From an early age Rose Hemmings is asked to define love, a theme that is analyzed throughout the book and truly encompasses On Loving. While at the time she cannot compose a definite response, a single turning point in Rose’s life has her struggling to find the answer. She continues to question what love means as she narrates the story of her life.
On Loving begins with the tragedy of Rose’s beloved father, a man she attributes her love of literature, and who urges Rose to find the truth of her birth parents resulting in a spontaneous trip to Iran in search of answers. Just before leaving Rose’s world is once again shaken to the core as she comes face to face with a stranger who instantly steals her heart away. In a twist of fate, the two fly off to Iran resulting in a storm of emotional chaos involving family, secrets revealed and another man to drastically change Rose’s life forever.
For blatantly being a romance novel, On Loving rarely rears the exotic scenes of lust and passion. Instead, Lili Naghdi illustrates a love story shrouded in poetic anecdotes and literary quotes through the eyes of an A-typical surgeon inquiring every aspect of her ever-changing life. The story of Rose spans decades of heartache and misfortune, deep longing and joyous fulfillment.
However, I could never completely empathize with Rose. She shows all the signs of a well thought out main character, the author thoroughly explored the mind of Rose Hemming detailing all her faults and frustrations. I could tell Naghdi held Rose close to her heart while writing this book. The story is written in the first person, and like so, we are bound to watching Rose make decisions the reader might not completely agree with.
Overcoming these hiccups, I found steady glimpses of genuine understanding for several characters. Especially in the second half of the book, Naghdi beautiful vindicates the hurricane of emotions Rose has been building up throughout the story. Those moments of Rose carefully weighing her judgments, decisions, and feelings are true bliss. Moreover, the authors’ literary insight is phenomenal and while at times the call back to famous authors and poets is overdone, each example is carefully chosen perfectly matching the mood of the scene.
Any romantic or literary buff will wholeheartedly enjoy this book. Read the book and you will understand.
Pages: 483 | ASIN: B07NSJLJLZ
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Front Porches to Front Lines uses the story of your great grandparents to tell a larger story about a small town affected by WWI. What was the inspiration that made you want to put this story into a book?
There were actually several inspirations which motivated me to turn my great-grandparents’ story into a book. Perhaps the most basic of these is simply the fact that I love history and thoroughly enjoy doing the research and writing about it. With that being said, the best way to cover all of the inspirations behind this book can probably best be told by talking about how the book began in the first place.
Front Porches to Front Lines is actually the expansion of a college essay with a similar title. I had always heard from my mother that there was letter somewhere in a box which talked about what took place on Armistice Day in 1918 in the small town of Springfield, Vermont where my great-grandparents were living at the time and I’d always hoped that I would find it someday. When I re-enrolled at the University of Connecticut in 2014 to finish my B.A. in American Studies I made up my mind that I wanted the remainder of my coursework to include an independent study project which would be completed under the guidance of a faculty advisor. Fortunately I found this letter and soon after found an advisor in Dr. Walter Woodward, a professor at UConn and the State Historian of Connecticut.
During the Fall 2014 semester, I researched World War One and the subsequent Influenza Epidemic of 1918 and in turned used the letter about Armistice Day and about 300 more family letters to tell the story of my great-grandparents’ experiences at this time as a microcosm of how the war and epidemic impacted people on the local, regional, national and international levels.
While, one of my biggest inspirations to write this book was to record my family’s story, I chose to tell this story in particular because of the wealth of primary resource material available to me and also to help expand the knowledge and scholarship of a chapter in the history of the United States which in some ways has gone largely overlooked until recently.
Lastly, I chose to turn this story into a book because it simply kept me busy with something I enjoyed doing. Since finishing my degree in the spring of 2016, my job hunt has been largely unsuccessful and expanding the essay which was my “senior thesis” of sorts into a book had given me a project to focus on amidst my bad job prospects. Plus, I was also of the belief that it would make my resume stand out in the future in a way that not many recent undergraduates’ resumes do. However, these last reasons are all somewhat secondary to those mentioned above.
