Tag Archives: nonfiction

Interview with Amanda Blackwood

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

I always wanted to be a writer. I remember writing stories in elementary school to go along with the drawings I would create. One particular teacher in the 6th grade really encouraged me when I wrote five pages in twenty minutes on a two paragraph creative writing project. I was upset that I had to turn it in because I wasn’t done yet. He took it anyway to grade it with everyone else’s. Then he asked me to turn it in again for extra credit when I was done with the story because he wanted to know what would happen to the characters I’d created. He told me I’d be a published author someday. Sadly he passed before I could make that happen, but I think he’d be proud. 

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

Too many people talk about human trafficking as they know without a shadow of a doubt what it means or why it looks like. Even when I stand on stage and tell my story of survival, I still can’t fully show or explain to someone the levels of fear involved, nor the torture I lived though to make it to the other side. I knew that if I was ever going to really move forward in my own life, I needed to get it all out in the open. Ironically, less than two months after my book was published I got engaged to the man of my dreams and I have finally, fully, totally moved on. 

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

Human trafficking can happen to anyone, regardless of upbringing, age, gender, race, religion, personal beliefs or relationship status. Nobody is immune, and it will NEVER look how you think it will or should. 

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I’ve lived a strange and amazing life. I also wrote science fiction post apocalyptic takes (who better to predict the end of the world than someone who already lived through it?) but this venture of nom-fiction autobiography seems to be what I get asked the most about. Truth is stranger than fiction. The fact I’m still alive is a miracle to be celebrated, and if it can help even one other person to do the same then my story deserves to be in the open. 

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

Lately I seem to have more following on Facebook, though my social media skills haven’t been focused heavily on other platforms to really expand the following in other ways. I hope to do more of that in following months. 

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

It’s impossible to edit nothing. Getting started can be so intimidating for everyone, including the seasoned writers. Don’t let that hold you back. Get stuff written down to start, even if it’s just ideas. You can edit and add later. 

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

I actually have my next book in a series being published on October 1st. My first book was published in January of 2018 and this next book will be book eight for me. I’m averaging two books per year right now while also balancing a personal life and full time job. I don’t plan to slow down anytime soon. I’ve had people tell me that I’m too ambitious and that this is an impossible pace. I just want to remind those people that it’s not impossible, and if they want to write a book the only thing holding them back is themselves. They just have to decide how much they really want it. Apparently I want it badly enough twice a year that somehow make it happen. 

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About the Author

Amanda Blackwood is a survivor of human trafficking and an avid writer. A portion of every book sale goes to local organizations in the state of Colorado to help rescue other victims of human trafficking and offer them a better chance at life.

Check out more books by Amanda Blackwood on Amazon.

– Detailed Pieces of a Shattered Dream

– The Miller Miles

– Twisted Fate – poetry from a survivor

– Thirty Synchronized Woodpeckers

– The Shack in the Woods

– The Unlikely

– Custom Justice

– New Hope

…More coming soon!

Live for Joy by Anne Scottlin Review

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

Author Anne Scottlin takes readers on a journey of spirituality and self-growth in her book, “Live for Joy”.

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The Synopsis

Anne Scottlin delivers fresh motivational insights and succinct morsels of philosophy to help inspire your practice of self-awareness and to cultivate a mindset of authenticity and joy. Paired with extraordinary art and photography, these inspirational messages create a visually stunning feast for the senses.

Whether you consume this book in one sitting or keep it close-at-hand for quick infusions of courage or moments of contemplation, you will find it an indispensable tool to support you in tapping into your best version of yourself.

The Review

This was a powerful and moving work of philosophy and introspective work that blended nuggets of thought-provoking sentiments with artwork and photography that captured the essence and tone that the author was going for in this book. The imagery and tone always brought the reader to the present moment, taking away the worries of the past and future and instead focusing on moments as they were happening. 

What really stood out was the philosophical wellbeing that the author employed in the reader’s minds and how the author’s messages of hope and fulfillment spoke to the reader in a personal way. The balance of the images and inspirational messages found with one another struck quite the emotional chord and expanded upon several aspects of life that readers will find relevant to them, from relaxing and taking one’s time in life, to connecting with your creative force and so much more. 

