Book Review: I Can Only Imagine: A Memoir by Bart Millard with Robert Noland #ICanOnlyImagine #MercyMe

I Can Only Imagine: A Memoir

by Bart Millard, with Robert Noland

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From Goodreads:

“The Story That Inspired the Major Motion Picture.”

The captivating story behind the bestselling single in the history of Christian music—and the man who wrote it.

MercyMe’s crossover hit, “I Can Only Imagine,” has touched millions of people around the world. But few know about the pain, redemption, and healing that inspired it. Now Bart Millard, award-winning recording artist and lead singer of MercyMe, shares how his dad’s transformation from abusive father to man of God sparked a divine moment in music history.

Continue reading “Book Review: I Can Only Imagine: A Memoir by Bart Millard with Robert Noland #ICanOnlyImagine #MercyMe”

The Burning Within by RaNelle Wallace & Curtis Taylor #UltimateReadingChallenge #Bookreview

The Burning Within

by Ranelle Wallace & Curtis Taylor

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From Goodreads:

True story of a couple returning home after an unsuccessful vacation to revive their marriage, their plane crash, their rescue, survival, recovery, and coping with life after severe burns and disfiguration. Adding to this tragedy was a woman’s disregard for the warnings and strong premonitions of what was to come. That burning within all of us. Also a very compelling near death experience and confirmation of life after death beliefs that people of every religion can relate to.

Continue reading “The Burning Within by RaNelle Wallace & Curtis Taylor #UltimateReadingChallenge #Bookreview”

Already Here: A Doctor Discovers the Truth about Heaven by Leo Galland

Already Here: A Doctor Discovers the Truth about Heaven

by Leo Galland

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Blurb from Goodreads: 

Already Here tells of the death of Leo Galland’s son, Christopher, at the age of 22; the direct visual evidence Christopher showed him that our souls do go on; and the communications he received from Christopher’s spirit that dramatically changed Leo’s understanding of life and its meaning.

In life, Christopher was a brain-damaged special needs child who challenged everyone he knew with his unpredictable behavior and uncanny insights. After his death, he revealed to Leo the real purpose of his life, as a spiritual guide who taught others by confounding their assumptions and expectations. And he began to share with Leo a new perspective on everything from the nature of good and evil to the concept of timelessness—“God’s moment”—to the notion that the universe is, fundamentally, an act of love. Continue reading “Already Here: A Doctor Discovers the Truth about Heaven by Leo Galland”

The Doggie in the Window: How One Beloved Dog Opened My Eyes to the Complicated Story Behind Man’s Best Friend by Rory Kress – Book Review – #NGEW2018 #TheDoggieintheWindow #Edelweiss

The Doggie in the Window: How One Beloved Dog Opened My Eyes to the Complicated Story Behind Man’s Best Friend

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Rory Kress

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From Goodreads: 

When Rory Kress began to wonder where her beloved Wheaten Terrier, Izzie, had really come from, she had no idea of the horrors she would uncover. With stunning insight and tenacity, Kress launches an investigation into the harsh realities of the American dog-breeding industry, exposing troubling ties to factory farming and big agriculture.

From a pet shop on Long Island to the puppy mills of rural Missouri, from the author’s own living room to a ride-along with a dog rescue organization, The Doggie in the Window is a must-read for all dog owners and a call to action for improving the lives of man’s best friend. Continue reading “The Doggie in the Window: How One Beloved Dog Opened My Eyes to the Complicated Story Behind Man’s Best Friend by Rory Kress – Book Review – #NGEW2018 #TheDoggieintheWindow #Edelweiss”

Throwback Thursday: Broken Music by Sting

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme created by Renee @ It’s Book Talk. This meme is an awesome way to share old favorites that were published over a year ago or even books that you’re finally reading after much time has passed. I have plenty of those to share! If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board. Please link back to her by using the link above.

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Today’s throwback is:

Broken Music

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Continue reading “Throwback Thursday: Broken Music by Sting”

Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein by Jennifer Roy and Ali Fadhil- Book Review

Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein: Based on a True Story

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Blurb from Goodreads: At the start of 1991, eleven-year-old Ali Fadhil was consumed by his love for soccer, video games, and American television shows. Then, on January 17, Iraq’s dictator Saddam Hussein went to war with thirty-four nations lead by the United States.

Over the next forty-three days, Ali and his family survived bombings, food shortages, and constant fear. Ali and his brothers played soccer on the abandoned streets of their Basra neighborhood, wondering when or if their medic father would return from the war front. Cinematic, accessible, and timely, this is the story of one ordinary kid’s view of life during war.

Continue reading “Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein by Jennifer Roy and Ali Fadhil- Book Review”

Throwback Thursday: The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui – February 8th

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme created by Renee @ It’s Book Talk. This meme is an awesome way to share old favorites that were published over a year ago or even books that you’re finally reading after much time has passed. I have plenty of those to share! If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, and you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic as well. Please link back to her@It’s Book Talk.

BeFunky Design

This Week’s Pick:

The Best We Could Do

 

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An intimate and poignant graphic novel portraying one family’s journey from war-torn Vietnam from debut author Thi Bui.

This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is an evocative memoir about the search for a better future and a longing for the past. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves.

At the heart of Bui’s story is a universal struggle: While adjusting to life as a first-time mother, she ultimately discovers what it means to be a parent—the endless sacrifices, the unnoticed gestures, and the depths of unspoken love. Despite how impossible it seems to take on the simultaneous roles of both parent and child, Bui pushes through. With haunting, poetic writing and breathtaking art, she examines the strength of family, the importance of identity, and the meaning of home.

In what Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen calls “a book to break your heart and heal it,” The Best We Could Do brings to life Thi Bui’s journey of understanding, and provides inspiration to all of those who search for a better future while longing for a simpler past. –Goodreads

My Thoughts: 

I picked this up from Netgalley as soon as I learned about it. I love reading graphic novels and this one piqued my interest after reading the blurb. I had already read A Different Pond with my kids and loved that one, so I had a good feeling about The Best We Could Do. 

This is an extremely moving graphic novel about a family’s immigration from Vietnam and how they do the best they can to make a living in a new country. Thi Bui is learning to understand her parents past as she has now become a mother herself in America.

“Má leaves me but I’m not alone, and a terrifying thought creeps into my head. Family is now something I have created and not just something I was born into.”

She wants to understand her families history and she eventually discovers her parents past along with her own childhood. I found it so powerful, eye-opening, thought-provoking, and couldn’t help getting emotional during the reading. I enjoyed it immensely and the artwork is amazing. I would recommend it to anyone.