I enjoyed the historical information provided in the book. What kind of research did you undertake for this book?
The scope of my research for this book was very broad and in fact I learned a lot of doing research and research methods on the fly while compiling the materials for Front Porches to Front Lines. The bulk of my research, about 60% of it, involved the careful analysis of the letters between my great-grandparents as well as those written between other family members and a few of their friends as well. I feel very fortunate to have had such an archive at my disposal while writing my book because it’s those letters which make up the majority of the family story which is at the center of the book.
Aside from the analysis of the letters, I conducted a handful of interviews, one with my great aunt, who is my only living relative at this time who knew all of the family members referenced in the book; I also interviewed the couple who run the historical society in Springfield, Vermont on two occasions to get a sense of what materials the town had left from the World War One era; and lastly, I interviewed a number people who had lived in Springfield during the first half of the 20th century and had some recollections of stories their parents and relatives had told them about Springfield during the 1910s.
I spent many hours in the public library in Springfield going through the microfilm they had copies of their local newspaper going back to World War One and was an excellent source of soldier letters as well as advertisements relating to both the war effort as well as the many remedies people were trying to cure themselves of the Spanish Flu. I spent time combing the objects and other materials at the Springfield Art and Historical Society and lastly, I used any primary source material related to war that I could get hands on along with a handful of pictures and other items from my family’s records.
What were some things that you found surprising about your grandparents lives?
To be honest, the majority of the information about my great-grandparents’ lives which I included in the book was all new to me. Since the location of their letters had been somewhat unknown for such a long period of time and since my family didn’t talk about many of the aspects of their lives that were detailed in these letters, much of what I learned from them was both new and surprising. For instance many of the down to earth details about daily living during this tough chapter in our nation’s history left me both surprised and amazed, especially given the circumstances of the world in which I grew up in the 1990s and 2000s. I was repeatedly left in awe of my great-grandparents’ ability to press on from one day to the next, when under the constant threat of a potential German invasion, the rapid spread of an infectious disease or both.
One particular episode during the 1910s which I found particularly curious actually was referenced in a letter between my great-grandmother and her sister. In this letter, my great-grandmother’s sister talks about hearing former president Theodore Roosevelt speak at a rally to raise awareness of the Armenian Genocide. Given, my family’s rather apolitical stances on things, it was surprising to find out that any of them participated in any event that was about an issue which didn’t directly threaten their lives or the nation’s security.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have just begun the research for my next book, which at the moment is going to be a more comprehensive look at Armistice Day and how that day was celebrated around the world. However, since I am also in the process of getting ready to go back to graduate school, I do not have a good idea as of yet as to when that book will be completed and made available. I know that some of it will depend on my graduate school commitments as well as my ability to amass the resources I need to complete this project and do the topic justice.
Author Links: Facebook
World War One and the 1918 Influenza Epidemic. Two events which will alwaysdefine the 1910s, a decade which saw great political and social change; a long list ofdisasters and a realignment of the global stage, something which would help define manyof the subsequent events of the twentieth century. When the United States declared war onGermany on April 2, 1917, it was just the first of two major calamities which would in someway impact just about every American man, woman and child during the latter half of the1910s.The second of these wars, the Spanish Influenza of 1918, came right on the heels of theGreat War’s conclusion on November 11, 1918 as many of the returning soldiers camehome with the influenza virus, having caught it either in Europe or sometime during thejourney home from France. Front Porches to Front Lines tells the story of how the citizensof one small New England town, came together to confront these two wars and in doing sobecame one of the most generous towns when it came to contributing to the war effort inthe form of Liberty Loans, war gardens and war supplies as well as dozens of soldiers, RedCross nurses and civilian workers, such as machinists.
