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No Unpaid Passengers

No Unpaid Passengers is an emotionally riveting collection of poems written by author Pam R. Johnson Davis. The collection is organized into six sections: I: Unpaid Pain, II: The Next Stop, III: Alone on the Night Train, IV: Love on the Ride, V: End of the Line, and VI: Afterword: Anybody Can Write a Poem (Or How Rejection Turned into a TED Talk). Serious themes such as racism, assault, divorce, and religion intermingle with themes of love, friendship, joy, home, and beauty to take readers on an incredibly raw and relatable journey.

Author Pam Johnson Davis does an incredible job of telling a story that touches everyone in some way. Davis plays into expectations with her use of slang and familiar language, using those devices to bring to life personal experiences and paint clear pictures of real-life situations that readers can relate to. Through those grounding narratives, Davis can so effectively tackle less tangible themes of love, loss, betrayal, grief, hope, and joy. Through her own experiences with marriage and divorce, Davis leads readers to question their ideas of relationships, commitment, and love. Through her experiences as a black person, a woman, and a member of the church, Davis brings up ideas about religion, trauma, sexism, racism, determination, optimism, and acceptance, both of self and others. Following this pattern, No Unpaid Passengers is able to operate as a book of revelation, showing readers the pervasive connectivity of the human experience: what you go through, someone else has gone through, and what you feel, someone else has felt.

I highly recommend this collection of raw beauty and vulnerability, in which Davis depicts her experiences. She writes not as an individual but as a representative of the human experience, providing an opportunity to connect both with the unfamiliar outside of ourselves and that which hides within.

No Unpaid Passengers is an emotional collection of poetry that takes readers on a journey through human experiences in a way that will stay with them long after they put the book down. These poems will leave readers feeling everything from one end of the spectrum to the other, a true representation of life, the joys, and the sorrows.

Pages: 90 | ASIN : B0BC5NXXXS

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What’s Not True

In midst of a divorce from Mike, Kassie O’Callaghan reunites with her ex-lover Chris as they run away to Paris. But unfortunately, their plans are derailed repeatedly. First from her marketing career at Calibri marketing group, when she is offered a new position at her company’s Paris office. Second a sudden heart attack that drags her back home to Boston. While in Boston, Kassie has to deal with Mike’s fiancee, Karen, as she attempts to steal the rights to the business Kassie and Mike forged together. Things get more complicated during the legal battle between Kassie and Karen when DNA tests reveal shocking news that could change everything. What’s Not True; A Novel is a sequel to Valerie Taylor’s What’s Not Said.

When reading the novel, a reader might be caught off guard as the story picks up directly after What’s Not Said. However, after the first couple of chapters, the characters and their story become more apparent. Although not a required read, What’s Not Said offers much insight into the characters’ dynamics.

The reader is quickly sucked into a complicated love web. Author Valerie Taylor does a fantastic job with her character building. Each of her characters is endearing in their own way, despite their flaws. For example, although Mike’s character is questionable, the reader is still found rooting for him and his desires. Kassie struggles with finding her footing as a professional and in her romantic life. The situations Kassie ends up in are great catalysts for her character’s growth.

The book has a satisfying ending where many family secrets finally come to light, giving many characters clarity on their past. Readers will not feel like they are left hanging with questions and will actually find peace on many subjects that come in in the course of this entertaining novel.

What’s Not True is a heartwarming story that would make a great beach read, filled with plot twists and interesting characters. This captivating and romantic story that is anything but predictable.

Pages: 336 | ASIN : B08QZ8KR4Y

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Carbon Under Pressure

Carbon Under Pressure is the extraordinary story of an ordinary young woman called Rose. This emotional book starts with an account of Rose’s daughter Sophie attempting suicide. Then, the book follows Rose through the next three years of her life as she tries to save her daughter. As if this is not bad enough, more troubles follow this family as they try to wake up from the nightmare they are living and get through to the light.

