Friday, February 27, 2015

Those are lovely, glowing green eyes you have!

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Beth, a 17 year old teenager, is not having what you would call a good year.  Her parents died, her twin brother is in a coma, and now she is shooting energy everywhere like she is some kind of Van De Graff Generator (one of those ball lightning things...).

It would seem things are not normal, but then her best friends, her recovered twin brother, and a childhood friend who is easy on the eyes all discover they are developing powers as well.

This happens at a good time, as demons seem to be popping out of every crevice.  Mostly wimpy ones, which Beth and her Guardian Warriors, dispatch with ease.  It's those damn class two demons that are a pain in the rear.  And it's not like the townsfolk can even help to save their city since the demons only can be vanquished if hit in an exact location - and that location is different for each one.

Who is behind all of this mess and why would they want to unleash demons all over the city?  I would answer the question now, but I am too busy dispatching some pig nosed class three demons that are just plain annoying me right now.


"Revelations:  Thera's Eyes Series" by Leia Kiuski is a book that would most likely be enjoyed by the young adult crowd.  There is action, magic, and mayhem tied around a romance that can't happen - all of which equals quite a lot going on.  

For a first book, it is certainly ambitious.  There were some things that I did notice.  Things happened, and no real explanation really occurred.  Some parts of the book felt "rushed" and things were glossed over.  Some of the dialogue seemed forced and a few of the characters repeated struggles over the same thing had me thinking "girl - get some medicine for that OCD!!"  

Anyways, it is a book that is certainly different and should appeal to the crowd that it is written for.  If you like Young Adult Action / Magic - then you won't be disappointed.

Amazon Link                                       Goodreads Link

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Interview with "Cutting the Soul" author Theresa Larsen

1. It seemed as if you had to learn much of what to do as far as the treatment for your son on your own. What resources did you turn to and which were the most helpful? 

I was surprised by the lack of information and resources about mental health for parents. The internet became my friend and I spent many hours a day trying to find what I needed. I can honestly say I “stumbled” across several great resources and have since compiled a list on my website. The ones that provided the best information for me were:, (Mental Health America) (National Alliance on Mental Illness), (National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs).

2. There were many setbacks that you describe. What was it that was in you that kept you moving forward? 

The desire to keep my son alive was always at the forefront of all of my decisions involving his care. I didn’t always feel as if I had great choices offered to me, but I did my best to muddle through and find the help my son needed. I also have the most amazing and supportive husband. I could not have done this alone without him by my side. He was often the voice of reason when I felt hopeless.

3. This is a very personal account about your family that you wrote about. How and why did you make the decision that you would put your story “out there?” 

I started the memoir as a therapeutic goal for myself. It helped me to sort out my feelings and answer the question: Why do I react to certain things the way I do? I had made many notes and written in journals and calendar books for several years when my son was in and out of treatment, plus I had all of his treatment documents from professionals who cared for him. Putting the words on paper in a chronological way was the easy part. When it came to difficult sections of self-harm or psychosis I broke those up into small pieces and wrote a little at a time. The hardest part of the book was the editing. It took almost twice as long to edit as it did to write. I cut more than half of the original writing out of the memoir. Polishing and rereading were grueling, but in doing this I realized that I could help others. I would have loved to have a book like this to read and give me hope when I was caring for my son and to have resources that were easily accessible. I decided to publish the memoir and start my website, adding blogs to give information and a resources page with everything I found helpful.

4. I see that your son, Matthew, was the illustrator for the cover. Was he excited to see some of his artwork on a book? 

My son has been very supportive of my decision to write and publish Cutting the Soul. He is an excellent artist and I thought it was appropriate that the illustration on the cover was a self-portrait of him. He didn’t draw this specifically for my book, this was an art piece he had done several years prior to my writing, but it seemed to fit perfectly. It was pointed out to me by a friend in the psychology field about the fascinating example of the right side of the brain
controlling the left side of the body. The right side of the face in the illustration is in shadow, the left side of the brain, that controls the right side of the body, is responsible for understanding and use of language, memory, and detailed analysis of information. During my son’s darkest times, his ability to communicate and interpret information was poor or I could say shadowed. The artwork depicts this state of mind beautifully.

