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When the Light Goes Out 

Dr. Lisa Myers talks about one of the most heartbreaking moments a person could ever encounter in their life, and that is of a missing relative. As she describes in her book, When the Light Goes Out, Dr. Myers describes the panic, horrific and painful experience that she had to go through, the constant anxiety and state of not knowing, and the insecurity and trauma relatives of missing people go through.

Through these periods, when a person is in a hyper state of awareness, relationships with the people around are affected, as Lisa’s was. My heart broke when Lisa told her mother and her children the news. Additionally, her father’s death was even more devastating since it was plagued with so much violence and heartache.

This book narrates Lisa’s life-changing loss and how this affected her mental health. It shows emotional suffering and psychological pain that scar someone for life. It offers ways to cope with such a brutal loss within a community.

This book goes from chapter to chapter, with the first part describing immense pain and suffering and how this disrupted their lives. The second part describes healing and comfort in coping with Lisa’s loss. Finally, it neutralizes the shame and stigma that Lisa’s mental health brought up.

When the Light Goes Out is a painful and emotional memoir, but it is also inspiring. The strength that is within people when moments like this strike is shown in how she handles the trauma. This book can be wrapped up in a sentence from her book, In all moments of darkness, we can find the light of meaning.” As someone who is a fan of emotional true stories, I highly recommend this book. But please remember to carry your tissues when reading the book!

Pages: 272 | ASIN : B0BG9CV2QS

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Taming Fear in the Age of Covid

As an individual that struggles with anxiety and depression that have worsened in the last few years, Taming Fear in the Age of Covid by Dr. Winfried Sedhoff is the perfect place to begin tackling fears. This beautiful book is divided into two parts: Fear is a Charlatan and From Fear Monster to Friend.

The first part of the book goes into detail about the trauma experienced by most human beings and the power it takes to tame this fear. Through real-life experiences (including his own), Dr. Winfried goes into the science of the human brain and how it can rewrite fears.

The second part of this book goes into actionable steps that one can take to overcome their fear. He shares the feeling of lack of interpersonal communication and isolation during COVID, transmission and how it occurs, and unknowns associated with the COVID-19 virus. One of the tips that he gave that has increased my productivity instead of obsessing over unfinished work is the notepad trick. He shares that when he was an intern, he carried with him a large notepad everywhere, and he wrote down everything. A daytime task diary has become part of his routine and is now part of my routine to increase efficiency. This helps us stay in the present and not stress about the future. After all, “Mindfulness taps into a secret about the fear we have just learned: the brain can only be afraid if it considers the future.”

It is important to know that this is not the kind of book one can read in one sitting. The actionable steps in part two of the book require practice and mindfulness before moving on to the next stage of practice. Yes, there are stories about how certain people overcome anxiety and depression. However, healing does not take one day, just as Rome was not built in a day. I rate the book four out of five stars. Through the practices that Dr. Winfried gives, one releases so much tension and anxiety that one was not aware they carried, which is both a beautiful and sad experience.   

Pages: 304 | ASIN : B0BF8213Z6

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SAFE From the Pain

Safe From the Pain: Out of the Darkness Into a Life That’s Free, Happy, and Good is both a memoir and a self-help book by Poonam Bhuchar. The author shares with readers the physical and emotional pain and the trauma she has gone through. Through telling her story, she hopes to help at least one person going through similar things in life.

The author shares her story with us, starting from early childhood, and how she viewed life differently than most of her peers. She did her best to get good grades in England while also embracing her Indian roots and culture, knowing that her purpose in life was to have a family. As she continues her story, we learn about her horrible experiences with sexual assault, attempted suicide, arranged marriage, and divorce, and how she overcame all of this.  

Bhuchar brings light to issues that many of us face but don’t talk about, and she gives hope to those who need it. The author does a great job of not just speaking of these issues, but she also shows us that there is always hope and room for healing and growing if we can open our eyes and let go of the fear. In addition to all the trauma, she shares moral dilemmas that we’ve all dealt with at one point or another.

Bhuchar frees herself from all that she has dealt with throughout her life while also starting a discussion on significant topics that are still considered taboo or aren’t talked about enough. By telling her story, she captures not just the psychological parts of pain and trauma but overall the human experience, what it is like to be a girl/woman, what is expected from you, and how society views you and acts on it.

Safe From the Pain: Out of the Darkness Into a Life That’s Free, Happy, and Good is the self-help and true story that women need to hear to know they can survive. This book is an excellent read for anyone who feels alone or like they don’t have anyone by their side, and this book encourages us to reflect internally, release the negativity, heal and grow.