Author Meg Heart tells her story in a manner that if the reader didn’t know beforehand that this was based on a true story, it would read like a fictional novel. The people portrayed in this book take on the appearance of a set of characters, with a relatable protagonist, a supporting yet devious husband, and a teenage daughter going through a dark phase in her life. While the entire story seems fictional on the surface and anything but ordinary, the most significant message of the book is that it can happen to anyone. The author adeptly carries the story forward while focusing on the mental state of all the characters involved and thus manages to evoke strong emotions in the reader.

This book is intended for mature audiences and covers topics of suicide and sexual assault. However, it is done with great care. The author only mentions the details that are required to tell the story without making the book too heavy to read. The book revolves around the themes of suicide, dealing with depression, family, and sexual assault and covers the topics in fair depth and accuracy.

Carbon Under Pressure is the memoir of one woman named Rose and about the darkest point in her life. How she survived and made it through is detailed with the cautionary tale that it could happen to anyone. This biography will appeal to readers that are interested in women’s studies, depression, sexual assault, and family issues. This book does an excellent job of describing the lesser talked about realities of life.

Page: 176 | ASIN : B09KY45J7P

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My Love Affair

Love is a complicated but incredibly beautiful thing. Most of us know and experience love, and some of us are fortunate enough to find a love so strong that it impacts our lives in ways we can hardly find the words to effectively describe it to others. Author and poet Natalia Lazarus once knew a love like this–a love like no other. Her life was so profoundly changed by this romance that she was moved to transform its power into verse. Her emotions, experiences, and phenomenal words can be found in My Love Affair: Thorns and Roses.

My Love Affair: Thorns and Roses, by Natalia Lazarus, is written in a unique format. Lazarus has gifted readers her story in the form of poetry presented as a drama. This stunning take on storytelling serves to lure readers into Lazarus’s world and gives them a front-row seat to all of the trials and tribulations she felt in this once-in-a-lifetime love affair.

Readers will be moved by the eloquent poetry; they will find the prose engaging. The combination of styles by Lazarus creates a special kind of appeal for readers. There is both deep pain and love in her words. Both are almost palpable. Lazarus takes readers on a journey of her relationship. From the beginning, through its ups and downs, to its tumultuous ending. The syle is unique and fresh, giving readers an engaging format to experience Lazarus’s work. The raw emotions and openness with which she writes are incredibly captivating. I felt as if I was watching the relationship unfold through her eyes. Readers will not be able to help but feel compelled to continue reading as she presents every tender aspect of her experience. The beautiful photographs of Picasso’s work that accompany Lazarus’s work only enhance her story’s mystery and richness.

My Love Affair: Thorns and Roses is a uniquely-styled romance for anyone seeking a quick but powerful read as well as those who prefer dramas. The combination of poetry and prose will enchant readers.

Pages: 204 | ISBN : 1736313495

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No Names to Be Given

Spanning over fifty years, No Names To Be Given is a moving and heartbreaking historical novel about three different women from the 1960s who had to give up their children out of wedlock. Inspired by actual events, it takes the reader through the roller-coaster lives of Becca, Faith, and Sandy – from the day they met in the Magnolia Home Hospital to 25 years later, where their darkest secrets are threatened to be exposed. 

This is author Julia Brewer Daily’s debut novel, but it feels like she’s been writing this story all her life. Perhaps that is the case, given that she was one of those babies adopted from a maternity home hospital during this period. While there were probably mountains of research to write this novel, it would be believable if Daily wrote this story purely from memory and family history.

Her tender prose shows that she’s writing from the heart. Despite that, she tells the story with some emotional distance. The journeys of the three women are told in alternating chapters that are so unflinching that the whole novel almost feels like a documentary. Additionally, this is based on very real traumas. Daily allows the story to shine on its own with the respect it deserves. She writes with an assured and confident voice and isn’t afraid to challenge the reader if it means telling the story the way it’s supposed to be.

It’s clear why Daily chose to alternate the story between chapters. It’s a complicated story, spanning generations, that would not have felt complete if done in a singular manner. The alternating chapters also emphasize the diversity of the characters’ situations. Becca falls in love with an African American man during the height of racism in America; Faith gets sexually assaulted by one of her father’s employees; Sandy becomes involved with a married mobster. If only one of these stories were told, it would not have done any justice for this disparaging historical truth. 

