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Review & Giveaway: Rounding Home by Sarah Swindell

ROUNDING HOME

by
SARAH SWINDELL
  Genre: Memoir / Family / Autism
Date of Publication: August 2, 2019
Number of Pages: 256
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In 1991, twenty-one-year-old Sarah, the recently divorced mother to two-year-old Hayley, moved from the dusty small town of Farmington, New Mexico to the bustling city of Houston, Texas with dreams of a better life. A year later, she was swept off her feet by Greg Swindell, an established Major League Baseball player who had just signed a lucrative contract with the Houston Astros and was quickly becoming the talk of the city. 
Six weeks after their first date, Greg asked Sarah to quit her job as a hairdresser and marry him during Spring Training in Florida. Over the next several years, Sarah’s Cinderella story continued with the addition of three more children, a lifestyle only a few ever dream of living, and a love story even fewer ever experience.
That is until 2002 when her picture-perfect life came to a gut-wrenching halt, and Sarah was faced with more pain than she ever thought possible. For almost a decade, the puzzle pieces would cease to align due to an avalanche of events; a devastating autism diagnosis, a painful affair, multiple marriages, multiple divorces and her children’s own personal struggles with self-harm, eating disorders, and attempted suicide. 
If you have ever felt lost, betrayed, or heartbroken, this story will inspire you to never give up on finding true joy and happiness again. It will prove there is no such thing as the “perfect family” and that difficult times can actually make you stronger than you ever dreamed possible.

 

PRAISE FOR ROUNDING HOME:
Rounding Home takes you on a riveting journey through the eyes of an exceptional woman who embraced struggle, love, success, and the unimaginable, autism. Get ready to laugh, cry, and flutter with romance; it’s one hell of a love story!” — Gena Lee Nolin, actress, author, advocate, “Thyroid Sexy,” wife & mother
“In Rounding Home, Sarah writes with gritty honesty, a deeply moving account of life with her autistic son. This testament to the resilience of the human spirit will touch your heart and soul.” — Gayle Nobel, life coach, autism mom, and author of three books about living with autism
“This story of the Swindell family is a poignant demonstration of how each family member responded and was changed, for better or worse, as they struggled to come to terms with how their lives had been altered. And although there was damage along the way, they ultimately triumph by rekindling the love that created their family unit in the first place.” — Dr. Bryan Jepson, author, physician, and father of two sons with autism

review

Some of my all-time favorite movies are baseball movies, so I was immediately drawn to the cover art of Rounding Home. I was intrigued by the ghostly image paired with a baseball phrase that normally stirs up feelings of excitement since the base runner is about to score by crossing home plate. The muted colors of the baseball field and the washed out colors of the author, Sarah, standing barefooted with a bottle of wine at her feet is somber and beautiful at the same time.

The only thing I didn’t read in this book is the testimonials page at the very front. I didn’t want my review influenced by anyone else. I have quasi-photographic memory, so that’s a very real hurdle for me when reviewing books. I’m a big fan of the disclaimer about this book being a memoir; the imperfections of human memory and perception that might cause a slight distortion of actual events. I also love the hotline numbers listed below. Upon reading the Foreword, I already knew that I would experience a lot of different feelings from reading this memoir. Motherhood is a very different journey for every woman but we experience many of the same destinations or perhaps choose a slightly different route by our interpretations of life’s map. The Acknowledgements page confused me because it sounded like she was married to one man but was madly in love with another. Once you finish the book, you might come to the conclusion that she sort of was.

Sarah’s voice is very clear and her thoughts are organized, even though her life’s events seemed anything but. She mentions in the Foreword that she asked her editors to tread lightly in order to preserve her natural voice, which I think they did very well, but the proofreading could have been a little tighter. But to be fair, I think only a page or two slipped past the editorial team. The typesetting and formatting of the pages are executed nicely but the design of the jacket feels distinctly self-published.

To say that Sarah Swindell has lived a very interesting life would be a humongous understatement. She lays herself bare; apologetic to those around her who were hurt by her decisions, but unflinching when critiquing her own bad decisions or flaws in retrospect. I found her to be a delightful cocktail of stereotypes validated and realized mixed with beating the odds. Let me explain. She perpetuates that tragic cycle of a woman that can’t be without a man when she gets married and divorced over and over again. But her own daughters are able to break the cycle of girls who are the product of teen pregnancy or divorce: they often get pregnant early or divorced themselves. Her own children struggled with many issues due to the instability of moving around and Sarah’s marriage/divorce cycle, but it looks like they learned from her mistakes and applied the lessons to their own lives.

