Friday, May 17, 2019

The Pale-Faced Lie by David Crow : A Review




Book Details:

Book Title: The Pale-Faced Lie: A True Story by David Crow
Category: Adult Non-Fiction, 344 pages
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Sandra Jonas Publishing House
Release date: May 7, 2019
Tour dates: May 6 to 17, 2019
Content Rating: PG-13 + Mature subject matter of abusive parenting. No explicit pornographic sex or excessive profanity.

Book Description:

Growing up on the Navajo Indian Reservation, David Crow and his three siblings idolized their dad. Tall, strong, smart, and brave, the self-taught Cherokee regaled his family with stories of his World War II feats. But as time passed, David discovered the other side of Thurston Crow, the ex-con with his own code of ethics that justified cruelty, violence, lies—even murder.

A shrewd con artist with a genius IQ, Thurston intimidated David with beatings to coerce him into doing his criminal bidding. David’s mom, too mentally ill to care for her children, couldn’t protect him. One day, Thurston packed up the house and took the kids, leaving her with nothing. Soon he remarried, and David learned that his stepmother was just as vicious and abusive as his father.

Through sheer determination, and with the help of a few angels along the way, David managed to get into college and achieve professional success. When he finally found the courage to stop helping his father with his criminal activities, he unwittingly triggered a plot of revenge that would force him into a showdown with Thurston Crow. With lives at stake, including his own, David would have only twenty-four hours to outsmart his father—the brilliant, psychotic man who bragged that the three years he spent in the notorious San Quentin State Prison had been the easiest time of his life.

The Pale-Faced Lie is a searing, raw, palpable memoir that reminds us what an important role our parents play in our lives. Most of all, it’s an inspirational story about the power of forgiveness and the ability of the human spirit to rise above adversity, no matter the cost.

Review

It had been a long time since I had last read a memoir, as I am generally averse of reading non-fiction unless absolutely necessary. But when this came my way, something about the summary drew me in and I wanted to try another memoir. 

The book won over, in all senses of the word. 

'Pale-faced Lies' is not the average story that glorifies the writer/subject on whom it is written. The memoir deals with a lot of subtle things and is about a man's journey from an abusive childhood towards considerable success. All through this journey, the narrator(writer) David Crow talks in visceral detail about how his father was a shrewd, abusive and cunning parent who did not follow any laws, making David's life hell.

What does an abusive childhood do to a kid? What are the consequences of wrong parenting? The book details all this (mixed with ample doses of emotion and good writing) and also shows how abusive upbringing can affect the whole psyche of a child, even their whole adult lives.

From a child's point of view, when David details his love for his parents, and the realisations that shape his decisions later on in life, the book's writing is powerful enough to elicit support from the readers. The words seem to be both heartfelt and chosen carefully. Even if the narration does seem long and repetitive in some cases, the parts only go on to reiterate the power of the characters.

I have always believed that an ordinary story can become extraordinary with good writing and this book just combines both a riveting narration with true events that never let you forget, even for a moment, that some children had to go through whatever David has written about. The feeling of raw realness is the book's unique point and I believe it makes the reader unwilling to put the book down despite how graphic some descriptions might be.

Child-rearing (specifically not mentioning parenting) is one of the hardest things ever. Every parent needs to have some amount of responsibility for the children they have brought into this world, instead of using them as tools to further their own agendas. David's father exhibits his crude attitude best when he argues with the school counselors after being called in to discuss an essay that David had handed over. This point forth, the book veers into dangerous territory.

Some moments did make me take a long pause and wonder about how blessed some children's lives are compared to those who suffer for no fault of theirs. But the book is lengthy beyond comprehension, and if you are not drawn in already by the narration, chances are that you may feel that the descriptions get repetitive with time.

David Crow's power is in making the writing so relatable that he brought the Crow family (and other characters) alive in my mind as I read along. My only complaints are the length of the book, and the obvious lack of edits that would have removed some parts for a variety of reasons but I am just nitpicking.

Overall, the book mingled a lot of things for me: humour and horror, comedy and tragedy, hurt and courage. The list is endless and this is where the book succeeded in holding me riveted in parts as I could visualise the scene as if I were there. 

But the book is lengthy and definitely not your type if you do not like to read of shocking truths. The descriptions are vivid, the content very disturbing in places, and the subject matter too strong for delicate readers. This is no light read. It is a memoir that details a life that shows the messages of hope and positivity while narrating the ill-effects of bad parenting - if it could be called that.

The characters are memorable, the writing even more so. It is successful because it elicits a strong reaction from the average reader, and does not slacken in any place like memoirs usually tend to do. This, I believe, is the benchmark of any book, much less one that details real events in the life of a person.

