Non Fiction

#BookReview
Hello I Want to Die
by Anna Mehler Paperny @amp6 @PenguinRandomCA

#BookReview Hello I Want to Die by Anna Mehler Paperny @amp6 @PenguinRandomCATitle: Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me

Author: Anna Mehler Paperny

Published by: Random House Canada on August 6, 2019

Genres: Non Fiction

Pages: 352

Format: Paperback

Source: Penguin Random House Canada

Book Rating: 8/10

 

 

Synopsis:

A vibrant, compelling memoir from a remarkable young woman that bravely reveals the real-life havoc wrought by depression and the urgent search for solutions. Illuminating, completely engaging–it’s essential reading for all since we all know someone whose life, family or friends are touched by the disease that directly afflicts a fifth of Canadians.

In her early twenties, while outwardly thriving in her dream job and enjoying warm familial support and a strong social network, award-winning journalist Anna Mehler Paperny found herself trapped by feelings of failure and despair. Her first suicide attempt–ingesting a deadly mix of sleeping pills and antifreeze–landed her in the ICU, followed by weeks of enforced detention that ran the gamut of horrifying, boring, hilarious, and absurd. This was Anna’s entry into the labyrinthine psychiatric care system responsible for providing care to millions of Canadians.

As she struggled to survive the psych ward and as an outpatient–enduring the “survivor’s” shame of facing concerned family, friends, and co-workers; finding (or not) the right therapist, the right meds; staying healthy, insured, and employed–Anna could not help but turn her demanding journalist’s eye on her condition and on the system in which she found herself. She set off on a quest to “know her enemy,” interviewing leading practitioners in the field across Canada and the US–from psychiatrists to neurological experts, brain-mapping pioneers to heroic family practitioners, and others dabbling in novel hypotheses. She reveals in courageously frank detail her own experiences with the pharmacological pitfalls and side effects of long-term treatment, and offers moving case studies of conversations with others, opening wide a window into how we treat (and fail to treat) the disease that accounts for more years swallowed up by disability than any other in the world.


Review:

Informative, honest, and perceptive!

Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me is the first-hand, candid story of Anna Mehler Paperny’s personal, ongoing struggle with suicidal ideation and depression, as well as an in-depth look into the mental health care industry and the limitations, resources, misunderstandings, and treatments that surround it.

The writing is clear, moving, and educative. And the novel is an exceptionally researched, impassioned tale of one woman’s battle to maintain life while her brain consistently tells her to end it.

Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me is, ultimately, part memoir, part investigation that includes statistical data and interviews with Canadian and North American health care professionals that is a valuable, emotive resource for anyone, anywhere who suffers from, works with, or is affected in any way by this disease that wreaks havoc on over 300 million lives worldwide.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                  

 

 

 

Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Anna Mehler Paperny

ANNA MEHLER PAPERNY is an award-winning reporter for Reuters based in Toronto. Over a decade she's chased down stories ranging from the opioid crisis to migration, from post-quake Haiti to Guantanamo Bay. She's written for the Kingston Whig-Standard, the Edmonton Journal, the San Francisco Chronicle, Maclean's Magazine; as a staff reporter at The Globe and Mail; and a reporter-editor for Global News, where she developed globalnews.ca's award-winning Investigative Data Desk. Her work on deaths in Canadian prisons won an investigative journalism award. At Queen's University, she spent most of her time working on the campus newspaper.

Photograph courtesy of Goodreads Author Page.

#BlogTour #Excerpt
Spices and Seasons,
Simple Sustainable Indian Flavors
by Rinku Bhattacharya
@Wchestermasala @rararesources

#BlogTour #Excerpt Spices and Seasons, Simple Sustainable Indian Flavors by Rinku Bhattacharya @Wchestermasala @rararesources

#BlogTour #Excerpt Spices and Seasons, Simple Sustainable Indian Flavors by Rinku Bhattacharya @Wchestermasala @rararesourcesTitle: Spices and Seasons, Simple Sustainable Indian Flavors

