Crickets follows a woman back to her hometown after her father’s death, where she’s forced to face her past and an unexpected enemy. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
This is probably a stereotypical middle-aged peril, but going home always feels to me like stepping into a different person. I think stories born in homecomings offer really fertile ground for character growth. Your review said this more eloquently, but there seems to be something special about “home” that forces us to face the people we used to be and the aspects of our lives we can physically move on from in other settings.
Kara is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?
Thanks! I was interested in exploring the ways trauma can stall someone and present various challenges which in most cases aren’t easily seen by others. I think Kara, who’s so bright and aware of what’s going on for her internally, provided a good vehicle for this. Writing in first person gives me a chance to show how at odds her internal narrative is with the face she presents to the world, and I think her struggle is familiar to a lot of people who live quietly with their trauma (so I hope I got this right).
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
I mentioned I was interested in the longer-term effects of trauma, but Crickets also gave me the chance to learn more about how our society treats sexual crimes in particular so differently than other types of crime. I was shocked by the number of rape kits that aren’t even processed and the various ways victims of sexual crimes are often gaslighted—whether intentionally or not—as they report these experiences and try to get justice. The lengths women in particular, but also other marginalized groups go to trying to avoid assault in the first place is unreal, but learning more about how many of these victims are treated “after” was especially disturbing to me, and this is an experience I think should be better understood so we can properly address it.
When and where will your book be available?
Crickets is available for pre-order on Amazon and will be available for purchase from major retailers on September 13th.
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Despite My Odds is a candid and heartfelt retelling of your tumultuous upbringing and the difficult path that led to love and success. Why was this an important book for you to write?
I have always been a helper and wanted to show others the power to move forward lies within. My life has always had purpose, but it took me a long time to really embrace that idea. In telling my story, I gained ownership of everything that happened to me. The transparency freed me in a way I had never felt before. Many have had similar challenges, yet struggle with the courage to tell their story-to define their worth and walk in power. These are the people I held in my heart as I wrote my story.
There were many points in my life that I could have ended up on the other side of the statistics. My grandma used to tell me she was so happy I wasn’t somewhere crouched in a corner after being raped. Despite My Odds proves that we can break the cycle of despair and live a better life.
What do you feel is a common misconception people have about abusive relationships?
Oftentimes, there is the misconception that there was something the victim/victor did to provoke the abuse. Some think it is easy to just leave, just pick up the pieces and go. Perhaps outsiders don’t understand the components and levels of abuse. Abusers teach you to abuse yourself. When you feel you are nothing, how do you leave? How do you get the strength to move on? A bird with a broken wing cannot fly.
I appreciated the candid nature with which you told your story. What were some key ideas that you wanted to express in your book?
Thank you! I spent too many years trying to fit the mold others created for me. Just as the raw memories erupted, I wanted my readers to feel the sting of the details. It is important to truly love yourself, and no matter how bad your past seems, know that you can still shine.
What is one thing you hope readers take away from your memoir?
I hope readers feel empowered after reading my book.
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One Woman, Two lives, written by Ajay Nair, is a saga set in South India, describing the challenges women face as they fight the suppression forced upon them by the caste system. There are numerous characters in the novel, but it centers on one family: Kelu and Lakshami and their daughters Narayani and Bhavani. Although Kelu, father and husband is integral in the story, the novel focuses on the three women and their lives and their reactions to the challenges thrust upon them by the caste system. These three women are strikingly different in their approach and reactions to their situations. Lakshami, the mother, finds herself marrying a man of higher caste. Her character grows into this role, and her dialogue and actions change as her status does. Narayani, the eldest daughter accepts her position in life. Bhavani, the younger sister, is not as accepting of the situation. As she grows older, her attitude to the reality of the position of women is reflected in her conversations with her sister. Although tradition would suggest Bhavani show respect and subservience to her father, mother and elder sister respectively, she is often caught ‘speaking out of turn’. When tragedy strikes, Bhavani engages in her biggest fight yet, breaking quietly from the chains of suppression to seek justice.
One Women, Two Lives is set in Southern India. The setting is well described, and immediately draws the reader into the novel. Outfits for weddings are described in exquisite detail, as are the venues and decorations. The description of the setting, both in terms of the greater setting of Southern India and the individual households are vivid and realistic. Not only does the setting quickly draw the reader in, the descriptions give an authentic feel to this thought-provoking story that reinforces the struggles of the caste system and the women within.
One Woman, Two Lives, is an emotionally-charged saga with insightful commentary on family life. The novel questions the concepts of fate and destiny and highlights the caste system constraints many women were subjected to. The simple structure, authentic characters and vivid setting combine to make Ajay Nair’s novel an enthralling read.
