Tag Archives: drama

Waterbury Winter by Linda Stewart Henley Review

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

A widower seeking a fresh start in life must confront loss, and discover the means of finding a community and career that is truly his in author Linda Stewart Henley’s “Waterbury Winter”.

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The Synopsis

Barnaby Brown has had enough of freezing winters, insurmountable debt, a dead-end job, and his solitary life as a young widower with no one but his beloved parrot Popsicle. He yearns to move to California and reawaken his long-lost early life as an artist. But new troubles come in threes. His ancient car crashes into a snowbank. Popsicle escapes through a window carelessly left open. A New York gallery owner offers to represent Barnaby’s paintings—but is he on the up-and-up? All of it serves to shock Barnaby into confronting how low he has sunk, and he vows—again and again—to change. He has a few obstacles, starting with his heavy drinking and long-term neglect of his ancestral home. As he takes steps toward a better life, he re-discovers the value of old friendships and latent talents seen in new light, and finds the courage to consider a second chance at love. Rejoining the mainstream of life presents several startling mysteries he must unravel, with a few mortifying but enlightening stumbles. 

 A heart-warming novel about ordinary people reclaiming their dormant potential, Waterbury Winter celebrates the restorative value of art and the joy to be found in keeping promises.

The Review

This is such a powerful and moving story. The pain of loss can be truly debilitating and takes on so many different forms. From the loss of a dream or the loss of a loved one, people can find themselves lost and stuck in the past by the pain of that loss. The author’s ability to navigate these complex emotions and craft a narrative that felt realistic and alive on the page was truly incredible to read.

The balance of character growth and imagery throughout the author’s writing was so profound. The setting and imagery presented both through the author’s words and described in the protagonist’s artwork were creative in their approach, as even the local haunt O’Malley’s felt alive and captivating to behold. Barnaby’s evolution as a character was both heartbreaking and heartwarming, as the pain of his loss and how it kept him from his pursuits in life both professionally and personally is something so many people can identify with, and yet his hope stirred by one loss too many is so inspiring and the path he goes on is something readers will instantly connect with. 

The Verdict

Haunting, emotional, and engaging, author Linda Stewart Henley’s “Waterbury Winter” is a must-read novel. The perfect drama and a great way of studying the evolution of friendship and relationships as a whole, readers will be amazed at the authors’ creativity and entertaining way of bringing true heart and passion into a realistic and honest yet fictional world. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Linda Stewart Henley is the author of Estelle: A Novel. Among other honors, it won Silver in the Independent Publisher Book Awards for Historical Fiction and was a finalist for The Eric Hoffer Book Awards as well as for the 2021 Nancy Pearl Award. She lives in Anacortes, Washington, with her husband. Waterbury Winter is her second novel.

Find out more about Waterbury Winter by visiting GoodReads or the author’s website. You can also purchase it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Bookshop.org.

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Blog Tour Calendar

May 2nd @ The Muffin

Join us as we celebrate the launch of Waterbury Winter by Linda Stewart Henley. We interview the author about her book and also give away a copy to one lucky reader.

https://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com

May 3rd @ Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews Blog

Stop by Lisa’s blog today and read an interview with author Linda Stewart Henley.

https://lisahaselton.com/blog/

May 3rd @ Fiona Ingram’s Blog

Visit Fiona’s blog and read Linda Stewart Henley’s guest post about writing historical fiction.

https://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/

May 5th @ Amanda Diaries

Visit Amanda’s blog and read her interview with author Linda Stewart Henley.

https://amandadiaries.com/

May 7th @ Boots, Shoes and Fashion

Join Linda as she interviews Linda Stewart Henley about her book Waterbury Winter.

https://bootsshoesandfashion.com/

May 8th @ What is That Book About?

Michelle spotlights Linda Stewart Henley’s book Waterbury Winter.

https://www.whatisthatbookabout.com/

May 9th @ Mindy McGinnis

Join Mindy as she features Linda Stewart Henley’s guest post about mixed genres in writing.

https://www.mindymcginnis.com/blog

May 12th @ Knotty Needle

Visit Judy’s blog today and read her review of Waterbury Winter by Linda Stewart Henley.

https://knottyneedle.blogspot.com/

May 13th @ CK Sorens’ Blog

Visit Carrie’s blog and read Linda Stewart Henley’s guest post about the importance of setting.

https://www.cksorens.com/blog

May 15th @ Choices

Visit Madeline’s blog and read Linda Stewart Henley’s guest post about what a difference an editor makes.

http://madelinesharples.com/

May 18th @ Beverley A. Baird

Visit Beverley’s blog and her review of Waterbury Winter by Linda Stewart Henley.

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

May 19th @ Reading Is My Remedy

Join Chelsie over at her Instagram page today where she shares her review of Waterbury Winter by Linda Stewart Henley.

https://www.instagram.com/reading_is_my_remedy/

May 21st @ Bring on Lemons

Crystal shares her thoughts about the charming Waterbury Winter by Linda Stewart Henley. 

