The BreakAway Girl: Secrets of a Tantric Yogi is a memoir about your life and how you found peace through hard times. What was the inspiration that made you want to put your story into a book?
Great question. As I mention in the book I’ve been blessed over the years to have the privilege of teaching yoga to so many remarkable students. As a result, in many ways the book is a response to questions I’ve been asked over time. I also believe it’s important that as a teacher you’re seen as a human being. Who can be just as frightened at times, unaware at times, and who may have struggled with insecurities just like the person next to you on the mat, or in front of you at the grocery check-out. It’s all part of this human embodiment.
What I enjoyed was that you didn’t shy away from retelling the difficult moments in your life. Was there anything that was difficult for you to write about?
Ha – yes! Quite honestly revealing all of my human fragility was difficult. It’s not easy to rip open your heart and expose your vulnerabilities so intimately. Knowing that most likely there will be judgement and commentary. Yet, as a writer it’s how I make sense of my world. I teach the whole of yoga, not simply poses. So, for me it’s a way that I’ve learned how to not spiritually by-pass and one way to be self-accountable. By doing that I’ve also learned, that in the right context, you allow others to see that they are not alone in the messiness that is life. And hopefully they feel more accepting of their own cracks and breakaways.
Writing a memoir forces you to look back and analyze life choices. Do you see things in your life differently now that you’ve written about it?
I love this question. I could write a lot about this, but one main analysis is that I’m more forgiving of myself. I realize that I was doing the best I could at the time. However mis-guided it might look like in retrospect. Plus, I’m even more grateful that I finally found my way to the path of yoga that continues every day to help me step more fully into my own essence.
This book is inspirational as well as functional in that you give some yoga pose instruction in the back of your book. What do you hope readers take away from The BreakAway Girl?
I hope that readers are inspired by my story of self-reflection, and ultimately as I see it, redemption. If they recognize themselves in any small way, I hope that my story might provide insight and motivation into their own breakaways. And to never give up on themselves. Also, if a reader is searching for a tool or a modality that might move them forward perhaps it is yoga – the myths, meditation, mantra, or asana might just be that something that will support their spiritual growth and personal transformation.
Paulette Bodeman is a certified integrative life coach and an Anusara® certified yoga teacher and trainer. When Paulette’s students asked her if she’d always “had it all together”, The BreakAway Girl – Secrets of a Tantric Yogi, was born. Through self-reflection, a sacred yogic practice, Paulette realized that she’d had many significant “breakaway moments” – moments when she made conscious decisions to change her life. Throughout her 20+ years of study, Paulette moved through many phases overcoming numerous personal challenges.
The BreakAway Girl is divided into sections that she named for the Hindu Goddesses – Kali, Saraswati and Lakshmi. Only through introspection was Paulette able to understand the meaning the goddesses brought to her life, and how their energetic archetypes supported her personal growth and transformation. In keeping with a relatively new breed of contemporary writing, part memoir – part self-help, Ms. Bodeman reveals with raw honesty and humor the secrets that held her hostage and the secrets that helped to set her spirit free. While she writes with fearless determination from the trenches of personal experience the author’s ultimate message is not only universal, but life-affirming.
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Douglas Wells’ new book, How We End Up, seeks to become even more intricate and complex then his debut book, The Secret of all Secrets. The reader follows three main characters as their lives come together, only to drift apart and come back together after 25 years. Jackson Levee is an ambitious college instructor when he manages to be in the right place at the right time and saves twin girls from drowning in the Gulf of Mexico. He goes on to write a poem about the event, which brings him acclaim and success. Hadley and Haley, the twins go on to become beautiful women. All three of them are then brought on their heels through various events and it is after two and half decades they meet again to suffer a devastating event together and discover who and what they are as human persons.
