Tag Archives: coming of age

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!.

The Orphan Witch by Paige Crutcher 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 who’s spent her life alone discovers the possibility for a family she never thought she’d have, but finds her untapped potential for her powers and an ancient family feud all tie together with an ancient curse in author Paige Crutcher’s “The Orphan Witch”. 

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The Synopsis

A deeper magic. A stronger curse. A family lost…and found.

Persephone May has been alone her entire life. Abandoned as an infant and dragged through the foster care system, she wants nothing more than to belong somewhere. To someone. However, Persephone is as strange as she is lonely. Unexplainable things happen when she’s around—changes in weather, inanimate objects taking flight—and those who seek to bring her into their family quickly cast her out. To cope, she never gets attached, never makes friends. And she certainly never dates. Working odd jobs and always keeping her suitcases half-packed, Persephone is used to moving around, leaving one town for another when curiosity over her eccentric behavior inevitably draws unwanted attention.

After an accidental and very public display of power, Persephone knows it’s time to move on once again. It’s lucky, then, when she receives an email from the one friend she’s managed to keep, inviting her to the elusive Wile Isle. The timing couldn’t be more perfect. However, upon arrival, Persephone quickly discovers that Wile is no ordinary island. In fact, it just might hold the very things she’s been searching for her entire life.

Answers. Family. Home.

And some things she did not want. Like 100-year-old curses and an even older family feud. With the clock running out, love might be the magic that saves them all.

The Review

This is such an incredible and rich story. The first thing that struck me as I really delved into this narrative was how the theme and atmosphere took on a perfect harmony of magick, fantasy, and metaphysical fiction that really spoke to me. Not only are the more fantastic and fictional aspects of the narrative really entertaining, but the mind-bending settings and ideas explored in the narrative, including moving between worlds and different realities altogether, and how magick can bleed into the cosmos as a whole, are all ideas that I myself have been studying and exploring in my own life over the last couple of years, and it was great to see how the author implemented this notion while still creating engaging characters and captivating narratives. 

The heart of any magical and fantasy-driven narrative has to be character growth. Persephone is such a complex and heartbreaking (and relatable) protagonist. The heart of her character’s arc is definitely the journey to find love (both familial and romance separately), as well as the journey to find acceptance and our own inner power, a power that can cause others to fear you when it is something beyond their understanding. In the end, her journey will take readers to a thought-provoking truth, which is what the true meaning of love is.

The Verdict

A masterful, enlightening, and thoughtful read, author Paige Crutcher’s “The Orphan Witch” is a must-read magick-filled fantasy read. The perfect way to begin the fall and spooky season, this is a reality-bending and life-and-death deep-dive into the fabric of our universe, and what the cost of love really means. With a heartfelt ending and plenty of world-building that would leave room for more stories in the future, this is not a novel readers will want to miss. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Paige Crutcher is the author of THE ORPHAN WITCH. Her work appears in multiple anthologies and online publications, and she is a former Southern Correspondent for Publishers Weekly. She is an artist and yogi, and when not writing, she prefers to spend her time trekking through the forest with her children, hunting for portals to new worlds.

Year of the What? By Jennifer Lieberman 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 reeling from a romantic betrayal finds herself ditching her “good girl” lifestyle and instead going on an adventure of sexual discovery in author Jennifer Lieberman’s “Year of the What?”. 

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The Synopsis

Dana has only been with one man and hasn’t given herself a chance to explore her own curiosity. She feels ashamed of her desires, and keeps trying to squash them in order to be a ‘good girl’. Her roommate, Kelly, on the other hand, has none of Dana’s hang-ups.

Kelly is unabashedly promiscuous, with an off the charts IQ and a full ride to NYU. But Kelly can’t stand the monotony of school, so she drops out to become a dominatrix and pursue an alternative lifestyle where she makes ‘lawyer money’ working in a dungeon in Chelsea.

After months of searching in vain for Mr. Right, Kelly’s lust for life and insatiable quest for adventure finally rub off…Dana embarks on an outrageous adventure of sexual discovery where she finds her inner power and confidence, all while taking charge of her erotic exploration. Through her exploits Dana realizes she will never find what she is looking for, until she finds herself.

