The Tribulations of August Barton by Jennifer LeBlanc follows the somewhat unwilling adventures of a young man who feels as if the world is on his shoulders. August Barton is a nerdy college freshman with growing anxiety not helped by the declaration of his parent’s decision to divorce. Never mind first-year classes, his growing independence, or even girls, the struggles within his own family becomes almost too much for him to bear. At a time in his life when he should be stepping out into the world and spreading his wings, the worries of his life pull him back into the safe confines of his residence hall where he can be with his Star Wars collection in peace. However, his charismatic grandmother (a woman who really has lived life to the fullest) has other ideas for her grandson, which leads to a series of adventures where August can finally learn to live out his own epic saga and find his own happy endings outside of the ones he’s seen in the science-fiction stories he loves.
This story compares to the classic coming-of-age tale Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger in its overall themes like loss of innocence and personal growth of a young man. However, I will say that August Barton is a more likable protagonist than Holden Caulfield! August “Augie” Barton’s altruism for his loved ones and his quirky charm make him a lovable character to follow throughout the book. Other interesting characters in Augie’s life enhance the quality of this book, one in particular: his grandmother! Gertie is such a wild and fun lady. I wish I could know her in real life! I honestly would read a whole spin-off novel about her life because seeing the world through her eyes sounds like a treat. The overall humor and grace of this novel as Jennifer LeBlanc’s authentic characters deal with very real problems that we all can face in life. The Tribulations of August Barton just proves how there can be such wondrous beauty in the everyday and in the hardships we all face. No doubt, Jennifer LeBlanc earns a full five stars, and one new permanent fan of her works.
Pages: 176 | ASIN: B01M7TF1N1
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Cascarones follows the life of a Mexican American girl in Texas that must balance her culturally rich heritage in a whitewashed school. Why was this an important book for you to write?
It was important for me to write and share my story since I believe that diversity is so important to all of us. Everyone needs to know that being different is a gift― especially our young readers. They need to be able to see themselves, their culture, and their traditions in books, music, and movies. Since reading has always been one of my passions, I realized that there was a lack of published stories that reflected Mexican American families such as mine.
When I was growing up, I loved it when our teachers would take us to the library to check out books. As I grew older, I started to realize that most of those books were about people that I couldn’t relate to. The characters weren’t anything like my family or friends. They didn’t look like us and definitely didn’t talk like us. When I started visiting bookstores, the same seemed true. Even today, it is still difficult to find books written by Mexican American authors in libraries or bookstores. I felt it was important to write about my beautiful culture and traditions so that readers would be able to experience the rich and colorful experiences that I was so privileged to grow up with.
We get to explore Suzy’s character all the way to adulthood. What were some driving ideals behind her character?
Cascarones is about a Mexican American girl growing up in South Texas always surrounded by family and friends. Love, faith, and simple fun are seen through her character. In a way, her stories are universal because everyone has their own version of Suzy’s story.
She grew up surrounded by people who left a huge impression on her just by being in her life. Her character is able to change and adapt to the situations that change in her life. Many of the characters in Cascarones are based on people who passed away at a very young age. They are vital to Suzy’s life and helped to shape who she becomes. Since Suzy grows up in a large extended family that is surrounded by love, she realizes that everyone in her life is important even though she is faced by challenges.
Each story gives more insight into the family as well as their culture and history. What were some themes you wanted to explore in this book?
The title Cascarones represents the cycle of life. The cascaron starts out as an egg with so much promise for life. The gold yolk inside symbolizes the life that we all have since we all start our journey as an egg. However, in order to make a cascaron the egg is removed, and the shell is then decorated in the most beautiful and artistic way possible. It is then cracked, falls to the ground and becomes part of the earth. It fertilizes the dirt and is reborn with the grass, trees, and flowers. That is what happens to us. Our life begins as an egg. We all have a gold yolk that represents our inner soul, but at the end our body goes back to the ground. The shell or the cascaron represents us, for we are all here only temporarily. In an instant we could be gone, for we do not know when our time will come. Life is fragile, just like a cascaron.
