Every mother’s journey is unique, however, they all share one thing: heartache. In one way or another, every mother travels down a difficult road as she fights tooth and nail to bring her child to adulthood unscathed. Sandra Bowman, author of The Farthest-Reaching Ball: A Memoir of Motherhood is no stranger to heartache. As the mother of two children, Grant and Parker, Bowman relates the trials and tribulations she overcomes as she raises her children virtually on her own. A mother’s love is nowhere more evident than in Bowman’s explanation of how she comes to understand the needs of her children and the struggle that has permeated her son’s life since an early age.
Sandra Bowman describes virtually every aspect of her journey as a mother in her poignant memoir, The Farthest-Reaching Ball. She details the birth of her sons so vividly that I felt, as the reader, that I attended the delivery. Her emotions surrounding the births are clearly drawn, and any parent who has experienced a particularly difficult birth will appreciate how very frank Bowman is with her details.
As a teacher, I am struck by the battle Bowman and her son, Grant, face as he begins school. His gifts are both amazing and obvious to all, but the obstacles he faces are numerous. Children with talents beyond those of the average child are often overlooked in the regular classroom, and they are not always afforded the opportunity to showcase their skills. Grant is one of those children with a mother on a mission to find a setting that suits her child’s best interests.
When Bowman’s son begins to experience behavior challenges and depression sets in, the author’s challenges multiply. Moreover, Grant’s own slowly-revealed identity crisis begins to consume his thoughts and every interaction. Bowman is more than understanding and is the proverbial mother bear–she is fierce and stops at nothing to make sure her child is content with himself. The author is beyond adept at communicating her feelings and her ever-fluctuating fears regarding Grant’s mental state. His worries are her worries, and his unhappiness is hers to bear.
There doesn’t seem to be a problem Bowman and her son haven’t endured. From excessive weight gain, to depression, to attention deficit disorder, Grant runs the gamut. Bowman is exceptionally open with her own feelings of defeat, despair, and utter helplessness. She is at loss as to how to help her son deal with an identity crisis that threatens to be the end of them all. Mothers of all walks of life can relate to Bowman’s honesty as she admits to her own suicidal thoughts.
I am impressed with Bowman’s forthrightness and openness. She lays out every frustration, worry, and obstacle for readers and shares with them the most intimate of details about her own regrets as a mother. Parents of children struggling with identity crises of all types will appreciate Bowman’s story.
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The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.
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A harrowing tale of family challenges one women faces traversing the life of her defiant father after her mother’s passing. Embodied with the faith of God the author narrates her perseverance with every roadblock she encounters, which adds up quickly as her patience is tested dealing with a rebellious father. Snapdragon reads as a series of episodic events, each chapter highlighting a situation that would bring anyone to the boiling point of frustration. Woven through each of these trials, the author recounts her involvement with faith. Her Christian beliefs are spun deep into the fabric of this intimate story revolving around confronting all odds to find peace with her father.
Allison St. James undoubtedly writes with a personal voice, her persistence to become close and receive the love of her father is heartbreaking at times. The seemingly open face view of her struggles with personal relationships, financial setbacks, and physical ailments never once waiver her beliefs. Aside from anyone who is a Christian or feels they have some connection to organized religion might find Allison’s passages depicting her beliefs to be preachy at times. However, her honest expression of the situation will have any reader astonished with her resolution and drive to care for her father.
The author writes with a clear tone that had me flipping through page after page finishing the book in no time. Easy to read and written in the first person the story flowed smoothly through each transition. I was impressed with the heart and emotion that shown through with such simple language. Although a few characters came off written with just a rigid introduction, and I wondered how many times Allison could be “emotionally drained”, the spirit of these relationships fostered a deeper understanding of how convoluted the authors’ life became as the story went on.
Allison’s story is composed of real-life scenarios which don’t always amount to a fairy-tale ending. Instead, despite all the challenges the author faces, Snapdragon portrays a genuine feeling of forgiveness. It reassures the reader that through these constant battles in life doing the right thing might be difficult but the conscious will always remember that decision.
