Showing posts with label Adult Bio/Autobio/Memoir. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Adult Bio/Autobio/Memoir. Show all posts

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Free to Be Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Story of Women and Law by Teri Kanefield

Genre: Adult, Biography
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Ruth Bader Ginsberg was born into a Jewish family where she learned many of the same things the males learned. She was very smart, yet kept that part somewhat hidden. She won scholarships to send her to college. She was known to her family as Kiki, a nickname her older sister had given her. Her older sister was only six or seven when she died. Kiki lost her mother the day before her high school graduations.

This book is not just about Ruth Ginsberg’s journey. The history of women before her who helped pave the way is also told. It’s amazing how little I know, and how much I learned about women’s rights in the 1600 – early 1900s. I am glad I was born when I was. Ruth not only faced the issue of her gender and what it came to was: Ruth not only faced the issue of her gender when it came to getting a job at a law firm, but was banned because she was a mother and a Jew. Reading this book shows that she didn’t let much stand in her way of what she wanted. You don’t have to be her fan to learn so much about her and to enjoy the book. I learned so much about this woman and what she did for equality for everyone.  It was definitely well research, which is a trademark of this author. You can pick up any of her books and know that she has spent hours making sure everything is accurate. This is another reason to read this book. Yes, I would say that I would recommend this book to my readers. It is quite clearly one of the best written books I have read this year.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Two Wonderful Books by E.E. Smith

Boardinghouse Stew by E.E. Smith

Genre: Adult, Memoir
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

I love memoirs. For me they are a peek into the way of life during a time period in which I did not live. E.E. Smith has taken her memories and fictionalized them by changing the names of those involved. What comes out is a look at life, hers in particular, sprinkled with lots of humor. During World War II many women worked in the munitions factories. Food was rationed and life was difficult. Eileen, an eleven year old didn’t want to work in the fields so she lied about her age, saying she was thirteen,  in hopes of being hired as a cook and maid in a boarding house. This would be a daunting job for an adult, but because of Eileen’s age the book is fun to read. This is not just a book about Eileen. This book is about all of the people who live at the boarding house and how they interact with each other. For me personally, a book that can touch my memories and emotions is a great book. Having said that, I will have to admit this was a great book.  I found myself so irritated that the gardener, like so many other Japanese was placed in an internment camp. The reactions toward him were appalling to me.  I loved how caring the doctor was.  Mrs. Mumsford is a personality I could not nail down. I found her quirky habit of setting a place at the table for her deceased husband, and talking to his picture quite humorous, but at the same time it was sad. It was a reminder for me that she was having trouble moving on.  For anyone familiar with stories of that time you will recognize several things that indicate what the time period was like. There were ration books, which made feeding so many very difficult. It also meant when a recipe went really wrong, you ate it anyway. We see people creating victory gardens which helped provide food when there was such a shortage. I couldn’t imagine the blackout curtains and the air raid drills.  Eileen had to grow up so fast. Growing up on a farm in the sixties I could relate to the amount of work that was required of me compared to my cousins who lived in town. I would not trade that for anything.

This was originally written as a play. I believe I would have enjoyed it no matter how it was written. The author took things a step further by including pictures that really help with the visualization of that time period.  The title was very fitting for the book. The mixture of different people, their beliefs, jobs, habits and political ideas all mixed together the same way a cook would mix different ingredients to form a stew. Each character added their own “flavor” to the book. What came from this was a great dish worth reading.

Times Like These
Genre: Memoir
Source: I purchased a copy

The year was 1943, midway through World War II, when no oe kew what would happen next.  Two years later, the times are even less predictable for the young heroine of Times Like These, on her way to a new home and an uncertain future with her volatile parents.
The war rages on in the Pacific, amid heavy casualties. Harry Truman is now president and secretly cosidering the use of a horrific new weapon to foce Japan to surrender. What would happen next?

My Thoughts:
Like her characters in Boarding House Stew, the characters don't disappoint. You can feel the pain Evelyn goes through with a father who is an alcoholic. One she loves so much she is willing to lie for him when he is drunk so often. However, as a child she can do only so much. When her father's drinking causes a train crash and her mom runs off with another man, Evelyn is sent to another state to live with another family. One thing is for sure, you realize real fast that Evelyn is a survivor. That doesn't mean she always makes the right decisions. This book will hopefully be followed by a third book very soon.  This is an author you really need to look out for

