Book Review · Books

Surviving Myself

Growing up I always wanted to be a part of the popular crowd. The popular girls all seemed to have perfect lives and the means to buy whatever hot new item was popular at the time: Guess Jeans, Keds, LA Gear hightops, etc. I always felt homely next to them. I’ve never been good with fashion, but I still did my best to try to fit in. Dina deals with this same challenge growing up. She’s tall, lean and from India. Her mom makes her boring lunches. Dina also, has to stay at her school’s daycare after school until her parents can pick her up. Why won’t her parents let her be more independent?

Dina discovers one way she can stay in control of her life is to monitor her eating. Doing gymnastics with her friend she sees how lighter one is, the easier it is to do the routines. Sadly this monitoring turns into full fledge anorexia. Dina’s description of this struggle is vivid and heartbreaking.

After Dina gets help for her eating disorder her life comes to a screeching halt after she’s in a car accident. She deals with PTSD after the accident, afraid of potential car crashes while riding as a passenger. The doctors discover she has a mass on her brain. The day after she’s allowed to go home.

Two months later Dina deals with some strange symptoms. She experiences numbness on her right side. Her family gets her back to the hospital ASAP where she ends up having a stroke there in the hospital.

This memoir is Dina’s journey surviving through her eating disorder, car crash and a stroke. Her determination to get through it all is inspiring, humbling and a reminder that we don’t know what life will throw at us, but that we can get through more than we think we can.

This memoir was not easy to read at times. I’ve never struggled with an eating disorder, but I did do gymnastics growing up. There is a lot of pressure to stay slim in that sport. I have been in a fender bender before and know what it’s like to flinch while being a passenger, afraid of another car hitting you again. As for the other health challenges that Dina faced I haven’t experienced those, but I have dealt with other health challenges as a baby.

I received a complimentary digital copy of Surviving Myself by Dina Pestonji with Erin McCann from NetGalley. The views expressed are mine. I highly recommend this book. It will inspire you to not let anything get you down.

Book Review · Books

The Very Worst Missionary

If you love reading Sarah Bessey, Elizabeth Esther and Nadia Boltz-Weber’s memoirs on their outside the box Christian walks, then you’ll adore Jamie Wright’s memoir: The Very Worst Missionary. If you don’t squirm at the occasional colorful language then you’ll feel right at home reading Jamie’s account of her family’s fore into being Christian missionaries in Costa Rica. Jamie holds back nothing in her candid account of what it’s like to go spread the good news in a country already filled with Catholics.

Jamie is honest in sharing how she came to faith as an adult, having been brought up Jewish and how she met her high school boyfriend who later becomes her husband. Having grown up a PK I don’t know what it’d be like to discover Christianity as an adult with little kids, but I think she describes how easy it is to slip into the stereotypical suburban Christian mom role. The only problem is that Jamie can’t sit quietly and pretend to agree on everything. Jamie talks about what it’s like to move to a foreign country with little kids and the challenges of feeling at home in a new place.

This memoir spoke to me. I’ve gone on short term mission trips as a little kid to Mexico. Jamie brings up so many important points when it comes to the question of if having all the American Christians come swooping in to save and help the poor if it is truly helping, or merely enabling a reason for a country to not have to improve because foreigners will come in to give free aid. The other points she makes are thought provoking. It’s great to help others, but do we really have to travel to foreign countries if we have our own countrymen who are in need?

I received a complimentary digital copy of The Very Worst Missionary by Jamie Wright from NetGalley. The views expressed are my own. This memoir is hilarious. I laughed, snorted, cried, giggled and wanted to shout, “Amen!” in agreement through so much of this book. One of my favorite parts of this memoir is the introduction of Knife. Best black cat name ever. I’m still shocked to hear a believer swear, but I’m not innocent in my use of language either. Sometimes a little flavor drives the point home, not to mention those parts made it even funnier. Needless to say I love snarky humor. Even snarky humor aimed at Evangelicals. I used to be one, but my faith has been somewhat of a chameleon.

Book Review · Books

Beauty In The Broken Places

What would you do if your spouse had a stroke right in front of you and you are only in your early 30’s? What if this happened in the air on a plane? Novelist, Allison Pataki experienced this on their way to their Hawaii vacation to celebrate the daughter they were going to be having. Beauty Of The Broken Places is Allison’s memoir of what happened after that fateful June day.

This memoir was a front row seat to what it’s like to experience your loved one ending up with a traumatic brain injury and how to care for them. Allison doesn’t hold back the raw fear, frustration and sadness over what happened. She also, shares how her and her husband, Dave’s friends, family, strangers they met along the way helped out. Allison also, covers the topic of faith, doubt and hope.

I received a complimentary digital copy of Beauty In The Broken Places by Allison Pataki from NetGalley. The opinions expressed are my own. This memoir is my second favorite book I’ve read this year. This book is intense and such an important read. This memoir is truly about the power of family and friends, how even the smallest assistance given when someone needs it is huge for them.

