RED RIBBONS by twenty year old author Hanne Arts is a 5 Star MUST READ for all young adults (and their parents.) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Title: RED RIBBONS

Series: The Sequel to JUST PERFECT

Author: HANNE ARTS

Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHY AND MEMOIR, MENTAL HEALTH, EATING DISORDERS, DEPRESSION

Length: 192 PAGES

Publisher: SELF-PUBLISHED

Received From: THE AUTHOR

Release Date: OCTOBER 2017

ISBN: 978-1-97784-5504

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

As Christina’s eighteenth birthday approaches, she finds herself struggling in recovery. Facing Filip’s recurring depression and Miriam’s increasing presence in her father’s life, she attempts to take reigns over what she can control – food. It is thus that she starts eating less and less, again opening the door to her eating disorder. But can she get her life back on track a second time, and why is it so difficult to accept the help she is given? “Red Ribbons” is a heart-wrenching tale of acceptance and denial, love and loss, mental illness and the road to recovery.

MY REVIEW:

Hanne Arts may be young in years, but she writes with the talent of a consummate professional.

RED RIBBONS is the sequel to her phenomenal debut book, JUST PERFECT. You can read my review of her first book by clicking HERE.

RED RIBBONS draws the reader back into Christina’s world. Having reached out for help and getting treatment at the end of JUST PERFECT, we find that she has not lived happily ever after and that in fact, she is struggling more than ever.

Christina’s depression and anorexia are once again severe and as her eighteenth birthday comes closer, she may not live to make it to age 19. She realizes that “{She} was a puppet to {her} weight’s strings.”

The story unfolds with such realism that it is impossible for the reader to remain aloof. I was once again drawn deeply into the emotions Christina was experiencing.

Mental illness is finally starting to be looked upon like other illnesses and the stigma attached to it is slowly abating, however, there is still a long way to go.

It is books such as JUST PERFECT and RED RIBBONS that are helping to let teens and young adults know that they are not alone in their struggles and that seeking help shows strength rather than weakness.

I rate RED RIBBONS as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and I applaud Hanne Arts for continuing to bring awareness to the topics of depression, anorexia and mental illness. I can’t wait to read her next novel.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

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Check out this awesome BLOG TOUR, VIDEO, and REVIEW of the One of a Kind Memoir TILTING by Nicole Harkin” It is a 5 Star Read. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Title: TILTING: A MEMOIR

Author: NICOLE HARKIN

Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHIES AND MEMOIRS

Length: 200 PAGES

Publisher: BLACK ROSE PUBLISHING

Received From: BLOG TOUR HOSTED BY: RACHEL’S RANDOM RESOURCES

ISBN: 9781612968926

Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

We only learned about our father’s girlfriend after he became deathly ill and lay in a coma 120 miles from our home.

Overhearing the nurse tell Linda–since I was nine I had called my mom by her first name–about the girlfriend who came in almost every day to visit him when we weren’t there confirmed that the last moment of normal had passed us by without our realizing it. Up to then our family had unhappily coexisted with Dad flying jumbo jets to Asia while we lived in Montana. We finally came together to see Dad through his illness, but he was once again absent from a major family event–unable to join us from his comatose state. This is the moment when our normal existence tilted.
Dad recovered, but the marriage ailed, as did Linda, with cancer. Our family began to move down an entirely different path with silver linings we wouldn’t see for many years.

In this candid and compassionate memoir which recently won a Gold Award in The Wishing Shelf Book Award, Nicole Harkin describes with an Impressionist’s fine eye the evolution of a family that is quirky, independent, uniquely supportive, peculiarly loving and, most of all, marvelously human.

Purchase Links:

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View the Book Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZO1niSUWsuA

MY REVIEW:

This candidly written memoir will draw you in and have you feeling like you grew up alongside the author. It will alternately tug at your heartstrings and make you so angry you could just explode.

Author Nicole Harkin has a knack for uncovering and relating her family’s life and history in a humorous way, yet, even through the humor you can sense the deep hurt she felt both as a child and as a young adult. Quotes, such as the one below demonstrate a frank openness that is startling in its honesty.

“I didn’t feel like I was part of my family. We were a group of individuals who lived together under one roof.”

With the shocking revelations she uncovers and the benefit of hindsight, author Nicole Harkin invites readers to examine alongside her every aspect of her life.

Readers would easily forgive her for condemning both of her parents for the way in which Nicole and her siblings were raised, and would especially forgive her for any ill will toward her philander father. Yet Nicole Harkin rises above and tells her story in such a way that those people she could have easily portrayed as villainous, seem less hateful and more just as hopelessly flawed human beings.

I applaud the fact that the author waited until both her parents passed away before releasing this memoir. It shows that no matter how screwed up her family was, she still somehow learned empathy, compassion and integrity.

This is a terrific read which just might make you reexamine your own family’s dysfunctions and begin to see them in a more positive light. This exceptional memoir also reminds readers that no individual, and indeed, no family unit is perfect – no matter how it appears from the outside.

I rate TILTING as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and will be adding This book to my list of recommended reads.

*** Thank you to RACHEL’S RANDOM RESOURCES for providing me with a free softcover copy of this book.***

EXCERPT:

One of the most telling parts of the book is the following excerpt:

“We sat around and retold funny family stories, like the time years earlier when Dad had forgotten Montana [the author’s youngest sibling] at the store.

Don’t all parents forget their children in stores sometimes?

No.

Oh. Interesting.

That day, Jenny [a friend] and I had just gotten out of the hot tub in the old house. Linda [the author’s Mother] kept yelling for Montana to come and get lunch. We sat down to a sandwich in our swimming suits. Uncle Frankie, Dad’s brother, was there too.

‘Frankie, have you seen Montana?’ Linda asked.

‘No.’

‘Jack, have you seen Montana?’ she asked.

Just then the look of recognition ran across Dad’s face. A millisecond later he was headed towards the front door yelling,’ Call the hardware store’.

Unfortunately, even in our small town, there was more than one hardware store.

Dad found Montana crying hysterically. Dad told Montana he could get any toy he wanted. ”

***

QUOTES

“My family operated like six little planets occasionally intersecting and interacting with one another.” (Page 93)

“This crisis stripped everything to its absolute essence. We were a family trying to survive a crisis of physical, financial, and emotional proportions.” (Page 94)

“I’ve read that women either pick ‘dicks’ or ‘dads’. The dicks are the fun guys who aren’t ready to settle down and parent. The dads are men who are natural caregivers and helpers, who are ready to be parents. The women in my family are drawn to the dicks, but the dicks – even when they become dads – cause the most trouble.” (Page 106)

“We sat around and retold funny family stories, like the time years earlier when Dad had forgotten Montana [the author’s youngest sibling] at the store.
Don’t all parents forget their children in stores sometimes?
No.
Oh. Interesting. ”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Nicole Harkin currently resides in Washington, DC with her husband and two small children. She works as a writer and family photographer.

As a Fulbright Scholar during law school, Nicole lived in Berlin, Germany where she studied German environmentalism.

Her work can be found in
She works as a writer and family photographer.

As a Fulbright Scholar during law school, Nicole lived in Berlin, Germany where she studied German environmentalism.

Her work can be found in Thought Collection and you are here: The Journal of Creative Geography.

She is currently working on mystery set in Berlin.

Her photography can be seen on her website. To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

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INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

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MY PUDDLES – A Memoir by Thai Peck – MY REVIEW of this fascinating new Memoir.

Title: MY PUDDLES

Subtitle: A NON-FICTION SHORT STORY

Author: THAI PECK

Genre: NON-FICTION, MEMOIR, HISTORY, AUTOBIOGRAPHY, BIOGRAPHY

Length: 97 PAGES

Publisher: BALBOA PRESS

Type of Book: SOFTCOVER

Received From: GOODREADS

Release Date: MAY 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5043-0899-1

ASIN: B072M4Q161

Rating: 3.5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐+0.5

DESCRIPTION:

My Puddles is a true story. It’s a short anecdote recalling a tale of growing up from childhood to the age of seventy and a woman’s journey through time, places, and self-discovery.

MY REVIEW:

Neither the title, nor the description really give any information about this book.

MY PUDDLES is a memoir written by Thai Peck about her life. She only briefly remarks upon her unhappy childhood in Vietnam.

At the tender age of seventeen, she met and eventually married an Australian War Correspondant named Brian Peck. Thai had two children, a boy and a girl and despite life’s ups and downs, they remained married until the sad day in 2015 when Brian passed away.

