Tag Archives: memoirs

Love The Dark Days by Ira Mathur Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A woman who has been stuck in a vicious cycle of trauma as her grandmother lashes out after the loss of her former life finds herself fighting to let go of the past and reinvent herself in author Ira Mathur’s “Love The Dark Days”.

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The Synopsis

From award-winning journalist Ira Mathur, Love The Dark Days is about accrued intergenerational damage between mothers and daughters in post-colonial worlds.

Set in India, England, Trinidad and St Lucia, Love The Dark Days follows the story of the life of Dolly, of mixed Hindu Muslim parentage in post-colonial India. Dolly, whose privileged family has colluded with the brutality of the British Rule in India, lives with her grandmother, who feels a raging loss at the fading old world. With it, her privilege. Dolly absorbs her grandmothers’ rage, becoming a living memorial of all the pain and injustice the imperious Burrimummy repeatedly hauls back from her past to tell and retell to Dolly. Just as Dolly is constantly pulled into the old wounds, so is the reader. The story is crafted so the reader viscerally experiences how trauma loops around, coming back and back through generations to warp the future.

That damage of unbelonging is repeated when her family migrates to Trinidad, where, in her darkest hour, she meets Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott, who encourages her when she visits him in St Lucia over a weekend to leave the past behind and reinvent herself. Before she can do this Dolly must re-enter the past one last time.

Can Dolly find the courage to examine each broken shard of her shattered family and reassemble it into a new shape in a new world? It is raw, unflinching, but not without threads of humour and perceived absurdity; Love the Dark Days is an intricate tapestry with Dolly’s story at its heart. 

The Review

This was such a well-written and captivating memoir and biography. The balance the author found in the generational stories of her family, including her grandmother and mother, with her own experiences was so impactful and thought-provoking. The rich imagery the author conjured up through her writing really brought readers into the lives of these very different yet connected women through the generations of this family. 

The heart of the author’s story was true in the intricate details of her life experiences and the multi-cultural journey she undertook in her life, as well as the deep look into how Colonialism impacted both her family and the generations that came before. The history of Colonialism is so rarely discussed in detail within nations such as The United States outside of an advanced history course, and so learning of the experiences that came with Colonialism and getting to see it through both her mother’s family’s side and her father’s point of view was fascinating. Yet it was the intimate, heartfelt moments that the author shared of her own life and experiences that really made the deepest impact, even in the opening pages as she confronts a loss of proportionate significance. 

The Verdict

Heartfelt, captivating, and engaging, author Ira Mathur’s “Love The Dark Days” is a must-read memoir and nonfiction book. The rich cultural dynamics both within her family and her own life were so passionately written about and felt in the journey the reader was led on, and the emotional and mental struggles the author and her multi-generational family underwent, including this cycle of trauma, were both tragic in its delivery and yet hopeful in the author’s achievements and experiences in the modern day. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Ira Mathur is an Indian-born Trinidadian award winning multimedia journalist with degrees in Literature, Law and Journalism. www.irasroom.org .She is currently the Trinidad Guardian’s longest-running columnist , and has freelanced for The Guardian (UK) and the BBC.

IN 2021 Mathur was longlisted for the Bath Novel Award for her unpublished novel ”Touching Dr Simone.”

In 2019 Mathur was longlisted for the Johnson and Amoy Achong Caribbean Writers Prize. An excerpt of her memoir is anthologized in Thicker Than Water, (Peekash Press, 2018).

In 2018 she shortlisted for the Bridport Short Story Prize, the Lorian Hemmingway (short story) and Small Axe Literary Competition.

Mathur gained diplomas in creative writing at the University of East Anglia/Guardian with James Scudamore & Gillian Slovo and Maggie Gee at the Faber Academy. ( 2015/2016)

https://www.irasroom.org/

Full: Overcoming Our Eating Disorders to Fully Live by Melissa L. Kelley and Alayna Burke Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

TRIGGER WARNING: BOOK INVOLVES AND SPEAKS ABOUT THE SUBJECT OF EATING DISORDERS. FOR ANYONE WHO CAN NOT HANDLE A BOOK INVOLVING THIS SUBJECT, READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED.

