FIND THE HELPERS:What 9/11 and Parkland Taught Me About Recovery, Purpose, and Hope is AVAILABLE NOW!!! Fred Guttenberg lost his daughter Jaime to a school shooter – this is his story.

Title: FIND THE HELPERS  

Subtitle: What 9/11 and Parkland Taught Me About Recovery, Purpose, and Hope

Author: FRED GUTTENBERG

Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHIES AND MEMOIRS, SELF-HELP

Length: 198 PAGES

Publisher: MANGO PUBLISHING

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

ISBN: 9781642505351 (Hardcover)

Price: $19.95 USD (Hardcover)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

FIND THE HELPERS tells the story of Fred Guttenberg’s journey since his daughter Jaime’s death and how he has been able to get through the worst of times thanks to the kindness and compassion of others. Good things happen to good people at the hands of other good people─and the world is filled with them.

They include everyone from amazing gun violence survivors Fred has met around the country to former VP Joe Biden, who spent time talking to him about finding mission and purpose in learning to grieve.

https://abcnews.go.com/video/embed?id=53148682

https://abcnews.go.com/video/embed?id=61068732

MY REVIEW:

FIND THE HELPERS is a book that never should have had to be written. What I mean is that Fred Guttenberg should never have had to lose his daughter in a “school shooting.” His daughter, Jaime, should be at home right now thinking about her life goals, competing in dance competitions, and giggling with her friends over boys. Instead, she has been dead for the past two years and her family is grieving the loss of a vibrant, intelligent, and caring young woman.

Gun violence and mass shootings have become commonplace in the United States and that is the horrific truth.

After losing his daughter in a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, grief-stricken father Fred Guttenberg dedicated himself to fighting against gun violence in America. He did not want any other family to have to lose a loved one to gun violence.

This book does talk about the shooting and it’s aftermath, and does talk about the epidemic of gun violence in America today. However, FIND THE HELPERS is more about the people he has met and who have appeared in his life at the exact moment he needed someone.

“This book is not about gun safety or what happened at Parkland. Instead, [the Author] share[s] the story of the journey [he has] been on since Jaime’s death and how [he’s] been able to get through the worst of times thanks to the love and kindness of others.” Fred Guttenberg states that his book: “…focuses on when good things happen to good people at the hands of other good people.” He states that “To fight, you have to have hope. And this book is about nourishing the soul so that you have the stamina to fight. This book is meant to be a beacon of love and hope and compassion.”

The stories he relates in FINDING THE HELPERS all speak of the people he has met since his daughter’s death and how each of those people have been “helpers” to him and to his fight against gun violence.

“Guns don’t discriminate; bullets don’t discriminate. When they hit you, they do not know if you are a Republican or a Democrat. They do not know if you are for or against gun safety. They don’t know if you are black or white. When they hit you, all that you know is that they are likely to kill you.”

“We do have a real crisis in this country, a real emergency. In the United States of America, over 40,000 people now die every year from gun violence. That is a higher rate of death than from traffic accidents.”

The two quotes I included above are, to my mind, very telling. Now, just to make it clear, I am a Canadian, not an American. Being Canadian means I grew up in a country where gun violence happens, but nowhere near as often as it does in the United States. Fred Guttenberg asks a question in his book that I, and millions of others, would love to have answered. Fred asks: “Why doesn’t President Trump consider 40,000 people dying a national emergency?” The author also writes: “It is sad to realize that if all gun violence were only committed by illegal aliens, this President would be working overtime to do something about it.” I believe that to be true.

Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, invited Fred to the 2019 State of the Union address, and once again invited Fred Guttenberg to be her guest at the 2020 State of the Union address. He was hopeful, but knew it was unlikely, that the President might address the gun violence issue during his speech. Fred Guttenberg was right to be skeptical. During the speech, Fred’s emotions got the better of him when Trump’s only reference to violence against American citizens was once again blamed on illegal immigrants. “He was blaming violence on them, and that was inaccurate.” When Trump announced that he would protect the second amendment, and Republicans in the audience jumped up and cheered, “… [Fred] lost it. [He] had been quiet all night, but at that, [he] stood up and yelled back, saying only nine words: ‘What about victims of gun violence like my daughter?’ Within seconds, [he] was confronted by security… [His] outburst got [him] handcuffed and detained by the Capitol Police.” He was detained and questioned, but was ultimately released (but not until Trump’s speech had concluded) when Speaker Pelosi intervened on his behalf. These events made national and international news. I say, GOOD FOR HIM. Someone needed to say something to the current President who seems to care only about violence caused by illegal immigrants and ignores the epidemic of gun violence that is prevalent in U.S. society.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Fred Guttenberg, his family, and his mission to stop other parents from having to bury their children due to some 郎 with a gun.

I am rating FIND THE HELPERS as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

My only semi-negative comment is that the title can be misconstrued and I hope that people will look past that and will run out and buy this book. In fact, Christmas is coming soon and this book (along with a t-shirt and orange enamel pin from the ORANGE RIBBONS FOR JAIME charity) would make a fabulous gift for every parent, first responder, and educator on your shopping list.

*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Photographer: Julia Brownley

Fred Guttenberg began his public life after the murder of his beautiful 14-year-old daughter Jaime in the Parkland school shooting on Feb 14th.  The day after the murder, Fred decided to attend a public vigil in Parkland. While there, the Mayor asked him to speak. His words shook a nation and he has not stopped since.

Only four months prior to the murder of his daughter, Fred’s brother Michael passed away in October 2017 from cancer related to his service in 9/11. He was one of the original first responders at the WTC with a team of doctors who got trapped in the WTC as it collapsed. Amazingly, the room that they hid out in did not collapse and Michael and his team of physicians spent 16 days at ground zero taking care of others.

Following his involvement in these two distinctly American Tragedies, Fred has traveled the country talking about both events but also talking about perspective, perseverance, and resilience. He discusses pivotal moments in our life and how we respond to those moments. Fred uses his speech to inspire others.

Prior to these vents, Fred Guttenberg’s professional life included over a decade of experience in sales and management with Johnson and Johnson, followed by almost 15 years as an entrepreneur, having built a business that consisted of 19 Dunkin Donuts, which he sold in November 2016.

Fred and his wife Jennifer now spend time challenging our elected officials to do more. They began a nonprofit organization dedicated to Jaime’s life called “Orange Ribbons for Jaime.” He has been a regular on TV news programs and myriad of online and print media. Through the formation of the non-profit, this is now his full-time mission.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE  

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

AMAZON

WIKIPEDIA

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

ABOUT ORANGE RIBBONS FOR JAIME:

On February 14th, 2018 our 14-year-old daughter Jaime Guttenberg, along with 16 other victims at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were tragically murdered by a troubled former student.

Orange Ribbons For Jaime will honor our daughter by supporting programs that were important to her, as well as those dedicated to pursuing common sense gun safety reforms.

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

INSTAGRAM

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

THE MOURNING REPORT by Caitlin Garvey is the most raw and honest book I have ever read about grieving the loss of someone you love to the ravages of cancer. 5 Stars and every one of them earned through tears – both the author’s and my own. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Title: THE MOURNING REPORT

Author: CAITLIN GARVEY

Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHIES AND MEMOIRS, MENTAL HEALTH, GRIEF

Length: 168 PAGES

Publisher: HOMEBOUND PUBLICATIONS 

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: OCTOBER 6, 2020

ISBN: 9781947003835

Price: $15.95 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Two years after her mother’s death from breast cancer, Caitlin, then 20 years old, was admitted to a psychiatric facility after a suicide attempt. In the wake of this enormous loss, Caitlin questions her religion, comes to terms with her sexuality, and searches for a way to live with severe depression and anxiety.

Years later, unable to come to terms with her mother’s death, Caitlin decides to embark on a “grief journey,” interviewing the people involved in her mother’s dying process: a hospice nurse, a priest, an estate planner, a hairstylist, and a funeral director. If she figures out how they can function after being so close to her mother’s death, then maybe she can learn how to navigate her own life. Each chapter of The Mourning Report is centered on each interview and the memories, anxieties, and reflections that is stimulated. It asks what it means to “move on.”

