Tag Archives: memoir

Camel from Kyzylkum: A Memoir of My Life Journey by Lara Gelya Review 

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

Author Lara Gelya shares her journey of immigration, family, and hope amidst a journey of struggles and loss across multiple countries in the book “Camel from Kyzylkum: A Memoir of My Life Journey”. 

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The Synopsis

Camel from Kyzylkum is a memoir about immigration, family, and the late twentieth century. It touches on themes of hope, struggles, and loss, and shares the inspiration for reaching again and again for a better life. A compelling testament to people’s choices over time, it focuses on freedom and self-determination, no matter how much work and risk are involved.

Travel from Ukraine to the Kyzylkum Desert of Uzbekistan, from the Soviet Union to Austria, then Italy, and eventually America, all while following Lara’s journey to find her truth and her future. Through it all, family, friends, and work shape her life, and a lengthy professional career leads to her eventual retirement on the shores of sunny Florida.

The Review

The author’s story was so moving to read. The balance that was struck between matter-of-fact storytelling and heartfelt experiences was felt throughout this book so clearly. The imagery and tone the author managed to bring to life in the book kept me as a reader hooked to the story being told.

Yet it was the book’s themes and the heart for which the story was told that really captivated me. The themes of hope, the American Dream, and overcoming adversity were well represented here. In today’s world, the author’s story of growing up and coming from Ukraine when it was part of the Soviet Union is far more relevant than ever before, and the author’s story not only highlights the way life was back in those days but mirrors the political and struggling situations that so many are stuck in now. 

Yet the author’s hope in writing this for her family and friends to understand more about her journey to the United States over 30 years ago was so captivating to get lost in and made for an emotional read.

The Verdict

Gripping, engaging, and thought-provoking, author Lara Gelya’s “Camel from Kyzylkum: A Memoir of My Life Journey” is a must-read memoir and nonfiction read. Suppose you enjoy stories that share the classic, ideal American Journey for immigrants while also providing a unique perspective and personal experience from the author’s life. In that case, this is the book for you. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today! 

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Born in Ukraine and going to school there, Lara Gelya went on for the next 20 years to the Kyzylkum Desert of the Republic of Uzbekistan, working at geological sites and expeditions of the Mining Industry. At that time Ukraine and Uzbekistan were parts of one country—the Soviet Union.

In 1989 Lara left the Soviet Union, lived in Austria and Italy before she, at last, found her way to the United States in 1990. Starting her life from ground zero again, and trying on so many hats, she was able to make a lengthy professional career that led to her eventual retirement on the shores of sunny Florida.

When she isn’t writing or making her videos and pictures, Lara spends most of her time reading, gardening, cooking, traveling the world, wandering through nature, or catching her favorite shows.

https://www.laragelya.com/

Makeup Tips from Auschwitz: How Vanity Saved My Mother’s Life by Tommy Schnurmacher Review

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

Author Tommy Schnurmacher takes readers on an emotional journey using wit, charm, and a warmth rarely seen in the darkness that was WWII and the Holocaust as he shares stories of his mother Olga as a survivor of the Concentration Camps and his own life growing up learning these of these stories in his book, “Makeup Tips from Auschwitz: How Vanity Saved My Mother’s Life”. 

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The Synopsis

Tommy Schnurmacher has written a book that could change your life. It changed his. As a writer, Montreal media icon Schnurmacher is an intense force of nature, a seismic swell of visceral empathy, laser-sharp wit and courageous self-analysis. Now meet Olga. Auschwitz prisoner A-25057, aka Mom, A fearless, dramatic and unpredictable maverick. An original. Exposing the souls of a family for all to see, Make-up Tips from Auschwitz is an addictive page-turner. Schnurmacher’s voice resonates with a lyrical cadence all his own and an unsettling candor reminiscent of humorist David Sedaris and essayist Augusten Burroughs. Like the Oscar-winning film, Life is Beautiful, Schnurmacher revisits the Holocaust with rays of light in the darkness. Sparkling with chutzpah and charm, this is a story of a family’s cultural collision and delightful dysfunction. With the growing pains of Shtisel, the earthiness of The Simpsons and the fierce family loyalty of The Sopranos, these newcomers from Hungary defy authority. They figured out early on that conventional values were not enough. It was their moxie that allowed them to succeed Schmooze with the passing parade that includes John Lennon, Elizabeth Taylor and Crystal Nacht. You will laugh out loud as you meet a cast of supporting characters who redefine eccentric: the 50-minute therapist, the psychic rabbi and a superstitious hypochondriac named Paris. Once you get to know these mutineers from the mainstream, you will want to organize an intervention. Or at least a Passover Seder. 