Authors Alayna Burke and Mellisa L. Kelley share a personal story of anxiety, eating disorders, and the path they took to overcome the odds and find joy in their lives in the book “Full: Overcoming Our Eating Disorders to Fully Live”. 

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The Synopsis 

Growing up in the digital age, with the pressures of social media and increasingly competitive academics, Alayna’s perfectionism started early in life. She began to despise her body after a pre-teen wellness check when the physician told her to “lay off the snacks” and watch her weight. At age 16, Alayna was diagnosed with anorexia. She was three weeks from being sent to an in-patient treatment center when she decided to take charge of her life.

Plagued with body dysmorphia beginning at six years old, Melissa came of age in the diet culture of the 1970s and 1980s when fad diets, diet pills, and at-home exercise equipment dominated the golden age of advertising. Melissa was diagnosed with bulimia when she was 16 and her treatment included both inpatient and intensive outpatient programs over five years. After a series of traumatic events, she struggled with anorexia in her thirties.

Burke and Kelley weave their stories of illness and recovery through 12 topics that fed their eating disorders and share how they now manage those challenges to fully participate in life. FULL offers insight and hope to people struggling with eating disorders and those who love them.

The Review

This was such an emotional and captivating nonfiction read. The authors did an incredible job of finding just the right balance between the memoir style of writing and the specific focus on the topic of eating disorders and the impact they have on the person suffering from them. The atmosphere the authors create through their shared experience speaks both to the hardships they endured in their journeys and the hope they found in overcoming those disorders through the help of their families and proven techniques they discovered that helped them.

What stood out to me was both the exploration of each of these authors’ journeys in vastly different eras of history and the focus on personal experience more so than any technical or clinical focus on these disorders. The personal stories these authors share not only reflect their struggles but how the era they grew up in impacted how their disorders arose and presented themselves. This allows a larger group of readers to identify with the book and feel represented by the bravery and courage these authors have shown in writing this vitally important book. 

The Verdict

Thought-provoking, emotionally driven, and haunting yet hopeful all at once, authors Alayna Burke and Melissa Kelley’s “Full” is a must-read nonfiction and memoir-style book. The amount of knowledge and personal experience the authors share about their own journeys and how they related to one another over time, as well as the inspirational tone that the authors struck made this book readers won’t be able to put down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Alayna Burke started her idea for Full as an eighteen-year-old senior in high school. She grew up in Saint Charles, Missouri, and always loved to write as a kid. Alayna developed anorexia, stemming from anxiety and depression, as a sixteen-year-old. Outpatient treatment and a strong support system helped Alayna recover in about two years, although the voice of her eating disorder still nags at her every once in a while. Alayna often wished there was a book out there from the voice of a teen who could relate to her, so she’s providing just that for other women. FULL is Alayna’s first published work. She is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in nutrition and exercise physiology with a minor in psychology at the University of Missouri. Alayna plans to become a registered dietitian.

Melissa Kelley grew up in Saint Charles, Missouri, the third of six children. Her love for writing began in high school and blossomed in her forties when she began blogging and writing a memoir. Full is her first published work.Throughout her career, Melissa has worked in both corporate and civic non-profit organizations. She currently holds a leadership position in a company whose mission is to make the planet better through environmental sustainability services. In 2018, Melissa was named one of Saint Louis’ Most Influential Businesswomen by the St. Louis Business Journal. Melissa holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Truman State University and a Master of Business Administration from Washington University in Saint Louis. She lives with her two children, Athena Robin Kelley and Erin Iris Christine Kelley, and their Cavapoo, Noah, in Saint Louis, Missouri.

Just Another Meat-Eating Dirtbag: A Memoir by Michael Anthony (Illustrated by Chai Simone Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are y own.

Author Michael Anthony takes readers on a journey of love and veganism as he searches for a way to maintain his relationship with his girlfriend as she dives further and further into “The Cause” in the graphic novel “Just Another Meat-Eating Dirtbag: A Memoir”.

