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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Addicted to Hate is an engaging story that follows Madeline through many obstacles in her troubled life. What was the inspiration for the idea behind this novel?
The inspiration for this novel is the hope that I can empower other hurting, shattered souls who feel helpless and hopeless, and who are hiding beneath a veil of shame, like I did.
Madeline is a character I was able to empathize with. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?
I’m a survivor of horrendous parent abuse, and other nightmarish sufferings, imposed on me by perpetrators of hate-filled hearts. Being of rational, intelligence thinking, I tried to theorize what was happening to me, thought about the monstrosity of another person putting his or her ideas above another’s. The abuse went too far and for too long. Finally I realized I am not a pathetic victim. My epiphany sounded like this: I am a strong, dynamic person. I am sick to death of being abused, humiliated, and threatened. It is time to do something. It is time for ME to change! The turnaround – The right to say NO. The right to peace in senior age. The right to freedom. The right to my own happiness. The right to be “imperfect.”
The concept of love, family and abuse played were compelling drivers in this story. What were some themes that were important for you to capture in this story?
I’m hoping to see this book’s release sometime after summer 2019. The theme behind all five books is: Have self-respect… self-resilience, it is your right! You are not to blame for others wrongdoings. Get rid of any nasty memories stored from your hippocampus that traps the human trait of wallowing, and shred them. The saying goes: “If you want a future, don’t live in the past.”
What do you hope readers take away from your book?
An adult child should never… ever… mishandle a parent, even if he or she is convinced the mother or father deserves it. Like most survivors, I have much to teach about bravery and emotional resilience, and so I wrote Addicted to Hate. The message in this book is: “If you are an abused parent, it’s time for you to consider following in my footsteps. Please recognize that YOU are not to blame for the hard-wired brains that seek to destroy you. And never ask yourself how and why did I let this happen! Divorce yourself (the freedom to disown) from the raw pain that has been “bestowed” upon you by an unconscionable abuser. Suffering won’t kill you … death will! This relating adage is found in all my books with a profound message: “Love does not conquer hate! Even clinically trained minds cannot truly have the answer to heredity bad markers … bad seeds that exist.” This is the theme in my new book “Lela’s Endless Incarnation Sorrows.” (You live and die, and repeat.)
It’s remarkable what you can discover from a little saliva! DNA explains how we got here… over millions of years. I chose to believe that my first (Ashkenazi) imprint on this earth has a lot to do with who I am today in this century. So it begs the question” Does the Law of Karma for the sole-called sins of the forefathers and foremothers, play a roll in generational rebirths. Is it a real cold-hearted fact that some humans are just born BAD?
Maddie’s story raises the time-honored question of nature vs. nurture.
Parents abused by adult children suffer silently, shamed to the marrow by words, moods, acts, and blows that pierce through their imagined bubble of safety and kidnap any notions they had of sharing a mutually loving relationship with their children.
Maddie loved her daughters unconditionally . . . until, as a financially depleted and physically bruised senior citizen, she was forced to cut ties permanently with her adult descendants. Maddie’s cruel and dysfunctional upbringing prompted her to smother her children with love, to soften the blows of life, even when consequences would have been a healthier, more effective choice.
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From the time he was eight, Ambrose Serafeim planned to follow his father’s career path- that of a celebrated surgeon known for his innovations, abilities, and compassion. Years later, Brose is a doctor but resembles little else about his dad. His father’s cancer, then suicide, the latter spurred on by a secret bipolar disorder, left Brose shattered and bitter. He was also left questioning everything he thought he knew about the man he revered so deeply. After reaching rock bottom in his own mental state, Brose is faced with a different kind of intervention that may finally answer his questions and help him face his demons.
Five Fathoms Beneath, J.R. Alcyone tells a heartbreaking story about the Serafeim family, their history of mental illness, and just how devastating that illness can be when left to its own devices. From the start, Alcyone describes the symptoms, stigma, and progression of bipolar disorder and depression with startling realism and even though the bulk of the story is set in the decades between the 1950’s and 1980’s, many of the issues are still relevant today. Because of this, it’s a book that can be hard to read. However, the subject is always treated with a sensitivity that never demeans or trivializes the issue at hand. The book moves smoothly as it depicts the passing of the years, even as the characters’ lives grow more tumultuous. Brose’s father, Alec, kept his diagnosis a secret because of the societal stigma attached to it, while Brose hides his largely out of denial. Although their reasons differ, both suffer greatly. As is the case in life, Alec’s suicide affected everyone in his life in some way and created ripples that only escalated over the years. After all those years, Brose eventually becomes a typical tragic figure, projecting all the outward appearances of success- high profile career, money, big house, etc.- while everything in his life is actually falling apart. True to life yet again, those around him suffer just as much or more. Even though the ending is formulaic, providing a sense of redemption even, the journey there is anything but as Brose’s path to healing begins in an undefinable place. All in all, it’s an intensely well written book that was hard to put down at any point.