Find this on Goodreads and Amazon

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams; Illustrated edition edition (March 7, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1419718770
  • ISBN-13: 978-1419718779

Continue reading “Throwback Thursday: The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui – February 8th”

Shabby Sunday: Death Not Be Proud by John Gunther – 1965

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Shabby Sunday Meme

I have a lot of old vintage books and one of my plans when I first started blogging was to do a post every week or so that shared one of my cherished vintage books. Then I thought that maybe there might be other book bloggers out there that have some vintage books, heirlooms, or maybe some old books from childhood that they might want to share. I decided to start a weekly meme titled ‘Shabby Sunday’ for those who would like to participate and share some of their old vintage books. Do you have some shabby books you’d like to share? Please feel free to participate. Feel free to use the picture I’ve provided if you’d like to. If you decide to do this meme, please consider linking back to me so that I can see the book you’re sharing.


Today’s shabby share is:

Death Be Not Proud

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 Blurb: Death Be Not Proud chronicles Johnny Gunther’s gallant struggle against the malignant brain tumor that killed him at the age of seventeen. The book opens with his father’s fond, vivid portrait of his son – a young man of extraordinary intellectual promise, who excelled at physics, math, and chess, but was also an active, good-hearted, and fun-loving kid. But the heart of the book is a description of the agonized months during which Gunther and his former wife Frances try everything in their power to halt the spread of Johnny’s cancer and to make him as happy and comfortable as possible. In the last months of his life, Johnny strove hard to complete his high school studies. The scene of his graduation ceremony from Deerfield Academy is one of the most powerful – and heartbreaking – in the entire book. Johnny maintained his courage, wit and quiet friendliness up to the end of his life. He died on June 30, 1947, less than a month after graduating from Deerfield.

My Thoughts:

This isn’t a book I normally pick up, but I purchased it in a box of books from a church sale years ago, and after going through some of these books recently, it caught my attention. I love reading memoirs, but not so much when it’s a story about a child with cancer. I took a chance and continued reading because I’d already read the blurb and knew what to expect. If you plan to read this book, you may want to skip my review altogether. The edition I’m reviewing is from 1965.

In the beginning of the book, John Gunther writes about his son Johnny and describes him as a happy child who loves to spend time with his parents when he’s not in school. Not only is he a happy and active child, but he’s extremely intelligent and loves school. When he returns home in 1946 for a break, he begins to have some strange symptoms and eventually is diagnosed with a brain tumor. Of course, this was back in a day before there were better treatments for cancer like there are now, and some of the treatments that Johnny undertakes are unorthodox. In fact, this is the first book I’ve read that documents a patient’s story after attempting Dr. Gerson’s methods for battling cancer.

The book is written in two parts. In the first part, the reader learns about Johnny, his diagnosis and some of his treatments. This was definitely a difficult part for me to finish. It’s heart-wrenching, but Johnny was so strong. His parents are with him constantly and move mountains to find him the best treatments possible. They continually search for a cure.

The second part contains a short diary that Johnny wrote and also letters, many from before his diagnosis. I would’ve liked to read the letters from before his diagnosis first, before reading Part 1, but this isn’t the way the book is organized. The final pages in the book contain a note from Johnny’s mother, Frances. In the note, she discusses the many questions you ask with the impending death of a child and there’s a statement that we all hear too often. A statement that reminds us we are never guaranteed any exact measure of time.

“Yet at the end of them all, when one has put away all the books, and all the words, when one is alone with oneself, when one is alone with God, what is left in one’s heart? Just this: I wish we had loved Johnny more.”  

Overall, even with all the agonizing parts of the story, I’m glad I finished the book. In my opinion, it’s written very well. I’d recommend it to anyone who likes to read memoirs.

4****

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Continue reading “Shabby Sunday: Death Not Be Proud by John Gunther – 1965”

Throwback Thursday: November 9th – Love Lucky by Van Quattro

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme created by Renee @ It’s Book Talk. This meme is an awesome way to share old favorites that were published over a year ago or even books that you’re finally reading after much time has passed. I have plenty of those to share! If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, and you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic as well. Please link back to her@It’s Book Talk.

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This Week’s Pick:

Love Lucky

by Van Quattro

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Blurb: I had a restless heart, a nasty desire to be loved, a wandering spirit and had barely been out of Glendale. London called in the form of a pretty girl and I followed. I stumbled around one of the greatest cities in the world for a year and a half. Stoned and full of wonder I found people and places that would be far beyond anything I could dream or conjure. It’s an experience that shaped who I am today. It’s about a strong sense of wanting more for my life with a bunch of LUCK thrown in.

My Thoughts:

I’ll start by saying that I love the way the book was written and the writing style. Throughout the author’s memoir I had many emotions. Sure, I found it comical at times, but mainly I felt anger and sadness. It seemed like everything was going his way one minute, and crashing down the next. I wanted to stop his reactions, but somehow understood his anger-maybe from previous experiences with my own family, etc.

I loved the music and film references. I especially enjoyed the relationships he built. In the end, I wished some things could’ve been different for him, but we don’t live in a perfect world and we all make mistakes.

I enjoyed reading about his accomplishments online after the book was finished. Now, I’d like to watch a few of the films so I can see him acting. I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys memoirs.


 

You can find this book on Goodreads and Amazon

Read for free on Kindle Unlimited!

  • Series: Life
  • Paperback: 162 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (August 31, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1537482009
  • ISBN-13: 978-1537482002

Continue reading “Throwback Thursday: November 9th – Love Lucky by Van Quattro”

Throwback Thursday – November 2nd – Before I Say Goodbye

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme created by Renee @ It’s Book Talk. This meme is an awesome way to share old favorites that were published over a year ago or even books that you’re finally reading after much time has passed. I have plenty of those to share! If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, and you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic as well. Please link back to her@It’s Book Talk.

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This Week’s Pick:

Before I Say Goodbye

by Ruth PicardieMatt Seaton (Foreword by)

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Blurb: By turns humorous and heart-rending, an unforgettable account of a young woman’s spiritual triumphs over breast cancer in the last year of her life

Ruth Picardie was only thirty-three when she died, a month after her twins’ second birthday and just under a year after she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. For Ruth, a journalist, it seemed natural to write about her illness. She published only five columns for Observer Life magazine before she became too sick to continue, but her moving, funny, and very human account drew a huge response from readers all over England.

Before I Say Goodbye juxtaposes these columns with correspondence from readers, e-mails to her friends, letters to her children, and reflections by her husband and her sister. The result is a courageous and moving book, entirely devoid of self-pity, that celebrates the triumph of a brave and wonderful woman’s spirit. An international bestseller in England, Picardie’s sobering yet ultimately life-affirming book is destined to become a classic.

My Thoughts:

I picked this up from a library book sale years ago and read it in just a few hours. It’s a book about a woman named Ruth Picardie who was diagnosed with breast cancer in her early 30’s just after giving birth to her twins. She was an amazing journalist and her sister influenced her to write about her condition.

