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A Tribute To The Finnish Generations

Tuula Pere Author Interview

Raspberry Red follows a young girl as her family flies from a war-torn country and eventually makes it back home to start over again. What was the inspiration for to your story?

The subject of this book has matured in my mind since I was a small child. As the 100th anniversary of the independence of Finland approached, it seemed to be just the right time to write “Raspberry Red”, as it is inspired by drastic periods in the history of our country.

At the same time, the book can be fitted equally well for any country, at any time. The topics are sadly current even today. Recent news proves it painfully. I still remember my conversation with the Greek illustrator Georgia Stylou about the book. After reading the script, she felt connected to the story through the developments in her own country throughout the years.

“Raspberry Red” is also a tribute to the Finnish generations before me. Over the years, I have listened to the personal experiences of many people about the war, leaving home, and adaptation to demanding situations. There have been threats, danger, escaping in haste, and joys and sorrows experienced and shared.

In addition, as a child, I lived in Eastern Finland in an area where a lot of evacuees from Karelia had been placed. Families no longer had a home and familiar regions to return to after the war.

I will never forget the stories of these people. They were telling about everything they had experienced or what they had to leave behind them. The tears were plentiful, and the songs were full of longing. The hospitality was present, although there was little to offer. The new life gradually began.

Aino is a strong young girl that stays strong for her family during these difficult times. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

The book includes some of my mother’s experiences with her father going to war and how she waited for him to return. As a child, my mother-in-law also had challenges keeping the family village shop running together with her mother during the war. The most dramatic moment of Aino in the story is encountering the foreign soldier. That had taken place in real life for a deceased lady when she was young. Her perseverance and survival after the war showed great courage and determination.

Aino, the girl in my story, had to face highly demanding situations at a young age. Everything in her life changed in a short time. I wanted to highlight the child’s vulnerability and sensitivity, but simultaneously her ability to adapt to the inevitable. Aino doesn’t lose hope of getting father back home.

Fortunately, she gets to talk about father with other people close to her. She shares her feelings and expectations with her friends, mother, and grandparents – except for one event; meeting the enemy soldier face to face. It was such an overwhelming experience that only the father’s return frees her to reveal what happened. She feels safe and confident going through the situation only with her own father. He has been a soldier, too, and can understand the event’s significance for all parties.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

I find it extremely important to pass on the experiences of previous generations to younger people. We must try to learn something from what has happened in the past. Maybe this would prevent the same mistakes from happening again.

The themes of war and peace are, in my view, among the most important stories of all – though telling them requires a sensitive mind and a skilled hand.

In the twists and turns of this story, we encounter people of all ages whose lives have been shaken utterly. I want to encourage the reader to believe that even during difficulties, good things happen, too. People help each other, and also, in the most challenging situations, it is possible to choose a humane option.

Stories that connect real experiences and increase empathy are valuable. They help us better understand people in different situations.

What is one thing that you hope readers take away from Raspberry Red?

Before I can answer this question, here are a few words about my general motivations for writing several children’s books about conflicts and wars. As an author, I find it necessary that my audience is left with hope even after reading such books.

I want to consider the needs of children as a target group carefully. Their ability to understand is essential for how the story is told, and their feelings must be respected and protected. They need wise guidance in meeting the most significant challenges of their lives.

We often say in Finland: As long as there is life, there is hope. The English saying “hope is eternal” means roughly the same thing. I find this thought very encouraging. The idea of ​​keeping up hope to the very last moment is important. However, I want to attach another thing to it, overall respect for life. This attitude means a humane approach to other people’s lives, too, not just our own.

I want to believe that we can cherish humanity, even if life is challenging at times. I find it especially beautiful if a person respects the life of others, even if their own is under threat. It is probably the greatest gift you can give to another.

The foreign soldier in the “Raspberry Red” carried this warmth with him. He used the humanity of his heart in a most stressful situation and chose to save the life of the child of the enemy country, as his highest priority.

This message of love and respect is necessary for all ages, in all countries. I write about it in all my books, not just “Raspberry Red,” and plan to do it as long as possible.

Author Links: Facebook | Website

Raspberry Red is a story about war’s breaking out and a family setting out on an evacuation journey, as seen through the eyes of a little girl. When they’re leaving, Aino meets a foreign soldier by her playhouse. The man lets her go. Only her rag doll’s raspberry red apron is left behind in the snow when Aino escapes.

Late one autumn, Aino’s father sets off on the road with the other village men. Little Aino doesn’t quite understand why. During the cold winter days, scary noises start to echo from the nearby forest.
The family is forced to leave their home, their own village shop, and Aino’s playhouse. They leave for the train station in such a hurry that Aino can hardly keep up with the others.
Near the playhouse, the eyes of the child and a foreign soldier meet. When Aino escapes, her rag doll’s raspberry red apron is left behind in the snow.

