Malice Intent

Is Love Worth Dying For?

Non-Fiction - Memoir
241 Pages
Reviewed on 06/05/2016
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Author Biography

Spanish by birth, Alba currently resides in the United States. Turning her life’s lessons into a positive career, becoming a Legal assistant and later on a Private Investigator, Alba is fueled by her love for her three children and the sad loss of her youngest child. As a single parent, Castillo is determined to provide and live as an example not only for them but also for others. At the age of forty-eight the diagnosis of Cancer furthered her challenges – stricken, demoralized but not beaten - the cancer has made its way from breast to bone, several tumors and relapses only make Castillo more determined than ever to speak out and conquer her life’s journey and leave a legacy of love and victory.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Hilary Hawkes for Readers' Favorite

Malice Intent: Is Love Worth Dying For? is Alba Castillo’s true account of her life and harrowing experiences of successive involvements with abusive partners. Alba’s father treated her mother badly and this experience became the root cause of her later unconscious tendency to choose men who turned out to be manipulative, belittling and cruel. Always capable and independent, Alba rejected her mother’s wishes for her to marry locally and devote herself to being a wife and mother. Determined to find her own way and make her own decisions, Alba moved away and worked hard to support herself – particularly once she became a mother to three children by three different fathers. The strain of enduring the abuse led her to alcoholism and drug addiction at one point. Her husband’s lies led to the court order that removed their daughter from her care. But Alba’s love and concern for the safety of her children and her determination to beat the cancer that tormented her physically and mentally drives her onwards with faith, a remarkable resourcefulness and willingness to overcome the chains of her past.

Alba Castillo’s story is an admirably brave and honest account that draws attention to the plight of the abused and the incredibly difficult task they may have in breaking patterns of behavior that unconsciously draw them to yet more abusive relationships. Malice Intent is an eye-opener for many as it reveals the pain and frustration that accompanies the author’s reflections and regrets. Castillo states that she has written this book in order to help other victims to help themselves, and to realize that staying in an abusive relationship will harm and pass on effects to children with the danger that the cycle will be repeated again. The story shows that developing self-insight is so often not enough to escape such relationships; the author describes the co-dependency so well.

Malice Intent is a well-written book that moves with detail, but at the same time a good pace, through the author’s life to date. People and situations are described with clarity - I began to feel I knew the various real life characters mentioned - and readers will be rooting for Alba and her children from the start. More than autobiographical, this book has an honesty, courage, empathy and vulnerability that make it an enlightenment and inspiration to others. Alba Castillo eventually learns to put herself and her loved ones first, to forgive herself for her mistakes and to never give up on making life better.

Arya Fomonyuy

Malice Intent: Is Love Worth Dying For by Alba Castillo is a heartbreaking, inspirational memoir of her journey toward inner peace and happiness, the tale of a life punctuated by suffering and wonderful lessons. Born and raised in a typical Spanish family in the outskirts of Madrid, Alba dreams about traveling to England to study the English language. Her dream comes true as she moves to England and finally to the US, but by then life has already dealt her some of its unforgiving blows, including pregnancy at a young age and having to raise her daughter alone. Her moving narrative chronicles abuse from an addictive lover and the suffering caused to her and her three children by a selfish husband. Alba could have given up hope when, in the midst of harrowing vicissitudes, she is diagnosed with breast cancer, but even then, she finds the strength to live by redefining her purpose and embracing her path with equanimity.

Malice Intent: Is Love Worth Dying For is a story that will appeal to many readers, one that is laced with many life lessons and powerful insights. Alba Castillo’s unwavering courage, her resilience, and her ability to transform her suffering into a life giving and enriching experience is, in itself, a powerful message of hope to her readers. Everyone has suffered in life, and the thought of imminent death can be challenging and frightening. But the author states that she doesn’t fear death. Perhaps she has been in the school of life and has learned that life is a long preparation for death. Her style is simple and ruthlessly honest. It takes a lot of courage to open one’s soul to the world, and Alba has more than that courage. In telling her story, she offers insights and lessons that will help millions of people.

Rabia Tanveer

Malice Intent: Is Love Worth Dying For? by Alba Castillo is the story of a woman who left her village for a better life, only to realize that life is often not what you want it to be. Alba left her family and village to move to England. After learning English, she soon moved to America and started a phase of her life that she never could have imagined in her wildest dreams. She met two men who changed her life drastically. One man introduced her to the world of alcoholism/drugs and the other introduced her to a world of pain and disappointments. It was all she could do to keep her family intact, but a new bomb was dropped on her. She was diagnosed with breast cancer. However, she is a warrior so she fought through several rounds of treatment, while at the same time working hard to keep her family intact.

