Prize: One winner will receive a print copy of Appointment with Yesterday and a $25 Amazon gift card (Open to USA only)
Ends Oct 28
Prize: One winner will receive a print copy of Appointment with Yesterday and a $25 Amazon gift card (Open to USA only)
Ends Oct 28
Book Title: Appointment with Yesterday: A Novel in Four Parts with a Prologue and an Epilogue
Author: Christopher Stratakis
Category: Adult Fiction, 334 pages
Genre: coming-of-age / WWII / immigrant experience
Release date: January 2017
Tour dates: Oct 2 to 20, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (There is no bad language or violence, but there are references to sex and sexual situations (including between a pre-teen and teen)
A poignant and compelling first novel, Appointment with Yesterday tells the story of Yanni, a cheeky and delightful Greek boy growing up in a small town on an island in the eastern Aegean.
Left in the care of his loving grandparents, Yanni endures the deprivation and terror of the German occupation during World War II and finally leaves his beloved homeland and family to rejoin the parents who had left him behind to make a better life for themselves in America.
Filled with heartbreaking and heartwarming stories of love, devotion, disenchantment, and dashed dreams, Appointment with Yesterday is, ultimately, the story of hardships overcome and a determined boy’s journey toward finding his destiny.
Christopher Stratakis was born and raised in Greece. After moving to America, he graduated from Drexel University in 1951 and New York University School of Law in 1955. Shortly after joining the law firm of Poles, Tublin & Patestides in 1960, he became a partner, specializing in admiralty and corporate law.
He has written and published several articles, lectured on professional and historical subjects, served as Legal Advisor to several non-profits (pro bono), and was an arbitrator in maritime disputes. He is the author of Mnimes “Memories” (2010), a book of essays, short stories, and poems that he wrote as a teenager. In 2015, he co-edited Chains on Parallel Roads, a book published by Panchiaki “Korais” Society of New York. In recognition of his extensive community involvement, he has been the recipient of several awards from religious, governmental, and educational institutions.
Mr. Stratakis lives with his wife in New York City. He is the proud father of three and grandfather of three. This is his first novel.
by Daniel Falatko
eARC, 252 pg.
The Ardent Writer Press, 2017
Read: September 20 – 21, 2017
“I feel like I’m stuck in a mystery novel written by an unhinged individual, Amy.”
There’s a lot of truth to that lament Nathan makes to his girlfriend, Amy. In the same conversation, she had a different take on it:
“Mystery Englishmen? Ever-evolving eccentric casts of characters? Intricate layers of plot involving absolutely nothing? Two unaware and wayward employees leading the story? Nathan, you are living in a Wes Anderson film. And I’m not sure if I like it. You’re definitely more Life Aquatic than Rushmore at this point.”
There’s a lot truth to that, too. At the same time, neither of them is quite right (and please, don’t go looking for a Wes Anderson/unhinged mystery writer kind of book, you won’t get it. But you may get something that appeals to someone who’d like that kind of book). Just these commentaries on Nathan’s life during this novel shows you just how strange this is.
I don’t want to say there isn’t a plot — there is one; nor do I want to say that it’s not important, or nonsensical — there is a good amount of sense and it is a pretty good story; but compared to the experience of spending time with Nathan, his friends and colleagues, as well as those he meets over the course of the novel outweighs the story.
You’ve got Nathan; his girlfriend, Amy; his boss Dr. Behr, an elderly gentleman who just might be the living incarnation of “eccentric”; his coworker, Edward, who has spent far too many years working for Dr. Behr; and Nathan’s neighbor, who seems to do little other than use recreational pharmaceuticals. Throw in the study of a beatnik novelist of dubious quality, the attempted illegal eviction of a young woman, and some strange British citizens, and then step back and watch the lunacy begin. There’s a real estate deal at the core of this — which allows Falatko to indulge his fixation on NYC rental properties (and seals my conviction that I’ll never move there) — the sheer number of things that are wrong with the deal and that can go wrong with it. And here we are, proof that I can’t talk about this book in a way that makes a whole lot of sense.
This is a funny book, but not a comedy. It’s absurd in the best sense. It’s a wild ride, with a very human — and relatable center. Relatable might not be the best word, because I can’t imagine that any reader will have an experience like it. But even at the strangest moments, you’ll find yourself nodding with Nathan’s actions and reactions, saying to yourself, “yeah, I can see why he’d do that.” Even the conclusion that the plot careens to — for most of the book you’d say that wouldn’t work at all, but by the time it happens, it seems pretty perfect.
The illustrations are a nice touch — I don’t know that I needed them, and I don’t know that they really added all that much. At the same time, I enjoyed them. At what point was it decided that only kids could use a picture every now and then in their books?
