Posted in Interviews

Interview with Author Peter C. Mitchell

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

Ink is in my blood. Both my parents were journalists; and my father’s parents were journalists. My grandfather, Frank Mitchell, received an OBE for his services to England; first as Head of the News Division for the British Foreign Office in the U.S., then as Chief of the Press and Information Office for the British Embassy in Washington, D.C.

I have yet to attain such lofty heights myself, and likely never will; but I initially followed my father’s footsteps into Business Journalism in Ontario, Canada where I served as Managing Editor for two regional business magazines in Hamilton and Niagara. It wasn’t quite my cup of tea, but I soldiered on and developed a growing interest in Corporate Social Responsibility and the role businesses were playing in helping alleviate society’s woes. I started moving away from providing context to the facts and figures that constitute most business stories; and focusing on the people who were using their business success to tackle the issues that affect us as individuals and as a society.

At the same time I started poking into my family’s history, notably my great, great grandfather, Sir John Kirk. He received a knighthood for his philanthropic work as the Director of the Ragged School Union in London, England. This organization was founded in 1844 to provide free education to those who could not afford it. When the Education Act was passed in England in 1870, the Ragged School Union was suddenly superfluous to requirements and frantically started expanding their philanthropic efforts –basically throwing every strand of charitable spaghetti at the wall to see what would stick. They managed to survive as they moved into other areas of charity; and their influence stretched around the world –even to Hamilton, Ontario where I had spent my childhood. John Kirk was a natural media manipulator and proved instrumental in that growth, achieving almost celebrity status amongst Christian and charity groups around the world.

There had been two previous biographies written about him, but they were little more than feel-good public relations pap, almost nausea inducing –and as I quickly discovered, not entirely honest in their portrayal of his work. A lot was brushed under the carpet. The internet opened up research possibilities that were virtually impossible before and enabled me to lift the carpet just enough to see what was hidden underneath. It proved wonderfully messy, both in terms of John Kirk’s personal life and his work. My father and I bonded, not as father and son, but as professional journalists with each salacious revelation. As an award-winning journalist himself, he too knew a good story when he saw one. With my father’s practical, financial and emotional support I dedicated myself full-time to writing “A Knight in the Slums,” a new biography of Sir John Kirk and his work.

But that is not the book I have written –yet. Life, as it does, took an interesting turn.

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What inspired you to write your book?

“Rude Awakenings From Sleeping Rough” is my first-person account of that interesting turn.

I returned to England in 2017 to complete the research on Sir John, and within a year found myself homeless on the streets of London with nothing more than a broken suitcase and a scant few possessions. With an ironic nod to literary coincidence, I spent most of that first month in Paddington Station, much like the famous bear that took its name. Sadly, there was no Brown family to pass by and take me in; but the staff of the Station and the businesses within were tremendously helpful and supportive –as many people in the business and service sectors have proven to be. They see and deal with homelessness every day –more than people realize– and despite regularly experiencing the theft, vandalism and abuse that often results, they often take a personal interest and have a genuine desire to help in whatever limited capacity they can.

I don’t refer to Paddington Station directly in the book, but I want to take this opportunity to draw attention to them, and the other unsung heroes –from road-sweepers to store managers– who get no credit for the small acts of kindness and support they quietly provide. They should be empowered and supported to do more: the desire is there. I hope any journalists reading this interview will be inspired to seek out those stories that occur on an almost daily basis. The general public is not as apathetic as we might think; and are capable of providing more practical support than they may realize, free of charity influences and agendas. I own a plush Paddington Bear toy as one of the few fond mementoes of this ordeal and will treasure it to my dying day. I loved that bear as a child and I love him even more as an adult. I would not have survived that first month without the kindness and support I received at Paddington Station.

Eventually I found myself directed to one of the homeless charities in the Westminster area of London, and that is when the real nightmare began. My experiences within the charity system proved more horrific than homelessness itself, and I find myself still trapped in the nightmare three years later. Right from the start they were dishonest about the options that were available, to the point of blatant lies, and refusing to answer questions phrased to elicit a simple “yes” or no”. answer. While completing the paperwork relating to my case, they applied their own filters, often leaving out critical information I was sharing; digging into my family history although it had no relevance to my situation, and insisting they could only help me if I applied for benefits through them. I was frequently encouraged to “play the game” if I wanted to be helped.

I refused. The relationship quickly deteriorated, and I was subjected to severe mental and emotional abuse at the hands of multiple charities. I was eventually forced into housing that was unhygienic and unsafe. The risk of drunken assault by other tenants is so great I frequently find myself sleeping outside more than in. It is in no way the “solution” the charities promote it as being.

During this time I discovered homeless women were being sexually assaulted in London by a man volunteering for many street level charities. The response of every single charity was to decline his volunteer services, and take no further action hoping the problem would simply go away. I disagreed, and informed the police, who also took no action. Word reached the ears of the wrong people and my life was repeatedly threatened. Again, the London Metropolitan Police refused to take any action, at one point threatening to arrest me. I was eventually forced to flee London for fear of my life. Sadly Covid-19 struck, and I was eventually forced to return. This man is still volunteering for charities. And I still live in fear for my safety, from the other tenants within this house, and from the thugs associated with this serial offender -particularly when word of this book’s publication reaches street level.

I was sharing this entire ordeal online with friends back in Canada who were horrified. One close friend, Mark Leslie Lefebvre, owns his own publishing imprint, Stark Publishing. He reached out asking if I would be interested in writing a book about my experiences –partly to help earn the money required to escape this nightmare once and for all, and also to bring attention to these abuses within the charity system. Sadly, none of my experiences are unique. Stories even worse than mine are far too common, and not limited to England. It needs to end.

