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Executive Hoodlum

Executive Hoodlum: Negotiating on the Corner of Main and Mean

Executive Hoodlum: Negotiating on the Corner of Main and Mean by John Costello is a story about the Vice President of Business Development and Government Relations for Microsemi Corporation. He has a number of titles that he has earned throughout his life, from being friends with movie stars and other high profile individuals to being a Golden Glove boxer. You would think with his long list of accomplishments that he came from a fancy upbringing with rich parents and unlimited resources. Actually, the opposite is true. He was raised in a blue collar neighborhood in Chicago. His father was a somewhat violent man with mob connections and his mother struggled with addiction. John overcame quite a bit of turmoil in order to become the man he is today.

This was a very interesting story from the very first page. Knowing that this was a true story made it even more of a page turner for me. I am often intrigued by true stories of people overcoming their personal struggles and hardships to become the people they are. While we all have our own issues we deal with, I find it great to be able to step into another’s shoes and try their life on for a while.

So many people that have a tough childhood and upbringing use it as an excuse to not reach their real potential. Not John Costello. He adapted to the hand he was dealt and overcame it all. It would be tough to find someone that has had it worse in this country. His story is inspiring and makes you put your own issues into perspective and makes you look at how you can overcome them as well! He used the lessons he learned in a very negative world and has twisted them in a way that is useful in the corporate industry he has climbed into.

I found myself chuckling in some places and holding back tears in others. The storytelling was on point and very relatable. In some ways I could see this being an inspiring box office movie. The situations where was struggling to get out of, yet finding himself falling back into those situations. You find yourself pulling for him to break away from those situations, and the delivery of those small moments are so incredible. I started this book a little while before bed and ended up staying up later than I had intended. The story was just that good. I literally struggled to find a point in which I could put the book down. The next morning I was up and trying to squeeze in the time to finish the book between my other priorities.

Executive Hoodlum by John Costello is a great story for anyone that loves to read about people that overcome adversity in order to become a bigger and better person. I think anyone that has a tendency to think they can’t do something because of where they are from should pick up this book and realize that nothing can hold them back if they put their mind to it.

Pages: 261 | ASIN: B075H1HXK3

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When Angels Fly

When Angels Fly by [Jackson, S, Raymond,A]

In a gripping retelling of one woman’s painful experience with life, readers will come to question their own outlook on the world. When Angels Fly by S. Jackson and A. Raymond is a deeply personal tale of the journey our author took throughout the course of her life. The agony she relates to her readers is real and you cannot help but sympathize with the suffering she has endured. The course of her life has not gone easily and Jackson details exactly what she had to survive with the help of her journal entries and her memory. Everything she had ever known was tested: her faith in humanity, her faith in family and her faith in the divine. After learning her story, the fact that she can keep her faith in God is inspiring.

This story is an autobiography that chronicles not just Jackson’s life, but her experience with the things many people take for granted. The author touches on topics like abuse, suicide and domestic violence. Social acceptance and the confidence to leave an abusive partner have come a long way since the early 1980’s, although they still have a long way to go. If you’re looking for an emotional journey, you are sure to find one within the pages of this book.

The addition of photographs at the end of the book is a nice touch. It reminds the reader that the people discussed in the book are real. The fact that they existed makes the painful moments that much more painful. Jackson expresses her pain with passion in every word and evocative imagery at every turn. Even when she puts in the information from her journals, it is obvious that she transcribed the information with care. That could not have been an easy task, especially since the information was undoubtedly painful to recall. It takes a certain amount of strength to live the sort of life Jackson has and not only overcome that life, but write it down in detail to share with the world. That may be inspirational to some, but to me it’s heroic.

This book is a carefully crafted retelling of some of the most private and painful moments that a human being will ever have to experience. When Angels Fly by S. Jackson is an autobiographical tale that touches on very personal experiences of abuse, domestic violence and loss. This profound journey shook our author to her core and pushed her to question everything she had ever known. She has experienced more heartbreak in such a short time than most people experience in their entire lives. Yet she rises above the pain and misfortune to find her way in the world. This is a must-read for those who enjoy following a personal, passionate and ultimately uplifting journey.

Pages: 333 | ASIN: B017UNVWDI

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Recollections of the War

Heidi Fischer Author Interview

Heidi Fischer Author Interview

Swallow follows a young German woman during WWII as she struggles to follow her dreams and become a pilot. What was the inspiration that made you want to write such a humanizing story?

I was flicking through some old magazines in a medical waiting room a few years ago and came across an article on WW2 ace fighter pilots. It was a fascinating read, so I took to the internet and was blown away by the material on this subject. I found the story of a young German pilot, Hans Phillip, particularly inspiring, though tragic. It was heart-breaking to read about and see the many images of these young men yet to live their lives. Many of the photographs were candid, showing just how very ‘human’ they really were.

