A Woman's Voice

Book Reviews & Interviews ~ Up The “Down” Ladder

Drip…Drop…the reality of Depression and its Devastating Consequences!
rain drop

You are an inspirational author. What made you decide this?

I have found that one of the most difficult things in life, for me and probably for many other people as well, is to embrace our own weaknesses and shortcomings. Our basic human nature is created with faults, foibles, and frailties. It is not to say that we don’t have many wonderful and desirable traits, but we seldom want to admit to some of the less complimentary ones, not even to ourselves.

I have discovered that when I honestly acknowledge and embrace my own weaknesses, they actually have less power over me and my actions. It’s when I refuse to admit my personal weaknesses that I come up short in being the true Christian I desire to be. In essence, the more aware I am of my flaws, the more able I am to control what I say and do.

It took me years to be honest and open about suffering from depression. Depression doesn’t always fall into the same category or receive the same compassion that physical illnesses do. Based on my experience, I still notice that many people are still very reluctant to openly discuss that they suffer from depression because it is considered to be a form of mental illness. I decided that it was time to “come clean” in order to help educate others in an effort to, not only help those who suffer from depression, but to better educate and inform people who are exposed to those who do.

It has been this realization that sparked my decision to journey down the path of writing and I haven’t looked back. I know in my heart it was the right way to go and this desire has been the inspiration behind all my writing…to help others.

Why did you include a Foreword for your book, Up the “Down” Ladder?

My daughter Andrea Cockerill honored me by writing the Foreword for my book. She has been a great inspiration to me. She writes about her opinion of me as her mother, and the influence I’ve had on her, not only as a young child, but as an adult and mother herself.

My editor suggested this little extra endorsement for my books. She felt that when publishing inspirational books, a Foreword creates an opportunity to get to know the author a little better through the eyes of another person who knows the author personally and can vouch for what they are writing about. I am very blessed that my daughter accepted to write this heart warming note on my behalf. Who could possibly know me better than my own family…?

Each chapter of the book begins with a quote. Was there a sole reason for sharing them?

All four of my inspirational books are chock full of quotes. To say “I love quotes” doesn’t quite cut it…I feel even stronger than that about the ones that apply to me and my life. This is one of the reasons why I do. Stretching yourself mentally can come in all forms. Although I enjoy reading and playing bridge, one of the forms of mental exercise I especially enjoy is in puzzle form. Over the years, I have taken great pleasure in developing my puzzle solving skills. The more I solve these puzzles, the better I get at it. The better I get at it, the better I feel about myself. My favorite puzzles to solve are crosswords and crypto quotes. Although they all bring me pleasure, the puzzle that has enhanced my life the most is the crypto quote. This quote is encoded by mixing up all the letters of the alphabet to mean a different letter in the quote. By figuring out which letter stands for which, you can eventually decode the quote of the puzzle. Each time the code is different.

I feel that I have been doubly blessed by having both the desire and the ability to do these puzzles. First of all, it makes me feel somewhat intelligent to be able to do them. Secondly and even more importantly, most of the quotes that I have saved and savored over the years are from these puzzles. Most of these wise sayings come from some of the greatest thinkers that have ever lived or still live today.

Many of them have been said or written by some pretty sage people like Einstein, Confucius, numerous writers, philosophers, past presidents, and the like, which are too numerous to mention by name here. I have had the double pleasure of not only solving these puzzles, but I’ve personally gained from their sagacity…I am a mere student at their feet soaking up their words of wisdom. It’s these words that I am trying to incorporate into my writing for the benefit of all. It is virtually impossible to express the strength and courage I discovered when heeding the words of these great people.

I read in the book that you suffered from depression. How did you overcome it and how will this book help those who are currently battling depression?

Yes I have suffered from depression and still do at times even today. Depression is usually a cyclical disorder and can come back to haunt the individual. In my book I go into full detail explaining the steps I took to better cope with this often misunderstood illness and the debilitating effects it can have on the person suffering from it.

Depression has a long reach and can also affect the people who love the depressed person. To say that a person can “snap out” of this state of despair does a disservice to those that suffer from it. However, I know from personal experience that a depressed person can help themselves if or when they make a conscious decision to do so. This is what my inspirational book is all about…the deep desire to encourage others to get help in order to better cope. I learned to embrace my illness and not to wish it away…it is an intimate part of me and my personal being but it no longer controls me.

