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The Ultimate Love

Nadeem was just 25 years old when he passed away after a short, but painful illness, however he lives on in the tireless efforts of his mother, Sherine Anniruth, to memorialize his life. The Ultimate Love is as much about Nadeem, the central figure that binds together the chapters of the book, as it is about his mother’s grief over his loss, in all its unimaginable dimensions. Anniruth’s grief comes in waves, some that reduce her to tears, others that almost obliterate her ability to continue with daily life. And her work serves as an open letter to anyone experiencing the same pain, wondering how they could possibly live on after their child has gone. 

The Ultimate Love is a work of deep and startling honesty, but not one likely to fly off the shelves. Anniruth struggles to keep her emotions down long enough in order to analyze and discuss her grief, rather than to be caught up in the depths of it. Perhaps it’s not possible to capture such a deep sense of grief in words, let alone review a work that details a mother’s unending love for a lost child. As Anniruth herself says, “each person’s struggle is different”, and her experience of grief is hers alone. The Ultimate Love is less a novel and more of a guide to living through loss, authored by a loving, abundantly caring mother who asks how the world could dare to move on, when she’ll never be able to do the same. She tries to find positive affirmations and an overarching meaning for what happened to her son – a young man we sadly, barely come to know in the book, falling back on her faith for support. 

What Anniruth has written is more a testament to the fragility of life, to its cruelties, and to our natural, built-in resilience to continuing on in the face of loss. As she carries the ghost of her son with her, she is herself transformed by the act of keeping him close to her heart. It’s not an easy read, for more reasons than one, but a book that’s bound to touch those who find themselves in the same position as Anniruth, and trying to cope with what feels like an insurmountable loss. Her parting gift to us as an author is to try and face it all, her grief, her hopes, her fears, and the small ways in which life does go on, while memory never fades.

Pages: 125 | ASIN: B0871MW1M9

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What I Tell Myself About Self-Protection

What I Tell Myself About Self-Protection by [Michael Brown, Ilham Fatkurahman, Michele Mathews]

What I Tell Myself About Self-Protection is an educational resource for children, adults and educators. It teaches the reader through simple rhymes that danger lurks in the world and one must be prepared for it. It shows how different people, young and old, can get into scary situations that may be harmful to them. It then empowers them with the knowledge that they can protect themselves by fighting back, but also that it is okay to run away or call the police. It gives readers the tools necessary to take their safety into their own hands.

This is the most pragmatic picture book that I’ve read this year. It teaches children and adults valuable skills that might literally save their lives. It presents readers with various situations where the characters are in danger, and then shows them different ways they could protect themselves. Either by being aware of their surroundings, or dialing 911, running away, or by simply saying No and Stop. The art that accompanied each scene was clean, bright, and emotive. It reminded me of the D.A.R.E comic books that used to be distributed through schools. This is a great book for parents or educators to begin a conversation with kids about self-defense and when it’s acceptable to defend yourself. I appreciated how varied the talking points were. At end of the book readers are given a list where they can write down the contact information for different self-protection resources, which is a good resource to keep handy, or at the very least it’s a great opportunity to begin a discussion about each resource. Simply knowing that those people and services exist should help children understand that there are people in the world that will help them when needed. The book also provides a summary of a self-protection law case that helps give the books topic a real world reference, but may be more suitable for older readers. What I Tell Myself About Self-Protection provides practical advice that is easy to understand and simple to implement.

Pages: 30 | ASIN: B08BCNV9RB

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Bully Friends – Trailer

Written by a woman who dealt with bullying and bully friendships during grade school, Bully Friends teaches everyone (even the bully!) about how dangerous bully friendships really are. This book covers everything from defining what a bully friend is to how to heal from a bully friend relationship. Along the way, Kay Kay shares personal stories of her heartbreaking experiences with bully friends and how she went on to find herself and form healthy relationships now and in the future.

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Snapdragon: A Father-Daughter Story

A harrowing tale of family challenges one women faces traversing the life of her defiant father after her mother’s passing. Embodied with the faith of God the author narrates her perseverance with every roadblock she encounters, which adds up quickly as her patience is tested dealing with a rebellious father. Snapdragon reads as a series of episodic events, each chapter highlighting a situation that would bring anyone to the boiling point of frustration. Woven through each of these trials, the author recounts her involvement with faith. Her Christian beliefs are spun deep into the fabric of this intimate story revolving around confronting all odds to find peace with her father.

Allison St. James undoubtedly writes with a personal voice, her persistence to become close and receive the love of her father is heartbreaking at times. The seemingly open face view of her struggles with personal relationships, financial setbacks, and physical ailments never once waiver her beliefs. Aside from anyone who is a Christian or feels they have some connection to organized religion might find Allison’s passages depicting her beliefs to be preachy at times. However, her honest expression of the situation will have any reader astonished with her resolution and drive to care for her father.

The author writes with a clear tone that had me flipping through page after page finishing the book in no time. Easy to read and written in the first person the story flowed smoothly through each transition. I was impressed with the heart and emotion that shown through with such simple language. Although a few characters came off written with just a rigid introduction, and I wondered how many times Allison could be “emotionally drained”, the spirit of these relationships fostered a deeper understanding of how convoluted the authors’ life became as the story went on.