The Verdict

A memorable, thoughtful, and engaging read, author Anne Scottlin’s “Live for Joy” is a remarkable philosophy and spiritual read. The emotional pull of the author’s messages and the theme of living in the moment and finding fulfillment in one’s present life was such a beautiful message that inspires hope and love in the reader’s hearts. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!


Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

ANNE SCOTTLIN is an author, consultant and specialist in emotional well-being. She leads innovative corporate training on work-life integration and individual fulfillment. A podcaster and influencer, Scottlin’s popular Twitter feed draws millions of views a month and she produces a compelling weekly show. Her energy and enthusiasm attract clients worldwide to her workshops, retreats and her flagship program, The Power of Joy Transformation.

A uniquely gifted teacher, Anne’s singularity springs from the blend of her academic background, entrepreneurial experience, and unusual upbringing. She also draws from her personal quest for joy, self-actualization and global vision. An aesthete deeply inspired by nature, mindfulness and excellence, Anne’s approach is one of compassion, honesty and high standards.

Anne lives in Santa Monica, California, with her husband and two Mini Schnauzers. When she’s not working with her clients or writing a new book she enjoys wilderness hiking, world travel, and recharging outdoors in her favorite hammock. One of her best kept secrets is that she is a Medieval history hobbyist with a special interest in medieval women writers.

https://www.annescottlin.com/

Interview with Author Sverrir Sigurdsson

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

I was born in Iceland and lived there until graduating from high school at 19. Since Iceland is a small country, it’s common for Icelanders to go overseas to study. I went to Finland to study architecture. Afterwards, I launched a three-year plan to see the world. Three years turned into 50 some years and travels to 60 some countries. My international career as an architect took me to the Middle East to build a ruler’s palace and harem, and to poor countries in Africa to construct schools. My last job was with the World Bank, a UN affiliate and the world’s largest agency in international development. I now live in the U.S. with my wife and coauthor, Veronica Li.

In my retirement, I became the newsletter editor of the World Bank retiree group. The quarterly featured news about members. I soon got interested in the lives of several founding members of the retiree association. They’d worked at the Bank since its inception, when the organization was established to reconstruct the war-torn countries of the Second World War. One of them was a hundred years old! Realizing this was the last chance to capture their stories, I interviewed them and wrote a short bio about each. These stories were collated and published as a book by the association. Then I decided I had an interesting story to tell too.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

I love telling stories of my international adventures. My friends encouraged me to write them down. So I did and saved them as “episodes” on my computer, kind of like dumping photos in a shoebox. Then I showed some pages to my wife Veronica, who’s a published author. She read them and said, “Wow, Sverrir, you’ve had a fascinating life!” From then on, she helped me put my episodes into a memoir called Viking Voyager: An Icelandic Memoir.

We wanted to make it a human-interest story that appeals to a wide audience. At the time of our writing, Iceland was a tourist hot spot. (The country, which has a population of only 360,000, hosted 2 million tourists in 2019!)  The literature on Iceland, however, was mostly travel guides. We decided I could tell tourists about my country by introducing them to my family, our way of life, and the road we’ve traveled to be where we are today.

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

There’s a saying: travel broadens the mind. After reminiscing about my own travel adventures, I must add to the adage: travel has also expanded my soul, strengthened my character and enriched my life. My Viking forefathers traveled the world to loot and plunder and bring home riches. Modern-day Vikings don’t do that anymore, thank goodness. We travel to learn, study, and to contribute on the world stage. At the end of my life, I can say I’ve found my fortune in an exciting career that required me to work with people of diverse cultures. Those experiences are worth more than any treasure.

My message to people of any age but especially to the young is: travel, spend some time in a foreign country. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll discover about other people but most importantly, about yourself.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I’m drawn to memoirs/biographies because I grew up with the Sagas, which started out as biographies of real people. The first Saga, called The Book of Settlements, tells us about the first settlers in the country more than a thousand years ago—where they put down roots in the uninhabited island, whom they married, and who their descendants were. It’s a dry, and some would say boring, account of who’s who in Iceland in the 9th century. As time went by, various writers embellished the stories and turned them into what’s comparable to today´s historical novels. The stories became increasingly fantastical and the realistic historical novels gave way to tales of superheroes performing magical feats. The writing finally ceased during the Little Ice Age in the 14th century, when the country descended into poverty and misery. But itinerant story tellers told and retold the stories as they traveled from farm to farm to entertain the inhabitants.

