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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Myrrendryl is a thought provoking fantasy novel that follows Davey as he escapes to a world very different from his own. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing novel?
I came up with the idea for the novel from a thought; What if when you die, you pass completely unaware and simply dream a dream that never ends. That, coupled with a deep love for horror fiction and stories that are more than the sum of their parts.
Davey is an interesting and well developed character. What were some themes you wanted to explore with his character?
I really wanted Davey to be relatable, I wanted him to be the Everyman Hero, but even with the best of intentions, sometimes, doing the right thing is never cut and dry. I wanted him to struggle with bullying, abuse, loss, unrequited love, and being an outcast. In the end, even with the odds piled against him and despair baring it’s poisoned fangs, I needed him to make the choice that matters.
I found ‘Cardboard City’ to be fascinating and well developed. What were some driving ideals behind this and it’s backstory?
Let me answer this, with a question. Was it ever really there? Sure, it seemed like a magical place, but for all it’s glamour, couldn’t a Maytag box and a rat chewn blanket be paradise?
If it was there, it was because a common belief brought these youths together and kept them focused on a singular goal. A little paint here, some salvaged materials there and soon, they had their own community.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m currently working on a novel of the prodigal son.
James is a successful businessman in the city, but he harbors a deep secret. He is not who he says he is. A lawyer and private investigator track him down to tell him his mother is dead and her estate leaves him as the heir. Now returning to the small town he left far behind he is assailed with memories both good and bad.
But this town holds it’s own secret, and someone or something is very glad to see the son return home.
Hopefully out this year, but at the latest, it will be next.
The curtain, the veil, the void, the abyss. So many names for the mystery of the beyond. People spend a good part of their lives just wanting to lift the heavy canvas of the circus tent and take a peek inside. Eventually they’ll know, in the end, we all know, but mankind is an impatient beast. Sadly, for most, if they ever could pull aside that curtain, they would spend the rest of their lives trying to forget that they ever had.Myrrendryl tells the tale of four seemingly unconnected youth bound to one another in a way none of them could have guessed and knowing would threaten to shatter their very existence. The hands of fate appear to play them like marionettes, but are they truly controlled by fate? Or are they their own masters? A story that questions what is real, and what is the sands of dreams. A story ultimately, about the human condition and what deep down, we are willing to sacrifice.
Posted in Interviews
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The King of Halloween & Miss Firecracker Queen is a memoir of your life growing up in a family that traveled often and the challenges you faced and lessons you learned. Why was this an important book for you to write?
I wrote this book for my mother- to help her heal after my dad’s death. We had spent almost 20 years dealing with his decline. Thus, it became all we could remember and all my children knew of their grandfather. I thought that if I could write the complete story, it would help all of us remember the good with the bad. Once I got into it, it helped me understand myself more fully, and set me up to live my current life which is wonderful.
This is a ‘daughters tale of family and football’. What were some ideals you wanted to capture in this book?
I want readers to feel the love and complexity of this family. We had/have big love for each other, and had a big love for football. I want readers to know that you can overcome the hang ups from your childhood. I want readers to see that race in the South was more complex than is typically discussed. I want people to know that sports can be a bridge. I want families that are dealing with the cognitive decline of a loved one to know that they can forgive themselves their impatience and frustration with the situation; we are all just doing the best we can with the situation as we understand it in the moment.
The book shows the dedication your father had towards his career and family. What is something that stands out to you to this day about your father?
My father was relentless- that was the key to his success. He was full of optimism and faith in things bigger than himself.
What do you hope readers take away from your story?
First, that my father would not have made a different choice, but he did not make an informed one. I want parents to think carefully about letting their young children engage in any kind of contact sport. I want football in general, and the NFL in particular, to think more deliberately about additional reforms to football that will make it safer. I want the general public to understand the burden CTE places on a family. And I want families that have experienced CTE to draw some comfort from reading our story.
The King of Halloween & Miss Firecracker Queen tells the story of a football life from a daughter’s perspective. Chronicling a rise through the competitive ranks—from high school to college to professional coaching, and ultimately a Super Bowl championship—it also reveals the struggle to deal with the decline and death of the patriarch, Lamar Leachman, from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) as a result of that life.
