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Dear Dad, A Novel

Dear Dad, by John Hazen, is a wonderful but harrowing read. John Foster is the son of a decorated World War II vet who grew up in small-town New England during the build-up to the Vietnam War. Eager to do his part, Foster is drawn into small disagreements with his peers and family as he battles his own misgivings about the conflict. Once in Vietnam, his resentment toward the army brass, his enemies, and his fellow soldiers grows as he’s routinely faced with the horrors of war. When he’s wounded during an attack, he awakens to find himself in 1862, where he finds a nobler purpose.

John Hazen crafts a compelling story. Foster’s background and character are fleshed out extremely well through flashbacks to his upbringing in Fairbrook, Massachusetts. We learn of his camaraderie with his childhood friend group, and there’s a touching passage about how he brings his father back from the edge after his mother’s death. These strong family bonds clash harshly with the impersonal nature he learns to adopt in the military.

Once he’s transported to the Civil War era, he is confronted with more horrors of the battlefield, but now he feels as if he is part of something worth fighting for. I really enjoyed Dear Dad, A Novel. I found Hazen’s writing remarkably easy-going and entertaining.

Each chapter was prefaced with a letter that gave a little more insight into the story. Foster’s experiences on the battlefield are truly horrific. Hazen has a sharp critique of military bureaucracy, including the incompetence of some officers, while still admirably praising men who earned their way through merit. I think anyone who likes historical fiction from the Vietnam War or the Civil War would greatly enjoy this book.

Pages 303 | ASIN B007SXID7E

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The Dead Superstar Bar

The story takes place in a neighborhood bar in Sarasota, The Dead Superstar Bar, a bar like no other. The place definitely lives up to its name, with dead superstars like George Harrison coming to perform nightly. Founded and established by Harvey Dowd with the help of his friend Conor, it’s a one-of-a-kind bar that features only music produced in the 1960s by dead musicians. What begins as a fantastic tale with a hint of nostalgia slowly becomes a mystery when none of the characters know how the bar came to be in the first place. This book shares so much trivia, and details about each musical band introduced to the audience during the daily night performances that it reads nothing short of an encyclopedia on music history.

The Dead Superstar Bar is an entertaining story packed with information and tidbits of music history in the form of a paranormal mystery novel. Although the author has undoubtedly done a respectable amount of research to compile such an enormous quantity of trivia and facts about each band or musician before introducing them to the stage in the bar, it can feel a bit like a music history lesson. However, for those who love reading about the strange facets of the life of a superstar, it is bound to be fantastic entertainment. 

What is interesting to note is the odd anecdote behind the protagonist’s name, Harvey, as being given after the name of the six feet three-inch pooka that features in the 1950 movie of the same name. In terms of nostalgia for a time that has passed us by and for the once famous celebrities we have almost forgotten now, this story seems to bring them to our memory and help us reminisce about them, almost like the peculiar silent character of Elwood in the film. Overall, it invites us to take a pleasant journey into the 60s world of music.

The Dead Superstar Bar is a captivating contemporary fantasy novel with metaphysical characters that give the story its unique draw and mystery. Like the music of the 60s, this novel will remain with readers, make them smile, and make them wonder just what could happen next.

Pages: 262 | ASIN : B0BHJFQXVM

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Oleander Oasis

Most of the book takes place in Galveston, a city located in the Gulf of Mexico region of the state of Texas. A fresh-start story involving four main characters. Mel is a twelve-year-old girl who is shrewd and vivacious. Beth, the main character and narrator of the story, is a strong, determined, and resilient woman. Paul, the owner of the furniture office, is initially arrogant, but throughout the book, he presents us with his reasons for creating a cold wall that protects his affectionate and protective heart. And Jake, a man with blue eyes and a broad smile, flirtatious and amused.

Anna J. Walner wrote the book Oleander Oasis inspired by her own trajectory. A fluid read with captivating characters that address important and necessary topics. It is important to emphasize that there are passages of situations that contain domestic violence and suicide.

The book full of surprises is a mixture of suspense and drama, but it can also draw sincere smiles from the reader. It addresses significant issues surrounding domestic violence, such as the system’s failure to protect victims, the trauma it can inflict on the people involved, and the difficulty in dealing with post-traumatic stress. Besides, of course, the physical consequences.

