Everyone has a second truth in their lives. There is always some choice which can be made that will lead to suffering. We often do not know what these choices will lead to until it is too late. There are many people who do not fully understand what is entailed by their choice to protect and serve others, especially the suffering that can easily result from this choice. In the case of the Korean War, many of these sacrifices went forgotten by people back home, with a lack of recognition, this war, and the people who fought it began to fade into obscurity.
The Second Truth written by John Viola is a riveting personal account of his time spent in the military during the Korean War. This intriguing memoir gives incisive and thoughtful insight into what service men and women actually experience during their tours of duty. There is a matter of fact feeling to the book that tells it like it is.
While I enjoyed this memoir immensely, I would’ve like to have had the military terminology explained a little bit more so that readers who have no direct relation to the military could better understand what is being discussed. However, the book had a natural feel to it as well as an integrity to it that I found very satisfying and authentic.
If you are looking for a memoir that provides a candid view of the military during the Korean War then I would highly recommend The Second Truth by John Viola.
Pages: 62 | ASIN: B0794RTL9M
Panorama: The Missing Chapter is a heartfelt memoir of your journey working and living in South Korea. What inspired you to share your experiences in a book?
In 2019, I wrote and published my first book, Views from the Cockpit: The Journey of a Son. The residual effect of publishing the book made me feel at peace with myself and the relationship I had with my father. Readers have also told me that Views from the Cockpit inspired them to take a different approach with their father or become more interested in forgiveness.
As I wrote my first book, I began to comb through my background of relationships. The story of Panorama bubbled up, and the time I spent living abroad in Seoul. I felt that if I shared it, someone could relate and benefit. Perhaps they could relate to escaping from problems, having secret relationships, or figuring out where they belong in the world. Not only was it interesting to reflect on these moments from my life, but in the real-world, a lot of stories surrounding bisexuality are not featured or appropriately categorized.
I appreciated the candid nature with which you told your story. What was the hardest thing for you to share in the book?
The hardest thing to share would be my social-political opinions about identity politics in America and how they’ve made me feel. Everyone can criticize anyone for anything, so I knew that I was opening myself up. When it comes to relationships and how people exist outside of heteronormativity – sometimes people just can’t understand anything else outside of that. Panorama not only exists outside of mainstream heteronormativity but also mainstream LGBT culture, which typically spotlights gay male voices. I was terrified to share a story from a minority group and criticize larger socio-political structures and members of those groups.
What is one thing you hope readers take away from your story?
There are a few things – Bi people are real – we exist and not only in a suggestive, explicit connotation. Bi people are a whole demographic of people, mostly invisible, in mainstream media and day-to-day social discourse.
Additionally, I hope people take away the importance of building bridges between communities. At the end of the book, I write about thought islands. We all want to feel safe and protected where we are. We all want to be seen and heard, and have our views get the most clicks and attention.
My goal is to build bridges, lift others, and make sure there are seats at the table for others who share in building. I also hope that people realize that the way people live, think, and behave does not put each of our identities and beliefs at risk. Somehow, if we can all get to a point to coexist, be slow to judge, we will have achieved something. I know that this is very optimistic, but I think bisexuality, in and of itself, focuses on people (men and women) and the things that make them unique.
You have another book, Views from the Cockpit. What can readers expect in that book?
Views from the Cockpit is a book born from pain. Father-son memories of plane watching at LAX quickly morph into familial dysfunction that ranges from divorce, resentment, to elder abuse. Views from the Cockpit uses airplane metaphors to tell a boy’s coming of age story into a man by reflecting on the living memory of my father – Claude B. Victory. Panorama is “the missing chapter” of Views from the Cockpit. However, both books can be read separately.
Nadeem was just 25 years old when he passed away after a short, but painful illness, however he lives on in the tireless efforts of his mother, Sherine Anniruth, to memorialize his life. The Ultimate Love is as much about Nadeem, the central figure that binds together the chapters of the book, as it is about his mother’s grief over his loss, in all its unimaginable dimensions. Anniruth’s grief comes in waves, some that reduce her to tears, others that almost obliterate her ability to continue with daily life. And her work serves as an open letter to anyone experiencing the same pain, wondering how they could possibly live on after their child has gone.
The Ultimate Love is a work of deep and startling honesty, but not one likely to fly off the shelves. Anniruth struggles to keep her emotions down long enough in order to analyze and discuss her grief, rather than to be caught up in the depths of it. Perhaps it’s not possible to capture such a deep sense of grief in words, let alone review a work that details a mother’s unending love for a lost child. As Anniruth herself says, “each person’s struggle is different”, and her experience of grief is hers alone. The Ultimate Love is less a novel and more of a guide to living through loss, authored by a loving, abundantly caring mother who asks how the world could dare to move on, when she’ll never be able to do the same. She tries to find positive affirmations and an overarching meaning for what happened to her son – a young man we sadly, barely come to know in the book, falling back on her faith for support.
What Anniruth has written is more a testament to the fragility of life, to its cruelties, and to our natural, built-in resilience to continuing on in the face of loss. As she carries the ghost of her son with her, she is herself transformed by the act of keeping him close to her heart. It’s not an easy read, for more reasons than one, but a book that’s bound to touch those who find themselves in the same position as Anniruth, and trying to cope with what feels like an insurmountable loss. Her parting gift to us as an author is to try and face it all, her grief, her hopes, her fears, and the small ways in which life does go on, while memory never fades.
Pages: 125 | ASIN: B0871MW1M9
Everywhere But Home: Life Overseas as told by travel blogger Phil Rosen is a collection of various essay-style travelogues about the author’s life living abroad. Rosen graduated college in 2018 and immediately thought he would go onto to become a graduate student, but had a swift change of heart. We follow him through his time teaching English to kids in Hong Kong, and his travels through other surrounding countries. Throughout the book, Rosen asks himself and his readers many of life’s unanswered questions on being human and finding life’s meaning.
