Review of A Conflicted Heart: A Daughter’s Quest For Solace From Emotional Guilt, by D.G. Kaye

Well, we finally have the first hints of spring here, after getting pounded by snow several days ago, the temperatures are in the pluses and the snow is turning back to its original state.

I’ve just finished reading a true story about the life experiences of fellow author, D.G. Kaye. What are my thoughts? Keep reading and I’ll share them with you. 🙂

The Deets:

A Lifetime of guilt — What does it take to finally break free?

Somehow I believed it was my obligation to try to do the right thing by her because she had given birth to me.

Burdened with constant worry for her father and the guilt caused by her mother’s narcissism, D.G. Kaye had a short childhood. When she moved away from home at age eighteen, she began to grow into herself, overcoming her lack of guidance and her insecurities. Her life experiences became her teachers, and she learned from the mistakes and choices she made along the way, plagued by the guilt she carried for her mother.

Conflicted Hearts is a heartfelt journey of self-discovery and acceptance, an exploration of the quest for solace from emotional guilt.

My Thoughts:

If there was ever a story that gives a perfect example of peeling away the protective layers in which many of us enshroud ourselves, you’ve just found it.

D.G. courageously shares her story of being raised by an emotionally, and often physically, distant mother and the damaging consequences. I think most of us read stories to connect with the characters, and I found myself highly engaged with the younger D.G., as she tries to navigate through the emotional turmoil of her mother’s rejection; no child should ever have to go through that.    

In spite of her mother’s alienation, D.G. does find strong supporters, within her family and in romantic partners. The reader cannot help but feel relief and joy every time these people turn up in her life.

I grew to admire D.G.’s resilience, kind heart, and appreciated her brutal honesty. The pages are choc full of valuable life lessons.

Life is rarely fair, but there are bright spots that we can soak up, and D.G. is certainly one who has learned to do just that. No one is spared from disappointment and varying degrees of trauma. We all need to find our ‘people’ who will support us.

I recommend this book to anyone with a pulse.  

I’m giving this book, FOUR STARS!  

Please note that I only post reviews on books I deem four or five stars. Life is short and if I don’t like a book, I simply won’t finish it.

Meet D.G. :

D.G. Kaye was born and resides in Toronto, Canada. She is the author of Conflicted Hearts – A Daughter’s Quest for Solace From Emotional Guilt, Meno-What? – A Memoir, Words We Carry, Have Bags, Will Travel, P.S. I Forgive You, and her newest release – Twenty Years: After “I Do”. Kaye is a nonfiction/memoir writer and writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues.

Kaye writes to inspire others. Her writing encompasses stories taken from events she encountered in her own life, and the lessons that were taken from them. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcome some of the many obstacles that challenged her. From an emotionally neglected childhood, to growing up with a narcissistic mother, leaving her with a severely deflated self-esteem, D.G. began seeking a path to rise above her issues. When she isn’t writing intimate memoirs, Kaye brings her natural sense of humor into her other works.

D.G. began writing when pen and paper became tools to express her pent-up emotions during a turbulent childhood. Her writing began as notes and cards she wrote for the people she loved and admired when she was afraid to use her voice.

Through the years, Kaye journaled about life, writing about her opinions on people and events and later began writing poetry and health articles for a Canadian magazine as her interest grew in natural healthcare. Kaye became interested in natural healing and remedies after encountering a few serious health issues. Against many odds, D.G. has overcome adversity several times throughout her life.

D.G. began writing books to share her stories and inspiration. Her compassion and life experiences inspire her to write from the heart. She looks for the good and the positive in everything, and believes in paying it forward.

“For every kindness, there should be kindness in return, Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”

D.G.’s Favorite Saying: “Live. Laugh. Love …and don’t forget to breathe!”

When D.G. is not writing, she’s reading. Her favorite genres of reading are: biographies, memoirs, writing and natural health. Kaye loves to read about people who overcome adversity, victories and redemption and believes we have to keep learning–there is always room for improvement! She loves to cook, travel, and play poker (when she gets the chance).

Connect with her and purchase your copy:

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Review of Passions: Love Poems and Other Writings, by Gabriela Marie Milton

On this wintry Tuesday morning, I find myself pausing to stare out into the dark portal of my backyard window, while my fingers hover over the keyboard to conjure an appropriate review for this poetic masterpiece.  I’m no poet, so below you’ll find my best attempt. I hope it will inspire you to read this, and other works by Gabriela, and experience them for yourself.

I was unable to find a synopsis, but this is a book of poetry, after all. Instead, I’m posting the Foreword:

Gabriela is the type of poet Robert Graves had in mind when he referred to being a poet as a condition- rather than a profession. During my correspondence with Milton, it became clear that the lush scenes and stories were not invented as much as they were unleashed. They came from a mind always teeming with ideas, anticipating these moments of expression when the stuff of thought finds its form in lines, rhythm and stanzas.

