Blog Archives

The Gift of the Seer

The Gift of the Seer by [Laugheed, K.B.]When you tire of the overload of digital and technology tools within our 2019 era, K.B. Laugheed’s The Gift of the Seer will expedite time travel back with you, and this author will have you writing with a feathered quill by the end of this literary journey! Put on your cultural anthropologist boots and allow this novel to cleverly weave historical yet fantastical plot elements, interestingly complex characters, and a rugged setting that will definitely transport and immerse readers. You will face cultural nuances, norms, spiritual beliefs, worldviews, philosophies, goals, life lessons, conflicts, natural connections, romances, and myriads of adventures via an Indian perspective. Our protagonist, Katie, provides uncensored reflections and stories spanning from the years 1748-1778. Yet Katie, the book’s protagonist, is not the docile, silent, subjugated, stereotypical, domesticated wife and mother that many heroines from her time era typically portray. Instead, she is a literary and cultural badass-think Katniss from The Hunger Games -but Katie encompasses more maturity, carnal pleasures, and complexities as a woman struggling to survive among different cultures, determined to sustain her love for her husband against all odds, and abandoning the feelings of guilt and condemnation based on her feeling that she’s living a big lie!

In short, adventures, dangers, thrills, and chills will bombard you on every page. Yet instead of feeling defeated and exhausted, you will experience the triumphs and evolution, right alongside Katie, as if you were a passenger in her canoe! The book is brilliant in terms of its vivid, sensory details that paint a no-nonsense picture of life during this era. The characters also conjure feelings of fables and folk tales via the author’s unique, authentic style. At times, I noticed hints of magical realism, which further add pizazz to this riveting book. While there are so many positive qualities about this book, especially the way in which the author develops her vast array of characters and executes her dramatic dialogue, all with cultural relevance and sensitivity, I was a bit overwhelmed with the plethora of social, historical, political, cultural, marital problems and themes that she tries to address all at once. At times it was slightly too ambitious for me to keep track of all the family members, neighbors, friends, and foes. Although they are important, especially to comprehend the larger scope of the historical fiction milieu, some of the symbols were slightly perplexing and some plot events were mentioned but not fully explained.

All in all, because readers can sense the imminent danger on every page, as evident from the great use of foreshadowing and cautionary notes to build suspense throughout the text, as in “til the ocean wave of Colonists comes crashing down upon us—then we will see which of us is right,” We not only learn cultural and historical information through characters with real vulnerability and authenticity, but we also find solace in our own journeys about how to fit into this world and all its challenges! We obtain a true sense of empowerment within this challenging piece of art. Try this time travelling and cultural anthropological plight by K.B. Laugheed in The Gift of the Seer!

Pages: 308 | ASIN: B07L7FHTFC

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Mylee in the Mirror

Mylee in the Mirror (Greek Mythology Fantasy Series Book 2) by [Collins, Ellie]

Mylee is experiencing one of the most trying times in her young life. Not only is she watching solemnly as her parents’ marriage hits its rockiest stretch to date, she is unable to convince her mother that she is happier and more productive not being a cheerleader. To top it off, Mylee should be having the time of her life as she seems to have caught the eye of the school’s most desired boy–real homecoming king material. Mylee just can’t seem to catch a break. When her beloved Grammy, her confidante, moves into a new apartment farther from Mylee’s home, the struggle becomes even more real.

Ellie Collins’s second book in her Greek mythology series, Mylee in the Mirror, is a fantastic follow up to her first, Daisy Bold and Beautiful. This young adult fiction series is shaping up to be an artfully designed set of books with well-developed characters and engrossing plot lines. Collins is a master at incorporating current teen culture and dialogue. Her writing flows smoothly, and her characters seems to jump off the page–especially her main characters. Mylee and Ty are an adorable pair and their friendship leaves the reader rooting for them from their very first interaction. Collins seems to have a knack for drawing a thoroughly detestable antagonist. Sam is clearly sketched as the villain, and the dialogue she has given him keeps readers focused on exactly how wonderful Ty is for Mylee–writing perfection.