I’m an eclectic reader of many genres, including thrillers, mystery, and historical novels. After a lifetime of reading, my conclusion is that every fictional story, no matter how fantastic, has a real-life element to it.

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

I find Facebook and Twitter most useful. Being an old geezer who had no time for social media, I had to start almost from scratch. On Facebook, finding friends turned out to be very easy. Without much effort, I added to my friends list my connections from all over the world. I posted news of my publication, and soon I was hearing back from relatives, childhood friends, former colleagues, and even friends of friends.

The covid lockdown also forced me to look into virtual book tours. I did so reluctantly and was pleasantly surprised at the result. For two weeks, the tour host tweeted several times a day about my book and interviews at various blog sites. From zero followers on Twitter, I quickly gained a respectable following. 

The posts on Facebook and Twitter created a snowball effect. Contact with one book blogger led to another, and their reviews added to my credentials on Amazon and Goodreads. This network of friends in the book world is invaluable to any author. For example, I never knew there was such a thing as contests for indie authors. I entered one, The Wishing Shelf Award run by a group of UK authors, and was most happy to receive a prize. 

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

If you’re interested in writing your memoir, I’d say, start writing now. Even if you don’t know what you want to say, you can always begin by putting down your most salient memories. After a while, you may be able to connect the dots and see the big picture. This was what I did—the “pantser” style of writing.

Fortunately, my wife and coauthor is a “plotter.” She taught me the importance of the theme. Once the theme is established, the episodes fall into place and become the building blocks of a plot. In the absence of a theme, a memoir can end up a mishmash of anecdotes, with no meaningful message for readers to take away.

During the writing process, I learned a lot about creative writing from Veronica, who insisted on painting vivid pictures of places and people in order to transport readers to a different world. When I said I couldn’t remember the specifics, she threatened to exercise a coauthor’s right to creative license. Of course, I couldn’t let her turn my life into fiction. So, I dug into my memory, did some research, and found the details to flesh out the scenes. From its birth as a factual and dry account, the story evolved into a visual canvas for the reader. 

One suggestion to aspiring memoirists is to put their experiences in the context of their environment. Their stories will resonate with readers who share their culture and history, while those who come from a different place will learn something new. Since my memoir starts in Iceland, a little-known country, readers appreciate the Viking heritage and the country’s development described in my book.

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

I’m working on publishing the Icelandic edition of Viking Voyager. I’ve translated the book myself, with the help of an editor, and an Icelandic publisher is aiming to release the book before the end of the year, in time for the “Christmas book flood.” The Icelandic tradition is to give each other books as Christmas presents. Iceland is known to be one of the most literate nations in the world. Given our long, dark winters, there’s nothing better than curling up with a good book.

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About the Author

Sverrir Sigurdsson grew up in Iceland and graduated as an architect from Finland in 1966. He pursued an international career that took him to the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and the U.S. His assignments focused on school construction and improving education in developing countries. He has worked for private companies as well as UNESCO and the World Bank. He is now retired and lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and coauthor, Veronica.

Sverrir Sigurdsson Author | Facebook

www.linkedin.com/in/sverrir-sigurdsson-29b51732

Interview with Author Denise Bossarte

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

I have alwasy been a writer. I wrote short stories and poems in elementary and high school. And enjoyed creative writing and journaling as an outlet into my adulthood. I got more serious about writing and publishing when my friend and I created a “novel” club to help with the sci-fi book he was writing.I enjoyed the creative process and was inspired by his success in self-publishing (he was later picked up by 47North Amazon imprint).I decided to try my hand at publishing a series of beach poems I had written and had an artist friend do the accompanying illustrations- just to try out the self-pulishing process from end to end. From there, I decided to work on a fantasy novel that had been begging for some attention. I ended up writing the award winning novel Glamorous and 3 novellas in that series.   