As Milton said in an interview, “The days in which I cannot write, I have to compartmentalize my brain and my soul, and then bury my fantasies . . . It’s as if I must exorcise my alter ego.”

Yes, Gabriela Marie Milton is a poet of condition.

Her poetry also takes on a cosmopolitan character, introducing the reader to diverse, sometimes fantastical, spaces. In some of these spaces, I cannot help but see fragments of her life flickering by – of being raised in Europe or of her extensive travels before and after settling in the United States. But in all this movement, we’re greeted by a common theme: the universality and borderlessness of love and passion. This is where her collection truly shines and this is where her poetry must be experienced rather than explained.

Foreword written by: Brian Geiger

Editor of Vita Brevis Press

My Thoughts:

I’m one that habitually looks for hidden meanings in descriptions and words. This is where I had to adapt this thinking and do what Brian Geiger has suggested, “to experience rather than explain.”

Once absolved of these tendencies, I was able to fully immerse into the abstract, yet well-mastered palette of imagery, orchestrated by this gifted poet. Here is just one example:

Nordic Play

an island shimmers on the Nordic Sea

your eyes are madness and pale blue

under your fingers the piano

ennobles pain and makes the snow to fall

play the melancholy of winter

white adulterated by a frozen mauve

I’ll make the bed and walk in silence

to the place of roses and cinnamon

don’t follow me

remain and play under the blues of winter

the scented mystery of all the women

who never knew

the fires hidden

in the glaciers of your soul

I highly recommend this book for anyone who savors astral projection to wolf moonlit plains and sun ripened vines of tomatoes bursting with the flavors of scintillating verse.  

Five stars!

Please note that I only post reviews on books I deem four or five stars. Life is short and if I don’t like a book, I simply won’t finish it.

Meet Gabriela:

Gabriela Marie Milton is an Amazon bestselling poet and an internationally published author. She is the author of the #1 best-selling poetry collection Woman: Splendor and Sorrow: | Love Poems and Poetic Prose, and the author of Passions: Love Poems and Other Writings. Gabriela is also the editor of MasicadoresUSA. Her poetry and short prose have appeared in various magazines and anthologies. Under the pen name Gabriela M she was awarded 2019 Author of the Year at Spillwords Press (NYC). Her piece “If I say I love you” was nominated for 2020 Spillwords Press Publication of the Year (Poetic). On July 6, 2021, Gabriela was featured in New York Glamour Magazine.

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Review of When Can I Stop Running? by John Podlaski

As I write this another steady blast of snow is landing on my roof and around the house. I’m surrounded by a cocoon of white fluffy water, but pecking away at this review, I’m warm and dry.

Today, I’m reviewing a book written by Vietnam War Veteran, John Podlaski.

The deets:

John Podlaski’s encore Vietnam War novel brings back John (‘Polack’) Kowalski, the central character in ‘Cherries’, and introduces us to Louis (‘LG’) Gladwell, his irrepressible black friend. Polack and LG are a ‘Salt and Pepper’ team, best buddies and brothers in a way that only those who have fought side-by-side in a war can ever truly understand.The year is 1970, and the story follows the two soldiers – impressionable Detroit teenagers – during their long night in a Listening Post (‘LP’), some 500 meters beyond the bunker line of the new firebase. Their assignment as a “human early warning system”, is to listen for enemy activity and forewarn the base of any potential dangers. As they were new to the “Iron Triangle” and its reputation, little did they know that units before them lost dozens of soldiers in this nightly high-risk task and referred to those assigned as “bait for the enemy” and “sacrificial lambs”. Sitting in the pitch black tropical jungle – with visibility at less than two feet – John’s imagination takes hold throughout the agonizing night, and at times, transports him back to some of his most vivid childhood memories – innocent, but equally terrifying at the time.As kids, we instinctively run as fast as we can to escape imaginary or perceived danger, but as soldiers, men are trained to conquer their fears and develop the confidence to stand their ground and fight. Running is not an option.

My Thoughts:

My Thoughts:

I admit to not having read the first in this series, “Cherries.” I cannot speak for the plot line in that book. The plot line in, “When Can I Stop Running?” was not what I expected, but in a good way.  The story is written from the perspective of John ‘Polack’ Kowalski and delves more into the internal battle with fear, rather than the physical war John and so many others were dragged into.

The emotions are raw and reveal a perspective that only one, ‘who’s been there,’ can accurately depict. In spite of the nightmare in which John and his partner, Louis Gladwell, are currently enduring, John frequently slips into memories of his life before the war. They start from a childhood fear of the old basement and evolve into fears of a house “haunted” by “witches.” I had a chuckle over most of these childhood flashbacks, as John presents them in a humorous light. The flashbacks were expertly choreographed with the present scenes.  

