Posted in reviews

Wasted Youth: A Flint Punk Rock Memoir by John Ribner Review

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

In a bid to escape toxic and abusive surroundings, Flint, Michigan native J.P. Ribner found solace in his pursuit of Punk Rock glory, and in this memoir the author holds no punches as he explores his journey to find self-worth and in the end discover himself in the memoir, “Wasted Youth: A Flint Punk Rock Memoir”.

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The Synopsis

In Flint, Michigan, the water isn’t the only thing that’s toxic!

Growing up in Flint left its mark on J.P. Ribner. Punk rock offered an escape from his abusive surroundings. At 16, he set out to become the singer in a punk rock band.

In this gritty, hard-hitting memoir, Ribner shares his experiences with:

  • Dysfunctional family dynamics,
  • Back-stabbing band politics,
  • A drive-by shooting,
  • Being de-platformed,
  • A drugged drink,
  • Violent identity politics,
  • Divorce,
  • The loss of friendships,
  • And much more.

Ribner’s writing pulls no punches. He daringly shares the blistering details of his desperate search for self-worth. He ends with a brutal deconstruction of his fiery disaster.

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, he offers hope by sharing life lessons he’s learned along the way.

The Review

This was such an insightful and gritty memoir! The author does a fantastic job of painting a picture of life growing up both personally and as a whole in Flint, Michigan in the 1980s and beyond. The detail and the emotion that the author puts into his writing as he describes some of the harrowing moments of his life, from his first betrayal from a former band member to the abuse both verbally and physically he suffered at home and even the shocking events that led to the author losing the friends who had always been in his corner. 

What really stands out in this narrative is the expertise with which the author balances setting with a theme in this memoir. The town and era for which this story takes place really capture the real experience of not only life in Flint, Michigan but the familiar but crucial nature that drove so many young people to embrace and love the punk-rock scene. As a fan of the rock genre overall, it’s always fascinating to see the path that brought musicians of all kinds to the bands and genres they loved. This, blended with the introspective nature of the memoir’s narrative that saw the author examining not only the foundation for his youth’s hardships, but his role in both his failures and his successes later in life, made this a true one-of-a-kind read.

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The Verdict

A brilliant, honest, and engaging memoir, author John P. Ribner’s “Wasted Youth” is a must-read nonfiction book. The relatable and memorable way the author delivers the heartfelt and at times brutal reality of his life growing up, and the lessons that led from heartbreak to hope found, made this a mesmerizing and enlightening read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Born in Flint, Michigan. Raised by narcissists. Novelist. Singer. Songwriter. Martial artist. Social critic. Victim of a drive-by shooting. Author of “Wasted Youth: A Flint Punk Rock Memoir” and four other books.

Posted in reviews

Custom Justice by Amanda Blackwood Review

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

TRIGGER WARNING: BOOK DEALS WITH SUBJECTS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING, ABUSE, AND THEMES RELATED TO THESE SUBJECTS. READER DISCRETION ADVISED.

Author Amanda Blackwood shares her harrowing story of survival after escaping human trafficking and striving to get her own brand of justice through sharing the truth in her memoir, “Custom Justice”. 

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The Synopsis

It’s hard enough to escape human trafficking, but how does someone survive the aftermath of continually being hunted for years to come? I was young when the abuse started. It came from every angle. Struggling for many years, I wasn’t sure I’d ever have a chance at a normal life with real love and true happiness. At the age of 31 I figured I was too old for that sort of thing. I’d been abused in the past, but this time I was finally going to have a happy ending. I was moving to a foreign country to get married to a police officer I’d known for seven years. I would finally be happy. I had no idea that my entire life would change once more, and I’d be forced to either subject myself to abuse beyond anything I could ever imagine, or end my life unceremoniously, death by train. The man I thought I loved exploited me beyond comprehension. The damage he left behind will haunt me for the rest of my life. There is no way to seek court justice across international borders against a police officer in a corrupt system. Instead, I seek my custom justice simply by sharing the truth with the world. It’s been 10 years since I escaped, beating all odds. Most don’t survive. I know that now, I didn’t know that then.