This is the story of a strong woman who had faith in herself and was tough enough to fight the world. This is a great read. It is truly inspiring how Alba was able to get up every day and not curl into a fetal position. She is a fighter and a strong writer. She did her story justice by writing it in such a powerful manner. You can feel the despair, emotions, and her happiness in her words. There is nothing you can find at fault here. She is a true heroine, and she happens to be a very talented writer. I seriously admire her.

Gisela Dixon

Malice Intent: Is Love Worth Dying For? by Alba Castillo is an autobiography by Alba on her life from her childhood to present. In Malice Intent, Alba details her early years in the small town of Santa Ynez in Spain where everyone knew everyone and her family life there, her move out of town to study English, her life working various jobs in England and elsewhere, her marriages and children, her relationships with men which included abusive relationships, her long relationship and marriage with Peter and how it affected and caused family dysfunction, her long battle with cancer including a mastectomy, ongoing chemotherapy, radiation therapy, etc. and all of the financial hardships associated with this. Alba also writes about her experiences in court and the custody and upbringing of her children.

Although Malice Intent is definitely a story of struggle and strife, Alba writes very candidly and openly about her life, and provides a voice of hope and resilience throughout it all. At times, she is not afraid to admit her own failings or mistakes. The part about her relationships with men has been portrayed in a very real and authentic manner, and it seems as real and believable as if she were sitting across the room and telling it. One thing that comes across is how Alba always put her children as high priority and made sure they were as well taken care of as possible even during all of this. I appreciated this and feel it is so important for others in similar situations to at least make sure the children are protected from harm, sexual abuse or anything of that kind. This is well worth a read!

Ankita Shukla

There is nothing worse than being alone. Is there? After reading the memoir of Alba Castillo, I know there is something way worse than being alone; being in a relationship and still feeling lonely, used, disrespected, and rejected wins the Oscar of being in the worst situation ever. The author has presented the unfiltered truth of her life in her autobiography Malice Intent: Is Love Worth Dying For? Alba Castillo was born in a place where the future of women was predetermined by society; they were to get married and raise a family -- nothing less and nothing more. However, she rebelled against the norm and created her own destiny. Although writing her own destiny and all sounds extremely fascinating, her life remained anything but. She became a single parent very early in her life and the men with whom she considered herself to be in a relationship used her for their own selfish reasons. In her tendency to give people more chances than they deserve, she ended up losing everything she had. At the time when she was diagnosed with cancer, she found herself driving to and from her multiple appointments all alone even though she was in a years-long relationship with a man at the time. How can someone be in a committed relationship, living with their partner and yet remain a single parent? You will know the answer once you read this heart-breaking memoir.

Having read Malice Intent: Is Love Worth Dying For, I know one thing with utmost certainty: Alba Castillo is a fighter. She is a mother who never allowed her monetary problems to become an obstacle in doing the right thing for her kids. Her circumstances did not permit her to grant each of their wishes, but despite everything standing in her way, she ensured that her kids got what's most important in life. It's tragically funny how love worked both in favor and against her. The love that she felt for her children kept her fighting and in survival mode at all times. At the same time, however, the love she felt towards her partner shattered her heart and destroyed her life. The author has no malice intent behind writing this book. The only thing that she expects to achieve by revealing every fact, no matter how dark, is to convey to readers is that it's best to wrap up an abusive relationship as soon as you notice a red flag. Do not be blind in love and try not to suffer in silence. The moment you realize that your partner is not respectful towards you or is manipulative or in any way abusive to you, head for the exit.

Other than highlighting the impact of an abusive relationship on a person's heart, will, and life, the author has tried to inject faith in her readers. No matter how hard the circumstances are, if you have faith and determination, help will come and you will survive. When giving up is not an option, prepare your mind for a battle where losing is not an option. I have learned a lot from her life and her endless courage. Whether you are a fighter or a crybaby, you will definitely learn a lot from her life. I would encourage every reader to read Malice Intent with an open mind, celebrate the strong lady that Alba Castillo is, and quit suffering in an abusive relationship.

Edith Wairimu

Intense and gut-wrenching, Alba Castillo’s memoir, Malice Intent: Is Love Worth Dying For?, presents the experiences of a Spanish woman whose fight for survival is inspiring. At a young age, Alba was always a dreamer, quite restless and with a thrill for adventure. She dreamed of what life would be like beyond her small hometown of Santa Ynez, Spain. Her dream came true one day. She finally got the opportunity to leave her home behind and go to Madrid and then to London. But life there was not exactly what she had imagined and soon enough she was back to searching for a place to call home. Her life would turn out to be a journey in which she would have to battle domestic violence, drug addiction, four bouts of cancer, the loss of a daughter to a self-seeking man, and unfathomable emotional pain.

