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Book Review: Wrecked by by Nick Stephens

Book Details:

Author: Nick Stephens
Release Date: 
30th April 2022
Series:
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Suspense
Format: E-book 
Pages: 141 pages
Publisher: Reading Between the Lines pub.
Blurb:
Sam has been stuck on this deserted island for some time. How long? He has no idea. He was just about to give up on trying to survive when Desmond crashd ashore. Unfortunately, not only does Desmond not offer any hopes of rescue, he appears to be insane. Sam must survive the island and Desmond while he attempts to remember who he is and how he got there.

Desmond found himself stranded after his plan for murder goes awry. Perhaps Sam will learn more about himself as he uncovers the truth about Desmond. Perhaps he will find himself descending into madness. Wrecked is a thrilling novel full of suspense, twisting and churning like the rough tides of the open ocean.
Will Sam survive long enough to piece together his past, or will the island, and Desmond, destroy any shred of hope he has left?

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Wrecked by Nick Stephens is a brilliantly written psychological thriller novel that I thoroughly enjoyed reading right from the very beginning until the last page!

This book had a really good concept and the execution was spot on. The characterisation was great and I was able to feel a connection with Sam, the main character, and wanted to see how things would turn out for him. And boy, I was not expecting the end to be the way it turned out to be! Absolutely loved the way the book ended. The tension and suspense ran tight and high throughout the book and I really appreciated it as it made the book an un-put-down-able read!

I would strongly recommend this book to all psychological thriller readers. This book has a great premise and an amazingly written plot that’ll blow your mind!


You can also read this review on:

Goodreads


Amazon


Author Interview: Richard Scharine

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author of The Past We Step Into, Richard Scharine, from Atmosphere Press, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Richard Scharine is from rural Wisconsin. A professor emeritus in the University of Utah theatre department, his honors include University Professor, University Diversity Award, and College of Fine Arts Excellence Award. Dr. Scharine has published two scholarly books, five book chapters, and many articles. A Fulbright Senior Lecturer at the University of Gdansk in Poland, he has directed a hundred plays and acted in seven foreign countries, including the title role in Oedipus at Colonus in Athens, Greece. The smartest thing he did was to marry Marilyn Hunt Scharine.

You can connect with author Scharine here:
Author Website


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

I attended a one-room grade school.  Disadvantages:  No plumbing or indoor bathrooms.  Having to work to the nearest farm with a bucket for water.  Advantages:  Taking 8th grade eight times if you paid attention.  (Seven in my case because I skipped a grade.)  Going to the library meant only walking to the back of the room.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

In eleven of the twelve stories a woman gives advice to a man—almost always the character based on the author.  Sometimes she shares with him.  Sometimes she blames him.  The title, The Past We Step Into, was taken from Amanda Gorman’s inauguration poem.

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

We’re aware of most of what happens in our lives, but it may take a long time before we recognize its importance.  (I call it “the unawareness factor.”)

Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

Lynne, the wife of the narrator, appears in ten of the twelve stories.  Two are told entirely from her viewpoint:  In “Hiroshima 1964” she has a miscarriage, and in “Yemaja” she is diagnosed with a fatal disease.  (Believe me, that is not the most important thing in the story.)

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

I didn’t even know I was writing a book until I wrote the 12th story, “Danton on the Kaw.”  At that point I realized I had written a cycle of stories about the same set of characters, set from the 1940s to the early 21st century, but with a gap from 1964 to 1977.  The events of “Danton on the Kaw” happened in 1970.

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

I’m an academic and I’d written two books and a score of articles and reviews in that genre, but I didn’t begin to write “fiction” until my sister died in 2006.  She was the last of my family from that generation (including my wife), and as my academic career slowed down I began investing the richness of their characters in situations where they didn’t always find themselves in real life.

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today? 

Given my age, my ashes will probably be found at the base of the tree that Westminster College planted by the Arts Building in honor of my wife.  If I survive (given my age), I have a lot of stories yet to tell, courses yet to teach, and on-stage roles yet to play.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

Right now I’m working on a story called “Harvest,” which centers on a nine-year-old Wisconsin boy taking part in his first grain harvest in 1947, but the characters who shape his life are a cousin (who never appears) with almost God-like abilities and a hired man with a dark past.  “Harvest” will also be the title of the book, if Atmosphere Press is willing to include a number of other stories I’ve written.

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

Children always make up stories.  Mine were initially based upon 15 or 30 minute radio programs (Superman, Tom Mix, The Lone Ranger, etc.).  My father, who had to go to work in the 6th grade, always had magazines and books around the house.  My favorite was Collier’s, especially the single-page science fiction stories by Ray Bradbury—many of which I still remember today.  As a literary historian, I fell into the habit of teaching history through stories (80 minutes of stand-up).

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

Beats me!  Following army service, I discovered theatre in my second junior year of college.  After a Berlin Wall-based call-up was over, I was accepted into graduate school solely because in those pre-feminist days my wife had been accepted and they felt they hadto take me.  Sixteen years later, I had directed 45 plays and the University of Utah hired me strictly as a classroom teacher.  I’ve acted in seven foreign countries—always with an academic group—and I believe the connection between acting/directing and writing fiction is imagination.  I always see pictures and hear dialogue when I write.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

I don’t sit down until I have something to say (or a deadline).  Even then I put it off as long as possible.  It’s mid-afternoon before I touch the laptop and I’m there until the early hours of the morning.  I don’t work from handwritten notes unless the story has a particular routine and time period to cover, e.g. a summer of riots and rehearsals in “Danton on the Kaw,” or a farm to farm grain harvest in “Harvest.”

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

The great thing about a laptop computer is the ability to start over again, and to save something that isn’t right at this moment, but may be useful some other place in the manuscript.  You young whipper-snappers have no idea what it was like to write before the days of saved documents and copy machines.  Imagine a 1964 graduate thesis written on a typewriter using four carbons to make five copies.

What are your 5 favourite books? (You can share 5 favourite authors too.)

I’ll stick to Americans and also eliminate playwrights.  As a child of the ’30s I was first introduced to Sinclair Lewis and John Steinbeck.  I read every word Thomas Wolfe ever wrote.  (Thank God he died before he was 38.)  Look Homeward, Angel is the most nourishing book I ever read, in that when we were breaking bivouac during a War Games exercise, somebody threw my copy into the egg crate of a mess truck.  I also read nearly every book John Updike wrote, Kurt Vonnegut going back to when he wrote for Collier’s, and twenty years of short stories in The New Yorker.  Alice Munro is almost exactly seven years older than I am, and should she go first, I am planning a Mr. Spock Vulcan mind-meld to get inside her brain.  That girl can really mess with time!           

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I know what I did, but I wouldn’t recommend it.  At the beginning of 2020 I had stopped writing.  “Danton on the Kaw,” the last and longest story of The Past We Step Into (located in the exact middle of the book), was fifty years in the making, based on the Vietnam War protests and Civil Rights riots in Lawrence and at the University of Kansas, where I was working on a PhD in the summer of 1970.  I saw no way of dealing with it.  Then I was diagnosed with cancer, and then the chemotherapy didn’t work.  The answer, eventually, was Imbruvica, but before that was available I experienced some colorful hallucinations, the best of which I wrote as a short story which I hope Atmosphere Press will consider for my next book.  When I got out of the hospital almost exactly two years ago, I couldn’t walk but my mind was clear and, thanks to the pandemic, no one could go anywhere anyway.  In the summer of 1970 I was obsessed with Georg Buchner’s 1835 revolutionary play, Danton’s Death.  Danton was an actual hero of the French Revolution, until it occurred to him that the only way of continuing the revolution was to kill more and more people.  At which point he “tuned in, turned on, and dropped out.”  Shortly thereafter he was on the guillotine.  Shortly after I was home, the protagonist of “Danton on the Kaw” was trying to produce Danton’s Death in the midst of an actual revolution, interacting and in one case, casting, actual participants in the revolution.  As I’ve said, that story turned The Past We Step Into into a book.  My methodology is not practical, but I can walk now.

What advice would you give to aspiring non-fiction writers?

For heaven’s sake, write from your own experience. Already suffering from writer’s block in 2018, I took a college class with other hopeful writers.  My young classmates, whose accumulated ages roughly approximated mine, lived in a world of sexual and economic threats, reasonable fears, uncertain futures, and about the same number of intriguing possibilities.  And I never read so many cliches in my life.  Look around you, I would have counseled.  Of course, given my age, I didn’t have to “look around.”  I looked back, and wrote “Saturday Night in front of the IGA, which became the first chapter in The Past We Step Into.

Thank you, author Scharine, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

The Past We Step Into

“Time is the school in which we learn

Time is the fire in which we burn.”

— Delmore Schwartz

A young couple finds themselves hip-deep in sex, social change, the Arts, Civil Rights, politics, warfare, and — ultimately — children, as they negotiate the paths of self-discovery spanning over fifty years and four continents.

In the twelve stories of Richard Scharine’s The Past We Step Into, we experience the America we remember, the America we want to forget, and the America we dream of achieving.


You can find The Past We Step Into here:
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Book Spotlight: Devil’s Kiss by Michelle Bennington 

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, we are featuring author Michelle Bennington for her latest release Devil’s Kiss releasing this May!

Devil’s Kiss

Book: Devil’s Kiss: A Small Batch Mystery
Author: Michelle Bennington
Series: A Small Batch Mystery (Book #1)
Publication Date: 31st May 2022
Page Count: 274
Genre: Cozy Mystery, Suspense
Publisher: Level Best Books


Synopsis

Rook Campbell is broke, divorced, jobless, and in desperate need of steady employment, which is hard to come by in the small town of Rothdale, Kentucky. With the help of her friend and neighbor Bryan, she lands a good job at the Four Wild Horses Distillery and meets an attractive co-worker with lots of dating potential. Her life is finally headed in the right direction until a co-worker dies under suspicious circumstances and a shipment of rare small-batch bourbon goes missing. Worse, her personal life begins to unravel as her beloved grandmother falls ill. Normally she can depend on her ex, Cam, for help, but his new fiancée’s jealousy is getting in the way. As the body count rises, Rook becomes ensnared in discovering who’s committing the crimes—or she might be the next to die.

You can find Devil’s Kiss here:
Amazon | Goodreads


About The Author

Michelle Bennington

Born and raised in the beautiful Bluegrass state of Kentucky, Michelle Bennington developed a passion for books early on that has progressed into a mild hoarding situation and an ever-growing to-read pile. She delights in spinning mysteries and histories. Find out more on her website: http://www.michellebennington.com and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and GoodReads.

You can find author Michelle here:
Author Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Book Review: Infernal Relations: A Quintessential English Comedy by P.S. Rover

Book Details:

Author: P.S. Rover
Release Date: 
4th April 2022
Series:
Genre: Literary Comedy, Humour
Format: E-book 
Pages: 270 pages
Publisher: Forte Books
Blurb:
Eloping Has Never Been So Criminal
Another academic season is in the offing at Lockwood Institute, the eclectic finishing school for those who’ve been barred elsewhere. When Spencer and his interloping cousin, Monty, are summoned back for a special assignment they quickly find themselves in the thick of it with a trophy-hunting Brigadier on a quest to slay a mysterious beast, while his daughter, Natalia, proves a temptation too much for the fantastical Monty. This heady concoction provides the perfect ingredients to rock institute life to its foundations.

As one staggering revelation unfolds after another, does Spencer have the fortitude to cope? Monty couldn’t possibly have done what people think, could he? Is he culpable? Is he capable? As Spencer desperately tries to pull Monty’s chestnuts out of the fire, a head-spinning discovery awaits them. Skulduggery is afoot!

“It IS funny. Just what we all need”

Cassandra Clark (Acclaimed author of the Brother Chandler trilogy and more.)

“A great story.” 
LoveReading

“An intricate and well-written book. Filled with atmosphere … I enjoyed reading it and would recommend it to other literary fiction fans.” 
LoveReading

“The beauty of this book is in the writing. Rover has a wonderful way with words and I found myself laughing out loud at several lines where Spencer gave his unusual views on life around him. I thoroughly enjoyed Infernal Relations by P.S. Rover which I have awarded 4.5 stars.”
(Whispering Stories) 

“Rover is excellent at crafting unique sentences … with a poetic touch… Readers will leave the book impressed by his ability to squeeze all the juice out of the English language.” 
(Independent Book Review)

“A rollercoaster ride” 
(Independent Book Review)

This book will especially delight fans of:
The Ransom of Red Chief (O’Henry), The Harpole Report (J.L. Carr), The Ascent of Rum Doodle (E.W. Bowman), Diary of a Nobody (Grossmith), Augustus Carp Esq., James Thurber, Mark Twain, Wodehouse.

Review

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Infernal Relations by P.S. Rover is a brilliantly crafted booking roaring with intricately woven English humour.

I recently happened to re-read The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer for my book club’s genre challenge and reading this book right after that one was like stepping into a different version of the same book. I don’t mean that both the books are the same, but what I do mean is that the author of Infernal Relations heavily draws from the sense of nostalgia that is invoked while reading Mark Twain’s masterpiece. I might not have noticed it so acutely had I not just finished re-reading TDOTS right before picking up this one! But I am glad that happened because it made the reading experience of this book even more enriched. The differences in both the books were pretty evident and both the books are very different, yet they are very similar (again you’d notice it only if you’re very observant or, like me, had recently, read both the books so close to each other.)

