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From Where I Sit

Written by Ray Lecara Jr, From Where I Sit is a collection of short stories. Easy to read and engaging, there are five stories to enjoy. Beginning with Scent of Juniper, an exciting, short-action thriller detailing a world war two agent’s mission to locate and acquire a rare Faberge egg. The story plunges straight into the middle of the action as assassins launch an attack. With a fast pace, it is instantly absorbing and finishes on a cliffhanger, leaving me keen to read on and find out what happens next.  

A Life Lost Living is the following short story in the collection. I particularly enjoyed this one. The main character was thoughtfully crafted. It details the friendship between a young bartender and an elderly veteran who drinks in his establishment. Through conversations, the elderly man reveals the story of his life, his sorrows, his bitterness, and the effects of war on his life. He is alone, estranged from his family, with his wife and parents long dead. The complexity of the father/child relationship is examined in this story, as is the ever-present question of the point of living, especially when the burdens and regrets weigh heavily in older age. The ending is original and poignant. It is an emotional piece of writing with beautiful descriptions of the New England winter and the connections to land, memory, and childhood.  

Goldie, the next story, showcases man’s love for their most loyal companion, the dog. A touching tale of loss and how people can move forward even when they think they won’t. One Night In Bangkok is a super short story featuring another canine companion protecting their chosen human in a funny set of events.  

The final story in the collection Old Lang Syne features two lovers reconnecting after years apart when they accidentally bump into each other on new years eve. Catching up on how their lives unfolded after they split, they are able to rehash the events that led to their break up. This is an interesting look at how life evolves and changes as people progress. In addition, it looks at the difficulties people face with mental health struggles and how they can overcome them. 

I really enjoyed reading the short stories. They were all well-written, and the characters were easy to engage with. I had no problem becoming invested in any of the characters or the stories. Each story examined different areas of the human condition and the emotional aspects of life. I liked the fact you can dip in and quickly read each story. The premise of each individual story was exciting and original. The characters were convincing, and the quality of the writing was good. Each story flowed nicely, and the dialogue was well-crafted and easy to read. 

Pages: 131 | ASIN : B0B8DKJV1Y

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Tales From An Odd Mind

Tales From an Odd Mind is a collection of somewhat strange short stories and poems that may seem to have little in common at a glance. Still, on deeper examination, they explore the same overarching theme of death and present an emotional portrait of humanity in all its effervescent diversity. The author chooses to write anonymously, under the name of ‘Nom D Plume,’ literally meaning pseudonym or pen name, but is known to firmly deny their works from having any autobiographical elements. So, it is interesting to note how personal and intimate each character appears to be, with detailed habits and traits established well within the short stories despite their brevity.

The most attractive feature of these stories is their unpredictability. Every dialogue or plot detail gives the illusion of leading us somewhere, only to surprise us with a sudden turn of events that is totally unanticipated by the reader. In the first story, for instance, we never expect the introduction of a new character towards the end of the story, but what makes it even more intriguing is how the ultimate effect of the story is never compromised. This deliberate way of an absence of foreshadowing gives the pieces their distinctive mysterious, and enigmatic nature.

However, as a reader, we are often left wanting more. Each story begins with a lot of promise and then collapses in on itself. Although deliberate on the author’s part, one must admit that the stories seem a little incomplete, given their abrupt endings. Are they written only as a means to an end, experimentation with the form of writing, with no interest whatsoever in the several different character developments that take place? Do they simply follow a preordained series of steps that build up with no goal to reach and no message to be delivered?

Perhaps, that is where the beauty lies, in trying to find meaning where there might not be any. Particularly poignant to this context is the back-and-forth dialogue between origin and dandelion; we struggle to understand the depth of their conversation, which is peculiarly reminiscent of pre-programmed responses of a chatbot or AI entity. Dabbling with various genres, this collection has some really powerful and compelling narratives. Recommended for all those who like reading fantasy, science fiction, or tales of reunion beyond death. 

