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American River: Confluence

American River: Confluence: Book Three of the American River Trilogy by [O'Connor, Mallory M.]

One type of story that captivates a large portion of readers is the story of humanity. The author, Mallory M. O’Connor, excels at capturing powerful moments of human interaction in her novel American River: Confluence. O’Connor’s work involves a host of social issues—sexuality, politics, race relations—all disguised in what seems to be a book about artists pursuing their passions.

This book follows three families of different cultures that manage to connect. They are all tied to the same area, and while the young adults have mostly wandered off to different regions of the U.S., this story is about them all finding a reason to come home to celebrate life, art, and diversity which gives the story a greater sense of symmetry. O’Connor filled this book with real-life problems such as racism, mental health issues, sickness, and political confrontations. Therefore, this book can be a guide for helping people navigate their way through similar tragedies in their own life.

The overall story arc is intricate and well thought out. It is a little unclear where the book is going at first and what the focal point will be, but there are exciting turns everywhere that keep the readers’ attention until the end. Several subplots play out to give the book a lot of depth. On the surface, it seems like the McPhalan family is working through their problems with the ultimate goal of setting up a musical festival on Mockingbird Valley Ranch, the family’s ancestral property. Underneath, O’Connor raises awareness of many social issues. These social issues are picked apart one by one to allow the reader to think through different perspectives regarding them. While set in the 1970’s, the problems the characters face are problems that are prevalent in our society today, potentially making this book a timeless classic.

If you did not read the previous books to get familiar with the intricacies of the story you would need to refer to the “Cast of Characters” page at the beginning. The book immerses readers from the start with drama and doesn’t let up until the end, so lacking thorough character introductions early in the story, even though its the last of the series, can detract from the impact of certain events. I highly suggest you read books one and two before confluence.

American society, as well as many others around the globe, could drastically benefit from reading this book. While many authors hide a political agenda in their work, it’s often obvious where they stand on controversial issues; O’Connor, on the other hand, hid her feelings on many of the topics, which requires distinct talent. Ultimately, she encourages discussion and introspection through the characters. If it weren’t for some minor language concerns, this book would be well suited in a high school reading curriculum to expose students to the complexity of the world they live in and the core of human nature.

Pages: 364 | ASIN: B07HL12C8T

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Inevitable Dreaming

Inevitable dreaming by [Dröge, Dave]

Dave Droge introduces us to a character who, despite having all the money in the world, wants to destroy himself. Eccentric, since one would think that having that much money would have made him happy. Narrated in the first person, I could already tell that this book would not only be thrilling to read, but also pleasant.

The narrator’s words were intriguing and I could feel the suspense hovering in the first few pages. This was exciting as I naturally got the urge to read more. I kept reading on and I got to understand why the narrator abhorred life and everything around. Waldemar had lost his family in an accident. His daughter Claire, and wife Antoinette had died from the accident. Reading this, I couldn’t help but think of how people mourn their loved ones. The author introduces the theme of grief early in the book, and that disintegrated my heart as all I could empathize with the narrator.

One gets the sense that the Waldemar suffers from mild self-loathing, as all he does is despise life; his career, his personality, and his whole self. When talking about his wife, the narrator described her as nearly perfect. While talking about self though, the Waldemar talked as if he was a failure. His troubles had started during his time as a researcher; he received a letter of termination just after his last publication. Of course, this broke him, what had become of him? His family passed on days later, leaving him completely broken.

Miriam was among my favorite characters in the book. I loved how knowledgeable she was, and how she knew how to initiate a conversation. The suicide discussion between her and Waldemar was one of the conversations I enjoyed in the book. Miriam was concerned, and though her way of showing concern was not typical, Waldemar understood her and actually listened to what she had to say.

At times I felt like Waldemar was personally speaking to me, and I needed to listen to him pour his heart out. His life may have not been a bed of roses, but Waldemar is one character I really loved. I enjoyed every piece of his narration and wanted him to keep talking.

The story easily flows and the reader gets engrossed in the life of the characters. Inevitable Dreaming story, from the beginning, is so absorbing that I couldn’t stop once I started. The characters are creative and the story is spellbinding.

