Tag Archives: genre fiction

Lost and Found in the 60s by Paul Justison 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 stuck in a conservative high school seeks a life of carefree aloofness and finds himself thrust into the center of the psychedelic movement of the 60s in author Paul Justison’s “Lost and Found in the 60s”. 

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The Synopsis

Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye returns as Mark Stenrud to bring the psychedelic era vividly life in Lost and Found in the 60s. Alienated from a toxic mother, and in constant conflict at his conservative high school because of his radical politics, Mark Stenrud escapes for Haight-Ashbury, where he takes a job in the post office and settles into a carefree existence in the psychedelic center of the universe. LSD chemists notice his organizational skills and calmness in the face of danger and recruit him to join their enterprise. He accepts and has free time for romance, adventures, and street justice. After months of success, he loses his touch, leading to narrow escapes, bad decisions, and his own downfall. Along the way, he learns about loss, forgiveness, and the meaning of self-respect.

The Review

This was such an incredibly powerful and captivating historical fiction meets genre fiction read. The author does an amazing job of building the atmosphere and setting through some stunning uses of imagery in the writing. The way the author was able to layer in these deep themes of accountability, finding one’s place in the world, and the anti-war sentiments of the 60s, made this narrative feel alive on the page and did an incredible job of making the story capture the era so effortlessly. 

Yet for me, the novel itself was the perfect character study that truly did embrace the Holden Caulfield vibe of J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. The breathtaking and emotional journey that Mark goes on in this novel showcases the highs and lows of the psychedelic era. The atmosphere of the decade and the setting itself (San Francisco) made the story perfectly set up the protagonist’s rise and fall and mirrored the events of the era seamlessly. 

The Verdict

Heartfelt, captivating, and engaging, author Paul Justison’s “Lost and Found in the 60s” is a must-read historical fiction and genre fiction read. The twists and turns in the character’s arc and the profoundly moving experiences the protagonist underwent that defined his character evolution kept me invested until the book’s final pages. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Paul Justison dropped out of high school in 1966 and fled to Haight-Ashbury, spending most of the next two years there and in Marin County engaging in all the pleasures and follies that magical time had to offer. After the sixties ended, he went to college, started a career, and raised a family. He has been published in The Rumpus, The Gambler Mag, Flash Fiction Magazine, and Fiction on the Web. Lost and Found in the 60s is his first novel.

https://www.pauljustison.com/

Thickwood by Gayle M. Smith Review

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

A former player for the All-American Girls Baseball League finds herself facing a new battle as she works to save the land her family held and the horses that live within it in author Gayle M. Smith’s “Thickwood”. 

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The Synopsis

Raised on a ranch in Saskatchewan’s rugged Thickwood Hills, where the prairie transitions to the forest, Willomena Swift, home from playing for the Rockford Peaches of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, finds a precious foal killed by a rogue stallion.

The stallion’s owner, once Willo’s baseball coach, now chairs the committee heading up the new cooperative pasture—a pasture that is set to swallow her family lease, where she grew up, learned to love and understand horses and dreamed of returning to raise them.

Facing numerous challenges with both the stallion and his owner, Willo remembers her past years playing professional baseball as she struggles to realize her dreams in the present.

Amid romance and tragedy, Willo must find a way to stand on her own and assert her rightful place in her beloved Thickwood.

The Review

This was a truly engaging and richly developed period drama meets genre fiction read. The author expertly wove a special story of facing adversity head-on and overcoming the tragedies we are hit with in life in an effort to move forward, pursue our dreams and maybe even find love. The atmosphere and tone helped elevate the novel’s deep-seated themes and powerful character development, and the rich setting of the late 1940s, early 1950s era middle America kept me invested in these characters with some fantastic history.

Yet as I mentioned before, the character growth and themes that this novel explored really made it something special. The ways in which the protagonist not only grew into the role of the independent and secure land owner but also used this growth to highlight the themes of empowerment, the struggle through adversity, and the will to find our passions in life, made this novel such a stunning work of art. The history and culture of middle America during this period of time were so rich to see come to life on the page, as it highlighted the struggle many independent women had as our nation came out of the war and women were found to be running the lives that these men had left behind during the war. 

