Tag Archives: non-fiction

Cerebral Palsy: ‘A Story’ Finding the Calm After the Storm by Ilana Estelle (Book Review)

 
Living with cerebral palsy is enormously difficult. But what if you never knew you had it? This is the incredible story of Ilana Estelle.

Born the second of premature twins, from a young age Ilana knew she was different, but for all the wrong reasons. A child of the 60s, Ilana experienced first-hand the way that disability was so often brushed under the carpet and not spoken about. Her constant physical and mental struggles made her feel isolated, alone, frustrated, and misunderstood… it took 46 years for her to find out why.

Part memoir, part motivational guide, Cerebral Palsy: A Story is Ilana’s open and honest journey from an angry, confused child, knowing something was wrong, but not knowing what, to the ‘real’ her – a courageous woman using her experiences and lessons to create inspiring messages about mental and physical health, positivity, resilience and change. 

 
 
Buy the Book:
Amazon US ~ Amazon.UK
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I received a complimentary copy of this book from iRead Book Tours. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.
 
 
Cerebral Palsy: A Story: Finding the Calm After the Storm informed me about 11 secondary conditions connected to CP (cerebral palsy). The memoir also gave me facts that escaped me until now. For example, 800,000 individuals have CP, and 10,000 people are born with it each year. Ilana Estelle also explained how the brain is affected in those with cerebral palsy. There are physical limitations. People also face emotional and mental roadblocks. 


She went in-depth on how emotional stress can affect a CP’s immunity. A positive attitude, surrounding yourself with positive people is vital for a CP person’s overall health. Ilana Estelle gave examples of how to achieve a happy mind, cope with stress, and live a healthier life. 


There were many sections in Cerebral Palsy: A Story: Finding the Calm that could apply to those not living with CP: foods to maintain good high blood pressure, foods that alleviate arthritis pain, and parenting tips. At times, these areas seemed to deter away from the topic at hand—cerebral palsy. While I appreciate the extra health tips and her parenting advice, I wanted more about her journey in life with CP. 


Ilana Estelle discussed the misdiagnosis at the age of 2 (2.5). She spoke of the lack of family support  (often) and felt guilty and depressed about failing in life. She also emphasized what she learned in the process. 

  • know your limitations
  • ask for help
  • gain knowledge about your condition

To parents, she stressed having a sit-down and make sure all siblings are aware that people with CP need patience, understanding, compassion, and assistance. 


While Ilana Estelle has struggled in life and will as she continues her journey in this world, I’m pleased to see she’s not bitter or angry over what’s occurred in the past. She’s working hard to achieve a happy mind. Peaceful soul. 


You can’t change the past, but your actions today can pave the road for a better tomorrow. 

 
 
Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: 
 
 
Buy the Book:
Amazon US ~ Amazon.UK
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Add to Goodreads
 
 
 
 
 
Meet the Author:
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Ilana was born with a disability she didn’t know she had until the age of 46, when through her medical notes she discovered she had been diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of 2.

That discovery turned out to be a unique and life-changing experience that has forced Ilana to stand back and look at her life experiences differently. On her late diagnosis, Ilana set up her website The CP Diary and uses her experiences to explore her emotional and physical health, with an inspiring message advocating resilience and change.

Ilana likes to spend her days writing and blogging about anything that contributes to her health and well being. She is an animal advocate and is passionate about environmental issues. When she is not writing to tending to her blog, Ilana enjoys days out exploring the Yorkshire countryside. Ilana lives with her husband and their much-loved cat, in Yorkshire. Her grown up son and daughter both live in London.

Connect with the author: 
website ~ twitter ~ facebook ~ pinterest ~ goodreads

 
 

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Rebel Correspondent by Steve Procko (Book Spotlight / Guest Post)

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Content Rating:  PG

 
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Rebel Correspondent is the true story of a young man who joined the Confederate Army days after his eighteenth birthday and served bravely until the war ended. Wounded twice, he emerged a changed person. But he wasn’t just a returning veteran; he was also a writer.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, Arba F. Shaw was a fifty-seven-year-old farmer. On a chilly December day in 1901, he put pen to paper to write his memories of being a Rebel Private in the 4th Georgia Cavalry (Avery), C.S.A. He completed writing his account in February 1902. His local newspaper, the Walker County Messenger, in Lafayette, Georgia, published his account in more than fifty articles from 1901 to 1903. Then it was all but forgotten. Until Now. Rebel Correspondent presents Arba F. Shaw’s account word-for-word, as first published in the Walker County Messenger almost 120 years ago. Procko annotates Shaw’s account with in-depth research, verifying it and uncovering the back story of his life and the lives of his Rebel comrades. Procko’s research offers a historical perspective on the many places and events Shaw so richly described.