Pages: 140 | ASIN: B07HLKHXYB

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I Am and the Spirit Walks with Me

I Am and the Spirit Walks with Me by [Lowery, Angelo]

The book starts with the author taking us back to her childhood. She writes about an awful incident at home. In an attempt to perhaps discipline her, her mother physically abused her because she had an argument with the brother. She was so hurt and afraid, even thinking that she could die from the punches she received that day. The author also talks about how she tried to be her best but no one ever appreciated her efforts. Not even the excellent grades could get her a simple nod from the people around her.

Angelo Lowery tells of her story growing up. The good, the ugly, and the unfortunate. In all her narrations, she never forgets to mention how gracious the will of God is. The writer has gone through a lot. Experiencing just a fraction of what she has gone through can be quite overwhelming. Life can be disappointing, but we need to keep holding on. I love that the writer used examples from her family, friends and other associates in her life. Some of the things she talked about hit home, and I couldn’t help but think about some of the decisions I have made in my life.

I Am And The Spirit Walks With Me is a book written for everyone who is on the verge of giving up. Don’t lose hope. Keep moving, keep pushing, keep seeking. It is only a matter of time before everything falls into place. The author reminds us not to focus on the bad things that have happened to us. Yes, you may feel like this life is not worth living, you may have had the worst experiences among your peers; don’t feel sorry for yourself, the good Lord is out there looking for you. Sometimes all we need are challenges that make ourselves aware of the situations around us. Don’t blame yourself. It gets better with time. Don’t be quick to anger. The author excellently explains what holding grudges does to you. She knows first-hand, what carrying other peoples’ burdens does to your body. Strive to stay positive and always pray to God for strength.

I love how the author emphasized healing after hurting. Angelo Lowery’s life is proof enough that overcoming pain and suffering is possible. When writing this book, the writer had people who are heartbroken and those going through mental distress in mind. Her kind words are warm to the soul, and will help anyone who feels like this universe is not doing them justice. Open up to those who care, turn to God and always keep a positive attitude. There are so many lessons that one can learn from the author’s life. I Am And The Spirit Walks With Me speaks directly to you as a person.

Pages: 150 | ASIN: B0777KSDVF

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Surrender to You

Mellie is not the average twenty-something. Her older brother, a SWAT member, and all his fellow officers inundate her day-to-day life. Though Mellie has her sights set on Morris, she can barely bring herself to function when she is in his presence. Morris, her brother’s best friend, is also a SWAT officer and, amazingly, has the same stunned-into-silence demeanor toward Mellie. When the two are finally forced into an initial date, it seems the stars are aligned for the beyond-perfect couple. Before Mellie and Morris can begin their life together, they must overcome one glaring obstacle–the one person who knows no boundaries when it comes to keeping Morris from being with the one woman he loves more than anything.

Surrender to You, book one in Nikki Mays’s SAPD SWAT Series, introduces two main characters beginning an intensely romantic life with one another. Mays’s first in a series is primarily a romance novel peppered with a hint of mystery and a moving commentary on mental health. Mays incorporates concerns over addressing mental health needs via her antagonist who is not revealed until late in the story line. Though the plot takes a harrowing turn, Mays makes sure to tastefully deal with her character’s failing mental health and the various ways those around the character missed cues.

The author does a nice job of keeping readers guessing as to the identity of Mellie’s stalker. I found myself guessing the culprit’s identity based on three different motives as the reading progressed. I was not completely surprised to find out who had been harassing Mellie. However, I was impressed by Mays’s ability to redirect my attention to and away from three characters simultaneously.

For fans of romance novels, Surrender to You contains it all. I was more impressed with the style in which Mays has chosen to use in her writing. The bounce back and forth between Mellie and Morris’s first-person accounts is highly effective in engaging the reader. The first-person narrative provides a much more intimate look at the characters’ thought processes and allows the reader to both sympathize and empathize with their struggles. In addition, Mays makes use of a relatable conversational tone in her writing that keeps the reader involved and invested in the budding relationship and the mystery surrounding Mellie’s unwanted attention. All in all, Surrender to You is an easy and fast read due to Mays’s ability to reach her audience so quickly in the opening chapter with Mellie’s heartfelt confessions.

