2020 Reading Challenge

2020 Reading Challenge

2020 Reading Challenge
Tina has read 1 book toward her goal of 40 books.
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Monday, October 12, 2020

BOOK REVIEW for Perfect Father by John Glatt






TITLE:      Perfect Father

AUTHOR:     John Glatt

GENRE:      True Crime

RATING:     5 stars


I devoured this book.

I am not usually a true crime buff, but when I first saw this on TV, it captivated me. "What was the truth? How can a father do this? A million questions that everyone else asked themselves when they saw this reported.

It is hard to review a book that details a horrific true story. I would never call this book great, because that would feel too voyeuristic, but this book certainly made me stop and think ...... alot.

How can a love affair, a happy family stray to far to the point of murder. I cannot wrap my head around what is/was wrong with this man.

The book is honest in detailing the whole situation and for once, I appreciated the ton of information given about Chris as a child. I normally skip over that, but this was compelling to the last page.

Watts has given so many versions of his story that it is hard to know what is the truth. Is he a misguided soul who strayed horrendously? or is he a manipulative bast@@@ who knew exactly what he was doing?

I get the feeling that he is somewhere betwen the two scenarios and the book did an excellent job od putting us in the center of everything - we felt all the pain, we felt everything he did to his family.

Well written and as I mentioned, highly compelling.

Friday, September 25, 2020

BOOK REVIEW for Five Total Strangers by Natalie D. Richards

A huge thank you goes out to Sourcebooks for sending me an e-copy of this book to read and review.

TITLE:                      Five Total Strangers
AUTHOR:                Natalie D. Richards
GENRE:                    YA
RATING:                  4 stars


First, I have to say that I have a love/hate relationship with this author. She is hit and miss for me. I am glad to say that this book was a definite hit. I loved it! I didn't want it to end, yet, at the same time, I needed to find out "who did it?".

The story starts at the airport, in a terrible snowstorm. These are two of my favorite premises - cold and isolated. I don't know what it is about snowstorms, but they add such an eerie touch to any story. Another book, Trapped by Michael Northrop, was written in the same genre and it remains one of my favorites to this day. I literally could not figure out who did it here, not even by the end, when we find out who the guilty party actually was and let me say that the author was masterful at tying everything neatly in a bow.

The author also does an excellent job of slowly building the tension. None of the "strangers", including the main character, are particularly likeable, which is an interesting twist for me. I disliked all of them, for various reasons, yet I could not stop reading and rooting for Mira.

I could almost put myself in that car, with all these strangers, living in fear that every moment brought yet another layer of horror.

Thankfully, when the ending of the book does come, the author does not spend pages and pages teasing the end. She finally tells us "who did it" in a crest of built up tension and it does not dissapoint. I actually said "wow, I never saw that one coming".

There are a few issues with the story though.

1- Two of the characters rent a car at the airport - mentioning that they paid cash. As far as I know, this is not possible as car rental companies demand a credit card on file, in case there is an issue when the car is returned. They also don't "get paid" ahead of time. Tiny detail, but it bugged me and this could have been avoided with a little more research.

2- The whole premise of the guys from the garage following them for $40.00 worth of stolen gas  is too over the top. I mean, come on, these two would suddently just close their business and head out, in a snowstorm, to find the 5 strangers who stole $40.00 worth of gas from them??? Yeah, not believeable.

3- Finally, the fact that Mira kept thinking about her "poor" mother, picturing her in a puddle of tears because it was her first Christmas without her twin, while commendable, was too much. I think the author repeats this about 5 times in the story and it got old very fast. In fact, it is the center of this story and why Mira got into a car with 4 strangers in the first place. It just all felt manipulative to me.

Otherwise, this was an amazing read that I could not put down, as I read in 3 days.

Monday, September 21, 2020

BOOK REVIEW for Fulness, a Memoir by Azure Moyna






TITLE:         FULLNESS, A MEMOIR

AUTHOR:    AZURE MOYNA

GENRE:      MEMOIR

RATING:     5 STARS

What an amazing read.

Eating disorders are truly misunderstood. Society continues to strongly associate lack of willpower with weight gain and fat shaming continues to be a very real thing. Some of the strongest people I know have been brought to their knees, including myself, by this disease.

The author does an excellent job of bringing us on a journey into her mind, while she discovers that a) there is a name for what she lives with every day and that she is not "the only one" living it and b) she is left to navigate this whole thing without much support from anyone, including her husband (who I never get a good handle on).

