Ain’t No Messiah by Mark Tullius is a dark and intriguing novel about the life of Joshua Campbell. Set in the United States, it’s a tale of his life, from birth to adulthood. Significant family members such as his mother, father and brother walk some of his journey with him as well as childhood friends that reappear in early adulthood. Estranged family members are in his mind all the while and readers meet them briefly as he tries to connect with them.
Having almost died at birth, Joshua’s father labelled him the messiah. His father continues to use this label throughout Joshua’s unusual life; citing near death experiences as miracles. His father publishes books about him and fashions a new church and business on the miracles of the messiah. Despite calling him the messiah, he verbally and emotionally abuses and neglects him on a regular basis. Joshua consistently refuses to believe he is the messiah and begins to rebel against his father’s rules. Eventually, at 17 he decides to run away, and experiences the world in a new light, but finds he still can’t shake the title of Messiah.
As the story progresses it is unclear whether he seeks out trouble, or trouble seeks him out, and this grey area is what kept me engaged throughout the story. Joshua is dragged into a world of sex and drugs, but he still has to run from his label as the messiah and his tyrannical father. As Joshua is pulled deeper into this world it becomes unclear who he can trust and things turn into a life and death situation. This reminded me of how Stephen King sets up his stories to deliver poignant ideas through simple prose.
Ain’t No Messiah kept me engrossed until the very end. As I read I kept questioning whether Joshua would break free forever from his father, or if he would be tempted by the life of fame and comparative comfort? At times I questioned his life choices and whether he could trust the people he aligned with. The main characters were well developed and believable. However, I felt there were far too many minor characters in the story that kept entering and disappearing. At times it became difficult to keep track of who was who. This detracted from the overall story as I had to pause and try to remember who the character was and why they were important to the story. The transition between flashbacks to past events and present day were clear at the start of the book, however near the end they became less clear which also distracted from the overall continuity. Overall this is an interesting and well written book that delivers a thought provoking message by putting a fascinating character in evocative situations that beg one to reflect on the choices we all make in life.
Pages: 326 | ASIN: B07KCQ8P17
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Readers who are looking for an intimate view into the life of a man who has been through rough times will find that in Freedom Justice are Both by Hendrick Jones. This is a memoir of sorts: Jones is giving readers a glimpse into his life story. He outlines what he has struggled with and how it has shaped his life. This God-fearing man wanted nothing more than to provide for his family, yet what he has been given is a season pass to pain and suffering. This is not a book to be taken lightly, as this is the very soul of Jones, stripped down and laid bare for all to see.
It is undoubtable that Jones feels he has been wronged. He outlines his life very carefully for readers and shows how he feels he has been given the short end of the stick. He reiterates over and over that he doesn’t understand why these turns of events happened to him and he laments the loss of loved ones whose loyalty he heavily questions. Jones bitterly lays out his interpretation of the events that lead him along the path towards medical retirement from seventeen years of police service. It is clear that he is profoundly affected by what has happened; with good reason. This is the story of his life, after all.
Pages: 148 | ASIN: B07C9D1NJ5
Posted in Book Reviews
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In …I Just Look Like This, a book fitting for those seeking spiritual guidance, the author, A. Kirk Williams M.D., seeks to guide the reader towards finding peace in a world filled with lies and chaos. Williams provides social commentary in the form of articles, poems, and journal entries pertaining to a variety of topics in history, biology, and spirituality in no particular order.
Every chapter contains a new topic, allowing readers to piece together the greater story as they read. Most of the chapters are short, but ultimately leads to a provocative message pertaining to white males destroying the earth and inflicting misery on the rest of the world with their selfish, capitalistic, and destructive intent.
Williams attracts a large audience by relating to multiple cultures through his interesting genealogy and popular message of finding peace. Slowly, he reveals a controversial message to his initial pursuit of peace by encouraging people to be skeptical of ”those in power” and later equating that to white males. This turns into a biochemistry lesson on why white people are inferior to other races, using his professional background as a medical doctor as leverage to make his point.