The Verdict

Captivating, thought-provoking, and entertaining, author Gayle M. Smith’s “Thickwood” is a must-read genre fiction novel. The period piece does an excellent job of showcasing both sides of Willo’s life, from her past as a star player to her desire to run her family’s livelihood and care for the horses that brought her so much joy as a child. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Gayle M. Smith, author of Thickwood, grew up in Alberta. She distinctly remembers her family life on a mixed subsistence farm in central Alberta where, as a young child, she developed a love for animals, especially horses, and a love for reading and writing illustrated stories.In 1989, Gayle married a Saskatchewan farmer and settled into rural life to raise three children, numerous crops, purebred and commercial cattle, and horses. Gayle and her husband used the local PFRA (Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration) Federal pasture program for their commercial cattle. They also used their horses to gather and trail their cattle to various home pastures. Gayle was accepted into the 2011 Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild Mentorship program, where she drafted her first novel. Gayle has also been a member of a writer’s group for over ten years. In 2015, Gayle graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with a Master of Fine Arts in Writing.Yearly wilderness pack trips in Northern Saskatchewan with her horses inspire her writing. She also rides in the mountains, competes in numerous equestrian events, and owns and operates a horse boarding facility. Gayle’s love of the environment, history, and adventure shines in her writing. She daily interacts with her beloved partner, her family, her horses, and her rural home, while contemplating and exploring through her writing the struggle and dilemma of being human.

https://gaylesmith.wordpress.com/

The New Empire by Alison McBain Review

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

The youngest son of a Chinese emperor finds himself captured and purchased by an Elder of two Native American tribes and must find the truth behind the idea of freedom in the historical fiction novel “The New Empire” by Alison McBain.

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The Synopsis

In the alternate history novel The New Empire, the world undergoes a drastic change in the 14th century when Chinese ships land on the west coast of what we know as the Bay Area of California. Fast forward four hundred years to a much different America than we’ve read about in the history books, a land dominated by a cross-continental tribal confederacy grown out of a strong alliance with Beijing. This new empire has been built on the backs of enslaved Chinese political prisoners and a profitable trading partnership overseas. Into the mix comes Jiangxi, youngest son of the last Chinese Emperor. When he arrives from across the ocean as a boy, he is purchased by Onas, a renowned tribal Elder of both the Haudenosaunee and Mutsun tribes. As Jiangxi grows up, he’s caught between the two worlds of his past and present, forced into choosing between opposing ideas of freedom. Told from the main perspective of a Chinese slave in a Native American world, The New Empire paints a vibrant picture that draws strongly on a non-Eurocentric worldview.

The Review

This was such a powerful and engaging read. The world-building and culture that embedded itself into the narrative were mesmerizing, and the way the author was able to capture an 18th-century North American continent that featured a Non-Eurocentric worldview was incredible to behold. The brutality and chilling imagery the author was able to infuse into the narrative really painted a grim picture of the horrors of slavery and the cost of freedom overall to so many throughout human history, as well as the importance of a person’s heritage and culture when it conflicts with the life that has been thrust onto them.

Yet for me, the underlying themes of family, betrayal, and freedom really captivated me throughout this story. The haunting nature of how Jiangxi came to be enslaved in the first place as the result of a chilling uprising and power grab by his older brother made the protagonist feel the sting of betrayal and loss. The relationship he develops with Onas and Daiyu throughout the narrative was so compelling and spoke to the dual reality of his life as he becomes an apprentice in a land of laws yet struggles with the identity of the slave he was made into all those years ago and recognizes that struggle in his newfound allies. The fight for freedom takes a heavy toll throughout the narrative, and the morality that the protagonist faces is incredibly compelling. 

The Verdict

Captivating, engaging, and brilliantly written, author Alison McBain’s “The New Empire” is a must-read historical fiction novel of 2022. An incredible and highly creative book that highlights the realities of what our world’s trajectory could have looked like if an Eastern exploration had led to a more Eastern-led American continent was fascinating to see come to fruition, and the rich character dynamics and emotional storytelling will keep readers invested in this amazing author’s work. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Alison McBain is a Pushcart Prize-nominated author with over two hundred short stories, poems, and articles published worldwideHer books have been honored with gold in the Literary Classics International Book Awards, as well as being finalists in The Wishing Shelf Book Awards and IAN Book of the Year. Her forthcoming novel, The New Empire, won gold in the When Words Count Pitch Week contest and will be published in October 2022. When not writing, Ms. McBain is the associate editor for the literary magazine Scribes*MICRO*Fiction, co-editor of Morning Musings Magazine, and pens an award-winning webcomic called Toddler Times. She lives in Alberta, Canada.

https://www.facebook.com/alison.mcbain.9

http://www.alisonmcbain.com/

http://www.fairfieldscribes.com/

Destiny of Determination: Faith and Family (The Destiny Trilogy Book 2) by Cathy Burnham Martin Review

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

The journey and struggle to escape a horrific attack and genocide of the Armenian people at the end of the Ottoman Empire leads to a new life in America and the struggle to overcome new prejudices and persecutions in author Cathy Burnham Martin’s “Destiny of Determination: Faith and Family”, the second book in the Destiny Trilogy. 

