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From The Shadows: A Journey of Self-Discovery and Renewal

From The Shadows: A Journey of Self-Discovery and Renewal by [Onyeabor, Elizabeth]

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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The Real Me

Tammy Campbell Brooks Author Interview

Tammy Campbell Brooks Author Interview

The Ghetto Blues is an autobiography of your life in the projects of San Antonio and how you overcame numerous obstacles. Why was this an important book for you to write?

My legacy is important to me and I want to share my story to inspire people. I want my children and future grandchildren to know the real me, my life story, and that no matter what life throws at you, you are to never succumb or play the victim role. No excuses.

I wrote the book for my family’s history; the saying that every time an old person dies, a history book dies with them.

I don’t want my history book to die with me.

What I liked most about this book was the honesty in the retelling. You left nothing out, good or bad. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?

The hardest to write about, is by far, the suicide of my beloved mother. She was not only my mother, but my best friend and someone that I could talk to about anything. My mother always had my back and she loved all of her children, unconditionally.

The Ghetto Blues is dedicated to my mother and father.

When writing a biography it enables you reflect on life choices. Is there anything that you see differently now that you’ve written this book?

There’s a lot that I see differently as I reflect back on my life’s choices, but without the decisions that I made, there would be no Ghetto Blues.

My experiences taught me to remember the past but don’t let it define my present and future. I’ve learned from my choices and there’s no greater teacher in life than mistakes.

I felt like this book was about perseverance in the face of adversity. What do you hope readers take away from your book?

I hope that readers take away the fact that no matter what you go through in life, you are the director, producer, actor, and the entire cast of your life’s decisions. You are in control of your own life.

There are two choices, to give up or to never give up.

I hope that the Ghetto Blues inspire young children and people in general that are born into poverty, suffer mental, or physical abuse to never give up.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

The Ghetto Blues by [Brooks, Tammy Campbell ]My legacy is important to me. I want to leave a legacy that my children and grandchildren could be proud of. A legacy that would be a blueprint for future generations to tweak and make better.

I write this book for future generations to learn, grow, and inspire to be a better you. This book is the story of my life and based on true events. It’s about a young lady that struggled through her identity crisis and was raised in unstable environments and poverty. 

A story about a life of tragedy, trepidation, but triumph. I never accepted the ideology of a victim. Instead, I embraced strength, resilience, and a warrior’s philosophy. I fit the perfect description of Tupac Shakur’s meaning of the saying, a rose that grew from the concrete. When the odds were stacked against me, I continued to grow mentally, physically, and spiritually. 

I believe that you are only a victim when you have no choice; otherwise, you are an enabler. I had no choice being born into poverty, but I had a choice on whether to rise above my circumstances. My desire was to break the mental and physical chains plagued in our communities and instill new ones for me and my children.

My story goes out to all the people that suffered and survived, The Ghetto Blues. I hope to transform and inspire you to never give up on you.

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All Roads Home

All Roads Home: A Collection of Short Stories by [Diaz Meyer, Lisa]

All Roads Home by Lisa Diaz Meyer is a fictional short story collection. Covering several genres, the book is divided into six parts titled The Outposts, The Enduring, The Oddities, The Particulars, The Fragments and The Play Versions. With each section and story being utterly unique, this book really is a mixed bag of offerings. Nowhere is this more obvious than, besides the four sections of short stories all varying greatly in their genre, the collection also consists of a part of poetry and The Play Versions which really are that: five of the stories in the collection written in play format!

The first section of the collection deals with a world that is hard hitting. In the story titled The Safe Room, this links back to the previous short story in its representation of women, cancer, and childbearing. With such stark descriptive passages of the cloning and curing process detailed, this section hits upon the more awkward of subjects that aren’t always spoke about comfortably.

Dealing with religion verse science, this section may be quite an eye-opener, considering its placing at the very start of the collection, but its subject matter does indeed turn the tables making you question just who, if anybody, has such a right at this stage.

