Category Archives: Memoir

Messenger Between Worlds by Kristy Robinett

Since the age of three, spirits have come to me in the dead of night, telling me of their woes. Kristy Robinett shares the dramatic, touching, and terrifying moments from her extraordinary life as a psychic medium.

This captivating, powerful memoir is filled with unforgettable scenes: spot-on predictions, countless spirit visits at home and school, menacing paranormal activity, rescue from abduction thanks to her loving grandfather in spirit, and Kristy’s first meeting with two spirit guides who become her constant allies. Follow her emotional journey though a difficult childhood, stormy marriages, conflict with faith, job loss, and illness—and the hard-won lessons that opened her heart to true love and acceptance of her unique gift.

A Haunted Life by Debra Robinson

Debra Robinson faced haunted houses, terrifying psychic encounters, shattered dreams, and a battle with evil. But nothing prepared her for the death of the two most important people in her life.

Born psychic and raised in a religious family, Debra Robinson felt conflicted all her life about using her gifts. And when, at an early age, she attracts something evil with a Ouija board, she embarks on a lengthy battle with darkness. With her career as a professional musician taking her on the road, she experiences brushes with fame and heartbreak that serve to strengthen her resolve. Struggling to come to terms with her psychic gifts, the tragic deaths of her only child and her beloved father—and their visits from the other side—finally leave her with a sense of understanding and the strength to love herself.

A few years ago, I would never have picked up a book like this. However, I had a medium come into my life 4 years ago, and literally change my life. It was an amazing experience and made me a believer. Combined with the fact that my own daughter has unquestionable gifts, I have finally let go of my fear and started looking into other stories. With that in mind, I would like to thank Debra for her courage in sharing her story. I could relate to so many things (I found myself nodding my head going “i know what she means” several times throughout the book. I only read this book yesterday and I have already recommended it to several people. I am sorry for Debra’s loss of her son and father, and everything she has been through, but it is obvious that she has come out a very strong individual with an unwavering faith. God bless her and her amazing gifts; may she bring healing to many (Including herself).

Room 939 by Jenny Lynn Anderson

Room 939: 15 Minutes of Horror, 20 Years of HealingThis is a tragedy that should never have happened, resulting in a book that had to be written. Read how Jenny Lynn Martin Anderson, twenty-seven, happily married, and on her way to a bursting career in public relations and marketing, fell victim to a vicious attacker who turned hotel room 939 from a pretty view of the Atlanta skyline into a torture chamber, lasting but fifteen minutes. Andersons candid recount of sexual assault will convince the reader there is merit in surviving, even if it takes twenty years in its deliverance.

I picked up this book because it involved a subject that I am very familiar with – rape and dealing with the aftermath. It took me awhile to actually open the book because I was actually frightened to read it at first. As a rape survivor, I tend to react to books like this in a very unexpected manner, and they usually leave me grieving at some point or other.

However, this book was different. I got through about half of it, and then I had to put it down. I was disappointed in the constant biblical references. While I can understand how the author turned to God for her relief and to find her forgiveness, I had hoped for more revelations without the preaching. I let it sit for about a week, and then I picked it up again. This time with the attitude that I would take what I could off the pages and move on. I am glad that I picked it up again.

I ended up finishing it on the second try and I am glad that I gave it a second chance. I was able to empathize with the author on several levels. There are connections that rape survivors have, despite the many differences and unfortunately those connections have to be made in order to let go. Like the author, I eventually chose to live my life and not be controlled by an incident that I had no control of; an unfortunate incident that stole my innocence and ruined my life too. I am sorry that it took the author so many years to finally be able to forgive her attacker. It was something I had to learn too – with forgiveness comes freedom.

God bless this author – I pray that her road to healing continued and others find healing within these pages as well.

Replacement Child by Judy L. Mandel

Replacement Child

Judy L. Mandel was born into a family crippled by grief. But it would be years before she would discover the shocking circumstances of their loss.

Replacement Child tells the true story of a horrifying accident: A plane crashes into a family’s home, leaving one daughter severely burned and another dead. The death of the child leaves a hole in the family that threatens to tear it apart. In an attempt to fill the painful gap, the parents give birth to a “replacement child.”

In this powerful story of love and lies, family and hope, Judy L. Mandel tells the story of being the child brought into the world to provide “a salve for the burns.” As a child, she unwittingly rides the deep and hidden currents of her family’s grief—until her discovery of this family secret, years later, changes her life forever, forcing her to confront the complex layers of her relationships with her father, mother, and sister.

