Tag Archives: non fiction

Interview with Author William Hart

Tell us a little about yourself.

     I wanted to be a writer from childhood, but didn’t think of myself that way until after college, when I decided to become one. Tired of school and knowing poets don’t earn much, I began supporting myself, my wife and our daughter as a commercial sheet metal worker on grain elevators in Wichita, Kansas, my hometown. In my thirties I did grad school in English, finishing at the University of Southern California, where I met my current wife, a filmmaker from Calcutta, India.

     My wife and I taught college writing for twenty years, then retired early to pursue our creative careers. I write novels, memoirs, stories, and poetry collections. I also help Jayasri make her documentary films, two of which have played nationally on PBS. My writing has appeared in several hundred literary journals, commercial magazines, newspapers and anthologies, and fifteen books.

What was your first experience with the paranormal

     I had one ESP experience over fifty years ago, which I discuss under question 8. The book I just published, My Friend Richard, is a narrative memoir describing in detail my second experience with the paranormal, which has been transpiring off-and-on for over a decade now, ever since a close high school buddy came in his spirit form to live with my wife and me. When Richard arrived, I had an open mind on the subject of ghosts, partly because my wife tells a vivid story about her grandfather, who in the days after his death came to see both her and her cousin, his favorites among his female grandchildren. My wife is an unusually rational person, truthful to a fault. If she says her grandfather’s presence came to say good-bye accompanied by the heavy rose scent of his funeral ceremony, then it happened. 

What is one misconception people have about the paranormal that you want readers to know?

     Most of us watch Hollywood movies, and the most powerful of them help shape our thinking. One problem with that is we can end up with many unfounded notions about, for instance, the paranormal. I believe films vastly exaggerate the drama of paranormal, usually to scare us out of our pants. The truth is calmer and more mundane. To me the paranormal is as normal as regular existence. Richard, once my living friend, and now my spirit friend, I’m convinced is as real as me. He’s just in a different state. I’m a living being, composed of both body and spirit. He’s a spirit without a body, having lost it to death. Both of us are natural, and real, and neither of us is more real or more natural than the other. In other words, the “paranormal” is a generally unacknowledged part of the normal.

     Richard has shown me that our laws of physics are woefully inadequate, because they omit entirely the spiritual components of our universe, which are as genuine as the material components, though less substantial. There is a whole other world of spirit alongside (or within) our world of the living. It was my luck to be contacted by a being from that other place, who had a favor to ask. He has become my guide in the zone where his world and mine intersect. Our continuing friendship has made me an explorer of the other side.

Are there any haunted locations that have fueled your interest in the paranormal field?

     Definitely. In 2013, my wife and I visited the good ship Queen Mary, permanently docked in Long Beach Harbor and functioning as a hotel. We attended a ghost presentation by one of the ship’s officers, a true believer in the ghosts aboard his vessel. His lecture on those ghosts, which he and other ship employees have witnessed, along with film and stills taken of them, convinced my wife and me that the Mary is haunted by a number of spirits—men, women, and some children. I suspect not all ghost houses are real. But I think a ghost house running overnight on the Queen Mary would give you a decent shot at experiencing the real thing. And, if ghosts congregate on the Mary, they likely gather in other similar places.

What is the biggest takeaway you have from your experiences with the paranormal as expressed in your book? 

     My friend has proved to me I will have an afterlife, as we all will. There can be no doubt in my mind, because I’ve seen and interacted with someone whose afterlife is now over fifty years old. I doubt all ghosts continue in their spirit state as long as Richard has. Most of us I think, after a time in our ghost manifestation, move on, though I don’t know to where or to what. Perhaps our spirit moves into the body of another being, like many Hindus believe. All I know for sure is that we all have afterlives, whether brief or long or forever. Richard leads me to believe we may to some degree get to choose for ourselves what that afterlife will be.


If you could travel to one haunted location and investigate it, where would it be and why?

