Book Review of Unshattered by Carol J. Decker

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Book Review of Unshattered by Carol J. Decker

I’m speechless. Seriously. This story is so amazing and inspiring. Carol went through the unimaginable and was able to overcome. For anyone going through a trial (Pretty much everyone, right?), this book is a must! As I read this book I found a profound sense of gratitude for those everyday things that I take for granted. My life has been changed for the better. I hope you enjoy my book review of Unshattered  by Carol J. Decker.

Blurb:

“On June 10, 2008, Carol Decker walked through the hospital doors a healthy woman with flu-like symptoms and early labor contractions. Three months later, she returned home a blind triple-amputee struggling to bond with a daughter she would never see.

Unshattered: Overcoming Tragedy and Choosing a Beautiful Life recounts Carol’s fight for survival against sepsis and its life-shattering complications. From excruciating skin grafts to learning how to function in daily life without lower legs, a left hand, or her sight, Carol takes us on a personal and raw yet inspiring journey. She travels through the darkness of trauma, anxiety, and depression to arrive, literally, at the peak of a mountain with a heart full of gratitude and love.

More than a story of triumph over tragedy, the book offers inspiring life lessons and insights that can help readers to do more than endure unimaginable pain and darkness in their own lives. This book can give them the perspective and strength to pick up the pieces of their own tragedies and choose a life of healing, purpose, and joy—a beautiful life.”

My Book Review:

Although I try to be grateful for all that I have, I know there are still so many things I take for granted. I have the ability to see, hear, walk on my two feet, and type with my two hands and ten fingers. Brushing my teeth is a piece of cake. When I need to go somewhere I hop in my car and drive there, or I walk or ride my bike. I get to see the beautiful faces of my husband and children all day long. Cooking dinner may not be my favorite thing, but I get to do it for my family each day.

Carol Decker doesn’t have many of these opportunities. The story she tells of her illness and consequential disabilities brought me to tears several times. I cannot imagine going through what she did. About the same time this was going on, my fourth baby was born 5 ½ weeks early. She was in the NICU for 15 days, and it was awful. I had three kids at home, and one of them had strep, so I couldn’t even enlist the help of babysitters. My husband would go see her on his lunch break and I’d go up to the hospital when he got home. This one thing was so hard for me, and this was only one small part of what Carol went through.

Her writing is engaging and well written. She just sucks you right into her story. It’s a fast, easy read, but there isn’t anything fast or easy about her story. It’s amazing. Seriously amazing. Her ability to pull herself out of this tragedy and find light and positivity is an example to all. It would have been so easy for her to give up and live life as a victim, but she chose to live instead. This is such a powerful lesson!

I loved, loved, loved this book! I will be recommending it to everyone I see, I’m sure. And my three oldest children will be reading this book for sure. This past year has been rough for my oldest, and I think he will really benefit from her positive attitude, hard work, and accomplishments. Unshattered is a book that doesn’t leave you when you close the final page. I finished it last night, but haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. In my prayers last night I thanked my Heavenly Father for all my blessings. I am so full of gratitude for all that I have, and I will not be taking the little things for granted anymore.

What can you learn from this book? So many things! Never give up, find the joy in the simplest of things, and have a positive attitude. Surround yourself with good people, it’s okay to ask for help, allow people to help you, and work hard for your dreams and goals. Life is hard and not fair—get over it and move forward with gratitude and hope. Family is everything.

Content Rating PG-13Content Rating: PG-13 (There isn’t any profanity, violence, or “intimacy” in this book. However, there are some graphic descriptions of medical procedures, and suicide is discussed.)