Pages: 148 | ASIN : B08CZSX412

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Fearless

Fearless by Paula Dail is a book adapted from a real-life story. It revolves around Maggie Corrigan, a 17-year-old Catholic girl who’s the eldest of seven children in South Chicago. Oppressed by patriarchy and religious boundaries, this is an empowering tale of a woman who survived nonetheless. When she is faced with the choice of either marrying and bearing more children or joining the Convent, her choice is clear. Maggie instantly realizes that she can’t possibly raise more children, and since the cause of her mother’s death was extensive childbirth, she decides to dedicate her life to God. In the turn of events, when the wider women’s movement takes control, Maggie openly stands up for women’s reproductive rights in a male-dominated society, and that’s when people realize that Maggie Corrigan is truly fearless. 

Paula Dail has written an incredible masterpiece that is one of a kind. Fearless is an empowering book that is guaranteed to wake the feminist inside you. The fact that it is based on a real-life story makes it even more special and inspiring. Dail has written amazing characters that are fun to read about. Dail’s ability to write vivid details, a realistic setting, and lovable characters made this book easier to visualize.

The protagonist, Maggie Corrigan, is a strong-headed female character who’s seen as a Saint by some and a heretic by others. She is seen surviving in a patriarchal society where she is oppressed and bound by religious obligations, but that doesn’t stop her from voicing her demands. Maggie’s fearlessness and strength to stand up for women’s reproductive rights are applause-worthy and a source of inspiration for several young women around the world who are stuck in similar situations.

Fearless contains an important lesson: no matter the circumstances, if someone is dedicated and courageous enough, they can use their voice to stand up for their rights and succeed. This stirring book is an emotional roller coaster and contains an amazing message.

Pages: 388 | ASIN : B0B5B8Z36G

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Life of Poetry

Author Interview
Ron Penoyer Author Interview

Near Scattered Praise Lies Our Substantial Endeavor is a fascinating collection of poetry comprised of poems written from the mid-60s to current day and covers a wide range of life experiences. What inspires you to write poetry?

From an early age of perhaps 12 or 13, I began to be genuinely fascinated by the ways in which words “worked together” (or failed to work together) to make sense — or, in fact, did not make sense. These actions were most evident to me in the reading and writing of poetry, so that phenomenon is likely what drew me to poetry as a means of experimenting and taking pleasurable chances with language that were somehow “legal” or acceptable. Usually the world also made a different kind of sense inside the wondrous confines of poetry, so that had an appeal to me.

What are some emotions or themes you find your poetry often exploring?

I find that I am frequently drawn toward making meaningful distinctions between the seemingly esoteric and the seemingly everyday — both in actual substance in real life (IRL) and also in words and discussions and thoughts and considerations (in abstractions). More frequently, however, I find that I am considering and challenging my relationship with God. I’m often startled by the frequency with which I am considering this relationship. For instance, a minor poem invoking the Spanish Inquisition can suddenly become a larger questioning of a larger universe than the one I had in mind. A poem such as “Rules of Engagement,” in which I was trying to play with the placement of words to achieve different meanings, becomes a poem rich in the dust of pervasive and insistent mortality… These are wonderful “morphs,” by the way! These wonderful surprises and twists and turns are the great things we live for, and we don’t even know it!

My favorite poem from this collection is ‘Mr. Oppenheimer’s Revenge’. Do you have a favorite poem from this book?

I am extremely glad and grateful that your favorite poem is “Mr. Oppenheimer’s Revenge.” I am struck — struck! — by my own lines, “How does our own resemblance/stagger into the divine?”

One of my favorite poems in the collection is “Countdown” simply because it launched (pun?) me into a quiet, “undercover” life of poetry. It was my first published poem, it encouraged some notice in the publishing world, and it confirmed for me that I could do whatever I wanted in the world of poetry.

Do you have plans to write and publish more works of poetry?

Yes, I have plans to write and publish more works of poetry. But I am in a hospice program that may have other plans for me. It’s that simple… lol… However, should I have more time left on the clock than I think possible, I would be tempted to conduct more work on the truly difficult item on the agenda, which are the “petites essais” I’ve brought forth in the final section of this book. I say very little about them, but to be taken seriously — or taken at all! — I need to say far more about what they mean to me.

Author Links: Goodreads

Ron Penoyer is a deceptively polite and self-effacing poet.

