Book Review: Non-Fiction

Book Review: P.S. I Forgive You (A Broken Legacy) by D.G. Kaye

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P.S. I Forgive You: A Broken LegacyP.S. I Forgive You: A Broken Legacy by D.G. Kaye
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My month of memoirs continues with an autobiography by D. G. Kaye — ‘P.S. I Forgive You: A Broken Legacy.’ Although not quite a series, this is the second book by the author as she explores the impact of a narcissistic mother on her daily life. I read this before bed last night, and all I can say is that some people are dealt a very unfair hand in life. That said, it’s amazing to see how wonderful Kaye is handling all that she went through in the last ~50 years. What a great (but painful) read!

Imagine growing up with a mother who seems to intentionally cause pain for her children. The oldest of four, Kaye spent years letting the woman treat her horribly. In this introspective and emotional autobiography, we learn how and why she tolerated it. The memoir kicks off by letting readers know that the author’s mother has passed away, and this is the story of how she handled the decision whether to be there when the woman crossed over. Sick for many years, touch and go at times, it seems like every possible painful opportunity was taken to cause trouble for this family. It was heartbreaking not just because of what they went through but because you really want this to turn out to be a positive story.

In some ways, it does turn out that way… in death, you are often released from the troubles of the past. Not quickly. Not immediately. Not entirely. Kaye suffers to this day because of the trauma she went through. Emotional pain can be far worse and impacting that physical pain. Seeing how the author connects with her siblings and her aunt helps provide a sense of love and hope for her future. Kaye has a phenomenal way of sharing her past with readers… we feel as if we are there, but one thing is for sure — we were not. That… is fantastic writing.

There is a cathartic honesty in her writing style as well as how she processes the events of her life. On the outskirts, it might seem simple: (A) She’s your mother, you should stay and respect her, or (B) She’s been evil and nasty, you need to run away and forget her. Nope… Kaye fully provides the wide spectrum of all the scenarios that ran through her head, some positive and some not-so-positive. How do you make such a decision? Only a strong person can thoroughly see through the minutia to determine what’s best for both the victim and the victimizer (I might’ve made that work up).

If I could reach through a book to hug someone, this would be the prime one for it to happen. I’ve felt these emotions tons of times before when an author creates a character who suffers… but when a real-life woman shares the truth and the pain she’s gone through, it’s a whole different ball game. If you have a high threshold for reading about someone’s emotional suffering, I suggest you take this book on… it might give you the perspective you need to help others.

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

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Book Review: Florence and Me by Elaine Bertolotti

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Florence and Me (...And Me #1)Florence and Me by Elaine Bertolotti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What an adorable and fantastic memoir. Florence and Me, the first in the ‘… And Me’ series by Elaine Bertolotti brought back tons of memories for me today. July 2019 is a month of memoirs and autobiographies for me… as I’m trying to choose at least half of my reads this month in that genre. I visited Florence last year, as well as other places in Italy, and this was the perfect book to take a trip down memory lane.

Elaine went there over forty years ago on a whim to start new after school. She knew no one. She barely spoke any Italian. It was a very different time period. Through ~12 chapters, she shares with us how she learned the language, cooked meals, took public transportation, and made friends. Written in a simple but immersive manner, I fell in love with the place all over again. Elaine sounds like a wonderful woman, and now that she’s permanently living in Italy, I’d love to see a follow-up about it. There is another book in the series about a different city she visited years ago, but what about a memoir showing the differences across her lifetime in the country?

These are the types of books that I love to devour in an afternoon… 90 minutes of culture and emotional connection with a beautiful person and a fantastic story. A definite recommend for those who like to see how someone else has lived their life.

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Through the Mind’s Eye by J.P. Willson

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Through the Mind's Eye: A Journey of Self-DiscoveryThrough the Mind’s Eye: A Journey of Self-Discovery by J.P. Willson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This July, I opted to focus a majority of my reads on non-fiction books, mostly on the autobiographical end of the spectrum. The first was a memoir by J. P. Willson who wrote ‘Through the Mind’s Eye: A Journey of Self-Discovery.’ I stumbled upon the author via his Goodreads profile and liked the cover and synopsis, so I added it to my TBR a couple of years ago. I finished it in a short time, but it’s also written in a way where you can easily stop and start at your leisure.

J.P. is in his fifties and tells us from the beginning that he’s always been an alcoholic. From the get-go, you feel the honesty and raw pain he’s gone through. Rather than blame others, he’s taken the bull by the horns, so to speak, to focus on his recovery and ensure his future is a happy one. By the end of his memoir, readers clearly understand the key things he went through, what he believes changed him, and how the AA program helped him get to where he is today.

