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A Cowgirl’s Stories

Sallie Geermann has been asked to document her life. It’s not something she ever set out to do, but this is a request from the people she loves most; her family. After all, she knows that hers is a story worth telling because it involves all of them. From her childhood to her days in the Vista Grande rest home, Sallie puts on paper her life story; warts and all. Everyone who knows Sallie knows her tale will depict her days as a ranchhand and an aunt who loves unconditionally, but not one of them can possibly predict how profound her words will be.

A Cowgirl’s Stories, by T.P. Graf, is a companion book to the author’s trilogy featuring main character, Jaime Cruz. Having read Graf’s trilogy and having fallen for Jaime and the entire cast of characters, I was more than excited to see Sallie with her own book. Sallie is one of the standout characters in Graf’s works, and I could only see good things coming from a book featuring the story of her life. I was not disappointed–Graf more than delivers with this look back at Sallie’s days on the ranch.

There are books you enjoy, books you find relatable, and books you recommend to friends because you think they are well-written. Then there are books like Sallie Geermann: A Cowgirl’s Stories. T.P. Graf has crafted a tale that envelops readers in a warm blanket tightly woven from the perfect combination of beautiful memories and difficult truths. As Sallie reminisces, readers will find themselves drawn into her life on the ranch as she both cherishes her family and struggles to help them overcome their many hardships over the years.

Sallie is such a special character. She is open, honest, and possesses all the best traits readers seek in a main character. Her ramblings are random and, at the same time, completely captivating. I adore that readers do not necessarily know where Sallie will take us next. The unpredictability of her tales is endearing in the best possible way.

Graf’s companion book is a perfect addition to the Jaime Cruz trilogy and, in my opinion, can be read before or after the first three books. This is a must-read for anyone who has read Jaime’s trilogy or a great way to introduce themselves to Graf’s work. Sallie’s life story is one readers will not want to miss.

Pages: 250 | ASIN: B0B8Y48TYP

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A Light In The Wilderness

A Light in the Wilderness by James Snyder is a well-researched book on Florida’s appealing history. The author provides the reader with interesting information about the construction of the Jupiter lighthouse in South Florida in 1860. It became a center point for hunters, surveyors, Civil War blockade runners, Union gunboats, and pioneer farmers.

For generations, Florida was completely occupied by wilderness and wildlife until the Jupiter lighthouse attracted families to Florida, and now the coast is home to millions of families. Snyder also provides the history of Florida, from slavery to the building of the railroad, to the Civil War and many more historical moments. Vintage maps, letters, and rare photos are also used to describe the ancient story of how Florida survived the civil war.

Snyder has written a book that is not a big topic, and hard to find a book on the history of Florida being built from the ground up. However, the author has done his research, which shows in his book detailed accounts, maps, and images of historical figures that inhabited Florida. I enjoyed that the author started from the beginning when Southeast Florida was just wilderness and no one occupied the land, allowing the reader to get a complete picture of what Florida was many years ago.

If you are not one that is keen on history, this may be one book that is a little difficult to get through because it is factual, and it is similar to watching a documentary on the History Channel. For example, it was interesting to read that Florida was an integral part of the Navy, capturing over 100 Confederate ships. Interesting facts like this make this book a worthy and appealing read. The Jupiter Lighthouse brought diverse people together and served the local community.

A Light in the Wilderness is an engaging read that will have readers appreciating the history of Florida and how it became a prosperous state today. I highly recommend this book to history buffs and those who want something new to learn.

Pages: 309 | ASIN : B00CSV5QJE

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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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Buddy and Bailey’s Alaskan Adventure

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Alaska is home to many different animals and environments. From icebergs to thick woods to miles of grasslands, there is a home for all kinds of animals. Buddy and Bailey, two dog brothers, take readers on an exciting adventure all over Alaska to meet new animals and make new friends. First, they meet a beaver, some moose, a polar bear family, a pack of wolves, some grizzly bears, ox, caribou, salmon, and puffins, and finally, they meet up and play with a dog sled team! They have traveled all over the state to meet these animals, which has been an exciting adventure.

Buddy and Bailey’s Alaskan Adventure by Kai Reeg, illustrated by M.F. Shobaru, does more than show readers different animals. It shares some of the highlights of Alaska, Mount Denali, and the Kenai Peninsula and even talks about the Iditarod race. Young children will learn so much about Alaska by reading this book. After learning about each animal, there is a question to keep children engaged in the story and actively listening.

