This memoir vividly describes Jim’s daily life in Polish Catholic Detroit, allowing readers to experience this time and place. The central theme, I think, is about identify. As Jim comes of age, he find himself between two communities. Jim’s working-class parents want academic success for Jim, although they are not educated. When he begins classes at a Jesuit high school, he’s moving further away from the familiar. This is a common theme of hard-working immigrant parents pushing their child to a better life, and in doing so, pushing their child away from family life. I’d encountered this before, in fiction and in life experiences, but not from Jim’s particular perspective or about a Polish, Catholic family like Jim’s. The author allows us to meet Jim’s family, and show how Jim feels disconnected from family life.
At school, though, Jim doesn’t feel connected to his wealthier, preppier classmates. He notices differences of clothes and haircuts, and recognizes these as a symbols of wider, unspoken differences. Young Jim is more of an observer than a participant, and he has a sharp eye for individual differences and group similarities. When he notices the markers of a particular group — the Jewish girls’ dark hair and upscale clothes, the first names used on Polish storefronts, even the different shoes worn by preppie kids versus working-class kids- we don’t just see setting and detail, we see Jim’s desire to belong to a group.
Religion touches every aspect of Jim’s life. Jim honestly fears hell, although he’s confused by the different flavors of damnation threatened by the Catholic school nuns and Jesuit school priests. This allows doubt to seep in, even though his entire community is religious. Other characters are connected and are uplifted by religion, like a teen classmate who wants to be a Jesuit priest, his grandmother who was unable to become a nun, Jesuit teachers, and just the general community celebrating fast days and feast days. This sense of doubting religion, while being surrounded by religious community adds to Jim’s feelings of alienation.
Despite the memorable images and vivid details, this is a story of one boys journey to adulthood, so don’t expect any heart pounding action or quick twists. Large portions of the book cover a few minutes of Jim’s life, often with so much memory, emotion and commentary on the events that it’s jarring to return to the next line of the conversation happening in the present. It turns meaningful moments in Jim’s life into slow and deliberate scenes. If you like stories with a descriptive life like plot, then this book is for you.
Fans of creative non-fiction, especially those without a lot of background knowledge of this community, will enjoy this descriptive memoir of a young boy maturing and coming of age.
Pages: 234 | ASIN: B07CPDY81Y
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Young Jim takes us through a Friday night hangout with his Polish Catholic family. He takes note of the things only spoken of in silence and bowed heads. Things like alcoholism and the expectations that come with the position each person holds in the family. Though only a boy, he has a unique perception of his family. His view not yet colored with the urge to show a facade. With the innocence of a child, he offers the reader an honest view of every occurrence and lets the reader into even the darkest recesses of his family. This book will have readers looking at long standing family traditions and unique bonds that inadvertently dictate behaviors and personality traits.
James Sniechowski writing is pleasantly colorful, evocatively poignant and expressive. His talent brings forth a clear and strong image in the mind of the reader. He has an extraordinary ability to weave language into a beautiful piece of art that draws the reader deep into the plot. This book reveals family secrets that are secrets to only people outside the family. There is an unwritten rule in every family that some things are to remain unspoken. No one dares to talk about those things. No one but the children, of course.
This has been described as “unputdownable” and I would agree with that. I found myself reading way to long into the night. The reader is invited into the middle of a 1950’s working class family in Detroit. Character development is vital in the reader’s relationship with this story. You will see the slight and gradual change in how the people relate through the night as more Seven Crown is poured. You can almost hear the words slur and eyelids grow heavy.
If nothing else, this book will help you take a good look at your own life and help you take stock of the ‘hollow gods’ in your own life. This is an empowering book that will help you consider the steps required to ‘leave home’ if need be. This is the kind of book that stirs the pot and brings deep seated emotions to the surface. The title holds just the right amount of tenacity for this material.
Pages: 223 | ASIN: B07CNWV4CH
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The Spell is a captivating memoir about your life, the obstacles you faced, and your perseverance. What was the inspiration that made you want to put your story into a book?
