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The Retirement Quilt

The Retirement Quilt by [Dr Ronald Lee Gaudreau]

The Retirement Quilt by Dr Ronald Lee Gaudreau takes us to a small town in Australia called Morton, centering around a small group of people hailing from decades of farmers, entrepreneurs, and teachers. This diverse array of people came together with one unifying task: the creation of a quilt.

The Retirement Quilt begins by following the life of Geoffrey Hamilton as he goes through the motions of his last day as a CEO. We dive into the unspoken aspects of his life, like his bittersweet interactions with his driver and secretary. He’s mourning all the time that has passed while trying to feel excited about his coming future in retirement. He reconnects with a woman named Robyn, a dear friend of his deceased wife Margaret. Together they become intertwined in the creation of a memorial quilt, as it brings grieving and loving people together along the way.

I loved the way this inspiring book approached grief and healing. It was a touching look into the aftermath of a loved one’s passing, and how their lingering influence can continue to make the world a better place even after they’re gone. This book emphasizes community and the lengths we go to as people to make lasting connections, and how powerful these connections can truly be. The story has a lasting message—that no matter where you go or who you meet along the way, love is always possible.

While I enjoyed having varied dialogue from different sorts of people throughout the story, I felt that the structure could have been improved. I found that it read like an interview at times because of the dialogue, and I would have rather seen everyone’s conversations blended into the story itself to give it a more narrative driven story feel.

The Retirement Quilt by Dr Ronald Lee Gaudreau is a wistful and impassioned story with an inspirational message. It’s an important reminder that I think everyone can benefit from; even if you feel alone, change is a positive thing.

Pages: 257 | ASIN: B07VLKPQ3G

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Wild Happy: Dreams, Crises, and Acceptance in the Jungles of Papua New Guinea

Wild Happy: Dreams, Crises, and Acceptance in the Jungles of Papua New Guinea by [Ryan Casseau]

Wild Happy, by Ryan Casseau, is the riveting true story of his experiences in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Casseau went to PNG to collect plants that were special to that region, and instead came back with a newfound outlook on life.

The story begins with Casseau explaining how he came to be in PNG. PNG isn’t known to most, and those who have heard of it, have only heard of the violence and atrocities there. Casseau went to PNG for a funded research project that entailed collecting species of plants that he would later study intensively. The beginning of the story also describes a time when Casseau is in a dark and wet atmosphere unable to recall what he is going through, he then pieces together that he is suffering from malaria. The entire journey, even the trials he faced, made him understand and appreciate his life and purpose. Throughout his experience Casseau gained a new language, experienced a new culture, suffered from Malaria, and found purpose outside of science. All of these events are shared in vivid and emotional detail that conveys that provides reader with a fish-out-of-water story in an exotic land.

This is a personal book and it has that authentic feel throughout the story. It’s very well written, ensuring readers are able to easily focus on the story. Casseau writes about his own experiences and then reflects on his time in PNG, providing readers with the same insights he gained. The friendships he formed, and the sense of family created there was interesting to read. The language was also a large part of the book, and I believe that helped to immerse the reader in his story.

Wild Happy by Ryan Casseau is a compelling travel story, conveying the authors profound experiences in the jungle of Papua New Guinea. I would recommend this engrossing memoir to anyone who enjoys hidden truths, culture, language, and exploring new places.

Pages: 260 | ASIN: B099J5RMSV

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The Ambitious Pyramid of Kush

The Ambitious Pyramid of Kush by [Justin Kuku]

The Ambitious Pyramid of Kush by Justin Kuku is an emotional novel that chronicles the life of a young immigrant man from Sudan as he follows his hopes and dreams for a better life in the United States. The title of the novel pays homage to the ancestral kingdom in Sudan, one that the main character, Tokia’s, African family feels closely linked to, as they struggle against the oppressive Islamic regime that is in power in present-day Sudan. Reading this novel opened my eyes to the deeply painful realities of life in Sudan, including religious oppression, limitations on personal freedoms, and the violence that the government enacts on its citizens. In addition to the heart-wrenching picture that Kuku paints of life in Sudan, he also describes in vivid detail the challenges that immigrants face in the United State due to many reasons outside their control, such as the prejudices of others, language and cultural barriers, and the complicated American legal system.