The Review

This was such a moving and captivating read. The author did an incredible job of bringing warmth and heart into this nonfiction memoir that blended reflections of his mother’s life experiences with his own. The honesty and charm with which the author shares these moments felt both humorous and emotional in their delivery. In one moment, we learn of how the author’s mother lived and survived Auschwitz and later how they all escaped the Hungarian Revolution, and in the next, the author shares a heartwarming bond the two shared over their love of Elizabeth Taylor. 

The way in which the author writes felt very witty and allowed the author to infuse some humor and heart into the memories and experiences that the author brought to the book. The writing also did a great job of making the experiences and memories very vivid and painted a sharp image in the reader’s mind, allowing readers to get a greater sense of the impact these experiences had on the author’s life. Add to that a level of history and culture that this narrative naturally brings to the forefront and this book was an instant hit in my book.

The Verdict

Brilliant, heartfelt, and engaging, author Tommy Schnurmacher’s “Makeup Tips from Auschwitz: How Vanity Saved My Mother’s Life” is a memorable and captivating nonfiction memoir. The inspiring and breathtaking way the author captures the childhood memories and the tales of his parents, in particular his mother, as she survived one of the world’s greatest horrors made this a stark balance of history and heartfelt family life that very few memoirs are able to fully capture themselves. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today! 

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Born in Budapest, Tommy Schnurmacher is a child of Holocaust survivors. An award-winning political pundit and broadcaster, he was the host of a highly-rated daily radio talk show in Montreal for more than 20 years. He spent a week with John and Yoko at the famous Montreal Bed-In for Peace. He covered the Academy Awards no less than 13 times and is proud to say that Meryl Streep once stepped on his foot in the lobby of the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Tommy is the author of a new memoir, Makeup Tips from Auschwitz. How Vanity Saved My Mother’s Life.

What’s the book about? How his mom got two world-famous Nazis to save her life.

http://talkradiotommy.com/

The Battle of Lincoln Place by Dennis Hathaway Review

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

Tenants of a historic building fight to keep their home and stop the corporate landlords who hold the rights to their building in the palm of their hands from tearing it down in author Dennis Hathaway’s “The Battle of Lincoln Place”. 

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The Synopsis

The Battle of Lincoln Place is a stirring account of the courage and perseverance shown by the tenants of a large, historic apartment complex who stand up to the greed and heartlessness of their corporate landlords, whose quest for profit threatens to destroy their long-time homes. It follows four women who lead the hundreds of working class and elderly tenants in a desperate struggle on the streets, in the halls of government, and in the courts of law and public opinion, along with a fifth woman who fights for recognition of the forgotten Black architect whose innovative ideas about community and social interaction were featured in the apartment complex’s design. It is a story of heartache and joy, of despair and hope, and finally, of the triumph of the human spirit over the forces of indifference and disdain faced by some of the most vulnerable members of our society.

The Review

This was such a strong and powerful read. The author did an incredible job of bringing this story to life. The stark reality of the tenant’s situation was felt immediately, as the author vividly painted an image of the day the forced evictions began. The imagery and tone the author struck in this first chapter were equally mirrored by the research that went into the history of this building and the legal battles that went on in the wake of this event.

The way the author was able to succinctly share the facts of the case and the history behind the building while also marrying the raw emotions and heartbreaking experiences that the tenants had during these events was so inspired. The themes of greed on both a personal and corporate level, as well as the social justice and action that everyday people can take in the face of injustice, were so powerful in this book and kept the reader invested in the narrative throughout the read.