Thai eloquently expresses just how much they loved each other in the book’s first chapter:

“In September 1968 … At Singapore airport about to board an Air Vietnam flight, among the crowd, a couple of Americans…through them I met this Australian reporter. While each man offered to carry one of my bags, only one remained faithfully carrying them through our many journeys for the rest of his life. Until one morning in April 2015 when he took his last breath in my arms. His name was Brian Peck. He was my best friend, my confidante, and my all. He brought happiness into my everyday life for 45 years.”

Besides her relationship with her husband, Thai also writes about her travels to many countries and her life as a diplomat’s wife. She candidly describes the hippocritical nature of those events – glitz and glamour on the surface, but lonliness on the inside.

I enjoyed reading about Thai Beck’s life and as a self-published book, she has done a good job. What she does need, however, is a good proofreader and editor. It is readily apparent that the memoir is written by someone whose first language is not English. There are quite a few places in this book that need to be edited.

The need for proofing and editing are significant, but by filling this autobiography with numerous photographs and copies of Thai’s paintings, the joy of reading this book increases immensely. I rate MY PUDDLES as 3.5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐ +0.5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

BALBOA PRESS is a Division of HAY HOUSE. It is a book publishing company that helps aspiring self-help and transformational authors self-publish books and achieve their dreams. Offering professional cover design, editing, marketing and more, authors can publish a self-help book ready for print on demand. Specializing in the mind, body and spirit genre, Balboa Press is your gateway into the world of publishing.

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AMSTERDAM EXPOSED by David Wienir is a book that will open your eyes to a world

Title: AMSTERDAM EXPOSED

Subtitle: AN AMERICAN’S JOURNEY INTO THE RED LIGHT DISTRICT

Author: DAVID WIENIR

Genre: NON-FICTION, MEMOIR, TRAVEL, ADULTS ONLY, PROSTITUTION

Length: 207 PAGES

Publicist: SMITH PUBLICITY

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: MAY 1, 2018

ISBN: 9780999355909

Price: $12.95 USD (PAPERBACK)

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

***WARNING***
1. This book is NOT suitable for readers under the age of 18 due to language and sexual situations.In fact, the author states: “Lastly, if you are under 18 and reading this, best put it down until you come of age.”
**WARNING**
2. According to the author, “for those politically correct readers or those who are easily offended, it is my sincere hope that you will love this book, but be forewarned it is very real. I didn’t soften the edges – at all… So hold on tight as we dive in deep, and apologies to anyone rubbed the wrong way. That was not my intention.”

DESCRIPTION:

Amsterdam Exposed tells the true one-of-a-kind story of an innocent exchange student who moves to Amsterdam hoping to write a book about the red light district and everything that follows. It’s an American abroad story, and also a love story; it’s an uplifting tragedy, full of humor from beginning to end; it’s an Amsterdam survival guide; a sympathetic look at a societal problem; a little piece of policy; a sweet farewell to a world just about gone; and, ultimately, as close as you can come to a free trip to Amsterdam without leaving your couch.

In sum, Amsterdam Exposed takes readers deep into the district on a journey never before possible, forever reshaping their understanding of one of the most famous tourist attractions in the world, and the women who work there. If you’ve ever spent time in Amsterdam, or dreamed of doing so, this book’s for you.

MY REVIEW:

Firstly, I have to warn potential readers that this book contains frank discussions and detailed descriptions about adult issues and is 100% NOT SUITABLE FOR READERS UNDER THE AGE OF EIGHTEEN.

** This book also contains details of several trauma triggers. Included topics include drug use, rape, child abuse, suicidal thoughts, and detailed sexual encounter descriptions.**

The author began working on this book in 1999 when he was in Law school; studying in Amsterdam for a semester.

Anyone who has ever given thought to Amsterdam has to admit to being at least mildly curious about its “coffee shops” and it’s notorious “Red Light District.” Author David Wienir was curious as well, and had gone to Amsterdam not only to study Law, but also with the express intent to write a book about it’s prostitutes and how they had ended up ‘working the windows’.

This initially sounded to me like a young, red-blooded male giving himself an excuse to visit and obtain the services of prostitutes under the guise of writing a book. That supposition was quickly proven wrong. David was serious about his book and, early on, he set firm rules for himself which included not paying prostitutes to talk and never becoming a “customer” no matter how much he might have been tempted.

The book details his difficulty in finding women who were interested in being part of his book – for free, and also explains his eventual luck in finding a prostitute who was willing to open up to him.

In addition to David’s writing for his book, he also describes his time in Amsterdam – the friends he met, the adventures they had and the places they visited. This book is part travelogue, part exposé and all riveting.

David Wienir has crafted an extremely readable tale that will both fascinate and horrify readers in equal measure.
Whatever your thoughts are regarding the morality of prostitution, this book is something that everyone should read.

I guarantee AMSTERDAM EXPOSED will make you think more deeply on many issues and since the events chronicled in this tome take place twenty years in the past, readers will be be transported to an earlier, more carefree era.

I rate this book as 4 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐ and commend David Wienir for having the courage and compassion to write about a topic that most people pretend not to see.

**************************

*Thank you to NETGALLEY for providing me with a free copy of this book.*

*

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

David Wienir is a business affairs executive at United Talent Agency and entertainment law instructor at UCLA Extension. Before UTA, he practiced law at two of the top entertainment law firms where he represented clients such as Steven Spielberg and Madonna. This is his fourth book. Previous books include Last Time: Labour’s Lessons from the Sixties (co-authored with a Member of Parliament at the age of 23), The Diversity Hoax: Law Students Report from Berkeley (afterword by Dennis Prager), and Making It on Broadway: Actors’ Tales of Climbing to the Top (foreword by Jason Alexander).

Before becoming a lawyer, he was a professional river rafting guide, a speechwriter in the British House of Commons, and a host of Estonia Today on Estonia National Radio. He is also a founder and the first musical director of the Oxford Alternotives, Oxford University’s oldest a cappella close harmony group. He was educated at Columbia, Oxford, The LSE, Berkeley Law, and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and is married to Dr. Dina, a pioneer of the medical cannabis movement and the inspiration for the Nancy Botwin character in the show Weeds. They live in West Hollywood with their teacup Brazilian Yorkie named Lola.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

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ABOUT THE PUBLICIST:

Since 1997, SMITH PUBLICITY has forged a reputation as one of the finest book marketing agencies in the industry. They have worked with thousands of books and authors both traditionally and self-published from every genre.

Through innovative strategies and a unique promotional methodology, they have established a stunning, unparalleled track record of book marketing success.

They have offices in New Jersey and Toronto. Their reach is international, and their influence in the publishing world undeniable.

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FEEDING MY MOTHER by Jann Arden – A MUST READ by this multi-talented Canadian Icon

Title: FEEDING MY MOTHER

Subtitle: COMFORT AND LAUGHTER IN THE KITCHEN AS MY MOM LIVES WITH MEMORY LOSS

Author: JANN ARDEN

Genre: NON-FICTION, MEMOIR, FAMILY, ALZHEIMERS

Length: 210 PAGES

Publisher: RANDOM HOUSE CANADA

Type of Book: HARDCOVER

Received From: MY HUSBAND AS A CHRISTMAS GIFT

Release Date: NOVEMBER 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7352-7392-4

Price: $26.00 USD / $35.00 CDN

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Jann Arden moved into a house just across the way from her parents in rural Alberta to be close to them but also so they could be her refuge from the demands of the music business and a performing career. Funny how time works.

Since her dad died in 2015, Jann cooks for her mom five or six times a week. Her mom finds comfort in her daughter’s kitchen, not just in the delicious food but also just sitting with her as she cooks. And Jann finds some peace in caring for her mom, even as her mom slowly becomes a stranger.

“If you told me two years ago that I’d be here,” Jann writes, “I wouldn’t have believed it. And yet we still fall into so much laughter, feel so much insane gladness and joy. It’s such a contrast from one minute to the next and it teaches me constantly: it makes me stronger and more humble and more empathetic and caring and kind.”

The many people who are dealing with a loved one who is losing it will find inspiration and strength in Jann’s wholehearted, loving response and her totally Jann take on the upside-down world of a daughter mothering her mother. Feeding My Mother is one heck of an affirmation that life just keeps on keeping on, and a wonderful example of how you have to roll with it.

MY REVIEW:

I was drawn to this book initially by the beautiful cover and once I read the blurb inside the cover, I knew this was a book I just had to read. After reading the small poem that starts the book, I was enchanted.

