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Butterfly Awakens: A Memoir of Transformation Through Grief

Butterfly Awakens: A Memoir of Transformation Through Grief by [Meg Nocero, Habib Sadeghi, Sherry Sami]

Butterfly Awakens by Meg Nocero is the moving memoir of Nocero’s life after losing her mother. It starts with a brief description of her childhood and introduces her parents then jumps right to her mother’s breast cancer diagnosis. Apart from narrating the difficult moments fighting the disease, we also get to see the destructive consequences such a loss can have and Meg’s deep grieving.

Nocero writes in a beautiful way that is descriptive and realistic at the same time, making it easy for readers to feel connected and empathetic. Her stages of grief are deeply felt by the reader and when she finally gets to the end of El Camino and finds freedom, every reader will feel happy for her achievements.

I appreciated the effort put into describing what she felt during each important moment of her journey toward recovery. An accurate description of her feelings helps readers impersonate and share the journey with her in an intimate way, which is what makes this book unforgettable.

While I enjoyed the story, I felt a bit of confusion between flashbacks and flash-forwards, at one point in the book it was difficult for me to understand when the action took place.  But this is a minor issues in an otherwise tell told and impassioned story.

Butterfly Awakens, by Meg Nocero is an enthralling memoir with plenty of emotional and heartwarming moments that will capture most readers’ hearts. Whether one has already experienced such a loss or has not yet, this story will stir the soul. I would recommend this book to anyone who is dealing with such loss or to anyone who is looking for a book that is emotional but inspiring.

Pages: 395 | ASIN: B08QZCR9FF

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Sweet, Innocent, And Inspiring

K L Estrada
K L Estrada Author Interview

Wallflower Pen Pals tells the true story of two people who fall in love after an exchange of letters and their emotional journey towards meeting one another. Why was this an important book for you to write?

This story was an important book to write for me as I was looking for a good story. In 2010, I wrote a self-help book that I self-published. It was such a thrill to have accomplished something I’ve always aspired to do—write a book. I did not know much beyond that about marketing that particular book as it languished on the online bookshelf for many years. Following that, I grabbled with changing my genre and aspired to write a novel someday. When I found these letters after my parents passed away, I only intended to read them from curiosity over the years as they were treasured and preserved. However, after reading one of the letters from my father, his words spoke to me. And I quote, “You know, I wish the world knew about our beautiful friendship.” I was inspired at that moment to put it into a book. Since there were 100 letters between them in a six-month period, I thought it was a sufficient amount of words for a novel. This story is sweet, innocent, and inspiring to share with the world.

What was the most surprising thing you uncovered while reading these letters?

The most surprising thing I uncovered from these letters was that this couple (my parents) did not know each other before they became pen pals.

Did you include all the letters in this book or was there any that didn’t make it in?

Honestly, I missed one letter from my mother. It was inadvertently placed at the end of the letter stack. I decided it wasn’t necessary to add it anyway as it didn’t add or subtract to the story. This letter was about how she mistakenly wrote her name/address upside down on the envelope and how this funny mistake lightened up her depressed friend.

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

My next book will be titled Wallflower Lovers. I thought this would be a good story about their courtship based on my mother’s diary. This, of course, will be fiction. More like a young adult romance/clean and wholesome kind of story. I am already writing the book. I do not have a timeline as of yet.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Eavesdrop into love letters written by two young pen pals that started in the summer of 1955. This real-life story begins with a couple who wrote to each other before they even met. In the beginning, the exchange was friendly but very revealing of their vulnerabilities and innocence. These pen pals soon discovered the commonalities between them.

After much exchange and a deeper friendship ensued, there became a yearning to meet face-to-face. This affair of writing was more than attraction and much greater than passion. It was beyond what they ever imagined. What these pen pals learned about each other propelled them to an exciting new future and outlook in life.

Was it fate? Would they have ever met without these letters of truth and honesty? Or was it that these two wanted to escape from their mundane lives and found something more profound in the process?

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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Wallflower Pen Pals

Wallflower Pen Pals: The Ultimate Love Story by [K. L. Estrada]

Wallflower Pen Pals by K.L. Estrada is a tale of true romance, a love that lasts through anything and becomes everything. The story begins with the lovers daughter being gifted with the promise to be allowed to read all of the letters her parents had sent to one another while her father was away. It continues on into flashes of her parents, Carolyn and Joe’s beautiful life together which we get to read through their own perspectives via their treasured love letters. The entire love story begins in 1955 and continues on for the rest of their life.

This is a sentimental love story that speaks to the true passion two people, who are at first strangers, can have for one another. Readers get to see that love grow throughout this emotional book. I loved seeing how their love developed over time, starting off as innocent and growing into something much deeper. This is something that you will not find in todays contemporary romance stories. This is a timeless love story that will speak to readers looking for a wistful and sensitive story.

While I enjoyed the story, I felt that some things could have been cut just to keep things concise, but still I feel the extra content really rounds out the story and ensures readers get a full appreciation for the writers. This is still a beautifully told story that also gives you a glimpse into the past, and will really appeal to anyone looking for a historical romance story.

Overall Wallflower Pen Pals is a stunning and romantic tale that is sure to put a smile on your face. If you love romance and you are looking for a fantastic beach read, then you will definitely have plenty to enjoy here. This is a story that shows you the power of letters and how writing can connect two people over great distances and time.

