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Love, Loss, Long Beach

Love, Loss, Long Beach by [Pasquale, Christiaan A.]

4 Stars

Love, Loss, Long Beach by Christiaan Pasquale tells the journey of Christiaan, and his endeavour to find true love. Set in the USA – predominantly Los Angeles; the story follows Christiaan, from his early twenties surviving as a musician and truck driver into his forties, overweight, on disability and living in Long Beach. The question is – will he be successful in his hunt for true love?

The story opens with a Trucker’s Mantra, “Aces never fall, they may slip, but they never fall. And I’m an Ace, and that’s that!” Christiaan is driving a Peterbilt, the sounds and sights of the trucker’s view realistically described.

He then describes his journey from The Slanderin band member to truck driver. Lured by the promise of money and the chance to improve his life he accepts a position with a local LA truck company. There he learns to drive a truck and gains his licence. Christiaan soon learns why his father tried to discourage him from a truck driving career. The hours are long and erratic and soon take their toll. I felt like this part of the story was realistically and authentically described. Descriptions were easy and vivid and always depth to the story.

The American Hotel becomes his home for a while. The squalid conditions are described in detail, again the nuance and detail is something that much enjoyed in this book. Dark, dingy and smelling of piss. Drug deals were common, as were a trail of women. The people and setting are described in depressing, realistic detail. From junkies to prostitutes to long legged nurses. The descriptions of both add to the authenticity of the story. The dialogue is raw, distinctive and realistic making it difficult not to empathize with Christiaan and his circumstances.

Christiaan is saved from this existence by his sister – who rings him and asks him to move in with her and his niece. However, after a while his old acquaintances catch up with him. They bring old habits with them, and I thought the idea of a man trying to escape his past is uniquely captured in this moment and in Christiaan’s character overall. Christiaan escapes most of this as he is spending more and more time in the inside of a truck cab. I always empathized with the hopeless situation, the long and unsociable hours and the vivid descriptions of the depressing neighbourhoods. However, the large number of characters can be difficult to follow, particularly friends coming into his life from his early years. But these characters also give the story a realistic feel, as people often come in and out of our lives when we least expect it.

By chance he reconnects with Lourdes and is thrilled to form a friendship with her. Eventually she encourages him to move to Long Beach and he leaps at the chance. Will he finally find the love he has been yearning for or does the ace finally fall?

This story leaves me with only one word to describe it all; authentic. I enjoyed the characters and appreciated the journey that Chistiaan has been on.

Pages: 214 | ASIN: B07QCYDBQJ

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Ruby Ransom

Ruby Ransom by [D’union, Linda]

Ruby Ransom is equal parts mystery and equal parts adventure spiced with a bit of romance. What starts as just another night in the hospital is the start of a series of thrilling events that will send young nurse Rachel to an exotic country where she must face down rebels to help save a kidnapped child. All of this delivered in a little over 100 pages.

This story starts slows but, like an airplane taking off, quickly picks up speed. The twists come just as quickly as Rachel, and the reader, is given new information. Each new chapter brings a new and unexpected direction to her journey. All the while driven by the need to help a child that’s been kidnapped under mysterious circumstances in a far-off country.

Rachel receives helps along the way from her grandmother, and an old friend of the family, and a young man that ends up being much more than he first appears. I felt that Rachel’s character, overtime, was the most developed, but other characters lacked the depth that Rachel was given.

The story is told from Rachel’s first person perspective in a straightforward manner. Like a nurse who must keep logs of patients, the story is told in a similar manner, as if it’s a log of events that happened. Because of this I felt like the delivery of this otherwise intriguing story was stilted. Rachel is given vital plot driving information in large sections of exposition. But in this manner of story telling the book is consistent.

While every good mystery novel must have twists that the reader doesn’t see coming. I can honestly say that every twist in this book surprised me. I, along with Rachel, wanted to know what was going on and I was glad that Rachel and I (the reader) were on the same page. While Rachel is whisked along on this perilous journey through exotic locales, we get to learn a little about the region and local culture, which I appreciated.