“Another year, another page.
A million moments melt away.
The ticking-tocking hands of time,
what’s found and lost, remains sublime.
The details that we hold so fast,
are nothing more than memories past.
For love is all that lingers true,
the bond that ties my heart to you.”
– Jann Arden (2013)

Jann Arden is a Canadian icon and the fact that she is now dealing with a parent with Alzheimer’s Disease makes her seem less like an untouchable superstar and more like just another person of my generation who is dealing with aging parents. I can relate to her struggle.

Filled with gorgeous photography and touching moments, this book is one that everyone will want to read.

Jann may disagree, but her unflinching honesty and relentless positivity are inspiring. When discussing social media, she writes:

“Words are big. They define who you are. They are permanent… What you say is who you are. So try to be gentle on social media. Lift others up … Don’t always turn your words into weapons when you can just as easily make doves.”

She has articulated my exact feelings in a much more poetic and lyrical way than I ever could. I guess that’s why she is such an accomplished singer and songwriter.

The book is written in diary entry format beginning in June of 2014 with the final entry having been written in February of 2017. Jann has also included many of the recipes that she cooks for herself and her mother.

The recipes are written as if they had been noted down for you by a good friend after an enjoyable dinner party and yet they are also easy to follow and detailed enough that anyone and everyone should be able to recreate them in their own kitchen.

It would be impossible for me to rate this heartwarming and inspirational memoir as anything other than 5 out of 5 Stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Jann Arden’s latest book has kindled my interest in her, not only as a singer/songwriter, but also as an author and I plan to pick up her previous books as well. In short, BUY THIS BOOK – You will not be disappointed.

To see a terrific video interview where Jann Arden talks about this book, visit the CBC Website.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

PHOTO BY: ALKAN EMIN

JANN ARDEN is a singer, songwriter, broadcaster, actor, author and social media star. The celebrated multi-platinum, award-winning artist catapulted onto the music scene in 1993 with her debut album, Time for Mercy, featuring the hit single “I Would Die for You.” A year later she had her international break-out hit, “Insensitive.”

She has written three books, the most recent being the #1 bestselling memoir Falling Backwards.

She is much in demand as a public speaker, and a favourite frequent guest on CBC’s Rick Mercer Report and a guest host on CTV’s The Social.

To learn more about this Jann Arden, visit the following links:

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ONE OF MY FAVORITE QUOTES FROM THIS BOOK:

“The cliché is that we are supposed to live our lives in ‘gratitude.’ But gratitude is not something you acquire like a Happy Meal from McDonalds. It’s something you have to slowly create in your daily life through intention and sincere acts of goodness and kindness.”

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This book is also part of a Reading Challenge that is being hosted by GINGERMOM READS BLOG where I have committed to reading at least one book title from every letter of the alphabet in 2018. It is the #2018AtoZChallenge

MISSIONARY KID by Margaret H Essebaggers Dopirak is a fascinating true tale of growing up white in India

Title: MISSIONARY KID: A Memoir

Subtitle: BORN IN INDIA, BOUND FOR AMERICA

Author: MARGARET H. ESSEBAGGERS DOPIRAK

Genre: NON-FICTION, MEMOIR, AUTOBIOGRAPHY

Length: 260 PAGES

Publisher: SELF-PUBLISHED

Type of Book: SOFTCOVER

Received From: GOODREADS GIVEAWAY

Release Date: 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9971576-1-1 (Softcover)

ISBN: 978-0-9971576-6-6 (EBook)

Price: $17.95 USD (Softcover)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

MY REVIEW:

This is a fascinating memoir of a childhood unlike any most of us could possibly imagine. It is a tale of a bygone era that is so engrossing it reads like fiction.

Born to white missionary parents during their first mission to India during the years when India was still ruled by the British Empire.

Margaret Essebaggers has written this memoir of her childhood with startling detail. No one remembers their early years with any degree of detail, but through family journals, photographs, and letters she wrote home from boarding school her parents saved, Margaret has been able to write an exquisite account of growing up in India in a time now largely forgotten.

I loved seeing the pictures and I do not think this book would be complete without them. Reading about her childhood as an MK or “Missionary Kid.”

Because I was literally unable to put this memoir down, I rate it as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Margaret H. Essebaggers Dopirak is the daughter of missionaries and was brought up and schooled in India. She received her early education at Highclerc, a boarding school for children of missionaries, situated in Kodaikanal, South India.

Subsequently, in the United States, she completed three years of nurses’ training at Illinois Masonic Hospital, Chicago, and attended Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, Illinois, where she earned a BS in Nursing. She later received a Master’s in Public Health from the University of Connecticut School of Community Health, Farmington, CT.

Being born and raised in India, Margaret realized early on that her childhood experience of growing up in a foreign country was very different from that of her contemporaries in America. Over the years, she was frequently reminded, through the curiosity and interest of strangers and friends, as well as family, that she might, indeed, have a unique story to tell. So, after a rewarding 40 year career in the field of hospital infection control and epidemiology – and during which time she raised her three lively sons – she turned her attentions to writing this memoir.

A first time author, Ms Dopirak aspires to continue writing about her life-experiences and her family history.

Having traveled the equivalent of one and a half times around the world by the time she was sixteen, Margaret’s appetite for seeing new sites and destinations continued throughout her life.

During her retirement years, in particular, she has traveled extensively with her husband, Bill, who is also a seasoned traveler. (Bill spent 20 years in the Navy as a submariner, affording him the opportunity to visit Scotland, Spain, Italy, and Guam.) Together, Margaret and Bill especially enjoy taking road trips within the United States, and have driven Historic Route 66 twice, visited all 50 State Capitols, and toured more than 150 National Parks. Trips and or cruises to the Panama Canal, Costa Rica, Prince Edward Island and other Canadian destinations, Norway, and Europe have been among their international travel destinations.

Margaret is a grandmother to 9 grandchildren and a four-time great-grandmother. In keeping with writing her memoir, it is no surprise that she has an avid interest in genealogy, and has accumulated a wealth of family history which she hopes to pass on to her progeny and descendants.

To learn more about this author, visit the following websites:

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ENDLESS JOURNEY is the newly released follow up to Author Linda Baer’s wonderful memoir RED BLOOD, YELLOW SKIN and once afain, she has hit a home run.

Title: ENDLESS JOURNEY

Series: RED BLOOD, YELLOW SKIN – BOOK TWO

Author: LINDA T. BAER

Genre: NON-FICTION, MEMOIR, AUTOBIOGRAPHY, DIVERSE BOOKS

Length: 356 PAGES

Publisher: RIVER GROVE BOOKS – GREENLEAF BOOK GROUP

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: OCTOBER 24, 2017

ISBN: 9781632991478 (SOFTCOVER)

Price: $16.95 USD (SOFTCOVER)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

MY REVIEW:

At over 350 pages, you would think that you would get bored with reading this memoir, but ENDLESS JOURNEY is so well written and so very interesting, you will find yourself engrossed in it.

This is the second book in Linda Baer’s biography series RED BLOOD, YELLOW SKIN. The first book chronicles her childhood in Vietnam as well as her life up to the time of the end of the Vietnam War.

ENDLESS JOURNEY picks up where the first book left off – with Linda escaping a crumbling Vietnamese society to the United States with her white American husband.

Imagine arriving in America and discovering the tales of streets paved in gold and of a place so wonderful that no one has to work are all lies. Talk about a rude awakening! Poor Linda. Her fantasies about life in America evaporated in the blink of an eye.

When I read this part I laughed out loud, but upon reflection I see that it isn’t really funny. It is sad that people think America is the answer to all their problems. Perhaps if people knew the truth about life in the U.S.A., there would not be so many people risking their lives just for a chance at arriving in what they think is the ‘Promised Land.”

However, Linda was never one to shy away from hard work, so she shook off her original disappointment and settled into making the best life she could for herself and her family.

I think most people will benefit from reading this book. Linda’s work ethic and dogged determination to make her marriage succeed are nothing less than awe inspiring. Any one of multiple incidents and episodes could have been reason for her to give up on her marriage, but she wasn’t someone who gave up and, instead of divorcing, she fought and made her marriage better.

Not only did she follow her husband to the United States, but she also followed him around the world – wherever his career took him. She was in love with him “…Until death do us part…” and she took her vows seriously.

Children, foreign affairs, discrimination, familial tragedies and more are all detailed in this book and all are part of what makes this such a riveting and utterly fascinating read.

