A Deep, Sad Loss

On June 25, 2020 my life changed forever. My beloved father, Stanley S. Kaplan, passed away at 91. He was a major influence and inspiration in my life, always guiding and supporting me, even when I was at my lowest. It is ironic that in my new novel, I write a detailed scene of children losing their devoted father and I am actually experiencing the same heartbreak in real life. I must now learn to continue living without having him to turn to.

I have so many memories: his optimism and encouragement, his devotion to my mother during their sixty-year marriage, and his unending care and concern for me and my sisters. When I was very young my father would take me to what he referred to as “the secret place” because we never told anyone where we went. It would be a visit to the park and afterwards, he would take me out for ice cream. My father had read that it was difficult to be a middle child, so he would occasionally take me out alone to make sure I was getting enough attention. And after I was married, I had a difficult pregnancy because I was carrying twins. My husband was working long hours and I couldn’t be alone, so my parents picked me up from New Jersey and I stayed with them in Rhode Island. Since my twins were born premature and I needed time to recover, my parents attended classes at the hospital to learn about premature babies.

His kindness did not stop with his family. One time while growing up we were traveling to a Cape Cod vacation and ate in a restaurant. As we were driving away, my father realized that he forgot to leave the waitress a tip. He turned around on the highway to return to the restaurant. On his obituary page, a neighbor wrote that when he lost his own father at a very young age, my father would invite him over to lift weights and was always very kind to him. And a cousin of mine recently told me that my father treated him more like a grandson than a cousin, and whenever he and his mother came to visit, my father gave him toys when he was young and advice as he grew older.

Dad, I will carry your love and goodness in my heart forever.

Idelle Kursman is the author of two novels: True Mercy and more recently, The Book of Revelations.

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Two Reviews for The Book of Revelations

I am proud to receive two reviews for my new novel!

One is from Amy Shannon, a noted book reviewer who runs the website Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews. I highly recommend her site for reviews on a wide variety of books. Amy wrote the following:

“Kursman pens a magnificent story in The Book of Revelations. I have read work from this author before, and I really enjoyed it. The characters were intense and very intriguing. This book deserves a second read! (and maybe more). The thrills and intrigue is written clearly and the characterizations are engrossing. It’s a powerful read, and so intense, with both heart break and heart fulfillment. This definitely kept this reader turning the pages. It’s a great story to follow and try to figure out what will happen next. This author’s characters develop and interacts well with the other characters. I have fast become a big fan of (this author). I look forward to reading more by this author. This book is a definite recommendation by Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews.”

The second is from Diane Donovan, an editor who runs Donovan’s Literary Services. Diane also writes reviews for Midwest Book Review, a highly regarded as well as affordable book review site. Diane herself offers an array of services for writers seeking help to improve their writing. She wrote the following about The Book of Revelations:

“In The Book of Revelations, Christine Goldberg has struggled for a large part of her life to get to the successful point she enjoys today, with a family, a good job, and security. All this is threatened by the emergence of an ex-boyfriend who is in search of the apex role in his acting career, the only thing that thus far has remained elusive to him. 

Ryan Monti is fixated on his goal, shallow, self-centered, and a part of her past that Christine didn’t want exposed. He’s also successful. His success hasn’t led to contentment, but to an obsession which has led him to being considered one of Hollywood’s shining stars. 

When blackmail enters the picture to complicate Ryan’s life, his uncertain relationship with girlfriend Megan, and his reconnection with Christine, it throws them both together despite their feelings about the past, and everything begins to change. 

Idelle Kursman builds a fine story where the past intersects with the present in two very different lives and personas. She paints a fine portrait of Christine, who faces life with the professional demeanor of a businesswoman with more savvy and independence than her younger self; and Ryan, whose personality hasn’t veered much from his obsessions and uncertainties even as he’s cultivated uncommon success in his life. 

Ryan’s feelings about reporters mirrors his casual use-them-and-drop-them attitude about everything in his life, from his girlfriends to his colleagues: ‘Ryan had no real relationships with other journalists or anyone else in the media. He considered them a nuisance and always tried to avoid them by wearing a hat, sunglasses, and nondescript clothing in public.‘ 

At first, it’s hard to see the connections between these two disparate individuals aside from their early encounter. The surprise lies in their evolution and shared revelation over a closely-held secret that holds the power to change Ryan’s life like nothing else. Ryan grows and changes throughout the story, finally developing into the man he should have been all along. 

The Book of Revelations explores different kinds of revelations, confrontations, and changes. It considers how one door opens as another is still closing, and explores changed concepts of family connections, trust, and truth. 

Readers interested in a chronicle of lies, truths, and revised lives will find The Book of Revelations an emotional ride into the choices and consequences of two disparate individuals who find their lives coming full circle in unexpected ways. It’s highly recommended reading for those who like to see their characters evolve later in life, and for readers who know that no story is set in stone until the end of life.”  