It’s not that I wanted to put my story into a book; I was compelled as you will find out at the end of Book III. I see my journey as archetypal and no longer my personal story. I have had many people connect with me about how one thing or another from the story affected them—something similar that they faced in their life. When I wrote it, I had no idea why I need to share this story.
You retrace your steps through some painful years in your life. Was there anything that you see different now that you have reflected on it?
Back then, I was another person. I often look at how ridiculous and childish I was. Many times I wanted to chop out the parts in the story that were embarrassing and what seems to me now, as ridiculous! But the character arc, my arc changes across the span of the three books. The thing I remind myself to do is to hold me, the person I was back then and the character of the story with tremendous tenderness. I can not discount how my life shaped me and the challenges I’ve overcome. Like a migrating Sandhill Crane, I have a perspective from a higher vantage point that spans across space and time.
I felt that you did a fantastic job of revealing the truth, no matter how painful. What do you hope readers take away from this book?
Thank you! There is no point in hiding behind your shame and your fears. And, no one has the right to judge another’s life and their choices. You don’t know what they’ve been through. You don’t know how much courage it takes to face themselves each day. We all have a story. That is what links humanity together. We all have our role to play and the only thing I can do, you can do, is make sure your life is an Oscar-winning performance.
This is book one in the The Shaman’s Lover Trilogy. Where will book two pickup and when will it be available?
The Shattering, Book II is gestating as I write this. It will be out this year. Here is a blurb from The Shattering.
What are you willing to risk to become who you really are?
As Georgina’s life faces a disastrous implosion, her best friend Sandy invites her to a healing center deep in the Peruvian Amazon where she naively enters into the mysterious world of ayahuasca-a potent visionary plant medicine also known as the “vine of the soul”. Magical journeys and other-worldly adventures submerge her into the shadow world where she discovers her demons and uncovers the lie she has been living. Just as she begins to reconnect with the Divine, Georgina meets with an unexpected twist of fate, when the healing center’s shaman casts a powerful enchantment on her. In order to unbind herself, she must face her past and strip away an imprisonment that is not only hers but shared by women world-wide.
Travel with Georgina as she takes you into an extraordinary reality. The Spell, Book One of The Shaman’s Lover Trilogy is a mesmerizing memoir about healing the Wounded Feminine and embodying the Divine Feminine. This personal account will inspire women to free themselves from the patriarchal program of shame, guilt and low self-worth and awaken to their power, radiance and beauty. Join Georgina and an unforgettable cast of characters as she takes you on a journey of magic and paradoxically, what it means to be ordinarily human.
Posted in Interviews
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Italians of Lackawanna County uses photography to show readers how the region’s Italian community seeks to preserve its heritage. Why was this an important book for you to write?
This book was extremely important to me to write, especially in a time when so many stereotypes against the Italian-American community as a whole exist. My goal was not just to seek to preserve and promote the Italian culture and heritage of Lackawanna County, it was also to show a positive image of Italian Americans working hard to celebrate their origins and how they are working to make the region a better place to live and work. Pictures tell the story in a way that words cannot—thanks to the wonderful photographers and community members who submitted photos, this book comes alive and readers hopefully get a true sense of what it means to be an Italian American living in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania.
In this book you not only cover modern day traditions but you also trace the history of Italian immigration. What kind of research did you undertake for this book?
I have worked as a historian focusing on Italian American studies for the past 15 or so years, always placing an emphasis on local Italian history because my region is so heavily populated with people of Italian origin, like myself. Most of the research for this book is through interviews with the citizens, as well as through archives, such as the Lackawanna Historical Society and the Dunmore Historical Society. I also consulted scholars and archivists in Italy as they also have a wonderful catalog of history surrounding the various town festivals—this helped provide a background for the festivals that were brought here and I was able to truly tie them in to their towns of origin. This kind of work is more of a historic reconstruction, because a lot of the background information has either been lost or is unavailable—because of this, I rely heavily on people in the community who are willing to share their stories.
This book showcases Italian-Americans’ pride in their heritage and place in America. What were some themes you wanted to focus on throughout this book?