     I don’t have to travel. The ghost I know best has lived with us for twelve or thirteen years at least, and apparently has no intention of changing residence. He seems to have settled into our master bedroom closet. However, he hasn’t been active since the first of this year, when he threw a temper tantrum, breaking a ceiling panel in our kitchen and stealing our new 2022 kitchen calendar. We haven’t found the calendar. 

How much influence and power do you think people give to spirits or ghosts?

     Hollywood gives ghosts a lot more power than I believe they actually have, simply to up their terror factor. Lacking a body limits an actual ghost in what it can do physically. I also believe ghosts are bound by rules, imposed by whom or what I don’t know. For example, I think spirits aren’t allowed to harm humans to any significant degree. When I asked Richard not to bother me for a while, he obeyed. He obeyed so well I thought he’d left us. Then I offended him with something I wrote (and he read) and he retaliated on New Year’s Day in our kitchen.  

Besides ghosts, what other paranormal fields interest you?

     I’ve experienced ESP and am curious about it. My daughter was 150 miles away when she was seriously assaulted. I was busy at work when it happened, but I felt the attack powerfully in my gut and knew it was my kid afraid and hurting. I didn’t learn what happened until later. This experience convinced me humans have psychic powers. I’ve seen that Richard has psychic powers too. It’s made me want to find out more about ESP. How many psychic powers are there and how can they be explained? I’d like to know more. 


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. 

Conversations Across America: A Father and Son, Alzheimer’s, and 300 Conversations Along the TransAmerica Bike Trail That Capture the Soul of America by Kari Loya Review

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

Author Kari Loya shares an emotional and heartfelt journey of perseverance through adversity as he shares the physical journey he and his father made in 2015 as they rode their bikes in the early years of his father’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis and the conversations they had with others along the way in the book “Conversations Across America: A Father and Son, Alzheimer’s, and 300 Conversations Along the TransAmerica Bike Trail That Capture the Soul of America”. 


The Synopsis

Conversations Across America is about a father-son journey of a lifetime: a 73-day, 4,600-mile cross-country bike trip Kari took in 2015 with his 75-year-old dad, Merv, who had early-stage Alzheimer’s. Their adventure reminds us of the power of perseverance and adaptability in the face of uncertainty. It’s also a heartwarming example of listening and discovery, including 300 short conversations with people who approached them along the way, providing a rich snapshot of America, especially rural America.

Conversations is a mix of Blue HighwaysTuesdays with Morrie, and Humans of New York… on a bike. As you read, you can’t help but reflect on your relationship with your own father and children, while gaining perspective on Alzheimer’s—which now afflicts more than six million Americans—and getting a sense of the TransAmerica Bike Trail and America itself. Above all, you will be inspired to seize-the-day with someone you love—whatever that means to you.

The Review

This was such a powerful and moving story. The author’s ability to find the perfect balance between emotional and personal storytelling with inspired and honest conversations with hundreds of people across the country made this such a unique and memorable book. The way the author was able to take these stories and conversations from so many people and find a way of using these to explore the fabric of American society and culture through so many different lenses was inspiring to say the least and showcased the diversity and heart of the nation as a whole.

Yet the true heart of this book is in the story of Kari and his father. The impact that Alzheimer’s has on both those who are afflicted with the illness and those who love or care for someone who has it is something many people throughout the world, let alone in the United States, can relate to. The emotional story of this father and son duo as they come to terms with the realities of this diagnosis, as well as the passion they share to make this journey together, makes for a relatable and heartfelt experience that many others could see themselves in. The snapshots and diary entry style writing make this feel like an intimate look into the author’s life that elevates this emotional story more, and the father and son journey helps elevate the stories of those they come across as the book progresses. 

