The Cycle Ends Now
By James Alan Sheppard
I will not remain a prisoner of my past.
I will not repeat the mistakes of my father.
I will not hurt those I love.
The cycle of abuse stops here…
I stare at those words as they lay scrawled across my notebook paper. They were written earlier today during my anger management class. I should’ve been paying attention, but I just couldn’t relate to those who were speaking. I feel so out of place there, but at this point, I don’t know what else to do.
I endured many years of emotional and physical abuse at the hands of my father. And now I’m terrified I’ll turn out just like him…
I hate living with that fear, too. It’s a tough burden to carry, especially alone. Seeing my father’s reflection in my mirror, hearing his angry voice in my own – fear just haunts me. Some days it feels like I am smothering. The sensation weighs down my heart and I often go days without smiling. I live trapped in a bad dream, only waking on rare occasions.
It’s difficult to hide my nightmare, especially from my closest friends. Bad enough they know my past and the pain I endured. God only knows their opinion of me if they knew my hidden anxiety, though. Those dark thoughts I share with no one. I should take comfort in the fact none of my friends ever expressed concern that I’d act like my father. Maybe they see something I don’t.
More than anything, I just want to erase the pain. Some days I feel so depressed, it almost angers me to see others enjoying their life. I want to be happy, too! Of course, I just feel like striking out at whoever crosses my path at that point, and that sensation scares me. If I could just forget my lonely childhood… I can’t carry this burden forever.
My father used words and fists to intimidate and exact compliance, but I don’t want that to be the extent of my communication with others. I don’t want my friends to fear me. That’s why I have to get a handle on this now, before I do something really, really stupid. I don’t like anger management, but it may be my only chance for a better life. And I’ve got to try.
So, I’m back to those words written during class. Cold and defiant, they are a challenge, and I can either cower in fear or stand up and defend myself. If I ever wanted to fight, now is the time. My past does not equal my future.
The cycle of abuse ends now…
Known as “Spunk On A Stick,” to her fans, the author is a member of the National Speakers Association. Her young adult series, The Circle of Friends, features morally grounded, positive stories that appeal to both teens and concerned parents. “Overcoming Obstacles With SPUNK! The Keys to Leadership & Goal-Setting”, ties all of Wolfe’s goal-setting and leadership seminar’s information together into one complete, enthusiastic package. Ten years associating with a motivation training system and her experience as a foster parent gave her the in-depth knowledge of relationships, personality traits and success principals. Wolfe travels the East Coast extensively for media interviews and speaking engagements, averaging over one hundred appearances each year. She maintains a dozen websites & blogs, manages an online writer’s group, and contribute articles for several other sites.
Book III online:
THE CIRCLE OF FRIENDS
BOOK III … JAMES
BY L. DIANE WOLFE
Haunted by a troubled past…
The future appears bright for James Sheppard. Emerging from a troubled childhood, he is blessed with talent and a good work ethic. Excelling in his classes and at the campus newspaper, James’s goal of editor appears within his grasp.
However, years of abuse and loneliness have dampened his spirit. By the time Maria enters his world, James is nearing the breaking point. Her innocent love slowly fills the void in his life, boosting his confidence and giving him hope.
When a crisis abruptly forces him into adulthood, James is saddled with more responsibility than expected. Struggling to cope with the situation, the past returns to haunt him. Will James find peace before the mistakes of his father destroy him completely?
Release date: August 18, 2009, Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.
$19.95 USA, 6×9 Trade paperback, 296 pages, Fiction/YA
ISBN 978-0-9816210-3-6 / 0-9816210-3-1
Book III Online Reviews:
“This book is very motivating and inspiring! This just tells you how much someone is willing to go for the best in his or her life!! There are so many twists and turns and it can teach you how far you would be willing to go to have the perfect moment.”
