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Antitheus

Antitheus

A short, yet deliciously terrifying read can be found between the covers of Antitheus by G.A. Minton. A secluded inn, a group of religious leaders on a retreat and a well-timed blizzard set the stage for this thrilling horror story. When the aging innkeeper stumbles upon a badly mangled body that used to be one of his guests, the world he knew comes crashing down. Once the town sheriff comes to the inn to investigate our cast is complete. The horrors that await the soon-to-be stranded group evolve into a madness of biblical proportions. What could possibly be hunting them in the blizzard? Who murdered the minister and scrawled such a distasteful message in blood? These are the questions that will be answered in this compacted tale.

There is no shortage of gore and violence in this horror story. The graphic detail Minton puts into his storytelling is captivating while being slightly gruesome. It is not overdone, however, which can happen in tales like this. Not a drop of blood is out of place and the murders occur within a carefully crafted plan. This classic whodunit gets a twist while the characters try to flee for their lives. As each murder occurs it is clear that something is lurking in the blizzard and it very much wants to devour them. The infusion of religious content with traditional horror blends nicely. The religious aspects fit the story and they aren’t overdone or excessive.

The story begins strongly; captivating the reader and pulling them in. But there is the addition of a supernatural occurrence that doesn’t fit the story. The book would have been fine without it and while it serves a purpose, it seems like an afterthought. There is some concern with continuity: the characters refer to what is hunting them as ‘intelligent’, yet the trap they set is mundane. There is some clarification later on, but the tale is slightly marred by this. The ending feels rushed, which is a contrast to how meticulously the opening was laid out. G.A. Minton is a fantastic writer, I just wish that greatness was on display consistently throughout the book.

If you’re looking for a quick read and horror is your genre of choice, this is a tidy little book that will hold your interest. The majority of it has the makings of a terrific horror story; however it could have used some ironing out. There is magnificent potential and the reader will be able to tell that the G.A. Minton put thought and effort into the telling of Antitheus.

Pages: 198 | ASIN: B0744XJ11K

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To Never Know

To Never Know

To Never Know depicts the story of Steven Lewis, and how he is affected by his life choices, his stalled inertia, and forces far beyond his control.

To Never Know, by Thomas Duffy, is a millennialist coming of age drama centered on the late adolescence and early adulthood of the main character, Steven Lewis.  The story starts in 1994 in Queens, New York. Steven is in his Senior year of High School. Steven has a crush on a girl in his class, Kelly Brennan. She seems to be interested in him, finding excuses to interact by asking for his notes and a stick of gum. But he never works up the courage to ask her to Prom.

The story skips past graduation and things have changed for Steven. His life continues a downward progression: his grades are not as good at college as they were in High School, he drops out, takes some time off. He tried calling Kelly again, but he could not bring himself to talk to her.

A family friend encourages him to send Kelly a letter, so he does, on September 10, 2001. Keeping in mind that Kelly lives in New York, you can make some good guesses about where the story goes after that, but this story packs a lot more into it, as Steven’s life events continue to unfold.

This story is an exploration of millennialist worries and fears in a post-9/11 life: adulthood with its ever-increasing responsibilities, how to live a good life, intimacy, isolation, establishing one’s self-identity, and the existential fear of death. The story is deeply emotional, with conflicting emotions. The quality of writing is strong enough to convey nuanced emotions and details. There were a few copy editing issues, but none bad enough to detract from the powerful meaning of the story.

The title, To Never Know, gives some insight into the central themes within the story. There is a strain of philosophical agnosticism (not in the religious sense) that there are unknown unknowns in our lives and that tomorrow is never guaranteed. There is also the theme that there are “bells that cannot be un-rung.”  Steven cannot go and have the relationship he wanted. We will never know what life would have been like if one thing would have been changed in the distant past, and we cannot know what tomorrow will bring.

This book is good, but really heavy at times. It is intended for adult audiences, and probably best understood by older millennials. There are depictions of sex, death, terrorism, and coarse language. The content of the story takes an odd twist at one point, and the end is unexpected.