Everyone has a story inside of them waiting to be written. If there is not anything out there that reflects who you are, then it’s up to you to do something about it. Whether it’s about one’s religion or no religion, culture, or even sexual orientation it’s important to share one’s own story. Start writing and get the message out to everyone else. Once the writing starts, the rest will fall into place.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My next book is titled The Golden Egg and should be released next month. I’m really excited about it because it will be a bilingual chapter book. One page will be in English and the following page in Spanish. Even though Cascarones has some Spanish in it, many people have asked about a bilingual version.
I also have a poetry book that is forthcoming. Poetry is something that I truly enjoy, and it’s a beautiful way to express feelings in an artistic way. I have several selections that I’m excited to share with readers.
Cascarones is a young adult bildungsroman, a coming of age story narrated in a non-linear fashion that revolves around the life of a Mexican American family living in the Rio Grande Valley in Deep South Texas. The main character, Suzy, as well as her family and friends are encircled by rich traditions and culture of the region, shaping who she becomes. There are many beautiful people depicted in this novel who helped transform Suzy. The narrative shifts from present to the past to connect the reader with cultural traditions that changed through the years. It exposes how Easter was and is currently celebrated in the Rio Grande Valley and growing up during the sixties and seventies as a Mexican American amidst discriminatory undertones.
Sylvia Sánchez-Garza was born in Mercedes, Texas and raised in Weslaco, Texas. As a young girl, her family moved to Houston, Texas for a few years while her father worked on his doctorate at the University of Houston. She returned to and settled in the Rio Grande Valley. “I knew that it would always be my home,” Dr. Sánchez-Garza confessed. She and her husband live in Edinburg, Texas and own a real estate business. She has four sons, who make her very proud. She holds a B.A. in English, an M.A. in School Administration, and a Ph.D. in Leadership Studies. Cascarones is her first novel.
Tyffany Hackett’s book Imber follows the journey of a young girl named Natylia, who becomes queen before she is of age and takes her mother’s throne. She is accompanied throughout the story by friends like an elf, an herbalist, and a blacksmith. Natylia, after hearing about the legend of an ancient artifact, decides to go with her friends and find the artifact before others take it. Our heroine toils through loss and political conflict to successfully achieve her goal of benefiting the kingdom and saving it from an ancient doom.
Set in medieval times, this book contains so many fantastical things that are superbly described. The characters were well developed and gained layers as the story progressed. Natylia is one example of such a character. Throughout the book, you can see she reacts to stresses and pressures in a believable and relateable way. There is a complexity to all the characters stories, starting superficially and growing into something deeper, which is explored and hinted at throughout the book. One such example is Jyn, who is a friend of our protagonist. He’s ever faithful, and even with his temper he’s something more than Natylia’s guard.
The book explores themes of growing up in the face of adversity, as seen with the protagonist’s ascension to the throne. The trials she faces make her grow up from a young girl into a full-fledged woman right before your eyes. This coming-of-age theme really kept me turning pages all the way through. The author’s writing delivers complex ideas easily, but at times I felt the story was hampered by excessive descriptions, which detracted from the momentum built with some very well orchestrated action scenes. At the same time however, I can’t help but feel that the descriptions helped cement the world better and evoke a stronger image about the story. I suppose this is to say, if you like deep descriptive world building then this book is for you.
While the character development was excellent, I felt that some of the relationships that Natylia has throughout the book were shallow and easily cast aside. There were some relationships that I did enjoy, such as our protagonist’s relationship with her parents and siblings, but others seem to be thrown aside or not developed. I was given just enough to be deeply intrigued and begged for more.
Nevertheless, even with these flaws the book was a thrilling read. The prose was crafted with care and the author was very descriptive throughout. When the action came it kept me on the edge of my seat and was very fun to read.