The Harmattan wind scorches across Nigeria, and an old man lies dying. His community gathers to pay its respects; their haunting songs echoing in the warm twilight. Around his bed family is gathered and they listen as he speaks his last words. Yet in the face of death this old man doesn’t talk of regrets, neither does he talk of petty grievances, instead he talks softly about life: how to survive, how to be happy and how to achieve self-respect.
Review and Grade: B+
I really enjoyed reading this short, gentle book of life advice. Of course, I’m in that mindset as a recent graduate. The advice in this book reminds me of a loving letter written to pass on wisdom to the next generation, there is so much heart to it. The angle of coming from a man in a small Nigerian village makes the advice in it earthy, natural and universal, although there were a few anachronisms thrown in. Overall, it was the kind of book that reminds the reader of things that are already known in a way that is a gentle nudge instead of a smack over the head. Most of the wisdom in this book is probably already known to the reader, but the way it is phrased and presented makes it refreshing and enjoyable. This is the kind of book I’ll hold on to and flip through from time to time in the future, I’m sure. I wish I had notes like this from my grandfather, but A Worthy Legacy is more elegantly written than he would have done anyway (nothing against my grandfather, of course!).
More stops on the tour:
Peeking Between the Pages July 9
Reading Frenzy July 9
A Book Bloggers Diary July 10
Luxury Reading July 10
Bella is Reading July 11
Jenny Loves to Read July 11
The Unadorned Book Review July 12
Worducopia July 13
Nan Powell is a free-spirited, sixty-five-year-old widow who’s not above skinny-dipping in her neighbors’ pools when they’re away and who dearly loves her Nantucket home. But when she discovers that the money she thought would last forever is dwindling, she realizes she must make drastic changes to save her beloved house. So Nan takes out an ad: Rooms to rent for the summer in a beautiful old Nantucket home with water views and direct access to the beach.
Slowly people start moving in to the house, filling it with noise, laughter, and with tears. As the house comes alive again, Nan finds her family and friends expanding. Her son comes home for the summer, and then an unexpected visitor turns all their lives upside down. As she did so masterfully in her New York Times bestseller Second Chance, Jane Green once again proves herself one of the preeminent writers of contemporary women’s fiction.
Review and Grade: D+
The Beach House was a disappointment to say the least. I’m a big Jane Green fan, but this one just did not do it for me. It was chick lit at its worst: little substance, weak writing and character development, and forced romance in a pretty setting. As I read, I felt like Green had simply filled in a template for chick lit instead of putting in the effort to actually develop the novel on her own. I know she’s a brilliant chick lit writer, which makes The Beach House all the more disappointing.
There were times when she got preachy, with long dialogues about politics or “the old days,” although the characters certainly weren’t old, that didn’t add anything to the plot or development. In fact, it just turned me off further. In this regard, I believe her editor really failed her. Not only did no one tell her to cut down on the diatribes, but I can’t tell you the number of times she described the teenager in the book as “truculent” (think Bella’s descriptions of Edward in Twilight). There were also a number of British phrases thrown in throughout that would make me wonder if one of the characters was supposed to be British. They weren’t. All of these things would be minor is they hadn’t occurred so often that it was seriously distracting.
I know this sounds like quite a dig and it’s not meant to be. It was just so disappointing to me that it probably seems worse than it is. As a beach read, it’s fine, because you don’t expect much in a beach read (I don’t anyway). Since I’m guessing this was designed to be a beach read, The Beach House does not fail on all fronts. Just many.
I didn’t go anywhere actually, but I certainly haven’t been here! My poor blog has been neglected recently as have all of you, but please don’t take it personally! I’ve missed you!
In the mean time, I’ve finished my final semester of undergrad, survived grad week without major incident (I lost my Northface jacket, which I’m still mourning), graduated and moved. Despite all of that, I certainly would have found time to blog, if I had planned better and had internet in my new apartment or looked up the closest place with free wifi. Instead I check email on other people’s computers (I’m using Bigolsquoo’s right now while he’s at work. Don’t tell). I have a few reviews ready for you and I can’t wait to get back into the blogging world again soon.
