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With Angel’s Wings is one mother’s raw and heart-wrenching account of her life with two daughters with special needs. I understand that this book was based on your life. What made you want to put your story into a novel?
I never meant to write a book. I wrote therapeutically through some tough times (which was helpful). Nurses and therapists who were in our home through those years read what I had written and strongly encouraged me to share our story. Well…all except for one physical therapist who said, “Be careful who you allow to read this; child protective services may be called.” That bit of advice certainly fed into any misgivings and concerns I had about publicizing our tale! After years of prompting, though, I took a deep breath, closed my eyes tight, and sent it out for the world to judge me to their hearts’ content. I’m glad I did. The most gratifying moment was when a mother of a toddler boy who has Wolf-Hirschorn Syndrome messaged me and said, “I happened to stumble upon your book. Before I read it, I thought there was no way anyone could possibly understand what I’m going through and how I’m feeling. After reading it, I went out and bought 3 more copies to hand out to my family members in the hopes that as they read about you they’ll better understand me.” That’s what it’s all about, right?
You describe every obstacle encountered as you come to terms with your daughters’ challenges. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?
Given the fact that I was writing therapeutically, I can’t say any part of our story was particularly difficult to write. Writing it down was what made things a bit easier. That being said, there are multiple parts that I still can’t read without crying (most of the marathon IV poke sessions, when Sarah [“Hannah” in the book] coded in my arms, when she got her I.O.’s…I could go on and on). The one section that I avoid reading whenever possible, and when I do have to read it, I feel physically ill, is the section about my “breakdown” (when I [apparently] threw the knife at my husband). There are so many things I would change if I had the ability to go back, knowing what I know now (not that I’d ever want to!). One of the biggest is the way I addressed my depression (or DIDN’T address, as the case often was). I now understand just how big a role depression (and PTSD) played in our story. I wish I had known more about it then, taken it more seriously…and cut myself a little more slack, which hopefully would have allowed me to relax a little more and address every other aspect of my life a little more successfully.
Hannah’s is diagnosed with Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome. What are some misconceptions about this condition and how did you educate yourself on it?
Well, to have misconceptions, I suppose you’d have to have any concept at all. Not only had I never heard of the diagnosis, but very few people I’ve come across have ever heard of it, so finding out I was wrong in my thinking hasn’t really been a problem. Something I definitely understand now that I didn’t before is that within every genetic diagnosis there’s a spectrum – not all with the same diagnosis present the same picture. There are, for instance, individuals with Down Syndrome who you hardly recognize as having the disorder, who are quite independent, and those who are much more involved, who are completely dependent on the care of others. Wolf-Hirschorn Syndrome is no different. Some WHS kids are quite high functioning…Sarah is not; she’s at the lower end of the spectrum. I have to remind myself of that, sometimes, when I’m feeling guilty over burnout and other WHS moms are posting about what a JOY their son/daughter is in their lives (along with pictures of them going to prom or enjoying a trip to Disney World). Same diagnosis in no way equates to same experience.
Because there isn’t a ton written about WHS, a lot of what I’ve learned has come more recently, since the explosion of social media. This is the generation that specialists are looking to for data on growth charts and life expectancy. That means we don’t have information to look at, but we have a wealth of experiences shared by many families that offer some clues as to what to possibly expect or watch for.
This is an emotional book that, I felt, was honest. What do you hope readers take away from your story?
For the “general population” reader I hope to offer a “peek in the window” of a family living a life likely very different from their own. When the reader sees a medically fragile child on the street, maybe that child will be looked at with more admiration for his/her strength, rather than pity. Maybe if the reader comes across an autistic child, he/she will be a little more patient and a little less judgmental toward both the child and the parent, alike. It can also be just plain interesting to read about others facing challenges we aren’t. It’s the little details that make you say, “Oh yeah…I never even THOUGHT of that being an issue!”
For readers within the special needs community, I hope to offer hope that if I could find the light at the end of my tunnel, you can, too. I hope to offer companionship by way of admission to my own doubts, frustrations, struggles, and screw-ups. I hope that a fellow special needs parent will understand this book is me saying, “You are not alone. You are not wrong for the way you feel. This, too, shall pass. And you are stronger than you know. You can do this.”