Praise for The Pale-Faced Lie:

“[Crow] has considerable wisdom to impart, and an unexpected ending that will linger in memory. I promise that you've never read a book quite like this one."

—Jeff Guinn, New York Times bestselling author


“…A memoir of an extraordinary life that is lifted by extraordinary storytelling….It is emotionally engaging, consistently entertaining, and nearly impossible to put down.”
—James Anderson, author of The Never-Open Desert Diner and Lullaby Road

“Heartbreaking and gut-wrenchingly honest. Anyone with a troubled childhood should read The Pale-Faced Lie. David Crow’s book is proof that hope rises from the ashes.”
—Chris Enss, New York Times best-selling author

To read reviews, please visit David Crow's page on iRead Book Tours.


Buy the Book:





Meet the Author:  

David Crow spent his early years on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona and New Mexico. Through grit, resilience, and a thirst for learning, he managed to escape his abusive childhood, graduate from college, and build a successful lobbyist business in Washington. Today, David is a sought-after speaker, giving talks to various businesses and trade organizations around the world.

Throughout the years, he has mentored over 200 college interns, performed pro bono service for the charitable organization Save the Children, and participated in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. An advocate for women, he will donate 10 percent of his book royalties to Barrett House, a homeless shelter for women in Albuquerque. David and his wife, Patty, live in the suburbs of DC.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ LinkedIn

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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The Successful Writer: Guest Post by G.C McRae, author of Free Pizza


The Successful Writer by G.C. McRae


If you did a survey of authors and asked them their definition of literary success, most of them would cite the example of an author like J.K. Rowling, who sells tens of millions of copies of each book. Far be it from me to dissuade anyone from striving for that rare kind of success, but I have met many authors who believe their options are binary: unless they are as successful as J.K. Rowling, they are failures.

My wife and I watch reality shows like The Voice. It’s a bit shocking to hear the same story over and over again. “I’ve been gigging in bars for over twenty years, five nights a week. I have just gotten married and we have a new baby. All I want to do is make my wife and daughter proud. I’m forty years old. This is my last chance.”

Umm... If bars want to hire you five nights a week, that is a full-time job that apparently you are quite successful at. But no. They consider themselves failures unless they can live in a mansion with gold-plated bathtub fixtures.

Literary agent Steve Laube did a quick survey of 10 authors who had their books at major publishers and discovered they had sold an average of 12,455 copies for each title. At $20 list price and 10% royalty rate, they earn around $25,000 per book. How is that not successful? Especially considering they have multiple books for sale at a time. And I have to mention Romance authors. In 2014, 15 percent of them earned $100,000 a year from their writing.

In every profession, there are clear paths to success. Success being defined as, “earning a living in your chosen discipline.” There are no clear paths to becoming the next J.K. Rowling or BeyoncĂ©. Most of the time it is not even up to you. Publishers reject books for any number of reasons. Quality writing often has nothing to do with their decisions. They reject works of pure genius all the time.
Getting from amateur status to professional may not even be one of your goals. Many writers find supreme fulfillment writing whatever they feel like without caring about earning a living from it. 

That’s the joy of being an amateur. The word amateur literally means “lover” (amatore in Italian). So when you’re deciding to put in all those hours on a story, take a moment to reflect. Are you doing it for love or for money? If it’s for love, calm the heck down about not having those gold-plated fixtures. If you’re doing it for money, do a little research on what sort of book makes those big bucks and spend some time developing the skills to write them.

Free Pizza by G.C. McRae : A Review




Book Details:

Book Title: Free Pizza by G.C. McRae
Category: Middle-Grade Fiction, 360 pages
Genre: Humorous Fiction
Publisher: MacDonald Warne Media
Release date: May 1, 2019
Tour dates: May 1 to 17, 2019
Content Rating: PG (No sex or drugs, just mild expletives such as "hell" and "damn".)

Book Description:

Brian McSpadden is always hungry. Does he have a disease? Worms? Does it have something to do with his being adopted? He spends his days at his crazy friend Danny’s house, hoping for snacks, but nothing seems to fill the void.

Then Brian receives a mysterious birthday card that says, Free Pizza. He soon discovers the card has nothing to do with food and everything to do with the big questions in his life: where did I come from, why did my mother give me up and is there anyone out there who will like me the way I am?

To read reviews, please visit G.C. McRae's page on iRead Book Tours.

Buy the Book:

REVIEW:
When I first heard of this book, it was naturally the title that held my complete attention. The second thing I noticed was the brilliantly designed cover that added the right amount of interest. Together they conveyed what the book was going to be about. A middle-grader level read about life and its confusions. 