The Verdict

Heartfelt, captivating, and engaging, author Dennis Hathaway’s “The Battle of Lincoln Place” is a must-read memoir meets political and social justice nonfiction book! The passion and determination the subjects of this read had and the detailed way the author wrote brought this story to life in a wonderful way and made the readers take attention to the struggles of the housing crisis facing so many others around the world. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Born and raised on an Iowa farm, Dennis Hathaway has worked as a newspaper reporter, construction worker and building contractor. He was director of low-income housing rehabilitation for a non-profit housing corporation and staff member of a job training and education program for at-risk youth. He was an active member of community groups dealing with issues of affordable housing and homelessness, and served eight years as president of a Los Angeles nonprofit organization fighting outdoor advertising and visual blight.

His nonfiction has been published in the Los Angeles Times and CityWatch, an online public affairs magazine. His fiction has been published in print and online journals, including TriQuarterly, Georgia Review, and Southwest Review, and his story collection, The Consequences of Desire, won the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. He was the publisher and editor of Crania, one of the earliest online literary magazines, and his volume of poetry, The Taste of Flesh, was published by Crania Press.

He lives with his wife, artist Laura Silagi, in Venice, California.

The Beautiful Struggle: A Memoir by Ta-Nehisi Coates Review

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

Author Ta-Nehisi Coates takes readers on a personal story of growing up with a tough-love father, his relationship with his mother, and the trials he would face, including racism, girl troubles, and so much more in the YA adaption of his memoir, “The Beautiful Struggle”. 

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The Synopsis

Adapted from the adult memoir by the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Water Dancer and Between the World and Me, this father-son story explores how boys become men, and quite specifically, how Ta-Nehisi Coates became Ta-Nehisi Coates.

As a child, Ta-Nehisi Coates was seen by his father, Paul, as too sensitive and lacking focus. Paul Coates was a Vietnam vet who’d been part of the Black Panthers and was dedicated to reading and publishing the history of African civilization. When it came to his sons, he was committed to raising proud Black men equipped to deal with a racist society, during a turbulent period in the collapsing city of Baltimore where they lived.

Coates details with candor the challenges of dealing with his tough-love father, the influence of his mother, and the dynamics of his extended family, including his brother “Big Bill,” who was on a very different path than Ta-Nehisi. Coates also tells of his family struggles at school and with girls, making this a timely story to which many readers will relate.

The Review

I found the author’s work to be so passionate and moving. The intimate way the author delved into his personal experiences and his life as a whole was in one breath very relatable, and in another breath very eye-opening, as he brought a truly unique perspective of what life was like as both a young black man and as the son of a Vietnam vet and Black Panther during a very turbulent time in our world’s history. The imagery and tone the author struck really brought the experiences the author delved into to life in a vivid way.

The author’s ability to translate this very adult memoir into a teachable lesson for younger readers, primarily YA readers, was amazing to read. The history and culture of that era and the hardships the author endured on both a cultural and personal level are things younger generations can definitely learn from. The personal struggles of his home life and his childhood will resonate with so many readers out there, and the artistry that has defined the author’s life and career is felt in every chapter.

The Verdict

Engaging, atmospheric, and beautifully written, author Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “The Beautiful Struggle: A Memoir” is a must-read nonfiction meets YA book. The contrast of struggle versus hope is a powerful theme that is felt throughout this reading, and readers will be able to find both important lessons on culture and history while also relating to the author’s life in one way or another. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Ta-Nehisi Coates is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Between the World and Me, a finalist for the National Book Award. A MacArthur “Genius Grant” fellow, Coates has received the National Magazine Award, the Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism, and the George Polk Award for his Atlantic cover story “The Case for Reparations.” He lives in New York with his wife and son.

https://ta-nehisicoates.com/

Victim: A Feminist Manifesto from a Fierce Survivor by Karen Moe Review

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

Trigger Warning: This book contains real-life mentions and memories of abuse and sexual assault. Anyone who is triggered by this type of nonfiction memoir is hereby advised to proceed with caution when reading this book. 

Author Karen Moe takes readers on an emotional, painful, and heartbreaking journey of surviving a horrendous crime and using her experience to help others see how the patriarchal hierarchy that has ruled this world for centuries has led to a societal imbalance that fuels these types of crimes in the book “Victim: A Feminist Manifesto from a Fierce Survivor”.

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The Synopsis

Imagine being a carefree, independent young woman enjoying life. Your bold, adventurous spirit pulls you to travel to distant locales. Then out of nowhere, you’re abducted, assaulted, and raped. That is the terror-filled experience that Karen Moe survived almost thirty years ago.

