Tag Archives: coming of age novel

A Reservoir Man by L.J. Ambrosio Review

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

A man struggles to find his place in the world through trials and tribulations as he comes to terms with his own internal identity in author L.J. Ambrosio’s “A Reservoir Man”. 

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The Synopsis 

Everywhere Michael turns he sees a Reservoir Man. Michael’s endless trials of survival include sexual assault, The Vietnam War, an arrest in Spain, Hollywood scandal, the AIDS outbreak, 9/11 and beyond. If only Michael could find the one thing he values most, his freedom. Michael’s coming-of-age is tarnished by many but the courage to live his truth may just keep Michael one step ahead…or will he succumb to the embraces of a Reservoir Man? 

The Review

This was such a moving and powerful coming-of-age story. The heartbreak and tragedy the protagonist goes through balances out with the tone of hope and awareness the author infuses into the narrative. The way the author hones in more on deep character development and the emotional core of the narrative over world-building was refreshing to see, as it allowed readers to really connect to the story in a personal way.

The characters of this story were truly the heart of the narrative. Michael’s story is so heartbreaking and his experiences encompass so many people’s own experiences in life, and yet his never-ending pursuit of acceptance, hope, and identity is the push forward to overcome those tragedies that so many of us are constantly seeking and the way the history and events that he lived through became the tapestry for which his story rose was incredible to read.

The Verdict

Heartfelt, engaging, and thought-provoking, author L.J. Ambrosio’s “A Reservoir Man” is a must-read coming of age story of 2022. The themes that the author explores, from betrayal and family to secrets and identity, become the perfect backdrop to the protagonist’s story and make the twists and turns in the narrative even more impactful. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today! 

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Louis J. Ambrosio ran one of the most nurturing bi-coastal talent agencies in Los Angeles and New York. He started his career as a theatrical producer, running two major regional theaters for eight seasons. He taught at over 20 universities in America. Ambrosio also distinguished himself as an award-winning film producer and novelist over the course of his impressive career.

Santiago: Chronicles of a Young Traveler by Eduardo Rios Lasso Review and Interview | Blog Tour

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

A shy and hesitant young man takes a giant leap forward to travel the world in search of himself and must contend with family, friends, and seeing someone in a new light as they struggle with their own issues in author Eduardo Rios Lasso’s “Santiago: Chronicles of a Young Traveler”. 

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The Synopsis 

Fresh out of college, 26-year-old Santiago has always longed to see the world, but his anxiety gets in the way. How can he possibly travel abroad if he feels sometimes heart-pounding pressure by simply riding a bus? But one day, after years of saving, Santiago courageously buys a ticket around the world. His parents think he’s crazy, but he takes a leap of faith and sets out alone. However, the world he had imagined was far from reality.

Meanwhile, Santiago finds out his best friend Laura, who could not join him on the trip, battles a recently diagnosed autoimmune disease. Will he regret his decision to leave her behind? Will their friendship survive or blossom into something more? On his journeys from New York to Lisbon, Paris to Sarajevo, and Istanbul to Bali, Santiago must overcome his shyness and open up his heart despite facing challenges, such as scams, and confronting complex issues like human trafficking. Join Santiago on a journey of self-discovery and adventure like no other.

The Review

This was such a heartwarming, cautionary, yet character-driven read. The way the author was able to capture the beauty and wonder of travel while also showcasing the dangers and struggles that come with it was so authentic and engaging to read. The themes of travel, anxiety and the journey that friendship often takes were so beautifully explored through Santiago as a protagonist, as well as Laura, and I felt myself feel connected to both characters and their struggles both apart and together. 

What stood out in this narrative was definitely the settings that the narrative took. The wide range of locations that Santiago went to not only expanded the personal growth that he underwent throughout the narrative but was brought to life in such vivid detail through imagery and tone that the different cities and places became characters all on their own. Yet it was how these locations taught Santiago about the world around him that made this story feel so relevant and important, especially when delving into the harsher aspects of international travel such as trafficking. 

The Verdict

Thought-provoking, exhilarating, and emotionally investing, author Eduardo Rios Lasso’s “Santiago: Chronicles of a Young Traveler” is a must-read coming of age and travel fiction narrative. The imagery and emotional depth of the experiences that drive Eduardo, as well as his growing relationship with Laura and all that she struggles with, felt both relatable and inspiring to read about. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

 Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Eduardo Rios Lasso emerged as a writer during his career as a medical doctor. Born and raised in Panama City, Panama, his journey has taken him around the globe to dozens of countries. Along the way, he found a passion for travel writing that seeks out positive life experiences while also sharing the common interests and challenges that bring different cultures together. Eduardo currently resides in Germany, where he is completing his training in Internal Medicine. SANTIAGO – Chronicles of a Young Traveler is his first book.