The author uses some examples from history to boost his claim of white inferiority by presenting cases of war, genocide, and negligence committed by those of European descent. I felt that the historical cases were cherry-picked and ignored similar incidents throughout history perpetrated by other races on different continents.
This book has some great advice for living a happy life. Williams encourages his readers to seek a deeper sense of spirituality by pursuing mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical discipline. He details how to balance each of these four areas by seeking the innate truth of the world. This allows allows readers to find the truth that lies within them. Mostly, this is done by prayer and seeking the will of God, but I would have liked to have read a more defined description of this this search for truth.
Another inspiring concept addressed in …I Just Look Like This pertains to the benefit of close communities and seeking the wisdom of those who have experienced more in life. It’s the author’s view that wisdom comes with age and how he wished he had listened to his father’s advice on many things, saving him from his shortsighted nature.
While there are many life lessons and entertaining passages, I felt that this book blames many of the world’s woes on whites. Those uneducated in world history might be easily persuaded by Williams, but it’s always important to fact check authors with such bold claims of racial inferiority. This book has the potential to accomplish the opposite of the author’s stated intent, to promote peace, and instead, inspire hatred of others.
Pages: 158 | ISBN: 0964189453
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Dealing with a disability or other debilitating disease is hard to begin with. When you don’t get the help that you need to deal with the changes your life is taking, it can cause irreversible harm to your relationships. Self-care is important; and is a burden that should not be placed on the people you love. It is alright to ask for help, but ultimately you are responsible for your own actions, how you deal with your situation, and making sure the people you love know you care about them. Chris Tatevosian gives readers an honest look into his life with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), and how he let his attitude destroy his marriage. He shares his insights into what went wrong with his “it’s all about me” mentality; and how he learned to overcome that and build healthy relationships in life.
Life Interrupted, It’s Not All About Me by Chris M. Tatevosian is a short read of less than 150 pages. It is however, filled with deep topics covering depression, anxiety, abuse and recovery. That is a lot of emotional energy packed into a few pages. Chris Tatevosian’s purpose in writing this book is to help others avoid the mistakes he made. He is very honest about the mistakes he made and offers the reader ideas on how to avoid making the same mistakes. There is a good mix of positive and humorous stories mixed in with the challenges, so it is not an all-out depressing book. He talks about the good times and bad with his ex-wife. Hearing about the struggles to get disability and social security is relatable to many with disabilities of all kinds and he explains how the stress impacts both the people in the relationship, not just the one with the disability.
At times the book feels like it is a personal journal where Chris is just writing out bits and pieces of his memories. I feel this is important though to the reader because you see him before MS took away his independence. You see him as he was, and it helps to understand why he became so bitter and fell into the “poor me” attitude that eventually ruined his marriage. Letting others see this makes it more real and relatable. In the end this book is not just about him complaining about all he lost due to MS, it is about how he learned to adapt and how he learned from his mistakes. This is a good book for people that are struggling and feel alone and feel that they can’t ever change the situation they are in. You may not be able to change your disability or disease, but you can change your attitude and how you relate to the people in your life to make your situation a little better.
Pages: 148 | ISBN: 1606045636
What is the meaning of success; titles, money, family, happiness? These are the questions Nata and Karl must face as their life makes dramatic changes from their carefully planned out future. Nata is fostered by working class parents Joe & Hetty, Karl comes from the upper-class elite. Nata’s biological father was abusive to both her and her mother, leading her to fear men, and especially any and all sexual contact. Despite her reservations Karl works his way into her heart and they marry with the intent of living full professional lives that does not include a family. Nata however finds out she is pregnant and together they must figure out how to adjust their life goals and ambitions to this new situation. While battling with his ideals about his personal life, Karl must make some choices about his professional career as a lawyer. Knowing what is right and knowing what you can make a difference with are gray areas when you’re a lawyer dealing with the upper-class elite.
