Florence Grende’s parents survived the Holocaust and managed to settle in New York City to provide a new life for their children. The horrors of their past, however, never leave them and infiltrate every aspect of their lives in the United States. Florence, their daughter, grows up watching her parents keep their demons at bay as she learns as much about her family’s haunting past as she learns about herself. Grende’s questions about her mother’s outbursts and her father’s deep, dark sadness lead her to answers she is afraid she already knows but is not willing to admit.
The Butcher’s Daughter is Florence Grende’s own recollection of her life in New York City and her struggle to come to terms with her parents’ own battle with the memories of their lives in Germany during the Holocaust. Grende’s memoir is written in a unique and gripping style. Her words flow from page to page in the most poetic fashion with emphasis placed on short, striking bits of text highlighting especially difficult memories.
Grende pulls her memoir together with short chapters, each focusing on specific situations, distinct memories, and her own analyses of events from her childhood and teenage years. I looked for the memoir style to follow a sequential order but, in Grende’s case, the random scattering of memories and the jumps she makes from one time period backwards and then forward again works well. Her own confusion and the turbulence dictating her life as a result of her family’s past is reflected effectively in the style of writing chosen by the author. Short bursts of memories are easy to read, engaging, and incite the reader’s curiosity.
It is not often readers are afforded a look into the author’s own experiences. Grende gives readers a particularly vivid picture of the trauma and the lasting impact the Holocaust had on the ensuing generations. Her father’s behavior and neediness are sad in a way I find it almost impossible to describe. She underscores the way he seems to emotionally cling to her in a markedly poetic chapter in the second of the book’s three sections. Never is her father’s tragic past more clearly defined than in his sadness and desperation at losing her to her new husband.
Closure being the goal for Florence Grende, I felt relief for her as she details her journey for answers and the meeting which brings her face to face with people on all sides of the Holocaust. Her writing experience begins with her trip to Berlin and the diary that starts it all. I felt the tension as I read of Grende’s meetings with fellow survivors and descendants of Nazis. The horror stories flow, and Grende, at last, shares her own with those who can, not only relate, but wish for the same closure as the author herself. Grende writes of these meetings with raw emotion and does more to help readers absorb the truth of history than is ever possible with any textbook.
Florence Grende has bared her soul and shown readers a perspective on history that most of us will never fully grasp. She walks readers eloquently through a minefield of emotions and tackles the savagery of the Holocaust with truth, directness, and poetic prose.
Pages: 148 | ASIN: B01M751TN4
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In Search of Truth: A Course in Spiritual Psychology, by Glenville Ashby is a book of selected writings ranging from 2013 to 2018 which seeks to answer those questions that many of us struggle to comprehend. From death and the afterlife to the purpose of life itself, Glenville attempts to develop an insight into such matter using his knowledge. His hunger for awareness coupled with his Ph.D. skill set, make this an intelligent but thought-provoking read which is guaranteed to get the reader not just thinking but, hopefully, starting a conversation and sharing their thoughts on both Glenville’s writing and the subject at hand.
Admittedly, I was initially hesitant about reading this book just because I thought that Glenville was going to, like many others writing on such subjects, ignore those atheists and agnostics amongst us, myself included.
I respect all faiths and believe we are all entitled to develop our own concepts and ideas when it comes to the subject of spirituality. However, from reading similar books like this, atheists and agnostics are almost never included or referred to. Because of this, I tend to avoid such writing.
So, I could not have been happier when Glenville stated in his preface that he believed that all peoples views were equally important, regardless of their beliefs, or lack of.
I thoroughly recommend starting with Love is The Only True Religion. This collection can be referenced and dipped into as the reader deems it necessary, but this one is a tremendous eye-opening piece that should be read by everyone!
Glenville’s drive, passion, and dedication to his subjects allow him to objectively search for what lies behind the choices we make, the way we behave and how we approach such matters.