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The Synopsis

“Destiny of Determination: Faith and Family” illuminates the stark realities of immigrants determined to settle in America, a land of opportunity and freedom. While young Hrant’s Armenian story parallels the horrors experienced by far too many cultures in both the past and present, book 2 in the Destiny trilogy also highlights the strength and hope that live within survivors of various nightmares. After witnessing and escaping genocide, Hrant may just find American prejudice and bigotry to be manageable hurdles.

Book 1 found Hrant Gulumian, the youngest child in his family, deeply relating to his granddaughter, Cassie when her nightmares precisely mirrored his traumatic childhood experiences. Destiny of Dreams… Time Is Dear shared young Hrant’s harrowingly narrow escape from the mass deportations and attempted annihilation of the Armenians in the waning years of the Ottoman Empire.

Despite the hauntingly intense and dramatic truths in Book 1, the Destiny trilogy resumes with the powerful hope and strength known only to survivors. Book 2 completes Hrant’s voyage and sweeps the reader into his family’s new life in the USA, illuminating the vulnerability of the diaspora and all forced refugees in a new and unfamiliar land filled with language, cultural, and discrimination challenges.

Author Martin celebrates her family’s quiet determination and its refusal to lose faith, despite intolerance and numerous economic woes. Set in the 20th Century, her family’s true story shines a beacon of optimism and comfort for countless other families, hailing from many nations and struggling to endure on the way to freedom and a chance for a better life in this century.

The Review

This was such a brilliant blend of both fiction and nonfiction storytelling. The author did an incredible job of relaying the experiences and powerful memories of her family, showcasing the struggles to make a place for themselves in the United States and the hurdles they had to overcome from a society that judged and looked upon them with suspicion and even at times hatred. The themes of immigration, family, and the pursuit of acceptance were felt so powerfully here in this narrative and made the story flow smoothly. 

The author’s emphasis on character growth and history and culture was brilliant to read. The knowledge that the “characters” were actual family members that the author changed the names of made their experiences and pivotal moments in the story much more impactful, and allowed the reader to really connect to them and the narrative, especially as it relates to the immigration story. The way the author pivots this immigration story between the character’s desire to maintain their culture and practices after the events they survived, and the hope of building a new life in this land of opportunity despite the bigotry they are faced with, allowed the reader to feel connected to the narrative. 

The Verdict

Captivating, inspiring, and hopeful, author Cathy Burnham Martin’s “Destiny of Determination: Faith and Family” is a must-read genre fiction meets biography nonfiction style narrative that you won’t be able to put down this fall. Due to release on November 2nd, 2022, the book brings readers a heartfelt, emotional, and engaging story of survival, family, and finding the balance between honoring one’s culture and history with the hope of a brighter brand new future. If you haven’t yet, be sure to preorder or grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Born in Goffstown, New Hampshire, Cathy Burnham Martin’s eclectic career path wove through recruiting, communications, television broadcasting, management, and bank organizing. An active board member and community volunteer, she received Easter Seals’ David P. Goodwin Lifetime Commitment Award. This professional voiceover artist, journalist, corporate communications geek, and dedicated foodie earned numerous broadcasting awards as a television news anchor. She wrote, produced, and hosted dozens of groundbreaking documentaries, TV specials, and news reports, ranging from the Moscow Superpower Summit and the opening of the Berlin Wall to extensive coverage of New Hampshire’s First-in-the-Nation Presidential Primaries.

Some of her most challenging work includes news stories behind the Iron Curtain under the scrutiny of foreign military personnel touting loaded AK-47s. While she met and interviewed Presidents and candidates, other interviews ranged from inventor Dean Kamen, best-selling authors Og Mandino and Richard Lederer, and Star Trek originator Gene Roddenberry to Popcorn icon Orville Redenbacher, Boston Pops conductor Arthur Fiedler, superstar New Orleans chef Paul Prudhomme, and filmmaker Ken Burns.