Mays gives readers well-drawn characters and has established a wonderful cast readers will be eager to see again in the next installment. Mays has tapped into a target audience who will most definitely agree with Mellie in her assessment of the prowess of the members of the South Amberly SWAT.

Pages: 267 | ASIN: B07F8FVHNQ

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One Love

One Love by [Duffy, Thomas]Thomas Duffy’s book, One Love, is a tale of both love and heartache. Protagonist Tim is torn between a “what might have been” sort of love and another that is actually in front of him. Duffy doesn’t paint over the ugly parts of love, instead highlighting them. He exposes what love looks like in real life, not some fairy tale version that we were taught in the movies. Duffy doesn’t shy away from the flaws and complexities of his characters. His is a raw and honest account of entangled and intertwined relationships that examines what we sacrifice for love, and the love we may sacrifice for security.

A book has to really grab me from page one for me to read it quickly. I got through this one in two days, even with other things going on. I was pulled in. I was fascinated and wanted to see what happened from page to page. I went through a range of emotion with the characters. I wanted to hug Tim and slap him sometimes at the same time. The same went for Louie and Melody at times. I felt like I was peeking in on intimate details of lives I shouldn’t be seeing but wanted to see at the same time. Thomas Duffy pulled back the curtain on real life. He exposed what everyone tries to hide.

Readers will find themselves identifying with the characters. They are all flawed in some way or another, and that makes them more identifiable. Louie’s addiction, Tim’s stagnant career and failure to commit, Melody’s indecisiveness, Cindy’s crippling anxiety. Duffy covers the gamut of dysfunction. Chances are that each reader will see his or herself in at least one of the characters. I appreciated the realism and admittedly saw myself in a character or two. Everyone has a “what might have been” scenario or two. This book lets readers vicariously live one of those scenarios out.

I’m not a romance novel fan. I wouldn’t call this your average romance novel by any stretch. However, there are some sexual scenes in the book. They are not overpowering to the rest of the plot. They feel necessary and relevant to the story. You’ll find much more concentration on the feelings of the characters and their daily lives than sex, but it is there. -And, it is important to the story.

This one was a real page-turner for me. The writing was simple without being boring. There was no pretense. No stuffiness. I was completely interested in the lives of the characters from the first page until the last and found myself wanting to know more. The characters felt real. They were well-developed. I feel invested in their lives. I want to know what else happens.

The book is brilliantly written. It was a very easy read. The pace was perfect, and the plot flowed well. The characters felt real. I can’t say enough good things about this writer. I’d love to read more of his work.

Pages: 263 | ASIN: B00PAE4HV4

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The Blue Wings of the Dragonfly: Finding Magic in Every Day, Everyone, and Everything

The Blue Wings of the Dragonfly: Finding Magic in Every Day, Everyone, and Everything by [Roggeman, C. Lee]

Cynthia Roggeman’s personal memoir details the events throughout her life. She goes into great detail about her relationships, family and health complications. She does this while offering snippets of advice and wisdom that she has learned along the way. The book is often upsetting and full of events – on a number of occasions it seems as everything is happening at once for our author. She shares her life’s journey with the intention of learning from the process of writing and to divulge the positive aspects that result from a lifetime of hardship.

The sections about her family, mainly her father and her Italian grandmother, Nonni, are bittersweet and filled with memories that she describes in the manner of a child – because at the time she did not understand what was going on. Her childhood was filled with both happy and sad memories and she does not seem to resent any of the negative aspects at all. In her family circle, she experiences alcoholism and mental illness – which she regards as a choice.

Throughout her life, she has various serious health issues and is in the hospital a number of times. She suffers quite badly and even has to learn to self-medicate – something which carries a great responsibility, even if it is towards yourself. However, she does not let these problems set her back and each time she recovers and returns to work and normal life – this is not a woman who gives up easily.

The book is separated into short chapters, each beginning with a date. This makes it easier to place the events in the author’s life as they are not in chronological order. At times it can be difficult to remember at what age things occurred for her but she has ordered it according to her own time frame and reference of events – how she feels events in her past relate to each other. This is reflective of a realistic memory because often things do not go through our minds in order and jump around randomly.