The Enduring section starts off with a story which is most certainly that – enduring for its characters. What begins as a heartfelt story of a mother’s struggles quickly turns itself on its head when the story ends. However, nothing physical has changed, her situation remains dire, but she has found peace in her heart and mind and can now approach her situation from a more positive perspective. This story emphasizes Lisa’s ability to change tact and emotion in just a few short pages and sums up the book in its entirety.

All of Lisa’s characters, though only with the reader briefly, are very easy at catching our attention and therefore it’s easy to recognize their plight and see the story from their point of view. That Lisa can create such emotions in her readers through characters that appear fleetingly is a wonderful achievement.

For me, The Enduring was a favorite section. Packed full of emotions, there is one story where the action begins, plays out and ends in a matter of just two short pages! If you’re not too sure whether this selection of stories is for you, I urge you to read The Christmas Break first. Immediately this highlights Lisa’s fluidity in prose as well as her ability to create a fascinating collection of characters, and all within a few short sentences.

With superb powers of observation, a beautiful and haunting writing style on many of the pages, alongside an ability to push topic boundaries (Hitler and Jesus at a dinner party, need I say more!) this is truly a collection you must read for yourself.

If Lisa is this good at creating such an enthralling collection of short stories, I can only imagine what she would be like with a full-length fictional novel!

Pages: 280 | ASIN: B00WVWFL86

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Fire in the Heart

Fire in the Heart by [Mooney, Lesley J]Fire in the Heart, a novel by Lesley J. Mooney, traces the experiences of young Rianna as she copes with both unrequited love and a marriage that has swept her off her feet and into a new and sobering reality. When Lord Rowan McClaron introduces himself to Rianna and her friends, she has no way of knowing that her life in Scotland is about to change–and change for the worse. Her marriage to Rowan is plagued with secrets on both sides, and her seeming inability to produce an heir brings Rowan’s wrath upon her.

Fire in the Heart is a unique blend of romance and mystery. Mooney manages to keep the reader invested in Rianna’s plight by revisiting the strange and unsettling behavior of her husband, Rowan. Rianna, by all accounts, is an abused woman. What begins as a romance novel soon turns into a story of a woman trying to find ways to appease an increasingly abusive and disturbed husband. Mooney is more than effective at describing the heartbreak and the terror of her heroine.

Mooney paints a bleak picture of Rowan McClaron. He is as realistic an abuser as I have seen in novels of this genre. From beginning to end, he is that vile character the reader will want to see either make a turn for the better or be offed. The author is quite adept at giving readers a villain worthy of loathing.

Rianna’s desire to satisfy Rowan’s desire for a child is the primary focus of the storyline. I was, in fact, quite surprised that there was so little time spent describing Rianna’s pregnancy. Things move very quickly once Rianna finds out she is indeed carrying a child. I would have preferred the plot have been drawn out a little longer with regards to the long-awaited birth.

The dialect is absolutely delightful. Accents are thick and take a couple rereads at the outset, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading even the richest comments and slang-laden comments.

I admit I was thrown completely by the use of single quotes as a way of denoting dialogue. This took a bit of time to get used to and prompted me to do a quick bit of research. I wasn’t familiar with this particular style used by publishers in the UK. However, after a couple chapters, I found myself more concerned with the plot and less aware of the quotations themselves.

One thing I found a little difficult to look past was the changing of tenses mid-paragraph. The change from past to present and back with no obvious explanation was hard to navigate at times. Though it doesn’t permeate the book, these small lapses in consistency made for some awkward reading.

Mooney offers readers action, romance, and intrigue in one neat package. Rianna is a woman fighting battles with which many readers may identify. Her stubbornness and the fierce manner in which she protects her son make her a main character to remember.

Pages: 340 | ASIN: B01N7XHUZD

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A Metaphor for a Butt Whipping

Patrice Brown Author Interview

Patrice Brown Author Interview

The Day Momma Made Me Dance is a colorful children’s book depicting the consequences of childrens misbehavior. What was your inspiration for this book?