Pages: 238 | ISBN:1449788777
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The King of Halloween & Miss Firecracker Queen is a memoir of your life growing up in a family that traveled often and the challenges you faced and lessons you learned. Why was this an important book for you to write?
I wrote this book for my mother- to help her heal after my dad’s death. We had spent almost 20 years dealing with his decline. Thus, it became all we could remember and all my children knew of their grandfather. I thought that if I could write the complete story, it would help all of us remember the good with the bad. Once I got into it, it helped me understand myself more fully, and set me up to live my current life which is wonderful.
This is a ‘daughters tale of family and football’. What were some ideals you wanted to capture in this book?
I want readers to feel the love and complexity of this family. We had/have big love for each other, and had a big love for football. I want readers to know that you can overcome the hang ups from your childhood. I want readers to see that race in the South was more complex than is typically discussed. I want people to know that sports can be a bridge. I want families that are dealing with the cognitive decline of a loved one to know that they can forgive themselves their impatience and frustration with the situation; we are all just doing the best we can with the situation as we understand it in the moment.
The book shows the dedication your father had towards his career and family. What is something that stands out to you to this day about your father?
My father was relentless- that was the key to his success. He was full of optimism and faith in things bigger than himself.
What do you hope readers take away from your story?
First, that my father would not have made a different choice, but he did not make an informed one. I want parents to think carefully about letting their young children engage in any kind of contact sport. I want football in general, and the NFL in particular, to think more deliberately about additional reforms to football that will make it safer. I want the general public to understand the burden CTE places on a family. And I want families that have experienced CTE to draw some comfort from reading our story.
The King of Halloween & Miss Firecracker Queen tells the story of a football life from a daughter’s perspective. Chronicling a rise through the competitive ranks—from high school to college to professional coaching, and ultimately a Super Bowl championship—it also reveals the struggle to deal with the decline and death of the patriarch, Lamar Leachman, from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) as a result of that life.
With forewords by NFL legends Phil Simms and Harry Carson, this is a true story of one family’s love for a game and for each other, one man’s strength of character, one woman’s love that sustained him.
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Ameher is a woman of strength, compassion, and a faith like no other. From a very early age she endured hardships in Nairobi only to pursue the American dream as an immigrant and face immeasurable abuses and prejudices in her new home. When she struggles to find a safe place for herself and her children, she is met head-on with one challenge after another but chooses to hold her head high and never give up as she battles a system designed to protect citizens but fails in all too many cases. Nowhere is faith more explicitly exemplified than in Ameher’s life as immigrant to the United States.
Ameher’s No More Crumbs Chronicle of a 4-D Woman Rising from Hate to Hope is the author’s own story of harrowing experiences as she tries desperately to find someone she can trust. Her story in an important one and one that bears repeating until a broken system is finally repaired.
At 400 pages, the author has enough striking material to make a short series of three separate books based on her life. The many abuses and the detail to which she goes into regarding her life with Todd make for an entire work on their own. The author takes great care to explain the entire process to which she was subjected, and this section of the text would make for a moving book all by itself.
The author recounts the expectations placed upon her as one raised in a religious home. She addresses the stigma attached to having a child out of wedlock quite well. Throughout her ordeal battling the system in the United States, she is able to lean on her faith and holds strong as she relies on friends who seem to exhibit a shared strength of faith. As I see it, Ameher has the makings for a fantastic self-help/devotional book centered entirely on her own faith. A book of this nature would make a fascinating read.
Because Ameher is an amazing example of persistence in the face of adversity, she is a prime candidate to pen a book on the discrimination faced by a woman of color in the United States. The challenges she faces are a sad but true testament to the daily struggles faced by people of color across this nation.
Ameher’s work is explicit enough to be engrossing, but not graphic in nature. The author takes care to explain the horror of her trials without turning readers off with vulgarities.
