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Great Leadership Starts With You

Iris Du targets leaders in all capacities in her book Great Leadership Starts With You: Be the Leader You Want to Be. The author writes hoping that her knowledge will benefit CEOs, managers, supervisors, youth group leaders, church leaders, and even leaders at home and in schools. The author extensively writes on what it entails to be a leader, how to make people appreciate and respect your position, and how to link with those you are governing. Iris Du uses solid illustrations to give additional details about leadership qualities and further explains how a leader should conduct themselves.

One of the most significant things you need to take note of as a leader is how to communicate. I like that the author started by explaining that great leadership begins with you. You establish yourself by leading from within before you guide others. The author continues to write about communication and how it influences excellent leadership. As an individual, you are taught how to be courteous, live by your values, and communicate what you feel in a modest way. One of the biggest lessons I learned in the book is that leaders are not born but made. You can learn how to be a leader.

In every chapter, the author focuses on one or two subjects that she writes about in detail. For example, the chapter on communication was incredible, and so were the rest of the chapters that discussed gratitude, manifestation, self-awareness, self-discipline, and self-mastery. These chapters have gems of knowledge and are written in an engaging and organized manner. Every chapter in the book starts with a quote from a famous person. She then proceeds to discuss the subject matter and includes quality questions and exercises in every chapter. I appreciate the questions and exercises, as they are vital to helping one self-reflect and change one’s leadership method.

Great Leadership Starts With You: Be The Leader You Want To Be is an eye-opening look at what it takes to become a successful leader in all areas of life, not just the corporate business world. With sound advice backed by case studies and actionable items, readers will be able to transform their leadership style into a more efficient approach that highlights not only their strength but their teams.

Pages: 202 | ASIN : B09HM2SG15

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Hooray for Heidi! (The Sumatran Trilogy)

Heidi, the Sumatran turtle, is excited for the day ahead. Today is the first day of the Sumatran Games, and this is the first time she gets to attend. Heidi moves as quickly as she can, given her short turtle legs, but she falls behind the other animals. Finally, a kind, friendly elephant named Jose stops and asks if she needs help. When she explains she is trying to get to the games, Jose picks her up and carries her the rest of the way. Once at the games, the two new friends watch the events, and Heidi becomes sad watching all the things she can not do. Eventually, Jose also grows sad because of Heidi’s morose attitude. Once Heidi realizes her lousy attitude has upset her new friends, she comes up with a plan to make them both feel better about the skills they do possess. While her plan doesn’t work out exactly as they hoped, they learn a valuable lesson about teamwork.

Hooray for Heidi! written by Emma Sandford and illustrated by Olena Osadcha is a beautiful picture book about teamwork and appreciating the unique skills that everyone has. Not everyone in life is strong, fast, or flexible, but that does not mean that they do not have value. This children’s book highlights that kids often feel self-conscious when watching others that have better skills or abilities than themselves. It can be challenging to overcome those feelings and feel valuable.

Emma has written this fantastic book showing that everyone can contribute and be a valued member of the team. With a focus on teamwork, kids will learn how helping others and working together brings its own rewards, even if it is not the trophy they were after. The other focus in this whimsical picture book is friendship. For example, an elephant and a turtle become great friends despite being so different from one another. This is an excellent example for young children to look past the physical differences in each other and value people for who they are inside.

Hooray for Heidi! is a beautifully written picture book that teaches children the value of friendship and teamwork. This would be a wonderful book for preschool and kindergarten classrooms to help kids learn how to work together to achieve a common goal. There is also the message that sometimes things do not go as planned, which is okay too!

Pages: 30 | ASIN : B0BFNT32T1

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Rooted HEIR – Book Trailer

A memoir that speaks through scars and helps transform trauma into wisdom.

Trauma f*ucking sucks! There is nothing gentle, pretty, or rosy about it! Its painful, dark, and lonely. Rooted HEIR is a vivid and transparent memoir that takes you on one woman’s journey of suffering, self-discovery, and forgiveness.

In a span of three days the illusion bubble burst. Christina finds herself sitting in a dark room feeling so small and insignificant. She has a choice to make, more of the same or change. After more than two decades of avoiding the painful truth, running from herself, and pretending it was time to drop the shackles of shame.

Have you ever asked yourself, who am I, when you strip away the titles and roles that you’ve been defined by? Well, she did, and she didn’t have a clue. She needed to hold up the mirror, grab the shovel, and start unearthing the traumas that held her freedom. But where do you start? …At the beginning.