My inspiration was my very own childhood experience. I myself was a mischevious child and my sister was also so growing up in a home where consequences were learned about through whoopings. I decided to write about it and this book is in no way to excuse about but to simply talk about my story and how I learned right from wrong. Not all people will see this book as acceptable but in many black homes that are my culture, it is accepted.

The story follows a young girl who is constantly up to mischief. What were some themes that were important for you to capture in this story?

The themes that were displayed was the experience of going to school and misbehaving, treating my sibling badly and being disrespectful by not listening to my parent. These themes were important because everyone has had a bad moment in their life either in the home or school as a kid.

The story draws a line between punishment and abuse. What is a common misconception you find people have about this subject?

People find that any form of punishment with an object is abuse. I have to disagree with that opinion because we all have to measure the level of discipline with what object and for how long. I believe that it is ok to whoop your child, talk to them and do time out. However, what happens when all of your interventions fail and the child still continues to misbehave. My book was a simple representation of punishment was in my home and the yes the girl learned her lesson in the end. The girl talked with her mom and stated that she understands the rules of the home and school. I had the same similar experience in my life. So this book was a short story about that time.

What do you hope readers take away from your story?

Readers should take away that punishment is not all bad no matter the form of it. It just depends on the level and frequency of the punishment. This book is not only about punishment but it has a bit of humor in it. The day momma made me dance is simply a metaphor for a butt whipping. The girl understands her faults and is thankful for her punishment because without it she would not understand the rules of home and school.

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The Day Momma Made Me Dance by [Brown, Patrice]As a mom, we continuously tell our children the rules of the house. Not only this, we are constantly cleaning and prompting them to do their chores and homework. Until one day, Momma has had enough. Find out what happens when enough is enough in this home.

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Tools That Empower Women

Bozena Zawisz Author Interview

Bozena Zawisz Author Interview

Liberating Inner Eve tackles the many perspectives Christians have on the story of Eve. What was your inspiration that made you want to write this book?

What inspired, or more accurately, “compelled” me to write “Liberating Inner Eve” were a couple of influences that crossed their paths during my life’s journey.

One was my ongoing professional dedication to nurturing high levels of confidence and self-love in my clients. Part of this calling always involved being aware of the many factors that restrict their experience of high self-worth, including those less obvious such as layers of historic conditioning (for example those relating to women being less encouraged to pursue self-development outside of their caring roles (than men)).

Another influence that inspired me to write “Liberating Inner Eve” was my journey as a mother. When introducing my son to characters from Bible stories, I found myself being very mindful of the messages that society’s common interpretations of popular Bible stories (like the account of Adam and Eve) continue to send to our future generations. For example, the popular depiction of Eve as Adam’s helper in many of today’s children’s Bibles often falls short of placing enough emphasis on Adam and Eve’s calling towards a complementary, mutually supportive union, as interpreted by JPII.

In every chapter of “Liberating Inner Eve” I decided to explore a theme that I frequently address as a counselor, presenting it as a holistic marriage between cultural, historic, and psychological influences. And pair it with those strategies that I found to be most effective in helping to transform it, so it resonates with the Gospel’s message of inclusion and empowerment.

I wanted to write “Liberating Inner Eve” from the heart, sharing my own journey of transformation with my readers, as well as the lessons I’ve learned from having the privilege to listen to so many female voices.

What do you find is a common misconception people have about the Genesis account of Adam and Eve?

As a counselor I appreciate the power that visualization has in stimulating the various sensory pathways and emotional patterns within our brains. There is much written about the power of visualization and metaphors in influencing our subconscious mind.

What I love about the Bible is the way it abounds in metaphors and analogies that describe not only the nature of the Kingdom of Heaven but also the many aspects of our humanity.

What I find most concerning about the common interpretations of the account of Adam and Eve, that is the ones that imply in some way that Eve is the more inferior of the original pair, is how this emphasis has been represented in art throughout history, as well as how influential it was in the forming of subsequent theological reflections and practices.

I feel that Adam and Eve’s calling towards a complementary, mutually supportive union (as interpreted by JPII) and her release from blame for mankind’s downfall (which I address in “Liberating Inner Eve”) needs a lot of reinforcement. So that in the midst of today’s “movement of equality” we can prevent many women from turning away from the depth and beauty of Christian spirituality, because of these and many other historic/social misconceptions.

