Tag Archives: biography

Joseph W. Taylor Born to Bird by Ann Taylor Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author Ann Taylor gives readers a personal look into the life of the foremost North American ammeter ornithologist and conservationist in the mid-twentieth century in the book “Joseph W. Taylor Born to Bird”.


The Synopsis

Joseph W. Taylor BORN TO BIRD is a biography of the foremost North American amateur ornithologist and conservationist in the mid-twentieth century.

BORN TO BIRD examines Joe Taylor’s life path as a journey toward his true self. This transformation came slowly. He was born to economic and social privilege, yet an unanticipated destiny with birds awaited him.

Birdwatching began for Joe at age eight. Early on, he conformed to a traditional pattern of education and employment. Nevertheless, beneath this apparent comfort lay a developing obsession with birds. His skill with bird identification blossomed, as did his curiosity about birds and their habitats. By the time he was an adult, Joe had become a serious birder.

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In the late 1940s, he began to visit wildlife refuges. Often in solitude away from the pressures of family and commercial obligations, he created plans for bolstering the national pursuit of birdwatching. At the same time, he began to compile a list of the numerous bird species which he had personally identified. He joined the life listing “600 Club,” an elite group dedicated to the identification of bird species. At the close of his life, he had seen over 729 individual species.

As his awareness about ecological problems grew, Joe made a pivotal decision to break with all traditional expectations and begin a new life. In his mid-fifties, he abruptly retired from business and began wholeheartedly to embrace naturalist pursuits. His significant contributions to the study of birds, his tenure on many conservation boards, twenty-six-years as president of Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Pennsylvania and his collaborative formation of the American Birding Association are evidence of his dedication. The manifest transformation of his life was complete.

This monomythical journey is something we all have the potential to realize. Are we living out our dreams, choosing our true passion over safe decisions or expected demands? One’s life contains infinite choices, some planned, others circumstantial. A life transformed from expectation into passionate dedication is an inspiration, not only for birders but also for us all.

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The Review

This was an inspiring and fascinating read. The author writes with a passion and admiration that reflects her close personal connection to her father’s legacy and the pursuit of his personal passion in life that so few people ever get the chance to experience. The imagery (both literal and figurative here), allowed the reader to feel a broader connection to Joseph as his life led him from the business world to the natural world in such an abrupt yet meaningful way, and allowed the serene nature of the outdoors and the wildlife itself (ornithologically speaking of course) to shine through expertly.

To me, the heart of this book rested in the author’s ability to balance out the biographical aspects of the book with the more enlightening nature of ornithology and the passion for bird-watching itself. The author does a wonderful job of connecting the reader emotionally to her father’s life and his experiences moving into his passion in life at the young age of 54, and yet as a bird pet parent and a bird enthusiast myself, I could feel the heart and love for this subject matter as it overtook the author’s father throughout his life and the almost serene beauty that comes from witnessing these majestic creatures in flight or in their everyday life. 

The Verdict

Passionately written, captivating, and engaging, author Ann Taylor’s “Joseph W. Taylor Born to Bird” is a must-read biography meets nonfiction book on nature and birds in particular. The heart and driving force behind the subject’s need to immerse themselves in the life of ornithology while also conveying the emotional bond the author had with her father made this a meaningful and impactful read that the audience won’t soon forget.

 If you haven’t yet, be sure to preorder your copy today or grab it when it hits shelves on March 20th, 2023!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Ann Taylor, author, editor and designer has been creating public and private books for decades. Producing books is her passion. Joseph W. Taylor BORN TO BIRD, a biography of her father, combines all these skills. Joe Taylor was the foremost “life lister” of North American birds in the late twentieth century. Traveling with him on numerous birding expeditions schooled Ann in the art of birdwatching which compelled her to write and compile this personal narrative. Born in the East, Ann’s childhood was infused with birds – in conversations, on feeders, in Audubon engravings, even stuffed! Educated at Vassar College and the New School University, her book creation skills have been utilized by publishers such as Alfred A. Knopf and Paul S. Eriksson. Her books focus on biography, travel, art and genealogy. In her eighties, Ann writes at her desk in Scottsdale, Arizona and at her wilderness retreat in the Bradshaw Mountains. She has organized a book club for countless years, loves loom weaving and is devoted to Tai chi chuan. Her family and friends are often recruited to critique her imaginative concepts. Even her cat must listen to the latest pages!