By the author’s own admission, this is a book about mental illness. Although that theme is the brain that allows it to exist and function, family is at the heart of the story. As long as the reader knows him, Brose’s decisions, and his battle with his own depression, are framed within the context of his relationships. He is constantly checking himself against his father’s perceived shortcomings while trying to keep the appearance of normalcy for the sake of his family. Those relationships also provide an anchor.
This book was engaging, well paced, had extremely well written characters, and never patronized or hid from its difficult subject matter.
Pages: 389 | ASIN: B07JPGB8RY
Posted in Book Reviews
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This book will hopefully bring the justice that should have been done in the first place. It has been a long ride of being hungry and lonely for the author. I really hope justice will come, and he will finally be happy and be with his kids again. It’s been so long I wonder, do his kids even know him anymore? I know it’s been a long battle for him. But we all know God got him.
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Fathering the Fatherless tackles the important issue of fatherlessness and how it affects children and society. Do you feel that fatherlessness will become a bigger issue in the future?
Fathering the Fatherless book was and is to shine a light and to spark interest for the reader to go on there own personal journey of looking.
How has your faith helped you come to terms with fatherlessness?
Far as my faith it has helped me realize there prayers and the word of God The Holy Bible that I came to know Him as Abba Fathering now my book is to get you to ask yourself am I doing my very best and does God love me more than anything else and yes he does.
You use many facts and figures in your book. Was there a statistic that you came across that surprised you?
There was a few statistics I feel under and I was surprised.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
My next book should be out this year from Author House Fathering The Fatherless 2nd Edition more information new chapter on psychological aspects of a fatherless home and more details other chapter.
Fathering The Fatherless deals with Fatherless in the home’s & how affects children in the home & what we can do to change. It’s a short read and aimed to open your eyes and heart, to get you asking and thinking.
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There are two kinds of fatherlessness. The first kind is where the father is never known to the child. The second, the father lives in the same home as the child but is emotionally unavailable and often physically absent too. Both of these have adverse effects on the child. Children need a special kind of love and nurturing from their father. There is some security that comes from having a father, especially in the formative years. Children cannot understand why other children have their fathers but they do not.
Todd Johnson tells a very intimate and personal story about his childhood. He grew up in a single parent home. He talks about the struggles he went through as a result of not having that special father figure in his life. He outlines all the choices he made as a result of his home situation. He talks about how that situation shaped the man and father he is today.
The most important thing in this book is the role of God in a single parent home. One can ask God to fill that void left behind by an absentee father. A fatherless person can find the love and care they need from God. It urges on the importance of God –lead fatherhood.
This book is centered on a very important subject. Fatherless homes are very common not only in America but on a global scale. In fact, the book starts with some very interesting numbers. Numbers never lie. They indicate the percentage of children affected by lack of a father or having an emotionally unavailable father. The numbers give the book a serious tone. One will understand the true weight of this subject.
Fathering the Fatherless makes proper use of scripture. It conveys the message God has about fatherhood. One will have a better understanding of their role once they have read through the verses given. He will understand that being a father has nothing to do with DNA but everything to do with nurturing, caring and loving. That, the kind of father one has great potential to shape character and identity.
The author is obviously very passionate about the subject and the book feels like a personal endeavor. However, the delivery of the subject matter suffers from broken statements, grammar mistakes, and anemic prose. At one point, the author strings together verses from the Bible and at times repeats verses and his personal story feels incomplete. This book does a fantastic job of starting a very important discussion, but stops short of diving into the deep end of that conversation. If you only pay attention to the intended message you can gain insight into what fatherlessness really is and this book does a great job of getting that conversation started.