Each piece of writing is thought-provoking and comes at the subject from a neutral angle. Even though Glenville knows that some readers will not initially agree with his words, he works at posing a what if stance.
The book needs to be read with an open mind because that is precisely how I feel that Glenville has approached it. However, sadly I think this may be harder for some to do than others. Glenville has undoubtedly tackled those somewhat taboo subjects that many prefer to stay away from, with suicide, death and crucifixion controversy amongst them.
However, how Glenville takes on and expands on these subjects is commendable, and this is one of the reasons why I would urge for those uncomfortable about such books to read just one piece themselves before passing any such judgment. I can guarantee most will be pleasantly surprised.
This is a fascinating collection offering something different than your usual books on spiritual psychology. Fully accessible for those who may want to refer to it time and time again for spiritual guidance, if you are looking for an intellectual and stimulating read, with an openness to many different outcomes, then I can’t recommend In Search of Truth enough.
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Did I Say Never is the emotional journey you took when you became a step mother to a special needs child. What was the inspiration that made you want to put your experiences into a book?
Truthfully when I began to reflect on our journey, I just kept thinking I wish there had been a book to help me. If we can help one family or a teacher or a caregiver by sharing what we learned, it was worth putting pen to paper.
I appreciated your candor and openness in the story, and it helped me fully understand your struggle. Was there anything that was difficult for you to write about?
Yes, any time I had to write about Brooks being injured or going back to the hospital was painful even at an older age of consuming nuts and bolts at the sheltered workshop. It literally makes me cry.
Do you find that there is a common misconception people have about special needs children?
Maybe not common misconception but as far as we have come in the area of disabilities, we have a long way to go. People feel uncomfortable around people who are different from them so they tend to avoid getting to know them. Special needs children have real feelings and emotions but they may express them differently.
I felt like this book was about family, devotion, and working through struggles. What do you hope readers take away from your book?
First, I truly want readers to use the book as a resource guide and ponder the questions for their family to consider what is best for them. Second, I hope they look at the milestones proactively and develop a plan for what they want as a family. Third, look for the angels in your life that can help. Finally, realize you are not alone even though there will be many days you think you are all alone.
Dr. Kim Nugent is the best-selling author of Did I Say Never. Kim shares her personal 32 year spiritual journey, a true story, filled with sorrows and joys, challenges and tears that unfolded during her marriage and life as a step parent. The intention of the book is to provide ideas, questions, resources and heartfelt encouragement for parent’s to help their special needs child or adult so they achieve their full potential and improve the overall quality of their life.
Kim never thought she would marry again and for sure not to a man who had children.
Little did she know that her life would change –in unimaginable and dramatic ways, and this is where the story begins!
Did I Say Never is an emotional journey of love, frustration, and overwhelm. Kim step-by-step describes the details of each step she took on the path and talks about the Angels that appeared just at the right time to guide and uplift her.
While Kim does not have all the answers for you and your family, she knows the struggles, pains, joys and victories. Kim offers remarkable disability resources and questions for consideration for you, your family, teachers, and caregivers.
Have you ever felt completely lost, confused or extremely overwhelmed about what to do next with your disabled child or adult? Have you ever felt clueless as to what questions to ask next or what resources might be available to you? Then grab a copy and don’t let anyone stop you from “designing your life without limits”! Did I Say Never is a must read.
In Finding Balance and Forgiveness Through Chakras and Art you discuss the seven Chakras, where they’re located, how to determine if they’re blocked and how to correct it . Why was this an important book for you to write?
I have been yearning to write a book about resilience for many years but I always got stalled as I tried to find the correct template. It was not until I had endured a near death experience and started looking more seriously at alternate methods of healing that my ideas started to gel. I had actually given up on writing the book and dedicated myself to healing my own issues and found that the use of the chakra system was perfect. After I had turned my own life around, I realized that the template for my book was right there: the Chakra system. The seven chakras provide the perfect road map: colour coded and simple to use. And the chakra system works well with other methods of healing (traditional and alternative) and is not discriminatory. Regardless of one’s race, gender, sexual identity, culture, or spiritual path, the chakra system can be used.