Posted in Interviews
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Chasing the Red Queen opens with the recently turned 18-year-old Donja, a self-proclaimed goth who is uprooted from the normalcy of teenage life. Her mother remarries, giving Donja a new home, a new father and a new stepsister. What starts out as an angsty teens tribulations quickly shifts to darker elements as violent murders begin to hit close to home. New characters emerge, friendships are made, and lovers unite exposing a history of supernatural elements and family secrets Donja never expected.
Karen Glista offers an urban fantasy with a dash of crime, horror and steamy romance all set to the backdrop of vampire lore. A perfect weekend read for those favoring the genre. The author also provides new components to these otherwise over told stories with well researched historical content and fleshed out explanations for the mystical aspects. The mix of first nation cultural and detailed locational history give a fresh twist to this vampire romance which kept me intrigued to the very end.
I found Donja to be likable as the main character. Although the constant reminder of her gothic reputation is repeated one too many times, otherwise her emotional response and reactions are believable throughout the story. I adored the character development between Donja and her stepsister Makayla, from beginning to end they share a bond that unites them through a roller-coaster of emotional events.
Unlike Donja, where she shines in the first half of the book, her counterpart Torin unfolds as the main player towards the end of the book. Once Torin takes center stage I found myself more invested in his story and the account of his mysterious past as well as that of his kind.
I felt that the timeline was a little vague; how much time did everything take, was it days, hours, weeks? I also felt that their were quick leaps in character changes (ie. Frankie, I didn’t know what was happening to him until it was already over). These are the only minor things holding the book back.
However, the story surprised me with well thought out action scenes and gritty dialog. While some secondary characters faded into the background a few shown through and had my full attention. Chasing the Red Queen is a quick read with an equally fast-paced plot, yet will still give the reader enough time to establish a connection to the story, characters and paranormal features.
Pages: 277 | ASIN: B079KJFJW8
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One thing that makes this book unique is the arrangement of the words. I sometimes had the feeling I have when reading poetry. Jose De Koster is an easy writer. I can’t describe the arrangement in the book as entire prose, or partly poetic, what I know is that the author told his story in a distinct way, making his work exceptional on all levels. I first fell in love with the pictures in the book. The self-portraits, oil on hardboard images and oil on canvas were all beautiful pieces of art. My favorite was the painting of ‘The Lonely Artist’. A picture is truly worth a thousand words. It did not stop there – Jose De Kroser also added pictures of his family in between his writing. I know I spent a good part of my time just looking at the pictures.
The author first introduces us to his life through his mother’s words. The mother encouraged him to keep writing as she had hoped he would become a journalist. Jose De Koster fell in love with words at a very tender age. Through this book, one gets to know that he felt art and literature on a spiritual level. I feel a little connected to the author when he mentioned four of his favorite authors. Pablo Neruda, Marina Tsvetaeva, Osip Mandelstam, and Anna Akhmatova are the four literary icons the author mentioned. I love that he mentioned the first two as I too adore their works. The author’s narration confirms what a gifted writer he was. I enjoyed reading through as he talked about living in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales.
Jose De Koster narrated his story wonderfully. The authored adored his mother and treated her as the most special being. He equally loved his father and brother Ed, but the love he had for his mother was something else. I enjoyed reading on the bit where he discussed faith. It did not come to me as a surprise when the author wrote how he grew up as a Roman Catholic; his mother’s faith, not following his father who was Lutheran. Religion was an important aspect in their lives back then. I loved the memories he shared in regard to the Catholic faith he followed when young.
Fragments of A Journey… A Fistful of Life is a lovely memoir. The author’s recollection of his childhood complete with pictures attached is beautiful. The best thing about Jose’s life was the love they had in the family. His life was simple yet he was able to live to the fullest. His writing is matchless and admirable. The book is both short and interesting that one can complete in one sitting.
ISBN 13: 978-0-646-98150-5
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The King of Halloween and Miss Firecracker Queen, written by Lori Leachman is the story of American Football coach Lamar Leachman from the perspective of his daughter. It follows a coach’s journey from professional player to high school coach to National Football League coach. We see the impact this has on his wife and two daughters. It is a uniquely feminine glimpse into what was ultimately a man’s world – where winning was everything!
