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Gary Roen’s Bookshelf

On The Rocks
Maria C. Palmer and Ruthie Robbins

On The Rocks” is an American story of a man’s rise to open and run one of the most successful restaurants in the country and his downfall that is a lesson of who you can trust and who you can’t. Joseph Costanzo was like many of us, hard working at the Postal Department with Donna his wife and two daughters Maria and Kelly. Joseph a very creative individual tried to help make the Postal Department better by suggestions to deaf ears of management. He knew there was more in life and jumped on an opportunity that presented itself, to buy a restaurant to make it his own. Risky though it was, Joe took the plunge to rename the establishment The Primadonna that became world-famous, in honor of his soulmate Donna. At first it was slow, but Joe had faith, to do so many creative things. Determined to have a review by the number one critic, in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area, he persevered until a four out of five forks, appraisal was written, that turned the corner. Along the way Joe also made some bad decisions, that ended up toppling his whole world. Written in the first person this is Joe telling the good and bad that is a rapid read of a man who refused to give up no matter what was thrown at him. “On The Rocks” is a fantastic story that all Americans should read of one mans rise and fall that we can all learn from.

Gary Roen
Senior Reviewer

Diane Donovan’s Bookshelf

A Love to Die For
Joseph Seechack

Ron and Grace have a deep, ongoing love in their marriage in A Love to Die For. Predictably, all that changes suddenly, one day, when Grace is left alone in her grief upon learning that her beloved husband Ron, is dead, with no chance to say goodbye.

The experience, routines, and thoughts about love, loss, and grief may trigger some readers struggling with their own sudden loss of love, while others might anticipate that the story will prove too familiar, resting on the themes of many novels which have explored loss and grief.

While one may say the plot sounds familiar, the proof of an exceptional work lies in how its author spins the story and describes characters and emotions. It takes some unexpected turns in following Grace and her surviving family’s catastrophic experiences.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Grace cultivates and hones a revised sense of purpose that honors both her love and herself as she is forced to move on without Ron:

“I wondered how I could ever repay such a great act of love. What can I do to honor and carry on all that great love he showed me?”

When Grace reconnects with Ron in a surprise move to regain her lost love, she learns an invaluable lesson: “…love doesn’t end; it transcends.”

Her revised purpose in life, her attempts to honor Ron and his achievements in a different way, and her newfound challenges in handling both gossipy community members and something as simple as preparing breakfast will resonate with anyone who has suffered the loss of a partner.

The result is a moving journey that captures loss and grief, but moves beyond them to a focus on the transformative nature of re-creating a new life in a way that both honors memory and the past, yet moves on into a vastly revised future.

Libraries will want to add A Love to Die For to their collections, and should make a point of recommending it not just to patrons and book clubs, but especially to psychology and healing groups tackling loss, grief, and reinvention. Its powerful, realistic, compelling portrait of a timeless love is exceptionally well written and thought-provoking.

Diane C. Donovan, Senior Reviewer
Donovan’s Literary Services