Posted in reviews

Paradise Road: A Memoir by Marilyn Kriete 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 experiencing loss goes on an emotional journey as she rides her bicycle on a cross-continental trip that spans two years in author Marilyn Kriete’s “Paradise Road: A Memoir”. 


The Synopsis

A restless child of the 1960s, Marilyn yearns for love, hippiedom, and escape from her mother’s control. At 14, she runs nearly a thousand miles away to Vancouver, British Columbia, eventually landing herself in a Catholic home for troubled girls. At 16, she’s emancipated, navigating adulthood without a high school diploma, and craving a soulmate. When she falls in love with Jack, the grad student living next door, life finally seems perfect. The two embark on a cross-continental bicycle trip, headed for South America, but before they reach Mexico, tragedy strikes. Utterly shattered, Marilyn does the hardest thing she can imagine: a solo bicycle trip, part tribute, part life test. She conquers her fears but goes wildly off course, chasing her heart as she falls into a series of tragicomic rebounds. Two itinerant years later, a chain of events in Montana’s Bitterroot Mountains leads to a peace she never expected to find.

Reminiscent of Wild and Traveling with Ghosts, Marilyn’s journey portrays a life unmoored by grief, brought to shore again. Paradise Road was selected as the International Pulpwood Queens and Timber Guys Book Club’s International Book of the Month for March 2021.

The Review

I absolutely connected to the emotional story of the author’s life from the age of 6 until she was 24. Over the span of this time in the author’s life and in the book itself, the author explores so much more than the synopsis initially indicates, jumping into the tumultuous and heartbreaking childhood she experienced including a friction-filled relationship with her mother and then continuing on from there as the author manages to fit several lifetimes worth of experience in less than a couple of decades. The author’s life and narrative in this book shift from a coming-of-age-like story of traumatic childhoods and growing through those experiences to a heartbreaking memoir of love lost and love gained. 

What stood out was the way the author managed to pace the story of her life in a way that felt tethered to the emotional core of the narrative. Whether it was the dynamics within her family as a child or the wayward lifestyle she lived as she ran away from home or even the years spent taking care of the man she loved and was destined to lose, the author builds up the events of her life with intrigue and draws the reader in with creative writing that makes the story come alive in the audience’s mind. The growth and evolution the author goes through by the book’s end make this such an engaging story, and truly marvelous non-fiction read. 

The Verdict

A memorable, heartfelt, and thought-provoking memoir, author Marilyn Kriete’s “Paradise Road” is a must-read nonfiction story. Written beautifully from a place of honesty and emotion, the author has captured this reader’s attention and balances the fearful events of her life with the moments of joy and elation perfectly. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Never one to choose the boring route, Marilyn has lived in four continents and 16 cities (so far), earning her keep as a cook, waitress, janitor, chambermaid, fisher-woman, bill-deliverer (on foot in 40 below zero weather), missionary, church leader, tutor, academic writing editor, housekeeper, and–with a little luck–author. She writes about her adventures in a series of memoirs, all slated to be published over the next few years.

She makes her home in Kelowna, BC, where she shares her cozy bungalow with three cats and her husband of many decades, Henry. They have two grown children and are eagerly awaiting their first grandchild, scheduled to arrive in July, 2021.

PARADISE ROAD is her first memoir, and yes, in the way of all good memoirs, it’s every bit true.

Posted in reviews

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”. 


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


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.

Posted in Interviews

Interview with Author Dorit Sasson

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

Ever since returning to the States, I wrote all different kinds of articles on the side, but it wasn’t until I realized I needed to tell the story of serving in the Israel Defense Forces and understand what happened to me that I jumped into memoir writing. 

I started out my career as an EFL (English a foreign language) teacher in Israel and since then I’ve pivoted several times. My last pivot was as a SEO (Search Engine Optimization) specialist and copywriter and that happened right after the university where I was teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) let me go. 


2) What inspired you to write your book?

With both my memoirs Sand and Steel and Accidental Soldier, there was a burning desire to understand the WHY behind the WHAT. What happened in the IDF led to discovering the real cultural struggle of finding home. 

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


How misunderstood Reverse Culture Shock really is and how hard it is for returning Americans like myself it is to find a home. As an Israel expat, my energy is spent understanding longing and straddling two different cultures and this can be an extremely emotional and lonely experience that can make or break a person and a family over time if not addressed well. RCS is very individual, personal and subjective. 

I have 2 passports – American and Israeli but no one ever told me how hard it would be to find a home again on U.S. soil.  Writing the book helped me understand the fluidity of home — in that it’s always changing and evolving so long as we evolve and change and that’s okay. 

