Book Review: I Remember the Time…by Kim Hemphill

Book Reviews, Other Genre

“Especially as we get older, memories become more important. We tend to idolize the happy memories. But what about the painful ones?

-Kim Hemphill from I Remember the Time…(5)

This review is overdue! I rated it: 5

The reason for my rating is that Hemphill discusses the abuse he experienced as a child and does a good job of communicating his ideas through writing. It’s not easy to go into detail about sensitive situations like child abuse. Honestly, how many people can step up and say that they were victims? Many people wouldn’t even go public or try to use their hardships to inspire others. And write a book that exposes these aspects to friends, family, and complete strangers to be judged? Forget about it.

If you’re looking for a high-impact, racy book, this probably isn’t for you. But, if you’re looking for a feel-good story about overcoming obstacles this is a good pick.

Yes, this book will break your heart and anger you as the author definitely goes through undeserved abuse but, it’ll entertain you, too. Hemphill shares some of his highly-entertaining adventures. I don’t want to give away too much but, he shares how he sets his desk on fire in grade school  (85), how he throws a dog in a pedophiles face to escape (96), and becomes the neighborhood hero by beating up the neighborhood bully (112).

I’d say that I Remember the Time… is a story about not giving up and finding small victories in life. I was amazed when and how his dad abandoned him, his siblings, and his disabled mom. His dad moves them into the country and leaves them in a beat-up trailer to fend for themselves (126)!  Ironically, the same thing happened to one of my close friends growing up, too. Except for her dad dumped them off in Mexico, in the country, in some sad old trailer. Hemphill sees his dad cry over his brother who goes to fight in Vietnam, though (146). This strange act of human frailty really left me wondering how someone with feelings could do some of the things he did. You do have to feel something to cry, don’t you? Or maybe, not.

The relationship Hemphill had with his brother, Craig, really stayed with me long after I finished reading the book. It was touching how much Craig did to protect Hemphill growing up and then even dies protecting others (151). I wish there were more Craigs–those that step out to help and protect others–out there.

Learn more about Kim Hemphill and order a copy of I Remember the Time… at http://kimhemphill.com/.

-E

A Review of the “Power of the Pen” by Rico Lamoureux

Book Reviews, Other Genre

I wouldn’t even be mentioning this if it didn’t affect my life, because this book is about my story, not anyone else’s. But when someone’s actions directly affect me, then that’s exactly what it turns into–my story as well.” Rico Lamoureux, Power of the Pen (456-457).

Power of the Pen is the autobiography of writer Rico Lamoureux. This book details his story of survival, blindness, hope,  life in the Third World, and most importantly, truth. Learn more about him in “An Interview with Rico Lamoureux, Author Without Eyesight but With Great Insight.  I gave this book 5 stars for Lamoureux’s storytelling ability and bravery.

5

At first, I was worried when I realized that this book was over 500 pages long, but after the first ten pages, Lamoureux didn’t disappoint. If you’re willing to give this book a chance, there’s a lot you can take away from it. For now, let’s focus on just 3 major things.

Three major things you can take away from this book:

  • The world is a lot smaller and connected than we sometimes care to realize. 
    • Rico’s life takes him in all sorts of directions. For example, he was actually in the airport during an LAX shooting (459), has a close encounter with Rosie O’Donnell on the Tonight Show (502), somehow gets an angel investor to pay for an eye surgery (523), and ends up in a hospital where he randomly meets the mother of someone he knew who died years prior (511).
    • I really liked Rico’s book but to be honest, it may be because I related to it on another level. Mainly, he expressed my frustrations with the Philippines and the culture, continuing to prove this very point–the world is small. I’ve had to deal with the scammy airport workers (461), being treated like an American cash cow (487), and being disappointed with the food and availability of it (463, 483), too.
      • Though he states, “I’m sure there’s going to be people out there who will despise what I have to say about living in the Philippines, the fact will remain that all I’m doing is recounting my experiences” (525), there is truth in what he says. And I agree furthermore with the following statements:
        • “the total disregard for being true to one’s word, it’s no wonder life in general is so hard in the Philippines” (540).
        • “When you live in an underdeveloped country you come across universal problems, only they’re worsened tenfold” (484).
  • There’s beauty in transparency.
    • Lamoureux is very transparent about what has occurred in his life to a point that it will break your heart. It is this transparency though, that makes his work refreshing and captivating; you’ll want to lean in and read more.
    • He’s transparent about his mother’s abusiveness (29), his mother’s faults with drugs and how she leads her children into them (31), and the betrayal by his brother who grows up to be just like their mother (506) in a way that makes him very courageous. His family will anger you!
  • Don’t give up on what you’re passionate about. 
    • Think about it. How many people have you met who blame their past on their present? How many of you would sit back after becoming legally blind? Even though Rico has gone through so many bad things, he continues forward and I hope that he finds success.

