Book Review · Books

Awful Beautiful Life

I just finished the last page. Becky Powell’s memoir is memorizing in its crushing, Hellish storyline. Honestly I’m shocked her faith held out through her whole ordeal. That’s how faithful God is. I can’t fathom having a spouse, or family member chose suicide. Just that mere tragedy alone is mental breakdown territory, but Becky’s faith surged on day one after her husband, Mark’s passing. She started her day off reading her Bible. Heck I would be too, mixed between sobbing hard or raging to be able to sit and read the Bible. I’d most likely be mad at God. I’m sure Becky struggled with that, but she pressed on in trusting Him when the average person would be like, “Not now.”

Not only did Becky deal with the passing of her spouse and best friend, but she had to solider on to muddle through the financial scandal her husband left her with. This is a whole can of worms topic. So many marriages have the traditional role of the husband strictly handling the finances while the wife takes care of the home and children. I vote for wives to be fully aware of and involved when it comes to their team finances.

I’m still mentally and emotionally processing this memoir. It was so intense, powerful, and such a testament to how life can turn crappy, but God is still there along side you.

I received my complimentary copy of Awful Beautiful Life by Becky Powell with Katherine Reay from Faith Words. The views are mine and of my own choice. Thank you Faith Words, Hatchett Book Group for the opportunity to read such a beautiful book. It’s going to be a while before I’ll be able to come back to earth once this book hangover subsides.

Book Review · Books

Body Leaping Backward

I’m a 70’s baby, so I don’t remember that era. Maureen Stanton does a fantastic job of bring that decade to life in her memoir: Body Leaping Backward. Maureen’s world is broken the day her parents gather her and her many siblings to tell them that they are separating. With her father out of the house Maureen is left to her own devices. This equals trouble as she becomes addicted to the drug Angel Dust.

Maureen brings the 70’s into full color with all its quirky traits. She’s in high school when she becomes addicted. Her candid description of being high before, during and after school is eye opening. If you need a drug deterrent then her memoir is just the cure you’ll need to steer clear. Maureen doesn’t sugarcoat ANYTHING. She shows how addiction put a veil over her life and being able to honestly deal with the emotions of her parents divorce, the swirl of adolescence and school life.

This book isn’t long in length, but deep in content. At first I found it ok, but the further I got into Maureen’s memoir the more I wanted to see what became of her. Thank you Maureen for baring your soul on the page. One thing I gleaned is how important it is to keep a diary and not chuck them because they are your recorded history and a window into your past, in your own words.

I received my complimentary copy of Body Leaping Backward by Maureen Stanton from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, care of TLC Book Tours. The views are mine and of my own will. To find out more about the author, check out her website and go grab yourself a copy here.

Book Review · Books

How Languages Saved Me

I have a soft spot for Poland. I am not even Polish. I also, have had an intense interest in reading about World War II; which I have done since fourth grade after being loaned Escape From Warsaw. If you are like me and like to read memoirs set during WWII then I recommend you go find a copy of How Languages Saved Me.

This short memoir is about Tadeusz Haska who had a hard life growing up in Poland. Him and his brother are orphaned at a young age. When the war started he discovered how tricky it is to keep under the SS radar being that he was an intellectual, but couldn’t appear as such. Thankfully he knew 9 languages which helped him assist others in keeping up to date on the news of the war. When he met his lovely wife, Jadwiga he had to figure out a way to get her out of Poland. At the time he had escaped to Sweden. Tad’s journey through the war is an adventure you won’t forget.

I received my complimentary copy of How Languages Saved Me by Tadeusz and Stefanie Naumann from Koehler Books, care of Smith Publicity. The views are mine and of my own choice. This memoir is brief, but full of adventure, action, romance, challenges and most of all filled with a love for life.

Book Review · Books

Be (Extra)Ordinary: Ten Ways To Become Your Own Hero

If you need a short book to grab when you need inspiration, advice, and a great memoir then I recommend this slim gem. I think this book would make a great gift for a high school graduate or college graduate.

Maryanne talks about her life struggles, triumphs and things that encourage her in ways she and us can be our own hero’s. Topics she covers are: vulnerability, uniqueness, generosity, kindness, weirdness, openness, bravery and balance. At the end of the book is a journal section with writing prompts.