Felicity, Art, War, and Peace by Piers R. Blackett and Annah Otis Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author Piers R. Blackett, along with Annah Otis, shares his mother’s artwork and the experiences and periods of time in which they were created in the book “Felicity, Art, War and Peace”.


The Synopsis

Felicity, Art, War and Peace: This is the inspiring story of an English-born artist, who, born in 1911, lost her father in the first world war. Her school years were in Italy, where her Scottish mother owned a tearoom, and where she began her art education. She married a British army officer and accompanied him to India where she attended art school. But further education was cut short in 1939 by tumultuous war years followed by two years in Germany while her second husband, Rupert, a close friend of Tommy her first husband, served in the British Army of Occupation. Both men were wounded, Rupert severely and Tommy fatally. Then, a move to South Africa in 1948 resulted in relative peace, her style evolving from classic realism to include more impressionistic representation of her subjects. After moving back to England in 1972, her work was twice accepted for exhibition by the Royal West of England Academy. She remained intent on capturing movement, expression, and communication among domestic and wild animals, and birds. The Slimbridge Wetland Centre, as well as her own garden with her ducks and rabbits, provided an ideal environment for inspiration. Missing her 100th birthday by only a few months, her century-long story captures all that her life and commitment to art encompassed, making an enduring impression on children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and friends who in many ways have contributed to preserving her memory.

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The Review

Yet another amazing and well-written biography that captured both the emotional connection the authors had to the subject of the book and the lifetime of experiences that their lives comprised. The century of history that Felicity’s life experienced was so well documented and infused both hope and passion into events and experiences that were both inspiring yet terrifying at times. The authors did an incredible job of not only sharing a wealth of information but showcasing the importance of finding one’s community to thrive and grow, something that is so important to one’s mental and emotional health.

The heart of this book rests in both the personal experiences and lifetime of events the authors brought to life for Felicity and the beauty of the art from Felicity and the importance of the themes that each art piece and associated memory brought. The honesty and passion of the authors writing and the heart found in the amazing pieces of art that the writers featured from Felicity brought a depth of connection to Felicity as a subject and as a person that the reader is able to make. 

The Verdict

Brilliantly written, heartfelt, and engaging, authors Piers Blackett and Annah Otis’s “Felicity, Art, War and Peace” is a must-read biography about a strong, inspiring, and artistically creative woman who impacted her family and the world around her. The heart and emotion that the authors emote in this book’s writing and the wealth of information were so inviting to read about as a reader, and those who come to learn about Felicity and her life will not want to put this book down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Piers Blackett, a retired professor of pediatrics, was born in England during World War II and grew up in South Africa where he graduated as a doctor at the University of Cape Town. Pediatric residency and specialty fellowship were completed in New York and Toronto. During a career of specialization in endocrinology including metabolism and genetics at at the University of Oklahoma, he authored and co-authored medical publications including book chapters. His first book outside the medical field, “Felicity. Art War and Peace”, a biography co-authored with Annah Otis, was published in 2023.

The Many Adventures of Donnie Malone by Paul E. Doutrich Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author Paul E. Doutrich shares a thought-provoking and engaging look into the life of his uncle Don Malone as he lives and experiences the momentous events that shaped the American 20th century in the book “The Many Adventures of Donnie Malone”.


The Synopsis

The Many Adventures of Donnie Malone takes readers into the events that helped shape the American twentieth century. They begin when sixteen-year-old Donnie gets caught up in the patriotic swirl of World War I. Enlisting in the U.S. Army, he becomes a pilot during the deadly days at the end of the fighting.

The stakes in Donnie’s life are just as high after the war. He wrestles with wealthy investors and powerful politicians who have designs on his air delivery business. He is hired to drive a cab for an ambitious mobster and works at assorted dead-end jobs until he bumps into the man who taught him to fly, American ace Eddie Rickenbacker, and it changes his course.

Later he befriends detainees in a Japanese internment camp, becomes enmeshed in labor struggles, and dodges McCarthy agents. During the Vietnam era, having seen enough war, Donnie helps several young men avoid the draft by flying them to Canada.

Woven throughout Donnie’s adventures are the threads of a rich family life, and contentment even in times of travail.

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The Review

This was such a powerful and engaging read. The author did a remarkable job of making the tone and quality of the writing feel almost homey as if you were sitting in the room with Donnie and listening to him retell these stories with passion and heart that only a close relative could. The emotional connection the author made between his uncle and the events of his life was significantly felt throughout the book and elevated the storied life he led. 