Recommendation: YA (12-18) and up

My Rating: 4.5/5

4.5 Star Rating

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here:https://amzn.to/2xL38Kf 

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

I'm Possible by Jeff Griffin  Overcoming and Avoiding Illness by James Lilley
 

Rise

Rise
How a House Built a Family
by
Cara Brookins

Blurb (taken from amazon.com):
If you were inspired by Wild and Eat, Pray, Love, you’ll love this extraordinary true story of a woman taking the greatest risk of her life in order to heal from the unthinkable.
After escaping an abusive marriage, Cara Brookins had four children to provide for and no one to turn to but herself. In desperate need of a home but without the means to buy one, she did something incredible.
Equipped only with YouTube instructional videos, a small bank loan and a mile-wide stubborn streak, Cara built her own house from the foundation up with a work crew made up of her four children.
It would be the hardest thing she had ever done. With no experience nailing together anything bigger than a bookshelf, she and her kids poured concrete, framed the walls and laid bricks for their two story, five bedroom house. She had convinced herself that if they could build a house, they could rebuild their broken family.
This must-read memoir traces one family’s rise from battered victims to stronger, better versions of themselves, all through one extraordinary do-it-yourself project.
My Review:

Wow. Just wow. I can barely use a drill to hang a picture on the wall, let alone build a whole house! Cara’s story is filled with heartbreak, fear, anger, heart, hard work, inspiration, and achievement. She has dealt with many hardships in her life, including domestic violence, and building a house was a way to bring herself and her children out of fear and paranoia and into strength and hope. The book is well written. It switches off between Rise chapters and Fall chapters, which describe their current situation of rising above the abuse and their past of dealing with domestic violence and abuse. It seems a little choppy at first, but soon finds a rhythm and seems to transition much more smoothly. Cara’s writing style is easy to read and understand, and definitely catches your attention. I like her voice in this book. Her optimism is contagious, and helps to put things in perspective. Learning about her ex-husbands and the situations she was in was heartbreaking. I have to admit that her ex-husbands scared me, and I’m safe in my own home far away. There was one thing in the book that I didn’t quite understand, and that was the whole Benjamin/Caroline aspect of it. Cara would meditate and would apparently see either Caroline or Benjamin during her meditation. I’m still not sure why they got those names, or why she saw them, but I thought that they almost distracted from the story. I would have loved to have seen pictures of the different stages of the build. I read an advanced reader’s copy, and it did not have pictures except the back cover picture, and I think more pictures would be great. The published copy now for sale may have photos in it. If not, Cara’s website has many photos that you may look at:  https://carabrookins.com/portfolio/ . This book is very inspiring! If they can build a house, then I can do____________(fill in the blank)! If they can overcome domestic violence and abuse then I can____________ (fill in the blank)! I love how building the house helped each of them individually and collectively. I wouldn’t recommend doing what they did, but it definitely goes to show you that working together as a family and relying on each other will bring you together and make you stronger. 

There is some mild profanity in this book, but not a lot. There isn’t any “intimacy.” There are, however, some scary scenes. Most of them deal with domestic violence and physical abuse and situations dealing with those. There is a suicide mentioned and a murder also mentioned. Overall, the good definitely outweighs the bad in this book! I highly recommend it.

Rating: R (This book is not appropriate for younger readers-there is some mild profanity and domestic violence/abusive situations. A suicide and a murder are also mentioned.)

Recommendation: Adult


[Book Review] I’m Possible by Jeff Griffin

I'm Possible by Jeff Griffin

I’m Possible 

by 

Jeff Griffin

Blurb: 

