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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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Pink Clouds

Pink Clouds reads like a train of thoughts, jumping between memories in the author’s life. It is secretive and intriguing, forcing readers to think for themselves and fill in the gaps. The author, Janis Kingsley, describes Pink Clouds as unique, memorable moments. She fondly recalls her time in Barcelona and her love for rock music concerts. Then there is the ‘sour lemonade’ when you doubt you’ll ever see the pink clouds again. Janis emotionally depicts struggling with her weight, supporting her son with an addiction, and maintaining a relationship with her father. Some chapters are stories, and others are filled with thoughts about life.

Pink Clouds is emotionally raw and honest and leaves the reader in a reflective state, wondering what could have happened between the lines and beyond the cliffhangers. Janis Kingsley has a great style of writing. She writes in a way that is not flashy or trying to impress, almost as if she is writing for herself rather than the reader. This makes her reflections seem even more authentic as if the reader is delving into her inner thoughts.

Admittedly, I did not understand every chapter and was left with so many unanswered questions, but this made the book all the more interesting. Janis Kingsley writes directly about issues like self-hatred, guilt, and insecurities. I’m sure that every reader can resonate with some part of her experiences or thoughts. She begins by talking about how we never see the dark sides of each other, only the happy exterior, and then proceeds to explore some of her darkest memories. This is the first of many extraordinary contrasts within the book.

I highly recommend Pink Clouds to anyone who enjoys short stories and food for thought. The book will leave you reflecting on life and the mental battles that we all face, whether you’re a teenager recovering from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic or a wife trapped in a dead-end marriage. Pink Clouds is a book that everyone can take something away from. Not only can we learn from sharing our experiences, but it is also highly comforting to know that we are not alone. This is a book that will stick in your mind long after finishing the book, if not luring you back in to reread and rethink. I will certainly be looking for more of Janis Kingsley’s writing.

Pages: 16 | ASIN : B0BG3HYC6H

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Alien Whispers

Alien Whispers: Conflict and Communion is the long-awaited third installment in the Milijun series by science fiction writer Clayton Graham. It is a century after the events that shook Laura and her son Jason´s world, when aliens appearing out of the blue and abducted them with mysterious intentions.

Laura returns to planet Earth to figure out what happened to her long-lost husband. Backed by her son Jason, now the leader of a longstanding alien organization, she soon realizes that things are not as they once were.

Earth has been taken over by a tyrannical regime—the oppressive Tellurians—with a power-hungry leader seeking world dominion. Humans and their alien allies find themselves oppressed by the current regime with no access to weapons, and their communications closely monitored. In addition, something strange is stirring on the moon where another alien group is actively preparing to take advantage of Earth’s precarious situation. Laura finds herself facing not only the Tellurian Empire but also the aliens preying on humankind from the shadows. Will she overcome these dangerous enemies, or will she succumb to whatever fate they have prepared for Earth and the universe?

Author Clayton Graham’s worldbuilding is absolutely incredible. Set 250 years in the future, the author had to imagine a world with futuristic problems and what it took to get to that point. Surprisingly enough, while intergalactic and alien elements are integrated into our future, many of our present-day issues are still on these characters´ minds. In terms of the writing, this is a steady, fast-paced novel: one event is followed after the other without dwelling on a single situation. This by no means signifies that it’s sloppily written; on the contrary, the author leaves no stone unturned and is incredibly detailed in his descriptions.

The plot is thoroughly engaging, and while it is the third installment in the series, it is a standalone novel, which means that you can read it easily enough without having read the previous books. I would, however, recommend looking through the rest of the series to get a better view of the characters´ growth and history. I highly recommend this book for its great world and storyboarding.

Alien Whispers: Conflict and Communion (Milijun Book 3) is perfect for anyone looking for a thrilling read, but especially for die-hard sci-fi fans who will undoubtedly thoroughly enjoy this hidden gem.

Pages: 466 | ASIN : B0BBLGWS1S

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Sacred Promise

Sacred Promise is written with the sole purpose of inspiring women to “reclaim their voices” and enrich their lives with purpose. Dr. Trent’s book shares a series of stories discussing challenging situations women face. The book tackles difficult topics, including how women don’t feel good enough, women supporting other women, motherhood, pursuing dreams, and handling traumatic situations such as abuse, mental health, addiction, and more.

Dr. Tererai Trent has compiled compelling stories of women from many backgrounds and circumstances. Each story is captivating and encouraging to read, and it shows how women can face a variety of challenges and obstacles on their path toward success, whether small or large. This book is the embodiment of the whirlwind of emotions you feel when you conquer your fears. The stories explore how we can sometimes feel powerless in life, it shows how we can conquer our fears, and that if we do we can turn our life into a beautiful journey that instills confidence and power. While these stories speak specifically to the difficulties many women of various backgrounds and circumstances face, it is an excellent read for anyone that is interested in this subject as there is a powerful sense of humanity that is eloquently woven throughout the book.