One of the different aspects of this book over others on Chakras is the incorporation of art in all stages. Why is this a vital aspect?
Well, first of all, I am an artist, so it is just part of the fabric of my being. And I truly believe we are all artists. Children have an innate ability to be creative and as we age, we tend to lose that freedom of creative expression. I have used art as a therapeutic tool with mental health patients for many years. Art is a natural healing method, but when art is used with the chakra system, magic happens…truly. I’ve seen people who are skeptical of using alternative healing methods, such as the chakra system, but when an artistic exercise is added to the experience, it seems to provide increased clarity and buy-in for the participant. I have found that art ties in well with explaining the different levels of the chakra system. And art makes the experience fun.
What do you find is one common misconception people have about Chakras?
I think there are a lot of misguided sexual identity beliefs about the chakra system:
- that the basic human needs, including sexuality, are not as important as the higher level chakras
- That there is a negative connotation to feminine traits and that masculine attributes are viewed in a more positive light
As I studied the system, I realized that balance in all areas is critical. And that all aspects of self: needs and enlightenment; masculine and feminine are necessary and desired.
I think this book is a great reference for people new or experienced to the study of Chakras and self-healing. What do you hope readers take away from your book?
My hope is that people find balance, while understanding that there are times we need the help of experts – and while knowing that we can also take an active role in our own health, self care, happiness, and ability to connect with ourselves, others, and a higher power. Balance is achieved when we are able to forgive… ourselves, others, circumstances. Yes, there is work to do, but it can be fun, manageable, and with a bit of artistic flair and pizzaz!
Using chakras and art is like having a template to achieve balance, forgiveness, and peace. Life is challenging; our world often seems chaotic and tumultuous. Learning to assess and treat your chakra imbalances helps you to cope with these challenges and to find inner peace.
Through the use of true stories, both her own and those of others, Teresa McCallum provides examples of balanced and imbalanced chakras. She offers simple activities, methods, and art suggestions to help others achieve personal growth and inner balance. Teresa’s background as a nurse working in mental health, as well as being a visual artist, lead her to develop a unique way of looking at spirituality, self-healing, and use of the ancient chakra system. Regardless of whether the chakra system is new to you or you are an experienced yogini (or yogi), Finding Balance and Forgiveness Through Chakras and Art will provide artistic insight and guidance.
Posted in Interviews
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How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure, written by Kaye Newton, will help you teach your children to find the joy in reading. We live in a digital age, and the art of reading is slowly fading away. Netflix, social media and the internet have taken over the entertainment sector, leaving teenagers and children disinterested with the magic of reading. Armed with exciting and informative facts, Kaye Newton will help all parents and caregivers find practical and engaging ways to help encourage your adolescents to read.
How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure is a valuable tool and learning resource for all parents who are trying to get their teens to read. With online distractions and the quick fix that screen time provides, this generation of children is sadly missing out on the benefits which reading a book provides.
The benefits of reading are far and wide and include how reading improves our concentration, memory, analytical skills and even help teens prepare for the workforce. And if you believe your child is just simply not a “born reader”, Newton also takes a look at how we all have the potential to read, and humans are innately drawn to storytelling and adventure. Sometimes it comes down to simply finding the right book for the right child.
How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure will also push you to question your own beliefs and interests in reading. One line that resonated with me was “I liked reading until I was forced to overthink every sentence”. As a child, we often read books to discover new worlds, uncover magical creatures and learn different cultures, but this changes when we become adolescents. At school we are often expected to look at the grammar and the concept of the story and then write hundreds and sometimes thousands of words about a plot line we may have not even enjoyed. Kaye Newton addresses this issue with some alarming statistics about how little we now read and the detrimental effects it can have when we take reading out of our lives.