The Verdict

Thoughtful, engaging, and hauntingly beautiful, author Kari Loya’s “Conversations Across America: A Father and Son, Alzheimer’s, and 300 Conversations Along the TransAmerica Bike Trail That Capture the Soul of America” is a must-read nonfiction story of endurance, family, and the strength that comes from our connections to one another. The social and cultural ties that are explored through these stories blend well with the author’s personal journey to come to terms with his father’s illness and make this a heartfelt reading experience that will be impossible to put down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Kari Loya is an educational leader, storyteller, and adventurer. He has worked nearly three decades at a range of innovative educational institutions, beginning with Teach For America in 1993 and serving most recently as headmaster at the Good Hope Country Day School in the U.S. Virgin Islands, when he received a Klingenstein Fellowship from Columbia University. He is also an Emmy-winning bilingual voice talent, musical artist, and author. He spoke at TEDx UC Davis in April 2022 on the theme of “Metamorphosis.” He holds a BA from Dartmouth College and an MBA from Columbia University. He currently lives with his wife and daughter in Sugar Land, Texas.

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

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

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


The Synopsis

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

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

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

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

The Review

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

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

The Verdict

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

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

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

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

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

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

My Friend Richard: A True Ghost Story by William Hart Review

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

Author William Hart shares the true story of his connection with a friend who passed away years ago, but has returned to his life as a ghost in his book, “My Friend Richard: A True Ghost Story”.


The Synopsis

A close friend of mine, maybe the brightest student in our high school of four thousand, came to see me some years back. He came as a ghost with a favor to ask, renewing a friendship that continues a decade later.

Richard has the same immature young adult personality he had when he died in a Haight-Asbury fire in 1970. But as a spirit he can travel very far very fast, appear and disappear at will, or shape-shift into a feisty moth. He enters locked homes to visit loved ones, sometimes projecting powerful images into their minds. Annoyed, he’s a smelly, destructive nuisance. Sometimes he’s affectionate.

Anyone wanting to know more about ghosts will find a wealth of firsthand information in this true narrative, which follows the life and afterlife of my artistically gifted but dismayingly self-destructive buddy. For adults and young adults.

The Review

For those of you who aren’t familiar with me beyond my book reviews, aside from being a writer and author, I am a paranormal enthusiast. I have a paranormal podcast, have joined several paranormal communities, and have even investigated a few locations with more to come. So anytime I am able to get my hands on a nonfiction narrative surrounding the paranormal, I am thrilled to do so. The author here did an incredible job of presenting a personal and relatable story of experiencing the paranormal and connecting with the spirit themselves. The imagery and tone the author struck felt both casual and yet emotionally in-depth. 

Yet it was the thoughtful and emotional journey the author went on that really resonated with me. The experience of seeing or hearing something paranormal can be a profound one. The experience is always unique to the individual. Sometimes it can be a loved one, family member, or friend who visits us. Other times it can be an encounter with something otherworldly altogether. Yet those moments that William Hart captures here with his friend Richard felt both relatable and heartfelt in the author’s delivery. The short-story format allowed the author to focus solely on this paranormal experience, and the relationship both in life and death that the author had with Richard is something so many people have experienced at one point or another in life, adding a very real human level to this nonfiction narrative.

The Verdict

Thoughtful, engaging, and memorable, author William Hart’s “My Friend Richard: A True Ghost Story” is a must-read short story and a nonfiction book. The book was both an easy read and yet a powerful and striking story of coming face to face with the unknown, opening oneself to new possibilities, and reconnecting with the people who have made an impact on our lives, even if they are no longer physically here. If you haven’t yet, 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. 

Interview with Author Philippa Jabouin 

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

This is my first book and my initial intention was to publish in French, which is my first language. However, I stumbled upon a writing contest for micro fiction and French was not one of the languages in which you could submit your work. I ended up submitting 2 stories but I had almost fifty that I was not using. That’s when I decided I would publish them and that’s how my collection ended up being in English. 


2) What inspired you to write your book?

