Madeline Clark’s life seems like the life of a dozen different individuals. From the beginning of her troubled life, she is met head-on with one horrific circumstance after another at the hands of people she hopes and prays will be her saving graces. After finding her way out of South Africa, Maddie finds fleeting hope with David Blakely, a man she has no choice but to trust to pull her from poverty and imminent death, but cannot possibly know that his attention will be the beginning of her end and the catalyst for a lifetime of heartache and repeated loss and grief.
Maddie’s life, laid out for readers by Lucia Mann in her book, Addicted to Hate, is one of the most tragic about which I have ever read. It’s difficult to know where to begin explaining the layers Mann has revealed with her vivid and gripping descriptions of Maddie’s harrowing childhood, her abusive marriage to a vile man, and the horrific road she travels as a mother to three girls who could not care less if she lived or died. It is almost beyond comprehensible that Maddie could survive the mental and physical challenges with which she is faced from the beginning to the bitter end of her amazing and tortured life.
Mann has taken this story, based on actual events, and set Maddie forth as an unlikely heroine who overcomes insurmountable odds as she talks herself through each of her hardships including three pregnancies that, by all accounts, were miracles and curses at the same time. Maddie is the poster child of life testing us. She seems to have received each and every trial imaginable, the most tragic of which is the complete abhorrence her daughters have for her. I found myself rooting, paragraph by paragraph, for a turn of events for Maddie. I felt a visceral reaction with each mention of her daughter Mara’s blatant and evil brutalization of her mother. I wanted desperately for Maddie to see the light and make a break from her toxic children, but Maddie is better than most; she may be better than all of us.
Maddie’s intellect is her own saving grace. Her abilities are put to use in the most fascinating ways, and even that amazing opportunity cannot completely pull her from her spiral. Mann is a master at having her readers draw hopeful conclusions before letting them down abruptly.
The overall subject matter of Mann’s work is enhanced by the tone in which she writes. While maintaining a third person point of view, she manages nicely to incorporate a hint of second person questioning while drawing the reader further into Maddie’s overpowering drama.
Mann has given audience to an amazing tale of endurance and determination. In addition to the heartbreaking events of Maddie’s life, Mann shows readers the embodiment of true and unwavering unconditional love. Nowhere else can readers find a more poignant tale of loss, betrayal, and incredible triumph.
Pages: 254 | ASIN: B07K4TXQC7
Tags: addicted to hate, alibris, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, daughter, ebook, fiction, goodreads, grief, historical, historical fiction, ilovebooks, indiebooks, kindle, kobo, life, literature, loss, lucia mann, mental health, mother, nonfiction, nook, novel, publishing, read, reader, reading, shelfari, smashwords, south africa, story, writer, writer community, writing
Shelley L. Hallmark began her blog after she published her first book back in 2011. Once Upon a Blog is a collection of those blog posts that share her struggles and how she remains positive. Hallmark is a single mother of a special needs child and writes short, positive, and honest accounts of her life. All of her posts share how she maneuvers life and the lessons she embraces along the way. Reading the blog posts provides a sense of connection, for the struggles you relate to and those you can’t, Hallmark is still giving her personal motives, hardships, and balance in a way that encourages the reader.
The book is well organized, laying out the blog posts with their dates and titles. Each post is easy to read but heartfelt. I found the book to be a beautiful read, the honesty of the author made this feel stronger, inviting readers to connect on a deeper level. To open up your life in this way is a brave and I appreciate the feeling of being let into someone’s world; like listening to a friend talk about their life. I truly loved the positivity that this book exudes even while discussing real life struggles that pull at the heartstrings. Hallmark writes in a way that makes the reader feel like she is writing to them, aned for them, which strengthens the connection between writer and reader. This book is a well written memoir of one woman’s life. It’s a memoir delivered over six years through blog posts, and compiled in this novel for easy consumption. I always appreciated the advice delivered as it was gentle, but still resonated with truth. I greatly enjoyed reading this book and feel like I have benefited from it. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a true story that is full of love, life, and wisdom.
