Amen and Amen by Gene Vickers is a simple but enchanting story set between the backwoods of Blairsville in northern Georgia and the elegant suburbs on its hilltop. While abject poverty and limited opportunities have kept one side of society barely scraping by, the other half lead extravagant lives filled with imported cars and vacation homes overseas. Long-buried secrets and animosity steeped in classism have divided the town for generations yet all that will start to change when the wealthiest boy in school befriends one of the poorest girls in the county. Their unlikely relationship will inspire a revolution throughout their town, leading to well-drawn lines in the sand becoming blurred as God and humanity intervene.
At its core, the book focuses on faith, family and football, first and foremost, and how those factors can come together to unite those who would be torn apart otherwise. Prepare to get swept away by interweaving tales that peer into the lives of the disenfranchised and the rich that prove that maybe the two have more in common than expected at a glance. Follow two disadvantaged adolescents in a heart-warming underdog story who join the elitist ranks of the football team in a move that upsets long-established social dynamics, for better or worse. Out on the gridiron, economics hardly even matter as the playing field is leveled to allow everyone’s God-given talent to shine through whether they reside in a trailer park or a mansion. Enemies can become brothers just as school friends can become lovers as long as everyone grows in grace and understanding.
Still, not everyone is without their faults and prejudices and, since the ages of old, the sins of the father can and certainly do come back to haunt his children so it’s easy to get caught up in the quaint town’s gossip mill and endless drama. Sinners and their descendants alike try throughout to reconcile with their past and present misdeeds from clandestine backroom dealings to unplanned pregnancies with only a hope and a prayer. However, with God’s eternal love comes forgiveness, culminating in a story brimming with vibrant characters, a touch of colorful language, and a whole lot of soul.
Amen and Amen is a twist on the classic boy-meets-girl theme yet the rags-to-riches theme can become repetitive. Some characters can feel one-dimensional at times as they heel-turn their previous convictions seemingly through faith alone and not necessarily hard work. Perhaps it just goes to show that humans are flawed and still God forgives all.
Read Amen and Amen if you want a feel-good Christian story filled with patriotic characters who, through their faith, prevail no matter what comes their way.
Pages: 357 | ASIN: B08DL6FB5P
Lefty Saves the Day follows Gracie as she tries to overcome her anxiety about an upcoming baseball game. What was the inspiration for the setup to this lovely children’s story?
From a personal experience, the first time I played baseball someone put the bat in my right hand. I swung and missed each time. Then, I switched hands, which felt natural to me. I swung. The bat made contact with the ball. I was told to run. I made it to the make-shift base which was a sweatshirt. I am left-handed. Ruth Craver, the illustrator, is left-handed. Neither of us had read much literature about being left-handed.
Gracie is presented with some unique challenges for being left handed. Why was this an important topic for you to discuss?
There are so many different approaches and mannerisms left-handed people adapt to such as reading the print on a pen (upside down if you hold in your left hand), measuring cups, rulers, and wall-fastened pencil sharpeners to name a few. Being left-handed is a different type of diversity and one that comes with some challenges but can be accomplished with awareness.
The art in this book is cute and lively. What was the art collaboration like with Ruth Craver?
Ruth and I have known each other for over twenty years. Ruth is a very creative illustrator. Our first work together was in N Is For Noah, then with the debut Lefty novel, Don’t Call me Lefty. We work well together even though distance makes it rare to discuss the books in person. We go over all of the artwork and placement of Ruth’s illustrations within the book. I really appreciate her timeliness, gift, and dedication.
Lefty Saves the Day is the second book in your Don’t Call Me Lefty series. What can readers expect from book three in the series?
Gracie Carter will address other challenges for being left-handed. The next few books in the series are a bit more humorous and of course, Scott and Gracie bump elbows. The exact book from the remaining four has not been determined so the precise lefty challenge cannot be revealed.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: author, author interview, baseball, book, book review, bookblogger, children, childrens book, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, inspirational, kids, kids book, kindle, kobo, kris condi, Lefty Saves the Day, literature, nook, parent, picture book, read, reader, reading, sports, story, teacher, writer, writing
Lefty Saves the Day is an inspiring children’s picture book that teaches children to believe in them-self while also learning about baseball. School comes with all sorts of challenges, even more for those that are left handed. When her teacher tells the class they’re going to be playing baseball Gracie starts to get nervous because she doesn’t know a lot about baseball. This sets off a series of events that will leave readers better educated on the sport of baseball, how the game is played, and the importance of participation and trying even when you think you can’t win.
