Thursday, June 10, 2021

On the Spotlight: The Art of Betrayal, by Connie Berry

AUTHOR: Connie Berry


PUBLISHER: Crooked Lane


1. Amazon: The Art of Betrayal: A Kate Hamilton Mystery: Berry, Connie: 9781643855943: Books

2. Barnes&Noble: The Art of Betrayal: A Kate Hamilton Mystery by Connie Berry, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble® (

3. Booksamillion: The Art of Betrayal : A Kate Hamilton Mystery by Connie Berry (

4. Indiebound: The Art of Betrayal: A Kate Hamilton Mystery |


American antiques dealer Kate Hamilton is spending the month of May in the Suffolk village of Long Barston, tending her friend Ivor Tweedy’s antiquities shop while he recovers from hip surgery. Kate is thrilled when a reclusive widow consigns an ancient Chinese jar—until the Chinese jar is stolen and a body turns up in the middle of the May Fair. With no insurance covering the loss, Tweedy may be ruined. As DI Tom Mallory searches for the victim’s missing daughter, Kate notices puzzling connections with a well-known local legend. Kate’s most puzzling case yet pits her against the spring floods, a creepy mansion in the Suffolk countryside, the murky depths of Anglo-Saxon history, and a clever killer with an old secret. 


Connie Berry is the author of the Kate Hamilton Mysteries, set in the UK and featuring an American antiques dealer with a gift for solving crimes. Like her protagonist, Connie was raised by antiques dealers who instilled in her a passion for history, fine art, and travel. During college she studied at the University of Freiburg in Germany and St. Clare's College, Oxford, where she fell under the spell of the British Isles. In 2019 Connie won the IPPY Gold Medal for Mystery and was a finalist for the Agatha Award’s Best Debut. She’s a member of Mystery Writers of America and is on the board of the Guppies and her local Sisters in Crime chapter. Besides reading and writing mysteries, Connie loves history, foreign travel, cute animals, and all things British. She lives in Ohio with her husband and adorable Shih Tzu, Emmie. 







Wednesday, June 9, 2021


Author: Alli Spotts-De Lazzer
Publisher: Unsolicited Press
Pages: 282
Genre: Self-Help / Memoir


MEANINGFULL: 23 LIFE-CHANGING STORIES OF CONQUERING DIETING, WEIGHT, & BODY IMAGE ISSUES is a blend of motivational self-help, memoir, psychology, and health and wellness. Alli Spotts-De Lazzer is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, an expert in eating and body image issues, and a woman on the other side of her own decades-long struggle with food and body.

A $702 billion global diet/nutrition and weight loss industry shows that people worldwide are devoted to achieving maximum health and their desired bodies. Yet mainstream approaches are failing these individuals, and sadly, science proves this. Intent on gaining the “health” and “happiness” that diets promise, consumers keep trying. They become sad and frustrated, believing they’re failing when they’re not. They simply need a legitimate, alternative path, which MeaningFULL offers. Through the contributors’ diverse, real-life mini-memoirs followed by Spotts-De Lazzer’s commentaries, readers will learn about themselves and discover their unique, unconventional formulas for conquering their issues. Along the way, MeaningFULL will also guide them towards more self-appreciation, wellness, and fulfillment.


“Have you ever thought that the painful experiences you’ve had after falling off a diet or being uncomfortable with your body are yours alone? No one else could have ever felt as sad, frustrated, or disappointed as you have! No one else could have struggled with self-esteem or a lack of inner trust as you have! The truth is that these feelings and experiences are universal in a world of diet culture, that only values you for an idealized size or shape of your body and judges you for your eating choices. MeaningFull is a relatable, down-to-earth book that can help you to not feel so alone and isolated in your relationship with food and your body. By reading the stories of a multitude of people who have found their way out of the trap of diet culture and by reading the clear and valuable guidelines and advice that Alli Spotts-De Lazzer presents, you will finally find the hope for a future of joy and satisfaction in your eating and a sense of respect and dignity for the miraculous body that is yours.”