Ruby Ransom delivers a circuitous yet thrilling journey set against an exotic location in an unambiguous way. Perfect for anyone looking for a romantic suspense novel that is easy to devour in a day or two.

Pages: 104 | ASIN: B00HZNG9L4

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A Symbol Of New Beginnings

Lili Naghdi Author Interview

Lili Naghdi Author Interview

On Loving follows Rose who must deal with a storm of emotional chaos involving family, secrets and another man. What was the source of inspiration for the journey that Rose goes on in this book?

As a family physician, I’ve had a true chance to work with different people, men or women, at different stages of their lives and this gave me a chance to get more familiar with humans’ emotional changes and the way they affect people’s lives. People that I’ve come to know and worked with always inspire me. An important lesson I’ve learned during all these years of practicing was that self-awareness and self-scrutiny are the hardest tasks to get through in life and people who have the chance to achieve them are, indeed, the luckiest people alive. Rose is an accomplished woman, modern and respected. A woman with a good career and education who has a wealthy family with all the possibilities in front of her, but she is still missing something, and she doesn’t feel complete. She needs to know her roots and she needs to go through her personal growth to become satisfied with herself. Falling in love and what comes next gives her this opportunity to know herself, her strengths, her weaknesses and how to overcome her fears and open her heart to embrace her life at every stage of it. She learns that being a woman is a privilege and something to be proud of.

Rose is an intriguing and thoroughly developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character?

“Rose”, a symbol of new beginnings, hope and resilience, was the name I chose for this main female character. The year is 1972 and the world is changing. She is a modern and educated woman with the respect for her fellow human beings. She is a strong-willed character, but weak and fragile at the same time during the challenges she faces while taking many steps of her love-driven life journey. As in real life, being a professional particularly being a physician, doesn’t protect her from the devastating and destroying effects of tragedies she endures in her turbulent life. She is a human being with all the flaws and faults, beauties and capabilities possible. She falls, she breaks into pieces, but she stands up again and moves on in her own ways. The title is chosen in a loving memory of the late, controversial Iranian poet, Forugh Farrokhzad, who was also a modern woman with her modern ideas much ahead of her time in a society that discriminated woman and criticized her for her ideas and the way she expressed her emotions. Just like Rose, she was a free spirit who explored her emotions and as a poet she brought them to life by writing beautiful poetry that showed the delicate soul of a young woman in a modest and pure manner. I intended Rose to represent such a woman, but in another type of setting, a surgeon with a good knowledge about literature who learns how to analyze her emotional journey and connect to her inner being to become a better person.

This novel is emotional and explores the meaning of love in new ways. What were some ideas that were important for you to explore in this book?

“On Loving” is a love story, but more importantly it is a story about love itself: its psychology, its physiology and the research behind it. The concept of conditional versus unconditional love has been explored in depth in this story. Both main male characters were following their own agendas representing these two concepts from the beginning till the end. Valuing and getting to know your emotions (including love, anger, fear, jealousy, etc.) by working to achieve self-awareness was another main point I was intending to explore. Unfortunately, unknown or miscomprehended emotions can make us vulnerable in life and be the main source for depression and anxiety disorders. Rose, on the other hand, explored the real meaning of love (both of the above concepts), depression, bereavement and their inevitable consequences all through this story. Being a physician with the knowledge of these mental health issues never made her immune to these unfortunate consequences. In fact, she was missing the signs for years and this is what we see in real life of many people including health care professionals.

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

I am working on a new story which is also about women’s related issues and the issues I work with as a physician. The title, “Greeting the Sun Again”, has also been chosen to honor Forugh Farrokhzad, the late Iranian poet, and it has been taken from the title of her popular and famous poem called, “I will Greet the Sun Again”. Just like “On Loving”, It is a love story twisted with literature, history and everyday life realities. I’m expecting it to be out by next year.