Collins manages to tap into complex relationships quite easily whether it be the parent-child relationship or the ever-evolving relationships between teen friends. She pinpoints the drama that so easily arises between girls over potential love interests while at the same time highlighting how easily true friends are able to see the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

I am, again, intrigued by Collin’s use of Greek mythology in her plots. She pulls the story of her grandmother’s mirror and the tale of Aphrodite almost effortlessly into what, otherwise, reads as young adult fiction. The fact that Mylee is able to keep her experiences to herself and use what she learns from her encounters with the mirror is a truly unique approach in this genre.

Collins is an author to be watched in the coming years. The ease with which the words flow from her mind to the paper is to be envied indeed. Her writing is phenomenally engaging, and I look forward to seeing more from her series in the future. I highly recommend her writing to any parent of young teens looking to engage their children in well-written and timely books.

Pages: 180 | ASIN: B07JZKV317

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One Path, Many Lights

One Path, Many Lights: One Woman’s Personal & Spiritual Journey by [Lacey, Maria]

One Path, Many Lights: One Woman’s Personal and Spiritual Journey by Maria Lacey is a non-fiction book about the personal experiences that occurred during a period of twelve months in the the author’s life after she returned home following a traumatic relationship breakdown (although details of this inciting event were not mentioned). Maria is a teacher, counselor, and healer who can see and feel spirits and energy. After overcoming her own trials and adversity, she is able to help others with their own healing, even as she continued to battle periods of self-doubt. The author’s purpose in writing this book is to inspire and bring hope into others’ daily lives.

The author’s writing style is very engaging and I really enjoyed it. It almost felt as though a close friend was talking to me and retelling various events that had happened in her life, rather than reading a book about someone I’d never met. It seemed like one bad thing after another happened to Maria, with a number of medical issues and the deaths of her two cats, Kovu and Moggy, all occurring within a very short length of time. I felt sympathy for all the things she had to deal with, which she handled with amazing grace. Then, through writing this book, she turned her personal hardships and tragedy into something positive. Her message resonates with the reader because we are always hardest on ourselves, and need to learn to love ourselves unconditionally, flaws and all.

It was interesting reading about the range of people she worked with in her practice, from pregnant women to men struggling with the changes brought on by retirement. I loved reading the part where the spirits of Maria’s beloved pets visited her often. I wish that was true for me, too.

I didn’t enjoy reading the channeling sessions as much as the rest of the book. It didn’t hold my interest quite as well. The section about her childhood felt a bit disjointed, jumping from one event to another with abrupt transitions, and they in chronological order. There were some grammatical issues and typos that distracted from the narrative, but overall, the book was a very enjoyable and inspiring read. The footnotes in several chapters were helpful to provide additional information and clarification. I would recommend this book to anyone in search of inspiration and spiritual growth.

Pages: 164 | ASIN: B00YOIOTIS

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Cascarones

Cascarones by Sylvia Sánchez Garza is a book that feels more like a conversation between friends. Garza follows the life of a Mexican girl living in Texas and straddling the world of her culturally rich family and a whitewashed school she winds up going to in Houston. This isn’t the only aspect of her life that Garza delves into. She also explores the girl’s relationship with family members, her church, family traditions, and general everyday life. The book is a nice collection of individual stories about the same family with the same cast of characters.

This was a nice, easy read. It is simple without being boring. The individual stories make nice bite-size sections. This made it a fun, leisurely read. The book feels light. It doesn’t have that heavy, daunting feeling that some books do.

As previously stated, the book feels like a conversation. It feels like sitting and listening to someone reminisce about their childhood. I prefer first-person writing as a rule, and this book delivers. It makes it feel so much more personal and relatable. Readers will identify with pieces of Suzy’s stories and may see themselves in her experiences. Reading this book felt like getting to know a new friend.

I feel like I got to know the characters better through each story. Each story gave a better feel for the family. Even with short stories that could stand alone, the characters were well developed. It also gave a lot of insight into the culture of Mexican American families. It showed their strength and pride in their clinging to their traditions. There were quite a bit of Spanish words and dialogue in the book. I know very little Spanish and looked up a few words, but the vast majority of the meaning comes out in the context.