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I could never fictionalize my story without really telling the truth. Memoir is a truth-seeking genre. I needed the power of reflections and takeaways to show how my character grows and develops and ultimately comes full circle at the end. 

5) For those who have never had to move to another country, what would you say was one of the biggest changes you experienced moving back to the United States? What impacted you the most personally after your time serving in Israel?

I’ll just be blunt about this: From experience, not many Americans want to get to know another culture and where a person comes from. We’re a very ego-centered, “me, me, me” culture and this does not serve in bridging cultures and build compassion. With that said, the Jewish community where I live acts a bit differently than my overall experience.  

When I served in the IDF with many foreign recruits, I got a crash course in understanding the psychology of cultures and people. The intimacy and learning. I couldn’t afford to stay anonymous. Israel is a tight-knit country and is like one big family. It’s the size of New Jersey and you’ve got no choice but stay connected to each other for better or worse. In many ways, this inter-connectedness is deeply missing from the American landscape. We don’t do well as a culture when we prefer to stay in our bubbles. 

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

Over the years, I’ve floundered between Facebook and Instagram and I feel Instagram helps cater to my message and storytelling. I can capture the emotional essence of what I’m trying to say in an Instagram post. The visual element is also motivating. 

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

Quite a bit actually as I can’t help myself. 

Worry more about the craft than marketing. 

Write to that one person. 

Writing is the fun part. Enjoy it as long as it lasts. 

Don’t rush the writing either. You’ve got just one chance to make a good first impression. 

Hire an editor earlier on in the process and/or join a critique group when you’ve fleshed out the story as best as you can.

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

I’m currently taking a short story course and writing my way through fiction because I’m tired writing about myself. It’s time to use my imagination to create characters from scratch.  I’m also doing a fair amount of pitching to different outlets to help promote Sand and Steel. 


About the Author

Dorit Sasson writes for a wide range of print and online publications, including The Huffington Post and The Writer, and speaks at conferences, libraries, and community centers. She is the author of the a featured chapter in Pebbles in the Pond: Transforming the World One Person at a Time, the latest installment of that best-selling series, and. She is the host of the global radio show “Giving Voice to Your Courageous Story.” She lives in Pittsburgh, PA with her husband and two children.


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Posted in Blog Tours, Book Events, reviews

But First, Rumi by Chitra Ramaswami Review & Guest Post

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

A woman searching for answers after a shocking medical diagnosis meets a stray cat in need of help find one another and helps the woman find answers she didn’t even realize she was seeking in author Chitra Ramaswami’s “But First, Rumi”. 


The Synopsis

When Chitra discovered a stray cat in need of help, she never thought they’d wind up saving each other. Struggling to come to terms with an unexpected diagnosis, Chitra returned home to Oman seeking a sense of familiarity. What she discovered instead was a very special cat who changed her life. But First, Rumi is the story of how, day by day, Rumi and Chitra got to know one another, and as she learned to love the little stray, she began to see greater life lessons about herself, her family, her home country and her place in the world. 

What unfolds when girl and cat meet? What happens when you follow your heart? What if the world is not as it seems? Is it worth taking a chance? 

The Review

This was an emotional, heartfelt read that the author has shared with us. This memoir immediately clicked with me from the start, as someone who has experienced autoimmune disease and sudden health scares, I found myself identifying with the author. The balance of memoir and reflection the author implements into the narrative are not only well-written but speak of an honest approach to life itself that many of us can either identify with or seek to include in our lives moving forward.

The other half of this amazing story is the impact of finding and opening her heart up to this stray cat. Rumi’s story is paired with the reality of stray cats within Oman, showcasing how different felines are viewed there as opposed to the West. Trying to peel back the layers of superstitions and fear that many people have of the animals, the author showcases how love and compassion for these creatures are not only essential to their survival and perseverance within Oman, but how beneficial pets, in general, can be to a person’s physical and emotional well-being also. 

The Verdict

A remarkable, emotional, and engaging memoir, author Chitra Ramaswami’s “But First, Rumi” is a must-read book. An honest look into themes such as health, both physical and mental, and the impact pets can have on a person’s life, this story is heartfelt and speaks to many readers out there, making this a truly remarkable, short yet powerful read. If you haven’t yet, make sure you grab your own copy of “But First, Rumi” today!