I was surprised by the format as pretty much the entire book contains personal email correspondence to and from friends and colleagues. It’s also interlaced with thoughts from family and the five columns Ruth wrote about her condition.

Letter from Jenny Dee, 18 September 1997
Dearest Ruthie,

You are my best friend and I am so reluctant to let you go. I’ve been putting off thinking about you dying because I just don’t know how my life will be without you. We have done so many hugely important and amazingly trivial things together – you are the diary that I never kept. The language of love and loss seems so inept at the moment. All I can say is that I will miss you forever, you are my best friend forever and I love you forever.

Even though Ruth was a very brave soul, the book still made me bawl my eyes out. By the time I got halfway through the book, I realized that Ruth was somebody I wish I would’ve known in my life. She was so courageous, positive, and kind. I couldn’t imagine being in her shoes and she handled everything which such strength all the way up until the end. This is a book I’ll always keep and my rating on it is 5*****.


 

You can find this book on Goodreads and Amazon

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; First Edition edition (September 14, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805066128
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805066128

Continue reading “Throwback Thursday – November 2nd – Before I Say Goodbye”

Throwback Thursday – October 26th – Fall to Pieces: A Memoir of Drugs, Rock ‘n’ Roll, and Mental Illness

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme created by Renee @ It’s Book Talk. This meme is an awesome way to share old favorites that were published over a year ago or even books that you’re finally reading after much time has passed. I have plenty of those to share! If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, and you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic as well. Please link back to her@It’s Book Talk.

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This Week’s Pick:

Fall to Pieces: A Memoir of Drugs, Rock ‘n’ Roll, and Mental Illness

by Mary Forsberg WeilandLarkin Warren

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Blurb: Fall to Pieces is a beautifully written, visceral, roller coaster ride inside bipolar disorder, rock ’n’ roll, celebrity culture, and the world of modeling. Mary Forsberg Weiland, wife of Scott Weiland, frontman for Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver, tells a harrowing true story of depression, drug addiction, and mental illness with candor and, often, humor. Co-written with veteran journalist Larkin Warren, Fall to Pieces is a blistering, eye-opening memoir of Hollywood meltdown in the bestselling vein of Tatum O’Neal’s A Paper Life and Valerie Bertinelli’s Losing It.

My Thoughts:

Fall to Pieces by Mary Forsberg Weiland is an insightful memoir about Mary and her struggle with mental illness, drug use, and her relationship with Scott Weiland, former singer of Stone Temple Pilots.

My entire life I’ve loved music and my teen years in the 90’s was where music became a necessity for everyday life as I experienced similar issues to what Mary had, although nowhere near as extreme. Stone Temple Pilots was one of my favorites and Scott remained a favorite singer of mine in STP, Velvet Revolver and even his solo albums. When he passed away in 2015 I was shocked. Another great artist was gone and the horrible comments and accusations about him as a person began. People would call him a junkie, loser, abuser, and careless to name few. These words from people who were obviously not fans and those who don’t understand addiction and mental disease. They also don’t know what Scott experienced in his life. After reading Scott’s book, I wanted to see what Mary had to say. To see my review on Scott Weiland’s book Click Here

Firstly, this book has much more content than Scott’s Not Dead and Not for Sale. This book doesn’t highlight everything about Scott, but covers Mary and Scott’s relationship from the beginning until their divorce. Mary starts by discussing her early family life and emancipation at 17 which leads into her modeling career. She talks about her struggle with addiction long before her relationship with Scott started.

Mary obviously loved Scott, but it seemed like their relationship was doomed from the beginning. Scott was heavy into drugs and Mary knew it. They both had issues from the past and despite their mental illnesses, they got married and had kids. Up and down and all around is the best way to describe their journey together. It’s sad at times and at one point Mary pulls a Bernadine from “Waiting to Exhale” on Scott’s wardrobe. There’s a lot here you’ll never know if you don’t read the book. It contains journal entries, photos, and a lot of personal information. I learned about friendships that Mary had with other models, actors, and celebrities that I never knew about. Her bi-polar episodes didn’t really appear until the last quarter of the book.

What’s sad is that Scott couldn’t straighten up despite Mary’s persistence. Obviously, it’s what she wanted for herself and the kids, but she had her own demons to deal with and it’s sad the kids don’t have their dad to grow up with. I suppose having kids in this relationship was a bad idea, but I love Mary’s “no regrets” attitude. His kids are teens themselves now.

I enjoyed the writing style and the story told in chronological order. It’s an easy, fast-paced read that’s written well. If you want to know more about Mary and Scott, read it. You won’t be sorry…

4****

Continue reading “Throwback Thursday – October 26th – Fall to Pieces: A Memoir of Drugs, Rock ‘n’ Roll, and Mental Illness”

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – Funky Monkey Cacao Smoothie – Paw Tracks in the Moonlight by Denis O’Connor

Happy Wednesday! I have a new book to share this week along with a newly discovered delicious smoothie!

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This recipe comes from a book I’ll be reviewing later on. So far, the book is amazing and I’ve enjoyed a few recipes which will be keepers. If you’d like to add this book, you can find it on Goodreads, Amazon, and many other retailers. Mine is the hardcover edition.

Healing Tonics, Juices, and Smoothies

100+ Elixirs to Nurture Body and Soul

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Find it on Goodreads and Amazon


I decided to make this Funky Monkey smoothie because I absolutely love Cacao!

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For those of you who don’t already know, cacao beans are fully raw cocoa beans. It’s the purest form of chocolate that you can consume and it’s delicious! It’s truly one of my favorite raw foods. We are using the nibs and powder in this recipe.

The Ingredients:

1 cup mylk (how it’s spelled in the book)

1 1/2 frozen bananas

1 Tbsp raw cacao powder

2 Tbsp almond butter

1 Tbsp Raw Honey or other liquid sweeteners

1 Tbsp raw cacao nibs

Here’s a picture of the ingredients and directions:

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Here’s what I did:

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I added in my soaked almonds for the milk and the frozen banana.

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I added in the cacao powder. I can’t give you a brand because my label is gone, but there are many brands online. I picked mine up from a health food store.

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I added in the almond butter.

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I just found this new raw honey at Costco. Great price!

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Blend it up well.

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Then, I added in the nibs and blended for just a few seconds to crunch them up a bit. You want the smoothie to be a little chunky. Here’s the brand I use.

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Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – Funky Monkey Cacao Smoothie – Paw Tracks in the Moonlight by Denis O’Connor”

#Blog Tour #Book Review – The Spell of the Horse by Pam Billinge

I was very lucky to be able to participate in the blog tour for The Spell of the Horse, a book written by Pam Billinge. This blog tour is organized by Blackbird Digital Books.