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

May 24th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Make sure to visit Anthony’s blog and read his review of Linda Stewart Henley’s book Waterbury Winter.

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

May 25th @ Beverley A. Baird

Join Beverley again as she features Linda Stewart Henley’s post about inspiration in art.

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

May 26th @ The Frugalista Mom

Visit Roselyn’s blog as she reviews Waterbury Winter by Linda Stewart Henley. 

https://thefrugalistamom.com/

May 27th @ A Storybook World

Deirdra’s blog features Waterbury Winter by Linda Stewart Henley.

https://www.astorybookworld.com/

May 30th @ Liberate and Lather

Stop by Angela’s blog today and read her thoughts about Waterbury Winter by Linda Stewart Henley. 

http://liberateandlather.com/

May 31st @ The Faerie Review

Lily spotlights Waterbury Winter by Linda Stewart Henley. 

https://www.thefaeriereview.com/

June 2nd @ Pages & Paws

Join Pages and Paws for their review of Waterbury Winter by Linda Stewart Henley. 

https://pagesandpaws.com/

June 4th @ World of My Imagination

Nicole reviews Waterbury Winter by Linda Stewart Henley. 

https://worldofmyimagination.com/

June 5th @ Jill Sheets Blog

Visit Jill as she interviews author Linda Stewart Henley.

http://jillsheets.blogspot.com/

Root That Mountain Down By Evan Balkan Review

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

A man on a mission to bring his murdered father’s body back home to the United States comes face to face with the cruelty and violence, (as well as the hope and beauty hidden within), of the blood diamond business in author Evan Balkan’s “Root That Mountain Down”. 

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The Synopsis

Felix Laszlo is on a somber mission: Retrieving the body of his murdered father, a doctor who had volunteered to treat the civilian casualties in war-torn Sierra Leone, and bringing him home to be buried in the United States.

Along the way Felix will discover how little he knew about his father, Africa and himself. Once in Africa, Felix will see first-hand the greed and corruption that is commonplace in the “blood diamond” trade. But he will also find beauty, heartbreak, joy as well as the path to his future.

The Review

This was both an emotional and culturally significant read. The narrative did such an amazing job of really delving into the horrors and struggles of the wars and ruthless blood diamond trade in Africa. The novel captures so many themes that readers are going to be able to relate to, from the concept of families and how they work to the culture of violence that exists within war-torn countries and the misconceptions and prejudices that exist against the people of Africa as a whole. The striking clash of the violent attacks on both the people of Africa and those doctors and volunteers who come to help with the prejudice that people have against all African citizens as a result of the violence highlights the never-ending cycle of hatred and pain that continues to this day.

The character growth in this narrative was the perfect vehicle for the themes of this story. The complexity of the protagonist’s mission as Felix grapples with his father’s brutal loss while also seeking firsthand the violence and struggles the people of Africa are facing themselves makes this such a brilliant story, and the balance of mystery and action with the pops of romance and emotional family drama made this such an enrapturing story to behold. 

The Verdict

Haunting, engaging, and thought-provoking, author Evan Balkan’s “Root That Mountain Down” is a must-read novel. The clashes of grief and anger mixed with both the horrors of war and the hope that survives in the face of that war made this both a complex yet a much-needed story that I just couldn’t put down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Evan L. Balkan is the author of three novels, including the PEN/Faulkner nominated Independence, and seven books of nonfiction, including The Wrath of God: Lope de Aguirre, Revolutionary of the Americas, as well as many essays and short stories in an array of publications. His screenplays, including Spitfire, adapted from his novel of the same name, have won multiple fellowships and awards. He is a co-writer for the television series, Wayward Girls. He coordinates the English Department at the Community College of Baltimore County, where he runs the creative writing program, and is an adjunct faculty member in the Johns Hopkins University’s graduate Teaching Writing program. He holds degrees in the humanities from Towson, George Mason, and Johns Hopkins universities and has served as a guest lecturer at Yale, Johns Hopkins, Bryn Mawr, and many other institutions. 

https://evanlbalkan.wixsite.com/evanbalkan

Moss by Joe Pace Review

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

After his father passes away, a struggling writer who spent his life in his successful father’s shadow finds his late dad’s unpublished work, and must struggle with whether to use it to launch his own career while learning more about his father’s past in author Joe Pace’s “Moss”.

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The Synopsis 

Isaiah Moss was one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. His illegitimate son Oscar Kendall wasn’t. Living in Isaiah’s inescapable shadow, Oscar has become an inveterate quitter who hides his own literary work from the world rather than suffer the pain of failure or rejection.