Rating: 10/10

But First, Rumi is available to purchase now on


About the Author, Chitra Ramaswami

Chitra Ramaswami was born and raised in the Middle East by Indian parents, and her childhood was spent reading every book she could lay her hands on or writing stories and lines of poetry. As a result of traveling the world extensively and being a natural linguist, she is an amalgamation of many cultures and tastes and is constantly looking for the next experience she can immerse herself in. When she isn’t writing, Chitra rides horses, climbs mountains and is a passionate advocate for the Omani Mau/ street cat. She currently lives in New York with her husband and a very spoiled cat and hamster duo. 

Find her online at:

Author’s website: 


Author Chitra Ramaswami’s Guest Blog Post: The Purrfect therapist

With the best PR in place, dogs are the title holders of therapy animals with more Google search results and more therapy programs working exclusively with them. Say the words “Therapy animal” and a ready image of a dog wearing a vest comes to mind.

But what about Cats? 

Meh. Aloof. Unexpressive. Anti-social. Want you only if they need you. 

Hmmm. Aren’t we being a tad bit unfair? 

I say we have a closer look at what contribution our feline friends have made to people’s psychological health, shall we?

Let’s start with:

  • Abner, an Abyssinian is popularly known as the rockstar of pet therapy cats. His daily duties consist of visiting the retirement community at Bayview, Queen Anne in Seattle. His superpower is the ability to make seniors live in the present, forget their loneliness or lack of family, and focus their attention on him. Works like a charm for all parties involved!
  • Thula, a water-loving Maine coon changed the life of Iris, a 6-year-old autistic girl for the better after her failed interactions with therapy dogs, horses, and rabbits. Before Thula, Iris’s crippling anxiety instilled a fear of water in her. This however changed and Iris took to swimming with Thula accompanying her in the pool. Thula also helped Iris relax enough to resume her normal sleep cycle which was nonexistent before her arrival. Besides, Iris also resumed homeschooling activities and reached verbal milestones. The duo has been inseparable since their first meeting. 
  • The Meow mates & Mutt mates program in the Allendale correctional institute in South Carolina pairs dogs and you heard right – CATS with inmates and accompany them 24/7. Sharing common life experiences like having lived on the streets, abuse, etc. with their assigned feline helps the inmates experience hope and companionship like never before.
  • Duke Ellington is a rescue cat who regularly visits the ICU at USCF and is eagerly awaited by both staff and patients alike. His calm demeanor has a great impact on alleviating symptoms of stress and depression of the inpatients. Also, seeing a cat being wheeled around in a hospital never fails to bring a smile to onlookers!

However, are these cats few and far between? 

Let’s see what science has to say about the feline-mental health link:

  • Anti-social – Think again: Contrary to popular belief, cats are social animals. They have the ability to be just as attached to humans as dogs. Unfortunately, lesser studies are done on this bond with felines. 
  • Precious Purrs: Cat purrs have a gamma-ray frequency same as meditation waves, thereby lending a calming effect to those beside them. Cats have a calming effect on people with Alzheimer’s disease too and serve as a mood booster too.
  • Research catching up: According to various recent studies, there’s increasing evidence showing cat owners of various ages being happier, focused, and feeling less isolated.
  • Pet away: Stroking a cat rhythmically aids in emotional regulation and subconsciously teach those suffering with anxiety, panic disorders or PTSD to calm themselves down. 
  • ESA advantage: If your cat qualifies as your emotional support animal (ESA), they get to accompany you on the flight without a ticket and live in apartments where pets may not be allowed otherwise. All you need is a letter from your mental health professional. 

So, are some cat breeds better suited to play therapists? We don’t have all the answers yet. But The good news is more research is on its way. 

In the meanwhile, would you like to read the story of a special feline named Rumi? By the way, he has all the qualities of the purrfect therapist!

To read the memoir, But First, Rumi – please click on the link below:

But First, Rumi is available worldwide on Amazon as e-book and paperback. Also available in select bookstores.


– Blog Tour Dates

March 15th @ WOW! Women on Writing 

Join us at the WOW blog, The Muffin, to celebrate the launch of Chitra Ramaswami’s book But First, Rumi. You can read an interview with the author, find out more information about this touching memoir, and win a copy for yourself!

March 16th @ Hook of a Book 

Join Erin as she shares a guest post by the author about Omani street cats. 

March 20th @ Boots Shoes and Fashion 

Visit Linda’s blog to read her interview with author, Chitra Ramaswami about her book But First, Rumi 

March 20th @ Pages and Paws

Visit Kristine’s blog today to read her review of But First, Rumi by Chitra Ramaswami.

March 21st @ Shoe’s Seeds & Stories 

Visit Linda’s blog today to read her review and spotlight for But First, Rumi by Chitra Ramaswami.

March 25th @ Keeping it Real 

Join Lisa as she shares a guest post by the author about how to get past writer’s block.

