Book Review · Books

Rose Colored Glasses

Memoirs steal your heart. The author gives you a peek into their personal life, the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful. Jo Ann Simon does just that in her memoir, Rose Colored Glasses. In her book she chronicles her marriage to Tom otherwise known as TK. Their love and romance reads like a fairy tale until they are faced with a harsh health update for Tom.

What would you do if your spouse or partner suddenly has to deal with a terminal illness? Jo Ann meets this challenge head on like a freight train, determined to find a cure for Tom. She is honest about their good days when Tom is back to his old self and days when getting through the day is a challenge. I can’t fathom going through what Jo Ann has. You expect to grow old with your other half.

I received my free digital ARC copy of Rose Colored Glasses by Jo Ann Simon from NetGalley care of Smith Publicity in exchange for my honest feedback. This memoir was beautifully written with little notes from Tom to Jo Ann sprinkled through out the pages. Loosing a partner to disease is devastating. Jo Ann shows how we can get through to the other side of this premature challenge to live life again. If you have a friend, family member, or an acquaintance that needs assurance they aren’t alone going through this kind of major life change then I recommend to read this book. It’s a book about hope.

Book Review · Books

Where Hope Begins

Some beautiful book covers are just that. Beautiful. The innards don’t always mirror the outer. Where Hope Begins by Catherine West is a book I asked to review because I thought the cover was gorgeous. The cover didn’t remotely prepare me for the depth of the story waiting for me.

Savannah is a mother still reeling from the untimely passing of her eldest daughter when her husband, Kevin, decides he wants to separate. He had an affair and decides to move out to go live with the other woman. To help herself heal and move forward, Savannah decides to go stay at her parent’s cabin.

She discovers she has nice neighbors to keep her company. One of the neighbors is Maisy, a little girl who looks so much like her late daughter. Savannah is captivated by Maisy’s Dad, Brock, not realizing who he actually is. Through her neighbor’s friendship she begins to heal her broken heart. Brock’s Aunt Clarice keeps Savannah on her toes spiritually, seeming to know so much without Savannah having to say a word.

Savannah feels like her life is finally showing signs of healing when Kevin wants back in. Will Savannah let him? How can you forgive someone you love and trust after betrayal? Is it possible for a family to be repaired? Can a family move forward after the loss of a child?

This novel tackles so many tough topics that are realistically portrayed through Savannah’s story: marriage, betrayal, death, faith, love, hope, family, relationships, friendship and more. This novel will stick with you long after the last page. I wish there was a sequel. Better yet a movie.

I received my free paperback ARC copy of Where Hope Begins by Catherine West for free from TLC Book Tours care of Thomas Nelson in exchange for honest review. To learn more about this talented author check out her website and buy a copy from Amazon.

Personal · Self Care

No Words

Sometimes you aren’t prepared. This morning my partner mentioned someone had died. I was trying to guess who it might have been. I was not ready for what he showed me.

When he showed me the news headline I immediately cried out, “What? Nooo.” I instantly burst into ugly sobs. I rarely sob. Sobbing at 5AM is not a fun way to ring in a Friday. No, I didn’t know Anthony Bourdain personally. I watched his shows “No Reservations,” and “Parts Unknown”. I’ve watched them many times.

Tony’s shows are funny, heartfelt, snarky at times and make you want to travel the world. He is blunt in his verbiage, but has a heart for people. Tony won’t be forgotten.

It was hard to concentrate at work earlier today because I kept thinking of Tony and wondering why. Why choose to bow out when what ever was ailing him could be resolved with time and patience? I know so many of us struggle with depression. We keep moving forward with smiles plastered on, not letting everyone see behind our perfect looking masks. I don’t know the reasons. We may never know. His own daughter may never know why her dad chose to leave early. I can’t fathom her heartache today.

One thing I do know is Anthony is loved by so many and respected as a chef, author, travel host, Dad, boyfriend, friend, etc. He was a big life figure in the culinary and travel industry.

Part of me wants to curl up in a ball and just sob. This untimely death has hit me hard. I cried more over James Gandolfini. It took me months before I could watch or hear the theme intro song to, “Sopranos.” I usually don’t get this emotional over a celebrity, but these two figures made a giant impact on our world and their passing have left holes in our hearts.

We may not know how we impact others lives, but we do. Even someone we just smile at in passing. That one act of positivity could make someone’s day, it could let them know they are seen and loved.

I hope you are resting in peace Tony. You are loved and admired by many. I am just sad you choose to leave early when you had so much more life to live. You blessed more people than you’ll ever know.

Book Review · Books

The Widow’s Watcher

Jenna Shaw is at the end of her rope of grief. Her family of 5 dwindled down to just her within the length of one gut wrenching phone call. She’s left behind her last family member of sorts, a fur child called Beckett. Jenna was on a mission to get to a frozen lake so she could be put herself out of her misery. The frozen lake in MN is beautiful and she’s at peace with her decision until an old gentleman stops her.