But when Isaiah suddenly dies, Oscar inherits the old man’s lakefront writing cabin in New Hampshire. There he finds his father’s typewriter, a full liquor cabinet, and an unpublished manuscript of such genius that it could launch Oscar’s career if he claims it as his own.

But as Oscar wrestles with his own twisted inspirations, he meets the women in Isaiah’s life and begins to learn the depths of his father’s secrets…and the costs that come with unresolved trauma and romantic delusion.

The Review

This was a truly profound and moving read. The author did an incredible job of crafting a character-driven narrative that excelled in the most personal and intimate of ways. The emotional pull of the narrative and the honesty in which the author crafted these characters was both relatable and yet mesmerizing to behold, especially with main characters Oscar and May, who each hold a past of hardships and struggles in their own right.

There were quite a lot of truly memorable themes in this story, but two of the ones that stood out the most were the complexity of loss and the legacy of war. These themes were profound as they reflected Oscar and May’s individual journeys perfectly. The heartbreaking reality of Oscar’s non-existent relationship with his late father and the path he must walk to find empathy and understanding for others who are suffering is felt strongly, while May’s experiences with the war and how it has impacted her not only physically but emotionally and mentally as well are greatly explored and keep an honest dialogue going within the reader throughout the narrative.

The Verdict

Heartfelt, poetic, and engaging, author Joe Pace’s “Moss” is a must-read novel. The intense and layered struggles that we as humans face and the way in which we relate to one another are thoroughly explored in this narrative, and the heart of the narrative focuses on connections and how we engage with one another despite past experiences or traumas made this such a moving read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Joe Pace is a writer of literary and science fiction. He studied political science and history at the University of New Hampshire, and his writing reflects his ongoing academic and practical interest in both.

Joe has also served in elective office, taught American history, and worked in business banking. His assorted interests include comic books, pickup basketball, Greek mythology, and the occasional marathon. He was elected student body president as an undergraduate at the University of New Hampshire and then served nine years on the Select Board in Exeter. After coming up short in a bid for New Hampshire’s Executive Council, he returned to municipal governance as a Selectman in his new hometown of Kensington. 

As a storyteller, he seeks to weave memorable characters and places with unforgettable stories that speak to the human condition. His literary inspirations include John Irving, Lloyd Alexander, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Patrick O’Brian. He’s also an unapologetic Star Trek, Marvel, and West Wing guy. 


Joe was born and raised in seacoast New Hampshire and still calls it home with his wife, Sarah, their sons Bobby and Xavier, and their dopey dogs Sam and Joy.

https://www.joepacewritehouse.com/

Blind Spot by Robert Hoffman Review

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

An average family man who’s always seen himself as a decent guy finds his world turned upside down when the one neighbor he can’t stand collides with him one fateful afternoon, resulting in an accident that could destroy his life forever in author Robert Hoffman’s “Blind Spot”. 

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The Synopsis

Doug Kaplan seemed to be doing about as well as one could hope. He had a beautiful and loving wife, three healthy boys, and a successful career. He also had a neighbor who seemed to exist for the very purpose of driving him crazy. Trudy Fleischmann was a force of nature, a presence to be reckoned with for sure. She didn’t mean any harm, but if she had a thought, or an opinion, she was going to share it with whomever happened to be in her crosshairs, and lately that had been Doug.

The problem was, nobody else seemed to mind Trudy, and this made Doug even crazier. With peaceful coexistence seemingly beginning to fail, it appeared as if an ugly conflict between Doug and his elderly German immigrant neighbor was going to be unavoidable, until the accident, the accident that changed everything.

Now, in the aftermath of a moment of carelessness, everything Doug holds near and dear is at risk of being taken from him, and now the one individual whom he wished to see purged most of all from his life may hold the key to any chance of normalcy and happiness going forward in his life.

The Review

This was such an intriguing and intimate character-driven narrative. The author really found the perfect balance between humorous dialogue and character interactions and personal drama amongst the large cast of characters. The story felt so real and connected to our very tumultuous times right now, exploring how we often clash with those around us. The character growth and relationships explored in this narrative were so relatable and engaging, allowing readers to see the backstory to these characters and the narrative overall felt like such a rich and fulfilled journey to readers overall.

What really struck me with this narrative was the theme and atmosphere of this story overall. The concept that we as people rarely if ever are able to see the flaws or mistakes we make in our own lives, and are always quick to point out other people’s flaws instead was such a relatable theme to the age we are living in now. To me, what stuck out was how the story seemed to explore how we often criticize others who seem to reflect our flaws that our subconscious buries deep within ourselves, and take our internal frustrations out on those around us. 

The Verdict

A memorable, heartfelt, and detailed yet entertaining read, author Robert Hoffman’s “Blind Spot” is a must-read, character-driven humorous drama. The immersive way the author transports readers into the narrative and makes the characters feel so alive and gripping to behold will keep you enthralled as the story unravels, and the emotional yet heartwarming ending will be a moment of true clarity and hilarity to readers as the pages come to an end. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Purchase your copy now available on Amazon. Make sure to add it to your GoodReads reading list too.

