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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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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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.
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 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, 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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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.
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.
Posted in Interviews
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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 🙂
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, 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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