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The Synopsis 

A rough-and-tumble Iraq War veteran is young and in love, and the last thing on his mind is food and the ethics of eating meat. But when his girlfriend becomes a vegetarian and animal rights activist, suddenly food is all he thinks about.

A true story of how love and vegetarianism can triumph over all else. Love, heartache, and the rest of the ingredients that make a reader laugh, smile, and stop-and-think, are all found in this enthralling graphic memoir. Amidst the stories of love and frustration, there are treatises on food, vegetarianism, and the ethics of the animal rights movement (some of it juxtaposed against Michael’s graphic wartime experiences). Told with Michael’s sardonic perspective and the delightful artwork of debut graphic novelist Chai Simone, this is a journey of true love gone temporarily astray.

The Review

This was such a unique and interesting read. The author did an incredible job of conveying real information and knowledge about the vegan and vegetarian lifestyle and how it can impact relationships while also infusing humor and wit into the narrative. The natural tone and atmosphere the author infuses into the story were great to see come to life. Typically in a memoir, the author has to work to infuse imagery into their stories, but the amazing artwork of Chai Simone did a great job of providing the warmth and depth this narrative held. 

Aside from the excellent utilization of the graphic novel format, what stood out to me was the deep emotional impact that this narrative had as well. The honesty and charm the author infused into the backstories of both himself and his girlfriend and the hardships they each had to overcome that led to their outlook on life (and subsequently the vegan/vegetarian lifestyle as a whole) was so profoundly moving and made the memoir feel more relatable and connected for many readers.

The Verdict

Thoughtful, gripping, and engaging, author Michael Anthony’s “Just Another Meat-Eating Dirtbag: A Memoir” is a must-read graphic novel meets nonfiction memoir of 2022. One of the top memoirs of the year, the author does an incredible job of finding his voice and infusing humor and emotion so seamlessly into the story of his relationship with both his girlfriend and his lifestyle as a whole and made this one book I didn’t want to put down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Michael Anthonyis the author of the graphic memoir Just Another Meat-Eating Dirtbag: A Memoir,and the award-winning and acclaimed memoirs: Civilianized: A Young Veteran’s Memoir,and Mass Casualties: A Young Medic’s True Story of Death, Deception, and Dishonor in Iraq.

Michael’s writing has been called “strong … and starkly honest…”-Publisher’s Weekly, “Dark Humored,” –Kirkus, “smart and mordantly funny,” –Milwaukee Journal, and “gut punching…”–Mary Roach. He has appeared in several anthologies, and has written for The Washington Post, Business Insider, Signature-Reads, and The Good Men Project, where he served for a year as chief editor of the War & Veterans section.

He has been featured in several documentaries regarding military service, philosophy, and comedy, and he has worked as a military consultant for award-winning theater and art installations.

A graduate of Bridgewater State University, Michael also holds an MFA in creative writing from Lesley University. A former US army soldier, he currently lives with his wife in Massachusetts and spends his free time working with veterans.

Michael can be reached through his website: MichaelAnthonyAuthor.com

Love Soars the Skies: A Mother’s Quest to Reach Her Son by Linda Ann Jones Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A mother must learn not only how to cope with the grief of losing her son, but how to utilize the heartbreak that comes with that loss to see beyond the world we know and understand the hidden world that resides just beyond our perception in author Linda Ann Jones’s “Love Soars the Skies: A Mother’s Quest to Reach Her Son”.

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The Synopsis

A mother’s love lasts for all eternity.

Grief struck — paralyzing, debilitating — the day she prayed would never come.

The personal story of how one mother coped, to find answers and to somehow make sense of it. She knew that to reach her son in the place he now resides was her only hope.

This book will not tell you how to deal with the unfathomable grief of losing a child. It invites you to explore a bigger picture.

No one understands the complexities of drug addiction. But what if it was a plan all along? To learn, experience, and grow. Earth and heart have the same letters. What if it’s through heartbreak that we grow the most?

There is more to this world than meets the eye, and new vision is required to see past the paradigms that bind us.