Pages: 121 | ASIN: B08XTSYYN8
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When Grandpa visits, there is a whole world of possibilities that comes alive in the heart of one little girl who doesn’t only regard him as grandpa, but someone she can trust and depend on to be allowed to dream and explore, all in the realm of safety, because Grandpa’s love is just as special as her parents’ love.
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Layla has overcome a multitude of hardships. It is almost impossible to comprehend how much her life has changed over the years and how strong one woman can actually be when push comes to shove. From abuse endured at a tender age to failed relationships with men who repeatedly took advantage of both her and her family, Layla has seen and survived it all. As a young mother herself, Layla understands the importance of protecting her children and the impact their environment will have on their futures. It is at all costs that Layla looks onward and upward when life’s curveballs never cease coming her way.
Despite My Odds: A Memoir, by Denise Monique, is the true story of the author’s tumultuous upbringing, the difficult path that led her to true love, and her second shot at success. Monique’s life story is completely captivating. The descriptions of her childhood and her mother’s neglectful manner pulls at the reader’s heartstrings. The author’s life, unfortunately, is one with which many readers will relate. The amount of bravery it has taken for Monique to tell her story is immense, and her candor is, at times, chilling in its raw truth.
It is not often that I read a book cover-to-cover in a sitting, but Monique’s begs to be one of those books worthy of a one-and-done session. I immediately found myself lost in the tragedy that was her childhood and rooting for every one of her relationships to finally be the one that took her life in a positive direction. I was invested from the first page–completely. Her frustrations and losses became, if for a moment in time, mine. Monique has a way of making the reader feel as if they are lifelong friends. She writes in a way this open, honest, engaging, and, most of all, freeing. This is a gripping work of the author’s heart from beginning to end.
Despite My Odds: A Memoir is a must-read for anyone who has survived abuse and is looking for inspiration and the encouragement to keep looking forward. Monique’s willingness to examine her past and share it is a gift to readers everywhere. It is through stories like hers that we find purpose in our pain and real hope for healing. Though any reader stands to gain from Monique’s story, I highly recommend her book to social service workers and guidance counselors. There is a level of empathy that can be reached by absorbing Monique’s story they will find nowhere else. It is through the eyes of survivors we can find answers.
Pages: 95 | ASIN: B0854CZ6HH
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In Who Okayed This?! The Riveting Life of Grant Davis, Philip E. Barrington tells us the story of Grant, a man that experienced various interesting and intriguing things during his life. The book serves as Grant’s diary, through which he tells the reader his thoughts and the many life changing events that he experienced since he was a young boy.
Grant’s life is far from boring. In the book we follow him as he travels around different cities and countries, trying to make something of his life. He meets intriguing new people all the time, some of them become friends and helped him grow, some of them become terrible enemies that almost succeeded in ruining his life. Grant endures many betrayals, yet never gives up, always looking to find something better for himself to enjoy life to the fullest. Family, friendship, love, travel and the search of a career, are aspects that are deeply involved in most people’s lives and that are explored and shown in this book through Grant’s riveting life.
It was interesting following the different events that Grant had to go through in his life, there are so many things that are talked about in the book. Relationships, health issues, problems with the police and the law, corruption and family life. The author shares the many adventures that Grant had that would change him forever, from meeting new people to traveling to new places to discovering secrets of the universe, a set of fascinating events that allowed Grant Davis to find his life purpose.
I enjoyed reading about Grant’s story and finding out gradually the varying life changing events that he went through where he met interesting, odd and even threatening people that made him explore new things all the time: his life was truly riveting. However, I wanted these things to be explored more, and explained further, in the book. The book reads like a diary, which means that we don’t get too many details about the events and the people that were described in the book. Nevertheless, the book was still enjoyable and it was stimulating reading. In particular, I was intrigued by the themes that were explored near the end of the book, a series of mystical, soul-searching events that Grant came in contact with to possibly change his future, and other people’s futures, for the better.
Is it fully fiction or are there real life events mixed in the story? Who knows, it is up to the reader to figure out how much is fictional and how much is the author’s real story, so if you want to try to find out, you must read the book first. Who Okayed This?! The Riveting Life of Grant Davis is an interesting and easy read that illustrates the good and the bad that can be found all the time in every person’s life path.
Pages: 241 | ASIN: B08VKSQT36
If Grandma Were Here, by Amber L. Bradbury is a heartwarming children’s story to remind kids that their grandma is always with them. The book goes through the many activities children would have with their grandmother. From hugs in the morning to a story at night, there are many things to read about.
If Grandma Were Here is an easy to read book, with detailed illustrations to help the reader visualize each scene. The drawings are filled with bright colors and motion, showing the excitement of spending time with grandma. Throughout the book, the tone is playful and enthusiastic to remind kids that memories of deceased loved ones are happy memories.