In her own words Christina reveals the most intimate parts of her life from the childhood abuses to her own self-destructive ways, and the lessons she has learned along the way. Rooted HEIR is a courageous story filled with the voice of brutal honesty. Her voice that was silenced so many times now can be heard in hopes that others will know they too can speak. Let’s heal, be empowered, be inspired, and redefine our lives. THE TIME IS NOW!

Did We Learn Anything From WTC Towers Collapse?

September 11 is a date that sends a shiver through many peoples’ bodies. The World Trade Center attack is one of the most disastrous terrorist attacks in the world. And while everyone sympathizes with the victims and their families, there are multiple impacts of the attack that are often overlooked. In his book Did We Learn anything from WTC Tower collapse? Critical Review of Final NIST Reports and More, author Gregory Szuladzinski critically analyzes the effects of the attack, the security measures that have been taken since then, how life changed for most and the government’s role in protecting its citizens from attacks of this nature. 

Just like the title suggests, this book poses questions not just to authorities, but everyone responsible. Is the United States prepared to handle disasters? What is the long term damages and what can we learn from the reports by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)? The book is all-inclusive as the author has compiled real stats and data to back his analysis. Gregory Szuladzinski is factual and only writes about what he can prove from his experience in aircraft construction, aerospace, and engineering. 

The book starts on a solemn note; the damage the WTC attacks caused were devastating. Some people are still suffering from the terror two decades later. The author breaks down every part of the investigation with precision and facts. The author starts by giving a general introduction of the topic and later moves on to discussing the accident investigation and explosions, shedding more light on explosions, structural models, aircraft impact modeling, and other things. As a reader, you are able to look at the towers from an engineering standpoint as you follow this scrutiny.

The language used in this illuminating book is technical, but also comprehensive. The author uses hi-tech terms to expound on the investigation and discuss the towers, their construction style and the planes. As a reader, you get the full picture as the author includes both real images from the crime scene and drawn illustrations. There are pictures after every few pages, drawn clearly to help the reader picture what the author is writing about. The author has added more than just the report done by NIST. The author’s findings are more thorough and share vital information. The book brings closure to those indirectly and directly affected, while also informing readers about the engineering aspect of the WTC. Reading this enlightening book will help readers understand what caused the collapse, the timing of the falls, controversies, and the crucial information missing from NIST reports.

Pages: 191 | ASIN: B0B8TR43F5

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Roland Of The High Crags – Book Trailer

Warrior. Monk. Wizard. He is Roland Of The High Crags.

As a warrior monk he has taken vows to protect humanity from all forms of evil. To protect the innocent and the weak, and to unflinchingly face his foes, no matter the odds. For centuries, that meant that the Bretan monks faced the hordes of Dragon armies who pushed Mankind into the snow-capped mountains of The High Kanris.

But one day, a dragon nobleman asks Roland to take his remaining heir, a seven-year-old dragon princess, and save her from those who wish to destroy her. Accepting the challenge, Roland decides to raise the child in the ways of The Bretan, and teach her the vast magical powers of the Bretan Way.

Yet in his heart he knows the truth; that the child is the ultimate weapon, designed by the Dragon gods. A weapon forged in Dragon magic and charged with the command to destroy the entire human race. Yet Roland sees a glimmer of hope, a way to defy the prophecy. A way to take the ultimate weapon and turn it against the gods themselves.

It’s a gamble filled with treachery and betrayal, but it is a chance to end the forever war. For Roland, there is no choice but to accept this role.

And so, the adventure begins.

The Devil’s Calling

The Devil’s Calling, by Michael Kelley, is the second installment in the author’s trilogy, which picks up nine years after the events of The Lost Theory. The story follows Sean Byron McQueen and quantum physics professor Emily “M” Edens, who enjoy thriving careers as campus college professors. Emily develops a theory of constant creation, which quickly establishes her as a top scientist in the community. However, Sean becomes protective of her when he receives a telepathic message warning him that Emily is in danger. Sean learns of Emily’s possible fate through a spiritual guide, and soon, he will also face a returning nemesis, the Guru, or is it all just in his mind?

Kelley writes a fast-paced, exciting story that keeps the reader curious with suspense and anticipation. I found this second book in the series thrilling and fun, with a unique plot and interesting characters, which make the read worthwhile. The story is written in the first person, which gives readers Sean’s point of view, and how he gets pulled into a fascinating world that may be real or a construction of his imagination. As the plot develops and involves Emily, or “M,” the pace becomes more intriguing and unpredictable, which kept me turning the pages.

Kelley does a great job of drawing the reader in and capturing your attention with a plot and predicament that spirals into a creative and thought-provoking story. I found the book interesting in how it delves into the character’s inner conflict and what they must face when their lives take an unexpected twist.

