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SHAME, GUILT, AND SURVIVING MARTIN BRYANT: One Woman’s Journey from Terror to Joy

SHAME, GUILT, AND SURVIVING MARTIN BRYANT: One Woman's Journey from Terror to Joy by [Collyer, Karen]

A gut-wrenching journey through life is portrayed in the pages of Shame, Guilt, and Surviving Martin Bryant by Karen Collyer. It’s a short read, but the raw emotions within the page are heavy, terrifying and intense. This book follows Karen through her life as a very young girl towards where she is today and spares no detail. Karen’s life has not been kind to her, and the novella is not afraid to tell readers exactly what horrors she has gone through. This is not a book for those who are emotionally fragile or have troubles reading about assault and rape. These horrific events are laid out in painstaking detail as well as the trauma Karen faced when she was stalked by the man who committed the massacre in Port Arthur.

The book takes great pains to let readers know what they are getting into before it even begins. Readers should pay careful attention to the trigger warning at the beginning, as it accurately describes the type of events that take place in the book. The book, however, is a powerful tool that demonstrates the ways in which deep rooted emotional scars can shape our lives.

Karen tells the story from the perspective of the ‘wide-eyed girl’. This serves to disconnect the author from the story in a sense that readers may forget they are reading a memoir of sorts. This also allows readers to avoid projecting the feelings of the protagonist on themselves, as can often happen when stories are told from the first person perspective. This makes the story powerful and allows readers to relate on a deeper level. Those with empathy may feel drained after reading the emotional journey Karen had to go through.

This book states that it is a journey from terror to joy. Upon reading the book and now writing this review, it is hard to see where joy comes into play. There are several times that the protagonist Karen embarks on ventures that light her up and cause her to feel elated and wonderful, however by the end of the story there is no confirmation that she was able to obtain the happiness she is long overdue. Yes, she barely survived being a victim of Martin Bryant, but where is the confirmation of her happiness? Where is the consolation for the readers that the wide-eyed girl made it and was able to attain joy? It’s not explicitly stated, just implied. It leaves one wondering, in a good way, where one finds this confirmation in life.

For those who are looking for a short but meaningful book that will take them on a roller-coaster of emotions, Shame, Guilt, and Surviving Martin Bryant by Karen Collyer is a must read. It’s gripping, tears at the heartstrings and exposes the ugliness of the ‘don’t tell’ culture that is still alive and well today.

Pages: 174 | ASIN: B07B8Y47XR

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Runway Dreams Book Trailer

Bernadette has almost everything a twenty- six year old model could desire. She has a great home, beautiful clothing, and a wonderful family. Yet, all she really desires is a decent man to share her life with.

Against her sister’s wishes, Bernadette, joins the world of online dating. She can hardly believe her luck upon finding the profile of Martin Day, a handsome, successful businessman, who is moving to her hometown.

The couple clicks instantly and their relationship is on the fast track to marital bliss, when suddenly a stranger brings unsettling news about Martin’s past. Despite the warnings, Bernadette continues seeing him, and quickly finds out that some relationship mistakes cannot be easily fixed.

As her situation grows increasingly out of control, she realizes that it has come down to life or death and that she must put a stop to Martin’s reign of terror, at any cost.

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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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Everything is Funny From Some Angle

Mel Anastasiou Author Interview

Mel Anastasiou Author Interview

Stella Ryman and the Fairmount Manor Mysteries follows an elderly amateur sleuth as she sets out to solve the various mysteries plaguing her retirement home. What was your inspiration for the setup to this engaging novel?

Thanks for the kind words. My inspiration came while I was hanging about in a Vancouver care home, preparing to help move an enormous television set into an elderly acquaintance’s bedroom. I wondered, what if I lived here? What on earth would I do with myself? How do you wake up every day knowing that people are responsible for you, but you are responsible for nothing (there seemed to be some possibilities for rebellion here.) We all need a good reason for getting out of bed in the morning. What would that be? Watching television? Complaining about the food? I thought Stella Ryman might come up with an intriguing Third Option.

Stella is a senior with a tenacity that I enjoyed reading about. What were some themes you wanted to explore while creating her character?

I love exploring these:

  • Old or young, we need to serve the world somehow.
  • Almost everything is funny from some angle, and nothing is ever quite what it seems.
  • No life is over until the final breath passes (and maybe not even then, see Mad Cassandra Browning.)
  • Even in dire circumstances, there are always new chances at happiness.
  • Without connection to others, we’re all just bundles of cells in fleece warm-up suits.

