Tag Archives: nonfiction inspirational

Interview with Author Karen Moe

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

I am a feminist activist, visual artist, performance artist, art critic, essayist, and author. Victim: A Feminist Manifesto from a Fierce Survivor is my debut book. Since I started writing again in 2014, it is as though all of the writing I have done has been in preparation for the writing of this book. 

Like a lot of writers, I started writing as a child. However, I haven’t been writing and honing my skills consistently since then except for in school with creative compositions and essays. In my early adulthood, except for some journaling, I wrote essays at university and became particularly skilled at the formal aspect of essay writing. It was as though, like a painter who begins with figurative drawing, I was learning the rules of essay structure and grammar so that I could break them—which is exactly what I have done and, as I write and think about it now, this breaking of rules has happened in tandem with my development as a revolutionary. My writing now, as with all of my art, is about revolution: being a contributing voice to an ideological revolution—which is the only way we are going to have lasting change in the West (which, tragically, because of globalization, pretty much means the world). I often joke that I write the same thing, over and over again, in different contexts. After all, that’s what the other side has done for millennia! Repeat and convince. Repeat and maintain. We have a lot of repeating to do until everyone hears and believes us, the same way the majority of society believes the dogma they are fed daily that is lived as unbroachable reality. 

I started writing again for real in 2014. One evening, I was at a Graham Gilmore exhibition at a big gallery in Vancouver Canada. At that time, I was immersed in my visual art and, like most (or all) visual artists who have yet to get the coveted representation from a commercial gallery, I had an ulterior motive to go to Graham’s (amazing) exhibition: I wanted to talk with the gallery director and give him my card so that (just maybe) he would be interested enough to check out my work and (please god-of-the-almost-impossible, succeed as an artist in my lifetime) represent me. 

I wandered around the gallery innocently checking out Graham’s paintings; I came up with a clever question about gender; I spied the gallery director; I told him I have a question about one of the paintings; we walked over to it together; I asked him my clever question holding my card strategically in the hand where he couldn’t see it yet.

“Oh!” he exclaimed. “Graham will love that question! I must introduce you to him.” My desperate undiscovered artist’s heart fell. I was escorted over to the famous artist wreathed with his admirers. The gallery director ushered me through the eager mass, all vying for Graham’s attention. Yes, Graham loved my question. He asked for my card. I reluctantly gave him the one I had poised opportunistically in my hand for the gallery director. We chatted a bit. Other admirers jabbed the circle for his attention. I went home, elated by experiencing his exquisitely wrought and culturally important paintings, but with a heavy heart about yet another failed attempt of even getting the slightest interest in my own work.

The next day I received an email from Graham. 

“I want you to write a comprehensive article on my oeuvre. Do you want money? Art? Both?”

“But I’m not an art critic. I’m a visual artist like you.”

“I don’t care,” he responded as the delightful eccentric he is. “I want something different.”

So, I did. I wrote my first piece of art criticism. It’s called: “Excavations: A Feminist Resistance Artist Dialogues with Graham Gilmores Love Sic.” The article was published in Border Crossings, the most important art magazine in Canada. I was even paid over $1000. 

“Oh, I guess I can still write,” I said to myself. Since then, I have written many articles of art criticism and revolution. You can find the links to some of them on my website under essays.

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What inspired you to tell your story? What message do you hope readers will take away from your book? What is one message or piece of advice you’d give to anyone who is struggling with experiences similar to or like the ones you share in your book?

As stated above (here is an opportunity for strategic repetition): contributing to the revolution of a culture built with exploitation inspired me to tell my story as it does everything I create. However, the narrative thread of Victim was also inspired by (or one could say based on) the real-life experiences of sexual violence that I have personally been victimized by and survived. It was also inspired by the revolutionary knowledge—embodied knowledge—that I gained by having been victimized by and survived that violence. This can be seen as ironic because typically one thinks of living through sexual violence as a negative, traumatizing, experience. And, of course, it is. And yet, as I write in Victim:

“One of the main effects of my personal victimization has been an acute awareness of injustice, especially regarding sexual assault. Whenever I watch or see or read or hear about rape, prostitution, or pornography, I feel like I am being raped all over again. But, the interesting thing is, it’s not personal anymore; it’s not just about me. And, it may sound strange: it’s not all bad. It is as though, through an experience that is perceived as—and is—horrifying, there is more to it than that. Instead of being weak, passive, and defeated, my experience as a victim kicked me in the ass. It made me start doing something about it.