The Devil’s Calling by Michael Kelley is an unusual but well-written story. It’s an excellent book for fans of science fiction, mystery, and the complexities of people, society, and our minds. I enjoyed the conflict in the book, which was almost symbolic while getting into the mind of Sean Byron McQueen, a fantastic character, and I look forward to reading more from Michael Kelley.

Pages: 531 | ASIN : B0BF63Z7XW

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Worries About Visiting The Dentist

Katie Specht Author Interview

Ellie Visits the Dentist follows a little girl on her first visit to the dentist where she learns how to take care of her teeth and finds that the dentist’s office isn’t scary. What was the inspiration for the idea behind this children’s book?

This story is based on my own daughter, who went through a similar experience when she visited the dentist for the first time. She was, understandably, nervous enough about her first dentist visit and then finding out she had cavities only added to her anxiety. Thanks to her wonderful and patient dentist, her experience turned out very positive, and she has since grown to love her dentist. I knew that other kids were probably experiencing similar fears regarding visiting the dentist, and I wanted to write a book that they could read and relate to that would help them understand that the dentist does not have to be a scary place, but rather it can be interesting and even fun.

The art in the book is vibrant and cute. What scene in the book did you have the most fun creating?

I would have to say that the first spread, which depicts Ellie playing with her three brothers, was my favorite scene to create. I love this scene because the kids in it are based on my own children, and I tried to make each of their own personalities really show in their character. It is also just a fun, loving picture, showing siblings getting along and playing nicely together, which doesn’t always happen in real life!

What were some ideas that were important for you to include in this book?

I wanted to show that Ellie’s fears and worries about visiting the dentist were completely valid and justified, and that it was important for her mother and her dentist not to minimize them. However, at the same time, I wanted her mother and her dentist to clearly explain and also demonstrate that it is important not to let her fears take over, but rather to understand that the dentist is a person who provides a service to her that helps her and that nothing bad will happen at the dentist’s office.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

My next book, which is still in its early stages, is going to be based on my oldest son, and the topic is going to be practicing good sportsmanship by being part of a baseball team while dealing with both winning and losing. Since I’m still working on drafting the story, I don’t have an expected release date yet, but I’m hopeful for sometime next year.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

Ellie is excited for her first appointment with the dentist until she discovers that she has cavities that need to be filled. With the help of her kind and caring dentist along with her mom, Ellie learns that properly taking care of her teeth can be fun and the dentist’s office does not have to be a scary place to visit.

Visiting the dentist for the first time is often frightening for many children since they do not know what to expect. Receiving the unwelcome news that the child may require dental work will likely amplify this fear. Ellie Visits the Dentist is the heartwarming story of a little girl who experienced these same fears. Though she is scared when it is discovered that she has cavities, her kind dentist helps her through the process and Ellie realizes that the dentist’s office is not a place to fear.

Heartbroken And Still Unwilling

Lilvia Soto Author Interview

Lies of an Indispensable Nation is a collection of impassioned poetry that provides readers with a historical perspective of the War on Terror and sheds light on the human toll of the war. Why was this an important book for you to write?

I worked on this book for 20 years. I wrote the first poem and started taking notes for the essays on September 11th, 2002. On that day, just as I had done a year earlier, I was glued to the TV watching the memorial ceremonies at the Pentagon, at Shanksville, and at Ground Zero. I watched, and I cried. I cried with all the survivors of the attacks, and with all those who were grieving the loss of someone they loved.

I was moved by the reading of the almost 3000 names of those who perished, the hundreds of white doves released into many skies of the world, the spiritual, majestic music played in cathedrals, symphony halls, and city parks of many countries, by the bagpipes, the tolling bells, the ferry horns, the moments of silence.

I was touched by the 3000 white rose petals that fluttered down from the dome at London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral while a cellist played a Bach suite and the 2000 people in the congregation maintained perfect silence. I was touched by the Quranic prayers for peace, justice, and tolerance offered by Muslim leaders at the Central Mosque in London, by the thousands of motorists in Sydney who turned on their headlights at 8:46 in the morning, by the two towers of light projected into the sky of Paris, by the tree-planting ceremony in New Zealand, by the human stars and stripes flag formed by firefighters and ambulance staff on the beach of Australia’s Surfers Paradise, by the Buddhist monks who chanted memorial prayers in front of the U.S. embassy in Tokyo.

