It is common to see grandparents raise their grandkids. The reasons vary from the children getting in trouble, passing away, divorce, teen pregnancies, parents being in jail, not being in a capacity to raise the kids, or not having the right parental skills. Grandparents raising grandkids may seem easy, but it’s not. Harriet Hodgson takes us through the struggles, the fun times that create the relationship children have with their grandparents.
Harriet Hodgson uses real-life example to delivery some poignant and sage advice. She raised her daughters’ children, and so speaks from a position of experience throughout the book, but not as a teacher, more as a knowing grandparent. The kids were twins and raising them was an amazing experience. The author notes how difficult it can be when grandkids ask for information which you think would be best explained by their parents. Losing her daughter was painful. Grieving for her daughter, the twin’s father, her brother, and father in law was among the lowest moments in her life.
This book reads like a parenting guide for grandparents. Some may feel that, since they are grandparents, they know how to raise kids. But remember, you are raising kids from a different perspective now and this book illuminates those differences and helps you tackle them. The author writes about family values and helps one understand what children want and how they should be treated. Raising teens can be an uphill task for anyone. The writer shares her experience raising her grandkids in their teen years, and how adolescents react to issues.
The tips Harriet Hodgson shares should be mastered by everyone as they will always come in handy at some point in life. The book is written in a flowing style, with the author listing her thoughts then explaining later in detail. This book not only educates you on parenting, but also helps to understand and cope with grief.
Throughout the bok Harriet Hodgson words are backed by research and science. That is the other amazing thing about this book. Everything listed is a fact, and one gets to understand how some families come to be. From the texts in the book, one can tell that Harriet is excellent at care-giving.
I’ve learned a lot just by reading this book. Mourning can take a toll on someone, but there is always that period where you rise up. The author did well by talking about stress and the effect it has on kids and how one should take care of their health. You understand how you can encourage a child to aim higher and get to the peak in everything they do.
Pages: 200 | ASIN: B075J5YNKW
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Dave Droge introduces us to a character who, despite having all the money in the world, wants to destroy himself. Eccentric, since one would think that having that much money would have made him happy. Narrated in the first person, I could already tell that this book would not only be thrilling to read, but also pleasant.
The narrator’s words were intriguing and I could feel the suspense hovering in the first few pages. This was exciting as I naturally got the urge to read more. I kept reading on and I got to understand why the narrator abhorred life and everything around. Waldemar had lost his family in an accident. His daughter Claire, and wife Antoinette had died from the accident. Reading this, I couldn’t help but think of how people mourn their loved ones. The author introduces the theme of grief early in the book, and that disintegrated my heart as all I could empathize with the narrator.
One gets the sense that the Waldemar suffers from mild self-loathing, as all he does is despise life; his career, his personality, and his whole self. When talking about his wife, the narrator described her as nearly perfect. While talking about self though, the Waldemar talked as if he was a failure. His troubles had started during his time as a researcher; he received a letter of termination just after his last publication. Of course, this broke him, what had become of him? His family passed on days later, leaving him completely broken.
Miriam was among my favorite characters in the book. I loved how knowledgeable she was, and how she knew how to initiate a conversation. The suicide discussion between her and Waldemar was one of the conversations I enjoyed in the book. Miriam was concerned, and though her way of showing concern was not typical, Waldemar understood her and actually listened to what she had to say.
At times I felt like Waldemar was personally speaking to me, and I needed to listen to him pour his heart out. His life may have not been a bed of roses, but Waldemar is one character I really loved. I enjoyed every piece of his narration and wanted him to keep talking.
The story easily flows and the reader gets engrossed in the life of the characters. Inevitable Dreaming story, from the beginning, is so absorbing that I couldn’t stop once I started. The characters are creative and the story is spellbinding.
