Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Book Review – Something Beautiful by Amanda Gernentz Hanson (Pre-release)

Declan and Cordelia, two childhood best friends who share a deep and abiding love spanning their respective life times. But what is love? 

Amanda Gernentz Hanson's debut novel is not what it might seem on outside, much like how most people live their lives, go about their business, and love their loves. This story explores the fact that love is not easily defined by psychologists, the dictionary, religious texts or even the beholder. 

Just as in life, love can start as one thing, turn into another, and it can stay the same and yet be different…all at the same time. Caging the heart remains the quest of humankind both throughout history and even within our literature…and yet here we are, hearts still wide open to love as well as to the eventual pain. Just like the complicated love found between classic literary figures such as Cathy and Heathcliff, Declan and Cordelia – while not quite as complicated as some of our gothic favorites – is still found to be..."complicated." But complicated does not mean "wrong" or "less than" or "disingenuous."

Without giving too much away, this is the modern kind of story that needs to be told. It is too easy to tell (or read about) the traditional story of boy meets girl, boy loves girl, boy marries girl, boy and girl have a family. It's too easy to address homosexuality, confusion, and the different kinds of attractions we feel toward other human beings with some subtle twist at the end or with the perennial endearing and supportive gay best friend as the side show of some other story altogether. Hanson’s book takes a challenging and deeply confusing situation, which has been faced in one way or another throughout time by countless people, and forces it out into the open. 

Something Beautiful touches on a couple of darker issues, like teenaged depression and self mutilation, but the protagonists' battle is strictly about love. Underlying every battle, whether it’s someone wrestling with homosexual attractions or someone wrestling with some other "thing" which tries so desperately to paint “love” in a certain perfect life affirming color - at the root, this is what most of them are about. Loving others, loving ourselves, romantic love, platonic love, motherly love, love of God, love of country...and so on.  

In the end, when the dust settles from the inevitable brutality that is “life,” whether in a fictional story like this novel or in the harsh realities facing individual people every day...isn't it all simply about making and experiencing something beautiful?

This book answers the question: “Isn't it true that some things are just impossible to put into words?” Considering that we are talking about a book full of words, “love” remains uncontained throughout.  

While this book has a YA flavoring or even an NA seasoning, I think it speaks to the wider genre audience.  It shouldn't be pigeonholed. So if you are looking for something new and fresh and are interested in opening your mind to the many challenges of “love,” get yourself a copy of this well written, thoughtful, humble – yet bold – debut.   

Something Beautiful releases on June 27, 2017 to all major book retailers. To learn more about the author, visit her website at her website: Browneyed Twentysomething 


Monday, January 16, 2017

Book Review - One God: The Will to Power, a novel by Kata Mlek

Today, Finding Dori Book Reviews (for independent authors) brings you another review of Polish author Kata Mlek. 

Kata Mlek brings us this first part in a three book series of a (not too distant) future world. Miran Zyelinski has a vision, which includes the immortality of mankind. In order to be able to accomplish his mission, he has enlisted the support of connected individuals who share his mindset. The underlying issue at hand is world domination through the control of the masses with food production as its venue. Those with money and power can control food production either like Miran, who focuses on GMOs, or like Will Smart, who focuses on seducing naturalists and minimalists to work and run his eco-friendly farms.

The book itself is written well and very crisp with its pace. It can get a bit confusing at times because there seem to be so many characters intertwined within the story, but Kata tries to write all kinds of big and little players into the larger picture: the corporate leaders themselves, the average loving mother who wants to live a simple, healthy life; the driver, the single mother trying to get ahead in this world.  

There are a few disturbing scenes in the book, and so I do not recommend this for younger people interested in dystopian leaning techno thrillers; however, Kata weaves a quick telling but all engrossing tale of greed, money, power and the insatiable lust of all three.  

To purchase this book, head on over to Amazon. Check out Kata's other books as well. To learn more about her writing, visit her website for more information. 


Friday, January 13, 2017

Interview on The George Wilder Jr. Show

I appeared (30 minutes into the show) on the George Wilder Jr. Show last night. His BlogTalkRadio show is out of Chicago and he talks a lot of about politics and culture. An author himself, he also invites authors on to speak about their writing and books.

Check here if you'd like to listen to my call-in portion (again...about 30 minutes into the broadcast).

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Second Loser

My husband and I were once athletes, long ago, when our bodies were young and strong and quick. Even in our 30s and entering our 40s, we could still hold our own. Competitive, hard working, wanting to be the best at whatever sporting event it was at the time. 