On the surface this book starts off with the story of two people from different worlds coming together to make their relationship work through unplanned events, pregnancy. As the story deepens you see beyond the surface struggles or plans changing, you see the deep wounds that childhood sexual abuse brings; you see the residual effects of emotional abuse and withholding of love and support to a child. It changes the world view, it changes what is important in life. Nata and Karl could be anyone you encounter in the professional world. They are focused on their goals but when life turns things upside down, their struggles to connect and find a path forward are relatable. Unplanned pregnancy, changing life goals of prestige or happy home life, can they all be merged? Karl’s professional life is also dealt a staggering blow. He knows the difference between right and wrong but knows fighting against what is wrong in this case is career suicide. He takes the safe way out to save his career, but it nags at him. He continues to try and find balance between right and wrong.
While Karl is trying to find his way, Nata is trying to make peace with her past and the demons that follow her. It is a realistic view into how sexual abuse continues to hurt people well into adult lives and impact their life decisions. When her baby is born early due to a car accident she is thrust into even more challenging emotions, a premature birth, a child that will have lifelong medical needs, a husband that can’t come to terms with a non-perfect child. Lorraine Cobcroft’s ability to tap into those emotions and the mindset of a new mother experiencing them is profound. So often these things are glossed over for other more comfortable plot lines, however Mortgaged Goods puts these deep emotions and controversial topics right into the forefront of the novel, making them key points.
While the novel starts out looking like it will be a ‘lawyer takes on the corrupt upper tiers of society’ type novel, this book is so much more. Mortgaged Goods by Lorraine Cobcroft tackles deep emotional issues, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, corruption of society, to include law enforcement, judges, and politicians. Through it all though, it is a novel about making a relationship work though the hard times, finding out what is truly important in life, and making the best of what life hands you, even when that is not what you have carefully laid out in your life plans.
Pages: 278 | ASIN: B018ZVWE5O
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Some loves cannot be contained within a single life. Such is the story of Kathleen and James. Two high school sweethearts, from North Carolina, that had that love at first sight moment, knew they were soul mates, and for them it is not just a cliché phrase. When an accident occurs and ends their lives too short everyone around them is left at a loss. Their best friend Nancy at their funeral however, quotes James saying they will be reborn again to find each other and love again. James is reincarnated as Joseph far away in Saint Louis. At the age of five he starts remembering dreams, but the dreams are old memories from James. With the help of Dr. Simms the family is able to piece together the past life Joseph relives each night in his sleep. But where is Kathleen? Will Joseph find her again? He believes he that he will; it will just take time.
Many cultures around the world believe in reincarnation. This is a topic I have never given a lot of thought to, but after reading Love After Life by Richard Sieg, I am willing to believe it could happen. It really touches on your emotions, the passion Kathleen and James felt for each other, it is what couples dream of having. One of the obstacles this novel tackles is the Christian view that reincarnation is not possible and to even consider it is blasphemy. Joseph’s family is able to overcome these beliefs due to the overwhelming evidence Dr. Simms compiles. The same however is not the case for Kimberly. Her Southern Baptist family refuses to accept she had a past life, and further despise Joseph. They are an example of the saying, ‘money can’t buy happiness’ and ‘looks are everything’. It breaks my heart reading how they treated Kimberly growing up, and especially after she meets Joseph. The interactions are filled with conflict, passion, and a deep sadness. All Kimberly wants from her family is love, but all they are concerned with is appearances. This is the complete opposite of Joseph’s family once Dr. Simms brought his dad around to things. Joseph gives Kimberly everything she is craving, love, the missing piece of herself as Kathleen, and a family that loves her the way she is.
The novel starts out with James and Kathleen and moves to Joseph’s story growing up. The mix or story and timelines is easy to follow and flows organically because James and Joseph are the same person inside. I enjoyed the conflict with Joseph’s father, his struggle to accept things while his mom is just there by his side, not understanding but accepting what was happening. When his father finally accepts that Joseph is the reincarnation of James, it is a touching moment and sets the tone for the remainder of the story. You see how this shapes his life over how Kathleen’s life is shaped. Their lives are interesting and realistic and you can’t help but keep reading to see where they end up.
