When you tire of the overload of digital and technology tools within our 2019 era, K.B. Laugheed’s The Gift of the Seer will expedite time travel back with you, and this author will have you writing with a feathered quill by the end of this literary journey! Put on your cultural anthropologist boots and allow this novel to cleverly weave historical yet fantastical plot elements, interestingly complex characters, and a rugged setting that will definitely transport and immerse readers. You will face cultural nuances, norms, spiritual beliefs, worldviews, philosophies, goals, life lessons, conflicts, natural connections, romances, and myriads of adventures via an Indian perspective. Our protagonist, Katie, provides uncensored reflections and stories spanning from the years 1748-1778. Yet Katie, the book’s protagonist, is not the docile, silent, subjugated, stereotypical, domesticated wife and mother that many heroines from her time era typically portray. Instead, she is a literary and cultural badass-think Katniss from The Hunger Games -but Katie encompasses more maturity, carnal pleasures, and complexities as a woman struggling to survive among different cultures, determined to sustain her love for her husband against all odds, and abandoning the feelings of guilt and condemnation based on her feeling that she’s living a big lie!
In short, adventures, dangers, thrills, and chills will bombard you on every page. Yet instead of feeling defeated and exhausted, you will experience the triumphs and evolution, right alongside Katie, as if you were a passenger in her canoe! The book is brilliant in terms of its vivid, sensory details that paint a no-nonsense picture of life during this era. The characters also conjure feelings of fables and folk tales via the author’s unique, authentic style. At times, I noticed hints of magical realism, which further add pizazz to this riveting book. While there are so many positive qualities about this book, especially the way in which the author develops her vast array of characters and executes her dramatic dialogue, all with cultural relevance and sensitivity, I was a bit overwhelmed with the plethora of social, historical, political, cultural, marital problems and themes that she tries to address all at once. At times it was slightly too ambitious for me to keep track of all the family members, neighbors, friends, and foes. Although they are important, especially to comprehend the larger scope of the historical fiction milieu, some of the symbols were slightly perplexing and some plot events were mentioned but not fully explained.
All in all, because readers can sense the imminent danger on every page, as evident from the great use of foreshadowing and cautionary notes to build suspense throughout the text, as in “til the ocean wave of Colonists comes crashing down upon us—then we will see which of us is right,” We not only learn cultural and historical information through characters with real vulnerability and authenticity, but we also find solace in our own journeys about how to fit into this world and all its challenges! We obtain a true sense of empowerment within this challenging piece of art. Try this time travelling and cultural anthropological plight by K.B. Laugheed in The Gift of the Seer!
Pages: 308 | ASIN: B07L7FHTFC
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With a collection of singular point of view narratives the author, Mayne Leitzer, offers his first complete book of poetry; 103 Simple Poems From One Simple Person. The book is sectioned into chapters outlining the types of poems that follow, what those writings mean to the author, and how they came to be. The title is indicative of the style of writing, not the writer, as the poetry is fairly simple; using straight forward thoughts and uncomplicated prose to reflect on life’s complications. The story arc is more of a summation of personal perspective and reflection than a journey forward or illustration of action.
In penning “103 Simple Poems” Mayne Leitzer offers up self reflection, self deprecation, a heavy dollop of fundamentalist religious dogma, and more than a little bit of sadness and remorse, with a glimmer of joy and hope.
Many of his poems are jargon one could find on a motivational poster or greeting card, but that is not at all bad. Life can get messy and sometimes people need soft, plushy words to find comfort and solace. The reader will find many situations that they can relate to; lost love, death, pursuing success, loneliness, finding your destiny, conflict of conviction, etc.
However, there are many poems that can be divisive. Sex before marriage, gun control, abortion, prayer in school, Heaven and Hell, those types of things. The thoughts Leitzer lays out are organic in nature and not derived of a need to be quoted for inspirational prose or to start a deep conversation, but rather, just as he states; a need to express his soul at different stages in life.