What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

It is time for governments to put the charity system under the microscope; to investigate the actions that occur behind closed charity doors; and to bring legislative reform and strict regulation to prevent these abuses, not only of the people who turn to these charities in times of desperate need, but of the benefits system itself. There needs to be greater honesty, greater transparency, greater accountability, and increased monitoring in all areas of charity work. And it should be easier for victims of physical, mental, and sexual abuse within the charity system to seek justice.

What drew you into this particular genre?

“Rude Awakenings From Sleeping Rough” is a straight-forward first person account of my experiences within the charity sector. It is not the story of my “journey” per se, but an honest, often uncomfortably graphic account of systematic abuse. Those hoping for any sort of inspiration are going to be sadly disappointed. It was painful to live through; it was painful to write; and it will be painful to read. But it is necessary. My experiences pale in comparison to those of others, but their stories rarely reach the public eye. As a third-generation journalist I was fortunate to inherit and develop the necessary skills to draw attention to these issues.

What is one major misconception that many people have about those forced to live on the streets that you’d want readers to really know and understand?

Don’t allow sympathy to cloud your judgment. It is always wise to avoid letting emotions cloud any decisions you make whether personal or professional. That holds true for any cause you may be inclined to support. It is easy to feel great pity for those who have found themselves living on the streets, but you shouldn’t allow that pity to influence the decisions that are required to bring permanent, sustainable solutions to their plights.

Imagine if your parent, sibling, or child has found themselves on the streets because of alcoholism or drug use. Would you appreciate strangers handing them money that is subsequently used to feed their addiction? Sadly, this is the reality more often than not. 

And blindly donating money to charities without doing any research to see how that money is spent often perpetuates, rather than provides any permanent, long-lasting solutions to people’s homelessness. As I know from bitter experience, that money is not always well spent. Far too often people with addictions and serious mental health issues are irresponsibly thrown into living conditions where they simply fuel each other’s addictions, or antagonize each other’s mental conditions. All too often this results in violence both inside and outside the accommodation. As I detail in the book, these housing “solutions” the charities promote are dangerous, violent, and unsafe. Even in the bitter cold of winter I still find myself escaping to the streets in the middle of the night to avoid the violence that suddenly erupts without warning. And that is ignoring the fact the housing itself is often unhygienic and unsafe.

Both the homeless and the charities play on people’s sympathies to get them to open their wallets. Don’t allow that to happen. The homeless are not cuddly helpless waifs. It is a violent, crime-riddled life where physical and sexual assaults are common occurrences; where theft, vandalism, and drug related crimes spread out into the surrounding community, affecting people’s businesses, homes, and their children. And again, as I know from horrific experience, even when homeless women are being raped – by a charity volunteer in this case- the charities and the local authorities take little to no action to put an end to those sexual assaults; and go to great lengths to prevent that information from becoming public knowledge. It isn’t good for the benevolent “image.” My life is still in danger from trying to obtain justice for a woman I know who was sexually assaulted; and the responses from the charities and the London Metropolitan Police have been abominable. It’s as disgusting as the rapes themselves.

What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Social media has been a lifesaver throughout this ordeal. It was my only connection with the world, particularly friends back in Canada. When I found myself homeless, I immediately made my Facebook account private and used it to maintain those valuable connections. I shared the specifics of my experiences with complete honesty and the rawest of emotions. I ranted; I raved; I cried; I begged for help; I reached out for emotional support on a regular basis –and there was always someone available to provide it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And though we were separated by the Atlantic, they provided their strength and support just as effectively as if we were able to connect in person. I have more than my fair share of close, personal friends –in many cases better friends than I deserve. There are simply too many to list. They saved my sanity, and for that I will always be grateful. And it was on their recommendation that I used those posts to write the book, capturing the pain, the helplessness, and the fear in its unfiltered immediacy.

In terms of developing a readership, I’m not expert enough to offer a valuable opinion. Mark, my publisher, would be able to provide a more informed answer. I simply post on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to bring attention to the book with varied levels of success. However, I’m only reaching established connections –preaching to the choir so to speak. In terms of breaking out of that limited audience –beyond trying to establish a ‘word of mouth’ campaign by asking those connections to share the posts and recommend the book– I’m not having any success at all. Again, Mark has the knowledge and experience to provide any recommendations in that regard.

What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

I’m going to pigeonhole myself as a grumpy old man; but I’m going to state categorically to stop looking for advice and just write. Anything else is just procrastination. And I speak with the authority of a Master Procrastinator.

I’m reminded of the first “Kung Fu Panda” movie where the secret ingredient of Mr. Ping’s Noodle Soup and the secret behind the power of the legendary Dragon Scroll both prove to be nothing. There is no secret or hidden ingredient to writing. You simply commit to doing it. It requires discipline, and a love for the process itself. If either are lacking, the odds are you are not going to succeed.

What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

In all honesty my future still looks quite bleak. One of my aims in writing “Rude Awakenings From Sleeping Rough” is to use the money from the sales to finally escape this horrific living situation I was forced into against my will and establish myself in proper -and safe- living accommodations long enough to obtain proper employment.

But the sales simply aren’t there –particularly here in England. People don’t want to know. I understand the trepidation: it’s reading that’s ‘good for you,’ and that’s never an easy sale. It is a brutally honest and uncomfortably graphic account of abuse and neglect within the charity sector. And there is no “happy ending.”

But that’s the point. The happy endings are few and far between when people become ensnared in the world of homelessness. The “solutions” the charities waste money on promoting are not working –and aggravated by the abuse and neglect within many of the charities themselves. Governments need to step in and put an end to these abuses; not only of the homeless, but of their respective benefits systems. The charity sector needs radical reforms and strict regulation. And the public needs to stop placing their blind faith in these “caring” organizations.