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Plain Choice by Sherry Gore

The Plain Choice
Genre: Adult, Autobiography
Source: I received a copy from Netgalleyto facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Not all Amish or Mennonite people grew up as a plain person. There are people like Sherry Gore who were looking for meaning to life and stumbled upon the lifestyle. Sherry grew up in California and Florida. When her parents split she chose to live with her father in California. She grew up in an affluent area, yet she was lonely inside. She had been exposed to the love of Jesus through several family members. Because of several bad choices in her life, Sherry was sent from her father's house to her mother's in Florida. Here she lived as a homeless person for six months before eventually getting married, having two children, and moving back to California. Sherry was still looking for something but didn't know what when she and her first husband divorced.  After being a single parent raising her daughter's the best she could, she met and married her second husband. Toby loved her and her girls. He gave Sherry the only son she had. This marriage did not last once Sherry found what she was looking for, life lived the way the Bible speaks. A Plain Life.  However, her divorce did not mean the end of her relationship to her husband. Sherry leans on her faith as she learns about her oldest daughter's life threatening diseases. I will interject here and say that I live about a mile and a half from Sherry's house. Because I shop in the Pinecraft area, I became familiar with her and her cookbooks. I followed along and prayed for her daughter Jacinda, until her passing this last spring.  Although it is not in the book, she remained friends with her ex-husband Toby, whom she lost last month. If nothing else,  this book shows that God can take someone who is so messed up and use them for good. Through her book she shows that God doesn't judge who you are or were as a condition of his acceptance of you. There are many who will say she is not truly Amish or Mennonite. To this I say, unless you live in the area and see and understand that there are many different types of Amish/Mennonite, just like there are many different types of Baptists, you should not judge. Besides, God won't separate us when we get to heaven so why should we worry about it here on earth? This story is her journey to become a "plain" woman, not about what the Amish are all about

Check out Sherry's other books:
Simply Delicious Amish Cooking: Recipes and Stories from the Amish of Sarasota, Florida
Me, Myself, and Pie
Taste of Pinecreaft: Glimpses of Sarasota, Florida's Aish Culture and Kitchens
Made with Love (Pinecraft Pie Shop #1) with Tricia Goyer
Planted with Hope (Pinecreaft Pie Shop #2) with Tricia Goyer  (Coming March 2016)

Find her on:    Facebook                        Twitter

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Two Great Fire Fighting Reads

Blood Sweat Tears and Prayers by Gary Ludwig

Genre: Biography
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

This is a must read for anyone who is thinking about going into the service of an EMT/Paramedic or firefighter.  As I read this book I was reminded of one of my best friends and former co-workers at school.  Before becoming a tech person in our school district, he had retired from the Chicago Fire Department. My husband had been a firefighter way before we married.  When these two would get together they would start talking about "the good old days of fire fighting". I noticed a major difference in their stories. When it was just me with them I got a watered down version of the incident. When the two of them got together and I sat and listened they talked about things like waiting for the police to show up before they were allowed in because the site had to be secured.  They would talk in gruesome detail about the things they had seen and the smelled.  These were things they could never forget that changed them in some way.  If you talk to most fire fighters you get the basic details from them and nothing more.

Reading this book was like sitting down with my husband and Ron.  Chief Ludwig laid everything out bare. You heard the good, the bad, and the ugly.  You heard of the triumphs and the rewards of a profession that most people didn't think about until after 9/11.  I have never ever wanted to be a fire fighter. I have a terrible fear of fire that goes back to several incidents on our farm. One was growing up and trying to put out a grass fire that occurred when wind blew trash out and caught a field on fire. I remember using wet gunny sacks to beat back the flames until the fire department finally got out to our farm.  I remember the pain of trying to peel off nylon socks that had gotten so hot they had started to melt to my legs.  The second incident occurred while we were at church. My uncle actually interrupted the Wednesday service to tell us our farm was on fire.  An arsonist had set the barn on fire that caught several other buildings on fire.  I remember sitting on the roof of the house all night watching, afraid the fire would spread.  I remember the kind words of the firemen telling us it would be okay and that they would come back the next day to check for hot spots.

As Chief Ludwig demonstrated in his book, firefighting goes way beyond putting out a fire or rescuing someone.  It takes your complete mind, body and soul and leaves its on scars and imprints upon it.  If can be a very heart wrenching job and at the same time a very fulfilling job.  Read this book so that you can have a greater appreciation for those men and women who put their lives on the line daily.  I definitely recommend this book.

Heroes and Giants by Douglas B. Ashby

Genre: Adult, Biography
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

This book gives us another look at the profession of a fire fighter.  We see once again the toll it takes on the physical, mental and spiritual well being of that person.  This book also gave us a look at the type of person best suited for this job as well as the type of person best suited to be their spouse.  The pressure and sights forced upon these men and women is tremendous.  They often withdraw into themselves.  A spouse needs to know that there will be times when they just want quite solitude to process what they have had to deal with that day.  There will be times when they need to just sit and cry or talk.  This is not a job for every one.  These people must be dedicated.

Their experiences also help shape the way that they deal with their family. They are often overly protective.  This is because sometimes the things they see are so terrible that they want to hug their family and thank God for what they have at home.  They have to learn how to balance their work and their home life and not let one intrude upon the other.  Once again I would recommend this to anyone who is considering going into this field. I would also recommend this to those who are just curious about what goes on in the life of a fire fighter.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Close Encounters With My Lord by Nancy Lee Hurley

Genre:  Adult, Biography

Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinons expressed here are my own.