Why did you want to publish “Up the ‘Down’ Ladder?” What message did you want to share and what do you hope people will gain from it?

I feel we basically learn from our own lessons and can only guide and inspire others based on those very lessons if they have the desire to learn from them and embrace what we have to share. Depression has a range of being mild, to moderate, to a more severe form known as a major depression. Some people call this form clinical depression. Many people experience what is considered to be the normal down times in their lives as well as others who suffer from mild to moderate depression. The effects of a major depression usually create a devastation that does not allow you to function within your normal routine. I suffered from the devastation of the latter form because I was unable to continue to work at my teaching career when I was experiencing the depression.

Essentially the message I am trying to give people is that of “hope”. I’m sharing my experiences with as many people as possible in order to be a witness to others so that they can have “hope” as well. Eventually my depression became like a new beginning for me. It gave me the opportunity to learn from my experiences and the desire to share those experiences by becoming an author.

What has the feedback been like to this book?

The feedback from this book has been very positive. In fact, it is my best selling book thus far. Depression is far more prevalent than most people realize. In the past, many people, including me, felt that they were alone in their suffering. By reading books on this topic, people become more aware that it’s okay to admit to their illness and to seek the help that they need. There is no longer the need to suffer in silence.

Now that I have found my voice, I want to share it with everyone who will hear/listen to me. I want sufferers of depression to know that they are not alone. It is wise to be patient and give yourself time to heal…because it does take time. It has been my experience that when you see glimmers of light, you will have new hope, and with new hope, you will find a new and happier life.

You have written four inspirational books, thus far. How does it make you feel?

It makes me feel like I have and can make a difference in other people’s lives. The reason I have chosen to reach out to others in this way is to demonstrate where I started in my healing process, what I’ve been through, what I’ve learned, and where I am today. It’s to show how far I’ve come. All those years ago, I thought I had something to say, but I didn’t know quite how to say it or exactly what to say. I just couldn’t seem to find the right words. The biggest and most profound step for me, however, was finding the courage to discuss my depression. In my deepest despair, I never thought this day would come because I was so ashamed of myself and my feelings of failure and inadequacy/inferiority. Today, I am full of joy to have found the inspiration, the strength, and the desire to write so openly about my feelings.

Over twenty-five years ago, when I was at a very low point in my life, the first thing I wanted to do when I got back on my feet was to try and prevent someone else from experiencing what I had gone through. For those of you that have suffered from any kind of depression, there is no need to explain why. For those of you living with a depressed person, there is also no need to explain why. The impact on your life and the lives of those around is beyond words. Initially, I wanted to write my recipe for better life coping skills for anyone who would be prepared to read it. As the years went by and my own children got older, married, and eventually started their own families, the reason for writing the recipe shifted to them. Once I completed my first book, it then shifted back to embrace a wider audience, and I ended up where I started off. I decided to return to my original plan and share it with as many people as possible.

Book Reviews ~ How Did We Become Angry? (Lamb Ministries 7×7: Biblical Recovery for Women Suffering from Trauma & Abuse Book 1)

PaulaHow Did We Become Angry? (Lamb Ministries 7×7: Biblical Recovery for Women Suffering from Trauma & Abuse Book 1)

Author Paula Rose Michelson is determined to leave an imprint on this chaotic world we call home and she is doing an admirable job of it. She is a devoted woman with vision who has touched many a life with each and every inspirational word that she pens. She is adept at listening to and sharing the inner voice that she so clearly hears.

Author Paula Rose Michelson speaks from the voice of experience and has every desire to reach out and minister to others so that they too may bask in the glory of the Messiah (Christ). She has said “yes” to her calling and eloquently shares her gift in both her fictional and non-fictional works. As she writes on forgiveness, she gently reminds us, “…following Messiah’s (Jesus) model we know that only through confession is redemption realized.” To be sure, Author Paula Michelson has a mission in life as both a Life Coach and a Devotional Author, and she gives all the glory to God.”