MY REVIEW:

*** TRIGGER WARNING ***

This book contains talk of depression, grief, a suicide attempt and suicidal ideation. If any of these topics are triggers for you, I suggest you either skip this book, or proceed with caution.

***************************

“I’m scared to live, and I envy those who aren’t…”

Caitlin Garvey lost her mother to Breast Cancer when Caitlin was only twenty years old. Unable to find her way through her grief, she attempted suicide and ended up in a locked psychiatric facility.

Caitlin was depressed and her anxiety levels were off the chart. Her time in the hospital was helpful, but even after she was released, she was still suicidal.

“[She] began this book out of desperation to feel unbound, to feel a comfort that could allow [her] to move forward in [her] life. [She] wanted to revisit [her] memories of the few days before and after [her] Momma died, the moments when [Caitlin] felt the smallest and the most detached from the world. [She] hoped that [she] could pick up the pieces of [herself] that [she] left behind. [Caitlin] hoped to feel whole, not fragmented, and that [she] could remember more of [her] Momma and get a fuller version of her story.”

“[Caitlin] interviewed five people, all of whom were a part of [her] Momma’s dying process:”


Those five people were:

1. Her mother’s hairstylist who was also her close friend. In fact, it was this woman who styled her mother’s hair for the wake.

2. The family priest

3. A nurse/administrator at Heartland Hospice Care

4. The author’s parent’s estate planner AND

5. An embalmer/funeral director

“[She] thought that if [she] could figure out how these five people functioned after being so close to death, [she] could better navigate [her] own life. [She] hoped they could give [her] some guidance.”

Each chapter focuses on the interviews between Caitlin and the person she was interviewing. Each time, she discovered more, not only about her mother, but about herself as well. Personally, I found these conversations both fascinating and insightful.

THE MOURNING REPORT is probably the most raw and honest grief/depression memoir I have ever read. Caitlin does not shy away from the truth and admits that “[She was] mad at myself for wanting to die when all [her] Momma wanted to do was live.”

Caitlin’s honesty and integrity left me with a feeling of having peeked inside her psyche and having gone along on her journey of healing.

There is just no rating other than 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ that would be truthful. In fact, I plan to go back and read THE MOURNING REPORT again in a few weeks.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever lost someone close to them. As well, anyone who has an interest in mental health, depression and suicide prevention should be sure to read The Mourning Report.

Thank you to #NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this #memoir

QUOTES:

“I wished to trade bodies with her so that I could swallow her sickness, and she could be healthy and take care of me.”

“Since 2010, I’ve tried 13 different medications, a mix of anti-depressants, antipsychotics, anti-anxieties, and ADHD medications. I’ve had five different therapists. Still I feel trapped in my body and trapped by a brain that constantly tells me I’m not good enough, or significant enough.”

“I feel dead, but I can still hear my heartbeat.”

“I stare at the people in the cars next to me, and I wonder how it feels to be them, and I wonder how freeing it must feel to be able to drive to work without considering crashing the car.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Caitlin Garvey is a writer and English professor in Chicago.

She has an MFA in creative writing from Northwestern University.

Her work has been published in Post Road Magazine, JuxtaProse Magazine, Apeiron Review, The Baltimore Review, The Tishman Review, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and others.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

THE BALTIMORE REVIEW

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM – AUTHOR

INSTAGRAM – PUBLISHER

TWITTER

GOOGLE BOOKS

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

THE COLD VANISH: Seeking The Missing In North America’s Wildlands goes on sale TODAY. A fascinating look into an issue that seems to be largely ignored.

Title: THE COLD VANISH

Subtitle: Seeking the Missing in North America’s Wildlands

Author: JON BILLMAN

Genre: NON-FICTION, TRUE CRIME

Length: 368 PAGES

Publisher: GRAND CENTRAL PUBLISHING – A DIVISION OF HACHETTE

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: JULY 7, 2020

ISBN: 9781538747568 (eBook)

Price: $14.99 USD (eBook)

Rating: 3.5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Jacob Gray’s bicycle and trailer were discovered close to a trail in Olympia National Park

DESCRIPTION:

For readers of Jon Krakauer and Douglas Preston, the critically acclaimed author and journalist Jon Billman’s fascinating, in-depth look at people who vanish in the wilderness without a trace and those eccentric, determined characters who try to find them.

These are the stories that defy conventional logic. The proverbial vanished without a trace incidences, which happen a lot more (and a lot closer to your backyard) than almost anyone thinks. These are the missing whose situations are the hardest on loved ones left behind. The cases that are an embarrassment for park superintendents, rangers and law enforcement charged with Search & Rescue. The ones that baffle the volunteers who comb the mountains, woods and badlands. The stories that should give you pause every time you venture outdoors.

Through Jacob Gray’s disappearance in Olympic National Park, and his father Randy Gray who left his life to search for him, we will learn about what happens when someone goes missing. Braided around the core will be the stories of the characters who fill the vacuum created by a vanished human being. We’ll meet eccentric bloodhound-handler Duff and R.C., his flagship purebred, who began trailing with the family dog after his brother vanished in the San Gabriel Mountains. And there’s Michael Neiger North America’s foremost backcountry Search & Rescue expert and self-described “bushman” obsessed with missing persons. And top researcher of persons missing on public wildlands Ex-San Jose, California detective David Paulides who is also one of the world’s foremost Bigfoot researchers.

It’s a tricky thing to write about missing persons because the story is the absence of someone. A void. The person at the heart of the story is thinner than a smoke ring, invisible as someone else’s memory. The bones you dig up are most often metaphorical. While much of the book will embrace memory and faulty memory — history — The Cold Vanish is at its core a story of now and tomorrow. Someone will vanish in the wild tomorrow. These are the people who will go looking.

Jacob Gray

MY REVIEW:

This book is unique. It is part memoir, part dissertation on the numbers of missing people who have “cold vanished.”

Exactly what is a cold vanish?”

A cold vanish is when a person goes missing, usually in the wild, leaving no clues. These people are often never found, and those who are found, are most often not found alive, and are usually discovered accidentally by other wilderness visitors, not by those who have searched for them.

“If you Google “missing person” and the name of your nearest national park or national forest, you will find clusters of the disappeared.”

The National Institute of

Justice, the research arm of the Department of Justice, calls missing persons (and unidentified remains) ‘the nation’s silent mass disaster.’ They estimate that on any given day there are between 80,000 and 90,000 people actively listed with law enforcement as missing.

The Department of the Interior knows how many wolves and grizzly bears roam its wilds, but has a hard time keeping track of visitors who disappear. The Department of Justice keeps a database, the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, NamUS, but reporting missing persons is voluntary in all but ten states, and law enforcement and coroner participation is voluntary as well. So a lot of the missing are also missing from the database.”

THE COLD VANISH is required reading for those of us who are fascinated by true crime and for those who follow such podcasts as “Missing,” and “The Vanished.

According to NamUS, more than 600,000 persons go missing in the United States each year; thankfully, many of these are quickly found alive. Sixty percent of the missing are male, 40 percent are female. The average age for a missing person is thirty-four.”

Those statistics surprised me. I knew that many people go missing, but 600,000 in a single year? That is a staggeringly high number. With budgetary constraints and other logistical issues, it proves that those who volunteer their time and resources to locating the lost are an invaluable resource for the families of those who have cold vanished.

Jacob Gray went missing in Olympia National Park in April of 2018. His father put all other obligations aside and spent innumerable hours, days, weeks and months searching for his son. The author was able to tag along on his search and this is the story around which this book is designed. More than just a reporter, it became clear as the search dragged on without resolution, that Randy Gray (Jacob’s Dad) and author Jon Billman became friends.

Although the author occasionally goes off a bit of a tangent, all in all, the story is well-written and has certainly opened my eyes to the issue of people missing in the wilds of North America. I am thrilled that the Author has chosen to donate 20% of all author royalties to the Jon Francis Foundation.

