The Path Taken: A Father and Sons Journey to Santiago de Compostella by H. M. Rodriguez is an awe-inspiring story that is filled with wisdom, enlightenment, and history. Rodriguez recounts his time trekking the Camino Frances with his son Simon as they immerse themselves in the spiritually enriched offerings of the journey.
Inspiring is the first word that comes to mind after reading this memoir! Rodriguez’s interpretation of the world around him is heartwarming, even when he discusses upsetting subjects. His accounts of the stories’ he heard while on the trek were my favorite parts.
There were times where I did not agree with some of Rodriguez’s sentiments, but I understood the source from which they came. I think that is an important lesson to be learned from this book. We must try to understand others even when we disagree with them.
Despite the religious undertones, there is something for everyone to take away. You will feel wiser and more thoughtful after reading the book. Although Rodriguez has a simplistic writing style, he makes you think long and hard about life and how you live it. There was more than one occasion where I put the book down to reflect for a few minutes on my own life.
It is hard to critique someone’s personal story, so this is why I’m telling you how the book affected me and less about how I think of the story itself. The Path Taken: A Father and Sons Journey to Santiago de Compostella is a short but thought-provoking travel memoir that I enjoyed reading.
Pages: 77 | ASIN: B08L8B7J4T
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A tour of the world’s top cocktail destinations, featuring insider info and food-and-drink recipes that will add thrilling new flavors and global flair to your everyday entertaining.
World traveler and drinks writer André Darlington will be your tour guide through more than forty of the globe’s most vibrant cocktail locales. Each city stop is packed with insider intel on the current scene, local history, easy food-and-drink recipes, and tasting notes. This sloshy voyage includes: Amsterdam, Dublin, London, Madrid, Stockholm, Cape Town, Tangier, Delhi, Singapore, Beirut, Tokyo, Bogotá, Havana, New Orleans, São Paulo, Toronto, Sydney, and many more!
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D.C. Head’s The Little Handbook for Navigationally Challenged Cidiots is a reminder that one does not have to take a complex book to gain knowledge from reading. D.C. Head writes with a light touch. The text used in the book is easy to understand and the narration is entertaining. The author wrote a convenient driver’s handbook for drivers who are not confident on roads and those that want to learn the behavior of various motorists. The book is not only great for new drivers but also experienced drivers who have been on the road for decades.
Hilariously, the author highlights the sins committed by motorists on the road. If you are an impatient driver, some of these motorists will get to you. The author however makes some of these mistakes seem not too serious to get one angry. While reading, you get to learn about different types of drivers; the slow drivers, drivers who disregard traffic rules, those that use non-roadworthy vehicles, and those that drive as if they own the whole lane among others. The frustrations on the road can be too much for someone who is easily angered. While reading this book, however, one learns that it is human to make some mistakes and that they should not warrant much anger. It is also important to consider other road users while traveling as a simple mistake can be fatal.
I like how the author lays down the lessons she wants the reader to take note of. The author is a natural writer and will have you enjoying her stories with little effort. I appreciate how the author emphasizes certain points for road users. Using humor, D.C. Head writes about being a decent driver while minding others. The road is no place to have unnecessary fun as everyone is in a rush to get to their destination. Her attention to detail is another great thing about the author. She writes about the most minute things on the road, things that sometimes go unnoticed by both pedestrians and drivers. Usage of the term cidiots was not only funny to me but also a distinct way to make points.
The author’s silly takes are not the only thing entertaining about this book. The illustrations are amazing too. They add color and spice up the content in the book. Every illustration has a unique object that gets one staring for minutes. The drawings are an amazing way of passing a message and also showcasing how talented illustrators are. The quiz at the end of the book was a great concept. Getting to answer the simple questions was a pleasant activity and made the book even more enjoyable. If you need a quick refresher course as a driver, then The Little Handbook for Navigationally Challenged Cidiots is the book for you.
Pages: 106 | ISBN: 1304867277
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Have you ever wanted to pick up and go? Just take a trip, be spontaneous, and not look back? Sometimes, that’s precisely what you need to do, and it can change your life. Nathan Pettijohn decides to take a trip and travels with his faithful German Shepard named Hafa. Though a few people join him on the way, only Hafa is with him the entire time. He uses this time to gain perspective while exploring and seeing just what this trip could offer.
Travels With Hafa takes you on a fantastic journey and I am glad that I got the chance to read this and experience it for myself. As a child staying in an RV on vacation with my papa and noni, I was glad that it reminded me of what that was like. I also appreciated that the story stayed on track. I felt an incredibly bad case of wanderlust when I read this and even considered looking into RV’s so that I could go on a trip myself.
