Book Title: From the Flood: A Memoir
Author: Suzanne Jones
Publisher: LAKE Publications
An in-depth examination of the effect, response, and life-altering impact on a young girl and her family, From the Flood by Suzanne Jones, provides an intimate look into some of the author’s formative years before, during, and particularly after the floods created by Hurricane Agnes, a once-a-millennium type event in eastern Pennsylvania. Spanning a total of six years, from autumn of 1970 to the fall of 1976, this memoir—in sometimes great detail, provides the story of life’s path when tragedy strikes, the resiliency of the human spirit to adapt to change, and the bonds created in the wake of such events.
From the Flood begins by introducing us to the author at the age of five, living a comfortable, middle-class existence with her siblings—one slightly older and the other still a toddler. The father, a business owner, and mother, a more traditional type of homemaker, provide their children with a happy existence in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. What seems to be typical run-of-the-mill childhood is soon juxtaposed against the life-altering events of mid-June 1972, where an unfathomable storm leaves a city and thousands of lives in ruin. In Pennsylvania alone, the flooding was potent enough that it resulted in over two hundred thousand displaced from their homes, over three-thousand businesses shuttered, and damage estimated to cost more than two billion dollars. Seekers of a historical or meteorological accounting of this event, however, should look elsewhere as this is a chronicle of the almost innate ability we all share to be able to overcome and change in the face of adversity.
Over the course of six years, we are introduced to several characters, from extended family to newfound acquaintances—many of whom share the common denominator of having their lives turned upside down by Agnes. Their impact on the author, and her family, is profound. From the Flood gives us this as viewed through the kaleidoscope of an adolescent’s eyes, and it is fascinating to see this perspective change as she grows older and, in a sense, some of her innocence is washed away by the impact of her family’s situation. From the joy of having to relocate with familiar and comfortable relatives, to eventually moving in with other less familiar ones, to the family reclaiming some of its independence in temporary housing of their own, to ultimately reclaiming home ownership, readers are gifted with seeing how important and impactful a support network, new-found friends, and frankly, the obliviousness of youth is in helping a young child navigate such upheaval.
A secondary development over the course of this work is the capturing of societal changes beginning to take shape in the early 1970s. Whether it’s a babysitter’s teen pregnancy, the author’s mother realizing a broader, equitable, and more modern view of the expanding role of women in the workplace and in society, or the introduction of a homosexual neighbor, we are taken back to a time of transition in society’s view of what are today more mainstream norms and situations. Interspersed with this at times, the author has the ability, intended or not, to elicit memories of past times for older readers. Mentions of iconic TV shows like Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, or household staples such as the Sears and Roebuck catalog, help to capture this time in American history.
From the Flood is a story of triumph over incredible situations, the importance of friendship and family, and the resolve of parents to not only piece their children’s lives back together after a tragedy but to go above and beyond, at all costs, to provide for their loved ones. The author makes sure in great detail we see these points and captures her transitory viewpoint from a young girl to a young woman.
Suzanne Jones is an expert in the field of trauma recovery through somatic methods. She has presented workshops and talks at Omega Institute, Kripalu, mental and behavioral health facilities in the greater Boston area, and national conferences. She has been profiled on CNN and in Yoga Journal, the New York Times, Shape, and Whole Living, and she’s been interviewed by author Rick Hanson for his Foundations of Well-Being online course. Jones founded the TIMBo Collective (formerly called yogaHOPE) in 2006 and developed the TIMBo program for transforming trauma in 2009. Since its launch, her program has been delivered to over four thousand women in the U.S., Haiti, Kenya, and Iran and helped transform client care at organizations in Massachusetts; Washington, DC; and Georgia, serving women overcoming homelessness, addiction, and domestic violence. Jones also writes a blog for the TIMBo Collective and Elephant Journal.
Book Title: Butterfly Awakens
Author: Meg Nocero
Publisher: She Writes Press
A courageously authentic memoir of one woman’s journey of love, loss, and re-birth—A poetic portrait of the unbreakable bonds between a mother and daughter.