Malice Intent’s narrative is laced with many lessons and invaluable advice. Alba Castillo balances emotional provocation and the narration of scenes. She articulates the purpose of the book impressively. Along the way, Alba’s grit in the midst of her mistakes became the source of hope for me that, despite everything, she would still pull through. Malice Intent’s pace is steady and this is achieved by the compactness of the narrative. Alba’s perspective is also clearly expressed. Writing is free flowing, with a peek at the present covered in the epilogue. In the background, the story sheds light on the struggles of single parenthood, drug addiction, illness and the torment of domestic abuse.

Lesley Jones

In Malice Intent: Is Love Worth Dying For? by Alba Castillo, Alba always knew that she was the black sheep of her family, while growing up in the small village of Santa Ynez, close to Madrid. She always knew that her life would be different to those of her siblings, who dreamt of getting married and raising a family in the village. As soon as Alba turned 18 years old, she left for England and this is where her journey begins. Alba met her first husband in England and although happy, the union was short-lived. Alba wanted to feel that rush of love and excitement which she found in her next two relationships. However, the men were not all they seemed, and hidden beneath the charm was a dark side, that included physical and mental torture and rape. She found an escape route from the painful reality of her life through alcohol and cocaine. When she met Peter, Alba believed that he would be the one person to love her, but the happiness soon turned to psychological torture. Then she discovered she had cancer. Alba continued her battle to provide for her children, and always found a way to make their lives as normal as possible. She never expected that while she was fighting cancer, there would be a traumatic custody battle, and the shocking news that one of her children was being abused. This gripping true story will inspire you to be the strongest and best version of your self.

This book is written with a brutal honesty that will make you ask the question, ‘Will this woman ever be given a break?’ I thought Alba described each event with such vividness that you felt you were living the experience with her. Although her life became one of emotional and mental abuse, she kept striving and pushing forward, even when all the odds were against her, and this is admirable. The section concerning her cancer treatment and the custody battle for her youngest daughter affected me the most. Throughout the book, Alba does not complain or wallow in self-pity, and that is why this book is so special. You will discover the strength of the human character, and when she had no one to turn to and nowhere to go, Alba always found a way to provide for her children. A true inspiration to us all. My favourite quote from the book is, ‘Life does not have to be complicated,’ which is very true. Highly recommended.

Grant Leishman

For those of us fortunate and blessed to be brought up in a loving, protective and supportive family, it is sometimes difficult to understand that is not always the case for everyone. In Malice Intent, Alba Castillo shows us what potential disasters can confront us when we make poor decisions in life, for ourselves and those we love. Born in the small town of Santa Ynez in Spain to a strict Catholic family, Alba was a rebel from the beginning. Determined to break free from the life that seemed pre-planned for her in Santa Ynez, she left home early to begin what seemed like an aimless trek to find herself and her future. Pregnancy and motherhood did not dampen Alba’s desire to search for her destiny, but it was when she moved to America that her life truly fell apart. She began to spiral down into the depths of her own personal hell, which would include domestic abuse, drug and alcohol addiction, illness, and a morbid desire to self-sabotage. Working her way through her travails and pain, she finally came to the one immutable conclusion; that the only person capable of changing our destiny is ourselves and that the power to do so is inside of all of us.

Malice Intent is a powerful book that explores some nasty and horrible topics, but partly because it is done through the prism of both the perpetrator and, indeed, the victim; the author Alba Castillo. The book is both readable and insightful. Despite a large part of the story reading like one enormous “pity party” and a litany of horrors, what comes through loud and clear is the acceptance that we are the master of our own lives and we have to take control of what we can control; that we all have the power within ourselves to change our own future. I particularly appreciated the author’s courage to put her dysfunctional life out there in the open for all to see. I have no doubt writing this was cathartic for the author, but equally it stands as a beacon of hope for others in a similar situation. The author’s writing style is plain, simple, and no-holds-barred. She tells it like it is and opens her life, her decisions and her mistakes up for our examination and perhaps even judgement. This is an extremely easy book to read and one that would be of immense benefit to anyone who has experienced abuse or addiction in their lives. It is a timely reminder that “there but for the grace of God, go I” and I would highly recommend reading it.

Joel R. Dennstedt

Malice Intent by Alba Castillo is a train wreck of a story, or a heroic account of one woman’s struggle to overcome an abuse-filled life. The book can be read in two ways, depending on the personal experience and perspective of the reader. The author is intent on establishing the more heroic narrative, but she is candid, detailed, and precise enough to also establish doubt. The book has been lauded by most as a tale about surmounting horrendous odds in order to prevail. Ms. Castillo, however, has supplied enough ammunition, if desired, to shoot her own story down and reinterpret it as a cautionary tale about indulging in unbelievable and repetitive mistakes. The most conclusive statement one can make is that this emotionally wrought confessional is real and raw and relevant. Also, that it radiates emphatic immediacy. And it is very well written.