The author was able to piece this story together well. It’s engaging and gripping, which makes it hard to put this book down. I also loved the fact that it seemed that the trip was just as much for Hafa as it was for Nathan himself.
I would give this book top scores. The book has excellent details. Nathan has a great talent for telling a story in such a way that it makes you feel like you are with Hafa and Nathan as it happens. I laughed at parts where Hafa was loving the adventure and running by the lakes or playing. I also loved hearing about places that he traveled to. A fantastic choice for someone who has a severe wanderlust case and wants to see more of the world around them. I will be rereading this, and if I ever do get to take a great trip, this book is coming with me.
Pages: 246 | ASIN: B08G9YCV5W
Panorama: The Missing Chapter is a heartfelt memoir of your journey working and living in South Korea. What inspired you to share your experiences in a book?
In 2019, I wrote and published my first book, Views from the Cockpit: The Journey of a Son. The residual effect of publishing the book made me feel at peace with myself and the relationship I had with my father. Readers have also told me that Views from the Cockpit inspired them to take a different approach with their father or become more interested in forgiveness.
As I wrote my first book, I began to comb through my background of relationships. The story of Panorama bubbled up, and the time I spent living abroad in Seoul. I felt that if I shared it, someone could relate and benefit. Perhaps they could relate to escaping from problems, having secret relationships, or figuring out where they belong in the world. Not only was it interesting to reflect on these moments from my life, but in the real-world, a lot of stories surrounding bisexuality are not featured or appropriately categorized.
I appreciated the candid nature with which you told your story. What was the hardest thing for you to share in the book?
The hardest thing to share would be my social-political opinions about identity politics in America and how they’ve made me feel. Everyone can criticize anyone for anything, so I knew that I was opening myself up. When it comes to relationships and how people exist outside of heteronormativity – sometimes people just can’t understand anything else outside of that. Panorama not only exists outside of mainstream heteronormativity but also mainstream LGBT culture, which typically spotlights gay male voices. I was terrified to share a story from a minority group and criticize larger socio-political structures and members of those groups.
What is one thing you hope readers take away from your story?
There are a few things – Bi people are real – we exist and not only in a suggestive, explicit connotation. Bi people are a whole demographic of people, mostly invisible, in mainstream media and day-to-day social discourse.
Additionally, I hope people take away the importance of building bridges between communities. At the end of the book, I write about thought islands. We all want to feel safe and protected where we are. We all want to be seen and heard, and have our views get the most clicks and attention.
My goal is to build bridges, lift others, and make sure there are seats at the table for others who share in building. I also hope that people realize that the way people live, think, and behave does not put each of our identities and beliefs at risk. Somehow, if we can all get to a point to coexist, be slow to judge, we will have achieved something. I know that this is very optimistic, but I think bisexuality, in and of itself, focuses on people (men and women) and the things that make them unique.
You have another book, Views from the Cockpit. What can readers expect in that book?
Views from the Cockpit is a book born from pain. Father-son memories of plane watching at LAX quickly morph into familial dysfunction that ranges from divorce, resentment, to elder abuse. Views from the Cockpit uses airplane metaphors to tell a boy’s coming of age story into a man by reflecting on the living memory of my father – Claude B. Victory. Panorama is “the missing chapter” of Views from the Cockpit. However, both books can be read separately.
Everywhere But Home: Life Overseas as told by travel blogger Phil Rosen is a collection of various essay-style travelogues about the author’s life living abroad. Rosen graduated college in 2018 and immediately thought he would go onto to become a graduate student, but had a swift change of heart. We follow him through his time teaching English to kids in Hong Kong, and his travels through other surrounding countries. Throughout the book, Rosen asks himself and his readers many of life’s unanswered questions on being human and finding life’s meaning.
Phil Rosen’s descriptive prose has a way of taking you around the world with him and tingling the senses while doing it. His ability to describe his surroundings makes you feel as if you were right there with him. You feel what he feels. You see what he sees. His creative writing skills provide an extra layer of character to this travel memoir of Asia.
Rosen’s realistic approach to his experiences is what sets this travel memoir apart from any other on the market. He is honest about what is occurring around him, sharing his thoughts on the good and the bad. You can see this depicted when he discusses his thoughts on the strenuous Hong Kong education system. His accounts strip back the pretty Instagram filter that many travel bloggers use to manipulate reality.
One of my favorite aspects of the book was the way Rosen proposed life questions. Sometimes when authors attempt to offer wisdom of any kind, they can come off as condemning. Almost as if the author is saying, “How did you not already know this?”. Rosen takes the same questions we all ask ourselves and walks through them with us, offering what he’s learned from his travels.