Pages: 424 | ASIN: B07CMGSDRD
Tags: action, adventure, alibris, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, blacksmith, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, coming of age, ebook, elf, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, herbalist, ilovebooks, imber, indiebooks, kindle, kobo, literature, magic, medieval, mystery, nook, novel, publishing, read, reader, reading, romance, shelfari, smashwords, story, sword and sorcery, thanatos trilogy, tyffany hackett, writer, writer community, writing
In the science fiction genre, many stories share similar plots. The authors, Grant Elliot Smith and Steven H. Stohler, in their co-venture, Rathen: Into Bramblewood Forest, expertly utilize concepts from great sci-fi classics. With this they create a very entertaining story that keeps readers rooting for the protagonist, Rathen, and his crew throughout their quest to vanquish evil from their world and other worlds in the galaxy.
The story begins roughly a year after the first book left off in a dark scene where Rathen and his companions—Bandark and Rulo—nervously approach a terrible foe that is capable of destroying the group with his magical ability that allows him control of many elements and also the dead. The result of this meeting then forms a core group that joins in a quest in search of a powerful book called The Book of Ziz that will allow its wielders to vanquish a terrorizing deity known as Gothoar. The story has much more depth as the characters face personal issues and other forms of conflict as the story unfolds.
One concept that makes this book a great read is the discussion of social dynamics through the interaction of fictional races. The group contains several humans, a lich, a half-orc, and people from other worlds in their fold. Therefore, the authors found a way to talk about and resolve racial conflicts. The details of the story show that some people have to live in certain neighborhoods and have to be defensive regarding their heritage. Thack, a capable warrior who is half human and orc, has apparently had a history of racial persecution because he chose to live in an area away from his home where he has found acceptance, but with the introduction of a love interest, feels defensive about his mixed heritage to seek acceptance.
Other social issues like gender disparity are discussed. Caswen—a healer—and her sister Drynwen—a protector—feel gender bias in their organization and have to fight harder to receive missions than their male counterparts. This book seeks to show that the bias others hold can often overshadow dreams and skills. The sisters get their opportunity to sharpen their skills on the road. They find their niche amongst the team allowing them to shine brighter than many of their order back home.
Rathen is able to shed new light on old tropes. Most everyone is familiar with the hero and company on a quest to save the world from destructive foe. The story adds plenty of depth through the implementation of human nature with nonhuman characters and the exploration of human tendencies like the search for redemption, acceptance, contentment, immortality, and even revenge in some cases. Smith and Stohler did a fantastic job telling a story that goes much deeper than the words on the pages; their work sticks with their readers well after the words are read.
Pages: 282 | ASIN: B07HWNK13Z
Tags: adventure, alibris, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, bramblewood, coming of age, dark fantasy, ebook, evil, fantasy, goodreads, grant elliot smith, ilovebooks, indiebooks, kindle, kobo, literature, magic, nook, novel, publishing, race, rathen, read, reader, reading, science fiction, scifi, shelfari, smashwords, space, space opera, steven stohler, story, travel, writer, writer community, writing
For most of his life, Bing has prepared ceaselessly to take the civil servant examinations, with little time for anything beyond the collections of texts that dictate political matters. Passing the exams would be the first step in following his father’s path, and also determine nearly everything else about his future. Finally, the day to begin them has arrived, and Bing faces the grueling challenges before him with understandable anxiety, but also a necessary determination. Outside of the exam compound, however, his focus is frequently drawn to a mysterious dream that recurs almost nightly, as well as a glimpse into history from his beloved grandfather.
In 18 Cranes by Robert Campbell, we’re introduced to Bing, his loved ones, and some of the traditions of village life in 17th century China. With an engaging narrative and colorful descriptions of Bing’s world, 18 Cranes does an excellent job of holding the reader’s attention, even while discussing a subject as mundane as civil servant exams. Despite a lack of any real action, the story never seems stagnant. Of course, there’s more going on than just rigorous testing. Bing is also suddenly plagued by a recurring dream, the meaning of which eludes him. The reader learns a lot about Bing and his relationships with his loved ones over the course of several expertly crafted conversations that examine each part of the dream, which always ends with 18 red-crested cranes ascending into the sky. The number 18 in particular holds special intrigue and multiple explanations are suggested for its meaning. To further the feeling of mystery, toward the end of the story, Grandfather Ai begins to tell Bing about the origins of their family. The short oral history is enough to stoke Bing’s stifled imagination. Restricted by his strict studies, Bing has never had the opportunity to read many legends or works of fiction and his curiosity, although kept under control, nonetheless exists. Grandfather Ai’s revelations also provide an interesting twist for the reader.
