3.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · Medical · memoir · non fiction

Dispatches from the Heart: Transplanting One Heart and Transforming Many Others by Ed and Paige Innerarity

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Dispatches from the Heart: Transplanting One Heart and Transforming Many Others by Ed and Paige Innerarity

Published: June 6, 2018

Publisher: River Grove Books

Pages: 202

Genres: non fiction, memoir, medical

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: using faith to get through a difficult time, heartfelt stories, inspiring reads

Foodie Vibes: healthy foods that protect your heart

 

Synopsis:

Ed Innerarity was a regular guy: He liked to fly fish, ride his bike, and laugh with his family, and he attended church every Sunday. He also had a heart condition called cardiomyopathy and needed a new heart. Ed refused to even consider a heart transplant until his doctor gave him two options: Get a heart transplant or check in to a hospice care facility. He didn’t want to die.

Dispatches from the Heart is a compilation of emails from friends, family, and the authors themselves describing Ed’s journey through the heart transplant process. Full of compelling, inspiring, and often witty insights into this life-changing event, Ed and Paige share the challenges and triumphs they both faced before, during, and after Ed’s life-saving surgery.

This book is a tribute to those who helped make a second chance at life possible, an invitation into the intimate inner dialogue of a family ever changed, and a beacon of hope for those who may be part of a similar journey.

 

Review:

I won this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, the author and publisher for the ebook copy. As always, an honest review from me.

Dispatches from the Heart is the life journey of Ed, who needs and ends up receiving a heart transplant in his 60s. The touching insightful memoir highlights the importance of healthy life choices. Even if they can’t prevent illness, they can help the person live their best life during the struggles and potentially slow the progression of the health issue. Ed has cardiomyopathy, a genetic condition in which the heart gets weaker and less efficient over time. Due to his family history he got tested and knew he would eventually succumb to the same disease his mother passed away from. 

The book is a unique look into the journey a lot of families go through. Knowing you need an organ transplant, but not knowing if you will get one. His story is told through different forms: passages from him and his wife looking back, emails from him or his wife, email responses from loved ones, photos, song suggestions, and occasionally short descriptions of the medical terminology. It gives an authentic look what the family was going through during this difficult time. The family looks towards their faith a lot during this challenging time, as they do throughout the rest of life as well. 

I liked that he highlights the important of pre-hab while on the waiting list for a cardiac transplant. It shows the importance of strengthening your body before the transplant, so you can have the best chance for a good outcome. 

While the outlook is extremely positive, it may be difficult for people who are struggling with the transplant process, because they may not see themselves in his process. While he struggled, as well as his family, it wasn’t shown that much. That’s fine. Completely his choice what he shares, but it could alienate some people who are struggling to deal with and relate. 

Overall, an enlightening, inspiring book that shows Ed’s journey in the organ transplant process. A great read for someone who may know someone going through something similar and wants to know more about it. 

5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Essays · non fiction

New Release | Today’s Moment of Happiness Despite the News by Kathie Giorgio

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Today’s Moment of Happiness Despite the News by Kathie Giorgio

Published: October 4, 2018

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Pages: 529

Genres: essay, non fiction

Rating: 5 stars

Recommend to fans of: unique quirky books, reminders to appreciate the good in life

Foodie Vibes: Starbucks coffee

 

Synopsis:

It wasn’t a typical response to depression. Reaching a new low in her life, Kathie Giorgio, a natural skeptic, decides to fight her sadness by publically posting one moment of happiness every day on Facebook.

The response is overwhelming. People flock to her page to see each day’s new post. Soon, Kathie launches Today’s Moment Of Happiness Despite The News as her blog. She vows to continue this daily Today’s Moment for a year.

And what a year! Her husband loses his job not once, but twice. Her autistic daughter is so bullied on social media, she is moved to a new school. And Kathie herself is diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer.

In a year of Down, Kathie finds Up. Today’s Moment Of Happiness Despite The News is a powerhouse movement, a force that goes beyond positive thinking. One year. One woman. And many, many lives touched and changed.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Black Rose Writing and Kathie Giorgio for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

The book is the author’s collection of blog posts from her journey to find a moment of happiness, despite the news and current political climate, for a year. The concept is not brand new. Daily gratitudes, blessings, happiness, joy, what are you thankful for, and many other forms of the same concept are prevalent online. As they should be. We need all the positivity we can find. The author adds her own unique touch to her writing. It’s quirky, fun, heartfelt, honest and completely engaging. Despite the difficult times in life, the book radiated pure joy. The author had some tough times in 2017, but her writing made me so happy. Experiencing her learn to find happiness in incredibly unhappy situations is beautiful, inspiring, and educating to me, on my own journey of life.

