In this sometimes funny, but moving and compelling story, Randy Kolibaba will share intimate details about his life, both as a child growing up facing adversity including, many incidents he was involved in during his career as a police officer with Canada’s national police force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). His story includes having to take a man’s life in the line of duty. Randy will also discuss the personal impact it had on him witnessing first hand the horrific acts of genocide in war torn Kosovo, Yugoslavia.This interactive journey of self-exploration is about learning to understand what creates the physical and emotional obstacles that we foster in our lives—the ones that ultimately stifle our happiness. It’s about overcoming adversity and still being able to enjoy a successful and happy life. Imagine for a moment if you found out that you could dramatically change your life and be able to manifest happiness, health, and abundance. What if you could change your life by merely changing how you think? Would you do it? If you would, when would you do it?This self-help memoir will demonstrate in a very simple step by step method that life is truly a gift not to be wasted. It will encourage readers to realize that there are no “do-overs” or “rewind” buttons and that everything we experience in our lives is, in fact, what we’ve chosen to experience. Life is truly all about the choices we make.One of the biggest misconceptions we face in life is believing that we have time to wait for and, create that elusive “Someday”…. We don’t!
Anna has always known she would be famous. She has always done everything in her power to get to her desired position professionally and on the societal hierarchy. She reflects back to her journey from atop her throne. It is colored with struggled and dark moments she would rather not let anyone know about. However, despite all her success and power. Despite her fame and beauty. Despite her acclaim and recognition. Something is missing in her life. Until she meets Joe. A rash decision will change the course of her entire life.
Nataly Restokian has written a book that is inspired by her life. She writes so vividly that you can feel the fear in Anna’s parents as they sell bread on war torn streets. You can feel the disapproval radiating from many around her as she makes decisions. You will also enjoy the love, support and admiration she gets for these same decisions. It is a tumultuous life Anna has led. You will every bit of her turmoil and urgent need to find that missing part. The author has done a good job of pulling the reader in to see Anna for who she truly is. To see into her heart and mind. To look past the fancy veneer and see the woman stripped of her façade.
Anna is a strong woman who defies all odds. She creates her own fate. Like she says- people are fans of public figures they see themselves in. In Anna you will see a part of your true self. It could be her grit or her bravery. It could be her commitment to be authentic. It could be her strength to face her demons. She is everyone we all wish to be. She is unscripted and unforgivingly frank. So much could be said about this one character almost as there is no one else in the story with her. The writer has done a truly marvelous job of sculpting the perfect heroine who also has flaws but will not shy away from them. The same dexterity has been applied to Joe with his charm and genuine personality.
This is a very intense story that touches heavily on feminism and crime against women. These are issues that plague the world right now. This book tells the story of a woman’s life from a society many might not understand but whose struggles are relatable by all women though perhaps not on the same level. The writer lends the story the seriousness and sobriety it requires for the message to be passed. The book is written in beautifully simple yet elegant language with a mild flair.
Pages: 256 | ASIN: B07BB6RMDS
Tags: An Autobiography of Tammy Campbell Brooks’ Trepidation, author, biography, book, book review, bookblogger, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, masks, memoir, nataly restokian, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, romance, story, writer, writing
Mango Rash is a memoir of your time in American Samoa as a teen in the mid-sixties. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this memoir?
I started writing bits and pieces of my Samoa story when I joined a writers’ group in 2004. That was almost forty years after my time in Samoa, and for all those years I’d struggled to convey what it was like living on a tropical island as a teenager in the 1960s. All I could come up with was, “It was beautiful . . . It was a blast . . . “ and other generic responses that didn’t begin to capture the essence of the experience. So I started writing about that year as a way to not only fill in the details, but also tease out why living in Samoa made such an impression on me—something I’m not sure I completely understood until I finished writing the memoir.
Was everything you wrote from memory, or did you have to do research like dig through old photographs and letters?
