Book Review · Books

I Love You To Pieces

Olivia appears to have a charmed life. Her father is rich, so she is not in need of want when it comes to accommodations, but the one thing missing is her mother’s love. No, matter what Olivia does it seems to grate on her mother’s nerves. Her times of respite come when gets to visit her grandmother. At her grandmother’s house Olivia’s stress can melt away while looking for seashells on the beach.

When incidents with Olivia’s mother turn sour, Olivia is whisked off to live with her grandmother. Peace reigns, but then Olivia has to return to life with her mother. Olivia can’t wait for her father to return from one of his business trips, but then the unthinkable happens. Olivia is crushed as her father was her protector. After a dire incident involving her mother, Olivia’s grandmother takes matters into her own hands. Olivia has got to be protected at all costs. She is sent off to a private boarding school.

With Olivia’s best friends by her side her as an adult, life seems to be normalizing after her rocky childhood. After a few incidents of Olivia waking up with different nail polish on and mystery items she’s wondering what’s going on. Why can’t she recall some evenings? Why does she wake up feeling hung over when she hadn’t drunk the night before?

I received my complimentary digital complimentary copy of I Love You To Pieces by Lori Flynn from Austin Macaulay Publishers, care of Booktasters and the author. The views are mine and of my own choice. This novel is nail biting. I can’t fathom growing up in a home with a mother as monstrous as Olivia’s. This story is one of great challenges, but also, shows how the gift of true friendship and a love interest can spur you on to survive.

Book Review · Books

Always Yours, Bee

Bee and James had the perfect life with their three boys. That is, until the day James insisted on biking to work on a very rainy day. That choice ends in an accident. Bee blames herself as she was focusing on hearing back from her book agent. She did offer to drive her husband, but of course he insisted he’d be fine. James survives, but the mental aftermath is ugly.

What is it like to suffer a TBI (traumatic brain injury) and PTSD? What is it like to care for the love of your life who can’t recall their psst and know they are supposed to love you, but it feels brand new to them? Bee has to deal with these changes in James. She gets so wrapped up in helping her husband, Bee doesn’t realize her own depth of trauma. Follow Bee and James on their journey to work through recovering from Jame’s accident.

This memoir is intense, gripping, emotionally draining, insightful, mesmerizing, and hard to put down. I’ve never read Mia Hayes before, but after reading this gut wrenching memoir of hers, I want to read her other books.

I received my complimentary digital copy of Always Yours, Bee by Mia Hayes from Finn Star, care of NetGalley. The views expressed are mine and of my own choice. Thank you NetGalley for always providing memoirs that become all time favorites. This is one of them. I can’t wait to grab a copy when it comes out. Thank you Mrs. Hayes for opening your heart and past, so that others could see there is hope on the darkest of nights.

Book Review · Books

How To Make A Life

If you love family sagas then you need to go grab a stunning copy of How To Make A Life. This novel tumbles you first into Ida’s world, the old country, the Ukraine. Due to the first war she escapes off to America with her two young daughters, where she works to build a brand new life for them. Ida can’t wait to put away the horrors of the war behind her.

This novel touches on the tough subject of mental illness and how society has viewed it through the decades and how family members can view it very differently. Would you be strong enough to call it out when a family member may need help instead of keeping quiet since you speak out loud just may bring shame on the family?Another subject that is focused on is sisterhood. When is being a sister go from caring to usury?

Each chapter gives the point of view from a different family member through different eras. Join Ida, Bessie, Jenny, Ruby, Morris, Irene, Abe and others on their adventures through life.

I received my complimentary copy of How To Make A Life by Florence Reiss Kraut from She Writes Press, care of Smith Publicity. The views are mine and of my own choice. I love the cover of this book. I have a soft spot for WWII books and this cover gives off the rustic, charming, 1940’s antique look. It makes me feel like I could walk right out onto the cover and be there with the characters.

Book Review · Books

The Eighth Girl

Did I just go on a roller coaster? My mind is still trying to grapple with the genius of a writer I just read. Genius in how she took a very complex mental health disorder and gave it the tender care it needs. She does a wonderful job to help those unfamiliar with Dissociative Identity Disorder otherwise known as Multiple Personality Disorder understand it better. This thick novel did just that.

Meet Alexa Wu who struggles corralling her different personalities. She lives with her stepmom Anna after her father left them and her mother died. She has her best friend Ella. They are close almost like sisters, until Ella agrees to work at a strip club to earn extra money, so she can get her own place. Alexa is not thrilled with Ella’s choice, but is hopeful it will be a short term gig. Her best friend is aware of Alexa’s personalities and loves her anyway. Alexa is thrilled about her new photojournalist job she scored. Now if only her alters (personalities) will allow her to keep it. This novel is Alexa’s journey to try to carve out a life for herself and how she deals with her alters and being able to function day to day.