I wasn’t a fan of Falatko’s previous novel, Condominium, but I thought it did display an element of talent. Travels and Travails put a lot more on display, and kept me entertained and engaged (and frequently smiling) throughout the novel. Although, I should note that I also spent a good deal of time wondering what I’d just read and why — but I was having such a good time that I really didn’t care about the answers to those questions. You won’t read many books like this one, but you’ll wish you could.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion and participation in this book tour. I just wish I had something more coherent to say about it.
Welcome to our Book Tour stop for Travels and Travails of Small Minds. Along with this blurb about the book, my take on the book will be posted in a little bit.
Book Title: Travels and Travails of Small Minds
Author: Daniel Falatko
Details: 252 pages with 10 interior illustrations
Publisher: The Ardent Writer Press
Release date: October 1, 2017
Nathan is not ambitious, and he is perfectly happy doing nothing at the dusty and cluttered properties office of his boss, Dr. Behr, a quirky ex-literature professor pushing 80.
But things are about to get tossed in the air as Nathan uncovers a mysterious plan of Behr’s to oust one of his
renters for what appears to be a substantial but ill-gotten profit. Behr recruits his slacker employee to help in the plot, but as Nathan questions motives and discovers secrets, it is clear that Nathan might be in for surprises of his own.
Daniel Falatko is the author of a previous novel, Condominium. He is a graduate of the MFA in Writing program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. He lives in New York City.
Book Title: Blackout by Lawrence Johnson Sr.
Category: Adult Fiction; 126 pages
Genre: Mystery, Crime, Detective
Release date: March 2011
Tour dates: Sept 11 to 22, 2017
Content Rating: PG
Publisher: Lawrence Johnson Sr.
Written by: Lawrence Johnson Sr.
Narrated by: Alistair Dryburgh
Length: 4 hrs and 9 mins
Series: Alexander Steele Mysteries, Book 1
Alexander Steele is a private detective turned night club owner in the city of Philadelphia. Steele and his longtime girlfriend Shakia’s plans for him to retire are derailed when his cousin brings him an encrypted travel drive. The drive is opened by Steele’s hacker friend Stan. A few days earlier every transformer in Canada had been shut down by the terrorist. The drive in Steele’s possession gave details as to how the event would happen. What made it even more frightening was that the documents on the drive were created 3 months before the actual event; Steele finds himself drawn into the well-crafted mind games of a madman known as Chameleon an American terrorist.
His goal is to shut down the country by collapsing the economy of the United States. From the snow cover streets of Montreal to the tropical beaches of Nassau Steele follows a trail of clues and dead bodies. As he gathers more puzzle pieces Steele inches closer hoping to reveal and thwart the plot to bring down the U S government. He finds himself narrowly surviving constant attempts on his life. The dramatic face-off between Steele and Chameleon takes place in downtown Philadelphia. How will it end? Find out in Blackout, now on Audible.
by Kristin I. Morris, Joseph J. Zielinski, Ph.D.
ePUB, 160 pg.
Wisdom House Books, 2017
Read: August 31, 2017
Here’s a book that should apply to a wide variety of people — others who believe that Child Protection Services (using that as a generic term for all sorts of states’ services); those who are convinced that the system will work if we trust it and have the right people in it; those who are convinced that New Jersey’s state government is impossibly corrupt; those who like True Crime; and many others. Sadly, what all these different potential readers get is a poor book.
Jammarr Cruz was a nine-year-old whose Division of Youth and Family Services case worker was unable to keep his mother and her boyfriend from exercising their legal right to take the boy home. She fought it as hard as she could, but ultimately she was thwarted by those over her — the boy went home and died a few months later. Kristin Morris, the caseworker, despite a total lack of evidence of her culpability, lost her job because of it. The book details her efforts to clear her name, get her job back, and make changes to prevent this from happening again. Meanwhile her family suffers, her finances suffer, as does her health (mental and otherwise).
Now, I’m supposed to be talking about the book, not about the events in it. Which is a shame, because I’d much rather talk about that.
The book is told in the present tense — which is a choice that I do not understand. I rarely understand that as a choice in fiction, but in a book that is detailing past events in an actual person’s life? It just makes no sense.
The biggest problem with this book is the length — 160 pages is not enough space to do it justice. 260 may have worked, 350 would’ve been better — I’m guessing on page length, but I know that 160 just didn’t do it. Too much of the book has to be told in summary form, where things had to be compressed and details had to be discarded. Sometimes, it made it hard to follow the sequence, sometimes it made it hard to sympathize with her because months would be brushed aside in a line or two. If they’d taken the time to fully explain how things happened, the reader would have a better sense of the chronology after Jamarr’s death, would better be able to understand what she went through, and how this all had a horrible impact on her family.