No Names To Be Given is a through-provoking historical fiction novel. Readers will experience the heartbreak and fear these women live through, having their worst moments in life brought back to haunt them. A look into women’s history, adoption, and motherhood from the perspective of women in the 1960s.

Pages: 334 | ASIN : B09B157HLR

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Is It Time To Shift The Narrative?

Angela Quijada-Banks Author Interview

The Black Foster Youth Handbook is written to help youth and young adults that have aged out of the system heal and thrive afterward. Why was this an important book for you to write?

I was called both while awake and in my sleep through dreams to create a guide for young people in foster care back in 2016. The pandemic in March of 2020 made the call louder and it was revealed to me that I could not put it off any longer- that youth were aging out of foster care not only in stereotypical outcomes such as homelessness, sex trafficking, prison and suicide but to add to that— a whole world wide pandemic. The world is calling for us collectively to heal and youth and families touched by the child welfare system need support through the lens of holistic wellness not just coping skills and survival mechanisms. I need youth to know that they can create a joyous life in spite of their trauma and so I was willing to be vulnerable in sharing my story in order for others to feel empowered and uncover the purpose within their pain as I have. I created the R.E.A.L success model that takes youth and supportive adults through the 4 phases (Root, Envision, Ascension & Liberation) so that the reader can have a practical framework to self reflect, engage in self-exploration alone and with community as well as achieve a sense of inner freedom out of the bondage of one’s trauma.

I appreciated the candid nature with which you told your story. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?

Honestly, the whole book haha..

My first draft was very angry. I carried a lot of pain and writing, picking up running while I wrote and processing this information was extremely healing. After sending the draft off to my editor, I had a very clear and vivid dream on how the book was going to be formatted and the clarity of the R.E.A.L success model. I am grateful for my husband, divine connection to my ancestors, my book launch team, friends, and a few family members who helped me process this. I knew it would be rough but that it was necessary for such a resource to exist. It was time.

What is one piece of advice someone gave you that changed your life?

To cherish the people in your life while they are still here and alive. You know, give them their flowers while they are still living and don’t wait until they have passed to show your appreciation, love and admiration for them. This is something I do daily and each chance I get to speak up and tell people how they are positively making a difference in my life, in others or the world.

What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your story

The trauma you experienced is not something anyone should have to go through and yet you are here still living. And that says something profound, that you have a divine purpose that you may choose to fulfill in this life. You are not your trauma. You are whoever and whatever the hell you wish to be. You are powerful beyond what you give yourself credit for and in order to fully step into your gifts- You will need to challenge many aspects of yourself and circumstances that you grasped on to in order to survive. It was never your fault but now it is your responsibility to create a life worth living. Powerful soul, it is time to heal. It is time to be free. It is time to discover the real you-outside of the version of you created to endure the trauma. You do not have to do this alone. You are loved. And after everything, you matter to so many. Greatness is in your hands but it all starts with choices.

Do you choose to be what you have seen doesn’t work? Or is it time to shift the narrative?

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook OrginialSoulFlower | Facebook soulfulliberation | Website soulfulliberation | Website originalsoulflower

Foster Care is a whole other world that most of the world’s population knows little to nothing about. Many people do not know the very low statistics young people endure in order to successfully age-out of foster care.

Less than 5% of young people with the experience of foster care graduate post-secondary education. There are many youth who become prey to sex-trafficking or suseptable to suicide due to homelessness, mental health challenges and no support system. Now, couple the child welfare system with the element of racial injustices and the history of white supremacy and the topic may even become taboo.

Ángela Quijada-Banks, a woman of African and Indigeneous descent has taken the liberty of giving back to these communities for a half a decade through advocacy, advisory and organizational training. Through her travels across the nation, speaking to congressional members, federal stakeholders and constituents of the foster care system she decided some sort of manual was needed to combat the shocking low success rates of young people with the background of foster care. This handbook is written to be supplemental to young people in foster care’s navigation through foster care and healing beyond it.

Supportive adults such as foster/resource parents, case managers, GALs, therapists and social workers will also find this to be helpful in their roles in young people’s lives. Success is possible regardless of where you come from, you just have to know where to look, who to trust and believe in the one person that can get you to the other side of pain and trauma, you.