Pages: 92 | ASIN : B09M94Z8RR

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The Anti-Vaxxer

In the year 2032, nothing much changes as the media still control the masses with their lies, corruption, and greed deceive the governments, and soldiers still come home from war. Marty Coleman, a soldier fighting in the Middle East, is sent home after suffering from PTSD to rest and return to war. When he returns home, he realizes he wants to settle down, maybe get a dog, and mow a few yards, but he has just come home to something far worse than his two tours in The Middle East. Covid is eradicated, or is it? 

The Vaccine has become the hero, and the world is carrying on as if no one died, no one lost, and no one suffered. However, the government is controlled by a group so insidious that they call themselves The Committee.  Unseen, unheard, no one knows who they are, but they are killing anyone who refuses the vaccine and anyone who disagrees with their approved plan for humanity.  Martin finds himself in a cat and mouse game as he runs from an unseen foe with eyes everywhere. 

The Anti-Vaxxer, by Andrew Toth, gives us a poignant look through the eyes of an Army Vet on the freedom of choice and what can happen when those freedoms are taken away. Martin invites us into his troubled mind as he tries to rectify that he survived two tours, only to come home to dangers he had already survived. 

With help from Army Nurse Kim, Martin finds himself on a journey of survival, unlocking and exposing an evil bent on control. Andrew Toth takes us on a controversial, real-time look at how people view vaccinations, but more importantly, the corruption when mankind tries to clean the Earth. 

There are many opinions about the vaccine. This story shows those who feel their freedom has been removed through mandates from our government.  This book would be suitable for High School students to Adult Readers. However, some hard-hitting storylines may be too shocking for younger readers. The story contains war-like images, riffles, grenades, and machine guns. 

The Anti-Vaxxer is a remarkable action-adventure novel filled with conspiracy, suspense, and thrills. This is an enjoyable and entertaining book while, at the same time, causing readers to think about the controversy of Government mandates and the powers behind the decisions to enforce them. 

Pages: 148 | ASIN : B09KZ7JP5S

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The Post-War Dream – Book Trailer

War broke his spirit. Can he save his tormented soul from hungry inner demons?

The South Atlantic Coast, 1982. Royal Marine Fletcher Layne never expected to see combat. Enlisting despite his father’s vehement protests, he figures Argentina wouldn’t dare challenge the Falkland Islands’ mighty British sovereignty. But as all hell breaks loose over the territorial dispute, he’s devastated when a bullet misses him and kills a young comrade.

Returning home with a heavy heart plagued by guilt, Fletcher resents any celebration of his heroism and his parent’s disapproval. And as the traumatized survivor wrestles with two imagined voices of nagging conscience, he fears not even the gentle touch of a kind nurse will get him through to a peaceful tomorrow.

Can he gain ground over his anguish before the darkness drags him down forever?

The Post-War Dream is a gut-wrenching tale of historical wartime fiction. If you like insights into mental illness, vivid depictions of a bygone era, and a dash of romance, then you’ll love Brian Paone’s poignant story.

Buy The Post-War Dream to face the fiends of battle today!

www.brianpaone.com

Fit For Off-Duty: A Manual for Firefighters

I love how Dr. Peter Salerno has tackled the subject of mental health in his book Fit for Off-Duty: A Manual for Firefighters: Healing from Work-Related Trauma, Restoring Personal Relationships, and Thriving at Home. The author goes above and beyond to discuss the various kinds of trauma, dealing with someone who has undergone traumatic experiences, post-traumatic stress disorder, how mental health affects our physical health, and much more. The author uses firefighting as an example to discuss the many traumas we face without knowing. While written as a book for firefighters and their families, this book can also help others who deal with trauma.

I like the statement that “Every firefighter is a trauma survivor.” Firefighters save lives every day while simultaneously battling other issues. The matters could be personal or work-related, yet they offer their services nobly. Dr. Peter Salerno digs deeper into the lives of firefighters, talking about their day-to-day life in the profession and appreciating the work they do. As a trauma specialist, Dr. Peter Salerno takes the reader through the definition of trauma, the different stages of trauma, and how we unknowingly enable trauma amongst ourselves. I like that the author uses real-life situations to expound on the topics he is talking about. Dr. Peter Salerno makes the reader understand that firefighting takes more than just physical strength. In his book, he extensively covers all the elements that good firefighters have and even extends grace to them as the selfless work they do is more than honorable.

What every reader will take from Fit For Off Duty is that we all need to be kind to each other. Dr. Salerno preaches kindness throughout the book. I appreciate the stories he shares in the book and his knowledge and advice about trauma, including things to look for in off-duty behavior that may be signs of trauma. As a trained trauma therapist, Dr. Salerno has pointers on handling individuals haunted by past trauma.