What struck me about this book was the amazing balance of personal storytelling the author found with the historical aspect of the setting and backstory behind the stories themselves. As a history buff, getting to see this firsthand account from the author’s uncle and how these pivotal and shocking moments from the 20th century occurred was incredible. The heart behind these stories and the personable way the story was told added depth to the experience and connection the author’s uncle had to the last century of American history. 

The Verdict

Memorable, heartfelt, and engaging, author Paul Doutrich’s “The Many Adventures of Donnie Malone” is a must-read biography and nonfiction read that blends biography storytelling with history at its finest. The passion and memorable way the author connected readers to his uncle’s stories and the relatability of the American narrative for many people will resonate with a large audience and make this one book you wouldn’t want to put down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Paul Doutrich is a professor emeritus of American history at York College of Pennsylvania where he taught for thirty years. He now lives on Cape Cod in Brewster, Massachusetts.

Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero by Michael Hingson and Susy Flory Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

The true story of a man blind from birth and the extraordinary bond between him and his guide dog that allowed them to survive one of American History’s most horrendous tragedies comes to life in authors Michael Hingson and Susy Flory’s “Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero”.


The Synopsis

Faith.  Trust.  Triumph.

I trust Roselle with my life, every day. She trusts me to direct her. And today is no different, except the stakes are higher. Michael Hingson

First came the boom the loud, deep, unapologetic bellow that seemed to erupt from the very core of the earth. Eerily, the majestic high-rise slowly leaned to the south. On the seventy-eighth floor of the World Trade Center’s north tower, no alarms sounded, and no one had information about what had happened at 8:46 a.m. on September 11, 2001. What should have been a normal workday for thousands of people. All that was known to the people inside was what they could see out the windows: smoke and fire and millions of pieces of burning paper and other debris falling through the air.

Blind since birth, Michael couldn’t see a thing, but he could hear the sounds of shattering glass, falling debris, and terrified people flooding around him and his guide dog, Roselle. However, Roselle sat calmly beside him. In that moment, Michael chose to trust Roselle’s judgment and not to panic. They are a team.

Thunder Dog allows you entry into the isolated, fume-filled chamber of stairwell B to experience survival through the eyes of a blind man and his beloved guide dog. Live each moment from the second a Boeing 767 hits the north tower, to the harrowing stairwell escape, to dodging death a second time as both towers fold into the earth.

It’s the 9/11 story that will forever change your spirit and your perspective. Thunder Dog illuminates Hingson’s lifelong determination to achieve parity in a sighted world, and how the rare trust between a man and his guide dog can inspire an unshakable faith in each one of us.

The Review

The authors delivered a truly moving, compelling, and inspiring memoir. The visceral details of the harrowing experience both Michael and his guide dog Roselle had trying to navigate that stairwell and escape the towers that horrific day is chilling and haunting to read about, and is something that many readers around the world will be able to identify with as many experienced the fear and confusion that the news brought from that traumatic day.

The heart of the narrative lies in the bond between Michael and Roselle, as well as the emphasis the authors put on faith and trust as a whole. Whether it is the faith that Michael put into Roselle that day and throughout their lives as a whole or the faith in his belief system that gave him the confidence to face life’s struggles head-on, the theme of faith runs deeply through this book. 

Now I will say I had the pleasure of reading another book on this man’s life story, and you can read my thoughts on that here, but what made this version of his story shine in a different light than the first one was the emphasis the authors put on showcasing blindness as a whole and trying to move readers to look beyond the “handicap” of those who are blind and see the people they are instead, which gave a nice balance to the rest of the events portrayed in this book.

The Verdict

Thoughtful, inspiring, and hopeful, authors Michael Hingson and Susy Flory’s “Thunder Dog” is a must-read memoir and nonfiction book on faith, trust, and loyalty like no other. The emotional connection between Michael and Roselle, as well as the importance of understanding blindness and the connection people make with either their pets or in this instance, their guide dogs, and the shocking details of an experience few could ever put into words made this one book you won’t be able to put down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

When the World Trade Center was attacked on 9-11, it was as though the world stood still. It was a day that captured our full attention. Michael Hingson and his Guide Dog Roselle were on the 78th floor of Tower One that day, and were able to make their way to safety and survive the attack. The duo was immediately thrust into the international spotlight, becoming well-known representatives of the strength of the human/animal bond and a living example of the powerful partnership that exists between a blind person and their Guide Dog. In 2002 Michael joined the Guide Dogs for the Blind team as the National Public Affairs director, to share his story throughout the world on behalf of the school. In June of 2008 Michael left Guide Dogs to form The Michael Hingson Group to continue his speaking career as well as to serve as a consultent for corporations and organizations that need assistance with Inclusive and Diversity training as well as adaptive technology training.