Author: Rinku Bhattacharya

Published by: Hippocrene Books on May 1, 2014

Genres: Cookbook, Non Fiction

Pages: 373

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Rinku Bhattacharya combines her two great loves―Indian cooking and sustainable living―to give readers a simple, accessible way to cook seasonally, locally, and flavorfully. Inspired by the bounty of local produce, mostly from her own backyard, Rinku set out to create recipes for busy, time-strapped home cooks who want to blend Indian flavors into nutritious family meals. Arranged in chapters from appetizers through desserts, the cookbook includes everything from small bites, soups, seafood, meat and poultry, and vegetables, to condiments, breads, and sweets. You’ll find recipes for tempting fare like “Mango and Goat Cheese Mini Crisps,” “Roasted Red Pepper Chutney,” “Crisped Okra with Dry Spice Rub,” “Smoky Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Puree,” and “Red Harvest Masala Cornish Hens,” to name a few. As exotic and enticing as these recipes sound, the ingredients are easily found and the instructions are simple. Rinku encourages readers to explore the bounty of their local farms and markets, and embrace the rich flavors of India to cook food that is nutritious, healthy, seasonal and most importantly, delicious.

 

 

And now a delicious recipe from the book:

 

Pasta with Spice-Infused Ground Lamb and Green Peas (M&P)

I love the Italian classic Bolognese sauce, and I love the classic Indian dish called Keema Matar (ground lamb with green peas). This recipe offers a fusion take on both these dishes, making for an unusual and flavorful pasta dish. It is a wonderful and hearty meal for a winter evening. I like to make this using my stored summer tomatoes. If you wish you can use gluten-free pasta for this recipe.

 

Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 40 minutes | Serves: 4 to 6

 

Ingredients

For the keema masala sauce

¼ cup oil (preferably olive oil)

1 large white onion (preferably Spanish or sweet vidalia), chopped

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 (1½-inch) cinnamon stick

2 or 3 green cardamom pods, bruised

3 cloves

¾ pound ground lamb

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon salt

4 medium tomatoes (about ¾ pound), cut into a dice

1 teaspoon red cayenne pepper powder

¾ cup frozen peas

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

For the pasta

2 cups any pasta of your choice

Salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

 

Preparation

  1. Heat the oil in a pan until medium hot, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the white onion, ginger, and garlic. Add the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, and cloves and mix well.
  2. Add the ground lamb and mix well. Stir in the turmeric and salt and mix well. Cook the lamb for 6 to 7 minutes until it begins to release its juices and starts turning light brown.
  3. Add the tomatoes and cayenne pepper powder and continue cooking the mixture for another 10 minutes, until the tomatoes turn nice and saucy.
  4. Add the peas and stir well. Add ½ cup of water and simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. While the sauce is cooking, mix a large pot of water with the salt and olive oil and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for the amount of time indicated on the box. Drain.
  6. Mix the pasta with the sauce and serve immediately.

 

 

This cookbook is available now.

Pick up a copy of this novel from your favourite retailer or from the following link!

 

 

 

About Rinku Bhattacharya

Rinku Bhattacharya (spicechronicles.com) was born in India, and now lives in a house with a vibrant backyard in Hudson Valley, New York with her husband, an avid gardener, and their two children. Rinku’s simple, sustainable approach to Indian cooking is showcased on her blog, Spice Chronicles, and in her Journal News column “Spices and Seasons.”

Rinku has been teaching recreational cooking classes for the past nine years, and works extensively with local area farmer’s markets on seasonal demonstrations and discussions. Rinku is also the author of The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles (Hippocrene Books, 2012), winner of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2013 for Best Indian Cuisine. She writes for the Poughkeepsie Journal, the Journal News, and several online sites, and is a frequent guest on CT Style TV.

 

#BookReview
Stalked by Alison Hewitt
@PGCBooks @panmacmillan

#BookReview Stalked by Alison Hewitt @PGCBooks @panmacmillanTitle: Stalked

Author: Alison Hewitt

Published by: Pan Macmillan on March 1, 2019

Genres: Non Fiction

Pages: 304

Format: Paperback

Source: Publishers Group Canada

Book Rating: 7.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Alison Hewitt was in the midst of training to be a family doctor when she met Al Amin Dhalla through an exclusive dating agency. He was a seemingly respectable businessman from Canada, so attentive and caring it was easy to ignore the warning signs – until he started, step by step, to take over her life.

Six months after they first met Al Amin’s web of lies started to unravel and Alison became aware that he had a sinister dark side. When she tried to end the relationship, the unthinkable happened and she found herself the victim of an escalating campaign of terror. Even when Al Amin was found with knives and guns, the police had no powers to detain him. Nobody could have imagined the events that were to follow, as Alison was left fearing for her life. It would take all her strength to survive.