 

The Spell of the Horse by Pam Billinge

Stories of Healing and Personal Transformation with Nature’s Finest Teachers

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Blurb:

The ability of the horse to sense emotion, energy and spirit is way beyond what most of the human world realises. A must-read for those wishing to understand the spiritual connection between horses and humans.

When Pam’s mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, she began to notice the way her horse responded to her emotional turmoil. Thus began an exploration into the spiritual relationship between horses and humans and their infinite capacity to help us heal. Building on her remarkable discoveries, Pam began her pioneering work as a horse-led coach and therapist. By sharing her own path to redemption through personal tragedy, and other stories of healing inspired by the incredible interactions she has observed between horse and human, Pam puts forward her uplifting insights about the true nature of the horse, setting out some simple principles to help the reader transcend life’s challenges.

Discover the lessons which horse behaviour have taught the author about

* managing anxiety
* surviving bereavement
* letting go of fear and finding courage to live with joy and purpose
* listening to inner wisdom without over thinking dilemmas, allowing the right things to happen in life without force

This memoir will appeal to fans of The Outrun by Amy Liptrot, The Wild Other by Clover Stroud and H is For Hawk by Helen Macdonald. Pam Billinge is a body psychotherapy professional and leadership coach at the top of her game in the UK field of horse-led therapy.


My Thoughts:

I’ve been a horse owner for part of my life and have always found the relationship between horse and human to be something very special. After reading this book, I understand even more how horses can sense our emotions because we are transparent and they react to them in many different ways. I’ve suffered from anxiety and depression in the past and I’ve discovered first hand how animals, including horses, can assist us in many ways. They are there for us in our time of need and can help us discover our true self. They have the power to help us heal.

“My body and soul were moving to a different rhythm. The self-pity had gone. My vitality was back. I was thankful for every breath I took in this incredible world. I was under the spell, the spell of the Horse. Healing had commenced.”

Pam Billinge has written a book about her own journey to heal and achieve happiness. She writes about her experiences with horses and horse therapy. While struggling herself, she works with people who are having problems in their lives and the horse, in turn, helps them discover what’s wrong. Horses respond to their emotions and after working with them, they begin to ask themselves what they need to change in their own life trajectories and why things are the way they are with their family, relationships, career, or life in general.

I found The Spell of the Horse emotional at times, especially when it seemed that the author’s life was in a downward spiral. The book contains some of the author’s experience with challenging relationships, tragedy, love, death, and mourning. Some of my favorite parts in the book involved the discovery.

“Our spirit, our essence, is about being. It is the life that pulses and ripples within us. It is what is left when the heart beats no more. It is something that is sensed, and something of the senses. It is something which resonates, which vibrates. It is a silent music, and the emotions and feelings that animate us during life are the notes, the chords, and the crescendos of that symphony.”

The Spell of the Horse can be cherished by those who work with horses or enjoy horses in general, but it can also help anyone discover that healing is real. Readers will discover how others have changed their direction in life and have become happier people because of it. They’ve taken control, and all because of the spell of the horse.

My rating is:

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Find this book on Amazon and Goodreads

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Blackbird Digital Books (September 18, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0995473552
  • ISBN-13: 978-0995473553

About the Author:

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The first horses which Pam became fascinated by were ridden by the mounted policemen she would see passing her childhood home in Liverpool on the way to supervise football matches. Little did she know, then, how these magnificent creatures would influence her adult life, not only supporting her through a number of personal tragedies, but also leading to her pioneering work in horse-led psychotherapy and coaching.

In her first book, The Spell of the Horse, Pam shares her memoir and other stories inspired by the incredible interactions she has observed between horse and human. Thus she reveals the true nature of the horse whilst delivering some simple principles to help the reader transcend life’s challenges to live with purpose, self-belief and joy.

Find Pam Billinge on:

Facebook | Website | Goodreads | Twitter

Continue reading “#Blog Tour #Book Review – The Spell of the Horse by Pam Billinge”

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – The Spell of the Horse – Vegan Breakfast Cookies

Hello, everyone! I caught up on most of my reading and made it back this week with a new book and recipe to share with you this morning.

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The recipe I’m sharing is a basic breakfast cookie recipe that I modified to make gluten free. These are delicious, healthy, and so easy to grab on busy mornings. They’re honestly wonderful any time of the day. I have to credit TheMinimalistBaker for this basic recipe even though I modified it. You can see the original unmodified recipe Here.

Ingredients (modified for gluten free +) – Makes about 18

  • 2 medium ripe bananas
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp raw honey
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats (gluten-free)
  • 1/2 cup gluten free flour (coconut, arrowroot)
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 Tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 Tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tbsp lightly chopped walnuts
  • 2 Tbsp dried cranberries or raisins
  • 1/2 cup dairy-free semisweet or dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C).
  2. In a large bowl or mixer, mash the bananas, almond butter, pumpkin puree, oil, and honey until it’s a fairly smooth batter. A mixer works perfectly.
  3. Stir in vanilla, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
  4. Add oats, almond meal, and flour. Mix well.
  5. Add chocolate chips, cranberries, and walnuts. Stir until well combined.
  6. Drop cookies by large scoop size on a baking sheet and press down slightly to flatten.
  7. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until the cookies are slightly golden brown.
  8. Rest on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Store in an air-tight container to keep fresh for up to 5 days.

Here’s how I made them: I doubled the recipe…

I make my own almond meal. In the processor, it’s so easy. Add in your almonds. About a cup or so.

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Process on high until a meal has formed. It takes about 1 minute.

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This is what I love about this Cuisinart processor. You can use the two top plastic inserts and the full processor remains clean.

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Another tip is to buy your nuts in bulk and keep them in the freezer. Then you’ll always have them when you need them. I just store mine in gallon freezer bags.

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Chop up about 3-4 Tbsp of Walnuts

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I’m using this local nut butter company in Michigan. This stuff is delicious, or you can make your own in the processor the same way you do the meal. It just takes about 12-15 minutes to make. If you have a Vitamix, you can make nut butters in that as well.

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Add in your honey, bananas, pumpkin, and coconut oil. If you’re using a mixer like a Kitchenaid, you don’t need to mash the bananas first.

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Whip it up for a minute until everything is blended and smooth.

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 Add in the vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix it well.

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Now we’re going to add in the flour. I went gluten free on this recipe using a 50/50 mix of arrowroot and coconut flour. Add it in the bowl.

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Coconut flour is very fibrous and can be tricky. Doing a 50/50 mix with another gluten free flour does the trick.

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We’re going to add the flours in the bowl with our almond meal and oats.

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Mix it in good.

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The last ingredients are dark/dairy free chocolate chips, dried cranberries, and walnuts. Mix that up and we’re ready to form the cookies.