I feel that this book deserves a 5 out of 5 Star rating, especially considering that the author’s first language was not English. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

* Thanks to for providing me with a free copy of this book.*

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Linda Loan Thi Baer was born Nguyen Thi Loan in 1947, in the small village

where she was raised, Tao Xa, Thai Binh Province, North Vietnam. Her father was killed during a Viet Minh attack on her village in 1951. Her mother married again, to a wealthy practitioner of Chinese medicine, and a war widower himself. Their family relocated to South Vietnam during the mass exodus of 1954, where they were forced to move constantly due to economic, political, and military conditions. They
eventually settled near Vung Tau, south of Saigon.

Loan left home at an early age of thirteen, to seek work at various menial jobs in Saigon to help her family, and to escape the physical abuse of her stepfather. She lived on the street as a dust of life. She grew up and became a club’s dancer, black marked dealer, later met and married to an American Air Force officer in 1968, and follow him to the United States in 1971.

She became an American citizen in 1973, and while raising two sons and a daughter, she obtained her high school GED and attended many college courses.

Linda graduated first in her class from her South Carolina cosmetology school. Later she owns and operate a successful Beauty Salon business name “Elegance by Linda B.”

She is the author of three books, “Edge of survival, Red Blood Yellow Skin, R.B.Y.S-Endless Journey. And the Dust Of life is in progress.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

TWITTER

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

Greenleaf Book Group is a publisher and distributor that specializes in the development of independent authors and the growth of small presses. Our publishing model was designed to support the independent author and to make it possible for writers to retain the rights to their work and still compete with the major publishing houses. In addition to the books we publish, we distribute select titles from independent publishers to major trade outlets, including bookstores, libraries, and airports.

To learn more about this Publisher, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

RED BLOOD, YELLOW SKIN is an amazing memoir that you will not want to put down.

Title: RED BLOOD, YELLOW SKIN

Subtitle: A YOUNG GIRL’S SURVIVAL IN WAR-TORN VIETNAM

Author: LINDA T. BAER

Genre: NON-FICTION, MEMOIR, HISTORY, VIETNAM

Length: 343 PAGES

Publisher: GREENLEAF BOOK GROUP

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: JUNE 2, 2015

ISBN: 9781632990273

Price: $16.95 USD (Softcover)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

MY REVIEW:

“The price of freedom was indeed dear.”

Linda, known then as Loan, certainly knows the truth about the price of freedom. Born in 1947 there was no way her family could have known that their simple but happy lives would change and become filled with heartache and strife.

Thankfully, they were blissfully unaware of the political upheaval their country was to find itself embroiled in for many years to come.

Linda has managed to write a memoir that drew me in from the very first chapter.

She has lived a dangerous and fascinating life and has quite the gift for story-telling. The title, RED BLOOD, YELLOW SKIN says it all. It does NOT matter what color your skin happens to be, we all bleed the same red blood. This message is especially important at this moment in history. With racial prejudice filling the headlines, it is essential for people to realize their hate is ridiculous. We need to embrace the diversity that exists in North America today.

We need to celebrate that diversity and tap into the power that exists when different cultures, races, colors, sexes, etc all come together with a common goal. Reading memoirs such as this one will open people’s minds and hearts. This is the first book in a duology and tells Linda’s story from birth to the end of the Vietnam War. She has recently released her second book ENDLESS JOURNEY: BOOK TWO OF RED BLOOD, YELLOW SKIN which allows the reader to get to know her not just as a new immigrant but also as a proud American who has run a successful business for many years. My review of Book Two will be posted within the next few days.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I would rate it 6 Stateside that was actually a thing, but for now, I give READ BLOOD, YELLOW SKIN a rating of 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

** I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley.**

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Linda Loan Thi Baer was born Nguyen Thi Loan in 1947, in the small village where she was raised, Tao Xa, Thai Binh Province, North Vietnam.

Her father was killed during a Viet Minh attack on her village in 1951.

Her mother married again, to a wealthy practitioner of Chinese medicine, and a war widower himself.

Their family relocated to South Vietnam during the mass exodus of 1954, where they were forced to move constantly due to economic, political, and military conditions. They eventually settled near Vung Tau, south of Saigon.

Loan left home at the early age of thirteen, to seek work at various menial jobs in Saigon to help her family, and to escape the physical abuse of her stepfather. She lived on the street as the dust of life.

She grew up and became a club’s dancer, black market dealer, and later met and married to an American Air Force officer in 1968, and follow him to the United States in 1971.

She became an American citizen in 1973, and while raising two sons and a daughter, she obtained her high school GED and attended many college courses.

Linda graduated first in her class from her South Carolina cosmetology school. Later she became the owner / operator of a successful Beauty Salon business named “Elegance by Linda B.”

She is the author of three books, “Edge of survival, Red Blood Yellow Skin, R.B.Y.S-Endless Journey. And another book called “The Dust Of Life” is now in progress.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

TWITTER

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

Greenleaf Book Group is a publisher and distributor that specializes in the development of independent authors and the growth of small presses. Our publishing model was designed to support the independent author and to make it possible for writers to retain the rights to their work and still compete with the major publishing houses. In addition to the books we publish, we distribute select titles from independent publishers to major trade outlets, including bookstores, libraries, and airports. To learn more about this Publisher, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

MY FAVORITE QUOTE:

“To me, there is no right, and there are no winners in war. All wars are insane, and there are only losers, even those who think they are the victors. What do they win? They win nothing but broken bodies, torn families, dead relatives, and mass destruction.”

2018 Reading / Reviewing Challenge

One of my fellow Book Bloggers has decided to run a great challenge for 2018 and I have decided to join her. For more information, check out Gingermom’s Blog.

THE CHALLENGE:

To read a book whose title starts with each letter of the alphabet.

I even have a few books ready to be read:

A – AIRWOMAN by Zara Quentin

B –

C –

D – DEGREES OF LOVE by Lisa Slabach

E –

F –

G –

H –

I –

J –

K –

L –

M –

N –

O –

P –

Q –

R –

S –

T –

U –

V –

W –

X –

Y –

Z –

Want to join in?

Are you an author who would like to have your book included in the challenge?

Send your book by mail to:

Amie’s Book Reviews

17 Gordon Drive

Alliston, Ontario

L9R 0J1

Canada

I can’t wait for 2018 and all the amazing new books that are being released.

FRED’S FUNERAL by SANDY DAY is a fascinating tale of one man who returned from WWI only to be locked up in an insane asylum for “Shell Shock”

Title: FRED’S FUNERAL

Author: SANDY DAY

Genre: FICTION

Length: 114 PAGES

Publisher: SELF-PUBLISHED

Type of Book: SOFTCOVER

Received From: THE AUTHOR

Release Date: DECEMBER 2, 2017

ISBN: 9781979556163

Price: $22 CDN for an autographed book through the author’s website.

Price: Ebook $2.99 CDN

Price: Softcover for $14.95

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:
(From the Back Cover)

Fred Sadler has just died of old age. It’s 1986, seventy years after he marched off to WWI, and his ghost hovers near the ceiling of the nursing home. To Fred’s dismay, the arrangement of his funeral falls to his prudish sister-in-law, Viola. As she dominates the remembrance of Fred, he agonizes over his inability to set the record straight.

Was old Uncle Fred really suffering from shell shock? Why was he locked up most of his life in the Whitby Hospital for the Insane? Could his family not have done more for him?

Fred’s memories of his life as a child, his family’s hotel, the War, and the mental hospital, clash with Viola’s version of events as the family gathers on a rainy October night to pay their respects.

MY REVIEW:

FRED’S FUNERAL is based on a true story. The details came from the letters, journals and recollections of the author’s Uncle Fred who, like the title character, fought in World War One and returned as a changed man.

This story begins upon Fred’s death in a Nursing Home. Fred finds himself floating above what was bed for years. He watches as his brother’s widow paws through his most cherished mementos. Fred is not happy about this since he never could stand Viola, and he never understood what his brother saw in the shrewish woman.

Fred finds that he is stuck between death and heaven and is somehow tied to his estranged family. He floats, invisible, to his own funeral and the reception afterward.

The rest of Fred’s relatives are eager to learn more about this Uncle they never knew and it is Viola who begins to tell the tale of Fred’s life.

Fred’s time as a soldier in World War One had a profound affect on him and after being home from the war for several years and not meeting his father’s expectations, Fred’s family has him involuntarily admitted to the Whitby Psychiatric Hospital, also known as Ontario’s Hospital for the Insane.