Rosen’s discussion of what a country’s culture truly is, I can only describe as eye-opening. There is a difference between tourist towns and attraction and cultural practices. He breaks this down in a beautifully understated way and reminds us of the simple pleasures in life.
This review would not be complete without mention the short story included in the book, The Man From India. To keep this short and spoiler-free, Phil Rosen’s fiction writing is as terrific as his non-fiction, and a huge part of what makes this a must read.
Pages: 189 | ASIN: B08DF3PVJB
Montagnard follows an ex-Navy Seal into the seedy underbelly of Ho Chi Minh City to rescue his mother. What was the inspiration for the setup of this exciting novel?
From my standpoint, going back to find her lost Montagnard brother is simply something that a strong woman like Mai Cordell would feel she had to do. First, she would feel she owed her adopted brother a considerable debt. And second, after losing her husband to cancer, she would be looking to regain a purpose in her life. Anytime you have an internal struggle in a country such as the war in Vietnam, there are bound to be unsettled scores and hatreds. Look at our own Civil War in the US. If her Montagnard brother were the fierce warrior and ally to the American Special Forces serving in Vietnam described in the first book in the series, an old feud such as the one in this story would likely exist. Then, what kind of Navy SEAL, retired or not, would not attempt to rescue his mother in such a situation, where diplomatic channels would be all but useless.
JD Cordell is an intriguing and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?
Okay, so I have to admit that JD is a composite character made up of some of the character traits I have that I am proud of, and some of the character traits I admire in others and wish I possessed. While not a Navy SEAL, I am a combat arms US Army veteran and served with the 101st Air Assault Division. I have 35 plus years of martial arts training and graduated from the top private bodyguard school in the US. I have good friends who were Vietnam Veterans, and I have met a few former Navy SEALs. This background gave me a broad framework from which to develop the character of JD Cordell. I mostly pulled the best from all of these resources to mold the kind of man I wanted my main character to be.
The book takes place in Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City. Why did you pick this location for the setting of your novel?
Well, much of the story takes place in the area north and west of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), and I need a location that readers could identify with and visualize. It had to be a city with a thriving travel and tourism industry, and it had to be modern enough to have a seedy underbelly; bars, night clubs, brothels, and corrupt officials. It also had to be a large enough city that people from the persecuted Montagnard tribes could go there to hide and eke out a living. Ho Chi Minh City was the obvious choice.
This book is the second in your JD Cordell Action Series. What can readers expect in book three?
In the third installment, we will see more of Hana Hahn, who played a massive role in helping JD rescue his mother. Hana’s character is the redemption thread through the Montagnard story, and by the end of the tale, she has a new purpose in life. That purpose is going to run afoul of a human trafficking ring operating between South East Asia and the US, probably via the Philippines. JD Cordell, with a few other returning characters (and perhaps one new one), is going to have to step in to rescue some of their victims. These will be young women that Hana Hahn is working with. Pallie and Vivas will both return, and we might see a little more of Rick Hahn, Hana’s father. Of course, there will be the requisite “relentless” action, martial arts, and perhaps just a touch of romance. Again, it is really about having a sense of honor and loyalty and doing the right thing even when nobody is looking.
Odysseus: On the River of Time is an epic piece of literature that not only shows the importance of literature but also enables the reader to appreciate the art of story-telling. This book expands on Odysseus’s adventures, told in engaging poetic verse that is much like the Homeric epics this story builds from. Carl Hare’s style of narration encourages one to read more. Every line is great and the verses supremely crafted. In between the lines are rich texts and literary stylistic features that make the poem even more fascinating. Reading the book was an amazing experience. The author’s expressive nature and the excellence shown in writing are some of the things that make Carl Hare an outstanding author.
Odysseus: On the River of Time is the perfect book for you if you enjoyed Homer’s Odyssey. The author does not strain with words as everything flows naturally. In this book, Carl Hare writes about Odysseus’ last voyage to propitiate the god Poseidon. Odysseus’ journey is not to come without a challenge. It is evident that no matter what, he has to appease the god. He goes through several cities having a wooden oar with him. His journey comes with instructions. He is to travel to a land with no salt to offer the sacrifice. I enjoyed following Odysseus through his journey, going through exotic locations, meeting captivating characters, and absorbing conflicts.
One of the many great things about this book is how the author plays with his words. Reading Odysseus: On the River of Time will increase your urge to read more epic poems because of how incredible the author is. Every Canto has a unique touch. The best thing of all is the presentation of characters. I appreciate how superior characters like Apollo were presented and how Helen fit into this unique narrative. A good story has the reader pause and reflect. This is the exact feeling I had after reading every few cantos in the book.
Pages: 550 | ASIN: B0852R27DK