From Goodreads:

When encountering a whirlwind of emotions, it is often difficult to know just what to do. When facing difficult situations, whom do you turn to? And in times of extreme happiness, do you first thank the one who is responsible for that joy? Nancy Hurley learned at a young age that turning to God in every circumstance is the only way to make it through the tough times. When faced with the threat of a sexual predator, Nancy Hurley turned to God. When she was repeatedly put down and belittled by family members, Nancy turned to God. When she married her husband, Ron, and gave birth to her two sons, Nancy turned to God. Nancy's conversations with her Lord have been a constant in her life from the time she had to have her tonsils removed. When she was frightened, lost, sad, and overjoyed, Nancy knew the Lord would see her safely through. You will find comfort in the heartfelt prayers Nancy lifts up to God in times of need and times of joy and will be inspired by the intimate relationship Nancy shares with the one who has been her strength through thick and thin in Close Encounters with My Lord.

My Thoughts:

This is an excellent book.  We are given a look at the life of this Godly woman. Her story shows how God worked through her life. While in labor awaiting the birth of her first child the doctor had plans to go to the opera. She was praying for the labor to be over. As the doctor prepared to leave another of his patients was brought in farther along. Knowing the doctor wasn't leaving she relaxed allowing her labor to progress.  She constantly called out to God for what a lot of people would consider piddly things.  However, no prayer is too small for God. A look at her life shows that it is important that we have daily conversations with God, not only when we need him, but when we don't need him.  This book is not a miracle book like you often find that paints God as someone who answers all of your prayers if you are considered godly. He always answers prayers but not always the way we want. This is demonstrated when she talks about placing her father in a home. She didn't wait for God to handle it, she stepped in the way. Once things fell apart and she let go and let God handle it, he worked things out.  That isn't to say things always went smoothly.  I liked this book because my mother lives with us and I was able to draw parallels between some of the things she has gone through and what we are going through.  I have seen how things have not worked out because I keep trying to "help" God do things.  I would highly recommend this book to everyone.
I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Pacesetter by Jerry M. Fisher

Genre: Adult, Biography
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

I requested this book when I found out about it for several reasons. The first is that I've always had a love of racing, thanks to my father. I was born and raised most of my young life in Indiana. I've been on the track at the Indianapolis Speedway. It was one of the most terrifying and exhilarating times of my life. According to my mom, my dad worked the pits in Indianapolis and Kokomo. Another reason I wanted to read the book was because I had just learned that I had a distant cousin, Harry Knight ,who was part of the early racing in Indianapolis, racing in the first two Indy 500 races. He sadly lost his life in 1913 during a race in Ohio. These were the initial reasons I wanted to read the book. However there were so many more reasons to read this wonderful book.

I learned so much about the early years of the Indy 500 and the speedway just from reading this book.  Carl G. Fisher was a name I had never heard associated with it.  I am so glad I read the book.  He started out as a very poor boy.  He was considered stupid by many. He quit school at the age of six.  The problem wasn't that he was stupid, it was that he couldn't see.  This is something that was discovered later in his life. Not only did he create the Indy 500, but he was responsible for two major highways. The Transcontinental highway that crossed the United States East and West and the Dixie Highway went from Indianapolis to Miami.  He began to build up Miami.  Fisher Island is actually named after him. The more I read his book the more I became convinced that although he made a lot of money, it seemed to be more about the adventure, getting somewhere with his ideas.

Although all of these adventures were thrilling to read about,  nothing touched me like the story of an accident that caused him to fight for civil rights. One of his black workers fell into a vat of boiling tar. Carl himself drove the man in his personal car to the hospital.  He was told that they didn't treat "his kind" at that hospital. As he drove his worker to the other hospital, the worker died.  This was the fuel needed to make him work hard for equal rights.    This man made a lot of contributions to our country yet we know very little about him.  I think it is time we get the word out.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

I'm a Different Type of Apple by Kevin D. Elliott, Sr.

Genre: Young Adult, Adult Memoir
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

It is my belief that every teen should read this book. This memoir lays it on the line. Kevin Elliott, Sr. was headed down the same path his father had walked. The major difference is he made a choice to walk a different path. He constantly did an attitude check and then adjusted his attitude and thought process. The process was like stopping and analyzing what wasn't working and making a conscious decision to change it. He makes it clear that negative thinking can only take you deeper down the wrong path. This is a definite must read book.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Determined: The Story of Holocaust Survivor Avraham Perlmutter

