Showing posts with label mental illness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mental illness. Show all posts

Monday, November 12, 2018

"A Light in the Desert" by Anne Montgomery

A Light in the Desert
by Anne Montgomery

A Light in the Desert by Anne Montgomery

Author Anne Montgomery stops by for an interview and to share an excerpt from her latest novel, A Light in the Desert. You can also read my review.
For another book by this author, please check out my blog post on The Scent of Rain.

As a Vietnam veteran and former Special Forces sniper descends into the throes of mental illness, he latches onto a lonely pregnant teenager and a group of Pentecostal zealots - the Children of Light - who have been waiting over thirty years in the Arizona desert for Armageddon. When the Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst in a deadly act of sabotage, their lives are thrown into turmoil as local and state police, FBI investigators, and a horde of reporters arrive on the scene. As the search for the saboteurs heats up and the authorities question members of the cult, they uncover more questions than answers. And then the girl vanishes. As the sniper struggles to maintain his sanity, a child is about to be born deep in the wilderness.

Kelly Garcia sat cross-legged before the dusty grave, a cluster of blood-red bougainvillea in her lap. She finished the last orange wedge and, remembering the compost heap, stuffed the peel inside the front pocket of her faded sundress, the fabric of which strained to cover her bulging belly.
It wasn’t the first time Kelly had visited the graves of the tiny ones. The metal crosses, which had finally replaced the crumbling wooden ones, marked the graves of Maria and Gregorita Amabisca, infants born in the Gila River Valley not long after the turn of the century, neither of whom had survived even one month in the living world. Where were the infants’ little spirits now? Had they gone? Or did they spend their days here, hiding behind the old gravestones and scattered creosote bushes? Were they tiny, elf-like creatures, darting about like butterflies but always just out of sight? Or had they, as the Children explained, been lifted off to Paradise?
She felt the baby move. Would her child live long enough to grow up or would God take the baby to heaven instead? If the child was born with a face like hers, perhaps floating in the clouds with the angels would be better. Angels, she knew, must certainly be kinder than people.
She reached over and touched the polished pink granite stone covering her father’s grave. Money was scarce, but when the uniformed men showed up, they said her father had been a war hero. They handed her mother a folded American flag and made sure Bryan Kelly received a proper burial and a proper grave marker. Now his tarnished Silver Star, attached to its red, white and blue ribbon, rested in a velvet box under her bed.
She traced the letters spelling out her father’s surname. Her last name was no longer Kelly. His quirky sense of humor had rendered her Kelly Kelly, but after he stuck the gun in his mouth, her mother had insisted that Kelly Kelly was not a proper name, blaming the appellation on her father’s Irishness, and demanding she take the name of her stepfather.
A hot breeze from the flat, sparsely cultivated land south of the cemetery lifted dust and grit, blowing Kelly’s ink-black hair away from her damaged face. Her father always smiled when saying her name. Kelly Kelly made a happy sound, he said, like bird song or a cricket’s chirp. All she had left of him now were the medal, the grave, and the odd blue eyes that struggled against her dark features. The long straight hair, which she wore in a thick braid, was a gift from her mother’s Maricopa ancestors. Her face? No one was sure where that had come from.
Kelly looked up. The sun was sinking down behind the mountains, shooting streaks of color across the Sonoran Desert sky and dying the clouds pink and purple like Easter eggs.
Suddenly, she realized she was late for dinner. The Children of the Light did everything on schedule, so she had to hurry. She picked up the bougainvillea branches that would grace the communal dining table and pushed herself off the ground. Momentarily losing her balance, she clutched the branches tightly and felt a thorn prick her finger. She wished the baby would come soon. She was tired of feeling awkward. So as not to stain her dress, she quickly sucked on the blood that oozed from the wound, then turned and walked up the dirt road that wound back to the compound.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
“There is a lot going on throughout the book; never a dull moment. As a result, when I picked up this book the pages just flew by and before I knew it, I was turning the last page. The characters in the book present a wide variety to its reader. They are mostly well developed, though I would have liked to see a little more depth to Billy & Kelly.” ~ Bookish Indulgenges with b00k r3vi3ws
“This is a very emotional tale that explores a variety of social issues ranging from mental illness to child abuse. It is very well done, well developed characters and scenery as well as a fast moving plot.” ~ Margaret Millmore
“... each character is well developed and the story eventually will find a point where all the plot lines seem to join and converge on the right track. I have one final note and that is be sure to read the Dedication as the struggles Ramm has may be more real for the reader.” ~ Shawn
A Light in the Desert is a fictional story based on the true event of the derailing of the Amtrak Sunset Limited, a train that travels between New Orleans, Louisiana and Los Angles, California, on October 9, 1995 in Hyder, Arizona. [It is] a character driven novel imbued with social commentary. A Light in the Desert is a great read. If you’re looking for a great story about human nature, pick A Light in the Desert up today.” ~ Rabid Readers Reviews
“Overall I enjoyed the novel and would recommend people interested in emotionally driven tales that doesn't require romantic undertones to read it!” ~ Dylan Hiler