Not only will How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure give you extensive and useful tools to help with supporting your teen to read, but the novel also provides lists of books that will suit your child and match their interests. For example, many parents often use the excuse that their child does not read due to being obsessed with video games. But there are books for even the most avid of gamers, and Newton will provide you with several examples to get you started. There is also a fantastic list of books ready for you to try that are sorted by ages and genres.
One segment of How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure also answers questions that parents may have, such as do graphic novels count as reading or what is considered “real reading”? These questions will help parents find out what type of reading will suit their teen and how reading can be found in places we least expect.
I would recommend this to anyone who is looking to encourage the children in their lives to discover the magic of reading!
Pages: 171 | ASIN: B0793MKDNP
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Masks is a dark fictional tale, based on true-life events. It narrates the adventures of a young Armenian girl born in Lebanon in the seventies. She dreams of fame and power in Lebanon and the Arab world and shows resilience and motivation beyond her years. The novel delves into the world of the protagonist, Anna, who is surrounded by social, religious, and sexual taboos. She fiercely breaks the chains to enter the world she has strived to reach, in a seemingly conservative society barely emerging from a civil war. She builds her success on her remaining values, challenging her fate and sparing no way means to attain her goals.
As a disappointment to her parents, she walks the challenging paths alone, making her way toward fame and fortune despite lacking the support system to do so. Doors begin to open for her, and she enters the world of Arab celebrities. She is now a public figure in the Middle East, living an immoral married life in a materialistic world surrounded by influential business people and royal family members. She tries, in vain, to fill the void in her soul with sexual adventures and controversy by taking a wide variety of lovers. Her adventures invariably end in misery, doing nothing to awaken her from her numbness. Still, her vivid, out-of-control personality helps her move forward while simultaneously getting her in trouble. In the early stages of her life, she has suffered the unthinkable, being bullied and raped, with the civil war a constant backdrop throughout most of her childhood. The novel delves deep into Anna’s mind as she has flashbacks of the trauma she has suffered, offering the reader a hint of an explanation for her behavior.
In a society in which men dominate women, she is one of the few who realize that fashion, social status, plastic surgeries, and bright smiles are not the answer to happiness. She lives in a world where a girl is only worth as much as her virginity, where women do not dare to ask for a divorce, where the fear of retribution keeps them locked in a cage that is very rarely gilded.
As fame, money, and power slowly eat at her soul, the arrogant Anna falls in love with a total stranger—a young, single bachelor from Canada—after a night of secret passion. That is where the story begins to unravel as she returns home with a scandal in her back pocket, her eyes and ears and heart tuned to this man instead of her husband. Anna realizes that neither her marriage nor her achievements have ever made her happy, so she decides to throw it all away. The lies and deceit that fill the so-called glamorous life she has been leading are floating up to the surface, including her husband’s infidelity and the critical steps she has taken to reach the top.
Marriage, family, career—all destroyed to be united with the stranger. She starts a new battle, this time struggling to change her destiny for someone she barely knows, who lives oceans apart and offers her nothing except his heart.
She risks everything, turning her whole life upside down. Anna realizes that her happiness, inner peace, and love are found worlds away from her own, with someone she would never have expected to be her soul mate. Still, Anna’s sacrifices are not behind her, and the struggle has not yet ended, although she has found what she has needed all her life: redemption and unconditional love.
The stranger enigmatically hints at emotions in Anna that have been hidden for a long time behind the masks of her dark and shallow lifestyle.
The characters in the story are the voices of so many who do not dare to speak up in a world where social and religious standards openly chastise the very actions that behind closed doors have become the ultimate paradigmatic way of life.
Posted in book trailer
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The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.
Gold Award Winners
Silver Award Winners
Posted in Literary Titan Book Award
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With Angel’s Wings is one mother’s raw and heart-wrenching account of her life with two daughters with special needs. I understand that this book was based on your life. What made you want to put your story into a novel?