Is one drink per night too much? Two? Five? Drinking before noon? It’s not that simple, as Willson generously shares with his readers. The AA program worked for him on many levels, but not necessarily on all. One by one, he discusses each of the twelve steps, the original religious aspects, and the concept of having a sponsor. In his introspective and personal analytics, readers find common sense and new ideas to consider. It’s not as simple as ‘stop drinking’ or ‘follow the plan.’ It’s a disease, he reminds us, and sometimes, it can be sneaky and vengeful.

Willson is brave to share this with others. Then again, after what he went through in reality, perhaps sharing this truth is cathartic. Whatever you believe, it’s clear that the man has truly learned how to live without the dependency. He wasn’t satisfied to understand why he drank on a surface level; it was necessary to dive deep and explore everything that led to his decisions. And now that he’s a recovering alcoholic, he can even poke fun at himself on the things he can’t believe once occurred. Or point out how hard it is for a chef who loves to pair wines to suddenly not be able to do it anymore.

It’s wonderful to see a success story, and while he will always remember the pain of the past, the new attitude and attentiveness to his words in this book clearly show the success he deserves to have in the future. I’d recommend this book for anyone who has an issue with alcohol (or other addictions) or is watching someone they care for go through it themselves.

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Fishnets in the Far East: A Dancer’s Diary in Korea by Michele E. Northwood

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Fishnets In The Far East: A Dancer's Diary In KoreaFishnets In The Far East: A Dancer’s Diary In Korea by Michele E. Northwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The majority of my reading centers on fiction; however, autobiographical books enter the queue every so often. This week, I’m reading and reviewing ‘Fishnets In The Far East: A Dancer’s Diary in Korea’ by Michele E. Northwood. If there ever were a topic I knew nothing about, this would take the cake… so it’s quite the fun experience to relive someone else’s life when it’s completely new to me on every possible level. One thing is for sure, even if I couldn’t personally relate to the events Michele has gone through, she is a wonderful author who can clearly bring to the surface the emotions of a very complex period in her life.

With almost two decades of her life completed, a brave young woman sets forth to join a dance troupe that’s leaving for six months in Korea. She know little about the country or the people that will be in her close circle of acquaintances and possibly friends, and must somehow entertain an entirely different culture of people. Oh yeah, I forgot… this took place a few decades ago, so it’s not quite as modernized as many of us might know today. WOW! I give this woman credit for taking a huge risk, and while she’s here to tell the story, it’s clear to any reader who invested in this story, her life was not at all easy during that time period.

Without delving into cultural differences, I’ll make a bold statement and say: “Men sometimes are idiots.” What a bunch of crazed lunatics put Michele and her dance sisters through was absolutely ridiculous, but for us readers, it will bring lots of hilarious and yikes moments. Northwood cleverly shows us how she survived, not in any typical manner, as collecting one’s salary and getting from place to place might result in your unsuspecting death. Kudos to the author for being able to relive these absurd (only because of what her fellow dancers and the Koreans did to her) moments long enough to dazzle us. I kept thinking… “hmm… I might have been put in prison if someone tried that with me!” There’s a lesson here… and thankfully, Northwood survived to share it with us.

While the tale is written in chronological order, and not at all like journal entries, it easily felt like we had glimpses into key moments of that six-month experience: some were positive and powerful, others were heartfelt and worrisome. When Michele’s sister considers going to join the troupe, I might’ve tried to jump through the pages to stop her! Thanks for that moment, Northwood… you pulled me into your story and made me want to change reality.

What a great way to share your past! Not only entertaining but equally as eye-opening, this was a fascinating read. I’m excited to find out what happens in the next edition of the series… when Michele goes to Japan – a culture I know more about but at the same time wonder… might things get better or worse for her? Imagine knowing her in real life and seeing what your friend went through to become the strong and admirable person she is today? A definite recommend for a different style of book that might be a perfect summer read to broaden a reader’s horizons about life in the real world.

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Allow Yourself to Be a Better Person by Balroop Singh

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Today I am sharing a review on a fellow blogger’s book. If you are interested in Balroop Singh’s advice, personal experiences, poetry, and other wonderful content, please check out her blog @ https://balroop2013.wordpress.com/

Allow Yourself To Be A Better PersonAllow Yourself To Be A Better Person by Balroop Singh
As a follower of a blog written by Balroop Singh, I decided to purchase one of her non-fiction books this month: Allow Yourself To Be A Better Person. In this self-help and advice collection, Singh provides readers with ~100 pages of her thoughts and research on how to live a better life. By sharing personal stories of her own life and those of people she’s met, Singh offers ways for readers to consider changing behaviors so that they are happier and stronger individuals.

Every once in a while, it’s good to pick up a book like this; much of the content are things we know or have been taught over the years, but that we also forget. Singh adds context and value behind the words, ensuring we have example and clearer understanding of different interpretations. We know not to take our anger out on others, but we do it still… sometimes unwittingly, and at others, on purpose. Singh reminds us why, shares alternative approaches, and provides a way of reacting to our own emotions with a twist.

