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105 Steps

When Stephen Trigwell’s wife falls ill, the life his family has always known is forever changed. Their lives are consumed with doctor visits, hospital stays, medications, surgeries, and an overwhelming sense of fear. In March of 2021, Glen Trigwell was diagnosed with an aneurysm that required immediate surgery in order to set a stent in place. From that day forward, Stephen Trigwell made the decision to document the events that followed not only for his family but for his wife’s sake as the months that followed proved to be a time she may just lose. This memoir was written so she would know the love, care, and time that went into her experiences.

105 Steps is the true story and memoir of Glen Trigwell’s journey as documented by her husband, Stephen. Her shocking diagnosis in March of 2021 took their family down a frightening road. The aneurysm that changed their lives would pull them even closer together as they watched Glen fight to regain her life from this beast.

Stephen Trigwell’s writing is raw, open, and honest. He gives readers a deeply personal look into his family’s life as they cared for Glen from the beginning with her diagnosis through the moments from which they begin to believe she may never recover. Readers will feel each and every triumph and the devastating lows along with Stephen as he recounts each moment of her hospital stays and the harrowing days following her surgeries.

It’s difficult to say that I loved a story like this one because it’s true and painful, but I truly do. Trigwell has given readers an amazing gift with this account of his wife’s experience. I can see how his willingness to share his family’s pain and joy will help others living through the same type of challenges. His generosity is amazing and appreciated.

105 Steps, by Stephen Trigwell, is for anyone who wants to read a heartwarming and touching story about real unconditional love. The Trigwell family’s story is as inspiring as it is amazing and goes a long way to making so many feel less alone in such trying circumstances. I highly recommend Trigwell’s work to any reader looking for a beautifully-written true story of love, faith, and the determination to overcome the most incredible odds.

Pages: 222 | ASIN : B0B21XQFZ6

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In Search of a Happy Ending

In Search of a Happy Ending by [Rosa Jordan]

A terminal illness comes as a surprise to Eve Austin. The indignation that has swept Eve, a newly divorced woman in her mid-30s, over her disbelief about her imminent fate has been overwhelming. After joining a writing group where members alike cloak their private lives and disguise realities, Eve finds that her search for a happy ending is replaced with something more meaningful. During the bi-monthly meeting of a seven-member group, Eve, a recluse awaiting her fate, changes abruptly into a woman who learns that not every story has to have a happy ending and that what matters most is what lies in the middle chapters of life.

The plot of this sentimental novel, the second by author Rosa Jordan, features diverse characters, from an eighty-two-year-old blunt Hector to a 21-year-old self-contained foster girl named Raynee. It is Eve who helps the reader understand not only her own mental frame but that of the other characters as well. It’s not just the character’s psychological development that the reader gets to see, but their somewhat tumultuous personal lives as well. It presents Hector and Golda as orthodox married couples, with Golda always willing to submit to Hector’s domineering nature. However, the eccentric affection between them is a very touching element of the novel.

Despite presenting the most vulnerable phases of someone’s life in a novel, the author brings in humorous elements as well. I appreciate the author’s ability to help the reader notice even the smallest change in emotions and thoughts within the characters. The novel shines due to its subtle observations, typically seen through the viewpoint of Eve. I believe there is no such thing as a favorite character in the novel because all of them have characteristics I could admire and dislike at the same time.

The writing group stories play a key part in the development of the characters. There are a variety of different stories told by the characters so readers of all interests will be able to find one that appeals to them especially those who enjoy the subtleties of human emotions.

In Search of a Happy Ending by Rosa Jordan captivates readers with dynamic characters that learn and grow from one another. Each chapter of the novel creates a strong surge of emotions in the reader. This is a story about people with dual lives and demeanors and a generous heart. By walking their paths, they learn and teach what it means to live for themselves and others. 

Pages: 335 | ASIN: B09KDDQDJR

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Braiding Roses

Braiding Roses: An outback doctor sweet romance by [Elise Stoltenbreck]

Braiding Roses, by Elise Stoltenbreck, is the story of a young doctor named Mandy who has her five-year plan all figured out and is ready to start her future. Her plans are derailed after having to do a year’s residency in the town of Manjimup working under meticulous Gareth, the head doctor.

Stoltenbreck does a great job capturing imagery through her scenes with vibrant descriptions. She brings a authenticity to her characters that had me feeling like I could walk into Manjimup hospital and ask to see Gareth.

This inspirational romance novel will appeal to readers that want an authentic Australian experience. The story is set in the Australian outback, an area that I love seeing in literature. Stoltenbreck uses Aussie dialect in the novel adding to it’s realistic nature and giving the characters real personality and depth. Care was taken by the author to allow the reader to be fully immersed in Aussie culture.

While classified as a romance novel, I think that this story is more about the building of a relationship. You will not find steamy sex scenes and pages of passion, but this book had one of the biggest build-ups between the female and male character that I’ve ever read. This impassioned book has shown me, romance is a story about love, and lust isn’t always needed.

This book is near perfection as it shows two stubborn minds falling in love instead of the typical lust-filled stories out there. This book sends an emotionally-resonant message of love. While predictable at times, it is still a fun contemporary romance story.