I never meant to write a book. I wrote therapeutically through some tough times (which was helpful). Nurses and therapists who were in our home through those years read what I had written and strongly encouraged me to share our story. Well…all except for one physical therapist who said, “Be careful who you allow to read this; child protective services may be called.” That bit of advice certainly fed into any misgivings and concerns I had about publicizing our tale! After years of prompting, though, I took a deep breath, closed my eyes tight, and sent it out for the world to judge me to their hearts’ content. I’m glad I did. The most gratifying moment was when a mother of a toddler boy who has Wolf-Hirschorn Syndrome messaged me and said, “I happened to stumble upon your book. Before I read it, I thought there was no way anyone could possibly understand what I’m going through and how I’m feeling. After reading it, I went out and bought 3 more copies to hand out to my family members in the hopes that as they read about you they’ll better understand me.” That’s what it’s all about, right?
You describe every obstacle encountered as you come to terms with your daughters’ challenges. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?
Given the fact that I was writing therapeutically, I can’t say any part of our story was particularly difficult to write. Writing it down was what made things a bit easier. That being said, there are multiple parts that I still can’t read without crying (most of the marathon IV poke sessions, when Sarah [“Hannah” in the book] coded in my arms, when she got her I.O.’s…I could go on and on). The one section that I avoid reading whenever possible, and when I do have to read it, I feel physically ill, is the section about my “breakdown” (when I [apparently] threw the knife at my husband). There are so many things I would change if I had the ability to go back, knowing what I know now (not that I’d ever want to!). One of the biggest is the way I addressed my depression (or DIDN’T address, as the case often was). I now understand just how big a role depression (and PTSD) played in our story. I wish I had known more about it then, taken it more seriously…and cut myself a little more slack, which hopefully would have allowed me to relax a little more and address every other aspect of my life a little more successfully.
Hannah’s is diagnosed with Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome. What are some misconceptions about this condition and how did you educate yourself on it?
Well, to have misconceptions, I suppose you’d have to have any concept at all. Not only had I never heard of the diagnosis, but very few people I’ve come across have ever heard of it, so finding out I was wrong in my thinking hasn’t really been a problem. Something I definitely understand now that I didn’t before is that within every genetic diagnosis there’s a spectrum – not all with the same diagnosis present the same picture. There are, for instance, individuals with Down Syndrome who you hardly recognize as having the disorder, who are quite independent, and those who are much more involved, who are completely dependent on the care of others. Wolf-Hirschorn Syndrome is no different. Some WHS kids are quite high functioning…Sarah is not; she’s at the lower end of the spectrum. I have to remind myself of that, sometimes, when I’m feeling guilty over burnout and other WHS moms are posting about what a JOY their son/daughter is in their lives (along with pictures of them going to prom or enjoying a trip to Disney World). Same diagnosis in no way equates to same experience.
Because there isn’t a ton written about WHS, a lot of what I’ve learned has come more recently, since the explosion of social media. This is the generation that specialists are looking to for data on growth charts and life expectancy. That means we don’t have information to look at, but we have a wealth of experiences shared by many families that offer some clues as to what to possibly expect or watch for.
This is an emotional book that, I felt, was honest. What do you hope readers take away from your story?
For the “general population” reader I hope to offer a “peek in the window” of a family living a life likely very different from their own. When the reader sees a medically fragile child on the street, maybe that child will be looked at with more admiration for his/her strength, rather than pity. Maybe if the reader comes across an autistic child, he/she will be a little more patient and a little less judgmental toward both the child and the parent, alike. It can also be just plain interesting to read about others facing challenges we aren’t. It’s the little details that make you say, “Oh yeah…I never even THOUGHT of that being an issue!”
For readers within the special needs community, I hope to offer hope that if I could find the light at the end of my tunnel, you can, too. I hope to offer companionship by way of admission to my own doubts, frustrations, struggles, and screw-ups. I hope that a fellow special needs parent will understand this book is me saying, “You are not alone. You are not wrong for the way you feel. This, too, shall pass. And you are stronger than you know. You can do this.”