As I said before, I truly wanted this book to be a positive representation of Italian Americans and show how they contribute to the good of our society. I really wanted to focus on the fact that we are three or four generations away from the original immigrant generation here in Lackawanna County, but people are still passionate and proud to preserve the traditions their ancestors brought over so long ago. I also wanted to highlight the fact that our area truly embraces everyone of all ethnicities—while I focus on Italians, I do make mention that our Italian festivals have become more inclusive and you don’t have to be Italian to participate. I think that welcoming spirit is one of Lackawanna County’s greatest attributes and I wanted to showcase it as best as I could.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have two projects that I am working on right now. The first is a passion project about the Guardiese community in the United States. My grandfather came to the United States from Guardia dei Lombardi (AV), Italy, and he was extremely proud of where he came from. These Guardiese traditions were passed down to me by my mother and inspired me to research our local as well as our national Guardiese community. My research locally is complete and now I am working on the national research.
I am also researching Sylvester Poli, a theater magnate from Italy who really revolutionized vaudeville. I was part of the Leadership Lackawanna Core Program this past year and our team project was to create a historic display in downtown Scranton’s Ritz Theater, which Poli founded in 1907. The research we did for the project took on a life of its own and I want to continue to pursue it and possibly publish a book.
Both projects do not have a set time commitment due to research, but I would like at least one to be complete within the next 2-3 years.
Boasting one of the nation’s largest and most diverse Italian American populations, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, joins old and new with events such as La Corsa dei Ceri or St. Ubaldo Day in Jessup and La Festa Italiana on Scranton’s Courthouse Square. Every town in the county with an Italian population has its own story. Whether the people can trace their origins to Guardia or Gubbio, Felitto or Perugia, the Italians of Lackawanna County all share one thing in common: a strong sense of pride in their ethnic origins. In Images of Modern America: Italians of Lackawanna County, readers will find familiar images of summertime traditions, as well as new representations of how the region’s Italian community seeks to preserve its heritage.
Posted in Interviews
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Every mother’s journey is unique, however, they all share one thing: heartache. In one way or another, every mother travels down a difficult road as she fights tooth and nail to bring her child to adulthood unscathed. Sandra Bowman, author of The Farthest-Reaching Ball: A Memoir of Motherhood is no stranger to heartache. As the mother of two children, Grant and Parker, Bowman relates the trials and tribulations she overcomes as she raises her children virtually on her own. A mother’s love is nowhere more evident than in Bowman’s explanation of how she comes to understand the needs of her children and the struggle that has permeated her son’s life since an early age.
Sandra Bowman describes virtually every aspect of her journey as a mother in her poignant memoir, The Farthest-Reaching Ball. She details the birth of her sons so vividly that I felt, as the reader, that I attended the delivery. Her emotions surrounding the births are clearly drawn, and any parent who has experienced a particularly difficult birth will appreciate how very frank Bowman is with her details.
As a teacher, I am struck by the battle Bowman and her son, Grant, face as he begins school. His gifts are both amazing and obvious to all, but the obstacles he faces are numerous. Children with talents beyond those of the average child are often overlooked in the regular classroom, and they are not always afforded the opportunity to showcase their skills. Grant is one of those children with a mother on a mission to find a setting that suits her child’s best interests.
When Bowman’s son begins to experience behavior challenges and depression sets in, the author’s challenges multiply. Moreover, Grant’s own slowly-revealed identity crisis begins to consume his thoughts and every interaction. Bowman is more than understanding and is the proverbial mother bear–she is fierce and stops at nothing to make sure her child is content with himself. The author is beyond adept at communicating her feelings and her ever-fluctuating fears regarding Grant’s mental state. His worries are her worries, and his unhappiness is hers to bear.
There doesn’t seem to be a problem Bowman and her son haven’t endured. From excessive weight gain, to depression, to attention deficit disorder, Grant runs the gamut. Bowman is exceptionally open with her own feelings of defeat, despair, and utter helplessness. She is at loss as to how to help her son deal with an identity crisis that threatens to be the end of them all. Mothers of all walks of life can relate to Bowman’s honesty as she admits to her own suicidal thoughts.
I am impressed with Bowman’s forthrightness and openness. She lays out every frustration, worry, and obstacle for readers and shares with them the most intimate of details about her own regrets as a mother. Parents of children struggling with identity crises of all types will appreciate Bowman’s story.