Pages: 64 | ASIN: 0692075208
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In a charming, short, non-fiction tale we read about the struggles one man has had in terms of understanding and becoming a father. Fathering the Fatherless is written by Todd Johnson who tells us his experience growing up in a fatherless home. He recounts how this impacted his life and shaped the decisions he has made. It is clear that this is a topic that has affected Johnson greatly as he attempts to convey how his life was damaged by not having a father present in his life. Johnson shares statistics regarding fatherless homes and lays out the potential damage that can be done with such a significant absence. Johnson details how he found God and in that Father he was able to come to understand what it truly means to lead and care for children.
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Although this is a work of fiction, if you have any interest in American history, and the mystery surrounding Jesse James, I urge you to read Letters to Mary Susan: From her Outlaw Father by Jerry Hammersmith.
The story line comes from a story told to the author, by his father. It’s nice when the author’s father ‘appears’ in the book! The author points out that this is a work of fiction, but it certainly leaves you wondering. It has an interesting concept, as it is told in letters from the main character, and his flashbacks through his long life.
The majority of the book is set in a prison. A rather stark prison in the 1920’s. It’s not a prison novel but rather the recollections of his life, by one of the prisoners. The story comes about as he is advised, by the chaplain, to write to his long lost daughter. She grows to know her father, who was presumed dead, through his letters.
The main character is Jim Howard, who started life as Jesse James, and who spent most of his life as an outlaw. The book begins with him in prison at the age of 77. I certainly didn’t wish to feel sympathy for the character. I mean, outlaws are the bad guys. Aren’t they? It is not possible though not to feel a tinge of pity. Especially at the thought of somebody so old, in those conditions.
Jim doesn’t come across as a bad guy so you feel more and more sympathetic as his story progresses. This is illustrated by the fact that he was held in high esteem by others, throughout the various phases of his life. He didn’t always make the best choices, but many of the things that led to him originally becoming an outlaw, were out of his control. Stealing is like a high, which is one of the main reasons he couldn’t stop. This adds to the sadness as he could have had a good life, if he had stopped robbing people.
The chapters deal with his life, and wrong doings, in chronological order through his 3 incarnations; Jesse James, John Allen and Jim Howard. They deal with his life, and what he had to do to survive it, through being an outlaw, cowboy and farmer. He doesn’t try to present himself in a good light, he just tells it like it is, so his daughter can get to know him, and understand his actions.
There are some portions of the book that are a little repetitive. Some scenes are described several times. Also the swapping of first name and surname are a bit confusing. Especially as this is a character who has 3 different names already! There are some sentences where he is referred to as both Jim and Howard which takes some working out. But these are small annoyances and don’t detract from a good read.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is a great, interesting, and poignant read.
Pages: 189 | ASIN: B077PH4STR
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Set in the world of Perilisc, Jesse Teller returns to this world with another series sure to captivate readers. The Manhunters series starts off with Song, and tells two story lines that intertwine. Rayph Ivoryfist is an immortal magician that has his own personal demons to fight, but is bound by honor to protect the land and the boy he believes to be the next great ruler. When the prison he built is destroyed and all the evil had brought to justice is released he knew he needed help. Rayph than builds his own army of powerful beings, with his old friend Smear at his side. Parallel to the story of Ivoryfist preparing for battle is the story of Konnon, the father that wants a cure for his daughter’s paralysis. To help his daughter Bree, Konnon must work with his partner Glyss. Together the two of them have a reputation for being unstoppable and deadly. They live up to this reputation, knowing each other inside and out. The two pair’s separate missions will unavoidably end them up together in the town of Song, the question is, who is alive in the end?
Jesse Teller has a way with describing the setting that really makes you feel like you are there. The swamps that Rayph visits, you can almost feel the mud clinging to you, smell the decaying woods and animals used for sacrifices, and feel the tension that the people around the main characters create. The level of detail that goes into settings, also goes into the action. While this is great for really getting into things, those with a weak stomach for gore might not be pleased. Teller describes in detail the torture of some characters, and details the death of many. This level of detail may not appeal to all, but Teller can also detail the compassion and love between two characters just as well. The example of Konnon and his daughter Bree. There is no question about the devotion and love he feels for his daughter, it is relatable and pulls at the heart strings. A father’s undying love and willingness to do whatever he must to save her, no matter what the cost is to himself.