Phil Rosen’s descriptive prose has a way of taking you around the world with him and tingling the senses while doing it. His ability to describe his surroundings makes you feel as if you were right there with him. You feel what he feels. You see what he sees. His creative writing skills provide an extra layer of character to this travel memoir of Asia.
Rosen’s realistic approach to his experiences is what sets this travel memoir apart from any other on the market. He is honest about what is occurring around him, sharing his thoughts on the good and the bad. You can see this depicted when he discusses his thoughts on the strenuous Hong Kong education system. His accounts strip back the pretty Instagram filter that many travel bloggers use to manipulate reality.
One of my favorite aspects of the book was the way Rosen proposed life questions. Sometimes when authors attempt to offer wisdom of any kind, they can come off as condemning. Almost as if the author is saying, “How did you not already know this?”. Rosen takes the same questions we all ask ourselves and walks through them with us, offering what he’s learned from his travels.
Rosen’s discussion of what a country’s culture truly is, I can only describe as eye-opening. There is a difference between tourist towns and attraction and cultural practices. He breaks this down in a beautifully understated way and reminds us of the simple pleasures in life.
This review would not be complete without mention the short story included in the book, The Man From India. To keep this short and spoiler-free, Phil Rosen’s fiction writing is as terrific as his non-fiction, and a huge part of what makes this a must read.
Pages: 189 | ASIN: B08DF3PVJB
A Wee History of Mine is a heart-warming memoir of your life and you reflections on events and ideas. Why was this an important book for you to write?
A Wee History of Mine was an important book for me to write as a record of the trinity of my particular journey through life … my young life, my working life, and my settled views resulting from a personal search for an understanding of life….. borne out of that recurring memory as a young child …. that moment of awesome wonder that, I suppose, ultimately compelled me to write the book before I die.
In this book you also reflect on your childhood. What is one piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you were younger?
Reflecting on my childhood there is no one piece of advice that I would have wished for but rather countless pieces of advice which only become apparent on reflection due to the human frailty of fear of what may happen in the future and regrets for things done / not done in the past.
I appreciated the honest with which you told your story. What do you hope readers take away from your memoir?
I would hope readers of my book reflect on the trinity of everything and find joy, grace and peace in the journey of life!
The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.
Gold Award Winners
A Little Bit Extraordinary by Esther Robinson
A Saint and a Sinner by Stephen H. Donnelly and Diane O’Bryan
Silver Award Winners
Mountain Heat by Natrelle Long
Pandora’s Gardener by David C Mason
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Sky Ranch is a riveting memoir of your life, and shows the stark contrast between city and rural life. Why was this an important book for you to write?
All my books are memoirs. SKY RANCH is about the time I lived on a ranch in Idaho. The first book, BEHIND THE SMILE DURING THE GLAMOUR YEARS OF AVIATION, is about the six years I was an international flight attendant, flying into Vietnam during the height of the war, telling about what goes on behind the scenes of an airline crew, and being captured in Cairo during the 6-day war. BLACK EMPRESS is about the 4 months I lived in Iran and rescued a black Labrador puppy and brought her back to the States. My next book, DARIEN WATERS, is about growing up in Darien, Connecticut (the good and bad of living in an upscale town near New York City). My last book will be about hitchhiking around the world twice. First for 4 months by myself. The second time for 18 months was with my former husband. We fly fished and hiked from New Zealand, to South Africa, to Scandinavia, and the British Isles. I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, carrying my own pack with eleven other hikers (from Canada, Germany, and Australia. We were the only Americans). Only 6 made it to the top (my husband did not).
I appreciated the candor with which you told your story. Was there anything that was difficult for you to share?
I wasn’t sure I should have put the section in about making love to my husband while he was driving a combine through a grain field. I’m still not sure.
What is one piece of advice that you would have given yourself before you moved to Idaho?
No advice. I loved Idaho. What a beautiful state and such wonderful inhabitants. I’d go back in a minute but all my relatives live in the East. As we age, I want to be close to them.
The memoir ends around 1996. What have you been doing since then?
After I sold the Angler’s business in 1995, I ran a successful clothing store in Buhl, Idaho. Married a high school boyfriend, sold the business but kept the building (which is now leased to Edward Jones Financial Company) and moved to Tennessee. I have started a new life as an author. Never a dull moment.
A true story of love, loss, and finding one’s true self, Panorama: The Missing Chapter from the Memoir Views from the Cockpit by Ross Victory is remarkable. We follow our author Ross Victory while he is in Seoul, South Korea, on a work abroad program. While in Seoul, Ross meets Alveré and slowly a romance blooms. Ross and Alveré are both masculine bisexual men trying to find their way in a world that denies their existence.
The stunning writing is what sets this book apart! Victory has a talent for taking life events and turning them into a page-turning work of art. While the author is going on his journey, you feel as if you are along for the ride with him; the scenes where Ross is in distress, you feel his pain.
Victory touches on sensitive topics with truth and grace, male bisexuality, toxic masculinity, and trauma, just to name a few. Victory seeks to not only educate himself through his life experiences but the reader as well. We learn the importance of finding and having someone in your life who understands you.
My favorite section is Panorama The Essay. Victory discusses in-depth the previously mentioned topics on a social-political level, while still captivating you with his writing. This is a memoir and self-help book combined into one! There is personal growth to be found among the pages. Quick but informative, Panorama: The Missing Chapter from the Memoir Views from the Cockpit by Ross Victory is a thought-provoking and engaging read.
Pages: 81 | ASIN: B08719F8CC
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