This Side of Paradise by TK Olsen Review

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

Once in a while you come across an author who is able to engage an audience in a matter of just a few simple pages, and that’s what we have today. Author TK Olsen has brought to life an incredible story of two men from very different cultures who find their own personal paradise in the short story This Side of Paradise. Here’s the synopsis:

“Huritt looked gorgeous in his suit, albeit very out of place. He had lovely tan skin, a color only Jin could dream of achieving, and dark brown eyes, lighter than Jin’s almost black ones. They both had short, messy dark-brown, almost black hair, and Huritt was just a tad taller than Jin; however, that wasn’t much as Jin was blessed with being almost six feet in the height department. Huritt also had calloused hands and strong lines of his face, smoothed out by the softness of his skin and slight roundness of his cheeks. Jin hadn’t really experienced races outside of his own, this really was his first time meeting a Native person in real life; however, he was drawn to the male in ways that made his heart soared and his father’s legacy cry. Huritt was beyond gorgeous and Jin’s father was going to kill him.”

The story of two boys and how they found their side of paradise.

The story was very thought-provoking and entertaining. The story of Jin and Huritt is amazing to watch unfold, bringing a natural and emotional LGBTQ romance to life while exploring two people who fall in love despite their very different cultural upbringings. It showcases the struggle members of the LGBTQ community go through when living in a culture or family that abhors people who simply want to love who they love, and the struggle to find happiness and peace while living in that kind of hostile environment that forces young people to repress who they really are.

It’s a very impactful story that is also a quick read, coming in at only 18 pages or so. Yet in that short amount of time you come to know Jin intimately and see his struggle and his passion for Huritt come to life. These characters are so engaging that you will be left wanting to explore their lives even more, and that’s what true storytelling is all about. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copies of TK Olsen’s This Side of Paradise today!

Rating: 10/10

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Awake Under The Night Sky by Vanya Sharma Review

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

It’s a story as old as time itself. Two people from very different worlds meet by chance and find themselves falling madly in love, only for fate to intervene in their happily ever afters. Yet in author Vanya Sharma’s novel Awake Under the Night Sky, we get to feel the raw emotions and the powerful way that love impacts the lives of these two young people. Here is the synopsis:

Witness to the ravages of poverty and neglect, Vivian is driven by a purpose, in a world that seems to have lost its conscience. In the fires of loss, a young and fierce Andre has forged an iron will to succeed. His journey halfway across the world does not deter him, but only strengthens his determination.

Two people on the threshold of their lives, touched by love but driven by duty, following separate destinies. He has a past to restore, she has a future to change. Are their paths destined never to converge, or might the vagaries of fate unlock the buried dreams of two proud hearts, and offer a new beginning?

I loved this story. It was incredibly emotional throughout the entire read. Its an interesting concept, as it showcases that we do not always know when or if we will find love, and how that love will impact the dreams we once had. It makes us as readers question what is more important in life: one’s dreams or true love? It also showcases how outside forces can intervene and cloud our minds in the face of love, and how our lives are forever impacted by that found love, both good and bad.

The only small critique I have is that the book ends surprisingly abrupt. This may be a creative choice by the author, but it was shocking as you expected a final scene to play out and instead were left to draw your own conclusions on how things played out in the end. While readers will have a good idea of where things go from there, you become so invested in these two characters that you are left breathlessly wanting more, or at the very least to have confirmation as to these two lover’s fates. Other than that the author does a wonderful job of drawing the reader’s emotions out through this powerful romance. As the Valentine’s Day holiday passes, this book is a great way to keep romance alive and witness the way love changes us forever.

Overall this was a wonderfully written book with a beautiful story and rich characters throughout. Exploring various cultures and backgrounds, the story does a great job of connecting people from different worlds through one singular and purposeful thing, and that’s love. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copies of Awake Under the Night Sky by Vanya Sharma today!

Rating: 8/10

 

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A Chance Encounter: An Intriguing Experiment

It’s funny, isn’t it? The memories and experiences that fade with each year we get older can pop up in the most unexpected ways. I happened
to be out with my mom one afternoon recently, and we were talking about how long it’s been for each of us to go to one of our favorite spots
in Southern California, and that is one of the many gorgeous beaches we have here. I went to Newport Beach earlier in the year, but I’ve
always dreamed of venturing out to Santa Monica or Venice Beach, or maybe even Laguna Beach. As we talked about our hopes of getting there,
she suddenly remembered a fun day when I was just a few years old, and we went to the beach. Apparently, we had decided to go on a boat ride
to watch for dolphins and whales, and on that boat, I’d met a young girl whom I had befriended quickly. According to my mom, we were inseparable
for the rest of the day, and sadly parted ways, never to meet again.

I have no recollection of this day, but I was suddenly intrigued. I’ve always been a shy guy, but this encounter painted me as a talkative,
active young man with a natural charisma I didn’t think I possessed at that age. I was curious, so I went looking through some old photo albums,
and sure enough, I found the pictures of me and this young girl, (pictured above). Now, the memory still alludes me, but I thought to myself,
how intriguing, that after all these years, these pictures should surface at a time where I’m looking to bolster my confidence.

I began to think about the power that a chance encounter or a spontaneous moment can have on our lives. Hearing that I wasn’t always the
shy, soft-spoken young man I am today gave me a boost of inspiration that I’ve been looking for. Sometimes, the tiniest, most random moments
in time can have a huge impact on others. The world can seem like such a random, chaotic place a lot of the time, but other times, I can
see how we are more connected than we realize. I’m not sitting here saying that fate brought me and this girl together, nor am I saying
that it was our destiny to meet that day. I’m a semi spiritual man, but even my spiritual tendencies are based in science. What I’m talking
about here is the fact that the connections we make ourselves, not the ones destiny has forced upon us, are powerful themselves. We have the
power to impact others and ourselves.