The book enchanted me because the author presented a new look at love, acceptance, and companionship. Without a doubt, it’s the kind of narrative that involves you, makes you root for the characters, and makes you miss the characters when you finish the book. I believe that the idea of ​​inspiring people has been fulfilled, and it certainly makes us believe that it is possible to achieve what we ask for by praying every night.


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The Lay-off House

Doug gets fired from his job, but he sees it coming. The recessive state of the economy and his three previous lay-offs have prepared him for the logistics and emotions of getting fired from his place of work. When he gets his letter, Doug packs up his belongings and heads home, alone and ready to dive again into his routine until a fellow laid-off co-worker shows up at his doorstep. Tyler has been put out by his roommate due to his recent unemployment status. Doug takes in Tyler and, subsequently, other people who were displaced from their jobs and their homes.

The Lay-Off House portrays the common man’s reality in light of the conditions of a recessive economy, which typically leads to lay-offs. As part of the unemployment statistics, these individuals plagued by the same difficulty are brought together and become a family by association. Doug embraces them as his family being in the same boat and thus understanding one another’s employment predicament. Although they are a household of strangers, they grow into a family of sorts.

The story is narrated from the different points of view of the characters. They are of different social statuses and backgrounds and have distinct objectives. However, they are bound by a shared experience which makes the story relatable. Although he had not planned it, Doug’s house becomes a sanctuary for his housemates, and their presence becomes solace to revive his house of loneliness. While cohabiting,  each person discovers their interests and is motivated to follow their dreams. The narrative technique offers clarity and shows the growth of the characters. This is a good story that highlights how relationships can be built and how a community can come together to help one another.

The Lay-off House by David Rogers is a work of contemporary fiction that will appeal to readers who enjoy realism. This novel is a quick and easy read that can be enjoyed in an afternoon and provide readers a look at society as they find the good left in the world together.

Pages: 192 | ISBN : 1639886109

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Destiny Lives on Fairhaven Street

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Violence. That’s all C.J ever knew as a child. From the brutal bullying by boys at school to his father’s fiery fists of rage, his life was nothing short of a nightmare. When his abusive father and traumatized mother divorced, C.J shed his childhood nickname and began searching for the real Chris. It is at this time he meets Danielle, the girl next door. With an instant attraction, their worlds collided and erupted into a magnificent world of love and trust from the start. Danielle became a beacon of hope that guided Chris through the most challenging years of his life, a time when he was discovering who he was and who he wanted to be. However, Chris ended up moving to Michigan, ripping him away from Danielle just as their young love blossomed. Can Chris move past the trauma and distance to win Danielle?

Author C.J. Hudson thrusts the reader into his world of pain and belittlement by his father and bullies at school. The scenes of abuse were hard to get through, and I absolutely hated C.J.’s father for how he treated him, but that also shows the author’s writing is descriptive and moving. This impassioned story reads like a journal written by the author to his sons about his childhood life and how he met their mother. I was able to connect with the author, and I enjoyed being able to read about his thoughts. I understood his reasoning for not liking certain things like his real name or something as minute as oatmeal.

C.J.’s and Danielle’s relationship made me smile because she loved him for who he was. Reading about how Bob, C.J.’s uncle, treated him was heartwarming and, I must say, the best part of the author’s memoir. It brought a smile to my face when C.J. began to feel the real love and get the right parental guidance. I don’t know why I was surprised by the ending of the author’s memoir, maybe because a part of me was rooting for him to win Danielle back.

Destiny Lives on Fairhaven Street is an inspirational memoir of trials and triumphs. Readers will follow as the author finds the strength to survive the things that life throws at him and watch as he tries to build a better life and legacy for his own sons.

Pages: 258 | ASIN B0BHTP7FH9

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Secrets and Sunflowers

Secrets and Sunflowers (Pepperville Stories series) by Joann Keder is a fiction story about three friends set in the small town of Sandy Salts. Keilah Charmant is a local coffee shop owner who has to move her business to make way for the new construction project to widen the highway through town. Vanessa Withers is a reporter who writes obituaries in the local newspaper, and Deeloriandra Fisher acts as an honorary grandmother to Keilah’s two children. But all three women are keeping secrets from each other. The town is divided between people who want to keep the two-lane highway and others who support the expansion to a four-lane highway. When a dead body is found in a nearby lake, is it connected to the town dispute? Or is it more personal?