Some events and conversations were so deeply etched in memory I could write them off the top of my head. Others surfaced as I looked through old photographs, played music from the time, and read letters and diary entries. One very good friend from high school days had saved all the letters I wrote her from Samoa, and those filled in so many details, including entire, verbatim conversations and descriptions of people and places. As I was revising the manuscript, a cousin unearthed letters my parents had written to her parents from Samoa. Those letters corroborated my accounts and provided even more details.
I appreciated the candid nature of your book. What were some goals you set for yourself as a writer for this book?
Interesting question! I think my main goal was to dig beneath the day-by-day recounting of events, extract the most pivotal events, and ferret out my reactions to those events, both at the time and forty to fifty years later, as I was writing about them. And then to keep making sure I was telling the truth, not only the factual truth, but also the emotional truth.
This is a lovely coming of age story that superbly captures a whirlwind of emotions. What do you hope readers take away from your story?
Thank you! I hope readers take away several messages from my story.
First, that even though our individual life stories may be very different, we all experience similar emotions at key points in our lives—adolescence, for one, but also other points along the way.
Second, that change is inevitable—nothing is permanent—but it’s good to consider which changes are beneficial and growth-promoting and which ones are destructive. Neither resisting change nor forging ahead just for the sake of change is the best path.
Finally, I think the most important message is that we all can learn so much from cultures other than our own if we open ourselves up to what they have to offer. Given all the mistrust and misunderstanding among different groups of people these days, this message can’t be stressed too often.
Moving to a South Pacific island from small town Oklahoma, sixteen year old Nancy Sanders trades cruising Main Street in search of tater tots for strolling sandy shores with islanders who feast on sea worms and summon sharks with song.
With a dash of teenage sass, MANGO RASH chronicles Nancy’s search for adventure—and identity—in two alien realms: the tricky terrain of adolescence and the remote U.S. territory of American Samoa. Against a backdrop of lava-rimmed beaches, frangipani-laced air, and sensual music, Nancy immerses herself in 1960s island culture with a colorful cast of Samoan and American expat kids.
But life is not one big beach party, Nancy soon finds, when she clashes with her parents over forbidden boys and discovers double standards in the expat community. Samoa, too, is experiencing growing pains as ancient customs collide with 20th-century ways. In the midst of all this, a hurricane shatters the peaceful paradise, delivering lessons in attachment and loss, strength and survival.
Like Nancy, readers of this unforgettable memoir will fall in love with Samoa’s biscuit-tin drum serenades, its mountains like mounds of cut velvet cushions, and its open-hearted people, who face adversity with grace. And just as Nancy does when her own health crisis thrusts her into a very different kind of unfamiliar territory, readers will draw strength from fa’a Samoa: the Samoan Way.
In language as lush as the island landscape, MANGO RASH enchants, entertains, and, ultimately, inspires with its message about embracing and learning from other cultures.
Back in the 1980’s when the LGBTQ community was severely marginalized. Back when AIDS was called GRID (Gay Related Immune Deficiency). Dustin Thomas struggled with his identity. Unbeknownst to him the place his parents likened with Sodom would be the beginning of his journey to understand his true self. At the age of 20, he gained the courage to walk through those doors. This would lay the foundation for the relationship he would later have with Gauge Paulson. How will they survive with only their restored 1949 Indian Motorcycle and hope? How will they navigate the complexity of their relationship? Will their Fort Lauderdale past follow them down the California Coast?
This book tells a very important story in the history of the LGBTQ community. There is a lot that people do not know about the struggle before members of the community could openly fight for their liberation. If for nothing else, read this book to truly understand the struggle. It provides an accurate albeit bleak picture of what life was like for the LGBTQ community in the 1980’s as well as the lengths they had to go to simply exist in the society.
This is a well written book and a moving tale. The style of writing is fitting for a story of this intensity and magnitude. It is emotive and gut wrenching. You find yourself rooting for young Dustin to overcome all the hurdles on his path.