Those aren’t comfortable truths. The general public understandably doesn’t feel comfortable facing them. And if the public doesn’t have the motivation or desire to learn the truth you are trying to impart, it doesn’t matter how well you write; or how strong your intentions to shine a light on that truth, and bring change that is sorely needed –you are simply wasting time, ink, and paper. It is soul-destroying enough to put an end to any future writing endeavours.

To be blunt, without the charity sector being scrutinized and heavily regulated, the homeless will continue to fall victim to their own personal demons; and live at constant risk of abuse, assault or rape with no recourse to justice. I am still trapped in this cycle of homelessness more than three years later despite all my efforts to escape it. And I still live in fear for my personal safety in the housing “solution” the charities forced me into accepting. Quite frankly, the future is a false-hope luxury I, and many others, can’t afford. All we can do is survive day to day and pray this existence doesn’t break us. Without proper charity reform, there is no future for any of us.

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About the Author

London born, Canadian raised Peter Mitchell was bumbling his way through a moderately successful career in business journalism when an investigation into a story on Corporate Social Responsibility inspired him to look beyond profit margins and PR into the very real problems faced by society. This inspiration prompted him to dip his toes into a self-confessed Sanity/Vanity project of a biography of his great, great grandfather, Sir John Kirk. 

As Secretary of The Ragged School Union, John championed the causes of children, the disabled, and the working poor in Victorian-era London. His influence extended beyond the city limits, and his life proved more interesting than previous biographies revealed. Dust-buried references have surfaced in the most obscure locales, showing the consequences—both good and bad—to the ragged and crippled children John Kirk devoted his life to help. 

In 2017, Peter returned to London to complete his research and begin the writing of “A Knight in the Slums.” The past was ready to be mined, and the future was assured. The present, however, took an unpredictable -and darkly ironic—turn. https://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS AD

A series of unfortunate events transpired, creating a perfect storm of calamities leaving Peter penniless and sleeping rough. He had unwittingly fallen victim to the same societal ailments John Kirk fought. That nightmare inadvertently provided him with an inside look into the current workings of these same systems put in place by his great, great grandfather, and others like him, put in place over a century ago. That experience frightened him more than the horrors of homelessness itself. 

Armed with the scars of this unexpected, but disturbingly relevant, knowledge Peter continues to work on “A Knight in the Slums” with renewed insight. John Kirk created solutions over 100 years ago that are still in play today. Times have changed; yet the solutions have stagnated, and proven to not be solutions, but mechanisms that perpetuate the cycle of poverty: a Hell’s Carousel funded by well-meant individuals and institutions blinded by the brand of “charity.” New systems need to be developed; new solutions need to be found.

LInks:

Peter C. Mitchell

LinkedIn

A Knight in the Slums
In Someone Else’s Shoes

How It Feels to be Homeless (Huffington Post)

Posted in reviews

Rude Awakenings from Sleeping Rough by Peter C. Mitchell Review

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

Author Peter C. Mitchell takes readers on a heartbreaking journey that shows how a simple mistake and bad luck can take the best of us down a road of misery and heartache in his book, “Rude Awakenings from Sleeping Rough”. 

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The Synopsis

This is a story that the charities don’t want you to read. This is the fate that can befall any of us that you don’t want to acknowledge.

For years you have passed them on the streets, as much a part of your routine as your morning shower, your half-hearted scan of the world’s news — fake or otherwise — and the barista who artistically crafts the £4 cappuccino with soya milk, three drops of vanilla, and a flutter of chocolate sprinkles that has to be made just right or it throws your day off in ways that nobody else understands.

You see them as often as you see your own family. The disenfranchised. The rough sleepers. The homeless. Camped out and befouling the sidewalks and alleyways of your daily commute, their worldly possessions, such as they are, spread around them –as dirty and worn out as the sleepers themselves, but as valuable to them as your £100 brogues are to you.

Occasionally you get the urge to throw some loose change at them as a gesture of magnanimous humanity, but when push comes to shove you would rather tip the honest, hard-working barista who ensures your day gets off to a proper start. Better to support the successful rather than throw good money after bad trying to keep the great unwashed afloat.

You have conditioned yourself to look through them – allowing your eyes to pass over them without actually seeing them. A defeated acceptance of lives gone wrong; uncomfortable reminders of what can happen when the best laid plans of mice and men go horribly awry. “Thank god I’m not like them,” you think, sipping your £4 cup of liquid gold. “I could never let that happen to me.”

Until suddenly – inexplicably – it does. And you discover the life you have built was nothing more than a house of cards that crashed down around you with frightening ease. A spate of bad luck, a poor decision or two, and the ubiquitous ‘circumstances beyond your control’ conspire to create a perfect storm of events that leaves you cast away on the streets feeling dazed, disjointed, and damned.

This is Peter C. Mitchell’s story. But it could be your story. Not to mention the thousands of others, past and present, that have found themselves broken behind closed charity doors. Theirs are the stories that need to be heard. To be read.

The Review

A masterful and expertly written book, author Peter C. Mitchell does a phenomenal job of relaying the hardships and struggles of being forced to live on the streets and endure the horrors that await those forced into those positions. He also shocks readers with a raw and emotional look into the real world struggles of those seeking shelter and help from charities and housing and the realities of those charities and the “work” they do.

The book itself is thoroughly written and well organized, and the author’s descriptive style of writing really paints a picture of the realities of homelessness and poverty, as well as the living situation of those seeking help in what should be a sanctuary. The book also does a fantastic job of highlighting the need for more guidance and insight from government officials when it comes to travel and immigration, as a simple clerical error or lack of effort by an employee could lead to years of misery for the average traveler. 