“The sun’s rays filtered in from the partially opened shades of the plane. They lit up the world in front of me and warmed my soul, knowing I was almost to my destination. The beautiful golden light replaced the grey and hazy cobwebs from my eyes, revealing the most spectacular scene I had ever seen in my entire life. I looked out the small seven-inch window and witnessed something that I’ll never forget! I beheld something in this magnificent world that the majority of people never get to see. I was looking out at Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak! I was at the tail end of a three-flight journey with two layovers in between, nearly logging twenty-four hours of flight time. I hadn’t gotten any real sleep in the last thirty-six hours. My bloodshot eyes were heavy, my mind was slow and sluggish, and my body was even slower in response. How did I get here? I thought to myself. Am I d-r-e-a-m-i-n-g? As Lao and Confucius once said, “A journey of one-thousand miles begins with one step.” My story is about inspiring you to take your own journey one step at a time. It’s about dreaming and accomplishing the impossible. It’s not only about aiming for the sky and reaching for the stars but enjoying the journey along the way. Begin your personal journey today, press forward to the top, and don’t you ever stop. As you move toward your dreams, there will be obstacles and setbacks along the way; don’t be afraid. You can get to the top of your world by following the signs and guide posts within these pages. You can do it with others! You can do it with me! We can do it together, one step at a time!”

My Review:

Wow. What a story! The story of Jeff Griffin from his accident to his lengthy recovery, and to his life since, is pure inspiration! He has overcome more obstacles in his lifetime than many people even dream of, and yet he still has a positive attitude. I can’t even imagine. Truly, it’s remarkable. Reading about Jeff’s accident was so scary. I kept picturing his fall. Over and over. I couldn’t read the hospital parts where he was describing the different surgeries and procedures; I skipped those because I didn’t want to pass out on my couch. Ouch! Even during those difficult days in the hospital he tried to find the positives in the situation, and that would be so hard to do! I like that he not only points out the things he did right, but he also shows that he isn’t perfect and that even he threw a little pity-party one day. I like the way the book is set up with mile markers as “chapters,” and little bits of advice with goals you can set for yourself. Jeff has a good voice. It’s easy to follow and understand, and he pulls you in with his humor and easy-going attitude. If you need a pick-me-up, this book is for you! It helps you put your problems into perspective, and give you a little push to do better and try harder.

The one thing I had a hard time with in this book was the grammar. There are many grammatical errors, and it was a bit distracting. Hopefully those will be fixed in following editions. It is clean, but there are discussions of adult issues like having children when you’re paralyzed. It doesn’t go into great detail, but be aware that it is there. There isn’t any profanity or violence, but the scene of the accident is difficult to read. There is a Christian slant to the book, but it is not preachy and people of all faiths (or not faiths) will enjoy it.