Lars is a man, whose life has been dealt more pain than most people can fathom. He chooses to soldier on in life, so when he sees a strange woman out on the lake heading toward the parts of the lake where the ice is thin he chooses to go out and stop her. Jenna is not expecting to have her plans rudely interrupted. With grumbling she allows Lars to lead her back to her van. Low and behold it won’t start. Through some phone calls Lars calls his son to come tow Jenna’s van. With the son’s insistence Lars is stuck hosting Jenna while her vehicle is getting fixed. Neither Jenna or Lars are in the mood for company.

As Jenna gets to know Lars and his son, Owen, Jenna learns why Lars is such a brooding, sometimes grumpy old man. When Owen was little his mom left him and his dad behind, taking his two younger siblings. When his mom was found the kids were missing and his mom was in no mental state to tell anyone where they were. This mystery has clouded over Lars and Owen’s lives.

Jenna one day asks the fateful question if anyone has asked Owen’s mom if she could retrace her steps of where she took her kids on that day. This leads to the investigation being reopened. Will Lars’ wife be able to shed new light on what truly happened that day?

This novel, The Widow’s Watcher by Eliza Maxwell is a masterpiece. The opening sequence sucks you into Jenna’s world and I don’t think you are able to let out a true breath till the last page. It’s rare you care about characters this deeply. My emotions were a wide range, but the one that stuck out the most is love. Of Jenna, Lars and Owen. Of how family dynamics can change in an instant and life doesn’t ask permission first. This is a roller coaster of a ride, but it’s worth every page. Pick up this gem at Amazon and connect with the author through her website.

Book Review · Books

Modern Loss

Modern Loss by Rebecca Soffer And Gabrielle Birkner is a tour de force on the topic of ways in which we deal with the loss of a loved one. Or even the loss of someone we may not be particularly fond of. Both authors experienced the loss of one or both their parents at an age they never expected to. These ladies decided to create an online community where people can be honest in sharing their grief. Modern Loss is a collection of personal essays written by many of the members of their website. Each essay is unique and powerful. The book is broken up into different things we deal with when it comes to loosing someone: the aftermath, what things trigger us in remembering the person, how do we address intimacy if it was our spouse/partner, and many other pertinent topics.

I received Modern Loss from TLC Book Tours care of Harper Wave in exchange for my feedback. This book is helpful in seeing the many facets of dealing with a loss and seeing it from many different perspectives. These essays were at times gut wrenching, humorous and thought provoking. I highly recommend this book.

Book Review · Books

Daring To Hope

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If you have read Kisses From Katie, then the follow up memoir, Daring To Hope is going to be the icing on your spiritual cake. It’s a short book, but the spirit led richness makes you want to take your time reading each chapter. This book is anointed. It is a simple, yet powerful testimony to Katie’s ministry and work in Uganda. She shares stories of helping others who don’t have much. Katie along with her thirteen adopted daughters help those who need a place to stay, some who are sick and need around the clock care and those who need food. I found myself crying, laughing and just drinking in the beauty this book holds.

I have been lapsed in my faith for a long while. I’ve been wrestling over what do I believe and why. This memoir was a God send. Katie isn’t preachy in a Hell and brimstone manner, but in the manner of a saint whose seen prayer answered in the way she hoped and in the way that was not in her comfort zone. Katie is humble. She meets you where you are at with no judgement, or spiritual arrogance. If you need a book that will let you know you aren’t alone in your faith struggles I hugely recommend this gem of a book. I received my free copy of Daring To Hope by Katie Davis Majors from Blogging For Books in exchange for my review.

Book Review · Books

The Alphabet Of Grief

img_2099Grief is not a topic out of popularity, but out of necessity. We don’t know when a friend, family member, spouse, or acquaintance is going to pass away. The Alphabet Of Grace is a small little book packed with lots of wisdom. Chaplain Andrea Raynor brings death and grief to our door in an easy to understand Guide. Her guide of sorts is broken down via the alphabet. Each letter stands for a topic having to do with grief and death. At the end of each short chapter is a meditation and an affirmation.

I have had family members pass away and close friends. Death is never easy to deal with. I still miss my grandparents and my one best friend, but I know they are now not in pain. Personally I don’t find comfort in going to their graves. Honestly cemeteries creep me out. One way I like to remember them is by going to a fave place they liked to eat, or enjoy a favorite pastime they had like watching baseball, or reading a book. We all deal with grief in different ways.

I’m so glad I requested to review this book from Blogging For Books. This book is not preachy, though it is consider Christian. It comes across like a warm blanket on a winter night that keeps you warm and feeling cozy. It’s comforting and yet educational at the same time. I got this book for free in exchange for my review from Blogging For Books. I highly recommend this title for anyone dealing with someone in the process of dying or have passed on. I wish I’d had this book back when my grandparents passed. It would have helped me get through a lot.