Though the novel is presented as fiction, it is hard not to imagine that Kuku has drawn on some of his own personal experiences as an immigrant to the United States from Sudan, based on his touching introduction to the novel. The Ambitious Pyramid of Kush begins following Tokia as a young man in Sudan, and follows him to Egypt and ultimately to the United States where he attempts to begin his life anew. Throughout the novel, Tokia develops friendships and relationships with those around him. Some of the best supporting characters in the novel are the women in Tokia’s life, including Katira, a Sudanese woman he befriends on his way to Egypt, and Rashida, a young woman he meets in the United States. In addition to these three main characters, the novel is interspersed with many short-lived characters who have minimally developed backstories, which made it somewhat difficult for me to keep up with each individual and how they related to the overall plot.

With Ambitious Pyramid of Kush, Kuku has identified a very compelling story of one person’s strength, perseverance, and love. The story of Tokia is interesting; however, the book can benefit from an editor. While I found the strength of the protagonist, Tokia, to be inspirational, and I appreciated the personal insights into both the trauma of life in Sudan as well as life for African immigrants in the United States, I would have appreciated more engaging dialogue and prose.

Though the plot of Ambitious Pyramid of Kush is interesting – and I think that the story of Tokia’s life would make a compelling movie – the book reads like a report due to minimal descriptions and the terse conversational exchanges. In reading Ambitious Pyramid of Kush, I felt that Kuku has a wealth of stories to tell, not only Tokia’s, but also those of all the supporting characters.

Pages: 182 | ASIN: B08P262JK6

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All Things Small

ALL THINGS small by [Norman Schwartz]

All Things Small by Norman Schwartz is a charming literary fiction novel following the journey of Nathan Epstein in the city of Rome, an innocent, directionless American tourist struggling with everyday interactions in the local language. Nathan is wandering the streets after quitting his job and he is trying to make his way through the city with the help of a popular guidebook. While placing an order in the restaurant  he unexpectedly encounters Sergio. The chance meeting helps him find an affordable residence, means of living, and even an opportunity for new life. But where will it all go? Is everything as good as it looks like or is something else going on? As the quote in the book by Cicero goes, “The beginnings of all things are small.” More important things will happen, for better or for worse. Only time will tell.

Author Norman B. Schwartz gives readers a thought provoking contemporary story that is takes readers in unexpected directions. The characters, the scenes, and the plot all come alive with the authors easy yet engrossing writing style. The book has a a fascinating aura of mystery that permeates the story, as well as a bit of melancholy as beauty and gloom are contrasted well in this riveting story. I enjoyed how the author provides a sharp contrast between shiny famous monuments and the dark underbelly of the city that is full of crime and lust.

Another fascinating aspect of the book was the generous sprinkling of Italian language; I felt that it adds to the exotic appeal and increases its authenticity. The graphic depiction, architectural details, and sharp and imaginative presentation of it all makes the reading experience immersive. While I thought the book was a bit slow to start, it eventually picks up and takes readers on a well written and entertaining ride that is full of alluring characters.

All Things Small by Norman Schwartz is a highly captivating book that keeps you engaged and yearning for more. If you love historical events, picturesque landscapes, architecture, and a mesmerizing story of human experiences in a foreign land, this book is for you.

Pages: 210 | ASIN: B08ZS9CXCQ

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Who Okayed This?! The Riveting Life of Grant Davis

Who Okayed This?! The Riveting Life of Grant Davis by [E. Barrington, Philip]

In Who Okayed This?! The Riveting Life of Grant Davis, Philip E. Barrington tells us the story of Grant, a man that experienced various interesting and intriguing things during his life. The book serves as Grant’s diary, through which he tells the reader his thoughts and the many life changing events that he experienced since he was a young boy.

