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- My Unfurling: Emerging from the Grip of Anxiety, Self-Doubt, and Drinking
- Lisa May Bennett
- ISBN-13 : 979-8985875003
- Published by the author
Recognizing Her Own Success
Who are you? What do you want out of life and what is getting in your way? These questions can be overwhelming. Here’s one more: How do you block the pain that comes from being overwhelmed? Lisa May Bennett explores all of this through a probing lens in her memoir My Unfurling: Emerging from the Grip of Anxiety, Self-Doubt, and Drinking as she delves into her complicated relationship with her mother, her experiences as a late bloomer, and her ongoing search for validation. It’s a search that readers will appreciate, and many may identify with her coping strategies and find hope in her success.
Bennett desperately wants to savor two or three glasses of wine, but her strategy fails night after night. Two or three glasses is never enough. Although she doesn’t believe she needs a 12-step program, her anxiety and insecurity scream, “Help me!” For a long time, a good buzz is her number one priority. Relief came, though, when she gave it up for good.
One of her best coping tools is writing. As she digs for who she is with ruthless honesty, she teaches herself that she can be in charge of her life as long as she stays sober.
At the same time, she engages readers with her misadventures, losses, and ultimate discoveries and victories. When she puts an end to her blackouts and hangovers, she also stops fighting with friends and becomes the productive woman she’s always wanted to be.
Honest and touching, this memoir explores the experiences that made her a habitual drinker. In an engaging and relatable voice, Bennett shares how she began to “unfurl” without alcohol holding her back. But will she stay sober and discover how to truly thrive? So far, the answer is yes, and I predict a permanent victory for this courageous author. This story is a call to find yourself through writing about your experiences, discoveries, and truths.
Grab a notebook or open a .docx and start a journal today. You never know where it might lead.
Author Lisa May Bennett is a late bloomer who writes about personal growth on her blog, Bittersweet Nugget. She had a flourishing career in marketing and communications for more than two decades, including an eighteen-year stretch at the National Organization for Women. By publishing her first book in her 50s, she shows readers that it’s never too late to chase your dreams.
- Her Too
- Bonnie Kistler
- ISBN-13 : 978-0063089242
- Harper (July 4, 2023)
Justice, Revenge, and Ethics
When do justice and revenge intersect? Ask Kelly McCann, a lawyer who’s duped by her client and wants to expose him in Bonnie Kistler’s Here Too. The #MeToo movement has brought the prevalence of unreported rapes to light, but Ms. McCann’s client forces his victims to sign a non-disclosure agreement after his brutal rapes. He pays them, but what is the price you’d put on loss of dignity and self-worth? It tears these women to the core, and they stay powerless until McCann goes against her client.
This is a story about power, manipulation, trickery, and ethics. Kelly McCann is a fighter with a successful legal career and a husband who became disabled the day their daughter was born. She’s a lawyer who defends men accused of rape, insisting that they are falsely accused. Of course some people consider her a traitor to her gender, but the fees she earns make up for it. As the story opens, she’s won again, securing an acquittal for a renowned scientist accused of sexually assaulting a female employee.
Unfortunately, that very night she, too, falls victim of a brutal sexual assault. And almost as horrific as the attack is the fact that she can’t tell anyone it happened nor can she mention a horrendous condition involved—not without destroying her career in the process.
Kelly has never backed down from a fight. Joining forces with her rapist’s other victims, she plans to turn the tables on him, and when one plan fails, she invents another with the help of other women that he’s wronged. Danger abounds, and justice seems far away until she uncovers a professional secret that was thoroughly hidden.
This story of revenge od for anyone who’s ever been wronged. It’s also a sincere and ethical look at the consequences of malicious manipulation. Author Bonnie Kistler is a former Philadelphia trial lawyer, and her expertise in both writing and the law shows. She is the author of The Cage and House on Fire, and, writing as Bonnie MacDougal, several other psychological thrillers.