The Following is an Interview With the Author Sent to Me by the Publicist

Author Bio-

Jeff Griffin is a wheelchair athlete who earned his
Master’s degree in Education and knows how to win.  He played in the 2004 Athens Olympics, holds a
Guinness Book of World Records, and is a four time NWBA All-Star MVP.  He enjoys mentoring youth, distributing
wheelchairs, and providing Peer Training Materials through his humanitarian
efforts with LDS Charities. He is
passionate about progress.
1.) What inspired you
to write I’Mpossible?
–  My book is
all about accomplishing the impossible and the journey we must take to fulfill
our dreams.  When I got to college the
professor had all 150 of his students write a paragraph on a certain topic and
hand it in.  The next day he called six students’ names in the classroom and had them go to back of the room.  They were told in semi-private terms that
they needed to take a remedial class so they could get caught up.  I was one of those six! I didn’t know it at
the time but it was the best thing that could have happened to me.  I learned the basics of writing. I had a
personal experience with a professor that cared about what I had inside my mind
and heart.  He was someone who wanted me
to learn how to express and share my own ideas and stories.  He taught me that the impossible was
possible.  He helped plant a seed of hope
in the field of stories.  I now love to
lounge around in the world of words! This
class and professor helped liberate me from the chains of doubt and
discouragement.   In return I hope to
inspire millions to take their own first step towards their own dreams and
desires with my personal story from trying to tragedy to triumph.  My joy and happiness comes from helping
others break free and see there is more to life than what we see!   
2.) What is the main
message of your book?
  The main
message of I’mPossible is that we are all faced with a mountain of trials and
more often than not, we listen to those around us and think that our personal
trials are too big or too tough to overcome. That is just not true. In the
introduction of the book I write, “I understand that more than likely you don’t
have the same problem as me but I believe we all have a handicap or a Mt.
Everest to climb in some area of our lives. Nobody is perfect, no matter how much you want to believe it!  Your handicap could be a mental disability
that pains you beyond comprehension.  It
could be something that we have been suffering for days, months, and or even
years. It could be a social handicap
that paralyzes us when we’re out in public or inside our private walls. It could be a physical handicap like my own
where others can instantly see what our problem is without being able to hide
it. Unlike other disabilities that are
more personal which can be kept from others and hidden for a very long time. Your Mt. Everest could even be a spiritual
handicap that we refuse to acknowledge. Or perhaps it could be something we have been struggling with for a very
long time and we are having a very hard time overcoming it. Whatever your individual handicap is, it can
be conquered! These disabilities can be
either debilitating or liberating. They can hold us back or lift us up. They can remain our weakness or they can become
our strengths.   I hope by sharing my
story of big dreams, grave disappointments, and euphoric triumphs it can help
in some small way to lift you closer to the light that lifts.  With each passing mile marker along the journey
we can learn from our experiences or be lost for them.  I have found peace in the pain and joy in the
journey.  I hope you can find some too,
as you embark on your own journey within the pages of this book.  Remember; there are no excuses when it comes
to success!  You’repossible!” 
3.) How can your
message help other people?  
I
understand that my message will not resonate with everyone, but I do know from
experience that when I see or read about someone else who overcomes great odds
or challenges it gives me hope.  I’m
motivated to be better, to do more, and to give more.  It shows me that if someone else can do hard
things then I too can overcome hard and impossible things.  Not only that, but that life can be cherished
and enjoyed even with hardships and heartache.  My message is a raw exposure to my heart and
soul.
4.) What makes your
book different than other motivational books?
– I tried to make my book a
little different by not only telling a heroic story but also giving some
obvious and not so obvious clues on how to climb and overcome your own
challenge of life.  Whether it is
physical, mental, social, or intellectual I believe there is a way to
accomplish the impossible.  There are
guide posts instead of chapters and there is an invitation for every reader to
think about certain areas of his or her life, and other places to take action
with those thoughts. 
The invitations are not overwhelming and may seem too simple, but if
followed, they will change your life.  I
tried to make it clear and simple but powerful! 

Rating: PG+ (Graphic accident scene and discussions of having children while paralyzed)

Age Recommendation: 12 and up

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:
Focused by Noelle Pikus Pace   Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong   The Power of Starting Something Stupid by Richie Norton
*This post was originally posted on 5/5/16, and was updated on 1/10/18.

[Book Review] Focused by Noelle Pikus Pace

Focused by Noelle Pikus Pace
Photo Credit: goodreads.com

Focused 

by 

Noelle Pikus Pace

Blurb:

“Where are your choices leading you? Regardless of our circumstances, each moment presents us with decisions to make. It doesn’t matter what question, trial, or success we experience–each traces back to a choice. At any given moment, we can choose to doubt, fear, worry; to be prideful, angry, depressed, or miserable–or we can choose to be a light. We can choose to be happy. The choice is always ours, and each choice can be a step forward on the path of life we want for ourselves. The life lessons learned by Olympic athlete Noelle Pikus Pace can equip each of us to turn daily choices and challenges into opportunities for growth. In her warm and relatable style, Noelle shares touching personal stories and teaches how these experiences can help us keep a healthy perspective on the things that matter most. She helps us to see that though all of our goals and trials are different, we each can choose to become the best versions of ourselves one day at a time.”