Short stories have always been my favorite type of fiction. Two of my favorite authors, Françoise Sagan and Chimamanda Adichie, write with so much emotional intensity. I was inspired by their work and wondered, what triggers intense emotional reactions for me? This is what motivated me to write the stories in my book. 

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

I hope they appreciate the deep inner workings of the human mind. Things are not always what they seem at the surface, and it is almost impossible to read other people’s minds. When you are not in someone else’s shoes, you just never know what is going on for them.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I enjoy novels in general and I think short stories simply give me the impression that I am getting even more out of an author. Great short stories leave you with a sense of awe and wonder because the length leaves you wanting more. I would love to create that feeling in my readers. 


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

I don’t use much social media. Maybe I should. I use the old fashion social networks, i.e. word of mouth!

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

The author Hala Alyan states that she allotted 30 minutes a day to her creative writing as she was working on her doctoral thesis. I decided to try it out and soon 30 minutes a day became 1 or 2 hours. That is how I got my book written and published in a year. 

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

I would like to keep writing and publishing short stories for the moment. I feel I need the practice before I devote time to a full novel. My next collection of short stories will be in French!


About the Author

Philippa c. Jabouin has authored many articles and short stories under her name and as a ghostwriter. As a recovering ex-lawyer, she now spends her time writing as a freelance journalist, editor, and consultant. This is her first published collection of short stories. She lives in the Ottawa/Gatineau region of Canada.



Wings of Destiny: Ziaur Rahman Ansari – A Life by Fasihur Rahman Review

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

Author Fasihur Rahman shares an accurate and brilliant biography of a Union Minister of India who served under two Prime Ministers in his storied career in the book “Wings of Destiny: Ziaur Rahman Ansari – A Life”.


The Synopsis

The biography offers an insight into the life of Ziaur Rahman Ansari (1925-1992), who served as union minister in the council of ministers of two Prime Ministers – Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. The book traces his political journey spanning nearly three decades and provides a rare glimpse into his vision, convictions, traits and beliefs. He remained in the media spotlight in 1985 when he participated in a debate on a Private Member Bill related to Supreme Court judgement on the Shah Bano case.

The author has provided a factual account of his public life which has, at several places, been misquoted or misinterpreted based on the perception of varied genres of society.

The Review

This was such an incredibly well-balanced biography and nonfiction read. The author did such an incredible job of crafting a detailed, well-researched, and well-rounded book that honed in on the life of Ziaur Rahman Ansari. From his ancestors and family history that including the fight for freedom in India, to the often fraught political career he endured and even the author’s more personal life interests, from literature to art and music interests that paint a more human and relatable tone to the figure’s history. 

The most pivotal aspect of the life of this charged and engaging character is his work on a highly politicized case in India that made headlines, as did his role in it. What stuck out to me was how the author was able to weave in some emotional storytelling about the subject’s life, especially those later years and the diagnosis of his neurological disorder. This made the subject’s life seem so much more thoughtful and spoke to me on a human level, making the narrative feel alive on the page.

The Verdict

Captivating, thought-provoking, and enlightening, author Fasihur Rahman’s “Wings of Destiny: Ziaur Rahman Ansari – A Life” is a must-read biography and nonfiction read. The author’s detailed writing style and rich use of imagery and tone to paint an image of the storied life of this political figure made this a wonderful book, and the unique perspective of politics and life in India overall to a wider audience made this a must-have book of the year. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

FASIHUR RAHMAN was born and brought up in India. He was educated in India, the UK and Canada. A trained Environmental Scientist, he has served both public and private sector. Between 2015 and 2017, he has taken up assignments as Visiting Scientist at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus, Canada.

He has written, among others, for Indian Newspapers (The Hindu, The Indian Express, The Pioneer, The Statesman); Canadian (Toronto Star, The Telegram, The Independent); United Arab Emirates (Khaleej Times); and the UK (The Sunday Times). He spends his time in India and Canada.

