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SHAME, GUILT, AND SURVIVING MARTIN BRYANT: One Woman’s Journey from Terror to Joy

SHAME, GUILT, AND SURVIVING MARTIN BRYANT: One Woman's Journey from Terror to Joy by [Collyer, Karen]

A gut-wrenching journey through life is portrayed in the pages of Shame, Guilt, and Surviving Martin Bryant by Karen Collyer. It’s a short read, but the raw emotions within the page are heavy, terrifying and intense. This book follows Karen through her life as a very young girl towards where she is today and spares no detail. Karen’s life has not been kind to her, and the novella is not afraid to tell readers exactly what horrors she has gone through. This is not a book for those who are emotionally fragile or have troubles reading about assault and rape. These horrific events are laid out in painstaking detail as well as the trauma Karen faced when she was stalked by the man who committed the massacre in Port Arthur.

The book takes great pains to let readers know what they are getting into before it even begins. Readers should pay careful attention to the trigger warning at the beginning, as it accurately describes the type of events that take place in the book. The book, however, is a powerful tool that demonstrates the ways in which deep rooted emotional scars can shape our lives.

Karen tells the story from the perspective of the ‘wide-eyed girl’. This serves to disconnect the author from the story in a sense that readers may forget they are reading a memoir of sorts. This also allows readers to avoid projecting the feelings of the protagonist on themselves, as can often happen when stories are told from the first person perspective. This makes the story powerful and allows readers to relate on a deeper level. Those with empathy may feel drained after reading the emotional journey Karen had to go through.

This book states that it is a journey from terror to joy. Upon reading the book and now writing this review, it is hard to see where joy comes into play. There are several times that the protagonist Karen embarks on ventures that light her up and cause her to feel elated and wonderful, however by the end of the story there is no confirmation that she was able to obtain the happiness she is long overdue. Yes, she barely survived being a victim of Martin Bryant, but where is the confirmation of her happiness? Where is the consolation for the readers that the wide-eyed girl made it and was able to attain joy? It’s not explicitly stated, just implied. It leaves one wondering, in a good way, where one finds this confirmation in life.

For those who are looking for a short but meaningful book that will take them on a roller-coaster of emotions, Shame, Guilt, and Surviving Martin Bryant by Karen Collyer is a must read. It’s gripping, tears at the heartstrings and exposes the ugliness of the ‘don’t tell’ culture that is still alive and well today.

Pages: 174 | ASIN: B07B8Y47XR

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Love is the Most Important Human Activity

Sally Forest Author Interview

Sally Forest Author Interview

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.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

From The Heart: Stories of Love and Life by [Forest, Sally]Six moving and engrossing stories that you can feel.

Collection includes:
  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.

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That’s a Tricky Question

Sally Forest Author Interview

Sally Forest Author Interview

Choose: Snakes or Ladders follows Mitty who comes up against sexism and classism and must challenge others’ prejudices while fighting her inner demons. What was your inspiration for this provocative novel?

I didn’t have any articulated inspiration for the novel. It started as a short piece and grew seemingly by itself. I thought it was about an innocent young girl in the 50’s. I actually didn’t know that I felt so strongly about class issues and sexism. Nor about sexual safety of young people. My main conscious focus was on her struggle to find a way through the internal and external restrictions. As a former therapist, it has always saddened me that many women, particularly in the 50’s, were denied natural pleasures because of a culture of ignorance and shame around female sexual activity. As well of course, of career advancement.

What I really enjoyed about Mitty’s character is how well developed she was but continued to transform throughout the novel. What were some obstacles you felt were important for Mitty’s character development?

Her main obstacle was the extreme shaming and ignorance of the fictional sect in the novel. Another strong obstacle was Mitty’s lack of anyone who could help her come to some knowledge and understanding. I loved Violet’s attempts to inform her. The struggle is linked to the development, through ups and downs, of her self-worth – another essential ingredient in a life of achievement, pleasure and love.

I think you did a great job of illustrating that female beauty and sexuality can often be a poisoned chalice. Why do you think this is an important, especially with today’s #metoo movement?

I was amused by Mitty’s character as a woman who was beautiful and sexually arousing without her knowing it. And heartened by her innate sensuality. Perhaps if young women were educated properly and allowed to have awareness and acceptance of these factors, they would be less vulnerable in the face of male assertion of power in all ways. A lot of work needs to be done to educate men, particularly in self-awareness.

In the sequel all these themes continue to build strong plot threads, together with some surprising twists in Mitty’s life path.

What life experiences of your own did you put into the novel, if any?

That’s a tricky question. A life experience of teacher and counselor helps to build a wide understanding. Personally, none of the events as depicted happened to me, although fragments of similar occurrences have been combined to build a different fictional history. For example, my much loved grandmother had overcome a restrictive religious background, while still quoting many homilies to me, with a wry smile. Otherwise, sometimes just a few words overheard will trigger a scene. So there is a basic truth in it all.

Author Links: Amazon | Website

Choose: Snakes Or Ladders: A Psychological Coming-of-Age Novel by [Forest, Sally]“Choose: Snakes or Ladders: A Psychological Coming-of-Age Novel” from hot new contemporary fiction author, Sally Forest.

This is “a well-plotted tale of human growth, sexuality, and self-discovery which will be enjoyed by readers of women’s fiction and literary fiction alike.”

Mitty is a young girl brought up in a punitive sect who escapes to a typist job in the city – a step to fulfilling her dreams of being a lady. She is hampered by deep fears of hell and punishment, and utter ignorance of the facts of life.