Moving on from comparing the two books, I loved this book a lot. The writing was marvellous and I enjoyed the lyrical quality of the prose, which is so rare these days, to find in contemporary fiction. I liked how the author used his brilliant sense of humour and an acute sense of using phrases to his advantage to bring out the subtlety of satire in the best possible ways. I chucked more than I was expecting and giggled probably more than I should have. The story had a great flow and the pacing was really good and kept the flow very smooth. I enjoyed reading this book right from the beginning to the very end.

I am not a literary expert, although I am somewhat of a self-proclaimed book aficionado, and hence I’d like to say that, for me at least, the author’s style resembles a lot to that of the revered Mark Twain and therefore, I really really enjoyed his writing and in fact, I am looking forward to reading more of his works in the future (hopefully soon!)


You can also read this review on:

Goodreads


Amazon


Audiobook Excerpt Reveal: Ballad Of Jasmine Wills by Lee Rozelle

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Lee Rozelle who’ll be sharing a couple of excerpts from their latest audiobook Ballad Of Jasmine Wills.

About the Book

Ballad Of Jasmine Wills

A zany twist on the Southern Gothic, Ballad of Jasmine Wills is a wild and heartfelt tale of abduction and revenge, body shaming and media fame. Lee Rozelle’s debut novel is the story of overweight banker Jasmine and her kidnapper, the enigmatic reality TV mastermind Preston Price. Trapped inside an egg-shaped studio in the secluded backwoods, Jasmine is tortured with haute cuisine, brainwashed with self-help videos, and badgered with cardio exercise routines for her growing mass of livestream fans. Filled with flashbacks of adolescent nuttiness and ennui in the 1980s, Ballad of Jasmine Wills goes bizarro to explore links between reality TV and the real, intervention and exploitation.

You can find Ballad Of Jasmine Wills here:
Author Website | Amazon | Goodreads

Audio Excerpt #1
“Jasmine and Suzie Work Out”

Overweight banker Jasmine Wills has been kidnapped, placed in an egg-shaped dome, and forced to watch self-help videos. Suddenly a monitor pops on and she hears techno…


Audio Excerpt #2
“The Ossobuco Catastrophe”

Reality TV chefs Annon Martiz and Morris make a special Mediterranean meal for kidnapped Jasmine.


Audio Excerpt #3
“Preston’s Deliverance”

Preston searches for Jasmine in the woods but finds a gang of suspicious-looking pig hunters instead.


About The Author

Lee Rozelle

Lee Rozelle is the author of the novel Ballad of Jasmine Wills and nonfiction books Zombiescapes & Phantom Zones and Ecosublime. He has published short stories in Cosmic Horror MonthlyHellBound Books’ Anthology of BizarroShadowy Natures by Dark Ink Books, If I Die Before I Wake Volume 3, and the Scare You to Sleep podcast

Learn more at leerozelle.com

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Book Review: Sidelined: How Women Manage and Mismanage Their Health by Susan Salenger 

Book Details:

Author: Susan Salenger 
Release Date: 
10th April 2022
Series:
Genre: Non-Fiction > Health
Format: E-book 
Pages: 224 pages
Publisher: She Writes Press
Blurb:
DON’T MAKE ANOTHER HEALTHCARE DECISION WITHOUT READING THIS BOOK 
“If men had cramps, they’d have cured this by now…”
“I told my doctor about my pain for years, but he told me it was all in my head…”
“My doctor removed my IUD without anesthesia because ‘there aren’t any nerve endings in there.’ Boy, was he wrong!”
These and countless other comments from women who’ve suffered at the hands of the healthcare industry are frighteningly common… but they don’t have to be. 

Sidelined: How Women Manage & Mismanage Their Health discloses how women have been marginalized and hesitate to take control over their own healthcare. But what’s behind this nationwide medical crisis? 
Too often, women:
· Ignore their symptoms to avoid being “difficult.”
· Downplay their suffering out of fear of being branded “hysterical.” 
· Are reluctant to question their doctors’ assessments, even if they don’t seem right.
The end result could be inferior care, which can lead to serious consequences.
In Sidelined, writer and researcher Susan Salenger explains why women are misdiagnosed more often than men, and why their symptoms often go unrecognized or even disputed. 
This book teaches readers how to:
· Take charge of their health.
· Communicate their medical needs with their doctor.
· Make informed decisions about their own healthcare.
· Leave their appointments with answers instead of just questions.

Knowing how to advocate for your own healthcare can mean the difference between healthy outcomes and years of needless agony or even death.
This important women’s health book equips readers with the knowledge, language, and skill sets they need to overcome the gender bias that is present in the medical industry and get the best healthcare possible.

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Sidelined: How Women Manage and Mismanage Their Health by Susan Salenger is a keenly essential and extremely well-researched book on women’s health that should be read by all women and even men so that they can know the challenges and help out and, when required, take better care of their partners, mothers, sisters and friends.

This book simply BLEW my mind as it had so much relevant and essential information that I had not been expecting at all. I mean, of course, I was expecting some information and advice, but this book turned out to be a whole treasure trove of valuable insights, practical examples and experiences, advice on what to do, how to do and what not to do and if to do something then how exactly to do it. This book even covered the misconceptions harboured by doctors themselves and how these could be way more harmful to patients that the disease itself. So ladies, start by choosing the right doctors and gynacs for yourself. No more going for the douche doctors who think period pains are “just in your head.”

To summarise in one sentence, this book is a must-read for all women and even men, who have women in their life whom they really love. I would strongly suggest this book to EVERYONE on this planet! GO, get this book and read it!


You can also read this review on:

Goodreads


Amazon


Book Spotlight: The Life of Plants In A Changing Environment by Rishikesh Upadhyay

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, we are featuring author Rishikesh Upadhyay for his latest release The Life of Plants In A Changing Environment.

The Life Of Plants In A Changing Environment

Book: The Life of Plants in a Changing Environment
Author/Editor: Rishikesh Upadhyay, PhD
Publication Date: 1st January, 2022
Page Count: 270
Genre: Environment, Nature, Botany, Ecology, Gardening, Reference 
Publisher: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, United Kingdom


Synopsis

Plants experience stress due to environmental changes, either in biotic or abiotic form, during their life cycle. Non-heritable modifications in morphological, physiological or biochemical characteristics tend to reduce or decrease growth and productivity, and sometimes lead to death.

This book presents an exhaustive overview of the specific effects and modifications that could occur in this regards, and will serve to consolidate the ideas to promote standardization of plant adaptation to these changes in the environment. This book returns to the facts of both biotic and abiotic stress, detailing an essential aspect of plant life in the context of stress response.

The text is a comprehensive, current reference that effectively addresses issues and concerns related to plant stress in natural environments. Although many reference books about abiotic stress and other environmental stresses have been published, they all exist in relative isolation from one another, covering only one specific topic. This book is, rather, a comprehensive review of all aspects of the responses of plants to changes in the environment.

You can find Into the The Life Of Plants In A Changing Environment here:
Amazon | Goodreads | Google Books | Google Play


About The Author

Rishikesh Upadhyay

Rishikesh Upadhyay PhD, also known as R K Upadhyay, is a multi-award winning Indian author, Assistant Professor and research writer. He was born and grew up in a small Nepalis’ hamlet, Bhanjang Basti via Mahadev Tilla, just a few kilometres of Haflong, the district headquarters of North Cachar Hills (now Dima Hasao district), India to Late Pitamber Upadhaya (father) and Nandakala (Bawni) Upadhaya (mother). His research and teaching works has focused largely on the environmental physiology, stress biology and biochemistry of plants.

You can find author Rishikesh at:
Twitter | Goodreads | Bookbub


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Rick Rosenberg

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author of Jewbilly, Rick Rosenberg, from Atmosphere Press, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

At the ripe age of 9, Rick moved from the big city to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, aka the “Secret City.” It was around then he had his first experience with the literary world, publishing a short story in Grit Magazine. Somehow surviving a fraught, pimple-filled adolescence, he attended the University of Tennessee/Knoxville where he earned a Bachelors in Communications. Since then, he’s lived in multiple cities and has managed to win accolades for copywriting and screenwriting. He has one child adopted from Vietnam. Jewbilly is his first novel.

You can connect with author Rosenberg here:
Amazon Page


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

My first breath was taken when my mother birthed me onto the warm, wet leaves of the Borneo jungle. Although I couldn’t quite see yet, I sensed the wide, angry eyes of a proboscis monkey glaring at me. Ok, wait … that didn’t happen. How about this: I live an interesting dichotomy. For normal, everyday life events, I always show up early. Yet, for life’s big things, I’ve always been late. I was late to puberty. I got married later in life. I had a kid later in life. I wrote my first novel later in life. I’m also planning on showing up at death’s door as late as possible.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

Yosef is the main character, and most of the book is written from his POV. But there are several chapters in the third person narrative about his parents and grandparents. Young Yosef’s mostly unaware of their histories, and I felt it was important to show why his folks were the way they were. What happens is the reader starts to understand his parents and grandparents better than Yosef himself does.

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

The only one, true religion is love.

Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

Well, I guess it makes sense since he’s the main character, but Yosef is my fave, for sure. He’s so innocent, yet so self-centered, while being funny and impressionable. It was really fun to write him. He’s also somewhat close to who I was at that age.

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

JEWBILLY is a highly fictionalized version of my life when I moved from the big city to a small town in Tennessee. I didn’t have to look far for inspiration since it’s based (very loosely) on what I experienced. Over the years, I’ve also been very affected by Neil Simon’s stories. I think JEWBILLY has a similar vibe to a lot of his work. Years back, I took a comedy writing course taught by his brother, Danny. I got to know him and he used to talk about Neil all the time. So there’s a bit of a personal connection there, as well.

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

All in all, it probably took a year and a half. I had the basic story and most of mycharacters in my head before I began.

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today? 

JEWBILLY is my debut novel, but I am working on a new one. It’s a different genre, so it’s a whole new challenge. As far as 5 years from today, I’d like to still be eating, breathing, and cutting my fingernails when and where appropriate. On a larger scale, it’d be grand to make the transition from an advertising copywriter (my current gig) to a full time novelist … that gets paid! Guess we’ll see.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

My new novel is about a Chicago couple who’ve been trying to have a baby. When they finally make the decision to adopt from Vietnam, they travel there, and something unfathomable happens. Soon, they embark on a crazy, dangerous journey in a country they know virtually nothing about.

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

For me, the concept chooses the genre. I have all types of ideas; sci-fi, thriller, comedy- drama – so whatever genre the idea fits best with is the one I go with. But I think JEWBILLY is proving to be a “genre-bender” of sorts. Yes, it’s a coming-of-age story, but it’s also a religious story, a family story, a love story; it’s even historical fiction. This is probably not smart from someone trying to make a living as an author, but I try not to pay too much attention to genres. I think it can be stifling. But that’s me. Also what’s been interesting is that the JEWBILLY audiences who seem to enjoy the book are varying. Several editorial reviewers have said it’s perfect for young teens. That’s fantastic, of course, but all my very positive reader reviews – so far, anyway – have come from adults.

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

My father wrote short stories. Although I’m not aware of any specific point where I realized I wanted to write as well, for me, it started when I was 11. That was when I wrote my first short story. It was published in a very, very, very, small children’s newspaper called GRIT. Afterwards, I started making small films. Then I went back to short stories. I eventually made the decision to become an advertising copywriter. I’ve had a successful career writing and producing everything from print ads to TV commercials to online videos. I’ve also written several feature screenplays. If I’ve sacrificed anything, it’s been sleep! Since I’ve had a day job for years, I would get up at 5am to work on the novel or a screenplay, then commute to work where I actually got paid for writing. No complaints, though. I can sleep when I’m dead.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

These days, I like to write from about 9:30pm to 12:30 or so. The house and neighborhood are mostly quiet, and as long as I’m not too tired, I’m usually fairly productive. But there are some nights when I write a paragraph and that’s it. I don’t sweat it, though; the next day will be more.

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I’m a Mac laptop guy, Microsoft Word. I also use a bulletin board with yellow sticky notes if I have a thought I want to tackle later.

What are your 5 favourite books? (You can share 5 favourite authors too.)

My favorite books are Lonesome Dove, A Confederacy of Dunces, Love Story, The Prince Of Tides and Rabbit, Run. Also, anything by Michener, John Irving.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

Depends on how you define writer’s block. In a sense, I don’t get writer’s block, because I learned long ago that creating a full outline and extensive character bios – BEFORE writing – would keep writer’s block at bay. And it does for me. If I’m stuck on a chapter, I just move onto the next one – it’s right there in the outline so there’s no excuse. But if I get stumped earlier, ON my outline, then that’s block, I suppose. Outline block? And yes, that happens sometimes. The best cure for any kind of writer’s block is to step away from it. If you’re a creative person, the ideas will come.

What advice would you give to aspiring non-fiction writers?

Run. Fast. Hard. Now! JK. Depends on the level of writer. If you’ve literally never put pen to paper (finger to key?), then just start writing. Anything; journaling, blogging, cursing. Whatever works, whatever you need to get words out of your head and onto your Word doc. Some people just need to write that first novel. Do it! Don’t think too hard about it. Just write. If it sucks, so what. You wrote. If you continue, you’ll either get better, or eventually quit. Either is fine. There are two amazing books I recommend for aspiring writers: “Bird By Bird” by Anne Lamott, and Steven King’s “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.” Also, Margaret Atwood and Neil Gaiman have Masterclass courses that are brilliant.