My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.

By Lynda Dickson
We follow the stories of three people running away from their lives: Kelly suffers from Moebius syndrome, is pregnant with her stepfather’s child, and is taken in by the Children of Light, a cult headed by Elect Sun; Jason is haunted by demons from his past as is fast heading for a breakdown; Billy is running from his abusive father Buck and plans to derail a train to gain notoriety. This action will set in motion a series of events no one could have foreseen. And we will be introduced to two new characters, the sheriff and a reporter, both out to seek the truth.
The book on partially based on real events and is told from the points of view of numerous characters. As all of their stories are slowly revealed, we come to learn more about them and how their lives intertwine. By the end, all of the plotlines are cleverly tied together. The author is adept at bringing the sights, sounds, and smells of the Arizona desert to life with her words. There are a number of religious references in the book. I especially enjoyed the chapter in which an old drifter comes across the Madonna in the desert. This ties in nicely with the title of the book, with Jesus also making an appearance.
An engaging and thought-provoking read.
Warnings: coarse language, sexual references, rape, violence, mental illness.

Interview With the Author
Author Anne Montgomery stops by today to discuss her latest novel, A Light in the Desert.
What inspired you to write a crime novel?
I write about subjects in the news that interest me. (I’m a news junkie.) In the case of A Light in the Desert, the cold-case sabotage of the Amtrak Sunset Limited in the Arizona desert was big news nationwide. But it’s the people impacted by crimes and unusual circumstances that interest me most. For example, Jason Ramm, the protagonist, is suffering from a rare form of mental illness called the Jerusalem Syndrome. The Children of Light live off the land and were waiting for the end times, when the crime occurred in their backyard. In both cases, I read about these subjects in the news and was inspired to tell their stories.
Were any of the characters or events inspired by your own life?
Jason Ramm’s character is modeled on a dear deceased friend of mine who did two tours in Vietnam as a Green Beret. While he was not a sniper, many of Ramm’s memories are taken from stories he told me about his time in the service. Also, my friend struggled mightily with Post Traumatic Stress and guilt from events that occurred during the war. Like Ramm, he desperately searched for peace and forgiveness. The character of Kate Butler is clearly me. I was a TV sports reporter and anchor for five stations at both the local and national levels, until, one day, when I was pushing 40, I suddenly became unemployable in that field. Like Kate, I had a shelf-life stamped on my forehead. I was no longer pretty enough to be in front of a camera. It was a difficult transition.
What would you like readers to take away from reading your book?
While my books are fiction, they are based in fact. I work very hard to make sure I get the factual parts right. For example, my most recent book, The Scent of Rain, details the life of a teenage girl fleeing the horrors of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a cult of polygamists who believe it’s OK for old men to marry young girls. I interviewed a woman who twice escaped from the FLDS, and a doctor who worked with the cultists, and I went to Colorado City, Arizona to observe them. So, I’d like my readers to know that, even though they are reading a fictional story, they will learn things along the way.
Thanks so much for stopping by today and giving us a further insight into you book.