My First Last Year by Roger Leslie, PhD Review

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

After surviving a health scare with his husband in the 80s, author Roger Leslie developed a system of health, both physical and mental, that takes the concept of living life to the fullest to all new heights in the book, “My First Last Year”.


The Synopsis

In response to a spiritual dream, Roger Leslie lived a year as if it were his last. New inspirations set his course for success, while heartbreaking loss gave him a palpable glimpse of eternity. Leslie shares his journey here as a guide for anyone seeking deeper meaning, richer love, and greater joy in life.

The Review

The author did an incredible job of crafting a moving and passionate self-help meets nonfiction wellness read. The journey of discovery that so many people go on in life to determine how they should live each and every day is something we must all endure, and more often than not those who are facing their own demise or mortality find themselves forced to discover the answers for themselves fairly quickly. The balance the author struck between personal experience and emotional writing with instructive and detailed steps that readers could apply to their own lives was amazing to see play out in this book.

The powerful themes and heartfelt writing style are what hooked me on the author’s story. The moments the author takes to delve into his own personal histories, such as his and his husband’s brush with one of the most fearful health scare that many faced in the 80s, the AIDS crisis, and how this experience and coming out on the other side of it inspired a moment of clarity as to living life to the fullest was so impactful and emotional to read. 

The Verdict

Heartfelt, captivating, and engaging, author Roger Leslie’s “My First Last Year” is a must-read nonfiction self-help read. The powerful themes of living life to the fullest, making every day count, and coming to terms with our own mortality were so strong and powerfully felt in this read, and the natural way the author was able to infuse the personal experience with thought-provoking guides to the author’s researched and developed method made this a compelling read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Dr. Roger Leslie is a scholar in the fields of success and education. Through major literary houses, medium and small presses, and his own publishing house, Leslie has published fiction and nonfiction books in multiple genres: historical fiction, inspirational self-help, spirituality, writing and publishing, movie reference, teaching and librarianship, biography, history, and memoir.

Leslie has won numerous national awards including ForeWord Book of the Year, The Ben Franklin Award, and Writer’s Digest’s #1 Inspirational Book of the Year. At its inaugural event, Leslie received the Houston Literary Award for his body of work.

Leslie is in demand as a teacher, coach, and keynote speaker. He leads FLY (First Last Year) courses based on his blockbuster memoir, My First Last Year. He draws from decades as an author, editor, and publisher to coach writers in groups and individually. He is also a sought-after speaker for his lively, entertaining keynotes relating award-winning movies to any topic or group.

In every book and presentation, Leslie entertains, inspires, and empowers people to live the life they dream and soar toward their own ideal of success. For more, visit RogerLeslie.com.

Reckless Grace: A Mother’s Crash Course in Mental Illness by Carolyn DiPasquale Review

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

A mother struggles with the knowledge of her daughter’s painful journey through mental health and addiction after discovering her daughter’s journal after a heart-shattering loss in author Carolyn DiPasquale’s “Reckless Grace: A Mother’s Crash Course in Mental Illness”.


The Synopsis

Fourteen-year-old Rachel guards a collection of secrets for ten years, journaling to vent her terror and loneliness.

What the single, working mother recalls is a far cry from what happens, as dramatically revealed in tandem chapters gleaned from Rachel’s journals. While the mother sprints from task to task, the daughter details the baffling emergence and frightening progression of bulimia, diabulimia, and borderline personality disorder; her eventual substance abuse; and heart-wrenching reasons for not seeking help.

Following Rachel’s fatal overdose years later, her mother, Carolyn DiPasquale, stumbles upon her daughter’s diaries. Shattered, she searches for answers, retracing her steps to figure out how parents and doctors missed three major mental illnesses.

Despite her loss, DiPasquale hopes her story lights a path for victims of mental illness while awakening all readers.