5. What is the nicest comment that you have received from someone who has read your book? 

The nicest comment I have received about my book is from my daughter, partly because I did not expect her to read it. She lived this with us and I didn’t think she would want to relive it by reading about it, but she did. She texted me after she was finished and said, “I have no words--absolutely incredible. I have extremely underestimated all you went through with Matthew. I have absolutely no idea how you coped with that, and still managed to be an amazing mother to me. I am so proud to call myself your daughter. Your strength inspires me. If I can become half the woman you are I would be thrilled. I’m so blessed to have you as my mom. I love you more than you’ll ever know.”

6. What do you know now about writing a book that you wish you knew when you first started? 

I wish I knew how long it took to edit. It would have given me an idea of a time frame for completing the book. Editing is a very important process that can’t be left out or skimped on.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A must have survival guide when your parents are older!

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"Elderly Parents With All Their Marbles:  A Survival Guide for the Kids" by Pamela Carey is one of those books that you don't know you need until you need it.  When your parents become older, the children have to make difficult decisions.  These could include moving them out of a home that they have owned for decades, selecting nursing homes and in-home care, and when it is time to "let them go" if that is what they decide.

Instead of having to learn what to do at the time you need to make a decision, it might be better to read about someone else's trials, errors, and learning moments.  Carey has beautifully broken down her experiences into 49 "rules" for people to consider along with her experiences with her parents that caused her to develop the rules in the first place.

I found this book to be an easy read and full of insights.  My parents are getting to the age that some of these rules might come into play.   I plan on sharing this book with my brother so that we can put together a "game plan" and be on the same pages with our decisions.  Thank you, Pamela, for sharing your experiences in this great "survival guide!"

Amazon Link

Goodreads Link

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A journey through the hell of teenage mental illness.

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Cutting the Soul:  A journey into the mental illness of a teenager through the eyes of his mother by Theresa Larsen was a difficult book to get through.  I don't mean writing style, grammar, or something mundane like that.  I mean the subject matter.  Theresa writes of her year's long battle against her son's mental illness that manifested in cutting and suicidal thoughts.

I could feel how taxed, exasperated, and at wit's end this mother was through the pages.  I kept having to check how much was left in the e-book because I was getting to the point where I wasn't sure I could keep going back for more - and I didn't have to live it.  How Larsen was able to sit down and relive the darkest of days to actually finish this book is a testament to how devoted she is to helping others who are going through this.

Having been a high school teacher, I am familiar with the different ways kids can "self-harm" - reading this gave me an insight as to just how horrific a cost it is to the entire family.  The amount of doctors, facilities, high schools, and medications that had to be juggled were enough to break down even the strongest willed person.

Throughout the book, Larsen refers back to her son's journal, giving everyone a glimpse into the mind of the person who is suffering.  These were by far the hardest passages for me to read. 
As an outsider, it is easy to look at these kinds of situations and think - "that person just needs to snap out of it" - or - "why don't the parents do something to stop this?"  Unfortunately, the answer is neither that simple or logical.

I applaud Larsen for putting her story out there for others who might have to travel down this road.  If you have a teenager who is depressed or self-harms, this book will  let you know that you are not alone.  Larsen could literally save you a small fortune by her insights as to what to look for in a facility.  

More importantly, this book should give you hope.  I am not going to call this a "spoiler," because a happy ending should not "spoil" anyone's day.  In the end, Matthew seems to have gotten to a point where things were looking much brighter.  There were parts of me preparing to read an end to this story that I really did not want to imagine.  To Matthew's credit, along with the Larsen family who supported him along the way, that is a plot line that can hopefully stay forever in the "delete" file.  

