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Hemlock

Hemlock (The Manhunters Book 2) by [Teller, Jesse]

Hemlock, a city dedicated to pirates, slavery, and all forms of evil you can imagine. Hemlock is a port city located in Lorinth within the realm of Perilisc. The nation of Lorinth doesn’t have an easy life, there is always some evil waiting to destroy the inhabitants. What could make life worse for these people, vampires. Vampires are returning to the land with the intention of taking over all living creatures and turning them or killing them. They are souring the soil, killing the forest dwelling creatures and making it so the Ironwood’s, that could defeat them, die of sickness. Rayph must make hard choices fighting against his own personal beliefs and trusting those he would normally never trust in order to save the lives of the humans living in the nation.

Jesse Teller is a master of writing about the dark and disturbing side of humanity. While his novels are fantasy, most characters will take on a human form. People do not simply die in these novels, torture and gruesome deaths are the norm. Long drawn out torture, maiming bodies, rape, healing people just to torture them more, emotional and physical abuse, all are common place activities among even the “good guys” in the novels. I normally avoid novels with such dark themes, but Hemlock drew me in from the first chapter. Rayph seeks out alliances to wage his battle against the vampire leader Tristan. If you are looking for vampires that sparkle and are really good people at heart, this is not the vampire story for you, rather these are the real killing monsters that horror stories are written from. Teller does an amazing job describing their brutality and steamroller approach to taking over the land.

Another key aspect of Jesse Teller is his overall character development. If you follow all the novels of Perilisc you see many returning names and characters, sometimes it is hard to follow the timeline of where one book happens from another, but many of the characters are immortal or long lived making it plausible they could exist in so many apparently different timelines. A new character to Hemlock is Aaron the Marked. This character is so well developed you don’t know if you should love him or hate him. He has an insane devotion to his king, one that will not be stopped by anyone in his mission to be reunited. He looks like a young boy and is often misjudged by other characters until it is too late. Aaron is brutal, violent, a brilliant strategist, and probably a tad on the insane side. I wanted to keep reading just to see what he would do next, who would he take out, who would he form an alliance with just to make his way back to his King. It is this kind of character development that makes me want to keep reading despite all the gore and disturbing imagery I normally avoid.

Hemlock brought back many of my favorite characters like Smear, Dissonance, Trysliana and Saykobar, the introduction of the new characters kept things interesting. It wasn’t just a new plot, it was new personalities interacting and that makes the novel for me. I can look over a lot of the gore to focus on the relationships and interactions. The world of Perilisc is one of violence and death, the characters are memorable the setting vastly different from other fantasy worlds. This may be one of my favorites in the series because of its originality in all areas.

Pages: 361 | ASIN: B079SG8L1W

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Her Love Survived His Cruelty

Lesley Mooney Author Interview

Lesley Mooney Author Interview

Fire in the Heart follows lovely Rianna as her life changes for the worse when she marries Lord Rowan McClaron. What was your inspiration for the setup to this novel?

I have always loved the old tales of Ireland and Scotland, the history of smuggling and hated the cruel mastery of the males as was shown then. So I wrote this one with a young woman who in time stood up to the treatment, even using a whip on him. I cannot stand woman being treated that way, and it is even worse these days. It’s a shame that whips are not available for their defense now.

Rianna struggles with many difficult decisions in this book. What were some obstacles you felt were important to her characters development?

As the only daughter who was clever and helped her father, she rebelled against the accepted discipline of that period. She wanted to and often did stand up for herself, but sometimes had no choice where parents and a suitable marriage were concerned.

You were able to paint a vivid picture of a battered woman and a controlling husband. What were some sources of inspiration for you when creating their relationship?

Again how true love can be found and survive. Though Rianna still loved Rowan her husband and he really loved her and her nature, but his hidden mental illness caused him to treat her so badly; her love survived his cruelty and attempts to suppress her spirit throughout their marriage,until reaching a breaking point.

What do you hope readers take away from your book?

That they enjoy this old style love story and be thankful that attitudes have changed. I would be pleased if they realize that woman today can and do have better marriages, though violence still exists and some woman who love can be fragile or easily broken. I have noted that men these days might be more willing to consider and adapt to their wives ideas, though still needing to appear as the head of their family. Woman are not as suppressed, and can have their own identity and even be leaders in the community.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads | Shashwords

Fire in the Heart by [Mooney, Lesley J]Loving another man, the feisty young Rianna becomes an unwilling bride to the possessive yet compelling Lord Rowan McClaron. 
After travelling to his ancestral home on the storm battered cliffs of the east coast of Scotland, Rowan’s passion becomes overwhelming, but a wedge is driven between him and his young bride when Rianna initially fails to produce the expected heir. 