The Verdict

Powerful, evenly-paced, and educational, author Peter C. Mitchell’s “Rude Awakenings from Sleeping Rough” is the non-fiction, memoir-style read you didn’t know you needed. As many more people have become affected both physically and financially from the COVDI-19 Pandemic and the homeless population has been hit by the virus hard, coming to understand those who find themselves living on the streets has never been more important. Finding a means of not only understanding the homeless but identifying with them and reminding them and ourselves they are human beings is an important first step in trying to solve this crisis. If you haven’t yet, grab a copy of this truly engaging read today! 

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

London born, Canadian raised Peter Mitchell was bumbling his way through a moderately successful career in business journalism when an investigation into a story on Corporate Social Responsibility inspired him to look beyond profit margins and PR into the very real problems faced by society. This inspiration prompted him to dip his toes into a self-confessed Sanity/Vanity project of a biography of his great, great grandfather, Sir John Kirk. 

As Secretary of The Ragged School Union, John championed the causes of children, the disabled, and the working poor in Victorian-era London. His influence extended beyond the city limits, and his life proved more interesting than previous biographies revealed. Dust-buried references have surfaced in the most obscure locales, showing the consequences—both good and bad—to the ragged and crippled children John Kirk devoted his life to help. 

In 2017, Peter returned to London to complete his research and begin the writing of “A Knight in the Slums.” The past was ready to be mined, and the future was assured. The present, however, took an unpredictable -and darkly ironic—turn. 

A series of unfortunate events transpired, creating a perfect storm of calamities leaving Peter penniless and sleeping rough. He had unwittingly fallen victim to the same societal ailments John Kirk fought. That nightmare inadvertently provided him with an inside look into the current workings of these same systems put in place by his great, great grandfather, and others like him, put in place over a century ago. That experience frightened him more than the horrors of homelessness itself. 

Armed with the scars of this unexpected, but disturbingly relevant, knowledge Peter continues to work on “A Knight in the Slums” with renewed insight. John Kirk created solutions over 100 years ago that are still in play today. Times have changed; yet the solutions have stagnated, and proven to not be solutions, but mechanisms that perpetuate the cycle of poverty: a Hell’s Carousel funded by well-meant individuals and institutions blinded by the brand of “charity.” New systems need to be developed; new solutions need to be found.

Posted in reviews

The Extraordinary UnOrdinary You: Follow Your Own Path, Discover Your Own Journey by Simone Knego Review

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

Author Simone Knego shares with readers how to better one’s life by changing the way we see ourselves in her book, “The Extraordinary, UnOrdinary You”. 

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The Synopsis 

Do you wake up every day feeling like you’re going through the motions, that the hundreds of choices you make have almost no impact on the people around you?

Many motivational books will tell you that in order to better the world, you must first better yourself. But you really only need to change the way you see yourself and the world around you will change.

What you do every day matters and inspires others. By sharing your story, you can motivate and encourage those around you—and in doing so, change the world.

Everyone has a story, and in The Extraordinary UnOrdinary You, Simone Knego takes you inside her unique journey and the extraordinary moments which have shaped her life and defined her mission. Sharing the lessons she’s learned from life’s ups, downs, and laugh-out-loud moments, you’ll be inspired to discover your own journey, and to go out into the world and be the good. The world is waiting for the Extraordinary UnOrdinary You, and you already have everything you need to get started, simply by being you.

The Review

A powerfully written book, author Simone Knego does an excellent job of connecting with readers on a personal level by sharing her own life and experiences that people can relate to. For so many people there is this need to find people who appear to be living truly extraordinary lives and emulate them, but what the author showcases here is that by being our best, most authentic selves we are able to achieve change and growth we want and the impact we hope to have on the world around us, whether it is on a large scale or simply by inspiring the people we love the most. 

The author does a great job of imparting some truly memorable lessons to the reader, from realizing we’re all human and therefore apt to make mistakes or second guess ourselves at moments in our lives, to realizing that every single one of us has our own journey to undertake, which speaks to individuality and how unique and yes, extraordinary, we all are. 

The Verdict

Thought-provoking, inspiring and relatable, author Simone Knego’s “The Extraordinary UnOrdinary You” is the perfect non-fiction, self-help read. With 2020 coming to close and so much chaos and upheaval ruling our lives, the need for inspiration and hope has never been higher, and through the author’s book readers are left with that sense of hope. Giving readers the power to find their own power and ability to inspire others around them, this is the book to read in the closing month of the year, so be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

SIMONE KNEGO leads an ordinary life filled with extraordinary moments. As a wife, mother to six children (and three dogs), and a serial entrepreneur, she splits her time between her family, businesses, and personal growth. She’s realized the small choices she makes every day to do good actually have the power to inspire others. Simone shared that message during speaking opportunities she received as co-chair of the National Young Leadership Cabinet for the Jewish Federations of North America. With this book, she hopes to inspire you to embrace life’s ups and downs and realize the impact you’re making on the world. 

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Posted in reviews

Harness the Power of the Invincible Mind: Spatial Strategy to Success and Happiness by Alex Neumann Review

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

Author Alex Neumann guides readers onto the path to crafting a more productive and satisfying life in his book, “Harness the Power of the Invincible Mind: Spatial Strategy to Success and Happiness”. 

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The Synopsis 

“Harness the Power of the Invincible Mind is one of those rare books with the power to radically change reader’s lives for the better.”

Alex Neumann makes wonderful guiding principles for anyone attempting to create a productive and satisfying life. He reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of happiness and create needless suffering.

These incredibly profound, yet simple and practical teachings will inspire you to a grand new level of life clarity, confidence, purpose, and passion. An inspiring and practical roadmap with many great lessons to self-upliftment and to fulfill your dreams.

The Review

This was an incredibly well-written and knowledgable read. The author brilliantly highlights and frames the struggles we often deal with on a daily basis and gives life and meaning to those adversities, from traditions to unfounded knowledge and so much more. Then by learning to flip those adversities and turn them into a positive, the author has showcased how to frame the “invincible mind”. 