Book Review · Books

Still Standing

What would you do if you were falsely accused to being involved in illegal activity your spouse was involved in? Anaite Alvarado experienced just this in 2015 when she gets arrested in Guatemala. Anaite has dual USA citizenship since her parents are Guatemalan. Her husband, at the time, had only the previous year advised her of some financial trouble he was in. She was not involved whatsoever.

Anaite is whisked away by the police one morning after her children are sent off to school. I can’t imagine the trauma of being taken away without being able to warn your children of what is going to happen. Her memoir, Still Standing, is her journey being stuck in prison and waiting to be freed. Anaite’s account of prison life is intense, sobering, and educational. Her time in there shows how humane inmates are and how they help each other stay sane through their friendships and generosity in sharing what little they have.

I received a complimentary copy of Still Standing by Anaite Alvarado from Apollo Publishers care of Smith Publicity. Opinions expressed in this review are strictly my own. If you are needing an inspirational read I highly recommend this memoir.

Book Review · Books

A Surgeon’s Odyssey

Do you enjoy travel memoirs? Are you interested in becoming a doctor? Do you love any kind of inspirational memoir? If any of this rings true for you then you’ll enjoy reading, A Surgeon’s Odyssey. Dr. Richard Moss raised in NY wanted more in life then to just start his own practice. He wanted to help those less fortunate in other countries.

When a fortune cookie from his favorite Chinese restaurant confirms his desire to be adventurous and follow his heart to help others he takes the plunge. Dr. Moss travels to Thailand, India, Bangladesh, etc. to assist with his expertise as an ear, nose and throat cancer doctor. He is not prepared for what he encounters in these countries. The late stage cancer he discovers is extreme, but the one thing that takes him by surprise are the patient’s attitudes.

The countries he visits are mainly Buddhist and some Muslim. The Buddhist patients could have late stage cancer and have the most positive disposition, grateful for whatever help he can give. Even if there is nothing he can do the patient is still grateful to be seen. Their outlook on life is vastly different from those in the United States. Dr. Moss is shocked how someone with such an advanced stage of cancer can have such a happy disposition when someone in the USA would be an emotional wreck.

I thought reading a doctor’s memoir might be stuffy and boring. I was wrong. Dr. Moss has a great sense of humor throughout out his book. He explains things regarding cancer and procedures in a way an average person can understand. Dr. Moss has quite the adventures in each country he stays in. Reading this book is helped increase my interest in visiting Thailand and India. It also, increased my knowledge of the different types of ear, nose and throat cancer. He even included photos from his travels. Before this book I had never seen what advanced tumors look like.

I received my complimentary copy of A Surgeon’s Odyssey by Richard Moss, M.D. from Claire McKinney, PR, LLC. The opinions expressed are strictly mine. This memoir is one of my top favorites for 2018. I am definitely going to look for his other memoir.

Book Review · Books

Going Through Hell To Get To Heaven

As a little kid I went through the whole don’t drink and drive spiel in grade school. I remember being a literalist and not allowing my parents to even drink soda in the car because that was a drink. Have you ever thought how you’d deal with life if you encountered a drunk driver? Dr. Scot Hodkiewicz and his family did the day their car got hit by a drunk driver.

In his memoir, Going Through Hell To Get To Heaven, Dr. Hodkiewicz tells in gritty detail his family’s ordeal in being hit by a multiple time DUI drunk driver. His memoir in detail describes all they went through during the accident, the angels that were put in place to help them and the journey his family takes in fighting for their survival.

Dr. Hodkiewicz thought his life was on track to get what he wanted in life until his plan got interrupted by God’s plan. His memoir is not merely a survival memoir, but a faith memoir. He honestly describes what his faith was like prior to the accident and how the accident helped grow his faith instead of causing him to become bitter. Yes, he struggled and he doesn’t shy from sharing about that.

If you love memoirs then this one should top your books to preorder for 2019. This book is definitely one of my top favorites read this year. This book is not schmaltzy as a lot of Christian books can be. Dr. Hodkiewicz is not preachy, but relatable in a nonjudgmental tone. Even if you aren’t a mutual believer I think this book can still be an inspirational read.

I received a complimentary ARC copy of Going Through Hell To Get To Heaven by Dr. Scot Hodkiewicz courtesy of KiCam Projects. The views expressed are strictly my own. Thank you once again, KiCam Projects for the opportunity to get to read such a wonderful testimony to the gift we call life.

Book Review · Books

Cockloft

The cover to Cockloft endeared me right away as it reminded me of the cover of Jenny Lawson’s memoir, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. Jenny’s cover has a mouse and Kyle’s has a squirrel, but both their poses are the same. Dramatic and hilarious.

If you love short chapters, have a healthy dose of snarky humor then you will enjoy this memoir of sorts. Kyle takes you behind the scenes of what gay married life is like in NY before Trump and during Trump. He also, takes you along on a few of his and Julius’ vacations. Some of my fave chapters include: Amsterdam, France, the squirrel chapters, and many others.

I received a complimentary ARC of Cockloft by Kyle Thomas Smith from Gatekeeper Press through Smith Publicity. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.