With Angel’s Wings is the true story of Laura, a young wife and mother of a three-year-old daughter. Her husband, Kevin, a marine, is deployed overseas, leaving Laura to give birth to their second daughter and handle the two young children on her own.
Thirteen days after the birth of her youngest, the pediatrician detects a heart murmur. That leads to just the first of multiple diagnoses for both of her daughters, sending Laura on an unexpected and emotional journey into the world of parenting medically-fragile, special needs children.
Right when Laura fears she will break under the incredible pressure, she encounters the beauty of true love, in a most unexpected and unconventional way.
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Have you ever wondered about the importance of communion? What really is the root of all this power the blood of Jesus is purported to have? How can human beings harness this power as God wishes?
Wendy Varga’s Sacred Secret is an in-depth analysis of the Communion. We often use blatant explanations of God’s instructions. But man is protected from all sorts of evil if he marks himself with the blood.
If faith is shallow, little is expected. People should know the limitless capabilities of God as this affects their level of faith and consequently, how impactful He will be in their life.
Wendy Varga’s passion helps to eloquently unravel many biblical mysteries. Her fervent writing had me craving to know more about communion; I found myself often referencing my bible. By the end of this book I felt that I had a better understanding of the power of the New Testament Covenant Meal. The author’s eagerness to truly understand God’s purpose for the Passover is evident. Her break down of the relation between His blood and God by use of scientific explanations is startlingly enlightening. Her insistence to not just know God, but also know Him intimately is a recurring theme. I’ve read other religious books on similar subjects, but they often only touched on this subject before quickly moving on. But it is the focal point in this book. It’s refreshing to see a book take a deep dive into one aspect of faith.
I consider this a knowledge check for anyone who knows their Bible well, but what I truly appreciated was the unique perspective in which the information is presented. Be prepared to ask yourself questions you never have before. In the end, I appreciated how this book left me reevaluating my relationship with God. This book will arm you with the knowledge and power of the blood and thus strengthen your faith. I believe that this book will unlock the potential of God’s power in your life through faith.
Pages: 156 | ASIN: B072M8R6JG
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Away from Home is a real and heartbreaking look into the troubled thoughts and feelings many teens experience when part of the foster care system. It seems that your foster children are an obvious inspiration, but what made you put pen to paper (so to speak)?
I am by no means an experienced writer but I wanted to capture the thoughts and feelings of some of the young people that I look after. This was important to me to gain an understanding of how young people may be feeling when they come into my care. Young people coming into the care system may not verbalise how they feel but may show how they feel through actions.
I liked ‘Don’t know if I am coming or going’ because it was a simple and realistic take on how a newly placed teen may feel upon arriving in a new place. What was your favorite poem from the collection and why?
My favourite poem was ‘wonderful you have come back to see me’. It is my favourite poem because it shows with, attention, care and firm boundaries young people can succeed. They do not have to leave care the same way they came in.
What do you think is a common misconception about foster children that people have today?
Teenagers are portrayed by the media for being ‘out of control’ and dangerous. Young people come into care for all different reasons and it is up to responsible adults to guide them through life.
I felt that Away from Home allowed me to understand the ups and downs of the foster care system. What do you hope readers take away from your book?
I am hoping that my book can be used as a training tool for new carers thinking of fostering teenagers. They will learn about some of the emotions that young people display when coming into care and foster carers training will help them find ways to deal with the behaviour. The end result in some cases is worth not giving up.
Also people with teenagers can relate to some of the emotions that are displayed in book and the reasons behind it. Behind the emotions, there are possible reasons for the behaviour.
Away from Home is a collection of short poems inspired by the writer’s experience of fostering teenage girls over a ten year period.
The poems are from real life situations of teenagers in my care. Fostering teenagers can be challenging but it is also very rewarding.
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In The Book of Self a Thesis on Energy and How it Interrelates you touch upon many things, but one thing that stood out for me is the idea of sound and color being a language. How did you come across this idea?
How I came across the idea and came to embrace it, was through ruminating over life along with the functionality of that, which comprises life. All sacred texts or teachings speak of or allude to universe being created by command such as: “let there be light.” And what scientists refer to as,”the big bang.” Light, colors, and sound are entirely based on vibration. The vibration is the language that gives command to universe. All that there is and will be moves in respect to vibration forming what we refer to as creation.