Pages: 342 | ASIN: B07C2JZRK6
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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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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.
Posted in Interviews
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What is the meaning of success; titles, money, family, happiness? These are the questions Nata and Karl must face as their life makes dramatic changes from their carefully planned out future. Nata is fostered by working class parents Joe & Hetty, Karl comes from the upper-class elite. Nata’s biological father was abusive to both her and her mother, leading her to fear men, and especially any and all sexual contact. Despite her reservations Karl works his way into her heart and they marry with the intent of living full professional lives that does not include a family. Nata however finds out she is pregnant and together they must figure out how to adjust their life goals and ambitions to this new situation. While battling with his ideals about his personal life, Karl must make some choices about his professional career as a lawyer. Knowing what is right and knowing what you can make a difference with are gray areas when you’re a lawyer dealing with the upper-class elite.
On the surface this book starts off with the story of two people from different worlds coming together to make their relationship work through unplanned events, pregnancy. As the story deepens you see beyond the surface struggles or plans changing, you see the deep wounds that childhood sexual abuse brings; you see the residual effects of emotional abuse and withholding of love and support to a child. It changes the world view, it changes what is important in life. Nata and Karl could be anyone you encounter in the professional world. They are focused on their goals but when life turns things upside down, their struggles to connect and find a path forward are relatable. Unplanned pregnancy, changing life goals of prestige or happy home life, can they all be merged? Karl’s professional life is also dealt a staggering blow. He knows the difference between right and wrong but knows fighting against what is wrong in this case is career suicide. He takes the safe way out to save his career, but it nags at him. He continues to try and find balance between right and wrong.
While Karl is trying to find his way, Nata is trying to make peace with her past and the demons that follow her. It is a realistic view into how sexual abuse continues to hurt people well into adult lives and impact their life decisions. When her baby is born early due to a car accident she is thrust into even more challenging emotions, a premature birth, a child that will have lifelong medical needs, a husband that can’t come to terms with a non-perfect child. Lorraine Cobcroft’s ability to tap into those emotions and the mindset of a new mother experiencing them is profound. So often these things are glossed over for other more comfortable plot lines, however Mortgaged Goods puts these deep emotions and controversial topics right into the forefront of the novel, making them key points.
While the novel starts out looking like it will be a ‘lawyer takes on the corrupt upper tiers of society’ type novel, this book is so much more. Mortgaged Goods by Lorraine Cobcroft tackles deep emotional issues, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, corruption of society, to include law enforcement, judges, and politicians. Through it all though, it is a novel about making a relationship work though the hard times, finding out what is truly important in life, and making the best of what life hands you, even when that is not what you have carefully laid out in your life plans.
Pages: 278 | ASIN: B018ZVWE5O
Tags: abuse, alibris, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, career, corruption, crime, ebook, emotional, family, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, ilovebooks, indiebooks, kindle, kobo, law, literature, Lorraine Cobcroft, mortgaged goods, mother, nook, novel, politics, pregnancy, pregnant, publishing, read, reader, reading, sex, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, shelfari, smashwords, story, writer, writer community, writing
A disaster happens, can you and your family survive? Where will you go? What will you eat? How will you continue to eat when your supplies are exhausted? How will you meet the medical needs of your family? How will you and your family survive when help is on the way? Being prepared is like having a life-saving insurance policy. If the worst case scenario hits, it is too late to prepare. The time to prepare is now. Even the government is now telling the public to store extra food, water, and medical supplies. If the worst happens, are you prepared to deal with a new reality with no help coming your way?
Tough Mama is a guide for the Mama of every family. You will learn:
– How to begin being prepared
– Finding a safe spot for your family
– Where to buy your Safe Spot for pennies on the dollar
– A comprehensive list of where you can continue to learn for free, including topics on building a garden, learn how to limit radiation to your family, how to be safe during a nuclear blast, and many other topics
– The best ways to build your food store
– Emergency first aid
– Building a survival garden
– Be prepared for nuclear war, fallout, and radiation
Tough Mama shows you many more things not found in other survival books or sites. Every tip has been tried and tested.