Michael Hingson is available for speaking engagements, public appearances, consulting and training contract positions and media interviews.

In his own words:

I lived through the 9-11 tragedy and have much to say about my experiences leading up to and escaping from the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Since that day, I’ve traveled the world with Roselle and her successors; at first to help people heal and hope, and now, to help them find meaning and purpose. As a blind person living in today’s world I want people to see that while there are many different kinds of people, each with their own different gifts, we all can live and work together if we choose to open our minds and hearts and become a more inclusive world. There are positive lessons to be learned from every tragedy, and 9-11 is certainly no exception.

Because I am blind, I have a unique perspective. Because I believe in the power of partnering with my Guide Dog, I can speak from the heart about teamwork and trust. I’ve been a guest numerous times on Larry King Live, have been interviewed on Regis and Kelly, and have appeared on the CBS Morning Show – but I’m looking forward to my next big engagement: as the featured speaker at your event.

I promise to bring my faithful friend and guide dog, Africa – she has her own fan club! If it weren’t for our ability to work together as a team just as I Roselle and I did on 9-11, my story would be much different and I probably would not have learned the lessons I now can pass on to audiences throughout the world.

The events of September 11th changed the world, and they certainly changed my life. There’s something about almost losing your life that makes what really matters in life crystal clear. I left my successful 27-year career in high tech computer sales and management to travel the world speaking about the importance of teamwork and trust in our professional and personal lives.

I would like to bring my story to your audience at your next event or meeting and help you make it a memorable and rewarding experience. And you will have the satisfaction that any dollars you spend will not only cover my speaking fees, but will help others like myself enjoy the independence and companionship that comes from a partnership with a Guide Dog. 

Susy Flory is the New York Times bestselling author or co-author of fourteen books. A graduate of UCLA, she has a background in journalism, education, and communications. She loves reading and writing stories about unforgettable people who are living lives of adventure, courage, hope, redemption, and transformation.

She first started writing at the Newhall Signal with the legendary Scotty Newhall, an ex-editor of the San Francisco Chronicle and a one-legged cigar-smoking curmudgeon who ruled the newsroom from behind a dented metal desk where he pounded out stories on an Underwood Typewriter.

Susy’s first book, Fear Not Da Vinci, was co-written with Gini Monroe with contributions by Ward Gasque, and published in 2006. Other books include So Long Status Quo: What I Learned from Women Who Changed the World (Beacon Hill, 2009); Miracle on Voodoo Mountain (with Megan Boudreaux, Harper Collins, 2015); and The Good, The Bad, and the Grace of God, with Jep and Jessica Robertson (Harper Collins, 2015).

Susy’s runaway bestseller, Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero written with Michael Hingson, hit the New York Times bestsellers list in both hardcover nonfiction and e-book nonfiction the first week of release. Thunder Dog has also been adapted for the stage, optioned for film, and translated into over 15 languages, including German, Dutch, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Indonesian, and Chinese.

Her most recent book. The Sky Below, is the story of astronaut Scott Parazynski, the only man every to fly in space and summit Mount Everest. She just finished up Desired By God, a book with Van Moody, pastor of the Worship Center in Birmingham, AL, about a God who yearns for a vital and passionate relationship with us.

Susy is a member of The Authors Guild, Inspire Christian Writers, and INK Creative Collective. She’s a 2017 recipient of the Pacesetter Award from Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, and now directs the West Coast Christian Writers Conference in the San Francisco Bay Area and her startup, Everything Memoir.

A breast cancer survivor of four gnarly surgeries, Susy celebrates life by chasing great stories in places like Cuba, Haiti, Turkey, Israel, and her own backyard. She’s written with celebrities, heroes of the faith, athletes, explorers, and the girl (and boy) next door She loves riding a crazy ex-racehorse named Stetson, hiking in the High Sierras, and skiing black diamond runs whenever she can. 


They Call Me Produce Pete by “Produce Pete” Napolitano and Susan Bloom Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Authors “Produce Pete” Napolitano and Susan Bloom take readers on an engaging journey into the life and memories of TV icon Produce Pete in the book “They Call Me Produce Pete”.