I love all the different animals that children are introduced to in this picture book. Children will learn more than just the animal names. They get to know simple facts about them and about where they live. It is an excellent introduction to the different wildlife in Alaska. I can see parents using this to read to children before taking a trip there and getting kids excited about everything they may see.

The narrators are two dog brothers, which makes this exciting book even more enjoyable. Who would not want to go on a journey led by two dogs to meet new animal friends? Teachers and parents will enjoy reading Buddy and Bailey’s Alaskan Adventure as much as children as they learn all about Alaska and the wildlife that make it their home.

Pages: 33 : ISBN 979-8-9851783-0-2

They Paved The Path On Which I Tread

Manmohan Sadana Author Interview

Healing Strings follows an ex-pat from India who is forced to take shelter after Tokyo is rocked by two major natural disasters. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

“Healing Strings” is a work of fiction with some autobiographical elements. I was living in Tokyo, when an earthquake of 9 Richter struck the Tohoku region in Japan on March 11, 2011, followed by a Tsunami at 14.46 JST. These two major disasters occurred at a time when I was diagnosed with “Takayasu Arteritis” – a fatal autoimmune disease. The Japanese doctors did an exceedingly good job of saving me. These major events after a few years triggered my imagination to write a novel. As this would be my first attempt at novel writing, I took admission in an online Novel Writing Course in the Faber Academy, UK. This novel my project in Faber Academy developed into the present stage with the guidance received from my Professors and Authors in Faber Academy, i.e Emily Barr and Mark Jervis. They paved the path on which I tread and expressed my imagination, experiences and dreams into words.

I must admit that what follows the earthquake in the novel is fiction, though I am a keen lover of the mandolin and music therapy is a major theme of this work. The location of the novel as well as description of Japanese culture in Tokyo and Kyoto as well that of Bekal in Kerala is what I have experienced first-hand and so is the medical treatment imparted to the protagonist for “Takayasu Arteritis” by the Japanese doctors.

Raj is an interesting character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Raj is a character which developed through me as we both suffer from the same physical ailment. However, our lives may have taken different trajectories as Raj is a figment of my imagination. His value system which he has imbibed is what I cherish. He is a ‘family man’ with immense love and affection for his wife, son, and daughter. Though he is a marketing professional in a corporate firm in Tokyo, his roots and magnetic pull is towards his family in New Delhi in India.

Another trait of his character is his sense of humour and empathy which is reflected in his relationship with the staff of Trinity Advertising, his friend Bikram, and the nurses in the hospital.

A major theme of the novel is music, and this germinates from Raj’s love for the mandolin. Playing on the mandolin’s strings not only is a source of communication with Ayana but also helps in subsiding the aneurysms in his body. As Music Therapy worked in his case, he tries to replicate the same by opening an institute of Music Therapy in Bekal in Kerala. He wants to share with society, what has worked in his life.
The love he develops for his mandolin teacher and the respect he has for her husband and his own wife depicts his level of maturity in handling such a situation. An attempt has been made to portray him as a good human being, a fine friend, a virtuous life-partner, a platonic lover, and a concerned parent.
The reader on reading the novel may wish to imbibe some of his traits.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

There are various themes which run concurrently in “Healing Strings”. One of the major themes in this work is disaster at the personal level and national level and how it effects an individual, society, and the entire nation. To overcome a disaster, requires resilience and expertise and these aspects are delineated in the reactions of Raj, scientists, medical fraternity, as well as the local population of Japan.

The second theme which is predominant is love and that love can bloom even without verbal or written communication. Love has only a beginning…. and that love can rise above the physical. Music can bring the hearts together and convey more to the lovers than any language.

The third theme is Music Therapy, and this is depicted in the blooming feelings of Raj and Ayana as well the cure of Raj’s ailment. It is not surprising that in today’s world modern medical science has accepted the role of Music Therapy and many hospitals world over have a Music Therapy wing. The famous American novelist Jodi Lynn Picoult states, “Music therapy, to me, is music performance without the ego. It’s not about entertainment as much as about empathizing. If you can use music to slip past the pain and gather insight into the workings of someone else’s mind, you can begin to fix a problem.”

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

I am presently working on two books simultaneously. The first book is a compilation of short stories titled “Thirteen” which will depict various scenes of life which we overlook and consider as natural happenings, but they play a major role in the character’s life. I personally feel that every human being is a compilation of experiences, stories, and anecdotes. We just need to be keen observers and empathise with what another human being undergoes. This book should be ready for release in 2023.