She has written the book for it to be a therapeutic process, it seems to be a place for her grief, hope, and wisdom. She has learned to be imaginative and to really remember her past self. She has also learned to be grateful for the things she has, as well as the things she had. She writes that she has had to mourn her losses and accept them, as well as remember the fond memories.

Cynthia’s novel is a work of remembrance, which will make any reader reflect on their own lives and take heed of her writing. The deeply personal writing is both engaging and emotional, however sometimes it can be hard to keep track of the order things that happened. She urges us to be grateful, flexible and open to new things and changes and to be powerful – just like the blue dragonfly.

Pages: 100 | ASIN: B07DNDWFKN

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For The Difficult People Who Sometimes Never Know

Sarah Elliston Author Interview

Sarah Elliston Author Interview

Lessons from a Difficult Person: How to Deal with People Like Us is a guide for people who find themselves dealing with people they find difficult. Why was this an important book for you to write?

As a recovering difficult person, I find myself aching for the people who didn’t say anything to me as I gaffed, who avoided me rather than take the time to help me see how annoying I was. I wrote the book for all of us who avoid difficult people, to help them actually have conversations with them. And I wrote it for the difficult people who sometimes never know how they are perceived by others and feel lonelier and angrier and distanced from others.

I understand that you are a successful workshop leader and trainer. What is one common misconception you find that people have about ‘difficult people’?

One common misconception people have about difficult people is that their behavior is purposefully hurtful; deliberately unkind.

I enjoyed the personal stories you shared. Was this always going to be a guide book, do you think this could have easily been a memoir?

I wanted to help people understand how difficult people are unaware of their impact on others and to do that I had to use my own life stories. It could have been a memoir but my passion is helping difficult people discover that they can change and the only people who tell them would be the readers. Thus, I included the exercises and practice processes for having a conversation.

What do you hope readers take away from your book?

I hope readers will look at difficult people differently and look for ways to help. I hope readers will see that difficult behavior is a habit, and it can be changed.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I am currently working on a book with more stories about my life in terms of how I changed, with the focus on how difficult people can change; either a reader or a friend of a reader.

Author Links: Facebook | Twitter | Website

The funny thing is that Sarah Elliston never realized she was “a difficult person,” –someone who harangued people until she got her way, threw snip fits and temper tantrums, talked over her bosses and pointed out what she thought were their misconceptions. In her family, where she felt bullied, the only way she knew how to get someone’s attention and approval was to voice her opinion–and loudly! Without standing her ground, how could she do what she thought was best for herself and everyone else around her. She wasn’t intentionally mean-spirited. She was just trying to do what she thought was RIGHT!

Until a kind, but firm, boss woke her up! With great compassion, and strength, her boss pointed out that her actions had consequences. That in being “difficult,” she was not only disrupting the office camaraderie and production, but impeding her own professional advancement.

That’s the beginning of Sarah’s transformation– when she started on the journey to leave behind the difficult person, and become the woman who teaches others how to deal with difficult people. Sarah “Sam” Elliston is now bringing forth her vital manual on how to awaken the challenging personality, and change both the relationship and the environment with her new book Dealing with Difficult People; Lessons Learned from a Difficult Person.

Today, Elliston is a highly successful workshop leader and trainer, who offers wisdom learned the hard way–and through rigorous study and certification in many areas of professional training that aid her in her work — Values Realization, Parent Effectiveness Training and Reality Therapy. She is a faculty member of the William Glasser Institute. Glasser is an internationally recognized psychiatrist and developer of Reality Therapy, a method of psychotherapy that teaches people they have a choice in how they choose to behave.

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8 Ways to Happiness: From Wherever You Are

I believe that most people’s goal in life, certainly my goal, is to live the happiest life possible. This may seem far-fetched in today’s world, but 8 Ways to Happiness is an amazing guide that will help you achieve that dream. In 8 Ways to Happiness, author Dr. Marissa Pei delivers quality advice that does not come off as brash or assertive. What I liked most about this book was that I could tell that she cared. She wants me to be happy and I respect her approach to attaining happiness. We are all deserving of happier living even if the rest of the world is miserable. Dr. Pei encourages us to embrace how we feel and aim to guard our happiness.