I rate THE COLD VANISH as 3.5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Billman is a former wildland firefighter and high school teacher. He holds an MFA in Fiction from Eastern Washington University. He’s the author of the story collection When We Were Wolves (Random House, 1999).

Billman is a regular contributor to Outside and his fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Esquire, The Paris Review, and Zoetrope: All-Story.

He teaches fiction and journalism at Northern Michigan University in the Upper Peninsula, where he lives with his family in a log cabin along the Chocolay River.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

TWITTER

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BARNES AND NOBLE

AUDIBLE  

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PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

………

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

Grand Central Publishing, a division of Hachette Book Group, reaches a diverse audience through hardcover, trade paperback and mass market imprints that cater to every kind of reader.

Our imprints are Twelve, Grand Central Life & Style, Forever and Forever Yours. Our authors include Nicholas Sparks, David Baldacci, Gwyneth Paltrow, Robin Roberts, Sandra Brown, Brad Meltzer, Preston & Child, Nelson DeMille, Mario Batali, Jodi Ellen Malpas, Seth Grahame-Smith, Candace Bushnell, and many more.

To learn more about this Publisher visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
http://www.grandcentralpublishing.com

TWITTER

FACEBOOK

PINTEREST

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES THAT WERE MENTIONED IN THE BOOK:

“In 2011, [David] Paulides launched the CanAm Missing Project, which catalogs cases of people who disappear – or are found – on wildlands across North America under what he calls mysterious circumstances.”
David Paulides, an ex-cop from San Jose, California, is the founder of the North America Bigfoot Search (NABS), established in 2004.
National Outdoor Leadership School
The Jon Francis Foundation is a Minnesota based nonprofit that helps families with loved ones missing on public lands.
Another title by Jon Billman

END OF THE ROPE: Mountains, Marriage, and Motherhood by Acclaimed Canadian Mountain Climber and Author JAN REDFORD is available now. This memoir will make you laugh out loud, as well as cry your heart out. This is one Canadian book that shouldn’t be missed. 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ END OF THE ROPE is the story of her struggle to make her own way in the mountains and in life; to lead, not follow.

The blue book cover is the Canadian cover. The other cover is the United States book cover.

Title: END OF THE ROPE

Subtitle: MOUNTAINS, MARRIAGE AND MOTHERHOOD

Author:  JAN REDFORD

Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHIES AND MEMOIRS, CANADA, CANADIAN NON-FICTION, MOUNTAIN CLIMBING, FAMILY DYSFUNCTION 

Length: 400 PAGES

Publisher: PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE CANADA

Release Date: APRIL 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-345-8231-5

Price: $32.00 CDN (Hardcover)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

In the tradition of Cheryl Strayed’s “WILD“, the gritty, funny, achingly honest story of a young climber’s struggle to become whole by testing herself on mountains and life.

As a young teenager, Jan Redford runs away from a cottage where her father has just put her down for the zillionth time and throws herself against a 100-foot cliff face.  Somewhere in that shaky, outraged kid is a bedrock belief in her right to exist, which carries her to the top. In that brief flash of victory, she sets her sights on becoming a climber.

Falling in love with climbing eventually leads to falling in love with the climbers in her tight-knit western Canadian climbing community. It also means that the people she loves regularly vanish in an instant, caught in an avalanche or by a split second of inattention. It almost crushes Jan when her boyfriend, the gifted climber Dan Guthrie, is killed. Instead of marrying Dan, she marries one of his best friends, a driven climber who was there for her when she was grieving and becomes the father of her two children. Not what either of them planned.

End of the Rope is raw and real. Mountains challenge Jan, marriage almost annihilates her, and motherhood could have been the last straw…but it isn’t.

How she climbs out of the hole she digs for herself is as thrilling and inspiring as any of her climbs–and just as much an act of bravery.

MY REVIEW:

Upon initial perusal of END OF THE ROPE, potential readers may think the same as I originally thought: with a subtitle like Mountains, Marriage, and Motherhood, I expected this to be one of those annoying books about a woman whose life is perfect; one who has it all, and who is now going to “teach” readers how they too can have it all and become the perfect “Super-Mom.” YUCK!!! (Plus, I call Bullshit on those people – I think they are full of crap.)

On the surface, potential readers might think that if END OF THE ROPE  isn’t about being a “Super Mom” then it must be about mountain climbing, and only mountain climbing. Wrong again, this is definitely not the case.

Yes. It does contain quite a few mountain and mountain climbing stories, as well as some of the multitude of accomplishments of the author – female Canadian climber, Jan Redford.

This surprising and engaging memoir is so much more than just a story of mountain climbing, and so much more interesting.

Jan Redford tells the story of her life so far; a life that has been anything but normal, and anything but easy. 

Jan Redford learned to climb after high school, in Wyoming at the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). She writes about her time at NOLS at the age of eighteen that: “I felt like I’d been sleepwalking through my life, and climbing propped open my eyes. Made me fully alive.” She knew from then on that Climbing would be a large part of her existence for the rest of her life.

While Jan Redford’s life did revolve for many years around her climbing and the climbing “lifestyle,” Jan is much more than just a climber.

In reality, this is a memoir about growing up in a highly dysfunctional family – one that presented the image of perfection to those around them. That outer, superficial image of the perfect family was a sham. Jan’s father was an alcoholic and her mother, although physically present, was emotionally absent. The entire family lived in an atmosphere which required everyone to ‘walk on eggshells’ lest they pull the pin on the ticking time bomb that was the family patriarch. Who could blame Jan for wanting to run away as far, and as fast as possible?

Climbing was the escape that offered Jan not only a way out, but also a way forward. The West Coast of Canada offers amazingly scenic mountain ranges and a large, insular community of like-minded individuals. It was in this climbing community Jan found her home and her people.

Tales of the antics of her youthful indescretions will have the reader fondly remembering their own youth capers. 

END OF THE ROPE is a story of running away and finding yourself. Falling in lust. Challenging yourself. Finding your soulmate and losing him to the mountains you both lived.

It is a tale of being hurt down to the core of your soul, digging deep and doing what is right for you; no matter what other people think or say.

As it states in the subtitle, this book is about Mountains, Motherhood and Marriage. Each of these three M’s will bring Jan joy and happiness as well as unspeakable pain and sorrow.

END OF THE ROPE is a memoir not to be missed.

Any book that can cause me to laugh out loud, snort in disbelief and/or  exasperation, as well as have me in tears is a book that I will not soon forget. END OF THE ROPE did all of these things to me, and more. Because of this, I would be doing a disservice to potential readers to rate this book as anything lower than 5 OUT OF 5 STARS. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Jan Redford may be an awesome mountain climber, but she is an even better writer.

In August 2020, the Paperback version of this book is being released. It can be pre-ordered now at your favorite bookstore.

I would love to hear back from any of you that go on to read END OF THE ROPE. After you finish reading it, come back here to let me know what you thought.

To read an excerpt from this book click HERE.

Thank you to the Publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book.

And be sure to also follow me on Social media where I sometimes offer chances to win books. ** I might just be offering a chance to win books sometime over the next few weeks.** 

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🧗🧗🧗🚵🚵🚵⛷️⛷️⛷️🧗🧗


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Photo by Jannicke Kitchen

JAN REDFORD is a graduate of The Writer’s Studio at SFU and holds a master’s in creative writing from UBC.

Her stories, articles, and personal essays have been published in the Globe and Mail, National Post, Mountain Life, Explore, Catapult, LitHub, and anthologies and have won or been shortlisted in several writing contests.

She lives with her family in Squamish, BC, where she mountain bikes, trail runs, climbs, and skis.

Her memoir, End of the Rope: Mountains, Marriage, and Motherhood is her first book.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
http://www.janredford.com

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

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PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

AND THE WINNER IS…

Thank you to everyone who entered my Giveaway to win an autographed copy of FROM THE ASHES by JESSE THISTLE.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

#1 National Bestseller
Finalist, CBC Canada Reads
Globe and Mail Book of the Year
An Indigo Book of the Year
A CBC Best Canadian Nonfiction Book of the Year

In this extraordinary and inspiring debut memoir, Jesse Thistle, once a high school dropout and now a rising Indigenous scholar, chronicles his life on the streets and how he overcame trauma and addiction to discover the truth about who he is.