Don’t get me wrong: I certainly wouldn’t wish my particular form of initiation into the realm of righteous anger on anyone else, but this is good anger, healthy anger, an anger that motivates. I mean, shouldn’t we all be angry about the sexual exploitation of women and children? Shouldn’t we all be angry when more than half of the people on earth are under siege?” (Victim 144-145)

One of the main messages of the book—and the reason that I chose the controversial term ‘victim’ for the title—is because I turn the concept and reality of ‘victimhood’ on its head. When a person lives through extreme violence, you change. It affects you. There is no going back. Victimization has long-term effects because the system that victimizes has not gone away. As Andrea Dworkin said: “Victim is a true word. If you were raped, you were victimized. You damn well were. You were a victim … And if it happens to you systematically because you were born a woman, it means that you live in a political system that uses pain and humiliation to control and hurt you.” I write in the book: “It’s from then on always after.” And, in response to Dworkin’s connection of victimization and the system that does it, this awareness and acknowledgment of the victim being an inescapable result of rape means that the acknowledgment is the source of transforming the system that creates a victim—and the victim not only knows this, they feel it.

Like many other victims, since I became fully conscious of the violence I have experienced and the aftermath of PTSD I still negotiate daily, the politically correct term ‘survivor’ has always felt like it doesn’t tell the full story. Yes, of course, I survived. And, yes, time passes. But what happens during that time, the life passing in what our culture construes as an ever-forward moving trajectory, shouldn’t promote the shedding of experiences, an eradication of life. There is no moving on from a life-altering experience, getting over what will always be a part of our lives. For me, this is not healthy, nor is it realistic. As I say in Victim: “I need to learn to honor my scars. So that they won’t happen again.” Scars are a source of wisdom and empowerment and not inflictions of debilitation and defeat. 

Acknowledging and deriving power from our victimhood also debunks the patriarchal ideology of linearity, constantly moving forward, not looking back (which is the ideological infrastructure of neo-liberalism where no acknowledgment or responsibility is given to what has been plundered through in order to fill the bottomless glut of individualism and greed, that which exploits in order to exist and that which rapes not only women and children, but everything). Linear thinking negates any possibility of sensitivity and awareness; we rush past without noticing what came before, what exists on the margins of our individualist prerogatives to get ahead. Victim was intentionally written as a non-linear narrative not only to overwhelm constrictions, but also for me as the writer to experience the writing process as it happened, as it was remembered. Each part, each memory, each process of remembering, each connection of remembering through the act of writing—what phrase, what word, what rhythm arose—bred the next part of the manuscript. However, remembering is not only a backward trajectory, the inversion of the forward: what memories, what parts of our lived lives have been pushed aside and return with their connection to another memory residing in a word that can re-surface what has been buried. And then we are greeted by the narrative of how we have forgotten this, what caused us to push this aside? And the remembering, the excavating, through writing, continues as a cycle, never a line.

For me, this process of remembering (and being) is how writing happens; it is how being simultaneously conscious and unconscious with all of the obfuscations and clarities in between. You have a topic, what you are going to write about, and maybe you even have a general idea of where you’re are going; however, for me, there is the necessary alchemy of the first sentence that arrives as a miracle from my subconscious and is filtered through a love affair with language. From that first sentence, the work is born and, as I write, I come upon experiences, ideas, and observations that I had no idea were even there, even though they were. Writing, when one opens oneself to it, surprises, teaches and gives the writer a more acute relationship with reality. As the now tall grasses, with their tips of reaching seeds, draw tender cycles, in the ever-moving air.

Men cannot be left out of the discussion of sexual violence, both as perpetrators and as victims. Men cannot be left out of feminism as a movement that is fighting for justice for all and for a culture without violence. In Victim, I write about my very difficult but, in the end, very beautiful, relationship with my father. As women, our relationships with our first sexed and gendered male are absolutely formative in how we negotiate a system of male supremacy and the female oppression that guarantees. While writing Victim and telling all (even to the extent of my own self-condemnation, my own imperfections, my own humanness), I was very interested in the genesis of the victim. However, I was also very interested in (and still am) how a perpetrator is constructed in a violent culture and how men are also victims. Breaking the cycle of abuse is critical. In patriarchy, male victims are conditioned to harden as opposed to opening to the fact that we are all vulnerable and that victimization affects us. In patriarchy, men are not permitted vulnerability. It is an acknowledgment of and living lives as vulnerable creatures that make active empathy possible. Conditioned to be strong and emotionless, those socialized as men have a much more difficult time with this. As Robert Jensen says in his book The End of Patriarchy: Radical Feminism for Men: “I was socialized in patriarchy into a toxic masculinity that not only subordinates women but also crippled my own capacity to be fully human.” This inability to feel fully inevitably contributes to the creation of the perpetrator—and, most often, his victims. 