Unfinished: The Inspired Life of Elisabetta Sirani 

Elisabetta Sirani, the subject of Unfinished: The Inspired Life of Elisabetta Sirani by Kelly Evans, was an Italian woman who lived in the seventeenth century. She faced numerous challenges as a result of her gender. Her life from age 9 until she died at age 27 is chronicled in the book, as are the challenges she had to overcome just because she was a woman living in the 1600s. This book provides a look into the life of an incredible artist who broke through gender barriers to achieve her dreams of becoming one of the most prominent women artists of the seventeenth century.

I enjoyed reading this historical fiction novel as it is one of my favorite genres to read. The author has done an excellent job of making readers feel like they knew Elisabetta, and they will really want to see her succeed. Andrea, Elisabetta’s famous artist father, was almost the villain as he constantly doubted his daughter’s skill simply because she was a woman.

My favorite aspect of this book was the relationship between Elisabetta and her sister, Barbara. I consider it to be one of the book’s primary focuses, and the bond that was formed between them allowed me to connect even more with the characters.

I appreciated the book’s history, information, themes of love and optimism. I liked learning about the baroque art era as I was not as familiar with it. Elisabetta’s works and commissions were exhibited throughout the narrative. The epilogue also gives historical context. Elisabetta Sirani is someone who was able to achieve success in a time when it was challenging for women to be taken seriously. Her story is one of perseverance in the face of adversity and is sure to inspire many readers.

Unfinished: The Inspired Life of Elisabetta Sirani is a fictional account of Elisabetta Sirani’s life based on factual information. This biographical fiction gives readers a look into the artist’s life with enough truth to understand the hardships she faced as a woman in the 1600s.

Pages: 357 | ASIN : B09Q1CHBWM

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Fighting for Freedom

Stephen Alder Author Interview

Deehabta’s Song follows the life of a woman that must retrace her past to discover who she really is. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Actually, the original inspiration for the book did not have Krissa as the main character. That developed as I put together the outline for the story. Originally, I wanted to portray the Roman Empire’s conquest of Gaul and Briton as a sci-fi story set on different planets. But there had to be a central character through whom the effects of this conflict were seen. More and more Krissa’s experience became the focus of the story.

Readers get to know Krissa at the ages of 30 and 60 as she pieces together the clues of her life. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

In Krissa’s character I wanted to convey a goodheartedness and sincerity that comes through even when she is cantankerous and difficult in her sixties. She helps many people with her martial arts skills, both by defending them and by being a dedicated instructor. Her fearlessness and ferocity when she is younger, however, leads her into a confrontation with the empire. As a deeply troubled person in her sixties, her persistent self reliance makes it difficult for her to let her roommate Jo help her. The real reason for her inner strength and the belief that she can take on the empire by herself is of course the mystery that the story unravels.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

There is the theme of fighting for freedom, drawing from the Britons’ resistance to the invading Roman Empire. The main character combines Caratacus and Boudicca. Boudicca almost defeated the empire until her rebellion was crushed and she died. Caratacus was defeated but he became assimilated into the Roman world and lived out his life. The book looks at the impact of forced assimilation. There is also the idea of what determines our identity. Our self image is a powerful force in what we conceive is our identity. In our world self image is elevated to being the only determining factor of identity. I suppose the term “identity” involves an image. But when all the images of ourself are stripped away, what are we? Nothing? Is there a core identity that is not determined by self image?

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

My next book is a sequel to Deehabta’s Song that I am titling Deehabta’s War. It goes into her beginnings in greater depth and the new conflict she faces. I hope I can have it done before the end of the year.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Deehabta’s Song is the story of a woman’s struggle to find herself and return home. A captive who does not consciously know she is a captive, she is forced to fight external and internal foes. With the help of others, she is set free and learns to accept the person she always was, a reality that was hidden in the dark world of her own subconscious mind. A warrior from start to finish, she acts without hesitation to fight against any powerful force, be it a tyrant or the empire itself, to protect the people of her world.
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