Thank you, author Rosenberg, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

Jewbilly

Jewbilly is a funny, heartwarming, coming-of-age story about the importance of family, spirituality (wherever a person might find it!), and how friendships can really bloom in the most unlikely of places. Get ready to experience culture clash like never before as a young Jewish boy’s life is uprooted and relocated to the South – sparking a journey of growth, adaptation, and dramatic change.Yosef Bamberger is a typical, 11-year-old Jewish kid in 1973 Brooklyn; scrawny, naive, and excited for his upcoming Bar Mitzvah. He lives with his extended family, and a not-so-extended penis that won’t grow no matter what Yosef does. Still, he’s mostly a happy kid. Until the night of his 12th birthday party. When his father arrives late, Yosef’s world is shaken beyond comprehension; a real oy gevalt on the Richter scale. Apparently, his Dad just got a new job – in a small town in Tennessee. They’re moving. Like a gefilte fish out of water, Yosef now has to not only navigate a completely different world, but he also has to find a friend. At least one. And he does. A Southern Baptist, highly-freckled, miscreant named Calvin Macafee.
With the help of his new companion, Yosef manages to balance two religions, while becoming involved in drugs, alcohol, sex, and a murder investigation – all in just under two years.


You can find Jewbilly here:
Kirkus | Goodreads | BookBaby | BookShop

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Top 3 Strategise To Retire Comfortably

After having spent our entire lives studying, working and earning money, retirement seems to be like the light at the end of the tunnel for many, but for other, it can be a dark and cold cloud; it all depends on how you plan for it and how well you prepare.

Many people don’t have the habit of thinking ahead, at least not so far ahead that they start preparing for their retirement until it is too close. But this is where most people go wrong and hence, the dark and cold cloud lingers.

In order to have a comfortable and peaceful retirement, it is important to strategies and plan as soon as you can possibly begin, no matter how young or old you may be. Today, I am here with my Top 3 Strategise To Retire Comfortably which will offer you an insight into how you can start preparing for the sweet sixty (or fifty in case you retire at 50.)

Top 3 Strategise To Retire Comfortably

1. Invest Wisely

Investment is the one thing that will keep you happy and secure when you walk into your retirement. All the investments that you’ve invested in in your younger years will bear fruits once you retire. Therefore it is necessary to invest in notably affordable but smart investment schemes, possibly taking help with a financial advisor (in case if you lack the knowledge.) Make sure to invest not only in government but also in profitable private bonds and schemes too. And do not forget to invest in a good medical plans. Click here to find some great investment solutions in Australia.

2. Downsize Your Debts

Start downsizing or if possible finishing off your debts. You do not want to walk into your retirement with the worry of paying mortgages or to lenders once you stop working and earning. The lesser debts you have going into your retirement, the more peaceful and secure your retirement would be. So start now and work towards clearing off your debts.

3. Keep Your Insurances Updated & Renewed

Never default on your insurance, especially when you are near your retirement. Insurance companies always try to find loopholes in order to hold off your money, so don’t be naive or lazy and give them a reason to stop or delay your fruits of labour. Make sure all your insurances are repaid and renewed in time so that once your time of maturity comes, you can claim your money without any hassle.

So these are some tips on planning an easy and comfortable retirement. There are many more ways in which you can make your retirement a comfortable experience for not only yourself but also for your family, but this is a great place to start. Start now, start small and slowly and steadily build from there. It would be far better than not having prepared for your retirement at all.

If you have any more suggestions to add to this list then do let us know in the comments below.

Book Review: Δrakon by Wallace Knucker

Book Details:

Author: Wallace Knucker
Release Date: 
31st March 2022
Series:
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Format: E-book 
Pages: 392 pages
Publisher: Austin Macauley Publishers Ltd
Blurb:
Dragons were powerful and formidable warriors, they could use fire very differently than the warriors of the fire. It was like they could command the element, like fire was part of them. The scariest thing about them though, was their real form. Just a handful of people had seen it and survived long enough to tell the story.

The only thing I know about this form is that it was giving them tremendous speed and power beyond any imagination and that just a look at it was enough to make your blood freeze in your veins.
When war began among humans and dragons, our annihilation was certain. At the last battle, one hundred thousand humans, with the help of the elves, faced two thousand of those monsters. The magic of the elves combined with the sheer will and determination of the warriors led to victory. This was the battle in which dragons were wiped from existence. 

Review

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Δrakon by Wallace Knucker is an enthralling new epic fantasy novel featuring **drumrolls** DRAGONS!!

I was sold on the D-word alone as I am a big-time fan of the creatures, but the fact that this book was based on the concept of their extinction, which is obviously re-imagined, had me by the throat! And I am so glad that this book did not disappoint. On the contrary, it proved to be a pretty great read!

The writing was great, the characterisation really good and the execution of the plot and the magic system was simply outstanding! The tension graph of the book had me sitting at the edge of my seat through most of the book. The story had a great flow and I was able to finish the book in one sitting – which says a lot about how good the book was.

I would strongly recommend this book to all fans of the fantasy genre and to those who especially love reading about dragons (with some elves and the elven magic system thrown in.)


You can also read this review on:

Goodreads


Amazon


Book Review: Building Resilience And Finding Meaning in Life by June Rousso

Book Details:

Author: June Rousso 
Release Date: 
17th February 2022
Series:
Genre: Young-Adult, Non-Fiction, Inspirational
Format: E-book 
Pages: 83 pages
Publisher:
Blurb:
Building Resilience and Finding Meaning in Life: A Guide for Teens is an interactive book meant to engage readers in learning how to face adversities in life and to find meaning in these experiences. It gives the message that we have a treasure chest of inner resources that can be called upon in the face of adversity. These resources must be discovered and, in some instances, developed to build resilience and find what holds personal meaning. Along with discovering meaning in adversity readers are encouraged to look for meaningful moments in their lives rather than engaging in activities that often lead them to feel empty inside.

The guide also can be read by counselors and educators to help teens cope and live a more meaningful life. The guide was inspired by the teachings of Dr. Viktor Frankl, noted author of Man’s Search for Meaning, and by the research findings on character strengths presented by the VIA Institute on Character.

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Building Resilience And Finding Meaning In Life by June Rousso is a very inspirational young-adult book on practical and easy-to-follow strategies and instructions for facing everyday adversities for teens. The main thing that I loved about this book is that it is tailor-made for teenagers, which is pretty rare and also abundantly helpful because the author has especially highlighted problems and solutions faced by teenagers regularly.

The author’s writing is simple, succinct and very undeviating, which I found to be most appropriate, as the author delved directly into the strategies she has to offer without the jargon that spoils most books in this particular genre. So I really appreciate the author’s directness.

This book has a lot of meaningful and practical life lessons for teenagers (and even for adults if you want to read this book being a non-teenage or an adult.) If you have a teenager in your family then you should definitely gift them this book as it will help them tremendously


You can also read this review on:

Goodreads


Amazon


Author Interview: Ethan Avery

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author of Sword & Sorcery: Frostfire, Ethan Avery, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Ethan Avery believes in the power of stories. As a child growing up in Ohio, they gave him a chance to see a bigger world, and to hear what life was like for people that didn’t look like him or believe what he did. And now years later, he hopes to do the same for others. 

You can connect with author Ethan Avery here:
Author Website | YouTube | Twitter


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

Hi, I’m Ethan Avery, author of the upcoming novel Sword and Sorcery: Frostfire, thanks for having me! I guess a bit about myself now is that I work between writing novels and movies, so it’s storytelling for me all the way! In addition to the book coming out this month, I also have some exciting potential Hollywood movie news, but I have to be hush-hush about it for now. I’ll probably make an announcement later on YouTube or Twitter. As far as an introduction goes, instead of giving a long and boring list of awards and accomplishments, I’ll just say that I’m a storyteller. I studied at The Ohio State University with a focus on both storytelling as well as the social aspect of politics. Things like why people believe what they believe in a theoretical sense, as opposed to the individual issues themselves. And that’s actually been an invaluable tool as a fantasy writer.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

Oooh, that’s a good one. I guess I’ll keep it spoiler-free. Sword and Sorcery is not only a fantasy adventure, but it’s written from multiple perspectives to really show the world through more than one person’s eyes. Primary socialization, which is a fancy term for how people learn about life in their youth, was one of my big points of study in college and that’s translated to helping me write the book, because the way you grow up truly does affect how you see the world.

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

Oh my, another good one. Personally, I try to keep myself from influencing a reader’s experience by telling them what they should or shouldn’t learn. Sword and Sorcery will probably be a book that different people get something different from, and that’s no problem to me. In fact, I’d love to hear from readers when the book releases about what they feel it might have been about. And I’m always open to connect on Twitter!

Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

Uh-oh, that’s the kind of question that gets writers in trouble, and honestly, I know people think it’s the easy-way-out answer, but I truly can’t choose. From the main cast to the most seemingly-insignificant little side-characters, they all feel to me like the most important person in their own little world, and I try my best to write them as such. Real-life, I think, is similar in that way, in that most people view themselves like the main character of their story or video game, but we all share this space together. In that sense I guess life is less like a traditional RPG game and more like an MMO or giant D&D campaign!

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

I was honestly obsessed with fantasy as a kid, and still am now, of course! I’ve read, watched and played pretty much every kind of fantasy story I could get my hands on. Perhaps it spoke to me because in fiction, and fantasy in particular, we get a chance to remove ourselves a bit from the biases of our own world and see the problems societies go through from a fresh, more objective perspective. And I think there’s a lot we can learn from that.

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

Sword and Sorcery was written over the course of about 15 years, so it’s been a blast crafting and building the world of the book, which is always one of my favorite parts of making fantasy stories!

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today? 

Whew, that’s a tough one, hopefully I’ll have written a few more novels.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

I am indeed. Other than the secret movie project, and another book in the Sword and Sorcery series, of course, I’m also beginning to develop another series, but it’s still very early in the creative process at the moment.

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

Ah, perfect timing on that question. The series I’m starting to develop is a sci-fi universe, so I’m definitely a multi-genre kind of storyteller.

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

It happened in several parts. I had a few poems published when I was like 14, and that gave me the confidence to be like, you know, maybe I can do this. But even though I was working on Sword and Sorcery then, I didn’t really have much direction in terms of how to pursue getting a novel published. So I wrote a bit here and there and kind of put the story off to the side. Fast forward a few years and I’m doing film and animation in college and learning screenwriting, which shares the basics of storycrafting with novel writing, but they both branch off in their own fun and interesting ways. And it was here I think I truly realized I’d become a storyteller. I had a college exam once worth a big portion of the grade for the class, and I skipped it to finish a story I was working on at the time. And I also remember a moment listening to Andrew Wyatt from Miike Snow, in the Ron Howard/Jay-Z Made in America documentary, where Andrew mentions that he once pictured himself going back to school and becoming a rich lawyer, and then he realized that if he did that, all he’d want to do once he got there was make music. Anywho, after skipping that college exam, I worked on a lot of film stuff for some years, and yes, there were some rough years but I did indeed survive, then when I had more time on my hands in 2020, due to the pandemic, unfortunately, I decided to dust off my old Sword and Sorcery notes and finally finish the story.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

I do a lot of outlining, which is sort of ridiculous because most of the time I end up writing pretty spontaneously and going away from said outline. But when working in a world as big as the one in Sword and Sorcery, it’s nice to at least know what my plan was before I deviated to something else that I think is better.

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

Desktop computer for sure. It’s gotta go there eventually anyway, so it’s easier to just start that way, though I still jot down scenes or notes on my phone or notebook when I’m away from my pc.

What are your 5 favourite books? (You can share 5 favourite authors too.)

Oh no, I’ve been put on the spot. I honestly can’t choose, mostly because the list is forever updating. I’d be remiss not to mention anything though, so how about I recommend Michelle Knudsen’s highly underrated Trelian series. And I think people that have read both of our books will know exactly why.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

It’s honestly never been a problem for me. If I’m stuck on a scene where I know the ending I’m writing for it isn’t right or I don’t know what scene to go to next, I just jump to a different part of the story and start writing that. And if it’s a more deep-rooted problem I’m having, like plot/character stuff, I usually get up and take a short walk to clear my head. By the time I’m done, I almost always have a solution!

What advice would you give to aspiring non-fiction writers?

Figure out if you want to do this. Or need to do this. And if you need to do it, what kind of writing do you need to do? There are writing jobs out there that are a lot less hit or miss than being a novelist or screenwriter. You might find you enjoy telling stories as a columnist, journalist or even starting a cool and awesome blog like The Reading Bud!

Thank you, author Avery, for your honest (and fun) answers!

About the Book

Sword & Sorcery: Frostfire

If you could change your life by trusting in a stranger… would you?

Erevan has a problem. He grew up on the unforgiving streets of Bogudos and has the scars to prove it. His friend, however, is stuck in jail because of his mistake. But when a suspicious courier offers him a chance to fix things, should he lift his sword and journey across treacherous lands to aid her cause?
Meanwhile, Aireyal has been accepted into the wealthiest and most prestigious magical school in all the land. There’s just one problem. She can’t do magic. But that’s far from the only secret within the walls of Darr-Kamo. And what she discovers might just change the world.
Swordsman & Sorcerer
Scholar & Spiritualist
All four have enemies. And all four need help to get what they want. But help is never free.