From the opening foreword, the reader is pulled in and held tight by Doctors Habib Sadeghi and Sherry Sami as they introduce the author and enlighten readers on the major themes of the story.
As they write…
“Love is what keeps us grounded in the stillness when everything else is spinning out of control around us. It’s only in that neutral space where the answers can be found and we’re able to see that in every loss there is always the chance to gain in some other way if we’re willing to remain open to it.
As Meg takes you through her extraordinary journey, you’ll be inspired by seeing how living from a loving consciousness brought healing, reconciliation, and resolution to her life after moments of great loss and struggle.”
In the opening prologue author, Meg Nocero tells of early childhood and the awkward and formative years that followed—filled with peer ridicule and harassment and the desire to fit in. The bonds between mother--who championed the art of love and support, and daughter are meticulously fostered throughout Part One of the story as the characters are carefully developed.
As Nocero writes…
“It took a lot of time to find my way. And it took a lot of time to heal my wounds of adolescence. But with mother by my side, I learned to build a better life based upon unconditional love of self and others…Not a day went by that I did not pick up the phone to talk.”
The challenges and the encompassing emotions of a mother fighting for her life from a mortal sickness are vividly held at the forefront during the first third of the book, setting the stage for the hero’s journey and the imminent turning point of the story.
“If there never was any change, there would be no such things
Part Two tells of "metamorphosis." The author details her downward spiral as grief and depression cause her interest in her job as a federal prosecutor to wane, her once happy marriage to crumble, and her health to deteriorate. Looking for answers, Nocero turns to a long list of potential remedies—doctors, life coaches, MRIs, drugs, needles, and yoga—but it’s not until she returns to her Catholic roots through prayer and communion that she has her transcending moment.
As Nocero writes…
“As the words left her mouth, when she placed the host in my hands,
I felt a magical rush of energy flood over me. Then a strange tingling
sensation ran throughout my entire body. I got goose bumps all over.
I answered back…”
The concluding chapters continue to follow Nocero’s pilgrimage of healing, most notably, her 100 kilometer vision quest to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
Throughout the text, the author does an excellent job using clear prose to depict the ordinary agony experienced with the loss of a loved one.
As she writes…
“As I let this thought ruminate, I started to cry—wail actually. I ran
to my bedroom so I would not worry my kids, although at this point
I don’t think much would have scared them anyway. I had been crying
uncontrollably for months.”
Butterfly Awakens, although slightly affected and emotionally overworked at times, delivers a powerful message through an inspiringly raw account of the struggles and sacrifices that make life worth appreciating. Meg Nocero draws back the curtain of her heart in honoring her mother Mary Jo in this beautifully written memoir.
Meg Nocero, a magical manifester, is a former federal prosecutor, an inspirational speaker, a transformational coach, and the award-winning author of The Magical Guide to Bliss: Daily Keys to Unlock Your Dreams, Spirit & Inner Bliss and Sparkle & Shine: 108 M.A.N.T.R.A.s to Brighten Your Day and Lighten Your Way. After she was brought on stage in Miami with Oprah Winfrey in 2014, she was inspired to manifest the life of her dreams and founded Butterflies & Bliss LLC and S.H.I.N.E. Networking Inc., a nonprofit that provides educational scholarships to young innovative leaders in her community. She holds a BA in Spanish from Boston College, an MA in International Affairs from the University of Miami, a JD from St. Thomas University School of Law, and a Happiness Certificate with the Happiness Studies Academy. She is also a Certified Federal Law Enforcement Instructor/Mentor and a Love Button Global Movement Ambassador. In addition to being named Miz CEO Entrepreneur of the Year in 2019, Nocero appeared on CNN Español with Ismael Cala and hosts her own YouTube channel and a podcast called Manifesting with Meg: Conversations with Extraordinary People. She lives in Miami, Fl. Visit https://megnocero.com/ to learn more about Meg Nocero.
Book Title: Quest for the Scroll...