Braiding Roses by Elise Stoltenbreck is a sweet and clean romance story between two people that get thrown together in life due to unforeseen circumstances. This riveting novel will appeal to readers that enjoy a love story without sex and that focuses on the personalities and genuine feelings of the characters. This is also a great book for readers looking for an alluring romance story in an exotic setting.

Pages: 317 | ASIN: B09DB7TQH1

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The Stars That Govern Us

The Stars That Govern Us by JR Alcyone is a heart wrenching but beautiful read set in 1956 Western Australia. Alec Serafeim is a congenital heart surgeon who suffers from manic depression. His pediatric patients mean the world to him but are often the reason why he’s distressed. Despite being one of the best heart surgeons of his time, Alec struggles with the fact that he can’t save all his patients. We follow Alec and his surgical partner Pete as they cope with the heartbreaking world around them.

Now, let me tell you why JR Alcyone is a future bestseller! There are so many things I can say about Alcyone’s writing, but let’s first discuss her scene-setting abilities! Alcyone can set a scene flawlessly. Her attention to small details, including surroundings and mannerisms, is what sets this novel apart. Most modern novelists skip over these details, considering them to be fluff. But Alcyone was able to apply just the right amount of detail to help immerse her reader into the scenes. There only two gripes I have with Alcyone’s writing, and one of them is monotony. The beginning of the story felt slow-paced. I felt that it could have been remedied with some editing. Her ability to pack in detail is fantastic, but it can often drone on about one topic. My second gripe is with distinguishing voices. It took me almost a third of the way through to distinguish Alec’s and Pete’s voices. It was not until I learned certain character traits about each of them that I was able to tell the difference. Once Alcyone started adding the character traits, her writing began to soar!

I praise Alcyone for how gracefully she handled the subject of mental illness. She showed how even the most productive and praise-worthy individuals can suffer from mental health problems. The discussion of manic depression and anxiety is partly what made this novel for me!

Author J.R. Alcyone has the foundations to become something extraordinary. The Stars That Govern Us is a must-read for all historical fiction lovers. Fans of medical fiction and dramatic story telling will find plenty to love in J.R. Alcyone’s riveting novel.

Pages: 279 | ASIN:  B08P5KJ9TZ

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With Angel’s Wings

With Angel's Wings by [Collins, Stephanie A.]

With Angel’s Wings, by Stephanie Collins, is one mother’s raw and heart-wrenching account of her life with two daughters with special needs. Written as a third-person account with name changes, the author describes each and every obstacle encountered as she struggled to come to terms with her daughters’ challenges while simultaneously dealing with a long string of physicians, specialists, and therapists. Laura, as the author calls the young mother, fights an uphill battle from the moment she is told her days-old infant has a heart defect–the first of many. While facing a seemingly unending barrage of personal hurdles, Laura somehow learns to cope with the endless physical and emotional demands placed upon her family by tiny Hannah’s diagnosis of Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome.

This author’s life story as a work of fiction is almost indescribable. I do not believe I have ever read a book that kept me as breathless and as anxious as this one. Laura’s laundry list of traumatic events ranging from her newborn’s purple feet and hands to her seizures lasting for hours on end is mentally exhausting to read. Her life is so full of twists and turns and drama surrounding Hannah’s diagnosis and subsequent health scares, the author has no need to embellish with flowery language and lengthy stretches of narrative. There is, literally, no room or time left to dress up her text. This book reads as a journal of heartache peppered with true love.

Collins is honest and open with her feelings about her daughters’ diagnoses. As Laura, she sugarcoats nothing. As strong as she is, Laura reveals her vulnerability as an overwhelmed young mother. The reader aches to watch her contemplate, time and again, a way out. Her frustration as a parent fighting her way through the healthcare system is one with which many readers will be able to relate. In addition to her day-to-day battle with fevers, seizures, hospital visits, and mounting financial woes, Laura faces the virtually indescribable audacity of an ex-husband who lacks not only both sympathy and empathy but a soul, as well.

As a parent and a teacher, I have never read a more authentic and touching account of life as a mother or a more revealing account of what caring for a child with special needs truly entails. Emily’s early signs of autism hit home with me as a teacher. No one knows the struggle of helping a child on the autism spectrum like a parent. Laura begins accommodating for Emily’s needs long before her diagnosis. She modifies, plans, and tries to remain several steps ahead of meltdowns from early on in Emily’s life. Parents of children with autism will appreciate reading about the way Laura intricately weaves a web of plans on a daily basis to compensate for Emily’s developmental delays.

Though the book is primarily focused on the battle to save Hannah and come to grips with her many needs, the author does a beautiful job of illustrating the relationship Laura develops with Daniel. Daniel, the one shining light in her darkest days, is a rather unlikely saviour. Their love, apparent from early in their friendship, is one that only intensifies through the rigors of identifying and finding ways of successfully coping with all Emily and Hannah’s needs.

There aren’t any options for stars beyond 5, so I am restricted to giving With Angel’s Wings 5 out of 5 stars. The author’s life story, now Laura and Daniel’s as well, is an absolute must-read for any parent, teacher, or caregiver of a child with special needs. There is a love like no other born out of a relationship with these children, and Stephanie Collins has handed readers everywhere the key to unlock hearts and minds and build a better understanding of the struggles faced by many of our family members and friends who have children with special needs living lives like Laura’s.

Pages: 304 | ASIN: B01DL9AXAI

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