To Theresa, Matthew, and the rest of your family - my hope is that you may have many more good days than bumps in the road in your future.

(This author purchased an ad package.  This does not affect the review in any way - it only moves the book to the "head of the line.  This review is my honest opinion and thoughts of the book.)

Interview with Andrew J. Wilson - author of Invictus: Introducing Richard!

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It seemed to me that your character, Richard Cummings, was extremely well developed.  Did this happen before you wrote the book, or did he come to life as you wrote it?
 Honestly, Richard came alive as the story unfolded. When I planned this book the character was nothing like Richard, and nor was the story; but after page six it took on a life of it's own, went off in a new direction, so the development of Richard's character was dynamic.

It was pretty obvious that Richard has other adventures in front of him.  Are the already written, or in the works? 
 Invictus II is well on track but I still don't know what the eventual 'The End' will be for Richard. The trouble is, even if I sit down with a story plan all mapped out, as soon as the writing starts I'm like a court recorder, I just write down what I 'see' in my head, the story comes alive, it seems to create itself. I appreciate that sounds unusual but that it how the stories come about. 

If you could be Richard for a day, what mission would you give yourself? 
 This is a real tough question! I don't have a 'hero' complex but it would be one that would make a difference. If time was of no consequence, and modern history was the scope, it would be along the lines of preventing the JFK assassination, stopping Lady Diana from getting in that car, or taking that bullet that brought an end to the life of Martin Luther King. But if I am restricted to the era that Richard currently resides, ultimately I would want the job of investigating/ exposing the dirty politics and criminal activities of corrupt senior politicians.

Other than Richard, which character did you find yourself liking the most - and why? 
 I think Colonel Harry Simmonds, his character is still developing but he's an unassuming almost anonymous extra that has a strong moral compass; I like that.

What do you know now about the writing / publishing business that you wish you new before writing your first book? 
 In truth, probably nothing. The publishing business is ruthless, fraught with dangers and has its fair share of nasty individuals that are more focused on the destruction of rival talent or the exploitation of the naive - but that's no different from life. Had I known that I probably would never of written a book, never mind published it. The advice I would give is to be very sure of your motives for writing that first book, be true to yourself and be fair to your readers. There is not a single book written that everyone likes, yours won't be the first.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Cutting the Soul: A journey into the mental illness of a teenager through the eyes of his mother

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Theresa Larsen’s son, Matthew, comes to her with a cut on his hand, explaining it away as an accident with a pocket knife. But as she cleans and treats the wound, she discovers dozens of slashes covering both of his arms. Thus begins Larsen's compelling personal memoir about what it's like to be the parent of a mentally ill teenager.

Cutting the Soul offers a firsthand look at mental illness, both financially and emotionally. Matthew, fourteen years old when he starts cutting, goes on to face other hardships, including suicide attempts, severe depression, and multiple stays in psychiatric hospitals.

Readers get an inside look at Matthew's life through the inclusion of his selected journal entries, and Larsen shares her own struggles with personal demons as she tries to help her son. It's a first-person account and an educational guide worth reading for any parent who’s coping with the mental illness of a child.

Check out this 5 star review by a customer!

on January 13, 2015

This is an extremely important book for anyone who cares for someone suffering from mental illness. If you haven't been touched by this disease, you will be touched by one mother's determination, will and love for her child to do what was necessary---even when necessary was heartbreaking. Cutting the soul is an honest,open and emotionally jarring read with the power to offer hope and resources to those who need it and don't know where to turn.

(This is not a review - this is the cover and book description from Amazon and is part of an advertising package purchased by the author).

Monday, February 2, 2015

One small step for zombies, one huge mess for mankind.......

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Will, owner of Will's Tavern, is about to have a change made to his bar menu.  He wasn't really looking for a change, and even if he was, Will certainly didn't approve of the main ingredients that made up the majority of the new one-item menu for his new customers that were coming in hordes.