Author Links: GoodReads | FacebookWebsite

On Loving by [Naghdi, Lili]In 1972, Dr. Rose Hemmings has just finished her general surgery residency when a haunted stranger is shot in front of her in a New York City bar, and their lives become forever intertwined. And when, having been given the blessing of her adoptive father on his deathbed, Rose travels to prerevolutionary Iran to discover the past her American family kept secret from her, she finds a true Pandora’s box. It is a world both foreign and familiar, in which her primary place is as the heiress to a great tribe. In Iran, Rose will find family she never dreamed of, her own people, and a man who loves her as passionately as he does the rare black roses of his garden. She will return to the United States carrying a new secret and torn between two men: the one she loves helplessly, and the one who loves her unconditionally.

Woven throughout with Persian poetry ancient and modern, On Loving is the story of one woman’s lifetime of love and loss, of societal change in a nomadic people, and of overcoming personal challenges, including mental and physical health, to find true contentment. Above all, it is a story of love: its physiology, psychology and philosophy; the many forms it takes; its myths and truths; its challenges, its joys and its gifts.

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Fulfilling Relationships

Krystal Kolnik Author Interview

Krystal Kolnik Author Interview

Lessons from the Frogs I’ve Kissed is a heart-wrenching and personal story of love and loss. Why was this an important book for you to write?

“If there’s a book you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” –Toni Morrison

The writing and sharing of my story became a significant journey of healing for me. I felt the universe was fully supporting my writing as the memories were downloaded and I was able to recall the most intricate detail and communicate my feelings and memories in relatable words. I realised then that not only was this book meant to be written as part of my own healing process, but that it also needed to be shared with others, as there are plenty of people out there who could benefit from the lessons I had learned. This truly was the book I wish I had when I was going through any one of my painful break-ups at any given time. During the process I realised the more honest, raw and authentic I was with myself, the more relatable my story would be. So I threw myself under the bus a few times, in order to make sure this is not a one sided, man hating tale, as there were always two people in the equation. It has been written with cringe-worthy honesty and dashes of humour to keep a somewhat heavy subject matter light and enjoyable.

I appreciated your willingness to share difficult moments in your life. What is one piece of advice you wish someone had given you?

One piece of advice that I wish someone had given me is that we tend to fall in love with our partners potential. We keep hoping and waiting for our situation to improve. What we don’t realise is that is just the kind of cake we bake with our partners, and that our relationships are unlikely to change into the fulfilling relationships we are hoping for. The dynamics between two people is set in the beginning. You will not magically be attracted to someone or earn their respect if it was not there from the onset.

You detail an abusive and destructive relationship, but I found the book to be ultimately uplifting. What do you hope readers take away from your story?

I really hope to give my readers perspective on their own relationships, whether they are good or bad ones, just something to compare them to. I also wish to give hope, hope that true love and happiness does exist. One of my big realisations was that in order to meet someone who could genuinely love me and I love them, I had to find self-love first, and I think this was one of my most valuable lessons.

One of my readers stopped me in the local shopping centre to let me know since reading my book she had the full realisation that she is married to a Pete, and she is now certain she needs to get out of her marriage, When I hear feedback like this I know my book is here for a reason.

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

I had to laugh when I was first asked this question. My book hadn’t been been out for three days after working on it for almost 5 years and people were already wanting to know when they could expect my next book. I had a rather sticky court case recently when I was sued for parental alienation. There is definitely a book there which I feel will help other women and men in similar situations. I guess I need to get my writing cap on soon.

Author Links: GoodReads | FacebookWebsite

Lessons from the Frogs I've Kissed: I have made all the mistakes in the book so you wont have to by [Kolnik, Krystal]

I invite you to be a fly on the wall as I revisit all my significant adult relationships and share the invaluable life lessons I have learnt over the last 20 years. In my most desperate moments, whether dating or married, I searched for a book that could give me some much-needed perspective on my current circumstances. That book did not exist – until now.