Now, I also found myself curious to know what happened to this young girl. I have no name, only a picture of the two of us together. We were
both so young, but I find myself wondering, what happened to her? What is she doing now? Who is she, and more importantly, is she happy? I’m
not sitting here hoping for some big, Hollywood style romantic scene, where we reunite at that same beach, (I believe it was either Newport
or Laguna, I can’t remember), and have some huge, heart-pounding moment with the rain pouring down around us. No, this is just a curiosity
more than anything. She apparently was one of my first friends, albeit for merely 1 day. Even if I never meet her in person again or get
the chance to be her friend, I at least would love the opportunity to say hi, ask how she is, and thank her for her day of friendship. Like
I said, I’m not expecting anything, but if anyone knows or recognizes this little girl from an old photo, or has seen this photo and would
know who she grew up to be, feel free to let her know about this blog post, or even tag her on social media. I’m curious to see whatever happens
with this blog experiment, because as I said, the smallest moments in our lives can have lasting influences, and this little trip down memory
lane gave me the burst of energy and inspiration I needed to push forward with my career. To her, and to all of you who have left impressions
on me and those in your lives, I say thank you.

Romanticism in the 21st Century: Author Anthony Avina’s Inspiration for His Novella, VOID

Hello there everyone. Today’s blog post is going to be partly a behind the scenes look at my creative process and inspiration for VOID, the
novella I just released for preorder on Amazon Kindle. It’s also going to be partly personal, in which I talk about a big part of my life,
and that is my romantic side.

Let’s get personal guys. I am what is referred to as a hopeless romantic. That means that basically, I believe in love. I believe in the
power of love and that when you find love, it’s a rare but beautiful thing. I know that for most guys, the bachelor life appeals to them.
They enjoy moving from one night stands and flimsy relationships to the next one. I also know that women might be wary of a guy who speaks
of love, especially at my age, (25). Yet a bachelor lifestyle never appealed to me, and I’m not interested in a one-sided relationship where
I’m more invested in the relationship than she is. I have no interest in being one of those men who is clingy, or too focused on the relationship
and not on myself. No, what I want is a partner, whom I love and who loves me.

There’s a saying that I think fits my thinking best. Love is patient, and love is kind. To me, that means that everyone is different. Sometimes,
a person is lucky enough to know at their first encounter that they’ve found the person they love. Others take time to grow their feelings.
It’s about respecting love’s timetable. It cannot be forced. It cannot be arranged or brought on unnaturally. Love is a living, breathing
thing. It grows when two people, (and I mean any two people, but more on that later), work together in unison, taking in both the good and
the bad aspects of one another, and at the end of the day deciding that their love for one another is stronger than any apprehensions or
fears.

This has been a driving force in my life for years. I’ve always been more in touch with my feelings and the feelings of those around me, which
made me a good friend and shoulder to lean on for friends I’ve made over the years. While most people won’t agree with me, I am looking for
love, and I know I’ll find it one day. I have no interest in forcing it or assuming I’ll find it immediately. I just am allowing myself to
open up to love, and going along for the ride.

Now on to how this applies to VOID. You see, as a romantic, I’ve always incorporated love into my horror stories. I believe in showcasing
romance even in the face of horrific situations. Yet I felt inspiration strike after listening to a song. It was A Great Big World’s “Say
Something”. This song spoke to me on a new creative level. I listened to the song, and heard a message of loss, of hope, and of love. It
spoke to me about how life throws us curve-balls. How through pain, through loss, and through tragedy, one can find hope. Although the song
can be open to interpretation, this is the message I heard, and so VOID was born.

I decided to write a story about six friends, each undergoing a tragedy or dilemma of some sort. I decided to incorporate bits of my life
or things I believe in into their stories, such as Jasper, who’s undergoing a tragic set of circumstances as he is a gay man with parents
who are devoutly religious people who are against homosexuality. This is a subject I’m passionate about, because not only have I met and
known people who judge people by their sexuality, but I believe that love knows no sexual orientation. I felt like I needed to showcase
the mistakes and pitfalls of judging people. I wanted to highlight the struggles of the LGBT community in the face of adversity, and showcase
that friends could help him overcome his debacle.

I am writing this all down because I wanted to give you all a deeper understand of how I write and what I believe in. I’m a straight man
who fights for equality for everyone. I believe whole heartedly that everyone, no matter your race, gender or sexuality, is equal, and I
choose to believe this because I believe in love. You know, I just recently watched a very heartwarming and romantic video on YouTube of
well known YouTubers Colleen and Joshua Evans. It was their wedding video, and the love I saw in this video spoke to me. Not only the bright
love between this young couple, but the family that grew among their friends and family. Bonds were formed out of this love. A new family
was created out of this love. That is what I wanted to convey in VOID. Love among friends can bloom a new family. Love is one of our world’s
most powerful forces, and it should be cherished. That is what defines the theme of VOID.

Thank you guys for listening. To Josh and Colleen Ballinger, congratulations on your wedding. I’m always happy to see love blossom like in
your case. It’s a beautiful thing, and as a fellow YouTuber and romantic, I couldn’t be more proud and happy for you. To the rest of you guys,
I hope this gives you a better understanding of who I am and my creative process. I feel deeply, and I have always striven to incorporate
my thoughts, my feelings, and my romanticism into my writing. I hope you guys will check out VOID and see for yourself how love runs throughout
the veins of this novella. It’s available for preorder now on Amazon Kindle and will be out on October 1st, 2015 in both paperback and eBook
formats.

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