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On Loving

From an early age Rose Hemmings is asked to define love, a theme that is analyzed throughout the book and truly encompasses On Loving. While at the time she cannot compose a definite response, a single turning point in Rose’s life has her struggling to find the answer. She continues to question what love means as she narrates the story of her life.

On Loving begins with the tragedy of Rose’s beloved father, a man she attributes her love of literature, and who urges Rose to find the truth of her birth parents resulting in a spontaneous trip to Iran in search of answers. Just before leaving Rose’s world is once again shaken to the core as she comes face to face with a stranger who instantly steals her heart away. In a twist of fate, the two fly off to Iran resulting in a storm of emotional chaos involving family, secrets revealed and another man to drastically change Rose’s life forever.

For blatantly being a romance novel, On Loving rarely rears the exotic scenes of lust and passion. Instead, Lili Naghdi illustrates a love story shrouded in poetic anecdotes and literary quotes through the eyes of an A-typical surgeon inquiring every aspect of her ever-changing life. The story of Rose spans decades of heartache and misfortune, deep longing and joyous fulfillment.

However, I could never completely empathize with Rose. She shows all the signs of a well thought out main character, the author thoroughly explored the mind of Rose Hemming detailing all her faults and frustrations. I could tell Naghdi held Rose close to her heart while writing this book. The story is written in the first person, and like so, we are bound to watching Rose make decisions the reader might not completely agree with.

Overcoming these hiccups, I found steady glimpses of genuine understanding for several characters. Especially in the second half of the book, Naghdi beautiful vindicates the hurricane of emotions Rose has been building up throughout the story. Those moments of Rose carefully weighing her judgments, decisions, and feelings are true bliss. Moreover, the authors’ literary insight is phenomenal and while at times the call back to famous authors and poets is overdone, each example is carefully chosen perfectly matching the mood of the scene.

Any romantic or literary buff will wholeheartedly enjoy this book. Read the book and you will understand.

Pages: 483 | ASIN: B07NSJLJLZ

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Lessons from the Frogs I’ve Kissed

Lessons from the Frogs I've Kissed: I have made all the mistakes in the book so you wont have to by [Kolnik, Krystal]

If you can imagine it, Krystal has experienced it. If you’ve ever wondered what an abusive relationship truly feels like, Krystal can tell you. If you’re curious as to what a true survivor looks like, take a good long look at Krystal–her life is a testament of dedication, overcoming the worst of the worst in relationships, and learning from one’s mistakes. When Krystal finds Pete, she believes she has found forever. She could never have foreseen that the world into which she would bring her children would be one in which their father would make their lives a living hell.

Krystal Kolnik’s Lessons From Frogs I’ve Kissed is one of the most heart-wrenching stories of love and loss I have ever read. The strength it takes Krystal to simply live from day to day in the presence of such a dismissive and disloyal husband is completely stunning. As I read page after page filled with descriptions of her husband’s indiscretions and manic outbursts, my heart ached and I was filled with a rage of my own.

Krystal’s willingness to open her heart and spill her experiences for the world to read is beyond admirable. More than that, her story resonates with both men and women across the globe. Abusive relationships of one type or another are, sadly, a common occurrence. Readers who are desperately seeking validation will see themselves mirrored in the way Krystal is drawn back to Pete time and time again as his hollow promises are broken one after another–so goes the life of a victim of domestic abuse.

From Krystal’s own struggle to believe or not to believe Pete to her family and friends’ choice to conceal their own knowledge of Pete’s ongoing affairs, the author details each and every crushing blow before calmly describing the ease with which Pete is able to slide from his duties as a father and husband into the life he prefers as a sleazy cheater and abusive sociopath. Without having to present him as an actual character, Krystal succeeds in giving readers an antagonist worthy of all the hatred they can muster.

Krystal details the day-to-day struggles of being a single parent wanting to date in today’s world. Her descriptions of her young daughter’s vision of her father are almost too much to bear. Her recollections of his tantrums and abuse make my stomach turn. Krystal and her children have lived through more than their share of hard days and deserve all the good times life now has to offer.