My Review:

What an inspiring woman! Wow! I loved this book! I love how positive her message is. Her writing style is fun and light, even when discussing some difficult situations. She has the ability to take hard things and make them better. I am always telling my children that they have the choice to make each day a great one or a miserable one, and I’m glad I finally have someone to back me up on this! I love her message and think it is so needed today. We don’t need to be victims. We don’t need to let what happens in the world or in our lives bring us down, we get to choose to make it better. I enjoyed reading about her life leading up to her Olympic dream, and thought that her goal setting suggestions were right on. I love that she says to dream big and then work hard to make that dream happen. Her message of having integrity hit home. Be yourself. Stand up for yourself and your standards or your values. Be honest. I liked this quote, 
I know who I am and what I stand for regardless of what others say or think. 
Skeleton is just a sport. My integrity is everything. 
There are a lot of great quotes in this book. I think I’m going to copy some of them and put them in my kids’ rooms. I am also going to have my boys (13 and 11) read this book. I know she’s a girl, but the message is fabulous for both boys and girls. And, the good thing is, it’s great for everyone, not just athletes. The message applies to every aspect of our lives. I highly recommend this book! Reading it makes you feel like you can conquer the world (or at least achieve your goals)!
There is a slightly religious undertone to this book, which didn’t bother me at all. She quotes some scripture and some religious leaders (she also quotes nonreligious leaders and has a bunch of nonreligious poems). It isn’t about religion, and it’s not preachy at all, she just uses the scriptures and quotes to emphasize her points. I don’t think it matters if you are religious or not, this book has such a positive and uplifting message that it’s great for everyone. I definitely recommend this book!

Rating: G (Clean!)

Age Recommendation: Fifth grade and up as a silent read. First grade and up as a read-aloud. I’m going to read it to my daughters (6 and 9), and I think they’ll understand it just fine. There are a few things I’ll need to explain to them (miscarriage is one thing that comes to mind), but I want them to hear the message.

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

I'm Possible by Jeff Griffin   The Power of Starting Something Stupid by Richie Norton   The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman



*This post was originally posted on 10/6/14, and was updated on 1/10/18.

Little Woody Stories

Little Woody Stories by Woody Dykes

(Summary taken from the back cover) “In a land far, far away called Wichita there was a magic street called Rutan. This street had a tree-lined tunnel that covered the sky. On this magic street lived a tribe of Indians called the Rutan Indians. These are their stories. I am the last of this tribe. These are stories of my childhood when I lived in Wichita, Kansas, on Rutan Street. I was six to eleven (I think) during this time. The stories are true and actual, to the best of my memory. I had two friends who shared most of these adventures with me–Eddie Kangus and Larry Rochillen. This was my crew. Tall Larry and Loud Mouth Eddie–the Rutan Indians. These stories are called “Little Woody Stories” by my family and friends. ~Woody Dykes”

This book reminds me of stories my grandparents would tell me when I was growing up, especially my grandpa. Some of them are very funny and some of them make me cringe (like the one where he jumps off the roof with the red spring shoes on). They also remind me of stories my dad would tell of things he did growing up, and yes, some of them remind me of things I may have done (but don’t tell my kids…..). It’s fairly well written and I like Mr. Dykes’ humor. It’s a fast, easy read (I think it took me less than an hour), and is ok for the older elementary-age kids. I had my son, who is in 5th grade, read it, and he liked it as well. He also read it quickly and the only thing I was concerned about was him getting some not-so-good ideas from the stories. We had to look up the definition of mercurochrome and google “Kit candies,” but it was great to turn a fun story into a teaching moment. I like the “Lessons Learned” bit at the end of each story. This is a fun book and would be fun as a read-a-loud as well.

Rating: PG (Just don’t get any ideas……) I had to tell my son that if I ever found a hole cut in our roof he wouldn’t leave his bedroom….ever….

Recommendation: 4th or 5th grade and up. Parents may want to read it first to see if it is appropriate for their child. And, if nothing else, it may bring back some fun childhood memories.