Some poems showcase the more complex layers of his humanity that struggle to shine under the dominance of a narrow vision. The Promised Land poem is thoughtful and embraceable. Not a Bad Day and One Moonlit Night lets out his optimistic side which he admits is not in his nature. Leitzer is honest about his mistakes and his struggle with alcoholism. His love poems are truly good; especially Seasons, A Smile and Rock A-bye.
There are a few grammatical, punctuation and spelling errors, which are distracting as is his zealous religious fervor, but his writings let the reader feel his authenticity and the last few poems wrap up nicely to summarize his goal and wishes for success.
This book uses simple and fluid style to expand peoples emotional depths but seemed content to keep its voice generalized. The individual writings have value no matter your religious leanings. At the end the reader will come away with some reflections of their own and maybe, quote a few lines for their own stages of life.
Pages: 124 | ISBN: 1425979149
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Life happens. We all know this and generally don’t have to be reminded of this truth. Along with the rigors of work, family, and relationships come changes in metabolism and eating habits. Women seem to bear the brunt of these changes with weight gain following the transition into marriage and motherhood. Make no mistake about it, women are well aware of the changes their bodies undergo, and they are hyper aware of the impact their weight gain has on relationships and their overall health. Whether women work to lose weight or not, they don’t need reminding that their bodies are changing in ways they may not necessarily like.
Carl Turner’s Gain Weight…Lose Your Mate examines the tendency of women to gain weight and focus less on maintaining the size they were upon entering the relationship with their mate or spouse. Turner spends a significant amount of time examining men’s awe regarding their girlfriends’ and wives’ seeming unwillingness to lose weight following childbirth. Though I understand some of the reasoning Turner sets forth, he focuses rather relentlessly on the desire men have to see their wives lose the baby weight.
Another aspect of Turner’s writing lies in the fact that he relates men’s feelings to the physical appearance of their wives and girlfriends. According to the author, there is a certain level of happiness most men feel as a direct result of their wives’ physical appearance, and that level of happiness is negatively impacted by their choices not to pursue exercise and healthier eating habits.
Peppered throughout Turner’s book are scenarios and examples of couples coping with the woman’s weight gain. Turner presents these situations in order to better illustrate his point but succeeds only in making men look more and self-centered. In once such scenario, Turner introduces a brief scene in which one man tells his wife that he will leave his wife alone with their children if she keeps her weight as is and doesn’t find a way to drop the extra weight she gained after having the two children. Sharing this story would have been effective had Turner used it to explain the selfishness behind the man’s comments. However, Turner goes on to explain that men don’t care what their mates eat as long as their weight/appearance is not negatively affected in their opinions.
Turner does include research-based measures and manages to warn readers of the consequences of obesity and the ensuing health conditions which result from overeating and failing to exercise regularly.
Turner’s writing style is straightforward and polished. Overall, I am mortified by the tone taken by the author and feel the writing lacks solid advice to rectify an issue rather than pointing out that there is a problem. His point of view is well crafted and easily understood.
Pages: 140 | ASIN: B079K5D4FY
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Life Interrupted: It’s Not All About Me is a memoir about your life and the challenges dealing with Multiple Sclerosis. Why was this an important book for you to write?
It was important to write for several reasons none of which was more important than the next. When I started out writing Life Interrupted, It’s Not All About Me, it was my intention to help one person, myself. You see, when I was divorcing my ex-wife to be’s lawyer had embellished much of the petty jousting that often goes on between individuals in the process of divorcing, but he really made me out to be a calculating monster, which I was not.
I wanted to share the truth with family members, in-laws and friends , but I believe God intervened and said, Chris, you can help one person, yourself, or you can help thousands of chronically ill and disabled individuals in the middle of their own desperate, downward spiral into the abyss of depression by helping them to avoid making the same relationship destroying mistakes that I once made.
In summary the two main reasons for writing my memoir were one, to save face and two, to help others with chronic illness avoid falling into the self – sabotaging, dismal, depressing downward spiral of the relationship destroying poor me attitude.
I enjoyed how you shared both the good and bad times and it felt like you held nothing back. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?