What would you sacrifice to get what you most desire?


You can find Sword & Sorcery: Frostfire here:
Amazon | Goodreads

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

ARC Review: Pay Me To Do Nothing! How a Lazy, Broke and Tired Boy Found His Calling by Otto Bocktopus 

Book Details:

Author: Otto Bocktopus 
Release Date: 
1st June 2022
Series:
Genre: Humor, Fictional Memoir, Corporate Comedy, Self-Help
Format: E-book 
Pages: 142 pages
Publisher: Purple Piggybank Press
Blurb:
You probably never met anyone who thinks like Otto – laugh your way to a new life perspective!
People always told Otto that working hard would lead to being more successful and that being more successful would lead to being happy. But that wasn’t true.
Shake your head at his antics, giggle at his tales, and come away with a whole new perspective on companies and work and laziness and happiness.
At his first job, Otto Bocktopus busted ass and made $3.35/hour. Last year, like most years, he was paid about $700K and he did nothing. He does only what he wants, yet he is always getting paid. How did he get from there to here? And, can you?

If you believe that working hard will lead to being more successful and that being more successful will lead to being happy, and you find yourself planning to work hard your whole life until around the time your body starts to fail, then this book can teach you the fallacy of your thinking and help you find true happiness.
Told through the lens of his outrageous work experiences, Otto will make you laugh and make you think. You may shake your head at his antics but you will come away with a whole different way of thinking about companies and business leaders and work and laziness and happiness.
Don’t miss out on the hilarious online quizzes at the end of each chapter! Test your understanding of Otto’s perspective and laugh! Check out the quiz on Otto’s website.

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Pay Me To Do Nothing! How a Lazy, Broke and Tired Boy Found His Calling by Otto Bocktopus is a funny fictional corporate memoir that has tons of life lessons for its readers.

I loved reading this book, admittedly more than I had been expecting, because it had so much to offer. First of all I loved the way the story (the fictional memoir) was told through the POV of Otto, a character, almost everyone can relate to in some way or another. Secondly, the sheer value of the lessons covered in this book is simply out-standing. In spite of it being a corporate-comedy, the lessons from this book can be applied to any area with a little tweaking. And lastly, I loved the humorous undercurrent that ran through he book. I appreciated the author’s clever and subtle sense of humour and it made reading this book feel like a very smooth ride.

I liked the writing style of the author. The characterisation as good and felt apt for the purpose this book was written. I loved the situations that were covered in this book and over all I think this book has a lot to offer to everyone. Therefore, I’d highly recommend it to all readers who’d like to read about a quirky character and learn tons of life-lessons in doing so!


You can also read this review on:

Goodreads


Amazon


5 Tips To Make A Great First Impression With New Clients

“First impressions matter. Experts say we size up new people in somewhere between 30 seconds and two minutes.”
– Elliott Abrams

When it comes to making a sale and developing long-lasting relationships with your clients, one must make sure to present their best self to create not only an impressive but also impactful first impression. Your first impression of a client will most likely be the deciding factor whether the client chooses to go ahead with you or your business or company or not. And as you already know, this choice would be detrimental to your as well as your business/company’s growth.

But how can one make sure to put the right foot forward when it comes to making a great and long-lasting first impression with new clients? Read on to find out my 5 tips to make a great first impression with new clients.

5 Tips To Make A Great First Impression With New Clients

1. Research Your Client In Advance

A little research on who your client is and what their general business model or style is will help you figure will go a long way. It will not only give you an advantageous starting point but will also help you in steering the conversation in the right (or fruitful) direction. Spending some time in finding out about your clients’ needs will help you in presenting yourself in a better way because you will already know what is it that they are seeking. New clients welcome eager candidates and always appreciate the work you will put into the research.

2. Be Punctual

Never be late for a meeting! Ever! This is the unspoken rule of any client meeting, new or old. If you are late to your first meeting with a new client the message that you send across is that you are unreliable and that is never a good way to start off a meeting with someone who can cost your business. So always be on time, better yes, be 10 minutes early. Spend that time going over your notes for the meeting and giving your client research a quick once over. You can also use this time to calm your nerves by doing some breathing exercises as it will help you put forward a relaxed posture.

3. Be Polite

Always be polite; not too over-friendly and loud or too reserved and intimidating. Try to develop a cozy rapport with your client and a smooth rhythm that will instantly put your client at ease. This will be very crucial as the first 5 minutes of the meeting will set the tone for the rest of it. So make sure you are polite and greet them with the required curtesy, a firm handshake and a confident smile on your face.

4. Be A Good Listener

Don’t just talk, give your client enough time to share their ideas, vision and goals with you. Try to understand what they say and go ahead according to what they tell you. After sharing the details of your proposal always give enough time to and encourage your client for asking questions or doubts they may have regarding your presentation. Listen to those concerns and try your best to answer their queries with as much assurance as you can. This will give your client the much-needed confidence to go ahead with you or your business thinking that your customer service will be reliable.

5. Focus On Your Body Language

Be relaxed yet attentive. Smile and nod often. Don’t come off as either too eager to please the client or too off-putting. You have to maintain a straight-backed yet forthcoming posture, letting the client feel relaxed and comfortable in your company. The client needs to feel at ease while talking to you and should be able to trust you and what you are trying to see (whether it is a product or a service or an idea.)

So these are the ways in which you can make a great first impression with new clients. If you have any more tips or some experiences related to this then feel free to share them in the comments section below!

Book Review: Essential Life Skills For Teens: 13 Different Ways To Use Your Critical Thinking, Manage Your Time Better, Set Your Smart Goals, And Navigate Social Media Safely by David Skiddy

Book Details:

Author: David Skiddy
Release Date: 
15th February 2022
Series:
Genre: Non-Fiction, Productivity
Format: E-book 
Pages: 136 pages
Publisher:
Blurb:
Beyond Classwork – How to prepare for a successful adult life to achieve your dreams and live life how you want to
How prepared are you to leave the nest and start living on your own – away from your parents’ shadows?
Are you about to be of age but feel inadequate to move out and run a household on your own?
Would you like to understand the 8th wonder of the world – adulthood and everything in between?
Adulthood comes with its share of joys and challenges, and age doesn’t always mean that you are ready to live independently.
Known as the advent of adulthood, teenage years mark a period where you need to make crucial decisions that will set the pace for your future.
It’s the best time to gather all the bricks and building materials you need to transition into adulthood.

Life skills form the foundation of the future you’ve always dreamed of and admired.
While learning and developing these skills is a continuous process that never ends, the bulk of it occurs during your teen years.
This guide is designed to help equip teenagers with the tools they need to maximize their potential and enjoy a fulfilling life.
In Essential Life Skills For Teens, you’ll discover:

  • Life hacks to help you think more critically and reason your way out of difficult situations
  • How to become financially savvy by learning how to manage, budget, save, and spend money wisely 
  • Goal-setting strategies that ensure you set practical goals and steps to achieve them 
  • The bittersweet side of social media – how to leverage technology for your own good, stay safe, and avoid losing yourself in the likes and dislikes
  • How to solve problems like a pro and avoid getting stuck on a challenge for longer than you should 
  • Executive functioning skills you need to make every minute of your day count towards your life’s dreams 
  • 20+ innovative ways to make money as a teen using readily available resources no matter where you live

And so much more!
There are many essential survival skills you need for successful adulting that aren’t included in the syllabus at school – yet you’ll find them right inside.
As you get older and take on more responsibilities, you’ll be equipped to do many of the adult tasks your parents seem to breeze through daily.
Filled with practical insights, easy-to-follow tips, and thoughtful guidance, this handbook will empower you to make good choices – both now and in the future.
If you want to experience the future you envision and prepare for adult life, then scroll up and click the “Add to Cart” button right now.

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Essential Life Skills For Teens by David Skiddy is an informative and important book that will not only teach teens (and even adults) how to navigate through the tricky waters of today’s digital and stressful world but also excel with remarkable results.

This book is written in a simple writing that has a great flow and is easily understandable. The structuring of the book is done well and helps navigate the pages and the advice of the author in a clear way. I took down a lot of notes while reading this book and I feel so glad that I read it because no matter what your age is, it is always great to stumble upon texts of information that have the power to simplify your life.

I would strongly recommend this book to all non-fiction readers and to those who have teens in their homes or families.


You can also read this review on:

Goodreads


Amazon


Audiobook Review: A Dog Of Many Names by Douglas Green

Author: Douglas Green (Director of The Hiding Place)
Narrator: Kelly McNair
Release Date: 3rd January 2021
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Coming-Of-Age
Series: 
Format: Audiobook
Length: 4 hours and 17 minutes
Publisher: Circuit Breaker Books
Blurb:
Born a runt, Rascal is destined to be an underdog. Despite what looked like an unbreakable bond with the daughter of the family who bred her, Rascal’s devotion is discarded when the mother loses her job, forcing the family into a financial crisis. Bitter and resentful toward a dog they can no longer afford to keep and who was never really wanted, the family throws out the young dog like garbage. Driven out to the country and left roadside, Rascal has nothing but a few pieces of kibble to help her survive the night.

Abandoned and alone, Rascal must learn to fend for herself and embark on a harsh and dangerous journey through wolf terrain in the mountain wilderness of Northern California. Along the way, she meets new families and strangers and is given many names. But will she ever settle with one family and one name? A Dog of Many Names is a courageous story of survival, seen through the eyes of a scared and desperate dog who just wants to love, be loved, and be given one last name.

REVIEW

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A Dog Of Many Names by Douglas Green is an inspiring yet gut-wrenching story of a dog who is abandoned and has to fend of herself until she meets new people and families and her journey to find herself and a new home continues.

This book elicited so many emotions in me that at one point it got very, very triggering for me. But I had to get through it as I wanted to know what happens with the story of the beautiful dog that Rascal is. Being an animal activist and someone who actively engages in the rescue missions for cats, I am well aware how people abandon their pets and leave them away from home not caring a lick about what they would do or how they’d survive. So it was deeply disturbing for me to read about it but I appreciated the author’s honesty because these are facts of life and have to be told to people so that they understand that doing so is not only wrong but also inhumane!

Coming to the book – the writing is great and had a very nice flow and the plot was crafted very carefully. Although it was a difficult read because of the concept and my close relation with the rescuing of animals, I am glad that I read this book. It is very informative and agonisingly real and I honestly think it is a must-read.


You can also read this review on:

Goodreads


Amazon


Author Interview: Brett Shapiro

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author of Those Around Him, Brett Shapiro, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Brett Shapiro is an American writer and the best-selling author of L’Intruso – a memoir published in Italy (Feltrinelli) that was later produced into an award-winning film and theatrical production. He is also the author of two children’s books, one of which was the recipient of Austria’s prestigious National Book Award. Several of his short stories have been performed in theatres throughout Italy, where he lived for 25 years, and his essays and articles have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers in Italy and the United States. While in Italy, he made many guest appearances on Italian television, including as commentator for 60 Minutes, and was a regular guest lecturer at the University of Siena. Brett is a veteran writer for the United Nations and currently lives by the beach in Florida.

You can connect with author Shapiro here:
LinkedIn


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

Now this is a challenge: an introduction (brief or otherwise) about a life lived for 66 years and still going strong! I grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and moved to Manhattan after university to pay my dues as a budding writer who thought he could change the world – and to make the necessary connections to do so! After 11 years in the Big Apple, I moved to Rome, where I lived for 25 years with my partner and our two sons. When my partner and I uncoupled (very amicably), I decided to return to the USA, where I chose a quiet beach spot in order to shift into a lower gear.

I wake up early each morning and walk to the beach with my dog to watch the sun rise. I spend no more than three hours a day doing my “bread and butter” work – drafting and editing documents for the United Nations and giving writing webinars for UN staff all over the world. The rest of the day is mine to do with as I please. I am semi-retired, after all! In those free hours, I always put in at least two hours of writing each day. 

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

Those Around Him is a meditative book. I was more concerned with how people think about the things that happen to them; less concerned with the things that happen in themselves. Of course, there is a plot and an arc, but they tend to be unremarkable undulations, as life often is. There is a lot of “interiority” going on in the book, but of the accessible kind. Promise! 

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

I’m not sure there is a message that I’m trying to convey in the book. It’s more of a mood, a rhythm, a way of turning things about in our heads that I’m trying to capture and tame so that readers think “Oh my gosh, I can relate to that,” detail after detail, page after page, and in an enriching way.  

Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

I’m sure I sound like a parent when I say that I don’t have a favorite. I really care about all of my characters, complete with their various crimes and misdemeanors. I have to care deeply about each and every one of them; otherwise, their complexities won’t emerge and they’ll wither on the page.  

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

I would say it was an idea that inspired me more than anything else – the power that youth and beauty can have over someone whose own youth and beauty have long since faded. The power to create minor disturbances and to unsettle. A “Death in Venice” kind of theme, but the similarities stop there. Thomas Mann is Thomas Mann.

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

There was about one year of what I call “writers’ avoidance”, where ideas about the book were percolating in my head but not spilling over onto paper. Once I overcame that, it took me two years to write it.

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today? 

