4.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · memoir · non fiction · Sports

Abused: Surviving Sexual Assault and a Toxic #Gymnastics Culture by Rachel Haines | ARC #BookReview

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Abused: Surviving Sexual Assault and a Toxic Gymnastics Culture by Rachel Haines

Published: April 12, 2019

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers 

Pages: 144 

Genres: non fiction, memoir, sports

Rating: 4.5 stars 

Recommend to fans of: gymnastics, women speaking out, learning more about the culture of abuse, strong women 

Foodie Vibes: oooh, that’s a tough one when it comes to gymnastics – ideally it should be a healthy mix of lean protein, complex carbs and lots of vegetables, but in reality it’s probably a lot of disordered eating 

 

Synopsis:

Two-year-old Rachel Haines didn’t know that she would be committing to twenty-one years of hard work, dedication, and perseverance as she jumped into the foam pit during her first “mommy and me” gymnastics class. She had no idea that one day she would become a two-time National Team Member, two-time National Champion, and a Division I college gymnast at the University of Minnesota. Nor could she have known that she had just signed herself up for serious injury, emotional distress, and continuous sexual assault by world-renowned trainer turned serial molester, Larry Nassar.

In Abused: Surviving Sexual Assault and a Toxic Gymnastics Culture, Rachel details her experiences as a competitive gymnast and the painful realities of being one of Nassar’s many victims. With honesty and candidness, Rachel shares how the sport she loved that gave her so much—friendships, accomplishments, a college education—is also tangled in a dangerously toxic culture that needs to be fixed. In a world that was setting her up for a lifetime of recovery, she tells how faith, family, and an army of survivors made healing possible.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, and Rachel Haines for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Like:

  • She was able to speak her truth and current perspective of John Geddert. She enjoyed having him as a coach. Many other people have spoken out against his abusive coaching techniques, which I absolutely believe. But the problems of the sport of gymnastics are not one sided, so its good that everyone can tell their story. 
  • Hearing her perspective of the story (her’s only), not just what we were getting from the media
  • I can see this being the first of many books written, by different authors, about the same subject. Finally the world is getting a more complete view of gymnastics – the good and the bad.

Love: 

  • She’s using her voice to tell her story and speak out against the abuse and toxic culture of the sport.
  • Discusses the abuse without being unnecessarily overly graphic, IMO
  • Discusses the abusive culture of gymnastics as a whole, because it’s not just one person’s bad actions 

Dislike:

  • The culture of abuse (physical, emotional, and sexual) that’s been allowed throughout the sport of gymnastics, because of the people in charge not putting athlete safety and well being first 

Wish that:

  • It was a bit longer. The content is great and the perfect length, but I would have liked to hear more about the sport as a whole and the culture of abuse across multiple gyms. Maybe that’s for another book and I would absolutely read that too.

Overall, a very necessary book about the current culture within the sport of gymnastics. A great read about a difficult topic. I think everyone needs to read Rachel’s story, especially anyone currently or ever involved in the sport. 

 

How many of you did gymnastics as a kid?

 

Add to your Goodreads TBR

 

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Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

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4 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Christian · Christian fiction · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · romance · suspense

ARC Review | Delayed Justice by Cara C. Putnam

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Delayed Justice by Cara C. Putnam

Published: October 16, 2018

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Pages: 368

Genres: suspense, contemporary, Christian fiction, romantic suspense

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: justice, the MeToo Movement, good men and supportive friends/family, rediscovering your religion during difficult times

Foodie Vibes: peppermint tea to soothe your jangled nerves

 

Synopsis:

She had long given up the desire to be loved. Now she only needed to be heard.

Jaime Nichols went to law school to find the voice she never had as a child, and her determination to protect girls and women in the path of harm drives her in ways both spoken and unspoken. As Jaime, now a criminal defense attorney, prepares to press charges against someone who wronged her long ago, she must face not only her demons but also the unimaginable forces that protect the powerful man who tore her childhood apart.