A ghostly vision on the staircase, an attempted assault by a visiting relative, a ruthless encounter on the moors and Rowan’s jealous and violent testing of her love bring Rianna to a fearful decision, one which involves another Scotsman, but leaves death and heartbreak in its wake.

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Kwanza is Satan Book Trailer

This hard to put down, exposure of the, ‘hidden truth,’ that could change, your World View, and the Course of History!  Jaw dropping secrets, hidden for decades; are revealed, in this book; written by a former member, of the US Organization, in the ’60’s!  From the perspective, of the Author, and Barbara’s exceptional research, is an eye-witness, eye-opening, and shocking account, about the inner-workings, of the US Organization, in The Black Power Movement, of the ’60’s & ’70’s!

 

The Ghetto Blues

The Ghetto Blues by [Brooks, Tammy Campbell ]

The Ghetto Blues by Tammy Campbell Brooks unexpectedly won my heart. The book’s full title is The Ghetto Blues – An Autobiography of Tammy Campbell Brooks’ Trepidation, Tragedy, and Triumph, and it follows the life of Tammy from childhood through adulthood. In the opening pages of the prologue, Tammy’s daughter writes, “In this book, you will go through different stages of emotions from tears, laughter, happiness, and joy of growing up in poverty and impoverished environments, but not letting the circumstances define you.” As I began the book, I was skeptical that I would experience all these emotions, but as I concluded the final chapter, “Bells Will Be Ringing,” I found that Tammy’s daughter had been entirely right all along.

Typically, authors are referred to by their last names in reviews, but after reading Tammy’s story, I feel it only right to call her by her first name. Tammy’s story was incredibly challenging for me to read at the beginning because it is so disparate from my own experience in suburban America. Growing up in the projects of San Antonio, Tammy had an upbringing that is almost unbelievable for most readers – gunshots, emotional and physical abuse, poverty, extreme hunger – but she avoids writing about her experiences in such a way as to say, oh woe is me! Completely the opposite, Tammy describes herself as driven and dedicated. Even though she experiences setbacks and succumbs to vices that will have readers wanting to call her up and say, what were you thinking?!, she does not let her weaknesses or mistakes define her, and she is always striving for the best out of herself.

Tammy’s autobiography is written in an almost spoken format, and not at all how Strunk & White might have preferred. While the typos and grammatical errors irritated me at the beginning on the book, I came to realize that if it had been written like Faulkner, for example, it would not have truly been Tammy’s autobiography. Her story is edgy and uncomfortable, and sometimes painful to read. It is the opposite of polished, but it is honest and eye-opening. That said, the book would have benefitted from some additional editing to correct some of the simple spelling errors and word usage errors. Those glaring errors are the only reason I would give the story four stars instead of five, because Tammy’s story is undeniably a full five stars.

Describing Tammy to someone who hasn’t read her autobiography feels almost as if she must be fictional: how could one woman overcome all those challenges thrown at her? Not only is Tammy an inspiration, but she was also eye-opening to me. I knew nothing of the ghetto lifestyle in the projects that she describes, and her story reiterates the age-old adage of “don’t judge a book by its cover.” At the conclusion of her autobiography, my overwhelming emotion was one of thinking that Tammy’s story would be amazing to share through radio or podcast. The courage and strength that it took Tammy to share her and her family’s story with readers should not be underestimated, and I hope that many readers have the opportunity to learn from her experiences.

Pages: 257 | ASIN: B07BFKCQZ9

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Fire in the Heart

Fire in the Heart by [Mooney, Lesley J]Fire in the Heart, a novel by Lesley J. Mooney, traces the experiences of young Rianna as she copes with both unrequited love and a marriage that has swept her off her feet and into a new and sobering reality. When Lord Rowan McClaron introduces himself to Rianna and her friends, she has no way of knowing that her life in Scotland is about to change–and change for the worse. Her marriage to Rowan is plagued with secrets on both sides, and her seeming inability to produce an heir brings Rowan’s wrath upon her.

Fire in the Heart is a unique blend of romance and mystery. Mooney manages to keep the reader invested in Rianna’s plight by revisiting the strange and unsettling behavior of her husband, Rowan. Rianna, by all accounts, is an abused woman. What begins as a romance novel soon turns into a story of a woman trying to find ways to appease an increasingly abusive and disturbed husband. Mooney is more than effective at describing the heartbreak and the terror of her heroine.