Enter in Alexa’s psychiatrist, Daniel who has challenges of his own he is working to keep reigned in. He is challenged in dealing with Alexa and her switching her personalities within a session. Can Daniel help Alexa? How do you help someone with DID/MPD?

The way in which the author presents alters is spot on. I like how her description of where the alters reside is called the nest and how when one personality recedes they return to the nest. I think the way in which this difficult subject was handled was done with grace.

I received my complimentary copy of The Eighth Girl by Maxine Mei-Fung Chung from William Morrow, care of TLC Book Tours. The views are mine and of my own choice. To grab your own copy to keep and to support HarperCollins and check out more about the author. This novel deals with very adult topics (abuse, suicide, etc.), so please be cautious before purchasing. This debut author is going to make a huge impact in the mental health field with her novels. I can’t wait to see what future novels she will produce. Thank you once again TLC Book Tours for helping me discover a new favorite author.

Book Review · Books

The Degenerates

London gets knocked up by a boy she believes loves her. She gets taken away from the lady who is watching over her and taken to the Fernald School where at first she is treated kind, but then put in a cell where she is made to clean up filth by the other inhabitants.

London meets Maxine and Rose. She wonders why they are stuck in this awful place. Rose has her stick she likes to hold, which gives her comfort and is childlike. London heard Rose termed as a Mongoloid. Maxine is Rose’s older sister and very protective of Rose. Then there is Alice who has a club foot. Slowly they form a potential friendship.

Enter the world of the Fernald School where London, Alice, Maxine and Rose are stuck. Maxine keeps hoping her mother will come rescue her and Rose, but she never even comes to visit on family day. Their lives at the school is regimented by breakfast, walks and helping in different areas, like laundry, etc. Those in charge are mean.

I received my complimentary copy of The Degenerates by J. Albert Mann from NetGalley. The views are mine and of my own choice. This historical novel gives you a glimpse into the world of an institution for the feeble minded, disabled, etc. I wondered if this was a real place and Googled it. Here is a short video about it. Watching videos on this place is beyond disturbing and so sad. This novel brings this place to life. It’s not an easy read, but important to educate.

Personal

42 Reflections On My Life

1. Being a preemie survivor is a lot to mentally digest.

2. I have no shame in eating pizza with a fork and knife.

3. Were braces worth the four years of headgear torture?

4. Being a bookworm has always been a comfort to me.

5. I always seem to be drawn to the underdogs because I, myself am one.

6. Fashion is overrated compared to wearing comfy clothes.

7. Being babysat by a lady who rakes inside her house? Priceless.

8. First kisses sometimes don’t count.

9. Friendships come and go like the seasons.

10. I never allowed myself to be a classic girlie girl after my brief stint liking the color pink in 1st grade.

11. I don’t like odd numbers.

12. I can be very chatty or quiet depending on my mood.

13. I love writing poetry.

14. My first celebrity crush at 8 was Fergie.

15. I got to be in the audience of “Kids Inc.” as a preteen. That experience opened my eyes to the cruelties of Hollywood.

16. As a little kid I would dutifully look in the newspaper for any local movie auditions. I wanted to be an actress.

17. I still recall how much I loved my cheesy Punky Brewster high tops that had her hologram face on the side.

18. I loved being a tomboy with enjoying He-Man and Transformers.

19. As kid I had a big imagination (still do) and enjoyed exploring a ditch behind my house. Loved to make up stories to go along with random items found.

20. I was a dare devil as a little kid. I’d ride on my plastic imitation big wheel and fly down the street. It was a very steep street. I’m shocked I was allowed to.

21. I always wonder what my life would be like with a different name.

22. When I was 8 I wanted to be a pastor.

23. I was quite the legalist as a child. No drinking soda in the car.

24. I lived through the Loma Prieta earthquake. Once you’ve experienced one you never forget.

25. Reaching 100 books read in one year is a great feat, but a lonely one.

26. I will always love Six Feet Under, This Is Us, The Fosters and Gilmore Girls.

27. Trees energize me as does rainy/cloudy weather.

28. I can’t stand dresses, but a part of me longs to wear 40’s/50’s vintage style dresses.

29. Worst haircut of my life was a buzz cut.

30. Coming out to oneself is the hardest thing EVER.

31. I’ve always felt ‘different’ from others since I was a little kid.

32. As a small child I was always nervous hearing planes flying overhead, afraid of b**bs. I didn’t watch war movies growing up, but then fell in love with WWII in 4th grade. A few years ago watching a documentary on that topic I had a flashback of living in that time period. That freaked me out. Maybe there is something to past lives.

33. I believe God is BIGGER than any Holy book.

34. I was bullied for being so small and short.

35. I have a Booktube addiction.

36. I studied with a JW for four months. Fascinating to be challenged to explain my faith and why I believe what I do. Sadly that friendship’ was not legit.