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I’m using a regular ice cream scoop to make the cookies very large.

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Evenly space them, press them a little flat, and bake for about 17 minutes.

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These are so delicious.

Crispy on the outside while soft on the inside.

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They are so moist and aren’t dry at all!

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With these breakfast cookies, I’m having a favorite tea by Pukka called “Womankind.” The cranberry, rose, and vanilla flavor goes well with these cookies. If you’d like to see my previous post on brewing perfect tea, click HERE.

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Hope you enjoy!

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Continue for this week’s book!

Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – The Spell of the Horse – Vegan Breakfast Cookies”

“The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel

The Sound of Silence“, originally titled “The Sounds of Silence”, is a song by Simon and Garfunkel. It was written by Paul Simon and debuted on the album Wednesday Mornin, 3am in 1964.

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Lyrics

Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

“Fools” said I
“You do not know, silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you”
But my words like silent raindrops fell
And echoed
In the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the signs said
“The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whisper’d in the sounds of silence


What does the song mean to you?

When asked, Garfunkel stated that the song’s meaning was “the inability of people to communicate with each other, not particularly internationally but especially emotionally, so what you see around you are people unable to love each other.”

I’ve always loved this song, but perhaps one of the most powerful presentations was at the September 11th ten-year memorial service with Paul Simon. It seemed perfect. From that moment on, whenever I hear the song, it takes me back to that day. If you haven’t seen it, I hope you’ll watch it.

You can see the video performance here:

Continue reading ““The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel”

Shabby Sunday: Walking Through Fire by Laurel Lee

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Shabby Sunday Meme

I have a lot of old vintage books and one of my plans when I first started blogging was to do a post every week or so that shared one of my cherished vintage books. Then, I thought that maybe there might be other book bloggers out there that have some vintage books, heirlooms, or maybe some old books from childhood that they might want to share. I decided to start a weekly meme titled ‘Shabby Sunday’ for those who would like to participate and share some of their old vintage books. Do you have some shabby books you’d like to share? Please feel free to participate. Feel free to use the picture I’ve provided if you’d like to. If you decide to do this meme, please consider linking back to me so that I can see the book you’re sharing.


Today’s shabby share is:

Walking Through Fire

by: Laurel Lee

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I’m one of those people who believe that everything happens for a reason and this book is just one example. It fell into my hands at our local library book sale after someone had donated it. I have a thing for vintage books as it is, but there was something special about this one. Little did I know, this would be a book that would help me in the near future with my own health struggles.

The book is a hospital journal written by Laurel Lee, a woman who’s just become stricken with Hodgkin’s while pregnant with her third child. This book is her journey with cancer and everything else in between, including her everyday life with marriage and children. Laurel deals with typical life while being faced with multiple challenges alongside a scary situation that threatens her life and the life of her unborn child. She outlines her experiences in this book.

Why is this book a favorite? What I loved most about it was that it’s a journal–a true account that Laurel was willing to share with others regarding her personal trials and tribulations. Her courage shines through and was an inspiration to me before I experienced something similar. Sometimes our health can get in the way of how we want to live our lives. Often we take our health for granted and I think this book does an excellent job of bringing this to our attention, but at the same time, it’s also a celebration of life.

The cover was designed by Laurel and has many little drawings in the text by the author as well. Like me, this book will be forty years old this September and was published in 1977. It’s roughly one hundred and eighteen pages and a quick read. Mine is the first edition hardcover with a dust jacket.

This remains on my shelf permanently. Even though I found it hard to read at times, it’s one of my favorites and gets a 5-star rating from me. I would recommend it to anyone.

When thou walkest through the fire,
thou shall not be burned,
neither shall the flame be kindled upon thee – Isaiah 43:2

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Continue for book info and where to find it…

Continue reading “Shabby Sunday: Walking Through Fire by Laurel Lee”

Q&A With Bernard Jan – Author of A World Without Color: A True Story Of the Last Three Days With My Cat

 

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A few weeks ago I came across a book on Goodreads titled A World Without Color: A True Story Of the Last Three Days With My Cat and knew right away I needed to read it. It’s a memoir written by Bernard Jan pertaining to the loss of his beloved cat Marcel. Bernard was very kind to offer some of his time to discuss his writing and some other questions I had about the book. You can see my Q&A with Bernard Jan below.

If you’d like to see my previous post including my review for the book, you can click HERE. 

Click the cover to add on Goodreads, or pick it up on Amazon by clicking HERE.

Kindle Unlimited members can read this for free!

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Continue reading “Q&A With Bernard Jan – Author of A World Without Color: A True Story Of the Last Three Days With My Cat”

A World Without Color: A True Story Of the Last Three Days With My Cat – by Bernard Jan – Book Review

A World Without Color

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My Review

A World Without Color: A True Story of the Last Three Days with my Cat is a short memoir about one family’s experience of losing a beloved pet, a cat named Marcel. Bernard Jan lays out his experience with Marcel’s last 3 days of life as the emotions pour out of him on screen.

I found this book on Goodreads this morning after reading one of Bernard Jan’s blog posts and it sounded like a must read. As a person who has many pets, I sometimes think about what it’ll be like when the time comes to let them go. I wonder when, how, and what sort of choices I’ll have to make. In this book, the author tells his whole story about what his cat Marcel’s last 3 days were like interlaced with memories of the past. He writes about the effects of losing a best friend for himself and his family.

At multiple times I cried and could feel his emotions. He expresses what he’s feeling physically, his thoughts and emotions, everything so raw and real. Despite the sadness, I love the way this author writes.

And wherever I go, whatever I do, I will try to let you also feel a touch of the world through which we will walk together. I’ll be your eyes. My heart will beat for you. My lungs will soak up the scents of the seasons, and the music from the radio will lull us to sleep together.”

At first, I wasn’t sure about the additional ending. I felt like the fact that it was a true story meant that it should end the way the real story did, but it was unique that the author included an alternative ending for those that wanted a different outcome.

The events Bernard Jan experiences are something no pet owner wants to endure. Every once in awhile you read a book by an author and you wish you could give him a hug. This is that book…

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If you’re a Kindle Unlimited Member, you can read this for free! For everyone else it’s only $1.99 right now on Amazon.

Click HERE to grab a copy.

Continue reading “A World Without Color: A True Story Of the Last Three Days With My Cat – by Bernard Jan – Book Review”

Q&A with Cyndy Drew Etler – Author of The Dead Inside – A True Survivor’s Story About Her Experience with Straight, Inc.

 

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I recently read The Dead Inside by Cyndy Drew Etler and learned about Straight, Inc. for the first time. I’d never even heard of Straight and was quite shocked with Cyndy’s story. Cyndy was a troubled teen in the 80’s who had some experiences that aren’t all that uncommon. She was making wrong choices while trying to find her place in the world, until at the age of 14, when her mother decided to throw her into a drug rehabilitation for throwaway kids who are deemed out of control. This institution was called Straight, Inc.