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Dating is hard. Finding a man that aligns with your values and personal beliefs is even harder. There are a lot of men out in the world that are just looking to take advantage of a women, that don’t believe women are equal or deserving of equal treatment, and that honestly care only for themselves. Daisy Thomas has put together a book to help women navigating the world of dating avoid the problem men and find a partner that is grounded in God and good intentions.
When you start reading this book, you will find it reads more like a dissertation or informational article. Daisy Thomas’s writing style is very direct and to the point, so you won’t get warm fuzzy feelings reading her words of wisdom. Some of the main topics that she covers is trusting your gut, identifying counterfeit personalities, and finding men that share your values in God and family. There is a strong emphasis on finding a person that has a Godly heart and Godly intentions as well as one that shares your values with family and how to live. Daisy Thomas emphasizes finding someone to share your goals and dreams with that is going to support you and not kill your spirit to feed their own personal agenda.
This is a short book, only around 100 pages. However, it is filled with knowledge of how to recognize abusive behavior in a partner. It highlights the patterns that most abusers make and gives you the tell-tale warning signs so you can hopefully get away before it is too late. Anyone that believes in God, and that God has a plan for you, this is a good read for. It uses direct quotes from the bible to back up her views, it is well written to convey her message, and shows women there is more out there and they don’t have to settle for the first man that shows them any interest.
Pages: 110 | ASIN: B07982KQ8G
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Ever wondered if games of chance can be deciphered? Could math be used to that advantage? To get exactly the numbers you need to win the lotto? You have played too many times by pure chance and instinct. How about applying a little bit of logic this time? Just to see if it makes a difference.
The Advanced Lotto Rotation System is a tutorial on how to break the code. On how to burst through the veil of unluck. Joseph Vlasic breaks down the whole system. He then proceeds to put everything together bit by bit as one looks on. This gives one an understanding into the game. Sort of like getting into the mind of the game.
This is a very short read. However, the writer has put everything down in very simple English. He does not leave the reader behind at any point. This is important as it will help one apply whatever they have learned later on. At the very beginning, you are asked to read and reread. You must follow this directive so that you can grasp every step of the exercise.
It is easy to lose focus and attention when dealing with so many numbers and confusing ideas. Therefore the author uses highlights and tables. These help the reader bring their attention back to the material at hand. It also helps you have a different view of the idea for better understanding and fresh perspective.
This book delivers some very interesting ideas on Lotto and games of chance in general. Although there could be some complex information delivered in such a small package, I felt the author gave each idea plenty of room to develop completely before moving on.
There are some minor misspellings and I felt the book could benefit from a brush over. Other than that it is an interesting read. It is compelling to see just how easy it could be to break games of chance. To bend them to your will. This book puts you in control rather than leaving it up to chance or sheer luck. We cannot all be lucky, can we?
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Going through this book is akin to being virtually in touch with the Italian culture and customs. The author compiled text and images which show how beautiful the Italian community in America is and how wonderful the people are as they co-exist with others. Stephanie Longo tells the story of Italians of Lackawanna in a distinct and brilliant way that can’t help but admire the way of life of the Italians. The author starts by narrating the history of Italian immigrants who first moved to the county. The immigrants had to do menial jobs like farming, mining and other works that required hard labor. The first wave of Italian immigrants knew that only hard work would help them fend for their families. This notion was passed through different generations of Italian Americans as everyone had to work to survive.
The author shows the deep connection between Lackawanna county authorities and the Italians who live in the county. With pictures, the author talks about Italian-American themed events that happen throughout the county, the close ties between Pennsylvania administration and Italian officials in Sicily, the Lackawanna County Library System which promotes Italian American events throughout all nine of its branches, and the heritage and Italian pride witnessed in the county among other things. The author also highlights the monuments and buildings which were made in honor of Italian heroes and legends. They include the Gino J. Merli Veteran’s Center, The Christopher Columbus statue on Scranton’s Courthouse Square and the statue of Dante among others.