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Pulling Up Stakes

Pulling Up Stakes by Harriet Kimble Wrye

(Summary taken from the back book cover) “Atop Mt. Kilimanjaro, psychologist Harriet Wrye felt a millennial call to “pull up stakes” in her life, as she did with tent and llama stakes each day whenever she and her husband backpacked in the high Sierras with their llamas. Inspired, she closed her Los Angeles psychoanalytic practice of thirty years, they leased their house at the beach and set out on an odyssey into the “back of beyond.” Creating a sabbatical away from the familiar, her journey became a life-changing spiritual pilgrimage that led to a deep practice of letting go of assumptions, habits and patterns, and stepping into freedom.”

I didn’t know what to expect from this book and ended up liking it. There were some aspects of the book that were exciting and tense, some that were scary, some that were quiet yet profound, and some that were easy to relate to. However, there were also some parts that were too personal (and should have been kept in a personal diary), some that were way too long and drawn out, and some that I couldn’t relate to at all. Ms. Wrye is definitely a great example of staying healthy and fit and active as you grow older. She had some incredible experiences that I know I will never experience, and it was interesting to learn about the different parts of the world that she visited. I will never be able to visit all of those places, so it was wonderful to learn about them and the people that live there. I could relate to a lot of what she was trying to let go of. I too have a lot of anxiety that I would love to let go of, and even though my children are still young, I could totally see myself trying to control them in their teenage years. It was good to be able to learn from her experience with that. I too worry about my husband and his safety and health. I know I tend to pack everything “just in case” and so it would be good to shed some of that and know that I would be fine with less.

Even though we are very different, she and I, we both share a love of family and feel that family is everything. We come from very different backgrounds and live very different lives, but as mothers we can connect just because we love our children and want the best for them, and want them around us. I’m glad I was able to take some of these things away from the book. I think it is amazing how fit and active she is as she grows older. I would love to be that healthy and fit in my 60s and 70s.

There were some aspects of the book, though, that I just had a hard time getting through. I would have been happy if it had been 200 pages shorter. She threw in a few political comments, and you know me, that is not my favorite thing in nonpolitical books. I found it hard to relate to some of her experiences. I did, though, learn a lot about living in the moment and finding joy in the journey and in the everyday, not just in reaching the destination.

I would recommend it because it was interesting learning about the different places she visited and people she met there. She had some really good insights and she is a great example of staying healthy, fit, and active as you grow older. She and her husband area also good examples of keeping your marriage vibrant and healthy.

Rating: R (This does not follow the movie ratings, it is my way of saying that it is not appropriate for younger readers.) There was language, including a lot of “f” words. She and her husband definitely love each other, and she doesn’t describe these moments, but she tells you that they were there.

Recommendation: College and up. I don’t think younger readers would get a lot out of it. I don’t think it would interest them, and I don’t think it is appropriate for them.

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Dancing in the Storm

Dancing in the Storm by Shelly Maguire and Beth Huffman

(Summary taken from the back of the book) “What turns an angry adolescent and then a defiant teenager into an indomitable businesswoman who faced so many obstacles in life that she defied all odds for success? Told at the age of nine that she had a lethal disease that could take her life by the age of 18, for Shelly Maguire this was all she had to hear to push herself to the limits and stop at nothing to reach her goals.”

What an inspiration! I will never complain about a hangnail or a cold again. Shelly has gone through so much in her life and always comes through with a positive attitude. This book is full of hard work ethic, positive attitude, and determination. It is also filled with love of life and very little complaining. These are many of the qualities I’m constantly trying to teach my kids, and it’s tough. Shelly, however, has them down. She faces each challenge head-on and never gives up. She seems like a wonderful person and is a great example to all of us. I’m glad I had this opportunity to sneak a peek into such an inspirational life.

The format of this book was not my favorite because it seemed choppy. Once it got to where Shelly did most of the writing it flowed much better. I enjoyed this book a lot and recommend it, especially for someone who needs to stop feeling sorry for himself/herself.