Fit for Off-Duty: A Manual for Firefighters: Healing from Work-Related Trauma, Restoring Personal Relationships, and Thriving at Home is a book for everyone concerned about their mental well-being, learning when to ask for help and how to improve personal relations. The author’s step-by-step approach when writing about a particular topic and how he gives practical solutions are invaluable.

Pages: 61 | ASIN : B09NCCD8VM

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Keep Forever – Trailer

Now that Paul O’Brien has returned from serving in Vietnam, he wants nothing more than to piece together a meaningful life. But the war-spawned, guilt-driven nightmares won’t stop haunting him. In an era when veterans refuse to speak of their pain and the government denies that thousands of soldiers are coming home irreparably damaged, Paul is left to deal with the challenge of caring for his family amidst his erratic flashback episodes and moods. As his life unravels from the lingering effects of PTSD, Elizabeth is committed to helping him overcome the obstacles in their path. Determined to live in love, they struggle a lifetime with the burden that Paul brought home. However, in spite of the darkness he carries, he still manages to create a legacy of light, compassion, and understanding that Elizabeth and their children will keep forever.

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An Amalgam of Memories

Alexa Kingaard
Alexa Kingaard Author Interview

Keep Forever follows a Vietnam veteran who struggles with PTSD as he tries to piece together a meaningful life. This is a novel based on a true story. What is the origins of the story?

Anyone who was a teenager in the 60s’ and 70s’ has Vietnam firmly embedded in their history. It’s the story of my generation, and many of my girlfriends married veterans either right out of high school or when the men returned. Women played a part in-country, mostly as nurses and unsung heroines, but overall, it was a war fought by middle and lower class males, those who were not college bound or who were unable to get a deferment. As with every conflict, combat veterans are plagued with mental and physical burdens upon their return home, but none were vilified like the young men and women who fought in Vietnam. It stained their psyches, and many passed it down to their children – the second generation to suffer the effects of the most unpopular war in our country’s history. Wives were kept in the dark, the VA was not established until the late 80s’, and PTSD didn’t have a name. Aftercare was minimal, and many kept their unseen wounds bottled up for decades.

I fell in love with a Vietnam veteran in 1969, nine months after he came home. This guy, and many like him, were just kids. Surfing and attending community college one day, picking up a machine gun and participating in a bloody fight for their lives the next. We married almost a decade later, had two children, and divorced after eleven years. But there was always that link that never faded and a lot of guilt that I carried because I didn’t have the insight to deal with or understand PTSD at the time.

September 27, 2011 – My veteran and I had become close again and spent almost all our free time together. His health was failing, he suffered from depression, but it had become less intense and on this day he was at the top of his game. We were returning from a coffee date in the Village about a mile away from his home. As I waited at the bottom of the hill to make a left turn a half a block away from our destination, we were rear-ended by a vehicle twice as heavy as mine, going 45 miles an hour. Physically, we were not hurt. My car sustained $6,000 worth of damage. The impact of the collision triggered a PTSD episode in my veteran. Seventeen days later, on October 13th, he committed suicide.

The only way I found to cope with mine and our children’s grief was to write about the oppressive, lifelong burden he brought home and the collateral damage he left in his wake. At sixty-eight years old, I became a writer, but it was not a vanity project. Rather, it was an inspiration to share my story and honor all Vietnam veterans with a love story based on fact. I am not the only wife, and our children are not the only youngsters that live daily with the unseen wounds of a family member who suffers a lifetime with the memories and guilt of their participation in war. The other day, I saw a very potent cartoon on Facebook, posted by a Vietnam veteran. A soldier, rifle slung over his shoulder, head down and staring at the Vietnam Wall. At the top of the page, the caption read, “When was the last time you were in Vietnam?” At the bottom of the page, the caption read “Last night……”

What were some aspects of the novel that you fictionalized and what were some aspects you stuck close to the facts?

When I started stringing the beginning, middle and end together in my head, I knew I had to place the two main characters, Paul and Elizabeth, in a position that would make their love story believable. I had never written or published anything prior to this endeavor, so I drafted it in my head before I ever put pen to paper. While the story was inspired by the life I shared with my veteran and our children, it became my mea culpa, my deepest apology for not understanding the gravity of PTSD and making choices that were unwise over the course of our history. The childhood years of Paul and Elizabeth are pure fiction compared to mine and my Veteran, but I felt the need to structure their early losses, weave them into the storyline and create a common thread for making their attraction to one another a natural evolution of their friendship.

I did create the character and personality of Paul in the image of my Veteran, but Elizabeth, I have to admit, was created from the perspective of what I learned and dealt with after my veteran took his life. She was a better version of me, but also a reflection of most wives who live with and love Vietnam veterans.

