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Madness: The Man Who Changed Basketball

Madness: The Man Who Changed Basketball by [DeLucia, Mike]
There is a certain quality about people who make valuable contributions to history. They seem to have an uncanny ability to remain focused on their goals and to overcome their hurdles with stoic determination. Such is the story of one Angelo-Giuseppi ‘Hank’ Luisetti. Some people may not know who this is, including some basketball fanatics. However, the fact remains that Hank revolutionized basketball. Madness is his story of courage, focus, determination and immeasurable passion for the game.

The legacy of Hank Luisetti should never go unrecognized. He lived an inspiring life of hard work and motivating those around him to be better. Mike DeLucia tells his story in a compelling manner. He pulls in the reader right from the introduction with a peek into Hank’s life before basketball; being taught not to question God and a whole delve into his life during basketball. You will get to see the struggles as a ‘different’ kid. Nothing has been held back. This book is marked with candid banter and a knack to inspire the reader.

The book does not discriminate between demographics. It is enjoyable by anyone of any age. It is written in simple language. It weaves the plot of Hank’s life in a way that keeps you interested in how one person can be such a pillar of strength, not only for his self but for others too. You will find all the spirit, joy and heart of the game and the man himself captured between the lines of this book. The story is told in such vivid detail that you can almost see the sweat trickle down Hank’s face. You can feel his heart beat in his chest every time he was on the court.

Mike DeLucia uses true events but has created fictional characters to support the plot. These characters are properly built with enough backdrop and dimensions but it is done so carefully so that they do not overshadow the purpose of the story. They are great characters that will appeal to the reader. These characters will affirm that truly no great man becomes so without a few trusted people to him along the way.

There is a lot to learn from this book. You do not even have to be a fan of basketball. You could know absolutely nothing about the sport but you would still enjoy it. Madness: The Man Who Changed Basketball is a trip into the heart of one of the greatest sportsmen of all time.

Pages: 251 | ASIN: B07N87N384

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Masks

Masks by [Restokian, Nataly]

Anna has always known she would be famous. She has always done everything in her power to get to her desired position professionally and on the societal hierarchy. She reflects back to her journey from atop her throne. It is colored with struggled and dark moments she would rather not let anyone know about. However, despite all her success and power. Despite her fame and beauty. Despite her acclaim and recognition. Something is missing in her life. Until she meets Joe. A rash decision will change the course of her entire life.

Nataly Restokian has written a book that is inspired by her life. She writes so vividly that you can feel the fear in Anna’s parents as they sell bread on war torn streets. You can feel the disapproval radiating from many around her as she makes decisions. You will also enjoy the love, support and admiration she gets for these same decisions. It is a tumultuous life Anna has led. You will every bit of her turmoil and urgent need to find that missing part. The author has done a good job of pulling the reader in to see Anna for who she truly is. To see into her heart and mind. To look past the fancy veneer and see the woman stripped of her façade.

Anna is a strong woman who defies all odds. She creates her own fate. Like she says- people are fans of public figures they see themselves in. In Anna you will see a part of your true self. It could be her grit or her bravery. It could be her commitment to be authentic. It could be her strength to face her demons. She is everyone we all wish to be. She is unscripted and unforgivingly frank. So much could be said about this one character almost as there is no one else in the story with her. The writer has done a truly marvelous job of sculpting the perfect heroine who also has flaws but will not shy away from them. The same dexterity has been applied to Joe with his charm and genuine personality.

This is a very intense story that touches heavily on feminism and crime against women. These are issues that plague the world right now. This book tells the story of a woman’s life from a society many might not understand but whose struggles are relatable by all women though perhaps not on the same level. The writer lends the story the seriousness and sobriety it requires for the message to be passed. The book is written in beautifully simple yet elegant language with a mild flair.

Pages: 256 | ASIN: B07BB6RMDS

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The Emotional Truth

Nan Sanders Pokerwinski Author Interview

Nan Sanders Pokerwinski Author Interview

Mango Rash is a memoir of your time in American Samoa as a teen in the mid-sixties. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this memoir?

I started writing bits and pieces of my Samoa story when I joined a writers’ group in 2004. That was almost forty years after my time in Samoa, and for all those years I’d struggled to convey what it was like living on a tropical island as a teenager in the 1960s. All I could come up with was, “It was beautiful . . . It was a blast . . . “ and other generic responses that didn’t begin to capture the essence of the experience. So I started writing about that year as a way to not only fill in the details, but also tease out why living in Samoa made such an impression on me—something I’m not sure I completely understood until I finished writing the memoir.

