three friends who made it through law school and settled into their post-law school lives find themselves forced into a legal battle like no other in author James Rosenberg’s “Legal Reserves”. Here is the synopsis.

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The Synopsis

A significant trial looms.

The two lawyers and the judge all have major reasons to worry: Jeri Richards, a newbie judge, is presiding over her first trial concerned she is too inexperienced to handle it. Mike Reigert, the plaintiff’s attorney, must try his biggest case because his client refuses the department store’s huge settlement offers–just to make sure that what they did to her won’t ever happen to anyone else. The company’s attorney, Jack Rogers, is told that he must win this trial or face banishment from his law firm.

If that weren’t enough, the three of them have been best friends since their first day of law school.

Back then, they were the cream of their law school and thought their legal careers would involve nothing but success . . . . Now, they aren’t so sure.

Jeri adored her two friends in law school. They helped her overcome the trauma of almost being raped. After graduating, she prosecuted the scum that preyed on the weak and became the youngest judge in her county.

Mike was planning to work in Geneva stopping international terrorism, but his uncle convinced him to help in his small practice in a sleepy town outside of Pittsburgh. Mike itches for more responsibility and finally comes to represent a woman mercilessly chained to a table until she confessed to a crime.

Jack craves the big money he would make if he became a partner at his huge law firm, and is willing to do anything to make it happen.

Now five years after graduating from law school they are thrown back together on opposite sides of a trial where Mike’s client seeks to regain her life while Jack will not stop to make sure the company prevails.

Jeri watches as the battles between her two buddies escalate until she has to intervene to protect the life of one of her friends. 

The Review

This is the perfect read for anyone who enjoys a good legal thriller novel. The story does a marvelous job of blending the real life legal system and the intricacies of it all with this fantastic character development between these three friends and the struggle to find their place within the legal system. 

The book does a great job of blending the past with the present, showing the friends who met in law school and the journey they went on to get into their legal professions. Mike’s good nature and belief in justice clashes with Jack’s hungry need to be the best and is balanced by Jeri’s love for them both and the love she has for law and order. The author writes with an expertise that speaks to the highs and lows of studying and practicing law, giving this thriller a sense of authenticity that not every legal thriller can have. 

The Verdict

This is a must own legal drama/thriller that you have to read to believe. A story of corruption, justice and the impact the practice of law can have on three friends make this a truly compelling read. Full of shocking twists and turns, this book is so edge of your seat good that by the final pages you will be left hanging on every word. If you are looking for a great legal drama to read this holiday season, be sure to preorder your copy of Legal Reserves by James Rosenberg or grab your copy when it releases on December 18th, 2018. 

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Rating: 10/10

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Audrey’s Magic Nine Book Two: The Pencil and the Dream by by Michelle Wright, Courtney Huddleston (Illustrator), Tracy Bailey (Illustrator), Francesco Gerbino (Illustrator) Review

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

Audrey’s incredible journey continues in author Michelle Wright’s “Audrey’s Magic Nine Book Two: The Pencil and the Dream”. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

In Audrey’s Magic Nine: Book 2 the unwavering Audrey Hinkle proves that an extraordinary imagination cannot be easily vanquished. Even as she continues her quest to discover all nine magic puppets and defeat an evil queen in another realm, she finds that Earth provides its own set of challenges, requiring the sort of creativity and ingenuity that only Audrey can conjure. As she faces bullies, posers, carnies, and a terrifying enchanted dog, Audrey transforms hardship into unconditional love and acceptance through the power of her art. In the process, the truths of her time in foster care reveal themselves, and though Audrey faces the difficulty of these revelations, her fierce individuality helps her stay her course. Critically acclaimed for its originality, charm, and stunning art, Audrey’s Magic Nine, introduces readers to a dauntless heroine who encourages her audience to indulge fearlessly in creativity. Featuring over 140, full-color pages and bonus short stories Audrey’s Magic Nine: Book 2 celebrates whimsy, innovation, and the artist in us all.

The Review

The story of a young girl adjusting to life as an adoptive daughter while trying to help find a group of puppets who are in reality heroes and members of an elite council from another world, who were banished by an evil witch who dubbed herself the queen of the realm. The illustrations are beautiful as they highlight the protagonist’s dual life of saving these magical beings and learning what it’s like to be a daughter in a loving family for the first time in her life. 

The protagonists’s strength and will are something everyone can admire. Embracing her mission and bonding with parents she never thought she could have, the story highlights the struggles of children lost in the foster care system and the adjustment that comes with finding a family. Mix that with the often hilarious and always magical fantasy elements of the core story, and young readers everywhere will fall in love with Audrey’s tale. 

The Verdict

This was a fantastic sequel to this children’s book. Filled with action, humor and creative storytelling filled with important life lessons and themes of family and hope, this book built upon the first book immensely and solidified the growing mythology of Audrey and the Magical Nine. By book’s end, the mystery behind why Audrey is connected to these beings and how she got into the foster care system to begin with will be answered, and it will leave readers on the edge of their seat, eager for book three to be released. Be sure to preorder your copy of Audrey’s Magic Nine Book Two: The Pencil and the Dream today.

Rating: 10/10

Perfect for holiday gifting – Buy Online, Pick-up at your local Barnes & Noble store within an Hour!