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2) What inspired you to write your book? 

I had wanted to share my story of abuse and healing for a long time. My husband encouraged me saying my story could help other survivors. But being a survivor with what I would consider PTSD, my memories were not always accessible or cohesive, and often difficult to put in the context of the other events in my life. I thought if I couldn’t write a detailed memoir then I couldn’t share my story.Then the news came out about Dr. Larry Nassar and his abuse of hundreds of female gymnasts and my heart broke for them. Those women need healing help, I thought to myself. If I can’t write a memoir, I can write about all the things I did to help myself on my healing journey. So their stories inspired me to write a book to help all survivors heal from their abuse.  

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

The abuse was not their fault. They have the strength to let go of the hold the past has on them.They are capable of healing from the abuse and living a life they love. 

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

Self-help was the best way to share my story and the activities for healing that I had incorporated into my healing journey. I didn’t just want to write about my abuse. I wanted to create a blueprint for others for helping them on their healing journey. I wrote the book I wished I had had when I started my healing work!  

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

Twitter. I can share about my book and about the various healing activities I enjoy practicing.  

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

Read a lot of good books in your genre!

Do your research for the genre you want to write in to learn what works for genre from storyline, characters, book covers, etc.

Connect with other authors and find ways to share your writing with people who can give constructive criticism to your work. Their are author groups online, so no need to limit yourself to who is local!

When you are finished writing, get a good editor to help you take the book to the next level.


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


 Right now I am focusing on my other artistic talents – photography. I teach contemplative photography and am working on putting together an online course. There are several novels playing around in my head, so you might see some of these stand alone novels some time in the future! 

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Author Bio


Denise Bossarte is an award-winning poet, writer, photographer, and artist. Denise is a certified meditation facilitator and contemplative arts teacher. She is an information technology (IT) professional working for a large urban school district. Denise holds a BA in chemistry, an MS in computer science, and a PhD in developmental neuroscience. And she is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.

Awards

Thriving was Quarterfinalist in the 2019 BookLife Prize Nonfiction Contest, Self-help Category (as  an unpublished manuscript.)

Thriving was honored with a GOLD AWARD by the Nonfiction Book Awards, via the Nonfiction Authors Association! https://nonfictionauthorsassociation.com/book-award-winner-thriving-after-sexual-abuse/.

Check out the awesome review here: https://thrivingaftersexualabusebook.com/awards/
 
And Thriving was selected as a semi-finalist in Non-fiction in the 2021 Kindle Book Awards! Finalists announced Oct 1st, Winners announced Nov 1st.  https://www.thekindlebookreview.net/2021-book-award-semifinalists/
 
Thriving was selected by Kirkus Reviews Indie editors for the August issue. According to Kirkus Reviews, less than 10% of Indie authors are selected for this. The review is 1 of 35 reviews in the Indie section of the magazine! You can read the full review here: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/denise-bossarte/thriving-after-sexual-abuse-break-your-bondage-to-the-past-and-live-a-life-you-love/
 
And finally, Thriving’s book cover was selected as a finalist in The Wishing Shelf Book Awards Best Book Cover – Adult contest. https://www.thewsa.co.uk/finalists2021/

Social Media

https://thrivingaftersexualabusebook.com

https://thrivingaftersexualabusebook.com/blog/

https://twitter.com/AmThrivingAfter

https://www.facebook.com/thrivingafter

https://www.linkedin.com/in/denise-bossarte-phd-39975841

Thriving After Sexual Abuse: Break Your Bondage to the Past and Live a Life You Love by Denise Bossarte 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 INCLUDES MATERIAL AROUND TOPICS OF CHILDHOOD SEXUAL ABUSE, SUICIDAL IDEATION, AND EATING DISORDERS. READER DISCRETION ADVISED…

Author Denise Bossarte shares a personal tale of trauma, recovery, and healing in the face of sexual abuse in her self-help book, “Thriving After Sexual Abuse: Break Your Bondage to the Past and Live a Life You Love.”