Was everything you wrote from memory, or did you have to do research like dig through old photographs and letters?

Some events and conversations were so deeply etched in memory I could write them off the top of my head. Others surfaced as I looked through old photographs, played music from the time, and read letters and diary entries. One very good friend from high school days had saved all the letters I wrote her from Samoa, and those filled in so many details, including entire, verbatim conversations and descriptions of people and places. As I was revising the manuscript, a cousin unearthed letters my parents had written to her parents from Samoa. Those letters corroborated my accounts and provided even more details.

I appreciated the candid nature of your book. What were some goals you set for yourself as a writer for this book?

Interesting question! I think my main goal was to dig beneath the day-by-day recounting of events, extract the most pivotal events, and ferret out my reactions to those events, both at the time and forty to fifty years later, as I was writing about them. And then to keep making sure I was telling the truth, not only the factual truth, but also the emotional truth.

This is a lovely coming of age story that superbly captures a whirlwind of emotions. What do you hope readers take away from your story?

Thank you! I hope readers take away several messages from my story.

First, that even though our individual life stories may be very different, we all experience similar emotions at key points in our lives—adolescence, for one, but also other points along the way.

Second, that change is inevitable—nothing is permanent—but it’s good to consider which changes are beneficial and growth-promoting and which ones are destructive. Neither resisting change nor forging ahead just for the sake of change is the best path.

Finally, I think the most important message is that we all can learn so much from cultures other than our own if we open ourselves up to what they have to offer. Given all the mistrust and misunderstanding among different groups of people these days, this message can’t be stressed too often.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Mango Rash: Coming of Age in the Land of Frangipani and Fanta by [Pokerwinski, Nan Sanders]

Moving to a South Pacific island from small town Oklahoma, sixteen year old Nancy Sanders trades cruising Main Street in search of tater tots for strolling sandy shores with islanders who feast on sea worms and summon sharks with song.

With a dash of teenage sass, MANGO RASH chronicles Nancy’s search for adventure—and identity—in two alien realms: the tricky terrain of adolescence and the remote U.S. territory of American Samoa. Against a backdrop of lava-rimmed beaches, frangipani-laced air, and sensual music, Nancy immerses herself in 1960s island culture with a colorful cast of Samoan and American expat kids.

But life is not one big beach party, Nancy soon finds, when she clashes with her parents over forbidden boys and discovers double standards in the expat community. Samoa, too, is experiencing growing pains as ancient customs collide with 20th-century ways. In the midst of all this, a hurricane shatters the peaceful paradise, delivering lessons in attachment and loss, strength and survival.

Like Nancy, readers of this unforgettable memoir will fall in love with Samoa’s biscuit-tin drum serenades, its mountains like mounds of cut velvet cushions, and its open-hearted people, who face adversity with grace. And just as Nancy does when her own health crisis thrusts her into a very different kind of unfamiliar territory, readers will draw strength from fa’a Samoa: the Samoan Way.

In language as lush as the island landscape, MANGO RASH enchants, entertains, and, ultimately, inspires with its message about embracing and learning from other cultures.

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The ’49 Indian

The '49 Indian by [Moody, Craig]

Back in the 1980’s when the LGBTQ community was severely marginalized. Back when AIDS was called GRID (Gay Related Immune Deficiency). Dustin Thomas struggled with his identity. Unbeknownst to him the place his parents likened with Sodom would be the beginning of his journey to understand his true self. At the age of 20, he gained the courage to walk through those doors. This would lay the foundation for the relationship he would later have with Gauge Paulson. How will they survive with only their restored 1949 Indian Motorcycle and hope? How will they navigate the complexity of their relationship? Will their Fort Lauderdale past follow them down the California Coast?

This book tells a very important story in the history of the LGBTQ community. There is a lot that people do not know about the struggle before members of the community could openly fight for their liberation. If for nothing else, read this book to truly understand the struggle. It provides an accurate albeit bleak picture of what life was like for the LGBTQ community in the 1980’s as well as the lengths they had to go to simply exist in the society.

This is a well written book and a moving tale. The style of writing is fitting for a story of this intensity and magnitude. It is emotive and gut wrenching. You find yourself rooting for young Dustin to overcome all the hurdles on his path.

The grammar is spotless with a flair that is just right, never feeling inappropriate for the tragic undertone of the story. The author has an uncanny ability to create a full dimensional mental picture with both his creative use of language and unique tone, giving an artistic feel to his writing.