One concept that stood out to me early on was the Ride the Adversity lesson, which highlights the need to take the adversity we face and not allowing ourselves to simply wallow in it. Instead, the author highlights the need to turn that adversity into a stepping stone to overcome the obstacles in our path towards happiness and our dreams, which is highlighted in a truly appropriate tale of the donkey and the well in the early chapters of the book. 

The Verdict

Powerful, thought-provoking and inspiring, author Alex Neumann’s “Harness the Power of the Invincible Mind” is a must-read book. With 2020 having dealt the majority of the world some truly difficult adversities and obstacles, the need to overcome those odds and find a path to our happiness has never been more important, the author does an incredible job of imparting this wisdom through experience and wise life-lessons that readers will be able to relate to. If you haven’t yet, grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Alex Neumann is an author, engineer, corporate mentor, and investor. He is a member of The Independent Book Publishers Association.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. Also, he holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Computer Science.

Ever since childhood, he has been interested in understanding how some people can thrive through challenging times in life, and he hopes that by sharing these hard-fought lessons, we can make this world a better place.

Alex lives with his wife, dog, and cat. He enjoys good wine and catching sun rays with his lazy dog.

You can contact Alex at connect@alexneumann.co 

https://www.instagram.com/alexneumannco/

https://www.facebook.com/alexneumannco/

Posted in reviews

Manufacturing Civility: People Treatment as a Continuous Improvement Strategy by Christian Masotti and Lewena Bayer Review

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

Authors Christian Masotti and Lewena Bayer show readers how to utilize civility to create an overall better work environment and experience in the manufacturing industry in the book “Manufacturing Civility: People’s Treatment as a Continuous Improvement Strategy”.

The Synopsis

Incivility at work is real. And it is real in manufacturing.According to a Gallup State of the American Workplace report, 75 percent of manufacturing workers are disengaged at work. In fact, the manufacturing industry, according to the Gallup report, is the least engaged industry across sectors.A closer look at the research reveals that a primary cause for this disengagement is poor leadership. Specifically, supervisors and managers with low social acuity are co-creating uncivil workplace cultures.Manufacturing Civility provides a 6Cs formula for solving people problems. These strategies result in continuous improvements that shift workplace culture away from traditional toxic and uncivil organizations towards healthier, more positive workplace experiences for employees in manufacturing environments.The “people-treatment” aspects of the proprietary Manufacturing Civility methodologies have been co-created by 20-year, internationally recognized experts in the field of civility training-Lewena Bayer, CEO of Civility Experts Inc., and a veteran of the manufacturing industry, Christian Masotti. The tried-and-true methodologies shared in the book have been proven to impact individual morale, wellness, and outlook in organizations across sectors, including manufacturing.Civility-when specifically applied to how people are treated at work, is a continuous improvement strategy that has been proven to have measurable impacts on:• Retention and engagement• Performance• Workplace wellness and safety• Innovation, creativity, and problem-solving• Bottom-line business metrics, including profitability.

The Review

This is a truly eye-opening read for those readers involved in the manufacturing industry, as well as those who aren’t. The increase in knowledge surrounding mental health and the treatment of others is well known in our day and age, but its effect on workers in the workplace is not always widely discussed. The author’s perfectly highlight the growing conditions of workers, especially in the manufacturing industry, and how it impacts productivity for companies as well as work conduct.

The authors do a great job of implementing a great number of detailed strategies into the book, especially for a shorter book like this one. From “Interruption Strategies” that showcase techniques to stop disruptive behavior in the workplace to how fear-based leadership and behavior in the workplace can lead to short-term increases, but long-term illness and stress related to work environments, the authors showcase a wide range of data and experience to highlight how treating workers with respect and dignity can go a long way not only for morality but productivity in the workplace as well.

The Verdict

A thorough, quick, and educational read, authors Christian Masotti and Lewena Bayer hit it out of the park with their book “Manufacturing Civility: People Treatment as a Continuous Improvement Strategy”. The read is well-researched and offers readers a step-by-step guide on creating a better workplace environment in the manufacturing industry. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08711N71J/ref=x_gr_w_bb_glide_sin?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_glide_sin-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B08711N71J&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

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Unchecked Capitalism is Killing Us!: How unfettered corporate greed and corruption have made us poorer, fatter, sicker, less tolerant of others and more dangerously exposed to the coronavirus by Earl B. Rynerson Review

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

Author Earl B. Rynerson takes readers on a journey to discover how capitalism and greed have utilized eight different industries to impact our health and way of life in the book “Unchecked Capitalism is Killing Us!: How unfettered corporate greed and corruption have made us poorer, fatter, sicker, less tolerant of others and more dangerously exposed to the coronavirus”. 

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The Synopsis

This book shows in detail how eight specific industries (banks, health care, processed foods/sugar, autos, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, military contractors and the media) have harmed us over the years, driven by their greed and quest for profits. For example, did you know that:-Drug companies and their lobbyists actually wrote government legislation in 2002 that gave them the unlimited ability to raise future prices on medications? -A Supreme Court ruling in 2010 essentially destroyed our democracy by allowing the wealthy and corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on bribing and funding politicians.-There are over 100,000 different lobbyists in Washington today, each one trying to control our elected representatives with cash and bribes!-Our US defense budget today is larger than the next nine largest countries’ defense budgets, combined!-Our healthcare is a mess. All hospitals are profit driven. A trip to a hospital today can bankrupt even those of us who are insured.-Until Tesla came along, auto companies were content to produce essentially the same type of polluting car with the same gasoline mileage as the Model T. -There are eight specific US institutions that could normally help protect us during a pandemic. But unchecked capitalism (coupled with corporate greed) has infected all eight institutions, enabling the virus to infect more people here than anywhere else in the world.The problem is much worse than you realize…

The Review

This was a well-written, detailed, and focused book. The author does a great job of outlining a long list of industries and history that showcases how greed and corporations have wormed their way into American politics and have led to some of the most damaging effects on the American people. 