The above pictures are from the website Invisible Threads

This hospital actually existed. It was constructed between 1913 and 1916 to serve as a military convalescent hospital for soldiers wounded in the First World War. The hospital was considered a model of mental health care for its era. However, patients like Fred were forced to undergo treatments that we know now as cruel and barbaric such as shock treatment.

The more readers learn about Fred and his life, the more they will be forced to think about how veterans have been treated in the past, and how they are treated today. It will also bring awareness to mental health issues which is much needed.

Did Fred actually have “Shell Shock?” (What was once called Shell Shock is now know as PTSD – Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.) We, as a society, are only just now beginning to recognize and treat PTSD sufferers with the dignity they deserve. But, we still have a long way to go to completely remove the stigma that is wrongfully attached to mental health issues. To learn more about PTSD, visit CMHA – The Canadian Mental Health Association.

The story jumps around in time, which I normally am averse to, but in this case it actually works.

FRED’S FUNERAL contains a mere 114 pages which makes it an ideal weekend read. I was so absorbed in the story that I read it cover to cover in less than 24 hours.

I rate this book as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good family drama with a dose of history thrown in. In fact, this little book really packs a punch when you consider just how many topics and timelines are contained within.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Sandy Day is a recovering chatterbox living in Georgina, Ontario, Canada. She graduated from York University, with a degree in English Literature sometime in the last century. Sandy then took 20 years off from writing to run a gift store and raise a family. Now relationship-free and un-self-employed she finally has time to write and publish.

Sandy is a trained volunteer facilitator for the Toronto Writers Collective’s creative writing workshops. She is a developmental editor and writing teacher who sells dog halters on the side. Tech savvy, a born marketer, entrepreneurial, and a big picture thinker, Sandy is a dedicated indie author, publisher, and book coach.

If you enjoy Sandy’s writing please sign up on the email list – she promises to write. Contact her via her website.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

SMASHWORDS

COMING SOON – NORMAN: THE DOLL THAT NEEDED TO BE LOCKED AWAY by Paranormal Expert STEPHEN LANCASTER

Title: NORMAN

Subtitle: THE DOLL THAT NEEDED TO BE LOCKED AWAY

Author: STEPHEN LANCASTER

Genre: NON-FICTION, PARANORMAL, RELIGION & SPIRITUALITY

Length: 240 PAGES

Publisher: LLEWELLYN PUBLICATIONS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: APRIL 8, 2018

ISBN: 9780738755519

Price: $16.99 USD (PAPERBACK)

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

When paranormal investigator Stephen Lancaster brought home an old doll from an antique shop, he had no idea what bizarre and terrifying things were about to occur. From Day One, Norman the doll raised Hell. He caused sudden infestations of rats and spiders. He frightened dogs and put children in trances. He even moved on his own in video surveillance footage. And that was just the beginning.

Norman takes you on a thrilling journey into Stephen’s life with a doll that has held the spirit of an unborn child for over fifty years. A haunted doll that still lives in Stephen’s house, locked away in his own room to keep him from once again endangering the house and Stephen’s family.

MY REVIEW:

Watch “NORMAN the Haunted Doll” on YouTube:

So, a possessed doll eh? What the heck? I don’t think so!!!

That was my first thought when I saw the cover of this book. I admit, the first thing that came to mind was CHUCKY; the scary murderous doll introduced in the 1988 movie CHILD’S PLAY.

It also brought to mind the crazy possessed doll named ANNABELLE from the movie of the same name.

I’m not sure what I was expecting when reading NORMAN: THE DOLL THAT NEEDED TO BE LOCKED AWAY, but I suppose I was more than a little skeptical.

I like to think I have an open mind, but I am fairly certain that just about anyone would have a hard time believing that there is a doll that actually exists that is possessed (or just plain evil, whatever). BUT, I figured the worst that could happen by reading this book would be that I got to read a great fictional story.

Now, after reading the book, and especially after seeing the included photographs taken by author Stephen Lancaster, I admit that I am fairly certain this book is NOT fiction, but FACT.

And, that scares the heck out of me.

I refuse to ruin any potential reader’s enjoyment of NORMAN, so I will not list the events outlined in the book that convinced me of Stephen’s veracity.

Skeptical? I know I was, but you NEED to read this book. In fact, I would love it if you came back to my blog post after reading the book and leave a comment letting me know what you thought of it and if you believe it to be truth or fiction.

The writing is a diary style. The author kept notes while the events were occurring. This style is perfect for this story because readers get to experience the authors gut reactions to each incident. In fact, you almost feel as if you were there with him.

Stephen Lancaster has written other titles, but this was my first experience with his work. I will be adding his name to those authors who I follow on GOODREADS and I plan to read more of his work.

I rate this book as 4 out of 5 Stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

***Thank you to NETGALLEY for providing me with a free copy of this book.***

Follow my blog and also follow me on INSTAGRAM to never miss a review or giveaway post.

Norman The Doll now has his own webpage and Facebook page.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Stephen Lancaster (Lonaconing, Maryland) is a paranormal researcher who has been investigating ghosts since 1997.

He is the producer of MonsterVisionTV, an independent paranormal investigation program with nearly two million views worldwide.

In 2007 he formed, P.I.T. (Paranormal Investigation Team) which was later dubbed The “PIT Crew.” He has been interviewed on hundreds of radio shows including Coast-to-Coast, Dark Matters Radio, and Darkness Radio.

He has also appeared in two episodes of A&E Biography Channel’s My Ghost Story.

Stephen is currently working on his next book, and a documentary entitled Visitant: The Johnson Family Haunting.

Stephen has also authored two previous books:

True Casefiles of a Paranormal Investigator Llewellyn Publications (August 8, 2012)

and

Dark Spirits Llewellyn Publications (August 8, 2016)

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

IMDB

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

PRE-ORDER “NORMAN” NOW on AMAZON

WALK IT OFF by RUTH MARSHALL

Title: WALK IT OFF

Subtitle: The true (and oddly hilarious) story of how I learned to stand, walk, pee, run, and even have sex again, after a nightmarish diagnosis turned my perfectly awesome life upside down

Author: RUTH MARSHALL

Genre: NON-FICTION, MEMOIR, AUTO-BIOGRAPHY

Length: 257 PAGES

Publisher: SIMON & SCHUSTER

Type of Book: SOFTCOVER ARC

Received From: GOODREADS GIVEAWAY

Release Date: JANUARY 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7362-2

Price: $26.00 CDN / $21.99 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

MY REVIEW:

First off, let me say that I ADORE the title of this book. I generally am averse to book covers with long subtitles, however this book would not have caught my eye without it.

I was lucky enough to win an ARC (Advance Reader Copy) from GOODREADS and I am very glad I did.

This memoir chronicles one woman’s journey to find out what was causing the bizarre symptoms she was experiencing, through diagnosis, surgery, rehab and beyond.

I suppose I should tell potential readers right away that this is NOT a self-help book. Instead, it is the unflinchingly honest memoir of a woman who goes from leading something closely akin to a charmed life, to discovering that no life is perfect.

I have never met Ruth Marshall, but after reading her story, I feel confident in stating that she is an amazing woman. This is not due to the fact that she is famous (or as famous as any Canadian television actress can be), nor is it because of her health issues. My opinion of Ruth as an amazing woman is based on her honesty.

It could not have been easy to chronicle her medical condition and her efforts at recovery, and yet she has done so while managing to be surprisingly honest. She does not shy away from the “icky” stuff. She talks about everything from poop to sex to shoes.

It’s human nature to want to ‘put your best foot forward’ (yes, pun intended) and to present yourself to the world as close to perfect as possible. However, if this memoir had been written that way, it would not have been authentic, nor would it have been such a compelling read.

Ruth has been able to tell her story in such a way that instead of pitying her, you find yourself following her journey with rabid interest.

You will want to cry at times, yet at others, you will be laughing along with her – and a few times you just might find yourself laughing at her antics.

It may not have been her intention, but this memoir also has lessons to teach us all. Firstly, even though Ruth looked perfectly healthy and happy, she was struggling with a wide variety of symptoms. Not yet diagnosed, and working at a voice acting gig, Ruth says: “I was able to stand for the entire voice session, ignoring the temptation to rest on the stool behind me. Neither the producer nor my voice partner seemed to notice the effort it took for me to remain perfectly upright, making me wonder for the thousandth time: If no one else was noticing, was anything wrong with me.”

This is something that many people struggle with. But, as Ruth proved, it is important to listen to your body and to be your own healthcare advocate. Do NOT ignore your symptoms.

By all accounts, Ruth Marshall is a terrific actress, but I believe she was always meant to be an author.