My only writing ambition is to continue playing with words every day. I wouldn’t even call it an ambition. For me, it’s more of a necessity – like continuing to eat clean or to walk along the beach at sunrise. I’d be perfectly content if, five years from today, the routine of my daily life remained unchanged and I was still in excellent health – and with another novel or two under my belt.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

I completed another novel – Late in the Day – about eight months ago; after making the rounds of publishers, it should be going to press this summer or autumn. I am also about one-third of the way through the first draft of another novel, provisionally called Henry’s Version.

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

My novels fall into the category of literary fiction (although I’m not really sure what “literary fiction” means). I didn’t choose the genre and then proceed to write myself into it. I write, and my writing consistently falls into that genre. I don’t think I could write in multiple genres. I’m not in my skin with a lot of “multis”. I can’t be working on multiple stories at a time. I can’t be reading multiple books at a time. But I’m a whizz at putting together a five-course meal in no time flat.   

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

The writer imperative struck when I was a teenager. I always enjoyed reading books as entertainment, but during adolescence I realized that books could be so much more (thank you Virginia Woolf, Thomas Hardy and a slew of others). As I was reading and marveling over these books (and reflecting on them long after I’d closed the back cover), I was also thinking, “I want to do this too. I must do this too.” Against my parents’ wishes, who wanted me to be a doctor, I majored in literature. All I wanted to do was read great books, analyze them and write papers about them. My parents refused to pay tuition for such “nonsense”, and I had to work full-time while going to university. This double life, which seemed so unfair at the time, actually served me extremely well, as it was a division that I’d have to face and manage carefully even after graduating: I needed to work, I wanted a family, I needed to write, and I wanted to do all of them well and with pleasure. During the years of raising my sons, my writing output certainly decreased. But the books I managed to have published during those years were successful and kept me in the writers’ loop, which was important to me – if only to stave off my parents’ admonition, “What nonsense”. When my sons left the nest, I dug back into writing longer works, and I carved out a space of time each day in which to do so.    

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

My writing ritual is quite simple. I write best when I feel that all the business of the day has been taken care of. For years, I have made 5:30 until dinner time my writing slot. By 5:30, I’ve finished my quota of UN work, my errands, my phone calls, and my domestic chores. I can afford to be untethered and spin off into my creative zone. Of course, this means that I might eat dinner at 7:30 or I might eat it at 10:00. (Fortunately, I eat a light meal.) I take my computer and whatever scribbles I may have made during the day to the screened-in front porch. Then I sit down and I write. I have a large back yard, with a deck and a pool. But it’s private, and I like to observe the occasional passerby while I’m writing. I’m not sure why. I think it has something to do with reminding myself that people are my main characters and that any idea I’m trying to elaborate needs to come through the characters in my book and not through an invisible but intrusive narrator. The front porch has beautiful shrubbery wrapped around it. Anyone who is walking down the street can’t see me, but I can observe them. Very sneaky. 

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I prefer using my laptop. I can see the words as they would appear on the page of a book, which helps me to scrutinize them better. Using a computer also enables me to keep the copy from getting too messy. I don’t work well with messy copy. I keep a sheet of paper and pencil by my side to make notes about things that might need addressing but that I don’t want to address during that particular writing session. I type up the notes on a separate document and review the notes the next morning to decide whether I should incorporate any of them when I return to the front porch in the evening.

What are your 5 favourite books? (You can share 5 favourite authors too.)

Trying to choose five favorite books is an impossible task. As soon as I set myself to thinking about it for more than thirty seconds, I find myself facing a mountain of titles. I’ll offer a knee-jerk reaction: American Pastoral; To the Lighthouse; Enormous Changes at the Last Minute: The Hours; and The Magic Mountain. I read these books years ago, some of them decades ago, and I still can’t shake them off. As far as authors, my knee-jerk reaction would be Philip Roth, Virginia Woolf, Alice Munro, Flannery O’Connor and Grace Paley. I ask forgiveness of the scores of books and authors who didn’t make the list. You know who you are. 

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I’ve never experienced writers’ block. When I sit down to write, something always gets written. It may only be one sentence in an hour, or it could be an entire page. But the page is never blank. What I used to experience was what I mentioned before: “writers’ avoidance” – continually finding reasons not to sit down to write. This was magically overcome when I attended a one-week writers’ retreat. There was something about a community of writers gathered together to share their work, critique the work of others, have discussions about writing in general – and, most importantly, disperse themselves onto verandas and benches and lawns to write for two-hour intervals each morning, afternoon and evening – that calmed me down and made me realize that the effort was a human effort, not a superhuman one.  

What advice would you give to aspiring non-fiction writers?

There is only one piece of advice, and it’s so commonplace that it seems almost banal: Write. Even if it’s only ten minutes a day (to start). Thinking about writing is a lovely idea, a noble idea, but it’s only an idea. 

Thank you, author Shapiro, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

Those Around Him

Andrew returns to the beachside town of his father, Charles, who is dying. In the throes of middle age, Andrew is trying to come to terms with the fact that not everything is still possible, that horizons shrink and parts break, and that he may no longer be desirable – or desired. On one of his routine sunrise beach walks, he is greeted by Lex (whom he calls “Ex”), a young man whose physical beauty and emotional warmth and exuberance completely unsettle the quiet and measured rhythm that Andrew is trying to establish in his new home and his own advancing years.
The intimate relationships between and among the three generations of men, each with his own needs and hopes – and darknesses – unfolds during hurricane season. When the season is over, carrying off much with it, Andrew has begun to understand his place along the continuum and the quiet balance that he has been seeking amidst his wisdom and foolishness, and through the arrivals and departures of those around him.


You can find Those Around Him here:
Amazon | Goodreads

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Rhema Sayers

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Wind Out Of Time, Rhema Sayers, from Atmosphere Press, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Rhema Sayers is a retired physician who started in Family Practice on the Mexican border and then switched to Emergency Medicine after ten years. She loved the ER and spent the rest of her career being an adrenaline junkie. Her husband and she adopted three little girls from China in 1998-99. The girls are young women now, off living their own lives. Rhema took up writing when she retired and has had nearly one hundred articles and short stories published. Living in Arizona near Tucson, she and her husband and her dogs love the desert, the mountains, and the climate.

You can connect with author Rhema Sayers here:
Author Website


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

I have wanted to be a doctor since I was about 5 years old. One night our family dog chased a car and unfortunately caught it. Badly injured, we brought him inside. Upstairs from us lived a family whose daughter was my best friend and whose father was a surgical resident. The young doctor worked on that dog for hours. I stayed with surgeon and dog well through my bedtime, fascinated by what he was doing. Finally my parents retrieved me and put me to bed. During the night, Shiner died. But that did not dampen the flame the incident kindled within me. I was going to become a doctor.

After college, I applied to several med schools and was placed on waiting lists, eventually to be rejected. Then I met the love of my life. We were married within 7 weeks. We moved to the Boston area so that he could finish at MIT. Meanwhile, I once again started applying to med schools. University of Connecticut School of Medicine placed me on a waiting list and I got my acceptance letter in June. 

We ended up in Arizona on the Mexican border after med school and a family practice residency in Pennsylvania. A decade in, family practice was enough for me. I discovered that I hated office practice and loved the ER. I switched to emergency medicine and spent the next two decades in ERs, until I was no longer able to keep up the pace. Then I did urgent care for a few years and retired.

I have also always wanted to write and that was my plan for retirement. I thought I was pretty hot stuff as a writer. Then I started taking writing classes and discovered that I had a lot to learn. After several years, I have indeed learned a lot. I love writing, although procrastination is also a favorite pastime.

Since retiring, I have had over 90 short stories, historical and other articles, and even a couple of poems published. With that foundation, I approached the massive project of writing a novel.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

I had a wonderful childhood with parents who loved all three of their children. I got a good education and never went to bed hungry. Basically, I did not have the background to write the ‘Great American Novel’. I was happy and had no major psychological scars. I wanted to write a novel that would entertain people, that would take them elsewhere for a few hours, that would make them laugh and possibly cry but would not make them feel uncomfortable. I wanted to write something beguiling but not dark and gloomy. The result is Wind out of Time.

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

A strong woman can do whatever she needs to do. And when you find yourself in an untenable situation, you do not stand around wringing your hands and sobbing. You do whatever it is that you have to in order to resolve the problem.

Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

Actually I really love Denim, the blue roan stallion with a wicked sense of humor. But I like Andrea a lot, too. She is smart, not easily daunted, has a good sense of humor, and loves animals. I’m afraid I based her on my idealized concept of me. Obviously I need to get my self-esteem under control. But I don’t cook and she has a passion for it that I just don’t understand.

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

I have always been so annoyed by the Arthurian legends. Everyone is so noble and so damnably stupid. They always, always do the wrong thing. So I brought in a moderator, someone who knows that the wrong path will lead to disaster. She steers the characters down the ‘right’ paths gently – or with a cattle prod if needed.

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

Three years. But I’m about ¼ through the second book now.

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today? 

I hope to have written another 3 or 4 books, along with a large number of short stories and articles. I just had an article come out in The Desert Leaf, a local upscale magazine. The article is about Gleeson, Arizona, a ghost town in Cochise County near Tombstone. It was a boom town in the late 1800s with mines producing silver, gold, and lead. I write a lot about the history of southern Arizona and have gained enough knowledge to become a lecturer on the subject.

My favorite stories have a lot of action. Right now I have about seven stories sent out to magazines with hopes of getting them published.

I want to make Wind out of Time a trilogy and am writing the second book now. I also have a novel in the back of my head about an emergency department woman physician in Tucson who finds a body in the desert when she’s running with her dogs. She’s already becoming attracted to a TPD homicide detective. I plan to follow it from two points of view: the doctor and the killer.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

Oh, yes. A number of them. I am researching a story about the Mountain View Hotel in Tucson, a highly popular hotel whose clientele included Buffalo Bill Cody, senators, and other politicians, run by William and Annie Neal, a black couple who defied the color barriers in the early 1900s. I am also writing a science fiction story, a story of a dog and a young man who find each other, and a story about a sparrow. 

My stories tend to be eclectic. I wander around through the genres. I don’t do erotica, but I have written a horror story that I’m trying to sell. I write whatever occurs to me at the moment. The first story I sold was about a man who was so boring and so bored with his life that one day he sat down on the bench at the subway station and evaporated. The kid who stole his clothes found it really weird.

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

I write murder mysteries, dog stories, bird stories, fantasies, horror stories, medical stories, and some stories that are just plain odd. I let my imagination run wild. Unfortunately, sometimes it comes to an abrupt halt and refuses to go any farther. I have a dozen stories tucked away, looking for an ending, because my imagination refused to go any farther.

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

I discovered that I could spin tales when I was just becoming a teenager. I found my own imagination rather fascinating even though that sounds sort of egotistical. But I wrote stories and some very bad poems in high school. In college I took enough creative writing courses and literature courses that I ended up minoring in English lit. But then I met my love, married, and started med school. I kept a diary intermittently while I was a doctor, but it turned out to be very intermittent. It wasn’t until I retired that I had the time to write.

As far as sacrifices are concerned, the most I’ve given up for a story is lunch. I read voraciously and listen to books in the car, hoping some of the brilliance of the authors will rub off on me.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

I sit down at the computer, play a few games, then go to whatever I’m working on. I write a few sentences or pages, sometimes play a few more games, depending on whether I have any idea of where I’m going with the story. As I said, I’m very good at procrastination.

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I love my PC. On rare occasions, I may take a notebook with me to an appointment and spend the downtime writing. Usually something new, whatever pops into my head.

What are your 5 favourite books? (You can share 5 favourite authors too.)

  1. The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien
  2. The Witches of Karres – James Schmitz
  3. The entire Honor Harrington series and the Safehold series – David Weber
  4. Wasp – Eric Frank Russell
  5. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

While I wouldn’t rank any of his books with these five, I absolutely love John Sandford, especially the Prey series. Also Craig Johnson and Walt Longmire, David Rosenfelt and Andy Carpenter.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

Basically I ignore it. If I can’t write, I can do housework, wash dogs, take a nap, pay bills, or engage in any number of other thrilling activities. Eventually I go back to the computer.

What advice would you give to aspiring non-fiction writers?

Write. Every day. Your first work will usually be poor. You’re a newb. What do you expect? Keep on writing. Take courses in creative writing at your local college or junior college or on-line.

Remember – the more you write, the better you’ll get. 

And then rewrite. Not once or twice, but ten, fifteen, twenty times. 

That’s all – write and rewrite. Every day. 

Also – remember that you will never be published if you don’t submit your work to editors who will criticize what you’ve done. 

That’s their job. You need to learn to roll with the punches. 

Good luck.

Thank you, author Sayers, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

Wind Out Of Time

FBI Special Agent Andrea Schilling is chasing a terrorist around the world when they both are forced to go through a time portal. To her horror, Andrea finds herself in the 5th century in King Arthur’s court. Seriously?
When she can’t return home, she takes over the kitchen, becoming chief cook for King Arthur. But this king is named Ardur, and resides in a falling down castle where the knights are lecherous drunks. Andrea finds the situation untenable. So, with the help of a perplexed king, two huge dogs, a bad tempered stallion, the servants, and Guinevere, Andrea transforms the kingdom of Camdhur to Camelot. Well, almost.  
The ancient legend is turned on its head as a strong woman, organized, smart, trained to fight, takes the kingdom apart and puts it back together again, along with the king’s heart.