Pages: 208 | ASIN: B01K7RYJB6

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Sleepeth Not, the Bastard

Sleepeth Not, the Bastard by [Matthes, Dave]

Dave Matthes’s irreverent, profanity-laced, often hilarious novel, Sleepeth Not, the Bastard, is a fascinating work of writing. It’s half sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll, and half a thoughtful and thought-provoking look at suicide and how it affects family and friends around the incident. Sleepeth Not, the Bastard follows two separate but surprisingly intertwined characters: Lew Ferranna, a deadbeat dad, drunkard, and generally unsavory character, and Sarah Fox, a famous drummer and rockstar from the all-female rock band, The Bastards. Matthes reveals in the opening pages of the story that Lew’s son committed suicide at the age of seventeen, and spends the rest of the novel’s tumultuous pages examining how that incident affected not only Lew and his family, but also how Sarah’s hardcore band, The Bastards, and their wild, rough-living producer, Wolfgang Stephanopolis fits into the mysterious puzzle of life.

I have had the privilege of reading several of Matthes’s works, and he has a skill that I have only seen before in Kurt Vonnegut. He is able to create completely unlikable, frustrating, and obnoxious characters, and turn them into protagonists that, for some unknown reason, you find yourself pulling for. The two stars of Sleepeth Not, the Bastard are superficially very unlikable: Lew has abandoned his daughter and wife after their son’s suicide; Sarah is standoffish, erratic, and crude. But perhaps what’s appealing about Matthes’s characters is the fact that they are so relatable. Though hopefully few of us know people who would commit some of the frankly horrible acts that Matthes’s characters perform, it’s a fact of life that everyone has flaws. It is refreshing to see characters dealing with problems that we, as readers, have likely seen or experienced ourselves: the demise of relationships, parental-child fights, addiction, depression, and death.

Fortunately, though, Sleepeth Not, the Bastard is not all doom and gloom. In his solid novel, Matthes manages to create humor (albeit dark) in the absurd situations he places his characters in. Whether it’s a tiger outside of Vegas, a minivan driving through the garage door, or the insanely gaudy (and proud of it) producer Wolfgang Stephanopolis, Sleepeth Not, the Bastard manages to bring a smile to readers’ faces in the most surprising moments. The story lacks only in a few small facets that irritated me personally, specifically the lack of double L’s in all of Lew’s parts of the story (meaning “walls” would be written as “wal s”).

Though it covers potentially disheartening topics, Sleepeth Not, the Bastard will not dishearten readers. Similar to Matthes’s other works, it manages to address the most unpleasant topics of life while also instilling a positive and motivating force in readers. It often feels as if Matthes’s charactesr are saying to readers what we all know but sometimes want to forget: Life can be ugly, hard, and miserable; but life can also be beautiful, surprising, and wonderful. As a reader whose family has experienced the pain and loss of unexpected death by suicide, I found this novel to be painful, at times, but overall uplifting and a reminder to appreciate the beautiful moments in life.

Pages: 453 | ASIN: B00N53IMWW

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Shadow of the Moon: A Fantasy of Love, Murder and Werewolves

The grisly murder of a diplomat’s son in Central Park draw NYPD Detective Gerald Meeker and FBI Special Agent Andee Trakes into a twisted and confusing investigation. Within hours, the evidence indicates the man was executed in the manner saved for werewolves. Andee Trakes is assigned to liaison with a history professor, who is an expert on folklore and legends.

Professor Alwyn Lloyd, handsome, articulate and successful, not only agrees the method of death was indeed an execution, he claims to be a werewolf. Andee is torn between the desire to date the man and the suspicion to arrest him.

From the initial killing in the park, a bloody spree is ignited that soon has Andee and Lloyd forced to work together to protect themselves and family members.

Shadow of the Moon explores the world of werewolves and paints a picture of what is good about them, as well as bad. The story explains what is beautiful as well as ugly about the wolf.

The story is fast paced and full of interesting characters and several twists and turns to keep both the fantasy as well as the suspense and romance enthusiasts entertained.

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Many Stories to Tell

Mary L Schmidt Author Interview

Mary L Schmidt Author Interview

When Angels Fly is a gripping retelling of one woman’s personal and painful experience with life. What was the inspiration that made you want to write down the experiences from your life?