I was happy to hear the presidents, prime ministers, ambassadors, religious leaders, and ordinary citizens, from dozens of countries, who observed the anniversary of 9/11 in solidarity with America, condemning the attacks, expressing in almost every human language sorrow for the victims, and declaring a universal desire for healing and global unity. What moved me the most that day, however, was the Rolling Requiem. The traditional Latin Mass for the dead, Mozart’s last, great work, left unfinished when he died at the age of 35, was played on the concert stages of London, Sarajevo, Anchorage, New Zealand, and in many cities of the contiguous United States again and again during the months after the attacks. The haunting beauty of the Requiem seemed to fill the need we all felt that year to remember that beauty was still possible in a world filled with cruelty and tragedy.

On the first anniversary of the attacks, Mozart’s Requiem was sung by almost 200 choirs in twenty-eight countries and in over twenty time zones representing all seven continents. Beginning at 8:46 A.M., the time of the first attack on the World Trade Center, rolling across each country and around the world from time zone to time zone, the voices of over 17,000 people rose as a worldwide invocation of hope and healing to honor the dead and give comfort to the living.

The Rolling Requiem became for me a symbol of paying homage to the dead and singing around the earth to heal the losses and the hatreds and to establish solidarity among the living in the wake of September 11th. It became a symbol of the power of music, and of the beauty of human creativity and human understanding. A symbol also of American ingenuity and organization, for it was a group of American women who imagined and executed this amazing first worldwide commemorative event. When the invasion of Iraq began in March of 2003, the Requiem was transformed for me into a symbol of opportunity lost, of solidarity betrayed.

What I did not realize at the time, or for many years afterwards, was that it would eventually become a fitting symbol, not of September 11th, but of the Iraq and Afghanistan occupations, of the horrific destruction the United States and its allies have visited upon these two countries and other places of the world, of the Empire’s Eternal War. What I did not know at the time was the Requiem’s history. Like the Iraq and the Afghanistan invasions, the Requiem was born in lies and deceptions. It was dishonest in its inception, its execution, its manipulation of public opinion, its entire history, and it is still to this day surrounded in controversy. I believe we can safely say that not only did it roll around each time zone of the earth on September 11th, 2002, but also that it has rolled down through the years since the beginning of its composition in 1791. We know who commissioned it and from whom, but we don’t know exactly how many versions there are today, or who has played or will play a part in composing or altering each. Because it was left unfinished, it continues to change, seducing new composers into becoming participants in its completion, which will, however, forever remain controversial and unfinished.

Both the Requiem and the two wars were and continue to be surrounded by lies, secrets, and manipulations. To this day, the U.S. government continues to lie about the reason its military went into the two Middle Eastern countries.

On September 11th, 2002, while grieving, I started hearing rumors about the U.S. government planning to attack Iraq with the excuse of taking revenge for the attacks of the previous year. Heartbroken and still unwilling to believe those rumors, I started writing poems and taking notes for what has become Lies of an Indispensable Nation: Poems About the American Invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

My favorite poem from this collection is ‘Soldiers Heart’. Do you have a favorite or standout poem from this collection?

That is a difficult question to answer. Each one, because it was written in response to a particular event at a different moment of the war, has a special place in my heart. However, I will mention one that, translated into Spanish, has had a very favorable response among my poet friends in Mexico.

Blue Man
The anthropologists call him Blue Man
because of his ink blue shirt
and his blue-striped pants,
because as he lies tangled in a mass grave
his arms tied with rope,
his skull jerked upward at the neck,
his sand-colored cap firm on his skull,
his eyes blindfolded with frayed cloth,
his mouth open wide with pain,

the crack of the bullet
the shimmer of the blueflies
the scent of the starry Prussian scilla
and the sorrow of the flute cut from its reedbed
through threadbare clouds
to the azure sky.

They call him Blue Man
because of his presence,
blue like the fragile veins
in the stilled eye of the turtledove.

They call him Blue Man
because of the longing for being
that echoes
in the heart of the despot.

What were some ideas that were important for you to explore in this book?