I found this to be a soothing book that also serves as a guide to self reflection. What do you hope readers take away from your book?

My aim for “Liberating Inner Eve” is to raise awareness in relation to the many historical/social pressures and restrictions that impact on women’s experience today (as awareness is the first step towards transformation). I would also like to offer tools that empower women to manifest Christian values of equality, freedom, and mutual care in their life’s unique circumstances.

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

My next book, on which I am working on with much excitement and enthusiasm, will be another “Reflective Journey for Women, within Christian values” book, about the importance of deepening the experience of our “connection” with ourselves. I hope to make it available within 6 months 🙂

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebook | Website

Liberating Inner Eve: A Reflective Journey for Women by [Zawisz, Bozena]

I wrote “Liberating Inner Eve” as a result of my encounters with female clients from a Christian background who struggle to find a sense of personal strength, high self-worth, love, and acceptance.

“Liberating Inner Eve” offers psychological insight around the impact of commonly found interpretations of the teachings of the Old Testament (in particular the Genesis account of Adam and Eve) and New Testament (the lifetime of Jesus), on various themes relevant to women’s daily lives, such as how they experience their identity, self-acceptance, and self-worth.

Every Chapter of this book includes simple exercises, encouraging readers to take time to review their thoughts and feelings, relating to a particular topic.

Through “Liberating Inner Eve” I long to share with others how empowering the Bible can be in helping women find self-love, self-acceptance, and personal strength.

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This Does Not Leave This House

This Does Not Leave This House by [Coons, Julie]

This Does Not Leave This House, written by Julie Coons, is a true story of a survivor of abuse as she overcomes adversities and finds hope in moments of despair. The story reflects on Julie Coon’s childhood, teenage years and adulthood, sharing the deepest and most honest moments of her life. Between sharing her truths and experiences, Julie Coon also shows how someone can find strength and resilience through breaking free from the cycle of abuse. It’s a story that can be used as a resource of hope, for those who may be experiencing the trauma of abuse.

From the first page, I was instantly engrossed as the author shares some of the most raw and honest events of her life. These events are shocking and deeply unfair, but Julie entails to show the other side of the tunnel- the side where there is hope, healing and happiness. Her experiences of abuse will help those who are suffering from a similar situation, and shine a light on what many people experience daily. The powerful message behind This Does Not Leave This House shows how one can speak up against their abusers, against requests to keep information hidden and reiterates how abuse no longer should be kept a secret.

One of the important ideas discussed by Julie in the book is the idea of breaking the cycle of abuse. This sentiment stood out to me as many people would find it hard to break the cycle themselves. It was soul touching and beautiful to see how someone can make such huge changes and choices in their life when they could have very easily gone down the path of resentment and repetition of abuse. This does not leave this house is also a reminder to be kind, be respectful and to show empathy as you may not know the true extent of the horrors someone may be experiencing.

Abuse comes in many shapes and forms, and unfortunately, Julie Coons has had to experience them all. From emotional, physical and sexual abuse, it feels like the author has been handed every terrible situation possible. But she is strong, escapes terrible relationships and moves forward in her life to be a wonderful person and mother.

There is a beautiful and strong love that reverbs throughout the story when Julie Coon’s talks about her daughter. It warms the heart and soul and is a beacon of light throughout the novel, as you understand and feel how strong their bond must be. There is also an element of spirituality in the story as the author experiences near death moments and connections with loved ones that have passed.

From crazed nuns to narcissistic husbands, This Does Not Leave This House will be a novel guaranteed to make you laugh, cry and find the strength within yourself. I would recommend this for anyone who is looking for a novel that shows how someone can overcome abuse and find strength and courage in even the darkest of days.

Pages: 194 | ASIN: B078X4H8QR

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A Peek in the Window

Stephanie A. Collins Author Interview

Stephanie A. Collins Author Interview

With Angel’s Wings is one mother’s raw and heart-wrenching account of her life with two daughters with special needs. I understand that this book was based on your life. What made you want to put your story into a novel?