Gabi is a fierce, bright woman who stampedes her way onto the runway. What guided you through Gabi’s development?

I like a strong, female protagonist determined to get her way! Much of Gabi’s development is drawn from personal experience. I was once a young business graduate struggling to get on in what was predominately a man’s domain. I jumped at any opportunity to get ahead, as does Gabi. She’s emotional, stubborn and insecure, facing the same challenges that we all face at some time in our lives: life and death; love and loss; hope and despair. Sadly, the harsh reality of war makes this natural transition through life profoundly tragic for Gabi.

This story takes place in Germany during WWII. What research did you do to make sure the history and locations were accurate?

Some of the history/locations came from personal sources. My mother was born in Königsberg, East Prussia and fled to Saxony as a war refugee during WW2. Many of her recollections of the war and this part of the world have been incorporated into the story. As a child, I also visited relatives in East Germany several times and can still remember towns such as Meissen and Dresden quite vividly. But my primary source was Google. There is so much material about WW2 and the Luftwaffe on the internet. Admittedly, not all sources are reliable but with some cross-referencing, you get a good feel for what’s legitimate. My biggest issue was deciding what to include and what to leave out as I didn’t want to bog down the story with superfluous detail!

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

I’m currently working on a prequel to SwallowThe Sparrow and The Peacock, covering the early years of Max Richter from his childhood through to his romance with Mary Dehaviland and the birth of Gabi. Like Swallow, it’s set in Germany and covers historically significant periods such as WW1 and the stock market crash of ‘29. I’m aiming to have the book published sometime late 2018 – early 2019.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Website

SwallowSet against the dramatic backdrop of World War II, Nazi Germany, Swallow is the story of a young woman destined to fly. Gabriele Richter, the daughter of an ambitious German general, connives her way into the Luftwaffe, becoming Germany’s only female fighter pilot and ‘ace’. Flying like a swallow, she defends the Fatherland with the gusto and fearlessness of youth, confronting death on every sortie and living by the Luftwaffe edict “Fly till we die”.

On the cusp of womanhood, Gabi also learns about love. She shares her heart with Heinz, a young, impulsive ‘fledgling’ pilot set on becoming a war hero. She bares her soul to Hans, an ambitious flight commander whose love is troubled with demons of self-doubt. She gives herself to narcissistic Kurt and his scar fetish, comforted by his unwavering loyalty. She confides in RAF Wing Commander Arthur Wilson, living in hope to love again…

But, after discovering her beloved father, General Max Richter, has been implicit in horrific war crimes against humanity, she turns her back on the Fatherland, helping the enemy restore and fly Germany’s latest weapon, the Me-262 fighter jet.

With the end of war imminent, Gabi’s tragic destiny is fulfilled, leaving General Richter to face retribution. 

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Across the Realm: When Two Tribes Go To War

The war between the North and the South has made its way to the Arab Territories. Theoretically allied with the North, they instead decide to put up a forcefield to sequester themselves and block the Southern fighters.  The Arab Territories quickly realize that their enemies in the South are much stronger, smarter, and more dangerous than they ever suspected. The war for the South to take Pearson Station in space continues to rage on, as both sides try to develop technologies to protect themselves and exploit their enemy’s weaknesses.  Despite being spread between more than one fighting front, the South proves to be a formidable enemy for everyone that falls in their cross-hairs. 

Across the Realm, Book 2: When Two Tribes Go To War by Isobel Mitton is the second in the Across The Realm series. After finishing the first one, I couldn’t wait to get hold of the second one and jump right in. It did not disappoint. Because there was less backstory to set up in the second book, things moved at an even faster pace than in Book 1, keeping me flipping the pages long past bedtime.

The Arab Territories are a part of this book, and I felt like the presentation of the people living there was a bit negative. A lot of Islamic beliefs are addressed in it, and I felt like they were largely being treated as backwards beliefs, rather than legitimate religious beliefs. I didn’t find this to be an overwhelming feeling, however, and it did a wonderful job illustrating the differences between the characters in the Arab Territories, versus the rest of the North and the South.

One of my favorite parts of the series is the skill with which Ms. Mitton creates differences between the characters in various parts of the realm. Each type of character is distinct. Although some characters are purely good, there are a number of characters that I both loved and hated in full measure in different parts of the book. Her ability to paint three dimensional characters that are incredibly realistic in their flaws and their strengths is part of what makes the book so addictive.

Another strength of the book is the way no one side is being treated as wholly the bad guy. It’s presented primarily as the warring sides not understanding one another, and not understanding each other’s ways, being the source of the primary problem. Both sides believe in the other’s inhumanity and are unable to comprehend their actions and behaviors. Even as they capture and examine one another, they are not looking for the common humanity between them, but rather seek to locate the other’s weaknesses.