Among little-known facts about Cathy? She once sang with The Beach Boys and with the marvelous Marvelettes, shared a dressing room with Ella Fitzgerald, and emceed for Tony Bennett. She also performed on stage with comedian Adam Sandler, actor Dan Lauria, and director Alek Keshishian.

Dubbed The Morale Booster, this 20-year professional member of the National Speakers Association remains a business speaker, media coach, and member of the Actors Equity Association. Proud of her Eurasian heritage, Cathy Burnham Martin narrates her own books and those of other authors. Audiobooks appear on such sites as Audible.com as well as Amazon and iTunes. Author of 20+ fiction, nonfiction, and cookbooks, Cathy writes articles for her  http://www.GoodLiving123.com website. When not writing or in full production mode, Cathy and her husband enjoy traveling, boating, music and visual arts, and great food.

The Archivist by V.S. Nelson Review

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

The last Archivist who sells his services as a soul harvester to others in order to preserve their dying loved ones finds himself embroiled in a deadly plot after a teenage boy tricks him into murder, and as a suicidal cult dies at his feet, an ancient power begins to hunt him down in author V.S. Nelson’s “The Archivist”.

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The Synopsis

Death is not the end.

There is no God waiting for you in paradise. No afterlife where friendships severed by death are reformed and families reunited. There is only the Aether, a dimension of insatiable hunger that will possess you no matter the life you led.

Yet there is hope for a lucky few. Archivists, existing between the world of the living and the world of the dead, can offer salvation… for a price. Taking your essence in the final moments before death, they become your afterlife, allowing you to speak with those who remain.

When the last archivist is tricked into murder by troubled teenager, Sun-young Kang, he finds himself the centre of a suicidal cult that die at his feet. But there is more to these deaths than the Archivist realises. Someone is coming for him.

The Archivist may be the closest thing to a god that walks the Earth, but is that enough to keep those he cares about safe?

The Archivist is an incredibly rich novel with a truly original concept. It is cinematic in its scope and details the haunting, but also beautiful, gift an archivist could offer a person in their final moments.

The Review

This was such a brilliant and unique read. The author did an incredible job of crafting a mythos and world that felt both alive and new in its identity. The emotional depth of the narrative was greatly felt, as readers felt the character’s struggles with loss and the concept of death and the afterlife as a whole. The heavy atmosphere and tension that came with that reality were both relatable and original in their delivery. 

The character arcs of this narrative and how they played into the evolving mythos surrounding the Aether and the Archivists were incredible to watch. The complexity of the Archivist itself and how it holds so many other essences within itself while maintaining some sort of autonomy was so thought-provoking and unique. Yet it was the emotional toll of the families and those living within the Archivist in death that really drove the heart of this narrative home.

The Verdict

Heartfelt, engaging, and thoughtful, author V.S. Nelson’s “The Archivist” is a must-read novel o 2022. The growing mythology of the Aether and the Archivists was so creative and unique in its development, and the imagery the author used in their writing was both beautiful and chilling, depending on the moment in the book the reader was reading. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today. 

Rating: 10/10 

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About the Author

V S Nelson writes unconventional middle grade and young adult fantasy, science fiction and supernatural stories for readers who enjoy something a little strange.

Their first story was The Keeper of Portals, a middle grade fantasy/sci-fi with plenty of portal jumping and time slipping. Their second story, The Archivist, is a young adult dark fantasy all about death and what happens after.

V S Nelson loves big ideas, fantastical concepts and stories that unsettle the reader and set them thinking about something new.

V S Nelson lives in Winchester with their other half, two children and three cats. When not writing, they’re either working as a theoretical physicist or building Lego.

https://vsnelson.com/

Lucky Ride by Terry Tierney

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

A man looking for a fresh start after his wife’s affair finds himself on a wild ride of discovery across America during the Vietnam War era in author Terry Tierney’s “Lucky Ride”.