The Book of Self: A Thesis on Energy and How It Interrelates urges on the importance of following one’s intuition. Why do you think this is important today?
Intuition is more than a phenomenon. It is divine communication, which I liken to the wireless anatomy of the mind; giving expression to “follow your first mind.” More importantly intuition is never wrong. And when intuition is not followed the consequences never fail to evoke regret or to be adverse. Intuition must be followed today to save life as we know it and to get it to be what it should be. Intuition must be followed for individual peace on a personal level; so the individual can live with themselves and for peace to reach a collective global level. We must remember the outside is only a reflection of the inside.
I think you illustrate how to properly treat life as the gift it is. What is one common misconception you think most people have about life?
Number one misconception is that life is hard. Life itself is not against anyone. Life becomes hard, when we go against nature.
The Book of Self A Thesis on Energy and How it Interrelates, is all about revealing man’s full potential and power, as well as, enhancing one’s relationship with self, and the planet. This can only be accomplished through an understanding of energy. The word self, when it is used entails all of life seen or unseen. So, in The Book of Self A Thesis on Energy and How it Interrelates the oneness of life is asserted. The higher mysteries of life are made simple and plain.
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The Woman Behind The Waterfall follows Angela as she struggles to help her mother find happiness while trying to avoid her dark past. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
When I started writing The Woman behind the Waterfall, I was at a crossroads in my life. I had turned 30, decided to leave my job running a business to write full-time, and had recently moved country to live in Barcelona. I was at a stage where I was evaluating what had happened in my life to date, and what I could consider mistakes or positive choices; also the example I was setting for my daughter, and the patterns I was consciously or not consciously following from my mother. Thus, the original idea was an exploration of choices and their consequences within the framework of generations. As the novel progressed, this developed into the wider theme of the search for happiness, and what happiness means at different ages and in different generations.
The writing in your story is very artful and creative. Was it a conscious effort to create a story in this fashion or is this style of writing reflective of your writing style in general?
I had always dreamed of being a writer, and at the age of 30, after many years of scribbling stories and poems, I decided to write full-time. This was my chance to create a novel that I hoped would be published and offered to the world. The language that came out when I wrote it was intensely poetic and full of dream and emotion. It wasn’t a style that I had written in previously, but it was the language that I found to express the story of the book – the generations and the regrets and choices, woven into the dream world of the subconscious.
As a contrast, in my second novel, I wanted to write in a style that was a clean, straightforward narrative. After the intense poetry of The Woman Behind the Waterfall, I wanted to focus on story and character rather than the beauty of the words.
Both Angela and her mother are both detailed characters that continue to develop in the story. What were the driving ideals behind the characters’ development throughout the story?
The character of Angela was intended to express the pure creative state that children exist in before their thought-patterns have been set by the surrounding world. I had observed in my own children this magical state when they hadn’t yet been told what was true and what was not, and so everything was possible. With Angela, I take this a step further and allow her to merge with the natural world. However, as the book progresses, she understands that she will lose this ability as she becomes an adult.
Lyuda, the mother, also goes through a transformation. She has been trapped in a debilitating depression and holds on for the sake of her daughter. When her daughter starts to see and be affected by this, Lyuda has to make a choice to come out of her internal world. This progression was really inspired by the idea of the things we pass on to our children, and the responsibility there is in being a parent, where each of your actions can create a pattern that can pass into your family for generations.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
I published my second novel, The Unity Game, in May of this year, and I’m currently working on several projects which should be ready starting from 2019. The Unity Game was as different as possible to The Woman Behind the Waterfall, and is a speculative Science Fiction novel set in New York, a distant planet and an after-life dimension. It was a lot of fun to write and it has been getting some great feedback.
For seven-year old Angela, happiness is exploring the lush countryside around her home in western Ukraine. Her wild imagination takes her into birds and flowers, and into the waters of the river.
All that changes when, one morning, she sees her mother crying. As she tries to find out why, she is drawn on an extraordinary journey into the secrets of her family, and her mother’s fateful choices.
Can Angela lead her mother back to happiness before her innocence is destroyed by the shadows of a dark past?
Beautiful, poetic and richly sensory, this is a tale that will haunt and lift its readers.