This is a very informative book. There is a story to enjoy sure, but at the core of it is a lesson for human kind. At the end of it all you wonder why human beings cannot coexist in peace without judgement and creation of restrictive societal codes. What would really happen if everyone was accepted just as they were? This book is thought provoking in this way. You will also learn that love truly is powerful; against ignorance and debilitating superiority complexes.

Craig Moody has broken into the genre with a powerfully poignant book. This book tells a story that many need to hear.

Pages: 252 | ASIN: B06XD51X19

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Picking the Right Dreams

Kathleen Schmitt Author Interview

Kathleen Schmitt Author Interview

The Grand Trek follows a unique journey to Arizona and the people encountered on the way. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thought provoking memoir?

(WIth the caveat that Arizona was the original idea but the actual Trek turned out differently) The seed for what I came to call The Grand Trek was planted over the breakfast table one morning just after I graduated from high school while living at Horst and Harriet’s farm in Scales Mound, Illinois. Harriet speculated that one of their horses looked like he might not make it through another tough northern Illinois winter. As a (bad) joke, I suggested she ride him to her sister’s place in Arizona. Most folks would have taken this as a jest. Instead, Harriet went to get an atlas.

I found this story to be energetic, engaging and evocative. What were some themes you wanted to capture while writing this story?

The main theme is fulfilling the dreams we have for our lives, and picking the right dreams to follow. Another theme is the contrast between urban and rural life, which is something that has been part of my life story. A third is the connections with my horses and dogs and the natural environment. Perhaps increasingly relevant these days is how basic is the need for water. Not a theme as such, but frequently having only a general idea of where I was and where I was heading came up a lot! That is to say that I spent a lot of time basically lost, and learned not to worry about that as long as I kept heading west.

I enjoyed the interesting and varied characters introduced throughout your novel. What were some ideas that you wanted to explore with your characters?

I wanted to relay the way folks I encountered go about their lives, which is more interesting than may be obvious at first sight because it isn’t always dramatic or extraordinary. For example, a lot to think about arose when asking for some water from a mother hanging out laundry to dry. On the face of it, that encounter seems mundane in comparison with the time I asked for some water from a fellow who kept exotic animals like yaks. On reflection, though, the apparently more mundane encounter told worlds about how thoughtfully and innovatively that family approached their lifestyle. I didn’t have a particular plan about what to explore about my encounters. They each had their own significance.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

The Best That Can Happen: The Grand Trek wraps up with my stepping off the corporate ladder to re-open a horse training operation at a once well-known facility in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC. I’m deciding on how best to approach it. I’m presently leaning toward researching the lives of the people who have occupied that property over the years. The property has some historical relevance, as it was part of the Fairfax Grant of over 5 million acres in the mid-1600’s. There are no doubt a wealth of interesting characters and social development themes to explore, including how America looked pre- and post-European settlement! Lots to research, so it’ll be a while before that’s done. I’m also considering a fictional murder mystery at the farm. That could be fun!

Author Links: Website | GoodReads

The Best That Can Happen: The Grand TrekStories of a journey of discovery traveling cross-country by Kathleen, her horse, Murphy, and her Boxer dog, Country Boy. Unusual for travel memoirs, it explores preparing for the Trek (including catching Murphy and training Country Boy as a protection dog) and what follows such an adventure. It is an entertaining ramble along America’s backroads meeting a very special cast of characters; a humorous and occasionally terrifying roadmap of Americana and pursuing the dreams of one’s youth.

Available at TheGrandTrek.com

JUMP!

JUMP!: An epic travel and soul adventure by [Louw, Lenerd]

Not many people are attentive enough to hear an inner voice let alone listen to it. Lenerd Louw had always had a small voice inside of him urging towards a direction he had never taken before. The voice was leading him to veer off a life he had always lived, enjoyed and took some measure of pride in. The voice only grew louder over time. Then Lenerd took the time to actually listen to the voice. He took the time to audit his life and venture into the unknown with nothing but a large backpack. Five years later, he has a new outlook on life.

Lenerd leaves nothing to the imagination. He lets the reader deep into the belly of the story. He tells such a vivid story that while he is momentarily mesmerized by the Jacuzzi fire, the reader will be right there with him. You can almost smell the cocktail of diarrhea and vomit when he attempts to rid himself of parasites.

His style of telling his story is completely engaging and involving for the reader. There is an authentic air about the author. Even as he accuses himself of in-authenticity, the fact that he is questioning means that it lies somewhere within him. You can tell that he is not in any way completely devoid of it. This quality comes through in the way he tells the story as well as the events he chooses to highlight.