If I can just make it to the next minute…then I might have a chance to live; I might have a chance to be something more than just a struggling crackhead.

From the Ashes is a remarkable memoir about hope and resilience, and a revelatory look into the life of a Métis-Cree man who refused to give up.

Abandoned by his parents as a toddler, Jesse Thistle briefly found himself in the foster-care system with his two brothers, cut off from all they had known. Eventually the children landed in the home of their paternal grandparents, whose tough-love attitudes quickly resulted in conflicts. Throughout it all, the ghost of Jesse’s drug-addicted father haunted the halls of the house and the memories of every family member. Struggling with all that had happened, Jesse succumbed to a self-destructive cycle of drug and alcohol addiction and petty crime, spending more than a decade on and off the streets, often homeless. Finally, he realized he would die unless he turned his life around.

In this heartwarming and heart-wrenching memoir, Jesse Thistle writes honestly and fearlessly about his painful past, the abuse he endured, and how he uncovered the truth about his parents. Through sheer perseverance and education—and newfound love—he found his way back into the circle of his Indigenous culture and family.

An eloquent exploration of the impact of prejudice and racism, From the Ashes is, in the end, about how love and support can help us find happiness despite the odds.

The Winner is…

KAY BURKE

I have emailed the winner. Again, thank you to everyone who entered.

Keep watching my blog for more Giveaways coming soon.

Author Jesse Thistle
Photography by Lucie Thistle

BITCHMEDIA Has Released Their List of 17 Memoirs Feminists Should Read in 2020

BOOKS,CULTURE,BITCH READS and MEMOIRS

BitchReads: 17 Memoirs Feminists Should Read in 2020

Article by Evette Dionne

Published on January 3, 2020

The Dragons, the Giant, the Women by Wayétu Moore, left, All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson and Fairest by Meredith Talusan
(Photo credit: Graywolf Press, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and Viking)

I love a good memoir. Though the ever-expanding genre has been criticized over the decades by people who view them as egotistical and insular, memoirs can be transformative.

Tapping into a person’s unique experience and seeing the world through their eyes for a few hundred pages can expand our individual worldview, help us better understand our own experiences with broader issues—including grief—and introduce us to powerful voices who articulate and excavate their lives in ways that so few of us can.

Among the many memoirs slated for release in 2020, these 17 represent the very best of the genre.

Want more seasonal reads? Make sure to sign up for our email list and we’ll send you a new BitchReads list, every quarter, in partnership with Powell’s Books!

In the Land of Men

By: Adrienne Miller{ Ecco }RELEASED: FEB. 11, 2020 $28.99 PreOrder It Now

If you love fascinating memoirs about women navigating male-dominated industries, then Adrienne Miller’s book should already be in your cart. Miller began her career in media as an editorial assistant at GQ magazine in the 1990s before becoming the first woman to serve as Esquire’s literary editor. Given that media is still an industry run by men—many of them white, many of them powerful, and way too many of them drunk on their own power—Miller’s 30 years’ worth of reflections show, alas, just how much hasn’t changed for women finding their footing in an industry that allows only a few of us to break through.

Strung Out: One Last Hit and Other Lies That Nearly Killed Me By: Erin Khar{ Park Row Books }

RELEASED: FEB. 25, 2020 $27.99 PreOrder It Now

Stephanie Land, author of the bestselling 2019 memoir Maid, says that Strung Out “will change how we look at the opioid crisis and how the media talks about it.” I agree.

Often, media stigmatizes the very people it aims to cover because there’s still so much we don’t understand about the development and impact of addiction. Erin Khar’s gift of a memoir examines her 15-year journey as a heroin user—and, perhaps more important, what brought her to drugs. Addiction stories are often linear (got hooked, hit bottom, got clean), but Khar instead offers a humanizing portrait not just of her own experience but of an issue that impacts more than two million people in the United States.

Recollections of My Nonexistence: A Memoir By: Rebecca Solnit

{Penguin Random House }RELEASED: MARCH 10, 2019 $26.00 Buy It Now

Prolific essayist Rebecca Solnit has long written about pop culture, politics, and mansplaining by weaving together her personal experience with a broader analysis, but it seems that Recollections of My Nonexistence is her first full-on memoir. Solnit brings readers to 1980s San Francisco for a comprehensive look at how she found her voice and her feminism amid discovering punk rock, witnessing rampant gender-based violence, and negotiating a culture of disbelief about everything from street harassment to rape. Recollections of My Nonexistence is also a memoir about writing, which is a gift from a writer as talented and transformative as Solnit. What shaped her perspective? How did she find the confidence to write with such stark honesty? These questions and more are answered.

Rust Belt Femme By: Raechel Anne Jolie

{Belt Publishing }RELEASED: MARCH 10, 2020 $26.00 Buy It Now

Raechel Anne Jolie (who has contributed to Bitch) grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, in the 1990s, finding herself amid an alternative subculture of “race cars, Budweiser drinking men covered in car grease, and the women who loved them.” After her father is killed by a drunk driver, Jolie and her mother struggled to stay afloat: facing eviction, going days with electricity and water, and hurting each other to escape the pain of financial uncertainty. Rust Belt Femme follows Jolie as she leaves the neighborhood she called home for Cleveland Heights where a subculture with a lot of personality welcomes her, helping to define who she is and where she’s headed next.

Assume Nothing: A Memoir of Intimate Violence

By: Tanya Selvaratnam {Henry Holt and Co. }RELEASED: APRIL 7, 2020 $27.99 Buy It Now

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, nearly 20 people per minute in the United States are physically abused by their romantic partner, which breaks down to more than 10 million people suffering abuse in the course of a single year. It never becomes easier to read about intimate-partner violence, but it’s always necessary. Tanya Selvaratnam’s heart-wrenching memoir explores her volatile relationship with former New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, which included controlling behavior, death threats, and violent sex that she felt powerless to stop given that her partner was the state’s top-ranking law officer. 

Assume Nothing isn’t an easy read, but it’s an important window on how power insulates even the worst among us.

FROM OUR SPONSORS

Diary of a Drag Queen By: Crystal Rasmussen with Tom Rasmussen {FSG Originals}RELEASED: APRIL 14, 2020 $17.00 Buy It Now

Crystal Rasmussen, born as Tom, never knew a life before drag queendom. Even as they grew up in northern England, Rasmussen knew they weren’t meant to blend in—standing out was a given. By the time Rasmussen leaves London for a fashion job in New York, they’d come into their own, and this hilarious memoir follows them through a year of adventures, from being onstage to being in bed to realizing the fashion world is even more cutthroat than pop culture portrays it. Diary of a Drag Queen is equal parts inspiring and funny as hell.

This Is Big: How the Founder of Weight Watchers Changed the World—and Me

By: Marisa Meltzer {Little, Brown and Company}RELEASED: APRIL 14, 2020 $28.00 Buy It Now

According to the Boston Medical Center, an estimated 45 million adults in the United States embark on a diet every year, and for an increasing number of adults, an obsession with losing weight begins in childhood. Marisa Meltzer, a contributor to the New York Times and the New Yorker (who has contributed to Bitch), began her first diet at the age of 5, and since then has been on the familiar rollercoaster of losing and gaining weight. When Meltzer read the obituary of Jean Nidetch, the Queens housewife–turned–flamboyant founder of Weight Watchers, she realized how much her own journey ran parallel to that of the woman whose business became an emblem of our culture’s quest for thinness at any cost. This Is Big is an inventive memoir that examines Meltzer’s own experience with weight loss alongside Nidetch’s lucrative belief that community, not secretive shame, could transform people’s bodies and lives.