- Kill Show
- Written by Daniel Seren-Becker
- ISBN-13 : 978-0063358959
- Harper Paperbacks (October 3, 2023)
A New Way to Explore Crimes
Remember O.J. Simpson’s white bronco and the slow motion chase we watched on TV 30 years ago? Why were we fascinated? Why do we watch “Unsolved Mysteries” and “Dateline” and “HLN”? Daniel Sweren-Becker explores that our obsession with disappearances and murders in Kill Show, which he calls a True Crime Novel. Like many good novels, the characters are fictitious and so are the stakes, but the issues are both real and immediate. The combination makes a strong, contemporary story that will draw readers and make them think.
TV producer Casey Hawthorne has a brilliant idea. She wants to make the search for missing 16-year-old Sara Parcell, who disappeared one day when she went back to her school bus to pick up her backpack, into a TV show. She’s thinking about the power of reality TV. Her parents believe that the publicity will get more people looking for their daughter, and when she offers them $50,000 per show, her dad insists that they cannot turn it down.
Events will determine the script. There’s no planning ahead here. Casey wants the best possible story, and that changes as events unfold. TV mixes with reality in ways that those of us who don’t work in the industry might never have imagined.
Ten years later, the people of the town are willing to be interviewed about what really happened when Casey was filming her show. We have the opportunity to hear the conflicting points of view from family, friends, townspeople, and the crew that worked with Casey. The narrator explores events, motivations, and the psyches of those obsessed with true crime.
Literary agents are always looking for the newest thing—for what will sell. That, too, is explored in this book which is all “excerpts” from fictitious interviews by a scholar looking at the past and trying to make meaning out of it. It reads like a series of oral histories choreographed to focus on a missing girl and what might have happened to her.
Author Daniel Sweren-Becker is a novelist with several YAs to his credit as well as a playwright, and screenwriter. He was born in New York and now lives in Los Angeles where he works as a TV writer.
The format, the bickering, the backbiting, and your curiosity will keep you turning pages. Kill Show introduces a whole new way to explore crime and mysteries. The themes will make reader think and the fresh approach will keep them turning pages.
- As Far As You Can Go Before You Have to Come Back
- Alle C. Hall
- ISBN 978-1-68513-147-0
- Black Rose Writing
Why does a person run away? Fear of consequences? Fear of abuse? Fear that life can never work unless she gets away? All of these are reasons for teenage Carlie in Alle C. Hall’s debut literary novel As Far As You Can Go Before You Have to Come Back. The title is actually a good start on a summary, but it doesn’t include the brutality she left or the misadventures she faced as she figured out who she was and what she wanted in life.
This is a story of life in two cultures. It’s about learning to trust, building friendships, asserting reasonable assessments of strangers, discovering life and purpose, and finding the values that eluded teenage Carlie in her home environment. What do alcohol, drugs, and tai chi have in common? Carlie tries them all. What she’s really trying to do with each of these is erase the tragedy of her upbringing and find a meaningful way to live.
In evocative language that does not hold back, Hall recreates the mountains and valleys of her narrator’s experiences. This is an excellent book for those who are looking for new paths to escape into, those who’ve been touched by trauma, and those who know that coming of age can happen more than once in most people’s lives.
The book was nominated for the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Book Award. It won First Place, 2022 International Firebird Book Awards: Literary; First Place 2022 International Firebird Book Awards: Coming of Age; Second Place, 2022 International Firebird Book Awards: Women’s Issues; First Place (excerpt), 2022 National League of American Pen Women’s Mary Kennedy Eastham Flash Fiction Prize; and First Finalist (excerpt), 2022 Lascaux Prize.
Hall’s short stories appear in journals including Dale Peck’s Evergreen Review, Tupelo Quarterly, New World Writing, and Litro; and her essays in Creative Nonfiction and Another Chicago. She has written for The Seattle Times, Seattle Weekly, and was a contributing editor at The Stranger. She is the former senior nonfiction editor at jmww journal, the former associate editor of Vestal Review.
It’s a solid read, and while it’s not always a pretty story it’s a gritty look at beating back trauma and discovering possibilities.