Chandler Bolton, a retired veteran, is tasked with helping a young victim who must testify in court—and along with his therapy dog, Aslan, he’s up for the task. When he first meets Jaime, all brains, beauty, and brashness, he can’t help but be intrigued. As Chandler works to break through the wall Jaime has built around herself, the two of them discover that they may have more to offer one another than they ever could have guessed—and that together, they may be able to help this endangered child.

This thrilling installment of the Hidden Justice series explores the healing power of resolution and the weight of words given voice. And as Jaime pursues delayed justice of her own, she unearths eternal truths that will change the course of her life.

 

Review:

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. As always, an honest review from me.

First of all, trigger warning: child sexual abuse

Most of the book references child sexual abuse, the healing process, disclosing to friends and family, and testifying. Nothing is described in detail, graphic or otherwise. 

  • If you’re concerned about being triggered by certain content, feel free to ask me for clarification about any potentially triggering content, in the comments. Or send me a direct message on Twitter if you prefer.

Now onto the book review …

Jaime was abused by her uncle at the age of 8. She didn’t tell anyone then. Now as an adult and after much counseling she feels strong enough to report his crime and press charges. Will her words and an old journal be enough to convict this esteemed military man? Or will he do anything to stop her form “ruining his life”?

It was nice to see the day to day realities of a survivor. The struggles and the triumphs, all the hard work, and the support from loved ones. Too often the media glosses over the day to day moments after a certain point in the survivor’s story. Not so in this book.

However, I had mixed feelings about the romance storyline. I don’t like when the, you need a man to make it all better, myth is perpetuated. But it’s also unrealistic to think that no survivor will experience romance and also look for comfort in their partner. The ending also wrapped things up a little too conveniently for me.

All in all, another good novel supporting the Me Too Movement of our generation. 

 

Question: How can we continue to support survivors in our lives?

5 Star Books · Book Reviews · memoir

This Is Me by Chrissy Metz

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This Is Me: Loving the Person You Are Today by Chrissy Metz

Published: March 27, 2018

Publisher: Day Street Books

Pages: 308

Genres: memoir

Rating: 5 stars

Recommend to fans of: This Is Us, books that speak to you in the most profound way, Oprah mentions!, self evolutions 

Foodie Vibes: food that feeds your body and nourishes your soul

 

Synopsis:

A prescriptive and inspirational book of life lessons from the Emmy Award-nominee and breakout star of television’s #1 hit show, NBC’s This Is Us.

Debuting in fall 2016, This Is Us quickly became America’s most watched—and most talked about—network television show. Within weeks of its premier, actress Chrissy Metz and her character, Kate, were embraced by countless fans. Seemingly overnight, Chrissy found herself on magazine covers and talk shows, walking red carpets, and the subject of endless conversations on social media.

Chrissy chalks up her popularity to the authenticity of the role. She believes that fans sense she is playing a character whose life is not so very different from her own. It is a performance that comes from her heart and gut, from a universal place that rings true. In reality, Chrissy’s presence, her perseverance in Hollywood, and her success story is as genuine—and as inspirational—as it gets. There is no better person to represent and speak out for the everywoman and her experiences.

Embracing the spirit of Shonda Rhime’s Year of Yes, Chrissy’s touching, wise, and honest book speaks to all of us. Blending love and experience, Chrissy encourages us to claim our rightful place in a world that may be trying to knock us down from all sides. Throughout, her positivity, confidence, and humor are infectious, whether she’s talking about her past or present, and she offers amazing one-liners such as:

Who needs to fit in when you’re meant to stand out?
You need to both know better and do better!
The key is to act deserving, but not entitled.

Not your standard celebrity memoir or essay collection, Why Fit in When You’re Meant to Stand Out is a smart and helpful guide for living through tough stuff and coming out the other side, written by a woman who has done just that. Grounded and spiritual, Chrissy teaches each one of us how to find our own unique voice—and pursue our dreams.

 

Review:

I absolutely flew through this gem of a book. I put aside the other books I was reading, because I could not stop reading this one. I’m a huge fan of This Is Us, so of course I had to read Chrissy’s memoir. We learn so much about her life story. But what’s even better is all the life lessons that she shares with us. It’s like having an awesome, smart, and incredibly kind big sister give us a helping hand in life. I could have highlighted almost every page, because there was so much relatable wisdom shared. I loved the mix of her life journey combined with incredibly relatable anecdotes about her struggles, triumphs, and lessons learned along the way. I cannot get enough of her book, so now I’m going on YouTube and searching for her interviews. She’s brilliant! A quick amazing read that I highly recommend!