Missed Translations: Meeting the Immigrant Parents Who Raised Me

By: Sopan Deb

{Dey Street Books}RELEASED: APRIL 21, 2020 $27.99 Buy It Now

There comes a moment in many people’s lives when they realize that their parents or other guardian figures have lives, dreams, hopes, and goals outside of raising them and/or being a spouse. Comedian Sopan Deb’s revelation came as he approached his 30th birthday: He knew the basics about his parents, who’d immigrated, separately, from India to the United States in the 1960s and ’70s. He knew their marriage was arranged, and that his father returned to India several years into their marriage, leaving his children and his wife in suburban New Jersey, but he didn’t know much else. After the 2016 election, which found Deb juggling stand-up comedy and covering the Trump campaign for the New York Times, he decided to journey to India to reconnect with his father and in the process reconnect with himself.

All Boys Aren’t Blue By: George M. Johnson

Farrar, Straus and Giroux }RELEASED: APRIL 28, 2020 $17.99 Buy It Now

Award-winning journalist and activist George M. Johnson is one of my favorite people to follow on social media. His insights about everything from representation in pop culture to sexuality and health keep myself and many others engaged, and he brings that same level of introspection to his powerful memoir-manifesto. Johnson’s book is geared toward young adults—a market that needs this level of realness about everything from finding and harboring joy to bullying to navigating queerness. All Boys Aren’t Blue is a game changer.

Good Morning, Destroyer of Men’s Souls: A Memoir of Women, Addiction, and Love By: Nina Renata Aron {Crown}

RELEASED: MAY 5, 2020 $27.00 Buy It Now

When Nina Renata Aron began dating her boyfriend, K, it didn’t take long for him to relapse. Addiction is a disease; it can come upon those who are afflicted without warning and the effects are felt by the person addicted as well as those who love them. Good Morning, Destroyer of Men’s Souls explores how addiction transforms K, transforms their relationship, and transforms Aron’s relationship to herself and to her childhood. It’s difficult to tell someone else’s story of addiction with empathy and understanding, but Aron balances it all beautifully.

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Fairest By: Meredith Talusan {Viking}

RELEASED: MAY 26, 2020 $27.00 Buy It Now

I first learned about journalist and author Meredith Talusan in 2016 when she spearheaded Unerased, Mic’s award-winning multimedia project that chronicled the crisis of transgender women in the United States being murdered. Talusan has since been an integral part of them’s inaugural editorial team, where she still works as a contributing editor, and has been one of the strongest voices holding newsrooms accountable when they offer lip service to inclusivity but do not actually prioritize it. In Fairest, Talusan brings that same determination and brilliance to her own story, with recollections of immigrating to the United States, unlearning the gender binary, and, most important, coming into her own.

In Open Country By: Rahawa Haile {Harper}RELEASED: JUNE 2, 2020

Buy It Now

On October 3, 2016, Rahawa Haile announced on Twitter that she’d successfully hiked the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine with a photo that captured the triumph. Since then, she’s published a canonical piece in Outside that detailed her experience and an incredible essay in BuzzFeed about leaving books by Black authors for other hikers to discover. Her upcoming memoir considers “what it means to move through America and the world as a Black woman.” Though there aren’t too many details on In Open Country, we know what Haile is capable of as a writer—and that alone has us thirsting to dig into this book.

The Dragons, the Giant, the Women By: Wayétu Moore {Graywolf Press}RELEASED: JUNE 2, 2020 $26.00 Buy It Now

Is it possible to find home again after being unexpectedly uprooted during a political upheaval? That’s one of the questions at the center of Wayétu Moore’s second book, which chronicles one of the most difficult experiences of her young life. At the age of 5, the civil war in Liberia forces Moore and her family—minus her mother, who’s studying at a university in New York—to flee the country. After a three-week journey on foot, Moore and her family are smuggled to the border of Sierra Leone and, from there, travel to the United States to reunite with her mother and begin a brand new life. The Dragons, the Giant, the Women is a beautifully written book about the experience of migrating—a story, particularly in this moment, that can never be told enough.

The Groom Will Keep His Name By: Matt Ortile

{Bold Type Books}RELEASED: JUNE 16, 2020 $16.99 Buy It Now

Recent years have brought us an array of memoirs and essay collections that specifically center the experiences of gay men negotiating the tenacious homophobia of the United States: Michael Arceneaux’s I Can’t Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I’ve Put My Faith in Beyoncé, Darnell L. Moore’s No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black and Free in America, and Saeed Jones’s How We Fight for Our Lives come immediately to mind. The success of these books feels like an assurance that we’ll continue to see stories like theirs move out of the margins of the literary canon. In The Groom Will Keep His Name, Matt Ortile, managing editor of Catapult, offers up his unique experiences as a Filipino immigrant figuring out how to date in a world where we’re all encouraged to be curated versions of ourselves. The book’s clever title reflects its witty and captivating takes on everything from one-night stands to dating apps and beyond.

Notes on a Silencing

By: Lacy Crawford

{Little, Brown & Company}RELEASED: JULY 14, 2020 $28.00 Buy It Now

Many of us have fragmented memories that cause us to question what’s real and what we’ve imagined. But when St. Paul’s School, an elite boarding school in Concord, New Hampshire, was deemed a “haven for sexual predators” in a May 2018 lawsuit filed by two of the school’s alumnae, Lacy Crawford realized that her hazy recollection of being assaulted at age 15 by two fellow students many years earlier—and the efforts of the school’s administration, including faculty and clergy, to shield her attackers from consequences—wasn’t something she’d invented or imagined. Once St. Paul’s extensive history of burying crimes and harming victims became national news, Crawford got access to files about her case that she’d never seen before; her experience of revisiting the trauma, realizing just how far the school had gone to protect her assaulters, and coming to terms with the cost of that injustice is the foundation for this incredible memoir.

Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir

By: Natasha Trethewey {Ecco}

RELEASED: JULY 28, 2020 $27.99 Buy It Now

Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Natasha Trethewey has long said that her mother’s 1985 murder at the hands of her ex-husband propelled her into the art form and has continued to haunt her even as she’s found extraordinary success that includes being named U.S. Poet Laureate in 2012 and 2013. Trethewey told the Chicago Tribune in November 2018 that she thinks of herself as “someone who has lived in a state of bereavement my whole adult life,” and in Memorial Drive, she explores the loss and lingering grief that has shaped so much of her work. Trethewey’s heartbreakingly beautiful memoir honors her mother, Gwendolyn, while also indicting a culture that fails to protect abuse victims as they try to retrieve their lives from the clutches of their abusers.

Being Lolita

By: Alisson Wood

{Flatiron Books}RELEASED: AUGUST 4, 2020 $26.99 Buy It Now

Since the #MeToo movement spotlighted predators in Hollywood, journalism, and beyond, a number of memoirs have taken stock of how power dynamics can shape—and exploit— an array of relationships, including platonic ones between teachers and students (Donna Freitas’s Consent: A Memoir of Unwanted Attention) and those where the boundaries of friendship are betrayed by rape (Jeannie Vanasco’s Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was a Girl). Allison Wood, winner of the inaugural Breakout 8 Writers Prize and a creative writing teacher at New York University, adds to this growing canon with a chronicle of her two-year relationship with her high-school English teacher.

There’s more…

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Read this Next: No More White Girl Tales

by Kristin SandersNovember 13, 2017Myriam Gurba’s criticism of white America’s racial myopia couldn’t be better timed.

BY EVETTE DIONNEView profile »

Evette Dionne is Bitch Media’s editor-in-chief. She’s all about Beyoncé, Black women, and dope TV shows and books. You can follow her on Twitter.

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SPLIT TOOTH by TANYA TAGAQ on Audiobook is a sensory experience not to be missed

Title: SPLIT TOOTH

Author: TANYA TAGAQ

Narrator: TANYA TAGAQ

Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHIES AND MEMOIRS, INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, DIVERSE NON-FICTION, THROAT SINGING, ABUSE

Length: 5 HOURS and 43 MINUTES

Publisher: VIKING AUDIO

Type of Book: AUDIOBOOK

Release Date: SEPTEMBER 25, 2018

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

From the internationally acclaimed Inuit throat singer who has dazzled and enthralled the world with music it had never heard before, a fierce, tender, heartbreaking story unlike anything you’ve ever heard.