I became sick and I felt the need to take my journals and digitize them. I knew I would write a book eventually back in 1990. That year was a rough one for me and my family personally and I’ve kept journals most of my life. I had many stories to tell but I wasn’t quite ready mentally or emotionally in going headlong into a 300 plus page book. When 2013 rolled around, I knew then that I was going to put words and stories from my journals into digital format.

You do a wonderful job of capturing your emotions in every retelling. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?

The hardest and most difficult part initially was actually going into and reading my journals from 1989 – 1990 as my first book is a memoir. I knew my book had to be written and I knew the many messages in my book needed to be published, so that hopefully I could help others through difficult times in their lives or the lives of others they knew. The timing was right as I had left nursing in December 2012. My first book was extremely difficult since the stories were real. Some days I could write one sentence and then I was done for the day. Other days I could write more.

On really tough days I wanted to just stop and sometimes I did for a week or so. Yet I knew in my mind that I needed to finish my book and get it out to the public. I knew all along what the beginning, middle and end would be and I wondered about publishing my book as well. Now that my book is published, I feel a deep sense of peace within myself.

You touch on topics like abuse, suicide and domestic violence. What do you hope readers take away from your story?

My book reaches a wide group from teenage on up to geriatrics and many facets of humanity itself. I know that my book will help others in dealing with such a wide variety of life’s issues, and that no one needs to feel alone in their own situation. My aim isn’t to convey only sadness and family dysfunction but to convey to others who have been in my situation (or similar) that strength and courage can be attained, and that there are options available. Women and men, too, can get out of abusive situations and the cycle of violence can stop. Losing two boys to Heaven changed my life forever. I want to encourage others who have suffered the King of Loss that anger at God is normal, and that faith in God will come back to them. I want those parents to know they are not alone. If a parent loses a child to a horrid illness, I want those parents not to feel misguided gilt. I want to encourage parents on how to be an advocate for their child and how to reach out for help when the pain overcomes them.

This book is a carefully crafted retelling of some of the most private moments of your past. But what about your future? What do you look forward to and how has your outlook on life changed?

I have made peace with the wrongs in my past. This doesn’t mean that those things never happened, the hurt is still there, but one must forgive others in order to move on in their life on this beautiful blue sphere called Earth. With my health so poor, I just take things day by day, and I try to spend as much quality time with immediate family as I can.

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When Angels Fly by [Jackson, S, Raymond,A]

We often find ourselves daydreaming about what our futures will be like. This may be especially true if one lives in an environment most would consider less than desirable. Some are lucky to find their futures much like their childhood dreams. Others find the paths to their dreams strewn with hurdles.

Growing up, Sarah dodged her mother’s blows. She often hid in her room crying about her life. Still, she believes in her future and the happiness it can bring. In their book When Angels Fly, authors S. Stevens and A. Raymond tell Sarah’s story–their stories. The authors use their journals to describe Sarah’s experiences of family dysfunction, strength, courage, faith, abuse, grief, and so much more. You’ll read how, like many, she attempts to escape from her mother’s abuse through marriage. And like many, she learns it is not a viable alternative. Then Sarah experiences a parent’s ultimate tragedy twice, the deaths of her sons, Joshua and Eli.

When Angels Fly is about much more than the telling of a family’s tragedy. It is also the story of finding faith after it has wavered. Most of all, it’s a story of love lost and found.

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Feel All The Feelings

Elizabeth Antonucci Author Interview

Elizabeth Antonucci Author Interview

Fractured details your revelations and strides toward bettering yourself both mentally and physically. What was the inspiration that made you want to capture your experiences in a book?

I originally started writing the book as a form of therapy, a way to help get the trauma, events and details of the accident out of my body and mind. Then around my 30th birthday, I had a breakdown. I felt like a failure, I thought I should have been at a different place in my life, I thought I should have accomplished more. After many therapy sessions and allowing myself to cry, be mad, and feel all the feelings – I realized I had so much more to share than just the details of the accident. I took a step back and saw how hard I had fought to be healthy and have a successful life. I knew at that point that my book was supposed to be about that. I wanted to share my struggles and adversity in hopes of helping others going through something similar.