Brave and gripping, Stalked tells of one young woman’s fight against the man who terrorized her, and her determination to defeat the fear and live a normal life.


Review:

Honest, perceptive, and eerie!

Stalked is the first-hand, harrowing story of Alison Hewitt’s relationship with Al Amin Dhalla, a charming fellow who quickly went from being a kind, considerate gentleman she met through a dating service, to a crazed, obsessed, armed ex-boyfriend.

The writing is clear and fluid. The characters are tormented and scarred, as well as relentless and vicious. And the plot, using first-person narration, unfolds chronologically, building tension and intrigue as it unravels all the personalities, behaviours, actions, and relationships within it.

Stalked is, ultimately, a true story of deception, fixation, harassment, fear, desperation, manipulation, recklessness, and vengeance that’s a frightening reminder that we only see what people want us to see and they are often, unfortunately, not whom they seem.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                  

 

 

 

Thank you to Publishers Group Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Alison Hewitt

Alison Hewitt originally trained in medical sciences and nutrition and spent her early twenties travelling the world, including a stint of voluntary work in India. In 2004, she decided to follow her passion and study to be a doctor. She works as a GP and uses her recent experiences to teach legal and police professionals and voluntary services how to recognize and advise on signs of stalking.

#BlogTour #GuestPost
Start by Graham Morgan #GrahamMorgan
@FledglingPress #LoveBooksGroupTours

#BlogTour #GuestPost Start by Graham Morgan #GrahamMorgan @FledglingPress  #LoveBooksGroupToursTitle: Start

Author: Graham Morgan

Published by: Fledgling Press on October 10, 2018

Genres: Non Fiction

Pages: 256

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Graham Morgan has an MBE for services to mental health, and helped to write the Scottish Mental Health (2003) Care and Treatment Act. This is the Act under which he is now detained. 
Graham’s story addresses key issues around mental illness, a topic which is very much in the public sphere at the moment. However, it addresses mental illness from a perspective that is not heard frequently: that of those whose illness is so severe that they are subject to the Mental Health Act.
Graham’s is a positive story rooted in the natural world that Graham values greatly, which shows that, even with considerable barriers, people can work and lead responsible and independent lives; albeit with support from friends and mental health professionals. Graham does not gloss over or glamorise mental illness, instead he tries to show, despite the devastating impact mental illness can have both on those with the illness and those that are close to them, that people can live full and positive lives. A final chapter, bringing the reader up to date some years after Graham has been detained again, shows him living a fulfilling and productive life with his new family, coping with the symptoms that he still struggles to accept are an illness, and preparing to address the United Nations later in the year in his new role working with the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland.  

 

And now Graham Morgan with:

 

Inspiration for Start

When I was getting help from writerly friends as I wrote START, I had the occasional bit of advice about the chapters I included about Wendy; a slight “We know you love her, but you don’t need to make it too saccharine, too gushy and cloying!” And I do know that this was good advice but Wendy was the main inspiration for the most important chapters of the book and remains one of the main reasons why my life is currently such a good one.

I had lived a difficult life for a number of years which included a terrible break up of my marriage and estrangement from my son and had become used to admissions to hospital when I only wanted to die. Meeting Wendy, finding out that I could love again and be loved in turn woke me up, gave me a balance and an energy that was wonderful and also gave me a chance to get closer and closer to my family, made me aware of what people close to me have gone through by keeping me in their life for so many years.

At one point I was inspired by recording my story of what it was like to lose contact with my son, my possessions, my friends. I thought a man’s side of how people can treat each other at such times may be important but as time went by, I tempered this, took out some of the more blatant examples of what happened. I listened to people who said that I was not adding to the story, was maybe motivated by bitterness and anger, began to consider my own behaviour at that time and adapted what I was prepared to say publicly.

I remember a long walk to Lochinver on a hot summer’s afternoon, plagued by clegs and midges but delighted by the land, the sky, the hills, trees and rivers around me; slowly trusting the people I was walking with, with my worries about what I could say when telling my story, when it involves other people who may be more private than me. At that point I found some sort of slight resolution to the need to tell my version of whatever that truth might be. I began to believe that I have a right to tell some of my tale, but maybe not all of it. Which is partly why none of the people I talk of in the book have their real names recorded, apart from Wendy, and why some of the more shameful things people did were not in the final version of the book.