It's interesting, to me, that initially Azure doesnt see that binge eating is only a symptom of a much larger and complex issue. All she wants is quick weight loss, thinking that this will solve all her problems....it won't.

An eating disorder is usually the result of a massive trauma in your life, which this book explores, via Azure's weekly therapy sessions.

This book is both sad and hopeful and it is written with a brutal honesty, that brought up a lot of feelings for me.

The author and I share many views on this subject matter and Azure's description of obsessing over food, in her refrigerator, felt all too real.

This book explains quite well what an eating disorder does to your body and to your mind. It also looks at self-isolation and at all the bad choices you make, in the name of losing weight.

However, as we go further into the story, I do admit, I got annoyed, several times, with Azure's constant crying. It got old very fast and it was too much. The scene where they go to a party and everyone is having fun, except Azure who insists she needs to "talk/cry to her husband, at that exact moment, made me want to scream at her. Crying never solves issues (seriously, stop crying).

As I write the above sentence, I am remembering Azure's horrible family life and ask myself how I would have coped with parents that were basically egotistical and pretty useless.

Compulsive eating is a disease born out of trauma and as a friend of mine once told me..."it is also a disease of "more".

I read this book in basically 3 days and it is an honest and raw look at a disease that few people want to admit exists.

Wonderfully written, I admire Azure for writing this book.

Loved this so much.
 

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

BOOK REVIEW for The Art of Losing It by Rosemary Kevill


Thank you to She Writes Press for sending me an e-copy of this book to read and review.

TITLE:          The Art of Losing It
AUTHOR:     Rosemary Kevill
GENRE:        Memoir (to be released on October 20, 2020)
RATING:       4 stars out of 5

I read a lot of addiction and recovery books and I really admire people who write about their experiences and so, Rosemary needs to be commended for being so brutally honest about her life.

This memoir was exceptional, for me because the author spends a considerable amount of time detailing her rehab stay, writing about all the various substances that are out there and what rehab really is.  I appreciated this part of the story.

The first part is extremely difficult to read.  Sad and difficult.  Let's just say that there was too much going into this woman's life and you could almost feel the addict in the making.  I was surprised at how little support she really got.  

I also thought reading the first part of the story was tough,  because I lost my dad when I was 11 and it has left a mark that I cannot seem to get away from.  So, I could empathize with the girls up to a point.

Having said that, I will be honest...I did not like any of the people in this memoir.  I admire Rosemary Kevill for what she did - going to rehab and getting sober is hard.  Its really hard.  However, wow, mom  and the kids were all acting out ALL THE TIME.  At what point does the mom turn around and say "that's enough" to her kids?

My own mother, who has had to live through her own husband's premature death, to raise two girls on her own,  would never have tolerated this behaviour from us. 

The writing is excellent and the author does not shy away from the bad and the really bad.  Do I feel as though I have a better understanding of who Rosemary is?  - not sure, but she certainly has a career as a writer, in my opinion.

Nonetheless, this was a book that I could not manage to put down.  I read in a few days.  I hope the Kevill family has slayed some dragons and have healed from the at least some of the pain

Monday, June 1, 2020

BOOK REVIEW for Into the Clouds by Tod Olson

TITLE:        Into the Clouds

AUTHOR:  Tod Olson

GENRE:      Non fiction

RATING:    4+stars

How much did I love this book?  I was sorry it ended.  This true story is based entirely on K2.  Now, I do not climb and have absolutely no desire to do so.  I don't understand people who love to climb and who will test death to do it, but I DO love reading about it.

This book is so well written.  The tone is engaging and the author does a wonderful job of staying on topic and NOT going off on tangents that are irrelevant to the story.  The writing is also down to earth (no pun intended) and is written for the amateur (me) who knows next to nothing about climbing.

The subjects are super interesting as well.  I really felt myself rooting for them and, because of the great descriptions, I often felt as though I was right on that mountain with them.

Love, love this book that ended too quickly.



Wednesday, May 13, 2020

BOOK REVIEW for Blackout Girl by Jennifer Storm


Thank you to the wonderful Hazelden publishing company for sending me an electronic copy of this book to read and review.

TITLE:                 Blackout Girl
AUTHOR:           Jennifer Storm
GENRE:              Memoir
RATING:            4 stars


This is my second time reading this book.  I originally read it when it first came out and was curious to reread it as I did not like it all that much the first time.

Well, I am glad I did.  This second reading made me discover some aspects of Storm's story that I can now appreciate a lot more .

Her depiction of her addictions is harrowing and that is, by far, the best part.  