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I Spy With My Little Eye: A journey through the moral landscape of Britain, written by Linnea Mills, is a novel written in an attempt to understand the morals, norms and values held by Britain’s current society. It is based around the seven deadly sins and seven heavenly virtues and uses these ideas as metaphors for the current issues present in society. There is a combination of statistics, quotes and recent topics to illustrate the consequences of economic divides, celebrity status, money, power and greed. It will leave you wondering- what is your interpretation of wealth, happiness and success?
I Spy With My Little Eye is a masterpiece that analyses and discusses our changing behaviours as a society. Prepare to reconsider your personal views and be confronted with statistics and studies that prove just how much of our lives are shaped by media, “celebrities” and power.
It challenges the norms held by today’s social standards and instead encourages the reader to consider whether the behaviour we partake in is a reflection of our true intentions and beliefs or are we just following the crowd mentality. It also pushes you to contemplate whether your behaviours actually contribute to any form of personal or societal gain. At times I felt as though I could see the world in a new light, especially reading alarming studies about what children aspire to be or the implications of the celebrity phenomenon on our culture and identity.
Even though the chapter titles are based around Christian values, the author stresses that this is not a religious book and instead uses these sins and virtues to simply reference problems in Britain’s society- with a cheeky nod to our internal moral compasses. At what point does wealth become an addiction as opposed to a simple goal? And is it moulded by society or what truly makes you happy?
One of my favourite chapters was one that discussed Envy. With social media being such an integral part of most people’s lives, it was interesting to see the comparative statistics of happiness between those who continued to use the social media platforms or compared to those who gave them up. It also discusses trolls, consequences of online abuse and the implementations of social media on politics.
I was impressed at the depth of knowledge presented in the book as well as the sourced quotes and studies. The staggering statistics are mind-boggling and emphasise the manipulation of greed in positions of power. Linnea Mills also uses current events and trends to strengthen her arguments further and increase the validity of her ideas.
I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone! It a perfect balance of social issues, philosophy and facts, combined to create a piece of literature that challenges your belief on what makes you innately happy.
Pages: 145 | ASIN: B077PLR3FK
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Have you ever met a person for the first time and upon shaking hands experience a sort of electrical shock? Ever been inexplicably drawn to a particular person or animal? Energy is the chain that connects humans to the planet, heavens, animals, plants and other humans. By sharing the earth, energy is transferred through earth’s beings. Energy is the life force of all things. Water is energy. Water can exist in many different forms, which makes it the best conductor of energy. Water is quintessential to life. Without water, man surely will, for lack of a better word, wither. In the absence of water, plants die, animals perish and air becomes ‘unbreathable’. Water keeps the earth going.
The earth has layers; lithosphere, asthenosphere, upper mantle, lower mantle, outer core and inner core. The inner core is also referred to as the solar plexus, the hot centre of the earth. These layers vary in energy frequencies. Just like the earth, humans also have layers. Layers whose energy levels also vary. The energy that surrounds a person is known as aura. Aura is a worldly womb. The strength of this aura is determined by the mind. One’s thoughts can affect and direct their energy. The earth’s energy field protects it from cosmic disasters and solar flares. By the same principle, a weak aura leaves room for unhappiness and attacks on self. Based on the energy running through a person, they can be completely attuned to the cosmos or in utter incongruence. All these frequencies travel up the body to congregate and project like a beam through the third eye. This is a spot between the eyebrows. What importance is this information to human beings? How does knowing about energy and aura beneficial to the human race?
The Book of Self: A Thesis on Energy and How It Interrelates urges on the importance of following one’s intuition. Intuition is the natural Wi-Fi allowing communication between the mind and the universe to make accurate predictions. Floyd Williams also introduces the idea of sound and color being a language. The seven colors of the rainbow are ingrained in the threads of human psychological make-up. In his opinion, these colors should be integrated in everyday life as much as possible. The author reveals the secret to freeing one’s mind. A clear understanding of energy is essential in the quest to find true selves. A man’s true potential and power lies in their ability to let their mind run free and unencumbered. This book gives a prelude to this journey. The information in this book is a prerequisite in the study of life.
