TURNROUND REVIEWS AT AMAZON
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Read...
Reviewed in the United States on May 1, 2023Verified Purchase
In this book, romance, prodigy, classic music, coming of age, progressive values, homelessness, social justice, hatred, discrimination, are all interwoven in a fascinating story of a high school student musician whose life was ruined but managed to "turnaround". The plots kept me wanting to know what would happen next...
I enjoyed the audio book too --- The author narrated the whole book. The impersonation amused me and I am amazed how he could quickly switch voices perfectly between characters!
It is well worth reading/listening.
5.0 out of 5 stars Turnaround- a call for change
Reviewed in the United States on April 15, 2023
“Turnaround” by Dr. James Asparro is a fascinating tale with interesting characters and plot twists. I loved how James set the stage in Portland and vicinity as well as New York. I enjoyed how the story incorporated various social justice issues and populations in need. It offers hope and opportunities for healing through love, generosity and compassion.
5.0 out of 5 stars A most engaging book, entertaining and it makes me think.
Reviewed in the United States on March 26, 2023
Better than a good read, I could easily see this as a movie or a TV series that can go on endlessly with the colorful characters, romance, places, and situations Asparro describes, beginning with SALT OF THE EARTH, A Portland Story. Asparro takes us from concert halls, movie sets, motorcycle rides, to woodland parks, a homeless shelter, jail, and the vulnerability of runaway youth-- just for starters. He depicts seemingly hopeless situations that become catalysts for success. ~ Carole M., Santa Fe, NM
TURNAROUND LITERARY REVIEW:
Published in the Lockhart Post-Register March 22, 2023 https://post-register.com/its-never-too-late-to-turnaround/
IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO TURNAROUND
Jim Asparro in his wonderful third novel “Turnaround” (previous novels include “Salt of The Earth: A Portland Story and Obsessed”) addresses this reality of the need for changes in a person’s life in order that better maturation, fulfillment, and meaning may emerge in living. Theo Hall is a successful classical violinist. He has been profiled as a prodigy for a classical music program for public television. He is the star performer for the Portland Youth Philharmonic (PYP). He and his family reside in Portland, Or (Lake Oswego). He should be on top of the world but instead he is felling empty, as if he is a riding on a train and watching desolate terrain rush by his window. Theo has not learned yet that the people he loves and admires are affected by his decisions, especially after he is involved in a tragic accident that effects his ability to play the violin. Turnaround concerns the journey that Theo takes, along with other characters in the book, from places of desolation to places of transformation. Theo listens to his Pastor the Rev. Dr. Ben Dawson who describes how a Lima Bean stem in a glass jar will consistently turn around upside down and turn again in its quest for growth, eventually using up its nutrients before it dies. This metaphor of the Lima Bean becomes a prescription for how Theo can begin to unravel and break free from the stuck paces in his life. Asparro masterfully tells this story amidst commentary regarding how contemporary mainline Christianity can really make a difference in our world. He weaves this theme along with the exploration of classical musicians and their love of music. Jim also paints a wonderful tribute to the city of Portland, Oregon with its scenery, landmarks, and history. Turnaround is a great book, with several constant moving plots and intriguing characters. Asparro has shown us how to appreciate the gifts that we have and still be motivated to give back to those who do not possess these gifts nor resources. "Turnaround" reminds us that it is never too late to "turn around" and make a change or two in our lives. May it be do for all of us.
Rev. Peter E. Bauer
Rev. Peter E. Bauer is a United Church of Christ minister. He is the Interim Minister for First Christian Church in Lockhart and is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and Medium.com.
Clinical Social Worker/BHIP Tele Mental Health/EMDR, LCSW-S,LMFT S,LCDC,ACSW,BCD, North Central Federal Clinic South Texas Veterans Health Care System, Department Of Veterans Affairs, Adjunct Professor Lecturer I Department Of Social Work College Of Public Policy University Of Texas At San Antonio, Interim Minister First Christian Church Lockhart, TX
OBSESSED REVIEWS AT AMAZON:
Top review from the United States
Reviewed in the United States on December 15, 2020
This sequel to "Salt of the Earth" is another great story from James Asparro. A few new characters, new challenges for Ben Dawson and old characters return. Another delightful read with as much intrigue, contemporary challenges and emotional depth as "Salt". Downside? It's over too soon!
OBSESSED LITERARY REVIEW AT MEDIUM.COM:
What would it be like to discover a church where people really showed interest and support for one another? Where people could find shelter if they needed a place to stay. Where there would be kind words along with advocacy for those who are marginalized, discriminated, and ignored? What would happen if a community really spoke out, supporting legislation that promoted economic and environmental justice, and peace?
Author James Asparro has addressed these issues previously in his first novel, Salt Of The Earth: A Portland Story.