The Review

This is a heartbreaking yet vital read for those who want to educate themselves about the perils of human trafficking, what constitutes human trafficking, and overcoming abuse as a whole. The vulnerability the author writes with when exploring her past and the moments that defined so much of her life really bring this subject to life vividly, exploring experiences far too many people have in general in the lives that they never knew could be considered abuse or a form of trafficking. 

The balance of personal memories and emotions with the descriptive and haunting way the author delves into her experiences makes this book feel important and engaging with the reader. The way the author writes also showcases an underlying theme of overcoming the odds, finding hope again, and making a life outside of the one filled with trauma, which so many people can relate to. 

A Mountain of Entertainment

The Verdict

A harrowing, emotional, and well-told story of survival and hope, author Amanda Blackwood’s “Custom Justice” is the must-read non-fiction memoir that any and all survivors of abuse and trafficking will not want to miss. Educational for those who have not experienced this before, the author’s story is important and memorable, and while often painful to read the more harrowing experiences the author shares from throughout her life, reading these experiences may well one day help others to feel connected and not alone, leading this book to be a must-own story. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Amanda Blackwood is a survivor of human trafficking and an avid writer. A portion of every book sale goes to local organizations in the state of Colorado to help rescue other victims of human trafficking and offer them a better chance at life.

Check out more books by Amanda Blackwood on Amazon.

– Detailed Pieces of a Shattered Dream

– The Miller Miles

– Twisted Fate – poetry from a survivor

– Thirty Synchronized Woodpeckers

– The Shack in the Woods

– The Unlikely

– Custom Justice

– New Hope

…More coming soon!

https://detailedpieces.com/

Posted in reviews

Reflections of an Anxious African-American Dad by Eric L. Heard Review

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

A father speaks to his son on the experiences of his own childhood in an effort to connect those experiences to the anxiety and challenges of parenthood in author Eric L. Heard’s “Reflections of an Anxious African-American Dad”. 

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The Synopsis

The purpose of this book is an awkward discussion of Eric Heard’s life to his son. He talks about his life in a candid way that tries to explain his anxiety as an African American dad. It is an open and honest account of his life through the life of a child that has been through a lot in his life. It is a reflection on his life that has been shaped by his childhood experiences.

The Review

This was such a brilliantly written and emotionally driven memoir. The personal nature of this particular memoir really helps readers to feel connected not only to the message this novel creates but to the author himself and his struggles both with his past and his anxiety to be the best parent to his son possible. Stemming from a fear that his son would go down a path of chaos and bad decisions, the author recognizes his behavior not only directly impacts his son and his perceptions of the world, but how his own past and the adults in his life have impacted his actions in the present. 

This is not only a great examination of learned behavior and environment on the growth of a child, (examining the author’s life and childhood growing up in the American South during the ’70s, 80’s and beyond), but in particular, this is a much needed and thoughtful look at the experiences African-American children undergo and the added pressures that African-American parents have to help raise their child in a nation that still houses too much racism. Combine this with the personal stories the author shares of his relationship with his parents, his grandparents, and the relationship between his parents and his grandparents together, and the reader gets both an intimate look into the author’s life and a broader look into the life of an African-American parent in the United States today.

The Verdict

A meaningful, insightful, and thought-provoking memoir, author Eric L. Heard’s “Reflections of an Anxious African-American Dad” is a must-read nonfiction book of 2021. While a short read, the book has a major impact, speaking to parents and in particular African-American parents as the book takes an intimate look into the author’s personal stories and showcases how our childhood and the way adults interact with children do have an impact on their lives later on. A truly meaningful book that is not to be missed, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Eric L. Heard currently lives in Bowling Green, Kentucky with his wife, Sonya, of 17 years and his son, McKinley. Eric is a graduate of Florida State University with a BS in Engineering. He also has a Master’s Business Administration from Indiana University and Master’s of Manufacturing Operations from Kettering University. He is an Army Brat who has lived in the Southeast United States, Germany, and Japan. Please contact me at ericlheard@hotmail.com, if you have any questions or need to contact me.

https://www.bookbub.com/books/reflections-of-an-anxious-african-american-dad-by-eric-l-heard

Posted in reviews

On the Way to Casa Lotus by Lorena Junco Margain Review

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

What should have been a simple procedure to heal herself goes wrong and one woman must go on a journey of forgiveness and healing in author Lorena Junco Margain’s “On the Way to Casa Lotus”. 

