Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Not in Vain - A Story of Domestic Violence and Murder

Author Jan Lobeck's daughter, Sheri was murdered by her husband, Craig on May 13, 2004. Not In Vain tells the story of Lobeck's crusade to change the attitudes of law enforcement agencies so that they will recognize domestic violence as a serious problem, and change the criminal justice system so that it protects victims and their families instead of just the criminal. The book follows her battle to protect and to keep custody of her grandson, Cameron.

Lobeck met indifference and carelessness from the police, the lawyers, judges, and prosecutors from the day her daughter died. The police didn't consider Sheri's death a murder until Lobeck reminded them of Craig's many outstanding warrants for violence in other States.

Desperate for justice, she wrote a detailed letter about her situation, sending it to senators, the governor's office, the First Lady, and her Congressman, pleading for each to Stop Domestic Violence.

She received many letters of condolences but only one offer of help from the office of the Governor's wife. With this support, Lobeck's campaign for justice began to gain momentum. She spoke in the rotunda in the capital building in Santa Fe about Sheri's murder and at the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence conference in Washington D.C. in the spring of 2005. She began to plan a non-profit society to help victims of domestic violence called MOM or Moms On a Mission. She hopes it will one day become as well known as MADD.

By the fall of 2005, Lobeck's plan to keep legal custody of Cameron had a setback when she learned that Craig, her daughter's killer, now released from jail was trying to get Cameron from her. A judge had signed an emergency custody order for Craig to take his son. Lobeck went underground so the courts would not find her to give her the order to give Cameron to Craig. This extreme action would estrange her from her children and strained her marriage to the point of divorce.

Not in Vain is a well written, powerful, emotional story of courage and one woman's tireless conviction to find justice for her murdered child, to change the legal system, and to protect her grandson. Jan Lobeck continues to fight for abuse victims and against domestic violence. She is involved with the New Mexico Survivors of Homicide and as a volunteer for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate, for children).

I highly recommend Not In Vain to survivors of domestic violence and to their families. If you know of someone in a violent marriage or relationship, give them a copy.
It could save their life.

Reviewed by William Potter for Reader's Choice Reviews
Xlibris 2009

William R. Potter, Basic PLUS Author

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Someone Stop This Merry-Go-Round: An Alcoholic Family in Crisis

Many of us have had a spouse or family member arrive home after a few too many drinks. Some of us have needed to make up excuses for a loved one's occasional over-drinking. Imagine if this was a daily occurrence. Waiting, worrying, and watching the clock, wondering when, and in what state, a spouse would finally come home, and then trying to hide it all from neighbors, family and the children.

For seventeen years, this was author Alberta H. Sequeira's existence every day as she dealt with her husband's alcoholism. She loved mild-mannered Richard Lopes and witnessed how alcohol changed him from a loving family man with a successful business to a careless, angry, abusive drunk.

Written like dramatic fiction, Someone Stop This Merry-Go-Round: An Alcoholic Family in Crisis is a fast paced, tension-filled account of a woman's tireless effort to keep her family together, her two children safe and to protect her own mental and physical well being. Sequeira gives an honest telling of life married to an alcoholic-a life filled with sadness, fear, pain and despair.

Sequeira didn't believe in divorce and was too proud to seek help from her parents, deciding to go it alone. Several times it seemed her husband was ready to quit his devastating lifestyle and commit fully to being a good partner and devoted father, only to have him fall back to bingeing and his alcoholic ways. This rollercoaster life took its toll on Sequeira, plaguing her with frequent panic attacks and eventually bringing her to the brink of a total breakdown.

Through arguments, unpaid bills, violent rage, emotional abuse and neglect, Sequeira kept hope that her husband would eventually realize he had a problem, and seek treatment. He never did...always believing he was just having a few drinks with his buddies after a hard day's work. Sequeira takes her share of the blame for all the times she could have kicked him out, demanded he got help, or pressed charges for the abuse. I found myself cheering for her, hoping that in the end Mr. Lopes would choose to save his marriage and his family. Despite being divorced from Mr. Lopes, Sequeira suffered greatly when he succumbed in 1985 to the damage done to his body from a lifetime of drinking.