Genre: Adult, Autobiography
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Avraham (Av) Perlmutter is an amazing man. As a young man his mother put him and his sister on a train, part of the Kindertransport, and sent them to the Netherlands.  It was the last time he would ever see his mother.  He and his sister were shipped from one refuge camp to another. Eventually they would be separated.  What is so amazing about this man is his attitude.  He was determined to survive like so many other Jews.  He lived life to the fullest. This book is his story of survival, perseverance, ad hope.  Multiple times Av had run into Germans. Most of them were with the Nazis. Many were caught up in something they wanted no part of, but had no choice in. As Av moved from one safe house to another he found may Christians who were willing to put their own lives on the line for the welfare of the Jews.  In this book he speaks highly of those people. He tells of how they hid him.  I was amazed at how much he thirsted for knowledge.  In one instance he asked the man hiding him to get him textbooks where he taught himself English, French and Spanish.  After being liberated he wanted to do more. He fought in the war that created the State of Israel. He was reunited with his sister who had survived a death march.  He wanted to further his education so he moved to the United States. He was not satisfied with just one degree.  He holds multiple degrees as do his children.  This man has done more for mankind.  I found it interesting that one of his goals was for he and some of his friends to meet Albert Einstein.  He set out to reach that goal and actually accomplished it.

Want an inspiring book to read?  This is definitely the book you must read. It is quick, only taking me two hours to complete. This is not only a great book for adults and for the classroom shelf, it makes a great resource for students.  This one I highly recommend.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Girl from the Tar Paper School by Teri Kanefield

Genre: All Ages, Biography
Source: I received a copy for my classroom from the author

I received a copy from the author for my classroom.  I am always looking for quality books for my middle school classroom.  This is a book I am proud to put on my shelves. This is the story of Barbara Rose Johns.  She was a courage, young black girl, growing up in segregated America.  She chose to make a difference.  She didn't listen when people said no, or you can't do anything.  So why had I not heard of her before?  Barbara chose not to stay in the limelight once she set things in motion. There is so much I don't know about the Civil Rights Movement.  As a teacher I am well aware that back in the 1950's black and white schools were not equal.  They didn't receive the same quality buildings, books or other necessities.  Growing up white in a family that never mentioned skin color, I was oblivious to the issues of racism.  I grew up in the country, but the town where we shopped was very prejudiced.  I remember the fountains on the sidewalk and being pulled away because of signs on them my mother refused to let me read. Her response was, you don't need a drink right now, we are going to get a treat and have a soda.  That was something I got once or twice a year when on vacation. I didn't understand what racism was until my sister went away to college and her dorms were caught in the middle of a race riot.  It wasn't taught in my school.  I'd never gone to school with a black kid until I moved to Florida in my sophomore year.  I didn't understand what the big deal was that my best friend was black.  I was lucky in many ways.  My mind was not poisoned.
Barbara Johns saw the inequality because her school, unlike the white school were just wooden structures covered with heavy paper and coated with tar. They were leaky and very cold. When Barbara decided to make the issue known, she didn't get the results she thought she would. She managed to call an assembly where she dismissed the adults because she didn't want them to get in trouble.  When she wrote to the NAACP for help they refused to help them get a new school built.  Instead they wanted total integration.  This was not what she had started out trying to accomplish. I became so enraged with the attitudes of the whites within the pages of this book.  I guess if you never grew up hating a race of people it is often hard to believe that others could be so ignorant.  I am sure there are many that would read this review and be angered at me.  But, that is okay. I am proud to share and promote this book to my students.  Barbara's strike took place before we ever heard of Martin Luther King.  It is important that ALL students learn that there were other people out there just as important as MLK.  Most importantly it is very important that they learn that no matter how young they are, they can make a difference in the world.  They need to learn they can't do it by sitting by watching and keeping their mouth closed.  This is the second book I have read by this author and I love her work.  I am proud to promote her work.  Look for more reviews of her books by me.

Monday, December 22, 2014

She is Mine: A War Orphan's Incredible Journey of Survival - Stefanie Fast

Genre: Adult, Autobiography
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

This is such a heartwrenching story, and yet it is so full of hope.  No one knows the path many in this world walk or have walked. Very few could walk and survive the path Stefanie Fast walked. I am not real familiar with the Korean War since it was many, many years before my time. However, I remember hearing similar stories after the Vietnam War. An American soldier fathers a child with a Korean mother. It is bad enough the mother is left pregnant and unwed, but the baby is mixed which is an absolute taboo.  When she is four years old the family has had enough.  Her mother takes her to the train station and abandons her.  She spends years looking for her mother.  The abuse and atrocities she goes through make it a miracle she survived.  God looked down on her and had great plans for her.  She did survive.  This is one of those books you will start and continue to read until you have finished it.  You will need your tissues as this will break your heart and the warm it.  It made me hurt for every child today who goes through hardships.  It makes me appreciate my years growing up and the love I had.  I highly recommend this book.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Through a Daughter's Eyes: The Samuel "Dock" Pollard Story by Sharran Pollard

Genre: Adult, Memoir
Source: I purchased a copy

I work with the author. I realize I really never knew her.  I've worked with her for six and a half years.  During those years, until her father passed away, I knew very little about her dad.  I knew he was a pastor and that she adored him.  I guess you could say she worshipped the ground he walked on.  I had no idea he was such an awesome businessman. It explains a lot about the author.  After reading the book you can definitely say she is her fathers daughter.  Sharran gives us an open and honest look at her father and what it was like growing up in his household.  I don't think she could sing his praises enough.  From her book he was a very fair person, even when it came to discipline.  I loved her story of missing curfew by two minutes and losing her car for a month. He didn't give in.  Her mother stood behind her husband.  Sharran remembers the lessons learned.  I have to say that knowing only one side of her, the teacher, I can now see her father's influence in her classroom management.