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About the Author

It’s about time somebody asked that question.  Rob Hoffman is originally from a town on Long Island called North Massapequa.  He attended SUNY Oswego where he majored in Communications, a degree that it turned out he had little use for.  He did however meet  the woman who would eventually become my wife, the former Michelle Lindell.  Rob and Michelle lived in the aptly named Flushing, Queens for six years before moving to a town called Clifton Park, New York just south of Saratoga Springs.  Finding little value in his degree in communications, Rob became a social studies teacher, teaching in Long Island City, Queens for four years before spending the remainder of his career in Rensselaer, New York, a small city on the banks of the Hudson River just across the water from Albany.  Rob taught for 31 years before retiring in June of 2021, only to come back as a part-time teacher in September of 2021 at Rensselaer High School.  Rob had always been interested in becoming a writer and he began his blogging career as a contributor at the “Times Union” of Albany for six years.  In this time Rob also blogged for a variety of sites including Fark.com, Crooks and Liars.com, Albany.com, and Knees and Fists.com.  Rob has remained happily married to Michelle for 34 years and counting, and has two grown sons, Andrew and Alex, ages 29 and 23.  Most recently, Rob and Michelle became grandparents to the newest addition to the family, Sam Hoffman, son of Andrew and his wife Katie.

“Blind Spot” represents Rob’s first true attempt at writing fiction, an experience Rob both fun and exhausting.  Rob had thrown around several ideas as he began to think about what it was he wanted to write about, and then one day his wife had sent him to the supermarket on an errand where he saw somebody he really didn’t want to spend anytime talking to, so he raced out of the store, got in his car, turned it on, slammed it into reverse and was about to speed out of the spot when he stopped himself and said, “Dumb-ass, be careful, you could hit somebody.”  Then, as Rob began to slowly and carefully pull out of his parking spot, he thought for another second and it occurred to him how ironic it would be if he accidentally hit the person he was trying to get away from and “Blind Spot” was born.  The character of Doug Kaplan, while not autobiographical, is sort of based on the best and worst of Rob’s traits.  Doug is at times the guy Rob always wanted to be, and yet at the same time, Doug also represented the guy Rob was relieved to know he never became. The other characters according to Rob are combinations of people that he knew from his childhood, as well as college and work experiences. 

Follow the author online at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robert.s.hoffman.7/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/burtpurdy

Linked-in – https://www.linkedin.com/in/robert-hoffman-43999348/

Instagram – hoffman_files

Website – https://thehoffmanfiles.wixsite.com/website

— Blog Tour Calendar

November 22nd @ The Muffin  

Join us at The Muffin for an author interview, giveaway, and blog tour launch post for Robert Hoffman’s “The Blind Spot”

https://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/

November 23rd @ Lisa Haselton Book Reviews and Interviews

Today, Lisa Haselton interviews Robert Hoffman about his humorous work of fiction titled “Blind Spot”. Find out more about this debut novel and it’s author!

https://lisahaselton.com/blog/

November 24th @ Choices with Madeline Sharples

Readers at Choices will hear from guest author Robert Hoffman with his post titled ” Man Plans and God Laughs “. Don’t miss this guest post and an opportunity to hear about Hoffman’s debut novel “Blind Spot”. 

http://madelinesharples.com/

November 26th @ The Faerie Review

“The Blind Spot” by Robert Hoffman is the highlighted book today at the Faerie Review – don’t miss a chance to learn more this work of humorous fiction by an accomplished blogger!

https://www.thefaeriereview.com/

November 29th @ Word Magic with Fiona Ingram

Robert Hoffman pens today’s guest post at Word Magic (fellow author Fiona Ingram’s blog). Don’t miss this great article titled: “Sorry isn’t Enough” and an opportunity to learn more about Robert and his latest work of humorous fiction – “Blind Spot”. 

http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/

December 2nd @ The Knotty Needle

Judy reviews “Blind Spot” by Robert Hoffman for readers at the Knotty Needle. Don’t miss this opportunity find out more about Hoffman’s humorous work of fiction! 

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

December 3rd @ Beverley A. Baird

“Do I Have a Story to Tell” is today’s post at Beverley A. Baird. This post is penned by none other than Robert Hoffman who recently released “Blind Spot”, a humorous novel readers are raving about! Don’t miss your chance to learn more from Hoffman himself! 

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

December 4th @ Author Anthony Avina

Readers at Anthony’s blog will delight in today’s guest post “Woulda Coulda Shoulda” by author Robert Hoffman. Don’t miss this guest post and opportunity to learn more about Hoffman’s new book “Blind Spot”. Stop back in a few days (on the 11th) to read Author Anthony Avina’s review of “The Blind” spot as well! 