Fact can be as strange as fiction. It can also be as dark, as violent, as rapturous. In the end, there may be no difference between them.

A girl grows up in Nunavut in the 1970s. She knows joy and friendship and parents’ love. She knows boredom and listlessness and bullying. She knows the tedium of the everyday world and the raw, amoral power of the ice and sky, the seductive energy of the animal world. She knows the ravages of alcohol and violence at the hands of those she should be able to trust. She sees the spirits that surround her and the immense power that dwarfs all of us.

When she becomes pregnant, she must navigate all this.

Veering back and forth between the grittiest features of a small arctic town, the electrifying proximity of the world of animals and ravishing world of myth, Tanya Tagaq explores a world where the distinctions between good and evil, animal and human, victim and transgressor, real and imagined lose their meaning, but the guiding power of love remains.

Haunting, brooding, exhilarating, and tender all at once, Tagaq moves effortlessly between fiction and memoir, myth and reality, poetry and prose, and conjures a world and a heroine listeners will never forget.
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https://player.vimeo.com/video/348888772
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MY REVIEW:

**TRIGGER WARNING **
This book contains descriptions of child sexual abuse. If this topic is a trigger for you, I suggest you give this book a pass.
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I purchased a copy of this audiobook from Audible and now that I have finished listening to it, I believe audio is the best way to experience SPLIT TOOTH.

I feel so privileged to have listened to author Tanya Tagaq read her book aloud. Traditionally, the Inuit people passed down their stories and traditions in exactly this manner. Oral storytelling was the norm.

Not only does the author read this book with emotion and depth of experience,  she also includes quite a bit of Throat Singing which is incredible to listen to.
The sounds are somehow both ethereal and haunting and despite the lack of lyrics, or maybe because of it, the meanings behind the sounds are quite clear.

Poignant. Visceral. Heart-breaking and real. Tanya Tagaq manages to convey her story in such a unique fashion that it is impossible to ever forget. Despite the heaviness of some of the subject matter, there are many moments of joy, happiness, peace, and a sense of belonging to something greater than herself.

The unfortunate details of abuse, both physical and sexual that Tanya endured as a child were perpetrated by those who should have been her protectors.

No matter what she endured, she knew that she was capable of survival.

The evils of the Canadian Residential Schools had so thoroughly erased her native language that hardly anyone in her ‘town’ knew how to speak it anymore. Not only that, but unthinkable abuses – sexual, physical, cultural and mental were forced upon Residential School “students,” (who were actually prisoners, since neither the children, nor their parents had any choice about attending.)

Make no mistake – these “schools” were an attempt at genocide of the Inuit and of all Indigenous people. There is no excuse or apology that can be adequate enough to erase the damage they caused. And, that damage has reached across the hands of time and affected many children of subsequent generations, including Tanya herself.

Don’t mistake my description to mean that Tanya Tagaq’s memoir is a litany of anger and complaint. It is anything but. Her writing is akin to reading her diary. Listening to the audiobook, I feel as though I have seen inside her very soul. If that sounds over dramatic, I apologize, it is truly the way I feel.

This audiobook is not to be missed. I am sure that just reading the book would be a terrific experience, but as I said above, audio format makes this book not just a story, but also an experience.

I am rating SPLIT TOOTH by TANYA TAGAQ as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Tanya also has many music albums available for purchase and after hearing some of her traditional throat singing, I will be downloading her music as well.
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QUOTES:

Examples of the artwork Tanya Tagaq has created.

“… pain is to be expected, courage is to be welcomed. There is no choice but to endure. There is no other way than to renounce self-doubt. It is the time of the Dawning in more ways than one. The sun can rise, and so can I.”
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“In the spring you smell last fall’s death and this year’s growth as the elder lichen shows the young how to grow.”
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“We are product of the immense torque that propels this universe. We are not individuals but a great accumulation of all that lived before.”
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Photograph obtained from Tanya Tagaq’s website

Author, Throat singer, artist. Tanya Tagaq is multi-talented.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
http://tanyatagaq.com

AUDIBLE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

YOUTUBE   

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

SPOTIFY

ITUNES

SOUNDCLOUD


AWARDS WON BY THIS BOOK:

Longlisted for the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize

Shortlisted for the 2019 Amazon First Novel Award

Shortlisted for the 2019 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize

Winner of the 2019 Indigenous Voices Award for Published Prose in English

Winner of the 2018 Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design – Prose Fiction

Longlisted for the 2019 Sunburst Award

FROM THE ASHES by Métis Canadian Author JESSE THISTLE has become One of my Favorite Books of All Time. ENTER TO WIN A COPY OF THIS BOOK. Open Worldwide

Title: FROM THE ASHES

Subtitle: My Story of Being Métis, Homeless, and Finding My Way

Author: JESSE THISTLE

Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHIES AND MEMOIRS, ADDICTION, MENTAL HEALTH, MÉTIS, INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, HOMELESSNESS

Publisher: SIMON AND SCHUSTER

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: AUGUST 6, 2019

ISBN: 9781982101213

Price: $24.99 CDN

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

From the Ashes is a remarkable memoir about hope and resilience, and a revelatory look into the life of a Métis-Cree man who refused to give up.

Abandoned by his parents as a toddler, Jesse Thistle briefly found himself in the foster-care system with his two brothers, cut off from all they had known. Eventually the children landed in the home of their paternal grandparents, whose tough-love attitudes quickly resulted in conflicts. Throughout it all, the ghost of Jesse’s drug-addicted father haunted the halls of the house and the memories of every family member. Struggling with all that had happened, Jesse succumbed to a self-destructive cycle of drug and alcohol addiction and petty crime, spending more than a decade on and off the streets, often homeless. Finally, he realized he would die unless he turned his life around.

In this heart-warming and heart-wrenching memoir, Jesse Thistle writes honestly and fearlessly about his painful past, the abuse he endured, and how he uncovered the truth about his parents. Through sheer perseverance and education—and newfound love—he found his way back into the circle of his Indigenous culture and family.

An eloquent exploration of the impact of prejudice and racism, From the Ashes is, in the end, about how love and support can help us find happiness despite the odds.
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MY REVIEW:

FROM THE ASHES is written by the uber-talented Métis-Cree Canadian author JESSE THISTLE. This is a touching and incredibly honest  memoir written by the man most people believed would not live long enough to straighten out his life.

Those people have been proven wrong and FROM THE ASHES tells Jesse’s life story so far.

FROM THE ASHES by Jesse Thistle is one of the most well written and honest memoirs I have ever had the pleasure to read.

Jesse is a Métis Canadian and although he never once blames his situation on colonization, his story and the situations his family was forced into by the Canadian government are perfect illustrations of it’s cause and effect.

Jesse’s memoir is written with bone-jarring honesty and will get under the reader’s skin. Only a sociopath would be able to read this book and not feel the power of the written word.

This is the story of a young man who turned to drugs and alcohol to try to push down the pain he felt inside. It is a story that seems bleak at times, but ultimately shows the strength of the human spirit. It is the story of the struggle, literally, for Jesse’s survival.

Without giving away too much of Jesse’s story, I want potential readers to know that this memoir is one that will remain with them long, long after the final page. To go from homeless to becoming a celebrated memoirist is a feat worthy of legend.

Jesse Thistle might not agree, but I see him as a modern day Theseus, fighting his way out of the labyrinth of poverty and Addiction.

This book is one of my Top Ten Best Books of the Modern Era.

To win a softcover copy of this book, leave a comment on this post, then click HERE for ways to get additional entries into the Giveaway. OPEN WORLDWIDE. ENDS FEBRUARY 29, 2020.

You can also enter to win this book on my Instagram account: http://www.instagram.com/Amiesbookreviews
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Photography Credit:
LUCIE THISTLE

JESSE THISTLE is Métis-Cree, from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.

He is an assistant professor in Métis Studies at York University in Toronto.

He won a Governor General’s Academic Medal in 2016, and is a Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation Scholar and a Vanier Scholar.