Pages: 140 | ASIN: B07HLKHXYB
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The book starts with the author taking us back to her childhood. She writes about an awful incident at home. In an attempt to perhaps discipline her, her mother physically abused her because she had an argument with the brother. She was so hurt and afraid, even thinking that she could die from the punches she received that day. The author also talks about how she tried to be her best but no one ever appreciated her efforts. Not even the excellent grades could get her a simple nod from the people around her.
Angelo Lowery tells of her story growing up. The good, the ugly, and the unfortunate. In all her narrations, she never forgets to mention how gracious the will of God is. The writer has gone through a lot. Experiencing just a fraction of what she has gone through can be quite overwhelming. Life can be disappointing, but we need to keep holding on. I love that the writer used examples from her family, friends and other associates in her life. Some of the things she talked about hit home, and I couldn’t help but think about some of the decisions I have made in my life.
I Am And The Spirit Walks With Me is a book written for everyone who is on the verge of giving up. Don’t lose hope. Keep moving, keep pushing, keep seeking. It is only a matter of time before everything falls into place. The author reminds us not to focus on the bad things that have happened to us. Yes, you may feel like this life is not worth living, you may have had the worst experiences among your peers; don’t feel sorry for yourself, the good Lord is out there looking for you. Sometimes all we need are challenges that make ourselves aware of the situations around us. Don’t blame yourself. It gets better with time. Don’t be quick to anger. The author excellently explains what holding grudges does to you. She knows first-hand, what carrying other peoples’ burdens does to your body. Strive to stay positive and always pray to God for strength.
I love how the author emphasized healing after hurting. Angelo Lowery’s life is proof enough that overcoming pain and suffering is possible. When writing this book, the writer had people who are heartbroken and those going through mental distress in mind. Her kind words are warm to the soul, and will help anyone who feels like this universe is not doing them justice. Open up to those who care, turn to God and always keep a positive attitude. There are so many lessons that one can learn from the author’s life. I Am And The Spirit Walks With Me speaks directly to you as a person.
Pages: 150 | ASIN: B0777KSDVF
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In this world where everything is fast paced and competitive, one can feel a little overwhelmed. They can feel lost in the crowd. They can feel like they are drowning in their inability to measure up to society’s expectations and standards. It is not easy. It is not ideal but it is what it is. There is nothing more to do than equip the future generations with the skills to ignore all the news. The wherewithal to see the standards but not bend to them. The ability to understand that the only standards worth measuring up to are ones set by one’s own self.
Mary Lynne Fernandez, with her extensive experience and brilliance, seeks to do exactly that with this book. She seeks to guide teenagers through life. To arm parents with tools to efficiently and successfully navigate the mucky and turbulent waters that is parenting to teenagers. She seeks to shine a light on this depression and suicide epidemic. She seeks to weed it out. She seeks to ensure teenagers seek help before they seek the noose. The only way to achieve this is by harnessing one’s own true power. To embrace and overcome. Suicide is not the way out. Staying alive to fight and exorcise those demons is.
The author has done an excellent job of appealing to her demographic. She does not tell the reader to just get over it. She outlines practical steps with passion and affection. Her delivery and presentation are powerful. She lays a strong foundation for her message with vivid writing that uses simple but powerful language. She is not looking to provide answers but rather a road-map to realization. The subject matter is relevant, relatable, and rings true. She has addressed the conversation in a sensible and sober way.
I think this book is aimed at two demographics. The first is the teenagers, of course. They need to understand just how stacked the deck is and how to play the game. They need to understand the truth about the world they live in. Parents of said teenagers will also find this book useful. The author does a good job of addressing both generations. I felt that she understood and appreciated the different situations and thus successfully speaks to both parent and teen.
This book is inspirational and useful by providing ingenious insights that are both practical and applicable. If you go into the woods, you may bring a wilderness survival book. If you’re becoming a teenager you may want to take this book along with you. This book will help you approach your thoughts and passions with fresh eyes. Read it. Understand it. Utilize it.