All in all, this has been a great series to read so far. The book kept plowing ahead, gaining energy rather than losing it. Though I have not read a great deal of science fiction in this past, the Across the Realm series is inspiring me to read more.

Pages: 256 | ASIN: B01MUHOLM3

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Lady Ruth Bromfield

Lady Ruth Bromfield3 StarsAs the Nazis begin to take over Germany, a young, Jewish mother strives to protect her daughter from the persecution that her people face on a daily basis. After meeting a secret agent from England, the young mother ships her daughter to the English countryside to live with a minister and his wife with the promise that they will raise her in the Jewish faith. A look into the life of a girl raised to be a Christian Jew, Lady Ruth Broomfield showcases the drive and amazing work ethic that its titular character posses which helped her become a powerful player in a world that once persecuted her people.

Gordon Smith’s Lady Ruth Bromfield proves to be an interesting read in the sense that it reads like fiction, but also reads like a true story. While the story keeps the reader on the edge of their seat near the beginning of the novel, there are obvious dips in the interest levels and movement of the story.

The book is very well written in the sense that the author definitely knows how to pace the story when it comes to facts. However, one of the major issues with the storytelling comes through the depiction of Ruth. While it is understood that Ruth is the story’s hero, she is far too perfect in her depiction. Overly smart, ambitious, and predominantly successful from an early age, the writing of ten-year-old Ruth makes her appear to be unusually self-aware. Certainly, the children of World War II grew up faster than most, but her mentality seems to be a mix of a spoiled five year old and a wise twenty year old.

Similarly, her depiction as a three-year-old is unrealistic. Had some of the conversations happened when the child was five instead of three, it would’ve been more believable than the conversation presented. However, when the reader keeps in mind that the main character is a little bit above and beyond the normal person as the story continues, it makes the unnatural maturity seem more plausible, if only by a little bit. While the writing is mostly well done, the repetitive descriptions and retelling of information slows the flow of the book greatly and dampers the overall mood when reading the story.

It’s really the ending of the story that makes up for the roller-coaster of writing and descriptions throughout the book. The promise of hope and the example of overcoming as a woman in a predominately male field is quite the impressive story. Similarly, overcoming her initial adversity at the beginning of the story as a Jewish orphan to becoming a massive player in the world of construction does offer hope to anyone who believes that their small beginnings do not allow them to go on and achieve greater things. Overall, this story provides hope.

Pages: 250 | ASIN: B01JVV1HLE

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Worth Holding On To

5 StarsWorth Holding On To is the memoir of Anthony Maranise. He guides his readers through one of the best moments in life; finding his love; Cyrena. They were introduced through a mutual friend and hit it off. Together the couple shared many memories and experiences, until sadly the harsh realities of life drew them apart. The book also delves into the months after a break-up, and the lasting impact that Cyrena had on the author’s life. The things that she had taught him are thought provoking and moving as well. While the book is short, there is a lot of content to ponder. The author doesn’t need a lot of words to get his point across, and make an impact on his readers.

There is a sense of innocence and love within the words of this memoir. Maranise’s words makes readers rethink their own definitions of love and what makes a relationship worth holding on to. His words are filled with love and positivity. Looking back, Maranise, has nothing negative to say about his time with and without this woman. Even as they sit side by side during a dinner after they parted ways, his feelings and emotions remain the same. One learns that sometimes feelings for someone never end even if the relationship happens to end. The reader gets the idea that Cyrena truly was a beautiful soul and had immense spiritual beauty as well as physical beauty. One can only imagine that the author left the same imprint on her life as she did his. In turn this book leaves a lasting impression on its readers, making them want to learn more about the author.

Maranise’s words resonate off the page, flying with emotion. He creates something that buries itself into the readers’ minds and sticks with them. Readers can see how much this woman meant to him, as the emotions saturate the pages. Maranise provides a colorful view in his life and opens up about something so intimate and private. He allows his readers to see a portion of how he became the person he is today. The story flows like a river of love and understanding. He cultivates true essence of love and what it means to accept someone, helping readers take a look at their own relationships and whether or not they are seeing their partner the same way he had seen Cyrena.

After reading this book a few times, I would give Anthony Maranise’s memoir a 5 out of 5 because I was honestly moved by what he had to say within it. There is so much to be said about love in this small book that anyone in a relationship or even in the beginning stages of dating should read this book. It truly is a beautifully written reflection on love and love lost. If there is one book you read this year on love and the impact that first love could have on your life, make sure that it is this book.

Pages: 124 | ISBN: 1530658675

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