The anguish depicted in difficult, heartbreaking scenes was real, even though some were embellished for better or worse. My veteran was kind and funny, never a harsh word for anyone, but was also a hoarder. He truly did resemble Santa Claus at the end of his life, with an extra fifty pounds that added a cumbersome gait to his 5’8″ frame, thick white hair grown to shoulder length, and a long beard he rarely trimmed. He carried a duffle bag with him just to get coffee or go to a movie, adored our children, and had a host of idiosyncrasies that were as endearing as they were frustrating. Both my Veteran and the character, Paul, received purple hearts and suffered from PTSD. The suicide attempt and subsequent hospitalization were factual, along with many other descriptions of their home, and surroundings. Truth and fiction were interwoven throughout the second half of the novel, although out of context in some instances. The most important reality to me was the ice cream cone with Elizabeth’s name…yes, there really was an ice cream cone with my name on it, which I still have in a Tupperware container after thirty years. My veteran, I discovered when I sifted through his accumulation of inanimate objects, had never thrown it out. That one item was the inspiration for the title, KEEP FOREVER, as we are an amalgam of memories, good and bad, that linger, remind, soothe and terrify all of us throughout our lives. As in the book, my Veteran scrawled the words, “Keep 4Ever” on everything from taxes and bank statements, to Christmas cards and shopping lists. Nothing was ever thrown out…certainly not his memories.

Paul’s death was the most important chapter that I wrote. It was difficult to re-live, but it purged my soul because I got to change history. It was my novel, my story, and I could make any ending I wanted, so I strayed from the truth in the manner in which he died; however, I drew on the experience of my Veteran’s funeral to describe the pomp and circumstance and the emotional good-bye to a member of a military family that is laid to rest in a National cemetery. I hope this bittersweet story helps to convey the sacrifices of all our veterans, especially those who served in Vietnam, and reminds readers that not all wounds are visible.

I thought this book was an emotional story. What were some themes that were important for you to focus on?

In my mind, and in speaking with many Vietnam veterans that I know personally, collateral damage to wives and children was a topic that had not been explored in a historical, Vietnam-era story. Most are memoirs of service members in battle, and written from the point of view of one person. I tried to capture the roller-coaster that exists with all family members, from birth through adulthood, in an effort to highlight how the internal battle of a veteran affects the entire family unit. I also wanted to make the point that most veterans refuse to speak of their pain, and what they keep bottled up inside is the most damaging to themselves and their loved ones.

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

This is the 2nd edition of KEEP FOREVER, and a deeper version than my first that was self-published in Feburuary, 2018. In between then and the re-release in March, 2020, I wrote and published MY NAME IS ROSE, another nostalgic story, about a young girl raised in a commune during the 1970s’. It has become an Amazon #1 Best Seller, as well as a first-place winner in an International Book Competition in 2019. KEEP FOREVER also topped the Amazon Charts soon after the second release, with #1 spots in New Releases, Vietnam War History, 1960s’ History of the US, and 1960s’ American History.

During my first nine weeks of quarantine, I completed the first draft of my third novel, MIRACLE. And yes, another piece of nostalgia, which seems to be what I am drawn to. The story revolves around two young women in the 1950s’. One lives in Southern California and must come to terms with the fact that four unsuccessful pregnancies leaves adoption as the only option for herself and her husband. The inability to qualify with the adoption agency due to their advancing age – almost thirty was old in the 50s’ – steers them towards an alternative solution of adopting a child outside the United States. During this time, the Canadian government created maternity homes for young women who were without a spouse or family assistance. After giving birth, it was understood that they would leave their baby behind for adoption by a suitable couple. The second young lady finds herself in a position that demands she reside in one of these homes for the last part of her pregnancy as she agonizes about the ultimate sacrifice she is being forced to make. Ultimately, these two women are destined to connect, but the ending is not as one might suspect. I hope to have MIRACLE ready for publication by mid-2021.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

Now that Paul O’Brien has returned from serving in Vietnam, he wants nothing more than to piece together a meaningful life. But the war-spawned, guilt-driven nightmares won’t stop haunting him. In an era when veterans refuse to speak of their pain and the government denies that thousands of soldiers are coming home irreparably damaged, Paul is left to deal with the challenge of caring for his family amidst his erratic flashback episodes and moods. As his life unravels from the lingering effects of PTSD, Elizabeth is committed to helping him overcome the obstacles in their path. Determined to live in love, they struggle a lifetime with the burden that Paul brought home. However, in spite of the darkness he carries, he still manages to create a legacy of light, compassion, and understanding that Elizabeth and their children will keep forever.
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