Rating: PG+ (It is clean. There isn’t any language or violence. I don’t remember any “physical intimacy” scenes, but it does talk a lot about her relationships and a previously failed marriage.)

Recommendation: 16 years and up. I don’t think children younger than this would “get it” or enjoy it.

Home

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Confessions of a Middle-Aged Babe Magnet

Confessions of a Middle-Aged Babe Magnet by Chad Stone

(Summary taken from http://middleagedbabemagnet.blogspot.com) “Confessions of a Middle-Aged Babe Magnet is the almost completely true story of
one man’s brave adventure into dating again in the 21st Century. The hero (me!)
jumps headfirst into the dating pool with the goal of becoming a self-professed
Babe Magnet. The story unfolds as a humorous memoir that’s also an insightful
dating and relationship guide for men of all ages. For women, the book offers a
unique, unvarnished look into the mind of a real man—revealing how a single man
thinks and why he behaves as he does.

Confessions of a Middle-Aged
Babe Magnet is a journey of modern self-discovery that is laugh-out-loud funny
in some places and poignantly tender in others. Fascinating, funny and
heartfelt, Confessions of a Middle-Aged Babe Magnet is proof that love is
possible at any age— as long as you’re willing to embrace it.”

I have to get this out of the way, and I’m sorry to the author (and his character in the book), but this character (Chad Stone) is a complete jerk. There, I said it. I feel better now. After 25 years of marriage he leaves his wife because he fell out of love with her. He admits he didn’t try and work it out at all. So, because he is selfish and lazy he devastates his wife and son, and destroys a family. Then he goes on to write this book and make money off of his ex-wife and son’s heartbreak. If he had spent half the time he spent becoming a “babe magnet” for other women, and became one for his wife, or if he had spent the time wooing her back instead of wooing other women, he might have been able to save his relationship………

……..That being said, I ended up really enjoying this book. It was well written and humorous. It was also VERY enlightening. As a woman, I had NO idea men thought about certain things as often as they do. I learned a lot about men and how they think and what makes them tick. I am happily married, thank goodness, and my husband thought it was hilarious because I kept asking him if he thought about things that way, or as often as Chad did in the book. As a married woman I think it actually did help make my marriage better because I talked to my husband in great length about how we could make sure this didn’t happen to us. I think it would be very beneficial to women who are dating to read. Really. Read it. I think it also helped to make sure my daughters will not be dating…..ever. It’s a must-read for mothers who have daughters in dating mode.

I was a little disappointed with the ending. It ended very abruptly, and could have used another thirty or so pages to wrap it up, but I would still recommend it. There is language and an almost constant presence of thoughts about, yearnings for, and a few scenes of  “physical intimacy.” This guy thinks about it non-stop. This is definitely not a book I would have ever chosen on my own, but I liked it. So, do you think the women in the book will figure out it is written about them?? (Like in The Help?)

Rating: R (Yep, lots of language and lots of “physical intimacy.” He thinks about it, talks about it, wants it, and has it.) I actually can’t believe I liked the book, just because of the content.

Recommendation: Married and up. Women who are in college and dating may want to read it as well.

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

My Dreams, My Choices

My Dreams, My Choices by Clementine Wamboye Girenge

“The simple act of going to school represents enormous ambition for Felly, the protagonist of this powerful true story about growing up in rural Kenya. In the town of Mumias lies a small village where Felly’s family is known to everyone. The life of her paternal grandparents is like an open book, a story filled with sorrow and strife that turns her grandmother into a cold and hardened woman. Felly on the other hand, grows up in a home surrounded by her parents’ love that is based on a very strong foundation, which sets the stage for this brave youngster to make and achieve her goals. One of them is receiving a top-notch education. My Dreams, My Choices documents Felly’s drive to expand her horizons. At the same time, this frank and eye-opening book reveals what it’s like to grow up in Africa today, detailing a life of hardship touched by contemporary African issues. At a young age, Felly witnesses how her family stands against the ordeals that come their way. As she grows older, she discovers that she will also have to surpass personal struggles blocking her way. There are times when she almost surrenders, refusing to move forward and climb over the barriers. She experiences profound culture shock upon setting sight for the first time on Nairobi. And she faces down tremendous odds to graduate at the top of her class from one of the best schools in the country. Richly detailed, the vividly recalled life story will captivate you with a fresh perspective on contemporary Kenyan life and people.”