It is very significant and special to me that Victim has had wonderful responses from men, including, of course, you Anthony. One male reader said: “This is the most honest book I have ever read (and I have read a lot of books).” Another, as Daniel Gawthrop writes in his article for The British Columbia Review: “Victim is a rich and soulful testament to the power of human resilience that redefines the meaning of victimhood itself.” And your final verdict, Anthony: “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.” Thank you!

I have known for decades that the story of the abduction, how the serial rapist tricked me, what happened psychologically while he had me, and how I got away and ended up being instrumental to his life sentence is a darn interesting story. However, as an artist, I am able to detach from my own personal life and to exist beyond myself in order to create. I have often joked: even my own trauma is interesting and, in a section of the book where I am delving into what happened to me psychologically in order to survive and ultimately over-power the serial rapist, I wrote: “the time has come to perform an autopsy on my twenty-eight-year-old psyche.”(Victim: 39). That said, because the story—however personally terrifying—is so interesting, I’ve often thought that the narrative of the story would make an amazing screenplay. Others have said this now too after reading it, so maybe it will be one someday.

However, beyond my personal narrative, Daniel Gawthrop observes how: “Now fifty-five, Moe says she was emotionally incapable of writing this memoir until now. And that’s a good thing, for Victim is a much better and wiser book than it would have been had she published it within a short time of her terrifying abduction.” It was through the years of activism, research, and scholarship between the writing of the book and the experiences of sexual violence that not only serve to extend the book far beyond the memoirist and into the system that raped her, but also by building a manifesto and a call to arms for both women and men. 

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

I was born in 1966, as you will learn when you read the opening pages of my book. As such, I frequently joke that I am half-luddite. I do my best with social media. I have Facebook and Instagram. I can’t stomach the argumentative nature of Twitter, although I know “I should.” I am working towards starting up TikTok. Because I published with a very small Indie Press (Vigilance Press who are great but don’t have the capacity to book the ambitious tours I have been undertaking), I have to do virtually everything myself. That includes organizing and booking these tours. I just completed my US Trauma & Triumph Tour for Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April 2022. I am currently organizing my Cross Canada one for September. I hope once it’s set up, I can begin TikTok. As you may have noticed, I have a lot to say. I have started the account —and now I have to figure out how to do it! This is a lengthy process for we Gen Xers and we have to psychologically prepare ourselves for researching YouTube how-tos and make the process as stress-free as possible. My name is “Logical Feminist.” Stay tuned! It will happen! And now it has to because I told you it will. Eeek. 

About the part of the question as to which site has been the most helpful. Maybe Facebook because I have more friends on Facebook (and I know that to a lot of people of younger generations, FB is so passé). Although, more people on Instagram (percentage-wise) seem to be interested in my more revolutionary posts and there have been some feminists within the K’s amount of followers who are noticing me and my revolutionary posts. They haven’t followed me yet. But I seem to be on their radar (if that means anything!). I have DMed them. But, as of yet, no response. We’ll see! If anyone has any social media tips let me know and feel free to follow me and the press. Vigilance Press is an imprint of Vigilance Magazine:

@karenmoeart

@vigilancemagazine

However, for me, I just want to write my next book. And I have started, even though I haven’t finished touring my first. I have heard that the best way to sell your first book is to write you next one asap. That’s not a problem for me as I have two next ones eager to be born. Ideally, social media will take care of itself (I know! A Gen-X-get-someone-to -just-do-this-for-me-already thing to say 😉 Virginie Despentes has someone doing her social media. And she does what she is supposed to do: write. Alone. No one bothers her. Her mind is clear to create. She has space in all senses of the word to say something, to make something, important. #damrightmetoo. 

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

Start. And, with writing, always be on the lookout for the opening sentence. The first sentence is the magic. I say to my students, when you have your first sentence, it is in many ways as though the piece of writing is written. The first sentence of Victim that I wrote in November 2016 is “I have lost the mustard yellow suede jacket from that time.” From that sentence, the book poured out of me. 

