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Driven (The Legacy Series Book 1)

Driven (The Legacy Series Book 1) by [Will Hallewell]

Driven by Will Hallwell is the first novel in The Legacy Series. Set in a small US town, the young adult novel uses sports to explore themes and life lessons. Hallewell’s descriptions of the small town are detailed. He describes the physical and geographical aspects of the town, such as the creek, and the quaintness of the village with vividness. Hallewell also describes the makeup of the population and the divide among the community. The setting of Falls Creek is integral to the story, and Hallewell sets the scene for the novel well.

The main character in Driven is Gabe “Honus” Wagner, a senior at Falls Creek High school. Gabe is a star baseball player, but feels he is being held back by the coach who appears to be favoring another student – whose father makes significant financial contributions to the school and other community ventures. This student – Nate Shaw also has a significant role in the novel. Both of these characters are well defined by their speech and actions, as well as physical descriptions, and because of this the characters feel real as well as authentic. Both of these characters are supported by a host of intriguing minor characters, that either side with Gabe or the Shaw’s. The characters are were grounded and I found that it was easy to differentiate between them.

Throughout the novel Gabe repeats the mantra “no hate in the heart”. It was given to him by his coach, and this mantra helps Gabe reflect on situations and ensure he doesn’t react in a hateful way. I thought that these were fantastic lessons for a teenager who encounters some difficult situations. I really appreciated that this young adult novel delivers some thoughtful ideas on morality; this sets it apart from other young adult novels out recently. The novel also delves into themes of depression and corruption; heavy issues but they are handled deftly. Hallewell broaches the theme of depression through Gabe’s father. Having recently lost his job, he slowly sinks into a pattern of drinking and sleeping and losing sight of his goals and his self-esteem. Driven shows the effect this has on both the person themselves, and other family members. The novel also delves into the age old question of money – can it truly make us happy? All of these ideas are explore in a thoughtful and engaging way, with family and sports as the backdrop.

Driven is easy to read and is consistently entertaining. I really enjoyed how Driven uses relatable characters to explore serious themes such as loyalty, depression, and the power of money are addressed. This is a novel that will teach you something while it’s entertaining you.

Pages: 91 | ASIN: B08KRKVG1M

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First Steps to Fly Fishing

First Steps to Fly Fishing: The 1924 Classic Updated for Today by [Michael Temple, Kris Neely]

Nothing is as great as learning a little history about something before getting to the main content in the book. First Steps to Fly Fishing takes us back to 200 B.C., describing fly fishing as one of the most challenging, artistic and aesthetic forms of fishing. Their description of fly fishing make it look like an art where one has to use special techniques. Fly fishing may not be a new method of fishing, but fishermen today keep looking for ways to make it appear sophisticated. When writing about this kind of fishing between the years 1500 and 1800, the authors quote iconic figures in history, scholars and historians who have written about fly fishing. The narratives in the book are supported by historical writings and documents that are still used for reference today.

To help the readers familiarize with the main subject in First Steps to Fly Fishing, the authors include fun facts, historical evidence along with explaining the importance of fly fishing. The first chapter of the book is about rods, reels, line and other equipment. One good thing about this book is that the authors don’t just mention the equipment; they go into detail, talking about the pros of using the mentioned equipment, the challenges fishermen faced and how some equipment have evolved. The content in the book is evergreen. First Steps to Fly Fishing makes one appreciate antique things and classics.

Do you want to know how to fish like an expert? Is fishing a hobby that you want to develop? Do you want to learn about different fishing styles and how significant they are? Then this is the book that you need. The chapters on how to fish, where to fish and when to fish are eye opening and make fishing feel like the fun an enjoyable activity that it is. Authors Michael Temple and Kris Neely’s tone in the book is encouraging. Their words are stirring and give one the drive to not only keep on fishing but to also engage in other hobbies and activities that they love. One can read the enthusiasm in the author’s text and the love they have for fishing.

There are also stories in the book that have a personal touch, allowing readers to connect with the authors on a deeper level. First Steps to Fly Fishing is an illuminating instructional guide that provides fantastic tips and pointers about sports fishing, and how to go about implementing the concepts you have learned. First Steps to Fly Fishing provides a lot of great advice that is easy to understand and actionable. Perfect for anyone headed for the great outdoors.

Pages: 138 | ASIN: B08946S6ZZ

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Those Characters Are Alive

Mike DeLucia
Mike DeLucia Author Interview

Being Brothers is a compelling coming of age story following two brothers growing up in the Bronx during the 70’s. What were some sources that informed this novels development?

I grew up in the Bronx during that time period, played in the Little League, and had an older brother, and so I enjoyed writing this book because I was able to revisit those times. I didn’t know it, but they were the best of times and with the birth of cell phones, became extinct.

I enjoyed the story within a story idea and felt like it really drew me in. What was the inspiration behind this idea?