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The Synopsis

Set in the Vietnam era, Lucky Ride tells the story of a recent veteran, an unraveling marriage, and a hitchhiking trip steeped in hippie optimism, post-war skepticism, and drug-induced fantasy 

When his friend Rick shows up in Binghamton, New York, with an interstate weed delivery, Flash jumps at the chance to escape his wife Ronnie’s affair with her middle-aged boss. Joining Rick on a speed-fueled drive to Fort Worth, Flash dodges a highway stalker and recalls his military service on Adak, a desolate cold war outpost where Seabees bravely defended their country with marijuana and LSD. Hitchhiking west from Fort Worth, Flash confronts Texas Rangers, amorous witches, armed felons, and good Samaritans, all offering advice and misdirection. But his dreams of starting fresh in California recede like a spent wave, his money gone and no chance of a job. Ronnie offers reconciliation and Flash must decide how much he still trusts the seductive pull of the irresistible campus radical he married before the draft descended on their lives.

The Review

The author did a truly wonderful job of capturing the uncertainty and chaos of the Vietnam War era in the United States of America. The drug culture and the impact the war had on veterans, in particular, were looked at extensively, and the very natural pacing of the novel’s events was perfectly timed, not feeling too rushed or overextended in its delivery. 

The novel itself was definitely very character-driven. The protagonist in particular represented the confusion and soul-searching that so many people undertook in that era. The age of hitchhiking and travel along America’s highways showed both the main character’s experiences and emotional development throughout the narrative but highlighted how the highways themselves almost became characters in the story, the settings so vital and so detailed that readers could almost feel the atmosphere the author was developing throughout the narrative.

The Verdict

Personal, heartfelt, and entertaining, author Terry Tierney’s “Lucky Ride” is a brilliant and captivating read. The exploration of self-discovery, relationships, and the impact of war on those vets and their loved ones in the wake of the Vietnam War was an inspired road to explore in this novel and gave readers a protagonist and narrative to really sink their teeth into and feel compelled forward into the author’s world he developed. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Terry was born in South Dakota and raised in Minneapolis and Cleveland. After serving in the Seabees, he received a BA and MA in English from Binghamton University and a PhD in Victorian Literature from Emory University. He taught college composition and creative writing, and he later survived several Silicon Valley startups as a software engineering manager. His stories and poems have appeared in over forty literary magazines, and his novel Lucky Ride, an irreverent Vietnam era road novel, will be published by Unsolicited Press in 2022. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, a Librarian from the University of California, their son, and their goofy Golden Retriever. Terry’s website is http://terrytierney.com.

Purchase Links

https://www.unsolicitedpress.com/store/p285/luckyride.html

https://bookshop.org/books/lucky-ride-9781950730933

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lucky-ride-terry-tierney/1139820900

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1122846

Social Media Links

https://www.facebook.com/poetsgarage/

Drummond: Learning to find himself in the music by Patrick R.F. Blakley Review

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

A young middle school kid struggling both academically and at home finds himself a new family when he is asked to join the high school marching band, and discovers more about himself than he thought possible in author Patrick R.F. Blakley’s “Drummond: Learning to find himself in the music”.

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The Synopsis

Drummond is tasked with joining his high school marching band’s drumline and needs to find himself to succeed. You, like Drummond, might find yourself overthinking your life, or sometimes struggle to understand what you want to do with your future. The book is about figuring out who we are inside, then learning how to fit in. Drummond grapples and second-guesses himself throughout the book, but dealing with outside factors isn’t easy! Finding some unexpected help along the way guides him into his role in the band, and in life. When family life outside of the band gets dark, Drummond needs to fit into his new family within the marching band!

The Review

This was such a brilliantly written and captivating YA Genre Fiction read! The author expertly crafted a relatable and genuine narrative that felt alive on the page, and the imagery and tone the author captured ranged from the desolate to the passionate depending on the protagonist’s environment and mood. The themes of finding a community to belong to, nurturing one’s gift, and seeking family in the face of chaotic home life all played a central role in the protagonist’s narrative. 

The character growth was the heart and passion of the story in this book. The balance the author struck between Drummond’s turbulent and struggle of home life with the newfound passion and inspiration he finds, (as well as a new family), in his life in the marching band. The attention to detail the author puts into the actual percussions of the book and Drummond’s lessons in the marching band will ring a special note with music enthusiasts, and the nuanced way the author explores family dynamics will be widely felt in this reading.