Also, with writing as with all art, there is no going halfway. Art is a vocation, not a dabble. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people and politically correct artist-run centres say that anyone can be an artist and spend thousands of dollars of culture grants attempting to prove what isn’t true. And, not only is it not true, it’s an insult to all of us who have committed our lives to honing our skills through, most often, personal sacrifice. Everything I do is bent upon creating because, if I don’t, I don’t feel well. Not everyone has to create in order to not feel bad. And, I know that not everyone could live the life on the edge that I, and the majority of other artists, writers, and composers now and throughout history, have lived. You either want to create or you don’t. Wanting to write a book is not based on “Oh, I would love to write a book someday.” For one: there is no someday. And: there is no want. It has to be an all-encompassing need. An obsession to say something. (As an aside, I would like to add that not everyone can be an artist, but everyone can be a revolutionary and contribute to the movement in some way. For example, I could never be a lawyer and we need revolutionary lawyers to give justice to so many rape victims who are never given any and retraumatized by being brave enough to report being raped, not to mention save other women by getting another rapist out of circulation).

However, even though it’s very difficult and discipline is required, for me anyway, the writing is the fun part. It is the getting the agent, the getting the publisher, the literal making of the book that is the hard part. When I first started submitting my book in 2019, I googled how to go about doing just that and the first website I came upon said: “Oh, so you think writing your book was hard!” That statement pretty much sums up what comes next after you’ve triumphantly finished writing your book. Especially your first one. 

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

I have had my next book planned for the last couple of years. It came out of the research that I did for Victim. During the time that I was held captive by the serial rapist, he confided: “There’s nothing like a good whore.” Because of that statement, I had to research and write a section on the sex industry. Part of that research ended up being about child sex slavery. Lydia Cacho’s Slavery Inc: The Untold Story of International Sex Trafficking and Julie Bindel’s The Pimping of Prostitution: Ending the Sex Work Myth were both invaluable resources for not only my first book but for planning my next which will be called Inconceivable Reality. For me, there is no greater proof that the culture we live in is wrong and needs to be revolutionized than the fact that child sex slavery even exists. Of course, all sex slavery is despicable and all human trafficking unforgivable, but child sex slavery takes the proverbial cake in despicability. The fact that typically so-called first-world men will go to the third (and the third world as a geographical and economic site of exploitation also exists in the first) and pay to violate and destroy a child’s life is inconceivable to me and it has to be exposed because child sex slavery, violating a tiny and innocent body and being, has to no longer be true. 

However, recently, another book has appeared on my horizon. It is a book I conceived of last fall during my participation as a forest defender at the Fairy Creek Blockades in British Columbia, Canada. The Fairy Creek Blockades are the largest act of civil disobedience in Canada. Some of the last remaining temperate rainforests is being clear-cut. Of course, it’s the same old story of soullessness and greed—the reason why I write revolution in different contexts, is to resist the non-stop repetition of ‘progress’ and ‘individual gain’ along with throwing up our hands and saying there is nothing we can do about it. Yes, we can. We in the first world still have a semblance of human rights. At the very least, we can tell the world that we don’t agree, that this is wrong, and that what we are asking for, preserving the tiny portion of what is left of pristine ecosystems, is absolutely logical. Unlike countries like Honduras and in the Amazon where land defenders are assassinated, in Canada, the US, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand we can still protest and we can still win. The forest defenders at Fairy Creek were and are miraculous people and show the good that can be activated in all of us. You can access the articles through my website that I wrote last summer which strive to tell the whole story—as opposed to what is not told by the mainstream media and these gaps, what is left out, become lies in themselves.

The politics of colonialism in Canada, as in every other colonized and colonizing nation, is very complicated. Because the logging of the Fairy Creek Watershed is also an Indigenous land claim issue, the politics are far from limited to capitalism and its acceleration into neo-liberalism: they are firmly entrenched in the ongoing colonial state of Canada. Elder Bill Jones is an ancestral elder of the Pacheedaht Nation. He is the First Nations ancestral elder who invited the settler (non-indigenous peoples) forest defenders to Fairy Creek to help him and the rest of the ancestral Pacheedaht save the old-growth forest and its ecosystem. I will be writing a book (yes, another manifesto) that will center on the life story of Elder Bill Jones, now in his 80s. The book will be called Re-Indigenize: The Revolution of Pacheedaht Elder Bill Jones. 