Relationship after relationship, Krystal lays it all out on the line and goes for broke. Time after time, she is met with adversity. She does a wonderful job of making readers feel her pain and frustration–her descriptions of online dating are relatable in every way.

This is easily one of the most engaging stories I have read in years. Krystal’s mistakes become her lessons and, in turn, become the reader’s as well. Were it not for authors like Krystal, many of us would continue to feel alone in our frustration and misery. Krystal opens the door for communication. For that, I am grateful.

Pages: 342 | ASIN: B07NP6FNXC

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Toxic Relationships

Diane Pomerantz Author Interview

Diane Pomerantz Author Interview

Lost in the Reflecting Pool is a candid retelling of your life and the many trials you faced throughout. Why was this an important book for you to write?

It was an important book for me to write Lost in the Reflecting Pool for several reasons. On a personal level, writing was a way for me to process some very difficult, and traumatic times in my life. The act of writing itself, allowed me to gain enough distance and perspective to gain understanding that I don’t think I would have otherwise gained.

Equally important, my book covers many issues that are of particular relevance to women and men in terms of toxic relationships, narcissism, trusting the red flags that one sees early on in relationships and I think that it is important that these are important issues for the general population to be aware of as they enter into relationships.

You wrote about a relationship with a man that you struggled to break free of; what is one piece of advice you wish you had at the beginning?

Trust what I saw – and to not ignore what I saw.

The book is a memoir about many difficult things in your life, but the story is ultimately uplifting. What do you hope readers take away from your book?

I hope that people will take away from my story that it is possible to change to course of one’s life even when things feel as if there is no way out – things can get better. Developing a support system is essential. When in a toxic relationship make sure that one does not allow oneself to become isolated from all other supports (friends and family).

What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?

I am currently working on a psychological thriller, Call Me Angel which should be available late 2020 and I am working on two children’s books.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website | Twitter

Lost in the Reflecting Pool: A Memoir by [Pomerantz, Diane]

When Diane, a psychologist, falls in love with Charles, a charming and brilliant psychiatrist, there is laughter and flowers—and also darkness. After moving through infertility treatments and the trials of the adoption process as a united front, the couple is ultimately successful in creating a family. As time goes on, however, Charles becomes increasingly critical and controlling, and Diane begins to feel barraged and battered. When she is diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer, Charles is initially there for her, but his attentiveness quickly vanishes and is replaced by withdrawal, anger, and unfathomable sadism. What Diane previously thought were just Charles’ controlling ways are replaced by clear pathologic narcissism and emotional abuse that turns venomous at the very hour of her greatest need.

A memoir and a psychological love story that is at times tender and at times horrifying, Lost in the Reflecting Pool is a chronicle of one woman’s struggle to survive within—and ultimately break free of—a relationship with a man incapable of caring about anyone beyond himself.

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Strong Is…

Strong Is . . . by [Pulliam, April B.]

What is strong? According to Merriam-Webster, strong is not mild or weak. But what exactly does that mean? To determine if someone or something is strong you need to look at it in context and compare it to other things that are similar. Strong Is… by April Pulliam and illustrated by Amy Grantham looks at the situation through the eyes of a child. The child is relaying all the ways they have heard the word strong used to describe people and things. Each situation gives a new view on what makes something strong or not. As you go through the book you encounter funny images like a stinky dog or a hungry lion, but then it starts to focus more on people and the images become more serious; a hospital, a distraught mother. It all leads up to the end with a picture of a small child. While the book never says cancer in the story line, it is implied with the imagery and by reading up on the author’s page at the end.

This is a challenging subject and this book is a great way to introduce a young child to what might be going on. Learning that it’s okay and even when you’re little you can be strong in your own way. I think this is a great book for siblings or even a child that may be going through this to read and gain some confidence. It’s an emotional topic that is handled with dignity and simplified for young readers. I recommend this book to anyone that knows someone going through an illness and trying to explain it to a young child.