Pages: 214 | ASIN: B099FNGWCP

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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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From Rubble To Champagne

From Rubble To Champagne: Rising from the ashes of war-torn Berlin to a life of grace, beauty and gratitude by [Vivianne Knebel]

In the memoir From Rubble to Champagne, author Vivianne Knebel tells us the story of her life. Vivianne’s early life was full of hardships. As an illegitimate child in Nazi Germany she realized very early on how cruel life could be. Dealing with poverty, her family had to figure out how to keep afloat amidst war-torn Germany, as many other Germans had to do during that period of time. This is an impassioned story of survival and love: through Vivianne’s narration we can see vividly the life of a child that starts with tragedy but that, with time and with the right attitude, flourishes and becomes something awe-inspiring and incredibly beautiful.

The book is splendidly written, Vivianne tells her story in such a way that one can both learn about a relevant and dark part of human history, and also feel inspired by the beauty of human life and its resilience. Moreover, this book showcases a story that many times is not told and gets ignored in our history, and that’s the story of the Germans that saw themselves affected by all this conflict, just wanting and trying to survive and save their families from poverty and from the war. Vivianne mirrors this point of view by sharing with us the story of her mother, who as a single mom had to deal with poverty and many times needed to search for shelter to protect both of her young daughters from the constant bombings that were so common during that period. Reading this story, one can not help but feel empathy and total support for Vivianne’s journey: despite the terrible realities of what she had to endure from a very young age, she finds a way to build a new life for herself, dealing with immigration and walking the long path of self-discovery and self-fulfillment, ending the story with a relevant reflection about the importance of love, family and gratitude.

It was a pleasure to read this book and I feel honored to be given the opportunity to learn about Vivianne’s story and her teachings. Her entire life is a demonstration of what we, as humans, are capable of going through and building for ourselves. It is a story about the hard, terrible realities of human life, but also of the beauty that’s always awaiting all of us, of love and of happiness. There’s always something better for all of us and Vivianne does an excellent job portraying this to her readers.

Through her book, Vivianne guides us and helps us reflect about our own lives. From Rubble to Champagne is an inspiring story about survival and resilience, filled with important teachings that pushes us to live, work hard, better ourselves and find beauty in even the most adverse situations.

Pages: 208 | ASIN: B08NFMSJYV

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My Hidden Fear

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My Hidden Fear by Luan Vu Nguyen is a compelling memoir about a Vietnamese boy who was born in Saigon in 1973. He escaped South Vietnam when he was thirteen with his younger brother after several failed attempts. They traveled across Cambodia to Thailand where they lived as refugees until they received permission to come to the United States. Arriving in Minnesota as minors, they were put into foster care, where the two brothers ended up separated. The next thirty years were a nearly continuous cycle of making poor decisions and repeating the same mistakes as he battled loneliness, depression, fear, and addiction. Through it all, he missed the family he left back in Vietnam.

This is a candid and contemplative memoir that was very interesting to read. This book follows an individual’s personal experiences as a refugee, but also provides a first hand historical account of what happened to people in Vietnam after the end of the Vietnam War. The author also includes family photographs that I really enjoyed as it provided context and allowed for a deeper connection to the people in the book. Through the author’s candid admission of the many mistakes he made in the past, this book shows the human capacity to change, and triumph over trauma. The author suffered through hardship and abuse as a child, and he used drugs and alcohol to try to cope, becoming caught in a dark place for many years. But I found this memoir inspiring because, although he stumbled many times, he kept trying to be better.

While I enjoyed the memoir, I really wanted more details. For example, the author never mentioned what happened to his uncle after they parted ways following his first escape attempt, except for a brief note at the end of the book that his uncle eventually made it to the United States at some point in the thirty years after his nephews arrived. I was completed engrossed in the story and wanted to take a deeper dive into events that were skimmed over. The story spans more than three decades but is a very short book. The tone of the narrative was very matter of fact, and the story centered more on retelling the events that took place rather than delving deeply into the emotions that were experienced during these events.

My Hidden Fear is a memorable story of one persons life, unfiltered, and raw. Readers will quickly devour this short but potent memoir.

Pages: 76


My Evolution As An Artist

Author Interview
Larry Lewis Author Interview

Where Paint Goes is a captivating autobiography detailing your life as an artist. Why was this an important book for you to write?

After surviving over fifty years of living life as a creative or an artist and being told by numerous folks along the way, “you should write a book.” I thought it might be a good time to chronical my adventures, not so much to tell a story of my personal life, but to portray in parallel my personal life and my evolution as an artist or a creative.

Being intrigued by two statements I was familiar with, from studying art history:

  1. “Art imitates life,” Aristotle, around 300BC
  2. “Life imitates art,” Oscar Wilde, 1889

I found that I subscribed to both of these concepts, which gave me the foundation for writing the book and is why I subtitled the book “The art that affected my life and the life that affected my art.”

I appreciated the candid nature with which you told your story. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?

Being a novice author, I did not realize that to chronical my life in the written word, it would be necessary for me to intimately revisit the periods of my life I wished to depict in the story. Recalling certain parts of the story in this way proved to be highly difficult. Writing about the passing of my wife Kathy in 1989, I cried while I was writing about it and I cry today when reading the passages.

What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your book?

A bit of insight into what it is to live life as an artist, a creative.

Author Link: Website

The historical account of my life as an artist: written in a way that reflects the idea, “art mirrors life and life mirrors art.” I use a subtitle for the book: “The art that affected my life and the life that affected my art.” I am a fifty-year veteran of working in the creative industry, accomplishing and/or holding the titles of – fine artist, painter, sculptor, illustrator, designer, graphic designer, conceptual promotional designer, art director, creative director, under graduate advertising arts instructor, private post-secondary college administrator, mentor and more. This book is written in conversational style.
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