I am, technically, in terms of labeling, a ‘radical’ feminist; however, during the writing of Victim I thought: “Why is logic radical?” So-called radical feminists look at feminism as eradicating patriarchal hierarchy, as a political movement to change the sexed and gendered distribution of power, eradicate hierarchy and the ideology of taking, and undermine the infrastructure of a masculine system that guarantees exploitation. Hierarchy, violence, and exploitation affect everything: women, gender, race, the environment, animals and yes, of course, men. Everything is connected. 

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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

Make Your Own Break: How to Record & Publish Your Audiobook in 7 Simple Steps by Jennifer Lieberman Review

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

Author Jennifer Lieberman helps readers and aspiring authors alike learn how to create a stellar audiobook based on their recently published novels in her book, “Make Your Own Break: How to Record & Publish Your Audiobook in 7 Simple Steps”.

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The Synopsis

“Make Your Own Break: How to Record & Publish Your Audiobook in Seven Simple Steps” is a simple and straightforward ‘how to’ guide for self-published authors and explains how to record and publish a manuscript as an audiobook.

Award-winning writer, actor and producer Jennifer Lieberman developed this seven step guide based on her background in filmmaking & film production, acting and performance coaching while stumbling through the process of recording her own audiobook.

This resource walks you through what to expect in the process by breaking it down into seven steps from time management, necessary equipment as well as tips on preparation, recording and editing.

The Review

This was a unique, educational, and thoughtful read. The short yet interesting read was the perfect companion read to any upcoming or published authors who are on a budget and seeking a way of bringing their book to the audiobook format. The attention to detail and personable way the author writes will set readers at ease and keep them invested throughout the book.

The book was absolutely engaging on so many levels, but what really struck a chord with this reader was the step-by-step process that the author detailed in the book. The way the author explores everything from mental and psychological hangups about publishing your own audiobook, to the almost physical therapy style of education on vocal exercises, and does it in such a short amount of time, made this book such an important and engaging one for indie and published authors alike to have in their library.

The Verdict

Gripping, enlightening, and thought-provoking, author Jennifer Lieberman’s “Make Your Own Break: How to Record & Publish Your Audiobook in 7 Simple Steps” is a must-read nonfiction book for authors looking to delve into the audiobook game. The way the author is able to highlight the current audiobook trends going on in our world and the simple yet important steps one can take to create their own audiobook made this a truly unique and insightful read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Jennifer Lieberman is from Maple, Ontario, Canada and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from York University in Toronto. Jennifer has appeared in over thirty stage productions in Toronto, New York City, Los Angeles, Europe and Australia; including her Award-Winning Solo Show Year of the Slut, which was adapted into to novel “Year of the What?” In addition to her performance career she has penned a number of screen and stage plays including the wacky web-series “Dumpwater Divas” and the short films “Leash” and “Details” which both screened at the Festival De Cannes’ Court Métrage among other international film festivals. Other books by Jennifer include “Make Your Own Break: How To Master Your Virtual Meeting in Seven Simple Steps” and “Make Your Own Break: How To Record & Publish Your Audiobook In Seven Simple Steps.”

https://www.jenniferliebermanactor.com/

Christ at the Coffee Shop by Nathan Ingram Review

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

Author Nathan Ingram takes readers on a journey into faith through a series of short stories that speak to the everyday, ordinary moments that bring his faith to the forefront in the book “Christ in the Coffee Shop”. 

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The Synopsis

Christ at the Coffee Shop’s message speaks to the hearts of common people because it magnifies a God of the common places, the omnipotent Deity who happens to choose to make Himself known in the course of everyday events. Many of us would like to see God but can’t find Him, believing that He only expresses Himself through blinding insights of peak experiences of some sort. If we must travel to the mountaintops to see God most of us will miss Him. This book brings Him near.

Growing up on a small farm in Tennessee before earning degrees from Harding University and Tennessee Technological University, Nathan has spent a lot of time with simple living, hard work, and everyday people. In Houston, Texas, where he does most of his work nowadays, Nathan sees a different side of the world where life is a little more complicated and the labor is not with his hands, but the people themselves are not much different. Nathan lives his life among the commonplace and sees a tremendous need for a God who is comfortable there.

The Review

This was a unique and powerful read. The author did an amazing job of taking the ordinary and seemingly mundane actions of everyday life and giving voice to some powerful perceptions from the author’s point of view. The hope and kindness that pours out of the author’s stories were great to read, as it helped give voice to those who experience hardship through their everyday lives and not necessarily through more public events, and allowed readers to feel connected as well, as these situations were all things we either have or can experience at one point or another in our own lives.