About the Author
Anne Montgomery
Anne Butler Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. Her first TV job came at WRBL-TV in Columbus, Georgia, and led to positions at WROC-TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP-TV in Phoenix, Arizona, and ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award winning SportsCenter. She finished her on camera broadcasting career with a two-year stint as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery was a freelance and/or staff reporter for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces. Her novels include: The Scent of Rain, Nothing But Echoes, and A Light in the Desert. Montgomery teaches journalism at South Mountain High School in Phoenix, is a foster mom to three sons, and is an Arizona Interscholastic Association football referee and crew chief. When she can, she indulges in her passions: rock collecting, football officiating, scuba diving, and playing her guitar.


Friday, March 9, 2018

"Damaged" by Krys Fenner

(Dark Road Book 2)
by Krys Fenner

Damaged (Dark Road Book 2) by Krys Fenner

Damaged is the second book in the Dark Road series by Krys Fenner. Also available: Addicted (read my blog post). Coming soon: Avenged.

Addicted by Krys Fenner

Damaged is currently on tour with Xpresso Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an excerpt and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Hope springs eternal for everyone except Bella Kynaston. She survived the rape, but the aftermath is a whole other story. She struggles to figure out who she really is as more truths are revealed about her heritage. With no real anchor, sometimes ending it all seems like the only way out.
David has loved Bella for three years. Too bad he feels as if he no longer deserves a chance with her. Much to his surprise that’s exactly what he gets, but she’s far more damaged than he ever imagined. Still, he’ll do anything to help her even if it means losing himself in the process. Any transgression can be forgiven. Or so he thinks.
Will Bella find the peace she so desperately seeks if the pain permanently ended? Is there someone who can get to her in time? Or will the damage she’s suffered prove too much to bear?

Bella half-glanced at Alex. “You look fine.”
“That’s what you said about the last pair of jeans.”
“They were fine, too.”
“You’re no help!” Alex exclaimed loudly and stomped back into the changing room.
It was cruel, but Alex’s reaction when Bella failed to compliment her amused the hell out of Bella. She’d only agreed to the trip to the mall to escape her parents. They were back in the house, and although her parents had been eager to return, she was the one who had to go back to the room where it all started. But between the pills and her capacity to stay out of the house, she managed to hide her pain well. Even better than she had as a child.
“What about this?” Alex stepped out in a tight, black miniskirt. The black should’ve washed out her white legs; instead, her skin glowed with an ethereal beauty.
“Fine? Again?”
Bella snorted a tiny giggle and whipped a hand to her mouth to stifle a laugh.
Alex crossed her arms. “You’re screwing with me.”
“Maybe. Who’re you trying to impress, anyway?”
“Raul’s going to be at the party.” Alex blushed.
“You must really like him.”
“I do. He’s, you know, different.”
“I’ll take your word for it.” Bella grinned. “Try something else. You might give the poor boy a heart attack in that skirt.”
Alex brushed the skirt down and glanced at her legs. Self-loathing flitted across her face. She nodded and disappeared back into the changing room.
Bella sighed. She hadn’t mean the comment to come off as negative. It was supposed to be a compliment, but it appeared her friend didn’t take it that way. “Alex.”
“No, no. It’s okay. You’re right. I’ll just change into something else.”
How could she forget her friends had their own demons? Alex had never accepted she was beautiful. The girl was tall and thin, and her skin was flawless, but she could pinpoint everything that was wrong with her body. Now that Bella thought about it, she had never seen Alex in a skirt. Alex had often complained about her legs. They were too long, they were too pale, people could see her freckles.
Lord, she felt so stupid. Bella had enjoyed teasing her friend about all the jeans the girl had tried on, but hadn’t thought twice when she commented on the skirt.
Someone brushed against Bella’s back. She flinched and her whole body stiffened. She spun around and swung, and the palm of her hand smacked the face of the guy behind her.
“What the hell!?”
Oh. It was just some stranger. Shit! Bella shoved a hand through her hair and inched backwards. Surely, he hadn’t done it on purpose, but that never mattered. She panicked, now, at even the slightest hint of anybody’s hands near her body.
“I ... I ... I’m sorry.”
“Get a grip, would ya? Sheesh.” The guy shook his head and walked away.
Bella eased her back against the wall, gripped her head, and slowly slid to the floor. This wasn’t the first time she’d hit some random person. Her body was a time bomb triggered by the slightest touch. She’d talked to the freaking doctor her parents asked her to see. But nothing improved. It all just got worse with every day that passed.
That monster had invaded her life and stolen all she’d had, leaving a horrible world in its place. It seemed like everything would be better if she hadn’t survived. The pain she carried in her chest wouldn’t exist. The fear she faced every time she left her house would be gone. There would only be peace.
Peace. Not heaven. Just peace. Bella hiccupped, and her tears subsided. 
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
“Another great cover from Krys Fenner! […] The characters are well-developed and it was inspiring to see Bella finally start making some better choices. I'm anxious to see where the author takes this story, and I think it will really make or break this series. It's really a great dark YA!” ~ T. Schu
“This book was darker and emotionally gripped me until the bitter end.” ~ Laura Hernandez
“Great book.” ~ Michelle Olms
“This is the second book in Bella's story. Bella's story is one of pain and suffering and what extreme's she goes to in order to ease some of it. The amount of pain and heartache a person goes after being the victim of terrible things is shown vividly in this story, it is a palpable one that makes you want to take this young girl and hug it all away for her. That perhaps makes this a hard story to read, but also well worth the read.” ~ Terry
“I found this book hard to put down. […] I will definitely read more books from this author.” ~ Rebecca