Inspirational Author & Book Reviewer ~ Dolores Ayotte

Book Reviews ~ Tell the Enemy to Scat

Christine HornbackTell the Enemy to Scat! by Author Christine Hornback (Kindle Edition)

“Tell the Enemy to Scat” by Author Christine Hornback is a short, true story that packs a powerful punch! Christine and her husband have remained childless for almost twenty years when she hears “the still small voice” that tells her she is expecting a baby. They are overjoyed to say the least, but then, she is plagued for the first five months of her pregnacy with the possibility of losing this long awaited child. She hears the words from within and is inspired to “tell the enemy to scat” so she can carry out her pregnancy to full term. The glorious birth of her first son ensues. Christine’s faith and prayers have been rewarded but…she believes she is meant to have children…not only one child. Therefore, at 40 years old, she trusts in the Lord for the miracle of a second child . After more trials and tribulations, once again, “the still small voice” is there for her and she gives birth to a second son!

In her book, Christine Hornback openly shares her struggles and disappointments. She eventually takes off her mask and shows her despair to those around her as they reach out in prayer to help her during this difficult time. In the end, her belief and faith in God and the fact that He is true to His Word…wins out! Christine’s book is an inspiration to others as she coaches them to not give up their dreams, no matter the obstacles, so that they, too, can be triumphant!
Inspirational Author & Book Reviewer ~ Dolores Ayotte

Inspirational Author & Book Reviewer ~ Dolores Ayotte

Book Reviews ~ Hidden Treasures

Hidden Treasures by Author Louise Dupont

Louise Dupont

I very much enjoy reading true stories that hit close to home. Debut novel by Author Louise Dupont is one such story. Although inspired by a very sad event in the life of this talented author and devoted mother, Louise manages to draw from the tragic death of her son Andre in order to glean…not only the “hidden treasures” in his life…but in hers as well. Andre Dupont, overcome by depression committed suicide at the young age of twenty-one years of age. This once vibrant young man could no longer endure the personal pain he was experiencing and decided to take his own life.

As difficult as this choice may have been for Andre and his family, he managed to leave a wonderful legacy to those left behind. Louise Dupont, a mother who personally knew the debilitating effects of depression, chose to look for the “hidden treasures” in this unexpected and tragic death of her dear son. She has succeeded in penning a picture of Andre’s life and the positive influence he had on those who crossed his path. His adventurous personality and engaging smile certainly warmed the hearts of many as he touched their lives.

Now, through the gift of his mother’s book about his life, Andre continues to live on and impact even more lives. When sharing Andre’s story, Louise succeeds in narrowing the space between this life and the next by bridging the gap between the two worlds. Although, she may no longer see Andre face-to-face, their heartstrings remain forever bound by love. His life lives on through the fond memories and pictures so eloquently shared in “Hidden Treasures”. Louise has chosen to rise above her sorrow and see the blessing in knowing that her son no longer suffers. This thought manages to take the edge off her loss.

It takes a courageous person to share her story so honestly and openly. Author and mother, Louise Dupont has done just that. Kudos to her for opening her heart to others, not only in memory of her son Andre, but in much the same way as he did himself during his short life.


Book Reviews ~ Marriage Takes Three


Marriage Takes Three by Author G.E. Hamlin

I feel the need to admit that I am a romantic and if there’s one thing I enjoy it is a love story. Secondly, I enjoy the story even more so if it rings true! Fiction or non-fiction, credibility and authenticity go a long way with me. Debut novel “Marriage Takes Three” by talented Author G.E. Hamlin offers both.

Darla and Randall have a tumultuous marriage. After seventeen years, it appears that their relationship is coming to an end. Randall, a recovering alcoholic with close to two years of sobriety under his belt, loves his wife and has every desire for his marriage work. After joining AA and then finding his faith, Randall is striving to be a better husband to Darla and father to teenaged son, Paul. However, Randall is not Darla’s first love. High school boyfriend, Jack Collins is determined to make his past claim on Darla as one of his top priorities. Better known as successful country western singer, J.J. Collins, he is making advances on Darla and causing much friction in Darla’s unstable and already stressful marriage to Randall. Presently, she is managing to fight off the temptation to give into Jack’s persistence in pursuing her but…

Darla, on the other hand, has a dark and deeply hidden secret. Paul’s surprise discovery is a shock. The unknown is about to be revealed and is destined to upset the already wobbly apple cart. Can her marriage survive this revelation and worse yet…does she really want it to?