My only complaint is that I might have liked the stories better in a different order. I think I would have liked them to be in chronological order rather than jumping back and forth in time. It threw me the first time I realized Suzy was speaking as an adult. It took me a second to understand what was happening since it jumped from her being a kid to having kids, and back to a kid again. I lost my bearings a little but recovered quickly.

Cascarones by Sylvia Sánchez Garza is very well-written. There are very few errors, if any. It had a nice pace and flow. I liked following Suzy navigate between two worlds as she is pulled between her large Mexican family and living in America. It taught me a lot about the Mexican American culture that I didn’t know. I’d like to read more by Garza.

Pages: 162 | ISBN: 1724622889

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Leather Horizons – Trailer

Misty Briscoe is ready to gracefully bow out of her successful career and bow in to an uncertain future. But her choices may result in a turning, twisting leap of faith.

Strength is one thing, courage another. Just ask Misty Briscoe. Her dignity has taken a beating the last couple of month’s She’d found herself at a crossroads of staying put in her career or returning home where her family needs her.

If only the choice wasn’t so complex.

Her workplace predicament with her married boss and her successful job in Chicago are anything but stress free. Yet, back home in southwestern Michigan, her beloved grandmother has recently passed, and now her grandfather has disappeared. Add to that, Misty’s best friend needs her support in the most unlikely of circumstances.

In the end, will she remain in the big city where she’s worked hard to attain a career or give it up and begin again at home where she has a sense of belonging?

From the spectrum of executive boardrooms to shadowy blue collar bars, secluded beaches, and dense woods, follow Misty on her challenging journey to find peace of mind, contentment, and a place among loved ones.

The saga takes a hard look at life from the classified agendas of friends, lovers, families, and enemies to the ultimatums behind closed doors. Come along for the ride through the avenues of indiscretion, loneliness, hope, secrets, courage, love, deceit, and integrity into LEATHER HORIZONS.

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Head Lines: Rebuilding a Brain – Trailer

Pheasant describes in an immediate way the experience of being in a coma and out of her body. She learns how everything in life is her choice, whether to live or to die, when she chooses to live, and that everything in her life has to be relearned and rebuilt. Join her and her mother, Susan, an accomplished artist, in the story of how she had to begin again. Read about the challenges and triumphs of recovering from, and living after, a traumatic brain injury.

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The Mom and her Autistic Daughter

The Mom and her Autistic Daughter-2 by [dubono, regine]

The Mom and Her Autistic Daughter by Regine Dubono is a fitting title for this book. Dubono explains the life and turmoil of Desiree, an adult with autism, and her mother. Desiree’s medicines’ effects and side effects are explored. The struggle to find Desiree a long term living arrangement becomes a source of contention between Desiree, Desiree’s mother, and her caregivers. Her mother finds it difficult to find balance for herself and her daughter while playing a deck that seems stacked against them.

The author delves into Desiree’s everyday life which feels tumultuous at best. Desiree has parts of her life she enjoys such as shopping and manicures, but everything apart from that feels tense. In working in Special Education I have found in the past that this is pretty typical of autistic children. I assume that would generally carry over into adulthood as it has with Desiree. My students have had areas they excel in and become almost obsessive about their particular interests. Anything else feels boring or daunting. Any deviation from their schedule can also cause a tailspin or meltdown. These are things that readers who have not worked with people with autism may not know and may learn from the book.

I’ve also had a bit of experience in dealing with drugs and their side effects while caring for my father. Dubono explores how drugs may “fix” one issue, but cause many more. One drug may also cause further symptoms that need to be controlled, thus producing the need for more drugs. These are frustrating waters to navigate. Readers may get more of a grasp of how many pharmaceutical companies and drug-pushing doctors work in this aspect. This part of the book is especially pertinent in today’s social climate.

Dubono’s explanation of the struggles in finding Desiree a permanent and sufficient placement especially hit home for me. Many readers who have dealt with this kind of thing will be able to sympathize with the accounts she gives. It is extremely hard to find caregivers for adults. It would be exponentially harder to find care for those who are prone to have outbursts and labelled as “difficult.” Clean and suitable facilities and genuinely caring and qualified caregivers aren’t always readily available. My family knows that from experience. Anyone who has dealt with this will find her accounts relatable.