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The Synopsis

Indie Feature August 1, 2021 Kirkus Reviews
“A heartfelt and informative guide to recovery with searing literary recollections.” ~Kirkus Reviews

Nonfiction Book Awards GOLD AWARD winner

2021 Kindle Book Awards The Best of Indie semi-finalist


Quarterfinalist in the 2019 BookLife Prize Nonfiction Contest, Self-help Category

Readers’ Favorite 5-Star Review

Thriving After Sexual Abuse is an eloquent and empathetic self-development book laying out a blueprint for survivors to heal themselves. Denise Bossarte writes with fierce candor as she shares her own traumatic experience with childhood sexual abuse. Thriving provides tips and suggestions for readers to seek help, self-reflect, and pursue healing through a range of activities and practices and offers tangible strategies for readers to reclaim their lives and move forward to a life of Thriving.

“Bossarte reveals vividly personal, harrowing recollections from a long span of her young years, contrasting those dark years and their negative effect on her personal growth with a plethora of resources for accessing professional guidance and unlocking inner determination. While not glossing over how difficult a path this can be, her book proffers hope and pragmatic solutions to anyone recovering from severe trauma. In a book that is at once deeply honest and informative, Bossarte examines the most difficult of subjects with grace, sensitivity, and profound empathy for survivors, which makes this book an essential guide for the process of healing.” ~Self-Publishing Review

Well-written, thought-provoking, and sensitive, Bossarte’s Thriving After Sexual Abuse is a guidebook for a wide audience of readers who will immediately recognize its value whether they are survivors themselves or know someone who is.” ~Nonfiction Book Awards

The Review

This was an incredibly powerful and moving read. It’s really hard not to get emotional reading this book, even if you yourself as a reader have not experienced this kind of trauma. The likelihood of knowing someone who has gone through this is high, whether it be a family member or close friend, and witnessing the pain someone you love is in due to this kind of trauma can be really difficult and heartbreaking to witness. 

Yet it was the powerful message that the author’s book gave that brought hope and strength to this book’s theme and narrative. The author’s ability to relay her own traumatic experiences while speaking with an authoritative voice and expertise highlights the techniques that can help other survivors to move beyond the trauma and find the things that bring them joy again in the world. Even the message on forgiveness is such an important topic, as it relates to how to find forgiveness for yourself for the false faults you found within yourself and instead keep the blame where it belongs, with the abuser. The way the author writes also allows for the reader to work on these techniques themselves, giving them the tools and practices they need to find their own path to heal and regain happiness in their lives.

The Verdict

A heartfelt, emotional, and memorable read, author Denise Bossarte’s “Thriving After Sexual Abuse” is a must-read book for survivors and readers alike. The honesty and engaging way the author not only relays her story but balances that out with lessons and techniques found through experience to help those who have had to deal with this kind of trauma is truly incredible and amazing to see unfold, as it shows the strength and work that goes into overcoming trauma and coming out the other side on a brighter note. If you are looking for a nonfiction read that shares a tale of pain and triumph in the face of trauma, then you have to grab your own copy of this powerful read today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Denise Bossarte is an award-winning author, poet, and photographer and artist whose passion is sharing the worlds of her mind and camera. Her daytime job in IT helps to keep the household running.

She enjoys writing, teaching Miksang contemplative photography workshops, and going on photo shoots to discover the extraordinary in the ordinary world.

She teaches and photographs near her home in Texas.

www.gracebishopnovels.com

www.doyourartyourway.com

www.denisebossartebooks.com 

Dear Arlo: Adventures in Dadding by Tom Kreffer Review

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

Author Tom Kreffer returns with his unique brand of humorous and relatable anecdotes as he explores the first year of fatherhood in his latest book, “Dear Arlo”, the second book in his Adventures in Dadding series.

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The Synopsis

It begins immediately.

There’s no transition period, no trial run, no supervised training, no e-learning module and no simulation that you can f**k up as many times as you need to until you get it right.

As soon as the midwife hands you your newborn baby, you are responsible for keeping it alive.

Picking up moments after Dear Dory ends, Dear Arlo: Adventures in Dadding continues the story of one dad and his journal as he strives to survive the first year of parenthood, blundering his way through bottle-sterilising, night feeds and some cataclysmic nappy changes – all while a pandemic sweeps across the planet.