You can find Wind Out Of Time here:
Amazon | Goodreads | Atmosphere Press

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

ARC Review: A Disappearance at the Bonne Nuit Hotel by Dominique Daoust

Book Details:

Author: Dominique Daoust
Release Date: 
31st March 2022
Series: The Deadly Exclusives Trilogy (Book #1)
Genre: Cozy Mystery, Historical Fiction
Format: E-book 
Pages: 210 pages
Publisher:
Blurb:
Secret sources have a whole new meaning.
Newbie reporter Rita Larose is tired of getting assigned boring stories at one of Montreal’s most popular newspapers. It’s 1930 after all, women don’t need to only write about household chores anymore! But when a high hat socialite gossips about the New Year’s Eve party at the Bonne Nuit Hotel, a riveting mystery falls right into Rita’s lap. This is her chance to prove to herself and her underestimating colleagues that she has what it takes to write the hard-hitting articles.
While going undercover as a maid to get the scoop, Rita will soon discover unexpected friendships and an unusual gift of her own to contend with. Will she be able to juggle this newfound ability while not blowing her cover and jeopardizing her career-making article?

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A Disappearance At The Bonne Nuit Hotel by Domonique Daoust is a cleverly plotted and well-executed cozy mystery laced with historical elements and twists. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book right from the first page to the very last one and the ending, surprisingly, turned out to be satisfying. I am now looking forward to reading the next book in this trilogy as there are some answers that I still seek from the sequel (which I am sure will be answered in the next part or maybe the one after that, but I am patient.)

The characterisation was really well-developed and the writing felt very smooth, which was surprising as this is the author’s debut novel. I was impressed by the number of details and their impact on the overall plot. I would highly recommend this book to cozy mystery fans and to readers of light historical fiction brimming with light suspense.


You can also read this review on:

Goodreads


Amazon


Author Interview: Kara Jacobson

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Kara Jacobson, from Atmosphere Press, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Kara Jacobson resides in the beautiful, rolling hills of Red Wing, MN with her husband and young son, Logan. She and her husband both work at the local hospital, where they first met. Born with an insatiable appetite for science fiction, Kara has always been intrigued with the notion of entire civilizations existing within the earth. She was a New Media Film Festival (2021) nominee for The Intra-Earth Chronicles, Book I: The Two Sisters.

You can connect with author Kara Jacobson here:
Author Website


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

Hello, Beautiful Book-loving Friends! My name is Kara Jacobson and I am a little on the shy side. I adore my family, nature, friends, art of any fashion, movies (Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Indiana Jones are a few of my all-time favorites 😊) and fantasy books! 

Yes, I am a daydreamer, always walking in two worlds: the mesmerizing and shimmering one playing in my head, and the ordinary, everyday one of working in a hospital pharmacy and taking care of my family (a husband, son, and two cats). Maintaining the perfect balance of both worlds is crucial!

When I first set out on my writing quest, I tried my hand at writing movies. I must admit that writing movies is an art that I have yet to master.  
Please view my projects on my author website: https://karalynejacobson.com/

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

Pictured above is Sasha. She is the intuitive older sister (15 years old) with a red diamond-shaped birthmark on her forehead.  Sasha’s diamond-shaped birthmark tingles before she receives a premonition.  This picture is in black-and-white in the book.

Adrianne is the younger of the two sisters (11 years old) and is the fierce girl depicted on the cover with the tiger.  She wears a brass hair clip in her crimson hair that conceals a tiny, sharp knife. 

The initial inspiration for Adrianne was, actually, a real person!  Adrianne was inspired by my childhood friend, Bria Gehringer.  Bria was an only child who lived down the rural Wisconsin highway from me.  She was charismatic, free-spirited, fearless, and harbored a deep connection to the animal kingdom (she had a ton of pets: dogs, cats, birds, ferrets, rats, and an iguana, all of whom she called siblings) and I remember her dying her hair bright red at least once.  She saved me from ultimate loneliness as a kid as I accompanied her on many childhood adventures.  

The rest of the characters in this story have been completely conjured from my imagination.

A fun fact: The Intra-Earth Chronicles; Book I: The Two Sisters, was selected as a nominee for the New Media Film Festival 2021 (They accept books under their scripts category!).  Here is a link to the Q&A Session for The Two Sisters: https://medium.com/authority-magazine/kara-jacobson-5-things-you-need-to-know-to-become-a-great-author-f0d4a82e511

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

That there is always hope for a better tomorrow even when outer circumstances appear most dire.  

Sasha clung to the hope that Adrianne was still alive and living inside the ravine, which drove her to set off on this adventure across the desert. 

Adrianne never relinquished the hope that she could commandeer a nuclear machine that could revive a dying civilization.

Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

Adrianne, because she is absolutely fearless!

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

In my early 20s I had the chance to attend a “Walk-Ins International Conference” in Las Vegas. The group took a tour to a park outside of Reno, NV where there were large, intricate stone circles in the ground that were places where they believed that the inner earth beings were close to the surface.  This concept blew my mind, and I have been actively exploring the subject ever since! 

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

Seven months.  It would have been faster, but I have a 4-year-old son and suffer from a multitude of distractions, internal and external. 

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today? 

I would love to occupy the ranks of true “author” vs “writer of stories for my own joy”.  Or, compromise on an amalgamation of the two.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

The second book in the Intra-Earth Chronicles series is nearly complete!

I also have another book, Beneath Storm Mountain, currently being published by Pegasus Publishing (with a possible 2023 release date) that was first written as a movie screenplay.  The screenplay placed as a Semifinalist in the 2019 ScreenCraft Animation Contest.

Beneath Storm Mountain is a YA fantasy adventure that also takes place in the civilizations below the earth’s crust.  Two 15-year-old boys, Darren and Kale, star in this tale. While on vacation in South Dakota’s Black Hills, the boys discover an otherworldly relic in their fishing hole that is coveted by evil shadow beings. The boys meet a mysterious girl from the intra-earth, who leads the boys below to her technologically advanced civilization to hide them from the evil shadow beings that hunt them.

I have included scenes from Beneath Storm Mountain, illustrated by Brendan Kulp.

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

I adore middle grade!  I also write YA, but prefer middle grade. My constitution is a bit sensitive, so middle grade is usually the easiest for me to digest.

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

A 5th grade teacher (Mr. E.) once said to me, “Kara, you are a writer.”  I discarded this message at the time, but it must have remained ingrained in my subconsciousness, because now writing is what I feel most compelled to do!

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

I do a meditation for receiving inspired writing and art, created by bj King, when I have time or remember. You may contact her at bjnamaste@gmail.com for the direct prayer. 

The meditation involves sealing the room on all sides from negativity, connecting a cord of light (or a lightsaber) into the great central sun at the center of the earth, opening your heart, and then inserting the light cord high above yourself into your own Oversoul or Higher-self.  A series of counting begins as you focus on your mid-brain.  This puts you into a higher state of consciousness and awareness, to begin the transference of automatic writing from your soul.

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I do both, longhand with a pen and paper, and computer writing.  As inspiration strikes, I jot everything down into my pink notebook (as scribbles at midnight), and much later it gets transferred (often changing its form entirely) onto to the computer.

What are your 5 favourite books? (You can share 5 favourite authors too.)

  1. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley (I love anything related to King Arthur and Camelot.  The Merlin series, starring Colin Morgan, was a smash hit at my house!)
  2. The Valley of Horses by Jean M. Auel
  3. Percy Jackson & The Olympians by Rick Riordan
  4. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
  5. The Dead Zone by Stephen King

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I take a break and return another day when inspiration strikes.  I regret, admittedly, that I am not the most disciplined writer.  I truly write for only a few hours a week when I have the house all to myself.  Though I think about the story continuously.  

What advice would you give to aspiring non-fiction writers?

Write what you yourself would enjoy reading or watching on the big screen!  Others will, hopefully, also enjoy your creations 😊.

Submit your books to Atmosphere Press—they are phenomenal!!  

Thank you, author Kara, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

The Intra-Earth Chronicles

The Two Sisters #1

In the year 2444, two noble sisters, Sasha (15) and Adrianne (11) have survived a nuclear fallout, only to be torn apart. 
The ground splits open and Adrianne is thrown from her horse, plummeting into the ravine.  Spurned on by the hope that Adrianne lives, Sasha embarks on a journey through the desert to face the ravine that claimed her only sister. Meanwhile, deep within the earth, Adrianne is running for her life. She took something that did not belong to her.
In The Intra-Earth Chronicles, Book I: The Two Sisters by Kara Jacobson we experience a fast-paced fantasy adventure woven within the earth, and the unshakeable bond between two sisters.


You can find The Intra-Earth Chronicles here:
Amazon | Goodreads | Atmosphere Press

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Book Review: The Rescue~ Book One of the Timestream Travelers Chronicles by Sher J. Stultz

Book Details:

Author: Sher J. Stultz
Release Date: 
10th January 2022
Series: The Timestream Travelers Chronicles (Book #1)
Genre: Science-Fiction Fantasy, Time Travel, Adventure, Young Adult
Format: E-book 
Pages: 302 pages
Publisher:
Blurb:
It all starts when the sheets go slack, and Aeneas vanishes! He and his two best friends, C.J. and Tabitha are spellbound as they watch the video feed of his disappearance and witness him climbing through his bedroom window an hour later, wearing different socks. Aeneas Entwistle, a slightly above average eighth grader is about to discover that the mystery of waking up with different socks is much more than just a prank.

Meanwhile, Aeneas’s twenty-something daughter, Cassie has traveled thirty-eight years from the future hoping to find any small detail that might help locate her missing father. Enlisting Harold, the Entwistle’s quirky housekeeper, Cassie works to rescue a middle-aged Aeneas, who vanishes into the timestream when a 7.2 earthquake strikes northwest Washington in May of 2053. But Cassie’s presence in the past might have unforeseen consequences for everyone in her circle. As she struggles to find her father, a carefully guarded family secret is revealed, and Cassie must choose between altering the past or violating the shamanic rules of time travel!

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Rescue by Sher J. Stultz is the first book in The Timestream Travelers Chronicles. It is a fun and adventurous story with well-developed characters and a really good concept. I really liked reading this book because it felt very light and breezy.

The writing style of the author is simpl yet effective. It had a great flow and thus, made reading this book very easy and quick. I am looking forward to reading the next part in this series because I’ve come to care about the main characters and would love to know what happens next for them.

I would highly recommend this book to all teens and readers of YA and sci-fi-fantasy genres. Also, time-travel fans should also give it a read as they may find this book very interesting.


You can also read this review on:

Goodreads


Amazon


Book Review: Into the Undercastle (The Shadow Arcanist Trilogy #1) by Alexander Dawnrider

Book Details:

Author: Alexander Dawnrider
Release Date: 
31st January 2022
Series: The Shadow Arcanist (Book #1)
Genre: Epic Fantasy, High Fantasy
Format: E-book 
Pages: 406 pages
Publisher: Dawnrider Press
Blurb:
A kingdom in peril. A forbidden stronghold. An unimaginable horror.
For centuries, the northern kingdom has faced constant attacks from hostile creatures in the surrounding wilderness. The population has dwindled to a few hundred, and an army of savage humanoids threatens to wipe Talidith out forever.

Their only hope is the Undercastle, a subterranean fortress built long ago to protect the people during an invasion. But it has been sealed by a mad king, and entry is punishable by death.
The young fisherman Aedan, along with his father, must retreat with the rest of the population to the Undercastle to wait out the invasion, hoping for help from the outside. But when their presence releases an evil from another realm, it threatens to destroy not only what is left of Talidith, but the entire world.

Review

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Into The Undercastle by Alexander Dawnrider is the first book in the epic fantasy series, The Shadow Arcanist.

I absolutely loved this book; right from brilliant concept and great plotting to amazing characterisation and heart-thumping tension, this book had everything that I had expected from it and more! The storyline is superb and keeps one engaged with its various twists and turns the whole time. I am now eagerly awaiting the release of the second book in this series (and then the next one!) as I cannot wait to see what happens after the ending!

I will strongly recommend this book to all fantasy readers as this book has so much going for it. This amazing book will definitely entertain and engage you right from the beginning to the very end!


You can also read this review on:

Goodreads


Amazon


ARC Review: Destiny Lives on Fairhaven Street by C.J. Hudson

Book Details:

Author: C.J. Hudson
Release Date: 
NA
Series: The Fairhaven Series (Book #1)
Genre: Romantic Memoir
Format: E-book 
Pages: 242 pages
Publisher: NA
Blurb:
Destiny Lives on Fairhaven Street is the story of one man’s eight-year journey to get back to the girl next door.

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Destiny Lives on Fairhaven Street by C.J. Hudson is a touching memoir about how author found love.

I liked this book because it feels like a very honest book as the author as not shied away from pouring out his heart. The writing is simply yet the flow of it makes reading this book effortless. The concept of this book is beautiful and the emotions are raw and sincere.

This book is an exceptional emotional read and I would definitely recommend it to all the readers of memoirs and romance genre.

Book Spotlight: Into the Undercastle (The Shadow Arcanist #1) by Alexander Dawnrider

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, we are featuring author Alexander Dawnrider for his latest release Into The Undercastle.

Into the Undercastle

Book: Into The Undercastle
Author: Alexander Dawnrider
Series: Shadow Arcanist
Page Count: 406
Publication Date: 31st January 2022
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Publisher: Dawnrider Press


Synopsis

A kingdom in peril. A forbidden stronghold. An unimaginable horror.