About the Author
Krys Fenner
Krys Fenner has been infinitely passionate about writing and helping people for as long as she can remember. To date, she has published two books, numerous poems, and is now avidly working on a fantasy series. Krys received an Associate of Arts in Psychology and is currently working on her B.A.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win some great prizes (open internationally). Grand Prize: Signed copy of Addicted and Damaged, plus $20 Amazon gift card and gifts of healing ($75 value). First Prize: ebook Damaged by Krys Fenner and Winner Choice ebook. Second Prize: ebook Damaged by Krys Fenner and Damaged by Willow Winters. Third Prize: ebook Damaged by Krys Fenner and ebook by C.L. Romans. Additional prizes: 3 paperback copies of Damaged; 2 $10 Amazon gift cards.


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

"The Edge of Brilliance" by Susan Traugh

The Edge of Brilliance
by Susan Traugh

The Edge of Brilliance by Susan Traugh is currently on tour with YA Bound Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Volatile and unstable, Amy stands at the precipice. Will she fall into the chaos and despair of insanity or ascend into brilliance and redemption?
Amy Miles is fifteen and crazy. Or, at least that’s her greatest fear. Her severe bipolar disorder, with its roller coaster manic and depressive episodes, is ruining her life. Yet in Amy’s mind it is accepting the pills and therapy - not the disease - that will brand her as "crazy".
When Amy lands in a residential psychiatric program, she befriends take-charge Mallory and the two create family and try to salvage the shards of their broken minds. There, Amy discovers that her illicit drug use has robbed her of her ability to dance and she is forced to weigh how hard she is willing to work to reclaim her lost talent and potential. But, despite a promising beginning, when Amy falls back into denial, the tragic consequences cannot be undone.
Amy is left to decide whether to give up altogether or accept her diagnosis and the tools she needs to battle her disease, to learn to dance again and forge a new and improved version of herself. Will she step up to the edge of her brilliance and shine?
Reader Advisory: This book contains strong language and also includes scenes involving drug use, rape, violence. This book also includes a frank exploration of mental illness and loss of autonomy.