March 26th @ Author Anthony Avina 

Visit Anthony’s blog as he shares a guest post about cats and mental health and reviews But First, Rumi by Chita Ramaswami. 

March 28th @ The Faerie Review 

Visit Lily’s blog where she interviews author Chitra Ramaswami.

March 29th @ Beverley A. Baird’s Blog 

Join Bev as she shares her thoughts about But First, Rumi by Chitra Ramaswami.

March 30th @ Lisa’s Reading 

Visit Lisa’s blog where she reviews But First, Rumi by Chitra Ramaswami. 

April 1st @ Knotty Needle 

Visit Judy’s blog and read her review of this touching memoir for pet lovers, But First, Rumi. You can also win a copy of the book too! 

April 5th @ Reviews and Interviews

Join Lisa as she interviews author Chitra Ramaswami about her book But First, Rumi.

April 5th @ Note to the World

Come by Mahnoor’s blog today and read the review of But First, Rumi by Chitra Ramaswami.

April 7th @ It’s Alanna Jean 

Join Alanna as she shares a guest post by Chitra Ramaswami about the misconceptions about cats.

April 13th @ Deborah-Zenha Adams 

Join Deborah as she shares a guest post about writing process by the author of But First, Rumi 

Posted in reviews

Sand and Steel: A Memoir of Longing and Finding Home by Dorit Sasson Review

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

A woman becomes disillusioned with the country she became a soldier for and must find a spiritual home after convincing her husband to take their family to the United States in author Dorit Sasson’s “Sand and Steel: A Memoir of Longing and Finding Home”. 


The Synopsis

What’s it like to be lost between two worlds only to find a home in neither? In her new memoir Sand and Steel: A Memoir of Longing and Finding Home, Dorit Sasson expands the narrative begun in her award-winning debut Accidental Soldier: a Memoir of Service and Sacrifice in the Israel Defense Forces with her journey to understand what it means to come home changed by the world and to find a spiritual home between two vastly different worlds.

When Sasson, a native New Yorker, returns to her kibbutz following the second Israel-Lebanese war, she becomes disillusioned and shocked by the degree of economic depression and social change. Forced to make a decision about their economic futures, Sasson takes matters into her own hands and convinces her husband to leave a kibbutz that has abandoned him and a country that has turned its back and emigrate to the United States in search of the American dream. Torn between leaving the land she loved and fought for as an Israel Defense Forces soldier and the prospect of a brighter future, Sasson welcomes professional freedom that awaited her in the U.S. But when she arrives, the United States was not what it seemed—or perhaps she had changed in ways she hasn’t yet realized.

The Review

A powerful, somber yet touching story, this non-fiction read does an amazing job of bridging the gap between two very distinct cultures and worlds. From the life of war, violence and greed that forced the author’s family to flee the home they loved to find work in the United States, to the equally violent rise of hatred and bigotry that has resulted in deadly attacks, it can be heartbreaking and maddening to see two worlds erupting all around you. 

Yet the author showcases a powerful lesson that many of us can take to heart, and that is the true definition of home. The author’s balance of personal reflection and her ability to capture the major cultural differences between her time in Israel and then moving back to the U.S., especially as an American-born turned Israeli citizen, was a truly impactful and insightful experience as a reader. 

The Verdict

An emotional, heartfelt and personal journey of family, love and the path to finding where one belongs, author Dorit Sasson’s “Sand and Steel” is a must-read memoir. A story that touches on some powerful events in the last few decades around the world and utilizing personal experience and powerful imagery, this is a book that readers won’t want to put down anytime soon. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Dorit Sasson writes for a wide range of print and online publications, including The Huffington Post and The Writer, and speaks at conferences, libraries, and community centers. She is the author of the a featured chapter in Pebbles in the Pond: Transforming the World One Person at a Time, the latest installment of that best-selling series, and. She is the host of the global radio show “Giving Voice to Your Courageous Story.” She lives in Pittsburgh, PA with her husband and two children.

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Posted in reviews

Rude Awakenings from Sleeping Rough by Peter C. Mitchell Review

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

Author Peter C. Mitchell takes readers on a heartbreaking journey that shows how a simple mistake and bad luck can take the best of us down a road of misery and heartache in his book, “Rude Awakenings from Sleeping Rough”. 


The Synopsis

This is a story that the charities don’t want you to read. This is the fate that can befall any of us that you don’t want to acknowledge.

For years you have passed them on the streets, as much a part of your routine as your morning shower, your half-hearted scan of the world’s news — fake or otherwise — and the barista who artistically crafts the £4 cappuccino with soya milk, three drops of vanilla, and a flutter of chocolate sprinkles that has to be made just right or it throws your day off in ways that nobody else understands.