Her father showed how strong his faith was as he leaned on God through multiple medical conditions.  He showed grace to those who sought to oust him from the very church he had started.  He is the standard by which we want others to judge Christians.  We want to be that person who wears their Christian faith on their sleeve for all to see.  We want to be that person that will one day be able to stand before God and hear him say, "Well done my good and faithful servant."  I have no doubt that these were the first words Samuel "Dock" Pollard heard as he entered through those heavenly gates.

About the Author
Sharran Pollard always enjoyed reading and writing as a child. She became an educator in the manatee County School System. She went on to forward her education in Ed. Leadership from the University of Central florida in Orlando, Florida.
Through a Daughter's Eyes is her first memoir that tells the story of her father's hardships throughout his lifetime and how he overcame these struggles to become a prominent successful baptist pastor of Mt. Raymond full gospel baptist Church, one of the largest African American churches in Southwest Florida. this story tells how his vision became his reality. When Sharran is not in somebody's mall shopping, she's most likely mentoring children or spendng family time with her mother Versia, her "special" friend Des, and their spoiled dogs. Sa'Jia and Diego. Sharran currenly resides in Palmetto, FL

Monday, October 27, 2014

Suitcase Filled With Nails: Lessons Learned From Teaching Art in Kuwait by Yvonne Wakefield

Genre:  Adult, Memoir
Source: I received a copy to help facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

From the back cover:
Artist and arts educator Yvonne Wakefield leaves a secure career and home life in the Pacific Northwest, so opposite to the climate and landscape she finds when she moves to the little desert state of Kuwait. For six years she will teach art there, to university aged Muslim women, and negotiate tribal and misogynistic land mines set by detractors who are threatened by anyone, especially a spirited American woman, who encourages freedom of expression. More than a good read, Suitcase Filled with Nails is filled with insights on working, living, and coping in a culture that transcends prevalent Middle East stereotypes.

My Thoughts:

I’m surprised by all that I read, and then to realize that after all she went through she continued to go back year after year. I feel I got a better look into life in Kuwait, even if it was told just from her side of it.  I believe there is more than one perspective to any story, and this is hers told from her experiences.One thing I admire is that no matter what happened she continued to fight for those she taught.  I know, even though I am an educator, I would not have the guts to go where she went and do what she do.  I believe that not only did she enrich their lives but they enriched hers.

I received a copy to help facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Buried Children - Daniel Farcas

Genre:  Adult, Memoir
Source: I received a copy to help facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

If you like reading about the hardships faced by others from different countries then you migh like this book.  If you enjoy reading about someone's life then you mike like this book.  This is not a feel good book.  Danile Farcas was one of many children who grew up in an orphanage in Bucharest, Romania.
During Nicolae Ceausescu's reign he created a law that made it a criminal offense to get an abortion or to use contraceptives.  He was trying to increase the communist population.  Unfortunately the effect of this was women having babies they did not want and leaving them in an orphanage. Most times they were not wanted there either. They were abused, neglected and nameless.  For many the only names they carried were the nicknames they were given like Scabby, Burned, or Horse.  Daniel managed to escape from the celar of the orphanage.  He ended up living in the sewers under the cities with many other boys.  Finally, he is assisted in reaching America where he hoped to see a change in his life.

This is not easy to read.  Is is open and raw.  American children are for the most part blessed to live in the circumstances they live in.  This is a good book

Saturday, July 5, 2014

May This Be the Best Year of Your Life - Sandra Bornstein

Genre: Memoir, Adult
Source: I received a copy from the author in exchange for my honest review

From Goodreads:
After stepping out of her comfort zone of American suburbia, Sandra Bornstein found herself in a life altering experience that made her question the meaning of marital bliss. Living alone in a three-hundred-square-foot dorm room, she taught fifth grade at a renowned international boarding school in Bangalore. This compelling, honest, and edifying memoir shares everything she learned about perseverance, travel, education, faith, and family. Had Sandra never resided in India, she would have missed out on an experience that ultimately enhanced her resiliency, confidence, and passion for life.