 
 
 
 
 
Meet the Author:
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Steve Procko never thought of himself as a Civil War history buff, let alone a biographer. He does love history, however, particularly learning about the small, everyday events in the lives of little-known people and the small towns they lived in.

A documentarian and cinematographer, Steve was sleuthing stories for a documentary series he has developed, “There’s History Around Every Bend,” currently available on YouTube, when he came across the writings of Private Arba F. Shaw.

The down-to-earth accounts of the everyday life of a lowly private just struggling to survive one of the greatest events in American history fascinated Steve. As he read the series of articles, mostly unread since they were published in a small, north Georgia newspaper in 1901-1903, he began to realize that this was a remarkable cache of history.

A native of Florida, Steve, with his Lauren and their dog Rigby, splits his time between a mountain log cabin nestled next to Stanley Creek near the town of Blue Ridge, Georgia, and a home in Ocala, Florida.

He opened a commercial film production company with a partner in 1984. In 2003 the company became Steve Procko Productions (SPP). His Emmy-award-winning financial literacy program Talkin’ Money Minutes is available on over 100 Public Television stations nationwide. SPP has also won three additional Emmys over fifty Addy Awards, Telly Awards, and two Promax awards.

When he’s not behind a video camera or researching the archives for his next documentary or book, Steve explores remote areas throughout the United States and Canada as a fine art photographer. He has had work displayed at The Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, The Museum of Art in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, as well as solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States. 

Steve’s second book, Captured Liberty, another Civil War story about nine POW Union officers and their amazing escape will be published in 2022. He also plans to develop documentaries about The Rebel Correspondent and Captured Liberty.

 

Connect with the Author:  Author Website ~  Twitter Facebook Instagram

 
 
 
 
By: Steve Procko; Author, Rebel Correspondent – RebelCorrespondent.com
 
 
I love detective work. Tracing history’s mysteries and sleuthing anecdotal stories to separate the wheat from the chaff has become an obsession, and for me, Rebel Correspondent is one of those stories.

So why write a book based on the 120-year-old writings of a Confederate private in a time when this country often feels more divided than ever? Because factual history, regardless of the point of view, is important.

When Arba F. Shaw sat down and began writing his account of his experiences in the Civil War, he must have known that if he didn’t do so, those memories would be forever lost.

In the first place I will say that it was a hard task for me to leave a pleasant home where peace and abundant comfort were takin in exchange a miserable out door life where I was liable to be killed any day, but it was a task that for the sake of honor I could not shirk from and now l am glad I performed it”, said Shaw.


He was writing of things that had occurred more than thirty-five years earlier, but they were clearly events deeply burned into his mind. Shaw memories were sharp. They had not faded in over thirty-five years–his account of events were proven to be incredibly accurate.

In the 150-plus years since Arba became a lowly private, tens of thousands have followed as young adults who enlisted into the conflict their country found itself engaged in at that particular moment—all of them driven by honor and duty. This is not a book arguing the reasons why Civil War came to be or why today we still haven’t quite finished the argument.

This book is a story of survival. It was the underlying theme then, and it has resonated through every war and conflict this country has found itself in ever since.

 

 
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Why I Do VFX: The Untold Truths About Working in Visual Effects by Vicki Lau (Book Spotlight and Author Interview)

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From the city of Singapore to working on over twenty Hollywood blockbuster films and TV series such as “The Walking Dead,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Aquaman,” and “War for the Planet of the Apes,” comes one of the first books of its kind in the visual effects (VFX) industry.

With a unique blend of self-help, career strategy, and memoir-like elements, Vicki Lau speaks to the core of what it is like to work behind-the-scenes on some of your favorite Hollywood titles, covering strategies employed in order to maneuver her way into the upper echelons of the industry.

You will learn:

  • Detailed breakdowns of day-to-day studio activities
  • How industries and events impact your life and career prospects as a VFX artist
  • Key strategies and insights on dealing with Hollywood politics
  • Precise predictions on VFX job displacements and new high-growth skills
  • Self-clarity on your ambitions in life and what the VFX industry truly offers

Why I Do VFX is a must-have for anyone seriously considering a fulfilling life and career in Hollywood, film, and the arts.

After all, why spend a decade of your life uncovering the truths about this industry when you need only read this book to answer your own question:

Do you really want to do VFX?