You see them as often as you see your own family. The disenfranchised. The rough sleepers. The homeless. Camped out and befouling the sidewalks and alleyways of your daily commute, their worldly possessions, such as they are, spread around them –as dirty and worn out as the sleepers themselves, but as valuable to them as your £100 brogues are to you.

Occasionally you get the urge to throw some loose change at them as a gesture of magnanimous humanity, but when push comes to shove you would rather tip the honest, hard-working barista who ensures your day gets off to a proper start. Better to support the successful rather than throw good money after bad trying to keep the great unwashed afloat.

You have conditioned yourself to look through them – allowing your eyes to pass over them without actually seeing them. A defeated acceptance of lives gone wrong; uncomfortable reminders of what can happen when the best laid plans of mice and men go horribly awry. “Thank god I’m not like them,” you think, sipping your £4 cup of liquid gold. “I could never let that happen to me.”

Until suddenly – inexplicably – it does. And you discover the life you have built was nothing more than a house of cards that crashed down around you with frightening ease. A spate of bad luck, a poor decision or two, and the ubiquitous ‘circumstances beyond your control’ conspire to create a perfect storm of events that leaves you cast away on the streets feeling dazed, disjointed, and damned.

This is Peter C. Mitchell’s story. But it could be your story. Not to mention the thousands of others, past and present, that have found themselves broken behind closed charity doors. Theirs are the stories that need to be heard. To be read.

The Review

A masterful and expertly written book, author Peter C. Mitchell does a phenomenal job of relaying the hardships and struggles of being forced to live on the streets and endure the horrors that await those forced into those positions. He also shocks readers with a raw and emotional look into the real world struggles of those seeking shelter and help from charities and housing and the realities of those charities and the “work” they do.

The book itself is thoroughly written and well organized, and the author’s descriptive style of writing really paints a picture of the realities of homelessness and poverty, as well as the living situation of those seeking help in what should be a sanctuary. The book also does a fantastic job of highlighting the need for more guidance and insight from government officials when it comes to travel and immigration, as a simple clerical error or lack of effort by an employee could lead to years of misery for the average traveler. 

The Verdict

Powerful, evenly-paced, and educational, author Peter C. Mitchell’s “Rude Awakenings from Sleeping Rough” is the non-fiction, memoir-style read you didn’t know you needed. As many more people have become affected both physically and financially from the COVDI-19 Pandemic and the homeless population has been hit by the virus hard, coming to understand those who find themselves living on the streets has never been more important. Finding a means of not only understanding the homeless but identifying with them and reminding them and ourselves they are human beings is an important first step in trying to solve this crisis. If you haven’t yet, grab a copy of this truly engaging read today! 

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

London born, Canadian raised Peter Mitchell was bumbling his way through a moderately successful career in business journalism when an investigation into a story on Corporate Social Responsibility inspired him to look beyond profit margins and PR into the very real problems faced by society. This inspiration prompted him to dip his toes into a self-confessed Sanity/Vanity project of a biography of his great, great grandfather, Sir John Kirk. 

As Secretary of The Ragged School Union, John championed the causes of children, the disabled, and the working poor in Victorian-era London. His influence extended beyond the city limits, and his life proved more interesting than previous biographies revealed. Dust-buried references have surfaced in the most obscure locales, showing the consequences—both good and bad—to the ragged and crippled children John Kirk devoted his life to help. 

In 2017, Peter returned to London to complete his research and begin the writing of “A Knight in the Slums.” The past was ready to be mined, and the future was assured. The present, however, took an unpredictable -and darkly ironic—turn. 

A series of unfortunate events transpired, creating a perfect storm of calamities leaving Peter penniless and sleeping rough. He had unwittingly fallen victim to the same societal ailments John Kirk fought. That nightmare inadvertently provided him with an inside look into the current workings of these same systems put in place by his great, great grandfather, and others like him, put in place over a century ago. That experience frightened him more than the horrors of homelessness itself. 

Armed with the scars of this unexpected, but disturbingly relevant, knowledge Peter continues to work on “A Knight in the Slums” with renewed insight. John Kirk created solutions over 100 years ago that are still in play today. Times have changed; yet the solutions have stagnated, and proven to not be solutions, but mechanisms that perpetuate the cycle of poverty: a Hell’s Carousel funded by well-meant individuals and institutions blinded by the brand of “charity.” New systems need to be developed; new solutions need to be found.