As effective as Ameher’s work is in capturing readers’ attention, it could use some additional editing. At times, it reads a bit like a rough draft with more care placed in the emotion of the wording than in the accuracy.
Ameher has bared her heart and soul to the world in order to help other women with her book. Any reader who picks up her story will be inspired to keep the faith and rise up in the face of adversity.
Pages: 400 | ASIN: B079438P7M
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Lessons from the Frogs I’ve Kissed is a heart-wrenching and personal story of love and loss. Why was this an important book for you to write?
“If there’s a book you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” –Toni Morrison
The writing and sharing of my story became a significant journey of healing for me. I felt the universe was fully supporting my writing as the memories were downloaded and I was able to recall the most intricate detail and communicate my feelings and memories in relatable words. I realised then that not only was this book meant to be written as part of my own healing process, but that it also needed to be shared with others, as there are plenty of people out there who could benefit from the lessons I had learned. This truly was the book I wish I had when I was going through any one of my painful break-ups at any given time. During the process I realised the more honest, raw and authentic I was with myself, the more relatable my story would be. So I threw myself under the bus a few times, in order to make sure this is not a one sided, man hating tale, as there were always two people in the equation. It has been written with cringe-worthy honesty and dashes of humour to keep a somewhat heavy subject matter light and enjoyable.
I appreciated your willingness to share difficult moments in your life. What is one piece of advice you wish someone had given you?
One piece of advice that I wish someone had given me is that we tend to fall in love with our partners potential. We keep hoping and waiting for our situation to improve. What we don’t realise is that is just the kind of cake we bake with our partners, and that our relationships are unlikely to change into the fulfilling relationships we are hoping for. The dynamics between two people is set in the beginning. You will not magically be attracted to someone or earn their respect if it was not there from the onset.
You detail an abusive and destructive relationship, but I found the book to be ultimately uplifting. What do you hope readers take away from your story?
I really hope to give my readers perspective on their own relationships, whether they are good or bad ones, just something to compare them to. I also wish to give hope, hope that true love and happiness does exist. One of my big realisations was that in order to meet someone who could genuinely love me and I love them, I had to find self-love first, and I think this was one of my most valuable lessons.
One of my readers stopped me in the local shopping centre to let me know since reading my book she had the full realisation that she is married to a Pete, and she is now certain she needs to get out of her marriage, When I hear feedback like this I know my book is here for a reason.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
I had to laugh when I was first asked this question. My book hadn’t been been out for three days after working on it for almost 5 years and people were already wanting to know when they could expect my next book. I had a rather sticky court case recently when I was sued for parental alienation. There is definitely a book there which I feel will help other women and men in similar situations. I guess I need to get my writing cap on soon.
I invite you to be a fly on the wall as I revisit all my significant adult relationships and share the invaluable life lessons I have learnt over the last 20 years. In my most desperate moments, whether dating or married, I searched for a book that could give me some much-needed perspective on my current circumstances. That book did not exist – until now.
Many of us have been in romantic relationships which feel incredible in the beginning but end up in trauma, regret and despair. How do we stop ourselves from becoming locked in cycles of abuse? What are the unconscious dating patterns that underlie our romantic interactions? How do we know what we are looking for in a partner ? And most importantly why do we need to learn to love ourselves first? Written with dashes of humour and cringe-worthy honesty, I am sure you will find Lessons From the Frogs I’ve Kissed to be an entertaining and powerful read, which should help you in your own personal journey in finding ever-lasting love and happiness.
Posted in Interviews
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Front Porches to Front Lines uses the story of your great grandparents to tell a larger story about a small town affected by WWI. What was the inspiration that made you want to put this story into a book?
There were actually several inspirations which motivated me to turn my great-grandparents’ story into a book. Perhaps the most basic of these is simply the fact that I love history and thoroughly enjoy doing the research and writing about it. With that being said, the best way to cover all of the inspirations behind this book can probably best be told by talking about how the book began in the first place.