The second book I am working on with a co-author is non-fiction and is tentatively titled “Tourism Marketing in India”. The focus of this book is on the post-pandemic era, the marketing strategies required to revive tourism in India and usage of social media tools to position the destination in the potential tourist’s psyche in various key markets across the globe. The world has undergone a sea change because of the onslaught of Covid 19 and almost all destinations need resuscitation and revival at the grassroot level. Hence, the strategies to promote a destination which will now emerge with the new travel trends are going to be different. I sincerely hope I can complete this work in 2022.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook

“Healing Strings” 14:46 hrs, 11 March, 2011, Tokyo is hit by a massive earthquake. The city is still reeling with the aftershocks when an unprecedented Tsunami hits its shores. This wake of destruction is reflected in the life of Raj, an expat from India. 50-year-old Raj has been diagnosed with Takayasu Arteritis, an incurable disease in which the blood vessels develop blockages which can burst at any moment. Raj had nine such aneurysms all over his body. The Japanese Doctors are trying their best to prevent them from bursting. Much like scientists in Fukushima trying hard to prevent the nuclear reactors from exploding. Out for a random stroll, an antique Mandolin catches his eye. He ends up buying the instrument, hoping to learn how to play it. This item on his bucket list, takes him to the threshold of an elderly Japanese musician. She hesitantly takes him under her fold. She only speaks Japanese, of which Raj does not understand a word. Transcending language and cultural barriers, a rare friendship develops between the two. In a scenario of disease and disaster, does the will to survive and make new beginnings assert itself, amongst the Japanese and Raj………. Reviews ” A fascinating debut! Love blossoms in an ambience of disaster, Japanese culture and resilience, and ends in the beautiful environs of Bekal in Kerala. Creativity at its best! Truly captivating. – Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog, Government of India. ” Music heals – how true and how well this book brings it out. And provides succour to the protagonist, the lovers and the nation. A great read” – Ashwani Lohani CEO, GMR Services Business, Former CMD, Air India & ITDC, Former Chairman, Railway Board. “the story is truly heart-warming and enlightening, definitely an original tale that I have not had the pleasure of hearing anything similar before.” – Literary Titan

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Traveling Companions 

When a mountain village is destroyed by a mudslide, the villagers must relocate to the bottom of the mountain. A young boy is injured in the mudslide and has a broken leg. He can not walk with the rest of the villagers, so he remains in what is left of the village with the old village elder and the blind blacksmith. They face the choice of waiting there with little water and food or trying to reach the valley on their own. Together they form a plan to try and reach safety relying on one another.

Traveling Companions by Tuula Pere is a beautiful children’s book about working together and realizing each person’s strengths and values in life. While each of the three companions has a significant physical challenge, they can work together and put their skills to use to survive.

I love how the weakest and most vulnerable are brought into focus for this story. It teaches compassion to those that need it and shows that even when old, sick, or disabled, people still have value and can contribute. Children will learn that everyone has value, even if you can not see it immediately. Each member of the traveling group has an important job. The young boy had food and water that the other two did not, as well as good eyesight, the blacksmith had strength that hey other two lacked, and the elder had knowledge of how to safely get down to the valley.

Traveling Companions is a heartwarming picturebook for classrooms and families that teaches children about diversity and acceptance and that everyone has value in society. The message of teamwork and persistence shines, though, and kids will see that when they work together, they can accomplish things they would not be able to on their own.

Pages: 32 | ASIN : B07HYXSPYV

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The Story Just Wanted To Be Told

Michael A. Greco Author Interview

Cuckoo Heartfully is a quirky and fun adventure book following a cast of intriguing characters. How did the idea behind this book start and change as you wrote?

This is really a “kind of sequel” to The Cuckoo Colloquium, though it can stand alone. I just wanted to take the characters farther because there’s so much more to do with it. Although I don’t think one needs to read these books in sequence, I’m actually writing the third book in the series now and it will be out next year.

I enjoy the way you develop and write your characters. Who was your favorite character to write for in this novel?

For this novel, my favorite was probably Titti Bingo, as she’s the one who endures the greatest changes as far as character arcs go, I believe. She appears in the third book, too, and even suffers worse (I fear). Pinky Bell is my guiding light, however; everything will always revolve around her.

What scene in the book was the most challenging for you to write?

Boy, that’s hard. Every chapter can be grueling, but I might go with one of the culminating chapters like the rescue of the cuckoo. I also suppose the script format for the Randy Vagabond chapter also presented unique challenges for me. On the whole, this one was easier to write than some others. The story just wanted to be told, I guess.