Book Video

She walked Amy through the beautiful oak doors behind the receptionist. It was only when those doors slammed shut with an echo-y clang and automatically locked behind her that the chill of realization gripped Amy’s spine and made her jump. Oak veneers hid the fact that those doors were solid steel inside with locks that snapped shut via a remote button at the warden’s desk. And despite the thick taupe carpeting and rich wood veneers everywhere, the clank of that lock bounced off the walls and echoed around the room like a sonic boom. This was prison. Prison. Dress it up all you like, the sound of that lock was final.
Tears leaped up to the backs of Amy’s eyes, but she gritted her teeth and breathed out slowly in response. She was not about to cry because a stupid door slammed. Never.
The blonde woman guided Amy into a small room to the left of the doors. Another, taller, older woman with gray hair that looked like curly steel wool was already seated on a stool in the room.
“Stand up, feet apart. Face me,” said the older woman in a quick, no-nonsense manner. “Lift your arms out straight and stay that way until I tell you to move.”
Amy had to concentrate as hard as she could to make her arms obey.
The younger woman patted Amy down, running her hands through Amy’s hair before moving to shoulders, arms, chest, waist, hips, thighs, legs and feet. As first one place then another on her body was touched, Amy closed her eyes. She needed to block her vision, not speak and stay still. Too much information was pounding into her brain.
“Take off your shoes,” the older woman instructed in that same quiet, authoritative tone. Amy complied.
“Your jacket.”
“Your shirt.”
“Your pants.”
“Unhook your bra.”
Amy tried to follow the instructions, but her hands shook too violently to manage the hooks. She tried again, but again failed.
“May I?” The younger woman’s eyes offered a softness as her hands hovered close to Amy, awaiting permission.
Amy could not speak, but offered the slightest nod before the young woman unhooked her bra then gently held Amy’s wrists and brought Amy’s hands up to her chest. “Here,” she instructed. “Cover your breasts like this while I take your bra.”
“Now turn your back to me and hold your hands out straight.” Amy didn’t know if she could remain standing much longer—dark flashes were beginning to dance before her eyes and the women’s voices seemed to be backing down a long tunnel.
“Amy? Are you listening?” The voice that broke through was not unkind but seemed to be coming from very far away. “With your back still to me, drop your panties to your ankles and squat down,” commanded the older woman.
“Amy? Amy?”
The younger woman stepped up again. She remained behind Amy but touched her shoulder. “Drop your panties, honey,” she guided. Then, as Amy complied, she gently but firmly pushed Amy down to the floor.
Amy’s mind circled back to the hundreds of pliés she’d done in dance. Her muscle memory responded with a graceful grand plié until the older woman’s voice jerked her from her dream. “Cough three times.”
“What?” Amy’s daze was so deep that the words were no more comprehensible than if they’d been in Swahili.
“Stay in that position and cough three times.”
There, squatted, her hands covering her breasts, her panties down around her ankles, Amy searched her brain for what the woman wanted from her, what was being asked of her. She desperately wanted to comply with whatever request these people were making, but the meaning was garbled and bouncing around her brain with no place to land.
“Amy, look at me. You need to cough. Like this...” The younger woman was still behind Amy with one hand on her shoulder, but her gentle touch guiding Amy’s chin up to her and sharp coughing sound helped Amy connect the dots and provide the physical response that was being requested.
“Pull your panties up and put these on. You can step behind that curtain.” The younger woman handed Amy a pair of blue scrubs and pointed to a rough green curtain hanging from a rod in the corner of the room. Once dressed, she handed Amy a cup. “There’s the bathroom. Go pee for me and bring it back out here. Oh, and leave the bathroom door ajar, please.”
Amy had to hold the doorjamb to steady herself as she walked into the bathroom. The older woman had left, but the young woman was waiting outside the door when Amy emerged.
“Let me walk you to your room, Amy.”
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
"This is a must read book for everyone, teens and adults. I didn't know what to expect when I started it, but was soon captured by its thoughtful, often raw and gritty, and very realistic description of what it is like to have a mental illness. From the inside out. And I never understood how far-reaching its impact is on family and friends who are trying to cope with the situation. [...] If you want to learn more about mental illness plus get inspiration for your own road to achievement, you must read this book and pass it along to friends and family. It just might change someone's life." ~ Amazon Customer
"I liked the writing style that Traugh used, it was simple and easy to follow. She also didn’t let things drag on, the whole book was fast-paced, and to the point (it was also quite a short book). This book had joy and sadness, and there were some scenes that were confronting. But I think all in all, it was a good read and I enjoyed it." ~ Kim (_booksarelove)
"As a practitioner in the field of psychiatry, I found this book to be a very realistic account of what the life of a teenager suffering from Bipolar Disorder can look like. It also effectively conveys the impact that this disorder has on the family. The story is written from the perspective of Amy, a 15-year-old suffering from Bipolar Disorder, and I appreciate having this perspective. The author did a wonderful job of capturing the experience of a teenager going through this. It brought home the fact that mental illness is not something to be punished, yet there is a fine line between needing to be held accountable for the aftermath of their emotionally fueled behaviors. The final note that I took from this book is the need for acceptance of a disorder that isn't going away, and how to go about learning the tools necessary for survival." ~ michrk
"I really appreciate the author taking us into the lives and mind of person who suffers from Bipolar disorder. For the first time we are able to understand how their mind works, what emotions fuel their behavior and most importantly the aftermath they must face and try to make sense of." ~ T London
"You don't need to be in this family to share their highs and lows. The author opens her heart in this journey through bi polar world. Humour and truth resonate on every page. You will cheer this teens determination and her mothers warrior spirit. A must read for teens and their parents." ~ Lynne Lockwood