Your newly graduated-moved-and-real-person
I’m back from the dead and I’m going to start off with the most recent Weekly Geek. I don’t have too much to say about my review format, but I guess I’ll just ease myself back into things. Thanks to Care for coming up with this weeks theme!
1. Explain your review format – if you have one. Or maybe your rating system?
2. Highlight another book-blogger’s review format by linking to a favorite example – don’t forget to tell us why they are a fave!
3. Do a review in another book-blogger’s format of your latest read.
4. Highlight a past review that you are particularly proud of and why the format or structure may have had something to do with it.
First, my format is fairly unoriginal. I include the title, the cover art and the back cover because I’m awful at summarizing without giving too much away. I like to focus more of my efforts on my actual review, but I also think it’s important to include so people have some idea what I’m talking about. I’ve been toying with the idea of taking it out. We’ll see.
I also use a grading system that is pretty similar to others’. My scale is mainly A-F but I sometimes add a plus or minus when I absolutely have to. Sometimes I worry that giving a book a C grade makes it sound worse than it is. To me, a C book is ok, something I’m not glad I read or wish I hadn’t.
My favorite review of my own is my most recent (my favorite reviews tend to be of my favorite books, go figure). I loved The Help and I worked really hard on explaining what it did for me. The wonderful comments I’ve gotten have made me really feel like I got my message across! I think that my format made my review possible because I didn’t have to waste my energy writing up the summary and background information to the book and I was able to spend as much time as I wanted on my reading experience. At the same time, my review would not have made much sense if readers had not know anything about the book at all.
When I think of the best reviews I read each day, I immediately think of S. Krishna. I love and trust the content of her reviews, as well as the format. She includes all of the relevant information right out front and her rating system is clear and easy to find. I know that anything she gives more than a 3 out of 5 is something I need to look into and anything less than a 3 comes with a clear explanation of why.
Does this provide any insight? Probably not, but it’s nice to be sharing my own original thoughts again and having permission to write in my own voice in first person. I’ve finished my final academic paper of undergrad and forgive my loose interpretation of grammer and other rules for the next few days… I need to let loose and be free!
Be prepared to meet three unforgettable women:
Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.
Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.
Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.
Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.
In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women-mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends-view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.
Review and Grade: A+
I’m about to join the already crowded group of bloggers applauding this book. It is my favorite book of 2009 and it will take something truly incredible to usurp it.
This novel has everything I look for in a book: characters, plot, originality and fantastic writing. Then it does what few books do: makes you reexamine yourself and your life. This book makes you grow.
The first thing you’ll notice as you read The Help is the writing. Stockett pulls off writing in dialect because it is such a true voice, not just a stereotype of an accent. Next, the characters. They develop gradually throughout, but I loved them from the minute they showed up on the page.
However, what I loved most was the retelling of a story I thought I knew. I thought I understood segregation and racism and the civil rights movement. I thought it sort of happened naturally, graduall, with a few big pushes. It speaks wonders of Dr. King that his legacy is so much about peace that younger generations learn only of that and not of the hate, fear and violence that his dream existed in.
In the afterword, Stockett tells you her favorite line in the book, but I think there is another part that’s more powerful. Aibileen tells Minny about the lines. The lines that exist between black and white, employee and employer, rich and poor, they don’t actually exist at all. We create them from our own fears and insecurity. When you see things that way, the racism isn’t always about hatred or ignorance but about the lines we create and insist are never crossed, it makes me wonder how far we’ve really come in the last fifty years. A lot has changed, but the lines still exist, maybe in other ways and other places, but they’re still there. We still need this book.
I never before realized the amount of courage it took to stand up. The fear that was so real and so justified sickens me but it makes me grateful to those brave people, black and white, that were able to do it. What I love about this book is that its about starting a conversation they didn’t want to have back then and we need to keep having now.