Judging by the readability of WALK IT OFF, I am sure others will agree. This memoir is destined to become a Bestseller and I would bet money that Ruth Marshall’s name will be on literary lips everywhere in 2018.

I rate WALK IT OFF: THE TRUE (AND ODDLY HILARIOUS) STORY OF HOW I LEARNED TO STAND, WALK, PEE, RUN, AND EVEN HAVE SEX AGAIN, AFTER A NIGHTMARISH DIAGNOSIS TURNED MY PERFECTLY AWESOME LIFE UPSIDE DOWN as 5 out of 5 Stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Excerpt from Chapter One:

“I wanted to be an actress from the time I was six years old and have been one since I was twenty-five. My career has been notable for three reasons: I got naked in my first film role; I was in a television series with Billy Ray Cyrus; and for eight seasons I played a Mom on the Canadian teen drama DEGRASSI. The biggest chunk of my career, however, has been made up of commercial voice work. My voice has sold everything from Ikea kitchens to condoms.”

Ruth Marshall was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She is known for her work on Casino Jack (2010), Doc (2001) and Dolores Claiborne (1995).

She graduated with a degree in English from McGill University in Montreal and then returned to her hometown of Toronto to pursue a career in acting.

Ruth Marshall made her feature film debut in the lead role of Candy in Love and Human Remains.

Marshall is also a stage actor and was critically acclaimed for her one-woman performance in 4 Letters, 5 Years, which she wrote, produced and starred in.

In 1994, Marshall took on the role of Celeste in Transit of Venus at the Globe Theater in Canada. In addition to her career as an actor, Marshall is also a very accomplished voice actor as well.

Features & TV Movies:
Love & Human Remains (1993)
TekWar: TekJustice (TV-1994)
Dolores Claiborne (1995)
Waiting for Michelangelo (1996)
Too Close to Home (TV-1997)
Half a Dozen Babies (TV-1999)
Dogmatic (1999)
Apparent Woes (2006)
Baby Blues (2007)
Daniel`s Daughter (TV-2008)
Degrassi Spring Break Movie (TV-2008)
Casino Jack (2010)

TV Series – Cast:

Wild C.A.T.S. (voice, 1994)
Doc (2001-2004)
The Path to 9/11 (mini-series, 2006)
Degrassi: The Next Generation (2007-)
Flashpoint (2008-2009)
TV Series – Guest appearances:
F/X: The Series (1997)
Power Play (1998)
This is Wonderland (2004)
Zoe Busiek: Wild Card (2005)
Puppets Who Kill (2006)
Love You to Death (2007)
Friends and Heroes (voice, 2007)
The Dating Guy (2009)
She’s the Mayor (2011)
The Listener (2011)
The Firm (2012)
Rookie Blue (2012)

To learn more about Ruth Marshall and her new career as an author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

INSTAGRAM

NORTHERN STARS – CANADA’S CELEBRITY DATABASE

INTERNET MOVIE DATABASE

BACKBONE: Living With Chronic Pain Without Turning Into One by Best-Selling Author KAREN DUFFY hits shelves on November 7th.

Title: BACKBONE: LIVING WITH CHRONIC PAIN WITHOUT TURNING INTO ONE   

Author: KAREN DUFFY  

Genre: NON-FICTION, CHRONIC PAIN 

Length: 252 PAGES 

Publisher: ARCADE PUBLISHING an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing     

Type of Book: EBOOK 

Received From: NETGALLEY 

Release Date: NOVEMBER 7, 2017

ISBN: 9781628727951

Price: $22.99 USD 

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟


DESCRIPTION
:

AN INSPIRATIONAL, PRACTICAL, AND FUNNY GUIDE FOR EVERYONE LIVING WITH CHRONIC PAIN.

“My friend Karen Duffy, who lives with unimaginable pain, has taught me so much; that my 
complaints are the most ridiculous in the world.”     George Clooney

Over one-third of the United States population—nearly one hundred million Americans—is currently living with chronic pain, while another 133 million Americans live with some form of chronic illness. Over half of the United States population suffers from these invisible illnesses where their symptoms are not always obvious to the casual observer. Among them is Karen Duffy, New York Times–bestselling author, former MTV DJ, Revlon model, and actress: she suffers from sarcoidosis, a disorder that causes the growth of inflammatory cells on different organs of the body. In her case, her sarcoidosis is located in her brain, causing her unimaginable pain. 

For two decades, Duffy has managed to live a full life, despite living in a state of constant pain. 

In BACKBONE, a powerful, inspirational, funny, and important manual for surviving pain, Duffy draws on her experience as a patient advocate, trained recreational therapist, and hospice chaplain to illuminate gratifying methods people can use to cope with chronic pain. 

Addressing a country ravaged by both chronic pain and opioid addiction, BACKBONE offers a salve of self-sufficiency, spunk, and perseverance. 

BACKBONE is for the massive population of sufferers who are eager to be understood and helped and sends the message that despite the pain, there is a way to have a good life. 

MY REVIEW

In her introduction, author Karen Duffy states; “When I first got sick, I thought the doctors would figure it out and I’d go back to my life the way it was before. It didn’t turn out that way…I never imagined that the pain was going to last this long, that it would be endless, and that I’d have to figure out how to deal with it for the rest of my life.” I can completely relate to her and to this statement, it is exactly how I feel. Our diseases may be different, but chronic pain is something that we share (unfortunately). I felt EXACTLY the same way Karen did when I was diagnosed. 

We are very spoiled as a society, especially here in Canada. When a person gets sick or is injured, they go to the doctor or the hospital where tests are completed, a diagnosis is made, a treatment plan and/or presciption is handed out, and they get better. With chronic pain there is no cure, and treatment consists of little more than prescriptions for pain medication which helps with the symptoms, but does absolutely nothing to fix the underlying condition.

 To those who have never had to deal with pain that never stops, I say be thankful. To those who think that chronic pain sufferers are all liars and frauds, I say that I would trade just about anything to be lying about the pain I endure on a daily basis.

Karen says; “The minutia of daily life are more taxing when you have the stress of a chronic condition, and I often need to regulate my pain medication around [my son’s] hockey schedule.” Thankfully my sons are older now, but I distinctly remember doing the same thing. In fact, currently I have to wake up two hours before leaving for work so that I have one hour for the pain meds to kick in and one hour to actually spend getting ready. Reading that I am not alone in this is strangely yet incredibly helpful.

I am not someone who typically reads self-help books. This book is more of a memoir (laced with humor,) rather than a self-help book, yet it helps to feel that there are people out there who understand what my daily struggles are. I guess the saying that “misery loves company” must be true. Just kidding.

Karen offers up advice in a non-standard way. She does not claim to be an expert on chronic pain. Rather, her writing comes across more like a series of conversations with a friend over coffee or more likely a glass of wine. This is why her tips seem so genuine. They are things that have helped her to manage her pain.

Karen Duffy’s writing comes across as coming from her heart. She offers anecdotes from her own life as well as offering up quotes from experts in various fields.

I have read several books on chronic pain and I can honestly say that this book was the easiest to read and the most realistic. 

Karen Duffy does NOT promise to know how to cure chronic pain, she simply informs readers of what has worked for her to help her live with it, and suggests that what has helped her may also help others.     

She also includes modern, up-to-date links to helpful websites for those seeking more information about specific issues. 

I recommend this book to anyone suffering from chronic pain as well as family members and caregivers. I rate this memoir as 5 out of 5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 

**Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.**  

QUOTES 

As I read through this book I ran across so many quotes that I wanted to remember that I actually started keeping a list. 

Some of the quotes are funny, some I highlighted because they hit close to home and were so similar to my own life, and some I kept for no reason other than they struck a xhord with me somehow. I will leave it to your imagination to decide which quote falls into each category. 

“Chronic pain is like serving a life sentence. It’s punishment for a crime you didn’t commit.”

“… I look a lot better in person than I do on paper.”


“I take strong opiates to tamp down the burning, biting, sharp sensations. Before the morphine takes effect, it feels like a donkey wearing hockey skates is kicking me in the neck. After the medication, it feels like the jackass put skate guards on, but he’s still kicking.” 

When writing about her son playing hockey she wrote the following: 

For example, would it surprise you that the first nut cup (also known as a testicular guard) ever sported in a hockey game was worn in 1873? That the first helmet worn in the NHL was in 1973? That it took a full one hundred years for hockey players to consider protecting their brains was as important as protecting their down below.” 