I write all of my stories as screenplays first and then I create the novel and since I loved the idea of Jack narrating about his younger self, Jackie, I didn’t want to lose that voice. No matter how many ways I thought of it, it would have ruined the ending and that narration if I turned it into a novel. I got the idea of having Mark Marino, a screenwriter, looking over his screenplay so the reader would be following the journey with him. It worked.

Mark and Jackie were characters that felt authentic and relatable. Did you plan their character development before writing or did it develop organically while writing?

Since I lived those days and absolutely loved growing up in The Bronx, those characters are alive inside of me. I didn’t plan them out, it was an organic approach. I also went to Catholic school and endured that brutal educational style. I only scratched the surface of that reality. If I wrote the darker side of that it would have added a color to the book that would have been a distraction to the mood I was trying to establish.

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

I am currently rewriting the film version of Being Brothers, as it was picked up by a production company and is in development, but what I stopped working on is a new baseball story that’s been in my head for roughly 40 years. It has really interesting characters with back stories so it can easily become a trilogy. I’m creating a thorough outline with the important dialog included and I am halfway through. Like I said, I write the film first, so once I write the film, I will start on the novel and it will be the same story, but very different. I hope that I’ll have the novel out within the next 18 months.

Author Links: Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Siblings…
Our first friends. Our first enemies.
Our past. Our present.

From the multi-award-winning author of MADNESS:The Man Who Changed Basketball comes another inspiring novel about Friends, Family… and Baseball.

The Bronx, New York, 1972

BEING BROTHERS is a story, within a story, within a story, sparked by the fortuitous, life-changing epiphany of Mark Marino, a content middle-aged man who discovers an untapped well of repressed, unrealized dreams.

Another character, Jack Amato, frequently revisits the Neighborhood to ground himself by the sights, smells and memories of the past, through the coming-of-age experiences of Jackie, the spacey, slightly awkward, yet lovable version of his younger self who grew up in the Bronx in the 1970s — a time of street games, young love, best friends, little league, mean teachers, and the love/hate, friend/enemy dynamics of sibling rivalry.

While Mark, Jack, and Jackie exist in separate worlds, they are all connected by the outcome of Mark’s serendipitous moment.

BEING BROTHERS takes the reader on a journey back in time, to a much simpler era, and examines the experiences of family, friendship, life lessons, and the profound impact of our past.

For those who lived it, enjoy the story of your past, and for those who didn’t, sit down, get comfortable, and enjoy the ride.

BEING BROTHERS

BEING BROTHERS by [Mike DeLucia]

If you’re looking for a heartfelt coming of age story, you should definitely read Mike DeLucia’s Being Brothers. This book takes readers through the life of Jackie, an 11-year old boy growing up in the Bronx in the 70s. It specifically focuses on his relationship with his brother Sal and how their mutual love for baseball brought them together.

The fact that the brothers’ story is told as a screenplay written by Mark Marino, a writer who digs into his own life to birth the character that is Jackie, makes it even more intriguing. The story within a story narrative allows us to be in a unique position where we are both an insider and an outsider, creating an intimacy that is hard to replicate.

Moreover, the author’s knowledge of baseball is so vast that the game scenes could be mistaken for real-life events. But if there is something that truly warms the heart, it is the part of the story where Jackie realizes that despite appearances, his brother always had his back, from birth in fact. Needless to say, this story has a strong family theme to it, with the love and comfort of Jackie’s being at the foundation of the narrative.

The book also succeeds in bringing to life the realities of male bonding and friendships, especially those formed in childhood. With the 70s as a backdrop, it almost feels like this narrative was set in simpler, sweeter times. The music titles the author adds to his scenes also add a subtle realism to them.

Honestly, the only minor thing I could complain about would be that sometimes the jump from scene dialogue to prose can be disorienting especially when Jackie is in dialogue. The jump between Jackie talking in the first person and then referring to himself in the third person is a little odd.

Otherwise, Being Brothers is extremely well written and easy to read. Moreover, the perspective of Mark Marino adds a layer of reality that many writers can relate to. For instance, when he catches his own grammatical errors and talks about all the rules that govern writing, he pulls any writer in. Ultimately, the author has done a great job at making us care about Mark and Jackie and even clearly see the Jackie in Mark.

Being Brothers is an thoroughly entertaining story that expertly integrates sports in a compelling coming of age story with a literary prowess that only author Mike DeLucia can pull off.

Pages: 162 | ASIN: B08LGJB71H

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We Shared a Destiny

Mike Murphey
Mike Murphey Author Interview

Section Roads follows three friends who go back to their home town after forty years and are forced to confront a bloody secret. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?