-E

 

Interview With Multi-Talented Sean-Paul Thomas, Author of “The Old Man and the Princess”

Interviews, Other Genre

“It’s a feel-good book at its heart and core, and should leave a big smile on the face of even the most cynical of readers. I’ve tried to take the reader on a new journey, adding a little bit of mystery and spicy, banterous Irish dialogue along the way.”

-Sean-Paul Thomas on The Old Man and the Princess

41kzyjzuhnl-_sx326_bo1204203200_Q: What inspired you write this book?

The novel was inspired by a lot of things. For example the old man in the book is loosely based on the brilliant Irish actor, Brendan Gleeson, and some of the more darkly humorous characters he has played throughout his career; in the likes of In Bruge, The Guard and The Calvary. I just love his dark, brooding, cynical “Irishness” and wanted to put that into a book, mixed with my own style of writing and humor.

The other main, and most influential inspiration for the book, is actually another old classic sci-fi tale, but I can’t really discuss it without ruining the story, main plot of my own novel, and the important role this old classic tale has throughout the narrative.

Q: What challenges did you have while writing it?

Since the main characters are both Irish, I had to get a lot of advice from my mum and grandmother (who are both, luckily, Irish) about dialogue, and certain words and pronunciations. I also watched a lot of Irish movies and TV shows.

The challenges for writing in general–the first ten minutes of just sitting down and concentrating on the blank screen in front of you in the morning, is always gonna be the hardest. There are so many distractions, from Facebook, e-mails, internet surfing to catching up on TV shows/books/movies. And before you know it, it’s a nearly 6 pm. To combat that, I like to turn my fuse box off for a few hours, (make sure your fridge is empty first lol 🙂 ) and trying to write then.

Q: What do you want readers to take away from reading your book(s)?

It’s a little bit different and unique, I think, especially in the diversity of the two main characters ( I mean they could not be more opposite from each other, in both age, personality and mannerism), and the direction the book goes and some of the themes it deals with. It’s a feel-good book at its heart and core, and should leave a big smile on the face of even the most cynical of readers. I’ve tried to take the reader on a new journey, adding a little bit of mystery and spicy, banterous Irish dialogue along the way.

Q: If you could live in the story of a book, which one would you live in?

Would have to go for Lord of the Rings, just for the action and adventure side.

Q:  When you’re not writing what do you do?

I’m a plumber right now, which is where I make most of my income. But when I’m not working in general, then I love traveling, reading, cinema and watching Scottish football. I enjoy cooking too, yoga, meditation and playing tennis twice a week.

Q: What else have you written? What else do you write?

So far The Old Man and The Princess is my eighth book. My other books are:

  1. The Universe Doesn’t Do Second Chances–a kind of time traveling romance story.
  2. Cafe Independence–a black comedy satire set inside a Scottish cafe during the day of the Scottish referendum back in 2014.
  3. Alone is a lost in space, ghost story, chiller.
  4. Ugly/beautiful is a mix of genres, crime, thriller, horror, mystery and romance, and is mostly set in a hide out cottage in amongst gorgeous Scottish Highlands.
  5. Sarah Smiles is a young adult, adventure/drama, loosely based on my childhood growing up on an army base in Cyprus.
  6. Lust for Life is a kind of modern day action thriller. Think Taxi Driver meets the Bucket List. It’s my biggest selling book to date.
  7. My last novel was my first venture into Young Adult, Fantasy adventure: The Fairy Boy of Calton Hill. The book will hopefully be a continuing series. I have almost finished the 2nd book too.
  8. And last but not least–my most recent novel–THE OLD MAN AND THE PRINCESS

Q: What’s your “writer studio” like or where do you feel inspired to write?