Lastly, apart from the wonderful inspiration and peace that living in the Highlands and latterly in Argyle, by the Clyde, has given me; has been the joy I have had in living with and working with so many people who experience mental illness. In this book I rarely say too much of their stories; maybe that will come in another book. This one is more my story, but their daily experiences, which are often similar to mine, weave themselves throughout it. I have spent my life trying to help my friends and colleagues and acquaintances speak out and bear witness to the gross injustices so many of us experience and those extreme ways of being and feeling or, for that matter, not feeling, that are so hard to describe and which I would so much love to be recorded.

I hesitate to define it properly; I want as much to record the indignity that trauma and mental illness causes; the terrible agonising loneliness and alienation that can come from the experience of mental distress and the reaction of our society to that distress. But also, in contrast, the joy and comradeship that has come when we have joined together as a community to make a difference both for ourselves and others who will experience mental illness in the future. To say that inspires me is an understatement; nearly all my friends have experienced mental illness, nearly all my working life has been working in partnership with them; their willingness to still see the good in other people, despite what has been done to them and what they have experienced in the way of sorrow and sadness, daily invigorates and inspires me.

 

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy of this novel from your favourite retailer or from the following link!

 

 

About Graham Morgan

Graham was born in 1963 in York. He went to university as an angst-ridden student and was quickly admitted to one of the old mental asylums, prompting the work he has done for most of his life: helping people with mental illness speak up about their lives and their rights. He has
mainly worked in Scotland, where he has lived for the last thirty years, twenty of them in the Highlands. In the course of this work he has been awarded an MBE, made Joint Service User Contributor of the Year by the Royal College of Psychiatrists and, lately, has spoken at the UN about
his and other peoples’ experiences of detention. He has a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia and has been compulsorily treated under a CTO for the last ten years. He currently lives in Argyll with his partner and her young twins. Start is his first book.

 

Thank you to Graham Morgan for being featured on my blog today!

 

#BlogTour #Excerpt
Tilting: A Memoir by Nicole Harkin
@harkinna @rararesources

Synopsis:

We only learned about our father’s girlfriend after he became deathly ill and lay in a coma 120 miles from our home.

Overhearing the nurse tell Linda–since I was nine I had called my mom by her first name–about the girlfriend who came in almost every day to visit him when we weren’t there confirmed that the last moment of normal had passed us by without our realizing it. Up to then our family had unhappily coexisted with Dad flying jumbo jets to Asia while we lived in Montana. We finally came together to see Dad through his illness, but he was once again absent from a major family event–unable to join us from his comatose state. This is the moment when our normal existence tilted.

Dad recovered, but the marriage ailed, as did Linda, with cancer. Our family began to move down an entirely different path with silver linings we wouldn’t see for many years.

In this candid and compassionate memoir which recently won a Gold Award in The Wishing Shelf Book Award, Nicole Harkin describes with an Impressionist’s fine eye the evolution of a family that is quirky, independent, uniquely supportive, peculiarly loving and, most of all, marvelously human.

 

Excerpt:

For fifteen years, Linda sat on Erica’s mantel.

“What’s in that pretty vase on your mantle?” visitors asked. The purple container was pleasing to look at.

“My mom.”

Erica took a little glee from shocking people with this fact. The urn was indeed attractive.

Linda was on Erica’s mantel because of a family impasse.

“Guys, we need to sprinkle Linda’s ashes,” Erica said on the phone with the four of us.

“I know. But I don’t want John to fly her over Glacier National Park. I’m worried he will be too upset and crash.”

I also imagined the ashes flying back into our faces and us inhaling Linda.

“I’m a professional, Nicole. I won’t crash. I do this for a living,” John said.

“But still. I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

Montana just chuckled at our ongoing conversation.

Again we tabled sprinkling her.

But now Erica was finally moving out of Montana. She was the last one of us living there, and she was done with pharmacy school. We needed to honor this last request by Linda.

We planned a weekend of camping in Glacier Park to do it. We brought tents and sleeping bags, we cooked over a fire, and then we rented two boats on a clear chilly summer morning.

To document the event I brought my Polaroid camera. John drove one boat with his wife and Walt. Erica, Tanner, Montana’s wife, and I were in the other boat piloted by Montana. We rode out twenty minutes to the middle of Lake McDonald. We hadn’t been boating together since we were little.