Tough Mama saw a need in the prepping community – Women! As guardians of the family, the woman needs to be at the forefront of knowledge and not have to rely on anyone. 46% of households are led by women. This is a time that more women are the heads of households, and it is time women are empowered to protect themselves. Tough Mama wants to see a prepared and educated person in every home.
The maze of survival planning and education can seem overwhelming for the beginner – not so with Tough Mama! Tough Mama starts at the very basics and walks the reader through more complex subjects. All topics are broken down into steps that will ensure safety and success to your planning. Survive and thrive!
Posted in book trailer
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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.
Posted in Book Reviews
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Tonya Barbee’s memoir, I am Still a Rose, details the struggle of a modern woman to find stability and true love for herself and her ever growing family. This book is Tonya’s version of events of her childhood, tumultuous love life and her change of heart. She has written this aiming to promote a healthy understanding and level of accountability for bad relationships and to educate women, young and old, about the dangers of unhealthy partnerships.
The book is refreshing to read. It’s a text about relationship struggle that does not place all of the blame on the male perpetrator or plead for sympathy from the readers. It is actually written in a very matter-of-fact and frank tone. Even when there are episodes with heightened emotion, which often occur in life, they certainly seem to have been written with a clear head.
One of the most prominent themes is the importance of family and motherhood. Tonya seems to rate her confidence in her weddings based on how many of her family turn up, and she is always grateful for the help her family, particularly her mother, provides in times of need – when she cannot rely on her current husband. Throughout her adult life she always does her best to provide for her children and stresses the importance of financial stability, which she did not have when she was growing up. Even when she suffers periods of illness and relationship breakdown, she still goes to work and earns a living for her family. She choses each man believing they will be beneficial for her children, as well as herself, always wanting to complete her family.
Due to her hard-working attitude, she represents female empowerment. She is the only constant parent in her children’s lives, despite her efforts. None of the fathers come to visit the children so she has to be both mom and dad. She even makes sacrifices for children that aren’t hers – as she wants her children to know their siblings. Whatever trouble comes her way she always bounces back, ready to conquer the next hurdle. Throughout her many relationships and responsibilities, she continues to climb the ladder at work and gain qualifications.
Tonya clearly explains that she takes responsibility for not listening to her gut instincts and the mistakes she has made and works to overcome them. Admitting this takes guts, and to admit it publicly and open yourself up to the world in writing takes bravery and pride. She uses her life experience with the view to educate women and to encourage them to listen to their own and their family’s instincts. She wants women to trust themselves enough to make bold decisions and to go it alone if they have to, because she knows they are more than capable.
She might not have had the fairy tale ending like she wanted, but did end up with a great sense of pride and independence and a very strong bond with her children and family.
Pages: 159 | ASIN: B07DSTYFWR
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Forever 19 is a loving tribute to a wonderful person that was taken away so suddenly. Why was this an important book for you to write?
It was very important for me to write this book so the world could see what a wonderful person my daughter was. And even after all the years since her death it helped me find closure. It also was he final legacy.
I really enjoyed how passionate this book was. Being her mother you probably knew her best, but did you have to do any research, discuss with family members and friends, to make sure you got the full picture before writing?
I mainly wanted to write about my daughter from my own perspective but I did talk with friends of hers whom I was able to contact after all these years and of course her siblings who suffered her loss along with me.
When writing this book, I felt you described Cheryl Jean as she truly was. What were some things you felt you had to get right to tell her story properly?
It was very important to me and the rest of the family not to put Cheryl on a pedestal but to show her as a real human both good and bad (well not really bad but very human).
While reading this book I kept asking myself, ‘how would I deal with such a loss?’ Do you have any advice for someone that has just lost someone?
