Cynthia Roggeman’s personal memoir details the events throughout her life. She goes into great detail about her relationships, family and health complications. She does this while offering snippets of advice and wisdom that she has learned along the way. The book is often upsetting and full of events – on a number of occasions it seems as everything is happening at once for our author. She shares her life’s journey with the intention of learning from the process of writing and to divulge the positive aspects that result from a lifetime of hardship.
The sections about her family, mainly her father and her Italian grandmother, Nonni, are bittersweet and filled with memories that she describes in the manner of a child – because at the time she did not understand what was going on. Her childhood was filled with both happy and sad memories and she does not seem to resent any of the negative aspects at all. In her family circle, she experiences alcoholism and mental illness – which she regards as a choice.
Throughout her life, she has various serious health issues and is in the hospital a number of times. She suffers quite badly and even has to learn to self-medicate – something which carries a great responsibility, even if it is towards yourself. However, she does not let these problems set her back and each time she recovers and returns to work and normal life – this is not a woman who gives up easily.
The book is separated into short chapters, each beginning with a date. This makes it easier to place the events in the author’s life as they are not in chronological order. At times it can be difficult to remember at what age things occurred for her but she has ordered it according to her own time frame and reference of events – how she feels events in her past relate to each other. This is reflective of a realistic memory because often things do not go through our minds in order and jump around randomly.
She has written the book for it to be a therapeutic process, it seems to be a place for her grief, hope, and wisdom. She has learned to be imaginative and to really remember her past self. She has also learned to be grateful for the things she has, as well as the things she had. She writes that she has had to mourn her losses and accept them, as well as remember the fond memories.
Cynthia’s novel is a work of remembrance, which will make any reader reflect on their own lives and take heed of her writing. The deeply personal writing is both engaging and emotional, however sometimes it can be hard to keep track of the order things that happened. She urges us to be grateful, flexible and open to new things and changes and to be powerful – just like the blue dragonfly.
Pages: 100 | ASIN: B07DNDWFKN
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Forever 19 is a loving tribute to a wonderful person that was taken away so suddenly. Why was this an important book for you to write?
It was very important for me to write this book so the world could see what a wonderful person my daughter was. And even after all the years since her death it helped me find closure. It also was he final legacy.
I really enjoyed how passionate this book was. Being her mother you probably knew her best, but did you have to do any research, discuss with family members and friends, to make sure you got the full picture before writing?
I mainly wanted to write about my daughter from my own perspective but I did talk with friends of hers whom I was able to contact after all these years and of course her siblings who suffered her loss along with me.
When writing this book, I felt you described Cheryl Jean as she truly was. What were some things you felt you had to get right to tell her story properly?
It was very important to me and the rest of the family not to put Cheryl on a pedestal but to show her as a real human both good and bad (well not really bad but very human).
While reading this book I kept asking myself, ‘how would I deal with such a loss?’ Do you have any advice for someone that has just lost someone?
It is difficult to give advice to anyone who has lost a loved one, especially a child. Every circumstance is different and every one mourns differently. The best I can say is pray for guidance, maybe get therapy if that might help but most of all just get up every morning and put one foot in front of the other and face the day. They say “Time heals all wounds” and in a sense it is true. The pain never really goes away but it does subside. Just like a serious physical injury there is usually a scar left as a reminder. I often ask myself, “Would Cheryl be proud of me and how I have survived?” When the answer is, ” I think so” then I am encouraged to get on with my life.
Have you ever lost a loved one? Perhaps a child? How did you handle the pain? Did you feel empty, want to give up on life? This book tells how one mother dealt with the pain and loss of a beautiful nineteen-year-old daughter who died as the result of a tragic accident. Love and faith helped the family cope with the emptiness and sadness.
Posted in Interviews
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Forever 19 by Kaye S. Beechum is a mother’s and family’s way of coping with the untimely death of their beloved Cheryl Jean. Cheryl was only nineteen when a car accident occurred out of nowhere while she was running errands on her lunch break. In 1984 things like cell phones and the internet were not around so communication was a lot harder. Kaye had to try and contact family in a pre-tech world to let them know Cheryl was hurt. The memories of the week Cheryl was in the hospital are described as a fog with people coming and going. The book details memories that the family holds onto. From her love of cats and hiking to her ambitions in acting and passion for helping others.