The Synopsis

Pete Napolitano began his career in the produce industry in the early 1950s at the tender age of five, peddling fruit and vegetables door-to-door to help support his family’s New Jersey-based produce business.  “Discovered” at his store by a TV producer decades later and given the moniker “Produce Pete,” he’s since become a fixture on WNBC’s Weekend Today in New York show, where his tips on selecting, storing, and preparing various produce items – all shared in his authentic, endearing, and plain-speaking style – have captivated viewers in metro New York and other U.S. and international markets for 30 years and rendered him one of the longest-running segments in TV history. 

In They Call Me Produce Pete, Napolitano shares candid memories of growing up poor in post-WWII America, striving to achieve the American Dream, and landing unexpected fame as one of the nation’s leading experts on produce.  Sprinkled with touching stories, photos, and family recipes that have held a special place in his heart throughout his life, They Call me Produce Pete is a nostalgic nod to simpler times and a must-read for anyone who dares to dream the impossible. 

The Review

This was a touching and heartfelt read. The author did an incredible job of writing in a way that made the memoir feel personal and engaging all at once. The author’s story speaks to so many different people, from those who grew up in post-WW2 America to those who have worked in food, in particular with produce, and even those who have worked in the television field. 

The balance the author struck between personal life stories and memories with the behind-the-scenes look at his career and the family recipes that have held a special place in his heart was heartwarming to read about. The honesty and passionate way the author relayed his story to the reader spoke to the author’s storied career, and yet showcased the man behind “Produce Pete” in a brilliant way. I loved how personal and memorable each recipe the author included felt to the tapestry of his life story, and kept me both emotionally and intellectually invested in the author’s life. 

The Verdict

Insightful, memorable, and engaging, authors “Produce Pete” Napolitano and Susan Bloom’s “They Call Me Produce Pete” is a must-read memoir and nonfiction book. An iconic member of the television community and a leading expert in the field of produce, the story of Produce Pete will have readers invested as the author’s life plays out on the pages of this book, and the relatability of the author’s life will have readers feeling connected to the author on a personal level. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

With over 70 years of experience in the produce industry, renowned fruit and vegetable expert, author, and TV personality “Produce Pete” Napolitano has appeared on a highly-popular segment on NBC’s Weekend Today in New York broadcastevery Saturday morning for 30 years.  They Call Me Produce Pete is the long-awaited follow-up to his first book, Produce Pete’s Farmacopeia

Susan Bloom is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in such New Jersey-based publications as The Star-LedgerThe Asbury Park PressNew Jersey Monthly Magazine, and Jersey’s Best Magazine as well as such national mediums as USA TodayThe New York Daily News, and Natural Awakenings.  She’s collaborated with Produce Pete on a broad range of articles and monthly columns for over a decade 


Love The Dark Days by Ira Mathur Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A woman who has been stuck in a vicious cycle of trauma as her grandmother lashes out after the loss of her former life finds herself fighting to let go of the past and reinvent herself in author Ira Mathur’s “Love The Dark Days”.


The Synopsis

From award-winning journalist Ira Mathur, Love The Dark Days is about accrued intergenerational damage between mothers and daughters in post-colonial worlds.

Set in India, England, Trinidad and St Lucia, Love The Dark Days follows the story of the life of Dolly, of mixed Hindu Muslim parentage in post-colonial India. Dolly, whose privileged family has colluded with the brutality of the British Rule in India, lives with her grandmother, who feels a raging loss at the fading old world. With it, her privilege. Dolly absorbs her grandmothers’ rage, becoming a living memorial of all the pain and injustice the imperious Burrimummy repeatedly hauls back from her past to tell and retell to Dolly. Just as Dolly is constantly pulled into the old wounds, so is the reader. The story is crafted so the reader viscerally experiences how trauma loops around, coming back and back through generations to warp the future.

That damage of unbelonging is repeated when her family migrates to Trinidad, where, in her darkest hour, she meets Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott, who encourages her when she visits him in St Lucia over a weekend to leave the past behind and reinvent herself. Before she can do this Dolly must re-enter the past one last time.

Can Dolly find the courage to examine each broken shard of her shattered family and reassemble it into a new shape in a new world? It is raw, unflinching, but not without threads of humour and perceived absurdity; Love the Dark Days is an intricate tapestry with Dolly’s story at its heart. 

The Review

This was such a well-written and captivating memoir and biography. The balance the author found in the generational stories of her family, including her grandmother and mother, with her own experiences was so impactful and thought-provoking. The rich imagery the author conjured up through her writing really brought readers into the lives of these very different yet connected women through the generations of this family. 