Leachman writes of how her father’s chosen profession had an impact on herself and the life of her family. One impact was the geographical impact, always moving to where the job opportunities lay. The family had to move numerous times and she documents the effect this had on the children, in particular. They had to constantly make new friends, and learn the social mores in each new community. The children’s closest friends were often the children of the other football coaches. She describes how they were tough kids, they were coaches’ kids.
Leachman provides an interesting view of Black Civil Rights and how views differed among places. Her view of mixed race friendships were simple; if she liked someone she would be their friend. That of course, contrasted with the views many adults at that time had. She describes briefly living in Cartersville and being confronted by “Blacks Only” signs at the theater and the confusion she felt when she realized African Americans weren’t allowed to swim in the pool. This must have been a bewildering time for a young girl who was immersed in the professional world of football – where African Americans were respected for their skill.
Although her father’s career may have had some negative impacts for her, as she gets older she realizes that her lifestyle had some benefits. Leachman recounts the day she realized her family had some money to spare – something a lot of families did not have.
Tragically the person impacted most by his career choice was the coach himself. Leachman describes how her father’s mental capacity began to decline, and how he was eventually diagnosed with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy attributed to injuries he received during his career.
This memoir is cleverly written, as it progresses through we see Leachman begin to understand her father’s talent as a coach, she recognizes his skill and determination and love for his wife and daughters. The only criticism of the book would be that on one occasion Leachman jumps back and forth between decades which interrupts the flow of the story.
This memoir is an interesting insight to the life of a professional coach, his dedication to the sport, and the impact and experiences for both him and his family.
Pages: 230 | ASIN: B07BRSTNNZ
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If you can imagine it, Krystal has experienced it. If you’ve ever wondered what an abusive relationship truly feels like, Krystal can tell you. If you’re curious as to what a true survivor looks like, take a good long look at Krystal–her life is a testament of dedication, overcoming the worst of the worst in relationships, and learning from one’s mistakes. When Krystal finds Pete, she believes she has found forever. She could never have foreseen that the world into which she would bring her children would be one in which their father would make their lives a living hell.
Krystal Kolnik’s Lessons From Frogs I’ve Kissed is one of the most heart-wrenching stories of love and loss I have ever read. The strength it takes Krystal to simply live from day to day in the presence of such a dismissive and disloyal husband is completely stunning. As I read page after page filled with descriptions of her husband’s indiscretions and manic outbursts, my heart ached and I was filled with a rage of my own.
Krystal’s willingness to open her heart and spill her experiences for the world to read is beyond admirable. More than that, her story resonates with both men and women across the globe. Abusive relationships of one type or another are, sadly, a common occurrence. Readers who are desperately seeking validation will see themselves mirrored in the way Krystal is drawn back to Pete time and time again as his hollow promises are broken one after another–so goes the life of a victim of domestic abuse.
From Krystal’s own struggle to believe or not to believe Pete to her family and friends’ choice to conceal their own knowledge of Pete’s ongoing affairs, the author details each and every crushing blow before calmly describing the ease with which Pete is able to slide from his duties as a father and husband into the life he prefers as a sleazy cheater and abusive sociopath. Without having to present him as an actual character, Krystal succeeds in giving readers an antagonist worthy of all the hatred they can muster.
Krystal details the day-to-day struggles of being a single parent wanting to date in today’s world. Her descriptions of her young daughter’s vision of her father are almost too much to bear. Her recollections of his tantrums and abuse make my stomach turn. Krystal and her children have lived through more than their share of hard days and deserve all the good times life now has to offer.
Relationship after relationship, Krystal lays it all out on the line and goes for broke. Time after time, she is met with adversity. She does a wonderful job of making readers feel her pain and frustration–her descriptions of online dating are relatable in every way.
This is easily one of the most engaging stories I have read in years. Krystal’s mistakes become her lessons and, in turn, become the reader’s as well. Were it not for authors like Krystal, many of us would continue to feel alone in our frustration and misery. Krystal opens the door for communication. For that, I am grateful.