At this point, readers familiar with Wells’ more philosophically bent, literary stories and How We End Up is no exception. What has become more refined, is Wells style with incorporating all of these events into a cohesive story. His previous work seemed to have a lot going on, and while it still achieved a particular effect, it wasn’t as polished as this story. In some ways, he uses the layman’s philosophy to a decent effect, but it becomes even more pronounced as the themes of self-identity, purpose and life’s meaning takes center stage.
As much as this book is about Jackson, Haley, and Hadley, it is more about life and what happens to a person over the course of the years. Some readers may have mileage that may vary with this theme, but I believe it makes the novel resonate that much better. In fact, Wells’ inclusion of philosophy serves the novel all the better for serving this theme and given what he has written before he wants to focus on the human condition. We all ask the big questions and reflect on how our lives may have been formed otherwise, but with the intersection of these three lives, it brings this reality to the forefront.
All in all, Wells presents a literary novel that brings all the best sort of introspection and soul gazing that can be given in a reader’s experience. Fans of such fiction will be pleased with this, as are any who enjoy personal intimate stories that are full to the brim with drama. Students of philosophy will appreciate the small tributes and tid bits here and there as well.
Pages: 296 | ASIN: B079VCWS3S
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Do you still believe in magic? Do you still believe in Santa and his elves up at the North Pole? Comet and Vixen have a new little fawn that unfortunately is very bored and lonely at the North Pole. There are no other children to play with or keep her company. Fawn secretly discovers how to leave Santa’s village and escape to the outside world. There she meets a Snowboy, and a bunny. They decide to become best friends ‘Til the last snowflake falls. What happens though is that they discover that animals are going missing out of nowhere. Baby animals are left parentless and afraid. There is a new human, Dr. Mary Weather, a veterinarian that has come to the artic to study and help animals. With the help of Dr. Weather the inhabitants of Santa’s village look to solve the mystery of the missing animals and reunite all the families.
The Adventures of Fawn ‘Til the Last Snowflake Falls by Al E. Boy is listed as a children’s book, however it is novel. The writing is easy to understand, not a lot of challenging words. The scenery descriptions are colorful and entertaining but kept short to appeal to childrens shorter attention spans. There is a lot of funny interaction between the animals that will have you laughing and rooting them on. The personalities are well written and appealing, they have a mischievous streak, not a “bad kid” one but just kids being kids exploring and playing pranks. One funny scene involves two elves, known as the Forgetful Twins, and a bunny scatters who straw behind the elves as they’re sweeping, and the elves can’t figure out what is going on. The book than goes into deeper plots and themes. The bad guys that are kidnapping animals are mean to both people and animals. While there isn’t a lot of violence, the hostilities are implied.
The constant theme of friendship and sticking together is weaved deeply into the plot. At every turn characters are bonding and helping each other. The concern for their fellow companions is heartwarming. It shows that despite all the differences, human, snowman, reindeer, elf, bunny, it doesn’t matter, they all bond together. This is a great lesson for children, and adults. It doesn’t matter how different we all are, we can come together to solve a problem and help each other in times of need.
While the story takes place in the North Pole, it is not a Christmas story. It is a compelling story about friendship and overcoming adversity. Fawn is a loving character that is easy to relate to, and the magic of Santa’s Village and talking animals is sure to draw in readers of all ages. I loved being able to escape back to a childlike innocence and for the course of this book just believe in the magic of Santa and the North Pole again. It makes me happy and reminds me to appreciate the little things in life and share these moments with my own kids. This would make a great family reading novel with lots of topics for discussion.
Pages: 349 | ASIN: B00NRZO920
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Life is filled with challenges and for people with crippling anxiety it is worse. That anxiety feeds depression, and the two together can define and break a person down, or they can adapt, find ways to manage it and thrive in life. The BreakAway: Girl Secrets of a Tantric Yogi by Paulette Bodeman is Paulette’s memoir’s. Her story ranges from early in life to after her child is grown and an adult himself. This collection of her memories works like the human brain, it isn’t linier, rather the memories flow back and forth leaving imprints on the reader. Throughout the book Paulette slowly discovers yoga in a variety of forms before finding her place, at the end of this book she shares her knowledge with information on how to mediate, yoga poses, and how to embrace your own BreakAway moments in life, be them big or small.