Through her son, the author discovers extraordinary signs and synchronicities, some of which are supernatural.

This much is sure. There is an invisible world that we cannot see with our mere five senses. But we can sharpen our vision, to glimpse the wonders of eternity in all its powerful glory, and realize the mighty bond of love that forever weaves and sustains it. For love is the abiding force that connects the entire universe.

And absolutely nothing will ever diminish the unrivaled magnificence of a mother’s love.

The Review

This is truly an emotional and captivating read. The author’s writing really allows the reader to feel the depth of emotions that she felt and continues to feel after the loss of her son. The imagery and artistry of the author’s writing style really captured the impact of both this loss and the journey that she went on in the wake of that loss, and the subtle tones of hope and meaning lay amongst the waves of sadness that the author had to overcome really captured me as I read further and further into this journey.

Yet for me, the author’s striking balance between memoir, biography, and spiritualism as a whole really made this nonfiction read feel more profound. The way the author delved into the powerful themes of drug addiction, grief, and the meaning of death and life as a whole were perfectly elevated by the study of more supernatural elements in the author’s journey, such as the synchronicities that occurred in the wake of this tragedy and the search for communication on the other side that defined her grieving process.

The Verdict

A memorable, engaging, and heartbreaking story of love, parenthood, loss, and our place in the world, author Linda Ann Jones’s “Love Soars the Skies” is a must-read nonfiction memoir and spiritual book. Bringing the heart and deep impact that the loss of a child gives to parents at any age, the author instantly connects with the reader and allows us all to walk in her shoes on this journey of hers to make some sort of sense of this tragedy, and in that same vein understand the unexplainable nature of our world altogether. If you haven’t yet, please be sure to read this book immediately.

10/10

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About the Author

Linda Ann Jones grew up in beautiful upstate New York which probably had something to do with her love for poetry. Quite unexpectedly, that eventually led her to write an award-winning children’s book series titled Alphabet Anatomy. In 2014, she became a grieving mother, which led her on a path to reach her oldest son in the place he now resides. She and her family live in sunny Arizona with three lively dogs and one remarkable cat. Her motto for writing has always been, “Say what’s in your heart, and touch someone else’s.”

https://lajones.allauthor.com/

The Alphabet Anatomy Rap is on You Tube! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxxZsC-70jg

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0BH6Y8TNL/ref=x_gr_w_glide_sin?caller=Goodreads&callerLink=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.goodreads.com%2Fbook%2Fshow%2F62882247-love-soars-the-skies%3Fac%3D1%26from_search%3Dtrue%26qid%3DOMm2pKvrk8%26rank%3D3&tag=x_gr_w_glide_sin-20

Good Morning, Sunshine! The Joey Moss Story by Lorna Schultz Nicholson Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author Lorna Schultz Nicholson takes young readers on a journey to discover the heart of Canadian icon Joey Moss, a young man with Down’s Syndrome who showed the world that anyone can contribute and bring joy to this world in her book “Good Morning, Sunshine! The Joey Moss Story”.

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The Synopsis

Joey Moss first became known to many Canadians because of his work with the NHL Edmonton Oilers hockey team. Joey loved connecting with people. Whether he was singing “Oh Canada” on a jumbotron screen at a hockey game, welcoming a new friend with a playful wrestling match, or dancing on a runway for a charity fashion show, Joey loved making people feel good. But his impact and influence started long before he joined the Oilers. Joey was born with Down syndrome at a time when many children like him were institutionalized. Instead, Joey lived at home, surrounded by his supportive family who was determined that he should receive the same opportunities as others. From this loving environment grew a caring, energetic man who went on to show the world that people like him could do many things and contribute greatly to society. The inspiring true story of Joey Moss, a champion for all to have an opportunity to live a full, purposeful life, comes alive in this heartwarming picture book for young readers.

The Review

This was such a heartwarming and inspiring children’s picture book and memoir. The author did an incredible job of relaying the life story of Canadian icon Joey Moss while also relaying this information to the reader in a way that felt understandable and engaging. The warmth of the imagery used in the book and the hopeful tone that the author struck with the events of the subject’s life made this such an interesting story to get lost in.