Oddly, even given space limitation, there’d be a conversation that would recap the narrative we’d just read (or vice versa). Something else that didn’t make sense to me.
Given the lack of details, the who so much is summed up and the reader is left to fill in many of the blanks themselves, this frequently comes across as a series of Facebook statuses from that friend who is always going on about how difficult their life is — not the reasoned defense of actions made my a competent and caring professional — which is what i think the book was intended to be, and I do think that’s what she is. Also, much of what she says seems more open to criticism and doubt since we’re just given a brief glimpse from a pretty biased source.
This book could’ve been so much better. The tragedy it describes, the injustices it describes deserve something more than this. Morris herself should’ve had a better representation to the world at large than this. But all we’re given is this synopsis of a book, not the book itself (or at least what should be the synopsis of the book).
Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this novel in exchange for this post, my participation in a book tour and my honest opinion. I think it’s clear that my opinion wasn’t swayed by that.
Check back later for my thoughts about this book.
Book Title: Jamarr’s Promise: A True Story of Corruption, Courage, and Child Welfare
Category: Personal Memoir; 160 pages
Genre: Family & Relationships / Abuse / Child Abuse / True Crime / Murder
Publisher: Wisdom House Books
Release date: May 1, 2017
A True Story of Corruption,
Courage, and Child Welfare
Jamarr’s Promise is the shocking personal memoir of social worker Kristin I. Morris’ fight to protect a nine-year-old child, Jamarr Cruz, that ended in his tragic murder and New Jersey’s Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS)’s denial of its responsibility in the case.
As a caseworker for DYFS, Kristin helped many children and families; it was her life’s passion. Nine-year-old Jamarr was living with his grandparents after his mother’s boyfriend, Vincent Williams, beat him repeatedly. Jamarr told Kristin it was not safe for him to return home. Kristin urgently tried to keep Jamarr safe with his grandparents, but was told by superiors that Latino children are kept in the home at all costs. This time, the cost was Jamarr Cruz’s life. In 2009 after Jamaar’s return to Omayra Cruz and Vincent Williams, Vincent beat Jamarr to death. Not only did Kristin’s superiors at the DYFS block her efforts to help Jamarr, but when he was killed, they blamed Kristin for his death.
Jamarr’s Promise is a call to end corrupt loyalties in New Jersey’s DYFS. It is a call to protect children from Jamarr’s fate and promote child welfare. It is a call for justice for Kristin Morris, who did the right thing and was punished unjustly for it.
Kristin I. Morris is an activist who volunteers her time with organizations for women, children and families, including Toys for Tots, She’s Got a Name, and Urban Promise. She has been with her husband Benny since she was nineteen and they have four very active children. She always wanted to help people, by working with the church teaching CCD, pro-life club, soup kitchen, and through charity work.
Kristin earned her bachelor’s in Psychology from Rowan University. After school, she began to work as a social worker for the State of New Jersey’s Division of Child Protection and Permanency, formerly Division of Youth and Family Services. As part of the child welfare system, she found herself watching over New Jersey’s most vulnerable citizens: abused children. She was extremely excited and naïve, wanting to save the world. Working in the city of Camden among the people that needed the most help was extremely eye opening, but revealed the corruption of the inner systems of the Division. Jamarr’s Promise is the true story of Kristin’s battle with the State over the murder of a child she tried desperately to save.
Kristin’s dream is to open and run a foster care organization as a safety net for abused children, and to eliminate the politics and hidden agendas of larger organizations.
Joseph J. Zielinski, Ph.D. is a New Jersey licensed psychologist board certified in both Clinical Psychology and Clinical Neuropsychology. He completed his undergraduate in Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and earned a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. He has been in private practice for forty years as a psychologist, often working concurrently for public schools in special education, in a headache clinic, and in a management consulting firm. He has published in professional journals. He most enjoys working as a practitioner and seeing patients of all backgrounds and experiences.
For seventeen years, Dr. Zielinski has spearheaded the Committee for Prescriptive Authority, a group of pioneering psychologists, to pass legislation allowing trained psychologists to prescribe psychotropic
medications. This is an effort to help the dire shortage of psychiatrists in New Jersey and around the country. Their efforts to help the people of New Jersey are near to fruition.
Dr. Zielinski has been married for forty years, has two grown children and two grandchildren. He is an avid landscaper and is particularly fond of evergreens. He is a fitness enthusiast and a former marathoner.
He enjoys classic rock and live concerts at local venues and attending professional sporting events with his daughter. He enjoys writing screenplays and has pitched a few to Hollywood professionals.