But this is not a crime story. This is not even just a survivor’s tale. Instead, this is a manifesto. In dialogue with other feminists and through case studies from around the world, Moe uses her trauma to shine a light on how not only violence against women, but all exploitation, is a natural result of patriarchal hierarchy. Yes, this is Moe’s story of triumph over violence, but it is also a call-to-action for both men and women.

The ultimate goal of Victim: A Feminist Manifesto from a Fierce Survivor is to provide tools for resistance against a culture of exploitation. “In the end, what I have suffered and survived has given me a gift… Now, resistance, fighting for justice, is what I live for. My life is far bigger than myself.”

The Review

This was powerful, moving, and chilling yet important read. The author’s voice and unique writing style cut through the horror and shock of her experiences to bring to light the themes and messages that the author’s journey taught her, and in turn, teach us all. The honest way in which the author writes these experiences down is hard to read and yet speaks to the strength and courage the author has in the face of such trauma. The author’s ability to connect her story to her own personal family life as well, especially her relationship with her father and the impact it had on them, was truly inspired and helped bridge the emotional connection of her story with the broader study of the patriarchal hierarchy. 

The way the author utilizes her experiences to help readers understand the broader theme of how the patriarchy has impacted how society as whole views certain events or actions is both brilliantly done and yet sobering in its reality. The lengths people will go to in order to paint a victim of this type of assault as anything but a victim are shocking and disturbing, and the public ability to believe these falsehoods over logic and morality that should exist is a symptom of a far greater lie woven into the fabric of our society. The author’s use of history and crimes throughout history illustrate these points, from the disappearances of 43 Mexico students that was swept away as statistics in the drug cartel violence of the nation to the horrifying reality of high school boys rooting each other on as they *TW* gang rape a woman, showcase how fractured and haunted our world has become.

The Verdict

Moving, heartbreaking, yet empowering in its delivery, author Karen Moe’s “Victim: A Feminist Manifesto from a Fierce Survivor” is a must-read nonfiction memoir and feminist theory read. One of 2022’s contenders for must-read nonfiction books, the author not only did an exemplary job of rooting out the causes of this patriarchal society but did so with a unique voice that spoke of the strength and courage the author held in bringing her story to light. While the subject matter of her own life was tragic, her strength and ability to turn her trauma into empowerment gives hope to many for the future and helps shape the blueprints to help build a better society that values compassion, equality, and justice. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Karen Moe is an art critic, visual and performance artist, author and feminist activist. Her work focuses on systemic violence in patriarchy: be it gender, race, the environment or speciesism. Her art criticism has been published internationally in magazines, anthologies and artist catalogues in English and Spanish and she has exhibited and performed across Canada, in the US and in Mexico. Karen is the recipient of the “Ellie Liston Hero of the Year Award” 2022 for being instrumental in putting the serial rapist, who raped and brutalized herself and countless other women, away for life in 1996. She lives in Mexico City and British Columbia, Canada. Published by Vigilance Press on April 2nd, 2022, Victim: A Feminist Manifesto from a Fierce Survivor is her debut book.

Karen has just returned from her US Trauma & Triumph Tour for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, will be having a variety of events throughout the summer, and will be embarking upon her Cross-Canada Tour in September 2022.

https://www.vigilancemagazine.com/vigilance-press

Savoring the Camino de Santiago: It’s the Pilgrimage, Not the Hike by Julie Gianelloni Connor Review

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

Author Julie Gianelloni Connor takes readers along her personal journey along an ancient pilgrimage and the road to discovery it brought her in the book “Savoring the Camino de Santiago: It’s the Pilgrimage, Not the Hike”.

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The Synopsis

“Savoring the Camino de Santiago: It’s the Pilgrimage, Not the Hike” is the first book by author Julie Gianelloni Connor. The book focus on the Camino de Santiago, an ancient pilgrimage trail that began around 820 AD. A resurrection of interest in the Camino since the 1970s has meant that more than 300,000 individuals are nowadays undertaking the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela each year. The author made the pilgrimage in 2016 via the French route from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, a journey of some 500 miles. Her book incorporates a blog and travel journal she kept during that pilgrimage. The book is also a memoir, with Ms. Connor explaining how and why she decided to make the pilgrimage.