For centuries, the northern kingdom has faced constant attacks from hostile creatures in the surrounding wilderness. The population has dwindled to a few hundred, and an army of savage humanoids threatens to wipe Talidith out forever.

Their only hope is the Undercastle, a subterranean fortress built long ago to protect the people during an invasion. But it has been sealed by a mad king, and entry is punishable by death.

The young fisherman Aedan, along with his father, must retreat with the rest of the population to the Undercastle to wait out the invasion, hoping for help from the outside. But when their presence releases an evil from another realm, it threatens to destroy not only what is left of Talidith, but the entire world.

You can find Into the Undercastle here:
WebsiteAmazon | Goodreads


About The Author

Alexander Dawnrider

Alexander Dawnrider grew up reading copious amount of science-fiction and fantasy. Wherever he went, there was a thick paperback in his hands, or stashed in his satchel, or waiting beside his bed. He absorbed the works of Asimov, Heinlein, Tolkien, Foster, and countless others. 

As he grew older, he applied his knowledge to the world around him. Each electronic appliance was really a robot ready to serve mankind. Each cat secretly knew how to walk through walls. It wasn’t anything so mundane as bears or foxes inhabiting the nearby forest, but fiendish orcs and goblins. And just beyond the stars was a young urchin with his flying minidrag. 

Now Alexander dwells in a lofty tower of a northern province, endeavoring to contribute to that fantastical world with his own ideas. When he isn’t busy madly scribbling away on the scraps of parchment that cross his desk, you can find him enjoying a grilled-cheese sandwich and tinkering with his time machine. His companions are an assortment of gargoyles and a small dragon named Sea Glimmer.

You can find author Alexander at:
Email | Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Book Review: White Storks Of Mercy – Formation by  Joni Anderson Van Berkel 

Book Details:

Author: Joni Anderson Van Berkel 
Release Date: 
23rd November 2021
Series: White Storks Of Mercy trilogy (Book #1)
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Format: E-book 
Pages: 405 pages
Publisher: jponipress
Blurb:
The first book of this new trilogy is set in a world where reality and fantasy coexist. The story starts in ancient Egypt’s Eighteenth Dynasty and ends in twentieth century Portugal. A supernatural clairvoyant Sacred Stork of the Bach named Tara travels through time searching for a group of diverse women to join her on a mission to reset humanity’s moral compass.
Tara saves a pharaoh, a martyr, a warrior, a queen, and a Gypsy girl from death. She grants them eternal life and the ability to transform into the White Storks of Mercy. Her chosen companions must wear the magical talismans gifted by their leader or they will become mortal. The birds transform into human females called the Merciful Ones when their feet touch the earth. Tara manifests her own human body along the way.

Throughout the course of this epic journey Tara’s jealous sister, an ancient Egyptian Siamese cat named Reba, attempts to thwart the efforts of her moralistic twin. Reba possesses telepathic power and mind-controlling blue eyes. She conscripts a member of the White Storks of Mercy to spy on Tara. The cat also befriends a Druidess from the Iron Age and implores her to use Celtic magic in an effort to achieve a self-serving transformation of her own.
Will the White Storks of Mercy overcome perilous odds on their quest to inspire humans of diverse ethnicities, backgrounds and religions to live together in harmony? Or will the peacemakers be foiled by the schemes of the manipulative Siamese cat and her collaborators? Filled with magic, mystery, and mayhem, this novel promises to thrill and enchant its readers.

Review

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

White Storks Of Mercy: Formation by

I enjoyed reading this book thoroughly because it had so much going on throughout the story. The multiple plot lines interspersed with the main story of the book kept me glued to the pages late in the night. I loved the story thoroughly and I’m now early awaiting the next book in this series. I loved the writing, the characterisation that brought this story to life and the pacing of the events.

Reading about the various exotic locations added a fun touch to the story as it made it all the more engaging and entertaining! I would highly recommend this book to all historical fantasy readers.


You can also read this review on:

Goodreads


Amazon


5 Important Laws In The US

Amidst the raging war between Russia and Ukraine, it makes one wonder about where the world is headed, socially as well as politically. When we look at the horrible images and videos continuously running on the channels covering the ongoing war, it makes us question what humans can be reduced to – practically nothing.

In times of such uncertainty, I have been thinking about the laws and bills that keeps a country going and helps the governments make their people feel safer if not entirely safe. Here is a list of the 5 most important laws in the US that played a key role in stabilising US as the world’s leading country as it is today.

5 Important Laws In The US

1. Civil Rights Act (1964):

In 1964, Congress passed Public Law 88-352 (78 Stat. 241). The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Provisions of this civil rights act forbade discrimination on the basis of sex, as well as, race in hiring, promoting, and firing.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a landmark civil rights and labor law in the United States that outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, and later sexual orientation and gender identity.

If you need Civil Litigators, then visit Wade Law Group: https://wadelitigation.com/civil-litigation/

Source - https://www.dol.gov/agencies/oasam/civil-rights-center/statutes/civil-rights-act-of-1964 & https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Rights_Act_of_1964

2. Voting Rights Act (1965)

This act was signed into law on August 6, 1965, by President Lyndon Johnson. It outlawed the discriminatory voting practices adopted in many southern states after the Civil War, including literacy tests as a prerequisite to voting.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a landmark piece of federal legislation in the United States that prohibits racial discrimination in voting.[7][8] It was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson during the height of the civil rights movement on August 6, 1965, and Congress later amended the Act five times to expand its protections.[7] Designed to enforce the voting rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, the Act sought to secure the right to vote for racial minorities throughout the country, especially in the South. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Act is considered to be the most effective piece of federal civil rights legislation ever enacted in the country.[9] It is also “one o…

Source - https://www.archives.gov/milestone-documents/voting-rights-act#:~:text=This%20act%20was%20signed%20into,as%20a%20prerequisite%20to%20voting & https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voting_Rights_Act_of_1965

3. Medicare and Medicaid acts (1965)

On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Medicare and Medicaid Act, also known as the Social Security Amendments of 1965, into law. It established Medicare, a health insurance program for the elderly, and Medicaid, a health insurance program for people with limited income.

The Social Security Amendments of 1965, Pub.L. 89–97, 79 Stat. 286, enacted July 30, 1965, was legislation in the United States whose most important provisions resulted in creation of two programs: Medicare and Medicaid. The legislation initially provided federal health insurance for the elderly (over 65) and for financially challenged families.

Source - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Security_Amendments_of_1965 & https://www.archives.gov/milestone-documents/medicare-and-medicaid-act#:~:text=On%20July%2030%2C%201965%2C%20President,for%20people%20with%20limited%20income

4. National Defense Education Act (1958)

The National Defense Education Act of 1958 became one of the most successful legislative initiatives in higher education. It established the legitimacy of federal funding of higher education and made substantial funds available for low-cost student loans, boosting public and private colleges and universities.

The National Defense Education Act (NDEA) was signed into law on September 2, 1958, providing funding to United States education institutions at all levels.[1] An Act to strengthen the national defense and to encourage and assist in the expansion and improvement of educational programs to meet critical national needs and for other purposes.

Source - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Defense_Education_Act & https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/minute/Sputnik_Spurs_Passage_of_National_Defense_Education_Act.htm

5. Economic Recovery Tax Act (1981)

The Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 (ERTA) was the largest tax cut in U.S. history. Signed by President Ronald Reagan about six months after he took office, ERTA slashed the top income tax rate and allowed for faster expensing of depreciable assets.

The Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 (ERTA), or Kemp–Roth Tax Cut, was an Act that introduced a major tax cut, which was designed to encourage economic growth. The federal law enacted by the 97th US Congress and signed into law by US President Ronald Reagan. The Accelerated Cost Recovery System (ACRS)[1] was a major component of the Act and was amended in 1986 to become the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS.)

Source - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_Recovery_Tax_Act_of_1981 & https://www.investopedia.com/terms/e/economic-recovery-tax-act.asp#:~:text=The%20Economic%20Recovery%20Tax%20Act%20of%201981%20(ERTA)%20was%20the,faster%20expensing%20of%20depreciable%20assets

I hope this article will provide you some insight into the fundamental laws of the US and how it sets it apart from other countries.

Book Review: Hold The Apocalypse – Pass Me A Scientist Please, And Other Humorous Essays From An Optimist In Dreamland by Bob Lorentson

Book Details:

Author: Bob Lorentson
Release Date: 
7th October 2021
Genre: Humor, Satire, Science, Philosophy, Psychology
Format: E-book 
Pages: 169 pages
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Blurb:
A terrified yet occasionally optimistic environmental scientist takes a humorous look at the science behind the human and animal behaviors that make a doomed planet so interesting.
If you’ve ever wanted to get the real dirt on forest bathing without getting muddied, or on animal arsonists without getting burned, or on DIY transcranial Direct Current Stimulation without risking all those excitable neurons that already have one foot out the door, then this is the book for you. Should you be of the type, however, that has found life’s little pleasures interrupted of late by the loud ticking of the Doomsday Clock, put in some earplugs, because it’s not yet too late to have a good laugh while you learn about ‘Cat Research for Dummies,’ ‘Brain Wars – the Gender Variations,’ or ‘Boredom – It’s Not Just for the Boring.’

In these fifty essays, Bob Lorentson humorously uses science, philosophy, psychology, history, and even poetry to examine a myriad of curious subjects while waiting for the collapse of civilization.

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Hold The Apocalypse – Pass Me A Scientist Please, And Other Humorous Essays From An Optimist In Dreamland by Bob Lorentson is a book of essays that are unique, fresh yet, on a deeper level, quite important. These essays are humorous with undertones of various themes such as psychology, philosophy, general sciences, socio-political themes, etc. I enjoyed reading this collection because there was never a dull moment!

The author has a very unique style of writing and his sense of humour appealed to me a lot. I enjoyed each and every essay mostly because aside from the satirical approach and the social commentary, the pieces always had a deeper meaning to them and with each and every essay, the author nailed that bit.

I would highly recommend this book to readers of satire and short-story or essay collections.


You can also read this review on:

Goodreads


Amazon


Book Review: Sunflowers Beneath The Snow by Teri M. Brown

Book Details:

Author: Teri M. Brown
Release Date: 
5th January 2022
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Format: E-book 
Pages: 334 pages
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Blurb:
A Ukrainian rebel. Three generations of women bearing the consequences. A journey that changes everything.
When Ivanna opens the door to uniformed officers, her tranquil life is torn to pieces – leaving behind a broken woman who must learn to endure cold, starvation, and the memories of a man who died in the quintessential act of betrayal. Using her thrift, ingenuity, and a bit of luck, she finds a way to survive in Soviet Ukraine, along with her daughter, Yevtsye. But the question remains, will she be strong enough to withstand her daughter’s deceit and the eventual downfall of the nation she has devoted her life to? Or will the memories of her late husband act as a shadow haunting everyone and everything she loves, including Ionna, the granddaughter that never knew him?

In Sunflowers Beneath the Snow, Teri M. Brown explores the tenacity of women, showing that even in grueling circumstances, they can, and do, experience all the good things life has to offer – compassion, joy, love, faith, and wonder.

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Sunflowers Beneath The Snow by Teri M. Brown is a beautiful book about love, courage, compassion and faith.

This book covers the time period from 1973 to 2021 – taking the readers through the lives of 3 generations of women facing the most harrowing of situations that life has to offer but yet, somehow, never give up or lose sight of what is important. Author T.M.Brown takes the readers through a plethora of events that this book showcases, Right from living under communist rule to facing the punishment for a betrayal committed by one of the family members and the rest having to live with the consequences.

This is an epic family saga that is beautifully written and intellectually expressed. I would strongly recommend it to all readers of historical fiction, women’s literature and literary fiction about families under the communal rule. This book is is a must read!


You can also read this review on:

Goodreads


Amazon


Author Interview: Janet Kelley

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Janet Kelley from Atmosphere Press, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Janet Kelley

Janet Kelley is a teacher, reader, writer, and feminist. A native of Hutchinson, Kansas, she studied Humanistic Studies and Religious Studies at Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana. She studied Historical Theology at the University of Notre Dame. She earned her teaching credentials from Indiana University at South Bend. Ms. Kelley currently lives in Boston and Budapest. Ms. Kelley believes that books are the cornerstone of freedom and justice. Her work to support survivors of sexual assault was inspired by the writer V and The Vagina Monologues. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this novel will be donated to The Trevor Project. Please consider a donation to The Trevor Project to support their crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for LGBTQ youth.

You can connect with author Kelly here:
Author Website | Twitter


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

Thank you for the chance to introduce myself beyond what you can read in my Author Bio. I am a high school English teacher with a passion for reading. Together with a friend I started a book club that still meets over twenty years later. I was thrilled to join them by Zoom during the Covid era. I started another book club in my city a few years ago. My book clubs read both classics and new releases, fiction and nonfiction. We recently decided to branch out into “reading” films and will even read and then attend a production of the stage adaptation of Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye

Beyond books I love being active—running, working out at my favorite gym, Orange Fitness Theory, and learning how to cross-country ski this season. In my spare time these days I enjoy making homemade jams, taking ukulele lessons, and drinking good coffee. (I also drink terrible coffee as needed.) I spend part of every year in Budapest, Hungary, where I have a home in the city center. I can spend an entire day at one of Budapest’s famous thermal water spas. 