I greatly appreciated your candor in detailing the obstacles you faced and I could truly feel the tragedies as well as the victories. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?

The hardest thing, hands down, to write about was the rape when I was a freshman in college. It was something only my therapist really knew about. I hadn’t even told my parents at the time I was writing it in the book. It brought back all sorts of memories, feelings, and shame. As I was writing it I had to take many breaks, remember that I was not the same person nor in the same place, and keep telling myself I was enough. THEN came the hard part of having to tell my parents about the event. I had hid it from them for 12 years but I knew I needed to tell them before the book came out. Again, all the fears, shame, embarrassment, and emotions came rushing in. But I knew it was something I had to do before I let them read the book – that was probably the only thing they didn’t know about that was in the book. I also knew it was something that I absolutely needed to include in the book since the book is all about finding my voice and sharing my truth. This was a huge part of losing both of those things. I am so thankful to have such supportive, encouraging and loving parents. It was extremely hard for them to hear, but I know it ultimately brought us closer and deepened our relationship.

In Fractured you reveal a past with issues like body dysmorphia and a struggle to find your own voice. What is the message you hope readers take away from your book?

I hope readers can take away the lesson I learned after my 14+ year struggle with diet pills, anorexia, and body dysmorphia… YOU ARE ENOUGH. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. The image society portrays that you have to be skin and bones to be beautiful is so distorted. I hope readers, especially young girls can read this and have an “aha moment” before they enter into a self-destructive path. It also my hope that men and women learn that it is ok to be vulnerable, to speak, share, and use your authentic voice, live in their authentic skin, and follow their own rules. Don’t shrink yourself to make others like you. It is not worth it. It is so much more fun to live life celebrating your bigness.

You are the founding director of the nonprofit company Step Up Chicago Playwrights. How did that start and where do you see it going in the future?

I founded what was then Step Up Productions in 2009 with the mission to share truth onstage and inspire the audience to embrace their own personal truths (haha see a pattern?) We had 3 successful seasons of shows in which we chose a social service organization – whose mission matched the theme of the show we were producing- in Chicago to partner with and donate a portion of our proceeds to. In 2015, funding was low and we were struggling to be able to fund our next production. I took a step back and cancelled the remainder of our season. I talked with a mentor, friend, and phenomenal artist in Chicago, Brad Akin, and together we came up with Step Up Chicago Playwrights as it is now. A company that pairs Chicago Communities with local playwrights who will write a play based off that community. Our hope is to make theater sound and look more like Chicago, All of Chicago! I have since taken on an advisory role since I moved to California with my fiancé who was relocated for work and Brad has taken on the Executive Director role. I know the model we have sets us up for success. We are in the process of choosing our first playwright and community to kick off the inaugural year with Step Up Chicago Playwrights.

Fractured is about your journey of self discovery, but it’s also about your family. Was there anything about your family that you only learned through this journey?

In talking with my therapist about different patterns I was trying to break and learn the history of where they started (me always being good, my need to please, not using my voice) I learned a lot about my family. I brought different topics up to my mom and asked her a lot of questions about my young childhood that helped me figure out why I embedded certain thoughts, behaviors and patterns into my system. I have to say, even though it was not always pleasant to learn and a lot of hard work, it was a lot of fun putting all the pieces together and learning why I did and thought certain things.

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FRACTURED: My Journey Back from Death and the Lessons I've Learned Along the Way by [Antonucci, Elizabeth]From the outside looking in, Elizabeth had the perfect life. She had a family who loved her, numerous friends, and a successful career. No one knew the hurt, pain, and angst she hid inside, struggling to keep herself small so that those around her would still like her. 

It all came to a head on October 23, 2007, when her parents received a call that she was lying lifeless in the ICU in a hospital in Utah — “You better get out here, your daughter is not going to make it.” Fractured: My Journey Back From Death and the Lessons I’ve Learned Along the Way is the memoir of Elizabeth’s recovery, spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally. It is about her deliberate decision to begin the hard work finding and using her voice and the struggle to break out of the box that society tried to keep her in. 