Pages: 188 | ASIN: B07CSF7PPN
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From The Shadows describes your personal journey through some very trying times. Why was this an important book for you to write?
I want people struggling with depression to know there’s hope. My message to them is: if you’re depressed, you’re not alone, you’re not crazy, and you can obtain lasting happiness.
The last thing I thought I’d share publicly was my journey into and out of despair. But writing this story uncovered a passion I buried forty-eight years earlier. By recounting and working through my most painful mistakes and memories, I discovered meaning and renewed purpose. I now experience joyfulness and self-love beyond my wildest dreams. I share all the steps I took so others can follow my path and find healing, too.
You were able to take a deep look at your depression, explaining its breadth and depth. What are some common misconceptions you feel people have about depression?
First, most articles focus on the sadness, but for me, depression also felt hostile. I remember constant self-loathing over the past, hopelessness about the future, and emptiness in the present.
Next, depression isn’t only about a person who’s stuck in bed. For years, I contended with high-functioning depression, or dysthymia. To the casual observer, I seemed healthy, but I wasn’t. Many times, I wanted to sleep and never wake up. But, I crawled out of bed every day and went to work pretending everything was peachy.
Last, depression is more common than many realize, surpassing all other disabilities. According to the World Health Organization, one in five people will suffer at some point. When I talk about my triumph, so many people privately tell me about their own or a loved one’s battle against depression that I wonder whether the one-in-five estimate is too low. Few admit to their condition because of the crushing stigma. Perhaps resources like my book can shift reader’s perceptions from judgment to empathy.
I felt like this emotional book was ultimately uplifting. What do you hope readers take away from this book?
If you’re combatting depression, I hope my insights from the trenches encourage your healing and self-love.
If you’re not, I hope by revealing the chaos my disorder caused, it furthers your understanding and compassion.
Either way, my wish is that sharing my intimate story serves as inspiration.
What is the next book you are writing and when will it be available?
Currently, I’m working on two books for release within the year. The first is Escaping the Shadows, a poetry collection. The second is Beyond the Shadows: The Light Within. It provides an even deeper dive into I how I healed my motherhood guilt. I share the ways I found forgiveness for myself and my molester to reclaim innocence lost and cement self-love.
Offering hope and healing, the author retraces her beautiful transformation from suicidal despair to habitual happiness, sprinkling each step with soul-stirring original poetry and journal excerpts.
For decades, she hid her chronic depression from everyone, including herself, until hitting a crisis point. She seemed successful and happy to all, except her closest confidantes; they knew the anguish she wished to end by killing herself. Through self-exploration, she found a pathway to conquer the pain.
In From the Shadows, she shares the questions she confronted, unearths her root causes, and presents a map out of the mire. Finally, she unlocks inner wealth by facing phantoms holding long forgotten keys to her past.
Joining in her journey, you may uncover a few treasures of your own.
Posted in Interviews
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A chance encounter in the park leads Yianni to develop a relationship with a family similar to the one in which he grew up and in need of the same love, unconditional support, and unfailing guidance provided him by his grandmother once upon a time. His recurring meetings with little Christina, her parents, grandmother, and brothers reveal more interesting and, sometimes, amazing coincidences between their family and his own. Eager to share the stories of his youth and finding more reasons all the time to reveal his most troubling and painful secrets, Yianni begins to save his newfound family while he saves himself in the process.
Right out of the gate, JohneEgreek strikes a powerful chord in Grandma’s Secret Blessings: A Memoir with a Twist with his emotional reaction to his first encounter with three-year-old Christina. Yianni is clearly missing a piece of his heart due to the strained relationship with his son. The fact that he has never met his young granddaughter, Aubrey Rose, eats away at his soul, and the warm reaction he feels from Christina’s mother and brothers begins to fill that tremendous void. It is difficult to read without becoming overwhelmed with emotion at Yianni’s thoughtful reflections upon each of their storytelling sessions.