Author: R.L. Rinne
Are the world's challenges real or imagined? What is the purpose of life? Does God have the power to save? Rinne attempts to answer these questions and inspire the masses in this theologically perceptive and dramatically enthralling work of spiritual adventure.
A major inspiration for the book was St. Martin of Tours and the Bible itself.
In Quest for the Scroll… , R.L Rinne takes the reader on a fictional journey across old-time Europe from Gaul, to Briton, the village of Kilpatrick, and beyond. The story begins in Dumnonii—presently Cornwall in Southwestern Britain—at the end of the summer season in 409 AD, a few weeks before Mabon. The protagonist, Magnus of Rau, is given a scroll from his divine mentor, the dying St. Martin of Tours. Faithful to his duty of guarding the revered scroll and his eternal belief in a one and only God, Magnus is labeled a radical and flees his home, thus beginning his great adventure.
Mentions of ancient celebrations and triumphs are abundant in the story adding an authentic historical perspective. Additionally, quoted scripture is used strategically throughout characterizing the thoughts of the cast.
As Rinne writes:
“Magnus’s head was spinning. He felt weak and nauseous. ‘What had happened? He remembered Jesus’ words. ‘Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents; and shall cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same will be saved.’ (Mark 13:12‐13)”
Rinne introduces new characters to the plot seamlessly as Magnus missions across western Europe narrowly avoiding the evil powers that seek him. Among the many well-constructed characters in this intrepid tale, Osric, a boisterous monk, who assumes a fondness towards young Magnus, rises above the rest in his influence on the plot.
As Rinne writes:
“Understanding God is the greatest gift that most of the world has never known. That’s why Martin stressed Spiritual education to his students rather than corporeal education. You have a humble servant’s heart my dear Osric. Of all the people I have shared the good news with, you alone have digested it.”
The story takes a dark turn when a villainous Bishop realizes the summative power of Magnus and the scroll. Fearing the loss of his oppressive control over the region, the Bishop uses vile means to trap and destroy Magnus in relentless pursuit. Magnus calls on every power within to endure against the treachery and sin that abounds in a perilous quest for deliverance.
“I proved that death is unreal. Nothing stops or starts in infinity; God is expressed everywhere! God is the only action, and we reflect what he is.”
Quest for the Scroll… is an illuminating story from start to finish. The novel’s imaginative premise isn’t wasted as Rinne paints a vivid picture of Magnus’s ministry and the spirituality of the story’s message. It’s a heroic tale of love, faith, and the infinity of life.
R.L. Rinne's eclectic life began at birth. Born on a helicopter base in Fort Rucker, Alabama, and raised on the family farm in Southern Illinois, Rinne’s love for writing fostered early bouncing around on the seared steel seat of his grandfather’s Case tractor—nicknamed Methuselah after the 969-year-old bible character. Rinne graduated from college with a degree in design and embarked on a career in industrial automation problem-solving. When he is not traveling the world, he enjoys life with his wife on the family farm. He is active in church and metaphysical adventures, enjoys scuba diving, boating, flying, art, jeeping, and riding motorcycles. Quest for the Scroll... is his debut unpublished manuscript. He is currently working on a sequel.
Book Title: The Sons of Chester
Book Subtitle: A Tale of Small Town Boys, Baseball, and Very Big Dreams
Author(s): Craig Ohlau, Kevin L. Gingrich
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
The Sons of Chester is the true story of a group of boys from a death-row river town in southern Illinois who band together to follow their dreams.
A key feature of the story is the town that made them. This tough little river town, an hour downstream from St. Louis, Missouri, features two facilities with significant fences: the Menard death row penitentiary, lying along the river, whose spirals of razor wire as purposefully festooned as an Independence Day decoration shred the sunlight; and, on the far side of town, Cohen Baseball Field—a Field of Dreams, where the boys swing for the fences.
The prison, in fact, represents a significant metaphor and theme:
“The inmates have dreams. They just cannot follow them. The sons of Chester have dreams, and this is the story of their dreams."