This is the story of what happens when one woman stared death in the face and decided to make a conscious choice not to go back to sleep, but to wake up and live the life she knew she was meant to live.

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Dear Emma

Dear Emma

Dear Emma, written by Kwen Griffeth, is a touching novel that revolves around the life of a family in the hospital waiting for a crucial moment that will equate to life or death. Their story is discovered by a caring man, Roger, who is the chaplain at the Price Hospital.

Lost in his own thoughts about his own personal life, Roger stumbles across Ben Talbet, an architect about to become a grandfather. But instead of it being a joyous occasion, Ben is convinced that he is about to lose everything he cares about- all because of a mysterious letter found on a hospital bedside table. What could this letter say that has Ben convinced he is about to lose it all?

Dear Emma is a heartfelt novel based on the significance of letters written to a woman by the name of Emma. The beginning of the novel walks you through the hospital in the eyes of a chaplain. It is here you meet nurses, doctors, patients and families all experiencing the ins and outs of hospital life. One family, in particular, has several lives on the line, and this is where you meet Ben- a loving father about to become a grandfather.

The story ventures into the past where we learn about Ben and Emma and what lead them to this important moment of their lives. Their past tragedies and losses will be shared and you will find yourself feeling a connection to the characters and their story. As the story progresses, the doubt and questions that are posed by Roger, all assist in creating a strong belief and understanding of things we may not understand.

There is a religious sentiment throughout the story and you feel as though you are involved in a special moment with Ben as he shares a personal story between the Father in Heaven and the chaplain. This interaction provoked thought between life after death and how our lives change after we lose a loved one. Dear Emma respectfully shows how love can be everlasting, and how a love between a mother and daughter is an irreplaceable bond.

The descriptive language used throughout the novel easily paints a picture of the hospital setting, with images such as the chapel, cafeteria and maternity ward easily envisioned. Kwen Griffeth’s language, however, does not take away from the importance of the story and instead compliments the plot line and the characters as they progress through the story. This novel tugged at the heart strings and will feel the reader’s heart with warmth and love. The storyline is always fast paced, and even though it isn’t a typical action novel, it kept me on my toes, eager to learn what happens to the family and the letters.

I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys a beautiful, feel good story with a little twist at the end! Dear Emma is a journey of love, life and grief and how love surpasses time, death and life.

Pages: 115 | ASIN: B00770I2HO

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Death Has A Whole New Meaning

Jonathan J. Drake Author Interview

Jonathan J. Drake Author Interview

Zombie Mage follows Olligh who is a Walker on a quest to remember who he is. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?

I remember once being told that we’re just like plants. We eventually wither and die whereupon we basically feed the earth and maggots with our juicy remains. Nice, eh? Something to look forward to then!

I was also duly informed that there’s nothing special about us, we don’t come back and there’s certainly no afterlife in any form.

This was certainly an interesting perspective on death; I suppose the person I was speaking to had no religious (or spiritual) beliefs and therefore deemed death to be one final kick in the groin before the earth and its elements consumed him.

On that note, I mulled over these words with much interest and decided that, ultimately, there must be more to it. Something deep inside of me certainly didn’t agree with that rather blinkered opinion of a desolate death.

In fact, this whole debate over death inspired me to write Zombie Mage. Death is certainly something that is unavoidable and definitely not desirable although to some degree this probably also depends on how you die. But, rather than worry about this eventuality, is it best not to think of it as an exciting, new adventure into the unknown? Or, if that sounds overly positive and verging on the ridiculous, how about, at the very least, accepting death, being mindful of it and certainly not despairing over it?

For Olligh Selthnik, death has a whole new meaning and certainly isn’t how he imagined it. I’m quite a spiritual person and like to think there is more to life than merely these slabs of meat we walk around in. I’m hoping the book will provoke thought into this as well as entertain.

I had a fun time reading this story because there were so many colorful zombies in it. How do you capture the thoughts and emotions of a zombie?

In Zombie Mage, zombies are still people, albeit perhaps missing a few vitals. I suppose if I asked you how would you react if you died and somehow returned to existence but your skin was rotten and strewn with black veins and bulbous blisters or you discovered you were missing an arm or a leg (not to mention terrible breath), how would you cope?