His ambitious collection, Near Scattered Praise Lies Our Substantial Endeavor, is subtle in its exploration of contrasts, balancing between the light and dark of our natures and confronting the mystery of our destiny. His collection includes a unique, deeply felt love poem about the simple act of driving across a covered bridge, while it also embraces a poem that observes contemporary society as a “Diet of Worms.”

For thoughtful readers of poetry, Penoyer builds landscapes and vistas in which meaningful destinations may be discovered. Within the collection itself, he precedes his poem about a 1960’s launch of a Saturn V rocket with a poem describing the ancient lure of Stonehenge, while he completes the vista with an exploration of the shocking but weighty evanescence of fireflies.

Adventurous poetry readers will likely recognize Penoyer’s picaresque. He has been suspected of coaxing the Winged Victory of Samothrace into somehow taking flight in the Louvre, and he has been known to linger as an amateur sleuth on Hampstead Heath on a certain afternoon in 1819, suspicious of a bird.

Joint Venture

Joint Venture is a riveting story about a mother’s family feud and its impact on Alice and Helen; two relatives caught in the middle. As the intensity of their mothers’ hatred and division pulled them apart for years, they soon find themselves in an unlikely circumstance that has brought them together. When both women become reacquainted in a small New England town, can they put aside their mothers’ feud and work together?

As Alice and Helen appear from two different worlds and conflicting ideals, they eventually find what they have in common. This story delves into the rich history and details of the family’s division and how their relationships are intertwined. It’s an excellent read; though it may feel a bit slow at first, you’ll find the characters are easy to connect with, and you’ll want to continue learning more. The author did a fantastic job explaining the dynamics between the characters, giving us a glimpse into the minds of both Helen and Alice, what makes them contrary, and how they eventually connect in a relatable, human way.

What I loved most about this book was that the characters were relatable and flawed. There was a lot of family drama and secrets that shed light on their upbringing and what led them to their present situation. Once you get familiar with Helen and Alice, the plot grows more intense and gripping. While some areas of the story progress a bit slower and provide more details, these developments provide a clear picture of each character and their circumstances. You’ll find yourself lost in the small town of Polar Point. It’s a story that slowly embraces the reader, pulling you into an intense story that is difficult to put down once you begin to read.

Overall, I found Carol Rhees’ intense story an enjoyable read, and while there is a lot of build-up to the more intense plot developments, it’s a worthwhile book to read. I recommend this book as Joint Venture is a well-narrated story that combines family drama with mystery and the unexpected.

Pages: 240 | ASIN: B0B76239RJ

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What is The Way?

Corrine Ardoin Author Interview

A Place called The Way tells the story of a settlement in Pine Valley that has a holy and mysterious power that can bring healing and peace to those who call the valley home. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I had heard that Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” I wanted to explore that, asking the question, “What is The Way?”

Your characters are intriguing and well developed. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

I grew up in a small, rural community and loved the quirkiness of many individuals, everybody knowing one another and the history of the town. I wanted to create a place that was believable, as if you could really go there and meet those people and walk in that town. I wanted to create characters that were like people we know, not good guy, bad guy, but real people with real issues leading a many-faceted life, and to engender a sense of compassion for them.

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

Self-harm behaviors and what might cause that. Racism and what that experience is like for children going to school and growing up with neighbors who might harbor those types of feelings for them. Spirituality and healing, sexuality and young people, to explore these in a realistic and intimate manner.

Are you planning to write another novel in the Pine Valley series, or are you working on something different next?

I am currently working on Book Four of the Pine Valley series, The Valley of Dreams.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

Little Jimmy Hart tosses handfuls of hay, watching them shine in the sun and scatter on the wind. Tears dry, yet the awful memory remains. He stomps his tiny cowboy boots, crushing the ants beneath his feet, when his mother quickly picks him up and hurries across the field. Outwardly, the four-year-old looks like the sweet child his mother knows, but within himself, something is lost. Marked by his abusive uncle, he turns angry and destructive. No one understands him except his grandmother. She’s the medicine woman for a tribe driven out of Pine Valley nearly one-hundred years ago. She knows the source of recurring tragedies befalling the Hart family. But, she’s not the only one…

A Place called The Way tells the story of a small settlement founded in Pine Valley. While generations have pondered its name, few realize it is more than just a town. It is a power both holy and mysterious that can bring healing and peace to all the wounded souls who call Pine Valley home. In their individual struggles to find their place in the world, the mystery of their untold secrets lead them at last to each other and, ultimately, to The Way.