What really stood out to me as a reader is that the author utilizes a long career of experience without approaching the subject from either a Democrat or Republican Party viewpoint, instead of taking a non-partisan approach to this subject to find the root of the issue no matter what. 

While I myself am not well-versed in economics and the gritty world of politics as a whole, it was refreshing to see the author’s study of so many different industries that have an impact on the average American’s health, finances and so much more. Living in the world we do have right now, the growing pandemic has left many wondering why our nation is failing so badly in stopping this virus in its tracks, and this book highlights the decades of corporate greed that are now preventing the right measures to come forward and help stop this from getting worse than it already is. 

The Verdict

A must-read non-fiction related book that delves into both American politics and finances while also detailing the various industries and the issues that plague them, allowing readers to easily understand how unchecked capitalism is affecting us all. The author’s years of experience and the references utilized her showcase a well-researched book that drives the author’s excellent points home. If you haven’t yet grab your copy of this spectacular and fascinating read today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Why I wrote this book-

I started this examination of unchecked capitalism back in 2018 after I began hearing of all the corruption, lying and cheating that Wells Fargo Bank had been engaged in with their clients. What I found was that not only Wells Fargo, but all of the largest banks had for years been engaged in many of the same offenses, including even money laundering!

Curious, I started looking at other industries. Of course, the pharmaceutical Industry and the Healthcare Industry are huge examples of how unchecked capitalism has directly harmed us and our families, with health insurance that is too costly and drugs that are ten times or more the price that other nations pay. Hospitals, insurance companies and “Big Pharma” pocket billions of dollars in profits annually from us. They pay their executives huge salaries that are tens of millions of dollars annually, with stock options and bonuses that make their income even higher. We, on the other hand, have to decide whether to pay for rent, our medications or even if we can afford to go to the hospital.

But it’s not just those industries. Processed Foods/Sugar, Oil and Gas, the Auto Industry, the Defense Industry, even the Media, are all examples of how major industries (and those huge corporations within those industries), regularly cheat and lie to us, bribe those who are supposed to represent us, and regularly make our lives miserable, all the while pocketing hundreds of billions of dollars in profits every year that they often move offshore, paying little to no taxes.

Over a two-year period, I researched and maintained files of hundreds of examples of corporate corruption. I found that what you will often hear or read (in snippets about certain companies lying, cheating or engaged in other illegal activity) is actually a flood of corruption that has been going on for more than 20 years, activity that huge corporations (with their billions in profits and thousands of dedicated paid lobbyists) engage in to lobby Congress and to bribe our elected representatives. It is such a powerful force today that our own government is unable to stop or even regulate what is going on.

When you hear “We need to lower our taxes and reduce regulation“, it is simply a manipulative statement made up by the corporate elite decades ago to get the average American voter into a mindset that ends up weakening our government and increases our national debt. The taxes they are referring to are corporate taxes. These behemoths could care less about the taxes that you or I pay; they only care about taxes that they have to pay. Their tax rates by the way, are a fraction of the rates that you or I pay today. They are a fraction of the rates businesses once paid in the 1950s and 1960s, taxes which enabled our nation then to build roads, schools and airports and provide meals and services to the less fortunate. In many cases today some of the biggest corporations pay no tax at all!

The regulations they refer to are regulations that were put in place (usually by a bipartisan and thoughtful effort within Congress), to insure that businesses play fair with each other, and don’t provide products that kill us. Those are the regulations they want abolished and are the regulations they are constantly trying to get reduced or modified. Doing so will make them even more profitable which will enable them to spend even more money on corporate lobbyists.

For the record, I believe in capitalism over any other form of government, but we have allowed capitalism to get out of hand in America. When lobbyists for special interest groups and corporations start writing legislation and telling our elected representatives to “Pass it or else”; when the corporate heads spend tens of millions of dollars in bribes to get their chosen sycophant selected to run a major Federal Department (when they know nothing about that department), well, that’s capitalism run amok. Our government needs to be free of this incessant lobbying and the uncontrolled flood of corporate money flowing into Washington. We MUST take back control of our Democracy!

Who am I? I am an American-

I am a former Democrat, then Republican and now Independent. But today, I avoid affiliating myself with any political party. They all feel dirty. Political parties today do very little for the American People; they have succumbed to the will and the greed of of special interests, and corporations with their billions of dollars in profits and thousands of lobbyists. Politicians from both main parties have run our nation into the ground over the last 30 years, with our national debt now approaching (or even exceeding!) 30 TRILLION DOLLARS!

That’s why I call myself an American, not a Republican or Democrat. I choose to think of today’s issues as to how they affect the poorest among us. If we can help the poorest, then the rest of us will benefit as well. If we can start to think of what we can do to help others among us, instead of continually bashing those from the other political party, well, then maybe we can overcome some of our pettiness and focus on the real problems today, problems caused by unchecked capitalism and how those forces control how we live our lives today. It doesn’t matter which political party you think you are a member of; you are being harmed every day by the forces of greed and corruption coming from unchecked capitalism.

My background-

I am a retired Air Force Lt. Col. (I served in the military for 20 years), a small business owner for 17 years, Professorial Lecturer in MBA studies for Business Management and Marketing in San Francisco, and have been active in writing about problems that affect those around me. Back in 1999, I wrote and placed on the ballot in San Francisco a measure to stop handing out cash to the City’s addicts and alcoholics. While it didn’t pass then, it was dusted off a few years later by then City Supervisor Gavin Newsom who was able to get his measure passed. It helped him become Mayor of San Francisco, then Governor of California.