My Thoughts:
I would love to be as adventurous as the author of this book is.  I see her as not only a creative person, but a very brave soul.  As I read her book I kept thinking, I would not have the  courage to go to another country and function at times on my own. It didn’t matter that part of that time she was with her husband or her son.  When her husband as a terrible accident back in the states she is finally offered a teaching position in India.  She bravely takes the job.  I understand why.  As terrifying as it is, there is a part of her that knows if she doesn’t do this she will always regret not trying.  Her time there with her husband helped prepare her somewhat. A lot of what she had to do had to be faced by herself.  I loved the depiction of the Indian people and their culture.  I am lucky in that my school has a very large Indian population.  Many of my Indian students take extended periods of time to go back to their country during the summer or holidays. Some of them return for weddings.  Their parents have come in and held festivals at our school to teach our other students about their culture.  It helps that I teach at and IB (International Baccalaureate) school which encourages the learning of diverse cultures.  I feel there is so much I can learn from my students as I try to teach them.  The most fascinating thing I have learned is that you can’t lump them all together into one “Indian pot”.  There country and cultures are as diverse as ours here in America.  The author has done an excellent job of showing that.  She has shown the hardships and inequity faced by so many when it comes to education.  It makes me glad I live here in the United States.  I have heard some of these kinds of stories from my Indian students.  Some of them came here because of relatives moving here. Most came here because of the educational and economical opportunities.  It irritates me when I hear people put my Indian students down.  I was in charge of the spelling bee at my school a few years back.  When we went to the county competition the two people who ended up competing for first and second place were both Indians. A man sitting behind me said to his wife, “Of course it would be one of the Indian’s, they don’t have a life outside of studying.” At that point I wanted to turn and blast the man. I kept thinking, if our students and their families have had the opportunity to see the life some of them have seen without education then they would understand the importance of education.  I believe that is one of our downfalls here in America.  We take everything for granted.  There are so many things to be learned, not only about the Indian culture and lifestyle from this author. By bravely telling us her story she makes us take a good hard look at love, family and life in general.  It is written with pride and joy and with her whole heart thrown in for just the right emotional mix.  This is a book that I whole heartedly recommend to my friends.  It is one I will be taking back to school with me in the fall to share with my fellow teachers.

About the Author:
Sandra Bornstein is a licensed Colorado teacher with a Linguistically Diverse Education K-12 endorsement and two masters' degrees- one in education and the other in Jewish Studies. She has taught K-12 and college-level students in both the private and public sectors in the United States and abroad. Married to Ira, a lawyer, she has four adult sons and currently lives in Colorado.

Her Website www.sandrabornstein


Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Years of Zero – Seng Ty

Genre: autobiography
Source:  I received a copy in exchange for my honest review.

The Zero Years were the years 1975 – 1979 in Cambodia’s history. This is when the Khmer Rouge took over Phnom Penh the capital. The author lived those years. He was one of eleven children in his family. Most of his siblings did not survive. His father was a professor. When the Khmer Rouge came in, Seng’s father had already heard rumors of what was happening to professionals and those considered the upper crust of society. The first group of soldiers came into their village with white flags claiming to bring peace. The next group came in bringing death.  They were taken out of their homes and forced to walk for days with little rest or food. They were loaded on trains where they were packed so tight many died. Through all of this I kept thinking it reminded me of the holocaust trains. Seng had seen so many dead bodies that he eventually became numb to it. Seeing a body hung from a tree was just an everyday occurrence. This was just the beginning of the horror he would live.

This was the first I had ever really heard of the Khmer Rouge atrocities. It is sad to say this considering my age now.  However, at the time this was starting I was 17 and really sheltered from all of this.  We know of all of the people killed by Hitler.  How is it that we don’t teach about the millions of Cambodians exterminated? How many more stories like this will we need to read before we finally learn to value life?

The book was well written.  I felt like I was on that walk with him.  There is so much more to this story. Some of it happy and some of it not.  If you want to find out what happened to him and his family you will need to read this book. You definitely won’t regret it.  You might even learn quite a bit.


Author Info from his website:
SENG TY was born in the Kampong Speu province of Cambodia, the son of a respected physician who taught him to value life, aspire to humility, and seek the good in people. He was thirteen when he made his way alone to a refugee camp in Thailand in 1981. His story was featured in TIME Magazine’s article “Children of War”, and was read by an American family in Amherst, Massachusetts, who adopted him a year later. Now he is a citizen of the United States, a husband, a father and an educator in the Lowell, MA School System.

Seng will never rid himself of his ghosts, nor will he forget the blood-chilling atrocities he has witnessed and experienced. However, he doesn’t crave revenge against those who carried out these atrocities. He desires to share his story of survival and courage only in order to give hope to others. He was one of the children of war tour in the US cities in early 1984, he shared his story through the Phil Donahue Show, many major newspapers, and CBS 60 Minutes in 1999.