I love to read about other people’s lives, especially when they are very different from my own. This book was no exception. I have heard about Kenya in the news, but that is about it. Learning about her family and why they acted the way they did gave insight into why we need to be less judgmental about people. We don’t know what they have been through, and we down’t realize what we can learn from them. Getting a good education was always at the top of my parents’ list for me as well, but it was much easier for me than it was for her. I think I took my education for granted.

This book is filled with good quotes. My favorite is: “Success was not based on the color of my hands but the strength I put in my hands to color my dreams. I needed to color them big!”

Some parts of this book are a little hard to follow. It doesn’t always go chronologically in order. Also, I had to reread some paragraphs in order to understand the language. I did enjoy this book and would recommend it. Like I said, I do enjoy learning about the way other people live, and it’s always a good reminder as to how blessed I am. She is also a great example of working hard to overcome the odds.

Rating: PG-13 (Some of the content is difficult to read because of the harsh envirnonment. You read about a boy who was killed by a teacher at school because he was late, because he helped that very same teacher push his bike into the school yard. That part was graphic and hard to read. So there is that death, other children die of disease.)

Recommendation: 16 years and up. This could be a really good learning tool for teenagers. It definitely makes you take a step back and realize that even though you have problems, they aren’t as big as other peoples’ problems.

The Best Worst Thing

The Best Worst Thing by Kristen K. Brown

(Summary taken from the back book cover) “One day, that’s all it takes to change a life…As a wife, new mother, and successful career woman, Kristen Brown thinks her life is set. Until one morning, her husband doesn’t wake up. This bittersweet memoir shares the experience of Brown’s new life as a young widowed mother grappling with the shock, pain, and regret following her husband’s unexpected death while managing a stressful work situation amid the downfall of the economy. Not wanting to be a “sad mom,” she instead harnesses her emotions into a positive force in her life. Through a process of life-changing experiences like surfing, getting “inked,” and starting her own company that takes her to Hollywood, she discovers her life’s purpose to be the role model for her daughter she longs to be–and becomes a role model for others in the process.”

This book takes you on an emotional roller-coaster ride. You learn of how Ms. Brown met her husband, how they dated and you read about their wedding day. You learn of how they have their daughter and how they are a real couple with good days in their marriage and some not-so-good days. You see how they may not be treating each other as they should. And then you read the part in the story where her husband dies, and it is so sad. I cried. I can’t imagine losing my husband. I felt so bad for her as she described what happened and how she felt in the months after he died. I cheered her on when she began to heal and find herself in her new normal. Sometimes challenges bring out the best in us, after we crawl out of our holes.

This book is well written. I like Ms. Brown’s style of writing. It is easy to read and packed full of emotion. I felt like I was with her through all of it. Most of it is clean: however, she does use the “f” word 3 times on page 75, and then again on page 203. I don’t usually put page numbers for profanity, but this way you can just skip it and read the rest of the book. There are occasional swear words throughout the rest of the book, but not too many. The lesson learned are worth skipping a few pages. I have always tried not to take my husband for granted, but after reading this book I hug him longer and harder. I have told him more often how much I love and appreciate him. My kids too. Life is so short, and you never know what is going to happen, so take the time each day, and many times a day, to show love to those around you. Ms. Brown is a good example of picking yourself up and moving on. She’s a good example of why we women need a good education and why we need to take care of ourselves.

Rating: R  (Have to go with this because of the language. Sorry.)

Recommendation: 18 years and up.