-Elyse Resch, MS, RDN, CEDRD-S, FAND, Nutrition Therapist, Author of The Intuitive Eating Workbook for Teens and The Intuitive Eating Journal, Co-author of Intuitive Eating, The Intuitive Eating Workbook, and The Intuitive Eating Card Deck

In “Meaning Full” Alli Spotts has put together a trove of inspiring stories for anyone interested in tackling problems with eating, weight and body image. The various contributors in the book take readers on a summary of their own healing journey providing useful ideas and strategies that others can apply where appropriate. Readers not only get honest, personal, accounts, but Alli’s summary at the end of each case provides clarification, cites research, and gives further resources on the various subjects brought up. It is refreshing to read a book where individuals dealing with weight and body image struggles describe overcoming their plight.

-Carolyn Costin, Director of the Carolyn Costin Institute, 8 Keys To Recovering From An Eating Disorder

For parents who have a child struggling with any kind of eating or body image issues, it’s common to feel isolated, scared, confused, and even ashamed. The stigma and stereotypes around these issues and sometimes serious illnesses add an extra burden for so many families, and it can be hard to find other people who truly “get it.” Parents looking for hope, insight, and connection will find many poignant stories in MeaningFULL. Caring for a young person through healing from these issues-from seemingly minor self-image problems to serious eating disorders-can take an emotional toll, and families often need a lot of support. Alli Spotts-De Lazzer’s collection of diverse personal stories can help parents feel less alone, shed the guilt or self-blame, and start to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

-Oona Hanson, MA, MA, Educator and Parent Coach

Chapter One

Never Going to be Perfect


THE BABY WANTED “junk food.” Every day.

I ballooned up during my pregnancy because I didn’t crave celery. I craved cookies and ice cream, the same things that I denied myself while I danced professionally. After the birth, I planned to resume my normal eating and go back to my dancing as usual.

I’m a petite, curvy, half Japanese woman who spent the first part of my life performing next to six feet tall, ultra-thin dancers with legs up to my shoulders. Because the professional world of dance placed so much focus on a dancer’s looks, shape, and weight, I had to work extra hard to get jobs amid those girls. Fortunately, I kept getting hired because I loved to dance, I’m good at it, and I worked my ass off.

However, the costumes were usually geared towards slim, long-legged women; they didn’t look good on me. In this one vertically striped unitard, the other girls showed three stripes across the thigh. Me? Five. When I split the butt of a different costume, I got a write-up; the dance captain told me to lose weight. I felt shocked and concerned that I might get fired because the old satin bottoms had worn thin in the rear and ripped. I had already lost weight since the beginning of that show. It was so unfair!

Daily, I desired that unachievable, unattainable, tall and thin body that, at the time, permeated the dance industry. Even when I got skinny, I still had hips because my bones are shaped that way. My boobs sunk in. I accepted, “This is just how I am.”

I disliked my genetic imprint. I disliked me.

An extra hard work ethic helped me to repeatedly manage the body loathing that dominated the first half of life, as well as the emotional eating that heavily influenced the second part, which you’ll now see.

Suddenly and without warning, my world flipped on its axis. I gave birth to this infant whose unexpected prognosis devastated me. My boy was likely not going to live for even a year and had received a provisional diagnosis of cerebral palsy. My existence played like a country song: in a short period of time, my husband left, my mom passed away from cancer, and my cat got eaten by a coyote.

Extraordinarily alone as I was, my seizing baby needed me 24/7. I loved him so much, and I didn’t want him to die. I tried to manage his care, see all the recommended specialists, handle what became an expensive and long divorce, deal with the heartbreak of losing my mom and cat, and just get through each day.

Food wound up as my only comfort because I didn’t have anybody to hug me. I didn’t have anybody or anything that felt solid. I couldn’t put a nipple on a vodka bottle, sit in the back of my closet, and hide from everyone. Smoking pot would have left me too impaired. So whenever I felt overwhelmed and very alone—both happened often—I turned to food for solace and as my friend.