I just finished reading this book and I must say I am blown away towards the end of the story. You see, I have never considered myself a replacement child, until reading this story. I was adopted after my mother gave birth to two kids and had about a dozen miscarriages. Unfortunately, my story did not have a happy ending. She had mental issues, combined with all the miscarriages and instead of loving me, she abused me until I ran away at 15. Believe it or not, I saw myself on these pages, when the author wrote about her father and her failed relationships. I even bookmarked a few spots where I felt the author was describing my current relationship. Needless to say, i found something unexpected on these pages, and I thank the author for bringing me to that place.

As for the book itself, I have to say that I felt a great love in the author; having walked a similar path even in childhood (feelings were similar while situations were different), it was nice to find that connection with the author. I am thankful for her story for sharing her story,

After Visiting Friends by Michael Hainey

After Visiting FriendsA decade in the writing, the haunting story of a son’s quest to understand the mystery of his father’s death—a universal memoir about the secrets families keep and the role they play in making us who we are.

Michael Hainey had just turned six when his uncle knocked on his family’s back door one morning with the tragic news: Bob Hainey, Michael’s father, was found alone near his car on Chicago’s North Side, dead, of an apparent heart attack. Thirty-five years old, a young assistant copy desk chief at the Chicago Sun-Times, Bob was a bright and shining star in the competitive, hard-living world of newspapers, one that involved booze-soaked nights that bled into dawn. And then suddenly he was gone, leaving behind a young widow, two sons, a fractured family—and questions surrounding the mysterious nature of his death that would obsess Michael throughout adolescence and long into adulthood. Finally, roughly his father’s age when he died, and a seasoned reporter himself, Michael set out to learn what happened that night. Died “after visiting friends,” the obituaries said. But the details beyond that were inconsistent. What friends? Where? At the heart of his quest is Michael’s all-too-silent, opaque mother, a woman of great courage and tenacity—and a steely determination not to look back. Prodding and cajoling his relatives, and working through a network of his father’s buddies who abide by an honor code of silence and secrecy, Michael sees beyond the long-held myths and ultimately reconciles the father he’d imagined with the one he comes to know—and in the journey discovers new truths about his mother.

A stirring portrait of a family and its legacy of secrets, After Visiting Friends is the story of a son who goes in search of the truth and finds not only his father, but a rare window into a world of men and newspapers and fierce loyalties that no longer exists.

There are a number of reasons why I picked up this book – I am a print journalist and while our office works differently, it was part of the story I knew I could relate to. The second reason I checked this story out was because of the main story line – son loses father then finds out years later that there was more to the story. Again, something that I could relate to as an adoptee who found out years later she was adopted.

What I am shocked to discover while reading books like this, is how it seems that people seem to make the right decision (to keep a secret) but they never really think about the consequences of those secrets. While one’s heart may be in the right place or there is a misguided need to protect those we love, the actual damage caused by life changing lies seems to not even come into play.

Stories like this make me grateful that while I myself looked like a fool in some ways for being an open book, my children on the other hand, will not be blindsided by discoveries after I am gone. I would sooner answer uncomfortable questions now than have my children’s lives destroyed after I die, should there be a life changing secret buried somewhere that I had forgotten about (which is why I wrote my personal memoir).

I commend the author for sharing his story as many people knew who his father was; to reveal the fact that he was leading a double life without his family’s knowledge is very brave. It is my hope that the author has finally been able to come to grips with a past that isn’t totally his, and been able to find happiness for himself, now that he has solved the biggest mystery of his life and discovered who his father really was.

Taylor’s Gift by Tara and Todd Storch

Taylor's Gift: A Courageous Story of Giving Life and Renewing HopeIn March 2010, thirteen-year-old Taylor Storch’s life was tragically cut short by a skiing accident. With only a few minutes to consider their options, her grieving family made the life-changing decision to donate her organs. Knowing Taylor’s caring spirit, they were sure this was what she would have wanted. Over the course of the next two years, Tara and Todd Storch connected with four of the five people who now live because of Taylor’s gift. And through these encounters, the Storches have discovered unexpected blessings that are changing countless lives.

Now Tara and Todd share their inspiring story, shining a light at the end of the tunnel for those enduring the suffering of losing a loved one. Through the stories of the donor recipients, readers will discover hope in the midst of pain. Honest with their struggles, the Storches show readers that life is a gift and our response to grief is a choice. They also speak with a clear voice about the importance and the blessing of being an organ donor, telling the inspiring story of the creation of Taylor’s Gift Foundation and its goals to raise awareness of the need for organ donation, to re-gift life, renew health, and restore families. They are changing the conversation around the globe that organ donation is not about death–it’s about life! Foreword by Max Lucado.

