The King of Halloween & Miss Firecracker Queen is a memoir of your life growing up in a family that traveled often and the challenges you faced and lessons you learned. Why was this an important book for you to write?
I wrote this book for my mother- to help her heal after my dad’s death. We had spent almost 20 years dealing with his decline. Thus, it became all we could remember and all my children knew of their grandfather. I thought that if I could write the complete story, it would help all of us remember the good with the bad. Once I got into it, it helped me understand myself more fully, and set me up to live my current life which is wonderful.
This is a ‘daughters tale of family and football’. What were some ideals you wanted to capture in this book?
I want readers to feel the love and complexity of this family. We had/have big love for each other, and had a big love for football. I want readers to know that you can overcome the hang ups from your childhood. I want readers to see that race in the South was more complex than is typically discussed. I want people to know that sports can be a bridge. I want families that are dealing with the cognitive decline of a loved one to know that they can forgive themselves their impatience and frustration with the situation; we are all just doing the best we can with the situation as we understand it in the moment.
The book shows the dedication your father had towards his career and family. What is something that stands out to you to this day about your father?
My father was relentless- that was the key to his success. He was full of optimism and faith in things bigger than himself.
What do you hope readers take away from your story?
First, that my father would not have made a different choice, but he did not make an informed one. I want parents to think carefully about letting their young children engage in any kind of contact sport. I want football in general, and the NFL in particular, to think more deliberately about additional reforms to football that will make it safer. I want the general public to understand the burden CTE places on a family. And I want families that have experienced CTE to draw some comfort from reading our story.
The King of Halloween & Miss Firecracker Queen tells the story of a football life from a daughter’s perspective. Chronicling a rise through the competitive ranks—from high school to college to professional coaching, and ultimately a Super Bowl championship—it also reveals the struggle to deal with the decline and death of the patriarch, Lamar Leachman, from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) as a result of that life.
With forewords by NFL legends Phil Simms and Harry Carson, this is a true story of one family’s love for a game and for each other, one man’s strength of character, one woman’s love that sustained him.
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Madeline Clark’s life seems like the life of a dozen different individuals. From the beginning of her troubled life, she is met head-on with one horrific circumstance after another at the hands of people she hopes and prays will be her saving graces. After finding her way out of South Africa, Maddie finds fleeting hope with David Blakely, a man she has no choice but to trust to pull her from poverty and imminent death, but cannot possibly know that his attention will be the beginning of her end and the catalyst for a lifetime of heartache and repeated loss and grief.
Maddie’s life, laid out for readers by Lucia Mann in her book, Addicted to Hate, is one of the most tragic about which I have ever read. It’s difficult to know where to begin explaining the layers Mann has revealed with her vivid and gripping descriptions of Maddie’s harrowing childhood, her abusive marriage to a vile man, and the horrific road she travels as a mother to three girls who could not care less if she lived or died. It is almost beyond comprehensible that Maddie could survive the mental and physical challenges with which she is faced from the beginning to the bitter end of her amazing and tortured life.
Mann has taken this story, based on actual events, and set Maddie forth as an unlikely heroine who overcomes insurmountable odds as she talks herself through each of her hardships including three pregnancies that, by all accounts, were miracles and curses at the same time. Maddie is the poster child of life testing us. She seems to have received each and every trial imaginable, the most tragic of which is the complete abhorrence her daughters have for her. I found myself rooting, paragraph by paragraph, for a turn of events for Maddie. I felt a visceral reaction with each mention of her daughter Mara’s blatant and evil brutalization of her mother. I wanted desperately for Maddie to see the light and make a break from her toxic children, but Maddie is better than most; she may be better than all of us.
Maddie’s intellect is her own saving grace. Her abilities are put to use in the most fascinating ways, and even that amazing opportunity cannot completely pull her from her spiral. Mann is a master at having her readers draw hopeful conclusions before letting them down abruptly.
The overall subject matter of Mann’s work is enhanced by the tone in which she writes. While maintaining a third person point of view, she manages nicely to incorporate a hint of second person questioning while drawing the reader further into Maddie’s overpowering drama.
Mann has given audience to an amazing tale of endurance and determination. In addition to the heartbreaking events of Maddie’s life, Mann shows readers the embodiment of true and unwavering unconditional love. Nowhere else can readers find a more poignant tale of loss, betrayal, and incredible triumph.
Pages: 254 | ASIN: B07K4TXQC7
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It is common to see grandparents raise their grandkids. The reasons vary from the children getting in trouble, passing away, divorce, teen pregnancies, parents being in jail, not being in a capacity to raise the kids, or not having the right parental skills. Grandparents raising grandkids may seem easy, but it’s not. Harriet Hodgson takes us through the struggles, the fun times that create the relationship children have with their grandparents.
Harriet Hodgson uses real-life example to delivery some poignant and sage advice. She raised her daughters’ children, and so speaks from a position of experience throughout the book, but not as a teacher, more as a knowing grandparent. The kids were twins and raising them was an amazing experience. The author notes how difficult it can be when grandkids ask for information which you think would be best explained by their parents. Losing her daughter was painful. Grieving for her daughter, the twin’s father, her brother, and father in law was among the lowest moments in her life.