I enjoyed reading this extension of her blog so that I could be reminded of a few things that are always a benefit to our lives. It’s obvious that she took a lot of time to craft the structure and advice, and she should be commended. I’m glad I took a chance on reading her book and recommend it to others who are struggling to find a bit of light or think differently about some problems and painful situations in their life.

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

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Given the popularity of Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom, I’m surprised I only just read it this week. It’s been in my queue for years, but I never had a copy and for some reason, I just didn’t buy it. Earlier this year, I found a copy on my apartment building’s bookshelf, so I snatched it up and included it in my September TBR list. I enjoyed it a lot, but it wasn’t as good as I expected it to be. Knowing how much you can take away from the messages, I ended up with 4.5 stars even though part of me thought it could have pushed the envelope a bit more. Then again, it is almost 15 years old and this type of literature has only become popular in recent years. For its time (minimal social media or digital blogs!), it was definitely motivating.

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Rather than critique the book, I’ve decided to focus more on the messages within it. Life is short. You should remember the valuable things when you’re in the latter stages approaching death. Perhaps if you develop a terminal illness, you’ve been given an opportunity to squeeze in as much as possible before you do actually pass on. It seems odd to phrase it in such a manner, but rather than just die unexpectedly, you have a rough time period in your head… you can try to achieve a few goals and make whatever changes you can before it’s too late. Of course, a terminal illness comes with extraordinarily negative impacts, but I’d prefer to focus on the benefits you can reap from the messages in such a book.

It’s not important how clean your house is, tho I often obsess over it. It doesn’t matter if you traveled the world and saw amazing things when you don’t have anyone you love by your side. And you’re not gonna focus on the little things in those last few moments. So make the most of it… find people you care for and share your feelings. That’s basically the gist of the autobiographical work on a very cursory level. Albom goes back and forth between his younger days with Morrie and his older days with Morrie, and as readers, we see the change in him across time.

I kinda feel like this was one big way to accomplish a goal, but we can also implement his ideas in smaller form across each day. That’s where I found the greatest lessons in his words. I’m on a kick to read a few more of his books this fall, too.

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: The Nuns of Lemon Tree House by Melanie Mole & Robert Brooks

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I was introduced to author Melanie Mole in 2017 when I read one of her earlier books which talked about embracing the simple life. In the book, she also covered a small part of her interest in joining a convent, but it is in her latest book, The Nuns of Lemon Tree House, co-written with Robert Brooks, where Melanie explores the entire experience. Although it would never be the life for me (I love the silence and can be obedient, but I think I might miss a few things like tv, foods, liquor, et al…), reading about someone else’s days in a life that often seems to embrace so many of the things to keep us healthy and relaxed is quite intriguing.

The first thing I’d convey about this book is that even with the simplicity of having very little events, it is warm, inviting, and full of action. But that’s kinda the point, isn’t it? A half-day’s walk around the convent just exploring the architecture or floor plan while not highly eventful does offer significant experience and commentary about life. Asking questions, thinking about change, or finding connections between your own life and those living within the convent’s walls induces tons of moments I enjoyed reading about. The authors’ descriptions of everything are in very fine details, conjuring up full images of what Melanie saw during her days with the nuns. It’s vivid and bright even when the room she’s meeting with one of the nuns is dark and gloomy (until she opens her eyes to what’s really present).

nuns

The next thing I found charming about the book was Melanie’s own voice and tone. She laughs at herself and finds humor even in the negative experiences. Fully acknowledging she will have issues with the ‘vow of silence’ helps set the stage for many moments where readers hear her ask question or speak to a nun only to realize she’s not supposed to… after a few, I felt myself reaching out to stop her — it brought levity to the topics and helped us connect with the narrator, Melanie herself, as how many of us would truly remember to keep our mouths closed! But it was when she began talking to herself out loud in the hallways as she explored the buildings and grounds where I realized she’s actually quite savvy at embracing the virtues of the order in her own way. And it helps lead to the answers she’s been searching for.

The journey is one that provided opportunity to learn — both for Melanie and for readers. Slowing down to ask questions (even silently in your own head), to wonder how the nuns function together with little words being said, or to understand how sometimes doing nothing can be more tiring than doing something… all these theories pop into your head. I enjoyed this break from my normal reading style and genre, but I also enjoyed learning about someone else’s life and thoughts. It’s important to breathe in other opinions and experiences, and what better way than by reading a memoir / autobiography of a few weeks in someone’s life.

Kudos to both authors (I’m curious how’d they co-write this… interesting approach), but I also wonder whether Melanie provided a copy to the nuns for future guests in the convent? Life can be a giant circle sometimes and wouldn’t this be a way to connect the past and present together for all visitors and those interested in learning about becoming a nun… And so, you are probably asking yourself whether she became a nun after this experience. Well, here’s what happened… oh, wait, I don’t believe in spoilers for other people. Experience it yourself and go read the book. I’m confident the ending will be quite a fun surprise!

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.