With forewords by NFL legends Phil Simms and Harry Carson, this is a true story of one family’s love for a game and for each other, one man’s strength of character, one woman’s love that sustained him.
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Journey to Osm follows the story of Blue, a young unicorn with a big destiny. Blue is part of a tribe of unicorns going extinct under the harsh rule of an evil sorcerer. A prophecy foretells that Blue will save them but when he is born without metal in his horn, and thus without magic, all hope is lost. When Blue comes of age at 12, he is faced with destiny but how can a magicless unicorn have any hope of saving his tribe?
The book is a fun and unique YA fantasy novel. I really loved the unicorn-centric view of the story. Unicorns are often left out or less significant in fantasy stories, and I think this is a waste of a fun and interesting creature. Author Sybrina Durant furthers this by taking an intriguing twist and really exploring the magic of the unicorns as well as what unicorn civilization looks like. I really loved the world she created with the metal symbol of magic and the hierarchy that creates and the different powers that the magical unicorns possess. With an evil sorcerer, a prophecy, a fight against good and evil, this all adds up to an imaginative and exciting fantasy world.
The plot of the book is that of the underdog character finding strength against evil. Blue is a very sympathetic character through this journey as he is young, sweet, and very strong-willed. From the very beginning of the book you can see how hurt he is that he doesn’t think he can save his people, reciting his mantra ‘No Metal, No Magic.’ But even with this, he does not give up. He trains hard even when he thinks there is no chance. This self-determination in the café of certain failure really endeared Blue to me as a character. Silubhra was also a character that I grew very fond of as she was so compassionate and kind. There are a lot of characters in the story, but I think the author did a good job of making them unique and interesting and I liked how we get to see multiple perspectives.
This book is an exciting fantasy story. Filled with adventure, magic, love, loss, hope, action, and destiny. The story came together well and kept me engaged in the plot from beginning to end. The book is a great read, particularly for young adult readers who love fantasy stories.
Pages: 353 | ASIN: B07LDKX25N
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Free Yourself is a collection of intimate and engaging poetry written by Juliana Garcell. The poems are written in various styles and in various formats which helps to keep things interesting. The poetry sometimes hits on current social and political topics, but there is an overall focus on love, loss, and identity. Especially the struggle with identity in the face of love and loss; but having to define it in this way is somewhat limiting as I feel the poems are about much more.
I enjoyed this collection and found the poems to be lyrical, as if written for a song. Each poem has its own focus, although they area about slightly similar topics. The emotions expressed are often raw and painted in vivid detail with colorful connections and allusions to nature and culture.
Each poem is impactful, if not relatable, and I was able to understand each one. Understanding a poem is important for me, as I feel that poets often go off on some abstract ideas. But this collection is down to earth, and simple to follow, which makes the message ring clearly.
I appreciated the poems that left me with singular emotions at the end, but I really enjoyed the poems that were able to do the same work with just one or two lines. ‘Free My Expression’ is one of my favorite of the shorter poems, with the line “want you to stay but I always run away”. And the very last poem, which I believe is untitled, is probably my favorite of the collection because it manages the same emotional impact as one of the longer poems with only four lines.
I recommend this collection to anyone who enjoys poetry that is emotive yet easy to understand. The collection is short, but I suggest you give yourself some time to stop and ponder the thoughts, concepts, and ideas conveyed in each of these poems as this is an engaging assortment of passionate poetry.
Pages: 56 | ISBN: 1483622444
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Paper Heart by Jennifer LeBlanc is a book of poetry that includes ninety poems. Many of the poems are about finding love and have a very uplifting message. Other poems are about lost love (whether through death or the end of a relationship), or loving someone who only brings you pain. The title of the book (Paper Heart) is appropriate because many of the poems are about how fragile love is, both precious and painful. Some of the poems the author included were very personal, especially the ones about the author’s mother. Other poems could speak to almost everyone, with universal messages. Most of the poems are about the past, some about living in the past. There were not as many about living in and enjoying the present or looking toward the future. Many of the poems were about darker topics, like addiction and loss and death. Other poems featured themes of regrets for things wished undone and things that can’t be undone, whether to self or others.
