Throwback Thursday: The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland by Rebekah Crane #ThrowbackThursday #YoungAdult #BookReview

From Goodreads:

According to sixteen-year-old Zander Osborne, nowhere is an actual place—and she’s just fine there. But her parents insist that she get out of her head—and her home state—and attend Camp Padua, a summer camp for at-risk teens.

Zander does not fit in—or so she thinks. She has only one word for her fellow campers: crazy. In fact, the whole camp population exists somewhere between disaster and diagnosis. There’s her cabinmate Cassie, a self-described manic-depressive-bipolar-anorexic. Grover Cleveland (yes, like the president), a cute but confrontational boy who expects to be schizophrenic someday, odds being what they are. And Bek, a charmingly confounding pathological liar. Continue reading “Throwback Thursday: The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland by Rebekah Crane #ThrowbackThursday #YoungAdult #BookReview”

Q&A with Lew Watts – Author of Marcel Malone – Book Review – SIGNED PAPERBACK GIVEAWAY

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I’ve had Marcel Malone on my TBR list since the beginning of the year and finally read it this past week. In addition to reviewing below, you can read my Q&A with author Lew Watts and learn a little more about him.

Marcel Malone by Lew Watts

31298354Blurb: Dr Vera Lewis has a difficult but intriguing patient, Marcel, whose symptoms result from multiple levels of rejection—from family, colleagues, relationships, and those journals that receive his poetry submissions. Desperate to achieve a breakthrough, Vera prescribes a very unusual treatment that begins to desensitize Marcel to rejection, albeit with unexpected side-effects. It is only when Vera brings poetry into their therapy sessions that Marcel begins to reveal his deeper problems, and is able to confront the demons of his past. As for Vera, she has her own problems…
Set mostly in Washington, DC, Marcel Malone is a story of how the love of poetry can lead to personal transformation.

 

  • Paperback: 282 pages
  • Publisher: Red Mountain Press (October 23, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0997310227
  • ISBN-13: 978-0997310221

 

You can find this book on:

Goodreads | Amazon

 

My review

I had no idea what to expect when I started reading this book. Marcel Malone is a first novel for Lew Watts and one that is definitely unique.

Vera and Raymond are a married couple living in DC. Vera is a psychiatrist who lacks attention from her husband as he places more importance on his job as a lobbyist. Raymond worries about his reputation more than anything and lacks the ability to pick up on Vera’s needs.

The focus in the story is mainly Vera and her life with her patients. A particular patient that she becomes almost dependent on is Marcel. Marcel enjoys reading and writing poetry which is something he and Vera have in common. They share their thoughts with each other and Vera looks forward to these conversations. The result of this relationship and Vera’s own curiosity results in a story with interlaced poetry which I thought was unique, and the poetry just might be what they both need to unleash the past.

“Near this rose, in this grove of sun-parched, wind-warped madronas,
Among the half-dead trees, I came upon the true ease of myself,
As if another man appeared out of the depths of my being,
And I stood outside myself,” lines from The Rose by Theodore Roethke

As Vera learns more about Marcel, she learns that he’s had a hard time with rejection in the past and Vera prescribes a new experiment of paradoxical intervention and journal writing to see if it might help him as a sort of “rejection therapy.” This becomes comical at times, but the outcome she receives from this is unexpected and Vera finds that her own demons and life choices need to be addressed.

The story kept me interested enough to finish it and the ending was quite emotional for me. There were a few times where I became bored with the story as there wasn’t a lot of excitement, but then something would happen or a mystery would be introduced which would yank me right back in again. I’ve always enjoyed poetry, especially Haiku, and I think that anyone who has an appreciation for it will enjoy this book. Even those that don’t particularly care for poetry will more than likely enjoy it. I have a goodly amount of authors and books to add to my list now after reading it and I’d like to thank the author for sharing a complimentary copy of this book with me.

Star_rating_4_of_5

 

Continue reading “Q&A with Lew Watts – Author of Marcel Malone – Book Review – SIGNED PAPERBACK GIVEAWAY”

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”

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.*

stars

 


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”

The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter

I saw this book on Goodreads a few weeks ago and after reading the blurb I decided to give it a try. It’s Kerry Kletter’s debut novel and a heart-wrenching read from cover to cover. To add the book on Goodreads, you can click the cover. You can see my review below.

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My review

There are certain things children need from their mothers-things that we are all entitled too from birth. Some of these include sense of safety, trust, being nurtured and feeling as though we belong. Most of all, as children, we need someone to love us and someone for us to love back. This is something Cassie was denied when she was a young child and she couldn’t seem to figure out how to obtain it. Instead, she questioned herself and suffered mental illness. She was thrust into the world when all she believed in was lies and uncertainty.

I had a very hard time reading parts of this book. I felt like the majority of the characters (Cassie’s family) were evil, selfish beings. Most of Cassie’s family had mental issues and it was quickly trickling down onto her as she was abused, abandoned, and treated as though she was a nobody. It’s harrowing at times and makes you feel like all you want to do is hug her and reassure her that there’s nothing wrong with her, and that everything will be okay.

I felt for Cassie’s mother because it was apparent that she herself had issues with her own mother. I felt like it was just history repeating itself because her mom just didn’t know how to be a mom. She didn’t know how to love as she wasn’t loved herself. All she knew was the horrible experiences she had in her life with her own family and she couldn’t rise above it. Dumping Cassie into a mental institution was a way for her parents to not have to deal with her problems anymore.

Despite this being an emotional read, I enjoyed it. I was pleased with the book from beginning to end and remained engaged throughout. The conclusion was thoroughly satisfying. As far as the writing, the story is written beautifully and I want to read more from this author. In fact, I want to read everything she writes and look forward to her next book.

stars


Blurb

Cassie O’Malley has been trying to keep her head above water—literally and metaphorically—since birth. It’s been two and a half years since Cassie’s mother dumped her in a mental institution against her will, and now, at eighteen, Cassie is finally able to reclaim her life and enter the world on her own terms.

But freedom is a poor match against a lifetime of psychological damage. As Cassie plumbs the depths of her new surroundings, the startling truths she uncovers about her own family narrative make it impossible to cut the tethers of a tumultuous past. And when the unhealthy mother-daughter relationship that defined Cassie’s childhood and adolescence threatens to pull her under once again, Cassie must decide: whose version of history is real? And more important, whose life must she save?

A bold, literary story about the fragile complexities of mothers and daughters and learning to love oneself, The First Time She Drowned reminds us that we must dive deep into our pasts if we are ever to move forward.

Continue reading “The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter”

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”

Lost In My World by Rob Powell

I found a few reviews on Goodreads for this short story called Lost in My World by Rob Powell and wanted to try it out. I picked up the eBook on Amazon for free and was surprised how short it was. I really enjoyed it! Read below for my my review and some information about the author.

The blurb:

 A short story that is not quite as it first seems. The story is based in an English hospital where David Polk is a patient. The story is written in the first person as David Polk, he tells of his recent birthday when he has just turned fifteen and how his life has been put on hold since being taken into hospital. David’s frustrations grow and his mischievous nature gets the better of him as he tires of the hospital routine. A quick and fascinating read that takes you into the mind of some mental health issues.

Here’s a link to the book:

https://www.amazon.com/Lost-My-World-Rob-Powell-ebook/dp/B06VY3W16H/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1490451486&sr=8-1&keywords=lost+in+my+world+book

Continue reading “Lost In My World by Rob Powell”