Jodie’s Rescue – Book Trailer

Twelve-year-old Jodie Jackson lives with her father above their family boatshed in Serpentine Bay in Sydney Harbour. She attends a new school, where she is faced with bullying and loneliness. She is also feeling grief at the death of her mother the year before. She misses her mother and wonders where she is now.

Her father is consumed by his work and won’t share his emotions with Jodie, so she takes solace in sailing her boat around Sydney Harbour. Her favourite spot is Lighthouse Point where her family used to go for picnics. Her father refuses to go there as it brings up memories, but Jodie likes to feel that she is connecting with her mother.

She makes new friends with Sarah Chan and together they explore the derelict lighthouse and Jodie finds an old photo of a girl. The ranger finds them trespassing and they discover that there are plans for the area to be turned into a marina and a restaurant. Jodie is horrified.

The girls find some dead penguins floating in the water and later Jodie finds a live penguin living under the jetty on a nearby island.

One night her mother appears in her bedroom and takes her with her to Heaven World and shows Jodie what a lovely, beautiful light-filled place it is, and how happy she is being there, and that she is always watching over Jodie. She can’t wait to tell her father about seeing Mum, but he dismisses it as just a dream and walks away.

Jodie is angry and sails her boat out into the Harbour despite the storm warnings. She capsizes but manages to swim to shore and seek shelter in the derelict hall on the nearby island. A girl appears looking for her own mother, and Jodie realises it is the girl in the photo that she found, and Jodie tells her to go towards the light that is shining through the trees.

Her father finally rescues her and is distraught by the thought of losing her. He tells her he loves her and vows to be more open with her and talk about his feelings and their shared loss.

The rangers at Parks and Wildlife investigate the area and discover a new penguin colony living in the bay, and the plans for the lighthouse are shelved.

A Way Out Of A Living Nightmare

Ken Fry Author Interview

Drunks is a realistic novel following the passionate but tragic relationship of an alcoholic couple that is struggling with their demons. Why was this an important story for you to tell?

It was important for me to tell because of my own experiences and that of others I knew.. Many of the events in DRUNKS did occur. There are a few that didn’t but overall many who have read it have been able to relate to it. That was and is important to tell and does show a way out of a living nightmare.

I appreciated how raw and authentic your characters felt. What were some ideas that were important for you to capture in your characters?

Ideas that passed through my mind were to depict in some way the stealthy degradation that alcoholism inflicts on its victims. In doing so, it reveals the levels to which many descend into, causing them to act violently, cruelly, without compassion, and often criminally. Through Al and Chrissy, i wanted to reveal those traits.

What were some themes that you wanted to explore in this novel?

A major theme was that if you really want something you will get it. If you are in trouble there is always help to be found. Al realised he was in deep deep trouble but found help. He only had to ask. Chrissy surrendered and what she wanted was to drink and she found help in that sad direction mixing with wino’s, drunks, and down and outs. There’s an old adage, ‘birds of a feather flock together.’ Both Al and Chrissy bear witness to that.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Website

2022 Literary Titan Gold Award Winner

A realistic drama about the deep, consuming, relentless and compulsive passion between an alcoholic couple struggling with their own demons.

It’s multi-award-winning author Ken Fry like you’ve never read him before. Reminiscent of Days of Wine and Roses — a poignant story of a doomed triangle between a man, a woman, and alcohol.

My name is Alan Markham, and this all happened a while ago, but the memories don’t go away. Looking back, I can see that our lives had been carried along like a rudderless ship in a storm. The life we had is gone. It sank beneath the ocean waves and I was powerless to prevent that.

I’m controlling my problem, but I’m under no illusions. I could come apart at the seams any time… should I pick up a drink.

My memories of what it was like for my wife Chrissy and I, have become a blurred recollection. They hurt. But I need that pain to remind me of what I was and how I got to my present state.

I owe her that, at least.

Are you in control of that glass or bottle you’re holding?
That’s what Chrissy and I thought so too…

Read our story.

Twin Adventures: Farmhouse Visit

Twin Adventures: Farmhouse Visit takes Kate and Tate, and readers, on a fun-filled adventure to grandma and grandpa’s house out on the farm. While grandma and grandpa show Kate and Tate their daily activities on the farm their imaginations run away from them and they end up making friends with two adorable bunnies.

Book two in Pat Henry’s Twin Adventure series has readers imaging all the fantastic things one can do on a farm. I found this to be a lovely diversion for young readers who are consumed with their electronics. This genial children’s book shows how much fun it can be on a farm and, staying true to the series theme, it shows just how much fun using your imagination can be.