Posted in reviews

Disorder by Israfel Sivad Review

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

A truly unique memoir tells the story of a young writer who struggled with addiction and mental health, and found a way to overcome it all through love in author Israfel Sivad’s “Disorder”.


The Synopsis

Disorder is the story of Michael Adams, the man behind the pen name, Israfel Sivad. At 37-years-old, Michael wasn’t sure any longer if he was hipstered out or truly beat. He was a recovering drug addict and alcoholic. He’d been in psych wards, and he’d spent almost a decade writing his second novel. But then, he found himself inspired in a whole new way. He believed he might be falling in love…

Disorder traces Michael’s experiences from a period of homelessness at the age of 32 through his battles with alcoholism and psychosis back to his birth in Southern California. Simultaneously, it weaves a tale of the relationship Michael is trying to build with his girlfriend, Pam.

In this story, the author develops a groundbreaking, nonlinear style that captures both the disjointed madness of psychosis and the natural rhythms of memory. He reveals the reality behind what many of us believe we would never be able to live through: drug addiction, alcoholism and psychotic breaks… and his ability to overcome those demons to discover love, even when it seemed he was already too damaged to let that emotion take hold.

The Review

The author does a fantastic job of conveying a powerfully painful and harsh period of time in their lives, using a non-linear style storytelling device to convey the author’s life. From memories of childhood having lost a grandfather and best friend to dark times living in and out of psych wards and the streets of Richmond, the author doesn’t hold back on the physical and mental toll his life took when he was addicted to drugs and alcohol, and the psychosis that he endured as well. 

The imagery really conveys the struggle the author had in his life to the reader, while the story between himself and Pam is the beginning of a path to redemption that anyone who is struggling in life can hang onto and see for themselves that the trials and tribulations in their life aren’t forever. While the writing style can change sometimes throughout the narrative of the author’s life, it adds to the allure and interest of the non-linear storytelling, making this a fascinating read.

The Verdict

Powerful, emotional, and a brilliant read, author Israfel Sivad’s “Disorder” is a truly one of a kind memoir both stylistically and intellectually, giving voice to the struggles of those with mental health struggles and addiction in a way that few have ever really captured before. Grab your copy on September 8th, 2020, and see for yourselves how this amazing author came to be.


About the Author

Israfel Sivad is the founder of Ursprung Collective, which has been referred to as “fantastic brain food” on ReverbNation. His first novel, “Crossroads Blues”, has been compared to the work of Fyodor Dostoevsky (Palmetto Review). His second novel, “The Adversary’s Good News”, was a finalist for the 2016 Chanticleer Paranormal Book Award. His stories and poems have appeared in the Santa Fe Literary Review, The Stray Branch and Badlands Literary Journal.

Posted in reviews

SARGE!: Cases of a Chicago Police Detective Sergeant In The 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s by John DiMaggio Review

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

A thorough exploration of what being a CPD officer/detective sergeant in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s takes center stage in the late author John DiMaggio’s “SARGE!”. 


The Synopsis

“SARGE!” is a fascinating memoir by the late Chicago Police Detective Sergeant John A. DiMaggio, one of the most decorated officers on the force during a career that spanned the years 1957 to 1991. Among his awards are two Superintendent’s Awards of Valor, Mayor Richard J. Daley’s Praiseworthy Acknowledgment Plaque for Exceptional Act of Bravery Involving Risk of Life, a Presidential Citation of Appreciation, the Illinois Police Association Award of Valor, and many more.Upon his retirement in 1991, DiMaggio wrote a fascinating account of his work as a cop. The manuscript languished among his personal effects until after his death in 2008, after which his family decided to resurrect it, spruce it up, and submit it for publication. It turns out that he was an excellent word craftsman and storyteller; in fact, he was no stranger to writing—for many years he wrote the “Ask Sarge” column for the Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter newsletter.Told in a conversational, “regular guy” voice in episodic fashion, “SARGE!” reveals to the reader what it was really like to be a cop. The manuscript in many ways takes the form of a prose treatment of a weekly television police drama. A large selection of PHOTOS is included.DiMaggio takes the reader back to the decades such as the turbulent 1960s, when the police department was making a painful transition from “old school” to modernization. The author describes firsthand the legendary riots that occurred in Chicago after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. He illustrates the integration of minorities into the department and how that played out. He also goes into famous cases of corruption and the politics of navigating such a large department. One of the “set pieces” of the book is the story of how DiMaggio, as part of the “Three Musketeers”—a trio that included two detectives who were close friends—investigated a series terrifying slasher attacks on women that occurred in the city in the mid-70s. The case became one of the police department’s most memorable. Among the other cases detailed in the book include how DiMaggio found himself entering the home of a crazed young man holding hostages with a shotgun; the investigation of the discovery of a headless corpse; the take-down of the Chicago “Mad Bomber”; how an anonymous audio tape provided clues to the identities of armed robbers; and the manhunt for a cop killer.