The grammar is spotless with a flair that is just right, never feeling inappropriate for the tragic undertone of the story. The author has an uncanny ability to create a full dimensional mental picture with both his creative use of language and unique tone, giving an artistic feel to his writing.
This is a very informative book. There is a story to enjoy sure, but at the core of it is a lesson for human kind. At the end of it all you wonder why human beings cannot coexist in peace without judgement and creation of restrictive societal codes. What would really happen if everyone was accepted just as they were? This book is thought provoking in this way. You will also learn that love truly is powerful; against ignorance and debilitating superiority complexes.
Craig Moody has broken into the genre with a powerfully poignant book. This book tells a story that many need to hear.
Pages: 252 | ASIN: B06XD51X19
The Grand Trek follows a unique journey to Arizona and the people encountered on the way. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thought provoking memoir?
(WIth the caveat that Arizona was the original idea but the actual Trek turned out differently) The seed for what I came to call The Grand Trek was planted over the breakfast table one morning just after I graduated from high school while living at Horst and Harriet’s farm in Scales Mound, Illinois. Harriet speculated that one of their horses looked like he might not make it through another tough northern Illinois winter. As a (bad) joke, I suggested she ride him to her sister’s place in Arizona. Most folks would have taken this as a jest. Instead, Harriet went to get an atlas.
I found this story to be energetic, engaging and evocative. What were some themes you wanted to capture while writing this story?
The main theme is fulfilling the dreams we have for our lives, and picking the right dreams to follow. Another theme is the contrast between urban and rural life, which is something that has been part of my life story. A third is the connections with my horses and dogs and the natural environment. Perhaps increasingly relevant these days is how basic is the need for water. Not a theme as such, but frequently having only a general idea of where I was and where I was heading came up a lot! That is to say that I spent a lot of time basically lost, and learned not to worry about that as long as I kept heading west.
I enjoyed the interesting and varied characters introduced throughout your novel. What were some ideas that you wanted to explore with your characters?
I wanted to relay the way folks I encountered go about their lives, which is more interesting than may be obvious at first sight because it isn’t always dramatic or extraordinary. For example, a lot to think about arose when asking for some water from a mother hanging out laundry to dry. On the face of it, that encounter seems mundane in comparison with the time I asked for some water from a fellow who kept exotic animals like yaks. On reflection, though, the apparently more mundane encounter told worlds about how thoughtfully and innovatively that family approached their lifestyle. I didn’t have a particular plan about what to explore about my encounters. They each had their own significance.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The Best That Can Happen: The Grand Trek wraps up with my stepping off the corporate ladder to re-open a horse training operation at a once well-known facility in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC. I’m deciding on how best to approach it. I’m presently leaning toward researching the lives of the people who have occupied that property over the years. The property has some historical relevance, as it was part of the Fairfax Grant of over 5 million acres in the mid-1600’s. There are no doubt a wealth of interesting characters and social development themes to explore, including how America looked pre- and post-European settlement! Lots to research, so it’ll be a while before that’s done. I’m also considering a fictional murder mystery at the farm. That could be fun!
Stories of a journey of discovery traveling cross-country by Kathleen, her horse, Murphy, and her Boxer dog, Country Boy. Unusual for travel memoirs, it explores preparing for the Trek (including catching Murphy and training Country Boy as a protection dog) and what follows such an adventure. It is an entertaining ramble along America’s backroads meeting a very special cast of characters; a humorous and occasionally terrifying roadmap of Americana and pursuing the dreams of one’s youth.