Mooney paints a bleak picture of Rowan McClaron. He is as realistic an abuser as I have seen in novels of this genre. From beginning to end, he is that vile character the reader will want to see either make a turn for the better or be offed. The author is quite adept at giving readers a villain worthy of loathing.

Rianna’s desire to satisfy Rowan’s desire for a child is the primary focus of the storyline. I was, in fact, quite surprised that there was so little time spent describing Rianna’s pregnancy. Things move very quickly once Rianna finds out she is indeed carrying a child. I would have preferred the plot have been drawn out a little longer with regards to the long-awaited birth.

The dialect is absolutely delightful. Accents are thick and take a couple rereads at the outset, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading even the richest comments and slang-laden comments.

I admit I was thrown completely by the use of single quotes as a way of denoting dialogue. This took a bit of time to get used to and prompted me to do a quick bit of research. I wasn’t familiar with this particular style used by publishers in the UK. However, after a couple chapters, I found myself more concerned with the plot and less aware of the quotations themselves.

One thing I found a little difficult to look past was the changing of tenses mid-paragraph. The change from past to present and back with no obvious explanation was hard to navigate at times. Though it doesn’t permeate the book, these small lapses in consistency made for some awkward reading.

Mooney offers readers action, romance, and intrigue in one neat package. Rianna is a woman fighting battles with which many readers may identify. Her stubbornness and the fierce manner in which she protects her son make her a main character to remember.

Pages: 340 | ASIN: B01N7XHUZD

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Sam’s Theory

Sam's Theory by [Mendivel, Sarah]

Sam’s Theory by Sarah Mendivel is a magical realism novel hitting major elements of mental health. We follow a teenage girl named Sam through her heartbreaking and triumphant journey to escapes tragic abuse. When she runs away she stumbles upon a tree house in the forest where a magical old woman lives who is compassionate and kind. It is here where Sam’s journey takes her through healing, acceptance, becomes a healer herself, and learns family can also consist of the people we choose.

This book is a fantastic magical, heartfelt, and heartbreaking journey. Sam endures many challenges in her life that lead to her feeling broken and betrayed. She no longer feels as if she is worthy of anyone’s love, she no longer feels safe, and does not trust anyone. I could really feel the hurt and the story does a great job of creating deep feelings of empathy and sympathy. There are many dark themes to this book and is riddled with stories of abuse of all kinds. One of the aspects I appreciate about this book is that it does not go into gritty detail of the abuse and instead focuses on the emotional impact and subsequent journey. The author treats these events as they are, terrifying and ugly, but also shows how the abuse is not the fault of those who are abused. The story also made me feel like those who have been abused are still worthy of love, can find love, and can heal. That they do not have to go through anything alone.

The book is incredibly relatable to anyone who has faced abuse. It is heartwarming to be reassured that what happened was not the fault of abused, and that they can turn the situation around and become a stronger person through the bravery of sharing their stories. From a mental health perspective, I think this book can be a great way to learn about the impacts of violence, neglect, and other forms of abuse. And also teach those who have been in those situations that they are worthy and loved. This is an incredibly important message to send to people.

While the book dealt with heavy topics and made me cry on numerous occasions, it is written beautifully. I love this book and highly recommend it to everyone who wants to learn more about abuse and see a persons value. Even though it can be a heart-wrenching read at times, I think it is powerful story with a lovely message.

Pages: 352 | ASIN: B078TQMRRQ

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Masks Book Trailer

Masks is a dark fictional tale, based on true-life events. It narrates the adventures of a young Armenian girl born in Lebanon in the seventies. She dreams of fame and power in Lebanon and the Arab world and shows resilience and motivation beyond her years. The novel delves into the world of the protagonist, Anna, who is surrounded by social, religious, and sexual taboos. She fiercely breaks the chains to enter the world she has strived to reach, in a seemingly conservative society barely emerging from a civil war. She builds her success on her remaining values, challenging her fate and sparing no way means to attain her goals.