37. I don’t know why cults are fascinating to research (JW, Mormonism, etc). I think it’s the desire to belong and have your life scripted for you. I think there’s a comfort in that and a feeling of safety.

38. I am learning in life it’s not about how many friends you have, but the quality of friends, those you can truly trust with your life.

39. I can’t believe I’ve been a book blogger for over 3 years.

40. I never expected to love reading fiction from Thomas Nelson Publishers.

41. I’ve always felt awkward about receiving gifts, like I’m not worthy to.

42. LOVE is not cookie cutter.

Book Review · Books

The Years After You

Lily is in love with her 20 years older boss, Harry. The challenge is that he has a wife, Pippa and two teenage sons. Harry adores Lily and wants to be with her all the time. She doesn’t want him to leave his wife, though she loves when she gets Harry all to herself. When Harry starts to get paranoid and stalk Lily, will she notice this disturbing change in him?

Told between alternating views between Lily, Harry and Pippa you are taken on a tour-de-force of what happens in a marital affair. The author, great niece of Virginia Woolf, Emma Woolf writes with such vividness inside each character’s head that I felt as though I was there witnessing all that happens with Harry and Lily’s office romance.

I received my complimentary copy of The Years After You by Emma Woolf from Amberjack Publishing, care of Smith Publicity. The views are mine and of my own choice. The topics covered in this novel aren’t easy to stomach. The topic of marital affairs isn’t pretty and is down right uncomfortable, but in today’s world life happens. We all make different choices that have consequences beyond our own vantage point.

This novel brings to life the nitty gritty of what happens when flirtation migrates to sex. I highly recommend this novel. It’s a deeper novel than merely being just about an affair, but to find out more you have to go grab a copy. I will definitely be looking out for more novels by Emma Woolf.

Book Review · Books

Take The Day Off

The word Sabbath brings a few images to my mind: church and quiet time on Sunday afternoons to nap, or read. The Sabbath for me always equals Sunday’s. It involved going to church, Sunday school then later having a quiet time in my room. I love how my mom would always bring a little snack of candy to much on for my quiet time.

Mr. Morris talks about how we have lost the art of observing the Sabbath, to take a FULL day to rest. I think sadly the church has turned the term Sabbath into a bad of word of sorts. Instead of being viewed in a positive light it’s dreaded because it equals boring with nothing fun planned. It’s not meant to be boring, but a time to recharge and be refreshed. Socially we are so addicted to being productive nonstop we don’t know how to just sit still. The author reiterates a number of times it doesn’t have to be chained to Sunday. The point is take 1 day off to rest up.

I learned some new things about the Sabbath through reading, Take The Day Off. I started this book with my preconceived biases about this very churchy topic, but this book changed my view in a way I wasn’t expecting.

I received a complimentary copy of Take The Day Off by Robert Morris from Faith Words. The views are mine and of my own choice. If you want your view of the Sabbath altered then go grab a copy. This book is readable, relatable and will give you a new perspective on a challenging topic.

Book Review · Books

The Transformation

Everyone deals with some kind of trauma in their life. No matter how large, or small all types of trauma are valid. The Transformation by James Gordon, MD is a book about ways we can tackle our trauma in healthy, creative, engaging ways.

Some examples provided in this book are:

Drawing a picture of how you see yourself now, then drawing how you see yourself with your current challenge, and finally drawing a picture of what you’ll look like once that challenge is resolved. I’m not the greatest artist, but I love to doodle and I think this is a great way to visualize how we see our trauma and how we can unearth a solution by being artistic.

Dancing and shaking stress off. I am not a dancer. I have to two left feet and always feel weird dancing in front of people. I believe this idea could help us get exercise, allow ourselves to be silly and literally shake away our trauma.

Visualization can sound woo woo. This example is a way for you to discover your place that you feel safe at/in. I recall doing a visualization exercise in around 1st grade. It does take some decent imagination, but as an adult I have visualized I was laying in a warm bath and it helped me relax so I could fall asleep at night.

Finding your guide to give you guidance. This idea is one I’m personally not comfortable with.

Be part of a healing circle or group. This suggestion made me think of going to PFLAG, which is similarly run. It’s confidential and laid out in a similar way where you can share if you want to, but not required and there’s no pressure to.

Creating a genogram. To me a genogram is like a family tree that you detail with personal information about who you are able to, to see any generational themes. I think this example is fascinating as it helps us see how our ancestor’s choices affected our lives today.

There are other great examples, but I want you to be inspired to read the whole book. I am glad I read this book. It’s not long in length, but thick in information. I would recommend reading it with a highlighter and note tabs because there is a lot to absorb. I received my complimentary copy of The Transformation by James Gordon, MD from Harper One, care of FSB Associates. The views are mine and of my own will.