Dr. Kris Condi is able to deliver some very important life lessons through effective story telling and simple language. Gracie faces challenges that many kids can relate to, but with a unique twist of being left handed. If your child is left handed, timid or nervous about something then this would be a great book to open up a conversation about the subject. The art that accompanies just about every other page are hand drawn and charming. With some challenging words sprinkled throughout the book I think this would be suitable for new readers that are aided by their parents. Lefty Saves the Day is a delightful story with a focus on challenges left handed kids face but remains relatable to all.
Pages: 32 | ASIN: B0861QZ335
Tags: author, baseball, book, book review, bookblogger, children, childrens book, ebook, education, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, kids, kids book, kindle, kobo, kris condi, Lefty Saves the Day, literature, nook, novel, parent, picture book, read, reader, reading, ruth craver, sports, story, teacher, writer, writing
Just Finish is your inspirational journey from being overweight to running an ultra-marathon. What inspired you to capture this amazing story in a memoir?
A few things inspired me:
- I had told my story to people in small chunks, and some said I should tell my story in a book, I laughed them off.
- During runs I listen to audio books. I listen to Ira Rainy’s Fat Man to Green Man and Still Not Bionic and Rich Roll’s Finding Ultra. Their story started with health scares and and ended with ultra’s. I thought their story was like my story. The biggest issue was their story was from an elite athlete perspective, going on to run several Ultra’s. My story is from a grassroots running perspective which seems to have resonated with people who have or are about to start their running journey.
- Writing a book also was something I wanted my kids to have when I am gone. More of a legacy piece. They are only 10 and 13 now but someday they may attempt a marathon. Who knows?
What was the moment for you where you realized you had to make a change in your life?
It was the moment the doctor said I had a fatty liver. A fatty liver could have lead to many other medical issues. I started to reflect and tell myself, I want to see my kids graduate, I want to walk my daughter down the aisle, I wanted to grow old with my wife. If I didn’t do something I may not be able to do any of that.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone who tells themselves that they just can’t do it?
DO NOT WAIT FOR A MEDICAL EMERGENCY to start you fitness journey. Take care of yourself be active, be a roll model for your kids or family. The only person who who can make that change is you. Do it for yourself and reap the benefits will surprise you.
What is one thing you see differently in life now that you’ve trained and finished a marathon?
It may sound cliche but the second I crossed the finish line of the marathon, I knew, if I set my mind to it I could do anything. The idea of ME training for, starting and ultimately finishing a marathon was, as I said in the book about as far fetched as Steven Spielberg making my book into a movie and it winning an Oscar.
My book is a true story that follows my journey from sitting on a lumpy futon, overweight, out of shape and picking Pringle shards out of my navel, to me running a 50K ultra-marathon. It’s not a new story it’s just told from the perspective of a “grassroots runner” who just wanted to finish the races I entered.
It’s about my struggles, my achievements, the barriers, the pain, the people I met and how I pushed myself to the brink while trying to achieve things I never thought possible.
My story is not a fat-to-fit story, it’s a fat-to-fat story; I found out too late in my journey that running miles and miles without considering other factors was not necessarily the best way to lose weight, but the benefits of my running journey transcended what the scales told me every Monday morning.
My story may not appeal to the elite runner, as there will be no mention of 6- to 8-minute miles, finishing in the top ten, or any Olympic qualifications. My story is more for the wannabe runner, the runner who is just starting out and the runner who feels more comfortable running 14- to 18-minute miles; the runner who will check the time of the previous year’s race results to see what the slowest time was before they enter; the runner who has to phone the race organiser to see if there is a cut off time in the longer races; or the runner who will walk just out of view of the people at the finish, then turn on the jets for the last 100-metre sprint finish. All things I have done during my running journey (and still do).
Murder at First Pitch follows Madeline and her pursuit to clear her brothers name after he’s accused of murder. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?
As with most cozy mysteries, there is some sort of incident that directly affects the main character and their choices. I knew I wanted to make it a family connection since the ballpark and family business was the center of the book. I also think it gave Madeline a way to realize just how much the ballpark and the team were important to her.
Madeline is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character?
Family is one of the most important things in Madeline’s life. Even after thinking she was going to make a career outside of the family baseball business and having to rethink things, she realizes that her place is with her family. The team had been such a large fixture in her life, and by returning, she becomes closer to her family and friends. Her career is still important to her, but she realizes that she needs both the career and her ballpark family in order to be happy.
Why did you want to write this story, and series, within the baseball culture?
I’m first and foremost a huge Boston Red Sox fan. I’m a baseball person through and through. When I was beginning my journey to be a mystery writer, I thought about all the things I enjoyed, and what I would be most interested in staging some. I hit on baseball (no pun intended) as the perfect location. There are so many sports fans who aren’t represented currently in the cozy mystery market, so I wanted to share my baseball love.
It’s a love letter to my Grandpa Asselin, who got me into baseball on the radio many summers and to my Grandma Asselin who was obsessed with mysteries.