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

December 7th @ World of My Imagination with Nicole Pyles

Readers at World of My Imagination are in for a special treat! Not only is Nicole going to review “Blind Spot” by Robert Hoffman, but she also will be offering a giveaway! This is your chance to learn more about this humorous book and maybe even snag a copy of your own!

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

December 9th @ Bring on Lemons with Crystal Otto

Crystal Otto reviews “Blind Spot” by Robert Hoffman for readers at Bring on Lemons – Otto has hinted that she would give this book 5 stars and said “it made me laugh out loud so often” – so don’t miss your chance to hear more about this debut novel!

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

December 11th @ Author Anthony Avina

Fellow Author Anthony Avina reviews “Blind Spot” by Robert Hoffman. 

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

December 14th @ Linda Appleman Shapiro

Fellow Author Linda Appleman Shapiro shares her thoughts about Robert Hoffman’s “Blind Spot”. Find out what an accomplished Memoirist and Psychotherapist thinks of this humorous work of fiction.

http://applemanshapiro.com/category/book-reviews/

December 15th @ Bring on Lemons with Michelle DelPonte

Michelle DelPonte, a Wisconsin mother, healthcare worker, autism advocate, and history buff shares her review of “Blind Spot” by Robert Hoffman. You won’t want to miss Michelle’s insight into this humorous book! 

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

December 16th @ Bring on Lemons with 14 Year Old Carmen Otto

14 year old Carmen Otto heard her mom laughing out loud while reading “Blind Spot” and couldn’t help from grabbing a copy to read for herself. Find out what a young reader things of this debut novel by Robert Hoffman!

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

December 18th @ Bring on Lemons with Cathy Hansen

Wisconsin business owner and educator Cathy Hansen offers insight into what she thought after reading Robert Hoffman’s debut novel “Blind Spot”. Will this be a lemon or sweet lemonade? Stop by Bring on Lemons to find out!

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

December 24th @ Jill Sheet’s Blog

Stop by Jill Sheet’s Blog today and hear from Robert Hoffman as he pens his guest post titled “Aren’t We All Just a Little Bit Selfish?” just in time for the holidays! Learn more about this topic as well as Hoffman’s novel “Blind Spot”! 

http://jillsheets.blogspot.com/

Son of the Moon: A Quest for the Perfect Woman by Amo Sulaiman Review

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

A young man who goes through life searching for his other half and womanizing meets his match and finds himself going down a dangerous path in author Amo Sulaiman’s “Son of the Moon: A Quest for the Perfect Woman”. 

The Synopsis

He’s but a boy still, in his late teens, exotic, charming, a naïve stranger in a strange land with an unquenchable thirst for pleasure. Saddled from birth with a name that takes people aback, El Nobis von Albion sets out on a noble mission in life: to unite with his missing other half. And for a while, his strategic wit and his habit of poetically praising women’s sensuality right to their faces win him one homerun after another.

But, unfortunately, his high-spirited foster mom never taught him that Pretty is as pretty does, so when he finally meets the Perfect Woman, the tables start to turn. He finds himself being sucked down into a situation that could threaten his freedom…and even his very life.

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The Review

Such an interesting and mind-bending sociological and psychological read! The author does a brilliant job of touching on themes of philosophy, nature vs nurture, and the examination of relationships as a whole, especially on how men treat women and vice versa. The tension and way the story is narrated from multiple perspectives were engaging to read, and the chilling direction the main character’s life takes, from the tragic circumstances of his birth all the way to the search for romance and pursuit of relationships in his life taking a very dark turn, was thought-provoking to read.

The author’s philosophical and psychological approach to the writing was the most gripping aspect to me. The examination of sexism, the way we teach our youth to view relationships and the impact dysfunctional relationships have on developing minds was felt throughout this narrative. The contrast between protagonist “Al” and his long-lost brother Marvin early in the story is a great example of the nature vs nature argument, showing how different they grew up and how they approach life as a whole.

The Verdict

A mesmerizing, thoughtful, and entertaining read, author Amo Sulaiman’s “Son of the Moon: A Quest for the Perfect Woman” is a must-read novel. Shifting back and forth between dark family dynamics, hopeful romantic notions, and intense psychological profiles of these well-developed characters, this is one book you won’t want to miss. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Ignored Tags: $0118, $0119

Born in Guyana and continuing his education in Canada, Amo Sulaiman received a B.A. Degree in Philosophy and Psychology at the University of Guelph in Ontario. B.A. in English and American Literarure. He then completed his Master’s Degree in Philosophy in Montreal. Shortly after this, he went to Switzerland where he did his Doctorate in Philosophy at the University of Bern. He has been living in Switzerland ever since.