I liked the range in the various poems, covering many different emotions (from sadness to great joy), and the dichotomy of themes of darkness and light. There are varying structures to a number of the poems, and I liked the different styles, that they weren’t all the same.
My favorite poems were the ones with inspirational messages, like Be Every Color of the Sun. I liked how the title of several poems were spelled out as the first letter of each line of the poem. But these titles weren’t just random words, they were appropriate to the poem, as well.
Some of the poems were very short (only a few lines long). A few of these poems almost felt unfinished, and they left me wanting more. They felt as though they ended too soon and could have been expanded upon. Some of the poems were very similar in theme to other poems, seeming like a continuation of earlier poems (though not the shorter ones).
One poem, Vicious Cycles, had dialogue in the middle of the verses, which was unique and unexpected in a book of poetry.
Many of the poems reminded me of my favorite songs or a line from the lyrics because they had the same feeling, and I enjoyed that aspect of the author’s writing.
Pages: 138 | ASIN: B07KDPCV4N
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Readers who are looking for an intimate view into the life of a man who has been through rough times will find that in Freedom Justice are Both by Hendrick Jones. This is a memoir of sorts: Jones is giving readers a glimpse into his life story. He outlines what he has struggled with and how it has shaped his life. This God-fearing man wanted nothing more than to provide for his family, yet what he has been given is a season pass to pain and suffering. This is not a book to be taken lightly, as this is the very soul of Jones, stripped down and laid bare for all to see.
It is undoubtable that Jones feels he has been wronged. He outlines his life very carefully for readers and shows how he feels he has been given the short end of the stick. He reiterates over and over that he doesn’t understand why these turns of events happened to him and he laments the loss of loved ones whose loyalty he heavily questions. Jones bitterly lays out his interpretation of the events that lead him along the path towards medical retirement from seventeen years of police service. It is clear that he is profoundly affected by what has happened; with good reason. This is the story of his life, after all.
Pages: 148 | ASIN: B07C9D1NJ5
Posted in Book Reviews
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Madeline Clark’s life seems like the life of a dozen different individuals. From the beginning of her troubled life, she is met head-on with one horrific circumstance after another at the hands of people she hopes and prays will be her saving graces. After finding her way out of South Africa, Maddie finds fleeting hope with David Blakely, a man she has no choice but to trust to pull her from poverty and imminent death, but cannot possibly know that his attention will be the beginning of her end and the catalyst for a lifetime of heartache and repeated loss and grief.
Maddie’s life, laid out for readers by Lucia Mann in her book, Addicted to Hate, is one of the most tragic about which I have ever read. It’s difficult to know where to begin explaining the layers Mann has revealed with her vivid and gripping descriptions of Maddie’s harrowing childhood, her abusive marriage to a vile man, and the horrific road she travels as a mother to three girls who could not care less if she lived or died. It is almost beyond comprehensible that Maddie could survive the mental and physical challenges with which she is faced from the beginning to the bitter end of her amazing and tortured life.
Mann has taken this story, based on actual events, and set Maddie forth as an unlikely heroine who overcomes insurmountable odds as she talks herself through each of her hardships including three pregnancies that, by all accounts, were miracles and curses at the same time. Maddie is the poster child of life testing us. She seems to have received each and every trial imaginable, the most tragic of which is the complete abhorrence her daughters have for her. I found myself rooting, paragraph by paragraph, for a turn of events for Maddie. I felt a visceral reaction with each mention of her daughter Mara’s blatant and evil brutalization of her mother. I wanted desperately for Maddie to see the light and make a break from her toxic children, but Maddie is better than most; she may be better than all of us.
Maddie’s intellect is her own saving grace. Her abilities are put to use in the most fascinating ways, and even that amazing opportunity cannot completely pull her from her spiral. Mann is a master at having her readers draw hopeful conclusions before letting them down abruptly.
The overall subject matter of Mann’s work is enhanced by the tone in which she writes. While maintaining a third person point of view, she manages nicely to incorporate a hint of second person questioning while drawing the reader further into Maddie’s overpowering drama.
Mann has given audience to an amazing tale of endurance and determination. In addition to the heartbreaking events of Maddie’s life, Mann shows readers the embodiment of true and unwavering unconditional love. Nowhere else can readers find a more poignant tale of loss, betrayal, and incredible triumph.
