Thursday, October 10, 2019

Flying Alone Beth Ruggiero York

Flying Alone
Beth Ruggiero York
File Size: 3033 KB
Print Length: 246 pages
Publisher: Beth's Books (September 1, 2019)
Publication Date: September 1, 2019
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English

From the time she was a teenager, Beth knew she wanted to fly, and a solo trip across the country to visit family confirmed her aspirations of becoming a pilot. But her dreams were almost grounded before they could take off when she received the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis at the age of 22.

Beth vowed that this new challenge would not put restrictions on her life and embarked on a journey to become an airline pilot. Starting at the small local airport, the aviation world swallowed her whole, and the next five years of her life were as turbulent as an airplane in a thunderstorm, never knowing when, how or if she would emerge.

An agonizing love affair with her flight instructor, dangerous risks in the sky and flying broken airplanes for shady companies all intertwined to define her road to the airlines, eventually being hired by Trans World Airlines in 1989.
Flying Alone outlines the struggles and the challenges of civil aviation that Beth faced 30 years ago.

Ultimately a story of survival and overcoming overwhelming odds, Flying Alone is told with soul-baring candor, taking readers on a suspenseful journey through terror, romance and victory.

My Thoughts

When you read memoirs such as Flying Alone, you recognize that people go to great lengths to fulfill their dreams.

Here, in this story, Beth Ruggiero York shows you the steps she took and you see the risks and miscalculations that were made along the way.

York begins by making us aware of how she began this journey and we learn some things we may not have known, like the standard altitude for airwork practice,  what a lineman also called a line service technician, are responsible for, and that towing a billboard is more difficult than a banner.

I thought it was appropriate that York pointed out the regulations and dangers and importance of not exceeding your capability or that of your aircraft. She showed us this early on in the book when a pilot she knew was charged with manslaughter while another was arrested on a taxiway and she bailed him out of prison. 

While this memoir moves back and forth a bit, you clearly see Beth's love of flying and the things that were significant to her at that time,  like her father's passing, time spent with other pilots and aircraft and dealing with her own illness.

I received a copy of this book from Anna Sacca, Senior Publicity Manager at FSB Associates.

About the Author

Beth Ruggiero York is a former airline pilot for Trans World Airlines. She entered the world of civil aviation in 1984 shortly after graduating from college and, for the next five years, climbed the ladder to her ultimate goal of flying for a major airline. 

She originally wrote Flying Alone in the early 1990s, shortly after her career as a pilot ended and the memories were fresh.

Beth now has dual careers--Chinese translator and professional photographer. She teaches photography workshops for Arizona Highways PhotoScapes and her own company, Ruggiero Images LLC. Beth has published a popular instructional book on night photography, Fun in the Dark: A Guide to Successful Night Photography, which has worldwide sales, and she has co-written a book entitled, Everglades National Park: A Photographic Destination. She and her husband live in Fountain Hills, AZ.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Better Off Bald: A Life in 147 Days

  • Better off Bald: A Life in 147 Days
  • Andrea Wilson Woods
  • Paperback: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Build Your BLISSS (September 23, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1544504594
  • ISBN-13: 978-1544504599

Adrienne Wilson is a depressed, suicidal teenager—until the day she receives a diagnosis of stage IV liver cancer. Facing the fight of her life, Adrienne discovers how much she wants to live. In Better Off Bald: A Life in 147 Days, Andrea Wilson Woods chronicles her sister’s remarkable life from the time she was born to the day she dies at age fifteen. Written like a journal, Andrea takes the reader inside her and Adrienne’s journey explaining how she gained custody of Adrienne from their mother and how the sisters’ relationship evolved over time. Adrienne’s courageous spirit shines through as she squeezes more life into 147 days than most people do in a lifetime. From meeting Jay Leno to spending the day with Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction, Adrienne makes every moment count. As she lay dying, Adrienne teaches Andrea how to live.

My Thoughts

Cancer touches most of our lives and some people make it their mission in life to help prevent and or treat cancer with a goal to help cure it. 

When diagnosed with cancer,  patients often ask their physicians what does this require? Patients are informed of staging, the possibility of symptoms and tests and often come face to face with authorizing their own support and treatment options. 