Savoring the Camino is also a practical guide to the Camino for those interested in it. While the prevailing culture of the Camino is to walk the route, Ms. Connor believes that walking is not the only way to undertake the Camino. Taking buses, taxis, or even driving are also valid ways to experience the Camino, in her opinion. She advocates for pilgrims to slow down and savor the pilgrimage by stopping in churches, cathedrals, museums, and interesting towns and cities along the route. Not everyone experiences spiritual or personal growth through the act of walking; Ms. Connor urges pilgrims to take the trip in the manner that will most connect them with their spiritual, religious, and transcendent well springs.

After completing the pilgrimage, the author journeyed on to Madrid and Toledo, and there are chapters in the book covering those visits. Ms. Connor also recounts activities following the journey related to the Camino, such as writing an open letter to relevant governmental authorities in Spain and hosting a thank-you dinner in Houston for those who helped her plan and organize her pilgrimage.

The book also includes a useful chapter on resources as well as an index.

The Review

The heart and honesty with which the author writes was an immediate stand out to me as a reader. The reader quickly discovers that the author’s motivations for the journey this book is centered around are both painful and heartbreaking, and yet the author’s strength and courage to overcome the defining moments of her life were inspiring as she undertook this pilgrimage. The book as a whole felt like a great mixture of a history lecture meets a travel guide meets an honest and open conversation with the author herself.

The balance the author struck between the Travel, Memoir, and historical genres of nonfiction books was amazing to behold. The author’s ability to bring the emotional component of her own journey in one sentence and then effortlessly shift into the history of Camino de Santiago and the significance of the trail is spot on and does an incredible job of tapping into the imagery that illuminates this author’s writing style. 

The Verdict

Engaging, thoughtful, and inspiring, author Julie Gianelloni Connor’s “Savoring the Camino de Santiago: It’s the Pilgrimage, Not the Hike” is a must-read nonfiction book. The history and culture that the author brings to the journey and the emotional impact of the author’s personal journey perfectly mirror one another and keep readers invested in the author’s story perfectly. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Julie Gianelloni Connor’s book, Savoring the Camino de Santiago: It’s the Pilgrimage, Not the Hike, won a silver medal in the 2020 national eLit competition, was a finalist in the annual Self-Publishing Review competition, earned a gold star for its cover, and topped its category in the annual awards given by the Texas Authors Institute of History. Her book also garnered No. 1 status on Amazon in two categories: new books on hiking and walking and new books on Spain and Portugal. It is both a memoir and a guide to traveling the Camino through Spain. Julie’s author website is JulieConnorAuthor.com. Julie also writes a blog (CaminoForBoomers.com) focusing on the Camino de Santiago; the blog complements her book. 

She is the owner and editor of Bayou City Press in Houston, Texas, which specializes in travel writing, Houston, and international affairs. The Bayou City Press website (BayouCityPress.com)carries columns on travel and on Houston. 

Julie founded Bayou City Press after spending 33 years as a diplomat in the U.S. Foreign Service, first with the U.S. Information Agency and later with the U.S. Department of State. She had nine overseas assignments in seven different countries: Israel (twice),Paraguay, Guatemala, Indonesia, Colombia (twice), Malaysia, and Chile. In Washington, DC, Julie worked on a variety of areas, ranging from nuclear non-proliferation to international women’s issues. 

Julie received a B.A. from Rice University (English and History), an M.A. from the University of Houston(Creative Writing), and an M.S. from the National War College (National Security Strategy). She also studied journalism at LSU. 

Before joining the Foreign Service, Julie worked overseas in Portugal, Spain, and England, teaching English as a second language. 

She has one son, James, and two cats, Halloween and Mimi.

The Evil I Own: My Son’s Prisoner by K.S. Penn Review

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

Author K.S. Penn shares her harrowing story of breaking free from a cycle of violence and abuse and sheds a light on the rarely discussed cases of a child against parent abuse in her book, “The Evil I Own: My Son’s Prisoner”. 

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The Synopsis

A schoolgirl’s crush turns into a nightmare. Her fairy tale will not be coming true, and breaking free won’t be enough to stop the cycle of abuse.

The Evil I Own is a harrowing and brave story about family abuse. Partner abuse. Child abuse. Child-to-parent abuse.