WARNING: ONCE AGAIN, THIS BOOK CONTAINS A LOT OF SWEARING

The Review

This was a brilliant follow-up to the author’s first novel, Dear Dory. Where the first book followed the journey of pregnancy and expecting to become a father, Dear Arlo expertly navigates the real-life feelings and experiences that one encounters in their first year of fatherhood. The humor and wit in which the author infuses his personality into the real-life experiences of being a parent for the first time.

From the first moments of bliss you feel upon holding your child for the first time, to the anxiety of getting your child home for the first time, forgetful trips at the market, and even those moments away from home at work, missing your family dearly, the author finds a balance between his humorous writing style with realism that touches upon the emotional experience parenthood has. 

The challenges and anxiety-ridden feelings that come up during that first year, in particular, are captured exceptionally, and yet the magic and excitement and love that comes from seeing your child grow is infused naturally into the narrative, making this story shine so brightly.

The Verdict

A remarkable, engaging, and thoughtful nonfiction read on parenthood, author Tom Kreffer’s “Dear Arlo” is a must-read of 2021. The unique thing about this book is that the author doesn’t write it like a “how-to” guide on parenthood or give instruction on how you should be a father. Instead, the book comes to life as a memoir-style narrative that gives a more personal and emotional touch to the subject. Heartfelt in its delivery, be sure you grab your own copy of this fantastic book today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Tom Kreffer is the author of Dear Dory: Journal of a Soon-to-be First-time DadDear Arlo: Adventures in Dadding and the creator of the Adventures in Dadding Newsletter. He love Star Wars and Marvel movies and he has a degree in film and television that he strongly believes is worth less than a second-hand toothbrush.

He lives in Northampton, England with his family, whom he intends to exploit for many more story opportunities in the years to come.

Visit www.tomkreffer.com for updates on Tom, his books and his events

https://books2read.com/u/b5oBWp

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09G1V9WGF?tag=https://amzn.to/2NiJEoQ

Money Plain and Simple: What the Institutions and the Elite Don’t Want You to Know by Steven J. Spence Review

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

Author Steven J. Spence takes readers on a journey into the history of the United States Monetary System and how the U.S. Dollar’s position has changed in recent years in the book, “Money Plain and Simple: What the Institutions and the Elite Don’t Want You To Know”. 

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The Synopsis

A straightforward guide to understanding the global monetary system and why the shine is off the U.S. dollar’s position as the Gold Standard of world currencies. Steven J. Spence, a military veteran and corporate employee-turned-entrepreneur, lays out a concise history of the U.S. monetary system. He’s candid about his own life lessons and then shares how he came to discover the hard realities revealed in this informative read. The author explains in layperson’s terms how the institutions behind money work and how it affects you. He also offers timely insight into what’s going on right now from crypto currency to inflation and hyper-inflation and steps you should consider to secure your own financial future.

The Review

The author does a great job of really laying out the concept of banking systems, credit, and how our finances are impacted through education and detailed lessons throughout this book. The way the author interweaves their own experiences throughout their life and the way so many of us are introduced to debt through credit cards and difficulty finding reasonably paid work after education was such a great way to open up this road, and the deep dive the author took into the history and modern impact of finances on the U.S. financial system was thought-provoking.

The way the author writes is what really sold this book to me. Unlike so many financial books that try to show tricks or methods for accruing money or become self-help in nature, this book is written in a way that feels more hands-on educational instead. The layout and honest way the author speaks and integrates his personal experiences really helped someone like me, who is not financially education-forward, to understand and grasp the lessons the author was imparting. 

The Verdict

A thoughtful, insightful, and memorable read, author Steven J. Spence’s “Money Plain and Simple” is a must-read non-fiction book of 2021, and a contender for best book on finances for the year on my site. The engaging way the author relays the narrative and sets out to show readers how big banking and wealthy elites have secured their financials through manipulation of the market was something we all should take into account in our future finances. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Steven J. Spence is a retired US Air Force veteran, airline mechanic, aircraft builder, and an owner of a real estate rental investment company. Throughout his military and airline careers, he taught airline safety to groups around the world. Spence grew up in poverty with a single mom, who immigrated from Germany with her American military husband only find herself alone with two young sons in the wake of a divorce. With no role models, he had no understanding about how to build his financial future. Now a successful entrepreneur, Spence focuses on financial literacy as it relates to the ordinary person. He and his wife Adriana have two daughters, Shannon and Rachel, a son, Lucas, and one grandson, Julian.