Grant’s life is far from boring. In the book we follow him as he travels around different cities and countries, trying to make something of his life. He meets intriguing new people all the time, some of them become friends and helped him grow, some of them become terrible enemies that almost succeeded in ruining his life. Grant endures many betrayals, yet never gives up, always looking to find something better for himself to enjoy life to the fullest. Family, friendship, love, travel and the search of a career, are aspects that are deeply involved in most people’s lives and that are explored and shown in this book through Grant’s riveting life.

It was interesting following the different events that Grant had to go through in his life, there are so many things that are talked about in the book. Relationships, health issues, problems with the police and the law, corruption and family life. The author shares the many adventures that Grant had that would change him forever, from meeting new people to traveling to new places to discovering secrets of the universe, a set of fascinating events that allowed Grant Davis to find his life purpose.

I enjoyed reading about Grant’s story and finding out gradually the varying life changing events that he went through where he met interesting, odd and even threatening people that made him explore new things all the time: his life was truly riveting. However, I wanted these things to be explored more, and explained further, in the book. The book reads like a diary, which means that we don’t get too many details about the events and the people that were described in the book. Nevertheless, the book was still enjoyable and it was stimulating reading. In particular, I was intrigued by the themes that were explored near the end of the book, a series of mystical, soul-searching events that Grant came in contact with to possibly change his future, and other people’s futures, for the better.

Is it fully fiction or are there real life events mixed in the story? Who knows, it is up to the reader to figure out how much is fictional and how much is the author’s real story, so if you want to try to find out, you must read the book first. Who Okayed This?! The Riveting Life of Grant Davis is an interesting and easy read that illustrates the good and the bad that can be found all the time in every person’s life path.

Pages: 241 | ASIN: B08VKSQT36

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Delightful and Endlessly Funny

Linda Sheehan Author Interview

Decanted follows a vivacious young woman as she learns making wine and the perils of love. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

My daughter, the delightful and endlessly funny Samantha Sheehan, who created and produces Poe Wines Pinot Noir, Ultraviolet Cabernet, and a 95 point organic vermouth under the MOMMENPOP label is my total inspiration for Decanted. Like the novel’s heroine Samantha Goodyear, my daughter quit her job at a big five accounting firm to go to France to learn everything she could about making wine. Like the main character in Decanted, she then moved to Napa and took a bookkeeping job at a winery before launching her own wine brand that’s sold across the US and in many countries around the world.

Samantha is a compelling character that was fun to follow. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?

I wanted to draw my main character as a young woman who, though she’s a total product of modern times, has a tremendous love and respect for those who came before her. Samantha also has a tremendous work ethic, and never veers from her quest to achieve her dreams.

Wine making and wine culture were intriguing parts of this novel. Why was this an important aspect for you to include in the story?

Many people would like to understand more about wine culture and the winemaking process but don’t know where to begin. My goal in writing the book was to seamlessly give readers a fun wine education and illustrate what separates a great wine that reflects what nature intended from a tricked up brand with ingredients and flavors added by the big corporate wineries to sell the most bottles possible.

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

My next book is my novel Fore Play, a comedy set at a Los Angeles country club that will be available this coming summer.

Author Links: Facebook | Website

Decanted eimage.jpg

From author Linda Sheehan, who’s part of a Napa wine dynasty, comes a story of grapes, wine, first crushes, and juicy redemption. Dreading the desk job that awaits her after high school, eighteen- year-old Vivian Goodyear takes off for pre- World War ll Paris, where she supports herself as an artist’s model.

Flash forward to modern day Manhattan where, inspired by Vivian’s courage, her grand-niece Samantha leaves her pressure cooker career to work the grape harvest in France. There, between picking grapes in the vineyard and crushing them in the cellar, she gets lessons in the art of making wine and in the art of making love. But when her world is turned upside down, a link from Aunt Vivian’s past could right it in a tale of being on top, sinking to the bottom, and coming up for glorious air.

Decanted

Decanted is the story of bored millennial wine enthusiast and super palate Samantha Goodyear. When Samantha gets the opportunity of a lifetime to visit and work on one of the finest vineyards in France, she drops everything to go. Samantha returns to the United States and begins to build her own wine empire from a special gift left to her family by an older relative from World War II. But disaster strikes and the possibility of love once again enters the picture. Will she take the opportunity and will her business survive?