The book also gave me my new favorite word of this week, asshat! Of course referring to the orange man in the White House. So many thanks for the glorious word!

There weren’t any cons in the book for me. Even a few days after finishing, the memories from reading it wrap me up in a big blanket of warmth, happiness and a positive practical perspective on life.

So overall, an absolute joy to read. The highlight of my week. I highly recommend Today’s Moment of Happiness Despite the News!

 

In keeping with the author’s theme, what’s your moment of happiness today? 

Please share in the comments. I love hearing about everyone’s happy moments! 

4.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Chick Lit · Chronic Illness/Disabilities · contemporary fiction · Domestic Fiction · drama · Literary Fiction · mental health · Women's Fiction

New Release | The Secrets We Keep by Kate Hewitt

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The Secrets We Keep by Kate Hewitt

Published: September 4, 2018

Publisher: Bookouture

Pages: 356

Genres: women’s fiction, literary fiction, mental health, domestic fiction, chick lit, drama

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: moms with psychological struggles trying to keep it all together, validating books about mental health and self harm

Foodie Vibes: pina coladas, takeout pizza and marshmallows roasted over an open fire pit

 

Synopsis:

‘Is her life as easy and effortless as it seems from the outside? Or is she feeling lonely, all by herself in that big house, an evening stretching out in front of her just as it is for me?’

When Tessa arrives at the little house by the lake with her two children Ben and Katherine, it is an escape. For all of them. Never mind that the rental house is a bit small – it’s theirs for the summer. A place to hide…

Their isolation is disrupted when they meet the family from the big house next door. Three children Charlotte, Zoe and Max and their glamorous mother Rebecca – who seems absolutely determined to invite Tessa in to their lives.

But Rebecca is harbouring a dark secret of her own. One that will put not only her family at risk, but Tessa’s too. And when she discovers she has no option but to leave her children for several weeks, Tessa feels like the only person she can trust.

Suddenly Tessa finds herself living a life she could only have dreamed of. Wealth, a large brood of children, and Rebecca’s handsome husband Josh visiting at weekends.

But even as powerful bonds are forming between them, secrets have a way of catching up with people. And as the summer comes to an end, who will learn to love again and who will risk losing everything?

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Bookouture, and Kate Hewitt for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

First of all, Trigger Warning for self harm and child sexual abuse.

Keeping yourself safe is most important, so make sure you’re in a healthy place before reading, my lovelies.

Feel free to send me a message on here, or a DM on Twitter for more privacy, if you want to know more about content that may trigger you.

Now onto the book review.

It seems as if everyone is keeping secrets from those around them. Pretending that they’re okay, when they’re anything but. I think we all can relate to this.

Over summer vacation 2 moms, Tessa and Rebecca, take their kids to summer vacation cottages. They didn’t know each other before the summer, but they end up neighbors, friends, and changing each other’s lives forever. They say it’s because their kids need playmates, but both moms know they need each other’s help more. Tessa has 2 kids, is in dire need of a makeover, constantly doubts herself, and has enough money but still must live by a budget. Rebecca has 3 kids, a glamorous lifestyle, a seemingly perfect life, more money than she can spend, and some serious issues going on. Hence the trigger warning. People are jealous of how well put together she seems, but inside she’s a wreck, just trying to get through the day.

I appreciated that self harm in adults is discussed. And not as a one off conversation. As a legitimate mental health concern that is featured throughout the novel. If you’re looking for good representation of self harm in adults, this is your book. 

The overall story the author tells of moms as people first that also care fiercely for their children is refreshing. And you can’t go wrong with a summer cottage on the lake story.

The only caveat that I have is the weird situation that is thrust upon one of the moms about halfway through the story. I can’t give away any spoilers, but it’s kind of a you need to go with the flow story line and not critique that it probably isn’t realistic. Oh, also the ending completely wrecked me. So I can see how some people might have an issue with it. 

Overall, The Secrets We Keep featured some truly broken adults who are trying to hold it together to care for their children. A wonderful authentic representation of adult self harm. I highly recommend, as long as you won’t be too triggered.  

 

If you want some helpful information or support about these serious topics, click the links below

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)

Self-Harm Crisis Text Hotline

NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)

 

Do trigger warnings help you to choose a book?

Everyone has different triggers. Which ones would be helpful to you, that I mention in my future reviews?