If there is one quote that deeply touched me in this fictional love story, it is this…“Righteous anger is good. The other kind is like taking poison and expecting it to kill the other person.” At last, Randall decides to take back the power in his marriage and refuses to be a victim…he makes a very profound and life altering decision. The other man, namely Jack Collins, no longer has a place in his marriage to Darla. Randall makes a conscious choice that, yes indeed…“Marriage Takes Three” and that third person is God. A God-centered marriage is definitely what his marriage requires to survive. With the help of long time friends Lonnie and Vicki, Darla might just agree…

Another image that will forever stick in my mind in this captivating novel is the description of the picture of Jesus that Randall notices hanging on the wall behind Pastor Bill’s desk. The artist depicts a “laughing Jesus”. All the pictures I have ever seen of Jesus are serious ones. However, in my mind’s eye, a laughing Jesus is exactly what I envision! I thank gifted Author G.E. Hamlin for sharing her view of Jesus this way. How refreshing!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for my honest review.


Book Reviews ~ Princess Natoree and the Tree Climber

From the first page to the last, I was captivated by this great little book. I don’t think I have ever seen such a bright and colorful children’s book. The story of Princess Natoree, only child of King Oska and Queen Emma, is both heart-warming and educational as it contains a moral lesson that is beneficial for all to learn.

King Oska is very protective of his only child and very much wants what’s best for her. He is not as generous in spirit as his lovely wife Queen Emma, who has every desire for Princess Natoree to be happy. Princess Natoree loves all the children in the kingdom and enjoys playing with them on a regular basis. King Oska does not like this arrangement and is selective in choosing whom she may play with…this restriction brings some sadness to Princess Natoree because she misses being with her friends. One of her very dear friends is a fragile boy by the name of Matura who walks with the help of a wooden crutch.

In order to ensure that Princess Natoree marries an ideal man, King Oska decides to set up an endurance test. The winner of this test will then become the future Prince to ten year old Princess Natoree. Queen Emma is not enthusiastic about this arrangement as she prefers Princess Natoree to marry for love. The challenge set up for all the young boys to try and qualify to be the Prince is that they must scale the tallest tree in the Kingdom. No one is able to manage this tough physical feat except…

Talented J.B. Babo has done a fine job of teaching a lifelong lesson “about overcoming all odds to do extraordinary things”. I can’t wait to read this gem of a book to my grandchildren!

I received a free copy of this book from the author for my honest review.

Inspirational Author & Book Reviewer ~ Dolores Ayotte

Book Reviews ~ Tadeo Turtle

Author Jan Cox
One of my favorite genres to read and review is children’s books and “Tadeo Turtle” lives up to my expectations of a well-written and enjoyable book for the young child. Author Jan Cox is a former elementary school teacher who has tapped into her area of expertise to pen a great children’s book. It is filled with her own handpainted illustrations and a story with a simple life lesson that is bound to benefit its young reading audience.

Tadeo Turtle is a typical fun-loving turtle who thinks that his pleasure is being hampered by his heavy shell. In a dream, Tadeo’s shell accidentally falls into a stream. In his travels he meets up with a CAT who mistakes him for a rat. Tadeo desperately seeks the shelter and safety of his shell. It is difficult to find as it looks very much like the rocks at the edge of the stream. He finds it just in the knick of time before the CAT is able to pounce on him. Tadeo soon realizes the benefit of being content with just the way God intended him to be….shell and all!

I especially enjoy children’s book that are written in rhyme and with a moral lesson as well. Author Jan Cox has done a fine job of including both of these techniques in “Tadeo Turtle”. I also like the idea of the additional fun activity ideas at the end of the book. They will definitely stimulate young children to use their imaginations as they creatively engage in these suggestions…i.e. paper turtle plate, dough turtle, rock turtle, etc. I am also a former teacher and grandmother so I fully realize the pleasure these suggestions will bring.