I enjoyed the logical mysteries portrayed in the novel, they were always intriguing yet intuitive. What was the process like in developing the different mysteries in the book?

I’m glad you enjoyed them—they were fun to write. I wanted to explore ways Stella struggles to regain the symbols of power that she discarded from her world when she checked herself into Fairmount Manor Care Home: a handbag on her wrist, a best friend, freedom to walk outside if she likes, or fix herself a cup of tea, or enjoy solitude, and above all the power to help others and right wrongs. All the mysteries turn on these.

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

The Extra: A Monument Studios Mystery, is next, in second edition on Amazon in April 2018 and, writing as Melanie Archer, Younger Men. a comedy, also on Amazon in April 2018. The second Fairmount Manor Mystery novel, Stella Ryman and the Mystery of the Mah-jongg Box, comes out this fall from Pulp Literature Press, along with the seventh of the Hertfordshire Pub Mysteries, published in Pulp Literature’s literary quarterly.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website | Facebook

Stella Ryman and the Fairmount Manor Mysteries by [Anastasiou, Mel]

On this particular sun-and-shade April morning at Fairmount Manor, Stella Ryman no more entertained the idea of becoming an amateur sleuth than she did of entering next spring’s Boston Marathon. For not only was Stella eighty-two years old, but she had lately sold her home and a lifetime of gathered possessions and washed up at Fairmount Manor Care Home in such a state that she would have bet her remaining seven pairs of socks that she’d be dead in half a year.

But when money goes missing and an innocent woman stands to lose her job at Fairmount; when malicious poison pen letters find their way into the hands of staff and residents; and when a resident vanishes without a trace, Stella takes matters into her own hands. To hell with being elderly — Stella will break every one of the Director’s rules and slash all the institutional red tape in the place in her struggle to solve mysteries and protect the innocent. Over the course of the first five mystery adventures, Mrs Stella Ryman transforms from a woman on her deathbed to a force of nature and intellect. She’s a fish out of water, a stranger in a strange land, and an amateur sleuth trapped in a down-at-the-heels care home.

You’d be cranky, too.

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Traits and Emotions of a Salvageable Soul: A Conversation with a Touch of Class

Traits and Emotions of a Salvageable Soul: A Conversation with a Touch of Class: Volume 1 by [Crawford, Keeshawn C.]

Traits and Emotions of a Salvageable Soul by Keeshawn C. Crawford is certainly among the most interesting books I had the pleasure of reading this year, if not the best.  This piece of non-fiction is an apt example where in the author delves into a personal need of an individual for that special word of inspiration.

This book  has a clear vision of it’s purpose and direction and was a really good read. The focus of the writer is crisp and smooth. We are observing a world today that is experiencing more and more women raising their voice against violence and sexual aggression of men in power and influence. The first topic thus selected, aptly deals with the intrinsic build up of the common woman, and to take care of herself.

The subsequent topics have been laid out in a well-defined manner, starting with happiness, love and the concept of helping. The book further delves into other topics which form an important part of moral principles such as sacrifice, strength in troubled times, empathy, and many others. The author also touches on other equally important topics such as parenting, the ingredients for a well-nourished relationship, and accepting criticism constructively to become better. The author balances this with wise words of caution against weakness, ignorance and greediness.

There are many other word gems in this book as well, such as the ones highlighting wisdom of elders, the notion of self-respect, signs of a true friend, just to name a few. I was a bit bewildered at first at how much these moral principles influence, affect and shape our lives, and of those with whom we interact. The author however, seems adept in corralling these principles together with the physical constructs. I feel it important to point out that this book is not meant for speed reading to be just done away in a few days time. The real pearl of this work lies in soaking up the meaning in the words and continuously striving to build a strong mental platform upon which you can work to see your behavior change and be improved by the many areas which the author has pointed out in every chapter. The author fervently impresses upon the reader to conduct oneself in such a manner that would make it more pleasurable for others to follow their lead.

This book can be categorized as a self-help book, but it goes beyond and compels you to think and continuously strive to be a better individual and a good citizen. I am already looking forward for the next book from this author.

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Beguiled

Beguiled is about every person who ever had dreams that were interrupted by cultural mores, by discrimination, or by their own shortcomings. Miriam Levine, born in 1900, dreamed of going on stage, until an almost fatal mis-step forced her to postpone her “real life.” A serendipitous offer compelled her to confront her inner demons and society’s expectations. As Glinda, the Good Witch of the South in the Wizard of Oz, she recites at age 16: “You’ve always had the power, my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.”