Many of us have been in romantic relationships which feel incredible in the beginning but end up in trauma, regret and despair. How do we stop ourselves from becoming locked in cycles of abuse? What are the unconscious dating patterns that underlie our romantic interactions? How do we know what we are looking for in a partner ? And most importantly why do we need to learn to love ourselves first? Written with dashes of humour and cringe-worthy honesty, I am sure you will find Lessons From the Frogs I’ve Kissed to be an entertaining and powerful read, which should help you in your own personal journey in finding ever-lasting love and happiness.

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Moon Dogg

Moon Dogg by [Greco, Michael]It’s easy to judge a situation from the outside looking in. Jerome Doggman has an opinion about religion and is looking into a specific sect for his next project. Jerome is a semi famous Arizona filmmaker working to expose the practices of a particular fundamentalist religious group. As luck, or lack thereof, would have it. He gets too close to something he shouldn’t and is murdered. You would think that this is the end of it but alas! It is actually the beginning of things.

The subject of Jerome’s expose would have been a teenage boy, Abraham, who’s been in a coma for eight years. When Jerome dies, he reincarnates in the body of Abraham. As if that is not strange and complicated enough he has the hots for the boys sister, Florence. Jerome’s journey is long and enlightening, all the while fighting the fact that his previous killers want to kill him, again.

Michael Greco puts together a hilarious tale of life through the eyes of different people. This book is beautifully written. The story flows smoothly, almost like the characters and story took on a life of its own without control from the author. It is exquisite. I felt that the prose was simple and easy to digest. For such a wild plot, it is pretty easy to wade through and find the lessons in the story.

One of the biggest takeaways from this story is the importance of putting oneself in another persons shoes. Jerome would have remained judgmental of Abraham’s sect for life if he got to live his own life. Another beautiful thing is the realization at the end of what the true purpose of reincarnation had been. It was never about uncovering truths and secrets. Not to mention the happy, maybe a little sad, ending. It is nice to see the characters wrap up so nicely.

The author weaves in some old folk tales into the narrative that help to deliver some complex ideas. All in all, it is a book that is thought provoking and engaging.

Pages: 373 | ASIN: B07B7H3NMV

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Sailor’s Psychology

Sailor's Psychology:: A Methodology on Self-Discovery Through the Tale of a Semite in the Squall by [Litvin, Chester]

Sailor’s Psychology: A Methodology on Self-Discovery Through the Tale of a Semite in the Squall by Chester Litvin, PhD is a study in the fragmented identities of humans. Litvin uses the metaphor of sailors to equate to anyone on any sort of journey or voyage, either physical, spiritual, or psychological. Litvin examines many psychological splits present in people. He also explores self-awareness, finding completeness and wholeness of the human spirit, and provides navigation to sailors on how to get there.

The book appears to be a companion book to Litvin’s Escape from Kolyma: Aborigin is a Bear Region. It delves deeper into the story of Professor Stepan Kryvoruchko, PhD and the other characters from that book, and uses those characters to teach readers about the human psyche. In Sailor’s Psychology, Litvin refers to Kryvoruchko’s story often, so I think it would be beneficial to have knowledge of the aforementioned book before diving into this one. Without previous knowledge of the characters, readers may find themselves lost.

Litvin writes about a myriad of issues, but one thing that I picked up on in Litvin’s work that felt very poignant and important to our current society was his thoughts on religion. Litvin explained that very religious people felt as if they were the protectors of their own religion. They felt the need to hang onto tradition and preserve and protect the principles and belief system of their religion. In doing so, they ostracize new people and create an us vs. them mentality. This causes a rift between the very religious and those who are on the perimeter questioning whether to join or not. This system leaves out anyone who is forward thinking or looking for spiritual growth beyond the concrete dogma. The walling off of new parishioners by religious leaders was one of many self-contradictory practices that is examined.

