2021 Reading Challenge

2021 Reading Challenge

2021 Reading Challenge
Tina has read 1 book toward her goal of 46 books.

Monday, December 28, 2020

BOOK REVIEW for Skinny or Not, Here I come by Margaret Cupit-Link

TITLE:            Skinny or Not Here I come

AUTHOR:       Margaret Cupit-Link

GENRE:           Memoir

RATING:          4 stars

I pretty well read this book in two sittings.

I will admit that I found the first part more intriguing.

Having said that, this was a great read. I appreciated the focus the author puts on her youth, demonstrating that eating disorders are not the symptom, but rather the defense mechanism, which served us well at some point in our early days.

The author actually focuses a good chunk of her youth on giving us details about her life and while there is nothing horrendous, it is also obvious that her ED started at some point in her young life. Never managing to pinpoint exactly what was making her binge/restrict. It has been said, many times, that people with ED used food as a coping mechanism for some traumas (remembered or not) and that while the ED served us well at the time, it has stopped helping and has become a painful situation that needs to be looked at with love (even if you go kicking and screaming into it).

Margaret, up to this day, would probably not be able to tell you exactly what she is eating over. She mentions, in the second part of the book, that she believes she was not addicted to the food, but rather to the dieting.

There are plenty of studies out there who agree with her - dieting is absolutely the worse thing we could do to our bodies, yet, Margarent, knowing ALL of this and even being a medical doctor, could not "stop" the overeating, the undereating and the weighing, etc.

The second part of the book is about her recovery, learning to write, cry and talk about what is hurting her. She does admit that her recovery is not consistent and that she fails at times, but she focuses a lot more on getting outside help and working on her spirituality.

She does not talk about 12 step very much, other than to say that the lessons found in 12 step can be applied to everything in life. She also talks about God and her Higher Power, which I thought was very interesting as finding a HP can be challenging. I did like her "pointers" on turning to a God of our understanding.

She does go into the religion part a little bit more than I would like, but overall, this book is motivating, honest and REAL.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

BOOK REVIEW for Silencing the Enemy Within by Marsha Rene

TITLE:          Silencing the Enemy Within

AUTHOR:     Marsha Rene

GENRE:         Memoir

RATING:        5 Stars

My god I loved this book. I read many books on addiction and recovery and this is one of the best I have ever read. Absolute truth....Marsha does not sugarcoat it. I could not believe she survived her drug and alcohol addictions. 

I think her HP was already present in her life, long before she started AA and NA12 Step programs....how else can you explain the author's active addictions and ultimately surviving them. Beautiful look at 12 step programs without hitting us over the head with program beliefs. The writing is so down to earth and captivating. 

 I hope Marsha continues to be a beacon of hope for those who still suffer. I am so inspired when I read about recovery.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

BOOK REVIEW for Perfectly Impossible by Elizabeth Topp


Thank you to : Little A, Amazon Publishing, and Blankenship PR for providing me with an e-copy of this book.

TITLE:               Perfectly Impossible

AUTHOR:          Elizabeth Topp

GENRE:           Fiction

RATING:          4 stars

My favorite part of this book is definitely the crazy in depth look at what rich NYC socialites do or don't do with their days.  Some of the over the top stories are so nuts that it makes for fascinating reading, even if the story is "fiction".

There is a nice balance between Anna's life contrasting with the socialites.  She works as an Assistant to one of them and it serves as the background for a story of excess, optimism and sheer fun.

The tone of the book is consistent - almost an unbelievable "tone" of  "can you believe this?".  The writing is down to earth and totally engrossing.  I hate authors who spend too much time on minor details that brings the story down - it is not the case here.

At times, I found Anna a bit dense, but her character propels the story forward and I ended up really siding with her in the end.

Fun read.

Monday, November 30, 2020

BOOK REVIEW for How to Murder Your Life by Cat Marnell


TITLE:              How to Murder Your Life

AUTHOR:         Cat Marnell

GENRE:            Memoir

RATING:           4 stars

I really, really wanted to hate this book because I supremely disliked the author.

I ended up loving it while STILL supremely disliking the author.

Addiction memoirs are hard to write and I give Marnell a lot of credit for having the courage to be so honest.

The writing is engrossing. Just the perfect tone for a memoir on addiction and fashion.

Thankfully, not too much time was spent on the "baby Cat years". Rather, Marnell gives us the information we need to know, to better understand her future choices.

I always wonder about the parents of children who write memoirs and talk about the effect these same parents had on their lives as adults, especially if the kid's life was a train wreck.

Pretty much every person in this book is kind of a douche, except for some of her work colleagues, as well as her sister. I don't even do drugs and I can plainly see when someone is high, so the question needs to be asked .....how could Marnell go to work, all these years, without being called on her crap? Was she that "adorable" that everyone in her universe was blinded?

Speaking of adorable OR NOT, I don't get what everyone saw in her. Obviously, I have never met her in person, but she seemed to have the ability to fall into situations that benefitted her all the time. To me, her story should have followed the same trajectory as Marco's story, but instead Marnell found dream job after dream job and apartment after apartment, without even blinking.

I hope she gets on her knees every morning to thank whatever higher power, looked after her and made sure she never got STDs, DUIs, permanent poor health or any kind of payback (death), from the hundreds of poor choices she made. We won't even go into the fact that she was being subsidized by her parents well into her twenties.

Marnell talks about narcissism in her book and I kind of think she is describing herself. Ironic since she only seems to see it in other people

Finally, the author never has any regrets. She lives an unapologetic life...good or bad? Not sure.

I still think this book was great. Hopefully Marnell will be around to write another one.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

BOOK REVIEW for Sway by Matthew John Bocchi


TITLE:                   Sway

AUTHOR:              Matthew John Bocchi

GENRE:                 Memoir

RATING:                5 stars

Wow, just wow.

I rarely read books on 9/11 because they are so sad, but I am grateful I read this one.

Usually, I know way in advance the books that I want to read, but I found a brief summary on a website (don't remember which one) of this memoir and it caught me completely by surprise. I immediately bought it.

Memoirs about addiction and recovery are books that I read....a lot, so I was completely surprised to see how integral both these subject matters were.

For me, this books is as much about 9/11 as it is about addiction and recovery. It is also about losing a father, in a violent way ...... there one minute and gone the next.

I identified with Matthew because I lost my father to a violent car crash when I was 11. I can understand how he needed closure and how he was willing to go through hell to get it. I can understand his need to find out everything about that September morning and then finding out a few details directly connected to his dad, while trying to make it all fit in your young brain.

I have mentioned this before....addiction is born out of trauma ( IMO) and you can feel and see Matthew spiralling downward. You can feel his confusion about his sh@@@y uncle and you can see and feel the sadness as he tries to numb himself over and over again.

As I read this memoir, I literally felt everything he was feeling. It is so raw and honest and the writing is solid.

I finished this in just a few days and now, I cant get this out of my head.

It's amazing, to me, that 9/11 just keeps making more and more victims even after 19 years.

More power to you and your family Matthew.

And acceptance is the answer to all our problems today.....

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





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.

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