Mostly I write at my city centre flat in Edinburgh’s Toll Cross. To me, Edinburgh is the most beautiful, Gothic, magical, inspirational and just plain awesome “wee” city on Earth. But back to my flat, it has a great view out onto one of the busy main streets, just off Lothian Road. So with my ear plugs in and a hot cup of the black stuff, I am able to sit back, chill out, put some light classical music on, enjoy the view and just let go and write.

Q: Of all the character’s you have written, do you have a favorite?

Without naming names, I have a few, but most of the ones I favour turn out to be absolute monsters, yet they never even realise it (lol).

If I had to choose one though, Sarah, from my third book Sarah Smiles. She is one feisty, kick ass, adventurous tomboy, who, if she isn’t already your friend, then defiantly shouldn’t be messed with. Every young teenage boy should get to hang out with a Sarah for at least one day in their lives. She is one street-wise, tough son of a gun. With a come back and smart answer for everything. She pretty much does whatever she likes to. Although she does have a very soft core, if you can indeed find it.

Q: When did you know that you wanted to be a writer and how long have you been writing professionally?

When I was 13. I watched the movie Bram Stokers Dracula, and became so obsessed with it that I decided to write a sequel to the movie, but as a novel. From that day on, I have been writing on and off, for the past 20 or so years.

Q: Where do you think book publishing will be in 10 years from now?

Possibly dead in the water. More and more authors these days are becoming more and more digital savy. They are able to write their books, get them proofread and edited for a reasonable fee, create and prepare their own cool and unique book covers, and convert their files to epub or mobi with just a few clicks. They can do their own  promotion and book tours, print-on-demand paperback copies.

Slowly but surely the middle man, agents and publishers, are being cut out of the loop. It’s not great for the people who work in these publishing houses, but it is good for serious authors in general whose writing isn’t half-bad, but never great enough to get that lucrative publishing contract. Now, through self-publishing, they can get away with making a respectable living and continue doing something they love without the constant, soul destroying, rejection letters.


Anyone else wish they had a bestie like Sarah after that? Me, too.

Order your copy of The Old Man and the Princess! And don’t forget to review! For a list of Sean-Paul Thomas’ other books you can find them here: Sean-Paul Thomas’ Books.

Find Sean-Paul Thomas on Facebook!

-E

There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby: Scary Fairy Tales by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya

Book Reviews, Horror, Other Genre

I was lucky enough to stumble across this book while adventuring in East Oahu. I found it in the forgotten corner of a used bookstore on top of a column of other books.  As soon as I noticed the vibrant, red cover I was immediately drawn to it and once I learned it was written by a Russian author, I was only further intrigued. I’ll add that the book is beautifully designed inside and out.

5

This collection of short stories is dark, weird, and fascinating! The work responded to my nerdy love for literature and reminds me of something that would’ve been popular with my peers in college while I was getting my degree in English. Albeit, some stories in the book are better than others, there are a few that will become your favorites. An example of a story that I didn’t particularly care for is, “The Shadow Life”. It’s not badly written, it was just way too similar to any standard ghost story.  To get the most out of them, I suggest you take your time to really read them–please don’t just skim through; really think deeply about the story you’re reading, like you should with every book you read. My favorite story in this collection is, “Hygiene”, where a mysterious disease has forced a family to isolate their own daughter to keep the disease contained, or so they think.

You can get a copy at any regular book store like Barnes and Noble or on Amazon.

-E

Review: Holy Ghosts: Or, How a (Not So) Good Catholic Boy Became a Believer in Things That Go Bump in the Night by Gary Jansen (Audio)

Book Reviews, Mystery, Thriller, & Suspense, Other Genre

This book was a fun little read, but when I finally reached the end, I felt like I needed more; not that the book was lacking any creep factor or anything. The visions that Jansen’s own mother has will haunt you and you’ll definitely want to meet the clairvoyant who ends up helping him piece together the mystery going on in his son’s room.