The Review

I absolutely loved this novel! This coming-of-age, adult-oriented women’s fiction novel pushes the envelope in the best way possible. The narrative explores the theme of female sexuality and allowing readers to glimpse a much-needed story that shows women being free to explore their own sexuality freely without judgment that often overtakes our society’s view on women and sex. 

The balance of character development and humor is what really sells this novel’s story. The protagonist, Dana, is not only someone that a lot of readers can identify with, but her bond with her more free and sexual friend Kelly and the various men and women she meets throughout her sexual journey really felt both funny and relatable. The panic and fear that comes from not having had any sexual exploration before are felt early on in this novel, and the openness for which Dana frees herself to explore more really felt like a triumph that overcame the sexual judgment so many have placed on our society.

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The Verdict

A masterful, sensual, and humorously entertaining read, author Jennifer Lieberman’s “Year of the What?”, is a must-read novel of 2021! The character growth and humor really draw the reader in, and the overall theme of female sexuality and freedom really made this story feel both relevant and innovative in the face of a history of male sexual oppression. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Jennifer Lieberman is from Maple, Ontario, Canada and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from York University in Toronto. Jennifer has appeared in over thirty stage productions in Toronto, New York City, Los Angeles, Europe and Australia; including her Award-Winning Solo Show Year of the Slut, which was adapted into to novel “Year of the What?” In addition to her performance career she has penned a number of screen and stage plays including the wacky web-series “Dumpwater Divas” and the short films “Leash” and “Details” which both screened at the Festival De Cannes’ Court Métrage among other international film festivals. Other books by Jennifer include “Make Your Own Break: How To Master Your Virtual Meeting in Seven Simple Steps” and “Make Your Own Break: How To Record & Publish Your Audiobook In Seven Simple Steps.”

http://www.jenniferliebermanactor.com/

https://www.instagram.com/yearofthewhatnovel/

https://www.bookbub.com/books/year-of-the-what-by-jennifer-lieberman

Roller Rink Starlight: A Memoir by William Hart

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

Author William Hart takes a look back at an important time in his life when he joins a male and female led team of roller skaters, and in the process learns the pitfalls of romance, love and life in general in this coming of age style sports memoir, “Roller Rink Starlight”. 

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The Synopsis

William Hart’s true coming of age memoir begins when at fourteen he joins an amateur roller racing team comprised of both sexes and loaded with RSROA national champions. A varsity sprinter in track, he soon excels at speed skating.

Insiders know roller rinks are conspiracies to turn singles into couples.

The main storyline follows Hart’s early education in romance—piquant, humorous, harrowing, and laced with major life lessons. The setting: Wichita, Kansas, early 1960s, when the sexual repression of the 50s still prevails, except in rare zones of marked liberation. Adults have their watering holes, teens the rink, where they can experiment with their budding sexualities. Immersed in powerful mood music they glide in pairs through darkness under stars and make out in the bleachers. Falling in love is ridiculously easy, as we see in the adventures of teammates, parents, and certainly the author. Hart fell hard for a gifted racer, his kindred spirit, costar of many of his most indelible memories.

This sports memoir about love and roller skating chronicles poignantly the ecstasies and perils of 60s high school romance against a backdrop of flat-out athletic competition.

Roller Rink Starlight is nostalgic nonfiction for seniors and educational nonfiction for young adults interested in love and sex in another time.

The Review

A fantastic and in-depth look into the life of a young man coming into his own and discovering life one step at a time, the author does a wonderful job of drawing the reader in with insightful looks into his own life and creative writing that makes the book feel like both a memoir and an original story all at once. The ease in which the author writes paints a visual image in the reader’s mind, transporting us all back to that era in the 1960s and watching the young man’s life unfolding before our eyes.

What really sets this memoir apart however was the way the author wrote the book itself. It seemed at multiple times that the author was not just retelling the story, but almost conversing with his younger self, reflecting on the important moments of his life and how he’s learned from them since. It immediately clear when he begins retelling his interaction with a young classmate named Gretchen, and how her actions during her high school years led to some major changes in her life and impacted the author as well second-hand. This was a brief glimpse into the rest of this narrative, and yet it felt like it set the tone immediately for the coming-of-age aspect of this book.