Inspirational Author & Book Reviewer ~ Dolores Ayotte

Book Reviews ~ The Visitor

The Visitor by Bree Abbington

As so often in life, some of the best gifts come in the smallest of packages. “The Visitor” is one such gift. It is based on a true story and is bound to tug at a few heartstrings. The author of this non-fiction tale has been through a rather difficult year. After fifteen years of marriage, she is divorced from her first husband Matt and remarries Brad on the rebound. After experiencing a series of health issues and stressful business dealings…Brad, after a short eighteen months decides he no longer wants to be in the marriage.

Stressed to the hilt, Author Bree Abbington is spending Christmas with her first husband’s parents along with their two young daughters. This has been a warm family tradition that has stayed the course despite their divorce. It is especially welcomed after the turmoil of the previous year. After a fun-filled, yet exhausting morning, this author decides to escape to her home for a few hours rest before returning for Christmas Day supper. This is when she has the encounter…a personal realization, a spiritual enlightenment with a very “deer” gift!

“The Visitor” is a lovely debut novel by first time Author Bree Abbington. It left me wanting more. Easy to read and very captivating!

Inspirational Author & Book Reviewer ~ Dolores Ayotte

Book Reviews ~ But the Greatest of These is Love

Debbi Michael
“But the Greatest of These is Love” is one incredible tale based on a true story. From start to finish, Author Debbie Michael shares her heart-warming experience as she recounts her misgivings about adoption and her struggles with being obedient to God’s will. It appears that He has every desire for the Michael family to adopt Roman/Roma, a seven year old orphan boy from Russia.

This non-fiction story is sure to grab at the heartstrings of many a reader as they grapple with matters of their own faith and indecision in learning to obey the “still small voice” that resides in each of us. This author’s life was pretty well picture perfect until one evening in March 2000 when the niggling thought of adoption started to make its way into her mind and just wouldn’t let up. With a devoted husband and three lovely children, two teenaged daughters and a twelve year old son, why would she even consider such a possibility? Contented wife, mother, substitute teacher…how could she entertain the idea of upsetting the comfortable life she so enjoyed and appreciated?

In reading “But the Greatest of These is Love” one certainly realizes the persistence of God in getting His message across no matter our reluctance. The nudging, the coincidences…the support of her husband, children and friends, add to God’s intention of rounding out the Michael’s family with the embracing of a fourth child, Roman with his outgoing and endearing personality. Was this endeavor an easy task? Most definitely not. However, as in all new situations, the Michael’s face the challenges head on as their fears are replaced by the triumphant feelings of love. In doing so, they successfully overcome the obstacles presented as they settle into a normal family routine.

In this captivating novel, Author Debbie Michael uses a quote to introduce each chapter. Some are Biblical, others are not. Of course, they all manage to succeed in bringing home the point at hand. These two in particular grabbed my attention as Debbie shares her journey. She certainly is identifying with C.S. Lewis as he states…”I gave in, and admitted that God was God.” and also with Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his profound observation. “Only he who believes is obedient and only he who is obedient believes.”

I was very moved by this inspirational story. I enjoyed meeting the whole clan and especially enjoyed the photographs included in this exceptional read!

Inspirational Author & Book Reviewer ~ Dolores Ayotte


Book Reviews ~ Up The “Down” Ladder

I’ve read two other books by this author, “I’m Not Perfect and It’s Okay”, and, “Growing Up and Liking It”. They didn’t disappoint and neither did this one. If you’re depressed, come on in. Sit a spell. Talk with an author who has been there and knows what she’s talking about. She backs up what she has to say with quotes. Her humor is anything but depressing. Her books aren’t your usual jargon. You might even want to jot down a few notes as you read. One thing is for sure, you won’t leave the books feeling the same before you started reading. She’s practical, down-to-earth, fun, and funny.

If you haven’t read one of her books yet, I suggest selecting which one you want to start with and take that first step up the rung of the ladder. They’re a wonderful stress-free read to empower you to fight your own battle with depression and win. Check out her author page, her books, and her reviews. You’ll be glad you did. The author says she was at the bottom of the ladder herself when she decided to take a first step up the ladder, which is how she came up with the title for this book. Each chapter begins with a special quote. This isn’t just another self-help book, it’s one in which the author uses her own life experiences and writes in a conversational tone to help others who may be experiencing the same stress that taught her to take that first step up the ladder and keep climbing.

By Author B.J. Robinson

Next Page »

%d bloggers like this: