Tag Archives: memoirs

Tiny Yellow Hat by J. Michael Chamberlain Review

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

Author J. Michael Chamberlain takes readers on a humorous journey through his life through anecdotes and true life experiences in his brilliant book, “Tiny Yellow Hat”. 

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The Synopsis

This wildly entertaining book is laced with wicked concepts, cheap shots and a few bright ideas; a feast of funny words and clever notions without once mentioning vampires or zombies. J. M. Chamberlain created the perfect blend of madcap rants and true life experiences guaranteed to put a never-ending smile on your face. Actually, a never-ending smile might be cause for alarm; if your smile lasts longer than four hours, please call a doctor. In a nutshell, this extraordinary slice of life is almost too good to read, but I suggest reading it anyway. I also suggest telling forty or fifty of your closest friends to read it, because www.peopleneedtolaugh.com 

The Review

This was a truly entertaining and engaging read. The author found the perfect balance between humor and personal reflection that this memoir needed. The quick-wit the author employs through his writing while regaling readers with relatable experiences like stage fright, brushes with death, and so much more made this a driven read. 

With such a storied and memorable career as this amazing author has had, it was so fascinating to see the author hone in on both the career aspect of his work as a stand-up comedian/actor and how it relates to the life lessons and memorable moments that stood out to him within his personal life. The author’s poetic delivery of witticisms and humor to explore these lessons will have readers laughing while also connecting to the author personally, something all great memoirs hope to do.

The Verdict

A remarkable, heartfelt, and funny memoir, author J. Michael Chamberlain’s “Tiny Yellow Hat” is a must-read book of 2021! The author’s creativity and life experiences will have readers enthralled, and the charming delivery of his life will have readers chuckling and smiling as they engage with the author’s writing on a very personal level. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Originally hailing from Brooklyn, New York, J. Michael Chamberlain, the doctor of comedy, began his career as the class clown with cohort Larry David, co-creator of Seinfeld and resident neurotic on Curb Your Enthusiasm. After a brief stint with a brokerage firm on Wall Street, the bestselling author signed up as a horse-and-carriage driver in Central Park. Comical tours through the park steered the way to stage doors, television studios, and major motion pictures. Soon, the gifted performer was working alongside Gene Wilder in The Woman in Red and Ed Harris in the timeless Irwin Winkler production, The Right Stuff. As a young actor and writer in Hollywood, he performed in over thirty motion pictures and countless television productions. When he isn’t penning bestsellers and appearing on The Late Show with David Letterman, he can be found playing the blues across America and enjoying the good life with his spouse and their rescued hounds, Charles Beresford Tipton and Gracie Poochinella Pants.

Viking Voyager: An Icelandic Memoir by Sverrir Sigurdsson and Veronica Li Review

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

Authors Sverrir Sigurdsson and Veronica Li take readers into the heart of modern-day Iceland as Sverrir goes on a voyage around the world in the same vein as his Viking ancestors in the book, “Viking Voyager: An Icelandic Memoir”.

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The Synopsis

This vivacious personal story captures the heart and soul of modern Iceland. Born in Reykjavik on the eve of the Second World War, Sverrir Sigurdsson watched Allied troops invade his country and turn it into a bulwark against Hitler’s advance toward North America. The country’s post-war transformation from an obscure, dirt-poor nation to a prosperous one became every Icelander’s success. Spurred by this favorable wind, Sverrir answered the call of his Viking forefathers, setting off on a voyage that took him around the world. Join him on his roaring adventures!

The Review

A truly magnificent and engaging read, this book really does capture the adventurous spirit and rich history of Iceland and author Sverrir’s Viking forefathers. The balance of history, culture, and life experiences through travel was great to see unfold here, from Sverrir’s family history to setting out into the world and studying in Finland, to making a life and home after years of travel with his wife and co-author Veronica Li, this book really does a great job of educating and allowing the reader to identify with the authors and their journeys. 

What really stuck out to me however was the way the authors managed to tie their more “modern” adventures around the world to the ancient Viking culture. As a people known for their travels and explorations, it was interesting to see the cultural note that so many Icelandic people have to make a name for themselves and learn from distant lands in order to bring more knowledge to their home country, in an effort to become the best. It felt like the perfect chord that brought the past and present together as one and really shows how ancient cultures still have an impact on our world today. 