It is difficult to give advice to anyone who has lost a loved one, especially a child. Every circumstance is different and every one mourns differently. The best I can say is pray for guidance, maybe get therapy if that might help but most of all just get up every morning and put one foot in front of the other and face the day. They say “Time heals all wounds” and in a sense it is true. The pain never really goes away but it does subside. Just like a serious physical injury there is usually a scar left as a reminder. I often ask myself, “Would Cheryl be proud of me and how I have survived?” When the answer is, ” I think so” then I am encouraged to get on with my life.
Have you ever lost a loved one? Perhaps a child? How did you handle the pain? Did you feel empty, want to give up on life? This book tells how one mother dealt with the pain and loss of a beautiful nineteen-year-old daughter who died as the result of a tragic accident. Love and faith helped the family cope with the emptiness and sadness.
Posted in Interviews
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In the book, From the Shadows: A Journey of Self-Discovery and Renewal, author Elizabeth Onyeabor introduces her audience to the sum of her parts, figuratively speaking, and takes the reader through the journey of her life. Readers meet the youthful, bright-eyed, big-hearted, trusting Beth who she has left locked away for decades, and her counterpart, a less trusting and icier persona, Liz, who she adopts abruptly at the beginning of her teen years. Liz is described as the mask that gets her through every day. Liz is the person that coworkers and social media contacts know. She is also painfully drowning in depression. Her only hope of becoming a whole person again is to reconcile with the girl she locked out so many years ago.
Onyeabor’s reflective journey is written as a narrative, a journal, and a collection of poems rolled into one piece. I personally prefer the narratives to the more metaphorical parts of the book. I can identify more with her real-life stories and experiences. However, I do recognize the importance of her poetry. It is cathartic for her. It is a therapeutic release. It is her outlet. It is necessary.
The author dives very deep into her depression, explaining its breadth and depth. She explains how she feels and why. She describes the magnitude of her sorrow, guilt, shame, obsession, self-deprecation, and even suicidal tendencies. I’ve been lucky enough not to be able to fully comprehend being in such a depressed state, but it gives insight to the reader about what it must be like. It is obviously a constant battle for someone dealing with this degree of depression to keep her head above water. I’m sure those who are prone to depression would take solace in knowing there is someone out there who understands, and that they are not alone in the quagmire that Onyeabor describes.
In my eyes, Onyeabor is your typical wife and mother who makes sure everyone is taken care of, everyone but herself. Also, typical of mothers and women in general, she places the blame for literally everything that could possibly go wrong in her entire family on herself. She is the fixer. She feels like anything that is broken happened by her own hands. She also feels like she has the responsibility of sweeping up the broken pieces, dusting them off, and perfectly gluing them all back together. The problem is that nothing is ever perfect. She continues to chase perfection anyway. Never hitting that mark feeds her depression.
Another identifiable theme throughout the book is striving for spiritual perfection. Readers will see themselves in this struggle as old as time itself. Good vs. evil. We are often our own harshest judges in this aspect as well. She holds herself to unreachable standards. That perfection thing never quite happens, and it leaves Onyeabor feeling like a sinner at times.
I did find myself at times questioning how someone who seemed to have it all could be so depressed. I guess that’s the point. Living in exotic places, vacationing in Paris, having a successful job, raising independent kids. Those things aren’t always enough. Those things are sometimes painted façades stretched across crumbling buildings. I also feel for her family. It couldn’t have been easy for them to never hit that perfect mark either, and to feel helpless. They wanted to help her. They just couldn’t. It’s a personal choice to stay in the dark caves you’re accustomed to or to step out into the light. It’s a long walk. A journey. I cheered her on for deciding to take those first steps.
I am giving this book 4 out of 5 stars. It is written well, but can feel repetitive. There are also a lot of breaks in the flow due to the poetry entries. Over all, I think it could be very useful to readers dealing with depression. It will give them strength to pursue their passions and hope that there are brighter days on the horizon.
Pages: 208 | ASIN: B01MTKFS9U
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