As a disappointment to her parents, she walks the challenging paths alone, making her way toward fame and fortune despite lacking the support system to do so. Doors begin to open for her, and she enters the world of Arab celebrities. She is now a public figure in the Middle East, living an immoral married life in a materialistic world surrounded by influential business people and royal family members. She tries, in vain, to fill the void in her soul with sexual adventures and controversy by taking a wide variety of lovers. Her adventures invariably end in misery, doing nothing to awaken her from her numbness. Still, her vivid, out-of-control personality helps her move forward while simultaneously getting her in trouble. In the early stages of her life, she has suffered the unthinkable, being bullied and raped, with the civil war a constant backdrop throughout most of her childhood. The novel delves deep into Anna’s mind as she has flashbacks of the trauma she has suffered, offering the reader a hint of an explanation for her behavior.

In a society in which men dominate women, she is one of the few who realize that fashion, social status, plastic surgeries, and bright smiles are not the answer to happiness. She lives in a world where a girl is only worth as much as her virginity, where women do not dare to ask for a divorce, where the fear of retribution keeps them locked in a cage that is very rarely gilded.

As fame, money, and power slowly eat at her soul, the arrogant Anna falls in love with a total stranger—a young, single bachelor from Canada—after a night of secret passion. That is where the story begins to unravel as she returns home with a scandal in her back pocket, her eyes and ears and heart tuned to this man instead of her husband. Anna realizes that neither her marriage nor her achievements have ever made her happy, so she decides to throw it all away. The lies and deceit that fill the so-called glamorous life she has been leading are floating up to the surface, including her husband’s infidelity and the critical steps she has taken to reach the top.

Marriage, family, career—all destroyed to be united with the stranger. She starts a new battle, this time struggling to change her destiny for someone she barely knows, who lives oceans apart and offers her nothing except his heart.

She risks everything, turning her whole life upside down. Anna realizes that her happiness, inner peace, and love are found worlds away from her own, with someone she would never have expected to be her soul mate. Still, Anna’s sacrifices are not behind her, and the struggle has not yet ended, although she has found what she has needed all her life: redemption and unconditional love.
The stranger enigmatically hints at emotions in Anna that have been hidden for a long time behind the masks of her dark and shallow lifestyle.

The characters in the story are the voices of so many who do not dare to speak up in a world where social and religious standards openly chastise the very actions that behind closed doors have become the ultimate paradigmatic way of life.

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The Three Lives of One

The Three Lives of One by [Mooney, Lesley]

A massive tsunami destroys the island home of a little girl. Left without a family, she is rescued by missionaries who name her ‘Patchula’ or ‘Patches’ and take her to Darwin, Australia. What follows is a story of misfortune and tragedy; adoption, death, abuse, forced prostitution, but also of hope as Patches finds joy and meaning, especially in her talent for photography and singing, in spite of the pain. Spanning Australia, America and Japan The Three Lives of One by Lesley J. Mooney is a sweeping tale which carries us across time and continents in search of love and fulfillment.

The book is written in beautiful yet un-flowery prose which is at times poetic. Mooney conjures up place incredibly well, and I found the movement between different continents particularly fascinating –the depiction of the sights, sounds and geography of these places gave me total wanderlust! The description of the tsunami and the wreckage and devastation that follows is extremely affecting and pulled me into the narrative immediately. Mooney is also skilled at portraying her time periods, which begin in the 1920s and move to the 1980s, and the changing biases and turbulent politics of the times.

There are many themes running through the narrative including womanhood, nature and environment, religion, the importance of family, and the value of keeping faith and resilience in times when despair seems never-ending. Although many terrible events occur in Patchula’s life, the book is ultimately about hope in the face of the unknown and what we can achieve if we have the strength to carry on.

Mooney has written a large and diverse cast of characters, and the world she has developed seems utterly real. Patches in particular leaps off the page as a fully-formed individual. Some of the mistreatment she endures is quite harrowing and difficult to read, but it feels very honest. Her hardships elicit great empathy in the reader; I was constantly rooting for her to overcome all of the tragedy in her life and felt completely invested in her development. The more peripheral characters are also well-drawn and prove to be quite emotive, some invoking feelings of intense anger!

One aspect of the book that bothered me slightly was the pacing. We are introduced to Patchula’s predicament, and the narrative subsequently moves very swiftly through the first part of her life and I would have liked this introduction to the story to be slightly more drawn out. Despite this, the rest of the book has a really good tempo, and because there are so many unexpected twists and turns I was always eager to find out what would happen next in Patches’ story.

This book moved me to tears, but it also gave me a great sense of hope. I finished it feeling as though I had been on a long journey–and an extremely rewarding one at that.