Website: http://www.zibarna.com

Instagram: http://instagram.com/e.rioslasso

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3NTV3pk

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/61134991-santiago-chronicles-of-a-young-traveler

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Interview with Author Eduardo Rios Lasso

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On writing:

How did you do research for your book?

  • Since this book is my first, I educate myself first on how to write a book. Every book that came to my hands about “how to write a book” was devoured by me. I also attended writers’ conferences to learn more about the different literature and writing genres. I touched on topics like prostitution and human trafficking, which was very hard to show in the book the way I wanted. I made my best effort for it. I interviewed people who work in NGOs with trafficked victims and with people who work as sex workers. Read and inform myself as much as possible about every topic I will discuss in the book.

Which was the hardest character to write? The easiest?

The hardest was probably Laura. Since I wanted (I hope I made it) to show her as a strong woman who could move forward despite moments of sorrow, I hope it can lead young girl readers to stay strong.

The easiest was Santiago. When I came up with the idea, I knew exactly how I wanted him to be.

In your book you make a reference to….how did you come up with this idea? What made you write a book about…?

  • I have always enjoyed writing. I could always communicate better through writing than speaking from a very young age. After being scammed while traveling a while ago, I decided that I would make a blog about traveling. My father has written books too, but law-specific things, so the idea of writing a book was something not strange to me. But the idea of writing this book came up one day when I realized I had just written too much for a blog. I originally planned. Back then was more of a non-fiction book. But then I started to learn how to write a book and how the publishing industry works. I was fascinated with all I could do writing a fiction book but inspired by real-life stories.

Where do you get inspiration for your stories?

  • From my own travel. The more I travel, the more stories and ideas come to me.

There are many books out there about….What makes yours different?

  • My book combines traveling with social issues affecting our cities and where a traveler can potentially make a big difference. And it is also directed to a younger audience.

What advice would you give budding writers?

  • If you don’t know how to write a book and you want. Start writing your idea as if you were talking with yourself; explain and try to convince yourself of what you write. On the way, your creativity will be unleashed. And read, read books; if you know what type of book you want to write, make sure you find excellent examples. And last, get involved in writing groups and get to know fellow writers who support each other. Prepare yourself for it.

Your book is set in (name place). Have you ever been there?

  • My book takes place in 14 different countries! And yes, I have been in every city mentioned in the book.

If you could put yourself as a character in your book, who would you be?

  • I could see myself as Adyn, the character that plays in chapters 7 through 9.

Do you have another profession besides writing?

  • Yes, I am a medical doctor; I work in internal medicine and emergency medicine in Germany, where I’ve lived for the last seven years. It happens that I love both traveling and writing combined. I want to establish myself now as a writer.

How long have you been writing?

  • Continuously since 2016.

Do you ever get writer’s block? What helps you overcome it?

  • Oh yes, I did!. Sometimes just wrote everything that came to my mind, even things that made no sense. Sometimes it did not work, and I had to stop and continue writing after 2-3 days, usually on a day that was not so stressful at work. It always works differently for every people; in my case, the less stress I had, the better I wrote.

What is your next project?

  • I am already working on the second part of Santiago. I am building the story arc of a family saga – more of a local story in Panama, fiction, but as always inspired by real-life stories. But probably the most significant project is to travel west and south of Africa and write a story about my connection as Latinamerican to Africa. That would be my first non-fiction book.

What genre do you write and why?

  • Fiction mostly! Because it allows me to do more, say more, and express more. I also love coming-of-age books because they can teach, inspire, or give a lesson. I am convinced that the generation of the 80s and 90s is our future. They are the ones who can make changes in our society.

What is the last great book you’ve read?

  • The last great book I read was Pachinko von Min Jin Lee. I loved it!

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?

  • That my writing to reach reader’s hearts!

How are you similar to or different from your lead character?

We both love traveling and have a strong desire to see the world but also to do good!

If your book were made into a movie, who would star in the leading roles?

Oh, excellent question! I have to think about Santiago, but Zendaya could do Laura! Hahaha, she is so talented!

If your book were made into a movie, what songs would be on the soundtrack?

  • Oh, I love this question, I would put high hopes by Panic at the Disco, Underdog by Alicia Keys, Love someone by Lukas Graham, Rude by Magic, Imagination by Shawn Mendes.

What were the biggest rewards and challenges with writing your book?

  • The most significant rewards were:
  • The learning.
  • Knowing that I could do it.
  • All the people I got to meet and be in touch with during all these years.