4.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Chronic Illness/Disabilities · Essays · LGBTQIA+ Books · Medical · mental health · non fiction · psychology

ARC Book Review | Firsts: Coming of Age Stories by People with Disabilities by Belo Miguel Cipriani

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Firsts: Coming of Age Stories by People With Disabilities by Belo Miguel Ciprani

Published: October 1, 2018

Publisher: Oleb Books

Pages: 228 

Genres: non fiction, essays, LGBTQIA+, chronic illness, mental health, disabilities 

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: authentic stories told by real people, books about living with disability, representation in literature

Foodie Vibes: whatever you like, because each person is different

 

Synopsis:

Take a step back in time with some of the best writers with disabilities as they recount their first adventure, their first heartbreak, and the first time the unexpected treaded into their life. From body transformations to societal setbacks, to love affairs and family trauma, Firsts collects the most thought-provoking and exciting stories of our time by people with disabilities. Contributors include Nigel David Kelly, Kimberly Gerry-Tucker, Caitlin Hernandez, Andrew Gurza, and David-Elijah Nahmod.

 

Review: 

I won this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, Oleb Books and Belo Miguel Ciprani for an ARC ebook copy. As always, an honest review from me.

Firsts is a collection of essays written by different people with disabilities, so that people with disabilities could accurately see themselves represented in the media. I don’t have a disability myself, so my thoughts on the book come from an able bodies point of view.

Each essay has a different author and therefore a different voice. Certain essays captivated me more than others, but I enjoyed and learned from each person’s experiences. Overall the writing is wonderful. I love that the book is a compilation of authentic life experiences written by and for people with disabilities. After reading certain essays, I wanted to seek out additional written work by the authors. 

5 Star Books · Book Reviews · memoir · mental health · Uncategorized

Surviving Myself: How an Eating Disorder, A Car Crash and a Stroke Taught Me to Love My Life and Finally Live It by Dina Pestonji

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Surviving Myself: How an Eating Disorder, A Car Crash and a Stroke Taught Me to Love My Life and Finally Live It by Dina Pestonji

Published: July 19, 2018

Publisher: Tellwell Talent

Pages: 350

Genres: memoir, mental health, autobiography

Rating: 5 stars

Recommend to fans of: memoirs about strong women, life lessons, authentic eating disorder representation

Foodie Vibes: homemade Indian food surrounded by family

 

Synopsis:

GROWING UP, DINA PESTONJI was afforded all the comfort, love and affection anyone could ask for. She should have been a happy, carefree girl. But from the age of 10, she felt uncomfortably “different,” like an ugly brown duckling in a sea of perfect girls with white skin and blue eyes.

In this powerful, brutally honest memoir, Dina vividly describes the losing battle that engulfed her mind and body—one with a hateful, self-loathing and cruel inner critic.

Consumed by a misguided obsession with fitting in, being exceptional and “perfect,” she unknowingly allowed a deep self-hatred to set in over the years—a hatred that not even her acceptance at the swankiest schools nor a dream job in California could change. Only after surviving a horrific car crash and a paralyzing stroke while still in her 20s, did she begin to see herself for who she really was: strong, independent, a fighter…blessed.

Surviving Myself, is the captivating, emotionally charged story of the author’s journey to self-acceptance and inner peace, narrated with the refreshing candour of a close friend. Alternately humourous, shocking and heartbreaking, it is also the story of a family’s overflowing love.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Tellwell Talent and Dina Pestonji for an ebook copy for review. As always, an honest review from me. 

The title pretty much sums up the book. Dina struggles with an eating disorder in her teen years, constantly feels different from her peers, gets into a car crash, moves abroad several times, and has a stroke. All before the age of 30. That’s a lot of information for a person to get in 30 seconds, not to mention experience in 30 years. 

Her story is remarkable, inspiring and so relatable. Even if you haven’t dealt with all of the challenges that she has, you will still be able to relate to a lot of her feelings. Feelings of isolation, loneliness, loving your family but wanting to prove your independence, frustration, finding your place in the world, hopelessness and courage. The writing is so relatable. It’s like listening to a really smart mentor give you all the life lessons you need to know. I would read another 350 pages of her experiences and insight. 

The only aspect that slightly annoyed me was reading the younger years. Maybe age 10 and 11. Since it’s in 1st person, the writing is from a pre teen’s perspective. Makes sense for the story, but not my favorite age range to read about. These are only minor details though.

Overall a fantastic memoir that really resonated with me. Do yourself a favor and give Surviving Myself by Dina Pestonji a read!

 

Which of Dina’s experiences can you relate to?

5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Essays · feminism · mental health · non fiction · politics · Self Help · sociology

New Release | Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger by Soraya Chemaly

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Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger by Soraya Chemaly 

Published: September 11, 2018

Publisher: Atria Books

Pages: 416

Genres: non fiction, feminism, sociology, self help, politics, mental health, essays

Recommend to fans of: books that explain so many experiences as a women, educating yourself, feminism

Foodie Vibes: whatever food that you want, because you don’t need to justify your food choices

 

Synopsis:

Women are angry, and it isn’t hard to figure out why.