How do you deal with the death of your child, or sister? For everyone that answer is different. There is no right or wrong way to go through this difficult time in life. There is no time line on grieving either. Cheryl died back in August of 1984. Her family waited over thirty years to put together this tribute. Her memory lived on over the years through the telling of stories, teaching the younger members about her spirit, and even setting a place for heart family dinners on the holidays. She was never forgotten or pushed to the back of their minds.
Reading this book was like sitting down with Kaye and looking through an old family photo album. There were not too many photos, but the pictures that you envisioned reading the stories were detailed and brought you into the moments. I think the book accomplishes what the family was going for, you see Cheryl, the real girl, not an overly perfect example, but just real. They family doesn’t paint her as perfect and they admit to her faults. You also can tell just how deeply they miss her and what an impact she made on their lives in her short time with them. Cheryl had a loving spirit, a true giver, willing to help others even if it meant her not coming out on top. Her devotion to her church and friends was apparent and she thrived helping others reach their goals. It is a beautiful remembrance to Cheryl and will allow her legacy to live on so future generations of her family will know all she had to offer and all she gave to those she knew.
Pages: 112 | ASIN: B0793QN21M
Blindsided opens on a breezy, summery note; twelve-year-old LaTrell attends summer camp where she is thrown into a new group of friends and she wants to make a good impression. But this means defying her father and avoiding his suspicions. Soon it’s clear that she and her family are still dealing with the aftermath of her mother’s death. It shows how the family copes with the changes and react to the events following her death. The book also shows the relationships between LaTrell and her father Luis, and her nine-year-old brother Daryl.
The book is written in a simple way with a positive tone. This allows it to be aimed at families, not just young teenagers. Older children, (like Daryl) would be able to read this book with parents. The book explores a lot of difficult issues, mainly grief, but incorporates cyber-bullying and the general problem of fitting in. The positive tone encourages discussion and leaves the reader with the impression that experiencing these issues is okay.
There are questions at the end of each chapter – such as ‘What would you have done if you were in LaTrell’s shoes?’ These questions are a little unusual in a fictional book, but their purpose is evident. The questions encourage interactive reading. Older children who can read alone may use the questions to reflect on what they have read, or it may allow them to bring thoughts to their parents. For younger children, parents can raise these questions with them to encourage them to discuss their feelings.
The main theme of the book is dealing with grief and it is explored in conjunction with other childhood issues. Throughout the book the children are encouraged to discuss their feelings and any hardships with appropriate adults. This then shows the positive aspects and importance of good family relationships. LaTrell’s friendship with Peaches (who focuses on the relationship with her father) shows how friends can support positive relationships to develop within families, even at a young age and highlights the importance of childhood friends.
Through the strong bond between LaTrell and her father, the importance of mutual respect, compromise and communication is shown. For LaTrell it is important that she has freedom to make her own choices, looks cool and has a good reputation with her friends. So, it is key, that her father listens to her and though he does not always agree, he allows her to express herself in ways appropriate for her age. Through this, it highlights the importance of balance in the parent-child relationship.
Although Blindsided by Chenee’ Gilbert is a book that encourages communication and positive relationships, there is a lot of different events that occur in the book. Each of these is explored but there is room to go into a lot more detail with each one. The book has mostly positive outcomes, but we know that this is not always the case in real life – therefore if each issue was explored in more depth, then perhaps parents would be a little more prepared if their children are not as co-operative as LaTrell. Overall, I thought this was a very good book.
Pages: 206 | ASIN: B077YVWM8C
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When the Cossacks invade their village, young Avrum and his brother Hershel manage to hide and survive the attacks which kill more than 80 members of their small Polish community. Trying to gather their wits about them and come to terms with the deaths of both parents, the two boys decide to make their way to the synagogue in Lvov. The road to Lvov is paved with one horror after another, and a harrowing experience at the home of a decrepit old woman leads to the brothers’ ultimate separation. Avrum, the tragic main character in Arnold Holtzman’s To The End of Days, spends the better part of his young life making his way to America to build a life for himself and, hoping beyond hope, to reunite with Hershel.
Holtzman has the striking ability to appeal to all of the reader’s senses through his writing. The scene in which Avrum and Hershel are fighting for their lives at the cottage of the old woman is particularly gripping. I was utterly repulsed by the vivid descriptions of the vile woman and the filth in which she lived. As horrific as the circumstances were, I was unable to tear myself away from this disturbing string of events. The same can be said for each stage in Avrum’s life. As he moves across the country and eventually on to North America, each new circumstance brings rich details, vivid images of despair, and poignant scenes of his struggle as an immigrant.