There exists an entire demographic of readers who will relate to Yianni’s description of his childhood. The abuse and unrelenting savagery with which his father throws his way from a tender age is unbelievably horrific. To find that Yianni is able to grow, thrive, and find a way to cope with his past is truly amazing. His story gives readers hope and provides them with a virtual shoulder on which to lean as they battle their own childhood demons.
Yianni’s grandmother, the basis for his strength, is a phenomenal woman indeed. She provides young Yianni with all the love and protection he needs once he loses his grandfather, his idol. The advice flows freely from her day after day, and she builds Yianni’s self-esteem when his father has beaten him down. Her words alone are enough to heal Yianni’s spirit.
The regular meetings Yianni has with Christina’s family are fascinating to say the least. I was stunned at the coincidences he discovered week after week between his own lineage and theirs. I felt as though the story was leading to an aha moment in which a secret relationship was revealed–that’s how coincidental and numerous the connections are. Story after story, Yianni builds a life with Christina and her parents–even her reluctant father, Ray. I have to say, I was more than pleased to see the final turn of events involving Ray and Yianni.
I give Grandma’s Secret Blessings: A Memoir with a Twist by JohneEgreek 5 out of 5 stars. To have so freely opened his life to the eyes and ears of the world is an admirable thing indeed. The years he spent being abused by his father and the time he spent living as the one sibling his father refused to love shaped JohneEgreek into a man who can heal others with his own stories.
Pages: 316 | ASIN: B077PLR98B
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15-year-old Luke Gray is in shock—his girlfriend Lonnie is moving, and he can’t follow her. Before she leaves, he gets her to promise to wait for him until they are 18. With Lonnie gone, Luke falls into a whirlpool of depression and fear. He tries to stay afloat via sarcasm, 1970s music, and fantasy.
And then a new girl appears on the scene, Sherry, who seems perfect. Without giving up on Lonnie, Luke begins dating Sherry, and she keeps him on this side of insanity. His parents, though, notice disturbing changes in his behavior… and eventually Luke realizes that his relationship with Sherry has limits they can’t move beyond. So he befriends Julie, a clever, down-to-earth girl he quickly grows to love. But when Julie finds out that Luke has never let go of Lonnie, he’s forced to either try to find Lonnie or turn his back on her forever.
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The very personal story of The Ghost Years by Mutch Katsonga will give you a first class seat straight to the heart of hell. And you will thank Katsonga for it. This first-person narrative follows the life of a young man caught up in the life of drugs in detail that is rarely found in literature. Katsonga is pulling no punches in showing us the mind of a junkie in this satisfying novel. While sometimes getting very close to it, The Ghost Years is careful not to put its characters into situations just to prove a point. What it does is allow them, and the reader, to grow as people in this hard-hitting and memorable study of the seedy underbelly of society. Several action scenes and a couple of twists and turns keep the story going to its well-earned conclusion.
I felt that many events that the main character had to endure do often seemed to be laid out just to have him fail. The character of Buzz, for example, with his never-ending optimism and somewhat expected twist revelation does come off as a narrative tool more than a real person. But still, somehow it works, and the story is better for having him in it.
Katsonga’s style of writing could be best described as “tell, don’t show”. I felt that exposition was overused to get us into the mind of the main character. Lines and lines of text are expended on questions about life, death and society. Because of this, I felt like the narrative and the view of the world appeared to be spoon-fed to me.
However, the advantage of this style quickly gets the reader up to speed. We are left with a great understanding of the motivation that drives the story line. The logic that his character follows is consistent and that was Katsonga’s goal all along. Some may not approve of the drug use in the story, just as in life, but we can give his character that one thing he was craving his whole life – understanding.
Previously moot and tired questions about the meaning of life get a whole new context when asked with an empty stomach and the craving for a new “hit”. The Ghost Years will have you asking about the reasons that make you get up in the morning – are you doing it because you are told to do so or because you choose to? How far do you have to drift aimlessly before you decide to take a direction for your life?