The heart of the author’s story was true in the intricate details of her life experiences and the multi-cultural journey she undertook in her life, as well as the deep look into how Colonialism impacted both her family and the generations that came before. The history of Colonialism is so rarely discussed in detail within nations such as The United States outside of an advanced history course, and so learning of the experiences that came with Colonialism and getting to see it through both her mother’s family’s side and her father’s point of view was fascinating. Yet it was the intimate, heartfelt moments that the author shared of her own life and experiences that really made the deepest impact, even in the opening pages as she confronts a loss of proportionate significance. 

The Verdict

Heartfelt, captivating, and engaging, author Ira Mathur’s “Love The Dark Days” is a must-read memoir and nonfiction book. The rich cultural dynamics both within her family and her own life were so passionately written about and felt in the journey the reader was led on, and the emotional and mental struggles the author and her multi-generational family underwent, including this cycle of trauma, were both tragic in its delivery and yet hopeful in the author’s achievements and experiences in the modern day. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Ira Mathur is an Indian-born Trinidadian award winning multimedia journalist with degrees in Literature, Law and Journalism. www.irasroom.org .She is currently the Trinidad Guardian’s longest-running columnist , and has freelanced for The Guardian (UK) and the BBC.

IN 2021 Mathur was longlisted for the Bath Novel Award for her unpublished novel ”Touching Dr Simone.”

In 2019 Mathur was longlisted for the Johnson and Amoy Achong Caribbean Writers Prize. An excerpt of her memoir is anthologized in Thicker Than Water, (Peekash Press, 2018).

In 2018 she shortlisted for the Bridport Short Story Prize, the Lorian Hemmingway (short story) and Small Axe Literary Competition.

Mathur gained diplomas in creative writing at the University of East Anglia/Guardian with James Scudamore & Gillian Slovo and Maggie Gee at the Faber Academy. ( 2015/2016)


Wings of Destiny: Ziaur Rahman Ansari – A Life by Fasihur Rahman Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Author Fasihur Rahman shares an accurate and brilliant biography of a Union Minister of India who served under two Prime Ministers in his storied career in the book “Wings of Destiny: Ziaur Rahman Ansari – A Life”.


The Synopsis

The biography offers an insight into the life of Ziaur Rahman Ansari (1925-1992), who served as union minister in the council of ministers of two Prime Ministers – Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. The book traces his political journey spanning nearly three decades and provides a rare glimpse into his vision, convictions, traits and beliefs. He remained in the media spotlight in 1985 when he participated in a debate on a Private Member Bill related to Supreme Court judgement on the Shah Bano case.

The author has provided a factual account of his public life which has, at several places, been misquoted or misinterpreted based on the perception of varied genres of society.

The Review

This was such an incredibly well-balanced biography and nonfiction read. The author did such an incredible job of crafting a detailed, well-researched, and well-rounded book that honed in on the life of Ziaur Rahman Ansari. From his ancestors and family history that including the fight for freedom in India, to the often fraught political career he endured and even the author’s more personal life interests, from literature to art and music interests that paint a more human and relatable tone to the figure’s history. 

The most pivotal aspect of the life of this charged and engaging character is his work on a highly politicized case in India that made headlines, as did his role in it. What stuck out to me was how the author was able to weave in some emotional storytelling about the subject’s life, especially those later years and the diagnosis of his neurological disorder. This made the subject’s life seem so much more thoughtful and spoke to me on a human level, making the narrative feel alive on the page.

The Verdict

Captivating, thought-provoking, and enlightening, author Fasihur Rahman’s “Wings of Destiny: Ziaur Rahman Ansari – A Life” is a must-read biography and nonfiction read. The author’s detailed writing style and rich use of imagery and tone to paint an image of the storied life of this political figure made this a wonderful book, and the unique perspective of politics and life in India overall to a wider audience made this a must-have book of the year. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

FASIHUR RAHMAN was born and brought up in India. He was educated in India, the UK and Canada. A trained Environmental Scientist, he has served both public and private sector. Between 2015 and 2017, he has taken up assignments as Visiting Scientist at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus, Canada.

He has written, among others, for Indian Newspapers (The Hindu, The Indian Express, The Pioneer, The Statesman); Canadian (Toronto Star, The Telegram, The Independent); United Arab Emirates (Khaleej Times); and the UK (The Sunday Times). He spends his time in India and Canada.

Guns and Gods In My Genes: A 15,000-Mile North American Search Through Four Centuries, to the Mayflower by Neil McKee Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Readers are treated to a journey through time as author Neil McKee highlights his family history and both the heroes and villains who comprised his family’s legacy in Canada and America in the book “Guns and Gods In My Genes”. 