I was able to ask Cyndy some questions about her experience with Straight and have included them below for those interested.

In case you haven’t learned about Straight, I encourage you to view my original review which includes videos and more information for The Dead Inside HERE and also the Q&A with Christine Flannery, another Straight survivor HERE.

Cyndy’s new book We Can’t Be Friends will be available later this year. You can find information on that below.

 

Continue reading “Q&A with Cyndy Drew Etler – Author of The Dead Inside – A True Survivor’s Story About Her Experience with Straight, Inc.”

Fall to Pieces – A Memoir of Drugs, Rock ‘n’ Roll, and Mental Illness – by Mary Forsberg Weiland

 

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Fall to Pieces by Mary Forsberg Weiland is an insightful memoir about Mary and her struggle with mental illness, drug use, and her relationship with Scott Weiland, former singer of Stone Temple Pilots.

My entire life I’ve loved music and my teen years in the 90’s was where music became a necessity for everyday life as I experienced similar issues to what Mary had, although no where near as extreme. Stone Temple Pilots was one of my favorites and Scott remained a favorite singer of mine in STP, Velvet Revolver and even his solo albums. When he passed away in 2015 I was shocked. Another great artist was gone and the horrible comments and accusations about him as a person began. People would call him a junkie, loser, abuser, and careless to name few. These words from people who were obviously not fans and those who don’t understand addiction and mental disease. They also don’t know what Scott experienced in his life. After reading Scott’s book, I wanted to see what Mary had to say.

Firstly, this book has much more content than Scott’s Not Dead and Not for Sale. It won’t highlight everything about Scott, but covers Mary and Scott’s relationship from the beginning until their divorce. Mary starts by discussing her early family life and emancipation at 17 which leads into her modeling career. She talks about her struggle with addiction long before her relationship with Scott started.

Mary obviously loved Scott, but it seemed like their relationship was doomed from the beginning. Scott was heavy into drugs and Mary knew it. They both had issues from the past and despite their mental illnesses, they got married and had kids. Up and down and all around is the best way to describe their journey together. It’s sad at times and at one point Mary pulls a Bernadine from “Waiting to Exhale” on Scott’s wardrobe. There’s a lot here you’ll never know if you don’t read the book. It contains journal entries, photos, and a lot of personal information. I learned about friendships that Mary had with other models, actors and celebrities that I never knew about. Her bi-polar episodes did’t really appear until the last quarter of the book.

What’s sad is that Scott couldn’t straighten up despite Mary’s persistence. Obviously, it’s what she wanted for herself and the kids, but she had her own demons to deal with and it’s sad the kids don’t have their dad to grow up with. I suppose having kids in this relationship was a bad idea, but I love Mary’s “no regrets” attitude. His kids are teens themselves now.

I enjoyed the writing style and the story told in chronological order. It’s an easy fast paced read that’s written well. If you want to know more about Mary and Scott, read it. You won’t be sorry…

4-stars

 


 

 

Continue reading “Fall to Pieces – A Memoir of Drugs, Rock ‘n’ Roll, and Mental Illness – by Mary Forsberg Weiland”

My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward – A Memoir by Mark Lukach

Lately, I’ve been reading a good amount of books regarding mental illness. In the past I’ve dealt with my own mental health issues, mainly after developing a thyroid disorder and after having children. It isn’t easy and in my opinion isn’t taken seriously enough. Many medical professionals are less than compassionate. Many times family members look at it as a weakness and feel that it’s crippling to their own lives as if the actual person with the disease chooses to be ill. The mentally effected person’s life stops, while everyone else expects to move on with their own. With that said, I had mixed feelings about this memoir and possibly because it’s one sided, from the caregivers perspective. Although, I personally have never been in Mark’s shoes and haven’t had to deal with a person with a disorder like Giulia is experiencing.

*This review may contain some mild spoilers*

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My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward is a memoir written by a husband who is dealing with mental illness for the first time. Early in his marriage his wife suddenly develops a mental disorder originally diagnosed as Schizophrenia but later re-diagnosed as Bipolar. She spends about a month in a hospital while doctors try to figure out what’s wrong. During this time, her husband Mark is dealing with a range of emotions including sadness, confusion, anger and many more. As Giulia is started on medications, everything is up in the air and Mark is left to wonder what their future holds.

Parts of this memoir were hard to read, while others were heartwarming. You can feel the love that Mark has for Giulia, but as anger sets in, things begin to change for their relationship. He begins to resent her as time moves on from her first hospitalization. This is where I began to have some mixed feelings. There were events taking place in the relationship where they were falling away from each other and their relationship became uncertain. Was he giving up? It almost seemed as though Mark was becoming more distracted and couldn’t deal with it anymore. Again, I can’t imagine how hard it must have been for him, but it seemed like he just wasn’t understanding that the illness wasn’t Giulia’s fault. She had no way to stop it and she was very scared as well. With their mutual decision to have a child (Jona), things became more complicated and even with the overwhelming support of both wonderful families, which I thought was amazing, it wasn’t enough. Giulia would be dealing with a lifelong illness which could potentially affect everyone who loved her.

I thought the book was written very well. I was engrossed from cover to cover and I’m glad to have read it. I commend Mark for the courage to tell their story and the strength to hang on through all the ups and downs. I hope that as time moves on, Giulia’s illness will improve, and Mark and Giulia can enjoy their marriage and child.

4-stars

Continue reading “My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward – A Memoir by Mark Lukach”

An Interview with Bret Witter – Author of Dewey – Monument’s Men – Until Tuesday and more…

Bret Witter is an author of many books including 8 New York Times bestsellers including The Monument’s Men, Stronger (Jeff Bauman’s story), Dewey, Until Tuesday and more. He’s a full-time professional writer. Children recognize Bret Witter from reading about Dewey, the famous library cat in these popular children’s books.

 

Adult cat lovers can read about Dewey in these New York Times bestselling books…

 

I recently read Until Tuesday, Tuesday Tucks Me in, and Tuesday Takes Me There.

These stories are about Luis Carlos Montalván, an Iraq war veteran and his service dog Tuesday. To see my original reviews for Until Tuesday, Tuesday Tucks Me In and Tuesday Takes Me There, please click the links below.

Luis Carlos Montalván – A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him

Tuesday’s Promise and Tuesday Takes Me There by Luis Carlos Montalván

I was lucky to get an interview with this author to ask him some questions about himself and a few about the book Until Tuesday. You can see the Q&A with the author below.

 

Continue reading “An Interview with Bret Witter – Author of Dewey – Monument’s Men – Until Tuesday and more…”

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book

I have two awesome recipes to share with you today along with two great books I’m reading this week. First, let’s get started on the breakfast!