The hardest thing for me to have shared was my insidious anger and the fact that it was misdirected anger made it that much worse. I was out of control and in the midst of the worst I found God and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.
What is one piece of advice you wish someone gave you when you were diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis?
The best piece of advice anyone could have given to me when I was first diagnosed with MS would have been, never stop living your best life. If I had given into my initial thought that life was over, I would have missed one of the most fabulous lifetimes full of unimaginable things, loves, wonders and experiences. I have lived and continued to live the most exciting joyous life with not a single regret.
The book is very emotional but also inspirational. What do you hope readers take away from your book?
My hope is that readers will look at what I have gone through and recognize that through hardship and misery comes purpose and direction. In my life it was God who saved me, when I thought I was not worth saving. Take a couple of moments to invite God into your life, asking Him to reveal Himself to you.
Life Interrupted: It’s Not all about Me, is a candid and humble memoir about one young man’s diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis and how his ‘poor-me’ attitude cost him his marriage. Chris hopes others might learn from his mistakes to communicate more effectively and not allow disability and low self-worth to destroy relationships. Chris also writes about his faith in God, and his new wife, Jane, who he married in April of 2007.
Posted in Interviews
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Dealing with a disability or other debilitating disease is hard to begin with. When you don’t get the help that you need to deal with the changes your life is taking, it can cause irreversible harm to your relationships. Self-care is important; and is a burden that should not be placed on the people you love. It is alright to ask for help, but ultimately you are responsible for your own actions, how you deal with your situation, and making sure the people you love know you care about them. Chris Tatevosian gives readers an honest look into his life with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), and how he let his attitude destroy his marriage. He shares his insights into what went wrong with his “it’s all about me” mentality; and how he learned to overcome that and build healthy relationships in life.
Life Interrupted, It’s Not All About Me by Chris M. Tatevosian is a short read of less than 150 pages. It is however, filled with deep topics covering depression, anxiety, abuse and recovery. That is a lot of emotional energy packed into a few pages. Chris Tatevosian’s purpose in writing this book is to help others avoid the mistakes he made. He is very honest about the mistakes he made and offers the reader ideas on how to avoid making the same mistakes. There is a good mix of positive and humorous stories mixed in with the challenges, so it is not an all-out depressing book. He talks about the good times and bad with his ex-wife. Hearing about the struggles to get disability and social security is relatable to many with disabilities of all kinds and he explains how the stress impacts both the people in the relationship, not just the one with the disability.
At times the book feels like it is a personal journal where Chris is just writing out bits and pieces of his memories. I feel this is important though to the reader because you see him before MS took away his independence. You see him as he was, and it helps to understand why he became so bitter and fell into the “poor me” attitude that eventually ruined his marriage. Letting others see this makes it more real and relatable. In the end this book is not just about him complaining about all he lost due to MS, it is about how he learned to adapt and how he learned from his mistakes. This is a good book for people that are struggling and feel alone and feel that they can’t ever change the situation they are in. You may not be able to change your disability or disease, but you can change your attitude and how you relate to the people in your life to make your situation a little better.
Pages: 148 | ISBN: 1606045636
Skeins by Richa Gupta is the story of a large group of globe-trotting Indian women who take a trip to see the sights in Spain and Portugal. The women are similar in heritage, but vary widely in age and experience. Even though they are from the same general area, they also differ in culture and socio-economic status. As the women grow closer, they let each other into their personal lives. They confide in each other and share secrets, regrets, hopes, and dreams. However, it’s not one big happy slumber party. Some of the women find some serious trouble along their journey.
Overall, Skeins was a pretty easy read. The grammar and sentence structure is impeccable. I didn’t find any errors at all. If anything, there were only a few turns of phrase that only suggested that the author’s roots were different than my own. That’s not a bad thing.
If I have any complaint, it’s that the cast of characters was very large. I found it hard, at times, to keep the names of characters and their story lines straight. There seemed to be so much going on at once between all of the background stories.
I enjoyed the diversity of the characters. I especially enjoyed the diversity paired with the camaraderie that the women enjoyed. They came from all walks of life, different social classes, and different customs to form one big, instant family. They seemed to get along very well. They will make readers hope for these kinds of quickly formed but long lasting friendships.