The challenges? Probably was the time since I had some demanding schedules at work and sometimes a little free time where I also had to study. With a lot of work, it somehow worked.

In one sentence, what was the road to publishing like?

  • Tough, very tough, and lonely sometimes.

What is one piece of advice you would give to an aspiring author?

  • To sit and write and believe you can do it, everybody has the potential to do it. It would help if you also have patience.

Which authors inspired you to write?

  • No one in particularly I must say. But I have been reading a lot lately and like a lot Matt Haig, Min Jin Lee and Ocean Vuong.

What is something you had to cut from your book that you wish you could have kept?

  • The scene when Santiago sold his old car to get more funds for his travel.

On rituals:

Do you snack while writing? Favorite snack?

  • Usually, there is only water, coffee, and nuts on my table.

Where do you write?

I can write in any room as long as I am in complete silence. I can write in groups and have done it. But the best of me comes when I am alone with myself.

Do you write every day?

  • No, sometimes I need days in between for an idea to mature.

What is your writing schedule?

Whenever my work schedule allows me. Usually in the evening and on the weekends. I write a lot when I am on vacation; late at night is my best time to be the most creative.

Is there a specific ritualistic thing you do during your writing time?

  • I just try to be relaxed and make sure I will have no distractions while writing.

In today’s tech savvy world, most writers use a computer or laptop. Have you ever written parts of your book on paper?

I write primarily on my laptop, but sometimes an idea comes to me on the street after seeing something as if it was a revelation. Then I need to write that on my mobile quickly before I forget or write it down if I have a notebook.

Fun stuff:

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

  • I have been thinking lately of going back to Bali

Favorite travel spot?

It constantly changes; right now, there is a tied between Lisbon and Paris.

Favorite dessert?

  • Crème brulée

If you were stuck on a deserted island, which 3 books would you want with you? 

  • My book SANTIAGO, because it represents to me many things together. A medical textbook, and the little prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you? The scariest? The strangest? 

  • So many have been funniest.

What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?

  • I hiked a mountain in Switzerland and hung literally from a cable over 1000 m high; the slightest mistake, and I was gone! Courageous, but now that I think, kind of scary too, since it was my first time hiking such mountains.

Any hobbies? or Name a quirky thing you like to do.

I enjoy going to the gym. I started recently with Crossfit, and I love it.

If there is one thing you want readers to remember about you, what would it be?

  • That my books are fun, but they also left them with a message that they could put into action at some point in their lives. Be more empathetic to other cultures, especially the ones different than them.

What is something you’ve learned about yourself during the pandemic?

  • Patience! That I need more patience!

What TV series are you currently binge watching?

  • The Korean version of Money heist

What is your favorite thing to do in (current season)?

  • Go for biking and swimming.

What song is currently playing on a loop in your head?

  • At the moment High hopes from Panic at the Disco! Just my mood now.

What is something that made you laugh recently?

  • A Patient at work.

What is your go-to breakfast item?

  • Coffee and Muesli.

What is the oldest item of clothing you own?

  • I tend not to keep clothes for a long time; I give them away after some time. But I still have a white shirt I bought ten years ago!

Tell us about your longest friendship.

My older sister! She has been there like a guardian since day one! Helping me through all my challenges, dreams, wishes, and all!

What is the strangest way you’ve become friends with someone?

  • On a plane!

Who was your childhood celebrity crush?

  • Think I really did not have , boring I know!.

Tiny Ruins by Nicole Haldoupis Review

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

A young woman struggles to understand her growing feelings and her identity as a bisexual woman in author Nicole Haldoupis’s “Tiny Ruins”. 

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The Synopsis

“The dahlias on Sara’s dress scrunched and stretched with her body as she spun on the grass and Alana couldn’t understand why no one else was mesmerized.” Tiny Ruins is a coming-of-age and coming out story that follows Alana, as she grows up, discovers, and tries to understand her bisexuality. Small windows offer us a glimpse of Alana’s memories, often fragmentary, fleeting, and touching. When she confides in her sister that she is attracted to girls, she is met with disbelief, and so the secret is kept and Alana continues as the outsider looking in.

The Review

This is a beautiful and emotional novella. The author has crafted quite an incredible and unique tale that comes in the form of snapshots of memories and events in the protagonist’s life. From the ups and downs of childhood to the hardships and struggles those in their teens coming to terms with who they are and the peer pressure to hide from everyone around them and so much more, this novella perfectly captures the growing up experience. 

The snapshot storytelling component really works here. Each page has sections that look like direct dives into the protagonist’s memories, speaking on random events and experiences that somehow come together to tell a cohesive character-driven narrative that captures so many different emotional beats. 