Front Porches to Front Lines is actually the expansion of a college essay with a similar title. I had always heard from my mother that there was letter somewhere in a box which talked about what took place on Armistice Day in 1918 in the small town of Springfield, Vermont where my great-grandparents were living at the time and I’d always hoped that I would find it someday. When I re-enrolled at the University of Connecticut in 2014 to finish my B.A. in American Studies I made up my mind that I wanted the remainder of my coursework to include an independent study project which would be completed under the guidance of a faculty advisor. Fortunately I found this letter and soon after found an advisor in Dr. Walter Woodward, a professor at UConn and the State Historian of Connecticut.
During the Fall 2014 semester, I researched World War One and the subsequent Influenza Epidemic of 1918 and in turned used the letter about Armistice Day and about 300 more family letters to tell the story of my great-grandparents’ experiences at this time as a microcosm of how the war and epidemic impacted people on the local, regional, national and international levels.
While, one of my biggest inspirations to write this book was to record my family’s story, I chose to tell this story in particular because of the wealth of primary resource material available to me and also to help expand the knowledge and scholarship of a chapter in the history of the United States which in some ways has gone largely overlooked until recently.
Lastly, I chose to turn this story into a book because it simply kept me busy with something I enjoyed doing. Since finishing my degree in the spring of 2016, my job hunt has been largely unsuccessful and expanding the essay which was my “senior thesis” of sorts into a book had given me a project to focus on amidst my bad job prospects. Plus, I was also of the belief that it would make my resume stand out in the future in a way that not many recent undergraduates’ resumes do. However, these last reasons are all somewhat secondary to those mentioned above.
I enjoyed the historical information provided in the book. What kind of research did you undertake for this book?
The scope of my research for this book was very broad and in fact I learned a lot of doing research and research methods on the fly while compiling the materials for Front Porches to Front Lines. The bulk of my research, about 60% of it, involved the careful analysis of the letters between my great-grandparents as well as those written between other family members and a few of their friends as well. I feel very fortunate to have had such an archive at my disposal while writing my book because it’s those letters which make up the majority of the family story which is at the center of the book.
Aside from the analysis of the letters, I conducted a handful of interviews, one with my great aunt, who is my only living relative at this time who knew all of the family members referenced in the book; I also interviewed the couple who run the historical society in Springfield, Vermont on two occasions to get a sense of what materials the town had left from the World War One era; and lastly, I interviewed a number people who had lived in Springfield during the first half of the 20th century and had some recollections of stories their parents and relatives had told them about Springfield during the 1910s.
I spent many hours in the public library in Springfield going through the microfilm they had copies of their local newspaper going back to World War One and was an excellent source of soldier letters as well as advertisements relating to both the war effort as well as the many remedies people were trying to cure themselves of the Spanish Flu. I spent time combing the objects and other materials at the Springfield Art and Historical Society and lastly, I used any primary source material related to war that I could get hands on along with a handful of pictures and other items from my family’s records.
What were some things that you found surprising about your grandparents lives?
To be honest, the majority of the information about my great-grandparents’ lives which I included in the book was all new to me. Since the location of their letters had been somewhat unknown for such a long period of time and since my family didn’t talk about many of the aspects of their lives that were detailed in these letters, much of what I learned from them was both new and surprising. For instance many of the down to earth details about daily living during this tough chapter in our nation’s history left me both surprised and amazed, especially given the circumstances of the world in which I grew up in the 1990s and 2000s. I was repeatedly left in awe of my great-grandparents’ ability to press on from one day to the next, when under the constant threat of a potential German invasion, the rapid spread of an infectious disease or both.
One particular episode during the 1910s which I found particularly curious actually was referenced in a letter between my great-grandmother and her sister. In this letter, my great-grandmother’s sister talks about hearing former president Theodore Roosevelt speak at a rally to raise awareness of the Armenian Genocide. Given, my family’s rather apolitical stances on things, it was surprising to find out that any of them participated in any event that was about an issue which didn’t directly threaten their lives or the nation’s security.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have just begun the research for my next book, which at the moment is going to be a more comprehensive look at Armistice Day and how that day was celebrated around the world. However, since I am also in the process of getting ready to go back to graduate school, I do not have a good idea as of yet as to when that book will be completed and made available. I know that some of it will depend on my graduate school commitments as well as my ability to amass the resources I need to complete this project and do the topic justice.