Paulette Bodeman decided when she started writing this book that she was not going to just include all the good points or put a happy twist on her life moments. She promised herself to include all the ugly moments, all the hard memories, from addiction, divorce, depression and loss. They were not written with caveats that ‘oh this made me a better person for living through it’. Instead it is just raw emotions. It is real life and despite the jumping from one memory to another often not in chronological order, it is captivating to the reader. Some people will be frustrated by the lack of cohesion from one memory to the next; but I found it relatable and it gave me a better understanding of her. When I think back in time to my own memories it is a jumbled road, and those pieces all fit together in my own broken puzzle, that is what this book reminds me of. You don’t put a puzzle together left to right, you fit them together as you find them and once done you have a complete picture.
Much of the book focuses on her finding herself though her experiences and how they all led her to where she is now. But written in her style that path isn’t clear. In the last part of the book she explains her views on BreakAway moments, big and small. She talks about how they are the defining moments in your life that you may or may not even reorganize as being a defining moment. This last part pulls together everything she wrote. The inclusion of mediation suggestions, yoga poses, and spiritual healing ideas just completes the book. You start reading about her chaotic and disjointed life and end with a guide on how to find your own path through your own chaos.
This is not your traditional yoga book, it is not your traditional book on finding inspiration in life or how to better yourself. It is not a self-help book you pick up and read step by step to find your perfect balance. It is a book that will inspire you, give you bits and pieces you can relate to and give you suggestions on finding your own inner peace at your own pace and discovering your own BreakAway moments and how they have defined you.
Pages: 226 | ASIN: B079NCH83G
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This Does Not Leave This House, written by Julie Coons, is a true story of a survivor of abuse as she overcomes adversities and finds hope in moments of despair. The story reflects on Julie Coon’s childhood, teenage years and adulthood, sharing the deepest and most honest moments of her life. Between sharing her truths and experiences, Julie Coon also shows how someone can find strength and resilience through breaking free from the cycle of abuse. It’s a story that can be used as a resource of hope, for those who may be experiencing the trauma of abuse.
From the first page, I was instantly engrossed as the author shares some of the most raw and honest events of her life. These events are shocking and deeply unfair, but Julie entails to show the other side of the tunnel- the side where there is hope, healing and happiness. Her experiences of abuse will help those who are suffering from a similar situation, and shine a light on what many people experience daily. The powerful message behind This Does Not Leave This House shows how one can speak up against their abusers, against requests to keep information hidden and reiterates how abuse no longer should be kept a secret.
One of the important ideas discussed by Julie in the book is the idea of breaking the cycle of abuse. This sentiment stood out to me as many people would find it hard to break the cycle themselves. It was soul touching and beautiful to see how someone can make such huge changes and choices in their life when they could have very easily gone down the path of resentment and repetition of abuse. This does not leave this house is also a reminder to be kind, be respectful and to show empathy as you may not know the true extent of the horrors someone may be experiencing.
Abuse comes in many shapes and forms, and unfortunately, Julie Coons has had to experience them all. From emotional, physical and sexual abuse, it feels like the author has been handed every terrible situation possible. But she is strong, escapes terrible relationships and moves forward in her life to be a wonderful person and mother.
There is a beautiful and strong love that reverbs throughout the story when Julie Coon’s talks about her daughter. It warms the heart and soul and is a beacon of light throughout the novel, as you understand and feel how strong their bond must be. There is also an element of spirituality in the story as the author experiences near death moments and connections with loved ones that have passed.
From crazed nuns to narcissistic husbands, This Does Not Leave This House will be a novel guaranteed to make you laugh, cry and find the strength within yourself. I would recommend this for anyone who is looking for a novel that shows how someone can overcome abuse and find strength and courage in even the darkest of days.