This was definitely a story worth telling. It is a story of triumphs. Often people think that those perched atop privilege and success have it easy. Truth is that they too, undergo the same kind of struggles that everyone does. In that sense, this story is relatable. Although the reader may not have the means to traverse the world like he did, Lenerd’s experiences and his candid narration of the story connect him to the reader right from the beginning.

Although I liked the book, I felt that the story tended to jump around without notice. This left me a little confused at times, like when someone digresses when they tell a story. Regardless, you will enjoy Lenerd’s discovery of self.

The reader will be gripped right from the scene by the fire with the two girls on the table to his recall of the Café at the Edge story. Everything in between will be a beautiful roller-coaster. Speaking of the story, it is the perfect ending to a great story. It is so apt and fitting and wraps up the book quite nicely.

Pages: 286 | ASIN: B07TZJM1ZQ

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Mango Rash: Coming of Age in the Land of Frangipani and Fanta

Every person in their youth has dreamt of escaping to some exotic locale for fun, freedom, and newness. Someplace on the globe that is ‘other’; a place that can physically represent the internal battle of reaching adulthood and really understanding how things change and how one wants to find their own and new identity.

For the author, Nan Sanders Pokerwinski, the dream of a far off world full of new possibilities was a lush and beautiful reality. Mango Rash is a memoir of her brief time in America Samoa as a teen back in the mid-sixties. But it is so much more than that! Nan’s recall of her life-transforming time is a lush, layered, inviting and provocative tale that is so delightful to read!

Mango Rash peppers in historical references and factual instances in a perfect way that makes Nan’s story more intriguing and doesn’t date the story. In fact, the writer’s coming of age story is so timeless in the way that any teen can relate too in any age or any setting.

America Samoa provides such a picturesque and breathtaking backdrop to the timelessness of Mango Rash. Nan’s voice is so strong and effective and pens such a likable and marvelous story with a place that everyone will want to visit and a group of people that everyone will want to meet.

Nan’s ups and downs on the island mirror her ups and downs in life and her voyage to figure out where her home really is. The all too brief interactions with her parents and the very quick observations she makes about the world around her were such wise touches!

Mango Rash has an ending I did not see coming, but probably should have. Despite the memoirs’ sudden end and out of nowhere change, the author makes the conclusion stick with flair and whimsy.

Pokerwinski has a huge talent for drawing the reader in with such ease and flair; like listening to a story being told by your best friend! Everything about Mango Rash is delightful and wondrously fun!

Take the time to enjoy this book and you will find yourself reflecting on the people and places that helped shape you and still hold a part of your heart today; as well as identifying closely with the characters. For sure, you will dream of American Samoa and will be hoping that Nan has more stories to tell.

Pages: 300 | ASIN: B07WNXS6LV

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Better Off Bald: A Life in 147 Days

Almost everyone has been touched by cancer; either indirectly or directly by this aggressive and unpredictable disease. Serious diseases affect people in different ways, sometimes the emotional storm leaves you as unprepared as the illness. A child battling cancer is as bad as it gets and the real life story of Adrienne Wilson is a total gut-wrencher as well as beautiful, uplifting and encouraging one. Better off Bald: A Life in 147 Days is an undeniably fascinating read that should be experienced!

There is so much raw truth and strength in the authors recounting of her sisters battle with childhood cancer. Andrea Wilson’s story is a roller coaster of hope, anger, grief, nostalgia, determination, self guilt, and courage that can only be matched my her marvelous and spirited sister. The truth about cancer is that there is no absolutely true path or outcome. Everyday and every story is different. Despite knowing the end for Adrienne the author is successful at making the reader understand how every day and moment is different and unique and the journey of these 2 strong women is just as compelling as can be hoped for.

Andrea Wilson Woods opens up her soul with her memoir Better off Bald: A Life in 147 Days. This fabulously narrated journey lays out all that can be experienced when dealing with the terminal illness of a minor.

There are countless ups and downs in Adrienne’s story and it’s not straight forward nor easy. What in life is? The roller coaster ride is raw and real and the unbalance of this story makes it remarkable.

Better off Bald paints such a vivid picture of the complexity of cancer and the real life challenges of living in the moment and how people think and react to every changing scope of their new reality. The author captures the readers heart and attention with clarity and grit. There is so much in Adrienne and Andrea’s story that makes you wish you had known them in person and feel like you already do.