The uncertainty of the future is an overarching theme throughout the book and is explored through both tangible avenues, like Bing’s performance in the exams, as well as in deciphering the symbolism of his dream. There is also a considerable emphasis placed on Bing’s age, with repeated mentions that he could be one of the youngest people to ever pass the exams on the first try. Because of this, it reads a good bit like a coming of age story.
18 Cranes is subtitled “Kaifeng Chronicles Book One”, in reference to the village that Bing’s maternal ancestors came from. I’d be excited to read the rest of the series and follow Bing further through the avenues of his life. The abundance of detailed descriptions make it easy to picture the aspects of Bing’s village life, from the shores of West Lake to the flowers in the gardens. This book is an interesting and well written story that moves at a good pace.
Pages: 123 | ASIN: B07C8LC32H
Tags: 18 Cranes, alibris, asia, asian, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, book, book club, book geek, book lover, Book One, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, china, coming of age, dream, ebook, exam, family, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, ilovebooks, indiebooks, Kaifeng Chronicles, kindle, kobo, life, literature, nook, novel, publishing, read, reader, reading, shelfari, smashwords, story, writer, writer community, writing
The Tribulations of August Barton follows college freshman Augie as he navigates many precarious situations with the help of his grandmother. What was the inspiration for the setup to this entertaining novel?
I remembered how truly alone I felt when I turned eighteen and first left home. How hard it was to realize that the world was so vast and full of uncertainty, that if I let it, it could just swallow me whole. Augie is essentially a figment of the inner me and a reflection of how I felt at that time in my life. Doing things on your own without anyone’s help or guidance for the first time is scary.
The funny thing is, Augie wasn’t the first character to pop into my head for this story. It was his grandma Gertie. I was surfing on the web for writing prompts one day and came across some comical ones like, the pizza guy, a hug that goes too far, and something unexpected under the bed, or something to that effect. At some point looking through them all Gertie popped into my head. She wasn’t a character I really had to come up with, she was just already there in my head. Gertie is a combination of different people all in one person. I used to work with an older waitress named Pickles. Her personality was really flirty and fun and all the customers knew her by name. That’s where a lot of Gertie’s mannerisms came from. She is also parts of my own grandmother with some Betty White mixed in. I thought to myself “hmm I’ve never read anything like that, this could be interesting.” The story took off from there and her and Augie led the way.
There are things in life that we all have to face like this at one point or another that will test our morals or sanity, but the people who inspire me most are the ones who overcame those obstacles. Augie is a great example of how facing your fears and overcoming things that hold you back can help you grow as a person.
The world seems like it’s crashing down on Augie, but he manages to hang on with the help of his free spirited grandmother. What were some themes you wanted to capture in these characters and their relationship?
The main ones are that it’s okay to have friends that aren’t your age, that family isn’t always blood, and accepting people and loving them for who they are is the greatest gift you can give to anyone. One that’s a little more subtle throughout the story is that people can surprise you and misconceptions that are assumed about someone right away, can turn out to be completely unfounded once you get to know them.
I have always felt a special connection to my grandmother. Much like Augie does in the book with Gertie. In a lot of ways, I connected more with her than with my own mother, and despite this, I was still very close to both of them.
The relationship between Augie and Rose was heartfelt and certainly tugs at the heart strings. What did you want to do differently with their relationship than what’s portrayed in other novels?