The Ghost Years by Mutch Katsonga gives us several clear and memorable lessons about the value of choice, life, drugs and society in this crude but honest and hard-hitting book.
Pages: 179 | ASIN: B079KSFGSS
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The Sounds from the Hills Go Away When the Sun Goes Down explores the lives of three “downtrodden, gutter-decrepit, low-living” people as they battle with their demons while leaning on one another. What were some of the stand out moments for you when writing this story?
Stand out moments… I would have to say some of the quieter, more introspective scenes in which the three main characters collide with from time to time. These moments of theirs are aimed to define them or break them entirely, or both. Particularly, some scenarios in which a resolution is expected to eventually come to fruition, but never does, because many times in life that is what happens. Or a resolution won’t be surmised for an unfathomably long time, and during those long stretches we can either take it in stride with patience, or die.
Once again you are able to amaze me with some realistically gritty characters. Where does the seed for a character start and what is your process for developing them through the story?
In most cases, any character I write, whether he or she is a major character or just an ornament on a mantle in the background, I begin with myself… as I’m sure most writers do. But where the emotion comes from, generally when I’m alone at night after a really, truly bad day at work. The birth of a character’s emotions can also come from the moments immediately following a delicious meal I’ve just enjoyed. So I can’t really say there’s one single place it all comes from. Almost every character I write, they start out as one type, and by the end of the book they become something entirely unintended, and not just because of the story. But because somewhere during the months of which the writing takes place, I think that a part of me sometimes changes depending on what’s going on in my own life, and sometimes… not always- but sometimes that bleeds out onto the page.
The title for this book is interesting. What was the inspiration for the title, and why did you choose a blank cover?
The cover was once full of color and pretty chaotic. But once I finished the first draft and really took a step back to look at everything, I felt a certain pull towards The Beatles’ White Album. And the theme of purity. In the book, the purity of the human soul is constantly at stake, whether it was lost long ago and there might be a chance to regain a sliver of it, or it’s literally on the brink of total collapse. How that theme is encompassed by all of the characters and where it steers them through their adventures, which can take them in very random directions, or keep them on a steady “forward” path, was a big part of why I chose the cover to be what it was. In a way, it serves as a figurative blank slate, no matter what situation we find ourselves in. The title, on the other hand, went through probably the most changes I’ve ever shifted through while writing a book. The title began as something very simple, I can’t remember exactly but it was very one or two-worded. Boring. And didn’t at all convey anything. The title that I landed on at the very end, I feel, paints a picture of emotion. It doesn’t necessarily have to do with any physical scene of the book, and for everyone I think it will be different. But for me, when I read the title, I picture a very, incredible quiet night. Like taking a deep breath, and being engulfed by absolute relief that the day is over with.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The next book I’m currently working on is another story involving Arlo Smith, of The Mire Man Trilogy. The book takes place between the events of Book II and Book III, during his mid-twenties, where he meets a person who introduces him to really good jazz, and a very particular kind of nightlife away from home, when “home” starts to sometimes feel like a prison. It’s a sort of a love-letter to Kerouac’s “On the Road”. It’s tentatively titled “Electric Gypsies Beneath the Whiskey Tree”, and I hope to have it finished by next year some time.
