Review of Linda’s Midlife Crisis, by Toni Pike

I’ve been absent on the blogosphere lately, my apologies to everyone who’s posts I’ve yet to read. I promise that I will
catch up. Between starting a new job, an online course, writing, and well, everything else, time is a precious commodity.

Today I have the pleasure of reviewing, Linda’s Midlife Crisis, by Toni Pike. I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

What’s it about?

How does a fifty-year-old woman start a new life?

Meet Linda Lockwood: fifty, fat, frumpy and bullied by her horrible husband Ron and the vile students and principal at the school where she teaches English. But her life is about to undergo a total transformation.

Linda suffers a breakdown after a traumatic classroom incident, and that brings out the worst in Ron and devious principal, Wayne Forsythe. Then she is rocked to discover her husband has a shocking secret.

With her own determination and the help of friends and family, she starts to turn her life around. She begins to succeed, but there are still some more surprises in store Linda.

My View:

This is a classic, “rags to riches,” tale that does a wonderful job of creating sympathy for our down and out protagonist.

Though her circumstances have never been ideal, the bullies in Linda’s life push her to the edge with a series of offenses ranging from indifference to downright abusive. Battered and bruised (figuratively), Linda’s self esteem slides to a new low. The future is bleak.

Fortunately, she’s blessed with a strong cast of supportive family and
friends. They lift her up, infusing her with the courage to rise before the
bell rings. Linda begins to take calculated risks and discovers a new life that
she’d never dreamed was possible. When the past raises an ugly head, she
quickly banishes it with her newfound confidence.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who relishes stories about overcoming
massive obstacles to win a second chance.

Meet Toni: 

Toni Pike is a multi-genre author who enjoys writing page-turning fiction for adults, hilarious books for children, and non-fiction. 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 LINDA’S MIDLIFE CRISIS, 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. HAPPY TRAVELS 101 is a short book of travel tips with advice for anyone who wants to travel overseas.

Connect with her and grab your copy:

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Review of, Runaway (City Streets Trilogy Book One), by Susanne Perry

First and foremost, I’d like to wish a belated, “Happy Mother’s Day,” to my readers. We travelled the 401 to visit with our families and had a wonderful time with great weather.

Today I’m sharing a review of another fantastic read!

The Deets:

Runaway: a runaway is found dead in an alley. Who is she? Why is she living on the street? The answers lie deep within the community of street dwellers, often ignored or invisible. To find the young woman’s killer, Sergeant Liz Jordan and Officer Kyle Connors must earn the trust of people without permanent addresses, who do not trust the establishment. Delving deep into a world of uncertainty and danger, the investigation uncovers a web of deceit and exploitation that preys on the most vulnerable. Runaway is the first novel in the City Streets Trilogy.

My Thoughts:

Chock full of ample mountain road twisty turns to satisfy any avid mystery fan, Runaway, also makes a powerful statement about the gaping inequalities and cracks in our economic and social welfare system. It’s quite easy to imagine many of the scenarios playing out in communities across the world.

The main characters were three dimensional with idiosyncrasies, addictions, and flaws all well-packaged. As someone who’s spent years in law enforcement, Runaway, brought up a question that I’ve pondered for years. Is someone’s behavior and personality influenced to a greater extent by nature or nurture? I’ve never been able to figure that one out.

Regardless of your stance on this, I’d highly recommend this read for all the reasons mentioned above. I’m looking forward to diving into the rest of this series.

Five Stars!  

Please note that I do not post reviews of books that I deem to be less than four stars. Life’s too short, and if I don’t enjoy the read, I simply won’t finish it.

Meet Susanne:

Perry is the author of The City Streets Series–three mysteries set within the street community of the Pacific Northwest. An avid reader of mysteries, Perry chose to write in that genre, combining love of “who-dun-its” with experience working with people. Runaway, Veteran and Gutter Punk, the three titles in the series, include references to history, places, and culture specific to their Pacific Northwest settings. Perry is a native of Washington state and worked for a variety of non-profit programs serving children and families. Perry resides with her husband in Arizona.

Grab your copy:

Amazon.com

Review of, The Prince And The Prodigal, by Jill Eileen Smith

As I look out the window, all I can see is brown . . . but that’s a good thing! Yesterday the ground was being struck by hail and sleet and today there’s nothing but clear skies. 🙂

Please let me steal you away to a place where snow never falls, and the earth bakes to a crisp under a hot desert sun. I’m talking about ancient Egypt.

The Details:

Joseph is the pampered favorite son of the patriarch Jacob. His older brothers, deeply resentful of his status in the family, take advantage of the chance to get rid of him, selling him to slave traders and deceiving their father about his fate. It seems like their troubles are over. But for Joseph and older brother Judah, they are just beginning.

While Joseph is accused of rape and imprisoned, Judah attempts to flee the memory of his complicity in the betrayal of his younger brother. After decades apart, the brothers will come face-to-face in a stunning role reversal that sees Joseph in a position of great power while Judah begs for mercy. Will forgiveness or vengeance win the day?

Bestselling and award-winning author Jill Eileen Smith brings her considerable research and imaginative skills to bear in this vivid retelling of one of the most popular stories found in Scripture–a story of jealousy, betrayal, and a reconciliation that only God could bring about.

My Thoughts:

I am extremely familiar with the Biblical account of Joseph’s life, so I was excited to read this book. Let me tell you, I’m glad I did.

This was an excellent ‘behind the scenes’ story of what must have been the dramatic, and traumatic, lives of Joseph and his family. Jill cleverly weaves scenes throughout the story that bring these historical figures to life and through her words, those Sunday School lessons leapt from the pages to become three dimensional.

The book sticks to the main facts but allows the reader an insight into the possible mindset of people who lived thousands of years ago.

I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the Bible, history, the supernatural, adventure, or stories with great outcomes.

I’m giving this one Five Stars!

Meet Jill:

Jill Eileen Smith is the bestselling, award-winning author of the Wives of King David series, Wives of the Patriarchs, Daughters of the Promised Land, The Heart of a King, Star of Persia, Miriam’s Song, and the nonfiction When Life Doesn’t Match Your Dreams, and She Walked Before Us. Her research has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times.

When she isn’t writing, she loves to spend time with her family and friends, read stories that take her away, ride her bike to the park, snag date nights with her hubby, try out new restaurants, or play with her lovable, “helpful” cat Tiger. Jill lives with her family in southeast Michigan.

Grab a copy of one of her works and connect with her:

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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:

Website Goodreads Twitter Facebook LinkedIn Amazon.com

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:

Website Twitter Amazon.com Amazon.ca