I absolutely loved the images Stephanie Longo shared of the La Cosra dei Ceri festival. The pictures were colorful and everything seemed perfect. La Cosra dei Ceri is a festival I would want to be part of if I ever get to be in Lackawanna County around May. I appreciate the author’s effort to explain in detail what the festival is about, and what each family does in honor of their patron saints. Religion and by extents Catholicism is a huge part of Italian living. It is beautiful how religion brings the masses together as they worship and celebrate life as one people.
Italians of Lackawanna County is about 70% images and 30% text. This is one of the things that made me enjoy reading this book. Pictures tell a lot and one can easily and quickly understand the content without having to read a bunch of words in a paragraph. I loved reading this book because the author shared a little history of the Italians in the county and how Italy is. Italians of Lackawanna County is a great educational read that I would recommend to everyone who wants to learn more about Italian-American culture.
Pages: 98 | ISBN: 1540228266
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When you find yourself wondering why society at large seems to be on a self-destructive path with little hope for survival, one of the most refreshing things that you can find is the idea that not all is, in fact, lost. That idea can mean many things to many different types of people. Whether the thought that we can still turn things around gives people hope or goes so far as to create a road-map for future success, any idea or discussion breathing new life into failing systems is a positive addition to our body of knowledge. Charlie Petersen, long-time technology management specialist turned author, seems to be a good source of game-changing ideas, and many of them make a lot of sense.
Wake Up America covers a lot of ground but is centered around the idea that if we, as global citizens, don’t change our ways we are headed for destruction of two types: war and/or depression. The author, Charlie Petersen, argues that in an ever more globalized society we all have a responsibility to choose a brighter path to planetary stability and harmony.
As it would seem pretty clear that most of us aren’t willing to initiate the kinds of changes that are required to avoid a meltdown, Petersen presents his ideas for change as being ones to be taken up by the governments of the world. He maps out a solution to reduce the dependency on oil and gas, while at the same time focusing on the coming water crises. Petersen discusses what would be required for a global paradigm shift and discusses why those holding power currently are not prepared to act, although they are aware that action is needed.
How can the status quo be reimagined? Who or what forces would be responsible for initiating a new approach? The author of Wake Up America goes to great lengths to answer those questions and more in this important work.
Wake up calls usually come in a couple of varieties. Those which are too far-fetched to do anyone any good, and those that deliver logic and science together with a solid dose of reasoning to make sense of it all. Wake Up America, published by Matchstick Literary, is the latter. All in all, Wake Up America contains in depth research and unique approaches to solving the current problems facing our world.
Pages: 344 | ISBN: 1642540447
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A harrowing tale of family challenges one women faces traversing the life of her defiant father after her mother’s passing. Embodied with the faith of God the author narrates her perseverance with every roadblock she encounters, which adds up quickly as her patience is tested dealing with a rebellious father. Snapdragon reads as a series of episodic events, each chapter highlighting a situation that would bring anyone to the boiling point of frustration. Woven through each of these trials, the author recounts her involvement with faith. Her Christian beliefs are spun deep into the fabric of this intimate story revolving around confronting all odds to find peace with her father.
Allison St. James undoubtedly writes with a personal voice, her persistence to become close and receive the love of her father is heartbreaking at times. The seemingly open face view of her struggles with personal relationships, financial setbacks, and physical ailments never once waiver her beliefs. Aside from anyone who is a Christian or feels they have some connection to organized religion might find Allison’s passages depicting her beliefs to be preachy at times. However, her honest expression of the situation will have any reader astonished with her resolution and drive to care for her father.
The author writes with a clear tone that had me flipping through page after page finishing the book in no time. Easy to read and written in the first person the story flowed smoothly through each transition. I was impressed with the heart and emotion that shown through with such simple language. Although a few characters came off written with just a rigid introduction, and I wondered how many times Allison could be “emotionally drained”, the spirit of these relationships fostered a deeper understanding of how convoluted the authors’ life became as the story went on.
Allison’s story is composed of real-life scenarios which don’t always amount to a fairy-tale ending. Instead, despite all the challenges the author faces, Snapdragon portrays a genuine feeling of forgiveness. It reassures the reader that through these constant battles in life doing the right thing might be difficult but the conscious will always remember that decision.
Pages: 238 | ISBN:1449788777
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