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Song for Ria 

Ria was an award-winning actress who had everything to live for, so why would she want to give it all up? Alison, who is an award-winning composer, is grieving the loss of her daughter Ria from an ‘accidental suicide’. She’s utterly shocked and heartbroken. She’s grieving and simultaneously trying to save her marriage. She is on a hunt, trying to know more about the last few months of her daughter’s life, hung up on it so much that it is beginning to consume her.

This emotionally-resonant novel follows her grief and her effort to gain some clarity so that she can move on. It is a story that is sharp, observant and completely heart wrenching. This beautiful journey takes readers into the mind of a grieving mother. It exceptionally depicts the confusing emotions of Alison and her husband. I feel that Alison is a character that anyone can relate to, even if they have not faced the unfortunate circumstance of going through what she did. The author’s excellent writing will help anyone connect with the character, if not the situation.

While the story has much depth, the book is written in such an easy to read style that I completed the story within a couple of days. The characters felt authentic and compelling, so much so that I was irked by the lack of complete understanding from her husband’s side, and the sad part is that often for people it’s the reality.

Song for Ria explores a topic as depressing as grief but does so through a beautifully written story so that it will be approachable to many, and understood by all readers.

Pages: 354 | ASIN: B0B99N1GXL

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The Girl

The Girl, by Victory Witherkeigh, follows a girl who lived a difficult life. Despite her privileged upbringing, with class and money, her parents scorned her the day she was born. She was often neglected of affection and care, and anyone in a position to provide kindness either lived too far away or don’t understand the circumstances, including her grandparents. The girl’s brother seems to capture everyone’s attention in a positive light, while she is deprived of the same. Once she discovers secrets from her heritage, she learns details about herself and her past, which gives her more power than she could have imagined.

This book is a riveting coming-of-age story that blends spiritual, supernatural, and modern elements into a well-written book. There is also a rich inclusion of Filipino history and folklore, which is both interesting and educational – a welcoming surprise for me, as I have Filipino heritage. I thoroughly enjoyed how many authentic references make it into this modern story, which is not common in many novels. I enjoyed the author’s reflection on religion and morals, which is depicted in a way that is relatable and thought-provoking.

While this book is tragic and focuses a lot on the girl’s struggles, there are moments of joy and self-realization that are satisfying for the reader, which give a sense of closure and peace. I found the author’s take on familial ties, young adulthood, and religion to be honest, and gives the reader something to think about long after the book is finished. I personally enjoyed the supernatural themes and how they are woven into a dramatic story about sensitive topics and growth.

The Girl is a fantastic read that is not too lighthearted, but it will give you a lot to contemplate about family, morals, and acceptance. I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading more from this author.

Pages: 356 | ASIN: B0BFBTC8X7

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Café de Sophia

Café de Sophia starts out from the POV of a sixteen-year-old boy named Nate. He’s walking home from school one day and it starts raining so he decides to seek shelter in a nearby café. While he waits for his mom to pick him up, Nate is drawn to the environment of the cute café and admires the décor. He meets a man named Plato who is a regular at the café. Plato is an educated and sophisticated man. He enjoys conversation and getting to know people through his conversations. Nate learns a lot from Plato, as well as his friends who frequent the café. The café is the spot where they like to hang out and have deep intellectually-invigorating conversations about a variety of topics. In the end, Nate learns more about himself because of the wisdom Plato shares with him.

This is a sharp and cerebral book that uses Socratic dialogue to share observant and analytical deductions on life and all of the things it consists of. If you enjoy a story that is brimming with provocative ideas and astute observations about the world then you will enjoy M.A. Alsadah’s book. This is a story for those that like to ponder as this novel gives you plenty of food for thought.

The book is filled with deep and intellectual conversations between characters that all seem likable. The story uses Nate as a vehicle to deliver some fascinating ideas and I especially found the logical deductions intriguing. Any philosopher, or any readers that consider themselves so, would find the shrewd ruminations especially engaging. I would suggest readers not familiar with Socratic dialogue first familiarize themselves with the format. This will help readers understand the format and be in the right state of mind before diving in.

Café de Sophia is a thought-provoking literary fiction novel that uses an age-old format to tell a compelling story that is full of perceptive reflections on life.