Besides publishing two books on philosophy, one on English Literature, and several academic articles, Proud City is his first novel.

https://www.amoinfo.info/

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09DW398L2/ref=x_gr_w_glide_sin?caller=Goodreads&callerLink=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.goodreads.com%2Fbook%2Fshow%2F59119348-son-of-the-moon%3Fac%3D1%26from_search%3Dtrue%26qid%3DZ5ZKMtUF1z%26rank%3D1&tag=x_gr_w_glide_sin-20

Things Happen by Christopher Acker Review

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

The desperate search for answers we all desire takes center stage in four incredible short stories from author Christopher Acker in the collection, “Things Happen”. 

The Synopsis

In these four stories, things happen.

A mother loses her son to a magic trick gone horribly wrong. Now a Google Maps car is trying to erase the last tangible memory she has of him.

Michelle lands her first big role in Hollywood as a prostitute in a Sam Cooke biopic. But her chance at stardom is jeopardized when riots break out after an innocent black man is murdered by the LAPD.

Everyone in St. Louis knows about the Salazar House of Horrors where a teenage girl was tortured and imprisoned. The prosecution asks Brandon—a model railroad enthusiast—to make a miniature replica of the infamous dungeon. The goal is to persuade the jury to put the monster behind bars forever. But constructing such degradation at 1/12th scale with his wife and two daughters lingering over his shoulder pushes Brandon and his family beyond their limit.

Disgraced journalist Alexander Reynolds is knee-deep in depression. Just about the only thing he can muster these days is slithering to his couch to watch The Maury Povich Show. In a sudden stroke of genius, a path out of his humiliation falls into his lap: he will fake his way to being a guest on Maury. There’s only one problem. He’ll need to convince his wife—the Oscar-winning filmmaker—to play a co-starring role.

The characters here are bruised, battered, and just plain exhausted. They’re like us. And like us, not everything works out for them. It’s this humanity that’s at the heart of this unforgettable collection.

THINGS HAPPEN offers a poignant yet highly entertaining portrayal of people desperately looking for answers in a time when truth and facts are more elusive than ever. The themes of infidelity, unresolved grief, identity, redemption, and racial injustice are woven throughout, lending these short stories a degree of resonance every reader can connect with. And to keep things interesting, a celebrity or two might even make an appearance.

Above all else, THINGS HAPPEN reflects what’s going on in this country right now:

A whole lot of something. 

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The Review

This was such a compelling and engaging read. The author expertly crafted each story to represent an important representation of today’s issues facing our nation, from racial injustice to grief and loss and everything in-between. The characters in each story felt real and gripping as their stories developed over time, and their struggles touched upon so many issues that have always been there but seem to have intensified and become more prevalent in the last couple of years during this pandemic.

What stood out to me was the pacing the author took with each story. With each story being a short story or novella, the reader may have expected the narratives to feel rushed or details to have been missed, but honestly, after reading this collection I felt like the author perfectly elevated the tension and built up the atmosphere in a natural way without sacrificing the theme or characters in any way. 

The Verdict

A memorable, thought-provoking, and entertaining read, author Christopher Acker’s “Things Happen” is a remarkable and relatable must-read collection, and the perfect book to pick up this fall. Emotional storytelling, haunting atmosphere, and perfectly built-up tension allowed this collection to shine brightly, and I was truly enthralled with each story’s narrative. If you haven’t yet, either preorder or pick up your copy of this book today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Christopher Acker is a husband, father, and full-time clinical social worker living in Bridgewater, New Jersey. His fiction has appeared in Change Seven, Crêpe & Penn, New Reader Magazine, Junto Magazine, The Ocotillo Review, Thing Magazine, Subtle Fiction, The Raven’s Perch, Inwood Indiana, Fictive Dream, Spelk, Firefly Magazine, The Molotov Cocktail, and No Extra Words. His work has also been featured on Wandsworth Radio in the UK.

www.facebook.com/christopherhowardacker

www.amazon.com/author/christopheracker

www.goodreads.com/christopheracker

Hollister McClane by Laurie Lisa Review

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

After stumbling into her first bank robbery, newly-formed criminal Hollister McClane takes readers on a journey of discovery, danger, and more in author Laurie Lisa’s “Hollister McClane”.

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The Synopsis

Hollister McClane is a small-town, southern Missouri, gorgeous (if she does say so herself) heroine who has a knack for accidentally robbing banks, a convenience store, and a possible drug cartel. She might inadvertently throw in a couple of grand theft autos, but truly, she wouldn’t hurt a fly–not even when that Ruger falls into her lap.

Savvy and self-taught, eternally optimistic and zealously patriotic, Hollister walks, runs, hitchhikes, and drives from one chance encounter to another across America’s heartland. After accidentally robbing her first bank dressed as Uncle Sam, Hollister sees her newfound life on the run as a matter of Fate. And it doesn’t hurt that she is a genius at disguises (if she does say so herself).