Alberta H. Sequeira is a talented writer. She shows great courage not only in surviving, but in her willingness to return to these experiences when she wrote this memoir. I believe this book could be of great help to alcoholics, their families and even counselors. I highly recommend Someone Stop This Merry-Go-Round: An Alcoholic Family in Crisis and I look forward to the follow-up coming soon. The sequel, Please, God, Not Two-This Killer Called Alcoholism details how Sequeira's daughter, Lori Cahill, followed the same path as her father.

• Paperback: 344 pages
• Publisher: Infinity Publishing
• ISBN-13: 978-0741454157

Someone Stop This Merry Go Round

William R. Potter, Basic PLUS Author

Sunday, September 27, 2009

On The Verge of Madness by George Wilhite

On the Verge of Madness by author George Wilhite is like a perfectly cooked steak...dark on the outside and a little bloody in the middle. This collection of fiction features eight very different stories, each showcasing Wilhite's considerable talent and vast knowledge of the horror genre. His work has already drawn comparison to Poe and Lovecraft. But let me tell you, Wilhite's own twisted style and warped voice is evident on every page.

The opening novella, Victor Chaldean and the Portal is worth the price of admission. Victor is desperate to solve the disappearance of his wife. After he begins to have strange visions, he seeks help from a psychologist studying the paranormal. An experimental drug takes Victor into a fractured realm, into a place trapped between life and death where he struggles to find his lost wife and each day is more convinced he is insane.

Next up is Murmurers. I settled in for a great read as Wilhite hooked me quickly with a story of an Earth all but stripped of human life. A former combat soldier and a teenage girl find a special bond after he saves her life. To survive they must trust each other and keep moving to avoid the mysterious Murmurers. The only problem for me was how quickly this one ended.

In Checks and Balances, alcoholic John breezes through the first of the twelve steps to recovery. It is step Eight - making amends with those he has hurt - with which he struggles the most. If only he could make a trade, a deal, to skip this step. But who or what would make such a bargain?

Lars kills for money. He is very good at what he does. When it comes to clothes, only the very best will do for Lars. In The Gangster's New Clothes, Wilhite attempts a short in the style of the old Twilight Zone TV show. The result is a fun, frightening tale. A second after Lars puts on his handmade suit, he finds himself facing his checkered past and, step by step, is pushed closer to insanity.

Wilhite then gives us two amazing examples of the old adage: less is more. A Plea From the Cradle and Cast of Characters are "flash fiction" at its finest. Not a word is wasted - both of these tales will quickly put a shiver up your spine if not a smile on your face.

All good things must end, and I believe Wilhite saved the best for last. A Tale of Two Moons is a Werewolf classic and could possibly explain the origin of these legendary monsters.

Masque Profane takes us beyond the "Verge of Madness," delving straight into full blown insanity. Rhonda and Jeff are happy newlyweds...or are they? Rhonda becomes obsessed with the fact that Jeff has never spent a Halloween night with her in their time together. This fixation takes Rhonda to the gathering place of a strange ritual one Halloween night. Her experience there, and later the birth of her child would one day take her to madness and a horrific murder.

In all eight of these stories, whether novella or short, the author's skill at character development, crisp dialogue and page turning suspense is forefront. He captivates the reader with intriguing characters and fine plotting without the pointless brutal violence and gratuitous sex that has become so common in horror today. I highly recommend On the Verge of Madness and I look forward to the follow up, Silhouette of Darkness. I doubt that it will be long before a major publisher signs Wilhite, as his work deserves to be on shelves next to the likes of Peter Straub and Thomas F. Monteleone.

George Wilhite

152 pages
Publisher: (June, 2008)
ISBN-13: 978-1435719651

William R. Potter, Basic Author