One thing I wanted to stray from was insta-love as well as their relationship revolving solely around sex. While there are a lot of sexual themes throughout the book and some good laughs about it, I also wanted to show readers that a relationship is built on more than just physical intimacy. I wanted to create likeable, yet flawed characters that almost anyone could relate to, because in real life we all have problems and none us is perfect or really ever gets it right. We stumble through life and make mistakes that we learn from, which is what both Augie and Rose do as their relationship blooms. They make mistakes and they don’t get it right the first time.
Augie see’s that there’s more to Rose than she’s willing to show other people. It’s rare to meet someone who sees who you really are right from the start. He’s also willing to let her go to ensure that she doesn’t spiral out of control, even though he desperately just wants to hold on to her. In turn Rose accepts Augie just the way he is, quirks and all. The more she sees who he is, the more she opens her eyes to what she really wants in life and decides to make a change.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Augie’s story continues in the sequel titled The Revelations of August Barton which is currently available on Kindle. The paperback will be available hopefully within the next month or two.
August Barton could never have mentally prepared himself for his freshman year of college: not only has his anxiety increased, but his parents are divorcing, his new roommate thinks Augie is the biggest nerd in existence, and his grandma, a retired prostitute named Gertie, has taken to running away from her nursing home.
Augie just wants to hole up in his dorm room with his Star Wars collectables and textbooks, but Gertie is not about to let that happen. What ensues is a crazy ride including naked trespassing, befriending a local biker gang, and maybe-just maybe-with Augie defeating his anxiety and actually getting the girl.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: alibris, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, college, coming of age, ebook, family, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, grandmother, ilovebooks, indiebooks, jennifer leblanc, kindle, kobo, literature, love, new adult, nook, novel, publishing, read, reader, reading, romance, sex, shelfari, smashwords, story, teen fantasy, teen fiction, The Tribulations of August Barton, writer, writer community, writing, YA, young adult
The Tribulations of August Barton by Jennifer LeBlanc is the story of a young man beginning his first year of college in Fargo, North Dakota. He is not looking forward to it, as he hates new experiences and new people due to his anxiety. With the help of his grandmother, Gertie, he comes out of his shell and learns how to deal with his panic attacks. He meets a girl he feels a real connection with, but several things pull them apart, and he faces the possibility that she might never want to be anything more than his friend. Then, a disastrous encounter at a Halloween party forces a wedge between them that Augie believes can never be overcome. Can Grandma Gertie step in and help him with this situation, too? Or will his college experience turn out every bit as bad as Augie had feared?
I enjoyed the author’s writing style. I loved the first few lines of the book. The story flowed well, and the characters were engaging. I liked the friendship between Augie and his roommate, Issac. I expected there to be friction between the two because of their different personalities. In many young adult stories, it seems that the cool roommate wants nothing to do with the nerdy hero, and I was happy to see the author made Augie and Issac friends instead. It was a welcome change from the norm.
Several of the scenes with Augie’s grandmother, Gertie, are very funny, though she seems to be a bad influence on him at the start. Later on, she helps him deal with and overcome a number of different issues, but her irreverent attitude never changes. She was one of my favorite characters in this story. I love that the picture on the cover of the book is taken straight from a scene in the story, with Augie driving a red toy car up and down the street outside of a funeral home.
I liked the song Augie wrote for his girlfriend, Rose. It was a very sweet scene, though it felt like the pair declared their love very quickly, since they were not together until near the end of the story. The short length of the book may have contributed to the rushed feel of their relationship. They went from exchanging the occasional text to celebrating their one month anniversary in a very short section of the book.
There were no chapters in this book, which was unusual even for a novella. Instead, the author divided the book into sections based on the months in the story’s timeline.
This book has a happy ending, but Augie’s story continues in the next book in the series, The Revelations of August Barton. I’m looking forward to reading Book Two to revisit all the characters from the first book and find out what happens next for Augie, Rose, and Grandma Gertie.