Pages: 201 | ASIN: B0B75M9TGQ

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The Perfect Place To Start The Journey

Author Interview
Dwight Jesmer Author Interview

Doing Time in California follows a man who escapes from jail just before his release and embarks on a fun and thoughtful journey with friends to a golf tournament. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

My younger sister died of bile duct cancer. It was nine months from diagnoses to death, the same amount of time for a natural pregnancy to lead to life.  So, when I decided to write a story dealing with time, I thought the perfect character would be someone who has had their time taken away from them. During the decade I lived in San Francisco I would take Marsh Creek Road for my drive to Stockton to play in a golf tournament every summer. I passed the detention center going and coming and it struck me that it was the perfect place to start the journey.

Kimo Jones is an interesting and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

I obviously wanted a flawed character, like most of us. One of my favorite quotes is Oscar Wilde’s “I can resist everything but temptation,” and I wanted Kimo to be like that. He’s someone that wants to do the right thing but is a slave to his narcissistic impulses. I wanted him to have to make choices that were beneficial to others instead of his own self interests. It was important to me that he evolve beyond his arrested development.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

I wanted to explore the big boys: life and death, man vs self, love, time, God—but in a humorous way. I grew up Catholic and was often told that God works in mysterious ways, and I wanted to show that with this character. I tried to have him do something for the good of others almost despite himself, that sometimes God must get his vessel drunk out of his mind before He can work His will!

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

I’m working on a memoir called Army Brat that I hope to have completed and ready to go next year.  I went to first grade in Germany, second grade in Aberdeen, Maryland, third grade on the island of Kauai in Hawaii, fourth grade to the middle of seventh grade at Fort Benning, Georgia, the last half of seventh and eighth grade at Fort Hood, Texas, ninth grade at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, then the rest of high school at Punahou School in Honolulu. I got hit by a car chasing my brother with a baseball bat and hit by lightning playing baseball in first grade. We saw Bobby Kennedy give a speech in Stockton, California on his way to Los Angeles the week he was killed. My brother and I played touch football with Lt. William Calley and his M.P. guard while he was on trial for the My Lai Massacre, and I went to high school with Barry Obama before he was Barack. Should be a fun read. Then I’ll work on a sequel to my novel called Doing Time on the Camino.  

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

Who in their right mind would escape from a minimum security prison with only three weeks left of their sentence to play in an annual golf tournament with his buddies?

Disgraced Catholic School teacher Kimo Jones does just that, starting a journey through the California Delta with the aid of a beautiful young pianist. Mr. Jones taught his students that God works in mysterious ways, but he didn’t tell them that he believes hawks could be messengers from God. What kind of mind are we dealing with?

Dwight Jesmer’s Doing Time in California takes you on a laugh-out-loud funny journey to redemption. It’s a rock opera of a novel. Can’t wait for the movie!

Saturday – Book Trailer

Saturday is a take on the classic movie Mean Girls but has the unique twists and turns of a suspense novel.

Each page introduces you deeper to the main characters and the understanding of their personalities and challenges. Saturday covers a wide range of topics that teenagers face: dysfunctional families, bullies, and everyday issues that test their faith and strength.

Saturday takes the reader on a journey with seventeen-year-old Jessica, whose normal life is about to be turned upside down when her mother takes her away from her abusive father in California and leaves for a writing job in NYC. Jessica is faced with the dilemma of having to leave her friends, school, and the life she has been accustomed to.

Jessica is challenged by Macy, the antagonist, who takes Jessica down a dangerous road of jealousy, turmoil, and edge-of-your-seat drama. Jessica will have to rely on her inner strength, faith, and old friends to guide her through. Will she become the heroine, or just be another victim of Macy’s vengeance on anyone who challenges her?

There Can Be Love After Grief

Patricia Leavy Author Interview

Hollyland follows a woman with a passion for the arts and a Hollywood playboy who fall in love and change each other. What was one thing that excited you the most about writing this novel?

I wrote this novel during the pandemic to escape to someplace cheerful, hopeful, optimistic, and full of love. I wanted to remember that there’s always beauty and possibility. The characters in the book are searching for magic—or gold dust—in their lives. They find that magic in each other, in memories of their loved ones, and in the arts. I was excited to follow the trail of gold dust they left along the way.

Was there anything in Deanna and Ryder’s relationship that you pulled from your own life?

Yes. Deanna is an arts researcher. While she’s a fictious character, I did draw from my own experience. In addition to being a novelist, I’ve also been an academic researcher specializing in the arts for over two decades. Beyond that, I absolutely love the arts. My husband does as well, and we spend much of our leisure time at museums, movies, theater, and so forth. Deanna and Ryder also share that love of the arts. Some of the places they visit and specific nods to the arts come from my own life. For example, there’s a scene at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York that happens in front of a painting I’ve been lucky to see many times.