The Synopsis 

Neill McKee, author of the award-winning travel memoir Finding Myself in Borneo, takes the reader through 400 years and 15,000 miles of an on-the-road adventure, discovering stories of his Scots-Irish ancestors in Canada, while uncovering their attitudes towards religion and guns. 

His adventure turns south and west as he follows the trail of his maternal grandfather, a Canadian preacher who married an American woman in Wisconsin, and braved the American Wild West from 1904 to 1907, finding a two-story brothel across from one of his churches and a sheriff who owned a saloon and dance hall, while carrying a gun with 20 notches, one for each man he had killed. 

Much to his surprise, McKee finds his American ancestors were involved in every major conflict on North American soil: the Civil War, the American Revolution, and the French and Indian War. In the last chapters, McKee discovers and documents his Pilgrim ancestors who arrived on the Mayflower, landing at Plymouth in 1620, and their Puritan descendants who fought in the early Indian Wars of New England. 

With the help of professional genealogical research, he tracks down and tells the stories of the heroes, villains, rascals, as well as, the godly and ordinary folk in his genes, discovering many facts and exposing myths. He also lets readers in on a personal struggle: whether to apply for Canadian-United States dual citizenship or remain only a Canadian.

The Review

The author has really crafted an amazing book. What immediately stands out is how unlike the typical memoir or biography style of writing this book takes. A great portion of this read encompasses a personal take on some of history’s greatest and most memorable moments through the lens of one man’s family, from the American Civil War to the arrival of the Pilgrims at Plymouth. The amount of detail and research the author poured into his family’s history was incredible to read, especially for a fan of history such as myself.

Yet what really stood out was how so much of this book also incorporated meditative, reflective moments in which the author seemed to speak to the reader, to his ancestors as he explored moments in history, and to himself. It allows the reader to really get a sense of the connection the author had to this journey and his family as he delved deeper and deeper into their history, allowing the reader to also feel more connected as well.

The Verdict

A remarkable, thoughtful, and lengthy yet engaging read, author Neil McKee’s “Guns and Gods In My Genes” is must-read non-fiction read. The amount of research, history, and personal reflection that the author shares in this journey make for a truly memorable read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of this amazing book today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author


Neill McKee is a creative nonfiction writer based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His first travel memoir, Finding Myself in Borneo, won a bronze medal in the Independent Publishers Book Awards, 2020, as well as other awards. McKee holds a Bachelor’s Degree, from the University of Calgary and a Master’s Degree in Communication from Florida State University. He worked internationally for 45 years, becoming an expert in the field of communication for social change. He directed and produced a number of award-winning documentary films/videos and multimedia initiatives, and has written numerous articles and books in the field of development communication. During his international career, McKee worked for Canadian University Service Overseas (CUSO); Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC); UNICEF; Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland; Academy for Educational Development and FHI 360, Washington, DC. He worked and lived in Malaysia, Bangladesh, Kenya, Uganda, and Russia for a total of 18 years and traveled to over 80 countries on short-term assignments. In 2015, he settled in New Mexico, using his varied experiences, memories, and imagination in creative writing.

Find him online at:

Author’s website: www.neillmckeeauthor.com/

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/neill-mckee-b9971b65/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/McKeeNeill/

Twitter: twitter.com/MckeeNeill

NBFS: www.northborneofrodotolkien.org

– Blog Tour Dates

February 15th @ The Muffin

What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Grab your coffee and join us as we talk to author Neill McKee and celebrate the launch of his blog tour for his travel memoir, Guns and Gods in My Genes. You can also enter to win a copy of the book yourself!


February 17th @ Choices

Join Madeline today as she spotlights Neill McKee’s travel memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes.


February 20th @ Bring on Lemons

Turn lemons into lemonade by visiting Crystal’s blog today, where you can read her honest review of Neill McKees insightful memoir, Guns and Gods in My Genes.


February 22nd @ CloudsGirls27 Reads Books

Join Melissa as she reads Neill McKee’s memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes.


February 24th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Come by Anthony’s blog today where he interviews author Neill McKee about his memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes

February 25th @ What is That Book About

Michelle spotlights Neill McKee’s book Guns and Gods in My Genes.


February 26th @ Lisa Haselton’s Book Reviews & Interviews

Visit Lisa’s blog today where she interviews author Neill McKee about his book Guns and Gods in My Genes.