Once again, the recovery part is the weakest part.  Unfortunately, she makes it all sound so easy....she gets a spiritual awakening almost instantly and that is not necessarily everyone's experience.  I am sure it was super hard, but she makes it sound soooo easy.

The addition to this book is also  not particularly interesting. She speaks in generalities and that deters from the book.

Otherwise, this is a great read.



Sunday, April 12, 2020

BOOK review for Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf





TITLE:        Breaking Beautiful

AUTHOR:  Jennifer Shaw Wolf

GENRE:     YA

RATING;   4 stars

I have such mixed emotions about this book.

The writing was excellent and the story line engaged me completely.  The subject matter was a rough one, but the author did a great job of balancing sensitivity, while not shedding (too much) away from the truth about this type of situation.

My problem was with the main character Allie.  At first, she is an interesting character that I fully stood behind, but as the story moved on and Allie, somehow did not, it just got annoying, annoying, annoying.  How many times could this character rub her stone for security, while keeping everything bottled up inside. 

It went on way too long.  I cannot tell you how many times, I rolled my eyes when Allie, once again, swallowed her words and crawled inside herself.

There were some aspects missing from this story, i.e. counselling and support - it is never mentioned at all.  Of course, the fact that Allie is the only one who knows what happened and chooses not to say anything, precludes counselling, although I was not a huge fan of her parents, so who knows what they would have said, even if they knew.

I sound like I did not like this book, but to the contrary, I really did, I wish the main character had been written with inner strength or at least, a desire to move through this event.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

BOOK REVIEW for Neon Nights by Katey Taylor






Thank you to Katey Taylor who kindly sent me an electronic copy of this book to read and review.


TITLE:        Neon Nights

AUTHOR:  Katey Taylor


GENRE:     YA


RATING:  3 stars

This is a sequel to a book that I loved.

There is a lot going on in this one and, at the same time, I am amazed at how none of the characters grew at all.

In fact, if anything, Cait is even more irritating than in the first book. She is in a new school and a new area and she manages to make absolutely NO friends, except for a guy that is even more broken than she is. There are absolutely no healthy characters in this story - from the guy next door who is simply creepy to the fact that Cait's mother is absolutely clueless (again? still?), nobody is wiser.

Cait, as the main character, is now close to 18 and still acts like a silly little girl who, once again, does not pay the price for her own addictions. She goes to pills and booze and somehow, is never called on the carpet. I disliked her in the first book and really grew to hate her in this one.

The Adrian character had some redeeming factors for a bit, but soon went back to who he is always would be.

There is an interesting twist at the end of this story that I did not necessarily see coming and it does add a layer to the story.

Once again, the writing is great and engaging. This author does not shy away from writing tough scenes, which I love, but I had to give this 3 stars because the characters just did not grow at all from the last book.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

BOOK REVIEW for Saving Sara by Sara Somers





Thank you to "SHE WRITES PRESS"  for sending me an electronic copy of this book to read and review


TITLE:  Saving Sara

AUTHOR:   Sara Somers

GENRE:  Memoir


RATING  3 stars

I  really wanted to like this book a lot.  Instead it was just okay.

I could not believe it.  Finally, a memoir on eating disorders that focused on binge eating, instead of the usual anorexia or bulimia.  As an extra bonus, OA was actually mentioned in a positive way.  I read a lot of books on addiction, so I was excited to read about binge eating and OA.

I don't know why I wasn't into this book.  The writing was okay, but I think, for me, this memoir lacked the emotion I normally find in books on addiction.  

I am sure that the author felt all the emotions while living her story, but I am not sure she managed to convey it on paper.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Journaling Seaglass Journal

I have become very interested in journaling lately and I am entering a period of my life where I want to get fit and healthy (er) than I am now, which is where I can combine my love of journaling AND my need for wellness, both physically and mentally.

I think keeping a journal of the experience will be worthwhile, especially as I have so many thoughts going through my head on what is ahead.

I had heart surgery in July 2015, for an aortic valve replacement and ever since, I have been contemplating doing things differently - basically honoring my body - the same body that saw me through heart surgery, the  atrial fibrillation that followed and drain in my thorax to remove water from my lungs.  Despite all that, my body kept going and I think its time to do better.



I am not my body, but I want to treat it better than I have been.




The pocket  journal I found is from Seaglass  Publishing is compact and easy to carry.  It gives me the opportunity to voice my thoughts!




Thank you to Abigail at Schiffer Publishing for sending me this beautiful journal to record my journey to wellness.







Pure Sea Glass Pocket Journal







 
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