If you are a caregiver, you know that you put your wants aside to focus on the ever-changing needs of the ill person. In the case of the terminally ill person, you do this by adopting a hopeful attitude and being grateful for the time you have together.

In this book, written like a journal, Andrea Wilson Woods shows us many lives that come to terms Adrienne's diagnosis of Hepatocellular carcinoma and you see Adrienne's days are filled with humor, courage, joy and love. 

This inspiring story tells us a little about clinical trials, targeted drug therapies, and their side effects. More importantly, it teaches us about the enjoyment of life and points out it is the little things that bring us happiness, like dyeing our hair or having an animal reach out and touch us as we walk by,  or giggling with a girlfriend.

Chemotherapy targets all rapidly dividing cells and in many cases, hair usually begins falling out two to four weeks after treatment starts. New products have been developed to replace and /or supplement traditional wigs but when one acknowledges it's a succession of experiences that makes up one's liveliness,  one may feel, better off bald. 

I received this inspiring and educational read from the Rachal Bobman Marketing Manager at Scribe Media.

About the Author

Andrea Wilson Woods is a writer who loves to tell stories, and a patient advocate who founded the nonprofit Blue Faery: The Adrienne Wilson Liver Cancer Association. Andrea is the CEO and co-founder of Cancer University, a for-profit, social-benefit, digital health company. With Cancer U, Andrea synergizes her talents of coaching, writing, teaching, and advocacy. For over ten years, Andrea worked in the education field as a teacher and professor for public and private schools as well as universities. Andrea obtained her master’s degree in professional writing from the University of Southern California; her nonfiction writing has won national awards.

Blue Faery's  mission is to prevent, treat and cure primary liver cancer, specifically Hepatocellular Carcinoma, through research, education, and advocacy. Their work improves the quality of life for HCC patients, supports their caregivers and gives them hope, information, and a voice.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

September 2019 Loft Reads

The month of September was a busy one and we took some time off to getaway. We were one of many in attendance to watch the 2019 Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Club of America National Specialty.

During the month, I interviewed Natalie Hart author of Pieces of Me who told us what it's like to live in a warzone and reminded readers, "Every minute you don’t hear from your loved one is a moment that they could be in danger."

I read and reviewed the book Lions of the Sky which has been equated to the movie Top Gun. I like Paco Chierici's well-placed similes and thought this book, though fiction, was a well-written account of the perils  U.S. Navy Aviators face.

My husband and I also spent a portion of the month in Amish Country and enjoyed a leisurely walk through Krider World's Fair Garden. 

These gardens were originally designed for display in the 1933-1934 Chicago World’s Fair.  

The day we traveled to Indiana's oldest operating grist mill, we saw a wedding party filming there and waited till they departed before taking a few pictures ourselves.

This month I also read a  Y. A. book, The Missing Spirit and the children's picture book Wonder Walk. Both books got me in the mood to do some exploring so, I went fossil hunting in southern Ohio with my husband where we searched for Bryozoans, Brachiopods, Pelecypods, Horn Corals, Cephalopods, Gastropods, Crinoids, and Trilobites.

Septembers Top Ten Audience was from the United States, Germany, India, Canada, France, Indonesia, Russia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and Australia

Monday, September 30, 2019

Author Spotlight on Natalie Hart

Natalie Hart, is debut author of the book *Pieces of Me* (Legend Press, October 1, 2019), which was shortlisted for the 2018 Costa First Novel Award. Natalie Hart specializes in conflict and post-conflict environments and has worked extensively across the Middle East, including 3 years in Iraq. 

Natalie's gorgeous novel has been compared to *Girl at War* and *The Yellow Birds* and examines the lives of deployed soldiers' families and displaced Iraqi civilians. Told from a female perspective, *Pieces of Me* follows Emma and Adam McLaughlin from Baghdad to Colorado and eloquently reveals how even the most tightly knit relationships can unravel under the stress of war. 

Natalie was agreeable to an interview about this story.

Natalie, can you tell us a little about the 3 stages of deployment your book takes us through?

Of course! The structure of Pieces of Me is based on what the military refers to as a deployment cycle. This is made up of pre-deployment, when the soldier is preparing to go away to war; deployment, when they are away serving; and post-deployment, which is the reintegration period when they get back (and then the cycle starts all over again). Each stage comes with its own challenges and military family therapy maps a seven-stage emotional journey that families experience throughout this cycle, too. 