If you’re looking for a book with realistic, relatable, and likeable characters, I’d highly recommend this book.

Five Stars!

Please note that I only post reviews on books I deem four or five stars. Life is short and if I don’t like a book, I simply won’t finish it.

Meet John:

John Podlaski (1951 – ) was raised in Detroit, Michigan and attended St. Charles and St. Thomas Apostle Catholic schools, graduating in 1969. Immediately afterward, John started working for one of the automotive parts suppliers in the area and then attended junior college full-time in the fall. After four months of overwhelming pressure, John dropped out of college – choosing income over education. This turned out to be a huge error in judgement as a school deferment protected him from the military draft. Uncle Sam wasted no time and Mr. Podlaski soon found himself inducted into the Army in February 1970. Then after six months of training, John was sent to Vietnam as an infantry soldier; serving with both the Wolfhounds of the 25th Division and the Geronimo of the 101st Airborne Division. During his tour of duty, John was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star, two Air Medals, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, and several other campaign medals. Back in the states, Mr. Podlaski spent the next four months in Fort Hood, Texas before receiving an early military discharge in December 1971.

The War Veteran returned to his former position with the automotive supplier and because of his military experience, he was promoted to shift supervisor. He met Janice Jo a few months later and married in 1973. The G.I. Bill helped them to purchase a home in Sterling Heights, MI, they continue living there to this day. A daughter, Nicole Ann was born in 1979. Using additional benefits from the G.I. Bill, Mr. Podlaski returned to college part time; graduating four years later with an Associate Degree in Applied Science.

In 1980, John began working on his memoir about his Vietnam experiences. He had carried a diary during his year in Vietnam, and his mother had saved all the letters he had written from the war zone – both were used to create the outline. He toiled on a manual typewriter for four years before finally completing his work. About the same time, a new national veteran group, akin to the V.F.W. was formed in Washington, DC. They called themselves “Vietnam Veterans of America” and chapters quickly sprung up around the country. John joined Chapter 154 in Mt. Clemens, MI, and as an active member, helped to launch their

inaugural Color Guard – marching in parades and posting colors for local events. The members of this chapter were a closely knit group, but wives often felt left out during the many discussions about Vietnam. When learning that John had authored a book about his tour of duty, the wives asked to share a copy of the manuscript, hoping it would help them better understand what their husbands might have endured during their time in Vietnam. The memoir was well received, and wives were now joining their men during these discussions. All were increasingly supportive and urged him to locate a publisher. After hundreds of rejections, a publisher from Atlanta, GA finally came forward and offered to consider the manuscript if it were re-written to a third-person format.

Atari had just come out with a new computer console and a word processor – making re-writes and editing much easier; his work now saved on floppy diskettes. The re-write continued until 1989, consuming all his spare time. John had finished half of the manuscript, then suddenly lost interest – discouraged, and not wanting to work on it any longer – it was ten years already and there was no light at the end of the tunnel. So everything was boxed up and moved to the garage for storage.

Mr. Podlaski continued working for various companies within the automotive sector; primarily in Management roles tasked in either plant start-ups, financial turnaround, or plant closures. John returned to college in 2000 and received a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration two years later. He and his wife retired in mid-2013.

At John’s 40th high school reunion, many of his former classmates who read his original manuscript twenty years earlier had questioned its lack of publication. It was a great story and all were relentless in their efforts to get him motivated and finish the rewrite – offering help wherever needed.

After learning that the conversion of Atari diskettes to the Microsoft Word format was extremely cost prohibitive, John’s daughter offered to retype both the completed manuscript and the rewrite, saving both on a USB memory stick. Nine months later, “Cherries” was completed and published. It took almost thirty years, but seeing it in print made it all worthwhile.

During his retirement, John published a second book about his Vietnam experience called, “When Can I Stop Running?” in 2016. Additionally, he’s published two short stories: Unhinged and Unwelcomed; all are available on Amazon.

The author and his wife own a 1997 Harley Davidson Heritage motorcycle and enjoy riding when possible; both are members of the Harley Owner Group.

Connect with John and purchase his works:

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Review Of Telling Sonny, by Liz Gauffreau

First of all, I’d like to start out by wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! May you find joy and peace in this season and throughout 2022!

This will be my last review for 2021, and it ends well!

Synopsis

At nineteen, pretty, vivacious Faby Gagne is still waiting for her life to begin. The time is 1924, the place Enosburg Falls, Vermont. With school over, her time is now occupied with mundane chores and avoiding the crossfire of resentment between her mother and her grandmother.

