Tag Archives: New York

Book Review: Three Dreamers – Must Read Memoir

By Lorenzo Carcaterra

Author Lorenzo Carcaterra’s beautiful tribute to the three women that defined his life is an engagingly interesting read. From the first pages, I was drawn into his world as a first generation American. At sixty-six, he has experienced good and evil in his life and knows of loss and uncertainty. That said, he chooses “…to not dwell on it and enjoy what’s left of life.” So, the story of his life, and the three women that influenced him begins.

Nonna Maria is his maternal grandmother. She lives on the island of Ischia, just off the coast of Italy. Carcaterra is a teen headed for trouble when his mother sends him to live with Nonna Maria for the summer. There he finds himself surrounded by family and love. His mother never learned English so he grew up speaking Italian at home in New York. It is easy for him to assimilate and communicate with his Italian family. On this tiny island he learned of his past and started forming his future.

Raffaela is Carcaterra’s mother. She is unhappy with her choice of a second husband. He is a cruel man. They are always in debt; he abuses his wife as well as his son and deals in illegal activities. Sadly, Raffaela does not leave him or shelter her son from his abuse. She depends upon Lorenzo to translate, pay the bills and in return she tells him how disappointed she is to have him for a son.

Susan is the woman he loves. She is nothing like his mother, nor is she like his grandmother. She works at the same newspaper as Carcaterra. He is instantly drawn to her, but as his editor, their relationship was strictly platonic. He wants to write features, but is stuck typing up movie times. When he approaches her with an idea for a story, she agrees to give him a chance. So begins the relationship that will turn into love and marriage.

Three Dreamers is a work of non-fiction that reads like a novel. It is painful, beautiful and at times tragic. The lives of the three women that shaped the author’s life are interesting and diverse, and each of them contribute to the author’s life as no one else can.

Lorenzo Carcaterra is a #1 New York Times best-selling author. Formerly a writer/producer for Law & Order, I imagine most of us have seen his work and not realized it. He has also written for several award-winning magazines such as National Geographic Traveler and Maxim.

If you only chose to read one new author that you have never read before, I highly recommend Three Dreamers. I can’t wait to read his novels as well.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2021 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Brooklyn Secrets: History + Mystery = Superb Story

Brooklyn SecretsBrooklyn Secrets

An Erica Donato Mystery

by Triss Stein

Erica Donato is juggling many things in her life. She works part time, is working on her dissertation and is the single mother of a teenage daughter. Like many thirty something women in her situation she is casually dating a couple of men, but she honestly has too much going on to look for a serious romance.

Her daughter, Chris, is wise and mature beyond her years. She takes school seriously and gives Erica little to worry about. But of course mothers always worry – even when your daughter is almost perfect.

Erica is knee deep in researching Brownsville in the 1930s. She is from Brooklyn herself, so her dissertation research is close to home for her. Criminals ran Brownsville in the 1930s as thugs with and without guns could make people disappear and never be seen again.

She decides to go to the local library to do some field research. The information and connections she made at the library excited her, bringing life to the characters she was reading about in the archives. Erika found the library staff engaging and willing to tell her about Brownsville history as well as Brownsville today.

The discovery that thugs under the new name of gang members still ruled the streets of Brownsville was unsettling. The seriousness hit home with her as she was almost the victim of an attack. One of the young girls in the library was not as lucky. Her encounter landed her in the hospital. Soon another girl is attacked with a much worse outcome.

Erica bonds with the mother of Savanna, the hospitalized young woman. She continues her research, but soon she is looking at pictures, news stories and interviewing people with ties to the past and current crimes. Will the past meet the present? Will she be able to help find a killer? Will she become a target?

The characters were multi-layered and came alive with Stein’s dialog. I liked the fact that Erica didn’t remember to get dinner so she and Chris ate a smorgasbord of leftover takeout to clean out the fridge. Honestly, who hasn’t done that?  Chris also took the upper hand when it came to a bit of facebookish cyber stalking. Again, I could absolutely identify. I suspect anyone over 50 has asked a son, daughter or neighbor kid to help them do something on the internet. Secondary characters like the library workers and the scary people Erica encounters popped to life with mannerisms or comments.

Brooklyn Secrets is a fast-paced novel filled with spine-tingling suspense page after page. Stein states in her afterword, “…is a blend of actual history, possible history and complete fiction”. Like your favorite cup of coffee, it is the perfect blend – deliciously smooth with a kick of caffeine to keep you reading just one more chapter. This is the third in the series, but the first one I’ve read. It worked perfectly well as a stand-alone novel. I will go back and read Brooklyn Bones and Brooklyn Graves because I thoroughly enjoyed Stein’s writing style.

Copyright © 2016 Laura Hartman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

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