For years (2006 to 2015), I wrote a local blog about the wasteful spending in the City of Fort Lauderdale; millions of dollars spent every year on non-essential items rather than on improving the City’s aging infrastructure. Now, with budget cutbacks, the City now has to pay for repairs of numerous sewer and water breaks that are plaguing residents today.

My efforts to expose the dangers of unchecked capitalism in this book are similar to my efforts to expose the problems of handing out city cash to addicts and alcoholics, or the problems of wasting money on nonessential city services while letting the infrastructure rot. It’s the same effort, except my writings now are about a national problem, not a city problem.

The problem is worse than you think and getting worse every year. You will see how bad the national problem has become by reading my book. You will also see what steps you can take to start to better control the problem.

What do I want to do next?

My next book? I think I would like to write about the “Forgotten Generation”; those men and women aged 40 to 70 who lost their well-paying blue collar manufacturing jobs in small and medium sized towns in New England, the South and the Midwest 20 years ago due to Clinton’s “Free Trade Agreement” with China.

Once our government signed that horrible agreement with China, corporations fell all over themselves to close up their manufacturing facilities here, abandoning their workers. They instead moved offshore to find cheaper labor in China. Those Americans who previously were able to support themselves and their families with honest and reliable work suddenly had no job; they usually were left economically stranded, often bankrupt, depressed and often times addicted to pain killers and other drugs to mask their depression. That heartbreaking scenario has happened to millions of American families over the last 20 years.

Those folks remember what “Achieving the American Dream” had meant to their parents and grandparents, and are bitter and angry now. They have every right to be angry. Our country has abandoned them. They are having to work two or more low paying service jobs just to keep food on the table; trying to stay out of the hospital for fear of becoming bankrupt; trying to ration their medications due to the cost; often not having healthy food available to eat and watching themselves become obese. And all the while they see their country slowly rot and go into deeper debt while their elected leaders scream at and blame each other on national television..

This is what our nation has become. It is frankly, embarrassing and shameful.

So if you know of someone who has a story to tell about their troubles and how our country has abandoned them, please let me know!

My email address is: Bonneau@capitalismiskillingus.com.

Earl B. Rynerson

July 4, 2020

Posted in reviews

SARGE!: Cases of a Chicago Police Detective Sergeant In The 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s by John DiMaggio Review

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

A thorough exploration of what being a CPD officer/detective sergeant in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s takes center stage in the late author John DiMaggio’s “SARGE!”. 

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The Synopsis

“SARGE!” is a fascinating memoir by the late Chicago Police Detective Sergeant John A. DiMaggio, one of the most decorated officers on the force during a career that spanned the years 1957 to 1991. Among his awards are two Superintendent’s Awards of Valor, Mayor Richard J. Daley’s Praiseworthy Acknowledgment Plaque for Exceptional Act of Bravery Involving Risk of Life, a Presidential Citation of Appreciation, the Illinois Police Association Award of Valor, and many more.Upon his retirement in 1991, DiMaggio wrote a fascinating account of his work as a cop. The manuscript languished among his personal effects until after his death in 2008, after which his family decided to resurrect it, spruce it up, and submit it for publication. It turns out that he was an excellent word craftsman and storyteller; in fact, he was no stranger to writing—for many years he wrote the “Ask Sarge” column for the Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter newsletter.Told in a conversational, “regular guy” voice in episodic fashion, “SARGE!” reveals to the reader what it was really like to be a cop. The manuscript in many ways takes the form of a prose treatment of a weekly television police drama. A large selection of PHOTOS is included.DiMaggio takes the reader back to the decades such as the turbulent 1960s, when the police department was making a painful transition from “old school” to modernization. The author describes firsthand the legendary riots that occurred in Chicago after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. He illustrates the integration of minorities into the department and how that played out. He also goes into famous cases of corruption and the politics of navigating such a large department. One of the “set pieces” of the book is the story of how DiMaggio, as part of the “Three Musketeers”—a trio that included two detectives who were close friends—investigated a series terrifying slasher attacks on women that occurred in the city in the mid-70s. The case became one of the police department’s most memorable. Among the other cases detailed in the book include how DiMaggio found himself entering the home of a crazed young man holding hostages with a shotgun; the investigation of the discovery of a headless corpse; the take-down of the Chicago “Mad Bomber”; how an anonymous audio tape provided clues to the identities of armed robbers; and the manhunt for a cop killer.

A portion of all proceeds will be donated to The Chicago Police Memorial Foundation and The Chicago Police Foundation.

The Review

This was a very well-written, engaging and thoughtful read. This memoir by the late author showcases a vibrant and powerful career as a police officer, from his early years handling emotional cases of attempted suicides and anti-mob task forces that formed in the city to hostage situations and medical procedures from on the job injuries that nearly left him unable to walk again. 

The author uses his years of expertise to highlight the inner workings of the police department of Chicago, how they handle situations and how that has evolved over the decades. The personal way the author writes allows the reader to feel connected to the author’s life and stories, while the chapters are formatted to feel like a crime drama unfolding before the reader’s eyes. 

The Verdict

A must-read memoir, SARGE! by John DiMaggio is a evenly paced and extensive book. The author’s life and experiences are engaging and draw the reader in fully, showcasing how the police department has evolved over the years while highlighting a full and experienced career of a fine officer. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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The Chicago Tribune recently published the article written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Rick Kogan: https://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/ct-ent-chicago-cop-book-sarge-kogan-1008-20191007-usmsew4pdffqpi7hoskkachboi-story.html

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42641930-sarge

Posted in reviews

A Tongue In The Sink: The Harrowing Adventures Of A Baby Boomer Childhood by Dennis Fried Review

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

One author takes a humorous jump into his past to showcase the life of a young man growing up in the Baby Boomer generation in author Dennis Fried’s “A Tongue In The Sink: The Harrowing Adventures Of A Baby Boomer Childhood”. 