Post-Bliss

Ehf Eliya is in a bit of a rut. After a series of unfortunate movies with bad reviews, the actor has dropped their career and started living in solitude. One night, obnoxiously loud neighbors keep Ehf awake, they feel they have no choice but to walk to the convenience store to buy paracetamol for their growing headache. There they meet Marvin who introduces them to homeopathy and helps Ehf relieve their headache. Marvin persuades Ehf to dive into the world of homeopathic remedies. Ehf falls into one hole after another looking to relieve their suffering. Partaking in horrifying acupuncture and clinical trials for a newly tested pharmaceutical drug. Post-Bliss takes readers on a compelling journey of self-discovery and growth. Jay Honeycomb shows the darker side of reckless, impulsive medical decisions.

Honeycomb’s writing is excellent. It is clear and concise, which makes reading this book enjoyable and leaves the reader to immerse themselves in the fascinating plot. The structure of Honeycomb’s story is a bit unorthodox. An overlapping sequence of events that only happens in Ehf’s head, which makes it hard for readers to know what’s real and what’s not. I heartily enjoyed this story, but I would have liked to have had a more definitive ending because the ending we are given is a bit vague, but this could also be intentional.

I can’t tell if the story as a whole was a movie in the making or based on Ehf’s experiences, and this ambiguity leaves things open for interpretation. Honeycomb’s story reads like a role-playing game. I feel that if the book had a visual aspect, there would be a directory at the bottom of the screen instructing the reader on where they must go next to find out what happens to Ehf. This is a very interesting and engaging writing style. It’s like nothing the main character does is by choice or happenstance, like a guiding hand of destiny is pulling Ehf along, like a puppet on strings. As though every event that happens in the book revolves around Ehf instead of happening to them. The use of singular pronouns makes this one of the few stories that tries to be inclusive to a new generation of people, which is wonderful to see.

Post-Bliss must have been a challenge for the author, trying to keep the tone gender-neutral and I think they did an amazing job. I love the writing and the “it’s not what you expected” aspect. This is a fascinating story with sharp writing that elevates this already intriguing book into something that feels fresh and artistic.

Pages: 144 | ASIN: B0B2BPDNKP

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All Those Tears We Can’t See 

All Those Tears We Can’t See, by Gita Audhya, is a story of India and the USA through immigration, culture, poverty, and corruption. Shimonti, or Samantha, married Amit at a young age and moved with him from India to America. Shimu, or Sam, faces many obstacles in the USA, mainly concerning her culture and conservative mindset that doesn’t match her husband’s Americanized attitude. Still, the most challenging aspect will reveal itself to be raising a Bengali child in a westernized environment. Her stubbornness when it comes to wanting her daughter, Monica, to marry a Bengali man meets Amit’s indifference and Moni’s rage, but all of them will get an opportunity to switch their point of view and open their mind.

Audhya writes descriptively, entertaining the reader with the details of crowded Indian streets and cities. She analyzes the character’s past, especially Shimu’s, in order to give the reader insight into both the American and the Indian cultures. The author does a good job showing how Indian culture has changed through the years and has modernized itself while keeping some prejudices and introducing negative aspects, such as the spread of physical assault. I appreciated the focus on the clash of cultures or melting pot that forms when Indian culture meets the American culture. The difference between Westerners and Easterners is entirely underlined, but the bond between Monica and Brandon proves itself to be stronger than prejudices and differences.

Readers will appreciate the author’s focus on the characters’ personal issues. It starts first with the initial companionship between wife and husband, showing how they grow apart as years go by. Then, the relationship between mother and daughter turns into a constant fight, and the most shocking part is the assault, which turns the trip to India into a nightmare. All these aspects make for a realistic story.

All Those Tears We Can’t See is a fascinating look at the cultural differences between Indian and American ways of life. Through this well-written story, readers will see both Shimonti and Monica’s points of view and the importance of the relationship between mother and daughter. This novel will catch every reader’s heart through the family drama, the romance, and a detailed look into the Indian culture.

Pages: 225 | ASIN : B088WHNDB1

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