It’s strawberry season and one of the reasons I love June so much! This will be a two part process because I’m showing you how I make my fresh homemade strawberry jam. Here’s my recipe:

Ingredients:

9 cups of whole strawberries – Remove tops and rinse – Here’s my video of my favorite tool for topping strawberries! Watch how fast it works…

7 cups of sugar

2 packages fruit pectin ( I use two packages, but you can try one for a thinner jam)

4-5 pint size jars with lids and caps

Equipment: Canner with lid, jar lifter, cooling rack, canning funnel

 

Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book”

Tuesday’s Promise and Tuesday Takes Me There by Luis Carlos Montalván

Many of you have probably seen my previous post regarding Luis & Tuesday. I’ve now finished the last two books and will have my reviews posted below. I’ve been in contact with Lu Picard at ECAD and found out that every Tuesday, they post updates on their Facebook page regarding Tuesday and what he’s doing now. I was so excited to learn this and I have the link below for those that would like to take a look.

I feel like after reading these books that I’ve been on an adventure with Luis & Tuesday and don’t want it to end. All four of these books are beautiful and I hope that more people will read them. The children’s books are wonderful as well. If you’d like to see my previous posts on Until Tuesday and Tuesday Tucks Me In, you can click HERE. 

Tuesday’s Promise by Luis Carlos Montalván & Ellis Henican

31932889Tuesday’s promise is the final book written about Luis Montalván and his service dog, Tuesday. I recently read the previous book Until Tuesday. One nice thing about this book is that people who haven’t read Until Tuesday can go right into this one as he covers his story again for new readers. I didn’t mind the repetition at all and it never became boring to me.

I found this second book to be even more heartbreaking. I already knew the outcome beforehand, but there was so much more that happened with Luis from the last book until now. Luis, broken by war, became even more courageous and started traveling more and putting himself out there for others who needed him including the wounded, those suffering from PTSD, and others. As he healed even more, he wasn’t 100 percent, but he was changing and learning to live his life in the best way possible, even with the trials and tribulations of his mental illness and injuries. The most heartbreaking part of the book for me was chapter 22, thinking about aging Tuesday. Luis had said more than once that he would outlive Tuesday. Let’s face it, dogs don’t live as long as humans do. It seemed as if he was having a difficult time coping with the thoughts of losing Tuesday and I wonder if this was something he just couldn’t take.

“When it happens, it will feel like a piece of my heart has been ripped out and handed to me. You’re never supposed to see your heart. It’s in your chest. Being handed your own heart is a thoroughly unnatural experience, so vulnerable. But it will be real, and nothing in the world can change it.”

I think about my own dogs who are considered family and the thought of losing them makes me very sad, even though I understand this is part of life. The thought of Luis losing Tuesday is almost unfathomable because Tuesday is the reason Luis was able to live again. He helped him heal and was his best friend for many years. You can feel the emotion and fear Luis is experiencing as the words pour out of him in the book.

As far as the writing and structure, the book is written well just like the first, the added photos were great, and I appreciated the afterward by Ellis Henican. It was, for the most part, told in chronological order this time. I loved the title, and readers will learn about the true meaning of the title as they read on in the book.

If you haven’t read about Luis & Tuesday yet, I suggest you read this book, or read them all. I can’t even express how much this story has touched me. I even enjoyed the children’s books. I’ve spent the last few weeks living and breathing Luis and Tuesday and they’ve been on my mind a lot. It’s a story I’ll never forget. I’m sad that the journey has ended, but I know that Luis is in a better place and I pray that he is at peace.

*Our veterans are important-they need our support, and these service dogs like Tuesday are integral in order for them to carry on with life.*

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Blurb

Luis and Tuesday are winning hearts again. With his captivating New York Times bestseller Until Tuesday, Iraq War veteran Luis Carlos Montalván furthered America’s conversation about the need to care for first responders suffering from the effects of PTSD, especially highlighting the near-miraculous benefit of service dog companionship.

Now, in this spectacular follow-up, Luis and Tuesday rescue a forgotten Tuskegee airman, battle obstinate VA bureaucrats and bring solace for troubled war heroes coast-to-coast. All this, while Luis’ personal battle intensifies; while Tuesday has helped him make immense mental strides, the chronic pain of his injuries threaten to leave him wheelchair-bound. In a grave decision, Luis opts to amputate his leg, and learn how to live with a prosthetic.

As Luis regains his athleticism, 10-year-old Tuesday enters new phase in life; due to his growing age he will soon need to retire. Together, these two friends begin the tender process of welcoming a new puppy into their pack. SINCE TUESDAY is an inspiring story with an unforgettable message about love, service, and teamwork.

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Continue reading “Tuesday’s Promise and Tuesday Takes Me There by Luis Carlos Montalván”

Lessons from Grandpa #2

As Father’s Day approaches, I’m thinking about my grandfather and another lesson he taught me repeatedly when he was still here.

When I was a teen, my grandfather always told me,

“Love your father, he’s the only one you’re ever going to get.”

I heard it often, because I was upset about my father a lot. He’s an alcoholic and was consistently doing foolish things. My grandfather knew it, but because he was up in age, he began to forgive everyone for everything. Plus, there were so many things my grandfather didn’t know, things that he would never understand.

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Me with my brother and grandfather -1980 – My grandfather bought a vintage wire clock from a rummage sale and put this picture in it to cover the clock face. It hung on the wall into my adulthood.

Growing up, I was raised by my grandfather and he taught me everything he could. I would only visit my dad every other weekend (many of which were cancelled by him), and in all actuality was closer to my step-mom than him. My step-mom and I spent most of the weekend time together while my dad got wasted. There were plenty of times I didn’t belong with my dad when he was drunk-driving and many weekends I wished I would’ve just stayed home. It was hard for me and I didn’t understand why he wanted to do this to himself and to others. He would get violent and there were times when he hurt himself and others physically. As I got older, I understood why my mom couldn’t stay married to him, and also that if it weren’t for my father’s violence and stupidity, I would’ve had an older sister. My mom miscarried their first child related to his violence.

At one point in my childhood, my dad was in an institution for a few months. He’d gotten so wasted and decided he didn’t want to live anymore. He was listening to some really loud music and got it stuck in his head that he wanted to die. He started a fire in his house and tried to burn himself down with it. I don’t know who got there first, but there was considerable damage to the house and it needed many repairs. I know that my step-mother was fed up with him and she had issues of her own, including losing her young brother in an accident and an older brother in a separate truck accident. She wasn’t dealing with any of this well and began using drugs heavily. A few years later, she died from a drug overdose. Just before that, she sat me down along with my brother and told us that she was planning to divorce my dad, but that she would always love us. There were events like this that my grandfather didn’t know about and he didn’t know the pain my dad caused my step-mother or that she was using drugs. I don’t know if it would’ve changed his thoughts anyhow.  Continue reading “Lessons from Grandpa #2”

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week. I’m excited to share Wednesday’s breakfast and reads with you all!