Pages: 342 | ASIN: B07NP6FNXC
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There aren’t many books that I’ve read that I would have a difficult time placing within a specific genre, or at least spanned across a couple of distinct styles. The Fantastic Inner Life of an American Teenager, however, is a work that is in a class of its own, and that’s a good thing.
Part fiction, part reality, and pretty much all intensely inventive and imaginative, this real-life diary written by a teenage girl about some of the hopes and dreams that she had reveals multiple levels of the author’s reality. In fact, this book is the work of a girl named Desiree, AKA YAEL, who experienced a childhood and adolescence worlds apart from what many view as ‘normal’.
According to the editor, Regine Dubono (The author’s mother), YAEL suffered from mental illness from a young age and found family life to be a challenge. Due to those difficulties in coping with everyday events, the author was quickly labelled and placed within a mental hospital where she would be medicated to the point of losing much of her happiness and contentment that she had known before. What’s more is that due to the reaction of the medical staff charged with caring for Desiree, that same medication severely hampered her natural skill and talent as a playwright.
This book opens a window into the heart of the author and shows us just how incredibly talented she was. Her clarity in purpose while creating the scenes of her play are engaging and honest, and each line seems like a well-thought-out continuation of thoughts nurtured over time.
That said, it does take a bit of work to follow the trains of thought through to the end as there are several threads which are interwoven throughout the screenplay. There are references and concepts that jump in from out of the blue but once the writer’s mind and process is better understood, taking in this work becomes much smoother. It is different for sure, and it is eye-opening in many ways. If you are one to relish taking in the personality of the authors you read, The Fantastic Inner Life of an American Teenager will provide a full serving.
I would have appreciated footnotes and information from the editor that would have helped provide more background for certain times throughout the authors life while this diary was being written. I couldn’t help but think that I was missing pieces of vital information while reading. Other than that, this is an impressive work from an even more impressive teenage author.
Pages: 120 | ISBN: 9781312599161
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WEIRD – or Weird Consequences of a Bedbug Incident, by Regine Dubono is intended to help struggling families see things from a fresh perspective.
Desiree, the focal character in the story, suffers from several disabilities and regularly undergoes treatments for many of them, including mental illness, physical disabilities, and many others. Despite her many conditions, however, she was also highly talented in many ways.
Regine Dubono calls into question the modern psychiatric practice of creating within people a sense of weakness which should therefore be treated with any number of serious and life-altering psychiatric drugs.
The author brings a lot of things to focus through her story, but one of the most powerful is the fact that there is serious repercussions that come from taking these types of medications. Most notably, feelings of being helpless and dependent on the prescribed cocktail of pharmaceuticals. Even more, though, how damaging the wrong drugs can be for a person.
In fact, Desiree suffered the unfortunate fate of being experimented on through pharmaceutical trials on more than one occasion, ending up in states that seemed utterly hopeless, prompting ‘professional opinion’ to recommend Desiree to permanent hospitalization. It was only when she was allowed to stay clear from the drugs and given the personal agency to operate certain aspects of her life that she showed any real signs of improvement and comfort.
The moral of the story is clear and a much needed one at that. Parents, as well as anyone else acting as caretaker for a disabled person, should keep a close eye on the treatment programs and medications that are often administered. Are they doing more harm than good? Are they helping at all? Whatever the case may be, the author’s mission in writing this diary of events outlining Desiree’s life and experiences is to provide anecdotal evidence. The evidence suggests, among other things, that entrusting medical professionals to decisions related to the best interests of the patient is not always the best approach.
In terms of accessibility and style, the majority of Weird – or Weird Consequences of a Bedbug Incident is provided in diary form. As such, it reads as more of a collection of personal notes as opposed to being a dramatized novel. The situations are genuine. The times and places are all accurate. And the notes offered for all the various situations the author faced are about as eye opening as anything else in this category. This is certainly a unique work that deserves attention.