Pages: 176 | ASIN: B01M7TF1N1
Tags: alibris, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, college, coming of age, ebook, fargo, goodreads, halloween, ilovebooks, indiebooks, jennifer leblanc, kindle, kobo, literature, love story, new adult, nook, North Dakota, novel, publishing, read, reader, reading, romance, shelfari, smashwords, story, teen fantasy, teen fiction, The Tribulations of August Barton, writer, writer community, writing, YA, young adult
Mall Hair Maladies by Kristy Jo Volchko is a delightful throwback story that will take 80’s kids down memory lane. The book follows Tanya, the new kid in school, Randi, and their single parents. The two meet and quickly become inseparable best friends. Volchko describes a year in the life of two 13 year old girls in 1980’s America. Volchko delves into “a day in the life” right down to big, crimped, hair-sprayed hair, fingerless gloves, and arms lined with multi-colored jelly bracelets. The biggest obstacle in the girls’ lives is finding a way to go to the local Madonna concert. She’s their idol, and they will do just about anything to hear her belting her songs in person.
Volchko writing feels like a genuine first-hand account of crazy events told across a dinner table. Grammar and spelling are impeccable. Everything flows perfectly. Characters were well developed, with each one having enough background story for readers to get a good grip on who they are. The setting and different scenarios were described well. Volchko has a way of making you feel like you are right there with the characters mixing up things in the kitchen, having an awkward dinner with an uptight relative, or smoking in the girls room. I felt invested in her characters and their lives.
I loved the throwbacks to the 1980’s. I lived them, and the essence of that era was captured perfectly. Readers from that time will relate to the characters. They will see themselves and reminisce over their own 80’s stories. I love the real references to the music and fashion of the time. It was a simpler time in many ways, but pop culture, music, and fashion were anything but simple.
The story is a nice throwback to a safer time for kids. They could hop on a bus unattended and go all over town and return relatively unscathed. They had little fear of anything bad happening to them at all. Bad things happened, of course, but they didn’t seem so frequent. Volchko conveys that time of simplicity and relative safety very well. I’m not so sure the story would have played out the same if it was set in today’s world. It was nice to escape back to that time for a little while.
I love how easily the girls become best friends. I think we sometimes forget how simple that was as children. Two strangers implicitly trusted and loved each other without the bat of a fake eyelash, just because they did. They met. They liked each other. Simple.
Without getting too heavy, Volchko exposes some problems that commonly arise in families. These aren’t 80’s problems, but timeless problems. Tanya has an absent father, and Randi has an absent mother. Tanya’s grandmother is judgmental, hateful, and a huge source of stress for the family. Volchko shows how the characters deal with those issues. She gives examples of difficult family dynamics and how the characters navigate those storms. She also gives some hope with the introduction of a less dysfunctional family toward the end.
I’d recommend this book to anyone in middle school and up, though 80’s kids may appreciate it the most. I couldn’t have asked for more out of this book. Volchko has made me a fan. I loved the story. I loved the characters. I loved the writing. I would love to read more of her work.
Pages: 265 | ASIN: B079SQYLRZ
Tags: 80s, alibris, america, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, childrens books, coming of age, ebook, family, fashion, friends, goodreads, ilovebooks, indiebooks, kindle, kobo, Kristy Jo Volchko, literature, Madonna, Mall Hair Maladies, music, nook, novel, pop culture, publishing, read, reader, reading, shelfari, smashwords, story, teen fantasy, teen fiction, womens fiction, writer, writer community, writing
Beguiled by Karma Kitaj is definitely a MUST read. One of the greatest things about Beguiled is it hooks you right from the start. Within reading the first two paragraphs I was hooked, I knew right away that this was going to be a book that I couldn’t put down until I had finished it.
The story of Beguiled starts out with a young woman leaving her husband. Upon leaving her husband with her young son this woman finds herself on her parent’s doorstep as she really has no other place to go. As the first chapter closes the reader is taken back in time to this young woman’s childhood. Beguiled isn’t just a romance story, it is a story about growing up and finding your own way in the world.