Outside forces as well as personal ones are explained as the source of pscyhe fragmentation. Internal elements, both conscious and subconscious contribute to the wholeness, or lack thereof, of a person. Interpersonal relationships, family history, and other contributors are also at play. Litvin explains how Kryvoruchko’s family history of Nazi domination led to his multitudes of fears. He also explains that Kryvoruchko was self-aware enough to recognize and diagnose those issues and face them head-on.

This is a book that I think may be taken best over time, such as in a Psychology class or an extended study. As a study taken a section at a time, the load of the book would seem less daunting. It is heavy, complex and will take some thought to digest.

Pages: 250 | ASIN: B0792Y9K3V

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Books are Pure Magic

AJ Wootton Author Interview

AJ Wootton Author Interview

Gardening with Guns: A Memoir details the road you traveled from childhood to adulthood. Why was this an important book for you to write?

I have wanted to be a writer since reading my first novel as a child. To me books are pure magic. As my life unfolded it became more and more clear to me that my path was quite different from the norm. I felt that others would find my story interesting and that some who had experienced similar obstacles would draw inspiration from knowing they are not alone.

I appreciated how you didn’t shy away from the dark times in your life and shared them along with the good. What were some important memories you wanted to capture?

My childhood home. I have only fond memories of that house, our yard, and our garden – in spite of the negative things that happened there. I also wanted to capture my beloved grandparents. I often attribute my perseverance to them and their unguarded love for my brothers and me. It was also very important for me to capture the trauma I experienced surrounding my father’s death. In a way it is a tribute to him.

Looking back on you life after you’ve written a memoir, is there anything that you see differently?

If I could sum it up, I would say that all of the fearful and awful memories that loomed large in the back of my mind were greatly diminished and their effect on me neutralized.

I found this book to be ultimately uplifting. What do you hope readers take away from your book?

Just that! I wanted very much to tell the good and bad and to show that you can overcome. The keys are self-reflection, honesty, forgiveness and love. Oh, and one more important one – courage! It takes courage to face your fears, but the rewards are immense!

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Gardening with Guns: A Memoir by [Wootton, AJ]

In the prime of her life, AJ seemingly has it all – a successful career, three thriving children and a marriage that spans two decades. Her hard-fought, adult life beams bright and in sharp contrast to the dark, gun-wielding, serial-parent changing, and starkly silent world she grew up in.

On the heels of her father’s sudden and tragic death, AJ finds herself questioning the life she has so carefully architected. Estranged from her mother, she seeks comfort in the revival of her relationship with her two brothers, all that remain of her childhood nucleus. The three siblings find themselves in a sad, yet familiar place as they bond in the midst of their loss, and relive together similar times from the turbulent and siloed childhood they shared.

In the months following her father’s funeral, AJ’s reminiscences compel her to see her current circumstances through a fresh lens. Concerns that her husband is leading a secret life turn from suspicion to fact as the void in their relationship widens, creating a troubling likeness between her marriage and the dysfunctional relationships she witnessed as a child. She struggles with the decision to honor her intuition and end her failing marriage, but the consequences of divorce still loom ominously in her memory. She realizes that she can no longer deny her buried past, nor its implications on her current situation.

This is a fascinating true story of one woman’s journey to overcome childhood trauma, and to listen to the inner voice that she has been ignoring for years. Written as a novel, her memoir traverses past and present, all the while painting vivid pictures of both her childhood and adult worlds, the similarities of which have become too numerous to ignore.

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Stories of the Mother Bear – Trailer

In Jackson, Wyoming, a cache of documents discovered in a deceased resident’s attic confirms a childhood vision journalist Bill Larkin experienced while on a camping trip in Grand Teton National Park. Learning his memories of a mother grizzly, who transforms the lives of those who cross her path, were not imaginary, Bill embarks on a life journey, intertwining his autobiographical Stories of the Mother Bear with current events; foremost, the Vietnam War and its aftermath.