Pages: 361 | ASIN: B074M3LW12

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The Day Momma Made Me Dance

The Day Momma Made Me Dance by [Brown, Patrice]

The Day Momma Made Me Dance, written by Patrice Brown, is a colourful children’s book depicting the consequences of what happens when children misbehave. The story follows a young girl who is constantly up to mischief, whether it’s in the form of skipping chores, fighting with her brother or doing cartwheels in the hallway. Her momma ignores her naughtiness, and it seems like the little girl will continue with her mischievous ways. Finally, momma has had enough of her daughter’s behaviour and decides to inflict some interesting forms of punishment.

The Day Momma Made Me Dance is a short story that takes a look at children’s behaviour and using physical punishment as a result of “naughty” or “bad” behaviour.

The story begins with a touching dedication which gives credit to mothers and the strength they carry through motherhood. In particular, it dedicates the story to her mother who has sadly passed and the strength they have had raising their children as a single parent. It sets the tone for the story and provides relevance to the types of punishment used for the children.

It then goes on to continue with a forward and preface section where the author outlines the love for her family and her daughter. It’s clear to see that Patrice has a strong love and bond for her children and family and values the childhood that her mother was able to provide for her. It also indicates how similar punishments of “making her dance” were used on her and her siblings and how she understood and accepted the reasoning behind the particular types of punishment.

The Day Momma Made Me Dance appears to be targeted towards children, however, the underlying message is created for adults as it pushes towards building an understanding of what constitutes abuse and discipline. The choice of punishment is a form of corporal punishment where the child experiences being whipped for her misbehaviour.

The Day Momma Made Me Dance could be used as a talking point of what parents may consider appropriate punishment for their children. At the end of the novel, Patrice Brown discusses what she believes to be abuse and what she feels is discipline. Patrice also goes into depth on the importance of not using sexual abuse as a form of punishment and how abuse can occur in many ways- emotionally, physically and mentally. There are questions you can use to discuss with your children on how they feel about being disciplined and how you can better your relationship with your child. These questions put a positive spin on the story and open up the passage of discussion of what you consider to be unfair or inappropriate discipline.

I would recommend this to parents who were comfortable in the use of corporal punishment or were looking for a storybook to open up the conversation of what family members considered to be abuse or discipline.

Pages: 39 | ASIN: B075KLRNLQ

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This Does Not Leave This House

This Does Not Leave This House by [Coons, Julie]

This Does Not Leave This House, written by Julie Coons, is a true story of a survivor of abuse as she overcomes adversities and finds hope in moments of despair. The story reflects on Julie Coon’s childhood, teenage years and adulthood, sharing the deepest and most honest moments of her life. Between sharing her truths and experiences, Julie Coon also shows how someone can find strength and resilience through breaking free from the cycle of abuse. It’s a story that can be used as a resource of hope, for those who may be experiencing the trauma of abuse.

From the first page, I was instantly engrossed as the author shares some of the most raw and honest events of her life. These events are shocking and deeply unfair, but Julie entails to show the other side of the tunnel- the side where there is hope, healing and happiness. Her experiences of abuse will help those who are suffering from a similar situation, and shine a light on what many people experience daily. The powerful message behind This Does Not Leave This House shows how one can speak up against their abusers, against requests to keep information hidden and reiterates how abuse no longer should be kept a secret.

One of the important ideas discussed by Julie in the book is the idea of breaking the cycle of abuse. This sentiment stood out to me as many people would find it hard to break the cycle themselves. It was soul touching and beautiful to see how someone can make such huge changes and choices in their life when they could have very easily gone down the path of resentment and repetition of abuse. This does not leave this house is also a reminder to be kind, be respectful and to show empathy as you may not know the true extent of the horrors someone may be experiencing.

Abuse comes in many shapes and forms, and unfortunately, Julie Coons has had to experience them all. From emotional, physical and sexual abuse, it feels like the author has been handed every terrible situation possible. But she is strong, escapes terrible relationships and moves forward in her life to be a wonderful person and mother.

There is a beautiful and strong love that reverbs throughout the story when Julie Coon’s talks about her daughter. It warms the heart and soul and is a beacon of light throughout the novel, as you understand and feel how strong their bond must be. There is also an element of spirituality in the story as the author experiences near death moments and connections with loved ones that have passed.

From crazed nuns to narcissistic husbands, This Does Not Leave This House will be a novel guaranteed to make you laugh, cry and find the strength within yourself. I would recommend this for anyone who is looking for a novel that shows how someone can overcome abuse and find strength and courage in even the darkest of days.

Pages: 194 | ASIN: B078X4H8QR

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