The various settings described throughout Avrum’s journey are exceptionally well-written. At every turn, I felt myself immersed in the sights and sounds of early 1900’s America and the Jewish culture. Holtzman leaves nothing to the imagination which, in turn, leaves the reader more time to focus on the plot surrounding Avrum and the subplot focusing on Fanny.
Avrum captured my heart from the moment he and Hershel faced the fate of their mother. His heart-wrenching grief and his determination to find his brother dominate his life for years, and are the driving force behind everything he does from finding work and wrestling when offered the opportunity to pursuing every lead no matter how futile it may seem. Avrum’s strength is unmatched.
Bella is not a character I enjoyed–but I wasn’t supposed to feel warm toward her. Holtzman has done a phenomenal job creating a selfish, arrogant, and needy female match for unlucky Avrum. Though she doesn’t make her true intentions known until much later in her relationship with Avrum, I admit I was suspicious of her from the beginning. She is one of those characters who is far too concerned with making herself understood and appreciated. The author has succeeded phenomenally in creating a character worthy and deserving of the reader’s loathing.
Intermingled with the characteristics of historical fiction is a pleasing amount of mystery. Avrum encounters numerous clues to Hershel’s fate throughout the years, but the author skillfully weaves a web of subplots while redirecting the reader’s attention. Even to the final pages, I was yet unsure of poor Hershel’s fate. Kudos to Holtzman–this is how I prefer my fiction.
Fans of historical fiction will appreciate the insanely detailed descriptions of the havoc wreaked by the Cossacks and the accuracy regarding the Jewish culture. Avrum and Hershel represent everything that was wrong with this period in world history and everything that can go incredibly right when a man remains unfailingly loyal to his family.
Pages: 410 | ASIN: 1977981844
Tags: alibris, america, arnold holtzman, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, culture, ebook, faith, family, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, grief, historical fiction, history, horror, ilovebooks, indiebooks, jew, jewish, kindle, kobo, literature, lvov, mystery, nook, novel, polusg, publishing, read, reader, reading, religion, saga, shelfari, smashwords, story, To the End of Days, writer, writer community, writing
From the Heart is a series of short stories about human passions and emotions and how they come to the fore when people face challenging circumstances. Why was this an important collection for you to write?
Mario Llosa Vargas once said that love is the most important human activity. I think it is what makes us human. In these stories the need for love is paramount – from the child’s clinging to a safe world, to the desperation of a feared loss of a life partner, or to the family love that stays strong through tough times. But I was surprised to realise how powerful the need for companionship and support is in later life; it is precious and one of the few things that can ward off the pain and terror of the losses ahead.
It strikes me that bonding and the joys of feeling loved and safe are so easy to lose, and also, so easy to build – with understanding and good will. I guess I keep trying to make the story come good in the end.
Mouse Mat was my favorite of the stories. What was your favorite story in the collection and why?
In “The Legacy You Leave” I enjoyed seeing the selfish bully losing his power as the sons stood together to highlight the real hero, their father.
Did you write these stories separately or did you write them knowing that they would be published together?
No, the stories came alive independently. Often a character or a scene of conflict take hold in my mind, and I keep returning to it until the problem is solved. At an unexpected moment I realised the stories formed a whole, and the title just fell out of the theme.
What is one thing that you hope readers take away from your stories?
Definitely: don’t let despair, loss or tyranny take away your opportunity for joy, and joy in others.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m planning the sequel to Choose: Snakes or Ladders, which should be let loose in November. But it’s facing a bit of competition from other stories in the world of #MeToo, and similar instances of standover and exploitation.
o Heart Buddies
o Life After
o Mouse Mat
o A Worm Among the Flowers
o The Legacy You Leave
o Love in a Teapot
Carlo seems a perfect husband. Why can’t Nicky go with the happiness within her reach?
Paula worked really hard to live up to it all. And then she failed. How can something good come from all the pain?
A child lies in bed, scared and alone. Will Daddy and Mummy be there for her? Finding an answer takes a lot of growing up. But the lessons of the good times remain to help.
The ladies bridge club. Long time friends struggling to hang on as the Autumn leaves fall around them.
What was the secret to Greg’s ability to be loyal to his work and foster his dreams for his sons? And what toll did it take?
Sue and her mother had formed a tight bond, a wall against the conflict and pain in their life. But when does that wall become a prison?