The Verdict

An insightful, engaging, and wildly descriptive yet narrative memoir, author William Hart’s “Roller Rink Starlight: A Memoir” is a must-read nonfiction story. The author’s discovery of life, love, and romance, and everything in between is so beautifully written, and the author masterfully engages the reader on both a nostalgic and thought-provoking level. Whether the author’s words reflected a similar time in the reader’s life or spoke to the road not taken, this was a read that shouldn’t be missed, so be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

William Hart is a novelist and poet living in Los Angeles. After earning a doctorate in English from the University of Southern California, he taught college writing courses in LA and wrote. Now he writes–fiction mostly–while helping produce the documentaries of filmmaker Jayasri Majumdar, his wife. Hart’s work has appeared in several hundred literary journals, commercial magazines, newspapers, and anthologies, and fourteen books. A pair of one-hour documentaries from Hartfilms aired nationally on PBS, the latest receiving Emmy nominations.

The Fiddler In The Night by Christian Fennell Review

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

A young teen must navigate rural America and stay one step ahead of a ruthless killer in author Christian Fennell’s “The Fiddler In The Night”.

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The Synopsis

Christian Fennell’s, The Fiddler in the Night, is a return by the author to the raw, abstract, and visceral landscapes set forth in his critically acclaimed collection of short stories, Torrents of Our Time. In his debut novel, Fennell takes the reader on an orphaned teen’s journey through the darker recesses of rural America–horrifying, yet compelling–where he tries to stay one step ahead of a ruthless killer. A tragic love story unfolding against a background that is both real and imagined, making this novel as memorable for its language as for its non-stop and blistering storyline.

The Review

A haunting and beautiful story of love, loss, and the journey in between, author Christian Fennell has done an amazing job with his debut novel. His almost poetic way of telling the story really strikes at the heart of rural America, and the way the author writes allows enough room for the reader’s own imagination to go to work, bringing this story to life in their mind.

The cat-and-mouse storytelling is the perfect backdrop to the novel’s two core elements: beautiful imagery and depth-filled character growth. The story of a young teen in search of his missing mother after his sick father passes away set against a deadly killer stalking the darkness around him is a chilling scene, to begin with, and the journey these characters take is elevated by the in-depth look into the heart of rural America. 

The Verdict

A harmonic, artistic style of storytelling at its finest, author Christian Fennell’s “The Fiddler in the Night” is a must-read book for 2021. A thought-provoking narrative and awe-inspiring poetic storytelling are perfectly encapsulated by the author’s deep character development and emotional story. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of the author’s debut novel today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Christian Fennell is the author of the critically acclaimed collection of short stories, Torrents of Our Time, Firenze Books, October 6, 2020, and the novel, The Fiddler in the Night, Firenze Books, January 26, 2021. 

Christian’s essays and short stories have appeared in a number of international magazines, literary journals, and collected works, including: Chaleur MagazineLitro Magazine, XRAY Literary Magazine, Dreamers Magazine, Spark: A Creative Anthology, Kind Writers Anthology, Liars’ League London, Wilderness House Literary Review, and .Cent Magazine, among others. He was a columnist and the fiction editor at The Prague Review. Prior to this, Christian worked as a screenwriter and commercial director (DGC).

https://www.christianfennell.com/

https://www.instagram.com/christianfennell_/

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

Interview with Author P.A. Kane

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

I grew up in a small three bedroom/one bathroom house with my parents and nine siblings in Buffalo, New York. Presently, I live in a suburb of Buffalo with my wife and three college age children, who don’t seem to want to leave.

As far as how I started to write. I went through a pretty aimless period after high school where I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do and was in and out of college.  Finally, in my early twenties I started read in a pretty serious way—stuff like Kerouac, Philip Roth, the poetry of Anne Sexton—which led me to want to give writing a shot. Problem was by the time I was all read up I was in my late twenties and had the pressure of trying to keep a roof over my head and a pretty serious girlfriend, whom I would eventually marry and have children with, so I had to shelve the writing thing. But when the kids got older and needed me less, I started to get up before work (really the middle of the night) make some coffee and write for a few hours. Few years later I have two published novels and a book of essays on the way, plus a million other ideas for books.

