Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card! Review ‘The Apollo Illusion’ on Amazon for Your Chance

Amazon Giveaway visual

Have you read my book, The Apollo Illusion, and posted about it on Goodreads, Facebook, your blog, or elsewhere? Have you told friends or family about it?

Why not turn your review into a shot at winning a $25 Amazon gift card?

How to Enter

  1. By next week on Dec. 8, 2018, post your HONEST review of The Apollo Illusion to Amazon by clicking here.
  2. Email me with a link to your Amazon review at shari.lopatin@gmail.com.

That’s it! After the giveaway ends in two weeks on Dec. 8, I’ll randomly draw one lucky winner to receive the $25 Amazon gift card and notify him/her by email.

Why Amazon?

As an indie author, Amazon reviews are VITAL for me. Amazon’s algorithm works like this: the more reviews that are posted about my book, the more Amazon shows it to new readers. This means more people could potentially buy it.

So hurry (you only have one week left) and enter for your chance to win that $25 Amazon gift card (more books, anyone?). Post your review now!

Hilary Dartt Gives Life a Second Chance with ‘The Composition of Order’ (Book Review)

 

The Composition of Order by Hilary Dartt

A wonderful, delightful story that had me crying at the end, with characters so real, I felt like they were my neighbors.

Book: The Composition of Order (The Seedling Homestead Series Book 1)

Author: Hilary Dartt

Publisher: Darttboard Creative Writing, LLC

Published: Sept. 19, 2018

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Composition-Order-Seedling-Homestead-Book-ebook/dp/B07HBCKZ4P

Stars: 5/5

[DISCLAIMER: For the sake of full disclosure, Hilary Dartt was the structural editor for my novel, The Apollo Illusion. However, I bought my own copy of The Composition of Order and was not offered any compensation or benefit for reviewing it.]

Sometimes, becoming a mother makes you a horrible wife. Sometimes, planning life too much can have devastating consequences. And sometimes, those we love most are not who we thought.

Welcome to The Composition of Order by Hilary Dartt, a wonderful, delightful story that had me crying at the end (and I don’t always cry at the end of books).

The Story

The story focuses on Sarah Ward, who as a young (and adopted) child, always preferred order to chaos. Now as an adult, she’s stunned when Donny—her high school sweetheart and husband of 20 years—announces he wants a divorce.

As the couple prepares to see their only child off to college, they take one final, family road trip back home to the farm where Sarah grew up (and they met). There, Sarah finds a mysterious journal at a flea market. Oddly drawn to it, the personal story within prompts Sarah to try and win Donny back. But what Sarah discovers about herself and her family will change her future, and her outlook, forever.

My Take

For most of the story, I believed The Composition of Order to be a solid four stars. However, the story earned a fifth star in my book because of its powerful ending, which impacted me for days after I finished reading. Books often make me tear up, or feel sad, or smile at their closings. But Ms. Dartt managed to make me weep!

With characters so real, they could be neighbors or sisters, The Composition of Order will leave you feeling fuzzy inside, satisfied, and possibly examining your own life. Best of all, it will make you believe in the powerful love of a mother and have hope that second chances do happen—even if they look different than your typical storybook endings.

A must-read for every wife, mother, or woman who understands the complexities of family life, but loves with all her heart anyway.

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Is ‘Wildchilds’ by Eugenia Melian the Wild Ride it Should Be? (Book Review)

Wildchilds Book Cover

Book: Wildchilds

Author: Eugenia Melian

Publisher: Fashion Sphinx Books

Published: Sept. 20, 2018

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Wildchilds-Eugenia-Melian-ebook/dp/B07GXZS2H7

Stars: 2/5

This was my first choice for my first NetGalley Advanced Reviewer Copy (ARC), so trust me when I say, I really wanted to give this debut novel more than two stars. The story was good, and I can tell it was deeply personal for Author Eugenia Meliàn. Unfortunately, Wildchilds was not executed well, like reading a proofread first draft rather than a final product.

The Summary

Here’s the deal with Wildchilds: it’s a story about the dark side of the fashion industry, a #MeToo coming out for a sector that has yet to acknowledge its dirty secrets.

Wildchilds concentrates on Iris, a former Paris model now living in a sort of exile with her teenage daughter, Lou. When Iris’s former lover—who is also the father of Lou—dies, she’s forced to return to Paris to secure his photography estate for her daughter. In doing so, Iris must confront the hidden demons from her past and the trauma she endured as a model many years ago.