Pages: 254 | ASIN: B07K4TXQC7
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Destiny Revisited by Eleanor Tremayne is the story of the life of Gabriella Girard. The book starts with Gabriella attending the funeral of Jake Chevalier who she had not spoken to for thirty-three years. After the memorial service, she receives a ‘death box’ from Jake’s wife. It is the same box Gabby gave to Jake on New Year’s Eve in 1967, the last time they had seen each other. Gabby’s mind goes back to the first day she met Jake, and the next section of the story takes place in Savannah, Georgia, in the 1960s, during the three years Gabby and Jake spent together as teenagers in love. They had promised to stay together forever and were planning their lives together after high school. But then Jake joins the marines and goes off to war, to fight in Vietnam. And everything changes for them, and Gabby’s life spirals off course.
I immediately became involved with the characters, which is why I didn’t like the way Jake treated Gabby after he made the decision, without even talking to her, that they could no longer be together. He claimed he still loved Gabby, but he didn’t contact her to tell her the relationship was over. Instead, he returned home engaged to another woman. Though I understood his motivations, I would have liked to see him handle the situation in another way, since his actions not only affected him, but Gabby, as well, for the rest of her life. Although Gabby had relationships with other men, she never again found the happiness and love she’d known with Jake.
I really liked the part where Gabby traveled to Europe after she finally opened the ‘death box.’ This section of the story was so sweet, but also very sad. Especially the part about the proposal. It was a very emotional remembrance of lost love and regret for all the things they had planned to do, which never happened.
The story ends abruptly, without showing what exactly happens to Gabby which left me anxious to know what happened after that point. I wanted her to have a happy ending after everything she had gone through in her life.
I enjoyed the poems and quotes that were included at the start of each chapter. But there were some grammatical issues that distracted from the flow of the story. Although it became less noticeable as I continued reading and was pulled into the story of the young love Gabby shared with Jake.
This book is a fantastic emotional roller-coaster with twists I certainly didn’t see coming. This is a character driven story that delivers intrigue by getting you invested in some dynamic and well developed characters.
Pages: 390 | ASIN: B073QFZF98
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It is common to see grandparents raise their grandkids. The reasons vary from the children getting in trouble, passing away, divorce, teen pregnancies, parents being in jail, not being in a capacity to raise the kids, or not having the right parental skills. Grandparents raising grandkids may seem easy, but it’s not. Harriet Hodgson takes us through the struggles, the fun times that create the relationship children have with their grandparents.
Harriet Hodgson uses real-life example to delivery some poignant and sage advice. She raised her daughters’ children, and so speaks from a position of experience throughout the book, but not as a teacher, more as a knowing grandparent. The kids were twins and raising them was an amazing experience. The author notes how difficult it can be when grandkids ask for information which you think would be best explained by their parents. Losing her daughter was painful. Grieving for her daughter, the twin’s father, her brother, and father in law was among the lowest moments in her life.
This book reads like a parenting guide for grandparents. Some may feel that, since they are grandparents, they know how to raise kids. But remember, you are raising kids from a different perspective now and this book illuminates those differences and helps you tackle them. The author writes about family values and helps one understand what children want and how they should be treated. Raising teens can be an uphill task for anyone. The writer shares her experience raising her grandkids in their teen years, and how adolescents react to issues.
The tips Harriet Hodgson shares should be mastered by everyone as they will always come in handy at some point in life. The book is written in a flowing style, with the author listing her thoughts then explaining later in detail. This book not only educates you on parenting, but also helps to understand and cope with grief.
Throughout the bok Harriet Hodgson words are backed by research and science. That is the other amazing thing about this book. Everything listed is a fact, and one gets to understand how some families come to be. From the texts in the book, one can tell that Harriet is excellent at care-giving.
I’ve learned a lot just by reading this book. Mourning can take a toll on someone, but there is always that period where you rise up. The author did well by talking about stress and the effect it has on kids and how one should take care of their health. You understand how you can encourage a child to aim higher and get to the peak in everything they do.
Pages: 200 | ASIN: B075J5YNKW
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