The Review

This was such a powerful, emotional, and heartbreaking read. The author’s passionate story of loss, discovery and the journey through grief that was presented was emotional and captivating all at once as a reader, and yet heartfelt and tragic for any parent out there who has had to deal with this level of loss. The honest and poignant way in which the author wrote kept the reader invested in the story throughout the narrative.

The things that really will stay with readers long after reading the book are both the style in which the author presented this story and the themes that were talked about. The way the author presented both her perspective as a mother and her journey through grief and then also her daughter’s perspective through diary entries that explored the struggles of mental health and other disorders was not only very balanced but came across in a very narrative way. The themes however were plentiful enough for a multitude of different readers to relate to. For me personally, as someone who has someone in their life that has had to deal with many of these mental health and eating disorders, I have experienced firsthand so much of the author’s own experiences, and while I may not understand it from a parental perspective, I do know what it is like to yearn to help and care for someone you love who is struggling with something outside of their control. 

The Verdict

Heartbreaking, emotional, and engaging, author Carolyn DiPasquale’s “Reckless Grace: A Mother’s Crash Course in Mental Illness” is a must-read nonfiction book on mental health, grief, and the journey of a parent with their child. The story presented is difficult, and yet brings an urgency and need for all parents to understand and utilize in their journeys, and with that awareness, readers can have the much-needed sense of healing and hope that many parents are seeking out there. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Carolyn DiPasquale grew up in Franksville, Wisconsin, graduating from UW-Milwaukee with a double major in English and French. In 1983, she moved to Rhode Island where she raised three children while pursuing her Master’s in English at the University of Rhode Island. Over her career, she taught literature and composition at various New England colleges; worked as a technical writer at the Naval Underseas Warfare Center in Newport; and wrote winning grants as a volunteer for Turning Around Ministries, a Newport aftercare program for ex-offenders. She has been an active member of the Newport Round Table, a professional writing group (founded in 1995), since 2013. 

DiPasquale currently lives in Richmond, Rhode Island where she has started working on a sequel to Reckless Grace. She has also ventured into writing children’s books. In her free time, she enjoys cooking and baking with healthy ingredients, hiking and trapshooting with her husband Phil, and volunteering at the New Hope Chapel food pantry in Carolina, Rhode Island.  

Visit her website to follow her updates. You can also follow her on Instagram or Facebook.

Purchase a copy of Reckless Grace on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Bookshop.org. You can also add this to your GoodReads reading list. 


Blog Tour Calendar

– Blog Tour Calendar

August 1st @ The Muffin

Join us at WOW! Women on Writing as we celebrate the launch of Carolyn DiPasquale’s memoir Reckless Grace. Read an interview with the author and enter to win a copy of the book.


August 1st @ Mindy McGinnis

Join Mindy as she features a guest post by author Carolyn DiPasquale on the topic of how mental disorders travel in packs. Don’t miss this! 


August 3rd @ Pages and Paws

Join Kristine as she reviews Carolyn DiPasquale’s memoir Reckless Grace. You don’t want to miss this powerful memoir!


August 8th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Join Anthony as he features Carolyn DiPasquale’s guest post about lessons learned from querying agents and publishers.

August 9th @ The Faerie Review

Join Lily as she features Carolyn DiPasquale and her memoir Reckless Grace.


August 10th @ Word Magic

Come by Fiona’s blog where she shares the author’s guest post about memoir writing. Don’t miss this important post if you are interested in this writing genre!


August 13th @ Boots, Shoes, and Fashion

Join Linda as she interviews Carolyn DiPasquale about her memoir Reckless Grace. 


August 15th @ A Storybook World

Join Deirdra as she features Reckless Grace by Carolyn DiPasquale.


August 18th @ Pen and Prosper

Join Jennifer as she interviews Carolyn DiPasquale about her memoir Reckless Grace.


August 19th @ Knotty Needle

Visit Judy’s blog and read her review of Carolyn DiPasquale’s memoir Reckless Grace. You don’t want to miss this touching memoir.