It was the way in which the author wrote that really stood out to me. Whether you are a believer or not, you will enjoy the almost fable or parable (depending on one’s POV) that the author took with this direction of storytelling. The story of the man whose wife left him and the simple turn of phrase that the author utilized to help him was a short read, and yet made a powerful impact both emotionally and within the context of the narrative, making this book something many readers will want to be a part of. 

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The Verdict

Heartfelt, honest, and engaging, author Nathan Ingram’s “Christ at the Coffee Shop” is a must-read short story collection. The simplicity is layered with complexity and emotional development that very few books manage to capture in such a short amount of time, and yet the hopeful tone the author strikes and the ability for this book’s stories to transcend any one particular faith is a great thing to read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

When Grace Found Me: Real Life Stories of Women of Faith Volume 1 by Kim Lengling Review

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

Author Kim Lengling helps readers seek inspiration from powerful stories of women of faith in the book “When Grace Found Me Volume 1”. 

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The Synopsis

With the turn of each page, you will find words of encouragement, hope and God’s grace living within the twenty women who share their personal testimonies within this book. Through faith, perseverance, overcoming fear, anxiety and loss, the women who have shared their stories realize that God has been with them every step of the way. When Grace Found Me is a book for anyone who may be seeking a reminder of God’s unending love for us.

The Review

This was an inspiring and heartfelt read. The author really dug deep into a wellspring of emotions and personal experiences to touch upon the stories of these powerful women who became resilient enough to trust in themselves and their beliefs to overcome great odds. The honesty and conviction with which the author wrote and brought these stories to life was moving to say the least and did a great job of utilizing imagery and tone to elevate each story to the platform they deserved.

While I myself am not a particularly religious person, any time a person can overcome something in their lives, be it a tragedy, grief, or any sort of hardship, the means by which they do it matter little to me, but instead the journey and process they took to get to that place is what truly matters. I found these stories to be quite moving, and readers of faith will, in particular, connect to the authors writing as this short yet powerful read paints a vivid image of what happens when a person puts their strength and faith into an idea or belief system. 

The Verdict

Motivating, engaging, and thoughtful, author Kim Lengling’s “When Grace Found Me Volume 1” is a must-read nonfiction inspiration collection of stories. The heart and passion of the author’s writing when coupled with the moving stories of these strong women overcoming lifelong and daily life experiences created a truly strong and emotional reading experience readers won’t be able to put down. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 9/10

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About the Author

Kim coordinates and is the lead author on a collaborative 3-book faith series, When Grace Found Me, with additional collaborative efforts to come in 2021. She is the mother of one grown daughter and has a rescue dog named Dexter.

Her writing showcases her faith and her emotional interpretation of nature and life and what it can teach us as we traverse this journey.

Kim has been writing since 2004 as a writer, author, and freelance writer. She is a co-author of two published books and one soon to be published in 2021.

To learn more or to purchase a signed copy of any of Kim’s books, please visit www.kimlenglingauthor.com

Follow her podcast Let Fear Bounce on Anchor.fm https://anchor.fm/kim-lengling1

Making Your Mark | Leaving a Legacy | And then… A Grand Exit That’ll Have Their Tongues Waggin’ by Peter Davidson Review

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

Author Peter Davidson shares this self-help guide to readers in an effort to showcase how to best leave behind a legacy for the people in your life after you are gone in the book “Making Your Mark | Leaving a Legacy | And then… A Grand Exit That’ll Have Their Tongues Waggin’”. 

The Synopsis

If you want your life to amount to more than just anonymously passing through this world unnoticed, this book is for you. It describes how you can make your mark on your family, friends, and society and how you can create a legacy that will benefit future generations.

When the time comes for you to leave this world, you can go out with class, style, and pizzazz, just like you lived your life, There are many options, possibilities, and decisions involved in planning a final farewell as we will see as we watch the Grand Exit of Timothy A.B. Smythe. Timothy’s Grand Exit will have people’s tongues waggin’ for a long time and it can serve as an inspiration for your final farewell when the time comes.

Much of the information in the book is presented in true stories, scenarios, and examples that are upbeat, often humorous, and fun to read.

The Review

This was a powerful and engaging read. The author did an amazing job of crafting this book in a way that felt both productive and enlightening all at once, while also capturing a tone and writing style that felt at ease and casual as if the book were just a normal conversation between two friends rather than a simple guide from the author to the reader. The themes of life and death were so strong in this book and did a great job of highlighting the message of legacy and what it means to make a mark on this world.