Pages: 220 | ASIN: 1329529731
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Lost in the Reflecting Pool is a candid retelling of your life and the many trials you faced throughout. Why was this an important book for you to write?
It was an important book for me to write Lost in the Reflecting Pool for several reasons. On a personal level, writing was a way for me to process some very difficult, and traumatic times in my life. The act of writing itself, allowed me to gain enough distance and perspective to gain understanding that I don’t think I would have otherwise gained.
Equally important, my book covers many issues that are of particular relevance to women and men in terms of toxic relationships, narcissism, trusting the red flags that one sees early on in relationships and I think that it is important that these are important issues for the general population to be aware of as they enter into relationships.
You wrote about a relationship with a man that you struggled to break free of; what is one piece of advice you wish you had at the beginning?
Trust what I saw – and to not ignore what I saw.
The book is a memoir about many difficult things in your life, but the story is ultimately uplifting. What do you hope readers take away from your book?
I hope that people will take away from my story that it is possible to change to course of one’s life even when things feel as if there is no way out – things can get better. Developing a support system is essential. When in a toxic relationship make sure that one does not allow oneself to become isolated from all other supports (friends and family).
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
I am currently working on a psychological thriller, Call Me Angel which should be available late 2020 and I am working on two children’s books.
When Diane, a psychologist, falls in love with Charles, a charming and brilliant psychiatrist, there is laughter and flowers—and also darkness. After moving through infertility treatments and the trials of the adoption process as a united front, the couple is ultimately successful in creating a family. As time goes on, however, Charles becomes increasingly critical and controlling, and Diane begins to feel barraged and battered. When she is diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer, Charles is initially there for her, but his attentiveness quickly vanishes and is replaced by withdrawal, anger, and unfathomable sadism. What Diane previously thought were just Charles’ controlling ways are replaced by clear pathologic narcissism and emotional abuse that turns venomous at the very hour of her greatest need.
A memoir and a psychological love story that is at times tender and at times horrifying, Lost in the Reflecting Pool is a chronicle of one woman’s struggle to survive within—and ultimately break free of—a relationship with a man incapable of caring about anyone beyond himself.
Posted in Interviews
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Simon I. Perlsweig’s historical account of the lives of the author’s great grandparents and the communication between them shows a great deal of what life in Springfield, VT was like in the 1910’s. It is very possible that without this work, much of what Perlsweig writes about in Front Porches to Front Lines: One Small Town’s Mobilization of Men, Women, Manufacturing, and Money During World War One, would never have been pieced together. It is a real pleasure to be able to experience this slice of history. Simon Perlsweig does this astoundingly and it is clearly evident that he put his heart and soul into his work.
Perlsweig’s book takes readers to Springfield, and more importantly, into the lives of a couple whose lives were greatly affected by WWI. There was, of course, the impact on the couple in question, Lawrence and Gladys, but readers are shown how everything else in the small Vermont town was changed forever, as well, and to make matters worse, war wouldn’t be the only problem faced by this couple.
Historically speaking, this work is a gem. There is a wealth of information on virtually every aspect of life in the United States in the early 20th Century, and even when the familial part of the work is not considered, Front Porches to Front Lines holds its own as a historical text due to the attention given to the social, economic, and political issues, among many more.
The research is thorough, and the writing style employed by the author is academic, while at the same time being accessible to a diverse audience. With such a breadth of information contained within the pages of this book, it’s definitely a plus using language that is not too complicated.
Another aspect of the book that many readers should enjoy is the fact that there is a large amount of authentic memorabilia from the period, including recruiting posters, family photos, government documents, and much more.
Simon I. Perlsweig’s Front Porches to Front Lines, published by Husky Trail Press LLC, is certainly a work that should not be ignored. It is not everyday that we are invited into the human experience of those who lived through one of America’s most trying times, and it’s even rarer that we get such a personal touch as the one here.
Pages: 221 | ASIN: B07MY6GLD5
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