This book uses easily understandable illustrations to unravel the answers to life’s questions. The author properly illustrates how to properly treat life as the gift it is. In Floyd’s terms, “Life is the gift, everything else is a blessing”. The reader’s relationship with self and the earth will be enhanced upon understanding the information in this book.
Pages: 34 | ISBN: 1973368846
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Humans are on a constant quest for self-actualization. We have a deep need to live in genuine serenity, to discover selves. People always seek to have full control of their mental faculties such that they can meditate without struggling too much.
Anam Cara: Your Soul Friend and Bridge to Enlightenment and Creativity will get one on the right path. To open the floodgates of creativity, one needs to have peace of mind and be free of emotional baggage. This audio book is a road map to using the soul friend to achieve these. The soul friend is a non-judgmental confidante who helps an individual live to their full God-given potential. The book urges the importance of the body in accessing the mind. The science of breathing is used as an example of how one can access their mind. By breathing properly, one relaxes and eventually accesses the deepest parts of their mind. The science of breathing is often used in meditation. One may argue that the soul friend would best be a therapist or religious leader but that defeats the purpose. The point of anam cara is candor and intimacy.
This book also guides the reader through the 42 confessions to the soul, these are essential in spiritual growth. Among the most important aspects of self-empowerment is selfless service. Glenville Ashby talks about being completely used up by the time of death. Giving oneself to the society with no expectations by doing the simplest of things like offering comfort to a troubled friend. Mr. Ashby also talks about thoughts creating reality. God would not punish his own creations by blessing some and leaving others in anguish. Humans are meant to create their own blessings through hard work. This is a very interesting point of view. It makes a lot of sense upon reflection. To further affirm his stand, Glenville talks about Hellen Keller and Stephen Hawking. Their outstanding positivity and contributions to the world are awe-inspiring. The author also introduces the master keys that unlock the portal to the soul. First on the list is gratitude. This is a testament to the adage; no man is an island. The responsibility to be genuinely grateful awakens a flame within humans.
Glenville Ashby has not written this book to malign other therapies but rather to give a counterproductive approach to enlightenment and creativity. The ideas in this book, supported by views from Buddhist principles and Christianity, will force readers to do a thorough audit of their lives. It calls for a shift in practice and thought. The book is well written and inspiring. It is a useful tool for one who seeks to put themselves on a path to true happiness and fulfillment. To live authentically and unencumbered by travelling back and experiencing the magic of humans’ true essence, the soul.
Quality of life is dependent on the choices one makes and the things they focus their energies on. Achieving self-actualization is a great place to start in seeking to live the best life possible. Anam Cara: Your Soul Friend and Bridge to Enlightenment and Creativity is a necessary audio book.
Listening Length: 2 hours and 27 minutes | ASIN: B01DCHO3XW
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Executive Hoodlum follows the true life story of John Costello where he uses his harsh upbringing to move up the corporate world. What inspired you to put your story into a book?
Ultimately there were three reasons I wrote the book:
1. I wanted to pass on the story to my kids so they have an appreciation of their legacy. Why they enjoy certain privileges, and to make certain they remain humble knowing the sacrifices that sometimes need to be made to succeed in life and for the next generation.
2. As a volunteer boxing trainer for under-privileges kids I was able to give something back to my community. It was personally rewarding to me so I wanted to give something back in a bigger way. That is to reach a larger audience of would be under dogs to demonstrate they have the opportunity to succeed no matter what the circumstances.
3. I wanted to relieve the burden of my own guilt pertaining to the last words I spoke to my mother before she died. Those words haunted me for decades. I never reconciled my differences with my father prior to his death either. We were at terrible odds as usual but he was alive long enough to make an attempt at reconciliation but chose not to, not with me anyway. Consequently I do not carry the same guilt as with my mother. I did write most of the book and long overseas plane trips and found myself crying writing a couple chapters. Now that the truth is out there, I somehow feel better.
A little background will put the situation into better perspective:
Best Selling author Larry Elder is the one who put the book idea in my head as he is a friend for about ten years. In fact, he was originally going to be my ghost writer. However, it was decided the book had to be in my words due to my slang and other vernacular to be authentic. With my busy work schedule, I was going to drop the whole thing. Problem being, I hate to start something and not finish. Technically Larry inspired me to write as he brought up the original deal as described in my acknowledgements. Prior to beginning the effort in earnest, I contemplated the above three reasons.