How did you go about compiling the details for life in a war zone?

I spent three years working and living in Iraq myself, and I have also spent time in Afghanistan. Many of the details of life in a warzone in Pieces of Me are my own experiences of being there, or those of my friends and colleagues. When writing I thought a lot about the conversations I’d had with friends and family back home and the details that people didn’t understand or didn’t realise about my life out there. Some of them were very basic things – they didn’t realise there were non-military personnel or they didn’t realise there were women choosing to live in a war zone. In some ways people expect the hardships – the fear, the attacks, even the monotony – but they had no idea about the parties, the swimming pools, the strange themed cakes in the canteen for every occasion – Thanksgiving, St Patrick’s Day, Sexual Assault Awareness Day. I think it’s those details that make the book more interesting; they are the details that give a fuller picture of the story.

What do you feel is the most stressful part of being the one left behind?

Not everyone who is in a warzone is in danger 24/7. If you live on one of the large bases, you might well be safe and incredibly bored the majority of the time. The most stressful part of being left at home though, is that every minute you don’t hear from your loved one is a moment that they could be in danger. Your imagination can be hard to control. If they are late to a Skype call or don’t message for a couple of days, your mind can think the worst when in reality there might just be Internet problems or they have some extra shifts to do at work. The problem with being left behind is that you are surrounded by their absence. Your life is the same, but there is a gaping hole in it. Everything is a reminder of the person who is away. In some ways that is harder than being the one having the new experience.

Do you have any particular practices that help you write?

I like to write early in the morning. All of my writing happens between the time I wake up and the bottom of my second cup of coffee – I still have a full-time career outside of writing so I have to get my daily writing done before I go to work. I also think there’s a special kind of writing that comes out while your brain is still partially in sleep mode. It makes it easier to turn off the filters and just let the words flow.

What can you tell us about the honor of being shortlisted for the 2018 Costa First Novel Award?

I still can’t quite believe it happened. It’s crazy! When I was a teenager I worked in a bookshop and I can distinctly remember looking at books that had the Whitbread (as it was then known) Book Awards shortlist stickers on them. I can’t believe that mine has that now.

I was in a bilateral government meeting when I received the news and stepped out to take the call, then promptly burst into tears. I was a wreck! The news was embargoed and it was so hard to go back into the meeting and pretend that nothing was going on.

The shortlist also means a lot to me as it feels like recognition that this is a story worth telling. When I was looking for a UK publisher, some companies were concerned about Iraq-fatigue – that readers didn’t want to read about war anymore. But in my view, stories about the experiences of war are timeless. We still read literature from World War I and World War II and Vietnam. We shouldn’t forget our history and we should make even more of an effort to read stories from underrepresented voices –Iraqis, women, civilians. There is no single version of a conflict. 

In your novel, what did you edit out?

My goal with the novel was emotional truth. In terms of emotion, I left everything on the page. Nothing was edited out. I wrote it at a time when my experiences where incredibly raw, but I think that’s what gives the work its power. 

 What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading Nickolas Butler. In fact, I am on a Nickolas Butler roll! Last week I re-read Shotgun Lovesongs, then The Hearts of Men and now I’m on Little Faith. I have such a writing crush on all of Butler’s work. He writes characters with all their nuances and flaws and with such incredible kindness and humanity. His descriptions of rural USA are also stunning. I’m convinced that just reading such beautiful work will make me a better writer. 

 Is there anything you'd like readers to know? 

Having this book published in the USA has been an ambition of mine ever since I started writing it. For me, the most unexpected part of living in Iraq was getting such an immersive experience in US culture. I came away with strange quirks, like a huge love of country music that is quite out of place in London. In some ways Pieces of Me is my own ode to that experience.

I want readers to know that the path here was hard fought. It wasn’t easy to get published in the US. Some publishers thought the book was too nuanced, but love and conflict are complex and multi-faceted. I trust my readers to understand that. 

So finally, I would like readers to know how grateful I am to every single one of you who gives my book a try. If you are a person who has been to war or a person who has been left behind, I hope this book makes you feel less alone in your experiences. 