Pages: 194 | ASIN: B078X4H8QR
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Phoenix tells the story of Sonam and her trials and tribulations as she builds her life as a woman in India. What was your inspiration for this heart-felt novel?
I have been inspired by experience and observation. My family background has been similar, and I have closely observed the lives of urban well-educated women in India. Despite a progressive education and multifaceted skills, they are expected to conform to obsolete family norms and not allowed to make life choices. This is especially true for the year 1983, when the protagonist Sonam wants to extricate herself from an abusive marriage. Indian society then was full of paradoxes: on one hand was the evolution of a knowledge society and unprecedented technological advancement and on the other deeply entrenched dogmatic beliefs in gender stereotypes. Instead of sympathising with a woman who was a victim of circumstances, her family and friends blamed her for her misfortunes and ostracised her.
I felt that this novel confronted gender stereotypes in a bold way. What themes did you want to capture while writing this book?
I have always felt strongly about the unequal playing field provided to women, even in the educated elite class, and the perception that they are appendages to male family members, whether father, brother or husband. Why should women be accorded respect only if they have empathetic men to battle for them? This discrimination is especially difficult to combat since one is pushing against one’s parents and closest family members whom one loves and respects. Through this novel, I wanted to highlight the need to cherish and support daughters as individuals regardless of the presence and status of their life partners.
I felt that Sonam was a multilayered character that was judged by her failings rather than her success. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?
While her parents despair of what will happen to Sonam after she leaves her husband and judge her by her failure in relationship, she demonstrates exceptional skills and shines in her workplace as an achiever. Her personality growth from 1983 to 2017 despite all odds illustrates the triumph of the spirit over ostracism, bigotry, negativity and injustice. She is rejuvenated from the ashes, just like the mythical bird, phoenix.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
My next book, tentatively titled ‘A Journey Within’ has a very different story though it also deals with women’s issues. The lives of 16 Indian women of varying age groups intersect when they go on an all-women’s trip to Spain and Portugal. As events unfold during and after the trip, each of them reaches a realization that changes her life forever.
Caught in an abusive marriage, Sonam Aggarwal finds no family support when she struggles to break free. However, with unwavering grit, she makes a place for herself in the world and rises like a phoenix from the ashes of her dead marriage to discover true companionship and professional success.
The evolution of a knowledge society in India that places a premium on human knowledge and skills regardless of gender finally bequeaths her a coveted place in the sun. The novel focuses on the core strength of a woman that asserts her value despite external trappings and women characters who go through their individual struggle with the inevitable challenges that threaten their existence.
Phoenix, a novel, traces the life of Sonam and her upper class family in South Delhi from 1983 to 2017. It highlights the curious paradoxes in Indian society: its global leadership in digitalization contrasted with antiquated prejudices and gender stereotypes.
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Dreaming on an Arabian Carpet, by Igor Martek, follows the trials and tribulations of Ricky, a man facing one dilemma after another in his life in the Middle East. Ricky is a Filipino man making his way in Kuwait and struggling to come to terms with his career demands while taming the turmoil that is his love life. When Breeze, his girlfriend from China, is not in the picture, Ricky is coping with a love lost with Leoni. The on-and-off love triangle that looms over Ricky leaves him contemplating his life choices and provides readers with a character who is philosophical, introspective, and, at times, a bit morbid.
Ricky often finds himself at odds with his own desires. As a character, he is trusting–far too trusting, in fact. Over the course of the book, he runs the gamut of emotions. He finds himself contemplating religious expectations, the course of his career, and the real reasons he may or may not belong with Breeze.
I found myself hard-pressed to like Breeze; it was a real struggle. As a reader, I wanted desperately for Ricky to find himself, find a way to cope with Breeze’s flighty nature, and realize her true intentions. The author does a wonderful job of keeping frustration levels high in that respect. If anything, Breeze is true-to-life. There is no fairy tale resolution where she is concerned. The relationship between Ricky and Breeze runs hot and cold, and I felt myself quickly realizing that Ricky could do much better than Breeze. Her tendency to talk down to him and to leave him wondering where he stands left me disconcerted and hurting for him.