From beginning to end A Life in 147 Days demands attention and you just want to keep reading and reading. The triumphs and tragedies of the two sisters is a story that must be shared and I am so grateful the it was! The author ends her story with a call to action and perspective that is relatable and honest. A truly great read!

Pages: 394 | ASIN: B07X3N6TCP

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My Life at Sweetbrier

My Life at Sweetbrier: A Life Changed by Horses by [Humphrys-Dunne, Deanie]

My Life at Sweetbrier: A Life Changed by Horses is a non-fiction book written by Deanie Humphrys-Dunne about her true life experiences growing up on a horse farm in Easton, Connecticut called Sweetbrier. After Deanie’s parents were told she would probably never be able to walk, she not only overcame her disability in order to learn to walk but Deanie also learned to ride horses and becomes an equestrian jumping champion, riding a horse named Fleet Nancy (Peach). Then she has surgery on her leg to help her walk better and she has to relearn to walk and ride all over again. After many months of physical therapy and hard work, she comes back to the jumping circuit and wins even more championships.

I enjoyed reading this book. It had an inspiring message about overcoming obstacles in order to reach your goals, to keep trying even when you fail and not give up. It’s a message that will resonate with all readers regardless of whether or not they have a physical disability like Deanie.
The descriptions of Little Man (Deanie’s first pony) were humorous as she described his actions when she was learning to ride, but it was sad to read about the horses that the family lost when the barn caught on fire.

I loved that the author included family photographs and pictures of the house and barns at Sweetbrier and the horses owned by the Humphrys Family while Deanie was growing up. There were also pictures of the Humphrys sisters jumping at various horse shows.

Although I enjoyed the book, I felt that the story was a bit disjointed at the beginning, with Deanie retelling various events in her past, jumping from one memory to another without  connections between them. I would have preferred a more cohesive narrative in that section of the story, but this is not an issue in the later parts of the story. No dates were mentioned, and I would have liked to know when Deanie was growing up and when she won numerous equestrian jumping championships.

This is an inspirational story that excellently conveys the moments and emotions of Deanie’s life. This book invites readers into a personal story, one that is told boldly, and I appreciated it.

Pages: 144 | ASIN: B0711P67DM

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From Miracle to Murder: Justice for Adam

From Miracle To Murder: Justice For Adam by [Lefler, Joyce A]

In May of 1977, Joyce gave birth to her second child, a son named Adam. Adam was a beam of light in an otherwise dark world surrounding Joyce and her daughter, Anne. Joyce was faced with the daunting task of raising a child with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome–a child she was told would never thrive and would require intense specialized care the rest of his short life. Joyce, a woman already trapped in an intensely abusive marriage, vowed to raise her son and his older sister together for as long as he may survive. In May of 1977, Joyce began a journey of new love with her two small children. In September of 1983, she was accused of Adam’s murder.

From Miracle to Murder: Justice for Adam is the true story of Joyce A. Lefler’s harrowing experience as a battered wife and a mother accused of murdering her young so told in her own words. From the first pages of Lefler’s story, it is painfully clear that Joyce is a fighter. The abuse she endured at the hands of her husband was nothing short of horrific. The author describes in vivid detail the moments of hair-pulling, his verbally abusive tirades, and the incidents of rape she endured as her children slept. Her husband, Allen, was a monster by all rights and possessed no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Several times while reading, I gasped audibly at the terrorizing scenes described by the author.

When accused of murdering her young son, Adam, Joyce faced obstacles at literally every turn. I cannot imagine losing one of my children and having the other ripped from my arms and turned against me. Joyce is a special person indeed. She is a survivor in every sense of the word.

The circumstances surrounding Adam’s death and the light shed on the many mistakes made during his murder investigation are overwhelming. She describes the most infuriating neglect on the part of the police department. All of these oversights led to one heartbreak in Joyce’s life after another. From having her husband awarded custody of her daughter to having trusted friends run the other way after her own arraignment, Joyce watched her life fall out from beneath her, but she somehow held her own.

It’s difficult to say this is a great book because it’s a tragic true story. I will say this–if your life has in any way been touched by abuse, this is a book you should read. By the same token, if you are the parent of a child with special needs, Joyce’s life story is one with which you should familiarize yourself. So much can be learned from her experience with her son and some of the medical professionals Joyce encountered in Adam’s first days. From her childhood to her marriage with her first husband to her painful existence looking back in fear of being accused again of her son’s death, Joyce describes for readers an incredibly difficult life of choices no one should have to make but everyone should read.

Pages: 309 | ASIN:  B07FMGGHTG

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