Hollister always tries to do the right thing with her newfound bounty, but somehow, it keeps slipping through her fingers. Also, there are a few obstacles along the way: the law, the lovers, the three not-quite-ex-husbands, the babies, and always, world-weary Mama. When Hollister finally does use that gun, unfortunately, she’s pointing it too close to home.

The Review

This was a truly engaging read. Author Laurie Lisa hits it out of the park once more, delving into the crime thriller genre with ease and finding the perfect balance of this genre with humor and charm. The theme of morality, and how desperation and miscommunication can easily lead someone down a dark and dangerous road made this story shine brightly.

Hollister McClane was a brilliant protagonist/antihero. The unique perspective of the character’s arc is fascinating to read, as the character gives a first-person POV as her journey into a life of crime grows deeper and deeper throughout the narrative. What is fascinating is seeing how the character rationalizes and frames the arc of her journey. From the moments trying to shed light on the path not taken, to the growth and experience she takes on as time moves forward, and even to the open-ended finale that highlights the character’s story, Hollister truly becomes the driving force of her own novel. 

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The Verdict

Something that author Laurie Lisa has done so well over the course of several books is creating relatable, realistic, and emotionally-driven reads that focus heavily on intricate character development, and Hollister McClane is no different. From the complex relationships with exes, her mother, and the law, to the balance of humorous observations on the protagonist’s part and the brilliant writing that showcases the author’s talent for fleshing out strong and unique characters, this novel, “Hollister McClane” by Laurie Lisa, is an instant smash hit! If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Laurie was born and raised in Southern Illinois.  She obtained her B.S.in English Education from the University of Illinois, where she also met and then married her husband Steve. Laurie earned both an M.A. and a Ph.D. in English (20th-century American literature) from Arizona State University, where she also taught literature and composition. In addition to her novels, Laurie has published two academic books, several short stories and poems, and edited other’s works. After much time spent in Academia and raising her three children (Anthony, Michelle, and Caitlin), Laurie returned to her passion for writing fiction.  She is a prolific writer of contemporary upmarket women’s fiction and typically completes one novel each year. 

Laurie resides with her husband, Steve, in Paradise Valley and Flagstaff, Arizona.

https://laurielisa.com/

Interview with Jeff Costello

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

I’m a long-time sales executive in the technology space. That’s how I’ve made a living for the past 30-plus years. But, deep down inside, I’m really a storyteller. Whether it’s a presentation to a large group, a barstool conversation with a customer, or just hanging out with friends, I like to tell stories. Usually, they’re humorous. Occasionally, they’re insightful. Sometimes, they’re both. I hope that book falls into the “both” category.

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2)    What inspired you to write your book?

There’s a famous quote from Toni Morrison that goes like this, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” I’ve always wanted to read a book that accurately captured what I’ve experienced in my career. I felt that readers would enjoy the people, passion, camaraderie, customer interactions, and overall craziness associated with hitting a revenue goal, chasing the big deal, or being for sale, especially if I did it in a humorous way.

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

I hope that readers gain a better understanding of the salesperson-buyer relationship and, hopefully, a better appreciation of it. Business people are almost always portrayed negatively in books, movies, and TV shows, especially salespeople. It’s a common trope to show salespeople as either smart but devious or affable morons. This has not been my experience. I’ve interacted with thousands of buyers and salespeople over my career and have found the great majority of them to be intelligent, honest people.

One other theme that I’d like for readers to see is to always find the humor in things. The characters in my book deal with a lot of turmoil in a short period of time but are always laughing together every step of the way. That should feel authentic to every salesperson I’ve ever met.

4)    What drew you into this particular genre?

I find what I do for a living to be fascinating. I love it and really thought readers who were unfamiliar with my world would love it as well. I confided to friends that I wanted to write a book that described the process of running a sales organization with the same level of passion and detail that Tom Clancy uses in describing the inner workings of a submarine because I think it is every bit as intriguing.

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

I want to sit down with Joseph Whitehorn. Every other character in the book is very familiar to me from my years of experience running technology sales teams, so I’ve already had the pleasure of spending time with many similar people.  I find the backstory of Joseph Whitehorn to be fascinating, especially since this year marks the 100th anniversary of the first casualty from the Osage Indian Murders. I love his blend of purpose, focus, and his hidden humor that emerges as the story progresses. 

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

As a business person, I have the most extensive following on Linked-in, so that has been the best outlet for me. I also use Facebook and Twitter and would expect those two platforms to grow in importance to me in the future.

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

The two obvious answers are to read more and write every day. That’s the recommendation from every reputable source, and I agree with that wisdom. The best way to get better at something is to do it, so writing daily helps. I would suggest that when you read other author’s work, read with a purpose. Notice the things you like, such as descriptions, dialog tags, POV choices, story structure, etc. Take notes and use them as inspiration for your own work.