As much disdain as I held for Breeze, I may have disliked Leoni even more. She, too, comes in and out of Ricky’s life with little or no warning and shakes up his emotions, his intentions, and his choices. Leoni seems to use Ricky to stroke her own ego and comfort herself following each of her subsequent divorces. Martek has created quite the triangle with Leoni, Breeze, and Ricky. Ricky spends a lot of time recounting his past experiences with both women, and the story tends to bounce back and forth fairly randomly.
Martek paints beautiful pictures of his settings. His vivid details in scenery and the cuisines of each of the cultures depicted are quite appealing and provide fantastic visuals as the reader watches the story unfold. In addition, the author includes history lessons throughout Ricky’s story.
Martek is an eloquent writer of fiction and is more than capable of writing in the romance genre. While Martek has woven an intricate tale that immerses the reader in culture, drama, and clings to intense and realistic personal relationships, it does lack humor. The serious nature of the story doesn’t lend itself well to overtly comedic moments, but the overall tone seems too sober. Well-placed, light-hearted moments would be a welcome addition to the story line.
Pages: 173 | ASIN: B0771PDS4G
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A life story told alongside life lessons…
Grandma’s Secret Blessings: A Memoir with a Twist, is a deeply personal and dramatic-memoir. It tells the story of Yianni’s life, family, troubles, and successes. Told from a mix of first and third-person viewpoints, it gives an interesting perspective on how a person develops character. Central to the book’s theme are the secret blessings, which are a collection of inspirational messages, trans-cultural personal instructions, and existential aspirations. The book also has a number of lessons passed down by Yianni’s grandmother from the Greek oral tradition.
Yianni and his family are Greek in origin, and as such, they share a long history involving the oral transmission of stories. Over history, folk tales and legends were often performed by storytellers in front of audiences, including young children and even grown children, such as Yianni. This culture is present in the story as Yianni learns of his family history, reaching clear back to great-great-grandparents. This family history has personal ties back to Greece and Albania, much of it during a time of serious political and economic turmoil. Of course, those history lessons passed down to Yianni are also infused with Grandma’s life lessons for Yianni. This is all interspersed with Yianni’s own personal history, along with description for the way that these stories and lessons helped him.
There are more than ten of grandma’s secret blessings, many of which existing in some form in many different cultures and languages. However, what makes the lessons particularly powerful is that in Yianni’s experience with his abusive father, Yianni explains that, “…it’s the only way to close the gaping hole in my heart.” Many of these secret blessings are a blessing in that they are a form of grace, protection, or favor for Yianni. “You are the captain of your own ship,” as an example, explains for Yianni that no matter what tosses you around and what terrible things may befall you, you still have control in your own life and life choices. This is how the book is a memoir “with a twist.”
Grandma’s Secret Blessings is not perfect in its presentation. For example, there are a number of typographical and grammatical errors, as well as punctuation mistakes that are distracting. However, these generally do not detract from the message and central themes of the story. In a way, it conveys the very essence of that oral tradition, which is sometimes imperfect and lost in translation.
Grandma’s Secret Blessings is intended for adult audiences. There are depictions of child and intimate partner abuse, discussions of sexuality and sexual behavior, and alcohol and drug abuse. These depictions are realistic in nature, contributing to the overall feel of the book and its weighty emotionality. Overall, even with the copy-editing errors, Grandma’s Secret Blessings is a good read for those looking for emotional and inspirational literature.
Pages: 364 | ASIN: B077PLR98B
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The Life and Times of Tommy Kaos: Raising Hell, by T.L. Henry, is the first-person account of the main character’s life from his earliest memory to his incarceration as a teenager. Tommy, a boy raised in the worst of circumstances, sustains abuse, exposure to alcoholism and drug use, and endures the most unstable of upbringings, From a tender age and following the loss of his best friend–his grandfather–Tommy learns to fend for himself and does his best to protect and shield his sister, May from his mother’s drunken tirades and efforts to exploit them both.