Foreword by Leif Einarsson (VFX on “Stuart Little,” “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “Spider-Man: Homecoming”)

 
 
 

 

BUY THE BOOK
Amazon ~ Books2Read

 

 

Meet the Author:

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Vicki Lau is a VFX artist/generalist, virtual reality (VR) developer, TEDx speaker, entrepreneur, and educator from Singapore who broke into Hollywood as an outsider. She has worked with over 20 studios and filmmakers on major productions such as AMC’s “The Walking Dead” (Season 4), “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and “Aquaman” and teaches over 80,000 students worldwide.

She is a winner of the WeAreTheCity Rising Stars Editor’s Choice Award and nominated finalist of the WeAreTheCity Rising Stars Global Award for Achievement and WinTrade Award for Women in Tech. Vicki is also a bodybuilder.

 

  1. In your book you mentioned the term “returnlancers”. Tell us more about this – how did you come up with this idea?

I did officially coin that word in the book, haha. Anyway, returnlancers are basically what one would refer to as “serial freelancers” or people who freelanced at a studio and then return to that studio again (and again) in the future for different project(s).

 

I’ve personally returnlanced before and this phenomenon is fairly common in VFX – where, after getting a project with Studio A, Studio A may let you go but then call you back months later for a different project. Generally, if you had maintained a good working relationship with that studio, you’ll get future work and projects from that studio – hence, becoming a returnlancer.

 

Since there wasn’t exactly a term that existed to describe this phenomenon (other than calling them “freelancers who return to that same studio again in the future”), I figured that returnlancers would be a fitting and descriptive term to describe VFX professionals who make a career out of frequenting studios they had worked at previously.

 

 

  1. What is your writing schedule?

I generally do my workouts first before writing (just because my gym isn’t open 24 hours) and that would depend on the time I get up. Basically, my writing schedule varies depending on what time I finish my workout and/or if there are any events or meetings I have to attend first before writing. It’s purely based on convenience for the most part – i.e. I don’t believe there is a special hour or time of the day to write (it really depends on what else you have going on and any other things you need to do that has a closing time, for example).

 

  1. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I am probably too familiar with my writing and quirks to be able to see them as what would be considered as interesting quirks – to me, these quirks are very normal. I suppose I will say that I am very particular with my contractions in my book: if it’s meant to be “I’ll” rather than “I will” because it rolls off better (or has a more or less authoritative tone of voice), then it will be written in the form that fits the context of the sentence best.

 

Alternatively, I am very particular with my use of the words “always” and “never,” and if I know for a fact that there is even a slight chance that the scenario I am describing could play out differently, I would say “most/less likely” rather than “always/never,” to be very accurate in my statements.

 

I’ll probably wait till I have more books down to make a call on what my quirk(s) could potentially be, but there you go.

 

  1. What were the key challenges you faced when writing this book?

Getting pulled away from writing to do other tasks or attend meetings/events and the like, for sure. The process of writing and getting the book published isn’t as much of a challenge as it was to be called away to tend to other types of work I had to do, et cetera.

 

Also, waiting on platforms to complete their part of the job (for example, approving or reviewing a book/audiobook) was a challenge. I am not a fan of long wait times.

 

  1. What is the last great book you’ve read?

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve read a book I genuinely wanted to read (you know, ignoring the mandatory textbooks you had to read whilst in school) – my schedule simply doesn’t allow me to spend the time to sit and read a book. I suppose then I would say that the last great book I’ve sought after and read was Friedrich Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil. I believe I read that when I was 20 and it was a copy from the school library. I had even borrowed a bunch of Nietzsche’s books not for the assignment but because I’ve always wanted to read them since I was exposed to his works years prior.

 

  1. What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?

I don’t actually remember – mainly because after that supposedly courageous thing was done, I just move on to the next thing. I suppose if I had to pick one that I can recall, it has got to be asking a guy I had a crush on out and then later asking to kiss him (this was back in Singapore so I was probably 18 or 19 at the time), haha. I was such a geek back then (probably still am today).

 

Connect with the Author:  
Website ~ Instagram Goodreads
 
 
 

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The Great Weight Debate: Get the Facts and Choose the Diet That’s Right for You by Amy Newman Shapiro (Book Review)

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The Great Weight Debate helps you evaluate which diet will work for you and which can hurt you. It is your essential, trusted resource to sift through the minefield of recommendations and misinformation when choosing the best diet for weight loss success.

The Great Weight Debate summarizes many popular weight loss plans and explains the principles and research behind each diet. It also highlights the factors that may or may not make the diet a healthy choice for you.