The Verdict

A masterful, thoughtful, and culturally-driven memoir, authors Sverrir Sigurdsson and Veronica Li’s “Viking Voyager: An Icelandic Memoir” is a must-read book. The attention to detail really brought the personal and broader history of Iceland and the author to life, while the teamwork and chemistry of both authors and their writing styles allowed the information and culture of this book to be absorbed by the reader. Even the utilization of images and guides to highlight Iceland and its language was both informative and engrossing all at once. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Authors

Sverrir Sigurdsson grew up in Iceland and graduated as an architect from Finland in 1966. He pursued an international career that took him to the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and the U.S. His assignments focused on school construction and improving education in developing countries. He has worked for private companies as well as UNESCO and the World Bank. He is now retired and lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and coauthor, Veronica.

Veronica Li emigrated to the U.S. from Hong Kong as a teenager. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and her master’s degree in International Affairs from Johns Hopkins University. She has worked as a journalist and for the World Bank, and is currently a writer. Her three previously published titles are: Nightfall in Mogadishu, Journey across the Four Seas: A Chinese Woman’s Search for Home, and Confucius Says: A Novel.

Sverrir Sigurdsson Author | Facebook

www.linkedin.com/in/sverrir-sigurdsson-29b51732

Interview with Author William Hart

1) How did you get into writing?

     I’m pretty sure it was my mother who inspired me to become a writer, when I was very young. She was a public school teacher responsible for kindergarten and first grade, and by the time my brother and I came along she had developed a most arresting manner of reading stories to her classes. She mimicked the character’s voices, adding her own highly amusing facial expressions to create entertainment at least as involving as the early television shows we were watching. The stories I remember best were taken from the Pooh Bear books, Winnie the Pooh and those that followed. Mom’s performances in our living room held my brother and I mesmerized—like her students must have been. The experience of her reading to us is unforgettable, and I believe it had much to do with both John and me becoming writers.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

     When I was fourteen, I joined a roller racing team at my local rink that turned out to be one of the best speed skating clubs in the country. Many of my teammates were national champions and so it was easy for me to set my goals high as I was developing as a skate racer. I was a varsity sprinter on my ninth grade track team, and those skills translated well to my new sport. Within a year I became one of the fastest roller racers my age in the country. As I was developing my skills, I attracted the attention of a very pretty girl my age who had taken second at nationals a week or two before she asked me to join her in a couple’s skate. Both of us, having found the mate of our dreams, fell in love for the first time, and for two intense, thrilling years that girl hung the moon for me. Both my new sport and my first romantic relationship made that period the most memorable of my life. Once I became a writer it was natural for me to want to write about those heady days of my youth, though it took me decades to figure out how to do it.

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

     There were many pretty girls at our roller rink. In addition to my girlfriend, who was slow to develop physically, there was a second girl my age who developed a woman’s body a little early. When my girlfriend balked at pursuing a complete physical relationship, both because she didn’t feel ready and because she didn’t want to become a party girl like her quite irresponsible mother, I became frustrated and dropped her for the girl who was much more willing to give me what I thought I wanted. Later, I realized I’d made a terrible and costly mistake. I’ve felt guilty all my life for what I did when I was sixteen. The primary message of Roller Rink Starlight is that sex is a poor substitute for love. When confronted with a choice between the two, pick love, because it is more valuable, much rarer, and holds the promise of a relationship that is deep and long lasting. There are many other messages in my book, but that’s the main one.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

     I’m usually a writer of fiction, and so it was natural for me to try to tell the story I most wanted to tell as a novel. Over many years, as I was writing other things, I tried three or four times to write my novel about love and sex at the roller rink. But every time what I produced seemed false to me, like music that is tinny, or an argument based on lies. Finally, as a senior citizen, I tried telling the story exactly as it happened, except that I changed some names to protect privacy and to avoid hurting people. Written as a memoir, the story came pouring out of me, true to life and I believe moving and meaningful. Apparently the story meant so much to me I had to tell it like it happened, full of the ecstasies and warts of real life. 