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

My book deals with the impact of trauma in our lives. Much like how we experienced the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, trauma enters our lives seemingly out of nowhere. One day we are living our lives, and then in a flash our lives are changed by forces outside of our control or understanding. Sexual assault sometimes works in this way. (Sometimes sexual abuse is more insidious as perpetrators groom their victims.) This is why I set the story of Luke’s sexual assault in parallel with 9/11. I want readers to see the two events as similar–both are traumatic assaults that force us to consider how to respond. 

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

I want readers to contemplate the plight of men and boys who are sexually assaulted. In the early 2000s the situation of men who were assaulted was dire. There were no pathways toward healing. The shame and the fear of being labeled as  gay often silenced men. The shameful silencing led to further damage. 

In Taint, I show how this damage extends to others. Luke was assaulted and confides in Rebecca. She tells his story and in fact decides for him how to make his rapist pay for the crime. I do not endorse her decisions. I want readers to harshly judge her choices even while they understand what forces caused her to act. 

I want readers to understand that male sexual assault happens and that we need to create both a safety net for victims and pathways toward healing. 

Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

My favorite character in the book is Tiffany, the third friend in a group of three. She is earnest and well-intentioned. I like that she sticks with her friend Rebecca even when she faces ostracization. 

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

I had been working with the issue of sexual assault and domestic violence for many years. I produced The Vagina Monologues for many years at our local university. There were several awesome vagina-friendly men who were active leaders in our group. They made me more sensitive to men’s assault stories. I grew very interested in the silence of male victims. I wanted to explore that in my work. 

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

Well, a long time. I started writing it in 2006. I was teaching high school at the time. Then I started my family, moved across the country, and moved to Hungary. This novel was in a drawer for many years. I finally decided that its story needed to be told. 

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today? 

I see myself with a new book in the next 5 years. I will continue to write poetry and short fiction as well. 

Are you working on any other story presently?

Of course! It is natural for me to have drafts floating around. In the past I kept a blog and tried to maintain regular writing practice. Now I am more into snatching time when I can—on the subway, waiting in line, while I am on a lunch break from a teaching job. I keep a small notebook for that purpose in my purse at all times. 

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

I chose YA because it felt natural to me and suited the voice I wanted to explore. I am not too strict about genre. I like to bend the rules about genre and style. 

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

I am a reader and a writer. I am a teacher. I am a mother. A wife. A friend. These all come naturally to me. The decision to publish was more fraught. My writing was always a personal habit born out of my teaching practice. Taking my work public required an extra push. For me that came due to Covid. The restrictions on life produced the feeling that I needed to push back against all the sorrow and suffering. I wanted to put my novel into the world as a positive push back. It was a way to say that I choose creativity and the life of the mind despite the fear and suffering. 

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

As I mentioned above, my practice has changed. I used to need two or three hours in the morning. I worked best in a cafe. I needed to be away from home and the lure of cleaning dishes.  I loved getting into the flow of writing for hours at a time. In many ways this is my ideal. I think it is necessary for the stage of writing when you are immersed in a long project. Now I have transitioned more into snatch writing–catching a few lines here and there. I have abandoned the need to protect long stretches at a time. It simply wasn’t happening with the demands of children, work, and Covid restrictions. I enjoy my new writing freedom. It gives me more of a writer’s eye–I am constantly looking at people, situations, setting. I listen and eavesdrop with a writer’s ear. I like the energy this brings to my writing. 

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

Longhand with a pen in my journal. Laptop for longer pieces. 

What are your 5 favourite books?

When I was young I loved the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis and stories about Ramona by Beverly Clearly. Growing up I was a huge Stephen King fan, until I got too creeped out reading Gerald’s Game. We used to sneak King’s novels beneath our desks during English class. I adored Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card and Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Now that I look back, reading was kind of what the boys did and my reading selections mirror that.  The other book that stands out as an influence was A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter, given to me by my grandmother.

In college I really discovered literature (I was a science/sports geek in high school). One of my majors was a Great Books program, which means we read works from the Western canon. Here is the stuff that moved me from college: Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto, A Passage to India by E.M. Forester, Arcadia by Tom Stoppard, The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Kundera, Goethe’s Sorrows of Young Werther, Pope’s Essay on Man, The Collected Stories of Flannery O’Connor and, of course, Shakespeare.

It has only been since I started to teach high school English that I began to seriously read like a writer. When I had to teach reading/writing/story concepts to 9th graders, I had to be able to analyze a story so that its mechanics were visible to my students (without destroying the magic, which gets dicey). Books/Authors that have moved me in this era include: Blindness by Saramago (really, a favorite), anything by Margaret Atwood or Louse Erdrich, Toni Morrison, Ian McEwan and Alice Munro among others. Most recently I finished Gaddis’s Carpenter’s Gothic and I am slightly obsessed. I can’t leave out the Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler, now known as V, which I produced/directed for three years. In my recent reading history I would include the following favorites: The Overstory by Richard Powers, Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill, Elena Ferrante, Stoner by John Williams, Never Let Me Go by Ishiguro Kazuo, Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli, Hunger by Roxane Gay, and On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong. 

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I don’t believe in it! 

What advice would you give to aspiring non-fiction writers?

Read and write a lot. Try to break some rules. For example, never limit your answer to only 5 favorite books when they ask. 

Thank you, author Kelly, for your insightful and honest answers!

About the Book

Taint

Rebecca White, a senior at the top of her class at Plains High School in 2001, is a Kansas girl going places…until the rape. She wants the rapist to pay for his crime and go to jail. Unfortunately, nothing is that simple, and she wasn’t the one raped.  
This is the story of how Rebecca seeks revenge for her best friend, Luke Warren, who was raped by the principal’s son, Weston. While the senior class chooses corsages and boutonnières for prom, Rebecca plots revenge against Weston. She must find a way to make him pay without revealing Luke’s secret. The solution she finds is chilling.
Set in a small town in the American Midwest when the terrorist attacks in New York City brought life to a standstill, Taint by Janet Kelley portrays how friendship and justice are tested when the unthinkable happens.


You can find Taint here:
Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes & Noble | Atmosphere Press

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Teri M. Brown

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome Teri M. Brown, author of Sunflowers Beneath The Snow, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Teri M. Brown

Born in Athens, Greece as an Air Force brat, Teri M Brown graduated from UNC Greensboro. She began her writing career helping small businesses with content creation and published five nonfiction self-help books dealing with real estate and finance, receiving “First Runner Up” in the Eric Hoffman Book Awards for 301 Simple Things You Can Do To Sell Your Home Now, finalist in the USA Best Books Awards for How To Open and Operate a Financially Successful Redesign, Redecorate, and Real Estate Staging Business and for 301 Simple Things You Can Do To Sell Your Home Now, and Honorable Mention in Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year Award for Private Mortgage Investing. In 2017, after winning the First Annual Anita Bloom Ornoff Award for Inspirational Short Story, she began writing fiction in earnest, and recently published Sunflowers Beneath the Snow. Teri is a wife, mother, grandmother, and author who loves word games, reading, bumming on the beach, taking photos, singing in the shower, hunting for bargains, ballroom dancing, playing bridge, and mentoring others. Teri’s debut novel, Sunflowers Beneath the Snow, is a historical fiction set in Ukraine. 

You can connect with author Brown here:
www.terimbrown.com


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

I’m Teri M Brown, and I’ve wanted to be an author since I was a child, but at the time, it was linked with being a brain surgeon and Olympic ice skater! I loved to read and was always writing stories and poems. My mom recently gave me one she had saved that was written on the back of my grandma’s bank deposit slip! I read everything I could get my hands on and even had a special tree in the yard that I called my reading tree. 

But then life kind of got in the way. I got married, had children, divorced, and homeschooled. I remarried someone who was emotionally abusive. By the time that relationship was nearing its end, I no longer believed in myself. 

But, I was given an opportunity to go to a writer’s retreat, and from that moment on, the characters in my head wouldn’t shut up. I began writing again.

I’m now married (yes – again) to a wonderful man who supports me in all that I do. And he pushes me to be all that I can be. In fact, we recently rode across the US on a tandem bicycle from the coast of Oregon to Washington DC – 3102 miles. Not only did we raise $34,000 for Toys for Tots, but I found a way to heal from my past relationships. 

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

The book is loosely based on a real-life story. I am friends with the granddaughter – Ionna – though that is not her name in real life. She was visiting my home and telling me this story that was too incredible to believe. I won’t tell you what it is because it would be a huge spoiler alert. But I knew that story had to be told. Unfortunately, there was no way to know what really happened – so I created a story to get to that ending!

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book? 

I want people to understand that even when life is kicking you in the gut, you can still find joy and happiness. It’s all in the way you choose to see what is happening.

Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

I like Yevtsye the most. She realizes she is gutsy and can do hard things. Plus, I relate to her in many of her experiences like postpartum depression, her angst with her mom, and the empty-nest feelings.

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

I pretty much answered this in #2. A friend told me an ending that needed a beginning, so I wrote it. 

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

I was at Weymouth Writers in Residence in Southern Pines, NC for two weeks. I got the book out of my head and onto paper during that time. I then did a major edit, adding another 30,000 words during a one-week retreat I created for myself at my mom’s house while she was on vacation. The rest of the editing took about 80 hours of work over a month. However, it took me three years to get the guts to write the story!

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today? 

This is my debut novel, and no one really knows who I am. In five years, I want all of that to change. I want a readership that looks forward to my next book because I have lots of books in my head. 

Are you working on any other story presently?

My next novel, An Enemy Like Me, is set during WWII. It features a man who is a first-generation German American who fights for the US in the war but finds himself in Germany. It looks at the angst of loving his heritage and loving his country. I explore this topic from his point of view, as well as his wife’s and his young son’s.

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres? 

Sunflowers Beneath the Snow is a Historical Fiction/ Women’s Fiction. An Enemy Like Me is a Historical Fiction. However, I have two other stories that are Contemporary Fiction, and another that has a fantasy twist. I also have a great idea for a YA dystopian novel, a humorous women’s fiction, and two children’s storybooks. I don’t think I have a genre as much as I have characters in my head that need a platform. I tell people that I write character-driven fiction and the genre is chosen by the characters.

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

It was very difficult to follow my passion. First, children and life kind of got in the way. I loved being a mom and homeschooled my kids, but that left little time to develop my own skills and follow my dreams. Marrying an emotionally abusive man sealed the deal. Although I wrote articles and blog posts for small businesses, I didn’t believe I was capable of writing a novel. But I met a friend who was a young mother and writing a book. She told me about this writer’s retreat, so I applied. I went for one week and wrote my first novel. It was no good. My characters had no depth. The story was too predictable. But I got it out of my head. Those fifty thousand words on paper gave me the courage to keep writing – and to leave my miserable marriage. Getting this book published is just the beginning of my dream.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

I wish I had something crazy or unique to say here, but I don’t. I just write. If I have a computer and some free time, I write. I can write on the beach, in a coffee shop, in the car, or even in the middle of the living room with things going on. In fact, I tend to like a bit of household noise around me – complete silence is not my friend!

When writing a novel, I do what I call ‘word vomit.’ I simply let the story out of my head. I don’t worry too much about character development. I don’t do a lot of research for the setting. I just write the story down and get it out of my head. Once that is done, I leave the story alone for about a month and then begin the editing process. I prefer to have a big chunk of time set aside for this so that I can get the bulk of it done quickly. 

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I write almost entirely on a computer. I can type 80 words per minute, which is much faster than I can write longhand. Plus, when I go back to my notes, I don’t have to decipher my scribble! The only time I use pen and paper or dictation is to take a few notes that I will need later on or to capture an idea while I am out walking on the beach. 

What are your 5 favourite books?

Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (The first book I read that made me realize there was more going on than a cute little story), and Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

For me, writer’s block means that there are other things pressing on my mind and taking up the space I need to write. The only way to get rid of it is to clear up those other things. Or at least take care of them enough that they are no longer ‘top of mind.’ I rarely get writer’s block. I think I spent too long not writing so my characters refuse to shut up even when life is busy!

What advice would you give to aspiring non-fiction writers?

Write. Write. Write. If you have a story in your head, write it down. Don’t worry that it isn’t perfect. Don’t worry about anything. The more you write, the better you will get. It’s fine to take classes or get a degree, but don’t let that stand in the way of writing or be the excuse to keep you from writing. I also recommend learning a bit about marketing. You will love your book more than anyone else. It will be up to you to help people know it exists.

Thank you, author Teri, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

Sunflowers Beneath The Snow

A Ukrainian rebel. Three generations of women bearing the consequences. A journey that changes everything.
When Ivanna opens the door to uniformed officers, her tranquil life is torn to pieces – leaving behind a broken woman who must learn to endure the cold, starvation, and memories of a man who died in the quintessential act of betrayal. Using her thrift, ingenuity, and a bit of luck, she finds a way to survive in Soviet Ukraine, along with her daughter, Yevtsye. But the question remains, will she be strong enough to withstand her daughter’s deceit and the eventual downfall of the nation she has devoted her life to? Or will the memories of her late husband act as a shadow haunting everyone and everything she loves, including Ionna, the granddaughter that never knew him?


In Sunflowers Beneath the Snow, Teri M Brown explores the tenacity of women, showing that even in grueling circumstances, they can, and do, experience all the good things life has to offer – compassion, joy, love, faith, and wonder.

You can find Sunflowers Beneath The Snow here:
Author Website | Amazon | Atmosphere Press | Goodreads

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