Within the first couple of pages we’re given a quote by Albert Einstein, “Is this a Friendly Universe?” I think the biggest statement in this quote is the question mark at the end. This demonstrates that our outlook defines our way of life and if you feel that it’s not friendly then your life will respond accordingly. Which also goes to say, and Dr. Pei is a master at elaborating on this point, that the mind is a powerful thing. Dr. Pei shares some scenarios that can leave you distraught, suffering from depression, or even worse. Although these instances are sensitive topics, she discusses ways to change your thinking for the better, including awareness of your Sad, Critical, and Brat voices within you. If I change the way I’m thinking, embrace more positivity and do better for myself, would that make life easier to maneuver? The greatest feeling is knowing that she understands what many of us are going through and does all she can to reassure us that this isn’t all that our lives can be. When she discusses death and missing those we’ve lost, it really resonated with me since I have lost a loved one. I’m told to embrace my sadness and to have faith. She gives very practical and down to earth advice, such as seek group emotional support and 12 step programs for those battling an unhealthy habit because they’re spiritually based. I’ve come to notice that we are all spiritual beings and should practice tapping into our connection with our creator, or higher power. The world would be a wonderful place if everyone faced their demons and handled them in a healthy way.

I’ve learned so much from reading this book and look forward to applying some of the exercises in my daily life. My goal is to become an even happier version of myself each and every day because life is short and should be celebrated every waking moment. This book encourages us to accept what we cannot change, and instead change our way of thinking. I highly recommend this book to anyone who seeks to live a better life.

Pages: 204 | ASIN: B07DKV7K9W

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The Troubling Designs of their Lives

Arnold Holtzman Author Interview

Arnold Holtzman Author Interview

Neurotic Children as Adults is a guide to help parents understand themselves and in effect become better parents. Why was this an important book for you to write?

After several decades of professional experience with clients who had been overtaken by serious neurotic disturbances in both their social and intimate partner relationships, along with damaging perceptions of self-worth, and with lives simply going nowhere, it was as clear as the noonday sun how maternal deficiencies and abject parental failures, often from day one, determined the troubling designs of their lives as adults. Inasmuch as I had written this book for young parents whose intentions were essentially very positive but whose own histories perhaps lacked bonding experiences, the experience of worthiness, and a recognition of their most fundamental security needs, it was also written for the adults who might identify with people described on these pages and grasp what had so mangled their own lives. True, genuinely absorbed awareness of what was responsible for the neurotic designs in their personalities offers, in effect, the only leverage permitting lasting therapeutic adjustments.

What do you feel is one common misconception people have about parenting?

Parents rarely grasp the degree to which a child is powerfully molded by just about everything that defines its earliest home environment. Up until about the age of eight the parents are seen as the life models with which they must identify and emulate. Later they may insist that the very opposite is true, but the patterns are effectively ingrained.The early experience of an unstable home environment, grievous emotional scarring, serious and prolonged parental discord produces children who, as adults, are without the capacity to experience true joy in any area of their lives.

I thought you showed a solid grasp of psychology and behaviorism. What background in education or experience do you have that helped you write this book?

A Ph.D. in the behavioral sciences, many decades of private clinical experience and almost as many decades lecturing on these experiences. The last decade included laboratory work in psychiatric hospitals and papers on biometric diagnostic procedures published in academic psychiatric journals.

Author Links: GoodReads | Amazon

When therapy fails it is largely because the therapist has no idea what may be at the root of his, or her, client’s distress. The therapist is entirely without access to the history of the client’s earliest pre-conscious experiences – information that is almost always vital in grasping the very reasons why that person had been moved to invite professional intervention. What sets this book apart from every other in the genre of child development and parenting issues are the perfect links it presents between very specific infant/child stress experiences, and equally specific disturbing attitudes and behaviors in the adult. Nothing is ever lost to memory even such as transpired in the earliest development phases. This work is intended, in the main, as a guide for the genuinely devoted parents of infants and young children. At the same time it delivers clear answers to adults weighed under by lives going nowhere and suffering anxieties of an unforgiving nature.

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Darkness in the Mirror

Ondie Reid, a schizophrenic who is finally living a normal, productive life with the help of medication, finds her world once again spiraling out of control when her daughter’s father, whom she is trying to win back, begins sleeping with her younger sister. Original.

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