Normally, Will would have been thrilled with a huge crowd gathering at his bar.  Especially without having to put on a "happy hour" to do so.  But the new crowd goes wherever the new delicacy can be found - and that just happens to be live humans.  Zombies are well known for eating and not ordering drinks - and hell - they would probably just try and shuffle off without paying the tab anyways. While it is bad business for your well paying regulars to be eaten by non-paying Zombies - paid in full tabs and no tips are the last thing that Will is currently concerned about.

Across the city, a mob boss is having issues of his own.  Nicky "No Nickname" Fratelli is racking up a body count - and not one of them is even a good old family "hit".  In fact - it is mostly his own goomba's and muscle that are winding up dead.  But Nicky notices that they don't stay exactly "dead" for long.  With just his most loyal bodyguard, Paulie Hammerhead - Nicky makes his way over to Will's Tavern for a nice cold one while he tries to wrap his brain around what the hell is going on.

Rounding out this team is a family with a klepto kid, a stuffy father, a wife that has eyes for about anything that moves, and a 15 year old daughter who is just trying like crazy to latch onto anyone who can get her as far away from her family as possible.  Oh yeah, and a few bar patrons who decided not to be on the menu, but most of them are falling down drunks.

So, if you were in charge of the country and the Zombies decide to have a convention in a city in the middle of nowhere, what would you plan on doing?  Well, you could send in the army and wipe out the Zombie horde.  Or, you could do what comes naturally to politicians and start spinning, lying, and creating a diversion.  How about a moon landing to distract everyone?  The fact that there isn't anyone really in space to land on the moon poses just a small problem.  That is until B-Movie director Mark Mathews is caught in a very compromising position and the army makes him a deal.  Make a movie, quick - featuring us landing on the moon.  It doesn't have to win any Academy Awards - it just has to be believable. 

With all of these moving parts, one thing remains constant.  Zombies must eat........


OK - I am going to admit something that will probably make everyone gasp is shock.  I can honestly say I have only watched two movies featuring zombies in my lifetime - "Abraham Lincoln Zombie Slayer" (just because it looked so horrible!!) and "World War Z".  Not a single zombie book.  So by no means am I an undead aficionado.  

"One Undead Step" by Ian McClellan may have gotten me to turn a corner.  McClellan had a great paced story, and I was really liking all of the characters - that is, until they got eaten.  I was kind of surprised that there are no picky zombies when it comes to food - not one "I won't eat my broccoli" finicky eater exists among them.

McClellan also delighted me with a chapter written from the zombie's point of view.  Again, I don't have much experience in this genre - but I thought it was brilliant.  Short chapter, kind of focused on a single point - but apparently zombies are not great multi-taskers - so I guess I understand!

Anyways - you need to quit reading this blog post and download this book.  I need to quit writing anyways and get myself some steak cooked very rare now.......

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Invictus Part 1 - Introducing Richard - Fast Paced Adventure!

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Richard Cummings lives the life of a successful banker — except he isn’t. He and his family enjoy the trappings of a middleclass existence: a delightful four-bedroomed house on the outskirts of Gloucester, England, the benefits of his success — except they aren’t.

The facade that is his public life masks the secrets of another clandestine existence, a duty.

Events conspire to force Richard’s surreptitious reality to the surface, with deadly consequences. The shocking discovery that her husband is not who or what she had always believed him to be plunges Julia into the unknown, a world of terror, of politicians, of Somali pirates, of death, torture, and ultimately, of revenge. 

Like a spike driven into the icy cover of a frozen pond, her world is fractured, shattered, and weakened; as a wife, as a mother, as a human being, she has to find a way to do what is best for her family, no matter what the cost.

As the layers of deceit and treachery are peeled back, so the need for revenge is intensified, all Richard has to do is survive long enough.

How can Richard Cummings not be Richard Cummings – Banker?