The deceased, Rufus Headrick, and his family were black cowboys. His grandfather, a freed slave, kept a journal from his days as a Texas cattle hand through the family’s ever-westward travels to Teton. Portrayed is a large, engraved brass key, yet to be found, which a Kiowa youth gave Rufus’ father along the Chisholm Trail. Who is the estate’s rightful heir? And what connection does the Headrick Family have with the Mother Bear?

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Genesis: The Infinity Series Vol. 2

Genesis (The Infinity Series Book 2) by [Westbay, Bellamy]

A genesis is a beginning: a source, a founding moment. Though Bellamy Westbay’s Genesis is the second volume in the Infinity Series, readers will have no doubt that this tome marks a beginning. The odyssey opens with the beguiling Gwen in grave danger. Though angel Alex is the only being, mortal or celestial, who can ultimately save her, the antidote for her current troubles comes from a source seemingly bent on her demise. Follow Alex, Gwen, and Jasper on an epic journey through a bewitching multiverse, one haunted by evil forces, fantastical creatures, and a series of confounding quests.

In this odyssey of good versus evil, of human nature and the divine, Westbay tackles love, lust, and redemption. She also explores motivations more primal: eternal enmity, darkest jealousy, and destructive cunning. Westbay’s storytelling moves at a heady pace, switching between the questing trio and Gwen’s best friend, facing her own predicament. The book is surprisingly sparse in some places—a run-in with an eloquent dragon comes to mind—but delves deeper in others, offering vibrant descriptions of other universes and their inhabitants, including ethereal Callidora and Eva with her siren song. Vivid details aside, the plot is the star of this show and Westbay moves it forward with skill.

And what an intriguing plot it is. Genesis operates where divine beings move among mere mortals. At first I struggled with a Cinnabon-eating angel but I was quickly won over by Alex’s supernatural powers, very human weaknesses, and impressive wingspan. He is simultaneously angsty and arch. For a celestial being and polyglot to boot, he can be frustratingly obtuse: he knows little of human nature and often his epiphanies land with a thud. Even so, he captivates readers as the boulder-smashing, beast-slaying hero of our story.

If Alex is Odysseus on an epic journey and Eva a Siren, Gwen is Helen of Troy. Though not exactly “the face that launched a thousand ships”, Gwen is certainly the being that launched a thousand cherubic fantasies. The amorous undertones in Genesis know no bounds: whilst Gwen clings to life, both the misguided Jasper and the ardent Alex lust after her. Readers feel relief when Gwen revives and apprehension as death draws near. This epic journey is exhilarating and well-told. Westbay is a true storyteller with a gift for weaving familiar themes into a fascinating new world.

Pages: 414 | ASIN: B07DXP2Y8D

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Leather Horizons – Trailer

Misty Briscoe is ready to gracefully bow out of her successful career and bow in to an uncertain future. But her choices may result in a turning, twisting leap of faith.

Strength is one thing, courage another. Just ask Misty Briscoe. Her dignity has taken a beating the last couple of month’s She’d found herself at a crossroads of staying put in her career or returning home where her family needs her.

If only the choice wasn’t so complex.

Her workplace predicament with her married boss and her successful job in Chicago are anything but stress free. Yet, back home in southwestern Michigan, her beloved grandmother has recently passed, and now her grandfather has disappeared. Add to that, Misty’s best friend needs her support in the most unlikely of circumstances.

In the end, will she remain in the big city where she’s worked hard to attain a career or give it up and begin again at home where she has a sense of belonging?

From the spectrum of executive boardrooms to shadowy blue collar bars, secluded beaches, and dense woods, follow Misty on her challenging journey to find peace of mind, contentment, and a place among loved ones.

The saga takes a hard look at life from the classified agendas of friends, lovers, families, and enemies to the ultimatums behind closed doors. Come along for the ride through the avenues of indiscretion, loneliness, hope, secrets, courage, love, deceit, and integrity into LEATHER HORIZONS.

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