The structure of the book feels somewhat lacking and feels repetitive at times. One letter in particular that is written by the mother is repeated almost verbatim in another part of the book. I had to flip back to make sure I hadn’t lost my place. There are quite a few grammatical and spelling errors throughout the book. There are also many abbreviations that are left unexplained. There is substance in the experiences and relationship of the mother and daughter, but the book doesn’t flow as well as I would have liked it to. I think the book would benefit greatly from an editor and proofreader.

There are important lessons to be learned here. This is a story that should be told as a cautionary tale and to help parents or guardians not feel alone in this situation. Desiree’s voice should be heard, I just think the book could use some revision and restructuring.

Pages: 123 | ASIN: B07H5RCYB5

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An Intriguing Tapestry

Paul Scopel Author Interview

Paul Scopel Author Interview

Tarnished Tiara is a fascinating story about the mysterious death of an innocent young woman. What was the inspiration behind this book?

I attempted to weave an intriguing tapestry which pulled from three key inspirations. First, the untimely deaths of close family members who left little direction as to their end of life plans remained heavy on my mind. Subsequently, I obsessed over the importance for such planning in our life and issues of elder care. The remedy found itself in receiving professional advice. Next, I pulled from common themes in today’s media centering on vain beauty queens with fragile egos, multiple marriages, and mysterious deaths. It is not an uncommon event. Just before writing the book, I realized at least seven title holders of various beauty pageants, all of them influential people including a former Miss America, had actually been present in my younger years. Finally, I wanted to expose the disease of animal hoarding. From the moment I left the scene of a house in a hazmat situation destroyed by multiple cats, similar to the one in my book, I wanted to express my shock and fury over this real condition. Entering that house was the worst day of my life.

Cece and Liz are interesting characters that shared a deep bond. What were some themes you wanted to capture in their characters?

How deep loyalty and trust of certain family members is rooted

Parenting provides the roots of self-esteem

Dealing with elder care legal and mental health issues

This story takes us through many phases of the girl’s lives. What were some ideas you wanted to explore in this book?

The central idea is that some family members earn the enduring love which leads to trust, while other relatives provoke strained and broken ties. These pleasant and sour attitudes lead to choices which matter, in the end. Choices such as spouses, careers, where to live, and even pets. Hoarding, specifically the destructive effects of animal hoarding on health and property is a key idea I pursued. Further, untreated mental health illnesses and prescription drug abuse affects families and institutions across the country in real, tangible ways. Finally, as our population ages, there is a need to recognize that end of life decisions should be made proactively instead of burdening our loved ones.

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

I am starting to write two books currently.

“Richie and Crazy Joe”, a fictional sequel to Tarnished Tiara, examines the symbiotic relationship of two cousins, a quirky male and supportive female. The male falls under the influence of shady dealings of cousins on the “other side” of his family. Expected: Fall 2020.

“Dirt Court”, fiction based loosely on a female “All-State” basketball player in Texas in 1930, who also was my mother. It is about the life of an immigrant who succeeds despite abject poverty, language barriers, and girls playing basketball when it was not cool for women to be in a sport dominated by males. The high school girls’ team became known as the Legends of Texas and were undefeated in their senior year. Expected: Fall 2021.

Author Links: Amazon

Two women grow in surprising ways to ultimately switch roles as the idol falls from grace
To the outside world, Liz Perkins had it all – beauty, charm, poise, talent and many adoring men. One wonders, how could it all have gone so shockingly wrong?
When the flirtatious beauty queen, Liz, entered a room with her enigmatic flair, no one sensed her fragility – a result of the badgering of a demanding stage mother.
Over the years, the lives of two close girl cousins took dramatically different turns. Cece found long-term fulfillment in her rock, Ross Turner. But contrary to expectations, Liz’s legacy unfolded much differently than imagined. When happiness eluded her through multiple abusive marriages and dubious companions,she was left with the only company that offered her unconditional love – her many cats.
To the casual observer, Liz achieved success and fame. Though attaining celebrity through television, advertising, and public speaking, her search for happiness ended one mysterious and tragic night when everything changed…