The story of her son’s challenges with autism could be a book on its own, but I can see how integral it has been to her life’s story and the journey of her family as a whole. I must confess that I had to adjust my judgy pants when she points the blame to vaccinations. But to her credit, she came to this conclusion eons before Jenny McCarthy’s anti-vaccine propaganda. Either way, this memoir is a great read for mothers, especially those who have children with autism. I found this book to be uplifting and inspirational.

 

Sarah Swindell lives in the Austin area with her husband, Greg, a former Major League Baseball player and 2019 Texas Sports Hall of Fame inductee. Sarah is a commercial actress/model and has been working in the industry for over thirty years. She enjoys spending her free time with her four grown children and several grandchildren who reside in Texas as well.

Sarah is an avid moviegoer, loves yoga and true-crime podcasts, and advocates for children and adults with autism and other disabilities. Her son was diagnosed with severe autism at the age of eighteen months and continues to touch peoples’ hearts to this day.

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+ SIGNED GREG SWINDELL BASEBALL CARD
August 22-September 1, 2019

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8/22/19
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8/23/19
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8/24/19
Review
8/25/19
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8/26/19
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8/27/19
Review
8/28/19
Author Interview
8/29/19
Scrapbook
8/30/19
Review
8/31/19
Review
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Promo & Giveaway: The Curse of Sacerdozio by Glen Aaron


THE CURSE OF SACERDOZIO
a tale of judicial conspiracy
The Supremes, Book 1
by
GLEN AARON
  Genre: Thriller / Suspense / Mystery
Publisher: BookBaby
Date of Publication: June 1, 2017
Number of Pages: 275
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In​ ​Supreme​ ​Court​ ​books,​ ​there​ ​is​ ​seldom​ ​the​ ​intrigue​ ​of​ ​murder​ ​and​ ​of​ ​crime​ ​and​ ​punishment within​ ​the​ ​chambers.​ ​The​ ​Curse​ ​of​ ​Sacerdozio​ ​takes​ ​the​ ​death​ ​of​ ​Justice​ ​Antonin​ ​Scalia​ ​on​ ​a fictional​ ​journey​ ​that​ ​keeps​ ​you​ ​turning​ ​pages.​ ​As​ ​President​ ​Trump​ ​takes​ ​power,​ ​this​ ​tale​ ​raises questions​ ​about​ ​what​ ​influences​ ​drive​ ​him​ ​in​ ​judicial​ ​appointments,​ ​while​ ​at​ ​the​ ​same​ ​time entertaining​ ​the​ ​reader​ ​in​ ​a​ ​political​ ​and​ ​legal​ ​thriller.

The​ ​issues​ ​of​ ​abortion, ​ ​marriage,​ ​and​ ​the​ ​conduct​ ​of​ ​Supreme​ ​Court​ ​Justices​ ​wrapped​ ​in judicial​ ​conspiracy​ ​to​ ​control​ ​the​ ​Court​ ​and​ ​Congress​ ​come​ ​into​ ​stark​ ​conflict.​ ​The​ ​power​ ​of​ ​the church​ ​and​ ​motivated​ ​thinking​ ​highly​ ​organized​ ​pressure​ ​groups​ ​like​ ​the​ ​Federalist​ ​Society​ ​and Opus​ ​Dei​ ​are​ ​revealed​ ​in​ ​this​ ​plot​ ​driven​ ​novel.

While​ ​the​ ​story​ ​of​ ​the​ ​protagonist,​ ​Tommy​ ​Jon,​ ​is​ ​a​ ​success​ ​story​ ​within​ ​itself,​ ​as​ ​he​ ​is​ ​the​ ​first Jicarilla​ ​Apache​ ​to​ ​graduate​ ​from​ ​Harvard​ ​Law​ ​School​ ​and​ ​clerk​ ​for​ ​a​ ​Supreme​ ​Court​ ​Justice, his​ ​downfall​ ​is​ ​in​ ​contesting​ ​the​ ​judicial​ ​philosophy​ ​of​ ​Justice​ ​Sacerdozio.​ ​When​ ​the​ ​judge​ ​is found​ ​dead​ ​floating​ ​in​ ​a​ ​hot​ ​mineral​ ​pool​ ​on​ ​a​ ​ranch​ ​retreat​ ​in​ ​West​ ​Texas,​ ​Tommy​ ​Jon becomes​ ​a​ ​target​ ​of​ ​the​ ​FBI​ ​in​ ​suspicion​ ​of​ ​murder.​ ​The​ ​climax​ ​of​ ​the​ ​novel​ ​is​ ​his​ ​trial​ ​in​ ​the Federal​ ​District Court​ ​in​ ​El​ ​Paso.