It explains why and how to choose a diet that takes into account your food preferences and meets the needs of your lifestyle, schedule, and food availability. It will help you discover and understand the rules, food restrictions, and health risks of each diet.

In addition, read up on the new trends, the latest buzz, and the results of the most up-to-date research science has to offer.

So…Whether you choose Paleo, low carbohydrate, intermittent fasting, Whole30, or Mediterranean, do it with realistic expectations and do it smartly. Find weight loss success with The Great Weight Debate.

 
 
Buy the Book:
Amazon
Add to Goodreads
 
 
I received a complimentary copy of this book from 
iRead Book Tours.
I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.
 
 
Amy Newman Shapiro breaks down all the well-known diets in The Great Weight Debate: Get the Facts and Choose the Diet That’s Right for You in easy to understand format: “How it Works,” “What The Experts Say,” and “Is This Diet Right For You.” Several times, Amy informs the reader which foods to eat and not to eat in relation to a specific diet plan. If you want to know which diets were #1 or #2 in 2020, well, she lets you know that as well. 


There were many diets that I am very familiar with because I have tried it, knew someone who had, or seen it advertised repeatedly. Even though I was familiar with almost every diet discussed, Amy Newman Shapiro gave me facts/statistics that I wasn’t aware of until now. For example, I had no idea the Ketogenic Diet has been used to treat epilepsy, seizure disorders, and cancer. It’s also showed promising results against migraines, depression, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. Fascinating, right?!


I also had no clue how many of these well-known diets had been linked to poor digestive health, heart disease, and other health ailments. Oh, I was also shocked at how much exercise would be required to burn off ONE Taco Bell taco salad. 


 

 

Humans are always going to diet. In The Great Weight Debate: Get the Facts and Choose the Diet That’s Right for You, Amy Newman Shapiro points out key factors to success and, yes, failures. People who are dieting or plan to diet don’t want to fail in their weight-loss goal. I suggest reading the book, pick the right plan for you, and do as Amy states… “Set realistic goals.”


She also stresses speaking to your primary doctor before starting any diet—good, solid advice. 

 
 
Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤
 
 
 
 
Meet the Author:
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Amy Shapiro RD, CDN, CPT is a registered dietitian and professional speaker promoting wellness in corporate, clinical and private settings. With degrees in both Psychology and Nutrition, Amy’s focus is on behavior modification and lifestyle management. Additionally, Amy is a personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise and a wellness coach. With thirteen years of experience educating and coaching clients and worksite wellness groups to achieve weight loss success, Lose It For the Last Time is Amy’s first book. She is the mother of two grown children and lives with her husband on Long Island New York.
 
Connect with the Author: Website ~ Facebook

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Cancer Awareness Book Tour: Titles Written by or Inspired by Cancer Survivors! (Multi-Book Showcase)

cancer awareness spotlight tour

 

Adult Non-Fiction (18+), 256 pages

A breast cancer diagnosis at forty-nine forces Christine Shields Corrigan, a wife, mom, and meticulous list-maker, to confront her deepest fears of illness, death, and loss of control as she struggles to face cancer again. From the discovery of a “junky” cyst, to chemotherapy and surgery, sleepless nights filled with rosaries and “what ifs,” and shifting family dynamics, her adult experience mirrors her teen bout with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, with one exception—she no longer has parents keeping her in the dark.

With the ghosts of cancer past hovering around her, Chris falls into the same overprotective traps her taciturn Irish-Catholic parents created, striving to keep her family’s life “normal,” when it is anything but, and soldiering through on her own, until a neighbor’s unexpected advice and gift move her to accept others’ help. With fierce honesty, poignant reflection, and good humor, Chris shares a journey filled with sorrow, grace, forgiveness, and resilience, as she winds her way through cancer for the second time. Again offers practical guidance and hope to individuals that they have the strength to forge a path beyond a diagnosis.

 
Buy the Book:
Amazon ~ B&N ~ BAM
Book Depository ~ IndieBound
Add to Goodreads
 
 
 

 

Adult Non-Fiction (18+), 249 pages

Jean-Jacques Trochon (or JJ as he is more commonly known) spent thirty-two years as a commercial airline pilot for Air France. A French national, he enjoyed an early childhood in Tahiti before finishing his schooling in France and the USA. In 2003, JJ was diagnosed with aggressive kidney cancer and subsequently underwent the removal of his left kidney. In 2012 and 2014, he underwent further surgeries following the discovery of multiple metastases in both lungs. Despite being given a slim chance of survival, JJ again returned to work in 2016. He captained the world’s largest commercial aircraft, the Airbus A380, until his retirement in spring 2020. Today, Jean-Jacques devotes his spare time to helping other cancer sufferers and spreading the word about his revolutionary approach to the disease. He was the initiator of Rethinking Cancer 2017, a groundbreaking conference held in Paris on September 21, 2017, at Institut Gustave Roussy, the leading cancer center in Europe.