Note – I never intended on writing a book because I would have to relive things in my life I was successful in suppressing. However, age and maturity helped me become more open with my early family life.
Additionally, there are individuals in Chicago, New York and New Jersey that I did not want to have to deal with when it comes to some of the content. These are friends I have maintained and kept in contact over many years. I personally spoke to each person, mob boss, made guy, associate and the outlaw biker leaders individually to let them know my intention. To my surprise, to a person they noted they respected my street savvy enough to give the thumbs up.
The characters in this book were well developed and interesting. How close did you stay true to real events and what did you take liberties with?
Thankfully, I did not have to manufacture any drama. The one upside to being born a Costello!
I took no liberties because my street and business credibility are important to me. I played down certain events due to statute of limitation consideration. Most of what is in my book can be authenticated via documents I kept (murder investigations, police reports, death certificates, pictures,letters. newsreels and other documents I collected when fact checking. Additionally, there are third parties I contacted that were with me during certain events I consulted to make certain my recollections were as accurate as possible)
I’m not a big fan of fiction. Truth and authenticity are of utmost importance. This stems from certain things I know that have been portrayed in both books and movies about people I personally know or knew, that were embellished.
John finds himself surrounded by constant turmoil with gangs, members of the underworld, murder, suicide, and drug addiction. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?
The ugly truth of my own family, especially the circumstances of deaths of my mother, brother and cousin.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
There are many entertaining stories I was reminded of by friends I did not include in this book. Consequently, there may be a part two.
Meet John Costello, Vice President of Business Development and Government Relations for Microsemi Corporation, a $6 billion leader in the advanced-semiconductor market. Well known and respected in the industry, John Costello graduated from college in 1983 with a degree in Business Administration. John’s social circle includes high-level corporate executives, politicians, military leaders and movie stars. As a young boy he played Little League baseball and Pop Warner football, and went on to become an outstanding track and cross-country runner in high school, captain of his college rowing team, and an accomplished boxer in the Golden Gloves and other tournaments. With this wholesome All-American resumé, most would think that John Costello emerged from a solid middle-class family with all the usual privileges pertaining – though nothing could be further from the truth. Costello was born into a working-class neighborhood on Chicago’s north side and grew up under quite difficult conditions. His father was a talented Italian tenor with mob connections and a proclivity for violence; his mother, the daughter of an Irish street cop, was a straight-laced Catholic girl till she took to the bottle after falling victim to that violence. Surrounded by constant turmoil and hardship involving gangs, members of the underworld, murder, suicide, drug addiction as well as physical and emotional abuse, John eventually transcended his circumstances to obtain a higher education and pursue a profitable career that entailed all the perks of an executive lifestyle inclusive of the Hollywood party circuit.
Readers who might enjoy this book are those interested in true-crime stories, mob activity, murder and mayhem, as well as anyone seeking a no-holds-barred story that describes the resilience of the human spirit. Spiced with wit and humor and distinguished by the inimitable voice of tough-talking John Costello, his story touches our hearts while keeping us on the edge of our seats.
Other comparable books include The Truthbook: A Memoir by Joy Castro, which describes a similar childhood fraught with abuse and dysfunction. The theme of destructive behavior and personal downward spiral in the fight game and mobster milieu is also taken up in Raging Bull by Jake La Motta. Then there is the true-crime and gangster activity to be found in Family Secrets: The Case That Crippled the Chicago Mob by Jeff Coen, as well as in The Neighborhood Outfit: Organized Crime in Chicago Heights by Matthew Luzi. All these works taken together give some idea of the scope of John Costello’s life as recounted in his own book.
And that is what makes our book “unique” – John Costello’s life is unique. It has been a strange blend of two distinct worlds, but with one foot firmly emplaced in each. The fact that he is comfortable meeting with Senator John McCain in the morning to discuss government business, and can then enjoy the company of old friends from the streets of Chicago in the evening, is indicative of his parallel lives and will certainly be something readers find highly intriguing. We have an extensive collection of family photos, newspaper clippings, death certificates, court papers, and other supporting documentation for all claims made, as well as music recordings and video that would introduce the amazing voice of Johnny’s father to a whole new generation.
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