Author Links: Facebook
World War One and the 1918 Influenza Epidemic. Two events which will alwaysdefine the 1910s, a decade which saw great political and social change; a long list ofdisasters and a realignment of the global stage, something which would help define manyof the subsequent events of the twentieth century. When the United States declared war onGermany on April 2, 1917, it was just the first of two major calamities which would in someway impact just about every American man, woman and child during the latter half of the1910s.The second of these wars, the Spanish Influenza of 1918, came right on the heels of theGreat War’s conclusion on November 11, 1918 as many of the returning soldiers camehome with the influenza virus, having caught it either in Europe or sometime during thejourney home from France. Front Porches to Front Lines tells the story of how the citizensof one small New England town, came together to confront these two wars and in doing sobecame one of the most generous towns when it came to contributing to the war effort inthe form of Liberty Loans, war gardens and war supplies as well as dozens of soldiers, RedCross nurses and civilian workers, such as machinists.
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One thing that makes this book unique is the arrangement of the words. I sometimes had the feeling I have when reading poetry. Jose De Koster is an easy writer. I can’t describe the arrangement in the book as entire prose, or partly poetic, what I know is that the author told his story in a distinct way, making his work exceptional on all levels. I first fell in love with the pictures in the book. The self-portraits, oil on hardboard images and oil on canvas were all beautiful pieces of art. My favorite was the painting of ‘The Lonely Artist’. A picture is truly worth a thousand words. It did not stop there – Jose De Kroser also added pictures of his family in between his writing. I know I spent a good part of my time just looking at the pictures.
The author first introduces us to his life through his mother’s words. The mother encouraged him to keep writing as she had hoped he would become a journalist. Jose De Koster fell in love with words at a very tender age. Through this book, one gets to know that he felt art and literature on a spiritual level. I feel a little connected to the author when he mentioned four of his favorite authors. Pablo Neruda, Marina Tsvetaeva, Osip Mandelstam, and Anna Akhmatova are the four literary icons the author mentioned. I love that he mentioned the first two as I too adore their works. The author’s narration confirms what a gifted writer he was. I enjoyed reading through as he talked about living in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales.
Jose De Koster narrated his story wonderfully. The authored adored his mother and treated her as the most special being. He equally loved his father and brother Ed, but the love he had for his mother was something else. I enjoyed reading on the bit where he discussed faith. It did not come to me as a surprise when the author wrote how he grew up as a Roman Catholic; his mother’s faith, not following his father who was Lutheran. Religion was an important aspect in their lives back then. I loved the memories he shared in regard to the Catholic faith he followed when young.
Fragments of A Journey… A Fistful of Life is a lovely memoir. The author’s recollection of his childhood complete with pictures attached is beautiful. The best thing about Jose’s life was the love they had in the family. His life was simple yet he was able to live to the fullest. His writing is matchless and admirable. The book is both short and interesting that one can complete in one sitting.
ISBN 13: 978-0-646-98150-5
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The King of Halloween and Miss Firecracker Queen, written by Lori Leachman is the story of American Football coach Lamar Leachman from the perspective of his daughter. It follows a coach’s journey from professional player to high school coach to National Football League coach. We see the impact this has on his wife and two daughters. It is a uniquely feminine glimpse into what was ultimately a man’s world – where winning was everything!
Leachman writes of how her father’s chosen profession had an impact on herself and the life of her family. One impact was the geographical impact, always moving to where the job opportunities lay. The family had to move numerous times and she documents the effect this had on the children, in particular. They had to constantly make new friends, and learn the social mores in each new community. The children’s closest friends were often the children of the other football coaches. She describes how they were tough kids, they were coaches’ kids.