Bradbury tells a fun story to teach children that losing a loved one is sad but it is important to remember all the good times you had together. Each event makes it easy for the reader to relate, making it feel more personal. If Grandma Were Here is a beautiful children’s book that will help family’s discuss grief and help young ones understand how to cope with loss. The charming illustrations and heartwarming storyline make Amber L. Bradbury’s children’s book an engaging and entertaining story for anyone.
ASIN: B08QMM18YW | Pages: 17
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Reign: A Guide to Ruling Your Inner Kingdom of Self with Grace, Power, and Authenticity provides readers with insights and tools they can use to live a balanced and joyous life. Why was this an important book for you to write?
I believe small changes in our patterns of living can have a profound, positive impact. I saw a clear example of this while on vacation. As a family we love to travel and have taken two separate, weeklong bus tours that highlight different cities and sights. One of these trips was a small tour group of about twenty fellow tourists, all of whom were complete strangers to us. The first day we boarded the bus, everyone took a seat and introduced themselves to those around them. As the trip progressed, the same seating routine continued, and everyone sat in the same seat that they had the first day. By the end of the trip, we had become good friends with those seated around us. We shared meals, looked out for one another on excursions, and exchanged contact information to keep in touch. However, there was a part of our group that sat farther from us on the bus that we didn’t get to know.
The other trip we took was with twice the number of tourists and therefore a much larger bus. The first day we boarded with our travel companions (again all complete strangers), we took seats that were open. The second day, like the other trip, everyone sat in the same spot as they had the day before. This time, however, our tour group leader announced that we were to change up our seats each time we boarded by moving in a clockwise direction (if seated on the left side of the bus you moved up one row from your previous seat, and if seated on the right side of the bus you moved your seat back one row). After his announcement, there was a moment of quiet, stunned silence as people digested his request. There was some whispered grumbling as people collected their things and changed seats. Once we were settled, he asked that we introduce ourselves to those new faces around us. As this trip continued, we followed this seating rotation and met every person in our group. By the end of the trip, we knew everyone’s names, where they were from, had shared laughs, told stories, and enjoyed at least one meal with each of them. On this trip contact information was exchanged with all of our fellow bus passengers as everyone wanted to keep in touch. I greatly enjoyed both bus trips but found that the second trip, even though it was twice the group size as the first, was a much warmer inclusive one by virtue of the simple act of changing seats.
Like taking the same seat on a bus or in a classroom, we can easily find ourselves following a particular pattern out of habit. It can be uncomfortable to change that pattern. The ancient Chinese observed however that life is change. I think that there is a huge opportunity in that teaching. Small changes can create greater ease and a more enriching life. I wrote this book to offer an exploration of our power to change.
In the book you describe the five elemental realms. What is a key aspect you feel is important to learn when studying these realms?
The five elemental realms represent the changing seasons on earth as seen by the ancient Chinese (winter, spring, summer, late summer, autumn) and the emotions that they associated with each of those seasons (fear, anger, joy, sympathy, grief). Just like the seasons follow a continuous loop of change, we should also keep moving forward in life. For example, a cozy parka may be a favorite item of clothing on a freezing, winter day but would be uncomfortable to wear and look silly if worn on a hot, sandy beach. It is important to live each moment fully but then surrender it to the past as an opportunity for growth and learning. Trying to stay in a particular moment in time, habitual pattern or emotion, can hold you back from your life’s journey. This is like holding on to anger that eventually leads to a grudge, which over time, ends up hurting you more than the person who may or may not know they have wronged you. The five realms represent emotions and actions that are available to each of us on our human journey. To live our lives fully, we should experience and visit all five realms (emotions) but keep moving through them so as not stay stuck in one place.
What is your professional experience in the clinical field and how has that helped you write this book?
I have treated many patients in a variety of clinical settings. My greatest learning from both my studies and treating patients is that our bodies are wise, and they never lie to us. When there is discomfort, it is important to tune in and respect what our bodies may be telling us. At times, the cause of our discomfort is within our control. It may be lifestyle choices (diet, exercise etc.) or it may be thought choices. Often, I would hear similar stories from my patients (Ex. my mother-in-law is mean). Stories that we tell ourselves can trap us in like a box and limit our life experience. If we have the courage to learn a different story it can alleviate a lot of stress (Ex. my mother-in-law is mean because she is unhappy with her life choices and that has nothing to do with me). Of course, everyone’s situation is different, but I think that there is space in each person’s life for small shifts that can foster greater ease and contentment.
Do you have plans to write other books on this same topic?
I don’t have plans at this time to write another book but have toyed with the idea of a podcast. I think we all have beautiful soul stories to tell of how change has impacted our lives. I’d like to offer a forum to hear from those who have had the courage to change something for the better and the difference it has made for them. I think we can all learn from those teachers.
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