He lives in Toronto with his wife, Lucie.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

AWARDS WON BY JESSE:

  • Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation Doctoral Award – Ph. D., Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation. 2016 – 2019 ($240,000; $40,000 per year of study, plus $20,000 annual research and travel budget).
  • Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships (CGS SSHRC) – Ph.D., Canadian Institute of Health Research and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. 2016 – 2019 ($150,000 – $50,000 per year of study).
  • Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship (CGS) – Doctoral of Philosophy, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. 2016 – 2019 ($105,000 – $35,000 per year of study). (Declined because he took the Trudeau Award and the Vanier CGS SSHRC Award).
  • Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship (CGS) – Master’s, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. 2015 ($17,500).
  • 2016 Aboriginal Professional Association of Canada Post-Secondary Student of the Year Award—Nation-wide. (Prestige).
  • Dan Watt Scholarship (Awarded to the Master’s level graduate student with the top GPA entering Waterloo’s Master’s program) – Master’s, Waterloo University. 2015 ($1,500).
  • President’s Graduate Scholarship, University of Waterloo, 2015 ($10,000).
  • Odessa Essay Prize for the Study of Canada (York University, university wide). 2015 ($1000).
  • The Robert J. Tiffin Student Leadership Award, York University. 2015 (Prestige: Name inscribed on Vari Hall Rotunda, Keele Campus).
  • The Dr. James Wu Prize Best Honours Thesis/Major Research Paper for York University’s 3rd Annual Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Research Fair 2015 ($1000).
  • Miziwe Biik: Aboriginal Education Award, 2015 ($1000), 2014 ($1000), 2013 ($2000).
  • Desmond Hart Memorial Essay Award Winner. History; York University, 4000 level, 2014 ($200).
  • Indispire: Building Better Indigenous Futures Post-Secondary Education Award, 2015 ($7500), 2014 ($5000), 2013 ($6900) & 2012 ($2000).
  • The Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies Essay Prize Winner, York University, 3000 level Anthropology, 2014 ($100).
  • York University Faculty Association Foundation Undergraduate (YUFA) Scholarship, highest cumulative grade point average in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies. GPA 8.59 and Major GPA 8.73. 2014 ($3500).
  • International Scholar Laureate Nominee. Golden Key IHS: 2013.
  • Arthur Francis Williams Award in Canadian Studies, 2013 ($500).
  • Morris Krever History Prize Winner, History, York University. 2013 ($1000).
  • The Enbridge Inc. Scholarship Award, 2013 ($2365).
  • The Women’s Canadian Historical Society of Toronto Award Winner, History, York University. 2013 ($300).
  • William Westfall Canadian Studies Essay Prize, History, York University, 3000 level, 2013.
  • York PhD Graduate Scholarship, York University, 2017 ($3000).

Bursary Awards

  • York University Continuing Student Scholarship Bursary (given to students above 7.00 grade point average), 2014 ($768), 2013 ($576) & 2012 ($864).
  • Aboriginal PSET Bursary, York University, 2012 ($2600).
  • York University Undergrad Bursary, 2012 ($1010).

***********************

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HOMELESSNESS AND/OR TO DOWNLOAD INFORMATION AS WELL AS LESSON PLANS, GO TO THE HOMELESS HUB:

RUST BELT FEMME by Raechel Anne Jolie is a 5 STAR MEMOIR candidly opening up the most intimate of details about her life. This is destined to reach the top of The New York Times Bestseller List

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Title: RUST BELT FEMME

Author: RAECHEL ANNE JOLIE

Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHIES AND MEMOIRS, LGBTQ

Length: 150 PAGES

Publisher: BELT PUBLISHING

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: MARCH 10, 2020

ISBN: 9781948742634

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

*

DESCRIPTION:

Raechel Anne Jolie’s early life in a working-class Cleveland exurb was full of race cars, Budweiser-drinking men covered in car grease, and the women who loved them.

After her father came home from his third-shift job, took the garbage out to the curb and was hit by a drunk driver, her life changed.

Raechel and her mother struggled for money: they were evicted, went days without utilities, and took their trauma out on one another. Raechel escaped to the progressive suburbs of Cleveland Heights, leaving the tractors and ranch-style homes home in favor of a city with vintage marquees, music clubs, and people who talked about big ideas.

It was the early 90s, full of Nirvana songs and chokers, flannel shirts and cut-off jean shorts, lesbian witches and local coffee shops.

Rust Belt Femme is the story of how these twin foundations—rural Ohio poverty and alternative 90s culture—made Raechel into who she is today: a queer femme with PTSD and a deep love of the Midwest.
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MY REVIEW:

“This story, then, is about growing up in poverty in rural Ohio, finding hope in the alternative culture I’d discovered in Cleveland, and how my complicated love for these people and these places is a tenacious part of everything I’ve done since leaving it. Every bit of it turned me into the queer femme feminist writer I am today…”

“In between [her childhood] and now are Northeast Ohio landmarks that left scars, sometimes like kisses and sometimes like razor blades.”

RUST BELT FEMME is a love letter to the good, the bad, and the Very Bad incidents, people and places which have coalesced, forming Raechel into the person and the destiny that had been hers all along.

Raechel’s candor is refreshing, and as such, her personality shines through with every word she writes. I have read reviews referring to the sometimes crude language she uses as inappropriate, but I have to disagree with that assessment. Raechel was raised in a blue collar home and the language she often uses in her book reflects that fact. A memoir can be written with lyrical prose of the very best kind and yet still be a flop with its intended readers. Why does this happen? I believe one word can sum up why a memoir either succeeds or fails; that word is AUTHENTICITY. Authenticity is (or should be) the goal of all memoir/auto-biographical authors. RUST BELT FEMME has authenticity in spades.

Having never heard of Raechel Anne Jolie before seeing the listing for this book on the NetGalley website, I began reading Rust Belt Femme with no preconceived notions of it’s content. Because of this, every new morsel of information was eagerly awaited and Raechel did not disappoint.

RUST BELT FEMME proves just how important childhood events are in the formation of the adult we will become. Raechel’s loss of her father figure at such a  tender age was the single event upon which her  childhood took a distinctly darker turn. Despite her family’s economic issues, she “… never doubted that [her] mom loved [her] more than anything, and that she would love [her] profoundly and without condition. There was never one instance when she made [her] feel like [she] had to change, not one second when she didn’t make it clear that [Raechel] was the most important thing to her in the world.”

In her Introduction, Raechel states: “… whether our neurology is burdened by trauma or not, I think most of us who are drawn to memoir are burdened with an incurable case of nostalgia.” I agree wholeheartedly and admit that I am afflicted with the exact nostalgia she is talking about, and in reading RUST BELT FEMME, that desire was 100% fulfilled.

I rate RUST BELT FEMME as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and highly recommend this book to all my fellow memoir lovers.

*Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.*

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FEMINIST KILLJOYS PODCAST

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Raechel Anne Jolie believes in astrology, the power of collective resistance, and meeting a deadline. She is, first and foremost, an educator and an activist dedicated to making this world a little bit better than she found it. But she is also: a cat-mom, a yogi, a witch, a Media and Gender Studies PhD, a vegan, a podcaster, and a writer.

Her writing has been featured in Bitch Magazine, Teen Vogue, Autostraddle (and more), and she’s been interviewed as an expert in her field for Rolling Stone, NPR, and the CBC. (If you’re interested in her academic work, you can check out her CV).

She also co-hosted/produced the Feminist Killjoys, PhD podcast with Dr. Melody Hoffmann. For three years, they brought smart and funny reflection to discussions on politics and pop culture.

Raechel is also queer AF, and a lot of her writing is about being femme and growing up poor. She also writes about: pop culture, politics, social movements, feminism, and health. If you’re into that sort of thing, she just might be your grrrrl.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS  

INSTAGRAM

INSTAGRAM – BELT PUBLISHING

TWITTER

SOUNDCLOUD  

FEMINIST KILLJOYS PODCAST

CHAPTERS

QUOTES I LOVED:

“A PhD and multiple major-city addresses can never change that being poor is written in my blood and my bones as much as it is sung from my tight skirts and cheap lipstick.”