Readers will also identify with the problems that the women face. They discuss the not-so-perfect aspects of their lives without giving the story too heavy of a feel. The story doesn’t bog down or get lost in their troubles. They simply state what’s going on in their lives, but characters don’t seem to dwell too much for the most part. For a story that deals with adultery, a crime ring, decades old grudges, etc., it is a decidedly uplifting tale. The women tackle their problems instead of becoming victims of circumstance.
I liked that Gupta showed the women as strong, powerful, and independent. None of them were “just a wife” or “just a mother.” None of them were leaning too hard on anyone but themselves. In a country where women aren’t generally in hierarchical positions, it was refreshing to see these women being so self-sufficient. Still, they walked the line between traditional arranged marriages and living their dreams, while sometimes doing both with one foot in each world. They seek out independence, their wildest dreams, and love all at once.
The book feels light-hearted in nature. I enjoyed that combination woven with real-life issues. I enjoyed the cultural journey following the women from India touring the Iberian Peninsula. The characters felt real. I’d love to see one of the characters step forward to star in a sequel.
Pages: 312 | ASIN: B07HP6ZPYM
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Moira Carruthers inherited the reins of her family’s charitable foundation only to find her father embezzled millions before his death. Ashamed and determined to make things right, Moira decides to use her own trust fund to replace the money. There’s just one problem. Moira can’t touch the trust until she turns thirty or marries. It seems she needs a husband…fast. She’s always been too busy with school and working to date and she has no prospects. There’s only one thing to do. Run away. A week on a Caribbean cruise should give her time to come up with a plan. She never expected the answer to her problems would stroll onto the deck of her ship.
Jackson Kennedy has made billions in businesses and his next acquisition is an exclusive cruise line in the Caribbean. Spending all his time behind a desk or traveling for business hasn’t left much time for romance. Until his Army Ranger brother is killed in action and Jackson winds up with custody of his special needs niece. Suddenly, Jackson has a pressing need for a wife and mother for his niece. He plans to close the deal with the cruise line fast and then look for a wife. He never expected to find the perfect candidate right under his nose.
What starts as a marriage of convenience could turn out to be the greatest love Moira and Jackson could ever find.
Pages: 123 | ASIN: B07J1YN2PR
Posted in book trailer
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Georgina Kemm is a woman driven to rediscover herself and heal the deep-seated wounds from her past. Her journey of self-examination leads her to Peru and to the somewhat beguiling arms of one shaman named Puma. After enduring the contemptuous complacency of her husband and battling the demons continuing to rise within her own psyche, Georgina finds herself almost inexplicably drawn to return to Peru following her best friend’s final fall from grace and admission of a friend’s ultimate betrayal. Her connection to Puma and the rituals in which she participates while visiting Peru haunt her and, in the end, pull her back to the place where her life actually began.
The Spell: The Shaman’s Lover Trilogy Book I is an autobiographical account by author Georgina Kemm. Georgina lays out her experiences in a simple but spellbinding manner. As she retraces her steps during the most painful years of her adult life using first person point of view, the reader is slowly absorbed into the events of those weeks in Peru and feels present in each of the mind-bending ceremonies.
Georgina weaves the most intricate details into her descriptions of the ceremonies and the intense and overpowering sensations she feels during each session with the shaman who seems to see right into her very soul. At times, I was left wondering how Georgina was able to survive her time in the wilderness of Peru, and I was always amazed as each new day began and she was still alive to tell about it. Though her tale is one of self-discovery, it is also one of endurance and immense amounts of physical and emotional strength.
One of the most effective portions of Georgina’s story is tucked neatly within the descriptions of her apologies to her husband and the inner battle she wages when she faces her own infidelity. Though she is angry with herself, she can’t seem to understand why. Georgina has communicated her own self doubt and feelings of inadequacies eloquently and powerfully for her readers.