This was a fun story to read, filled. However, stereotypical small-town gossip and speculation. There were several elements of mystery in this book, which I liked. This bit of intrigue kept my interest as I tried to guess what would happen next and solve the mysteries along with the characters. 

I liked that the author included a list of characters at the beginning of each chapter, which helped to avoid confusion as there were many different people introduced in a short span, especially for readers unfamiliar with the characters from reading the previous books in the series. Although this is not the first book in the Pepperville series, it can be read as a standalone story. The author gives enough details to recap what occurred in the other stories so that readers do not feel lost. The references that were made to mysteries solved in previous books and other intriguing details raised my interest in going back to read the other books in the series to find out the full story of what happened.

I felt some of the characters’ motivation was lacking, especially in regard to some ethical issues concerning the actions of the main characters. For example, I did not feel that the author gave a compelling reason why Vanessa did not want to contact the police when she discovered the dead body. The author, however, did include a lot of small details, such as the inclusion of the obituaries of various townspeople and the weather reports. These help the reader feel more part of the community.

Secrets and Sunflowers is an entertaining family saga novel filled with drama and some mystery. Readers of the Pepperville Stories series will enjoy the latest addition to the collection, and new readers to the series will find new friends they want to read more about.

Pages: 436 | ASIN : B0BB5N3RKS

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The Music We Make

The Music We Make tells the story of Santiago DeAngelo, who discovers he is the sole survivor of a car crash where his mother died at the scene of the accident. When Santiago wakes in a hospital to this devasting news, he soon learns that his emotionally distant father blames him for the incident. Santiago struggles with grief and shame, which complicates his relationship with family and friends.

The author does a great job of portraying the complexities of grief and how loss can profoundly impact the people involved and those closest to them. As Santiago tries to cope with his grief, he instead unravels and goes down a path of self-destruction, looking for an escape. Only when the unexpected inspiration comes to him does he realize his new journey is to pursue a life creating music. As Santiago embraces his new life, he must first face his past, battling his fears and inner demons, before he can find success. This emotionally-resonant story is well written and touches on many aspects of how loss can impact a person’s life and decisions. Santiago feels inspired when he believes his mother sends him to write a song in her honor.

Author Michelle Rene DeBellis delivers a heartfelt story that is conversational and straightforward and dives into Santiago’s psyche so that the reader has a clear idea of his emotions and reasoning from one scene to the next. It’s a tale that carefully captures the dynamics of grief and how inspiration can prevail over the darkest moments in one’s life. I enjoyed this compelling story, but I would have it enjoyed it more if the author described Santiago’s challenges in greater detail. The overall story was narrated well and touched on many aspects of the character’s experience, including how he was able to make a significant turnaround in his life. I recommend The Music We Make as I feel this book is a great read and an excellent inspiration for anyone struggling with grief and loss.

Pages: 393 | ASIN: B0B6XJJXP1

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Cause For Elimination

Cause For Elimination by Marla A. White tells the story of Emily Conners, a horse lover. Emily’s boss, Pamela Yates, has been viciously murdered, and Emily is determined to prove it. Justin Butler is a detective that happens to be handsome and wealthy. He wants to solve the Pamela Yates case, but things aren’t easy, and his interest in Emily isn’t helping.

The characters in the story are wonderfully written and have the reader questioning their motives and wondering just what they might do next. Emily’s character has depth and an engaging storyline that has you wondering about the things people get up to when you are not looking. The secondary characters are superb. Lottie, Emily’s best friend, easily makes the story more light and fun. Dennis, Justin’s colleague, and friend is the perfect voice of reason and usually brings Justin to his senses. The characters provide enough entertainment to keep you turning the pages.

The story’s setting is set in such a way that it’s a stunning backdrop for mystery and adventure. Emily’s love for horses brings a lovely element to the story. Horse lovers will cheer and gasp at the interesting way horses are woven into the story. Those new to all things horses might find themselves curious about these magnificent animals. The story also has another case, besides Pamela Yates’s murder, that brings friction and mayhem, which is interesting and keeps the reader glued to the story. Marla A. White has created a story that explores the lengths people will go to hide things. She’s written a tale many readers will enjoy and remember after closing the book.

Cause for Elimination by Marla A. White is a wonderful and entertaining read and perfect for those who love a riveting murder mystery with a dash of romance.

Pages: 323 | ASIN : B0B6SZ8Q7C

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