Wantin by Truth Devour

wantin

 

Wantin by Truth Devour is the story of the physical and emotional journey of Talia Temperance. Devour begins the novel with a powerful, emotional, and evocative scene between two lovers that sets the stage for a poignant story about a young woman trying to figure out where she belongs.

At six years old, Talia lives in Haiti while her parents are traveling. She is left in the care of a nanny. One day, Talia learns through an intense, religious, voodoo ceremony that her parents have died. She finds out from the authorities some days later and is handed over to her Aunt Runt and Uncle Shane. At such a young age, Talia never knew her parents, so she feels adrift without familial connection. She does feel emotionally connected to Ruth, Shane, and their children, but does not know her foundations.

After falling in love with someone she cannot have and then finding out her parents left her independently wealthy, at the age of twenty-one, Talia begins to travel the world—to run away from her feelings, to escape emotional pain, but also to learn of her ancestry and find a connection to her parents.

Devour writes a novel that is visually striking without using visuals. Her words paint vivid pictures of the numerous places Talia visits, as well as her emotional state of mind. The formatting and editing of the book are up to par, meaning that the reader can be drawn into the prose without being confused as to who is speaking and about what. The cover lends to the visual, visceral nature of the novel. It is visually striking, beautiful, as well as enigmatic. From the cover, the reader knows as little about Talia as she seems to know about herself.

If the reader is looking for a novel for purely entertainment purposes, she will not be let down. The story is interesting and the characters are engaging. If the reader is looking for a novel that provides insight into life, love, and self-awareness, she will get that as well. Wantin is all-around enjoyable.

High School Dropout to Harvard by John Rodrigues

Book Cover (2)High School Dropout to Harvard is a memoir by John Rodrigues that reads like a fiction novel. He tells of creating giant ice sculptures that win international competitions, traveling aboard a cruise liner to numerous exotic locations, and getting into Harvard—all after dropping out of high school and fighting with dyslexia.

John shares the trials and tribulations of his life while living with a learning disability. As a child, he disappointed his parents and fellow students with his clumsiness and general comprehension issues.  Instead of thinking in words and reading letters, he realizes early on that he thinks in pictures and that life is a giant puzzle. Over the course of his lifetime, he learns to harness this unusual ability to think in abstracts to achieve greatness and be unique. Although he drops out of high school and almost everyone thinks he’s never amount to amount to anything, he eventually—through much perseverance and hard work—ends up matriculating at Harvard University.

It is John’s unbelievable tale that draws the reader in, but it is the realization that every word is true that creates a lasting impression. John’s battle with his own brain—and his conquering/compromising with it—can be applied to every person’s life. He figured out a challenging aspect of himself, learned to work around that aspect/use it to his advantage, and accomplished more than he ever thought possible. This book is a must-read and an inspiration to people with disabilities and “normal” people alike!

U.S. Route 99 by Michael Newlon

route 99U.S. Route 99 by Michael R Newlon is yet another coffee table, travel book in his series—this one just as stunning and interesting as the rest. As always, Newlon uses photographs to set the mood of his trip and get the reader excited to begin. He begins this time with a photo of Cadillac Jacks in Sun Valley, California. Seeing the historic building puts the reader in a nostalgic mood and indicates that this trip will be one full of beauty and historical significance. And, as is his usual, he provides a photo of the vehicle that makes it all possible…this time parked beside a Historic Route 99 sign, putting the reader in the mood for a drive.

Before getting on the road, Newlon gives the reader a little backstory and some pertinent information. He starts with the Porsche. As the original owner of the 1969 Porsche 912, Newlon drove the car for a decade before storing it for almost three decades. When retirement rolled around, he decided to get the car a complete rebuild and chassis overhaul, perfect for long-distance highway cruising. Newlon then takes the time to explain highway terminology and signage. For those readers who do not know much about highways or traveling, this is a welcome little detour. A final interesting tidbit is about the maps he uses throughout the book. He explains that they are from a 1959 atlas. The reader will enjoy Newlon’s use of maps because they are augmented with information bubbles. These bubbles contain not only pertinent trip information, but also point out how the current alignment is different from the one the reader would see today. This is helpful to the reader who needs a visual aid to understand the twists, turns, and changes the highway takes.

The body of the work details Newlon’s terminus to terminus trip, starting at the Mexican border in Calexico, California and ending at the Canadian border in Blaine, Washington. U.S. Route 99 was actually decommissioned in the 1970s for reasons such as signage confusion and safety issues, but Newlon drives the “full surviving length,” which is now made up by mostly state highways. Despite this change, he finds the original 1926 alignment still mostly intact. Along the way, he reports such historic sites as former location of ancient Lake Cahuilla, Cadillac Jacks and the Pink Motel, and the town of Yreka. As can happen on any trip, alongside beautiful scenery, Newlon also runs into less than favorable weather and requires an unexpected pit stop before reaching his destination…only to turn around and begin another journey.

Once again, being a passenger in Newlon’s Porsche is an absolute pleasure. His book is both intellectually and aesthetically pleasing. Being photo-heavy and text-light, Newlon conveys a large amount of information in a small space. The reader will learn a lot about U.S. Route 99 and highways in general. The photographs are both beautiful and informative. Newlon writes an interesting travel book that is peppered with his humorous point of view about the things he sees. Because Route 99 was decommissioned, Newlon becomes a detective of sorts, searching for signs of the old route and noting how the highway and towns evolved side-by-side. This is not just a travel book, it is also a work of art, a history, and a practical guide rolled into one interesting and humorous package.