Alba Castillo’s necessarily self-centered viewpoint in Malice Intent tends to favor her own harsh assessments of her worst antagonists, and often to mitigate the selfishness behind her personal motivations, but to be entirely fair, she never refrains from letting the reader see these personal “moles and warts.” And none of this detracts from the force of reality and authenticity behind her hard and dangerous life encounters. In fact, she writes like one in shock, as hammered and confused by her own repetitive behavior as she is by her betrayers and abusers. Therein lies an immense value behind an ultimately courageous and naked revelation: Watch me suffer my wretched train wreck, but learn an important lesson by how I struggled out. For that, the book is indeed heroic.

Ruffina Oserio

Malice Intent: Is Love Worth Dying For? by Alba Castillo is the true story of a warrior, a survivor, and a woman who beat the odds to restore her dignity. Alba Castillo is born in Santa Ynez, a little village on the suburbs of Madrid. Driven by the desire to live a better life and to see better prospects, she travels to England where she learns English and then quickly finds herself in the United Sates. It’s in the US that her descent into hell begins. She gets into drugs and booze, experiences domestic and spousal abuse, betrayal, and cancer. She loses her youngest daughter to an abusive father. But how did she survive all this? How did she get to triumph over her self-destructive behaviors? This story shares secrets on how she trumped death and survived the worst, including painful cancer treatments and how she found the strength to love herself.

This is a beautiful story, raw and inspiring; it’s a story about resilience and courage. Alba Castillo may write in a clear and compelling voice, but it’s the ruthless honesty in the narrative that seduced me. The writing is beautiful and I loved the way the author allows the emotional and psychological implications of the story to come out. The theme of making wrong choices comes out brilliantly in the narrative and readers get the strong message that we are victims of our choices. Malice Intent: Is Love Worth Dying For? is a book about what the protagonist learned about inner strength and freedom and what her painful journey has taught her. You’ll find tools to beat self-destructive habits, make wise decisions in relationships, and find the strength to stand up for yourself.

Deborah Lloyd

Alba Castillo shares her story of survival in her memoir, Malice Intent: Is Love Worth Dying For? She was born and raised in a small village outside of Madrid, Spain; she knew she could not stay there. As an adolescent, she moved to England twice, but her efforts at finding a good job were thwarted by the fact she never had a work permit for England and was only allowed to work as an au pair at that point and time. Eventually, she found her way to the United States. Her relationships with three different men over the years resulted in three children and taking care of these children was always her main focus. Peter, the father of her third child, had mental health diagnoses and eventually succeeded in taking this daughter away from her. She admits to making choices that sabotaged a healthy and happy life. Yet, she always survived. This life of severe emotional abuse, four separate bouts of cancer and the loss of her daughter is realistically portrayed in this thought-provoking book.

The author’s writing style is direct and honest. The reader is easily engaged in the ups and downs of Castillo's life and supports her efforts to overcome the obstacles placed before her. Castillo does not make excuses for her choices, but rather she presents the short-term, and long-term, consequences of them. This is one of the most important aspects of the book, especially for people who find themselves in unhealthy, co-dependent relationships. Citing the high level of stress that she lived under for years as a possible cause, or contributing cause, to her cancer is another essential message. Malice Intent: Is Love Worth Dying For? by Alba Castillo is an unforgettable and insightful work.

Caitlin Lyle Farley

Castillo’s moving memoir, Malice Intent, takes the reader on a lifelong journey of survival and lessons learned the hard way. Born in the village of Santa Ynez, near Madrid, Spain, Castillo rebels against the customs of dating, getting married, and settling down with a boy from the village. Instead, she travels to England and works there illegally. On her return to Madrid, Castillo meets and marries a U.S Air Force soldier, but the relationship is not to be. A brief romance with a freeloading model ends with Castillo becoming a single mother and moving to the U.S. with her daughter, Hannah. Being a single parent comes with its own challenges, which Castillo bravely faces as she navigates financial hardship and neglectful child minders.

Castillo writes with honesty and courage about her abusive past relationships. Castillo refrains from detailing all the subtle psychological conditioning abusers use on their victims in her early relationships, but an informed reader can clearly track the sequence of events threaded through this aspect of Malice Intent. It’s a sad fact that many women, and men, will recognise the behavioural patterns involved and identify with the minor dissociation Castillo touches on. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sufficiently illuminate the complex toxicity of abusive relationships or the effects of prolonged gaslighting, a manipulative tactic that an abuser uses. For this reason, Castillo’s willingness to believe in and forgive Peter can be difficult to read. Malice Intent is both brave and heartfelt, and challenging to read because of this.

Sunni Minx

This book was an excellent read! It had me on the edge of seat waiting to see what happened next. Definitely two thumbs up!