A portion of all proceeds will be donated to The Chicago Police Memorial Foundation and The Chicago Police Foundation.

The Review

This was a very well-written, engaging and thoughtful read. This memoir by the late author showcases a vibrant and powerful career as a police officer, from his early years handling emotional cases of attempted suicides and anti-mob task forces that formed in the city to hostage situations and medical procedures from on the job injuries that nearly left him unable to walk again. 

The author uses his years of expertise to highlight the inner workings of the police department of Chicago, how they handle situations and how that has evolved over the decades. The personal way the author writes allows the reader to feel connected to the author’s life and stories, while the chapters are formatted to feel like a crime drama unfolding before the reader’s eyes. 

The Verdict

A must-read memoir, SARGE! by John DiMaggio is a evenly paced and extensive book. The author’s life and experiences are engaging and draw the reader in fully, showcasing how the police department has evolved over the years while highlighting a full and experienced career of a fine officer. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


The Chicago Tribune recently published the article written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Rick Kogan:

Posted in Blog Tours, Book Events, Interviews

Interview with Author Rita Pomade

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

I think I’ve been writing since the day I learned how letters combined for words. I had quite a collection of poetry before I graduated high school. Later, in order to support myself as a single parent, I took contract work with Funk and Wagnalls Encyclopedia editing down articles for their year book. They sent me galleys enabling me to be home with my children. Years later, while living in Mexico I was hired by Mexico This Month, an English language monthly tourist magazine, to do interviews. From then on, I continued freelancing to supplement my income as an English Second Language teacher.


What inspired you to write your book?

I met my second husband in Mexico. We talked about a sea voyage together. The idea of writing about it was part of my motivation for setting sail with him. Life at sea was harder and more precarious than I could have anticipated, and I didn’t have the mental space to do it. Some thirty years later he asked me if I’d sail with him again—this time from Tunisia to Tahiti. I told him I’d think about it, and wrote a childhood friend in Belgium about his offer. She mailed me all the letters I had written her during those years. Reading the letters triggered insights I didn’t have back then. I wanted to share my unique story and all I had learned from it. Had I written Seeker at the time, it would have not gained from the expansion that hindsight brought.

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

On one level Seeker: A Sea Odyssey is an adventure story filled with pirates, monsoons and raging seas. But it’s also a story of love, betrayal and forgiveness. I dealt with challenges and survival on many levels, healed wounds and found my voice. I hope readers can relate to my insights and find their own strengths through reading my journey.

What drew you to this particular genre? 

In the sixth grade I had written the class poem for graduation, but it was given to another child to read as though it was her poem. I seethed at the injustice, and thought about other unfair situations I had seen. At that moment I decided I wanted write about them, so the world would know and put things right. I remember thinking I didn’t have enough life experiences to make a difference, and knew I’d have to grow up and experience as much of life as I could. I actually did that, and writing and sharing insights about what I have learned through life experience lends itself to memoir writing. 

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

I met many people at sea who had interesting stories—interesting pasts. Some traumatic or life changing experience caused them to drop out of society. One such character was Johnny. We first met Johnny in the Philippines and met up with him again in Cypress. He had been in Hitler youth, but was never deprogrammed after the war though many others were. At one point, he told us his father had denounced and stolen the property of a Jewish friend.  His mother had a nervous breakdown over the event and never fully recuperated. He carried the burden of parents’ story, felt at home nowhere and drank too much. I’d like to ask him why he refused to be deprogrammed, preferring to carry guilt and needing to share this part of his family story with others. The writer in me always wants to know the interior conflicts that define character and motivate behavior.

What social media has been most helpful in developing your readership?

I’m a bit of a luddite, and don’t use much social media though I’m on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Seeker: A Sea Odyssey has received good reviews and was shortlisted by the Quebec Writers’ Federation as the best first book for 2019. I’m hoping word of mouth, combined with readings and interviews will bring readers to the memoir.

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

 Don’t give up. Rejection is part of the process. If you aren’t receiving rejections, you aren’t sending out your work. But don’t send indiscriminately. Research and know what each publisher or publication is asking for so that you pinpoint your market.

What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books on the horizon?

 I’m working on a childhood memoir tentatively titled Genesis. It covers the period of my life from embryo to eleven years old. Research in the field of epigenetics is lending credence to the idea that trauma passes down through the genes. We come into the world innocent, but we carry family history from earlier generations. It’s a fascinating discovery, and I’d like to show how it relates to my childhood and how I believe it shaped my early development. 