 

How many of you watch This Is Us? 

Which Pearson(s) do you relate to most? 

Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · What You Missed Wednesdays

What You Missed Wednesdays – Contemporary Fiction Edition

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

What You Missed Wednesdays is exactly as it sounds!

Book reviews of each week’s genre of choice that you might have missed, and I think you should really hear about.

3 Books a Week with 3 Words/Phrases to Describe Them 

Click on the title of each book to be taken to my full review.

I hope you find new books that you’re excited to add to your TBR!

 

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The Girl in His Eyes by Jennie Ensor

4.5/5 stars

Incredibly relevant these days, heartbreaking journey, strong fierce women

 

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Snowflakes Over Holly Cove by Lucy Coleman 

4.5/5 stars

relaxing vacation atmosphere, picturesque views, cozy read

 

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Ghosted by Rosie Walsh 

4.5/5 stars

complicated characters, unforeseen twists, sweet mysterious romance

 

Well there you have it!

Another edition of What You Missed Wednesdays.

Keep coming back each Wednesday for more Can’t Miss Books!

Which book(s) are you now adding to your TBR?

5 Star Books · Book Reviews · memoir

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

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Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

Published: February 20, 2018

Publisher: Random House

Pages: 352 

Genres: memoir

Rating: 5 stars

Recommend to fans of: memoirs about strong women, surviving difficult childhoods, family dynamics

Read with food: home canned peaches ~ commonly made in Tara’s family and even taken with to her journey to college

 

Synopsis:

Tara Westover grew up preparing for the End of Days, watching for the sun to darken, for the moon to drip as if with blood. She spent her summers bottling peaches and her winters rotating emergency supplies, hoping that when the World of Men failed, her family would continue on, unaffected.

She hadn’t been registered for a birth certificate. She had no school records because she’d never set foot in a classroom, and no medical records because her father didn’t believe in doctors or hospitals. According to the state and federal government, she didn’t exist.

As she grew older, her father became more radical, and her brother, more violent. At sixteen Tara decided to educate herself. Her struggle for knowledge would take her far from her Idaho mountains, over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she’d travelled too far. If there was still a way home.

EDUCATED is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes with the severing of the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has, from her singular experience, crafted a universal coming-of-age story, one that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers – the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes, and the will to change it.

Review:

A head’s up from the beginning, trigger warning for abuse and gaslighting.

We are all educated. Many people through formal education in public and private primary schools and then universities across the country. Some are homeschooled, in which the quality of education depends on the quality of the teacher. All of us are educated by our life experiences. Our day to day experiences, shaped by the people who surround us or we choose to surround ourselves with. When we are children our education is largely dictated by our schools, extracurricular activities, various adults in our lives, our friends, but above all else our parents. When our parents don’t believe in sending their children to schools of any kind, choosing to very poorly and infrequently educate the children, you get stories like Tara’s.

Tara was lucky in that she was smart, shown the way to self educate from other family members, and while discouraged, was not denied access to higher education. Her life was anything but easy or typical. She grew up in the mountains with a mentally unstable and abusive father, passive mothers, and siblings. Her childhood was filled with abuse of various sorts and so much emotional manipulation that it took her years to sort it out.

I was absolutely engaged in this book the entire time. Even attempting to read it while I had a migraine, which was probably the last thing I should have been doing. Tara is an inspiration.

There are so many life lessons one can take away from the book. Ignore the toxic people in your life. Get out. Don’t let them dictate what you will or won’t do. Also, it’s okay to ask for and accept help. It means you’re strong. We can’t do it all on our own, and we shouldn’t have to. You don’t need to cover up the abuse that other people did. Share what you feel comfortable, but don’t let the people silence your truth.

Wow! I’ve had a lot to say about Educated. The story is so powerful. I highly suggest that you all read it.

 

Random Question of the Post: 

What’s the best moment so far this weekend?