Jansen does a great job of introducing interesting characters. I was also tickled by the fact he’s a fellow publishing industry worker and recorded the audio version himself! He did a really great job with the audio actually. He’s got a great voice and can read well.

For the most part, I liked it. For my ranking system, I gave it a 4.

Who this book is really for: This would be an interesting read for someone curious about how religion responds to the supernatural because–as you can expect from the title–it’s addressed quite a bit. This is what interested me, personally. I wanted to know how he dealt with his religion while facing things he couldn’t explain. Like Jansen, I grew up in a Catholic household, though I’m not anymore. Growing up Catholic, I was encouraged to ignore, deny, and avoid talking about ghosts and the supernatural. I actually learned a thing or two and was particularly interested in the bits about angels and supernatural events that are recorded in the Bible.4

Book Review: The Novelist by Laurent Boulanger

Book Reviews, Other Genre

I’d say that this is a must read for struggling writers in our current publishing market; like chicken soup for the soul it has a way of healing. Lewis, the main character, shows the 31n+svEoq5L._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_vulnerability associated with deciding to be a writer and living with that decision in the here and now.

 I gave this book: 5/5. You should get your copy here.

5

 

 

 

Something about the way Boulanger wove this story profoundly touched me; it only took me two days to read it. I couldn’t help but watch Lewis and his struggles with life and failure because, in a sentimental way, his struggles were similar to my own and some I know.

Review of An ESpirits Guide: 37 Steps to Finding Yourself in a World of Chaos by Steven Burgess

Book Reviews, Other Genre

 An eSpirits Guide: 37 Steps to Finding Yourself in a World of Chaos by Steven Burgess

Before I get into the review, I should note a few things:

  • How I got this book: a marketing company in Dublin graciously gave me a free copy of this book to review.
  • I don’t personally know the author or the person who gave me the book.
  • This is an honest review so please limit any negative comments if you disagree.
  • I hate reviews that basically reveal everything, leaving nothing else to discover; it should come as no surprise that I won’t be giving up the 37 steps in this book. If you want them, you can read the book yourself!
  • The book is a light, 179 page read.

This is a book about finding inner peace. Who doesn’t want that?  I gave this book: 3/5.

3

Here’s why.

Burgess has a lot of great advice to offer and provides practical exercises for his readers. Yes, the book does touch on religion a lot but that doesn’t mean there isn’t practical advice for someone needing peace. Examples of good advice are: acknowledge that you have the power to choose (41), watch comedies (49), meditate (63), and consciously challenge the validity of your daily routine (162). The most important chapter for me was Chapter 35 regarding fear (165). Unfortunately, though he offered a lot of great advice, there were some ideas that I didn’t agree with. He states that “we are all innocent human beings” (25) and we shouldn’t feel guilty (56). I really disagree here. Some people should feel guilty. Child molesters, murderers, wife beaters, bullies, I’m talking to you! Also, contrary to Burgess, I believe that our time is precious (99).

Note to writers: don’t ever discount your personal story because it is the one thing in your life that is truly unique. Use it and tell it. I gave the book 3 stars because I wish Burgess had written more about the struggles he had faced. He mentions suicidal ideations, divorce, “sexual failure, desperation, neediness, a dependence on alcohol”, and so on (15). Unfortunately, I couldn’t connect emotionally because there weren’t any details. I think transparency would have made Burgess more credible. After all, why should I believe that you have the keys to inner peace, just because you say you’ve survived the storm? He does offer impressive details about his professional background and it’s credible stuff! He should’ve used that to market himself. He was a “Royal Air Force Weapons Engineer, Bomb Disposal Technician, driving instructor, dance teacher, cricket coach, consultant to 251 businesses, factory worker, and a paper boy” (131). Also, there were grammatical errors that interrupted my flow while reading.

Like Burgess says, “The best guidance comes from within, learn to listen to your heart and tune in” (13).  And tune in, we should!

-E