I found these stories to be uplifting and illuminating, as each tale addresses common fears that many women face, with real-life scenarios and personal triumphs. As a woman, I found the book encouraging as I was able to relate to each woman in my own way. I highly recommend Sacred Promise to anyone that is searching for purpose and inspiration, whether you’re looking to continue on your current path in life, or take a different one. It is a wonderful book that gives the reader a real sense of hope while celebrating what it means to be a woman. This collection will help readers understand the critical role that women play in society, not only in the past or present, but in the future.

Pages: 362 | ASIN: 0645514004

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We Will Get Through This

Richard Hester Author Interview

Hold, Please: Stage Managing A Pandemic chronicles life in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic from the point of view of a Broadway stage manager in Manhattan. Why was this an important book for you to write?

I didn’t realize that I was writing a book when I began. I was trying to make sense of the remarkable events that were unfolding all around us. There was so much information coming at us that I felt was either being misinterpreted or was just untrue, that I started feeling responsible for trying to put it all into some kind of order. About six months in, I realized that in addition to that, what I was creating was a first-hand account of a time in our history that I was sure everyone was going to forget. You only need to look back to the Spanish Flu pandemic a hundred years ago to see that even though it is a monumental event, people will forget.

Are there any experiences from 2020 that you see differently now that you have had time to reflect on them?

Certainly, when we look back politically, we have a great deal more information with which to fill in the overall picture. Like Mayor Guiliani during 9/11, Governor Cuomo was a much-needed voice filling either the crushing silence or countermanding the utter nonsense coming from the White House. It took us time to be able to look back and see that he wasn’t quite the saint, to say the least, that we had come to think of him as. Then the White House, itself – wow, do we know more now than we did!

What were some ideas that were important for you to share in this book?

The main one was that we will get through this. There will be a time when it is in the past and we will have survived it. We are a resilient species, we always seem to find a way. We also have been through periods of plague countless times over our history, we’ve just forgotten. I hope that at the end of all of this we can discover that there is far more that unites us than there is that divides us.

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

I am working on a book about my father’s side of the family. I am writing it in much the same way that I did the posts that became HOLD, PLEASE. I publish them on Facebook and on Substack (https://richardhester.substack.com). I find that having a series of mini-deadlines keeps me working. At the moment, I am in Europe following in the footsteps my father took during World War II. It’s been a fascinating experience getting to know him through his letters home and through the writing he did about it after the fact. I don’t have any real sense of how long it’s going to take to finish!!

Author Links: Facebook | Website | Instagram

A Broadway Stage Manager’s pandemic memoir! Winner of the 2022 International Impact Book Award Winner and the 2022 Pinnacle Book Achievement Award!

March 12, 2020
Last night, after weeks of downplaying and ridiculing the virus, we were finally told by our President, that it is, in fact, serious…

And so, it began. Broadway shut down. Instead of sitting in a darkened theatre every night watching Jersey Boys, Richard Hester, like many other people, found himself sitting on his sofa glued to the news. As the days unfolded, turning into weeks, then months, he experienced the profound seismic shift of that tumultuous year. The virus spread, infecting millions. We lost friends and family. Our economies shut down. Our jobs either stopped or changed in radical ways. The senseless murder of George Floyd forced us to take a hard look at who we are and how we treat each other. The Presidential election, drove the country so far apart that it threatened to destroy Democracy, itself.

Hold, Please: Stage Managing A Pandemic chronicles it all from the particular point of view of a career Broadway stage manager living in Manhattan. Part journal, part blog, these essays attempted to make sense of the crisis and what it was doing to us. By the end, everything had changed. What follows is a journey through one of the most fascinating periods in both our cultural and our personal histories. Written with humor and compassion, Hold, Please provides a unique perspective on this time and delivers the most important lesson of all – Hope.

“I’ve watched Richard create order out of chaos for years, so it comes as no surprise when he was able to do it again with these beautiful posts. Together they create a powerful reminder of where we’ve been as well as a thoughtful and compassionate guide for moving ahead.” – Bernadette Peters

“It is no surprise to me that Richard Hester is an exquisite companion as he insightfully guides us on the journey through the strange isolation of that endless pandemic. The Elizabethan theatre was frequently shut down because of the Black Death, and I’ve often tried to imagine how the players of that time managed to cope with the stress. Richard’s book makes it vividly clear.” – Des McAnuff, Director

“I am so grateful that Richard wrote all of this down so that I don’t have to remember it myself.” – Patti LuPone

“Thank you for taking my suggestion seriously (Imaa need you to file these and publish a book good sir.) because we are all better for it.” – Ariana DeBose

“Richard Hester is a saint as far as I’m concerned. Anything he writes I would read, however I haven’t had the time to read his book yet as my first grandchild was just born. As soon as I stop changing diapers, Richard’s book is the first thing I’m reading!” – Mandy Patinkin

