2020 Reading Challenge

2020 Reading Challenge

2020 Reading Challenge
Tina has read 1 book toward her goal of 40 books.

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


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


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

Saturday, January 18, 2020

BOOK REVIEW for Gone at Midnight, The Mysterious Death of Elisa Lam by Jake Anderson

Thank you to the publisher - Citadel for sending me an electronic copy of this book to read and review.

TITLE:          Gone at Midnight, The Mysterious Death of Elisa Lam

AUTHOR:     Jake Anderson

GENRE:        True Creme

RATING:       2 stars

First off, everything involved with this case feels creepy to me, which is a feeling that persisted while I read this book.

Having said that, I can honestly say that I cannot remember the last time I read a book that held such potential, only to fall apart, almost from page 1.

The author is literally all over the place with this story.  He is in the past (when the event happened), then he goes even further back in time, then he mixes the past  with his current timeline, then we are in a "what if" scenario that may never have happened and then we are in one of his dreams and I found myself completely confused.

He also went off on tangents all the time.  Early in the book, he explains about the involvement of k-9s during the search, which quickly turns into a way too long history on the use of k-9 dogs in criminal cases.  Then he wanders off topic when he starts talking, again in too much detail, about serial killer Ramirez.  Yes, there is some pertinence to him talking about Ramirez because he stayed at the Cecil at some point - wayyyyy before Elisa Lam was there, but all of the detailed backstory on this murderer is not necessary.  If I want to read about him and his crimes, I can pick up another book.

The other issue I had is that the author kept intermingling his own personal issues with the case and with Elisa.  Yes, I know that he obviously was attracted to this case, in part because of the shared mental illness that they both suffer from.   But, wow, there was way toooooo much information on the author and his personal life, that frankly, just removed from the story.  He could have simply spent a paragraph explaining the shared illness and moved on.  But, it was pages and pages of "I am dreaming, I am losing it, I am, I am, I am" and none of this was necessary to the story.

The one thing that the author did very well  is describe the hotel while actually staying there on two occassions.  He made the whole Cecil come alive with his descriptions and he managed to convey a real sense of dread and creepiness.  He could have written a whole book on the Cecil and I would have read it.

In the end, while the author did bring up a few unknown facts, there isn't much he can do with them as absolutely nobody seems to want to investigate this further.  Perhaps there is a conspiracy, but at this point, he only brings up more unanswered questions with very few chances of ever getting an answer.  I am not even sure what he thinks happened.....as there are so many back and forth theories, involving so many different people and he is not really clear with what he thinks is the real story.

Ultimately, this is a very sad book.  It never needed to happen - any of it and Elisa would be back home, living her life.  But it did happen and I do hope that her family and friends have managed to find some peace.

As for this book, if you can get it at the library, go for it, otherwise.....not so much.

Friday, December 20, 2019

BOOK REVIEW for Smacked by Eilene Zimmerman

Thank you to Random House for sending me an electronic copy of this book to read and review.

TITLE:         Smacked
AUTHOR:    Eilene Zimmerman
GENRE:       Memoir

I loved this book.  I literally read it in a few days.

However,  I am sure I am not alone, as a reader, feeling frustrated that NOBODY be it family or employer or friends seem to pick up on the fact that Peter was a drug user.

Yes, the author discusses this at length in the book, but come on!!  In some ways, I feel as though Peter was all alone in his final journey and while I know that addicts isolate in order to use, I find it sad that not one person put all the pieces together, particularly since it  sounds  as though he was giving everyone plenty of "clues" to work with.  Could someone have helped him? probably not as is clearly indicated in this book - only the addict can help him/her self, but it makes you wonder anyway.

Having said all of that, I have mad respect for the author (and her children) for sharing such an intimate part of their lives.  It must have been both difficult and hopefully cathartic to do so.

Although this book is separated into sections, for me, there were only 2 - before and after.  The beginning part is fascinating, while the more "analytical" part is less engrossing.  The author does tend to go back and forth between events (and years) but it is easy enough to follow.

Her writing style is wonderful.  Down to earth and engrossing (I cannot call a memoir of this kind entertaining considering the subject matter) I literally could not put this down.

I would have liked a bit more  detail on the "before" part, but overall, this is one of the best books I have ever read on addiction (and I read a lot of em).

Here is hoping everyone in the family is  happy and thriving.  I lost my dad when I was only 11 and while it was because of a car crash, I know that growing up with that kind of event in your young life marks you for life.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Boo,k REVIEW for Criss Cross by James Patterson

TITLE:                Criss Criss

AUTHOR:         James Patterson

GENRE:             Thriller

RATING:            2 stars

What the heck did i just read? I love Alex Cross but this was a mixture of old cases and new. None of it makes sense and I have read all his books. This one needs to shot and buried.

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