“…the sinister vapors emanating from a hockey bag would flatten most people. It’s like getting sucker-punched in the face by an invisible roundhouse of adolescent B.O.” 
“… family dinners are a dim memory like dial telephones and eighteen-hour girdles…” 

“When things are easy, you miss the chance to learn how tough you are.”

“… life is going to give you some hits and you have to get up and keep going.”    

“If you don’t take care of your body, where are you going to live?”


“The ability to walk without pain is a gift that we don’t have anymore. Being able to walk with pain and not give up is a superpower.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

KAREN DUFFY – Bio partially obtained  from Hollywood.com 
  

Witty, alluring performer whose offbeat charm and amiability landed her a gig as an MTV VJ. Duffy’s (aka “Duff” on-air) less-than-serious approach to her job quickly made her a favorite to viewers. Unlike many of her predecessors who quickly fell into obscurity, she diversified into commercials and feature appearances.

 She made her feature debut playing a “Crack Den Girl” in the Christopher Walken actioner “McBain” (1991). Her subsequent feature credits include small roles in Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X” (1991), “Who’s the Man” (1993)–which also featured such MTV luminaries as Dennis Leary and Ed Lover–and “Reality Bites” (1994) in a cameo spoofing MTV’s “The Real World.” Duffy made her first substantial feature performance as a woman reminiscent of Mrs. Robinson (“The Graduate”) in the Disney comedy “Blank Check” (1994).

Karen “Duff” Lambros is an American model, actress, and author. Diagnosed with neurosarcoidosis in 1995, she has become an outspoken advocate for sarcoidosis patients and those who suffer from chronic pain. Her positive approach to coping with sarcoidosis is highlighted in her autobiography, Model Patient: My Life as an Incurable Wise-Ass. The Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research is proud to have Duff as a board member and the Board Chair to the Patient Ambassador Program.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

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SARCOIDOSIS FOUNDATION 

  

4 Stars for the extraordinary tale of a man who spent 27 years alone in the woods – A new book by MICHAEL FINKEL called THE STRANGER IN THE WOODS 🌟🌟🌟🌟  

Title: THE STRANGER IN THE WOODS      

Subtitle: THE EXTRAORDINARY STORY OF THE LAST TRUE HERMIT

Author: MICHAEL FINKEL      
Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHY

Length: 203 PAGES  

Publisher: PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE

Type of Book: HARDCOVER

Release Date: MARCH 7, 2017   

ISBN: 978-1-101-87568-1  

Price: $25.95 USD / $32.95 CDN

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Photograph of Knight’s camp in the Maine woods. Photo Credit: Maine State Police

DESCRIPTION:  “In 1986, a shy and intelligent twenty-year-old named Christopher Knight left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the forest. He would not have a conversation with another human being until nearly three decades later, when he was arrested for stealing food. Living in a tent even through brutal winters, he had survived by his wits and courage, developing ingenious ways to store edibles and water, and to avoid freezing to death. He broke into nearby cottages for food, clothing, reading material, and other provisions, taking only what he needed but terrifying a community never able to solve the mysterious burglaries.”

Photograph of Knight’s camp in the Maine woods. Photo Credit: Maine State Police

“Based on extensive interviews with Knight himself, this is a vividly detailed account of his secluded life—why did he leave? what did he learn?—as well as the challenges he has faced since returning to the world. It is a gripping story of survival that asks fundamental questions about solitude, community, and what makes a good life, and a deeply moving portrait of a man who was determined to live his own way, and succeeded.”    

MY REVIEW:  

This book is a New York Times Bestseller, and after reading it, I can understand why. The subject matter will draw you in and you will find yourself developing an opinion on the “hermit.” 

Mugshot of Christopher Knight Photo Credit: Maine State Police

I find it fascinating that anyone could just one day decide to walk into the forest with minimal supplies and not come out again for decades.

I am sure that most of us have had the thought that it would be great to get away from it all, but even so, our idea of that “retreat from the world” almost always has a limited time frame. Humans are just not wired to be completely solitary … at least, most of us aren’t. As proof of this, think about jail. When an inmate severely misbehaves, the punishment is solitary confinement, and even the toughest, meanest, most hardened criminals attempt to avoid it. In fact, in 2015, the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Vienna, Austria adopted revised rules banning solitary confinement as cruel and unusual punishment. The changes are referred to as the “Mandela Rules.”     

Christopher Knight is “the hermit” who this book is about. He is an anomaly to the belief that people need contact with others to survive. 

Christopher stole food and other essential items to help him survive, and created a hidden camp that wasn’t far from civilization and yet, somehow he was able to stay hidden and alone for over twenty years. Author Michael Finkel has done a terrific job of trying to understand the nonunderstandable and readers will be unable to put this book down. 

Photograph of Knight at his camp in the Maine woods. Photo Credit: Maine State Police

This book is very much worth reading, and even though it includes a sketch of Christopher Knight’s camp as well as a sketch of the geographic area of Maine where his camp was located, I was extremely disappointed that the actual photographs taken by police were not included in this book. I would also have liked to have a photograph of Christopher Knight included as well. It is due to the lack of photographs that I am rating THE STRANGER IN THE WOODS as only 4 out of 5 Stars. 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

*** Even though the pictures are not in the physical edition of this book, there are multiple photographs available on Michael Finkel’s website; perhaps they will make it into future editions of this book.***   

Because I was curious as to what Christopher Knight looked like, I searched on YouTube and found this video:    

 

     

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

MICHAEL FINKEL is the author of “The Stranger in the Woods” and “True Story,” which was adapted into a 2015 major motion picture, starring James Franco and Jonah Hill.

He has reported from more than 50 countries and written for National Geographic, GQ, Rolling Stone, Esquire, Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, and The New York Times Magazine.

His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting, The Best American Science and Nature Writing, The Best American Travel Writing, and The Best American Non-Required Reading.  

Michael lives with his wife and three children in western Montana and southern France.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

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TWITTER   

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GOOGLE BOOKS    
Watch the following video for an author interview:

F.O.L.D. BOOK BASH was terrific – Check out the amazing and diverse authors, poets and publishers I met on Saturday.



F.O.L.D. stands for FESTIVAL OF LITERARY DIVERSITY 

Today at City Hall in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, FOLD hosted the 2017 Book Bash. 

WHAT IS A FOLD BOOK BASH?

  • A one-day book market designed to give authors and book selling organizations a space to promote their books. 
  • A chance for the community to learn about books written by local authors
  • The ability for consumers to learn about and to purchase multicultural books that reflect the diversity of the city and  country in which they live
  • A chance to meet the authors of those books and to have them autographed 
  • As well as the chance to listen to authors read from, and talk about their books. 

    FOLD is the first and only literary festival in Canada to focus on diverse authors and stories.

    The first Festival of Literary Diversity was held in May 2016 and included more than 25 unique sessions held over three days with over thirty of Canada’s most exciting authors.

    Mark your calendars for May 3rd to May 5th, 2018 for the next Festival. There will be quite a few authors and publishers with many different sessions to choose from.

    CHECK IT OUT – YOU’LL BE GLAD YOU DID. 

    AUTHORS I MET ON SATURDAY  & SOME AMAZING BOOKS YOU NEED TO OWN


    #1. 

    JAEL RICHARDSON 


    Jael Richardson
     is one busy woman. Besides being the Founder and Creative Art Director of the Festival of Literary Diversity, she is also an author in her own right.

    Her book THE STONE THROWER: A DAUGHTER’S LESSON, A FATHER’S LIFE is a memoir based on her relationship with her father, CFL quarterback Chuck Ealey. The memoir received a CBC Bookie Award and earned Richardson an Acclaim Award and a My People Award as an Emerging Artist and was adapted into a children’s book in 2016. 

    To learn more about Jael, visit the following links:

    OFFICIAL WEBSITE      

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    TWITTER    

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    CHAPTERS              

    This is me with Jael at the 2017 FOLD Book Bash

    #2. 

    DEJA BEALS has been writing poetry since the age of sixteen. She finds her inspiration for her poetry in family, friends and everyday experiences.  

    DĖJA BEALS has been writing poetry since the age of 16. You would never know that during those early writing days, her poetry was filled with incorrect grammar. Now, like Déja herself, her writing has matured and
     developed. Her work has blossomed to include a range of topics such as love, faith and everyday experiences.

    Déja finds her poetic inspiration in family, friends and her daily experiences.