As the time approaches for the annual vaudeville show to arrive in the village, Faby watches the posters go up with increasing excitement. She is the best kind of audience for the Small Time: she does not discriminate. 

When the show comes to the Opera House at last, Faby catches the eye of charming hoofer Slim White, who sets a course for her life that she never could have imagined.

My Turn

During the era of flapper girls and vaudeville thrills, the idea of being a farmer’s wife in rural Vermont holds little appeal for young Faby Gagne. In an act of youthful naivety, and despite her sister Josephine’s warnings, she allows herself to be courted by a vaudeville performer, who goes by the stage name of Slim White.

Things happen, as they do, and Faby’s life is forever changed. Though she gets her wish to leave Enosburgh Falls, things on the ‘circuit’ are not all glitz and glory. A coming-of-age story with a cautionary undertone, Telling Sonny will hold your attention and immerse you into the Roarin’ Twenties.  Though I found some of the excessive descriptions concerning mundane details to grow a bit long in the tooth, Elizabeth does an excellent job of building a connection to her characters. You cannot read this story without developing a significant degree of compassion for the once spirited Faby, who discovers that life doesn’t always tailor itself to your dreams.

There is a melancholic edge to this story, but it’s peppered with the joy and strength of true family love and support. They are there for her, whenever she needs them. I’d recommend this book for those who enjoy visiting by-gone eras and characters that are both larger than life yet must subsist on stale sandwiches and bad coffee.   

I’m giving Telling Sonny Four Stars!

Please note that I only post reviews on books I deem four or five stars. Life is short and if I don’t like a book, I simply won’t finish it.

Meet Elizabeth:

Elizabeth Gauffreau writes fiction and poetry with a strong connection to family and place. She holds a B.A. in English from Old Dominion University and an M.A. in English/Fiction Writing from the University of New Hampshire. She is currently the Assistant Dean of Curriculum & Assessment for Champlain College Online, where she is an Associate Professor. Her fiction and poetry have been published in literary magazines and several themed anthologies. Her debut novel, Telling Sonny, was published by Adelaide Books in 2018. Liz lives in Nottingham, New Hampshire with her husband.

Connect with her, check out her books and make that purchase:

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Review of Desolation Bluff, by Toni Pike

It’s been awhile since I’ve last posted a book review, so I’ll be changing that today. My TBR pile is growing and lately I’ve done little about working it down. Another situation that I’m changing. 🙂

Today I bring you my thoughts on Desolation Bluff, by Toni Pike.

Take it away, Amazon:

Blind romance author Oliver Cameron uses the pen name of Fidel Amore and thinks he has the perfect life at his country estate near Desolation Bluff. After a honeymoon in Paris, his wife Vanessa continues her work as his assistant. His friend Ray is the business manager who lives in the gatehouse and also acts as the public face of Fidel Amore, doing all those book-signing trips that Oliver never wanted to attend. Helen Dunkley is the housekeeper devoted to him since childhood – but she detests the two newcomers.

Complications set in when Ray, working on his old car, accidentally backs into Oliver. His injuries appear minor but the next day he suddenly regains his sight. Oliver wants Ray and Vanessa to be the first to hear his good news, but when he finds them he uncovers a shocking betrayal.

Thanks Amazon, I’ll take it from here:

It’s hard to delve into the nitty-gritty of this book and keep from revealing the plots and twists. It’s a fun, quick read, with a “Got ya!” ending. The story flows well and Toni has done a great job of creating characters that are easily sympathized or hated.

Some of the plot is predictable, yet I liked the way it was knit together. I couldn’t help but smile at the “comeuppance” served so cleverly by the protagonists.

There’s just enough romance to wet the taste buds of fans of the genre, and enough to appeal to those who prefer action/thriller. A great balance of both. I’m giving this one, FOUR STARS!

Meet Toni:

Toni Pike is a multi-genre author who enjoys writing exciting thrillers for adults, non-fiction, and hilarious books for children. She also loves travelling and being with family and friends. She lives in Australia and firmly believes that coffee and long walks are an essential part of any day.

Do you like books that you can’t stop reading? Pike is the author of DESOLATION BLUFF, DEAD DRY HEART and The Jotham Fletcher Mystery Thriller Series: THE MAGUS COVENANT, THE ROCK OF MAGUS, THE MAGUS EPIPHANY and HOLY SPEAR OF MAGUS.

The Brody Cody Series is for children aged 6-9: BRODY CODY AND THE STEPMOTHER FROM OUTER SPACE and BRODY CODY AND THE HAUNTED VACATION HOUSE.

She’s also the author of two non-fiction books. THE ONE WAY DIET is a no-nonsense guide to losing weight and coping with the journey. HAPPY TRAVELS 101 is a short book of travel tips with great advice for anyone who wants to travel overseas.

Website

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