Brothers on Three by Abe Streep Review

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

Two young men growing up on Montana’s Flathead Indian Reservation experience local fame and notoriety as they experience adolescence in this coming of age nonfiction read, “Brothers on Three”.

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The Synopsis

From journalist Abe Streep, the story of coming of age on a reservation in the American West and a team uniting a community

March 11, 2017, was a night to remember. On that night, in front of the hopeful eyes of thousands of friends, family members, and fans, the Arlee Warriors would finally bring the high school basketball state championship title home to Montana’s Flathead Indian Reservation. The game would become the stuff of legend, with the boys revered as local heroes. The team’s place in history was now cemented, but for starters Will Mesteth, Jr. and Phillip Malatare, life would keep moving on―senior year was only just beginning.

In Brothers on Three, we follow Phil and Will, along with their teammates, coaches, and families, as they balance the pressures of adolescence, shoulder the dreams of their community, and chart their own individual courses for the future. And in doing so, a picture emerges of modern Indigenous life and the challenges of growing up on a reservation in contemporary America.

Brothers on Three is not simply a story about high school basketball, about state championships and a winning team. It is a book about community, and it is about boys on the cusp of adulthood, finding their way through the intersecting worlds they inhabit and forging their own paths to personhood.

The Review

An emotional, inspirational, yet poignant look at not only these two young men’s personal journeys in the face of success and hardship but of the people of the Montana Flathead Indian Reservation as a whole. The author does an excellent job of walking the fine line between reporting the story and building the story, navigating the history, culture, and life these young men faced on the reservation as they achieved their success while also creating a narrative that readers could instantly get lost in.

The author’s writing and almost cinematic style of storytelling, when paired with the emotional depths this story goes into, really brought this book to life. So many times when I was reading this book, I could close my eyes and almost imagine this playing out like a sports film, with inspirational music playing in the background while shots of the player’s emotional home lives and their journey to overcome the odds cut across the screen. The author’s ability to connect readers with these very real people and their lives is not only seamless but emotional as well.

The Verdict

A stunning look into the heart of life on a Montana Indian Reservation and the journey into adulthood two teens took amidst sports glory, author Abe Streep’s “Brothers on Three” is a must-read nonfiction sports book. The balance and emotions that the author found within the narrative of this nonfiction read were incredible to see come through on the pages, and readers will not be able to help to delve deeper into this story. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Abe Streep has written for The New York Times MagazineThe New YorkerOutsideThe California Sunday MagazineWIRED, and Harper’s. His writing has been anthologized in Best American Sports Writing and noted by Best American Essays and Best American Science and Nature Writing. He is a recipient of the 2019 American Mosaic Journalism Prize for deep reporting on underrepresented communities.

http://www.abestreep.com/

Botanicals With Benefits: Develop A New Relationship With Your Garden: The Aromatic Plants Volume by Kerry Hughes Review

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

Author Kerry Hughes returns to share her insight into the benefits of using plants not just in edible purposes, but in all formats, and focuses in particular on aromatic plants in her book, “Botanicals With Benefits: Develop A New Relationship With Your Garden: The Aromatic Plants Volume”.

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The Synopsis

Kerry Hughes—Ethnobotanical Explorer—would like to take you on a journey to explore plant uses. You don’t have to travel far, however—the plants in this Botanicals With Benefits Volume are often found right under your very nose! Did you know that many of our common garden plants have multiple uses that you can access and incorporate into your life?

Have you ever imagined how rich your life could be if money really did grow on trees?  But perhaps even better than money, this book shows you that the plants around you can provide you with edible flowers, teas, foods, medicines, cut flowers, and aromas that can be applied to the body, used in the house, and much more. They are right there for the picking. Kerry would like you to start your learning with just one plant and see how the journey unfolds from there.