The Verdict

Engaging, thought-provoking, and a special rhythm all its own, author Patrick R.F. Blakley’s “Drummond: Learning to find himself in the music” is a must-read YA Genre Fiction novel! The author’s own personal background in percussions and the origins of this story resting in the author’s previous children’s book make this story shine so much more brightly, and the personal touches the author puts on the narrative, as well as the emotional connection readers will form with Drummond, make this such an incredibly moving read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Patrick R. F. Blakley is a SAMMY award-winning percussionist from Syracuse, New York. He is a music judge for the New York State Field Band Conference and participated in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2018! Patrick has written two technical marching percussion books and also a children’s book called Drummy Drum Joins Marchy Band. The children’s book inspired his Drummond novel, which explores the question of why a drum would join the marching band in the first place. As it turns out, the drum was just a projection of his inner-self and Drummond had to find out who he really was inside! Drummond then uses that newfound information to try to fit in and connect with his new family!

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/

The All-Night Sun by Diane Zinna Review

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

A young teacher reeling from the loss of her parents a decade before finds herself in an unusual friendship with one of her students, and travels to Sweden during the summer to experience the Midsummer’s Eve, and in the process discovers a dark side to her student in author Diane Zinna’s “The All-Night Sun”. 

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The Synopsis

A lonely young woman gets too close to her charismatic female student in this propulsive debut, culminating in a dangerously debauched Midsommar’s Eve.

“Memorable and meaningful.”—Claire Messud, New York Times bestselling author of The Burning Girl

Lauren Cress teaches writing at a small college outside of Washington, DC. In the classroom, she is poised, smart, and kind, well-liked by her students and colleagues. But in her personal life, Lauren is troubled and isolated, still grappling with the sudden death of her parents ten years earlier. She seems to exist at a remove from everyone around her until a new student joins her class: charming, magnetic Siri, who appears to be everything Lauren wishes she could be. They fall headlong into an all-consuming friendship that feels to Lauren like she is reclaiming her lost adolescence.

When Siri invites her along on a trip home to Sweden for the summer, Lauren impulsively accepts, intrigued by how Siri describes it: “Everything will be green, fresh, new, just thawing out.” But once there, Lauren finds herself drawn to Siri’s enigmatic, brooding brother Magnus. Siri is resentful, and Lauren starts to see a new side of her friend: selfish, reckless, self-destructive, even cruel. On the last night of her trip, Lauren accompanies Siri and her friends on a seaside camping trip to celebrate Midsommar’s Eve, a night when no one sleeps, boundaries blur, and under the light of the unsetting sun, things take a dark turn.

Ultimately Lauren must acknowledge the truth of what happened with Siri and come to terms with her own tragic past in this gorgeously written, deeply felt debut about the relationships that come to us when things feel darkest–and the transformative power of female friendship.

The Review

A truly powerful and gripping tale of friendship, loss, and grief, author Diane Zinna has crafted a masterful and emotional novel. The protagonist perfectly captures the raw and heartbreaking reality of losing one’s parents and the feeling of loneliness and heartbreak that comes from it. The whirlwind friendship she develops with Siri and the sudden connection she develops with Siri’s brother Magnus helps to lay the foundation for the shocking and crumbling world Lauren has built herself, and how grief can block us from the world as it moves on without us.

Yet it was the balance of atmosphere and culture that really grabbed my attention as a reader. The setting not only of Sweden but of the events of Midsommar added so much history and culture to not only the narrative but the character’s backgrounds, while the atmosphere and the blend of quick friendship with sudden isolation really captured the fragility that grief can create in us all, especially when trauma begins to block out memories along the way.

The Verdict

A remarkable, emotional, and heartfelt story of painful losses and the path to finding hope and friendship again, author Diane Zinna’s “The All-Night Sun” is a must-read novel! That author does an incredible job of capturing the heart and soul of the protagonist’s internal struggle while layering a mystery behind the fate of the young woman who brought Lauren back out of her grief into the narrative. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Diane Zinna is originally from Long Island, New York. She received her MFA from the University of Florida and has taught creative writing for over ten years. She was formerly the executive co-director at AWP, the Association of Writers & Writing Programs, which hosts the largest literary conference in North America each year. In 2014, Diane created the Writer to Writer Mentorship Program, helping to match more than six hundred writers over twelve seasons. Diane also has a degree in Psychology and leads a popular grief writing class every Sunday for writers of all levels of experience.

The All-Night Sun, her first novel, was longlisted for The Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize and the Cabell First Novelist Award. In 2020, Diane received the ArtsFairfax Artist Grant, and her work appeared at Electric Literature, LiteraryHub, Brevity, and Monkeybicycle. Diane lives in Fairfax, Virginia, with her husband and daughter. 

http://dianezinna.com/

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https://www.bookbub.com/books/the-all-night-sun-by-diane-zinna