When we found the right spot, we tethered the boats together. There was a bit of wind. The glacial water was freezing, as it always was. We each said a few words but uttered no prayers.

Erica opened the urn and started sprinkling. And sprinkling. And sprinkling.

“There was more of Linda than I realized,” she said.

We laughed. And it was true.

 

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy of this novel from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links!

                    

 

 

Thank you to Nicole Harkin for being featured on my blog today!

 

About Nicole Harkin

Nicole Harkin currently resides in Washington, DC with her husband and two small children. She works as a writer and family photographer. As a Fulbright Scholar during law school, Nicole lived in Berlin, Germany where she studied German environmentalism. Her work can be found in Thought Collection and you are here: The Journal of Creative Geography. She is currently working on mystery set in Berlin. Her photography can be seen at http://www.nicoleharkin.com.

 

#BlogTour & #GuestPost
Rock Hard by Jozie Di Maria
@JoZieRockFit @Authoright

Synopsis:

If there’s one woman who rocks harder than anyone it’s JoZie Di Maria. Gorgeous, outrageously fit and heavily tattooed, Di Maria has worked as a dancer with — and a trainer for — some of the biggest names in rock music. Having toured with legendary bands like Mötley Crüe, Papa Roach and Jane’s Addiction, she has lived a life that most people could only dream of. 

But Di Maria soon found that staying in top shape on the road was tough; performing long shows at packed stadiums late into the night, combined with endless hotel stays, poor nutrition and constant partying was gruelling. So Di Maria decided to take control and develop her own fierce fitness routine so that she could rock hard and train hard at the same time. 

Rock Hard: A Backstage Pass to Staying Fit on the Road the Rockstar Way is both an outstanding fitness guide and a nostalgic behind the scenes account of JoZie Di Maria’s incredible life on the road, training rockstars from Tommy Lee (Mötley Crüe) to Billy Morrison (Billy Idol) and Josh Todd (Buckcherry). Her easy to follow routines prove that you can work out anytime, any place — airports, offices, hotels, no excuses! — building a strong and healthy physique, inside and out, while developing a positive approach to body image. Beautiful paintings of her rockstar gym buddies accompany hand-drawn illustrations of work out moves, making it easy and lots of fun to train along with her, Di Maria’s Rock Hard is a fitness book worthy of any rock God.

And Now JoZie Di Maria on Mötley Crüe:

 

TOMMY LEE

MÖTLEY CRÜE – DRUMMER/DJ

WORKOUT: DRUMMING, DANCING, SEX

Tommy Lee is a man of many talents though known best as the drummer for Mötley Crüe. I’ve been blessed with the fortune to have been part of the Mötley Crüe legacy, as well as experiencing this super-hyper man’s energy and light. In an almost child-like way, Tommy finds excitement in just about everything. Everyday is truly a new day for him. His tall, fit frame is no doubt stamped Body by rock’n’roll, is covered in tattoos and piercings, and kept lean from intense drumming. I was always awe-struck when I’d watch him sweat buckets during shows. Tommy always plays his drums shirtless, driving the girls to want him and the guys to be like him. He is the epitome of cool.

Not one to work out at a gym, Tommy Lee is clearly keeping fit in a non-conventional fashion. Along with his drumming, he DJs around the world. Dancing and moving the entire set while he spins (which lasts anywhere from 90 minutes to three hours), he burns hundreds of calories without even trying. I would have to say, Tommy Lee has the “non-workout” workout. Would you believe he would most likely top a professional football player in fitness and condition? Well, believe it.

Research conducted in Britain by Chichester University used Blondie drummer Clem Burke to prove such a point. Clem, along with other drummers, were connected to equipment measuring their heart rates, oxygen up-take, and the levels of lactic acid in their blood as they played. The stress caused to their bodies while drumming was then compared to football players. Drummers’ heart rates were raised up to 190 beats per minute and burning anywhere from 400 to 600 calories in a 90-minute performance. Drummers need to have high stamina in order to play shows. The average working drummer plays a 90-minute set, five days a week for up to three months during an average touring schedule. The breaks in between legs of a tour range from two weeks to a month. That’s a whole lot of increased heart rates and calorie burning going on! The rock star lifestyle seems so unhealthy, but drummers counteract a lot of the toxicity without realizing it since they’re perpetually sweating toxins out. Tommy loves to beat on those skins unapologetically and is keeping fit at the same time.