Great concept, right? Ms. Meliàn is a former model herself and a veteran agent in the fashion industry, so she gives the reader a real inside look into the profession. However, once I began to read, the story took a turn for the worse.

The Fall

The transitions between points-of-view (POV) and timelines were choppy. At certain parts, Ms. Meliàn transitioned from a third-person POV on one character, to a first-person POV from a completely different character within the same paragraph. Other times, she did not include paragraph breaks, chapter breaks, or character labels when switching POV, creating a sense of daunting confusion for the reader.

Often, her dialogue was shallow or repetitive, slowing the story’s pace. Frequently, she’d spend several paragraphs describing the physical attributes of something—a person or a setting—but skirted over the types of important, profound emotions, backstory, or narration readers crave. Her writing usually told, but rarely showed.

The result was a feeling of disconnect, of a story that dragged, of one-dimensional characters. This book had so much more potential.

The Hope

I do believe Ms. Meliàn has it in her to turn this novel around and create a magnificent piece of work. Her ability to write well with deep suspense and intensity shone through from time to time, especially during a pivotal confrontation between the main protagonist and her dark antagonist. I would encourage Ms. Meliàn to seek out a strong structural editor who can help to hone her craft and work this book into one that would touch many lives.

As it stands now, however, I cannot find it in myself to give Wildchilds more than two stars. I do hope that changes one day.

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Is ‘There There’ by Tommy Orange Worth the Hype? (Book Review)

There There by Tommy Orange

“This is a book that should not go unread. It holds the weight of generations that never had the chance to scream, and now, Mr. Orange is screaming for them.”

There There is, quite simply, a book that every American should read, if for nothing else, to remind us that our country’s success came at a great price – the genocide of a people who today wander their lives as “insignificant remainders.”

Angry, despondent, yet resilient and defiant, There There is a debut novel about the modern-day Native American, written by modern-day (Oakland-born) Native American Tommy Orange. His story read with the same vast and sweeping motion as Christopher Nolan’s film, Dunkirk—told from multiple perspectives (12, to be exact) that began to intertwine as the story wound closer and closer to the final climax.

What Spoke to Me

Mr. Orange’s writing is rich and lyrical, yet tinged with an edge I’m sure he acquired from his upbringing in Oakland, Calif.

Certain moments of There There will punch your conscience, when (for example) Mr. Orange writes about, “If you were fortunate enough to be born into a family whose ancestors directly benefited from genocide and/or slavery, maybe you think the more you don’t know, the more innocent you can stay … Look no further than your last name.”

Others brought out the beauty of his culture and will make you fall in love, such as, “Being Indian has never been about returning to the land. The land is everywhere, or nowhere.”

What Could Have Been Better

While I genuinely enjoyed much of his book, certain parts slowed for me, perhaps because he was writing from various perspectives. I sometimes felt as though I were reading a series of short stories that wound together, thus preventing me from falling into his characters the way I’d hoped.

I can’t say I loved the ending. There There does finish with a sad hopefulness, yet the main question I’d wanted answered was left unfinished. A little too ambiguous for my taste.

So, is There There Worth the Hype?

Yes. Overall, this is a book that should not go unread. It holds the weight of generations that never had the chance to scream, and now, Mr. Orange is screaming for them. I felt their cries reading his book, held their hearts in my soft palms, and wished so desperately that I could fix the wrongs for them.

But then, Mr. Orange wouldn’t want that. No, I believe he’s telling us that his people don’t need fixing, or pity, or help. They might have been broken, but they are strong. They are still here. And dammit, they’re proud.

Stars: 4/5

Book: There There

Author: Tommy Orange

Publisher: Knopf

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/There-novel-Tommy-Orange/dp/0525520376

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Why ‘The Most Beautiful’ by Mayte Garcia Will Make You Love and Hate Prince

The Most Beautiful cover

The Most Beautiful: My Life with Prince, is a story about music, artistry, pain, infatuation, control, religion, and deep, soulful love. Put frankly, it is a story that will stick in your mind after you’ve placed the book down.

Whether you were a fan of Prince or not, I recommend reading The Most Beautiful, because much more is buried in this rock star romance than a world filled with purple foo foo.

I once read a great piece of writing advice that said a memoir should be your story, but it shouldn’t be about you. Rather, the memoir is about everyone else reading your book. Mayte Garcia accomplished this with grace and love.