I enjoyed the humor embedded in the story. Was there anything in the book that made you laugh out loud?

As an introvert, I’m on the quiet side, unable to let loose with a real belly laugh. But I giggle a lot. Really, if a chapter does not make me giggle, it’s probably headed to the chopping block.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Website

Kyoto, Japan, the hometown of sixteen-year-old Pinky Bell Asano, is speaking from the heart.

Things pent-up inside the townspeople are coming out—the repressed longings, the resentments, the dread. They’re bursting forth in staggering admissions across the staid community, thanks to the magic of a small souvenir, a stuffed cuckoo shrike, that Pinky Bell has brought home from her academic colloquium in the jungle of Borneo.

The little bird has somehow come alive, provoking mass confessions and saturating Kyoto with the mayhem of unbottled inhibitions.

Maybe all this “heartfulness” is not such a good idea after all, and Pinky Bell realizes it’s up to her to return the cuckoo to the rain forest, which has dispatched its own dark agents to sniff out the thief.

The young Pinky Bell must also keep her teen virtue intact from scheming rascals, while at the same time a tremendous supernatural clash looms between the cuckoo shrike and Kyoto’s own contending powers.

In a featherbrained world of cross-dressing professors and accidental space orbit solos, the characters inside an electronic game become self-aware, and the Borneo jungle—now minus its cuckoo shrike mentor—adopts a whole new curriculum, that of Nihilism 101.

Welcome to a new colloquium—one with heart.

A Mysterious Relic

Victoria Marswell Author Interview

The Mystery Stone follows an archaeologist that heads to Ireland to look for her missing brother and instead finds a strange relic and love. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

A few things set the story in motion. The initial inspiration for The Mystery Stone began with an article I read in 2016 about a mysterious relic named the Mystery Stone, discovered in Meredith, NH, just as I describe in the book. If readers are interested, they can look it up online and read more about it. In 2018, I viewed the stone when it was on display in the historical society. I have a love for Ireland and the Irish, so I had always planned on writing about locations I visited. I also interweaved my Norwegian heritage into the story, based on a book a distant relative published about our family moving from Hardanger, Norway, to North America.

How much research did you undertake for this book and how much time did it take to put it all together?

There’s a lot of my personal experiences included in my stories since I write about places I’ve visited. I love to travel and it’s a ton of fun to revisit the locations when I start the writing process. Usually, a couple of years pass before a site, city or country ends up in one of my books. I also enjoy studying history, and there’s so much I’ve learned while traveling and visiting historical sites. For The Mystery Stone, I spent about six weeks researching and studying mysterious relics around the world and how stones fit into many cultures’ ancient rituals. At one point, I’d spend hours a day fascinated and disturbed by some civilizations’ sacrificial ceremonies.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

A couple of themes were personal and important for me to share. As a single parent, I wanted to reveal the challenges and feelings of inadequacy in a sole-parent household. The accident that created my character’s overprotective nature was based on a real-life incident that happened to my daughter when she was in my care. It’s therapeutic for me to work through the traumatic experience and come to terms with the fact she survived, and it happened over twenty years ago. Another theme that makes it into all my stories is the importance of family. In The Mystery Stone, I focus on exploring the dynamics of siblings and their differing perceptions, growing up in the same environment.

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

I’ve scheduled my current novel for release in 2023. I can share that the story takes place in Italy. It’s based on my visit in 2019 and, like my other two novels, has plenty of action, adventure and romance! Readers can stay updated by subscribing to my monthly newsletter on my website victoriamarswell.com.

I also have a rom-com short story, Deadwood, available on August 2, 2022. My 2021 trip to the old historic town inspired the story.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Supernatural stones. Ancient rituals. Mysterious ruins. Nothing unusual for the Hillestad siblings. Until…

Jeanette Hillestad receives news of her brother’s disappearance during his recent archaeological expedition and must travel to Kinsale, Ireland. She enlists the help of local Irishman Conlin Murphy, who’s adamant about staying out of her rescue mission for the safety of his teenage daughter.

But when relic hunters attack Jeanette, and Conlin discovers a map, they team up to search for her brother. The clues lead them on an international, life-threatening chase from Ireland to Old Quebec, and Montreal to New Hampshire.

While on the run, Jeanette and Conlin’s bond deepens with their undeniable attraction, which complicates matters.
Now, they need a greater force to survive the dangerous people willing to kill for the Mystery Stone. The consequences of her brother’s actions challenge their beliefs and may cost Jeanette to sacrifice everything.
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