 

VINCE NEIL

MÖTLEY CRÜE – LEAD VOCALS

LEATHER PANTS WORKOUT: ADJUSTABLE DUMBBELLS, ON-STAGE ACTIVITY

The first moment I met Vince back in 1998, we literally giggled and hugged as if two old friends were reuniting. He had the most infectious laugh that kept me giggling and we instantly hit it off. When we began touring together, we’d often go to hotel gyms by day or hang at a Hooter’s, then hit the local strip club at night. We were having fun! But those little hotel gyms were definitely NOT where Vince was burning calories.

SHOWTIME!

During an average Mötley Crüe show, Vince stays extremely active, running from one side of the stage to the other, using his upper body to swing his arm up and punch, psyching up the crowd for the majority of the 90-minute show. Mix that with adrenaline and it’s a perfect cocktail for calorie burning. The average concert stage is approximately 60’ in length. Between songs when Vince has a quick break, he runs into his private tent and pumps up with portable resistance bands before he runs back to continue rocking out! Amazing! It’s an impressive two-hour workout burning an estimated 1,100-1,500 calories per show! Multiply that by five shows a week and it comes to 5,500-7,500 calories burned every week on tour. At the end of each show, Vince’s stage clothes would be completely drenched in sweat as if dowsed with a bucket of water. Peeling off the sweat-soaked, heavy leather pants is a bit of workout in itself, probably adding extra muscle-toning resistance to his already active stage routine. Wet leather is no joke.

THE KISS

I was so often asked about my nightly kisses with Vince on stage. They were so passionate that many thought we were an item. Vince is an amazing kisser. He is a non-smoker with soft, supple lips and knows exactly how to use them. Often times I found myself flushed and a bit heated by a really good kiss. With blood rushing to certain areas and my heart pounding, I wondered about kissing and calorie burning. Apparently, you do burn calories during kissing. When I say kiss, I mean a deep-throat, make-out session. Unfortunately, mine and Vince’s make-out sessions did not last long enough to make any real dent, but we can add an extra 3-5 calories burned on Vince’s part and maybe two for me.

Remember being in high school and having the long, drawn out, sweaty, dry-humping make-out sessions that seemed to last hours? Too lazy to workout? Rediscover that delicious way to burn some bulge.

About the Author:

Originally from Roselle, New Jersey, JoZie “LoveStar” Di Maria is a certified personal trainer who has travelled the world as a make-up artist, stylist and back-up dancer to some of the biggest bands in rock. Just fifteen years after she first went to her first ever concert – Mötley Crüe at Madison Square Garden – she was invited by the band to perform with them on tour. She has worked as a make-up artist for MTV, VH1, TLC and Discovery.

Thank you JoZie Di Maria. It was an honour to have you guest post on my blog today!

Pick up a copy of this novel from your favourite retailer or from the following link!

For more information on JoZie Di Maria visit her website at: rockhard.fit

or follow her on Twitter at@JoZieRockFit or Facebook at: JoZieRockFit

#BlogTour & #GuestPost
Two Voices, One Story
by Elaine Rizzo & Amy Masters

Synopsis:

This is the true story of a girl called Amy and the English “mother” who adopted her from an institute in China when she was just a baby.

It’s a story about love, family and identity; and the unbreakable bond between mother and daughter.

When Amy came to be adopted in 1999, China’s then notorious one-child policy had given rise to a generation of missing girls. Amy was one of them, destined to life in an orphanage if she was lucky enough to survive. That is, until she was adopted by a loving British couple who were desperate to give her the home she deserved; Elaine and Lee.

In this moving autobiography, Amy and Elaine chart their own personal experiences of their shared adoption story. Theirs is not a political account, but one which is open about the challenges of adopting a child from a foreign country and the long journey that follows; from China to the UK and from infancy through to adolescence, as Amy and her new family learn and grow together.

Now a bright and ambitious young woman on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, Amy is braced for an exciting journey into adulthood, one which her proud mother is delighted to be able to share.

Two Voices, One Story is a frank but uplifting account of the complex adoption process and the profound relationship between a mother and her adopted child.