What stood out to meet was the author’s ability to bring a lightness to an otherwise upsetting subject like death. The attitude and confidence that the author has given readers to take the reins of death’s impending embrace and instead find a way of living life to the fullest were amazing to read. From leaving your name on a park or park bench and starting a charity in your name to writing a book or creating a product with your name embedded into the product’s title, the author lays out some great methods of leaving a mark on the world that makes people remember you long after you are gone. Yet it was the author’s ability to find positive ways of dealing with death, both in the time leading up to it and to the actual event itself, that gave a more inspirational tone to one’s demise than the heartbreak it so often brings.

The Verdict

A gripping, thoughtful, and engaging nonfiction, self-help style read, author Peter Davidson’s “Making Your Mark | Leaving a Legacy | And then… A Grand Exit That’ll Have Their Tongues Waggin’” is a must-read book of 2022. A beautiful way of bringing lightheartedness and warmth to an otherwise cold and painful experience, the author not only shows how to lean into death with dignity and power, but how to live life to the fullest and on your own terms, and makes the perfect companion to leaving a legacy that the world will never forget. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Peter Davidson is the author or co-author of thirty books published by McGraw-Hill Book Company, Perigee/Putnam Publishers, Haworth Press, Sweet Memories Publishing, Northwestern Publishing, and others. His works include fiction, nonfiction, college textbooks, and children’s picture books.  For more than two decades, Davidson was one of America’s most active writer’s seminar presenters, having presented 637 one-day seminars in a 15-state area from Minnesota to Tennessee and Colorado to Illinois.

Amazon Link:  amazon.com/dp/B0B36G9CVS

Goodreads Link:  goodreads.com/author/show/80432

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/

Running with Roselle by Michael Hingson and Jeanette Hanscome Review 

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

A man blind from birth and a young Golden Retriever puppy come together, never knowing they would capture the world’s attention by achieving the impossible and surviving one of the United States deadliest terrorist attacks in author Michael Hingson and Jeanette Hanscome’s “Running with Roselle”.

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The Synopsis 

A puppy who became a true American hero. The blind boy who let nothing stop him. When they finally grew up and met, it was magic. On September 11, 2001, a blind man escaped the World Trade Center by walking down 78 flights of stairs with his guide dog. Days later, America fell in love with Mike and Roselle, and the special bond that helped them survive. Mike shared his story in the New York Times bestselling book, Thunder Dog.

Now, in Running With Roselle, kids can follow Roselle as she grows from an energetic yellow Lab prone to stealing her puppy raiser’s slippers to a confident guide dog who passes the ultimate test when her partner needs her most. Meet Mike, a boy blind from birth who excels in public school, shocks the neighbors by riding his bicycle through the streets of Palmdale, CA, drives a car around his college campus, and uses his relationship of trust and teamwork with Roselle to help others on a day that changed America forever.

The Review

As an eleven-year-old boy, I remember waking up on September 11th, in the hours before the rest of my family woke, and I watched from my home in Southern California as the attacks on the World Trade Center took place. The fear and anxiety that I felt at that moment, as well as the heartbreak at the people hurt or worse in those attacks being played over and over again on TV, broke my heart and made me cling to my family more than ever before. Yet I always have known that I could never hold a candle to the people who experienced that day firsthand or the families of those who were affected by that terrible day.

The authors did such an amazing job of finding the right balance between the grim reality of that day’s events with the more detailed backstory of both Mike and Roselle. The creative direction this nonfiction read took by sharing both Mike and Roselle’s perspectives and histories was great to read, as it gave a depth of character to the nonfiction events playing out over the narrative.

Yet what really struck me was the harmonic way the author shared multiple themes and stories with the audience. The overall theme of Mike and Roselle’s fight to survive that horrible attack was the prevailing story here, but the authors hone in on Mike and Roselle’s developing relationships, as well as the process of becoming a guide dog and the things that people born or made blind want the world to know and understand through Mike’s backstory, made this such a well-rounded narrative overall.

The Verdict

Haunting, chilling, and engaging, authors Michael Hingson and Jeanette Hanscome’s “Running with Roselle” is a must-read book. Terrifying yet inspiring, the authors not only highlight the pain, the struggle, and the horrors of that awful day, but show the camaraderie, strength, and courage it took for not only Mike and Roselle to survive the events but how they helped others and bonded with other survivors to get out of the building before it was too late. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

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

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

Jeanette Hanscome is the author of five books and hundreds of articles, devotions, and stories. She has contributed to over a dozen books, including Guideposts All God’s Creatures and Mornings with Jesus 2019. Her most recent book, Suddenly Single Mom: 52 Messages of Hope, Grace, and Promise, is described as a devotional that reads like a memoir. This year, she returned to her love of writing fiction. She is now in the process of writing the first of two novels for Annie’s Fiction.