Seng’s wish is that The Years of Zero will give him a platform to expand his message beyond the circle of his students in Lowell, to people all over the world who are in need of a little hope.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mommy's A Mole - Eve Carson

From Goodreads:
There is no crueler tyranny than that which is exercised under cover of law, and with the colors of
justice." - U.S. v. Jannotti, 673 F.2d 578, 614 (3d Cir. 1982). The sun trickled through the dense tangle of the spring's budding branches. Karen Wolfe Churgin walked her dogs on April 18, 1990, on her remote wooded property on Chebacco Road. The veterinarian spotted a white sphere obstructing a drainage ditch. Churgin's home sat on top of the bluff overlooking Chebacco Lake, and the lower-wooded basin was often flooded with water. The sparsely inhabited wilderness in Hamilton, Massachusetts attracted hikers and bikers, but was also a secluded setting known for criminal activity. From a distance, she saw an object, a white sphere. When she reached to dislodge it, she reeled back in horror. She immediately called the police. "I saw something in the woods that looked like a punched-in volleyball," Karen told the Beverly Times on April 25, 1990. "I looked closer and it was a human skull. It had suture-like zigzagged lines. Those are unique to human skulls." Officer Hat eld was the first to respond, and the initial conclusion determined the discovery was, indeed, a human skull. Hamilton Police Chief Walter Cullen arrived at the scene next and photographed the find. The Massachusetts State Police Crime Prevention and Control Unit, CPAC, dispatched Cpl. Dennis Marks to take charge of the crime scene. Local police sent the skull and a nearby black boot to Hunt Memorial Hospital to examine, but nothing else surfaced in the initial cursory search of the surrounding area. Notices went out to departments to assist the resident force, and names poured in to compare the cranium to known missing persons. Joan Webster's name appeared on the list, but the resting spot was more than thirty miles from the long-speculated crime scene at Pier 7 in Boston. "Of course, it's being checked out, but the location doesn't seem to correlate. Circumstances pointed to her being taken out in a boat and dumped at sea. This is something way up north and doesn't tie to anything." -George Webster Harvard Crimson April 28, 1990.


My Thoughts:

As I began reading this book I was immediately reminded of another controversial book.  Lois Duncan wrote a book called, “Who Killed My Daughter”.  Both books have ruffled feathers of those they had at one time been close to.  I can’t imagine the pain and agony knowing a loved one was murdered and then finding so much evidence that was tainted, twisted and misused.  This review in no way says I believe either side.  I will say that the author has definitely produced a lot of evidence that makes me believe that things were not what they appeared to be. There were way too many inconsistencies.  To me the thing that is so difficult to deal with was the fact that her husband and his  family turned on her.

Joan Webster was the sister-in-law of the author of this book. She went missing shortly after Thanksgiving. Eve Carson was not satisfied with the answers she got  about Joan’s disappearance and eventual discovery. When she tried to ask questions she was attacked by those you would consider on her side.  Joan has done a lot of work on her own and provided a lot of documentation to backup her beliefs.  My one hope is that she finds what she is looking for, the truth in this case.  Maybe by writing this book she will create enough buzz to truly have this case solved.  This is definitely  a book I recommend to those who love reading true stories.


About the author:
Author Eve Carson has a degree in economics and industrial management from Purdue University. She joined the Webster family when she married Joan’s brother Steve in 1980 and belonged to the immediate family when Joan disappeared. She eventually took on the unresolved case after becoming alienated from her two daughters. Carson reveals hidden and explosive evidence in this tell-all book about one of Boston’s most sensational unresolved murders. She puts a personal face on victims of covered up crime and the dire consequences of public corruption.


Monday, May 5, 2014

Call Me Clumsy by Matthew Weinrich

Genre: Memoir, Humor
Source: I received a copy from the author

From Goodreads:
So begins the "odyssey of awkwardness" that is Call Me Clumsy, the my-life-so-far memoir
of Matthew Weinrich. Through utterly humbling experiences that span the decades of his life, Weinrich provides anecdotes that are equally cringe-inducing and laugh-out-loud funny. From his experience as a consummate slacker to his marriage proposal gone horribly awry to an unfortunate run-in with the fine men and women of the TSA, Weinrich bring you along as he strolls down memory lane, for better or for worse.

Ultimately, Weinrich gives us a heart-warming picture of the humility of a child of God who knows, without a doubt, that the old adage applies to him:
God is God, and I am not...
...not even close.