This emotionally charged book that radiates the aura of leisure and gives the reader a beautiful picture of sunny California, historic France and miles of vineyards. Author Linda Sheehan gives readers a light romance that is humorous at times and not too bogged down with heavy drama, although there is plenty of it it’s always refreshing. The flashbacks to the past and Aunt Vivian’s story are wonderful too and provide extra insight into the culture and art of winemaking that shapes Samantha’s life. The one thing that makes this novel stand out from other contemporary romance novels is the wine culture that is used as a fascinating backdrop to some stimulating scenes and alluring characters. The characters are all distinct and have their varying degrees of interest and class in the world of winemaking. There are the snobs, the hard workers, the casual enjoyers, and all are represented effortless yet realistic way. Samantha in particular is a compelling protagonist. She is a relatable millennial who is stuck in the rat race and trying to make a living, figure out life, and manage issues between her parents. But the truly amazing and likable things about Samantha is how she pursues her passions with abandon, all the while staying true to her herself. It is so refreshing and unique to read a protagonist so ready to think, act, and pursue her true self and her desires.

Decanted is a wonderfully realistic and intelligent new adult romance novel revealing a well-researched wine culture that’s effortlessly entertaining. I enjoyed the rich and detailed explanations of the natural views and taste or smells of the food and drink in the book. This book is a paradise for the gastronomically inclined. I highly recommend this as a light and refreshing read to any who dreams of the French campagne, soleil, et bon vin.

Pages: 265 | ISBN: 978-1-68433-703-3

Black Rose Writing

Around the world in 65 years

Author Biku Ghosh shares a detailed account of amazing life lived over six decades and reaching all corners of the globe. Biku Ghosh beautifully describes cities and landscapes. Ranging from ancient cities to modern landscapes such as New York. Amazing architectural descriptions are a fantastic feature in this book, whether it be the Leaning Tower of Pisa, or the Empire State Building or the ‘quirky’ and ‘tacky’ hotels in Las Vegas. He vividly describes many natural settings such as the “copper colored Colorado River,” African deserts, and the Niagara Falls. Biku Ghosh briefly describes his work, but mainly focuses on the sights, food and people he encounters. 

As one of Biku Ghosh’s interests is mountain climbing his climbs feature throughout the memoir. Some of the climbs described include: the Himalayas, the highest peak in the British Isles and Mt Kilimanjaro. He describes his joy when reaching the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro. Eventually we hear of Ghosh’s climb to the Everest Base Camp. He writes a detailed description of the trip, split into the various stages and mountain heights. Aside from mountain climbing he also describes completing a safari in Africa, raising money for a Breast Cancer charity, scuba dives in Sorrento and the Great Barrier Reef, paragliding and skydiving in New Zealand! There are also photographs throughout the memoir, adding color and bringing life to the story.

The author’s mode of transportation is also a feature of this book. Ghosh describes the type of transport he takes in each journey, from public trains in India, electric buses in Paraguay to taxis in New York. Airplanes of various sizes from large long haul planes to a 12 seater plane to traverse the Grand Canyon. Bus rides vary from local buses, to 45km trips through forests and canyons. All of this really gives you a front seat view of the entire trip, not just the highlights.

As well as his transport and activity details, mouth-watering meals are a constant in this story: dosa, samosas, yoghurt, roti, Ethiopian coffee and popcorn, boiled shrimp, French Onion soup, almond pastries and numerous servings of ice cream to name but a few! The inclusion of food and meals adds to the depth and authenticity of the memoir.

The memoir is organized in chronological order, which makes it very easy to follow. At the beginning the sentence structure is quite long and cumbersome, however as the memoirs progress the writing becomes more natural and easier to read.

Around the World in Sixty-Five Years is an extensive memoir filled with vivid visual descriptions of exotic locations. The travel is extensive, and the anecdotes are always interesting, as are the activities, food, animals and people described. This is an engrossing memoir that will show you how much beauty there is in the world, and inspire you to travel.

Pages: 512 | ASIN: B08P7LQ9JS

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