Allison’s story is composed of real-life scenarios which don’t always amount to a fairy-tale ending. Instead, despite all the challenges the author faces, Snapdragon portrays a genuine feeling of forgiveness. It reassures the reader that through these constant battles in life doing the right thing might be difficult but the conscious will always remember that decision.

Pages: 238 | ISBN:1449788777

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“Mama Sou”: Metamorphosis of a Mother

MAMA SOU is the true story of a young mother who gets her son taken away. This book is pure love and emotion and nearly had me in tears several times. As the story unfolds, you see how much love Maria has for her son, and how she will do anything to get him back. She is strong, independent, and ready to fight for what is hers. Aside from the incredible story that is being told in these pages, the writing is superb and beautifully delivers a fully realized vision of the characters and the places they inhabit. It is incredible the lengths that people go to for their family, and the fact that this is someone’s real story is both beautiful and heartbreaking.

Whether you are a parent or not, you will feel the love that went into writing this story, and the emotions between the people in the story. The author, the mother herself, pours her heart into every chapter. I’ve read some books like this one, where a young mother struggles to gain her family back, but there is something special about Maria’s story. Maybe it’s the year that it happened, which was some 40 years ago, when these types of things weren’t really talked about, or maybe it’s because it happened in Greece. Either way, it holds a special place in my heart, and I will not forget this story any time soon.

As someone who has suffered from depression most of my life, seeing how Maria handled her depression was inspirational. That fact that she was able to fight for what she so desperately needed, all while dealing with mental illness, was incredible. I fully enjoyed this book, I think that whether you have kids or not, you will find some special meaning within these pages. The story is sometimes harsh, sometimes sweet, but definitely full of lessons to learn for everyone that reads it. I only wish that we could learn more about Maria and her story, and more about her son.

Pages: 118 | ASIN: B0793VJFFG

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Freedom Justice are Both

Freedom Justice Are Both by [Jones, Hendrick]

Readers who are looking for an intimate view into the life of a man who has been through rough times will find that in Freedom Justice are Both by Hendrick Jones. This is a memoir of sorts: Jones is giving readers a glimpse into his life story. He outlines what he has struggled with and how it has shaped his life. This God-fearing man wanted nothing more than to provide for his family, yet what he has been given is a season pass to pain and suffering. This is not a book to be taken lightly, as this is the very soul of Jones, stripped down and laid bare for all to see.

It is undoubtable that Jones feels he has been wronged. He outlines his life very carefully for readers and shows how he feels he has been given the short end of the stick. He reiterates over and over that he doesn’t understand why these turns of events happened to him and he laments the loss of loved ones whose loyalty he heavily questions. Jones bitterly lays out his interpretation of the events that lead him along the path towards medical retirement from seventeen years of police service. It is clear that he is profoundly affected by what has happened; with good reason. This is the story of his life, after all.

Pages: 148 | ASIN: B07C9D1NJ5

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So, You’re Raising Your Grandkids!

So, You're Raising Your Grandkids!: Tested Tips, Research, & Real Life Stories to Make Your Life Easier by [Hodgson, Harriet]

It is common to see grandparents raise their grandkids. The reasons vary from the children getting in trouble, passing away, divorce, teen pregnancies, parents being in jail, not being in a capacity to raise the kids, or not having the right parental skills. Grandparents raising grandkids may seem easy, but it’s not. Harriet Hodgson takes us through the struggles, the fun times that create the relationship children have with their grandparents.

Harriet Hodgson uses real-life example to delivery some poignant and sage advice. She raised her daughters’ children, and so speaks from a position of experience throughout the book, but not as a teacher, more as a knowing grandparent. The kids were twins and raising them was an amazing experience. The author notes how difficult it can be when grandkids ask for information which you think would be best explained by their parents. Losing her daughter was painful. Grieving for her daughter, the twin’s father, her brother, and father in law was among the lowest moments in her life.

This book reads like a parenting guide for grandparents. Some may feel that, since they are grandparents, they know how to raise kids. But remember, you are raising kids from a different perspective now and this book illuminates those differences and helps you tackle them. The author writes about family values and helps one understand what children want and how they should be treated. Raising teens can be an uphill task for anyone. The writer shares her experience raising her grandkids in their teen years, and how adolescents react to issues.

The tips Harriet Hodgson shares should be mastered by everyone as they will always come in handy at some point in life. The book is written in a flowing style, with the author listing her thoughts then explaining later in detail. This book not only educates you on parenting, but also helps to understand and cope with grief.

Throughout the bok Harriet Hodgson words are backed by research and science. That is the other amazing thing about this book. Everything listed is a fact, and one gets to understand how some families come to be. From the texts in the book, one can tell that Harriet is excellent at care-giving.

I’ve learned a lot just by reading this book. Mourning can take a toll on someone, but there is always that period where you rise up. The author did well by talking about stress and the effect it has on kids and how one should take care of their health. You understand how you can encourage a child to aim higher and get to the peak in everything they do.

Pages: 200 | ASIN: B075J5YNKW

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Freedom Justice Are Both

This book will hopefully bring the justice that should have been done in the first place. It has been a long ride of being hungry and lonely for the author. I really hope justice will come, and he will finally be happy and be with his kids again. It’s been so long I wonder, do his kids even know him anymore? I know it’s been a long battle for him. But we all know God got him.

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