“I have always been in awe of Richard Hester’s gift as a storyteller. He has beautifully crafted a diary that reminds us of the journey we have been on for the past two years, and with this book given us the courage to carry on with hope and faith.” – Sergio Trujillo – Director/Choreographer

“(Hester) describes such experiences in a warm, conversational tone in a book in which his lyrical writing about the natural world adds dimension to humorous stories about working—and not working—from home….Hester interweaves descriptions of living through Covid-19 with stories of his colorful theatrical career…” – Kirkus Reviews

Casualties and Survivors

Casualties & Survivors takes this stance: life cannot be seen as black and white, as every situation always has gray areas. One could argue that there will always be casualties and survivors, whether the loss of a friendship or an opportunity. However, there are times when people die, leaving behind the survivors, who must endure the loss.

In a series of short stories, Len Joy takes the reader on a journey of lost love, opportunities, and coping with the void of someone no longer around. While there is a backdrop of tragedy and melancholy to each tale, each story presents new opportunities for the survivors, though not always in the way they expect. You’ll encounter tales of an artist coping with the loss of his lifelong love, only to experience another side of this journey with a surprising twist. Another tale follows how a couple develops a relationship over a simple object, a trash can.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and each story’s unique plot and character dilemmas. While some of the stories were shorter than others, I mainly found them more gut-punching and vivid, as they quickly built momentum and anticipation of what was to come. Other stories were a bit longer, which allowed for more character and setting descriptions, leaving a strong visual impression of well-crafted scenes, such as a Christmas tree lot, the naked winter yoga, and an artist’s sparsely furnished apartment. Len Joy creates lasting moments that stay behind with the reader for a fantastic reading experience.

Len Joy’s writing style is clear and concise, which makes for easy, enjoyable reading. The recurring message in Joy’s stories is gut-wrenching, realistic, reassuring, and comforting. The author leaves the reader curious about each character’s future and what’s in store for them. While, at times, the author uses explicit language in some scenes, fans of short stories will enjoy the loosely threaded stories and how they interact with each other throughout the book. 

Pages: 178 | ASIN: B0B92QYYYV

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Life Between Moments

Life Between Moments, by Phil Rosen, is a collection of captivating short fiction stories with New York City at the center of it all. The stories come from the inspiration the author got while living in the big apple and watching people. Each story is a small snippet of what the author observed, heard, and even lived through. Each short story contains a different theme and character, making this a pleasantly unpredictable read. Because it would be difficult to find one thing they have in common to connect their stories, the author has provided a short read to tell their experience.

Rosen’s short stories immerse the reader in the middle of the characters’ lives without describing or explaining who they are. I enjoyed this because it adds a bit of mystery to the characters, and it made me want to know more about them. The author also leaves the short story’s ending vague, allowing readers to create their own conclusion and make their own assumptions as to what happened. Some of the stories had an ending that shocked me or had a twist that I did not expect, which showcases the authors brilliant writing style. I appreciated each story’s development, especially since the author did not always get the full story when people watching, so he took what he observed, added more context, and made his own story. Rosen creatively eases the reader into drama-filled stories that are both dreams and reality.

Life Between Moments by Phil Rosen is an unpredictable and entertaining book of short stories that will keep readers intrigued until the end. I recommend this collection to anyone looking for captivating short stories that can be easily read throughout your busy day.

Pages: 141 | ASIN : B0B8YCQPS6

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Local Lives in a Global Pandemic

Local Lives in a Global Pandemic is a thought-provoking compilation of stories conveying the real-life experiences of the residents of North Central Florida. Readers get an honest look at what different residents of Florida experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. The book includes interviews from an array of people, from a local inmate, to medical personnel, a retired resident and many more. Readers also see how these resident dealt with the loss of loved ones due to COVID-19, showing just how different our experiences were during the peak of the pandemic.

This illuminating memoir is a powerful read that took me on an emotional rollercoaster since we are all still recuperating from the pandemic. During the lockdown many of us felt alone, but reading this book showed me that we were all going through the isolation together. I enjoyed reading about the medical personnel and their thoughts and experiences since they were at the front line witnessing the affects of COVID-19 and putting their lives at risk. While some people finally found the time to take a break and reconnect with themselves, others were unfortunately separated from their friends and families and some even lost the lives of their loved ones. The constant state of isolation and agony was mutual and this book has preserved that struggle not only for the victims and survivors to read, but for future generations as well.

This is an evocative and relevant collection of true stories that will help readers work through the grief brought on by COVID-19 and sympathize with other individuals who suffered in different ways. Eloquent, emotional and elevating this is a collection of stories that must be told, should be heard, and opens your eyes to the kaleidoscope of pain that the pandemic brought to our lives. While this can be deeply emotional the stories also let us know that we are not alone, even when it feels like it.

Pages: 247 | ASIN: B09JYP7GWZ

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