The story is inspirational for young people and their parents who dearly wish to access the American dream. The historical context of the decades before the Great Depression, the role of immigrants and women’s suffrage parallels tough political dilemmas that the US faces today.

Will Miriam have the gumption to follow her dreams? Will those dreams yield her the happiness she seeks? Or will she find that her childhood fantasies “beguile” her to seek ‘fool’s gold?’

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Embrace Adversity

Annella Metoyer Author Interview

Annella Metoyer Author Interview

Dare to Be the Change tells the story of your life and how you overcame adversities to be the change you wanted to see in the world. Why was this an important book for you to write?

It was important for me to write this book to give the readers a glimpse into some of the adversities that women and people of color face in corporate America. More importantly, how to embrace adversity and make it your advantage by becoming the voice for others.

You grew up in a small town in Louisiana, in a time where racism was prevalent in the community. How has your perception changed of that time and place now that you’re an adult? 

I do not feel my perception has changed now that I am an adult. However, as an adult, I do understand the WHY behind why some things happened.

 I found this book to be inspirational and motivate me to help others seek change. What do you hope readers take away from your book?

Since the book published, I have received countless emails, phone calls, text messages from all cultures. The book is doing exactly what I hoped it would do. First, giving individuals a platform to talk to each other about a sensitive subject versus talking at each other. Secondly, it’s an opportunity for each person to tell their own story. And finally, its reenergized individuals to stand up and be the voice in the room.

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

My next book Stronger than Fear is a children’s book scheduled to be published late summer 2018. It’s about a boy named Christopher and his dog Loki experiencing bullying by members of their species.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsiteLinkedIn

 In Dare to be the Change, Annella Metoyer courageously shares the details of her life’s challenges, her family’s dedication to positive change as well as offers hope for readers through her struggles and accomplishments. Starting with the integration of her small town public school, she encounters a life-changing experience that sets her on a path of “being the change.”

Not only did she face the challenges when women were not the voice in the room, but she also did so as a person of color. From coworkers to disgruntled customers’ discrimination, she lived the evolution of attitudes. With each adversity, she became more determined to take the challenge and turn it into an advantage.

Annella Metoyer was blessed to experience many firsts. She was the first person of color employed by a local bank and ultimately became the City President for a large corporate bank. Her journey later took an unexpected turn when she transitioned from employee to entrepreneur.

Dare to be the Change will resonate with anyone that has ever faced adversities. As you read the story, you will rejoice in the strength that Annella finds within to help others and to make this world a better place.

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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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Oppression Can’t be Compared

Michael A. McLellan Author Interview

Michael A. McLellan Author Interview

In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree takes place in the 1860s and follows the lives of three people trying to find their way in post-Civil War America. What was the inspiration for your characters; the Henry the ex-slave, Clara and lieutenant Elliot?

I have always been an omnivorous reader. From horror to historical and most genres in-between. The American western is genre that seems to have sort of faded into obscurity over the last thirty years or so. I suppose I can understand why. A lot (not all) of it had become dusty, formulaic, trope-worn, overly-romanticized, and historically inaccurate. I set out to write a story set somewhere between the gold rush and the turn-of-the-century. Something with a different kind of hero from the gunfighter or bank robber. Something that would dust off the genre, add some real humanity, and hopefully spark some renewed interest in this fascinating and sometimes troubling time period.

Henry as the main protagonist was an easy choice. I read a short once, about a man who was freed after the civil war and went on to become a well-known cowboy in Texas. The man had a remarkable way with horses. He was the inspiration for Henry. The challenges African Americans faced even after they were freed from slavery were monumental, and so many extraordinary men and women overcame this adversity and went on to live noteworthy lives.

With Clara I wanted to highlight challenges that women of the period faced. Their oppression can’t be compared equally to African American’s enslavement, but neither can it be marginalized. I also used her character to showcase the disconnect between wealthy easterners and the reality of what was going on in the rest of the country.

John Elliot’s inner conflict wasn’t that uncommon for soldiers both during the civil war and the years following. I have read truly heartbreaking letters sent home disillusioned soldiers from the period, particularly ones from soldier’s involved in what could arguably be called the Native American genocide.