The 1950’s – sex, drugs and rock and roll, but not in the small towns of Australia. There were lots of jobs, clothes and wealth in the cities but this threatened the values of the past – a culture where men desire and decide, while women love and serve.

Miss Mitty Bedford knew the outside world through Hollywood movies at the local Pictures, only to find in real life that there can be nasties behind smiling, beautiful faces.

A stalker’s attack clashes with her newfound joy in sensual self-discovery inspired by a crush on her boss, and her love for decent, loving, traditional Col. She writhes between shame, repentance and joy. 

Mitty wants a career and respect, but what path must she choose? She needs love, but does she want freedom more?

This emotional and dramatic journey to win trust, love and independence, will keep readers turning the pages, as well as provoking questions that still apply today.

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Cassie’s Marvelous Music Lessons

Cassie's Marvelous Music Lessons4 Stars

Cassie’s Marvelous Music Lessons is a charming children’s story that is about a lively little puppy dog and her love for music. Cassie, the dog, finds herself in a studio that is filled with upbeat tunes that fill her heart and soul and leave her little tail tapping to the beat. A lady, by the name of Mrs Applebaum, is the cause for such beautiful rhythms and soon Cassie realises that her passion for music and teaching must be heard! However, Mrs Applebaum struggles to understand Cassie’s dreams and desires and together they must come to an understanding through the language of music.

Cassie’s Marvelous Music Lessons, written by Sheri Poe-Pape is a delightful children’s story about a family’s favourite pet- an excitable pup by the name of Cassie. Cassie is a lover of the beat, and with her musical ear, she is eager to transfer her passion into teaching. Beautifully written, this story will put a smile on your face as you vividly imagine the little pup tapping away to the beat of the music, desperately trying to show that she too could potentially be a teacher one day.

Perfect for the young ones, this short story will fire up their imagination as they begin to wonder what secret talents their beloved family pet could secretly possess. I found myself wondering if my little puppy dog was actually trying to tell me that she too could possibly be a musical genius beneath that big furry coat! I love how Sheri Poe-Pape puts into perspective how your pup may be trying to communicate and leaves you questioning what your pup might be saying between their barks, growls and howls. Cassie’s vibrant personality and determined nature will help show children that your dreams are certainly possible- as long as you are persistent!

You can almost hear the music being played in the studio as you read the songs which have quirky titles such as “A Starry Night Howl”. Between these furry tunes, you will find Cassie desperate to communicate with her owner through the rata-tatt-tatting of her furry tail and the howling of her passionate bark. The themes within this story could also apply to people attempting to speak to each other through different languages and how music could be used as the universal way to converse with each other.

Overall Cassie’s Marvelous Music Lessons will serve as a heartwarming reminder that it is important to never judge a book by its cover (or by its fur coat!) and the only limits are the limits you put on yourself. As it is family orientated, Cassie’s Marvelous Music Lessons would serve as the perfect bedtime story or for a child learning to read short stories. Sheri Poe-Pape’s uplifting style of writing leaves you feeling joyful and inspired to fulfill your goals and pursue your dreams- no matter how big they may be!

I would recommend this for children who enjoy amusing short stories involving little furry friends!

Pages: 32 | ASIN: B017THEOAI

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God Made It Clear

Rebecca Duvall Author Interview

Rebecca Duvall Author Interview

In His Way tells the story of your second marriage to a Deputy Sheriff and being a mother of three; a volunteeraholic and a workaholic living together. What made you want to write about your life and put it out there for the world?

To be completely honest, I’m not a writer. I’m a numbers kinda gal. Back in the days when I worked for a paycheck, I did Bookkeeping or Accounting.

As my husband was dealing with his health issues, God made it clear I was to share with others, through a book, how I was getting through it. I was to write about my transition of no faith in anything, to faith in God Almighty, which brought hope, forgiveness and love into my world.

In His Way is a beautifully written memoir. I felt you left nothing out. Why was it important for you to give a faithful retelling of your life?

It was important for me to be all in when writing this book because ultimately, I desire the reader to feel connected to the story. I believe many people, if not everyone, can relate to something I have shared, because they too have gone through it. It’s important for the reader to feel the pain, relief, distress or joy as I experienced it for that connection to be made.

What was one of the hardest moments of your life to write about?

The hardest part of the book to write about was the relationship with my mom. It took many rewrites and a lot of tears to openly admit how this relationship affected who I am today.

What do you hope readers take away from In His Way?

I hope each reader would know they are never alone in any situation. God is right there beside them, waiting to be invited into their circumstance, to offer His comfort. Also, there is always many who have walked the same road they are on and willing to bring them help and encouragement, but they must first let their pain or difficulty be known.

Are you working on another book? If so, when will that be published?

No, I’m not currently working on another book. I do however, have a blog, inhisway.net, that I write on occasionally.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

In His Way by [Duvall, Rebecca]Throughout much of my married life, I lived under the illusion that I had it all together – it was everyone else that needed fixing. Several years into my second marriage my husband, a Deputy Sheriff, became a workaholic and was never home. Meanwhile, I became a volunteeraholic, too busy to face the fact that we had become two strangers under one roof, raising three kids.

God revealed Himself to me through the different women I volunteered with. As my heart slowly opened to God’s presence, my marriage came crashing down around me. As I cried out for God’s help, I discovered my husband’s affair. I found myself surrounded by faithful people who gave me the strength to face the problems in my marriage and the tools needed to begin fixing it.

Over the next four years, my husband’s health deteriorated and he was forced to retire. Through this God continually showed me I was In His Way and then, when He knew He had my attention, He would proceed to show me how to do things In His Way. In the end, what God told me to do, saved my husband’s life, and our marriage. What was broken is now fixed by the grace and love of God.

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