Moving and heart-warming, these short stories about love and the emotions that get in the way, are an antidote to the fears that haunt the nights of all of us.
If you enjoy Amanda Prowse, give these stories a try.
Posted in Interviews
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Cross of a Different Kind, written by Anthony Maranise, dives into the relationship between cancer and Christianity. A “field guide” for those affected by cancer, Cross of a Different Kind was created for those who have cancer, those who know someone affected by cancer and for the survivors of cancer. Each person will find solace in this novel, regardless of what part of the journey you are on and feel a connection of both faith and hope through the inspiring words and reflections. It’s a reminder of the light in the darkness and how God can bring spiritual comfort and acceptance in a time of loss, sadness and grief.
Cross of a Different Kind is a novel based on the ideologies of Christianity, written especially for those experiencing cancer themselves. The book is split into different sections with each part addressing the different stages of cancer that someone may be in.
The author, Anthony Maranise, tells of his battle with childhood cancer and the feelings surrounding his family, relationship with God and what it meant to find hope in some of his darkest hours. Maranise words are raw, honest and inspiring, allowing the reader to develop a sense of trust and gratitude for the words he writes. At times I felt as though I was sitting in a room, listening to him tell his story as it opened up the pathway to reflect on our personal experiences with cancer.
With statistics such as 69% of cancer patients praying for their health regularly, it is clear that Cross of a Different Kind is a novel that will connect with many people who have been touched by cancer. There are many Christianity references, but they are used to inspire hope, clarity and acceptance in a time of great trauma and stress. Cross of a Different Kind talks about how the journey of faith has helped the author and many others against the tough battles brought on by cancer.
So many of us know someone or have even experienced cancer ourselves and will find the feelings and reflections in the novel provide a sense of solace and comfort in the times of great stress and alarm. One of my favourite sentiments was that it is important to grieve and mourn the loss of our loved ones (even if we believe we will meet them again). Another idea the author presents is that those experiencing cancer are soldiers in their own way, battling the sadness, anger and trauma brought on by sickness that steals happiness and joy. This idea instills a sense of comradery and connection with the book, allowing the reader to feel acknowledged and understood in regards to their own personal battles with cancer.
Cross of a Different Kind will bring the reader a sense of spiritual comfort, understanding and information for those who are experiencing the journey that comes with cancer. I would recommend this for all Christians who are suffering from the burdens of cancer- whether it is themselves or their loved ones.
Pages: 188 | ISBN: 0692974148
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Because It Was Raining tells a story of Louis who is a complex man dealing with death, loss, and mourning while trying to find his place in the world. Why was this an important book for you to write?
Well, Louis is in many ways a reflection on myself and my own experiences. Initially, I wrote this story as a therapeutic exercise, but as I progressed I began to see an opportunity to help other people with similar experiences and emotions. I wanted to reach through the pages, hold the readers hand, and tell them that they aren’t alone. From the reviews and feedback that I have received, I believe that I have managed to do that. I feel very fortunate to have been given a five-star review from Literary Titan and to have the opportunity to share my own experiences with others. If I had not written this story I probably would not have published anything ever.
Because It Was Raining is a novel about grief and how we can be trapped within the constraints of our own minds. What experiences from your own life did you put into this novel?
I actually used a significant portion of my own life in the telling of this story. The story depicts a trip to Kansas City, then to another town. I actually did get in a car with two women and drove with them to KC, saw the depicted meth house, picked up a man, then headed back to a house in Aurora Mo. where I stayed for two weeks. I also described situations that were very real to me such as the death of a friend as well as my grandfather, whom I was very close to.
I enjoyed watching the character progression of Boobe who was a complex multilayered character. What was your inspiration for this character?
Believe it or not, Boobe is based on a woman whom we actually called Boobe. In reality, she was a recovering meth addict who fell on hard times and relapsed. I wanted to show her as she was through my eyes over the years that I had known her. I wanted to use her as a means of saying that even meth addicts are people who feel and need love and compassion. I loved Boobe, and I felt that she was an opportunity to humanize those people who we routinely depict as less than human.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Currently I have several projects in the works, but the main focus is on a story which I have tentatively entitled “Eden”. This story will be set in the future and will follow more of a science fiction theme. Writing “Because It Was Raining” was draining enough on my mind that I felt a somewhat more playful story was in order. “Eden” will hopefully show up sometime in the next year.