Cookies were heaven. I remember I had been living at the hospital while my son had pneumonia. After his fifth consecutive admission, I questioned if he was going to pull through. After I finally got to bring him home, I went to the store. As a relief and a reward, I bought two bags of cookies and mindlessly ate.

To bring you now to the present, it has been 18 years since his birth. My son is debilitated, but he is alive. My stressors have been constant, and most of these years, I have been an “emotional eater.”

Not too long ago, I realized that stress and emotional eating had taken a toll on my health; I received some medical diagnoses. At nearly 60, this news shocked me into choosing health over emotional eating, body image, and stuff like that. Of course, I still sometimes feel overwhelmed and devastated, like when my son is sick and might die, or he’s in pain that I can’t fix, but I handle it differently now.

To begin to change the emotional eating, I first had to stabilize my life. This meant getting used to it and accepting whatever it was. Then, I had to make some time for me. Enlisting nursing to aid with my son’s 24/7 care helped, but even that took around eight years before I could begin to power down.

I gradually found my freedom from both my emotional eating and that preexisting body loathing through looking inside, learning, and changing. Here are the main components that I found to be my fixes. I hope that some might support you, too.


Ask for help.

I had to be able to ask for help, which is hard for me, an independent woman. What was the alternative? Sitting there in the depths of grief. Eating. Staying stuck in that awful, awful place.

I sucked at relationships. So I never got support from a romantic partner, but I got it in spades when it came to friends. There were days I’d pick up the phone. My friend would say, “Hello.” Trying not to cry, I couldn’t talk. Silence. He knew it was me from caller ID, and he’d say, “Doll, what do you need?” Silence. “Do you need to come over?” I’d croak, “Yes.” He’d say, “Tell me when.” Me: “Tomorrow afternoon.” He’d say, “Okay.” And that was it. He’d hang up.

Sometimes I just needed somebody to care. I was so overwhelmed and not handling it. They, the people I reached out to, gave me love. Asking for their support got me through some of the hardest times.

Find a mentor.

I found a therapist who specialized in services for family members with disabilities. She helped me traverse the systems that could assist with my son’s disability. She understood how to navigate the bureaucratic shit that is part of life, and she became my advocate. Her support helped put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Open up.

I opened myself to everything I could find that might help—alternative medicine, healers, anything.

Eat mindfully.

I wasn’t feeling great. My moods and energy were crap. Wanting to feel better and improve my health pushed me into being more mindful about eating, taking pleasure in food, and honoring both cravings and what I’m needing for nourishment.

Include contentment in your life.

To me, contentment is that feeling of being centered in my life. Through mindful eating and acquiring the practices of meditation and gratitude, I brought more contentment into my life.


I had no idea if it would help, but I kept doing free meditations I found online. This really alleviated my stress and increased my awareness as far as gratitude was concerned.

I still don’t know why the meditations helped so much. I just know that after about a week of practicing them, I was driving around and I noticed I felt happy, fulfilled, and grateful. I wondered, “What the hell? Where did this come from?” I felt better.

Identify what you’re grateful for.

While grasping for things to hold onto, something Oprah said on her talk show struck me. She spoke about writing daily in a gratitude journal. I started one. I wrote in that sucker every day the year my son was born. It did not make everything better, but it helped. Forced to find a few things to be thankful for, I started building this habit of trying to find gratitude in any given instant.

After all these years, I still make sure I have a moment each day where I give thanks, and it can be for whatever. When I’m driving to dance class, I may thank God (for me it’s God, but for you, it might be different) for this beautiful day and that my body is healthy enough to take a dance class.

My whole perspective has changed. I went to another country four years ago. The public toilet was a porcelain hole and a bucket of water with a scoop to flush. When I gave my porter a tip, he said, “I’m going to use this money to buy electricity.” Electricity? I thought, “Oh my God. I have so much.”

I realized that some of my eating, stress, and body-loathing stuff had been about feeling a “lack,” believing that I don’t have abundance in my life. But I do. I have more than I need.