I never meant to write a book. I wrote therapeutically through some tough times (which was helpful). Nurses and therapists who were in our home through those years read what I had written and strongly encouraged me to share our story. Well…all except for one physical therapist who said, “Be careful who you allow to read this; child protective services may be called.” That bit of advice certainly fed into any misgivings and concerns I had about publicizing our tale! After years of prompting, though, I took a deep breath, closed my eyes tight, and sent it out for the world to judge me to their hearts’ content. I’m glad I did. The most gratifying moment was when a mother of a toddler boy who has Wolf-Hirschorn Syndrome messaged me and said, “I happened to stumble upon your book. Before I read it, I thought there was no way anyone could possibly understand what I’m going through and how I’m feeling. After reading it, I went out and bought 3 more copies to hand out to my family members in the hopes that as they read about you they’ll better understand me.” That’s what it’s all about, right?

You describe every obstacle encountered as you come to terms with your daughters’ challenges. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?

Given the fact that I was writing therapeutically, I can’t say any part of our story was particularly difficult to write. Writing it down was what made things a bit easier. That being said, there are multiple parts that I still can’t read without crying (most of the marathon IV poke sessions, when Sarah [“Hannah” in the book] coded in my arms, when she got her I.O.’s…I could go on and on). The one section that I avoid reading whenever possible, and when I do have to read it, I feel physically ill, is the section about my “breakdown” (when I [apparently] threw the knife at my husband). There are so many things I would change if I had the ability to go back, knowing what I know now (not that I’d ever want to!). One of the biggest is the way I addressed my depression (or DIDN’T address, as the case often was). I now understand just how big a role depression (and PTSD) played in our story. I wish I had known more about it then, taken it more seriously…and cut myself a little more slack, which hopefully would have allowed me to relax a little more and address every other aspect of my life a little more successfully.

Hannah’s is diagnosed with Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome. What are some misconceptions about this condition and how did you educate yourself on it?

Well, to have misconceptions, I suppose you’d have to have any concept at all. Not only had I never heard of the diagnosis, but very few people I’ve come across have ever heard of it, so finding out I was wrong in my thinking hasn’t really been a problem. Something I definitely understand now that I didn’t before is that within every genetic diagnosis there’s a spectrum – not all with the same diagnosis present the same picture. There are, for instance, individuals with Down Syndrome who you hardly recognize as having the disorder, who are quite independent, and those who are much more involved, who are completely dependent on the care of others. Wolf-Hirschorn Syndrome is no different. Some WHS kids are quite high functioning…Sarah is not; she’s at the lower end of the spectrum. I have to remind myself of that, sometimes, when I’m feeling guilty over burnout and other WHS moms are posting about what a JOY their son/daughter is in their lives (along with pictures of them going to prom or enjoying a trip to Disney World). Same diagnosis in no way equates to same experience.

Because there isn’t a ton written about WHS, a lot of what I’ve learned has come more recently, since the explosion of social media. This is the generation that specialists are looking to for data on growth charts and life expectancy. That means we don’t have information to look at, but we have a wealth of experiences shared by many families that offer some clues as to what to possibly expect or watch for.

This is an emotional book that, I felt, was honest. What do you hope readers take away from your story?

For the “general population” reader I hope to offer a “peek in the window” of a family living a life likely very different from their own. When the reader sees a medically fragile child on the street, maybe that child will be looked at with more admiration for his/her strength, rather than pity. Maybe if the reader comes across an autistic child, he/she will be a little more patient and a little less judgmental toward both the child and the parent, alike. It can also be just plain interesting to read about others facing challenges we aren’t. It’s the little details that make you say, “Oh yeah…I never even THOUGHT of that being an issue!”

For readers within the special needs community, I hope to offer hope that if I could find the light at the end of my tunnel, you can, too. I hope to offer companionship by way of admission to my own doubts, frustrations, struggles, and screw-ups. I hope that a fellow special needs parent will understand this book is me saying, “You are not alone. You are not wrong for the way you feel. This, too, shall pass. And you are stronger than you know. You can do this.”