Taylor’s Gift by Tara and Todd Storch is a heartbreaking yet inspirational story of love and the ultimate sacrifice. As a mother of four, they lived through my worst nightmare – the death of a child. I cannot imagine what this family went through but by sharing their story, the reader gets a real good picture of the pain, heartbreak and loss these parents felt when they were forced with the decision of having to let go of their precious 14 year old daughter.

I am grateful for the very real feelings the parents shared – that while they were both Christians, they still struggled with their faith and their decisions. It shows how strong their faith was because they came through it all and are delivering a very powerful message in memory of their daughter Taylor – the gift of organ donation.

This family took the loss of their beautiful baby girl and used it as a means to save five other people`s lives. Something they believed she would have done if the choice was hers. That shows great strength and love.

The Storch`s are still mourning the loss of their daughter but instead of wallowing in the pain, they are making a difference to the world. They are using their personal story to save hundreds of lives and changing the attitude about organ donation nationwide. Thanks to Todd`s dedication they have created a website called Taylors Gift that encourages people to register as organ donors.

This book is a must read by anyone that has lost a child or by anyone that has ever questioned the importance of being an organ donor.

If you are interested in finding out  more about organ donation visit Taylor`s Gift and register now.

Sister’s Torn by Cindy Faryon

Sisters TornThe tragedy that follows from the misconception that children are chattel, not people, is brought out in this book. It touches on emotions that are common to everyone: fear of rejection, abandonment and loneliness. Finally, and most importantly, it is also a tale of hope.

Based on true family history, the story begins in England in the 1920s. It follows the lives of two sisters – Catherine and Simone – from England to Canada, as their family is torn apart and they desperately search to find each other. Against impossible odds involving three countries and 65 years of disappointments, two little girls, connected only by blood and birth, find each other again.

As fiction, this story would be worthy of writing. As a true story, it has to be shared.

After recently uniting with my family following a forty year separation I found Sisters Torn to be a very heart warming, and accurate depiction of the impact of life changing events that are beyond a child’s control.

Disguised as an act of fiction, Sisters Torn, tells the story of the author’s mother who was separated at a young age from her little sister after promising to never let go of her hand. After their mother abandoned the family and their father traveled to Canada in search of work the two sisters were forced to live with various family members until it became to much of a burden. They were then turned over to an orphanage to wait until their father returned for them.

Unfortunately, the two sisters were accidentally separated by the British Adoption System. Simone (the authors mother) went to live with an aunt and uncle, and she had no idea what happened to her sister other then that she was eventually adopted. All efforts to obtain information on her sister were fruitless, and eventually Simone immigrated to Canada, married and had a family. But she never stopped looking for her little sister Catherine.

Meanwhile Catherine, thinking she was abandoned by everyone, was adopted by a pair of women. She found out years later, after their death’s that she had actually been taken illegally from the orphanage. She also found out her sister had been searching for her the entire time.

After a sixty-five year separation Simone was able to finally reconnect with the sister she never thought she’d see again and reaffirm her promise to never let go of her hand, ever again.

On reading this book, I found that the author was able to accurately convey the sense of loss experienced by her mother and how this life changing event affected every aspect of her life for decades to come. A must read for anyone that is either looking for someone or have found someone after years of separation.

Wolves Among Sheep by James Kostelniuk

Wolves among Sheep : The True Story of Murder in a Jehovah's Witness CommunityThere are tragedies in life. The young child killed by a drunk driver. The family devastated by an early morning house fire. These events sadden us and make us reflect. “There but for the grace of God…” But if tragedy has a degree, there is surely none more unspeakable that the cold-blooded, brutal, shotgun murder of two beautiful children. Such was the case when Kim Anderson’s estranged husband, Jeff Anderson, killed her and her two children-Juri, aged 10, and Lindsay, aged 8. Juri died with his arms wrapped around his sister, in a futile effort to protect her. Wolves Among Sheep is unlike any book you have read-or are likely to read again. It is written by the person most affected by the deaths of these two innocent children and their mother-their father and Kim’s first husband, James Kostelniuk.

Compelled to write the book as an expression of sorrow and love for the family so cruelly taken from him, Kostelniuk also had a deep need to arrive at some understanding of why these senseless murders took place. This question led him to expose the influence of the Jehovah’s Witness organization that wielded total control over Kim’s life, as it had over himself until he found the resolve to break with the organization. In making that break, Kostelniuk knew he would be forever shunned by the Witness community and, according to its laws, forbidden contact with his own wife and children. The convicted killer, Jeff Anderson, was also a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

It is a rare occurrence when a published novel is used as a victim’s impact statement in a parole hearing, but that is exactly what will happen with this book in the middle of February.