I appreciate how consistent that bright graphic art is throughout the whole Twin Adventures series. Illustrator Bryant Albert is able to capture Kate and Tate’s emotions throughout the book and is able to make every scene vibrant.

Twin Adventures: Farmhouse Visit takes readers on a simple but fun adventure that will inspire your child to use their imagination. This is an upbeat and cheerful kids book that shows a family having fun on a farm.

Pages: 31 | ASIN: B09SDLVPG4

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Author David Soh Poh Huat teaches us that caregiving is a gracious gift. It is notable, a calling, and a gift that is sometimes overlooked. In his book Caregiving Gift of Unconditional Love, David Soh Poh Huat extensively writes about caregiving. However, he primarily focuses on the qualities of a good caregiver and the impact caregivers have on families and the larger community.

Readers will learn through this book why it is important to spread love and positive energy to those who offer caregiving services and the elders and sick in need of caregiving. This book discusses the different angles of caregiving on an intimate level. Gently, the author invites the reader into his world, a world that will make the reader appreciate caregivers more.

David Soh Poh Huat warmly talks about his family, especially his father, Thomas, and sister, Susan. In his book, readers learn about having a close-knit family. Through the author’s story, the reader is shown the raw and explicit facts about caregiving. The author explains that sometimes it can be overwhelming, but it is a fulfilling experience. This well-thought-out book is a guidebook on how to take care of loved ones.

The book takes one on a rollercoaster of emotions. Readers can resonate with what he discusses and even bond with him through his text. For example, when talking about his sister, one can feel his words’ love, tenderness, and empathy. I enjoyed reading about David and his relationship with his sister, as one gets to learn that sibling love conquers everything.

Reading about Thomas was amazing too. Through David and his father, readers get enlightened about the essence of having a patriarch and the rewards of being part of a loving family. The primary lesson in this book is to be kind and accommodating to all. If you can offer caregiving services, do so without expecting anything. There is something beautiful about giving back to others through caregiving.

The cordial language applied by the author, his truthfulness, and how to open David Soh Poh Huat when showing his vulnerable side is appealing. I love how short the chapters are and how easy it is to complete the book in one sitting. Every page has some wisdom to appreciate.

Caregiving Gift of Unconditional Love is an educational book about caregiving, and what makes this book a great read is the author’s display of compassion. David is genuine with his readers and writes his reality. His story is uplifting, and his writing style reassuring.

Pages: 62 | ASIN : B09CTQYWKS

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Sisters in the Storm

Sisters in the Storm: For Moms of Mentally Ill Adult Children by Linda Hoff is a book about the author’s struggles as the mother of a son diagnosed with chronic paranoid schizophrenia. Hoff offers encouragement to other mothers facing a similar situation dealing with a mentally ill adult child, providing support, advice, and resources. In this book, the author shares the lessons she learned and insights gained from her personal journey to help other parents discover ways to cope, find acceptance, and reclaim their own lives.

This is an inspiring and informative book to read for anyone with a family member or friend who struggles with mental illness. Linda Hoff provides valuable tools to live a better, more joyful life despite the difficult battles faced. There is great comfort in knowing that we are not alone and that many others understand what we are going through. I liked that each chapter in the book began with a few lines of poetry, and each chapter ended with a visualization journey.

The inclusion of the author’s personal stories (or stories from friends or acquaintances), which were used to illustrate the author’s points, allowed me to connect with Hoff. For example, a very significant point that the author highlighted was the importance of learning to not allow her own mental health and well-being to suffer due to her child’s mental illness. My favorite chapter in the book was the one about living a joyful life with the twelve elements of hope, forgiveness, gratitude, compassion, reverence, generosity, energy and vitality, listening, laughter, love, cheerful enthusiasm, and inner peace, with actionable to-do lists and mediation exercises. I appreciated that the author gave suggestions that she learned from her specific experience and provided information about additional resources where readers can find help for their own personal situations.

One style element in the book’s formatting was to repeat sections of text like in a magazine article style. This method is effective in highlighting important points in writing. However, I felt, at times, it was overused. With so much fantastic information in this supportive book, I can understand why it was hard for the author to decide what key pieces to highlight.

Sisters in the Storm: For Moms of Mentally Ill Adult Children is a heartwarming book for mothers that take on the burden of trying to shoulder everything. It can be an overwhelming experience, and having a book like this to read and look back at gives them the knowledge they are not alone.

Pages: 422 | ASIN : B09VLHL2DG

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Book Review Icon

Blackface, by Pamela D. Smith, is a celebration of African American’s success in politics, art, and culture. For the longest time, black faces have been associated with mockery, misery, pity, and everything negative. Pamela D. Smith, however, brings positivity to the words and gets readers to revisit the misrepresentation of the term. Smith is not trying to forget history but she wants readers to use these experiences to become a leader. The Author shares painful memories of African Americans, the impact slavery has had for generations, race dynamics, the struggles Black people have gone through, and how African Americans rose up, and are shining.