    She is known for her silly moments, big laugh and even bigger heart. She has been said to have wisdom beyond her years and uncanny insight which adds depth to her writing. She is currently living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

    To learn more about this author visit the following links:

    OFFICIAL WEBSITE     

    DÉJA’S OFFICIAL BLOG     

    GOODREADS      

    TWITTER     

    FACEBOOK     

    INSTAGRAM    


    AMAZON          

    DISCOVERING DIVERSITY PUBLISHING    

    3, 4 and 5.

    I met these three very gracious and amazing women at the FOLD Brampton Book Bash. 

    About the multitalented Catherine Graham – Not only has she written the fiction novel QUARRY but she is also only days away from the launch off her new poetry collection THE CELERY FOREST which is being published by Wolsak and Wynn

    Author and Poet – CATHERINE GRAHAM

    QUARRY is a fictional story set in Southern Ontario during the 1980s. Only child Caitlin Maharg lives with her parents beside a water-filled limestone quarry, but her idyllic upbringing collapses when she learns her mother is dying. After a series of family secrets emerge, Caitlin must confront the past and face her uncertain future. 

    THE CELERY FOREST      

    Like Wonderland or Oz, Neverland or Narnia, The Celery Forest is an extraordinary world filled with strange creatures and disorienting sights. But the doorway to the Celery Forest is not a rabbit hole or an old wardrobe. The doorway is an MRI. For poet and novelist Catherine Graham, this is the topsy-turvy world she found herself in after learning she had breast cancer.

         More than a survivor’s tale, these poems are a map through unknowable terrain, infused with awareness and forgetting, written by a poet with the visionary ability to distill our sense of wonder into something we can hold.
    TO LEARN MORE ABOUT CATHERINE GRAHAM, VISIT THE FOLLOWING LINKS: 

    To learn more about this author visit the following links:

    OFFICIAL WEBSITE 

    GOODREADS 

    TWITTER   

    FACEBOOK    

    INSTAGRAM      

    AMAZON       


    CHAPTERS         

         
    #4.  

    Publisher & Author Alexander Leggett  

    CEO and Founder of Two Wolves Press, Alexandra Leggat is the author of the novel The Incomparables as well as several other published works. 

    Alexandra started Two Wolves  Press as a way to nurture talent without compromise  – to work closely with Two Wolves writers to follow and trust their intuition and publish “instinctual fiction”. 

    Two Wolves Press publishes Catherine Graham’s novel QUARRY and
    Aileen Santos’ SOMEONE LIKE YOU.

    To learn more about this Publisher and author, visit the following links:
     
    OFFICIAL WEBSITE   


    GOODREADS     

    TWITTER   

    FACEBOOK        

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    AMAZON     

    CHAPTERS       

    MORE INFO COMING IN MY NEXT BLOG POST. 


    THIS IS NOT MY LIFE: 

    Title: THIS IS NOT MY LIFE

    Subtitle: A MEMOIR OF LOVE, PRISON, AND OTHER COMPLICATIONS    

    Author: DIANE SCHOEMPERLEN

    Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHY, MEMOIR, CANADIAN NON-FICTION

    Length: 351 PAGES   

    Publisher: HARPER COLLINS 

    Release Date: FEBRUARY 7, 2017

    ISBN:  978-1-44343-420-1  

    Price:  $24.99 CDN

    How I Received This Book: This book was one I purchased for myself at CHAPTERS

    Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟   

    Any memoir that begins with the words this one does is bound to be both interesting and shocking. Author Diane Schoemperlen is NOT the type of woman who I pictured as one that would fall in love with a man in prison – especially one who had been convicted of murder. I’m not sure who I thought of as the type to fall for a prisoner, I just know that a well-known author and journalist would be the furthest choice from my mind.

    Diane’s memoir begins in 2006 with the following sentence:


    “It is safe to say that never once in my life had I dreamed of being in bed with a convicted killer, let alone one with his teeth in a margarine container in the kitchen, his mother in the next room, and the word HI! tattooed in tiny blue letters on his penis.”

    Now, if that sentence does not make you want to read more, then, this review is probably not for you either.

    I was intrigued.

    What would an educated and highly intelligent woman find attractive about a convicted killer? What the heck was wrong in her life that she would see prison as a viable dating venue? How could she ever feel safe around him?

    Diane met Shane at a soup kitchen where they both volunteered. He was still incarcerated, but he was allowed out while escorted by a nun to work at the soup kitchen. No one, Diane least of all, had any idea what his crime had been or how long he had been in jail. In fact, at first, she thought he was just another volunteer.

    Eventually Diane and the rest of the volunteers learned the reason he was in prison. Diane describes the moment like this:


    “This was when we finally learned why he’d ended up in prison in the first place and that he’d been there for almost thirty years. Now we understood that in the language of tattoos, the tear-drop below his left eye meant he had killed someone. Now we knew he was serving a life sentence for second-degree murder. Whatever initial alarm we might have felt about this was tempered by the fact that it had happened so long ago and that he had become an essential and popular part of the kitchen crew. We saw him as a person who had paid his debt to society and deserved a second chance.”

    This blows me away. I cannot say for sure what my reaction would have been, but I doubt that learning Shane had killed someone is something that I would have been able to overlook. But, that is the exact reason why I wanted to read this book. Well, that and the fact that author Diane Schoemperlen is not only Canadian, but she and I live in the same province (Ontario) and our homes are only a three hour drive apart.

    I found this memoir to be compelling reading. Diane does not shy away from difficult topics. She opens the readers eyes to what life is like for those incarcerated in Canada’s prisons and how these prisoners become institutionalized. What I had never considered before was how the loved ones of these inmates end up institutionalized as well.

    Yes, this book contains details about the often ridiculous world that is Canada Corrections, but it is ultimately a story about the desire for love and acceptance and to the lengths people will go in their quest to achieve those feelings and the seemingly bizarre choices they make that they normally would not. 

    Diane Schoemperlen’s memoir is beautifully written and well thought out. Since it is written after the relationship ended I do however believe that she has glossed over many of the events. But I also believe that she did not do so with the intention of deceiving readers, rather because, in her own mind, she didn’t want to sensationalize her fear. It is human nature to downplay fear-filled moments after the fact – I believe this is an unconscience psychological defense mechanism. 

    Clipping from THE TORONTO STAR



    MORE THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK


    *** Caution – This section may contain spoilers ***

    I have done some research and I believe I know exactly who “Shane” is and if I am right, he committed multiple murders, multiple prison escapes and multiple robberies. However, whether he killed one person or three people, he is still a murderer who was sentenced to life in prison. I also do not believe the bit about his “teardrop tattoo.” I think this was included to throw off those who might be curious as to “Shane’s” actual identity. 

    Despite the sentence of life in prison, somehow “Shane” is now allowed to live and work amongst the rest of us. WHY?

    Personally, I used to naively believe that when someone was sentenced to life in prison, that they would actually remain in prison until they died. SILLY ME!!! I guess I should have known better. I could probably rant for many, many more paragraphs about why I think it is wrong to allow murderers to be free to walk the streets of my home  province, but I will refrain from doing so here in my review of THIS IS NOT MY LIFE by reknowned author Diane Schoemperlen.

    Suffice it to say that Diane’s book/memoir is a MUST READ. This is true not only for those who love a good read, but also for everyone who has even a passing interest in Canada’s jail system and what I perceive to be its fallibility (which should be every Canadian of voting age.)


    I rate this book as 5 out of 5 Stars. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

    Diane Schoemperlen is the Governor General’s Award winning author of twelve works of fiction and non-fiction, most recently By the Book: Stories and Pictures, a collection illustrated with her own full-colour collages, which was longlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. She is a recipient of the Marian Engel Award from the Writers’ Trust of Canada.


    ACCOLADES, MEDIA AND PRIZES won by “THIS IS NOT MY LIFE” 



    – One of five finalists for the 2017 RBC Taylor Prize 

      
     – Mar 02, 2017 – 41 minute video

    About this Video: 

    Three memoirs and two biographies are nominated for the 2017 RBC Taylor Prize. Max Eisen writes about surviving Auschwitz; Matti Friedman recounts his combat experience in Lebanon in the mid-1990s; Ross King examines Claude Monet’s fascination with painting water lilies; Marc Raboy reveals Guglielmo Marconi as a global communications pioneer; and Diane Schoemperlen remembers her six-year relationship with a convicted murderer. The Agenda welcomes the five non-fiction finalists to discuss what impelled them to write their books.

    Dianne Schoemperlen’s book has been nominated as part of the #ygkChallenge    


    MACLEAN’S MAGAZINE ARTICLE with video interview