From the first paragraph, I was sure I was reading a journal–a true account of the author’s own life. I found myself checking more than once to make sure I had read the introduction correctly. This book–purely fictitious–transports the reader into a completely different mindset. I didn’t feel as though I was reading; I felt as though I were listening to a boy relating his life story while sitting beside me on park bench–Forrest Gump style. The conversational style of writing makes for a smooth read and is actually quite fascinating.
I quickly lost count of the number of times Tommy and his family were forced to move from one ramshackle home to another in North Carolina within a handful of years. With absolutely no stability and no father figure for most of his life until his incarceration, Tommy is quickly schooled in the ways of the street. Early on, Tommy learns to steer clear of his own mother and the endless string of men she brings home. Both of these aspects of Tommy’s life are incredibly sad and only seem to magnify as the story progresses.
Tommy’s life, as horrifying as it is, is believable. From his earliest encounter with abuse, he takes a turn for the worse and, admittedly, becomes everything to which he was exposed as a child. This unique, memoir-type writing style helps to drive home the sad truth about abused, neglected, and exploited children. As he endures and participates in dangerous and self-deprecating behaviors, he begins to find advantages in them. Several chapters in, I began to realize that I could actually be reading this from the antagonist’s point of view. What began as the tale of a tragic childhood, turned, all too easily, into the life story of a career criminal.
The main character’s cries for help falling on deaf ears were the most painful aspect of the plot. The author has managed to create a storyline that illuminates the tragedy perpetuated by abuse early in life. As much as the reader wants to feel sorry for young Tommy, he/she will feel an overwhelming desire to scream at teenaged Tommy to remember where these same behaviors got his mother. It is a frustrating and heart-wrenching read, but a necessary one.
While the writing style is unique and the conversational tone appealing, I felt the concentration on young Tommy’s sexual obsessions were a bit overstated and became uncomfortable to read after a while. The author does, however, do an excellent job of revealing the impact of abuse and neglect early in a child’s life.
Pages: 132 | ASIN: B01F6ET17C
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Lyuda was a lovely seventeen-year old girl with a potentially bright future. This was until she met Vova and the course of her life changed forever. Later, Vova would leave her orphaned and with a baby to care for. She was in pain and alone but she had a child. This meant she could not cry openly. Therefore, she tried to find momentary happiness at the bottom of a glass of Samohon.
Angela is a happy child. She is blissfully unaware of the harsh realities of life. She often wanders in her imagination without a care in the world. What does a seven-year-old girl have to worry about anyway? One day her night spirit appeared and warned her of an impending darkness. She did not understand this but the meaning soon became apparent. With the help of her grandmother, she embarks on a mission to make her mother happy again. Her mother needs to be reminded of the joy she derives from having Angela in her life. When all is said and done, Angela can finally grow up without being held back by her mother’s past. She can move on out of the dark envelope that is her mother’s mistakes.
Leonora Meriel successfully evokes intense emotion with this book. It is so sad and devastating to watch a child wish to be happy but hold themselves back to cater to their parent. She writes with vivid clarity and details the excruciating struggles Lyuda goes through. The author’s description of the Ukrainian countryside transports the reader to Lyuda’s little house with the lilacs outside. The Woman Behind the Waterfall is a good book about a mother’s desire to maintain her sanity. Not for her own sake but for the sake of her child.
Not enough stories explain, in heart wrenching detail, the struggle that mothers go through. Especially single mothers. This novel, to me, was told with an air of reverence. I’m always looking for books that take me beyond the words and transports me into new characters with interesting stories to tell. What you’ll find here is a story about people and passion and the moments that test both of them.
This book will leave you in tears. The story will ignite an urge to hug your mother and express appreciation for all the times she gave up her own life for yours.
Pages: 264 | ASIN: B01M078MOF
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