Another powerful aspect of her tale is the relationship she has with her best friend, Sandy. As the weeks in Peru progress, Sandy and Georgina find themselves bouncing back and forth between confidantes and strangers. I was amazed at the way the two could seem to distance themselves from one another in the jungle thousands of miles from home. It is a true testament to the spell placed on both of them as the weeks went by. After seeing the way Book I ends, I fully expect to hear more of the strained relationship between the two women in subsequent installments.
Not often enough do we find individuals willing to come forward and bare their souls and show their battle wounds the way Kemm has done with this first in a trilogy. For her eloquent self-expression and her bravery, she is to be commended.
Pages: 308 | ASIN: B07D2N66WM
Posted in Book Reviews
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Midwife of Normandy follows young Clare as she struggles to save her family and career from France’s tyrannical king. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
An avid fan of history, I researched 17th century religious persecution of Huguenots by King Louis XIV and was surprised how few historical fiction novels had been set during this turbulent period (as opposed to numerous novels set in other times, like Tudor England.) I also noted that many historical fiction authors focused on women of royal or aristocratic blood as protagonists.
I wanted to do something different, so I created a Huguenot female protagonist, who rises from humble beginnings and dares to defy and outwit male authority, including the King’s soldiers.
After visiting Rouen and the beautiful countryside of Normandy, I felt certain this was the perfect location for my book.
I didn’t think being a midwife could be so interesting and this novel definitely caused me to look more into the profession. Why did you choose this profession for Clare in the story?
Let’s face facts; there weren’t many professional options available to 17th century women. It was widely held that their only proper role was marriage, absolute obedience to husbands, and bearing of children. Midwifery was almost exclusively performed by females, but was looked upon as a lowly trade.
In order to rise above her humble beginnings, Clare decides to offer her services, using a secret ancestral formula for pain-free birth, exclusively to wealthy members of the aristocracy who reward her handsomely, thereby turning midwifery into a lucrative profession.
Clare is a fascinating character that continued to develop as the story progressed. What were some themes you wanted to capture in Clare’s character?
Throughout history, women have struggled against many prejudices. What I set out to achieve was to create a strong, ambitious young woman who sought to control her own destiny. In a sense, Clare was an early pioneer for female equality in 17th century France, as she sought a career. However, she knew she was also obligated to marry in order to bear a female child to carry on her ancestral midwifery heritage.
At first, dewy-eyed young Clare is disappointed when her romantic childhood sweetheart leaves the country and she is coerced into marrying his older, dull brother. However, she turns out to be much stronger than her husband, even to the point of secretly using birth control until she decides the time is right for bearing children. And she is the one who must bravely plot their escape from France.
Another minor theme is the conflict a career woman faces between spending time with her children and working outside the home. A feeling of guilt. This balancing act continues through the present day, so it is a universal, contemporary theme.
What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?
The second novel in the series, Lucina’s Destiny, is now available on Amazon.com. It follows the exciting adventures of Clare and her family as they settle in England.
On the brink of womanhood, she records in her journal the grand plan for her perfect life–marriage to the man she loves, renovation of mysterious Maison Dupres as her home, and a rewarding profession. The key to her plan lies in “the magic elixir,” her ancestors’ secret formula for pain-free childbirth, which she offers solely to wealthy aristocratic women.
But King Louis’ increasing pressure on Huguenots to convert to Catholicism shatters Clare’s dreams. Her lover forced to flee France, she is compelled to marry his boring brother. Then she is banned from practicing midwifery. Yearning to continue her profession coupled with fear that her children will be kidnapped by Papists, Clare tries to convince her stubborn husband to move to England, but he is blind to the growing menace. When danger lurks in the form of the King’s dreaded Dragonnade soldiers, she must summon all her strength and determination to save her family.
Can Clare succeed in getting her family safely out of France before it is too late?
Posted in Interviews
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Mortgaged Goods follows the tumultuous relationship of Nata and Karl as they deal with the challenges life often poses. What was your inspiration for this intriguing novel?