In Wolves Among Sheep: The True Story of Murder in a Jehovah’s Witness Community; author James Kostelniuk relives the tragic events surrounding the murders of his ex wife Kim Anderson, and their two children Lindsay (8) and Juri (10). The three were cold bloodedly gunned down in their own home by Kim’s estranged husband Jeff Anderson.

The story begins in Manitoba, with RCMP on Kostelniuk’s doorstep informing him about the tragic incident that took place in Burnaby, BC on August 29, 1985. In his narration of the events leading up to the fatal event the author recalled his traumatic upbringing within the Jehovah’ Witness community that included strict beliefs and public shunnings. At his own children’s funeral he was forced to sit at the back of the church, and his name was deliberately excluded as a family member.

Determined to find out what lead up to the tragedy James and his new wife Marge eventually began corresponding with the murderer with hopes of find out why the tragedy occurred. However, instead of answers the couple sought they were dragged into a web of deceit as Anderson attempts to use them as pawns for an earlier parole.

I found this story heartbreaking on so many levels. James’ personal torment is evident as he fights to maintain contact with his children from Manitoba, while he struggles with his faith in general. A faith that is shattered when he discovers that the tragedy could have been prevented if Kim’s attempts to gain assistance from the Jehovah Witness’s in BC had not fallen on deaf ears.

In a story that is both riveting and disturbing, it is evident that writing Wolves Among Sheep: The True Story of Murder in a Jehovah’s Witness Community was part of James’ personal healing process, and a memorial to his children’s lives.

 

Mennonites the Name: Evil and Deception are the Game by Heidi Loewen

Mennonite is the Name...Evil and Deception are the GameAn autobiographical account of Winnipeg’s Loewen family, during its darkest history. Out of the shadows of secrets and lies – many years later – the truth emerged. This is the story of Wilhelm and Olga Loewen, their children, Willy, Vera, Walter, Heidi, and Robert.

What happened with the family owned businesses, the Piano House Ltd., and Yamaha Canada Music Ltd? Adding insult to injury were the confessions of a disbarred lawyer – a convicted felon – who was sentenced to seven years at Stony Mountain Federal Penitentiary for fraud.

This book has been in the making for nearly 60 years.

I was drawn to this book when I spotted in the bookstore because it was written by a local author. I was fascinated by the story; I knew many piano players who owned “Loewen” pianos, and went to school with some Loewen’s so my curiosity got the better of me.  It was nice to read familiar German phrases and finally understand what they meant.

The author has an amazing story to tell; riddled with secrets, deception, theft and family discord – everything that is against the Mennonite belief system, which I once married into. It opens the door to suggest that as long as no one knows what you are really doing, anything goes and it doesn’t matter who you hurt in the process. It is hard not to feel sorry for the author, who has obviously carried a lot of pain with her over the years. She is also a survivor because she managed to rise above it and share her story in an effort to seek justice for herself and her children.

While I love to support independent authors, I have to offer a harsh criticism – editorially, this book is very hard to read. If you read it just for the story, it is okay – but if you are expecting more, you may be left shaking your head. I found myself putting it down several times to clear my head because I found parts of it frustrating to follow. The author should have had it professionally edited and laid out as there are many misspellings, inconsistent capitalization, and some of it reads like it was never edited at all. There are sections that appear to be just cut and paste with no real reason for being in the book. This is very disappointing.

 

It only Rains in February by Leila Summers

It Rains In February: A Wife's Memoir of Love and LossOn the 24th of February 2007 my husband, Stuart, drowned himself at sea, leaving me widowed with two young daughters aged six and four. I knew it wasn’t an accident, even though the medics and police never suspected suicide. Stuart had been talking about ending his life for a year. His most recent suicide attempt had been only three weeks earlier. Afterwards, he explained that day as the most peaceful day of his life. Sitting next to the dam, he smoked his last cigarette. He drank a hundred sleeping pills and did a final check to make sure everything would look like an accident. The last thing he remembered was swimming out into the crystal clear water. He said that he was no longer scared of dying, that there was nothing scary about it. Living was the scary thing.

It Rains In February: A Wife’s Memoir of Love and Loss is the true story of a husband’s depression and obsession, not only with another woman, but also with ending his life. In this honest and heartfelt narrative, Leila Summers weaves a compelling tale of the year that led up to Stuart’s suicide and the grief, profound loss and self discovery that followed. Although each suicide is unique, this book gives the reader an insider’s view from one perspective by way letters and e-mail messages.

I was drawn in from the first page – i love the way the author told her story. I also recognized myself on her pages, especially towards the end when she was talking about the healing involved from telling such a tale. I admire the author’s strength and courage. She should be proud to have created this legacy for her daughters. They are very lucky to have her as a mother. I have already recommended it to several friends that I knew who could relate. Thank you for being brave.