Available at TheGrandTrek.com
Posted in Interviews
Tags: A Memoir with a Twist, adventure, author, author interview, biography, book, book review, bookblogger, ebook, goodreads, Kathleen Schmitt, kindle, kobo, literature, memoir, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, story, The Best That Can Happen, The Grand Trek, writer, writing
Not many people are attentive enough to hear an inner voice let alone listen to it. Lenerd Louw had always had a small voice inside of him urging towards a direction he had never taken before. The voice was leading him to veer off a life he had always lived, enjoyed and took some measure of pride in. The voice only grew louder over time. Then Lenerd took the time to actually listen to the voice. He took the time to audit his life and venture into the unknown with nothing but a large backpack. Five years later, he has a new outlook on life.
Lenerd leaves nothing to the imagination. He lets the reader deep into the belly of the story. He tells such a vivid story that while he is momentarily mesmerized by the Jacuzzi fire, the reader will be right there with him. You can almost smell the cocktail of diarrhea and vomit when he attempts to rid himself of parasites.
His style of telling his story is completely engaging and involving for the reader. There is an authentic air about the author. Even as he accuses himself of in-authenticity, the fact that he is questioning means that it lies somewhere within him. You can tell that he is not in any way completely devoid of it. This quality comes through in the way he tells the story as well as the events he chooses to highlight.
This was definitely a story worth telling. It is a story of triumphs. Often people think that those perched atop privilege and success have it easy. Truth is that they too, undergo the same kind of struggles that everyone does. In that sense, this story is relatable. Although the reader may not have the means to traverse the world like he did, Lenerd’s experiences and his candid narration of the story connect him to the reader right from the beginning.
Although I liked the book, I felt that the story tended to jump around without notice. This left me a little confused at times, like when someone digresses when they tell a story. Regardless, you will enjoy Lenerd’s discovery of self.
The reader will be gripped right from the scene by the fire with the two girls on the table to his recall of the Café at the Edge story. Everything in between will be a beautiful roller-coaster. Speaking of the story, it is the perfect ending to a great story. It is so apt and fitting and wraps up the book quite nicely.
Pages: 286 | ASIN: B07TZJM1ZQ
It’s almost impossible not to come across a story every day about another victim of the opioid/mental health crisis that is devastating cities around the globe.
This ongoing tragedy encompasses so many issues and has so many facets but at the end of the day it is a tragedy of people. Real people who have real stories and whose stories have elements that anyone can relate too.
So, what makes a person succumb to pain, depression and despair? Why are some people able to stay clean and others can’t break free? The answer is not always the same, neither is the end of each persons tale. Taking a page from a true life news article, singer/songwriter Steve Murphy embraces the idea of the person behind the byline in a short story centering on Mark; a homeless man who battles his personal demons, usually without much success.
From the opening of Foul Play is Not Suspected Murphy asks the questions we should ask and take the time to think about. The characters of this short story could be anybody and like anybody, they have twists and turns in their lives; as well as a desire to find the best lives for themselves.
The crisis’ of drugs and depression often go hand in hand and by no means can be put into a box or a quick article but the authors considerable talent allows him to illustrate an accurate and savvy picture of how these problems affect all people in society.
At the center of Foul Play is Not Suspected is Mark an everyday man who becomes the symbol of a life interrupted by darkness and bad decisions and the inability to get past his addiction. But, there are more layers to Mark and to Murphy’s story in general. Thankfully, the message is not lost in complexity nor overwritten to prove a point. His vision stays true to the message and is clear as well as impactful.
Steve Murphy closes the story with links and ideas to be more active, as well as a link to the original article and a link to an informative article about the health risks of opioids.
Reading stories like Foul Play is Not Suspected will help put the right take on this overwhelming problem and should be part of any book club. A longer version of the story would have been wonderful.
Pages: 103 | ASIN: B07XC1QFZD
Every person in their youth has dreamt of escaping to some exotic locale for fun, freedom, and newness. Someplace on the globe that is ‘other’; a place that can physically represent the internal battle of reaching adulthood and really understanding how things change and how one wants to find their own and new identity.