I received my complimentary copy of Be (Extra)Ordinary: Ten always To Be Your Own Hero by Maryanne Christians-Mistretta care of KiCam Projects. The views and comments are mine, of my own accord.

Book Review · Books

Flying Alone

I am not into airplanes or flying. Reading about the intricacies of flying sounds a tad dull to me, but Flying Alone, is a memoir that not only educates on flying, but takes you into the world of aviation from a women’s perspective back when female pilots weren’t as common. Beth wanted to fly a plane since she was younger. In her twenties she started her dream by taking different flying jobs and along the way she fell in love with her instructor. Steve was not only cocky, but piecemealed his affection towards Beth.

This memoir focuses on how sometimes to gain our confidence we have to go through life trials. Beth struggled with a possible MS diagnosis and survived some very harrowing flights for her job, had colleagues who didn’t make it back from their flight and had to deal with moody Steve.

I received my complimentary copy of Flying Alone by Beth Ruggiero York from FSB Associates. The views and post are of my own accord. This is a satisfying book filled with action, adventure, love, personal growth and success. If you love planes, flying and memoirs, then this book will be perfect for you.

Book Review · Books

Once You Go In

Some memoirs you read and wonder where has this particular author has been all your life. If you have been disenfranchised by the church, dealt with spiritual abuse, or are wanting to find a different church expression then this book might be calling out to you.

Carly takes you into her homeschooled world of Northern California. She’s always felt different, wanting to belong and one day when she discovers Pine Canyon Assemblies Of God Church she thinks she may have found a place to fit in.

This book is Carly’s journey into the world of the charismatic church. Her descriptions of what the services can be like is spot on and the peer pressure to speak in tongues even when you may think the whole idea to be weird is huge. When Carly does finally speak her special language she describes the spiritual high she gets from it and how everything else in life sort of fades away when she’s in that mode.

I recall when I visited a charismatic church and there was pressure to be slain in the spirit. When the piano player timed the music a little too, planned I sensed the whole sham that I felt it was. Were church goers truly under the Holy Spirit’s power, or was it a false spirit? Is having what looks like seizures truly a move of God, or demonic? I left that service with my charismatic interest snuffed out.

This church is Pentecostal and on fire for Jesus which includes speaking in tongues, long prayers and being monitored by the leadership. It’s all in love right? Carly’s parents are believers, but not as intense as this church body is. She longs for approval and to be seen as worthy, to be as spiritual as her youth pastor’s wife, that befriends her.

When something goes terribly wrong on a mission trip Carly tries to chalk it up to her not listening to the rules for the trip. Other things happen where logically she feels the leadership is being overly legalistic. Carly wants so badly to do the right thing that she brushes off her gut reaction.

How do you know when a church is unhealthy, or spiritually abusive? How do you stand up for yourself when your spiritual leaders have you under their spell of sorts (not an actual spell)? Carly deals with these vital topics and more.

I received my complimentary digital copy of Once You Go In by Carly Gelsinger from She Writes Press, care of NetGalley. The views expressed are of my own will and mine. I commend Carly for writing so candidly about her church experience and faith journey. It’s not easy to share such personal moments. Thank you for baring your soul, so others know they aren’t alone in their journeys to find their spiritual home, whether that’s in a church or in a park.

Book Review · Books

Edna’s Gift

I was not prepared for this memoir. In my brain I was thinking the theme was World War II, but I was in for a surprise. This memoir takes you on the journey of two sisters, Susan and Edna. They both have a disability. Susan’s is not visible, but Edna’s is. They were very close, but in social situations Susan isn’t quite sure how to get Edna to fit in, but Edna will strike up a conversation with anyone. Susan shares how hers and Edna’s relationship morphs after Edna is sent away to a special school. This is during the era of the 50’s when there weren’t special schools close to home.

As an adult Edna lives in a community for other adults like herself who help out and live with caretakers that also live there. While Susan is living her life on the outside she wonders how Edna is doing. When her and their parents visit Edna, she realizes how much of an impact Edna has on others.

I received a complimentary digital copy of Edna’s Gift by Susan Rudnick from She Writes Press care of NetGalley. The views are my own and of my own will. This book is not an emotionally easy read. Getting help for those with a disability has changed a lot since the 50’s and 60’s, yet this book taught how important it is to help be a voice for those who may be not able to express as well, or as clearly on what they want and need. I’m glad Susan wrote about Edna’s life and her own life. Thank you for giving Edna a voice.