Two key events in my life inspired me:
Firstly, the premature birth of my youngest grandson and supporting my daughter through hearing a diagnosis of a serious condition and months of watching her child fight for life in neo-natal intensive care gave me a keen awareness of the roller coaster of intense emotions mothers experience in this situation.
Secondly, I was involved, some time ago, with a Body Corporate of a young person’s accommodation building where investors suffered loss due to some shady dealing involving corrupt lawyers.
I want to stress that the story I told is complete fiction, but my personal experiences gave me fuel for the plot.
Marriage to someone who was removed from his family in early childhood and knowing several people who experienced foster care and/or child abuse drove a desire to explore the issues fostered, orphaned and abused children might struggle with in adulthood.
I tapped the memory of migrant friends to shape Nata’s foster parents and decide how they would approach child-raising and the potential effects of their methods of disciplining and showing love, because I wanted to include exploration of the challenges faced by immigrant families.
Nata’s character was interesting and well developed. What themes did you want to explore with her character?
I wanted to explore the effect on a woman of intense parental love combined with the strictest parental discipline and a deep religious influence, and I wanted to delve into the potential impact of this kind of upbringing on a woman who partnered with someone from an very different background. Karl’s background was on of great affluence combined with discipline that was is harsh and unloving, but one parent’s cautious affection drove hope of winning love if he could achieve well enough. I wanted to contrast diverse home environments and the effects of two completely different styles of parenting that both involved strict discipline and drove an intense desire for success.
My research with children who are removed from their families early inspired a strong desire to expose the emotional journey that accompanies a struggle for acceptance by substitute carers, the yearning for approval and a sense of truly belonging, and the feeling of never being good enough, because for so long society looked down on children who were not being cared for by their birth parents.
I also felt driven to expose the emotional journey of mothers of critically ill and special needs children.
This novel is very good at displaying the complexity of the decisions people make about family, relationships and love. Did you start writing with the intention of exploring these topics or did this happen organically?
I think it happened organically, though the short story that started this writing journey was about the a difficult family situation in which both mother and children were seriously abused by an alcoholic. I suspect my own childhood, as the child of a widow whose remarriages exposed me to two very different but extremely dysfunctional families, and my husband’s childhood as a Forgotten Australian, drove a desire to explore the complexity of family relationships, the potential effects deprivation of family connections, and the effect of different styles of parenting on children. We are all, to a greater or lesser extent, shaped by our experiences of care (or lack of it) in our formative years. Family and relationships are extremely complex, and researching how character and personality is shaped has always fascinated me.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Currently, I’m working on another novel about unethical legal behavior. My goal is to expose the hideous wrongs in the laws relating to challenging a will, and how the profit motive has displaced any legitimate desire to ensure fairness in the distribution of estates and abolished all respect for the stated wishes of the deceased. Though completely fictional, this novel is also based loosely on a personal experience. Once again, the central character is an ambitious and highly successful female lawyer, but her upbringing more closely resembled Karl’s than Natalya’s.
A gay partner is the Guardian in this story, and the antagonist is a self-serving narcissist consumed with extreme greed.
The story explores the dilemma of a fundamentally ethical woman whose ambition requires that she set aside all her core values in order to succeed, and how her choices impact on her and those around her. The character of the antagonist was shaped by disfunctional family relationships, poor decisions and personal trauma, and her story will explore these themes – particularly the personal consequences of decisions increasingly driven by greed and selfishness.
When this novel will be available is a question I can’t answer reliably. I am a painfully slow writer and one who struggles constantly with a frantically busy life and far too many distractions (though I am technically retired, whatever that means!)
My goal is to release it by mid 2019 at latest, but it will be available when it’s ready for discerning readers. I write for pleasure, not profit, and I strive to produce stories with genuine literary merit and characters who come to life in the minds of readers. Like most writers, I aspire to produce that elusive best-seller, and I am happy to invest whatever time is needed to deliver a work that I consider worthy.
Natalie is living the dream, but when tragedy strikes, her past comes back to haunt her and she must reassess what really defines a woman’s value.
Meanwhile, a crisis and confronting revelations challenge Karl to re-examine his standards and to question his deepest beliefs.
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