The Sons of Chester is more, than merely the story of a group of local boys (from southern Illinois), winning a national championship. It’s the story of the town that made them, a town where their fathers and coaches work among the most notorious criminals in US history; a town of great characters, whose great-grandfathers and mothers inspired one of the most famous casts of characters of the 20th century, Popeye and crew from Chester resident and famous cartoonist E.C. Segar.
As Ohlau and Gingrich write:
Many of Segar's immortal characters are based on the people of Chester. Olive Oyl on the turn-of-the-century Chester general store owner, the tall, thin Dora Paskel; Wimpy (“I will gladly pay you Tuesday . . .”) after Segar’s boss, Bill Schuchert; and Popeye himself after Rocky Fiegel, the fist-flailing, toothless, chisel-bodied, corncob-pipe smoking local legend, “feared for his ability to render a good butt whooping even when attacked by several adversaries at once,”. You know these characters. They’re your friends, the great-grandchildren of Popeye and Bluto and Olive Oyl and Wimpy. You know their antics and character: the tough guy bully, the Yorkshire forearm, the haymaker punch, the squeaky heart-throbbing, love-struck girlfriend, and of course Popeye, the goofy, muttering, doughty, indefatigable underdog who redefined the depths of comeback.
Chester itself is a town with enough character and characters to fill a novel and two Hollywood scripts. In fact, the Chester prison itself was featured in two rather famous movies, the 1967 Academy Award winning In the Heat of the Night and Harrison Ford’s remake of The Fugitive, though “Chester, with its own contradictions of ominous and innocence—prison and cake mix factory, beer taverns and dairy—proved better than Hollywood set designers could imagine.”
Between chapters focusing on the baseball championship runs are memorialized the diverting activities of easily diverted boys with national championship aspirations—the small town, all-boy stupidity, the exuberant high jinks of boys bored and brimming with Tom Sawyer adventurousness:
• Perhaps the last hilarious bomb threat in American history, teen boys and girls swimming in the back of pickup trucks, paintball booze cruising, and barn wrestling. Did I say barn wrestling? Yes!
The aim of the book is to recapture the glories of boyhood epitomized in that one activity that seemed to be to these characters the focus of life: baseball. The Sons of Chester as a testament to all that is good in small town America—and a charitable nod to all that is forgivable. It reminds us that no bonds are more sacred than those among family, friends, and townsfolk. The Sons of Chester is aimed at the chest every kid who ever dreamed of being a champion and every father who dreamed of raising one and every coach who ever sought to lead a group of boys. Everyone who ever had such a dream. Ohlau and Gingrich hit a moonshot out of the park in one of the most entertaining baseball books ever.
Craig Ohlau (“Bobber”) was born and raised in Chester, Illinois, the setting for the book. In 1995, he and his longtime group of friends won the Khoury League National Championship, and Craig went on to star in baseball at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville and earn tryouts with several Major League teams. Today, Craig is a writer, coach, teacher and, most importantly, husband and father. The Sons of Chester: A Tale of Small Town Boys, Baseball, and Very Big Dreams is his debut publication. It has been an Amazon Bestseller (Kindle and Paperback) in the categories of Baseball History and Baseball Biographies, named the 2019 Maxy Awards Runner-Up for "Nonfiction Book of the Year," is a PenCraft Awards Winner for "Best Biographies of 2019," a da Vinci Eye Finalist in the 2020 Eric Hoffer Book Awards, a finalist in the "Outstanding Biography" and "Outstanding Memoir" categories in the 2020 IAN Book of the Year Awards, and has been accepted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library and Museum in Cooperstown, New York. Kings of the County League, The Baseball Cortex, The Active Book of Monsters, and The Junior Outdoorsmen are among his other publications.
Award-winning writer and scholar (Fulbright nominee) Kevin L. Gingrich, PhD, is the author of the numerous publications, ranging from children’s stories, feature articles, and columns to scholarly articles, including his recent dissertation, Parechesis in the Undisputed Pauline. Kevin played Division I sports himself and, like his co-author, suffered the agony of near-miss dreams in Illinois high school state championship play.