Leachman provides an interesting view of Black Civil Rights and how views differed among places. Her view of mixed race friendships were simple; if she liked someone she would be their friend. That of course, contrasted with the views many adults at that time had. She describes briefly living in Cartersville and being confronted by “Blacks Only” signs at the theater and the confusion she felt when she realized African Americans weren’t allowed to swim in the pool. This must have been a bewildering time for a young girl who was immersed in the professional world of football – where African Americans were respected for their skill.
Although her father’s career may have had some negative impacts for her, as she gets older she realizes that her lifestyle had some benefits. Leachman recounts the day she realized her family had some money to spare – something a lot of families did not have.
Tragically the person impacted most by his career choice was the coach himself. Leachman describes how her father’s mental capacity began to decline, and how he was eventually diagnosed with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy attributed to injuries he received during his career.
This memoir is cleverly written, as it progresses through we see Leachman begin to understand her father’s talent as a coach, she recognizes his skill and determination and love for his wife and daughters. The only criticism of the book would be that on one occasion Leachman jumps back and forth between decades which interrupts the flow of the story.
This memoir is an interesting insight to the life of a professional coach, his dedication to the sport, and the impact and experiences for both him and his family.
Pages: 230 | ASIN: B07BRSTNNZ
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Seven Days in Lebanon is based on your family history that has been passed on to you from your grandmother. Why was this an important book for you to write?
My grandmother was an amazing woman not only because of surviving such horrific events in her life, but also because she always believed that God influenced her choices. When she dedicated her life to raising me, I never realized at the time how much she taught me. It was important for me to preserve her stories, and her memories the only way I knew how; The only way I knew that I could. A novel that all her future generations could keep and learn from. I was determined to immortalize my grandmother’s memory.
Did you have a complete picture of the events you wanted to tell in this book or did you undertake some research?
There were so many stories that my grandmother told not only me but other family members and friends, that I knew I had to include all of them. I chose to use a framework technique to keep the reader interested. Flashbacks were also important to create a genuine sense of how my grandmother must have felt during some of the events. Nevertheless, there were many hours of research to keep the story authentic, and historically correct.
What were some things that surprised you when you first learned of this story?
When I discovered that the Ballerina that my great grandmother, Natasha, knew was the famous Mathilda Kschessinska, the former lover of Tsar Nicholas, it added a new dimension. Later I also remembered that Natasha met the Prince of Kiva when he was a young child. This was ironically the same Prince that saved my grandmother’s life and married her.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My next novel is, The Mermaid’s Grandson. Although this novel includes fantasy, it introduces a completely new spin on previous stories. The reader will be able to relate to many of the experiences and learn that the line between fantasy and reality is much more related than one believes. My personal objective is to have it ready for print by November 2019.
On a frigid winter morning in St. Petersburg, Russia 1917, eighteen year old Olga Von Eggert must leave her country and family. The Bolshevik army is on a mission to destroy all aristocrats. When Olga fails to join her entourage at the designated rendezvous, Prima Ballerina Mathilda Kschessinska notifies the Khan of Kiva, a mutual acquaintance. The Khan’s son, Prince Razek Bek Khadjieff, defies his father’s orders and sends his strongest Cossack soldier to save the young Baroness. Nearly ninety years later, Damian Tolbert, a Frenchman living in Paris bids $100,000 on an antique diary with the initials NV on the leather cover. Once the journal is translated from Russian to French Damian is determined to find the rightful heir to this antique keepsake. Several years later, by coincidence, or perhaps fate, Damian discovers Anastasia Sullivan, the only living descendent to the journal, in an odd town called Lebanon, Ohio. Rather than answers, Damian finds more missing pieces to his puzzle. Will the “Mind Marauders ” finally leave his psyche? And, who is this mysterious artist, Anastasia Sullivan? This historical novel is inspired by true events of the author’s grandmother, Olga Von Eggert Khadjieff.
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