I would like to thank Amy Shannon and Diane Donovan for their wonderful reviews and support! Readers, don’t forget to check out Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews and writers, please consider using Donovan’s Literary Services. I highly recommend both of their work!

The Book of Revelations is available on Amazon in print and ebook.

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New Review of True Mercy

I am very excited to post Amy Shannon’s recent review of my first novel, True Mercy:

Kursman pens a magnificent story in True Mercy. I haven’t read anything from this author before, and I really enjoyed this story. The characters were intense and very real. The author’s writing style is perfect for this story. Reader, enter the despicable world of the sex-slave trade. It’s an intense story about survival and caring, and the addition of an autistic character, makes this story both poignant, and interesting. This book deserves a second read! (and maybe more). The author’s technique of intense characters and great plotlines is a gift. It’s a great story to follow and try to figure out what will happen next. This author’s characters develop and interacts well with the other characters. I look forward to reading more by this author. This book is definitely highly recommended by Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews. A very powerful, raw and gritty read, with high emotions and aptly placed humor and reality.

I received this book free in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. ~Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews

Thank you, Amy!

http://writeramyshannon.wixsite.com/bookshelfreviews/top10

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Book Review: The Authenticity Project

The Authenticity Project is the perfect book to read when you are forced to stay at home and need some cheering up. Needless to say, the coronavirus has put a serious damper on all of our lives.

Appearances can be deceiving. You never know what other people are going through. In this story, a random set of strangers find out about each other when they leave behind a book titled The Authenticity Project. As each person finds the book, they connect with those who had previously written about their most agonizing personal issues and add a section about their own. A pervading theme is loneliness. When the characters find each other, their relationships involve helping one another by performing incredible acts of kindness. This story could have fallen into syrupy sweet sentimentality but doesn’t for a moment.  

It begins with an elderly artist who previously had a prominent career but has now been living as a recluse for the last fifteen years. When he leaves the book behind in a cafe, the café owner finds it. The single cafe owner is in her mid-30’s and is desperate to get married and have children. She meets the artist, encouraging him to go out. He even agrees to teach art lessons in her establishment. People attend and not only learn to draw, but end up bonding with one another. The cafe owner then misplaces the book, only to be found by an alcoholic and cocaine-addict seeking to clean up and lead a better life. The book continues traveling with other characters finding it and joining the others. The events and humor keep moving the story forward.

Although I guessed the ending, The Authenticity Project gives one a renewed faith in humanity and brings the reader happy feelings at a time when we don’t have many reasons to feel joyful.

A note: When I read the brief biography about the author, Clare Pooley, I learned she is married with three kids. She worked in the advertising world for twenty years. Just when I thought she had it all, she confessed at the end of the book that she is a recovering alcoholic. It goes to show you. Appearances can be deceiving. You never know what other people are going through.

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Book Review: The Great Upheaval: America and the Birth of the Modern World 1788-1800

For history lovers, The Great Upheaval: America and the Birth of the Modern World 1788-1800 is a must read. Author Jay Winik guides readers through the major events of this pivotal global turning point. The American Revolution’s ideals of freedom and liberty were felt over much of the world. Motivated to strike a blow to England, his country’s enemy, King Louis XVI of France helped finance and support the revolution, sending troops like the famous Lafayette, At the same time, the enlightened Catherine the Great of Russia initially pursued these ideals and embraced the enlightened philosophies of Voltaire as well as prominent Russian reformers like Alexander Radishchev and Nikolay Novikov. Ironically, the revolution also inspired French radicals, who overthrew and then beheaded King Louis, resulting in France embroiled in a bloodbath of violence and anarchy.  As for Catherine, when the progressive ideals of freedom and independence threatened her authoritarian monarchy, she promptly crushed it, imprisoning Radishchev and Novikov in a major turnabout. Both Lafayette and Tadeusz Kosciuszko, a statesman and national hero of Poland, fought in the American revolution but failed to achieve similar reforms in their respective countries –Lafayette was forced to flee the violence of France and Kosciuszko’s valiant attempts to free Poland from Russia’s tentacles failed.

Winik’s book is very readable, consisting not simply of dates and names. He relates the story behind the events and examines the lives of the major players. As an example, this book only heightened my respect for America’s first President, George Washington. In a time of reigning kings who ruled for life, Washington made the historic decision to step down after two presidential terms despite Americans’ plea for him to be crowned king. There were great minds at the country’s inception  –Jefferson, Franklin, Hamilton, and Adams immediately come to mind, but it was George Washington who utilized the best of their ideas and rose above their clashes in ideas and personalities, demonstrating  that this country provided a template for democracy all over the world during a critical time of turbulence and change.

My recommendation: Read, learn, and enjoy.

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