- Tinderbox: One Family’s Story of Adoption, Neurodiversity, and Fierce Love
- Written by Lynn Alsup and Reviewed by Karin Cooper
- She Writes Press Page Count 296
- Publication Sep 12, 2023
- ISBN-10 1647425417
Forever Family, Forever Love
Most parents question at some point if unconditional love is enough. The choices become even harder when every solution for raising a healthy child is exhausted. And the parents are exhausted too. Lynn Alsup’s memoir Tinderbox: One Family’s Story of Adoption, Neurodiversity, and Fierce Love is a mother’s story unfolding the harrowing years of raising three adopted daughters before discovering FASCETS a strength-based approach for accommodating neurodiversity.
Just before Clare’s 13th birthday, walking hand in hand through their neighborhood, Lynn’s oldest adopted daughter calmly describes her plan for suicide. Raising her Haitian born daughter has never been easy or predictable. Detailing years of unrelenting love for a beautiful, charming, daughter to the out of control thrashing and physically violent episodes. There’s no other choice but to keep Clare safe from herself. Years of psychiatric hospitals and residential programs pursue challenging a marriage, faith, and the family structure.
Like tinder’s igniting Lynn notices similar patterns of academic and personality struggles with her younger daughters. After varied therapists and programs, Lynn learns about fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD)—a source of neurodivergence in one in twenty American children—and the FASCETS Neurobehavioral Model. The discovery transforms the family’s understanding and approach towards a strong medical and social model they can navigate.
Lynn Aslup is a social worker, spiritual director, and meditation teacher. Her parenting experiences of three neurodivergent daughters has led her to training parents and professionals in FASCETS Neurobehavioral model.
The memoir stays with a reader through twists and turns of a mother’s unrelenting hope and love. Most parents recognize weaknesses, past hurts, anxieties, and strengths within themselves on the parenting journey. This book doesn’t negate the humbling journey allowing the book to become a potential “rule book” for some, a profile and understanding of neurodiversity, and a recognizable insight of resilience for any parent.
Karin Cooper has taught college composition and English courses for over 20 years. She also is a freelance content copy editor. With a writing resume of plays and education essays, recent writing interests and challenges are developing middle-grade novel about a young Angolan boy rescuing a pangolin.
- Just Another Missing Person
- Written by Gillian McAllister
- ISBN-13 : 978-0063252394
- William Morrow (August 1, 2023)
No Return from a Dead End Alley
Why are young women going missing in Gillian McAllister’s Just Another Missing Person? Who’s taking them and what is his or her motive? As the investigator, Julia Day, searches for the missing woman, Olivia, she’s also trying to protect her daughter, Genevieve, and herself from the consequences of Genevieve’s slicing a man with her keys when he tried to steal her phone. DCI Julia Day, who taught her daughter to protect herself, wasn’t there to step in. A man who knows their secret threatens Julia when Olivia goes missing.
Olivia was seen entering a dead-end alley. She never returned. The case falls to Julia, who seems more devoted to police work than her husband and daughter until she’s threatened. Is she more mother or police detective? Ethical officer or protective parent? There can be so much fallout from a simple act of protection.
This is an exploration of loyalties, justice, right and wrong, the importance of love and family, and situations in which right and wrong are blurred by love. This book is not a typical who-dun-it, and the motives are nothing you might imagine even if you are an avid reader of either American or British mysteries. Readers will be on the edge of their seats as one surprise after another propels the story forward.
Author Gillian McAllister is the New York Times bestselling author of Reese’s Book Club Pick Wrong Place Wrong Time, Everything but the Truth, The Choice, The Good Sister, The Evidence Against You, How to Disappear, and the Richard & Judy Book Club pick That Night. She graduated with an English degree before working as a lawyer. She lives in Birmingham, England, where she now writes full-time. She is also the creator and co-host of the popular Honest Authors podcast.
If you like unpredictable plots and three-dimensional characters whose troubles will grab and hold you, this is an excellent book for you.