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The Synopsis 

Are the current events of your childhood now showing on the History Channel?

Do you look at todayÂs kids and suspect that theyÂre aliens?

Have you ever assaulted an electronic device?

Have you been ridiculed in the recent past for using paper and pencil?

Do you forget whether some of your favorite movie stars are dead or alive?

Have you been saying “When I was a kid” more and more lately?

Then meet Dennis Fried, former philosophy professor and stand-up comic (just your normal, everyday career path), and author of the popular Memoirs of a Papillon: The Canine Guide to Living with Humans without Going Mad. Return with him to the days when kids actually went outside to play! When SUVs were not only unknown but unneeded, since no self-respecting kid wanted to be seen being dropped off by his parents. When gym teachers issued directly from the “walk it off” school of pain management. Back to the days of Saturday afternoon double features, A-bomb drills, and the always-dangerous Big Kids.

This wry, incisive memoir about growing up in a small town will fill you with laughter, nostalgia, and reflections on the changing nature of childhood. If you were ever a kid, this is your story.

The Review

A truly humorous, exciting and one-of-a-kind read readers will feel like they have been transported back into the past as they read the author’s unique take on a baby boomer childhood. From the book’s early pages readers are treated to the author’s unique sense of humor and his take on life since moving to Florida, and subsequently takes readers on a journey back to Catskill, New York. 

From the parenting styling of his parents and an early childhood encounter with a rude school janitor that nearly led to an altercation between his father and the aforementioned janitor, to later years dodging the fury of road rage and growing up too fast, the author uses humor and wit to take a look at the past. Exploring one’s yearning for a simpler time and the simplicity we take for granted in childhood, the author expertly navigates his life and the baby boomer generation and brings readers along for the ride. 

The Verdict

A powerful, funny, and charming read, “A Tongue in the Sink” by Dennis Fried is a must-read humor book. While there are many things that came from that era that are now being seen as harmful, there were also a lot of things of that era that spoke of simplicity, comfort, and less chaos than what the world is facing now, and there is something to be said for that. The readers of the baby boomer generation will love this read, and the humor is evident in every chapter, making this a unique read. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Dr. Dennis Fried has been laughed out of numerous careers, including stand-up comedy. He has advanced degrees in physics and philosophy, all of which have gone totally to waste. He is extremely lazy, and if it weren’t for his author-dog, Genevieve, he probably wouldn’t get out of bed until suppertime.

Posted in reviews

Trump Corrected: A Counter-Quotation Book by Bill Adler Jr. Review

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

The truthfulness of current and controversial U.S. president Donald Trump takes center stage as his quotes and known sayings are challenged with facts and reason in author Bill Adler Jr.’s “Trump Corrected: A Counter-Quotation Book”. 

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The Synopsis

Trump Corrected is a counter-quotation book. For each quotation by Donald Trump, Trump Corrected offers alternative, enlightened, informed and sane words spoken by somebody else.

The strange, often incoherent, furious, fatuous or just plain ignorant words that spill out of Donald Trump’s mouth and keyboard are paired in Trump Corrected with intelligent, rational comments. Trump Corrected is the conversation you always wanted to see between Donald Trump and thoughtful people like Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, Jon Stewart, and Stephen King. People who know what they’re talking about.

When Trump isn’t lying, he’s often babbling incoherently, staggering from subject to subject — even within the same sentence. The politicians, historians, musicians, athletes, diplomats, writers, comedians, scientists and others quoted in Trump Corrected have an advantage over Donald Trump when it comes to speaking clearly and honestly about the subjects that perplex President Trump: They read books. Or they take the advice of former President Barack Obama: “The most important thing you need to do is to have big chunks of time during the day when all you’re doing is thinking.” Trump Corrected may not be a fair fight, but it’s an illuminating and sometimes amusing one.

Viewed from the perspective of Trump’s duelists, Trump Corrected gives an insightful and revealing look at Donald Trump, as well as hope that reason and intelligence will be restored to America.

The Review

During a contentious time such as ours, when we are in the midst of social unrest, the fight for civil rights, and a global pandemic, this book has never felt more relevant. The author brilliantly showcases the sad state of Trump’s opinions and official statements and builds upon them to argue or counter-point the statements with logical, intellectual and sound reasoning from more credible sources. 

Touching on everything from Healthcare and the Press to his Presidency and Trump’s own ego, the author holds no punches as they expertly take apart Trump’s own statements and calls out just how much the President thinks of himself versus the actual intellect and truthfulness of what he’s saying to the public, much of which comes from his overly used Twitter account. Readers will not be able to put down this book as it showcases a multitude of lies, inaccuracies, and hurtful commentary from a man who is supposed to be leading our nation, (and this was before the last couple of years of his Presidency). 

The Verdict

A must-read for anyone who enjoys political non-fiction reads evenly paced books and is seeking to educate and learn about the inaccurate statements and history of the man who is currently running the United States in the midst of some of our nation’s biggest struggles, and is affecting the world stage as well. A truly thought-provoking read, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Bill Adler Jr. is an American writer living in Tokyo.

He’s the author of Outwitting Squirrels (The Wall Street Journal: “A masterpiece”; Boing Boing: “One of the funniest books I’ve ever read”), Boys and Their Toys: Understanding Men by Understanding Their Relations With Gadgets, Tell Me a Fairy Tale: A Parent’s Guide to Telling Mythical and Magical Stories, and No Time to Say Goodbye, a time travel novella, and other books.