Pages: 235 | ASIN: B079VVWHDQ
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Matthaios is a prince and Sara is a slave girl. In ancient Rome, their love is forbidden. In fact, true love like theirs is not what royal marriages are made of. Matthaios is not cut from the same cloth as his father, Titus. Titus, being Caesar, is prone to all the atrocities and savagery of his title. Matthaios, kind and loving, is forced to marry a woman he does not and cannot possibly love. When Sara’s untimely death is foreseen by her trusted friend, the course of both their lives and any life they may ever have together takes a sudden and tragic turn.
Yet again, I am drawn to the characters in Catalina DuBois’s series. Infinity: A Crown of Golden Leaves is filled with a myriad of characters from all walks of life. From Medusa to Daniel, a merman and best friend of Sara, to Titus and Arrecina, his bride, DuBois pens some amazing and rich portraits of her cast of characters.
I didn’t want to be drawn to Titus. I fought hard against it for several chapters. Everything in me told me that Titus was not supposed to be my pick, but that’s exactly how outstanding DuBois’s writing is. She spins a backstory like no one else in this genre. Titus, in all his loathsome and vile glory, is truly the standout in this book. Without giving away too much, I will say the backstory the author has chosen to give him is heart-wrenching and sheds new light on his choices and his treatment of Sara. He absolutely stands as my favorite in the long list of DuBois’s characters.
I enjoy the mix of settings DuBois provides within the Infinity series. I didn’t expect to come across the element of fantasy so deeply intertwined with historical fiction. If an author isn’t careful, that cross can become an awkward and difficult pill for readers to swallow. DuBois however combines the two seamlessly. The reader quickly accepts the change of setting from above sea level to below as all part of the charm of the story.
As with DuBois’s other Infinity installments, romance is plentiful. However, DuBois constructs tasteful scenes that never border on vulgar or obscene. Her writing is touching and truly conveys a sense of deep and lasting love between her main characters.
Just as DuBois writes vividly of true love, she creates excruciatingly realistic scenes of her characters’ pain and heartache. I had a similar experience with Infinity: The Fifth Bride of Pharaoh. DuBois includes some of the most engaging prologues I have ever read. She pulls you in from the first paragraphs and keeps your interest piqued throughout the reading, moving along a roller coaster track of emotions and back again.
Readers seeking a quick but gripping historical fiction book with a tasteful amount of fantasy won’t be disappointed with the love story of Prince Matthaios and the love of his life, Sara.
Pages: 185 | ASIN: B076JLW85G
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I believe that most people’s goal in life, certainly my goal, is to live the happiest life possible. This may seem far-fetched in today’s world, but 8 Ways to Happiness is an amazing guide that will help you achieve that dream. In 8 Ways to Happiness, author Dr. Marissa Pei delivers quality advice that does not come off as brash or assertive. What I liked most about this book was that I could tell that she cared. She wants me to be happy and I respect her approach to attaining happiness. We are all deserving of happier living even if the rest of the world is miserable. Dr. Pei encourages us to embrace how we feel and aim to guard our happiness.
Within the first couple of pages we’re given a quote by Albert Einstein, “Is this a Friendly Universe?” I think the biggest statement in this quote is the question mark at the end. This demonstrates that our outlook defines our way of life and if you feel that it’s not friendly then your life will respond accordingly. Which also goes to say, and Dr. Pei is a master at elaborating on this point, that the mind is a powerful thing. Dr. Pei shares some scenarios that can leave you distraught, suffering from depression, or even worse. Although these instances are sensitive topics, she discusses ways to change your thinking for the better, including awareness of your Sad, Critical, and Brat voices within you. If I change the way I’m thinking, embrace more positivity and do better for myself, would that make life easier to maneuver? The greatest feeling is knowing that she understands what many of us are going through and does all she can to reassure us that this isn’t all that our lives can be. When she discusses death and missing those we’ve lost, it really resonated with me since I have lost a loved one. I’m told to embrace my sadness and to have faith. She gives very practical and down to earth advice, such as seek group emotional support and 12 step programs for those battling an unhealthy habit because they’re spiritually based. I’ve come to notice that we are all spiritual beings and should practice tapping into our connection with our creator, or higher power. The world would be a wonderful place if everyone faced their demons and handled them in a healthy way.