For someone who was born in the United States and isn’t as familiar with the cultural scene of Edmonton, the information and atmosphere the author crafted made me feel immersed in this era of history and brought this story to life perfectly. The inspirational message of Joey’s life overall was so emotional and joyous, as his outlook on life and the way he overcame the obstacles life threw at him to make others happy and content was so heartfelt in the author’s delivery.

The Verdict

Magnificent, entertaining, and thoughtful, author Lorna Schultz Nicholson’s “Good Morning, Sunshine! The Joey Moss Story” is a must-read children’s picture book meets memoir that both children and adults will love. The heart and passion for which the author brings this iconic person’s story to life and the hopeful undertones of the story’s message and theme made this a book that readers will turn to over and over again. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Lorna Schultz Nicholson has written numerous books for children, including the Puckster series. She knew Joey Moss and he was an inspiration to her. Lorna lives in Alberta, Canada.

https://lornaschultznicholson.com/

Chasing Tarzan by Catherine Forster Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Author Catherine Forster takes readers on an emotional journey through a turbulent childhood and the pursuit of a new beginning in her book “Chasing Tarzan”.

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The Synopsis

In the 1960s, a relentless school bully makes Catherine’s life a living hell. She retreats inward, relying on a rich fantasy life––swinging through the jungle wrapped in Tarzan’s protective arms––and fervent prayers to a God she does not trust. She fasts until she feels faint, she ties a rough rope around her waist as penance, hoping God will see her worthy of His help.

As the second of eight children, Catherine is Mommy’s little helper, and like Mommy, Catherine is overwhelmed. The bullying and the adult responsibilities together foment her anger. She starts smacking her siblings, and becomes her younger sister’s nemesis. Spooked by who she is becoming, Catherine vows to escape for real, before she hurts someone—or herself.

Catherine finds salvation in a high school exchange program: new town, new school, new family, new persona. A passport celebrity. In New Zealand, nobody knows her history or her fears. Except for her Kiwi “mum,” who sees through Catherine’s façade and pulls her out from her inner safe-house.

Exposed, her sense of self implodes. Catherine must finally rethink who she is.

The Review

This was both a heartbreaking and inspiring read all at once. The author’s story truly held an emotional depth that so many readers are going to be able to relate to, and the authenticity for which the author writes captures the intensity of the author’s experiences growing up that led to her behavior and struggles to go into the exchange program. 

The imagery and tone the author struck early on in the book were so passionate and heartfelt and highlighted the anxiety and hardships that the author endured early in life. The themes were the heart of this narrative, as the exploration of the impact bullies has on a child, the cost of trauma on our outlook on life, and the need for changes in our lives to thrive and grow all played a pivotal role in the author’s story.

The Verdict

A moving and captivating coming-of-age meets memoir narrative, author Catherine Forster’s “Chasing Tarzan” is a must-read book filled with emotional storytelling, thoughtful attention to themes, and an honesty that cannot be replicated. The relatability that this story has will compel readers to dive into the story, while the travel and foreign exchange program aspect of the book will have readers invested as the author’s journey continues. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Purchase a copy of Chasing Tarzan on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. You can also add this to your GoodReads reading list.

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About the Author

Catherine Forster honed her powers of observation early on, and later applied them to artistic endeavors. Although it didn’t happen overnight, she discovered that seeing and hearing a bit more than the average person can be beneficial. As an artist, her work has exhibited in museums and galleries across the United States and abroad. Her experimental films have won accolades and awards in more than thirty international film festivals, from Sao Paulo to Berlin, Los Angeles to Rome, London to Romania. Through her work, she explores the dynamics of girlhood, notions of identity, and the role technology plays in our relationship with nature.

In her capacity as an independent curator, she founded LiveBox, an eight-year project that introduced new media arts to communities at a time when few new what media arts was. For the past four years she has been a member of the curatorial team for the Experiments In Cinema Film Festival held annually in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She received a Masters of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a Masters of Business from the London Business School, and a fellowship in writing from the Vermont Studio Center. She is also included in the Brooklyn Art Museum’s Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art.

