Tag Archives: nonfiction

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.   

Interview with Author Jason Kogok

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

I grew up and went to college in Maryland, then shortly after moved to Raleigh, NC. I started in real estate sales and investing in 2002 and really enjoyed the investment side, along with renovating projects. After about a decade of working with clients and investors alike, I realized there was a lack of direct, easy to comprehend and in-person training for novice investors to learn the ropes without being upsold into future programs. I started teaching to give people a trusted, reliable source for investing advice. My teaching progressed into various courses and in doing so, I started writing the content. That was really my first foray into writing. 

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

As I was teaching, I noticed that everyone learns at different rates and it would be great if I could take all my teachings and turn them into one clean source, such as a book. Over the years, I’ve seen thousands of books written on the subject, so for my book to stand out, or at least be relevant, I knew it had to be something that the novice investor could not only understand, but feel confident in performing my lessons on their own. I was inspired to help the average person build wealth and secure their financial future. I wasn’t interested in selling an unrealistic goal of owning 100 homes or a large apartment complex, but rather simply a few homes owned over the course of a decade or two that could really change the long term trajectory of someone’s finances.

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

There are 2 things I want the reader to get. The first is motivation. Anytime you try something new, especially when it involves using your hard earned money, you have to be motivated. The second is a feeling that investing in real estate really isn’t that tough or complicated. When broken down into smaller, realistic steps, I think people will realize that truly anyone can do this. I want the reader to walk away motivated and then take action!

4) What drew you into this particular genre? 

This is all I know, lol! As a real estate broker, investor and teacher, I wouldn’t be able to write a book on anything else!

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

I’m not a huge social media person, however I do realize it’s place in the marketing world. Facebook has been helpful just because it’s a place where people know me and thus, trust that if I wrote a book, it may be worth a glance. We do marketing on platforms such as Amazon and reaching out to national bloggers and book reviewers, but the book has gained most traction via word of mouth and positive reviews about the book. At the end of the day, if the writing is solid, people will find it; or at least I hope so 🙂

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

Make a plan and understand the self-publishing process. I had to create a pretty solid plan for the flow and content of my book or else I would just be aimlessly writing with no direction. I think that was absolutely critical for me to actually complete the book in an effective way. The other item is understand the self-publishing process. Just like real estate investing, it’s not super complicated and anyone can do it, but you really have to take the time to understand the process or you may burn a lot of money and time unnecessarily. 

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

No new books currently in the works; this one kind of mentally exhausted me. It took 20 years to gather enough information and confidence to write this one, so I may be a few years out before I follow up with another one. In the meantime, I’m continuing my real estate career and continuing to invest in real estate and teach as many people as I can that they can do it too!

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About the Author

Jason started his real estate career over two decades ago as a real estate sales broker and since then has grown his real estate team to the top ranks in North Carolina. He also manages his own real estate portfolio and has had tremendous success with building his rental portfolio, along with ‘fix and flip’ properties along the way.

In addition to real estate, Jason has a passion for teaching, so he combined his extensive real estate and investing knowledge to pursue another chapter in his career. Jason teaches and coaches real estate brokers, novice & intermediate investors, as well as works alongside large individual investors to help scale their portfolios.

Jason lives with his family in Raleigh, NC.

https://www.investorswealtheducation.com/

Interview with Author K.S. Penn

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

This is a story about my life.  Initially, it was not my plan to write and publish this book.  I simply began journaling to aid in my healing and recovery process and upon doing so; it occurred to me the potential benefits of sharing my story with others.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

I wanted to bring awareness to the taboo subject of child-to-parent abuse and possibly making a difference and offering hope to fellow survivors and others.

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

I have two important messages:  (1) It is never too late to make changes in your life; and (2) Unconditional love is not always possible if one’s safety and well-being are at risk.

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

Popular book review sites such as this one, have been very positive and helpful in providing exposure to my book.

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

Do not give up on your dream of writing.  For some it take 6 months and for others it takes 6 years.  Either way, once you have completed and published your book, it is an extremely satisfying experience.

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

I am actually thinking of writing some children’s books- quite the opposite from this book!  I am looking forward to continuing with my publishing career and writing under my own name. 

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Interview with Author Iris Novak

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

I have always liked writing. It began with essays in the elementary school, continued with writing to at least ten pen pals from the whole world, and I had to do a lot of writing also in the companies for which I worked. In the last twenty years I wrote a lot of textbooks for my students. My memoir is a bit different writing and I must say that I enjoyed it.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

I wished to let my children know how life was when their mother was young. I also wanted to show women that it was possible to join career and family life even in the ex-Yugoslavia where management places were reserved for men who were members of the Communist party. 

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

I hope that readers will understand and support one of the main points, namely campaign against domestic violence. And I also hope that they will struggle to achieve their dreams just as I did although I was a poor and frightened country girl.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I adore reading biographies, autobiographies and memoirs so it was easy to decide that I should write also my own memoir. I am thrilled if I read a full description of somebody’s life and it is not necessary that this person is a celebrity. Everyone’s life is something special and worth reading.

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

Social media are (at present) my weak point. I have recently asked one of my colleagues to help my organize Facebook and I hope that I will soon get used to it. I normally communicate by e-mail and I respond each mail that I receive: info@leila.si

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

Everybody has an interesting story to tell. Do not keep it for yourself, share it with us! Read a lot to get the necessary writing skills and be honest and objective when writing.

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

I would like to describe the second half of my life when I had to struggle with my son’s Crohn’s disease and with Slovenian government to establish a private college. I would also like to write about my pilgrimage Camino de Santiago (walking, about 800 kms). Perhaps I will find time to write one or two biographies of Slovenian women.