This memoir recounts the painful and courageous story of Ellie, whose journey entails finding her way out of a life of violence and abuse. It will introduce a taboo-subject: Child-to-parent abuse, also known as child-to parent violence. It is one of the most under-reported and under-researched subsets of family violence. It is often ignored or misidentified. The effects of experiencing abuse from one’s child can be profound. Ongoing parent abuse has been found to impact on a parent’s and other family members’ physical and psychological health, with specific negative emotions such as fear, shame, humiliation, guilt and despair, and so they rarely seek help. There is stigma and disgrace around the concept that a child might choose to hurt a parent, and parents often attempt to ignore, placate, or surrender to these behaviours. It may include verbal abuse and name-calling, property damage (such as punching holes in the walls), financial abuse and the ultimate- physical abuse. Tragically, in some cases, even sexual abuse. Child-to-parent violence has been found to occur more commonly when the offending child has experienced violence perpetrated by a parent.

Ellie’s story will resonate with those who have lived with violence and educate others who may not understand how difficult it can be to leave an abusive situation. Sometimes life’s challenges and struggles can make you a stronger person. Perhaps Ellie was meant to survive and share her story. Perhaps in sharing, people see their own lives and stories more clearly.

Clearly written with insightful awareness and interspersed with messages of resolve and hope.

Recommended for readers 18+ due to scenes of graphic violence and sensitive issues.

The Review

This was such a heartbreaking yet engaging story. The author’s raw emotions and painstakingly vivid accounts of the years of mental, verbal, and physical abuse she suffered both at the hands of her husband and her child made this tale so tragic, and yet the author’s strength and courage in sharing her story help showcase the importance of speaking up against the cycle of violence so many people find themselves in throughout their lives. 

The vivid details of the years the author experienced this tragedy did an important job of highlighting the patterns and signs that exist within these types of relationships. The balance the author struck with memoir-style storytelling and the harrowing accounts of abuse and the signs and symptoms associated with it made this story feel both well-rounded and vital to read. The thing people rarely ever look at when studying the life of a violent person is how their parents were affected, and how parents can be targets of abuse just as children or spouses can. The exploration of such a difficult subject was handled with honesty and courage on the author’s part, and this was reflected in the author’s superb writing.

The Verdict

Emotional, painful, yet vitally important, author K.S. Penn’s “The Evil I Own: My Son’s Prisoner” is a must-read memoir and nonfiction read. The heartfelt way the author wrote and the thought-provoking content of the author’s personal story is filled with tragedy, heartbreak, and shocking twists and turns that leave the final chapters with a shocking and gripping conclusion. The impact of abuse on both children and spouses is explored heavily throughout half of the book, and the impact is felt when the child becomes the abuser later on in the story, and the author’s fight to overcome both is one many readers can either identify with or root for, and we are grateful to see the author’s strength in every chapter of this book. if you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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An Independent Woman in Yugoslavia: A Memoir by Iris Novak Review

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

Author Iris Novak shares her story of overcoming her circumstances and upbringing in Yugoslavia to become a success in her book, “An Independent Woman in Yugoslavia: A Memoir”.

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The Synopsis

This book is the memoir of a woman named Iris who is determined to succeed, although she was born as a poor and frightened country girl in what was then Yugoslavia. To achieve her goals, she used her abilities to gain knowledge from everything around her, and so triumphed against the odds and grew into a successful and independent businesswoman.

The Review

The author did an incredible job of curating a memorable and emotional memoir. What really appealed to me as a reader was the author’s personal approach to the subject, as most memoirs that deal with professional success focus solely on business over personal life developments. However the author did an amazing job of delving into their past, their childhood and lifelong experiences, and the lessons they learned along the way to make them into the success both in their career and in their life overall. 

The exploration of the pivotal moments that influenced the author’s life was truly profound. From the troubling impact of her parent’s relationship and subsequent divorce, the importance of education and learning how to present oneself to the world, and even the fight for a worker’s rights and building a business, this book dived headfirst into the author’s life. The descriptive nature and detail the author included in this book created a great sense of imagery, bringing their story to life so clearly in the reader’s mind.