You can follow her on her website as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Blog Tour Calendar

October 24th @ The Muffin

Join us as we celebrate the launch of Chasing Tarzan by Catherine Forster. We’ll be interviewing the author, sharing information about the book, and hosting a giveaway. 

https://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/

October 25th @ Pages and Paws

Join the Pages and Paws blog and read the review of Chasing Tarzan by Catherine Forster.

https://pagesandpaws.com/

October 25th @ Lisa Haselton’s Reviews & Interviews

Join Lisa as she interviews author Catherine Forster about her book Chasing Tarzan.

https://lisahaselton.com/blog/

October 26th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Visit Anthony’s page and read his review of Chasing Tarzan by Catherine Forster.

October 27th @ Chapter Break

Join Julie as she shares a guest post by Catherine Forster about the role of imagination when children suffer torment.

https://chapterbreak.net/

October 30th @ Rockin Book Reviews

Join Lu Ann as she reviews Chasing Tarzan by Catherine Forster.

November 2nd @ The Mommies Review

Join Glenda as she reviews Chasing Tarzan by Catherine Forster and hosts a giveaway on her blog.

https://themommiesreviews.com/

November 3rd @ Sioux’s Page

Visit Sioux’s blog as she reads and reviews Chasing Tarzan by Catherine Forster.

http://siouxspage.blogspot.com/

November 4th @ The Faerie Review

Join Lily as she reviews Chasing Tarzan by Catherine Forster.

https://www.thefaeriereview.com/

November 5th @ Jill Sheets Blog

Jill interviews Catherine Forster about her memoir Chasing Tarzan.

http://jillsheets.blogspot.com/

November 7th @ Clueless Gent

Join Michael as he reviews Chasing Tarzan by Catherine Forster.

November 10th @ Word Magic

Come by Fiona’s blog and read a guest post about the mother-daughter relationship in all its complexities.

http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/

November 12th @ Just Katherine

Jamie shares her thoughts about Chasing Tarzan by Catherine Forster.

https://justkatherineblog.wordpress.com/

November 13th @ Writer Advice

Catherine Forster shares a guest post about how her idea for her memoir came to be and how she turned it into a novel.

https://writeradvice.com/

November 15th @ Choices

Madeline shares a guest post by Catherine Forster about the long-term effects of bullying.

http://madelinesharples.com/

November 17th @ All the Ups and Downs

Join Heather as she features a guest post by Catherine Forster about the role of adults and how they can be the potential savior for the wounded child.

https://alltheupsandowns.blogspot.com/

November 19th @ Boots, Shoes and Fashion

Join Linda as she interviews author Catherine Forster about her book Chasing Tarzan.

https://bootsshoesandfashion.com/

November 19th @ Life According to Jamie

Jamie shares her thoughts about Chasing Tarzan by Catherine Forster.

https://lifeaccordingtojamie.com/

Camel from Kyzylkum: A Memoir of My Life Journey by Lara Gelya Review 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Author Lara Gelya shares her journey of immigration, family, and hope amidst a journey of struggles and loss across multiple countries in the book “Camel from Kyzylkum: A Memoir of My Life Journey”. 

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The Synopsis

Camel from Kyzylkum is a memoir about immigration, family, and the late twentieth century. It touches on themes of hope, struggles, and loss, and shares the inspiration for reaching again and again for a better life. A compelling testament to people’s choices over time, it focuses on freedom and self-determination, no matter how much work and risk are involved.

Travel from Ukraine to the Kyzylkum Desert of Uzbekistan, from the Soviet Union to Austria, then Italy, and eventually America, all while following Lara’s journey to find her truth and her future. Through it all, family, friends, and work shape her life, and a lengthy professional career leads to her eventual retirement on the shores of sunny Florida.

The Review

The author’s story was so moving to read. The balance that was struck between matter-of-fact storytelling and heartfelt experiences was felt throughout this book so clearly. The imagery and tone the author managed to bring to life in the book kept me as a reader hooked to the story being told.