Natalie Hart is a writer, strategic communications consultant and qualitative researcher. Her first novel Pieces of Me is being published by Legend Press on October 1, 2019. It was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award. Natalie specializes in conflict and post-conflict environments. She has worked extensively across the Middle East and North Africa, including three years in Iraq. Natalie has a BA in Combined Middle Eastern Studies (Arabic and Spanish) from the University of Cambridge and an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University.  

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Wonder Walk by Ilham Alam and Illustrated by Kerry Bell

Wonder Walk
Ilham Alam (Author) Kerry Bell ( Illustrator)
  • Hardcover: 20 pages
  • Publisher: Iguana Books (April 16, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1771803231
  • ISBN-13: 978-1771803236

"Little Johnny and his mommy went walking. There Little Johnny got to talking."
Get out there with the curious Johnny and his patient Mommy, in this colourful, rhyming book, celebrating all the wonders of the everyday world.

This charming, rhyming story will be relatable to both kids and their parents/guardians alike: it talks of all the everyday yet wondrous things that a little boy sees on a walk with his mother and the endless questions that he asks her about it. Showing his natural curiosity and testing the limits of his parent's creativity

My Thoughts

Johnny and his Mother go exploring in this adorable rhyming story that is beautifully illustrated.

 I love that Johnny's able to express his curiosity and sometimes even his mother doesn't have all the answers but she patiently guides him on this journey. 

This educational picture book combines, colors in nature with species specifics and adds an emotional connection. 

I received a copy of this children's picture book through the generosity of Ilham Alam.

About the Author
Ilham Alam
Blog: StoryMummy
Instagram: @storymummy86
Twitter: @IlhamAl50397575
Iguana Books Author Page: 
Facebook Author Page: @ialam22

About the Illustrator
Kerry Bell

Friday, September 20, 2019

The Missing Spirit P.J. Maia

The Missing Spirit
  • P.J. Maia 
  • Series: Eternity Departs (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (March 1, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 172109363X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1721093632
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches

Two hundred thousand years ago, several proto-human species roamed the Earth. Among them, one went by undocumented: the Devine. This immortal people was gifted with phenomenal abilities, powered by a mysterious mineral, the remnants of an asteroid known as blustone.

“The Missing Spirit” begins at a point when Devine society has become highly sophisticated, while the wild peoples of the outside world still struggle to make fire, hunt down woolly giants, and survive a grueling Ice Age.

Living in LUMEN, the heart of the Devine civilization, KEANA MILFORT is a fifteen-year-old girl, who has always looked different. Her faded ebony skin and honey-colored hair and eyes serve as painful reminders of her unknown heritage.

Only now, at the brink of adulthood, something else has made her stand out: everyone her age has received an invitation to try out for LUMEN ACADEMY. Everyone, except for her. The coming-of-age event is the moment when young people discover whether they will receive supernatural abilities of their own or be dismissed and forced to join the much-reviled category of REGULAR people.

Frustrated at her missing invitation, the young girl can’t come to terms with a harrowing fate as a regular and decides to take matters into her own hands. But if Keana manages to unearth her forbidden heritage, the Devine may have to make sacrifices in order to protect their powers, their privilege and their immortality. Even if it means sacrificing her life.

My Thoughts

The Missing Spirit grabbed my attention. The story follows Keana Milfort, a fifteen-year-old girl, and her friends and takes readers back to the ice age where immortal Gods rule over man and beast and  Radiocarbon dating isn't yet thought of.

Putting aside the physiological needs like water, air, safety, etc., an interesting factor addressed early on was that the desire to belong is primal and that not belonging would relegate Keana to a life of hard labor devoid of privacy and with no special abilities or access to the outside world. 

So, if her unusual appearance alone didn't make her feel like an outsider, her lack of invitation to the Lumen Academy surely would.

Into this eclectic mix that we come to know as Keana's life,  we witness talk of adoption and heritage, scrypaintings and unfunerals along with alcoholic concoctions and woolly mammoth rides. 

As someone who grew up watching Land of the Lost and enjoys getting away to do fossil hunting every now and then, I appreciated this ice age story. The world-building was unique and the detailing captivating.