With Angel’s Wings is the true story of Laura, a young wife and mother of a three-year-old daughter. Her husband, Kevin, a marine, is deployed overseas, leaving Laura to give birth to their second daughter and handle the two young children on her own.
Thirteen days after the birth of her youngest, the pediatrician detects a heart murmur. That leads to just the first of multiple diagnoses for both of her daughters, sending Laura on an unexpected and emotional journey into the world of parenting medically-fragile, special needs children.
Right when Laura fears she will break under the incredible pressure, she encounters the beauty of true love, in a most unexpected and unconventional way.
Posted in Interviews
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Have you ever wondered about the importance of communion? What really is the root of all this power the blood of Jesus is purported to have? How can human beings harness this power as God wishes?
Wendy Varga’s Sacred Secret is an in-depth analysis of the Communion. We often use blatant explanations of God’s instructions. But man is protected from all sorts of evil if he marks himself with the blood.
If faith is shallow, little is expected. People should know the limitless capabilities of God as this affects their level of faith and consequently, how impactful He will be in their life.
Wendy Varga’s passion helps to eloquently unravel many biblical mysteries. Her fervent writing had me craving to know more about communion; I found myself often referencing my bible. By the end of this book I felt that I had a better understanding of the power of the New Testament Covenant Meal. The author’s eagerness to truly understand God’s purpose for the Passover is evident. Her break down of the relation between His blood and God by use of scientific explanations is startlingly enlightening. Her insistence to not just know God, but also know Him intimately is a recurring theme. I’ve read other religious books on similar subjects, but they often only touched on this subject before quickly moving on. But it is the focal point in this book. It’s refreshing to see a book take a deep dive into one aspect of faith.
I consider this a knowledge check for anyone who knows their Bible well, but what I truly appreciated was the unique perspective in which the information is presented. Be prepared to ask yourself questions you never have before. In the end, I appreciated how this book left me reevaluating my relationship with God. This book will arm you with the knowledge and power of the blood and thus strengthen your faith. I believe that this book will unlock the potential of God’s power in your life through faith.
Pages: 156 | ASIN: B072M8R6JG
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Away from Home is a real and heartbreaking look into the troubled thoughts and feelings many teens experience when part of the foster care system. It seems that your foster children are an obvious inspiration, but what made you put pen to paper (so to speak)?
I am by no means an experienced writer but I wanted to capture the thoughts and feelings of some of the young people that I look after. This was important to me to gain an understanding of how young people may be feeling when they come into my care. Young people coming into the care system may not verbalise how they feel but may show how they feel through actions.
I liked ‘Don’t know if I am coming or going’ because it was a simple and realistic take on how a newly placed teen may feel upon arriving in a new place. What was your favorite poem from the collection and why?
My favourite poem was ‘wonderful you have come back to see me’. It is my favourite poem because it shows with, attention, care and firm boundaries young people can succeed. They do not have to leave care the same way they came in.
What do you think is a common misconception about foster children that people have today?
Teenagers are portrayed by the media for being ‘out of control’ and dangerous. Young people come into care for all different reasons and it is up to responsible adults to guide them through life.
I felt that Away from Home allowed me to understand the ups and downs of the foster care system. What do you hope readers take away from your book?
I am hoping that my book can be used as a training tool for new carers thinking of fostering teenagers. They will learn about some of the emotions that young people display when coming into care and foster carers training will help them find ways to deal with the behaviour. The end result in some cases is worth not giving up.
Also people with teenagers can relate to some of the emotions that are displayed in book and the reasons behind it. Behind the emotions, there are possible reasons for the behaviour.
Away from Home is a collection of short poems inspired by the writer’s experience of fostering teenage girls over a ten year period.
The poems are from real life situations of teenagers in my care. Fostering teenagers can be challenging but it is also very rewarding.
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