I would not term this novel as a 'coming-of-age' story but it surely does deal with a lot of teenage angst and confusions that are common with that age where the line between childhood and adulthood blends. I loved how there was no pretense about the book being anything other than what it was advertised as. 

As to the story, the first person narrative can be a hit or miss for the readers. Brian can either be a character you relate with or someone you find as a slightly tiring narrator depending upon how you look at him. Though I could not relate or sympathise with the voice of Brian, I liked the continuous progression of events that made up the book leading Brian to his answers.

The premise of a search for his biological family keeps the novel going as Brian and Danny enter into slightly unlikely situations that make up for an interesting adolescent life. Brian is that typical teen protagonist who leads a previously boring life that is about to change abruptly one day (it does) and someone who gets caught helping out friends who get into trouble, though they do nothing wrong themselves. And it is Brian's voice that takes the book ahead, with all his confusions and doubts that can make almost all middle-graders nod in agreement and laugh out loud.

Though I could see that it was specifically put that way, to mimic the talks of a teenage narrator, I was not a fan of the abundance of slang. The usage of the word 'like' in between the narration makes it look like Brian is talking directly to the reader, agreed. But it also makes the language look forced. I did not have many problems with the usage of curse words, which is within permissible limits and quite common to middle-graders these days.

I personally liked the overall effect of the book despite having problems with its language and the one-dimensional narration. The story delivered what it promised and will be a hit with readers who fall in that age bracket. Maybe it will work completely as a life-changing story with the way it injects scenes into the main storyline. The deviations and distractions that make up the story serve their purpose - keep the reader entertained and hooked. 

Free Pizza is that book I would ask a middle grader to read if they wanted a light, relatable read that would make them snigger in agreement with the narration. The book is categorised as humour and it does elicit laughs. If your style of humour appreciation is different, this book might just not be for you. Otherwise, it is a good one-time read that may take you back to your teens and the bumbling confusions that come with that age.

An interesting book that delivered what it promised with the summary. 



Meet the Author:

G.C. McRae is the bestselling author of two young adult novels, three illustrated children's books and a collection of original fairy tales. His writing is fall-down funny, even when the theme is darker than a coal miner's cough. McRae reads to anybody at any time, in person or online, for free, which probably explains why he meets so many people and sells so many books.

In his latest work, Free Pizza, McRae spins the highly emotional themes from his decidedly unfunny childhood into a brilliantly comic yarn. After being given up for adoption by his teenage mom back when single girls were forced to hide unplanned pregnancies, his adoptive parents didn’t exactly keep him under the stairs but, well, let's just say, there were spiders.

A lot has changed since then. McRae’s own children have now grown and he runs a small farm with his wife, who is herself an award-winning writer.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ LibraryThing


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Sunday, May 12, 2019

Guest post by Joe Giordano, Author of Drone Strike (Anthony Provati thrillers)


Guest Post: Strategies and Tactics of the ISIL Caliphate – Joe Giordano

The Management of Savagery
Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) supported by U.S. airstrikes will eradicate the last stronghold of ISIL, The Islamic State in the Levant’s caliphate.

The strategy and tactics ISIL employed to establish and expand power could be termed the ‘management of savagery,’.
As a rallying cry for Moslems around the world, ISIL’s initial goals were to create a caliph, a religious figurehead, and a caliphate in the name of God and Arab history and to take territory in Syria as a beachhead to invade and conquer Iraq.
The caliphate modeled itself after Saddam Hussein’s former, omnipresent security apparatus. An emir of intelligence supervised surveillance, espionage, murder, and kidnapping. The principles applied were: everyone watches everyone and deceive all but those who love God.
In villages, ISIL opened Islamic missionary centers for recruitment and to spy.  Powerful families were investigated to discover their source of income, and if any of their activities (homosexuality, secret affairs, criminality) could be blackmailed under Sharia law. Marriage into influential families was promoted. Local imams were scrutinized for details on their life and family, their political leanings, and opinion on jihad. Clan heads would be intimidated to take a loyalty oath or be kidnaped and killed along with anyone refusing involvement or standing in the way.
ISIL sought recruits critical of sheiks, former intelligence operatives, men without jobs, disaffected from society, bitter and unemployed. They sought nationalists not Islamists. They exploited the faith of others. Foreign recruits ranged from Saudis, Tunisians, school dropouts from Europe, battle-tested Chechens and Uzbeks, the odd American, Turks, Egyptians, and Indonesians.
Militarily, they sought to capture weapons depots and raise operational funds from black market oil and refined product sales, the illicit drug trade, and the smuggling of looted antiquities.