We are underpaid and overworked. Too sensitive, or not sensitive enough. Too dowdy or too made-up. Too big or too thin. Sluts or prudes. We are harassed, told we are asking for it, and asked if it would kill us to smile. Yes, yes it would.

Contrary to the rhetoric of popular “self-help” and an entire lifetime of being told otherwise, our rage is one of the most important resources we have, our sharpest tool against both personal and political oppression. We’ve been told for so long to bottle up our anger, letting it corrode our bodies and minds in ways we don’t even realize. Yet our anger is a vital instrument, our radar for injustice and a catalyst for change. On the flip side, the societal and cultural belittlement of our anger is a cunning way of limiting and controlling our power.

We are so often told to resist our rage or punished for justifiably expressing it, yet how many remarkable achievements in this world would never have gotten off the ground without the kernel of anger that fueled them? Rage Becomes Her makes the case that anger is not what gets in our way, it is our way, sparking a new understanding of one of our core emotions that will give women a liberating sense of why their anger matters and connect them to an entire universe of women no longer interested in making nice at all costs.

Following in the footsteps of classic feminist manifestos like The Feminine Mystique and Our Bodies, Ourselves, Rage Becomes Her is an eye-opening book for the twenty-first century woman: an engaging, accessible credo offering us the tools to re-understand our anger and harness its power to create lasting positive change.

 

Review:

I won this book for free from Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, Atria Books, and Soraya Chemaly. As always, an honest review from me.

Rage Becomes Her might be my book of the year. It’s incredibly powerful, poignant and validating for women. I want to share the book with every single woman I know. Actually I need every single person on the planet to read it. No arguments, just reading and learning.

With that being said, here are all the reasons why Rage Becomes Her is a must read book:

– The author made me realize that I actually am very angry. Not annoyed, frustrated, sad, but angry. So many women have to put up with so much hatred, injustice and ridicule. And it’s ridiculous.
– I can relate to almost everything that she’s writing.
– I learned so much and so will you.
– Highlights the value of women as caregivers and the lack of value society places on us.
– Gives words to feelings and experiences that I’ve had before. Incredibly validating!
-Books this powerful set my soul on fire
-Teaches women how to make positive change using all that justifiable anger

There is nothing negative that I can say about the book.

Here are a few quotes that help to demonstrate the power of this novel:

“Angry women burn brighter than the sun.”

“How much is a little girl worth?” -Rachael Denhollander

“Little girls don’t stay little forever. They grow into strong women that return to destroy your world.” -Kyle Stephens

“The unfairness that we intuit and experience but cannot “prove” as we are asked to do so often, are more likely to become internalized anger rather than externalized action.”

I literally had chills and tears while reading, from the power of the author’s words.

Please, if you only read one book that I recommend this year, make it this one.
Bookish Posts

Mental Health Awareness Through Reading

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May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

The more we talk, tweet, write blog posts about mental health, the more people are aware of these conditions. 

I think there’s more to awareness than just the basic “hey, now more people know about depression or binge eating disorder or schizophrenia”. 

Truly understanding the challenges, struggles, and daily life of a person who deals with these mental health conditions is more ideal.

 

What better way to do this, than through books? 

 

Reading is a unique way to experience the human condition of mental health. As many of you all know, books allow us to transport ourselves to another country, lifestyle, personal situation, etc.

Below I have listed some books that center around mental health. It’s definitely not inclusive, but rather books that I have read, enjoyed, and think represent mental health and illness well. 

 

Fiction

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh (depression)

Black Box by Julie Schumacher (depression)

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (agoraphobia, anxiety)

Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Temple (anxiety, panic disorders)

OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu (OCD)

This is How I Find Her by Sara Polsky (bipolar disorder)

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert (bipolar disorder)

Paperweight by Meg Haston (eating disorder)

Saving Ruth by Zoe FIshman (eating disorder)

Pretend We Are Lovely by Noley Reid (eating disorder, grief)

Speak by Laure Halse Anderson (trauma) – also check out the newly released graphic novel by the same name

Cutters Don’t Cry by Christine Dzidrums (self harm)

 

Memoirs

When They Call You a Terrorist: a Black Live Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors (mental health system)

Floating: a Life Regained by Joe Minihane (depression, anxiety)

Pound for Pound: A Story of One Woman’s Recovery and the Shelter Dogs Who Loved Her Back to Life by Shannon Kopp (eating disorder)

In the Water They Can’t See You Cry by Amanda Beard (depression, bulimia, self harm, alcohol & drug abuse)

 

If you want more information about about mental health in general visit NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness at https://www.nami.org

Peace and love, 

Amanda