- Montpelier Tomorrow
- By Marylee McDonald
- ISBN #: 978-1-951-479-87-9
- Grand Canyon Press 2023
When Life Interrupts Plans
“Is it permanent?” Kevin’s mother, Colleen asks when her adult son gets a new teaching job after a period of unemployment.
Kevin answers, “Nothing’s permanent.” That’s one of many insights about life, love, employment, and caregiving in Marylee MacDonald’s insightful novel Montpelier Tomorrow. Everything can change in a heartbeat and MacDonald looks deeply into the changes a medical crisis can create in any family.
Once Colleen Gallagher’s son-in-law is diagnosed with ALS, Colleen goes half-way across the country to spend her summer vacation helping her daughter, Sandy, in any way she can. Colleen is handy with a paint brush or a screwdriver and having lived through the premature death of her husband, Rob, she wants to offer all the support that she can.
ALS aka Lou Gherig’s disease steals an individual’s ability to move his muscles, and drains family caregivers of energy and joy. Add in two pre-school children watching their father die, and you have a prescription for the kind of disaster that life randomly throws out. Caregiving chores, envelopes with windows, staying employed for the insurance, and lack of privacy are some of the challenges to trust and resilience.
What redeems this story? Family bonds that stretch, bend and occasionally twist but never break. The author deals thoroughly and honestly with the pain that loved ones can impose on one another, long-buried resentments, and the level of forgiveness that wise families give freely.
As a former caregiver, I identified with Colleen’s feelings and her daughter’s. In the 1990s the only book I could find about caregiving was The 36-Hour Day. McDonald’s well-written, heart-wrenching story would have shown me how to strengthen bonds and boundaries. It’s a gift to any caregiver who ever felt alone or misunderstood.
Whether you read this as a caregiver or a patient, a mother or a daughter, or as someone interested in the struggles caregivers face, you’ll come away with a new appreciation of unpaid family caregivers. I strongly recommend this for medical professionals, mothers and daughters with unresolved issues, and caregivers as well as the curious.
- BOY PARTS
- Written by Eliza Clark
- ISBN-13 : 978-0063328921
- Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (May 23, 2023)
Art By Any Other Name
What is art? When does erotic photography become pornography? Who gives consent to being photographed in humiliating poses? Eliza Clark’s Boy Parts is a debut novel that explores these questions and doesn’t hold back. The author pushes into taboo subjects and explores them honestly, realistically, and three-dimensionally.
She shows us contemporary London through the eyes of her protagonist, Irina, a photographer, who takes pictures of average boys. Then she takes them home and exploits them, sometimes harshly, in the name of art. Sometimes she’s hilarious, sometimes ridiculous—at least in the eyes of others, and sometimes she’s beyond scary. Often, she’s twisted because of her lonely, empty life.
Her vulnerable side shows when she’s invited to show her work at a posh London gallery where her paintings might sell, which would pull her out of poverty. Poverty isn’t her concern, though. She’s much more interested in pushing her narcissistic manipulation on average men along with an admirer, “Eddie from Tesco,” an average man with an enormous crush. She’s searching for her next big thrill and she expects to find it in the reactions of her models and the public to her work. There’s a sharp edge to her and an explicitness that works in the book, even if her life isn’t something I’d go looking for.
I wanted to engage with Irina and understand how she became a woman obsessed with power, and sex, and I was curious about why she lacked empathy. I would not want to meet her, but I’d love to explore Eliza Clark’s approach to inventing and developing outrageous characters. She presents phrasing, insights, and plot details that you may not find elsewhere.
A native of Newcastle, author Eliza Clark lives in London, where she previously attended Chelsea College of Art. She works in social media marketing and has worked for women’s creative writing magazine Mslexia. In 2018, she received a grant from New Writing North’s “Young Writers’ Talent Fund.” Her short horror fiction has been included in Tales to Terrify, and she hosts the cultural podcast You Just Don’t Get It, Do You? with her partner. Details about her and her work are on her website.
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