Yet it was the book’s themes and the heart for which the story was told that really captivated me. The themes of hope, the American Dream, and overcoming adversity were well represented here. In today’s world, the author’s story of growing up and coming from Ukraine when it was part of the Soviet Union is far more relevant than ever before, and the author’s story not only highlights the way life was back in those days but mirrors the political and struggling situations that so many are stuck in now. 

Yet the author’s hope in writing this for her family and friends to understand more about her journey to the United States over 30 years ago was so captivating to get lost in and made for an emotional read.

The Verdict

Gripping, engaging, and thought-provoking, author Lara Gelya’s “Camel from Kyzylkum: A Memoir of My Life Journey” is a must-read memoir and nonfiction read. Suppose you enjoy stories that share the classic, ideal American Journey for immigrants while also providing a unique perspective and personal experience from the author’s life. In that case, this is the book for you. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today! 

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Born in Ukraine and going to school there, Lara Gelya went on for the next 20 years to the Kyzylkum Desert of the Republic of Uzbekistan, working at geological sites and expeditions of the Mining Industry. At that time Ukraine and Uzbekistan were parts of one country—the Soviet Union.

In 1989 Lara left the Soviet Union, lived in Austria and Italy before she, at last, found her way to the United States in 1990. Starting her life from ground zero again, and trying on so many hats, she was able to make a lengthy professional career that led to her eventual retirement on the shores of sunny Florida.

When she isn’t writing or making her videos and pictures, Lara spends most of her time reading, gardening, cooking, traveling the world, wandering through nature, or catching her favorite shows.

https://www.laragelya.com/

Makeup Tips from Auschwitz: How Vanity Saved My Mother’s Life by Tommy Schnurmacher Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Author Tommy Schnurmacher takes readers on an emotional journey using wit, charm, and a warmth rarely seen in the darkness that was WWII and the Holocaust as he shares stories of his mother Olga as a survivor of the Concentration Camps and his own life growing up learning these of these stories in his book, “Makeup Tips from Auschwitz: How Vanity Saved My Mother’s Life”. 

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The Synopsis

Tommy Schnurmacher has written a book that could change your life. It changed his. As a writer, Montreal media icon Schnurmacher is an intense force of nature, a seismic swell of visceral empathy, laser-sharp wit and courageous self-analysis. Now meet Olga. Auschwitz prisoner A-25057, aka Mom, A fearless, dramatic and unpredictable maverick. An original. Exposing the souls of a family for all to see, Make-up Tips from Auschwitz is an addictive page-turner. Schnurmacher’s voice resonates with a lyrical cadence all his own and an unsettling candor reminiscent of humorist David Sedaris and essayist Augusten Burroughs. Like the Oscar-winning film, Life is Beautiful, Schnurmacher revisits the Holocaust with rays of light in the darkness. Sparkling with chutzpah and charm, this is a story of a family’s cultural collision and delightful dysfunction. With the growing pains of Shtisel, the earthiness of The Simpsons and the fierce family loyalty of The Sopranos, these newcomers from Hungary defy authority. They figured out early on that conventional values were not enough. It was their moxie that allowed them to succeed Schmooze with the passing parade that includes John Lennon, Elizabeth Taylor and Crystal Nacht. You will laugh out loud as you meet a cast of supporting characters who redefine eccentric: the 50-minute therapist, the psychic rabbi and a superstitious hypochondriac named Paris. Once you get to know these mutineers from the mainstream, you will want to organize an intervention. Or at least a Passover Seder. 

The Review

This was such a moving and captivating read. The author did an incredible job of bringing warmth and heart into this nonfiction memoir that blended reflections of his mother’s life experiences with his own. The honesty and charm with which the author shares these moments felt both humorous and emotional in their delivery. In one moment, we learn of how the author’s mother lived and survived Auschwitz and later how they all escaped the Hungarian Revolution, and in the next, the author shares a heartwarming bond the two shared over their love of Elizabeth Taylor. 