Jeanette serves on the leadership team for the West Coast Christian Writers Conference and thoroughly enjoys equipping writers through workshops, critiques, and one-on-one coaching. When she isn’t writing, Jeanette gravitates toward all things creative, including singing, creative lettering, knitting and crochet, and (the newest addition) learning ukulele.   

The Lessons of History – Observed: Change Your Context – Change Your Life by Jim Giombetti Review

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

Author Jim Giombetti takes readers through the moments throughout history that leaders and thought-driven individuals can learn from and apply to our modern problems in his book, “The Lessons of History – Observed: Change Your Context – Change Your Life”. 

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The Synopsis

How well do you understand the rise and decline of nations?

Do you understand the realities of the millennial generation as we know it?

What is the sociology behind why nations fail?

What events influenced the survival of the human condition?

How should political leaders be assessed?

The eye of the world is in pages of history and, without knowledge of the past, it becomes difficult to understand the current global chaos. Author Jim Giombetti explores the nooks and crannies of historical politics in ‘Lessons of History – Observed, Change Your Context – Change Your Life.’

Have we uncovered reality if we are still in the shadows of evolution? What do we know about life without history? Beyond the essentialism of history, the ultimate purpose of ‘Lessons of History – Observed, Change Your Context – Change Your Life‘ is to help the reader realize the truth of problem-solving. This book promises to take you on a journey to cut out barriers in getting things done and understanding international relations.

As a thought leader with in-depth knowledge of history, the writer creates well-defined concepts in chapters offering guidance into navigating global chaos. With every paragraph and every last word in this book, he explains that everything is an argument in the human condition. And by exploring knowledge in history, you can get to the very core of designing your life -and the world at large.

Learn about the world’s present state through the lenses of history and practical truths in ‘Lessons of History – Observed, Change Your Context – Change Your Life‘ by Jim Giombetti. Knowledge gives power to those who seek it, and with this book, you can gain the information to save your world.

Uncover the golden secrets of history to solve global problems and navigate international relations in author Jim Giombetti’s newest book!

The Review

This was such a fascinating read. The author did a great job of striking a balance between the history and lessons that those historical moments and the more personal and intimate moments from the author’s life. What is so great about this balance is that the history and lessons showcase the context of the book itself and the research that went into developing this read, while the more personal moments the author puts in the showcase the impact these lessons have had on his own experiences and shows the expertise that developed as a result.

The fast pace of the book and the inspirational tone that the author strikes were great motivators when delving into this read. The world we live in now can be quite morose and painful to observe, filled with racism, sexism, gun violence, and so much more. The authors can relate to some of these issues like climate control and racism and use history as a springboard to look at how learning from the past was truly moving. Learning early on about the difference between stoicism and epicureanism was fascinating to see as well, and definitely allowed me to open my mind up to new ways to observe history as a whole.

The Verdict

Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. At least according to Philosopher George Santayana, that is the case, and author James Giombetti’s “The Lessons of History – Observed” is a brilliant, engaging, and thought-provoking journey into this lesson. The history buff in me was so interested in this subject matter, and the use of both ancient history and more modern history was great to see play out in this self-help motivational read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

James Giombetti, Author of The Lessons of History – ObservedJames Giombetti, known to his friends as Jim or Babe, was raised in the hills of beautiful northeastern Pennsylvania in the small town of Jessup. As an international business executive, Jim developed an insatiable desire to understand complex systems with a passion and vision for resolving global supply-chain issues. His unique skills typically apply new ideas and approaches to complex problems using simplicity in design. In The Lessons of History – Observed, Jim explores historical events and how these seemingly unrelated historical events are the root cause of today’s unresolved complex problems. He uses Will and Ariel Durant’s seminal work, The Lessons of History, as a framework to share his observations. Jim considers his wife Barbara and family to be most important to him. If he isn’t spending time with Barb or their family, you can bet he is with Beane, his loyal companion: a dead grass Chesapeake Bay retriever. The Lessons of History – Observed is Jim’s first book. Keep in touch with Jim via the web: 

Website: https://jimgiombetti.com/