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The Synopsis

Lorena Junco Margain—passionate art collector and devoted wife and mother—is already shaken after abruptly fleeing Mexico and relocating in the USA with her family while pregnant due to safety concerns. Then, she learns she has a tumor on her adrenal gland. Having long experienced unexplained symptoms of dizziness and lethargy that neither medications nor holistic or Ayurvedic treatments have helped, she embraces the news with tears of relief: with a simple surgery, she can regain her strength and joyful spirit. But fate can be mischievous, and to err is human—even for surgeons. Rather than improve after surgery, her condition worsens.

On the Way to Casa Lotus is the gripping true story of Junco Margain’s journey coming to terms with the permanent consequences of a surgeon’s devastating mistake. Mindful that even good people make errors and that vengeance would not mend her broken body or soul, she chooses instead to embark on a quest for peace and healing—beginning by seeking space in her heart to forgive.

Deeply compassionate, wise and poetic, On the Way to Casa Lotus lays bare some of the most poignant contradictions of the human condition, blurring the distinctions between guilt and neglectfulness, anger and sorrow, humility and shame, gratitude and despair. Rich with imagery and metaphors from the world of contemporary art, brimming with scenes from the author’s close-knit, abundantly loving Mexican family, the book plants a seed of hope that loss and pain can serve a higher purpose: one of promoting forgiveness as a force for personal and universal change.

The Review

This was a beautiful memoir that made a huge impact early on in the book. The author takes a really fresh and kind look at a terrible situation. Striking to find the balance between speaking up for oneself and forgiving someone who has wronged you can be a tricky thing to do, especially in this modern age where people can be vilified with the simple push of a button. It was refreshing to see the author’s perspective take flight in this book, highlighting the heartbreaking reality that no matter how good a person is, we are all flawed, and hating someone is never going to change that.

The author does a wonderful job of capturing so much within this book. From the author’s culture and the shock of leaving the life you know behind to find safety in a much different land, to the fear and frustration that can come with facing not only a difficult health diagnosis but a failed attempt at correcting that diagnosis, this book expertly weaves the author’s life and experiences together while finding the perfect harmony with the author’s message of hope and forgiveness. 

The Verdict

A heartfelt, emotional, and ultimately uplifting memoir that highlights the journey to overcome a great wrong and find peace in the wake of tragedy, author Lorena Junco Margain’s “On the Way to Casa Lotus” is a must-read non-fiction read. A thought-provoking story that speaks to so many of us, the author creates a great sense of pacing and imagery that brings their experiences to life wonderfully, and readers will be hard-pressed to put this book down themselves. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

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About the Author

Born and raised in Mexico (Monterrey and Mexico City), author, art collector, and philanthropist Lorena Junco Margain studied visual arts at Universidad de Monterrey before cofounding the Distrito14 gallery as a platform to amplify emerging Mexican artists. Soon afterward, she cofounded and curated the Margain-Junco Collection with her husband, Eduardo Margain, to support emerging artists, foster the art scene in Mexico, and promote awareness of Mexican art internationally. She also played an instrumental role in launching the 2015 Shaped in Mexico contemporary art exhibition in London. In 2008, Junco Margain was forced to flee Mexico with her husband, children, parents, and extended family due to concerns for their safety. Today she lives with her husband and three kids in Austin, Texas.

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”. 

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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

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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. 

https://marilynkriete.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Marilynmemoircelebration/

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”. 

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The Synopsis

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

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

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

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

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

The Review

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

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

The Verdict

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

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

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

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”. 

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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

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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.

https://mascotbooks.com/mascot-marketplace/buy-books/nonfiction/bios-and-memoirs/sand-and-steel/

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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”.

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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.

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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. 

https://israfelsivad.com/

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!”. 

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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

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The Chicago Tribune recently published the article written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Rick Kogan: https://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/ct-ent-chicago-cop-book-sarge-kogan-1008-20191007-usmsew4pdffqpi7hoskkachboi-story.html

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42641930-sarge