Friday, September 16, 2016

Review: Brooklyn

I don’t watch a lot of movies these days. One reason is that I don’t take the time to watch them. Another is that I don’t find current offerings all that compelling.

Every now and then, however, I see a film that makes me think I should give more motion pictures a chance. Brooklyn, a romantic drama directed by John Crowley, is one such movie.

Set in Enniscorthy, Ireland, and New York City, Brooklyn is the tale of Eilis Lacey, a humble young Irish woman who immigrates to the United States in 1951. She finds employment in a department store and love with Italian-American plumber Anthony "Tony" Fiorello.

Saoirse Ronan and Emory Cohen are magnificent as Lacey and Fiorello, respectively, but both take a back seat to the story itself. In Brooklyn, one gets a sense of what thousands of Irish and Italian immigrants experienced in the early postwar years.

Though Lacey makes a fairly smooth transition to American life, she feels the constant pull of Ireland in the form of a controlling mother, an ill sister, and a would-be suitor. From the moment she arrives in the U.S., she struggles to reconcile her two worlds.

Based on Colm Tóibín's novel, Brooklyn wowed audiences at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and earned three Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Actress. I strongly recommend it to any fan of historical fiction. Rating: 5/5.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Finding fun in the Fifties

In every series there is usually one novel the author looks forward to writing the most. For some, it’s the first book, the one that sets the tone. For others, it’s the last book, the one that brings a story to a conclusion. For me, it’s the book that brings the most enjoyment.

And this one, folks, was just plain fun.

Say hello to Class of ’59. The fourth novel in the American Journey series and my ninth overall, it is a book that breaks new ground, answers old questions, and takes readers on a T-Bird ride through the era of Happy Days, Pleasantville, and American Graffiti.

Like in September Sky, Mercer Street, and Indiana Belle, people from the present access a portal to the past in a Victorian mansion in Los Angeles. Unlike in the first three books, they do so without the knowledge and assistance of Professor Geoffrey Bell.

On March 21, 1959, Mark Ryan, 22, is a focused college senior, an engineering major with an eye on building rockets and missiles. Then he explores an old desk in his family’s new home and finds a letter and two crystals that give him the means to travel through time.

On June 2, 2017, Mary Beth McIntire, 22, is an Alabama woman headed to medical school. Her life seems set when she takes a trip to California with her family. Then she sees a man in 1950s attire outside her vacation house and her world turns upside down.

Mark and Mary Beth share their startling discoveries with his adventurous brother (Ben) and her sensible sister (Piper). Within hours, four young adults throw caution to the wind and plunge into the age of sock hops, drive-in theaters, hot rods, and jukeboxes.

Class of ’59 is the first of my books set almost entirely in the Golden State. Instead of scattering across the country to places like Texas, New Jersey, and Indiana, my time travelers stay put.

From the streets of Hollywood to the high schools of Pasadena to the beaches of Santa Monica, they see Southern California in its storied prime. They experience the fifties up close and personal.

Filled with history, romance, humor, and suspense, Class of ’59 provides readers with a nostalgic snapshot of an unforgettable era. The novel, available as a Kindle book on and its international sites, goes on sale today.