Author Links: GoodreadsTwitterFacebookWebsite

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

With Angel’s Wings is the true story of Laura, a young wife and mother of a three-year-old daughter. Her husband, Kevin, a marine, is deployed overseas, leaving Laura to give birth to their second daughter and handle the two young children on her own.

Thirteen days after the birth of her youngest, the pediatrician detects a heart murmur. That leads to just the first of multiple diagnoses for both of her daughters, sending Laura on an unexpected and emotional journey into the world of parenting medically-fragile, special needs children.

Right when Laura fears she will break under the incredible pressure, she encounters the beauty of true love, in a most unexpected and unconventional way.

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An Exploration of Choices

Leonora Meriel Author Interview

Leonora Meriel Author Interview

The Woman Behind The Waterfall follows Angela as she struggles to help her mother find happiness while trying to avoid her dark past. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel? 

When I started writing The Woman behind the Waterfall, I was at a crossroads in my life. I had turned 30, decided to leave my job running a business to write full-time, and had recently moved country to live in Barcelona. I was at a stage where I was evaluating what had happened in my life to date, and what I could consider mistakes or positive choices; also the example I was setting for my daughter, and the patterns I was consciously or not consciously following from my mother. Thus, the original idea was an exploration of choices and their consequences within the framework of generations. As the novel progressed, this developed into the wider theme of the search for happiness, and what happiness means at different ages and in different generations.

The writing in your story is very artful and creative. Was it a conscious effort to create a story in this fashion or is this style of writing reflective of your writing style in general?

I had always dreamed of being a writer, and at the age of 30, after many years of scribbling stories and poems, I decided to write full-time. This was my chance to create a novel that I hoped would be published and offered to the world. The language that came out when I wrote it was intensely poetic and full of dream and emotion. It wasn’t a style that I had written in previously, but it was the language that I found to express the story of the book – the generations and the regrets and choices, woven into the dream world of the subconscious.

As a contrast, in my second novel, I wanted to write in a style that was a clean, straightforward narrative. After the intense poetry of The Woman Behind the Waterfall, I wanted to focus on story and character rather than the beauty of the words.

Both Angela and her mother are both detailed characters that continue to develop in the story. What were the driving ideals behind the characters’ development throughout the story?

The character of Angela was intended to express the pure creative state that children exist in before their thought-patterns have been set by the surrounding world. I had observed in my own children this magical state when they hadn’t yet been told what was true and what was not, and so everything was possible. With Angela, I take this a step further and allow her to merge with the natural world. However, as the book progresses, she understands that she will lose this ability as she becomes an adult.

Lyuda, the mother, also goes through a transformation. She has been trapped in a debilitating depression and holds on for the sake of her daughter. When her daughter starts to see and be affected by this, Lyuda has to make a choice to come out of her internal world. This progression was really inspired by the idea of the things we pass on to our children, and the responsibility there is in being a parent, where each of your actions can create a pattern that can pass into your family for generations.

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

I published my second novel, The Unity Game, in May of this year, and I’m currently working on several projects which should be ready starting from 2019. The Unity Game was as different as possible to The Woman Behind the Waterfall, and is a speculative Science Fiction novel set in New York, a distant planet and an after-life dimension. It was a lot of fun to write and it has been getting some great feedback.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsite

The Woman Behind The Waterfall by [Meriel, Leonora]Heartbreak and transformation in the beauty of a Ukrainian village

For seven-year old Angela, happiness is exploring the lush countryside around her home in western Ukraine. Her wild imagination takes her into birds and flowers, and into the waters of the river.

All that changes when, one morning, she sees her mother crying. As she tries to find out why, she is drawn on an extraordinary journey into the secrets of her family, and her mother’s fateful choices.

Can Angela lead her mother back to happiness before her innocence is destroyed by the shadows of a dark past?

Beautiful, poetic and richly sensory, this is a tale that will haunt and lift its readers.

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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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