 

2) What inspired you to write your book?

Leaving Jackson Wolf was intended to be a novella about Jackson’s friend McDougal. But as I got into it I realized the book was more about Jackson and his relationship with his father which was fraught with so much anger and dysfunction. This compelled me to explore how a fifteen-year-old kid would not only survive the violent dysfunction of his home life, but the possible outcomes on the other side of it. I also wanted to talk about male relationships and tried to portray Jackson and McDougal without all the tough guy underpinnings of traditional male relationships. Both boys are pretty tough, but they aren’t afraid to be vulnerable with each other and to care for each other in a way you don’t see much, but I think healthy. I’m pretty sick of the toxic way guys measure themselves with each other.   

 

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

I would hope when people read this they find value in owning up and being accountable for your life. Jackson makes his share of mistakes, but rather than wallow in his failures, he is persistent and moves forward trying to do better, always trying to find his power. Additionally, the boys love indie music and in dark times not only is it a friend that helps them feel less alone, but it also provides great perspective on life. So I would hope people might look into some of the fifty plus artists mentioned in the book and give them a good listen or just listen to good music in general. I feel sad for people who don’t have music or think good music is Coldplay.

  

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I’m not really drawn to a genre. I just wanted to tell a story about two boys trying to make their way through a complicated world. The writing world seems to be genre and series driven, but all I really want to do is write stories about real people in real life situations regardless of their age or whatever.

 

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

Though she wasn’t in the book much I would like to sit with Jackson’s mom and get a update on where she was and what happened to her. Maybe this is a little voyeuristic and creepy, but I also would like to sit off to the side back at The Spot with Jackson and McDougal and just listen to them and talk music and the wonders of the female persuasion with a couple of beers. I’d like to hear the excitement in their voices as they talk about all the possibilities still ahead for them.

  

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

Boy, this social media thing is so overwhelming and so competitive. Too much for the one-man operation I run. I mostly use Facebook and I mostly do a bad job with it. Going forward as I gather more resources I’m going to invest in some outside help.

 

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

Don’t be afraid to start small. With the recent baseball playoffs I was reminded of being in a school lavatory back in the day and some older boys had a transistor radio and were listening to the World Series. From that single image of the boys with the radio in the lavatory I got this pretty cool story Knox, O’Malley, Sheena and The Miracle Mets. From little seeds a tree can grow.

 

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

Presently editing a book of essays that I hope to publish in the spring/summer of 2019.

I have this new charter O’Malley that I’ve been sketching on my blog and a couple chapters of another novel.

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About the Author

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Growing up in a three bed/one bath house with nine siblings in Buffalo, New York was a just the facts, assembly-line type of childhood. However, one day in the late seventies, well into my clamorous teen years, that all changed when my exhausted mom uncharacteristically asked several probing questions about how I was doing, what I wanted of life and how I was going to get there… totally confounding me.  She was supposed to dish out commands and make declarative statements: …take out the trash …don’t come home unless you’re bleeding; …every time you masterbate it’s a hundred-years in purgatory. Not ask me to articulate inward looking, reflective questions about myself. Self-examination and contemplation, was light years beyond my transactional existence.

 Eventually, though, due to a certain amount of aimlessness and failure I did come to consider my mom’s questions and many more of people, time, place and heritage, which have become the basis of the novel “Written In The Stars: The Book Of Molly.” Seen through the eyes of young Molly Shea it is an exploration of the ways and means of 1979 Irish-Catholic, South Buffalo and an evolving girl’s place in that world.

Presently I am one neighborhood removed from South Buffalo in West Seneca, New York where I live with my wife, three college age children and a cat that hates me. I have a State University of New York background in English and I love trade paperbacks, quiet black mornings and The Ramones.

https://www.facebook.com/pakane14220/

https://twitter.com/PAKane14220

http://www.pakane.net/

http://buffalomud.com/

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