A young man, tormented by his past, descends into a world filled with drugs, sex, and violence in an attempt to find salvation and meaning in life, knowing full well that the cost of failure could be his very soul…
It is a story that touches on depression, addiction, grief, shame, and the power of hope. Truly a must-read for anyone.
Posted in Interviews
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A Deal With God: The Power of One, written by Michael Haden, tells the tale of two sweethearts Rebeccah Johnson and Leon Samuels who fates are intertwined after a romantic summer night. But tragedy is to strike the family, leaving the three children without a mother and a broken husband who feels lost and alone. A deal struck with God means a beautiful woman, Deana Murphy, will enter their life; destined to help the family in their darkest days. Faith, love and admiration will blossom as Deana helps the family in ways they would least expect.
A Deal With God is a love story unlike no other as it delves into the complexity of families, grief and having faith in God’s plan. Prepare to fall in love with the characters as you laugh, cry and experience their accomplishments right by their side.
Matthew, Mark and Luke are Rebeccah’s and Leon’s sons. A premonition about their son Mark sees God sending a woman by the name of Deana Murphy to enter their lives. We learn about Deana’s life and her hardships at the beginning of the story which builds a beautiful persona for the reader. Deana has experienced suffering and pain that only few could endure and in a twist of fate, makes a deal with God to save her life. Through her everlasting endurance and commitment to her faith, Deana begins her life and recovery in the town of Dothan, Georgia. Her faith is inspiring as she takes on incredible responsibilities and weaves her way into a complicated life.
The themes in the book can be quite emotional and complex at times, creating a sense of urgency to find out what happens and whether the characters recover from their trauma. For these reasons, prepare to sit down and read the entire book in one sitting as it is easy to read, like a “I must know what happens” kind of story. The plot line is fast-paced but still stops to describe delightful outfits or luscious food that will leave your mouth watering. It also details sporting events, pulling it away from the romantic plot line and giving the reader a sense of adventure and energy.
A Deal With God explores the different dynamics that occur within families and how different people respond and react to death. It will push the reader to consider how their family dynamic may be affected by death and grief, or how you may feel when a wonderful stranger mysteriously walks into your life. The book is based on the traditions and beliefs of Christianity and I appreciated the real-life experiences the characters endured and how they continued their faith regardless of the tests that God threw their way.
Pages: 345 | ASIN: B006L9LG7U
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Because It Was Raining, written by Skyler Worley, tells a story of a man who goes by the name of Louis. He is a complex man dealing with death, loss, and mourning whilst trying to find his place in the world. Louis joins two other lost souls, the three dysfunctional amigos, who mask their loneliness with the swirl of a pipe. Together they venture into Kansas City where they find broken homes and people, lost in the filth of their demise. Will Louis break free from the demons that haunt him and finally find himself or will he be forever lost in a world of chaos?
Because It Was Raining is a novel about grief and how we can be trapped within the constraints of our own minds. The story is simple but effective, following a friendship group who are living in a world where they attempt to solve and mask their problems with drugs and dodgy relationships.
Skyler Worley writes with a creative flair, pulling the reader in with emotive words and concepts. The language is beautiful, carefully curated together to produce a complex and vivid picture of the scenery and characters. The story seems to switch between a hazed, drug-fuelled state to a deep and contemplative mindset. Louis wants to understand the meaning of life but is tortured by the losses of his past, finding analogies in his current life situation.
Because It Was Raining deals with the complexity of death and how it can shape your life in ways you least expect. There are so many emotions and raw situations that the reader will be able to relate to, especially if they have lost a loved one.
I enjoyed watching the character progression of the character “Boobe” as she takes on a motherly role whilst still involving herself in tools to mask her depression. She has profound moments of wisdom which provokes the reader to consider life and its meaning. For example, she states that the world lacks equality and some of us are born with a silver spoon, others with a plastic fork. You can then either choose to change your fate but only within your ability to alter it. Her life is complex as well as the characters she invites into her life and home. Boobe’s story is uncovered the further you move throughout the novel, exposing explanations and reasoning to her behavior.
Each character has their own personal backstory which has led them to a place that is lonely and dark. It’s a reminder that drugs are often a coping mechanism for those who are crying out for help. Because It Was Raining triggers a sense of empathy for the characters and the tragedies that they have endured.
I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a story about finding life after loss and all the complexities that come with grief.
Pages: 156 | ASIN: B075ZNPVDL
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