Here’s the shocking conclusion I’ve reached. Mitigating my stress is not about eating. Mitigating my stress is about meditating, exercising, getting outside, spending time with friends, and cuddling my cat. It can be about advocating for my family and myself when it’s needed, even if that means battling hospitals and medical bureaucratic monsters. For me, it’s about finding and maintaining a space of gratitude.


Steel is forged in fire. Walking through the fire of my life, I grew stronger and learned to look at my world in a way I may have otherwise missed. The feel of my son’s velvety cheek, the sun on my face, and a book in my lap—these are perfect moments. When I am truly living in these instants and not in the “I need to be at the grocery store, then at the—” I am more than okay.

Shit’s never going to be perfect. But we, you and me, can notice and appreciate a moment of perfection—like laughing your butt off with a friend; it’s in that moment. And those moments add up to a level of contentment.

The one thing that keeps me away from both emotional eating and body loathing is gratitude. You cannot treat yourself cruelly while in the midst of gratitude.

Note from Alli:

When you think of remedies for body hate and emotional eating, what comes to your mind? Many of us probably go to what seems logical regarding dissatisfaction with the body—change the body to dislike it less. Advice to correct emotional eating? That often includes controlling the food intake, removing tempting items from the house, and increasing discipline. Unfortunately, those methods can be unreliable. Instead, our Storyteller learned to use different, personally effective, maintainable practices. Her shifts in attitude and actions helped her to heal from body hate and emotional eating while also enriching her life.

I want to mention “junk food” here because exploring our preconceived notions can be part of our conquering expedition. With that said, I ask you: what if having “junk food” as we desired it instead of forbidding it might prevent a later episode of emotionally eating, overeating, or bingeing it? This might not be for everyone, but for some, the food then loses its power over us. That sounds useful, not junky at all.

Among the components described in this narrative, our Storyteller points out the practice of meditation as a distinct turning point for her. There are different ways to meditate, and the benefits of it have been well-documented (may reduce stress, alleviate anxiety, increase ability to relax, and so on). If you feel curious about meditation, an accessible overview of research can be found in the online article, “Meditation: In Depth,” by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.[i]

If you’ve already tried meditation and it didn’t work for you, that’s okay! But before you cross it off the list completely, I encourage you to ask yourself: “Did I practice a form that I could connect with?” and “Did I try it for long enough?” The same questions apply to gratitude practices and any other conquering approach you may test. Here’s why.

If something resonates—or could resonate—with you, then you’re more likely to do it than if it didn’t. You might even want to eventually adopt it as a part of your lifestyle. About duration, while researching an article I was writing, I read a lot about habits and the brain. I discovered that contrary to popular belief, there seems to be no “‘X’ number of days” that assures the formation of a habit. It can require more time and attempts than anticipated. With an open mind and inquisitiveness, you’ll likely notice if and when changes happen for you.

When emotional eating has become a primary coping skill, it can feel impossible to stop. Instead, try adding methods to help you cope, like those in this story. Use a skill or two—maybe a few—before going to your emotional eating. The more skills you can enlist, the less you may need to rely on emotional eating as a mainstay.

[i] National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, Meditation: In Depth, (2016). 


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Alli Spotts-De Lazzer is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, and eating and body image specialist with a private practice in Los Angeles, California. Alli has presented educational workshops at conferences, graduate schools, and hospitals; published articles in academic journals, trade magazines, and online information hubs; and appeared as an eating disorders expert on local news. A believer in service, she has co-chaired committees for the Academy for Eating Disorders and the International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals (“iaedp”), facilitated an ongoing eating and body image support group, and created #ShakeIt for Self-Acceptance! – a series of public events sparking conversations about self-acceptance. She was named the 2017 iaedp Member of the Year, and Mayor Garcetti recognized July 13, 2017 as “#ShakeIt for Self-Acceptance! Day” in the City of Los Angeles. MeaningFULL: 23 Life-Changing Stories of Conquering Dieting, Weight, & Body Image Issues was inspired from both Alli’s personal and professional experiences.