I am sure that a lot of Olympic and world class athletes who compete at the highest levels are happy when they "medal," but honestly, I think most of them are not that happy with Bronze. Bronze is "the second loser" in sports. As much as I love soccer, I always laughed at the tournament set up because there is a third place game. Two teams lose to the eventual final game opponents...and rather than go home to lick their wounds...they have to play another game. Like...who the hell wants to play for third place? Maybe it is cultural and maybe the people from other countries are proud to claim third prize. But that is a mindset that alludes me, and if it's because I'm American, then so be it.

As I continue along this new author journey, I have learned that any kind of recognition for your writing is good. Even mediocre or negative reviews are good. "Second loser" in a writing contest is almost the same as a win. 

My debut novel, Scout's Honor, recently won Bronze for Southern Fiction at the 2016 Readers' Favorite International Book Awards. Now I can claim that I'm an "award winning author" or that my book is an "award winning book." If I were bold, I'd put "best selling author" in front of my name. Out of all the authors in my neighborhood, I've sold the most books. 

On November 18th, I got to go to Miami to receive my award on a stage in front of a bunch of strangers, most of them also authors. While it was a nice moment for me, it stung deep because my husband never got to see it. I felt truly alone, unlike at any other point in my life. An occasion that was supposed to highlight my only real accomplishment in life, a book that touched a few lives, and that Scout's story meant something to the judges, was eclipsed by the absence of one man. 

Back in September, two days before he suffered a second stroke and began his fast descent into his final days, I found out about Scout's Honor's award. I was able to tell him about it, as I sat in a chair next to him, his speech seriously impeded and not doing well at all. But I was able to tell him, at least. It was the first time he actually looked at me since he suffered his first stroke. 

Scout's Honor was something that he had been proud about, a project of mine which he supported. My novel's launch was the one thing I had during his cancer diagnosis and ensuing nightmare that gave me a glimmer of hope about our life. And just as he was suffering and dying in front of my eyes, enduing his final days on this earth, my book won an award.  

I don't think winning this prize has actually sold any more copies of Scout's Honor or brought me additional opportunities to write and talk about my work in the vaunted "book world," and I can hear my husband saying, jokingly as a fellow American former athlete, "How does it feel to be the 'second loser?'" But winning this prize gave me a brief moment in the sun, confirming that all of the time and energy I spent on writing this story was time and energy well spent. 

My husband may not have been able to convey his happiness for me upon learning of my award and he may not have been able to attend the ceremony and take my photo and say to strangers, "That's my wife" ... but the book itself was our's, a small anchor that tethered us both to a small flicker of hope throughout the most hopeless stretch of time in our lives. 


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Book Review - Broken Eagle by James T. Crouse

Broken Eagle – a Thriller
By James T. Crouse

First time novelist James T. Crouse gives us a new hero to consider: an all American “Boy Scout,” Army officer turned North Carolina solo litigator, Jake Baird. Jake is presented with a Marine widow whose husband perished in a defective “combat ready” helicopter and his death subsequently hushed by the Powers That Be. Convinced by a mysterious gravelly voiced man to file suit on behalf of the widow against the military contractors responsible for the faulty aircraft in order to halt its operations and expose the perpetuated fraud putting pilots and personnel at risk, Jake finds himself in a cloak and dagger race against time with corrupt agents of federal government, the military and private enterprise.

Crouse’s writing is replete with detail known only to someone with an extensive background in aviation as well as a sound legal education and practice in litigation. Precise and quick, the story moves steadily through local southern personalities all the way up to top levels of government and the means and motives which move even the most well meaning among us.

For those looking for deep emotional connections, intense character development and immense personal growth, this is not the type of story for you. Jake Baird is almost the epitome of human perfection right from the first word, the very definition of integrity and personal morality, the kind of man every American woman would want to bring home to meet her over protective father. The “good guys” in this story show virtually no flaws or failings and the “bad guys” do not even seem slightly conflicted about their decisions. This story revolves around the extremes among us and in typical exciting thriller format: Good versus Evil, David versus Goliath, Light versus Dark.

Great first book by James T. Crouse in the outstanding tradition of military thrillers: conspiracy, corruption and the everyday patriots who live and work among us. A wonderful salute to those who serve this country honorably in the harshest of places, doing the unseen and untold duties that call for the very heart of this nation.

To learn more about this author, please visit www.JamesTCrouse.com.