I’ve learned so much from reading this book and look forward to applying some of the exercises in my daily life. My goal is to become an even happier version of myself each and every day because life is short and should be celebrated every waking moment. This book encourages us to accept what we cannot change, and instead change our way of thinking. I highly recommend this book to anyone who seeks to live a better life.
Pages: 204 | ASIN: B07DKV7K9W
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Suffering Ends When Awakening Begins is the story of your dark childhood and how you overcame tough obstacles with the power of positive understanding and purposeful thought. Why was this an important book for you to write?
As I wrote in the Chapter “Facing Timeless Truth” this event pushed me to my breaking point after all these years. I did not care if I lived or died any longer I was ready to leave this world. The thought of writing a book ignited a spark within and brought me back to life. A reason to live, a reason to give, so others would not have to suffer as much as I did.
What’s more, my intention and the only reason for writing Suffering Ends When Awakening Begins was that when the world reads my story, it will give people hope, faith, and courage to overcome the challenges they face in their own life. I went through a variety and numerous intense traumatic events in my life. I know all too well what it means to suffer. If people read what I went through, realize I made it through to the other side, and now that I’m thriving living a life I choose, they will also know they can do the same.
Knowing that sharing my story has improved the quality of someone’s life, brings me a tremendous amount of joy, happiness, and purpose. This is my passion, my purpose, my reason for being born into this world.
This was a very emotional novel, and I felt you held nothing back. What did you feel was important to get right in your retelling of events?
I have a profound understanding of what it means to suffer immensely. If exposing the intimate details of my life will help people avoid what I went through, so they can improve the quality of their life, I’m all in. I firmly believe this is why I came into this world. To give faith, hope, and courage to millions of people in the world.
People need to know they are not alone, despite what happened in their past. They need to love themselves, know they matter to other people in their life and to this world. Everybody is worthy of living this life, they are also worthy to be empowered, go within, and discover who they truly are.
Life happens, but it happens for a reason. When we are able to discover this reason, tune in with our higher-selves, this is when our life will change for the better, forever. When this happens, it’s so magical, liberating, and empowering. There’s no going back.
My experiences are my teacher. Since I have been through numerous, and various amounts of trauma, I learned a tremendous amount which no university, no book, no one, can teach you about. This allowed me to put it all together. Although it took me a while and it wasn’t easy, I finally figured out how to overcome hardship, adversity, and suffering and live a life that thrives. Better late than never.
From my experiences and studying spirituality for thirty years my understanding is out of the box. This allows me to view the suffering one goes through in life as an opportunity or is intended for us to awaken to who we truly are. This is the purpose of life for humanity. To awaken that we are multidimensional beings living in this third-dimensional world. Once we have a profound understanding of this, awaken to the powers, abilities, and divinity within, our suffering will end.
I believe it’s important to be the best we can be, to accept ourselves for who we are regardless of what has happened to us in our past. The past no longer matters only the present moment matters.
It’s more than just okay to be who we really are, it’s the purpose of life. I’ve been through hell and back a few times, but regardless of what I’ve been through, regardless of what people may think of me, or even what I have thought of myself in the past, I love and accept myself as I am. I love and accept others as they are too. This is an essential step in being able to change.
I just want others to realize that no matter what they go through in their life, they matter. People can enjoy a life which thrives if only they learn to control and use their thoughts intentionally to create the experience they want.
What do you find is one reason many people have for keeping themselves down? And how can they overcome it?
That’s easy. It’s the belief systems we hold onto, whether learned or programmed into us while we were young. Anyone can overcome any challenge in life. All they need to do is learn how to think properly.