Drone Strike by Joe Giordano: A Review


BOOK TITLE: Drone Strike: An Anthony Provati Thriller

AUTHOR: Joe Giordano

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1624204296

GENRE: Fiction / Thriller

NUMBER OF PAGES: 290 pages

FORMAT: Digital

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: I thank iRead Book Tours for this review copy

SUMMARY:

Karim's family is killed as 'collateral damage' by a U.S. drone strike in Iraq. The Islamic State in the Levant exploits his rage, recruiting him for a terrorist attack on the U.S., and only Anthony Provati can stop him. Drone Strike takes you on a fast-paced adventure across the Mediterranean, into Mexico, finally arriving in the States. Drone Strike explores the psychological realities that seduce Karim to commit an act of terror, includes a love story between Moslem Karim and Miriam, a Christian woman he defends in Turkey, and highlights the plight of Middle Eastern and Central American refugees.

FIRST IMPRESSION:

I had already read the previous book of this author and therefore had a slight idea of what to expect from this book in terms of writing and the character. The writing impressed me enough to take up the next book as well, when chance presented it for review. The summary is simple, straightforward and promises a different kind of read. We are used to war stories that show off the gory effects and after effects of war but this one deals with a different angle of wars - the vicious cycle of being affected by it and then participating in it driven by spite and pain. The psychological effects of war would make any book that deals about it in the right way sound interesting and make for a great read.

REVIEW:

I began reading Drone Strike with a notion set in my mind, and it did not disappoint. The book kept me engrossed with the pages turning quickly. Reading this feels like I had revisited a familiar universe, and that is a credit to the author for having crafted a memorable character, and having a unique style that feels familiar for repeat/sequel readers.

This is one of those books based in Middle East that does not repetitively focus on the worst situation in the Middle East and just gives the reader an overview while focusing more on the other aspects of war, of mixing ideologies and the corresponding clashes as the characters come to terms with what they were born into, what they believed to be right and what eventually happened to change their perspectives. The religious issues and beliefs that form the core of one's actions are dealt with in a philosophical way making this book a reflective read.

As I had already once observed, Anthony Provati is a falteringly human hero, making him an interesting character to follow. He is not the epitome of perfection but he is a great protagonist. But in this book, the author has also made the reader like and follow Karim, whose mind's working has been brought to light by wonderful narration. It is hard enough to maintain a single point narration but this book follows a dual POV linear narration - the parts of Anthony being in first person and the remaining in third person PoVs.

This line struck a chord with me. This sums up Anthony's observation of how the relationship panned out with respect to the other main character, Karim. This line explains how the softer emotion and its effect on whatever events are going to unfold in the book.

"Miriam's love for Karim complicated matters. I saw how she felt, even if he didn't. Too clouded by his hate, perhaps. She'd been set adrift by the Syrian civil war. Another tragic refugee among the millions. Unlike the others, not a distant, impersonal statistic."

As one of the characters says, love is a stronger emotion than hate, and the ultimate chase to the climax (which has a brilliant twist) made this book a wonderfully reflective read. I had read through the whole book thinking of it as a journey and when it ended, I was left looking for more pages to follow. The story was engaging, the narrative adding to the book's beauty. The characters were well fleshed-out. The book needed a round of edits to check for typos and adjust pace but the overall effect was good enough.

WHAT I LIKED:
  • The author has done due research and written a realistic story
  • The characters are multi-dimensional and stand for long in our mind.
  • The narration and the story development arc
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:
  • The book is not for those who are easily upset by the descriptions of the effects of war, even the psychological ones - seeing as that is the core concept in this book, it has been used in excess.
  • There is a constant change in pace, and sometimes it noticeably slackens.
  • The climax (though it was a good twist) did not sit well with me. (reasons withheld due to spoilers)
VERDICT:

An interesting read if you look for different perspectives on war thrillers. Makes better impact if you have read the previous books.

RATING: 4/5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



As a former International Executive Vice President of 3M, Joe Giordano’s experience included running a business in the Middle East out of Athens, Greece. Born in New York, he’s had first-hand experience with the cultures and most of the locations in Drone Strike.

Joe's stories have appeared in more than one hundred magazines including The Saturday Evening Post and Shenandoah. His novels, Birds of Passage: An Italian Immigrant Coming of Age Story (2015) and Appointment with ISIL: An Anthony Provati Thriller (2017) were published by Harvard Square Editions. Read the first chapters and sign up for his blog at http://joe-giordano.com/ ​

Joe was among one hundred Italian-American authors honored by Barnes & Noble Chairman Len Riggio to march in the 2017 Manhattan, Columbus Day Parade.

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle, Paperback

PRICE $5.01 for Kindle, $12.99 for Paperback

BOOK LINKS: Amazon