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About the Author

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

Readers can contact her on info@leila.si.

Iris Novak: AN INDEPENDENT WOMAN IN YUGOSLAVIA: 2 excerpts

Chapter 18, excerpt: University

The next morning, I came to the lectures again and many other students, too. The first two hours were cancelled. Then an old teacher began to lecture about old English literature. When he started speaking, my neighbors and I exchanged looks. His pronunciation was so poor, and he spoke English with such a horrible Slavic accent that we could not imagine how he’d become a university teacher. Of course, he had a PhD in English literature, but how did this justify such poor pronunciation? His lectures were boring, and he spoke so quickly that we could not write down his words. When we argued that we could not put down his words, he said that we could study old English literature in the library. The loudest student, the one from Texas, asked if we could borrow or buy one of his books, but he said that there weren’t any. 

“So, we have to take down notes, don’t you think so?”

“You can, if you can’t remember what I say,” and he looked at her as if it was obvious that her intelligence quotient was under average. “But do not write everything, put down just what is essential. Only perfect fools put down every word that the teacher says.”

Some students tried to show that they were intelligent, so they stopped writing, but the majority of us silently admitted that we were simpletons and that we could not differentiate which of the teacher’s words were important, and which were not. All those who did not write notes and learn them by heart failed their exams. Then they borrowed our notes and some managed to pass.

This approach to teaching was the norm in Yugoslavia and has continued at the university level in Slovenia, with few exceptions until now. Even now, many people are not aware that students deserve fair treatment and respect. If one starts to say that teachers should focus upon students, he often hears that only really strict teaching, as was used in the previous century, forms really good professionals. What brainwashing we endured! 

Chapter 50, excerpt: Everything Changed

Our youngest child brought a lot of happiness to our family. Both girls were old enough that they could sometimes take care of him, feed him or change his nappies. Lili was nine, Vali was six and Martin was two. The whole family observed how he started to raise his head, fix his eyes and stare at something for a long time, how he started to crawl and then walk. 

            During his first months, he enjoyed it when Tone held him in his arms, and it made my heart thrill when I watched them. As soon as Martin could sit at the table, we placed him in a special chair as an equal member of the family. 

            Each time I served a meal, my little boy showered me with compliments: “You cook so well, how beautiful, how wonderful you are!” 

            The child gave me more praise in one week than my husband in our whole life. I mentioned that Tone could try to imitate Martin, and Tone started with his old excuses, saying that he was not like other men who flattered women. He always spoke the truth and I should appreciate it, instead of expecting stupid courting behavior that was beneath him.  

“I’m not speaking about courting. What I want to say is that you could sometimes praise me if I am well-dressed or if I cook something good. I do not expect you to bring me flowers.”

“Why should I speak such nonsense? You are certainly well-dressed, because your closet is full of clothes. I just don’t know why you always look as if you were going to a business meeting or to a concert. Other women dress in a sportier way. And I also don’t know why I should praise the food that you prepare. I eat everything, isn’t that enough?” 

Martin interrupted him: “Mum cooks well, the best in the world.”

Tone stared at him: “Well, I wouldn’t believe that some people can flatter women even when they still wear nappies.”

“That’s not flattering – it’s a sign of love. The little creature loves me and tells me that, while you don’t care about me anymore.”

“Oh, come on, don’t speak like that. OK, if you want to, I will from now on start saying that I love you and that you cook well. Tomorrow, in the evening, I will be the first to praise you.”

On the next day, he came to dinner, sat down, placed his spoon beside his plate and tried to invent an appropriate compliment. 

But Martin already stroked my hand and chirped: “What a good cook you are. I love you so much.”

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/

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

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

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

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

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The Synopsis

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

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

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

The Review

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

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

The Verdict

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

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Synopsis

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

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

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

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

The Review

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

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

The Verdict

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

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bad Deal For America by David D. Schein Review

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

Author David D. Schein shows readers how members of Congress are currently utilizing taxpayers’ dollars in the book “Bad Deal for America”.

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The Synopsis

Bad Deal for America explores the high-stakes game U. S. politicians are playing with the taxpayers’ money. The major players, themselves like a deck of cards, have shown us in their own words that the political system is broken. Readers can follow the money to see how some have lived high on the hog while masquerading as public servants. Told in an entertaining and unique way, this book is a call to arms to fulfill the ideals of the founding fathers by holding the political class responsible.

The Review

The author did a great job of delving deep into the murky waters of the American political system. Namely the members of congress, this book did a great job of maintaining a neutral point of view as far as party lines are concerned, showing the corruption and greed that exists on both sides of the aisle.

The thing that stood out to me as a reader was the balance of research and study that went into the campaign finance system and the money earned and spent by the political machine, and the quotes and viewpoints of various politicians mentioned throughout this book. The author was able to present clear and concise facts about these politicians without getting bogged down in specific political preferences and presented clear and well-researched arguments based on the words and actions of the individual politicians mentioned in this book. 

The Verdict

Thoughtful, engaging, and captivating, author Dr. David D. Schein’s “Bad Dead for America” is a must-read political book of 2022. The evenly paced tempo of the book and the amount of research that could be found on each page of this book made it a thought-provoking read that will open up reader’s minds to the facts surrounding each politician’s promises, lies, and financial gains through their work in Washington, as well as its impact on the average American citizen. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today! 

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Dr. David D. Schein is an author, professor, consultant and public speaker. He is a tenured Professor, the Director of Graduate Programs and the Endowed Chair of Management and Marketing at the University of St. Thomas’ Cameron School of Business. He is also the President and General Counsel of Claremont Management Group, a Human Resources consulting firm in Houston, TX. He often speaks on employment and consumer matters.