This is the first book in your Ball Park Mystery series. What can readers expect in book two?
Book Two will continue to explore Madeline’s new job and the ballpark events. The readers will visit another fictional ballpark in Salem, MA and meet more people from the neighborhood. I hope to introduce more real-life Abington businesses and residents in honor of my hometown. Madeline and Davis will continue to grow closer, and of course, another set of crimes. Stay tuned!
32-year-old Madeline Boucher’s Grandfather instilled a love in the Boston Red Sox into her from an early age and increased that love by purchasing a local Independent League Baseball team, the Abington Armadillos.
After losing her corporate job in Boston, Madeline realizes her best option is to join the family baseball business. As the new “Social Media Director” for the team, Madeline attends her first business function and witnesses an argument between her brother Ben, and a strange man.
A few days later when walking the ballpark during her early morning hours, she finds the body of a man beaten to death with a baseball bat in the Visitor’s Dugout. It was the man her brother was arguing with at the party. Madeline is concerned that her brother would be considered a suspect. Through the local Detectives and Davis – the head of security for the ballpark she learns the victim is Christopher Dailey, a local baseball scout and prior felon.
When her brother is arrested and taken to the police station, she realizes she needs to figure out who the real culprit is, so her brother doesn’t take the fall for something she knows he didn’t do.
Sean Kachmarski was overweight and out of shape. He would laze around his couch but when he got off it, he really got off it. He got up and ran. Not very quickly but his commitment despite not being an athlete was impressive. This is a story of one regular everyday man overcoming his personal limitations to do something wonderful, impressive and to see things through.
This is not a motivational story for the overachiever, the one who wins everything. It is a motivational story for the average person. The person who tries to achieve something by sheer will. It is a story of the trials and tribulations that come with committing to something and the urge to quit becomes so strong that you almost choke from it.
Sean Kachmarski has bared all in this inspirational book. He has let the reader see his whole journey. The bad, the ugly and the fortunate. The candid narration of his story from the futon to the lineup is not only inspiring; it is a kick in the butt for anyone who may be stuck in a rut.
Regular folks need motivational stories from other regular folks. Imagine an overweight unfit person being told how they can run a marathon by a seasoned athlete. If you were the overweight person, you would not believe it.
The way Sean tells this story makes it relatable. He makes his story interesting by relating personal stories with simple language. The story is relatable but its unique perspective gives the reader a heartfelt literary experience.
Sean Kachmarski delivers a down to earth story about the human spirit and the will to change yourself. By the end of the book, you really will know you can. You will no longer doubt your ability. His positivity is infectious and something I admired. This is a book you will both enjoy and benefit from.
Pages: 205 | ASIN: B084BVCDD2
A Players Path follows a young athlete as he struggles to live up to his fathers dream after he passes away. What were some of your driving motivations while writing this book?
Well, I was asked by my publisher to write a sports-themed YA novel. And I was already planning on writing a story that involves kidney donation. I myself am a living kidney donor so this topic means a lot to me.
Andy is an interesting and well developed character. What were some ideas that drove his character development throughout the novel?
I basically tried to remember myself as a teen and how I may have talked or reacted to certain situations and I let the character develop himself during the writing.
This book dealt with issues like grief and loss. What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
Like I mentioned before, I’m a living donor, I donated my kidney back in 2012, so organ donation and awareness is big to me. I wanted to bring that awareness while hopefully bringing an entertaining story to the reader.
What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m working on a bunch of projects but one of them is a time-traveling story that involves a historical event. I’m pretty excited about this story and as of now, there is no release date.
Fourteen-year-old football phenom Andy McDonald was supposed to dominate high school football. Yet, just before the school year started, Andy’s family suffered a tragedy. His father, Jerry McDonald, was involved in a car crash on his way home from work… He did not make it.
The doctor in charge of organ transplants, Doctor Yang, wanted to transplant Jerry’s kidneys into two people who needed a kidney. Since Jerry registered himself as an organ donor, this was possible. Before taking Jerry’s kidneys, Doctor Yang wanted to get approval from the family. Andy’s mother wanted her son to make the final decision. Now facing a decision that would confirm the loss of his father (in his mind), Andy would soon find out this decision would not be the biggest of his life…
The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.
Gold Award Winners
Cuttle: A Novel by Chelsea Britain
Silver Award Winners
Posted in Literary Titan Book Award
Tags: action, adventure, author, author award, book, book award, book review, bookblogger, childrens book, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, historical, kindle, kobo, literary award, Literary Titan Book Award, literature, military, mystery, nonfiction, nook, novel, picture book, poetry, read, reader, reading, romance, science fiction, sports, story, suspense, thriller, war, writer, writing