The way in which the author writes felt very witty and allowed the author to infuse some humor and heart into the memories and experiences that the author brought to the book. The writing also did a great job of making the experiences and memories very vivid and painted a sharp image in the reader’s mind, allowing readers to get a greater sense of the impact these experiences had on the author’s life. Add to that a level of history and culture that this narrative naturally brings to the forefront and this book was an instant hit in my book.

The Verdict

Brilliant, heartfelt, and engaging, author Tommy Schnurmacher’s “Makeup Tips from Auschwitz: How Vanity Saved My Mother’s Life” is a memorable and captivating nonfiction memoir. The inspiring and breathtaking way the author captures the childhood memories and the tales of his parents, in particular his mother, as she survived one of the world’s greatest horrors made this a stark balance of history and heartfelt family life that very few memoirs are able to fully capture themselves. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today! 

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Born in Budapest, Tommy Schnurmacher is a child of Holocaust survivors. An award-winning political pundit and broadcaster, he was the host of a highly-rated daily radio talk show in Montreal for more than 20 years. He spent a week with John and Yoko at the famous Montreal Bed-In for Peace. He covered the Academy Awards no less than 13 times and is proud to say that Meryl Streep once stepped on his foot in the lobby of the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Tommy is the author of a new memoir, Makeup Tips from Auschwitz. How Vanity Saved My Mother’s Life.

What’s the book about? How his mom got two world-famous Nazis to save her life.

http://talkradiotommy.com/

The Beautiful Struggle: A Memoir by Ta-Nehisi Coates Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Author Ta-Nehisi Coates takes readers on a personal story of growing up with a tough-love father, his relationship with his mother, and the trials he would face, including racism, girl troubles, and so much more in the YA adaption of his memoir, “The Beautiful Struggle”. 

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The Synopsis

Adapted from the adult memoir by the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Water Dancer and Between the World and Me, this father-son story explores how boys become men, and quite specifically, how Ta-Nehisi Coates became Ta-Nehisi Coates.

As a child, Ta-Nehisi Coates was seen by his father, Paul, as too sensitive and lacking focus. Paul Coates was a Vietnam vet who’d been part of the Black Panthers and was dedicated to reading and publishing the history of African civilization. When it came to his sons, he was committed to raising proud Black men equipped to deal with a racist society, during a turbulent period in the collapsing city of Baltimore where they lived.

Coates details with candor the challenges of dealing with his tough-love father, the influence of his mother, and the dynamics of his extended family, including his brother “Big Bill,” who was on a very different path than Ta-Nehisi. Coates also tells of his family struggles at school and with girls, making this a timely story to which many readers will relate.

The Review

I found the author’s work to be so passionate and moving. The intimate way the author delved into his personal experiences and his life as a whole was in one breath very relatable, and in another breath very eye-opening, as he brought a truly unique perspective of what life was like as both a young black man and as the son of a Vietnam vet and Black Panther during a very turbulent time in our world’s history. The imagery and tone the author struck really brought the experiences the author delved into to life in a vivid way.

The author’s ability to translate this very adult memoir into a teachable lesson for younger readers, primarily YA readers, was amazing to read. The history and culture of that era and the hardships the author endured on both a cultural and personal level are things younger generations can definitely learn from. The personal struggles of his home life and his childhood will resonate with so many readers out there, and the artistry that has defined the author’s life and career is felt in every chapter.

The Verdict

Engaging, atmospheric, and beautifully written, author Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “The Beautiful Struggle: A Memoir” is a must-read nonfiction meets YA book. The contrast of struggle versus hope is a powerful theme that is felt throughout this reading, and readers will be able to find both important lessons on culture and history while also relating to the author’s life in one way or another. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Ta-Nehisi Coates is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Between the World and Me, a finalist for the National Book Award. A MacArthur “Genius Grant” fellow, Coates has received the National Magazine Award, the Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism, and the George Polk Award for his Atlantic cover story “The Case for Reparations.” He lives in New York with his wife and son.

https://ta-nehisicoates.com/