Beguiled follows the life and adventures of a young girl named Miriam and follows her story as she grows into a young lady. Miriam is a young Jewish girl with Russian immigrant parents who grew up during the 1920’s. The story goes into the hard childhood of Miriam and how no matter what she did she could never please her mother. Miriam’s father loved the theater and took Miriam to as many shows as he possibly could. The love of theater instilled a strong desire in young Miriam to become an actress, despite what her mother thought.
The story takes place during the 1920’s where women were not seen as equals to men. Beguiled does touch upon some political aspects, but the story is not overly political. Beguiled is filled with historical events and is written in a way that allows you to really connect with the characters. Women’s suffrage is touched upon in Beguiled and the author also tackles some other social situations.
As you progress deeper and deeper into Beguiled you will find yourself pleasantly surprised at the way the story is told. As you read one page and then another you can’t help but find yourself wanting to know what is going to happen next in Miss Miriam’s life. Beguiled isn’t a typical romance story filled with wanderlust and girls who are seeing stars; there is only the slightest suggestion of romance towards the very end of the book. The main story behind Beguiled is that of a young girl who grows up and finds out just who she really is and how she can actually make a difference in the world.
Although this story does go back in time, it doesn’t jump around from past to present as many other stories do. Something else that I really like about this book was how each chapter identified the year it was taking place in. If you know your history you can easily follow along with the events that were taking place and perhaps anticipate what was about to happen next.
Pages: 349 | ASIN: B079924GDK
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My Lonely Room is an emotional novel that tackles themes of belonging and loneliness. Why was this an important book for you to write?
It reflected the era of my childhood and the struggles of a young life in a non-politically correct world. It was meant to show that indifference and bullying were going on long before the present, and that it was accepted as part of growing up. The challenge was to overcome these incidences of being singled out because of not having been taught how to engage with society. But the challenge was very hard to overcome when the difficulties of a weak foundation are the starting point. I also wanted to highlight the era and the lower middle class urban youth of the time, rather than the television versions such as Father Knows Best and Leave it To Beaver depicting more affluent characters who really didn’t have any real problems in comparison.
Jimmy’s character was intriguing and I felt that you developed your characters well. What were some themes you wanted to capture while writing your characters?
Probably the most important theme was belonging, finding your place in a family, whether it be a blood family or a substitute family, as long the group accepts you for who and what you are. This applies to both Jimmy, who is looking, and Johnny, who has found. The theme of indifference, from Jimmy’s father, the landlady, the kids on the block right down to the ticket booth woman at the pool, who knew something was wrong but didn’t want to get involved. The theme of misdirection, trying to dissuade someone from their passions into a humdrum robotic existence, such as Jimmy’s mother—although consciously unwittingly from her own development—continued to push upon him. The theme of survival by escaping into a world you can cope with and where no one will enter without your approval.
This book explores issues in interesting ways like isolation, relationships, and fears. Was there anything from your own life that you put into the book?
A huge part of me went into this book. They say to write about what you know. Who do you know more about than the being you spend twenty-four hours a day with? I learned early to isolate myself from that outside cruel world and escape to my own means of entertainment and survival. In fact, I still have several copies of the Gastruck Kids. My relationship with my parents wasn’t great, but that could be said of most teenagers—of any era. There were many times my relationship with my friends was stronger than that with my parents. But, of course, there was always a home, even though with a lonely room, waiting for you.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
I have nothing going on at the moment, but I would like to say that My Lonely Room is the prequel to a series of books I had written that began with The Vandals. Most of the characters go on into adulthood in the subsequent Adjuster, National Defense and Auld Lang Syne. They’re all available on Amazon.
Life wasn’t so great when you didn’t have much of a relationship with your parents or the ability to play street games while growing up in the fifties. You would rather be secluded in your lonely room, using your imagination to write stories and draw comic books than to be drowned in negativity by your mother or humiliated by your peers. All of this can change for Jimmy Yadenik when he meets Johnny, his soon to be mentor and member of the Vandals, and he applies for membership. But the transition won’t be easy.
Posted in Interviews
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