When I started, I was only interested in expressing my feelings of sadness for the victims of the attacks on the U.S., and among those victims, I include the mothers of the 19 hijackers who committed murder-suicide. “Mothers’ Hearts” is about them. As the war proceeded and the victims on all sides accumulated, I went from sadness and anger to indignation and despair. When the photos of Abu Ghraib came out, I could only feel contempt for George Bush and his administration. Since then, I have learned about the military-industrial complex, the support for this war and for all previous wars from both Democrats and Republicans (Barbara Lee of Oakland on September 14th, 2001 cast the only vote in the House of Representatives against the Authorization for Use of Military Force that preceded the military action against Afghanistan), the militarization of the U.S. Mexican border, the cast-off military equipment given to the police, the ever increasing budget for the Pentagon, the perennial preparation for war, and the constant lying to the American people and to the rest of the world because the military, industrial, and political leaders believe that the U.S. has the right to attack any country that stands in the way of natural resources it craves or a geographic position it needs for maintaing its unitary supremacy. At the end, I learned that the invasion of Iraq had long been on the drawing boards, that 9/11 was not the cause of the War on Terror, that eight different American presidents, starting with Jimmy Carter, were involved in provoking and maintaining it through lies and deceptions, and that George W. Bush’s administration lied to the United Nations, to the rest of the world, and to the American public because it wanted to wage war on Iraq as the first step of its long-held plans for a Pax Americana that would exceed the Pax Romana they were trying to emulate, and that it planned to extend to the rest of the Middle East. George W. Bush and his followers sought world domination. They planned to occupy Iraq, depose its government, write its new constitution, change its economy from state to market, and set up corporate globalization in order to open world markets to U.S. multinationals and maintain U.S. influence in the Middle East and its control over oil, one economy at a time.

Antonia Juhasz, one of the scholars I have followed in my research, in her book The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time explains that a year before 9/11 the Central Intelligence Agency had warned that the increasing global inequality would “spawn conflicts at home and abroad, ensuring an even wider gap between regional winners and losers than exists today…. Regions, countries, and groups feeling left behind will face deepening economic stagnation, political instability, and cultural alienation. They will foster political, ethnic, ideological, and religious extremism, along with the violence that often accompanies it (Juhasz, 4-5).

As Juhasz has said, the U.S. has continued to ignore the CIA’s warning about the worldwide conditions caused by the corporate globalization policy the U.S. has fostered in support of its multinational corporations. We are now painfully aware of the manner in which their rapacious, violent, and destructive corporate behavior has impacted not only the world, but also our own country.

In the introduction to my book, I place America’s wars, and in particular the destructive corporate behavior fostered by George W. Bush, in the context of other empires, their conquests and subjugation of other peoples for their own perceived glory and enrichment.

Do you have plans to write and publish more works of poetry?

Yes, definitely. I am 80% done with my next book, which will include poems and essays. It will be a memoir / history of my ancestors on both sides of the border, especially against the background of the Mexican Revolution. For years, I thought I was almost 100% Mexican, with some Irish from my paternal grandmother, Dolores McNerny, and with some Scottish from my maternal grandfather, Elmer Nephi Thayne, a Mormon born in Utah in 1882. In doing the research for this book, I discovered that Elmer’s Thayne ancestors came from Scotland, via Canada. I also learned that one branch of that family lived in Pennsylvania, where I now reside, when it was still a British colony. I was excited to discover that his maternal grandfather, Hans Larsen, born in Denmark in 1837, arrived in Utah in 1861, when the American Civil War had just started, and thirty years later moved to a Mormon colony in Chihuahua, Mexico. In 1912, while still living there, he wrote a poem for my great-great-grandmother, Jensina Dorthea Michael Jensen, to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary, and I have a copy of that poem. On my father’s side, I discovered that a great uncle, a general in the Mexican army, whom I considered my grandfather, played an important role in a 1927 uprising to defend the constitutional prohibition against a former president seeking reelection. I come from soldiers, farmers, and migrants. Most of my ancestors have migrated, some, numerous times, across several borders.

I also have enough poems for two other books. One will be about Mexico and the Mexico-U.S. border, and the second will be my responses to poems by some famous Middle Eastern poets.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

Most Americans think that the war on terror started as a reaction to the September 11 attacks on the United States. In a series of poems and essays, Lies of an Indispensable Nation reveals that the seeds of this tragedy were planted much earlier, during Jimmy Carter’s presidency, and that by the end of the 20-year fiasco, on 1 September 2021, there had been eight U.S. presidents involved in the secrets, lies, and manipulations that led to millions of dead, wounded, tortured, impoverished, and displaced men, women, and children. 

Lilvia Soto shares with us the poems of sadness and anger, disappointment and compassion she wrote contemporaneously with the events of the first ten years of this double war, beginning with her reactions to the tragedy of 9/11 and the world-wide memorials of the next year. Her essays, based on scholarly research as well as her own experiences as a citizen witness, tell the story of the American invasion and occupation of the two middle eastern countries and end with the rushed and bloody withdrawal of the U.S. military from Afghanistan.

In addition to the history of the 20-year war, Lies of an Indispensable Nation offers us a wider historical perspective by placing the war on terror in the context of other empires, their conquests and subjugation of other peoples for their own perceived glory and enrichment.  
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