This Aromatic Plants book is more than just a book on aromatic plants, it is the second in a series of books about Botanicals With Benefits. The aromatic plants featured in this book are all common garden plants, and they all have more uses than just being aromatic plants. There are so many ways in which garden plants work for us or could be working for us, but until now, there have only been a few places to learn about this vital knowledge. More than ever, now is the important time to begin learning this knowledge, as our lives have been changed forever by a pandemic. Whereas globalism had centered the perspectives of our lives around a global economy, today it is important to start looking at change in our own communities, and Kerry would like to show you that there is no better place to start looking than in your backyard.

The Review

I loved how clear and thoughtful the author was to their approach to this subject. The knowledge and research that comes through this book in every chapter were felt through the concise yet at time emotional writing style. The passion and heart that goes into this subject on the author’s behalf were great to see translated onto the page, and readers will definitely feel drawn into the book as they learn more and more about aromatic plants.

As a bit of a personal connection to this book, in particular, I connected a lot with the section on mugwort. As someone who is learning more and more about magick, the paranormal, and even witchcraft and how herbs have played a role in all three of these things, it was interesting to see what kind of properties plant-like mugwort has and how it can be utilized, as it has become a classic or iconic plant used for incense or smudging. 

The Verdict

A memorable, educational, and brilliant deep-dive into the world of plants, in particular aromatic plants, author Kerry Hughes’s “Botanicals With Benefits: Develop A New Relationship With Your Garden: The Aromatic Plants Volume” is a must-read book. This follow-up to the first book in the series does a great job of building upon the knowledge gained in that book and elevating the reader’s understanding of aromatic plants in particular. Whether you feel a personal connection to a particular plant like I did or just have an interest in expanding your knowledge, especially at a time when more people are staying home and getting into gardening, this is the book for you. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Ethnobotanist, Herbalist and Author, Kerry Hughes – with a 20-year record-of-success in natural product development – is driven by a tenacious fascination with the potential health enhancing role plants can play, and her purpose is Ethno-Botanical Discovery and strategically innovating and expanding the boundaries of new natural product development. Through this, Kerry has catalyzed significant phyto-product breakthroughs that have been applied to bring to market new, efficacious and profitable products that not only heal people but also protect our threatened global biodiversity.  

Kerry’s love of natural products has compelled her to write and speak frequently on a variety of subjects. Her writing includes the recently published Botanicals With Benefits: Establish a New Relationship with your garden (2020), as well as these in-depth text books: Understanding Socio-Ecological Systems through Decoloniality: Convergence of Indigenous and Western Knowledge (in press); The Incense Bible, Taylor & Francis (2007), one of the first scientific reviews & examinations of incense, The Health Professionals Guide to Dietary Supplements, Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins (2006), a peer-reviewed guide to herbs and nutritional supplements, and Botanical Medicines: The Desk Reference for Major Herbal Supplements, Haworth Press (2002) an in-depth text-book on the medical aspects of many of our top supplements. Additionally, she has authored over a dozen articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals on various natural product topics. 

Kerry is the Founder of EthnoPharm; a consulting business focused on Natural Product Discovery and Development.  She is also on the Scientific & Medical Advisory Boards for Amare Global, Good Pharma and Hilma, and is on the Advisory Board for Global Food Forums. Kerry has acted as a consultant to the United Nations through the International Trade Centre (ITC) for international development projects involving botanicals and authored essential oil and organic reports for the Market News Service (MNS). As the Director of the US office of The Institute for Market Ecology (IMO), an eco-product certifier, she helped to co-develop and establish the Fair for Life Social & Fair Trade Certification in the US market, the highest-bar global Fair Trade certification standard. Today, she continues her work with standard development on the soon-to-be launched Certified Regenerative standard by A Greener World. 

Kerry has a background in Ethnobotany and Biochemistry, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry, and a Master of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in Ethnobotany and Soil Science from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California.  She is also a certified Clinical Herbalist by the Berkeley Herbal Center, A Level 1 & 3 Certified Australian Bush Flower Essence Advanced Practitioner, and has helped teach at the Berkeley Herbal Center & The Herbal Academy of New England. 

https://ethnopharm.com/

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