February 27th @ Boots, Shoes, and Fashion

Join Linda as she treats us to an interview with author Neill McKee and chats with him about his memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes. She also shares some insights about the book! 


February 28th @ Lilly’s Book Wonderland

Join Lilly as she shares her insights into Neill McKee’s fascinating travel memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes.


March 1st @ World of My Imagination

Light up your imagination when you visit Nicole’s blog today! She shares her insights into Neill McKee’s memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes.


March 3rd @ Joy Neal Kidney’s Blog

Make sure you stop by Joy’s blog today and read her review of Neill McKee’s memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes.


March 3rd @ Memoir Memoir

Visit John’s blog today and you can read his review of Nell McKee’s memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes.


March 5th @ A Storybook World

Deirdra spotlights Neill McKee’s profound memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes.


March 8th @ Memoir Writer’s Journey

Join Kathy as she reviews Neill McKee’s memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes.


March 11th @ The Frugalista Mom

Join Rozelyn as she reviews Neill McKee’s fascinating memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes. You can also win a copy of the book too!


March 12th @ Memoir Revolution


March 14th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Join Anthony again when he reviews Neill McKee’s memorable memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes.

March 15th @ My Writer Blog

Join Carole as she reviews Neill McKee’s memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes.


March 16th @ Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire

Set your reading list on fire with Mindy McGinnis as she spotlights Neil McKee’s memoir Guns and Gods in My Genes. You also have the chance to win a copy of this fascinating book!


Out of No Way: Madam CJ Walker & A’Lelia Walker A Poetic Drama By Roje Augustin Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A breathtaking and creative look into one of America’s first self-made female millionaires during a time of great and violent racial tension comes to life throughout beautiful poetry in author Roje Augustin’s “Out of No Way”. 

The Synopsis

Author, producer, and emerging poet Roj Augustin has written a groundbreaking debut collection of dramatic poems about hair care entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker and her daughter, A’Lelia. Roj’s singular and accomplished work is presented through the intimate lens of the mother-daughter relationship via different poetic forms – from lyric to haiku, blackout to narrative. (One poem takes its inspiration from Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven.) Written in tribute to Walker, Out of No Way deftly and beautifully explores themes of race, motherhood, sacrifice, beauty, and the meaning of success in Jim Crow America. 

The Review

The author brilliantly captures the lives of mother and daughter and those in their lives with this work of art. The poetry is moving and inspiring, pulling forth everything from everyday discussion between a mother and daughter to the pain of witnessing the loss of life during such a violent and turbulent era of racial injustice and the strain it all has on these two women’s relationships. 

The stand-out to me as a reader in this book was not just the story the author told using poetry, but the poetry itself. The author does a marvelous job of effortlessly integrating various forms of poetry, from haiku and sonnets to nursery rhymes and villanelle, giving each chapter of the women’s lives a different type of poetry to embody that moment. It felt natural and as raw as the emotions these moments invoked, making this book truly shine. 

The Verdict

Breathtaking, often heartbreaking and yet a fast-paced and eloquent read, author Roje Augustin’s “Out of No Way” is a majestic book of poetry and biographical fiction read that is not to be missed. Readers will be enthralled with the author’s unique voice within this poetry while the characters and people involved will keep the reader invested entirely. If you haven’t be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Rojé Augustin is a native New Yorker who grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Her first novel, The Unraveling of Bebe Jones, won the 2013 National Indie Excellence Award in African American fiction.  She wrote the novel while living in London and Sydney as a stay-at-home-mom.  Rojé continues to work as a producer while also writing in her spare time.  She currently lives in Sydney with her husband and two daughters.

Elegy for my Mother

Why Our Hair is not Straight:

The Lost Letters:

Graves & Thrones:

Blog Tour Schedule:

Sept. 9: The Book Connection (Review)
Sept. 16: Anthony Avina Blog (Guest Post)
Sept. 18: Anthony Avina Blog (Review)
Sept. 23: Impressions in Ink (Review)
Sept. 24: The Book Lover’s Boudoir (Review)
Sept. 29 Diary of an Eccentric (Guest Post)
Oct. 5: Jorie Loves A Story (Interview)
Oct. 8: Everything Distils into Reading (Review)
Oct. 14: Suko’s Notebook (Review)
Oct. 20: True Book Addict (Guest Post)
Oct. 26: CelticLady’s Reviews (Review)
Oct. 29: True Book Addict (Review)

Follow the blog tour with the hashtag #OutofNoWay #MadamC.J.Walker #RojeAugustin