Ultimately you’re still alive and you still have to deal with it. So, creating the colourful characters that exist in Zombie Mage was fairly easy (and the most fun part). They’re just people making the most out of a bad time.

Olligh is a character that I enjoyed watching change over time. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?

Olligh has quite a raw deal and the more he finds out about himself, the darker his situation becomes. The most difficult part of writing Zombie Mage was the beginning; trying to piece his past together and explain the situation whilst also trying to help the reader feel his frustrations. You confessed yourself that you found it difficult in the beginning to understand what was going on. This is certainly how Olligh would’ve also felt; such is the desolate, chaotic nature of his new life.

I tried to imagine how I would feel in Olligh’s predicament and what I would do once I began to piece together my past. And, of course, putting the pieces together allowed me to transform Olligh’s journey in many weird and wonderful ways.

Lara, his wife, was also an important addition to the story which helped mould Olligh’s character. Without that spark of love and real feeling there would be very little light in the ensuring, desperate darkness.

And finally, friendship; it’s something we all need and thrive on. I like to think that during his journey, Olligh discovered some new friends that helped him get through his turmoil. Like you, Marvin was my favourite character as well.

What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?

It’s been a while but I’m currently working on Zombie Mage 2 as the original ending left much opportunity to carry on the adventure. Expect some old faces and some new. The Dark Cloaks will be returning with a new High Warden, that’s a sure thing. I’m hoping to finish and release it later this year. Only 9k words so far so I’ve got a fair bit to go.

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Life isn’t too grand for Olligh Selthnik. When he awakens, all he can remember is his name. With his memory vague, and now having to live life in a decrepit body, he doesn’t envision things could get much worse. Join Olligh as he begins his journey on a quest for knowledge. A horrifying adventure of intrigue and deception awaits but, will he find the answers (and the soap) he so dearly requires? With black humour from the off, prepare to be taken on a ghastly, stench-ridden journey into the unknown. This is Jonathan’s first book edging on the darker side of fantasy and, as such, it may not be suitable for children.

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When Angels Fly

When Angels Fly by [Jackson, S, Raymond,A]

In a gripping retelling of one woman’s painful experience with life, readers will come to question their own outlook on the world. When Angels Fly by S. Jackson and A. Raymond is a deeply personal tale of the journey our author took throughout the course of her life. The agony she relates to her readers is real and you cannot help but sympathize with the suffering she has endured. The course of her life has not gone easily and Jackson details exactly what she had to survive with the help of her journal entries and her memory. Everything she had ever known was tested: her faith in humanity, her faith in family and her faith in the divine. After learning her story, the fact that she can keep her faith in God is inspiring.

This story is an autobiography that chronicles not just Jackson’s life, but her experience with the things many people take for granted. The author touches on topics like abuse, suicide and domestic violence. Social acceptance and the confidence to leave an abusive partner have come a long way since the early 1980’s, although they still have a long way to go. If you’re looking for an emotional journey, you are sure to find one within the pages of this book.

The addition of photographs at the end of the book is a nice touch. It reminds the reader that the people discussed in the book are real. The fact that they existed makes the painful moments that much more painful. Jackson expresses her pain with passion in every word and evocative imagery at every turn. Even when she puts in the information from her journals, it is obvious that she transcribed the information with care. That could not have been an easy task, especially since the information was undoubtedly painful to recall. It takes a certain amount of strength to live the sort of life Jackson has and not only overcome that life, but write it down in detail to share with the world. That may be inspirational to some, but to me it’s heroic.

This book is a carefully crafted retelling of some of the most private and painful moments that a human being will ever have to experience. When Angels Fly by S. Jackson is an autobiographical tale that touches on very personal experiences of abuse, domestic violence and loss. This profound journey shook our author to her core and pushed her to question everything she had ever known. She has experienced more heartbreak in such a short time than most people experience in their entire lives. Yet she rises above the pain and misfortune to find her way in the world. This is a must-read for those who enjoy following a personal, passionate and ultimately uplifting journey.

Pages: 333 | ASIN: B017UNVWDI

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