“Being poor, really, became the building blocks of my gender; this embodied expression we in the queer community call femme. It’s a type of femininity that I have come to realize is inextricable from the shape of early poverty, the shades of the rural edges of Cleveland, and for me, the sound of punk.”

“I was seduced out of my poor ‘white trash’ town first into the arms of the artist culture on Coventry Road, then later by the punks in Lakewood.”

“… my heroes became the women who survived despite men’s absences. Whether the men were taken from homes by car accidents or jail or a restraining order, by the time I was five, I was surrounded almost entirely by resilient women.”

“We built, like layering bricks and cement, a home out of our love, the only thing sturdy on any given day. Our fights were hurricanes, our love though, indelible.”

“… we were using anger as a shield to protect us from facing deep hurt and immense fear in the face of scarcity. We’d chase it with tenderness because how else could we face the day? It was a Pyrrhic skill that I continue to carry with me… It was a terrible way to learn love, but it was better than not knowing love at all.”

“I remember … the flicker of the marquee mixed with a street lamp. It was a soft yellow-white. Muted but also vivid. It’s how I felt most days after that. My brain buzzing with potential – with what my life could, would, should be – but also deeply grounded in the present, in exactly who and where I was.”

Interviewed In

How to be an Ally to Trans People” 

“Orange is the new Black’s Instagram Chooses Fandom Over Social Justice” 

“Why May Day Continues to Capture the Hearts and Imaginations of Workers” 

​“Warning Labels on College Courses?”
On Point with Tom Ashbrook 

Selected Publications

Rag Queen Periodical 

“Over the Shoulders”  

INTOmore.com

“Boston League of Wicked Wrestlers” (profile)  

Inside Higher Ed ​

“How to Cope without a Full-Time Job Offer” 

The Huffington Post

“Buzz About Kristen Stewart’s Sexuality Tells Us a Lot About Society’s Discomfort with Bisexuality” 

Autostraddle

“The Riot Isn’t Over: 6 Movements that Map Militancy in LGBT History”  

The Body is Not an Apology

“5 ways to navigate your partner’s wealth during the holidays”

The Daily Dot

“It’s time to stop believing America’s biggest myth about welfare”


 

In Media Res

“Post-Feminism & the Dehumanization of Sex Workers in SNL’s Moet & Chandon Sketch” 

Mask Magazine

“High Risk: The Automation of Pretrial Detention” 

Scarleteen

“A sex-positive and transformative justice approach to #MeToo” 

The Huffington Post

“University Shamefully Orders the Arrest of Students Fight for a More Just University System”

“Five Things to Know About the Employment Non-Discrimination Act”    

SMACKED – A Story of White-Collar Ambition, Addiction and Tragedy by Award-winning Journalist EILENE ZIMMERMAN Coming Soon – A Story That Will Open People’s Eyes to the fact that Addiction Effects all Socioeconomic Classes and is NOT simply a ‘Poor People Problem’ – AN IMPORTANT AND TIMELY MEMOIR THAT IS A MUST READ FOR US ALL

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Title: SMACKED

Subtitle: A STORY OF WHITE-COLLAR AMBITION, ADDICTION, AND TRAGEDY

Author: EILENE ZIMMERMAN

Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHIES AND MEMOIRS, ADDICTION

Length: 272 PAGES

Publisher: RANDOM HOUSE

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: FEBRUARY 4, 2020

ISBN: 9780525511007 (Hardcover)

Price: $27.00 USD (Hardcover)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

A journalist pieces together the mysteries surrounding her ex-husband’s unexpected death from drug abuse while trying to rebuild a life for her family, taking readers on an intimate journey into the white-collar drug epidemic

Something was wrong with Peter. Eilene Zimmerman noticed that her ex-husband looked thin, seemed distracted, and was frequently absent from activities with their children. She thought he looked sick and needed to see a doctor, and indeed, he told her he had been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder. Yet in many ways, Peter seemed to have it all: a beautiful house by the beach, expensive cars, and other luxuries that came with an affluent life. Eilene assumed his odd behavior was due to stress and overwork—he was a senior partner at a prominent law firm and had been working more than sixty hours a week for the last twenty years.

Although they were divorced, Eilene and Peter had been partners and friends for decades, so when she and her children were unable to reach Peter for several days, Eilene went to his house to see if he was OK.

So begins Smacked, a brilliant and moving memoir of Eilene’s shocking discovery, one that sets her on a journey to find out how a man she knew for nearly thirty years became a drug addict, hiding it so well that neither she nor anyone else in his life suspected what was happening. Eilene discovers that Peter led a secret life, one that started with pills and ended with opioids, cocaine, and methamphetamine. He was also addicted to work; the last call Peter ever made was to dial in to a conference call.

Eilene is determined to learn all she can about Peter’s hidden life, and also about drug addiction among ambitious, high-achieving professionals like him. Through extensive research and interviews, she presents a picture of drug dependence today in that moneyed, upwardly mobile world. She also embarks on a journey to re-create her life in the wake of loss, both of the person—and the relationship—that profoundly defined the woman she had become.

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ADD ON GOODREADS

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MY REVIEW:

Part memoir, part exposé, SMACKED takes readers on a journey into the white-collar world of drug and work addiction.

When most people think about the Opiod Epidemic and even addiction in general, they incorrectly assume that the people involved must come from low-income communities and/or broken homes. This book proves just how wrong that assumption is.

Author EILENE ZIMMERMAN thought she knew everything there was to know about her ex-husband. After all, just because they had ended their marriage, didn’t mean they had ended their friendship. They were committed to providing as stable an environment as possible for their two teenage children. They were in constant communication and even attended important events, such as graduations, together.

So, when neither herself, nor the children, had heard from Peter for several days, Eilene went to check on him. What she found upon entering his home permanently changed her life and the lives of her children.

As a journalist, it was not surprising that her reaction to discovering her ex-husband’s drug addiction was to do research. What was surprising is what she uncovered. To find out all the details, you need to read SMACKED.

I am impressed with the writing style and how well the author is able to convey the details, including the emotions both she and her children were experiencing.

It is often difficult for memoir writers to be brutally honest about their experiences. Often, the desire to sugarcoat certain facts is given in to. EILENE ZIMMERMAN does NOT sugarcoat any details. This makes for a much more realistic and believable tale. She articulates her anguish with heart-wrenching clarity.

The fact that Eilene had believed all of Peter’s excuses for the changes in his behaviour in hindsight can clearly be seen as being caused by addiction. However, Eilene, as with others of a high socioeconomic status, had no experience with drug addiction and as such, the idea of it had never crossed her mind.

The more Eilene researched, the more she learned and what she was uncovering shook her worldview. She knew she needed to let other people know just how prevalent addiction is in high achievers. This discovery led to her writing an article for the New York Times which in turn, led to the writing of SMACKED.

Everyone should read this book and it should be required reading for new lawyers, stock brokers, and others who occupy high stress jobs.

I rate SMACKED as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book ***

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Eilene Zimmerman has been a journalist for three decades, covering business, technology, and social issues for a wide array of national magazines and newspapers.

She was a columnist for The New York Times Sunday Business section for six years, and since 2004 has been a regular contributor to the newspaper.

In 2017, Zimmerman also began pursuing a master’s degree in social work.

She lives in New York City.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK – PUBLISHER

ABOUT ME WEBSITE

TWITTER – AUTHOR

TWITTER – PUBLISHER

TWITTER – PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE

MEDIUM.COM

LINKEDIN

MUCK RACK

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

LIBRO FM AUDIOBOOKS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

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“Addiction is a pervasive problem among lawyers,” says Doron Gold, a Toronto-based psychotherapist and former practising lawyer who helped develop the CBA’s online course on mental health and wellness in the legal profession.

– Obtained From THE NATIONAL MAGAZINE

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“The most important thing I want everyone to know is that addiction does not discriminate. What happened to me can easily happen to anyone of you. Guaranteed, someone close to you is struggling with mental health and/or substance abuse.”

Corey Phair

Quote Obtained From: THE POST ARTICLE FOUND HERE

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Click HERE to listen to a short interview with the Author describing her story.

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