Heather Whitehall-Trochon is a lover of languages and translator of French and German into English. A British national, she completed studies in fashion journalism at the London College of Fashion before moving to Munich, Germany, where she worked in public relations for fashion and film. After relocating to Vienna, Austria, she had a brief stint as an editor at the Associated Press, prior to becoming a freelance translator and seasoned backpacker. Heather met JJ in Paris in 2007, marrying him the following year. The couple, together with their cat, Zulu, have now settled in Biarritz, France.

 
Buy the Book:
Amazon ~ Book Depository
add to Goodreads
 
 
 

 

Middle-Grade Fiction (Ages 8-12), 186 pages

 

This novella was written by USA Today bestselling author Jeff Gunhus after he received a devastating diagnosis of state 3 cancer. The story is a message to his five children on how to deal with grief and a plea for them to grasp onto joy and love even in the darkest of times.

Caroline loses her spark. It takes a great adventure for her to find it again.

Caroline loses her father in a car accident for which she feels responsible. Consumed by grief, she has a difficult time readjusting to a world that has changed so dramatically for her. On the anniversary of her father’s death, a strange window opens in the middle of the small lake behind her house. She climbs up an old oak to peer inside, but falls out of the tree and discovers that the window also serves as a door into a different world.

Enter Mordecai the Gand, a mysterious traveler who befriends Caroline and promises to help her find a way back home since the window she fell through has disappeared. The two set out on a series of adventures that include visiting a tree village populated by a tribe known for eating travelers, running into a witch under a spell of her own making, hiding in a cave with a dragon encased in a wall of ice (prone to melting by campfire), all the while being pursued by a mysterious entity call the Creach which promises to devour Caroline and trap her in an eternity of despair.

As they navigate these adventures and this new world, Caroline slowly discovers that she is meant to help each of the characters she meets. As she battles internally whether to stay or return home to the sadness and grief waiting for her there, she must regain perspective and open her heart to the act of caring and to the joy of love itself. In the end, she must demonstrate great courage, loyalty, and caring as the plot unfolds, becoming the active hero of her own story.

 
Buy the Book:
Amazon ~  Audible
Add the Goodreads
 
 

 

 

Children’s Fiction (Ages 3-8),  40 pages

 
Caitlin Bangsund is the author of Marvellous Macey, The Delightful Days. It is the first in a series based on true life. Caitlin knows the trial and trauma of childhood cancer, childhood disability, and the fear of almost losing her daughter — the star of the series — Macey. She encourages readers to look for the treasures that hide in the rubble and gloom. Life is beautiful chaos and her message is to press on and conquer. Read her stories and help create a world that is full of kindness and acceptance.

BUY THE BOOK:
Author’s Website
Amazon

add to Goodreads
 
 

 

Children’s Fiction (Ages 3-7),  64 pages

 

 
When asked about her motivation for writing her children’s picture book about cancer, author Eva Grayzel explains:

My children were 5 and 7 when I was diagnosed with stage IV oral cancer. It’s a disease that cannot be hidden under clothing. My caregivers were so consumed with me, we didn’t addressthe feelings of our children. I regret not seeking professional attention for them during that time, but we didn’t think of it. If my healthcare providers had recommended it, we would have followed through. 
 
Since my voice was compromised during treatment, finding a book about understanding cancer would have been an easy solution. However, I could not find one to help start the conversation with our children.
 
Months after my recovery, my daughter still wouldn’t kiss me. She was intuitive, afraid of losing me and didn’t want to commit to another day of loving me. My son was shopping  with his grandma for a birthday card and he found a Get Well card. “Let’s buy this for Mom.” Grandma had to tell him that I wasn’t sick anymore.
 
When I reached my 10 year cancer-free anniversary, I had to mark it. There was no better way than filling the void for a children’s book to minimize fear and promote dialogue about cancer. ‘M.C. Plays Hide & Seek’ emphasizes feelings children experience and ways to address their emotions in a healthy, comfortable way. It’s everything I wished I had for my children. And, I hope it will be everything you need for yours.

Buy the Book
Amazon.com
Eva Grayzel ~ B&N

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