Underlying​ ​the​ ​plot,​ ​the​ ​reader​ ​will​ ​realize​ ​a​ ​serious​ ​concern​ ​about​ ​just​ ​who​ ​President​ ​Trump really​ ​is.​ ​The​ ​political​ ​conspiracy​ ​that​ ​has​ ​brought​ ​the​ ​religious​ ​right​ ​and​ ​the​ ​judiciary​ ​together​ ​is unfolding​ ​and​ ​coming​ ​to​ ​fruition,​ ​now,​ ​in​ ​Washington.​ ​The​ ​Curse​ ​Of​ ​Sacerdozio​ ​is​ ​fictional​ ​in​ ​its tale​ ​but​ ​realistic​ ​in​ ​its​ ​revelations.
Praise for The Curse of Sacerdozio:
“The Curse of Sacerdozio: A Tale of Judicial Conspiracy rings through with originality, a story that will have readers gripped from beginning to end.” Romuald Dzemo for Readers’ Favorite

“The characters are all wonderful, and some are more than what they seem.” – Jay Snook

“Aaron has done his research!” – Jenn Jilks, Cottage Country Reflections

“The novel entertains as it educates allowing the reader to be both intrigued and informed.” – The Nerdy Girl Express

“Aaron displays a knack for describing and creating emotion in any event.” — Sharon Kurack, StarryMag

CLICK TO PURCHASE:


Glen Aaron was born in Big Spring, Texas and raised in Midland. In 1962, while attending Baylor, he ran for State Representative from Midland at he age of 21. He lost that election in a runoff by 42 votes. Deciding politics was not for him, he graduated Baylor with a BA and moved on to the University of Texas law school. There, he won the Moot Court competition arguing before the Supreme Court of Texas sitting en banc. After acquiring his JD, Glen spent forty years in trial law and international business and banking. Today, he lives in Midland with his wife Jane Hellinghausen and two rottweilers. He enjoys writing and working with the Permian Basin Bookies. Author of: The Ronnie Lee and Jackie Bancroft Spencer Morgan Story, a tale of people, greed, envy, manipulation — even crime; The Colonel George Trofimoff Story, the tale of America’s highest ranking military officer convicted of spying; The Prison Experience; The Prison People.
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September 6 – 15, 2017
(U.S. Only)

 


CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
6-Sep
Notable Quotable
6-Sep
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Review
8-Sep
Press Release
8-Sep
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Excerpt & Giveaway: The Rebirth of Hope by Sau Le Hudecek

THE REBIRTH OF HOPE
My Journey from Vietnam War Child to American Citizen
by
Sau Le Hudecek
  Genre: Memoir / Inspirational
Publisher: Texas Christian University Press
Date of Publication: June 15, 2017
Number of Pages: 160
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Born in a demilitarized zone during the Vietnam War to a Vietnamese mother and American soldier, Sau Le arrived in the United States as a young woman with only twenty dollars in her pocket. Though bullied and abused since childhood, she nevertheless came to her new homeland armed with courage and determined to build a decent life for herself, her infant son, and her traumatized mother. This is the story of how she overcame every conceivable hurdle—significant culture shock, a daunting language barrier, serious illness, heartbreak, and betrayal—to become a landlord, a successful business owner, a joyous wife and mom, and a woman blessed with generous, loyal friends. She describes an arduous journey, both physical and emotional, from a place of terror and utter despair to a life overflowing with love and prosperity. Ultimately, this is a story of hope, something Sau Le thought she’d lost long ago in the minefields of Vietnam. Her goal is both to uplift and to remind everyone born on American soil that anything in this land is possible for those willing to put dedication, faith, and passion to work.
Praise for The Rebirth of Hope:
“Sau Le has an innate abundance of beauty, wisdom, loyalty and dignity which led her to overcome unbelievable challenges and fully realize her dream in America. Thus proving once again that adversity builds character. I couldn’t put it down.”
—Dan Jenkins, bestselling author of Semi-Tough

“Sau Le lifted her head and walked through years of hard work and determination, inspiring other women along the way! Every word of her personal journey was written to remind all of us!” 
—Robin Sanders, Sanders Travel Agency

“An inspiring story of a Vietnam refugee’s journey to achieve the ‘American Dream.’ This book is a lesson for everyone.” 
—Martin C. Bowen, financial executive

“To have written this remarkable story is one more example of the focus and tenacity that Sau Le Hudecek has shown in achieving her previous goals. You will remember this gripping tale of resilience and courage.” 
—Gail Williamson Rawl

“A truly inspirational story of a fearless person who overcame unbelievable odds to make a better life and obtain the ‘American dream.’” 
—Janie Beggs
PURCHASE LINKS:
03f22-excerpt

Excerpt from The Rebirth of Hope

 

We talked about my family and my readiness to be in America. I wanted to answer everything correctly.