She wrote with endearment and forgiveness. She wrote truthfully, sometimes with the perspective of a wiser woman, sometimes with raw emotion. What I loved most about her book is how I felt myself getting pulled into the eccentric, strange, and lovely world of Prince with her.

For those who don’t know, Ms. Garcia is the first ex-wife of Prince. She was also the only woman with whom he had a child, and that child died one week after birth. Their marriage ended soon after.

Before meeting Prince, Ms. Garcia was becoming a world-renowned belly dancer by the age of 16, when she met Prince backstage. He was 13 years her senior, but in typical Prince style, he saw her artistic potential before she could, and he began contacting her offstage.

Ms. Garcia went on to become a creative collaborator of Prince’s, then a backup dancer and employee, and finally his wife. The Most Beautiful is Ms. Garcia’s story, told her way. She wrote it soon after his death.

Sadly, her memoir made me think of Prince in a different light.

No doubt he was a creative genius, but did he also suffer from unknown mental illness? Perhaps a form of narcissistic disorder? Ms. Garcia does not hide the emotional roller coaster she lived with him, everything from the extraordinary highs of dopamine-filled passion, to the anger and rage she felt at the lows.

Through it all, one thing is apparent: Ms. Garcia never stopped loving Prince. She loved him wholly, completely, without prejudice. Her love is permeating, because even after you learn of Prince’s most sinister side, you will still appreciate and accept him. Maybe you will even still love him.

My favorite part of the book was the end. No spoilers here, but I’ll say this: it was the light amongst much darkness. Want to know why I adored it so much? Well, I guess you’ll have to read the book.

STARS: 4/5

BOOK: The Most Beautiful: My Life with Prince

AUTHOR: Mayte Garcia

AMAZON LINK: https://www.amazon.com/Most-Beautiful-My-Life-Prince/dp/0316468975

PUBLISHER: Hachette Books

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Should You Read Carrie Fisher’s ‘The Princess Diarist’? (Book Review)

 

The Princess Diarist_book cover

Simple answer:

If you love Star Wars—maybe.

If you don’t—probably not.

I bought The Princess Diarist within the month after Ms. Fisher passed away. I’ve been a Star Wars fan since I was a kid, when my dad introduced my sister and me to the original trilogy, and I almost fell off my parents’ king-sized waterbed when Darth Vader revealed, “Luke, I am your father.”

HOW COULD THAT BE?

As a forever fan of the original trilogy, and especially of Princess Leia, then saddened over the death of Ms. Fisher, I was expecting much more from The Princess Diarist.

Perhaps the sudden death of such a Hollywood icon made the book into more than it was via exaggerated hype. Or perhaps everyone was foaming at the mouth for juicy tidbits on the ever-so-naughty love affair between Ms. Fisher and Harrison Ford that was exposed in the book.

But, I don’t know, much of the book just felt … hollow. The whipped cream on top of a flavorful scoop of ice-cream. I wanted more analysis (maybe self-analysis?), more emotion. I wanted to feel something reading her story.

Not to say I didn’t enjoy aspects of it.

For example, in the beginning, Ms. Fisher talked about how she never wanted to get into show business because of the way her grandmother treated her mom. I loved this peek into her upbringing and the possible narcissism that surrounded and affected her later in life (I would have loved more of this).

I also enjoyed reading snippets of Ms. Fisher’s diary entries from when she was 19 years old and filming the first Star Wars. Today, we know Ms. Fisher was bipolar, and I could detect the increasing manias, followed by the devastating depressive states, in her words. I found that fascinating.

I did enjoy learning about her affair with Harrison Ford. The affair was not what you’d expect, and it made me a little sad, in fact.

As a Star Wars fan, the tidbits on the making of the film were fun to read, and her insights into fans’ interactions with her (and how that affected her) were eye-opening. I cracked a smile sometimes.

Otherwise, I was ready to finish the book about halfway through.

I kept hoping for more, a climactic epiphany or ah ha! moment from Ms. Fisher, but I felt like that peak never arrived. Instead, I felt like much of the book was jibbery jabbery filler.

Even so, I can’t say I hated the book. I enjoyed it, but it probably won’t stick around in my memory for long.

STARS: 3/5

BOOK: The Princess Diarist

AUTHOR: Carrie Fisher

PUBLISHER: Blue Rider Press

AMAZON LINK: https://www.amazon.com/Princess-Diarist-Carrie-Fisher/dp/0399173595/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1531785644&sr=8-1

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