Dr. Alexandra Savich, a theoretical mathematician and violin virtuoso says to the Rev. Dr. Ben Dawson, pastor of the Lake Oswego Progressive Church of America, "Look, buster, let’s get something straight. You’re much more than money. You have character, purpose, and meaning in your life, something few people have where I come from. You’re providing so much happiness, community, acceptance, and love at your church, that nothing can compete with it. There aren’t that many people in most reformed churches these days, but your mainline liberal church is making a difference; your church accepts people as they are with all their frailties, imperfections, differences of opinion, sexual orientation, age, skin color, socioeconomic status, and so on. You’ve been instrumental in encouraging each and every one of your parishioners to live to their fullest potential and think more about others than themselves. I think Jesus had something to say about this." ( P.P. 382–383 )
Now with the sequel, Obsessed, Rev. Dr. Ben Dawson and Dr. Alexandrea Savich return and continue an even more tumultuous journey. Ben and Alex are now married and are trying to carry on a fairly normal life. Ben is the minister of his progressive church in Lake Oswego, OR, and Alex is a math professor at Reed College. She is still a superstar violinist. They co-authored a book, God In The Numbers, which became a great success but also infuriated religious conservatives.
Here we see the resurgence of Ray Fish, felon and anti-Abortion crusader and former owner of Fish Dairy products, and Palmer Grandstone, a Boston, MA art dealer who formerly knew Alex from the Boston Youth Symphony, and who still wants to possess her.
Obsessed deals with themes of desire, jealously, and avarice. Both Ray Fish and Palmer Grandstone want to destroy the relationship of Ben and Alex. Another new character, Ramona Hightower, plays a prominent role in this attempted demise of the relationship and of the church.
The message of Obsessed is hopeful because despite all of the devious and malicious attempts to injure the protagonist characters and what they stand for, other people, including the detective Jeremy Smith, help to find the right answers.
This book is a delightful read and it is most helpful especially now with all of the serious challenges facing our country. Readers who are familiar with Portland, OR will delight in all of the references to various sections and landmarks in the city, as well as character names which also reference notables in Portland’s history.
James Asparro is a talented and gifted writer. He has offered to his audience compassion, a keen eye to detail and character development, and great wit in telling this revealing story.
Obsessed will leave you with a smile and a lot of laughs and reasons to feel hopeful regarding the future.
May it be so.
Peter E Bauer
SALT OF THE EARTH REVIEWS AT AMAZON:
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on July 14, 2022
I really enjoyed this book especially the interconnected relationships, excitement, and romance with a positive social , spiritual, and cultural message. I would definitely go to Ben's Church.
Reviewed in the United States on May 23, 2020
This is a book, I could not put down. This story encompasses so many of the situations we encounter in life, regardless of financial status. Even firm beliefs have to be compromised, when presented with situations wherein our compassion needs to be a priority. The conflict between formalized religious groups and those actively caring for the less fortunate . The military wife and family, the stresses of being apart. The predetermined life of a beautiful girl with the rich suitor and enthusiastic family. Violence that can erupt in the "name of religion". More
simply, its a story that keeps you turning pages and is difficult to put down.
Reviewed in the United States on December 22, 2019
I just finished the book (audio book). I have to say that I was not attracted to it in the beginning but as I continue to listen to more chapters, I was getting really interested in the plots. I even had to rewind to listen again if I was distracted listening to that portion!
I especially like the fact that the audio book is the author's own voice and the author mimics different people's voices in a very nice way and transitions flawlessly, which makes the listening a great and pleasant experience. It was as if you were in a theater and the characters are live on stage!
Also, lots of details about food and wear that are amusing to me!
Definitely recommend to listen or read.
Reviewed in the United States on May 9, 2020
I totally enjoyed this book, I admit it started out a little slow but once realizing it was introducing the characters with their sub plots it all made sense. The book just took off! The characters as a majority are wonderful but you always have to have a villain and it does have more then one! The topics Salt of the Earth cover are very current and make you think. The Church topic made me think the most, being raised STRICT CATHOLIC and rebelling against it, I found alternatives to religion that I hadn't thought of before. At the end of the book I slowed my reading way down, because I just didn't want it to end. I would strongly recommend this Book, it's a great read!
Reviewed in the United States on January 27, 2020
I really love the connections that the characters make. The author does a great job of building the characters-ones you love and those who just make you mad. The issues these characters face are those we face in our own lives, very relatable. I’ve read and listened to this on audible and plan to read it again. I recommend this book not only for pleasure reading but for some insight to humanity. This story is packed with brokenness and hope. A great read.
HUFFINGTON POST REVIEW:
Spiritual journeys can be marked by periods of growth and stagnation and even regression. I have had experiences with congregations that were life changing , where people and ministers entered my life at a time when there was challenge and struggle and were the ministry that they provided brought welcome spice and seasoning to my life. These church experiences changed my life and the lives of others.