The Verdict

A short yet powerful and emotional read, author Nicole Haldoupis’s “Tiny Ruins” is a must-read novella. The story that evolves throughout the protagonist’s life is memorable and relatable, especially to anyone in the LGBTQ community who has ever had to deal with conflicting feelings and the journey of understanding who they are. From accepting her own sexuality to a conflict-filled relationship with her sister and the long journey into adulthood, this is a fantastic read that is not to be missed. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Nicole Haldoupis is a queer writer, editor, and designer from Toronto. She’s the outgoing Editor of Grain and a co-creator of untethered and Applebeard Editions. Her work can be found in Bad Dog Review, The Feathertale Review, Bad Nudes, and others. Her first book, Tiny Ruins (Radiant Press, 2020), is a novel made up of linked flash fiction pieces. Find her on Instagram and Twitter @nicolehaldoupis.

http://nicolehaldoupis.ca/

https://www.instagram.com/nicolehaldoupis/?hl=en

In the Key of Nira Ghani by Natasha Deen Review

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

A young girl with dreams of becoming a musician must contend with parents who have their own dreams for her life, complex friendships and struggles in school and her journey to discover her place in the world in author Natasha Deen’s novel “In the Key of Nira Ghani”. 

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The Synopsis

Nira Ghani has always dreamed of becoming a musician. Her Guyanese parents, however, have big plans for her to become a scientist or doctor. Nira’s grandmother and her best friend, Emily, are the only people who seem to truly understand her desire to establish an identity outside of the one imposed on Nira by her parents. When auditions for jazz band are announced, Nira realizes it’s now or never to convince her parents that she deserves a chance to pursue her passion.

As if fighting with her parents weren’t bad enough, Nira finds herself navigating a new friendship dynamic when her crush, Noah, and notorious mean-girl, McKenzie “Mac,” take a sudden interest in her and Emily, inserting themselves into the fold. So, too, does Nira’s much cooler (and very competitive) cousin Farah. Is she trying to wiggle her way into the new group to get closer to Noah? Is McKenzie trying to steal Emily’s attention away from her? As Farah and Noah grow closer and Emily begins to pull away, Nira’s trusted trumpet “George” remains her constant, offering her an escape from family and school drama.

But it isn’t until Nira takes a step back that she realizes she’s not the only one struggling to find her place in the world. As painful truths about her family are revealed, Nira learns to accept people for who they are and to open herself in ways she never thought possible.

A relatable and timely contemporary, coming-of age story, In the Key of Nira Ghani explores the social and cultural struggles of a teen in an immigrant household.

The Review

What a remarkable and moving coming of age novel. The author has expertly crafted a narrative that blends the hardships and struggles many young adults face growing up while also incorporating the added element of being in an immigrant household, showcasing the added pressures of having parents with a determined path for their future. 

Character growth is the shining star of this narrative. The author’s ability to create realistic, memorable, and relatable characters is truly incredible. The relationships between Nira and the supporting cast are enough to get the reader invested, but the emotional core of this story is between Nira and her grandmother, two kindred spirits who must navigate the journey of living out one’s dreams. Nira’s evolution as a character is fascinating to see unfold and is reflective of the true nature of a coming of age novel like this one. 

The Verdict

Beautiful, emotional, and well-written, author Natasha Deen’s “In the Key of Nira Ghani” is a must-read YA, coming of age novel. The story is lengthy yet engaging, keeping the reader invested wholly and completely. The shocking conclusion to the story and the journey of Nira makes this novel a one of a kind read, so if you haven’t yet been sure to grab your copy of this amazing book today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Natasha Deen’s family moved from Guyana, South America to Canada to escape the country’s political & racial violence. She loved growing up in a country of snow & flannel, but often felt out of place. Thank goodness for books that showed her being different could also mean being awesome. Natasha lives in Edmonton, Alberta with her family where she spends A LOT of time arguing with her cats and dogs about who’s the boss of the house. Visit her at www.natashadeen.com.

Remember, No Matter What; Chin Up, Tits Out by Miranda Oh Review

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

A young woman in love undergoes a life changing journey in author Miranda Oh’s “Remember, No Matter What; Chin Up, Tits Out”.

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The Synopsis

18 year old Hadley has led a charmed life, always knowing exactly what she wanted from it. She’d had her life distinctly mapped out in her head for as long as she remembered, but a chance meeting sends her into a tailspin…albeit a sensationally delicious one.

As she travels halfway across the world to fight for what’s hers, she stumbles time after time. It’s a journey of love, tears and learning; as she fights and attempts to overcome multiple hurdles standing in her way. 