Those are the two things that everyone will tell you. Now, I’ll give you some advice that few people will give to you. My book is filled with humor, and I found this advice from Neal Simon quite helpful. I saw him on 60 Minutes, where the interviewer asked him, “Do you laugh at your own work.” He answered that he does the first or second time he reads it, but after that, he doesn’t because he already knows the joke. He remembers it was funny, though, and that is the key. As you proof a chapter for the 50th time, the funny lines are no longer funny to you. You’ll be tempted to pull them or change them. Don’t do that! If it was funny when you wrote it, it will be funny for your readers the first time they read it. That advice may seem blindingly obvious, but when you are deep into the editing process and questioning everything you’ve written, it isn’t.

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

I just released Surfing with the Bishop and will focus on promoting the next few months. After that, I’ll see what inspires me. I’ve already got some thoughts on future projects but want to get more reader feedback before I lock in on anything.  I do publish a weekly blog called Trifling Amusements on Business and Life that readers might enjoy. To view, check out my website, jeffreybcostello.com.

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About the Author

Jeff Costello served as a senior sales executive for 30-plus years, driving billions of dollars of revenue from emerging technology markets. He’s led worldwide sales teams that supported partners in over 100 different countries and participated in numerous company acquisitions. Having entertained customers for decades, he’s often boasted that he has, “fed more people than Mother Teresa, or at the very least, served better wine.” Jeff lives in the Dallas/Fort Worth area with his wife, Trina, and their dogs, Bentley and Bo. 

Author website

https://jeffreybcostello.com/

Social Links

https://www.facebook.com/jeff.costello.7

https://www.linkedin.com/in/jecostello/

Amazon Buy Links

Hardcover https://www.amazon.com/dp/1737501902

Kindle https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09BT7C9YP

Broken Pieces of God by David Seaburn Review

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

A family reeling from setbacks and tragedies must find a way of banding together to face the darkness in author David Seaburn’s domestic drama, “Broken Pieces of God”.

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The Synopsis

In Broken Pieces of God David B. Seaburn returns to the domestic arena to explore the complex and extraordinary lives of an ordinary American couple, Eddy and Gayle Kimes. Eddy, a supervisor for a cable company, loses his job. Gayle, a tax accountant, is recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Unemployment, failed chemotherapy, and no insurance bring them to life’s precipice. Desperate, Eddy turns to a statue of Jesus, seeking a miracle, while Gayle dives deeper into a scheme she has been concocting for twenty-five years.

In the meantime, their adult offspring, Rich and Sandy, grapple with the aftershock of a tragic incident that has shadowed their lives since high school. What will happen when their secret is revealed?

At the eleventh hour, Gayle re-enters treatment and the family pulls together. Will it be too late?

This is a story of resilience in the face of uncertainty, hope in the midst of darkness, and family ties strengthened by life’s vicissitudes. 

The Review

The author does a fantastic job of relaying the paths we take in the face of overwhelming hardship, struggle, and pain, and how families each struggling with their own issues can come together to face the future with hope in the face of darkness. The author writes in a way that feels relatable and personal all at once, crafting a gripping tale that embodies life’s greatest trials and tribulations, and how people search for help or solutions from various sources, whether that be faith, family, or a little of both.

The character development was what really sealed the emotional pull this reader had with the story. The author perfectly captures the emotional depth of each character, highlighting the real-world struggles that many readers will be able to identify with while crafting a story that is engaging and pulls the reader in full-throttle. The blend of family dynamics and personal turmoil, and the family’s push to come to terms with the events of their lives was a whirlwind of emotional ups and downs as the reader became invested in this narrative. 

The Verdict

A heartfelt, gripping, and emotionally driven narrative, author David Seaburn’s “Broken Pieces of God” is a must-read drama this fall. The relatability of the characters and their plights will become super relatable to readers, while the narrative and the balance of faith and family in the midst of crisis will touch a lot of reader’s hearts. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

David B. Seaburn is the author of seven novels with his eighth, Broken Pieces of God, being released in September 2021.

David’s first publication was a series of poems when he was in seminary at Boston University (1972-75). He continued writing while serving a church for six years, mostly short stories, plays, songs, essays and two manuscripts of inspirational prose.   

He entered the field of marriage and family therapy in 1986 and was Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Family Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center where he did extensive academic writing.  During this period, he co-authored two professional books and wrote over 60 papers and book chapters.

He started writing fiction in 2000, completing his first novel, Darkness is as Light, in 2001. It was published in 2005. 

Since then, David has been busy: Pumpkin Hill (2005), Charlie No Face(2007), Chimney Bluffs (2012), More More Time (2015), Parrot Talk (2017), and Gavin Goode (2019).

He has also written and co-written numerous non-fiction pieces some ofwhich are listed on the Other Publications Page.

www.davidbseaburn.com

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/going-out-not-knowing