This novel gave a good view of life in 1860s America for slaves and Native Americans. What were some themes you tried to highlight throughout this novel?

Mostly that things aren’t always as black and white as we have a tendency to make them out to be. The world is made up of a lot of greys, and the difference between right and wrong isn’t always easy to see. We live every day with prejudices we’re blind to and sometimes it takes extreme circumstances for us to even realize it.

Henry and Clara’s relationship is touching but anchored with fear and a desire to find their way to the right side of things. What served as the basis for their relationship while you were writing?

Henry and Clara’s relationship is one of self-discovery for both of them. Henry begins to forgive himself, and finds that he is still capable of love. Clara discovers that her prejudices were misinformed. Her interactions with Henry, and his honesty, later affects how she later handles John’s disturbing revelations.

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

I have two novels in the works. One is a contemporary drama about a twelve-year-old whose parents both die tragically less than two years apart. He’s subsequently injected into the foster care system and eventually runs away hoping to find an estranged grandparent who lives off-the-grid in Montana. The second is about a man searching for his daughter years after a global catastrophe. Both novels should be released in 2019.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | GoodReads

In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree by [McLellan, Michael A.]

In 1865 a shadow hovers over the nation: the shadow lingers still…

Born into slavery, Henry’s young life is spent working in tobacco drying sheds on Missouri plantations. Freed at the onset of the Civil War, he’s alone, starving, and on the run from Confederate militiamen.

Five years later, Clara Hanfield, the daughter of a powerful New York shipping magnate, escapes her tyrannical father and travels west in pursuit of John Elliot, the man she loves. John, a U.S. Army lieutenant, was sent to the Dakota Territory where he discovers a government conspiracy to incite an all-out war with the Indians; a war meant to finally eliminate them as an obstacle to the westward expansion. 

Henry finds himself caught in the middle.

Aided by Clara, John, and his native ally, Standing Elk, Henry must battle hatred, greed, and the ghosts of his past during this turbulent and troubling time in American history.

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Liberating Inner Eve: A Reflective Journey for Women

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

Liberating Inner Eve: A Reflective Journey for Women, is the brainchild of author Bozena Zawisz, counselor and Christian. Zawisz tackles the many perspectives Christians have had on the story of Eve over the years. She balances her examination of Eve by dissecting Eve’s famed weaknesses while shining a light on her strengths. Zawisz peppers the reading with opportunities for readers to journal, work out thoughts, and respond to introspective questions based on the reading. The author’s work as a counselor is evident throughout the book as she consistently provides helpful hints for women regarding regular reflections and ways to be mindful and find an inner peace.

Zawisz has a soothing way with words. Her writing, geared toward women who are questioning their own situations and facing obstacles within their lives, is a much-needed calm amidst the storm of everyday life. I felt a warmth and genuine concern from Zawisz as I read her descriptions of her own parenting and the way in which women tend to take blame upon themselves. The author’s empathy is clear and appreciated.

Christian readers will welcome Zawisz’s thoughts on women like Saint Faustina. The author’s admiration for Faustina is obvious as she shares the story of her perseverance and strength. In the face of opposition, and with a limited educational background, Faustina leans on her faith to succeed. She is just one of the women offered  by Zawisz as a positive example.

I especially appreciated the numerous Bible verses and quotes presented by the author. My grandmother was a devout Christian, and Zawisz’s faith reminds me of her daily devotions. There is a definite peace that comes from reading the author’s favorite verses and the ways in which they have impacted her life. Among the many quotes she includes, readers will find inspiration and support during the most difficult of times.

I was rather taken with the beautiful poetry included in each chapter. Zawisz’s poetry is as eloquent as her narrative is comforting. She closes out each of her chapters with a unique bit of verse based on the topic at hand.

One of the most striking aspects of Liberating Inner Eve is the examination of the story of Adam and Eve. I found this to be most interesting. As a child, I was raised to believe the two were real people who started humanity down a path of sin away from righteousness. I had never been introduced to the many interpretations of the creation story. The notion that Adam and Eve might not have been real but a mere representation of humankind’s evolution was new to me. However, Zawisz emphasizes that the depiction of Eve as being, in many ways, inferior to Adam is woven into almost version of the story.

Zawisz’s work is for any woman seeking a book designed exclusively to uplift, empower, and encourage self-reflection. I would recommend this book to any Christian reader or any woman looking to explore Eve’s story and better understand her own struggles.

Pages: 173 | ASIN: B074HB5Q8Z

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