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This morning was a bit chilly and I really had a taste for oatmeal. I know, it sounds boring, but you might actually like this recipe! It’s quite good and a healthy start to your day.

I have to admit that the way I used to make this recipe isn’t the way I make it anymore. I’ve added the original ingredients below in parentheses.

Ingredients: Serves 3-4

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 3 1/2 cups almond milk (cow’s milk preferred in original recipe)
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • TB of Brown Sugar
  • Original recipe calls for 1 TB of butter (omitted in my version)
  • Extra milk for serving

Directions:

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Add oats and milk to a pan with a dash of salt.

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Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 5 minutes. The oats will start to thicken, so at this point add the raisins and simmer for a few more minutes. Stir a few times.

After simmering, I like to shut off the heat and let it sit for about 10 minutes. The raisins will get nice and plump and the oats will be very creamy.

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Add your brown sugar to the bowl and butter if you’re using it.

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Stir it all up in your bowl and add more milk if desired. Sprinkle on your cinnamon and your good to go. It’s a fairly easy and healthy recipe! It does taste better with butter and cows milk, but without the dairy, it’s still delicious.

 


This week’s reads:

I finished Luke Narlee’s book The Appointment which I’ll review later today. I started two new books and so far I like them both. 

First, let’s start with Tuesday’s Promise. I reviewed two other books about Tuesday and Luis Carlos Montalván last week. I couldn’t wait to get Tuesday’s promise and I also picked up Tuesday Takes Me There which I’ll review later this week as well. Their story has really touched me and I’m so glad to have learned about these two. You can see my original post on those books HERE. Here’s the blurb on this one…

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Blurb: Luis and Tuesday are winning hearts again. With his captivating New York Times bestseller Until Tuesday, Iraq War veteran Luis Carlos Montalván furthered America’s conversation about the need to care for first responders suffering from the effects of PTSD, especially highlighting the near-miraculous benefit of service dog companionship.

Now, in this spectacular follow-up, Luis and Tuesday rescue a forgotten Tuskegee airman, battle obstinate VA bureaucrats and bring solace for troubled war heroes coast-to-coast. All this, while Luis’ personal battle intensifies; while Tuesday has helped him make immense mental strides, the chronic pain of his injuries threaten to leave him wheelchair-bound. In a grave decision, Luis opts to amputate his leg, and learn how to live with a prosthetic.

As Luis regains his athleticism, 10-year-old Tuesday enters new phase in life; due to his growing age he will soon need to retire. Together, these two friends begin the tender process of welcoming a new puppy into their pack. SINCE TUESDAY is an inspiring story with an unforgettable message about love, service, and teamwork.

I had no clue what was in store in this follow-up to Until Tuesday. I’m learning a lot more about both Tuesday and Luis and the book is even more heartbreaking than the first. I’ll review later this week. 

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Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book”

Surviving Straight, Inc. Q & A with Straight Survivor Christine Flannery

I recently read a book by Cyndy Drew Etler titled, The Dead Inside. The book is about Cyndy’s experience with Straight, Inc. I’d never even heard of Straight until I read this book. You can see my original post on The Dead Inside which will soon contain a Q&A with the author and you can also see the trailer for the documentary/movie on Straight by clicking HERE.

I found this story to be incredibly disturbing and as I began searching online, I found countless cases regarding kids who were abused in this program. These programs at one point were supported by members of government including Nancy Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

After my research I met Christine Flannery, a Cincinnati Straight Survivor who was in the program from 1984-1986. You can read her story on her website by clicking HERE. I was able to speak with Christine about her experience at Straight. You can learn more about Straight and see the Q&A with Christine Flannery below.

What is Straight, Inc?

Straight, Inc. (1976-1993) publicly claimed to rehabilitate teenage drug users by using tough love and Alcoholics Anonymous principles. Straight, Inc. provided NO professional counseling: Straight, Inc.’s “treatment model” relied exclusively on “positive peer pressure” from unprofessional staff (program graduates) and from the teenage clients. Straight, Inc. claimed to have an astronomically high success rate and was supported by both the Reagan and Bush administrations. However, Straight, Inc. did not publicly reveal what many survivors will tell you. imagesi34er5667777zer.jpgThe REAL Straight, Inc. was a facility that used coercive thought reform (aka mind control, brainwashing), public humiliation, sleep & food deprivation, extremely harsh confrontational tactics, kidnapping, isolation and emotional, mental, psychological, verbal and physical abuse to forcibly break us down then remold us in the Straight, Inc. image. Straight, Inc. also operated in secrecy, just like a cult (Straight, Inc. has been listed on at least 2 cult expert websites). No outsiders were ever permitted to know what really went on. Straight’s rules and our fear of harsh punishment prevented us from talking to outsiders or from reporting abuses.- From Christine’s website

Here’s a video that Christine put together regarding Straight, Inc.

As many as 50,000 kids were in the Straight program, Straight, Inc.  is the biggest violator of human rights and civil liberties that this country has ever seen.  There are accounts of food and sleep deprivation, making kids soil their pants, beatings, spitting in kids faces, and marathon sessions where teenagers would be yelled at by many other kids for long periods of time.  Children were forbidden from reading any material including religious books.  Conditions were so deplorable that kids had to be watched 24/7, even as they wiped themselves on the toilet (reminiscent of Nazi concentration camps where Jews were made to defecate publicly like cats and dogs) to make sure they did not commit suicide.   Under such deplorable and humiliating conditions many kids resorted to carving on their bodies with a fingernail, piece of broken chair, or whatever else they could find just as a caged animal gnarls at an open sore. –From the Medical Whistleblower Advocacy Network. 

Straight, Inc. was also renamed…

As Christine mentions on her website, Straight, Inc. became Kids Helping Kids, Pathway Family Center, Life, Growing Together, KIDS (of North Jersey, El Paso, etc.), SAFE, Alberta Adolescent Recovery Center (AARC), and others. Even though most of these spin-offs have been shut down, there are still similar programs for troubled teens that follow the same tactics as Straight.

In this video below regarding KIDS, which is basically the same program renamed after Straight, you will see how teens that were once in the program themselves became the counselors working with kids that have been brought into the program. These kids themselves are considered the professional staff.

Here’s another one about SAFE, another renamed Straight program. The video is old, but worth watching…

-Part 2-

Continue reading to see the Q&A with Christine Flannery…

 

Continue reading “Surviving Straight, Inc. Q & A with Straight Survivor Christine Flannery”