One of Teller’s greatest skills is relationships. Not romantic quest love relationships, but bonds between people and spirits. These bonds draw the readers in sometimes more than the story lines do because they are so powerful and relatable. As I read Song, I felt the bonds that form between Rayph and his army. The magic that makes it so they can all be connected is just a piece of the puzzle, they genuinely build a brotherhood and work as one. Konnon and Glyss while not blood brothers move as one unit together, they are bound and know each other so well there is no need for words. It is a great read for the relationship factor alone. If you enjoy studying and reading about human (or in this case non human) relationship Teller will not disappoint. Through his use of many magical creatures from humans, to fairies, to demons, all working together for a common goal the passion for survival and willingness to put all differences aside for is apparent. Perhaps it is a good lesson for modern society, put our differences aside and work together to defeat the evil looking to rip our world apart.
Pages: 319 | ASIN: B074GP13JC
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Einstein’s Fiddle begins with a man abandoning his child on a doorstep of a stranger’s home; the rest of the novel seeks to reveal and understand this man. What was the inspiration for the setup to this emotional novel?
Like my first novel (A History of the World), Einstein’s Fiddle began as a short story. The story form was abandoned quickly – perforce, as soon as Davy abandoned Mitchell. The inspiration for the setup was a simple disturbing question that presented itself: What if someone – no, not just someone – a dad – left his baby boy on a doorstep? The image that first came to mind was of the proverbial unwed mother from earlier decades in this country – desperate, ashamed, alone, afraid, and apparently out of options. The obvious second question followed hard upon the first: why would any person – at least any loving father – do such a thing? And these were questions that led quickly to others – questions of personality, motivation and experience – and my poor powers certainly could not answer them, or sufficiently illuminate the depths of such a father (Davy Calhoun), in a short story.
Davy Calhoun is a multilayered character that is deftly developed. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?
The relationship between fathers and sons has been at the heart of my writing from the beginning. It was there in my early stories and my first novel, and it is at the center of Einstein’s Fiddle. The desire for his (or her) father’s love, approval, guidance and acceptance is deep in every child’s heart from the first breath. It is a ‘natural’ yearning and part of each one of us because God put it there. I wanted Davy Calhoun to be a character with whom we all (if we are honest about it) share common ground; and of course – like each of us – he has his own story, his own unique experience and narrative, which I hope makes the book singular and engaging. There are a number of fathers in the novel, all of them flawed and fallen in his own ways – and one particularly outstanding in his degree of fallenness; but my ‘ideal’ father in Davy’s story is the dad in Jesus’ story about The Prodigal Son, a parable which one of the characters in the book’s third section relates to Davy. Perhaps the one ‘driving ideal’ behind Davy’s development is best summed up by something a friend of mine has said more than once: “Love is the most powerful force in the universe – just largely untried.”
It’s hard to not get emotional when reading Einstein’s Fiddle. Did you pull anything from real life or personal experience to use in this novel?
I spent time in all the places where the narrative unfolds – Charlottesville, Washington, D.C., Chicago and San Francisco – and I used a lot of my experiences of those places (and the places within those places) in the book. As I imagine any author does, I created whole characters with pieces of people I know or have known. Whenever it worked well in the narrative, I used – call it stole, if you like – real-life stories that friends have shared with me over the years. In the last section, when Davy is in San Francisco, there is a scene near Pier 39, which completely replicates something that happened to a good friend of mine in New Jersey. It was a wonderful gift to me, and I gave it joyfully to everyone who reads Einstein’s Fiddle.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The working title is Thomas, but that could change in an instant. I expect it to be much shorter than Fiddle…but that could change too. I don’t want to say much about it right now, except that it is about a life-changing relationship between a white doctor in Charleston, South Carolina, and the black man he hires to build a stable for his horses. You can safely bet that there will be fathers and sons in this book too…. I hope it will be available in a year or so. I’ve begun to work on it in my head, but I have yet to write the first word.
What kind of man leaves the infant son he loves on a doorstep in a strange town and drives away? With its present set in the summer of 1985 and its past reaching from 1950 to 1974, Einstein’s Fiddle is a dramatic examination of Davy Calhoun’s journey from home to the far country and back. The language and landscape of the novel vary between the existential and familial, tragic and comic, as the non-linear narrative – by turns realistic, lyrical, magical – focuses fearlessly on Davy’s fall, dishonor and redemption.
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