My Thoughts:
I laughed until I cried.  I identified with so many of the goofy things he did.  I have been clumsy when it comes to injuries to my feet and legs.  I’ve broken both feet twice, both knees twice and both ankles. I used to get teased for falling “UP” the stairs. I don’t think I have ever done anything quite as embarrassing as the things I read about in this book.  I have promoted the heck out of this book to my teacher friends.  There is something for everyone in it.  The story I identified with the most was “Fingers on Home Row”.  Matt and I are both teachers.  As such we have each had our share where we were doing what we thought was our best to encourage students only to have them burst into tears. Why? Because we didn’t pay enough attention to our students and take into consideration any concerns they had AT THE TIME, only to learn that because we had not, we had in actuality made the student feel there was no way they could succeed.  For me it was a student who kept insisting they could not read because they had an issue with short term memory.  I just knew I could help them.  Later talking with several students, the school counselor and the parents I learned he had a brain injury that made short term memory almost impossible.  I felt so terrible.  Some of Matt’s stories show us that there are people out there who are willing to help us out when we really mess up.  He also shows us that God definitely watches out for us when we put ourselves into stupidly dangerous situations.  I want everyone I meet to read this book.  It is one I have read over and over and over.  That’s not something I do very often.  It is definitely one of my favorites to read.


Author Bio

Born in Superior, Montana in 1984, Matthew Weinrich grew up in Montana, New Mexico, Nevada and Oklahoma.  He currently lives in Oklahoma City and teaches at Western Oaks Middle School in the Putnam City School District.  He is happily married to his beautiful wife Danielle of six years.  Matt and Danielle have recently welcomed their first child, a son named Elijah.  In his spare time Matt enjoys playing sports, writing, watching baseball and being involved with his church.



Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Freak: Memoir of an Outcast by Howard Shulman

Pages:  280
Genre:  Adult, Memoir
Source: Review copy from author.

From Amazon:
FREAK: Memoir of an Outcast is the author’s improbable but true story. When only days old, an infection attacks the author’s face, destroying his nose, lower lip, eyelid, and upper palate. Abandoned at the hospital by his parents and made a ward of the state of New Jersey, he is placed under the care of a state-employed surgeon who experimentally re-builds his face. Beginning what would become decades of reconstructive surgeries and skin grafts, Howard Shulman embarks on an unforgettable journey to find his place in the world. With street smarts and humor, bullied and outcast, he defies all odds by rising from dishwasher to successful entrepreneur. An unexpected twist of fate leads him to his birth mother — a chance event that drives home the lesson of what it will cost him if he doesn’t make peace with the past. By turns heart wrenching and funny, Howard’s story is a testament to the human spirit. FREAK will resonate with readers long after the final page.

My Thoughts:

There are many words that could describe Howard Shulman.  Pity is not one of them. After reading this story of courage and survival I feel like there are so many lessons we could learn from him.  This is an inspiring and uplifting story. Bullied, unloved by his parents, Howard proves to us that no matter what the obstacles or how unsurmountable they seem they can be conquered.  There is always room for hope.  This is a story that should be read by everyone.  What problems I have seem so small compared to what he has endured.  This is the way to end the year with a story that is definitely uplifting.

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Wrong Side of Right by Tom Gosinski

Pages: 210
Genre: Adult, Memoir
Source:  I received a copy to review

From Goodreads:
Intoxicated by the promise of travel, the sparkle of politics, and a fascination for the mystery of wealth, Tom redirects his life into what, he feels, will be a satisfying, promising future. However, once on the inside, he realizes the sparkle was created by mirrors and the fascination and mystery were illusions carved in smoke.

My Thoughts:

I wasn’t sure about reading this book for several reasons.  I’m glad that I did.  This is an honest look through To Gosinski’s eyes at the drug problem Cindy McCain had.  He could have trashed and bashed her.  Instead he took a more diplomatic approach that takes the reader from the way he met her to the having to make the decision to blow the whistle on her  This is definitely an intriguing read.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

With Unwashed Hands by Joanie Bolton

Pages:  202
Genre: Adult, Christian, Biography
Source:  I received a copy from the author. The opinions expressed in this review are my own

From Goodreads:
Darrell Bolton, a retired Air Force officer, never imagined that his military career could still cost him his life--even after he had retired. While on a missionary trip to the Far East, Darrell, overcome with severe pain, was rushed to the hospital. Suddenly, he found himself viewed as "the enemy"! This gripping, true story will captivate you as you live with the Boltons through the horrific stress of being stranded in a third-world hospital...with a doctor whose only plan for his critically ill patient involved a slab in the morgue! "As a medical professional, I am appalled that such reprehensible abuse and neglect should be inflicted upon any human being...especially in the name of medicine! As someone who actually knows this kind and gentle man, I felt physically sickened by the mere reading of these events. This was truly a hate crime against one of our very own American heroes."

My Thoughts:
Imagine your loved on in the hospital going through unspeakable trials. Now take that same situation and place it in another country and add to it that the suffering is actually added to by the doctor who is supposed to be helping your loved one.  That is exactly what happened to this author’s husband. The things they went through are things you would think would have happened years ago.  It has only been a few years since this happened.  This story is one to be enjoyed by Christian and non-Christian alike. This story shows how God holds us close to him, and how he comforts us when no one else can.

This is definitely a story of faith, miracles, and love. It proves the point that what man means for evil God can use for good.  Break out your box of tissues and prepare to have your heart wrenched out and your soul inspired.