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Gardening with Guns: A Memoir

Gardening with Guns: A Memoir by [Wootton, AJ]

GARDENING WITH GUNS by AJ WOOTTON is a memoir which delves into the relationship between the author’s rocky childhood and her present-day struggles. We meet Amber as she gets a great job and goes on vacation with her family. Things take a quick turn for the worse when Amber’s beloved father’s body is found–suicide. While dealing with this significant blow, Amber ponders traumas from her childhood, compares her relationships with her absent father and abusive stepfather, and parses out her many tumultuous relationships—all while wondering if her past might dictate her future, knowing that her spousal relationship is also on the rocks.

Although this is billed as a memoir, I’d say it reads more as a memoir-within-a-memoir, with the loose threads of the current day events—the death of a family member, followed by the arrangements for the funeral and resulting small family dramas—connecting the real meat of this book: the author’s deep dive into scenes from her childhood, some of which have had effects on her she has yet to realize. The prose reads like a stream of consciousness, which is sometimes an asset: it does make you feel like you are sitting inside the author’s head, listening to her own thoughts as she notices details and pulls apart her memories. The book does a good job of delving into the complexity of dark human drama—divorce, infidelity, suicide, abuse—while giving front stage to the inner motivations which drive our actions. The first few chapters feel like a cozy memoir, as the author chummily guides you through interviews and family vacations as one would a close friend. While some of her stories tend to ramble a bit, the author provides such detail in her work that it is impossible to get lost amidst the narratives. The importance of every scene included may be questionable, as it occasionally veers into redundancy; and the timelines can be confusing, as in at least one case we learn to live with a character and then, later on in the narrative, “meet” him. However, it falls together as a deeply-felt memoir; it is impossible to read this without feeling one knows the author extremely intimately. As the author weaves through her life as an abused child, an entrepreneurial tween, a self-conscious teenager and beyond, it’s clear that the heart of the story is the author’s relationships: those with her father, step-father, mother, siblings, friends, husband, and, ultimately, herself.

Pages: 386 | ASIN: B07KT98NQR

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An Invisible Child

An Invisible Child by [Ossen MSW, Lenore]

An Invisible Child is a story based on the heart wrenching experiences of Lenore Ossen. It tells the tale of her lonely and traumatic childhood, growing up with a mother suffering from mental illness; isolated and trapped away from the real world. Deprived of social interaction, friendships and even family relationships she tells the story of how she endured life living within the restrictive and peculiar rules set by her mother, living in a constant state of fear. She describes how at times she hated her mother, yet was constantly trying to please and make her mother happy.

The book is a chronological recount of her life, as she remembers it, with the help of notes her uncle wrote.  Her experiences range from sad, to strange and almost unbelievable. Some of the more disturbing experiences include her relationship with her father and her lack of life experiences.

Her lack of relationship with her father had an enormous impact on Lenore. She craved physical and emotional contact with him, but rarely received it. When he did show her affection, her mother was quick to put an end to it with cruel comments. Her uncle wrote in his notes that “George was a plain, simple fellow who wanted what all men want: a wife, a home, the love and affection of his wife and child. He had none of this.” Lenore’s chance at a relationship was further compromised when he moved out of the family home. All hopes ended when he died and disappeared from her life altogether -although disturbingly her mother did not tell her for over a year that he had died.

As she became a teenager she gained more self-awareness. Lenore became conscious of all the ‘normal’ life experiences she was missing out on. At 14 she had never been on the subway, never played with other children, never purchased anything in a store, never spoken on the telephone or handled money. She writes of her distress as she contemplated all the experiences she should have been having.

Although this is a shocking and heart-breaking story, it is also a story of hope. As she grows older, she slowly gains confidence. She pushes herself far beyond her comfort zone, and literally steps out of the apartment. Lenore attempts everyday tasks and teaches herself age appropriate skills for living in society. At times she makes mistakes, however she learns from these as any intelligent person does. She gains the courage and confidence to overcome her life of abuse, showing others that no matter what road you have traveled there is hope for your future.

Pages: 628 | ASIN: B01LXCKCE6

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