U.S. Route 99

Travel America’s “Pacific Highway” in a Classic 1969 Porsche 912

Michael R Newlon

Copyright 2010

http://www.highwaytripbooks.com/

U.S. Route 95 by Michael Newlon

route 95U.S. Route 95 by Michael R Newlon is another in his series of coffee table, travel books. In this installment, Newlon and his 1969 Porsche 912 travel along U.S. Route 95, or as it is also called, “Desolation Highway.” Before Newlon takes the reader along for the ride, he explains his relationship with his car, which is truly the protagonist in all of his books. Being the original owner of the 1969 Porsche, he had the advantage of knowing that everything came factory-installed, which makes it easy to know inside and out. After storing the Porsche for decades, Newlon decided to modernize the vehicle for long-distance highway cruising. The first few pages of his book detail this process further, and he includes pictures that the “highway geek” will enjoy.

One thing Newlon does to prepare the reader for the trip is to explain highway terminology. For those readers who do not know much about highways or traveling, this is a welcome little detour. He also notes the High Priority Corridor system in progress, which explains all the construction he sees along Route 95. One last piece of information he shares before beginning the journey is about the maps he uses throughout the book. He explains that the maps are scanned images from a 1959 oil company road atlas. An interesting detail is that they do not contain a single Interstate Highway; if someone wanted to travel back in 1959, it had to be done on U.S. highways. The reader will enjoy Newlon’s use of maps because they are augmented with information bubbles. These bubbles contain not only pertinent trip information, but also point out how the current alignment is different from the one the reader would see today. This is helpful to the reader who needs a visual aid to understand the twists, turns, and changes the highway takes.

The body of the work details Newlon’s terminus to terminus trip on U.S. Route 95. The 1,574-mile drive begins at the U.S./Mexican border at San Luis, Arizona and continues northbound to the U.S./Canadian border at Eastport, Idaho. During the journey, Newlon shares with the reader site highlights in each state, such as the Colorado River, Wyatt Earp’s mines, and a hotel in Goldfield Nevada where President Teddy Roosevelt gave a speech. The “highway geek” will particularly enjoy this book because Newlon spends quite a bit of time detailing how the highway is changing from its original alignment. He includes many pictures showing old roads, construction zones, and places where the highway is co-signed with other roads.

U.S. Route 95 is aptly named “Desolation Highway.” A majority of the road is simply open asphalt with no car in sight. “Highway geeks” will enjoy learning about the process to rebuild Newlon’s Porsche as well as his in-depth look at how the highway evolves. The average reader will enjoy the beautiful photos of gorgeous scenery as well as the practical advice Newlon peppers throughout the piece. For example, when Newlon encounters a snowstorm on the way to Oregon, he explains the maintenance needed to make sure his car is highway ready. Even though U.S. Route 95 may not be as exciting as other U.S. routes, Newlon’s book is still enjoyable and useful to both the “highway geek” and the average reader.

U.S. Route 95

Travel America’s “Desolation Highway” in a Classic 1969 Porsche 912

Michael R Newlon

Copyright 2009

http://www.highwaytripbooks.com/

…And The Whippoorwill Sang by Micki Peluso

Image…And The Whippoorwill Sang by Micki Peluso is so many things: at times a personal memoir, at others a social and cultural commentary; it sometimes reads like a relationship advice column, and yet it is also a dramatic story with an extremely moving and emotional ending.  In telling her family’s story of love and loss, Micki provides an in-depth look into her personal life that is framed by the cultural backdrop of the times, so that her story becomes as impressive and as important to the reader as events such as the assassination of Present Kennedy. 

 Micki begins her tale with a prologue that captures the reader’s attention and immediately causes her to start asking questions as to what has transpired.  The first scene is of a mother dealing with the reality that her daughter has been in a serious, and probably fatal, accident—with her husband five hours away and the doctors urging her to accept defeat.  The horror of the emergency room is juxtaposed in the next chapter with Micki’s wedding 22 years earlier to the love of her life.  As her tale continues, the terror of the present is dispersed throughout a retelling of the past.  Micki recounts her elopement to Butch and her mother’s subsequent move to Florida.   She tells of her happiness in marrying Butch, but that his parents did not approve because she was not Catholic and, therefore, their baby was illegitimate. Because they had to stay with Butch’s parents, Micki tells of how she went through a four-week Catholic indoctrination in order to marry Butch in a “real ceremony.”  The first touch of humor enters the story when Micki confesses to sending the priest to a rest home for frazzled priests after dealing with her religious debates.

The book continues in this fashion: Micki tells her family’s history, interspersed with humor, cultural commentary, and personal opinions while constantly reminding the reader that the focus of the tale is her daughter who is hovering between this life and the next and how the family deals with this situation and its aftermath.  Micki tells the reader that as she sits in the ICU, she is “grabbing onto the past in an effort to block out the future.”

From the get-go, Micki’s honesty about herself and her family is refreshing and leads the reader to truly care for the people she writes about.  Throughout the book, the reader will laugh, cry, yell in anger, and sometimes cry out a righteous “amen, sister!”  Her story is so detailed and told with such emotion that by the end of the novel, the reader feels as if she is part of her family and dealing with the same emotions.  She definitely keeps her promise…

 

And The Whippoorwill Sang

Micki Peluso

Light Sword Publishing

Copyright 2007