Section Roads has many biographical elements that guided its evolution. A few weeks after graduating from high school, I left home to attend summer session at New Mexico State University, leaving my high school girlfriend behind. Despite our separation, I felt we shared a destiny so we would eventually be together. We didn’t, we weren’t and are both probably better off for it. We remain friends, and I had her blessing to tell this story. Anyway, during that lonely summer, I read a coming-of-age book by New Mexico author Richard Bradford called Red Sky at Morning. I decided then that if I could ever write a book, I’d write one like that.

I enjoyed the development of each character and their evolution into adulthood. What were some driving ideals behind their character development?

My protagonists aren’t tough guys. They are more likely to be the guys getting beaten up by tough guys. People who must cope with the world by overcoming fear and using their wits are far more interesting than people who get by on physical superiority. That’s where Cullen comes from. Buddy, of course, is a tough guy. But he’s also has a curios intellectuality that leads him to reject the tough guy culture. I grew up among strong women and share my life with a strong woman, so my female protagonists, like Shelby and Lori, are strong women.

The mystery at the heart of this story was riveting. Did you plan it before writing or did it develop organically while writing?

I don’t know how my books are going to end when I start writing. Of course, I had a vague idea of how the mystery would play out. But the specifics emerged as I got to know the characters.

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

The second book in my Physics, Lust and Greed series about time travel—Wasting Time–came out October 1. The third book—Killing Time—is waiting in the wings. My first non-fiction book, We Never Knew Just What it Was… the Story of the Chad Mitchell Trio is also awaiting publication. It focuses on the 60’s era of folk music.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

When attorney Cullen Molloy attends his fortieth high school reunion, he doesn’t expect to be defending childhood friends against charges of murder…

In a small town on the high plains of Eastern New Mexico, life and culture are shaped by the farm roads defining the 640-acre sections of land homesteaders claimed at the turn of the Twentieth Century. Cullen and Shelby Blaine explore first love along these section roads during the 1960’s, forging a life-long emotional bond.

As junior high school band nerds, Cullen and Shelby fall under the protection of football player and loner, Buddy Boyd. During their sophomore year of high school, Buddy is charged with killing a classmate and is confined to a youth correctional facility. When he returns to town facing the prospect of imprisonment as an adult, Cullen becomes Buddy’s protector.

The unsolved case haunts the three friends into adulthood, and it isn’t until their fortieth reunion, that they’re forced to revisit that horrible night. When a new killing takes place, Cullen, Shelby and Buddy find themselves reliving the nightmare.

Murder is an easy thing to hide along old country section roads.

The Touring Pro: A Person of Interest

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The Touring Pro: A Person of Interest by Frederick L Malphurs is a crime and investigation novel following the life of a golf Player, Mickey.  A young and resilient golf player, Mickey finds himself in the middle of an investigation following the murder of his caddy, Dexter. Mickey’s quiet life is disrupted the moment two detectives, Detective Sergeant Samuel Diaz and Detective Bruce Bunnell knock on his door.  Mickey’s life is about to change forever and life as he knows it takes an unexpected turn.

Frederick L. Malphurs has done an impressive job in creating vivid imagery of the events in theis riveting book. Every detail, every emotion, and every sentiment is captured clearly with the right choice of words and the readers cannot help but feel as if they are in the same room with the characters. Although the novel is a crime and investigative narrative, the language used is not limited to that kind of setting.

The first chapters of the book are a bit slow as the reader is presented with back and forth questioning of the two detectives.  There is not much action or plot development to keep the readers hooked. But don’t let this deter you as the author dives into the character’s backstories so that the rest of the book moves at a much faster pace.

I loved how Mickey’s story made me question most of the things we do on daily basis. At the end of the book, the readers have a whole new perspective. So many emotions are explored in this book; joy, sadness, fear, anxiety, anger, all delivered with a dash of humor and intrigue.

The Touring Pro: A Person of Interest is an engaging whodunit’ type of story that is held up by interesting characters and pushed forward by a compelling mystery.

Pages: 797

          

Amen and Amen

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

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A Different Type of Diversity

Kris Condi
Kris Condi Author Interview

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.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Website

Lefty Saves the Day is the second of six in the Don’t Call Me Lefty series. When a class pizza party depends upon winning a ball game Gracie Carter wants no part of it. Gracie’s parents think it is a great idea for Gracie to get involved. Gracie’s dad buys her a left-handed mitt and teaches Gracie how to throw a ball.
A group of Gracie’s classmates join the Carter’s play ball. Gracie hopes for rain. The surprise was Gracie could throw a ball but that’s all. She could not bat especially when the pitchers are all right-handed.
The day of the game arrived, and the sun was shining. Gracie wanted to pitch but her class already had a pitcher. She also did not want to bat. Then there was her nemesis, Scott Collins, who referred to her as trouble.
Gracie was not sure why teams switched places. Then, it was her turn and she felt like throwing up. She saw a relief pitcher warming up before going to the mound.
“I got this,” Gracie said.
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