The Review

This short and fast-paced read was engaging and dynamic from the very beginning. The author creates a unique coming of age story about a young woman who has a chance encounter that leads to a love story filled with ups and downs. The character dynamics and growth of the protagonist keep the readers entertained throughout the entire tale. 

While there is some crude language that would make this book more suitable to adults, this only enhances the character development of the protagonist overall. However, the only criticism I would have is in regard to the immigration process and the race relations of South Africa the author touches on. 

While the author does a good job of delving into this touchy subject in the background of the overall story, I would have liked to see a more rounded exploration of the subject from both points of view, to show there is a complex situation in South Africa and no one side is 100 percent right or wrong. However, this is just a minor thing that I personally would have liked to see play out in the larger narrative. 

The Verdict

A fast-paced and whirlwind coming of age story, author Miranda Oh knocks it out of the park with “Remember, No Matter What; Chin Up, Tit’s Out”. The story is unique and showcases the author’s unique tone and voice for storytelling, making this a must-read. Be sure to grab your copy today! 

Rating: 8/10

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About the Author

Author Miranda Oh Is your typical girl: She loves the sunset, loves long walks on the beach, world travels, and When not playing the corporate part she can be found sipping wine and spending all her hard-earned money on shoes.

Among her friends and family, Miranda Oh is known to be the storyteller of the group, always recapping crazy life stories and situations. Her personal experiences, emotions and fantasies are the inspiration for most of her books, so there is a little bit of her in every story.

“Remember, No Matter What: Chin Up, Tits Out” is the first of many novels you’ll be seeing from Miranda Oh.

Miranda’s work is sincere and heartfelt, sure to keep you up at night in more ways than one.

Make sure to click “Follow” on Miranda’s author page to follow her new releases.

Happy Reading!

XO

Longevity: The Wardens of Time by Caleb Smith Review

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

One young man’s journey of self-discovery leads to a world of magic and danger in author Caleb Smith’s novel Longevity: The Wardens of Time. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

Noah Thomas is a scrawny seventh grader who is bullied to the brink in his new town. Friendless, except for sassy tomboy Wendy Sherman, who seems to lend him the confidence he needs to stand up to his oppressors. Upon stumbling into a bookshop one afternoon while on the run from some teenaged tyrants, Noah is hurled into an unexplainable adventure. Noah learns that the bookshop does, in fact, lead to the Akashic Records – a place that holds all spirit lives recorded in tablets of light. With this new found knowledge, Noah begins to grow in wisdom and confidence to face his fears. His biggest challenge comes in the form of five demonic spirits that he accidentally lets loose from a lost tablet. Will Noah succeed with the help of his guardian angel cat he calls Keeper, or will all Hell’s henchman prevail?

The Review

This YA Paranormal/Coming of Age story was an incredible read. The author does a marvelous job of blending the struggles of a young middle school child struggling with his status as an outsider and being bullied with the magical and mythical circumstances he finds himself in throughout the book. Noah is a very relatable and heartbreaking character. In an age where bullying and even cyber-bullying are at an all time high, Noah’s struggle with the bullies at his school and it’s affect on his life was an emotional struggle that readers will be able to hone in on. Meanwhile Noah also struggles with maintaining his first real friendship with Wendy, while also coming of age and discovering his independence while dealing with a worried single mother and no father to help guide him through the hardships of life.

While children will identify with Noah and his adventures, parents will immediately love Noah’s mother and Wendy’s father as they both serve as single parents struggling to raise children on their own. Meanwhile the paranormal element of the story helps illuminate Noah’s real life struggles by giving him a taste of heroism and showing the power that stories and words really have in this world. Delving into the lore of a surprising mythology, the story turns to a classic yet epic battle of good vs evil, and what happens when a small, frightened young boy grows into an adult and becomes the protector he was always meant to be. The writing here was well done, using the mythology told throughout the story to paint a fantastic image of what ancient forces descending on a small town would really look like.

The Verdict

Overall I loved this story. The characters and story really did an amazing job of drawing me into the book and created a fantastic new YA mythology that has the potential for far more stories in the franchise. It’s a story of finding hope, discovering your inner strength and standing up to the bullies and evil of the world around you. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of Longevity: The Wardens of Time by Caleb Smith, available for pre-order now and set to release on October 25th, 2018.

Rating: 8/10

Check out the Author’s Facebook page down below, as well as a special giveaway happening for the book on Goodreads!

https://www.facebook.com/calebsmithauthor/ 

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/enter_kindle_giveaway/284681?utm_medium=api&utm_source=giveaway_widget