August 20th @ Choices

Join Madeline as she shares Carolyn DiPasquale’s guest post about whether women can age with grace.


August 22nd @ World of My Imagination

Visit Nicole’s blog as she reviews Carolyn DiPasquale’s powerful memoir Reckless Grace.


August 24th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Join Anthony again as he reviews Carolyn DiPasquale’s powerful memoir Reckless Grace.

August 28th @ Liberate and Lather

Join Angela as she reviews Carolyn DiPasquale’s memoir Reckless Grace. 


September 1st @ Peaches and Cream Pages

Join Kelly as she reviews Carolyn DiPasquale’s memoir Reckless Grace. You’ll definitely want to add this book to your reading list.


September 2nd @ Heidi Lynn’s Book Reviews.

Join Heidi Lynn as she features Carolyn DiPasquale’s memoir Reckless Grace.


September 3rd @ Kelly Sgroi’s Blog

Visit Kelly’s blog today and read the guest post written by Carolyn DiPasquale about how to make your writing sing. Feel inspired today!


September 4th @ Free to be Me

Join Leslie as she reviews Reckless Grace by Carolyn DiPasquale.


Camel from Kyzylkum: A Memoir of My Life Journey by Lara Gelya Review 

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

Author Lara Gelya shares her journey of immigration, family, and hope amidst a journey of struggles and loss across multiple countries in the book “Camel from Kyzylkum: A Memoir of My Life Journey”. 


The Synopsis

Camel from Kyzylkum is a memoir about immigration, family, and the late twentieth century. It touches on themes of hope, struggles, and loss, and shares the inspiration for reaching again and again for a better life. A compelling testament to people’s choices over time, it focuses on freedom and self-determination, no matter how much work and risk are involved.

Travel from Ukraine to the Kyzylkum Desert of Uzbekistan, from the Soviet Union to Austria, then Italy, and eventually America, all while following Lara’s journey to find her truth and her future. Through it all, family, friends, and work shape her life, and a lengthy professional career leads to her eventual retirement on the shores of sunny Florida.

The Review

The author’s story was so moving to read. The balance that was struck between matter-of-fact storytelling and heartfelt experiences was felt throughout this book so clearly. The imagery and tone the author managed to bring to life in the book kept me as a reader hooked to the story being told.

Yet it was the book’s themes and the heart for which the story was told that really captivated me. The themes of hope, the American Dream, and overcoming adversity were well represented here. In today’s world, the author’s story of growing up and coming from Ukraine when it was part of the Soviet Union is far more relevant than ever before, and the author’s story not only highlights the way life was back in those days but mirrors the political and struggling situations that so many are stuck in now. 

Yet the author’s hope in writing this for her family and friends to understand more about her journey to the United States over 30 years ago was so captivating to get lost in and made for an emotional read.

The Verdict

Gripping, engaging, and thought-provoking, author Lara Gelya’s “Camel from Kyzylkum: A Memoir of My Life Journey” is a must-read memoir and nonfiction read. Suppose you enjoy stories that share the classic, ideal American Journey for immigrants while also providing a unique perspective and personal experience from the author’s life. In that case, this is the book for you. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today! 

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Born in Ukraine and going to school there, Lara Gelya went on for the next 20 years to the Kyzylkum Desert of the Republic of Uzbekistan, working at geological sites and expeditions of the Mining Industry. At that time Ukraine and Uzbekistan were parts of one country—the Soviet Union.

In 1989 Lara left the Soviet Union, lived in Austria and Italy before she, at last, found her way to the United States in 1990. Starting her life from ground zero again, and trying on so many hats, she was able to make a lengthy professional career that led to her eventual retirement on the shores of sunny Florida.

When she isn’t writing or making her videos and pictures, Lara spends most of her time reading, gardening, cooking, traveling the world, wandering through nature, or catching her favorite shows.