For the author, Nan Sanders Pokerwinski, the dream of a far off world full of new possibilities was a lush and beautiful reality. Mango Rash is a memoir of her brief time in America Samoa as a teen back in the mid-sixties. But it is so much more than that! Nan’s recall of her life-transforming time is a lush, layered, inviting and provocative tale that is so delightful to read!
Mango Rash peppers in historical references and factual instances in a perfect way that makes Nan’s story more intriguing and doesn’t date the story. In fact, the writer’s coming of age story is so timeless in the way that any teen can relate too in any age or any setting.
America Samoa provides such a picturesque and breathtaking backdrop to the timelessness of Mango Rash. Nan’s voice is so strong and effective and pens such a likable and marvelous story with a place that everyone will want to visit and a group of people that everyone will want to meet.
Nan’s ups and downs on the island mirror her ups and downs in life and her voyage to figure out where her home really is. The all too brief interactions with her parents and the very quick observations she makes about the world around her were such wise touches!
Mango Rash has an ending I did not see coming, but probably should have. Despite the memoirs’ sudden end and out of nowhere change, the author makes the conclusion stick with flair and whimsy.
Pokerwinski has a huge talent for drawing the reader in with such ease and flair; like listening to a story being told by your best friend! Everything about Mango Rash is delightful and wondrously fun!
Take the time to enjoy this book and you will find yourself reflecting on the people and places that helped shape you and still hold a part of your heart today; as well as identifying closely with the characters. For sure, you will dream of American Samoa and will be hoping that Nan has more stories to tell.
Pages: 300 | ASIN: B07WNXS6LV
Almost everyone has been touched by cancer; either indirectly or directly by this aggressive and unpredictable disease. Serious diseases affect people in different ways, sometimes the emotional storm leaves you as unprepared as the illness. A child battling cancer is as bad as it gets and the real life story of Adrienne Wilson is a total gut-wrencher as well as beautiful, uplifting and encouraging one. Better off Bald: A Life in 147 Days is an undeniably fascinating read that should be experienced!
There is so much raw truth and strength in the authors recounting of her sisters battle with childhood cancer. Andrea Wilson’s story is a roller coaster of hope, anger, grief, nostalgia, determination, self guilt, and courage that can only be matched my her marvelous and spirited sister. The truth about cancer is that there is no absolutely true path or outcome. Everyday and every story is different. Despite knowing the end for Adrienne the author is successful at making the reader understand how every day and moment is different and unique and the journey of these 2 strong women is just as compelling as can be hoped for.
Andrea Wilson Woods opens up her soul with her memoir Better off Bald: A Life in 147 Days. This fabulously narrated journey lays out all that can be experienced when dealing with the terminal illness of a minor.
There are countless ups and downs in Adrienne’s story and it’s not straight forward nor easy. What in life is? The roller coaster ride is raw and real and the unbalance of this story makes it remarkable.
Better off Bald paints such a vivid picture of the complexity of cancer and the real life challenges of living in the moment and how people think and react to every changing scope of their new reality. The author captures the readers heart and attention with clarity and grit. There is so much in Adrienne and Andrea’s story that makes you wish you had known them in person and feel like you already do.
From beginning to end A Life in 147 Days demands attention and you just want to keep reading and reading. The triumphs and tragedies of the two sisters is a story that must be shared and I am so grateful the it was! The author ends her story with a call to action and perspective that is relatable and honest. A truly great read!
Pages: 394 | ASIN: B07X3N6TCP
From Miracle to Murder is about surviving domestic abuse, a misogynistic religious cult, and being falsely accused of the murder of a disabled child. Why was this an important book for you to write?
I began From Miracle to Murder as a letter to my daughter, Anne. I needed her to know how much I loved her and her brother, Adam.
I fought like a mother to protect them but opponents overwhelmed me and I failed. After Adam was murdered, I was accused, and Anne was given to my abusive ex-husband. There were times I became so despondent, giving up would have been easier then continuing to live but I learned how to be an advocate for my daughter.