And Now a Little Word from Elaine & Amy on Amy’s Adoption:

Elaine: Amy’s English Dad, Lee (my ex-husband) and I were always honest and open about the fact that she was adopted from almost the first moment we got her.

We always believed that we had no other option and that it would be best for her to grow up always having been aware of it, so to speak.

The most obvious reason for this was quite simply because she didn’t look like either of us, which we thought might cause her to wonder before she was very old at all and perhaps to get distressed.

There was also (inevitably) a certain amount of speculation over how we were came to be the parents of a Chinese child and we considered that being direct would minimise this.

When Amy was little, we used to play a game with her called “Amy is Adopted by her Loving Parents,” where she would lie on the couch pretending to be asleep in a cot at the Welfare Centre in China. Lee and I would pretend we were on the aeroplane on the way to get her and we would be chatting about how excited we were and how we couldn’t wait to meet her.

We would then pretend to be at the rendezvous in China and Lee would pick Amy up, carry her to me, saying “here’s your baby now,” (the exact words spoken when we first met her), and putting her in my arms. I would hug her, exclaiming how delighted I was to have such a beautiful daughter.

We played this game until Amy was too big for me to hold in my arms any longer.

We thought the enactment would give her sense of what happened and would also reassure her about how much we wanted to be her parents.

Despite this, Amy didn’t seem to realise what being adopted meant until she had been at school for about a year and some of the other girls had talked to her about it. I truly think that this was the first time she had realized that it meant that she had “other” parents somewhere out there and this made her “different” from her schoolmates.

She would come home in tears each afternoon for a few weeks, wanting us to find her Chinese parents so that they could come to the UK to live next door to us, so we could all be together. Amy never once said, interestingly, that she wanted to go back to China herself to live with her Chinese parents there, leaving her life in the UK behind.

She also went through a phase of telling me that I couldn’t tell her what to do as I wasn’t “even her real mother.”

We tried to explain how difficult things had been in the part of China she had been born in during the Spring of 1998 and that her parents had had no choice, that they had not been able to care for her, that they were needed to help regenerate the area and that China was their home.

We have always tried to bring Amy Tong Fang up to have respect for herself and others and particularly to have respect for her Chinese parents

Amy: I remember being sad and crying because my Chinese parents couldn’t come to live next door to us and because I never saw them.

I really missed them and although I didn’t remember either of them at all, I felt like there was a great big hole somewhere in my heart.

I told my English mum that it would make me feel better if she bought me expensive presents or let me ride my bike all around the house.

If I felt annoyed with her, I also used to tell her that I was going to go back to China to find them, but I never got further than the bottom of the garden, before I came back.

We used to talk about my Chinese parents sometimes and about what might have happened to them and why they hadn’t been able to care for me. 

Both: I think if we did it all over again, it would be better if Elaine could manage never to cry when Amy did and if she hadn’t told people quite so readily that Amy was adopted in order to stop speculation about her as sometimes it made her feel that her adoption was a more important thing about her than it really was.

About the Authors:

Elaine Rizzo (Elaine Masters) works in finance as a licensed insolvency practitioner for ClearDebt a company based in Manchester. Her daughter Amy Masters is now eighteen and at college. She enjoys art and design and her ambition is to become a photographer when she graduates. Both now live near Cardigan in West Wales.

It was an honour to have Elaine & Amy on my blog today.

This book will be published by Clink Street Publishing on March 21, 2017.

Pick up a copy of this novel from your favourite retailer or from the following link:

Amazon UK

Blog Tour, Q&A: Chasing Ghosts by Kamila Zahno

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Synopsis

All her life, Kamila had wanted to find her birth family. She hoped that retirement would give her the much needed time but a prognosis of incurable cancer put paid to that. They say curiosity kills the cat but not in Kamila’s case – it keeps her alive. As her own future shuts down, the past, that she had half-heartedly researched until she realises that death is imminent, begins to open up. She discovers that her parents come from Switzerland and India. And that’s just the beginning…

This is the story of one woman’s quest for her origins – and some of the unexpected insights that lit up her path.


 

Q&A with Kamila Zahno

You have had a successful career in policy development and diversity, compared to these other endeavours how hard was it for you to pen your own memoir?