Seeker: A Sea Odyssey is available to purchase at Amazon.comBarnes and Noble, and Books-a-Million. You can also add this to your Goodreads reading list.


About the Author Rita Pomade

Rita Pomade— teacher, poet, memoirist—lived six years aboard a small yacht that took her from Taiwan to the Suez to Mallorca, dropping anchor in 22 countries. She and her husband navigated through raging monsoons, encountered real-life pirates, and experienced cultures that profoundly changed them. Seeker: A Sea Odyssey, published by Guernica Editions under the Miroland label tells her story. 

Rita Pomade, a native New Yorker, first settled in Mexico before immigrating to Quebec. During her time in Mexico, she taught English, wrote articles and book reviews for Mexconnect, an ezine devoted to Mexican culture, and had a Dear Rita monthly column on handwriting analysis in the Chapala Review. In Montreal she taught English as a Second Language at Concordia University and McGill University until her retirement. She is a two-time Moondance International Film Festival award winner, once for a film script and again for a short story deemed film worthy. Her work is represented in the Monologues Bank, a storehouse of monologues for actors in need of material for auditions, in several anthologies, and in literary reviews. Her travel biography, Seeker: A Sea Odyssey, was shortlisted for the 2019 Concordia University First Book Award. .


— Blog Tour Dates

June 29th @ The Muffin

What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Grab your coffee and join us in celebrating the launch of Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey. You can read an interview with the author and enter to win a copy of the book.

July 2nd @ Fiona Ingram’s Blog
Visit Fiona’s blog and you can read a guest post by the author about how she could have enriched her journey at sea.

July 5th @ CK Sorens’ Blog
Visit Carrie’s blog today and you can read her review of Rita Pomade’s memoir Seeker.

July 6th @ Create Write Now
Visit Mari L. McCarthy’s blog where you can read author Rita Pomade’s guest post about what she learned about herself through writing.

July 7th @ The Faerie Review
Make sure you visit Lily’s blog and read a guest post by the author about cooking on a shoestring at sea.

July 8th @ Coffee with Lacey
Visit Lacey’s blog today and read her review of Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.

July 10th @ 12 Books
Visit Louise’s blog and read her review of Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.

July 11th @ Bookworm Blog
Visit Anjanette’s blog today and you can read her review of Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.

July 12th @ It’s Alanna Jean
Visit Alanna’s blog today and you can read a guest post by author Rita Pomade about the ten best traits you need for living aboard a yacht.

July 13th @ The New England Book Critic
Join Vickie as she reviews Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.

July 14th @ Bev. A Baird’s Blog
Visit Bev’s blog today and read her review of Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.

July 15th @ Reviews and Interviews
Visit Lisa’s blog today where she interviews author Rita Pomade about her book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.

July 16th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog
Visit Anthony’s blog where he reviews Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.

July 17th @ 12 Books
Visit Louise’s blog and read author Rita Pomade’s guest post discussing sailing myths.

July 18th @ Author Anthon Avina’s Blog
Visit Anthony’s blog today and read his interview with author Rita Pomade.

July 20th @ Bev. A Baird’s Blog
Visit Bev’s blog again and you can read author Rita Pomade’s guest post featuring her advice on writing a memoir.

July 21st @ Jill Sheet’s Blog
Visit Jill’s blog where you can read a guest post by author Rita Pomade about how her handwriting analysis skills made her a better writer.

July 22nd @ A Storybook World
Visit Deirdra’s blog today and you can checkout her spotlight of Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.

July 23rd @ Choices
Visit Madeline’s blog today and you can read a guest post by author Rita Pomade about the benefits of spending time abroad.

July 24th @ Books, Beans and Botany
Visit Ashley’s blog today where she reviews Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.

July 24th @ Tiggy’s Books
Visit Tiggy’s blog today and read her review of Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey. She’ll also be chatting a bit with the author!

July 26th @ CK Sorens Blog
Visit Carrie’s blog today and you can read a guest post by author Rita Pomade about how she jumpstart her writing process.

July 27th @ Memoir Writer’s Journey
Visit Kathleen’s blog today and read her review of Rita Pomade’s book Seeker.

July 28th @ Lady Unemployed
Visit Nicole’s blog today where you can read a guest post by author Rita Pomade talking about stepping outside of one’s comfort zone.

July 31st @ Wild Hearted
Visit Ashley’s blog where you can read a guest post by author Rita Pomade about why she jumped at the chance to go to sea.