What scene in the book did you have the most fun writing?

There are two. The big restaurant scene, which takes place in LA and involves a bunch of celebrities, a director, and the head of a Hollywood film studio. That scene unfolds over two chapters and was a blast to write. My other favorite is when Deanna and Ryder exchange special gifts. I don’t want to give anything away, but the gift he gives her is my favorite moment in the book. I cried a mess of happy tears writing it.

What were some ideas that you wanted to explore in this book?

There can be love after grief. The real movie stars in our lives aren’t necessarily famous, but are those we hold most dear. Art matters. Always live and love with passion. Gold dust may be right around the corner.

Author Links: Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Website

What happens when a seemingly ordinary woman with a passion for the arts falls in love with a Hollywood star known for his bachelor status and quick temper with the paparazzi? Something extraordinary.

Dee Schwartz is a writer and arts researcher. Ryder Field is a famous actor descended from Hollywood royalty. On the night they meet outside a bar, their connection is palpable. Ryder’s mother—legendary actress Rebecca Field, half of Hollywood’s golden couple when she died—was kidnapped and murdered by a crazed fan in a shocking event that forever tarnished Tinseltown. Dee’s mother, too, died when she was young. Bonded by this loss, the two embark on a love story that explores their search for magic—or “gold dust”—in their lives. Everything changes, however, when Dee mysteriously disappears after an awards ceremony. Is history repeating itself? Can there truly be a happily ever after in Hollywood?

Set against the backdrop of contemporary Los Angeles, Hollyweird is a poignant novel that moves fluidly between romance, humor, suspense, and joy.

Doing Time in California

Nearing the end of his jail sentence, Kimo decides to make a quick escape for the weekend. Holding the image of golfing with friends in mind, he walks off the premises during yard duty. A chance encounter with the alluring Rachel turns his solo getaway into an adventure for two. They meet up with Kimo’s best friend, Frank, Frank’s brother, and his wife, who has long been the love of Kimo’s life. Kimo’s perspective shifts as he learns of tragic developments that have occurred since his incarceration, and his free days are now filled with a purpose more significant than golf.

Doing Time in California is an entertaining, humorous and thought-provoking novel by Dwight Jesmer. This is an ensemble story that plays out like a road trip story, but the characters are more compelling than some B movie comedy and the exploration of life throughout the novel feels meaningful. The characters are unique, and their various quirks compliment each other in fun and funny ways.

The tone throughout the book is friendly and lighthearted, so even as we navigate morally complicated subject matter it’s a pleasurable experience for the reader. Throughout the story, Kimo references events from his past, but the storyline stays firmly rooted in the present; which makes it easy for the reader to feel like they are along for the ride with Kimo, experiencing everything in real time with him.

Through themes of sin and penance, the author threads questions of morality into the story, so that readers are constantly considering the goodness of the protagonist. This question of right and wrong serves as the main device that drives the drama forward throughout the novel. Though nontraditional, I found it very interesting to follow the story in this manner. I heartily enjoyed this story and the creative examination of morals but I would have enjoyed a deeper exploration of the minor characters because I found them all so fascinating. Doing Time in California is a charismatic and evocative novel that will appeal to anyone looking for a story with depth but keeps things light.

Pages: 282 | ASIN: B0BM3BV8NS

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There Is Hope For The Oppressed

Robert Saniscalchi Author Interview

Full Circle follows a woman who sets about creating a better life for her family away from her abusive husband with the help of her brother-in-law. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

My inspiration came from believing that even through adversity and despair there is always hope.

What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating your characters?

I tried to keep the characters real, everyday people going through life’s journey. It is in their love, friendship and their faith, their family ties that bind them. All of this comes together for Lucia and helps her through it all.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

I wanted to show that there is hope for the oppressed, and the abused. The caring and love of family and friends. Hard work and determination has its rewards.

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

I will write a children’s story based on my childhood adventures and my experiences growing up in a big family. Actually wrote a short story on it, so I am ahead of the game, just have to get to it.

Author Links: Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Robert’s exciting new story is about faith, family and Lucia’s struggle from the depths of darkness and despair. Find out what happens as Lucia and her family try to find peace and pray for a better life for themselves. The author brings us into the personal life of Lucia, the excitement and drama that unfolds on her journey. Things happen in life; does fate and luck come into play? Come along for the ride as Lucia starts a new life with her family and meet the new friends she finds along the way.
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