The Verdict

Memorable, heartfelt, and engaging, author Iris Novak’s “An Independent Woman in Yugoslavia: A Memoir” is a must-read nonfiction book! The story of a young woman who fought her way through a challenging childhood, the education system, and life’s hurdles, this book was insightful and inspirational, pulling the reader into the author’s life and showcasing a path of handwork that readers can hopefully follow themselves. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

The author writes under the pseudonym Iris Novak. She was born in the second half of the twentieth century in Slovenia, the northern part of the then Yugoslavia. She graduated from English and German, acquired her MA in Management and PhD in Librarianship. She worked in the international business, in librarianship, was director of a school for foreign languages and finally established her own business: employment agency and a college. The author lives in Slovenia, is married and has three children.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09MMS1Y8D/ref=x_gr_w_glide_sin?caller=Goodreads&callerLink=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.goodreads.com%2Fbook%2Fshow%2F60784956-an-independent-woman-in-yugoslavia%3Fac%3D1%26from_search%3Dtrue%26qid%3DQB2qsCaet8%26rank%3D1&tag=x_gr_w_glide_sin-20

Breaking the Silence by Nancy King Review

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

Author Nancy King takes readers on an emotional and painful yet therapeutic journey into her traumatic childhood and the memories that have remained buried in the recesses of her mind in her book, “Breaking the Silence”.

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The Synopsis

Secrets. Lies. Silences. Stories told by parents and their families to protect themselves. A father who defends his wife despite her damage to their daughter’s health and welfare. A mother, shielded by her husband, who perpetuates murderous acts of violence against the daughter, and keeps secret her husband’s sexual “play” with the young girl.

And yet … Nancy King, determined to learn the truth of her childhood and the heartbreaking effects it has had on her adult life, uncovers the secrets. Sees through the lies. Breaks the silence.

Empowered by the stories she told herself as a child, she learns to use stories as part of her work as a university professor teaching theater, drama, world literature, and creative expression. Gradually, with the help of body work and therapy, she finds her voice. Says no to abuse and abusers. Reclaims herself and life. Writes a memoir.

She climbs mountains. Weaves tapestries. Writes books. Makes friends. Creates a meaningful life.

This is her story.

The Review

What a moving, honest, and powerful read. Author Nancy King finds an engaging way of addressing a very sensitive and important subject without delving fully into the darkness this subject naturally brings and instead focused on the powerful journey of healing and overcoming that darkness through confronting the hidden memories of her past head-on. The descriptive nature of the author’s writing really allows the reader to feel transported to these snapshots of the author’s life, as each chapter is written in a way to highlight individual memories that showcase the overall atmosphere and tone of the author’s life. 

The theme of toxic family dynamics and the need to fight back against those who would take our light in life was felt so profoundly in this book. The imagery and emotions the author poured into this memoir really allowed the reader to not only witness these traumatic moments but see the strength the author found to face these moments and find the will to not let these moments define herself. In addition to this moving memoir, the initial introduction of the main theme and narrative of her life through a fictional story (something of a specialty in the author’s background), allowed the reader to feel a sense of world-building in the memoir that follows.

The Verdict

A remarkable, emotional, and enlightening memoir, author Nancy King’s “Breaking the Silence” is a must-read book. While featuring some heartbreaking and possible triggering memories that the author shares, the feeling of strength and hope that the author’s journey conveys to readers is inspiring to read, and highlights how the power of compassion and love can be the most powerful feeling of overcoming trauma a person can find in their life. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Purchase your copy now available on Amazon. Make sure to add it to your GoodReads reading list too.

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About the Author

I was born in Brooklyn, NYC. From the time I was 8 years old, until I left for college at 17, I traveled by myself into Manhattan to take a dance, theatre, or music lesson. After class I was free to wander about the City until I had to leave for home at 4:30. I ate in small Mom & Pop ethnic restaurants, savoring food I could neither spell nor pronounce. Theatre and dance tickets in the balconies were cheap and museums were free. All I needed were two nickels for the train rides, a nickel in case I had to make a phone call, and a quarter for lunch. The City was mine to explore. These years made an indelible impression on me in many ways: I enjoyed being with a diverse group of people, attending a variety of arts performances, and making my way in unfamiliar worlds with confidence and curiosity.

Early experiences with abuse both at home and school led me to becoming a teacher, writer, playwright, and essayist, always focusing on issues of empowerment. I have taught creative writing, storymaking, drama, and literacy workshops in schools, universities, professional development programs, prisons, Head Start, mental hospitals, recreational centers, programs for children and adults with learning differences, and older adult programs in the US and abroad.