I was impressed by the 'When' and 'Where' denoted in the chapter introductions and quite fond of the artwork. The Lumen Tribune was impressive as well.

This story resembled a fragmented novel with segments strong on character recognition and dialogue. 

This book was provided by the generosity of publicist Lucas Jones.

About the Author

Paulo José Maia was born in 1986, in Campo Grande, Brazil, to an engineer mother, a businessman father and a very imaginative older brother. As a child, he was fascinated with languages and fantastic tales. He was a fluent English speaker by the age of 15, before moving to the United States as an exchange student. None of his new American classmates were able to pronounce his name, so they nicknamed him P.J. Under the influence of his English teacher in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, P.J. joined his high school’s Writers’ Guild. He would later get a degree in Radio & TV Media at the Armando Álvares Penteado Foundation in Sao Paulo and then move to New York City, where he learned screenwriting at NYU and kicked off a career as a TV news producer. P.J. has been going back and forth between hemispheres and bubbling up adventures in his mind ever since.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Lions Of The Sky Paco Chierici

Paco Chierici
  • Hardcover: 292 pages
  • Publisher: Braveship Books (April 12, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1640620672
  • ISBN-13: 978-1640620674
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches

In the world of fighter pilots, the most alpha of the alpha, competition is everything and the stakes are impossibly high. A Top Gun for the new millennium, LIONS OF THE SKY propels us into a realm in which friendship, loyalty, and skill are tested, battles won and lost in an instant, and lives irrevocably changed in the time it takes to plug in your afterburners.

Sam Richardson is a fighter pilot’s pilot, a reluctant legend with a gut-eating secret. He is in the last span of his tour as an instructor, yearning to get back to the real action of the Fleet, when he is ordered to take on one last class—a class that will force him to confront his carefully quarantined demons.

Brash, carefree, and naturally gifted, Keely Silvers is the embodiment of all that grates on him. After years of single-minded dedication, she and her classmates can see the finish line. They are months away from achieving their life-long dream, flying Navy F/A-18 fighters. They are smart and hard-working, but they’re just kids with expensive new toys. They’re eager to rush through training and escape to the freedom of the world beyond, a world they view as a playground full of fast jets and exotic locales.

But Sam knows there is a darker side to the profession he loves. There is trouble brewing in the East with global implications. If they make it past him they will be cast into a dangerous world where enemy planes cruise the skies over the South China Sea like sharks, loaded with real weapons and hidden intention

My Thoughts

This is a fascinating read! We begin the story with a commando on a boat in the South China Sea. Once his inflatable craft docks on the beach, he begins his operation.

The following day takes us to Virginia Beach, Virginia and we are flying low with engaging characters. Cruising along in a 1966 427 Shelby  AC Cobra has always appealed to me and I was immediately intrigued by the characters Slammer and Quick.

The cockpit drama is a strong focal point. 

A mix of humor and well-placed use of similes combine with the real and simulated scenes for those being trained as fighter pilots with the intention to fly the  F/A-18 Hornet and later be part of the combat squadron.

Chierici skillfully points out many of the perils  U.S. Navy Aviators face and makes us aware of how quickly they must regain focus during periods of anguish.

I received a copy of this book from FSB Associates.

About The Author

During his active duty career in the U.S. Navy, Francesco “Paco” Chierici flew A-6E Intruders and F-14A Tomcats, deployed to conflict zones from Somalia to Iraq and was stationed aboard carriers including the USS Ranger, Nimitz and Kitty Hawk. Unable to give up dogfighting, he flew the F-5 Tiger II for a further ten years as a Bandit concurrent with his employment as a commercial pilot. Throughout his military career, Paco accumulated nearly 3,000 tactical hours, 400 carrier landings, a Southwest Asia Service Medal with Bronze Star, and three Strike/Flight Air Medals.

Currently a 737 captain, Paco can often be found in the skies above California flying a Yak-50 with a group of likeminded G-hounds to get his dogfighting fix.

Prior to writing Lions in the Sky, Paco published extensively in Aviation Classics Magazine, AOPA Magazine, and Fighter Sweep, as well as creating and producing the award winning naval aviation documentary Speed and Angels. He lives in Northern California with his wife Hillary, and two children.