Most people today live their life by default, instead of by intention. Meaning they let their thoughts run wild throughout the day. When you learn how to harness your thoughts, like placing reins around a horse, then you direct them to where you want to go, you can create the reality, the life you choose to have for yourself.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My next book is going into detail on how to overcome hardship, adversity, and suffering. Along with practical solutions on how to change old belief systems and negative thought patterns so you can thrive in your life.
How Does a Child’s Life Change When His Mother Tries to Murder Him? It’s one of the most profound betrayals imaginable, and it can follow the victim into adulthood, into all he does with his life, tainting his sense of self and his relationships with others. How does a man’s life change when he discovers that with his thoughts, his imagination, and his ability to listen to his higher self, he has the power to overcome the devastating events of his past and build a new life and a family?
This is The Inspiring True Story of Robert Crown’s amazing journey out of the darkness of his childhood and into a world brightly illuminated by the power of positive understanding and purposeful thought. It’s the story of rejecting the victimhood he once embraced and finding the answers that allowed him to embrace the power to create a new life using universal spiritual laws.
Posted in Interviews
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Till it Stops Beating is an emotional but fun novel that follows young Maddie as she struggles with anxiety and following her heart. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this novel?
Maddie came to me when I was 15 and at a creative arts summer camp, recovering from an awful break up with my first real boyfriend. So, I created “Maddie” to help heal my broken heart. I went on to write my first novel, My Sister’s Wedding, which is a (highly) fictionalized version of that “bad romance”.
This book, TILL IT STOPS BEATING, was inspired by that same theme of heartbreak…but not only romantic heartbreak, but also the heartbreak of growing up and becoming aware that not everything lasts or is permanent and not everything can be fixed or solved.
My students, clients, and my own children and my position as a parent/teacher/therapist were major influences in shaping this novel. Specifically, my own struggle with anxiety and panic attacks were things that helped me to flesh out Maddie’s own mental health problems. It was therapeutic to write about her struggle to understand herself.
Maddie is a character that I felt I could relate to; we were all young once. What were some themes you wanted to capture while writing her character?
I wanted to capture and normalize the mental health issues that tend to come up during adolescence. When I had my own bout with anxiety and agoraphobia my senior year of high school, no one talked about this and it was lonely and isolating. I feel like this book is a conversation starter about anxiety.
This novel deals with the stress and anxiety young kids feel today. What do you feel is different about the challenges teens face today that is different from your generation?
I actually feel there is only one major difference—access to information and social media—and both of those things are double-edged, meaning there are positives and negatives to them. The stats around social media use and depression in teens pretty much says it all! However, access to information about mental health has also increased the awareness and possibly save lives. There is good and there is bad.
Teens have always and will always deal with the stress and struggle of growing up, no matter if you are a boomer, Gen-X-er, millennial, or a teen today, in 2018. As a Gen-Xer with a teenage daughter, I see so many similarities in terms of the angst and feelings; she and I are able to connect on that deep level because the feelings are epic, classic, and constant!
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
Though I thought TILL IT STOPS BEATING would be the last Maddie book (there are 4 in total), I have more stories to tell about Maddie’s life as she becomes an adult and navigates college and even beyond. I’ve outlined both books and am planning to pitch them to my publisher. Hopefully the first of these two will come out at the end of 2019 beginning of 2020.
Seventeen-year-old Maddie Hickman’s senior year begins with the good (the reemergence of The One That Got Away), the bad (a cancer diagnosis, not hers, but it might as well be) and the WTF (an anxiety attack that renders her writhing on the floor like an upside down crab).
Adding to her spiraling anxiety is Senior Project, in the form of I’ve Decided To Write A Book about The Other One That Got Away (And Crushed My Heart). Compounding it all is applying to college and keeping up with her friends. The ever mounting stress eventually rips her tight grip on all that she holds dear.
Her break down leads to an unexpected road trip where she is forced to listen to her wildly beating heart. It is only in the back of a convertible with pop music blasting, that she discovers she must risk everything in order to really live.
Posted in Interviews
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