In 1985 I was diagnosed with a rare and anomalous form of leukemia. When treatment allowed me to think in terms of years rather than months, and ten years after becoming a full professor at the University of Delaware, I received my PhD, in multi-disciplinary studies focusing on literature, psychology, and philosophy.

As an award-winning author of seven books of nonfiction, my focus has always been on developing creative expression, arts-based approaches to learning, and student-centered learning. I have also written five novels, one of which, The Stones Speak, has been optioned for a movie. The focus in all of my writing and teaching has always been on empowerment. My newest book, a memoir, Breaking the Silence, is about the healing power of stories.  

Follow the author online on her website.

— Blog Tour Calendar

November 29th @ The Muffin  

Join us at The Muffin for an author interview, giveaway, and blog tour launch post for Nancy King’s Memoir “Breaking the Silence”

https://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/

November 30th @ Mindy McGinnis

Mindy McGinnis interviews Nancy King about her recently published memoir “Breaking the Silence”. Don’t miss this engaging interview! 

https://www.mindymcginnis.com/blog

December 8th @ Lost Wisp of Cosmic Dust

Sreevarsha Sreejith shares her review of Nancy King’s memoir “Breaking the Silence”. Stop by Instagram to learn more! 

https://www.instagram.com/lostwispofcosmicdust/

December 9th @ KnottyNeedle Creative

Judy reviews and shares her thoughts after reading “Breaking the Silence” by Nancy King. Find out what she thinks about this recently released memoir.

https://bootsshoesandfashion.com/

December 10th @ Madeline Sharples Choices

Fellow memoirist Madeline Sharples spotlights Nancy King’s “Breaking the Silence” on her blog today. Readers will be inspired by this newly released memoir!

http://madelinesharples.com/

December 13th @ Lisa Haselton Reviews and Interviews

Lisa Haselton reviews memoirist Nancy King about her recently released “Breaking the Silence”. Readers won’t want to miss this opportunity to be inspired! 

https://lisahaselton.com/blog/

December 16th @ Word Magic: All About Books

Today’s book spotlight at Word Magic is Nancy King’s memoir “Breaking the Silence”. Readers will also hear from Wisconsin student Carmen Otto as she shares her thoughts after reading this insightful story.

http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/

December 17th @ Bring on Lemons with Crystal Otto 

WOW!’s very own Crystal Otto shares her insight into the beautiful and inspiring memoir, “Breaking the Silence” by Nancy King.

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

December 20th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Author Anthony Avina spotlight’s the newly released memoir “Breaking the Silence” by Nancy King. Find out more about this moving memoir and it’s inspiring author today!

December 24th @ The Faerie Review

Lily at the Faerie Review shares her book review of “Breaking the Silence” by Nancy King. This is a memoir about a mountain climbing author who has inspired many (despite all odds)! 

https://www.thefaeriereview.com/

December 26th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Author Anthony Avina reviews “Breaking the Silence” by Nancy King. Find out more about this moving memoir and Anthony’s thoughts after reading it! 

December 27th @ Christy Flutterby 

Fellow author Christy O’Callaghan reviews Nancy King’s “Breaking the Silence” and shares her thoughts with readers on her blog. Find out more about this moving memoir and it’s resilient author! 

https://christyflutterby.com/

December 28th @ Bring on Lemons with Michelle DelPonte

Wisconsin mother and healthcare worker Michelle DelPonte couldn’t wait to get her hands on Nancy King’s memoir “Breaking the Silence”. Today Michelle will share her review of this touching memoir. Stop at Bring on Lemons to learn more!

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

January 1st @ Boots Shoes and Fashion

Readers at Boots Shoes and Fashion will be enlightened as Linda interviews Nancy King about her newly released memoir “Breaking the Silence”. Don’t miss an opportunity to learn from someone who has overcome the odds! 

https://bootsshoesandfashion.com/

January 2nd @ Linda Appleman Shapiro

Fellow memoirist Linda Appleman Shapiro hosts Nancy King and “Breaking the Silence” as today’s feature book on her blog! 

http://applemanshapiro.com/category/book-reviews/