James Asparro has written a wonderfully moving novel entitled “ Salt Of The Earth-A Portland Story “ ( Author House 2016 ). The author is a Chaplain who has served with the United States Navy and with the Department Of Veterans Affairs. He has created the fictional congregation, the Lake Oswego Progressive Church Of America ( PCA ) pastored by the Rev. Dr. Ben Dawson. When we meet Rev. Dawson he has recently experienced the loss of his wife Julia and his parents within the same year. Through a freak accident where he rides his bicycle into a metal pole, Ben meets Dr. Alexandria Savich, who is math professor, violinist and author. This meeting proves to be life-transforming for both of them. James Asparro weaves artfully a series of other plots including a marriage dissolving between a Naval Officer and his spouse who is a VA Hospice Nurse, an entrepreneur CEO for a major technology company who is evolving in his professional and spiritual life, a right-wing dairy company owner and mayor of a small town who bullies his spouse and others. The spouse is able to break free and eventually she becomes a successful business woman in her own right.
“Salt Of The Earth-A Portland Story” is rich in its observations about its characters and their human vicissitudes as well as its impeccable descriptions of Portland ,Lake Oswego and the Oregon coast, even describing local area eateries and cuisine. People who are from Portland and who are familiar with the Pacific Northwest will really enjoy this book, and others will equally enjoy. Perhaps, one of the major transformations in the book happens to Charlie, a Korean veteran. He goes from being alone in a dingy room over a bar to where he becomes adopted into a greater family through the Lake Oswego PCA Church. Charlie becomes befriended by Val, a dog trainer and her canine Lizzie. Salt Of The Earth-A Portland Story reveals how meaningful ministry can transform the lives of people. Ministry that is inclusive of all without distinctions to economic status, sexual orientation or religious background. As I read this book, I thought about how many people would probably want to be a part of a congregation like this, one that is dedicated to caring for people and practices hospitality and commitment to stay connected with its members.
Matthew’s Gospel noted: “You are the salt of the earth" (Matthew 5:13) This novel presents a seasoned ministry that will be satisfying to the reader and with reflection will promote new growth and wisdom.
May it be so. Peter E. Bauer
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on October 2, 2022
An inspiring book that takes on some of societies most critical issues through its engrossing characters. Gratifying to see progressive values played out as characters face challenges and resolve struggles and conflict. Some even come into good fortune with very satisfying results.
I literally devoured this novel within a few days. For any reader who considers herself or himself a spiritual as well as a human being, this book has something to offer. The character development is excellent. It is also a quite human story and perhaps tells a side of Christian Faith that needs to be told. Not every church is political and so it is in this story. I was impressed with the author's knowledge of the US navy as well as the authors familiarity with so many beautiful sights in and near Portland, OR. It makes we want to go there and hike some of the trails! Finally, as is so often the case in real life, not all of the characters find redemption, so to speak. Somehow, that made the story more interesting and more realistic.
I just finished the book. Amazing story!
I especially like the fact that the audio book is the author's own voice and he mimics different people's voices in a very nice way and transitions flawlessly, and they makes the listening a great and pleasant experience as if you were in a theater!
And, so much details about food and what they were wearing amusing to me!
This is a Christian-based book that reviews life issues in interesting and meaningful ways.
Since I am not religious, why did I read it?
Because I enjoy a really good book!
REVIEWS FOR THE FIRST EDITION FROM AMAZON:
Reviewed in the United States on May 14, 2016
Salt of the earth is a thought-provoking narrative, which brings to light numerous issues plaguing our society and today’s mainline Christian communities. Set primarily in the Pacific Northwest, with frequent mention of Portland’s cultural landmarks, the vibrant character’s personalities seize the reader. The novel evoked my emotional responses including: compassion for hardworking nurse Megan, married to workaholic and sex addicted navy officer Brandon; loathing for the arrogant Palmer who thinks expensive diamonds can buy love; and disgust for closeminded Ray Fish with his prejudice judgments. I cheered for Pastor Ben Dawson as he fell in love with Alex, applauded executive assistant Teresa for her astute business sense and honored Navy Chaplain Bill Wilson for his caring insights. . . and I loved Lizzie the dog! This is a well-researched, fast paced story, which will leave you asking for a sequel.
Reviewed in the United States on June 16, 2016
Salt of the Earth is a book with multiple love stories including one with a fabulous dog. The story highlights progressive Christian values from multiple points of view. It is heartening to observe a variety of complex characters solving a multiplicity of life questions and dilemmas through a lens that is unabashedly both Christian and progressive. The story mostly takes place in the Portland metropolitan area, and accurately reflects the beauty of the region. The parts of the story that take place in the Pacific are at times riveting and devastating. The book's richly drawn characters and story lines coalesce in an ending that describes the grace that is available to us when we share in community and celebrate both our unity and diversity. Read this book for it's sense of place, it's romantic nature or it's clear example of progressive Christian values. It is both eye-opening and entertaining.
Reviewed in the United States on May 14, 2016
I, sincerely enjoyed reading this book. Not only was it a good story it was a layered cake of characters, plot.lines and philosophy. How do you reconcile modern science and religion? You have to understand how progressive Christianity is making the church relevant again. "Salt of the Earth" is a guide book that shows by example how to be a good Christian in light of the discoveries of modern science. The church needs to evolve to remain relevant and serve all members of society. Do you miss being part of a community? Do you want your children to sign the social contract a
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