I have no super power, talent, or strength, so if I can survive a Pandora’s Box of horrid events, I hope others will be inspired by Miracle to know they will not only survive, but they will become a presence and a voice for those who are unable to speak for themselves.
You share a lot of emotional and personal moments in this story. What was one thing you were not sure you could discuss in this book?
Discussing the extent to which Anne and my relationship with her was damaged was extremely painful. Adam’s death was horrid, but watching Anne be destroyed in increments of days and months as the years passed by people who were trusted by the authorities was evil. The first priority of a parent is to protect their child. I failed to do that with both Anne and Adam. I hold my inability to shield them from harm accountable for the misery that followed.
What do you hope readers take away from your book and your experiences?
If you are in a relationship and are wondering if you are being abused, listen to your inner self and seek help. It is possible to break the cycle of abuse. It begins with you.
Never, never lie. Tell the truth at all times. If I had told even one lie all those years when I was accused of murdering my own child, it would have been found and my credibility would have been destroyed. Never telling a lie saved my relationship with Anne when she was ready to work with a counselor. My prayers for her return were rewarded when she looked at me and said, “Mom, you are the only one who never lied to me.”
Forgive yourself for your mistakes. I did the best I could with the tools I had to use at the time. I was too naïve and trusting. These aren’t sins but please be aware of your environment and the credibility of the people who are in your space.
No matter how awful the situation, please avoid any medication, prescribed or otherwise, that may lead to an unintentional dependency. Follow the advice I was given and wait until the situation improves, then indulge in a glass of your favorite beverage. Better yet, go on a hike, a walk, or vacation, and visit your favorite healing place.
Writing a memoir often causes one to reflect on past choices. Is there anything you see differently now that you wrote this book?
If I could return to the past and change one of my decisions, it was when my father told me to go to my high school counselor’s office and turn down the scholarships and grants I had earned. I wanted to go to medical school and become a doctor. I was too timid and too dominated by the rules of my father and the religion in which I was raised to stand up and say, “No. I’m going to college.” That one declaration of independence would have totally avoided the hell that followed.
I now firmly believe an advanced education for both men and women is the key to a lifetime of enlightenment, success, emotional and financial independence.
From Miracle to Murder: Justice for Adam is about surviving domestic violence, the trauma of being raised in a misogynistic religious cult, the murder of a disabled child, and being falsely accused of that murder. It is the memoir of a true crime. It’s the story of a mother who was determined to survive. It’s a, “Oh my God, this really happened to a mother and her children! But she survived! She’s doing all right! Then, maybe so can I.”
From Miracle to Murder is not an essay into court or investigative procedures. Instead, the reader is invited into the author’s life. She wants them to see what she saw, thought, heard, and felt as she says her last goodbye to her son and when she’s formally charged. Experience what she does when she is pushed to the edge of insanity, adjusts, acquires skills to survive, and then creates a different normal as she forgives and finds joy again.
Joyce loved her son. She treasured every minute of his short life. In spite of what the rest of the world viewed as terrible physical deformities and mental disabilities, Adam laughed. He enjoyed being alive. Joyce was devastated after he died. When police showed up at her door and accused her of murdering her little boy, her world shattered.
The characters are real people. What they did, what they said, and what they wore happened. All scenarios are depicted as accurately as possible and are based on police reports, depositions, court records, a grand jury transcript, criminal trial transcripts, psychologist’s written evaluations, eye witness accounts,journals, victim impact statements, different avenues of public media, Adam’s autopsy, and the author’s haunting memories recalled to the best of her abilities.
From Miracle to Murder: Justice for Adam is for anyone who believes in the presumption of innocent until proven guilty. It is hoped that readers will walk away from Miracle with a greater faith that they can survive the impossible, forgive the unforgivable, learn how not to become a victim, and the importance of creating moments of clarity in the midst of chaos.