And then the interviewer asked a question I didn’t expect, one that would reveal a new dimension in the world of my self-esteem, a part of me that would soon open in a way I would have never imagined.

“I hope you do not mind if I ask you an unusual question,” the American interviewer asked me, communicating easily and politely in Vietnamese.

“I do not mind,” I replied. I wasn’t about to complicate my interview if I could help it. He was free to ask whatever he needed to know, as far as I was concerned. And who was I to say what is an unusual question? None of this was usual to me.

“I am curious why you wear white makeup? Your skin is more of a brown color. It seems odd that you would wear white makeup on skin that is darker.”

I stared at him for a moment, not comprehending the question at first. And then I realized he thought I had a choice. So I answered, “This is the only color of makeup we have in my town and in my salon. I do not have any way to acquire any other color makeup. There is no makeup for my skin color.”

He paused, and smiled. And then he said something I will never forget: “Where you’re going, you won’t have to wear the white makeup anymore.”

He was telling me I was going to America, where I would find the right makeup for my face. The candle in my heart flamed brighter.

After this interview, my life changed forever. From this moment on, my family and I were essentially wards of the United States, although we still lived in Dam Sen. Everything, from room and board to all transportation for our numerous appointments, was funded by the United States government. Before this moment, my family and I had to work hard just to scrape by. Now this far-away place, this country that was still a stranger to me, was taking care of us.

We would leave Vietnam in November 1992.

 

Sau Le Hudecek owns a successful salon in Fort Worth, Texas, while still serving her own elite clientele.  In 1993, she arrived in the United States at the age of 22 and was sworn in as a citizen in 2001. She lives with her family in Granbury enjoying the sunsets from their home on the lake.



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6/8
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Scrapbook 1
6/10
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6/14
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6/15
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Mysteries of Love and Grief by Sandra Scofield

Reflections on a Plainswoman’s Life
by 
Sandra Scofield
Frieda Harms was born into a farming family in Indian Territory in 1906. Widowed at thirty and left with three children in the midst of the Great Depression, she worked as a farmer, a railroad cook, a mill worker, and a nurse in four states. She died in 1983.
Sandra Scofield spent most of her childhood with her grandmother Frieda and remained close to her in adulthood. When Frieda died, Sandra received her Bible and boxes of her photographs, letters, and notes. For thirty years, Sandra dipped into that cache.
Sandra always sensed an undercurrent of hard feelings within her grandmother, but it was not until she sifted through Frieda’s belongings that she began to understand how much her life had demanded, and how much she had given. At the same time, questions in Sandra’s own history began to be answered, especially about the tug-of-war between her mother and grandmother. At last, in Mysteries of Love and Grief, Scofield wrestles with the meaning of her grandmother’s saga of labor and loss, trying to balance her need to understand with respect for Frieda’s mystery.
 
BUY LINKS: AMAZON ~ Texas Tech Press ~ B&N
 
 
Praise for MYSTERIES OF LOVE AND GRIEF
 
Throughout her depiction of her own family, Scofield kept me surprised—a moment of generosity when I didn’t expect it or of anger when I didn’t expect that. Mysteries remain as they must, but I trusted the insights as well as the mysteries. I thought it was a very beautiful book, smart and sharp.
Karen Joy Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves and The Jane Austen Book Club
 
Largely ungoverned by chronology, Scofield’s journey of discovery unfolds organically, true to the way memory works. Seeking to know her grandmother, she honors the lives and artistic bent of many women marginalized by gender and poverty in the early to mid-twentieth century. This is a unique and necessary work.
Lorraine M. López, author of Homicide Survivors Picnic and Other Stories and The Darling
Review
I have no idea why I was expecting a Little House on the Prairie type experience (maybe because she references the series a few times in the book), but this was not it. That’s not a bad thing when you consider that Little House glosses over things like extreme poverty, death, and doing illegal activities (shame on you, Pa). The pain and confusion Scofield feels for her mother and grandmother are evident throughout the memoir. While I was confused now and then (I could never get the hang of her calling everyone by first name rather than “Mother” and “Aunt”), I could relate to the mixed feelings about family. I know all too well the wanting to move away and move on, but finding yourself running back to where you came from. My takeaway from this writing was that we don’t always get to know the truth, definitely not all of it, but we should embrace the love while it’s with us. Also, Texas breeds some strong ass, independent women. I think I would love having a coffee talk with Scofield.
 
 

A native Texan, Sandra Scofield divides her time between Missoula, Montana, and Portland, Oregon. 
 
She has written seven novels, a memoir, and a craft book for writers. An excerpt from Mysteries of Love and Grief won first place in Narrative magazine’s 2014 Spring Story Contest. She is an avid landscape painter.
 
 
 
 
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