Boots and Bonnets Inn, an isolated motel of questionable quality positioned just outside Moab, Utah, is home and haven to a handful of self-proclaimed societal outcasts who for better, worse, or much worse, have found their way here just in time to live out the rest of their lives. Among these longstayers is Wendel Trope, a slightly overweight almost-nihilist who survives within this little realm of “contentedness” by exercising his right to medicinal and alcoholic experimentation, while battling ruthless anxiety attacks and the “you owe me for last week’s stay” death stares of Jerry, the hotel owner. Holding his proverbial hand in an off-kilter, symbiotic friendship through this chapter of his life is Fag Bush Betty, the motel’s infamous “anything goes” prostitute, who may have more to her history than simply a catalytic reason to defile her own spirituality. And anchoring Betty, is Lotus, a young girl who harbors a shattered past and an as-of-yet untainted future that will inevitably bring her to the doorstep of Moab’s most unforgiving roadside motel. “THE SOUNDS FROM THE HILLS GO AWAY WHEN THE SUN GOES DOWN” is a story without direction, without hope, and most importantly without a beginning or an end. It is simply an examination of the present moment during a fragment of time in the lives of several of what society considers downtrodden, gutter-decrepit, low-living, and expendable, taking place in a corner of the world most only have fleeting nightmares about.
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In the book, From the Shadows: A Journey of Self-Discovery and Renewal, author Elizabeth Onyeabor introduces her audience to the sum of her parts, figuratively speaking, and takes the reader through the journey of her life. Readers meet the youthful, bright-eyed, big-hearted, trusting Beth who she has left locked away for decades, and her counterpart, a less trusting and icier persona, Liz, who she adopts abruptly at the beginning of her teen years. Liz is described as the mask that gets her through every day. Liz is the person that coworkers and social media contacts know. She is also painfully drowning in depression. Her only hope of becoming a whole person again is to reconcile with the girl she locked out so many years ago.
Onyeabor’s reflective journey is written as a narrative, a journal, and a collection of poems rolled into one piece. I personally prefer the narratives to the more metaphorical parts of the book. I can identify more with her real-life stories and experiences. However, I do recognize the importance of her poetry. It is cathartic for her. It is a therapeutic release. It is her outlet. It is necessary.
The author dives very deep into her depression, explaining its breadth and depth. She explains how she feels and why. She describes the magnitude of her sorrow, guilt, shame, obsession, self-deprecation, and even suicidal tendencies. I’ve been lucky enough not to be able to fully comprehend being in such a depressed state, but it gives insight to the reader about what it must be like. It is obviously a constant battle for someone dealing with this degree of depression to keep her head above water. I’m sure those who are prone to depression would take solace in knowing there is someone out there who understands, and that they are not alone in the quagmire that Onyeabor describes.
In my eyes, Onyeabor is your typical wife and mother who makes sure everyone is taken care of, everyone but herself. Also, typical of mothers and women in general, she places the blame for literally everything that could possibly go wrong in her entire family on herself. She is the fixer. She feels like anything that is broken happened by her own hands. She also feels like she has the responsibility of sweeping up the broken pieces, dusting them off, and perfectly gluing them all back together. The problem is that nothing is ever perfect. She continues to chase perfection anyway. Never hitting that mark feeds her depression.
Another identifiable theme throughout the book is striving for spiritual perfection. Readers will see themselves in this struggle as old as time itself. Good vs. evil. We are often our own harshest judges in this aspect as well. She holds herself to unreachable standards. That perfection thing never quite happens, and it leaves Onyeabor feeling like a sinner at times.
I did find myself at times questioning how someone who seemed to have it all could be so depressed. I guess that’s the point. Living in exotic places, vacationing in Paris, having a successful job, raising independent kids. Those things aren’t always enough. Those things are sometimes painted façades stretched across crumbling buildings. I also feel for her family. It couldn’t have been easy for them to never hit that perfect mark either, and to feel helpless. They wanted to help her. They just couldn’t. It’s a personal choice to stay in the dark caves you’re accustomed to or to step out into the light. It’s a long walk. A journey. I cheered her on for deciding to take those first steps.
I am giving this book 4 out of 5 stars. It is written well, but can feel repetitive. There are also a lot of breaks in the flow due to the poetry entries. Over all, I think it could be very useful to readers dealing with depression. It will give them strength to pursue their passions and hope that there are brighter days on the horizon.
Pages: 208 | ASIN: B01MTKFS9U
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