Smith has written a powerful and inspiring book sharing her experiences as an African American woman and asks the reader what they would do if they were in her situation. Many of the situations the author describes are some that many readers don’t face that often so this was an eye-opening read for me. I also admired that the author debunks the stereotypes given to African Americans, some of which I wasn’t even aware of.

The author writes in a conversational tone that is not out to point fingers but instead to educate us. I feel this book can be relatable to people of different races, not just African Americans. Smith inspires and provides tips on how to be a leader for yourself and how to be the best version of yourself no matter what you face in the world.

The author is honest and open with the reader and she does not hold back about what African Americans have gone through and still go through today. The author’s vulnerability is inspiring and a remarkable feature of her writing.

Every chapter in Blackface has a lesson that will benefit the reader. My biggest lessons were on how to brand and package yourself for more visibility. By creating an exemplary brand with your name, you will be able to skillfully sell whatever product or service you have, impact lives, sub-consciously mentor future leaders, and live a fulfilling life. Apart from the wise teachings, I also loved the quotable texts in various chapters. One of my favorite quotes from Blackface is ‘To become internally self-aware, we must be open-minded’. This quote is powerful and helped me change my perspective.

Blackface: An African American guide to building a personal brand, developing as a leader, and serving with excellency is an insightful look into how African Americans can grow in their professional lives. It gives a realistic look into the struggles and roadblocks that People of Color face.

Learning To Balance Darkness And Light

Author Interview Patricia Leavy

Shooting Stars follows an author that meets the love of her life and realizes she must face the trauma of her past before they can live happily ever after. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

There’s an expression “hurt people hurt people.” Sometimes that isn’t true. Sometimes people in great pain are able to love others in extraordinary ways, and they only hurt themselves. That’s what I wanted to explore. I wanted to look at how people with both visible and invisible wounds can love each other unconditionally, and how in turn, that may help them heal.

Tess starts off confident but it is a facade, as that shell breaks away she transforms into a stronger person. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Tess is my favorite protagonist from any of my novels. In many ways, she’s an aspirational character. She’s enormously talented and successful, which has afforded her an enviable life on the surface. She’s also deeply kind—she sees the humanity in each person and treats others with grace. Despite all she has going for her, she’s haunted by trauma survived in her childhood, and for a long time she struggles to find any genuine happiness. While the details may differ and be more traumatic in Tess’s case, I think many of us carry deep wounds. So often people see our highlight reel on social media and may have a false sense of our lives, when in fact we may be struggling. So as I developed Tess, I wanted to peel back the layers, from what we see on the surface, to what she’s really dealing with on the inside.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

For me, this is a story about learning to balance darkness and light in our lives. It’s also about the healing power of love in all forms—romance, friendship, love of art, and love of community.

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

I fell so completely in love with Tess, Jack, and all their friends that after writing Shooting Stars I wrote 5 more novels based on these characters, for 6 in total. Each novel takes place about a year later—so it follows the characters for about 7 years. Each novel has its own story and theme; however, the collection as a whole also has an overarching narrative. It’s an epic love story about balancing darkness and light so that we may ultimately live in full color. There’s romance, laughter, tears, and some unexpected twists and turns. The title is Celestial Bodies: The Tess Lee and Jack Miller Novels and it comes out June 1. I’m so proud of it. Truly, of all my work it’s what I love and revisit the most. Reading it is a bit like being wrapped in a big hug. Here’s the amazon link:

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Website

Tess Lee is a novelist. Her inspirational books explore people’s innermost struggles and the human need to believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Despite her extraordinary success, she’s been unable to find personal happiness. Jack Miller is a federal agent. After spending decades immersed in a violent world, a residue remains. He’s dedicated everything to his job, leaving nothing for himself. The night Tess and Jack meet, their connection is palpable. She examines the scars on his body and says, “I’ve never seen anyone whose outsides match my insides.” The two embark on an epic love story that asks the questions: What happens when people truly see each other? Can unconditional love change the way we see ourselves? Their friends are along for the ride: Omar, Tess’s sarcastic best friend who mysteriously calls her Butterfly; Joe, Jack’s friend from the Bureau who understands the sacrifices he’s made; and Bobby, Jack’s younger friend who never fails to lighten the mood. Shooting Stars is a novel about walking through our past traumas, moving from darkness to light, and the ways in which love – from lovers, friends, or the art we experience – heals us. Written as unfolding action, Shooting Stars is a poignant novel that moves fluidly between melancholy, humor, and joy. It can be read entirely for pleasure, selected for book clubs, or used as supplemental reading in a variety of courses in communication, psychology, social work, sociology, or women’s studies/gender studies.
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