Pages: 15 | ASIN: B07NKH1FNC

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I Grew Up Invisible

Lenore Ossen Author Interview

Lenore Ossen Author Interview

An Invisible Child is a memoir of your life growing up with an abusive mother. Why was this an important book for you to write?

I have an unusual story to tell. It is a true story. It is a story about pain, despair, and a struggle to survive. It is my story. I grew up invisible. I was unloved, abused, and shut away from the outside world. There was no school for me, no classmates, no friendships with other children. Under my psychotic mother’s rules I was not even allowed to be touched or speak to family members. I was my mother’s prisoner, and I lived in panic and fear. Later, when I left my mother’s asylum I found it very difficult to function in the world. I started to write my story for myself, with a need to release my pent-up feelings by writing about them. In the process, I was able to free myself of some of the unbearable pain I experienced in childhood. I soon realized what a compelling story I had to tell. So I decided to put it out into the Universe with a hope that others might learn from what I went through and be able to overcome as I have. Writing this book has also helped me to find my own voice.

The book recounts many memories that were sad and sometimes unbelievable. What served as a guide for you while writing your story?

My feelings and memories were my guide, plus a file my uncle kept on me when I was growing up. My uncle was persona non grata and was not allowed into my mother’s apartment. But he was collecting information from my grandmother and father about the abnormal isolated life I was living with my mother. As I went through the file I found all kinds of information, including a legal document stating that my mother was about to take her life along with mine when I was four. I used the file to write about all sorts of hidden details of my childhood that I never knew about.
Writing a memoir causes one to look back at their life in a different lens.

Writing a memoir causes one to look back on their life in a different lens. Is there anything you see differently now that you wrote this book?

Yes, I am now much more aware of how horrible my life was when I was growing up, I just didn’t want to see it. I didn’t want to deal with the reality of it. Now that I have been able to confront my past, I have been able to feel my feelings, cry my tears, and finally accept my childhood for what it was — and go on from there. I am no longer terrorized by my mother’s demons, and her voice in my head has been replaced by my own. I revised my book several times, and each time I have come closer to the truth of who I really am.

The story ultimately serves as a message of hope. What do you hope readers take away from the book?

I do hope my book will be helpful to those of you who feel lost and alone in a world that can be cold, cruel, and indifferent. What I want to convey to my readers, more than anything else, is a feeling of hope. One can suffer, the human spirit can be crushed and one can plummet into an abyss, but one can rise above despair. I know – because I have, as I went from one crisis to another, learning and growing emotionally, overcoming the pain that dominated my life. By persisting and not giving up, one can eventually succeed and make a life that is fulfilling, with pleasures and joys from just being alive.

Author Links: GoodReads | Amazon

An Invisible Child by [Ossen MSW, Lenore]Trapped in the twisted world of a psychotic mother, Lenore Ossen is shut away from the outside world. For her, there is no school. No classmates. No friendships with other children. Under her mother’s insane rules, she can’t even turn to family members for solace, and so, day after day, she lives in panic and fear. How can she survive such terrible treatment? In deep despair, Lenore learns to retreat to the safety of her own mind. There she creates a world of fantasy and yearns for someone to take her away from her deranged mother. But there is no one. Most people suffering such abuse would go out of their minds. What makes Lenore different? How does she endure? What drives her to rise above her traumatic past?

In this compelling true story, Lenore Ossen describes what living in isolation with a psychotic mother feels like to an innocent child. In telling how she broke free of the nightmare enslaving her, she reaches out to give hope and comfort to other victims of abuse.

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Ain’t No Messiah

Ain't No Messiah: A Novel (Tales of the Blessed and Broken Book 1) by [Tullius, Mark]

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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Freedom Justice are Both

Freedom Justice Are Both by [Jones, Hendrick]

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

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I just look like this

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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Life Interrupted: It’s Not All About Me

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

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Mortgaged Goods

Mortgaged Goods by [Cobcroft, Lorraine]

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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