This book reads like a parenting guide for grandparents. Some may feel that, since they are grandparents, they know how to raise kids. But remember, you are raising kids from a different perspective now and this book illuminates those differences and helps you tackle them. The author writes about family values and helps one understand what children want and how they should be treated. Raising teens can be an uphill task for anyone. The writer shares her experience raising her grandkids in their teen years, and how adolescents react to issues.
The tips Harriet Hodgson shares should be mastered by everyone as they will always come in handy at some point in life. The book is written in a flowing style, with the author listing her thoughts then explaining later in detail. This book not only educates you on parenting, but also helps to understand and cope with grief.
Throughout the bok Harriet Hodgson words are backed by research and science. That is the other amazing thing about this book. Everything listed is a fact, and one gets to understand how some families come to be. From the texts in the book, one can tell that Harriet is excellent at care-giving.
I’ve learned a lot just by reading this book. Mourning can take a toll on someone, but there is always that period where you rise up. The author did well by talking about stress and the effect it has on kids and how one should take care of their health. You understand how you can encourage a child to aim higher and get to the peak in everything they do.
Pages: 200 | ASIN: B075J5YNKW
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Dave Droge introduces us to a character who, despite having all the money in the world, wants to destroy himself. Eccentric, since one would think that having that much money would have made him happy. Narrated in the first person, I could already tell that this book would not only be thrilling to read, but also pleasant.
The narrator’s words were intriguing and I could feel the suspense hovering in the first few pages. This was exciting as I naturally got the urge to read more. I kept reading on and I got to understand why the narrator abhorred life and everything around. Waldemar had lost his family in an accident. His daughter Claire, and wife Antoinette had died from the accident. Reading this, I couldn’t help but think of how people mourn their loved ones. The author introduces the theme of grief early in the book, and that disintegrated my heart as all I could empathize with the narrator.
One gets the sense that the Waldemar suffers from mild self-loathing, as all he does is despise life; his career, his personality, and his whole self. When talking about his wife, the narrator described her as nearly perfect. While talking about self though, the Waldemar talked as if he was a failure. His troubles had started during his time as a researcher; he received a letter of termination just after his last publication. Of course, this broke him, what had become of him? His family passed on days later, leaving him completely broken.
Miriam was among my favorite characters in the book. I loved how knowledgeable she was, and how she knew how to initiate a conversation. The suicide discussion between her and Waldemar was one of the conversations I enjoyed in the book. Miriam was concerned, and though her way of showing concern was not typical, Waldemar understood her and actually listened to what she had to say.
At times I felt like Waldemar was personally speaking to me, and I needed to listen to him pour his heart out. His life may have not been a bed of roses, but Waldemar is one character I really loved. I enjoyed every piece of his narration and wanted him to keep talking.
The story easily flows and the reader gets engrossed in the life of the characters. Inevitable Dreaming story, from the beginning, is so absorbing that I couldn’t stop once I started. The characters are creative and the story is spellbinding.
Pages: 140 | ASIN: B07HLKHXYB
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There is a warm feeling that embraces you the moment you land on the first page. The author narrates her stories in a manner that makes the reader feel like they belong. Her wording is amazing and she used the most appropriate phrases in her explanations. The book starts with the writer sharing her childhood story of being born in England. Being the ninth child of a family of ten children, she knew early that she had to be aware of self as she was born into her crowd. She goes on to talk about her life; her family emigrated to Australia then to New Zealand. She also talks about getting children in her early twenties, selling her home, buying a yacht and sailing from New Zealand to England.
The writer talks about being distressed, going through emotional agony, feeling guilty, going through betrayal and experiencing grief. It was not easy for her. Even with the trauma that Linda K. Ford went through, she was able to emerge strong in the end. I admire her attitude and perspective on life. There is a lot of wise words she shared throughout the book.
On inaccuracies of thoughts, the author discusses how we respond to the situations we are faced with on a daily basis. The author says that each one of us has the potential to experience happiness. We all can be cheerful at all times. Life is supposed to be joyful. Our past sometimes restricts us from experiencing infinite joy. I loved that in between the lines, the author posed questions for the reader to ponder over. Trauma is never a good thing. A troubling past can haunt you for years, making you feel like life is not worth it. The author also mentioned that the stronger one is emotional, the deeper they are bound to sink. How unfortunate that must be.
Her style of giving real-life example when explaining a topic is what made me enjoy this book. One of my favorite parts of the book was the chapter where she explained mental versus physical tiredness. Both are draining and can break a person. At the end of it all, the author assured the reader that there is still some hope. Don’t sit and be depressed about things that you can’t change. Life may not be a walk in the park, but there are instances and people who make our life in this universe worthwhile. When you get emotional, look for things that work for you. Talk to people who care, read a book, watch your favorite TV show, engage in a simple physical exercise; don’t just sit with a dark cloud hovering around you.
Decrypto: Unlock Your Life Journey is a book everyone who is on a quest to discover self should read. The words shared are a gem. The author enables the reader to have some hope even when things don’t go as planned.
Pages: 164 | ISBN: 0648299007
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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.
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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
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