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

     I’m not active on any social media. For example, I have a Facebook account and over 300 Facebook friends, but only rarely do I interact with them in that forum. Basically I’m reactive rather that proactive. That is, if one of my Facebook friends messages me, I answer. But I don’t often message others first or try to sell my literary works on Facebook.

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

     I don’t have much advice, because each writer is unique in talent, so that what works for me probably won’t work for many others. But I do have one tip for those beginning on the writer’s career path. Most of us, at the start, are so fired up by our calling that we dream of our creativity providing our income, allowing us to write all the time. A very few are able to accomplish this. But most of us spend a long time developing the skills needed to earn significant money. In fact, the vast majority never become self-supporting from writing alone. Therefore, I advise finding other work that doesn’t conflict with the writing, but that pays the bills. I did this and received a bonus I didn’t expect. More than half my books have come from jobs I took in order to survive financially. 

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

     I’m currently working on a lightly fictionalized memoir about one of my friends, a quadriplegic marijuana dealer operating outside the law. He was my dealer for about twenty years before California passed medical marijuana legislation and I decided to go legal as a buyer. His story is interesting to me partly because his life is interesting, especially from the time his mother’s boyfriend accidentally sent a .38 caliber slug spinning through his fifth cervical vertebra, sentencing him to a wheelchair for life. My friend, needing caregivers daily, hired two undocumented immigrants from Tijuana, one a terribly attractive 18-year-old Chicana fashion model, the other her older sister, less attractive physically but an incredible workhorse, capable of succeeding at three outside jobs in addition to her work for my buddy As luck would have it, my friend fell head over heels in love with the beautiful sister, while the less beautiful sister fell in love with him. The story takes place in a south central L.A. neighborhood with street gangs and an assortment of unusual and entertaining characters, including two other paraplegics that my friend met and bonded with in his rehab hospital. If you think the paralyzed can’t live wild, turbulent, yet productive lives, read my book to find out how they can.

8) Are you a plotter or a puntster?

     Back when I was a teacher, I planned every course meeting in detail rather than “winging it,” so it shouldn’t be surprising that when my writer’s hat goes on I plot everything except short poems. I do let my creativity flow, but when I do it’s in the context of an established plot that I can modify while writing as I see better ways to tell the story than exist in my plans. For me, mixing carefully detailed planning with creativity is the best way to go, because it draws strength from two very different methods of accomplishing the job.

9) Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

      I read every review I hear about and I try to thank every reviewer, even those who are negative. Generally speaking, reviewers provide the most effective promotion that books receive and it strikes me as wrong to bite the hands that are feeding me. I might feel differently if most of the reviews of my books hadn’t been quite positive. Overall reviewers have been kind to my literary efforts, and some of those who have been critical have helped me improve as a writer. It so happens that reviewers are writers too, and it seems silly on my part to be disrespectful to those I want to respect my work. I sometimes review books for other authors and from that I’ve learned reviewing isn’t easy, though it is usually easier than the creative act.

10) How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way they sound or the meaning?

     I believe names are important in anyone’s writing, and in fiction, which I write most of the time, I create the names of characters very carefully. That’s because I strive for realism, and nothing jars with that style more than names that sound made-up. Some writers create names with symbolic meaning, but I don’t. I rarely run across a symbolic name in real life. I do pick names that match a character’s national origins, and I pick names that suggest to me the character’s personality, though I can’t describe that process with any precision. I choose names I like for characters I like and names I don’t like for characters I dislike. It often takes a long time to get a name just right, but it’s worth the effort because it helps readers see the fictional person as real and hints at what that person is like. A character name that is on the money works not only for readers but for me as author, because it helps me buy into the fictional world I’m trying to establish.     

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About the Author

William Hart is a novelist and poet living in Los Angeles. He writes while helping produce the documentaries of PBS filmmaker Jayasri Majumdar, his wife. Hart’s work has appeared in several hundred literary journals, commercial magazines, newspapers and anthologies, and fourteen books.

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.

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/

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

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.

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/

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.