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
Fifteen-year-old Amy Miles has bipolar disorder. She's not happy about taking her meds and seeks other ways of making herself feel better, such as taking illegal drugs. Things spiral out of control and Amy ends up in a residential psychiatric facility. There, she learns how to cope with her illness through counseling, group therapy, and medication - but only after she figures out that she needs to want to change.
This book provides a realistic portrayal of a young girl struggling to cope with her mental illness. The author obviously has firsthand knowledge of the disorder, giving us a great insight into how the illness affects everyone around the sufferer. While the prose is excellent, the teen dialogue is a bit forced. Amy's diary entries and letters are an especially poignant touch, giving us a glimpse into her innermost feelings. As the story proceeds, it seems to go a bit off course. It becomes more about drug rehabilitation than mental illness. Dancing also takes a step back as Amy discovers a new passion. Nevertheless, this is an empowering and eye-opening book that should be read by anyone who knows someone suffering from a mental illness.
The author provides some interesting statistics on mental illness at the end of the book.
Warnings: coarse language, sex scenes, rape, drug use, mental illness.

Some of my Favorite Lines
"How could such a little bit of matter matter so much? How could so little substance create such havoc in her life - both when she took it and when she didn’t?"
"... they never let her get really down, but they never let her get really happy either."
"No, it wasn’t better living through chemistry - it was really no life at all."
"You never get to feel good. You never get to feel high or happy or ecstatic. True, you don’t feel suicidal or out of control or manic. But I’m not sure the price is worth it."
"Of course, no one in the room was normal. Not the students, not their parents, not the staff. Mental illness did that to people … and to all the people around them."

About the Author
Award-winning author Susan Traugh, has been writing for over thirty years. Her Daily Living Skills workbooks are used in classrooms all over the world and her stories have appeared in periodicals nationwide along with several stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul. With husband, Steven, Susan won Learning Magazine's Teachers Choice Award for Mother Goose Brain Boost.
Now, Susan is venturing into the world of young adult fiction. Her latest novel, The Edge of Brilliance, is an exploration into the heroes found within struggling young people. The manuscript was a finalist in the San Diego Book Awards. Today, Susan lives in San Diego, California, with her husband and daughters, a cat, dog, fish, and near her grown son who doesn't visit enough.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card or one of five ebook copies of The Edge of Brilliance by Susan Traugh.