Incredibly hard! I had to relearn how to write. Although putting fingers to keyboard was easy, my style of writing was formal rather than creative. At first I had the idea of writing about adoption policy and how it had changed from the post war years when my three siblings and I were adopted. But my first attempts read like a policy document! When I started a memoir writing course the tutor, Damian Barr, asked me why I wanted to write. I told him that I had an unusual story and wanted to leave it as a legacy. He tactfully told me my personal voice wasn’t coming through. I went back to my childhood in my mind and found my child’s voice. I learned to describe events just how they were and the whole story began to come to life. I was even persuaded to write the stories I didn’t want to write! I talk about overcoming my struggle with writing in the epilogue of my memoir.

This novel delves into your own personal journey to discover your birth parents. Were your adoptive parents/family supportive of this journey and did they help you in any way?

My adoptive parents had died long before I wrote my memoir, and even before I had begun to search for my birth parents seriously. Many adopted people think that it’s somehow disrespectful to start looking for birth family while your adoptive parents are still alive. All my siblings said the same. As far as my search went, my brother and sister were very supportive, as I was of their own searches. The memoir interweaves their stories with mine and recounts our different experiences. And they were supportive of my writing – even when it was about them! They couldn’t help very much with the technical aspects of my search but were there at the end of the phone and applauded whenever I fitted together a new piece of the puzzle.

We learn in the story that your birth heritage is part Indian and part Swiss. Were you able to actually meet any of these distant relatives, and if so have you remained in contact with any of them?

Yes indeed. I don’t want to reveal too much because that forms the final chapters of my book. Incredibly my Indian father never left London and was actually living there when I did. I could have bumped into him without knowing. Sadly both my parents died before I could meet them. But I ended up meeting two half sisters, one in Oxford and one in Switzerland. I found I had a nephew and a niece and innumerable cousins. And yes, I’m still in touch with everyone.

After experiencing the emotional and physical highs and lows of this process, would you do it again?

It’s strange because although I didn’t feel anything physical one of my half sisters describes how she had goosebumps when I phoned her for the first time. She knew of my existence and that proved to both of us that we were indeed sisters. It was definitely an emotional rollercoaster – a journey that lasted many years. I would find dead end after dead end and each time I would give up for a few years. But I persevered. I would do it again but I would tell anyone not to expect a ready-made family. Family life takes years to build and you can’t waltz into someone’s life and expect to have the same relationships as you do with the family you grew up with.

You are a strong supporter and public spokeswoman for the World Land Trust organization. Can you tell us a little bit more about them and why they hold a special place in your heart?

I’m a geographer and am passionate about preserving the natural environment. I am sad that climate change and the impact of humans is reducing biodiversity. The World Land Trust is an organisation committed to saving some of the world’s most fragile and endangered habitats. I came across their work when I was looking for a charity to bequeath part of my legacy when I die. David Attenborough is their patron. There are plenty of wildlife organisations that work with particular species but without the land to support them they may struggle to survive. Donations to the World Land Trust help purchase land across the world but the land is managed by local wildlife organizations.


 

About Kamila Zahno

kamilaz_3Kamila Zahno is an adopted British/Swiss/Indian woman who writes about identity, adoption and living with cancer. She has just published her memoir Chasing Ghosts: not just an Adoption Memoir, the story of growing up as a mixed race child in 1950s Birmingham, getting involved as a black activist in the ‘80s, and her recent search for her birth parents’ families. Her book was researched and written while living with a diagnosis of incurable cancer.   Kamila’s quest is interwoven with the attempts by her three adopted siblings to find their own birth parents. In 2015 her short story, The Search, an amusing account of her meetings with adoption counsellors, was published in Tangled Roots: true life stories about mixed race Britain. In 2015 she completed the Guardian’s year-long memoir writing course, tutored by Damian Barr.

She graduated with an MA in geography from Edinburgh University in 1974, followed by a master’s degree from the University of Western Ontario. She worked as a town planner for the London Borough of Southwark for several years, switching to a career in consultancy designing and implementing socio-economic policy for local and central government. One of Kamila’s favourite pieces of work was to facilitate local people to spend European Union regional grant money to address poverty in Tottenham, North London.

Kamila lives in north London with her cat.

Thank you to the gracious Kamila Zahno for introducing us to her new novel, Chasing Ghosts, on my blog today.  It has been a real honour and pleasure.

Pick up a copy of Chasing Ghosts, available now, from your favourite retailer or from the following links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada

For more information on Chasing Ghosts and Kamila Zahno, visit her website at: kamilazahno.com

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