Book Review: 10 Bits of Wisdom from the Shoe Shine Guy by John Early

10 BITS COVERTitle: 10 Bits of Wisdom from the Shoe Shine Guy
Author: John Early
Genre: Spiritual / Inspirational
Age Group: Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

John Early worked in the corporate world for over 25 years. From the outside looking in, it seemed as though he had it all: the beautiful family, the magnificent home, the nice cars and great vacations, the fabulous income with the big 401k. He had what most would consider the American Dream. This was John’s idea of a dream, and this dream was all about him. Then suddenly, in an instant, like the Apostle Paul on the road to Damascus, John had an encounter with God that transformed his life forever. John takes the reader through that transformation and the total impact it had on not only his life, but on the lives of those around him, especially those closest to him-his wife and children. He lays out the 10 key bits of wisdom that were instrumental in reconciling and rebuilding those broken relationships. His road on this journey is paved with: Knowing your purpose, Character, Attitude, Goals, Teamwork and Trust, Respect, Courage, Regrets, Reconciliation, and Grace. This book shows all of us, no matter our circumstances or how dark our days may seem, that God is brighter still. Let God start to transform your life.

10 Bits of Wisdom from the Shoe Shine Guy is the story if John Early, a man who worked in the corporate world for over 25 years. He thought he had it all, and was living the American dream. But suddenly, he had an encounter wirh God and his life turned around. This transformation had a huge impact on him and his family, and in this book he goes on to explain the 10 bits of wisdom that he used to reconcile the relationship with his family.

The writing was easy to follow, and the lessons did ring true. Despite the spiritual undertone, it never felt like he was preaching or telling the reader how to live, he simply offered wisdom and advice.

A powerful read, one that will be sure to inspire a great many people.

Book Review: Not A Real War by Paul Longley

9781742845197_FrontTitle: Not A Real War

Author: Paul Longley

Genre: Military / Historical / Biography

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

This book describes the experiences of the author whilst serving with the Australian Defence Force with the United Nations Mission to Somalia in 1993.

An interesting book about a naval officer who is sent on a peace keeping mission in Somalia, under orders of the UN and the Army forces. Although he’s served in the navy for a long time, he has little experience with the army’s way of doing things. It’s at times an emotional book, at other times also a fun one, showing humor even in dark times. The writing is all right, and it’s a quick read but it does show deeper insight into the Somalian conflict and the author’s experiences during that time.

Book Review: With New Eyes: The Power of Perspective by Heidi Siefkas

WithNewEyesHeidiSiefkasTitle: With New Eyes: The Power of Perspective

Author: Heidi Siefkas

Genre: Memoir / Inspiration

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Heidi Siefkas lost her health, her career, and her marriage after she was struck by a one thousand-pound tree branch. While she made great strides in her physical and emotional recovery in the months that followed—an arduous process that she chronicled in When All Balls Drop—Heidi wasn’t content to merely survive her setbacks. The time was right to build a new life. One she could live on her own terms.

But what would a redesigned life look like? In her quest for answers, Heidi returned to her childhood home in Wisconsin, dove into the South Florida dating scene, revisited old flames in New England, sold her first home, jumped out of a plane, and traveled alone to South America. Every leg of her journey provided a healthy dose of perspective.

 With New Eyes is full of mishaps and bold decisions, all seasoned with sassy humor. Through her signature down-to-earth vignettes, Heidi inspires you to conquer your fears, head for adventure, and be the captain of your own ship.

Last year, I read and reviewed Heidi Siefkas’ debut novel, When All Balls Drop. I enjoyed Heidi’s down-to-earth writing style, the short quirky chapters (vignettes) and the author’s sassy humor. Starting the sequel, With New Eyes, I was worried that this great mix wouldn’t convince me the way it did the first time…But I needn’t had worried.

After having the rug pulled under her feet and having to rethink life in general, Heidi wanted to make a new life for herself, a life she could live on her own terms. That involved jumping out of a plane, traveling alone to South America, revisiting her childhood home, and lots more. Heidi’s new life is exciting and thrilling, but it’s also a struggle sometimes to reinvent oneself. The author isn’t afraid to focus on that too.

I liked how the general focus was on finding new perspectives and being brave enough to be open for new experiences. Truly inspiring.

Book Review: Learning to Float by Allan Ament

Learning to FloatTitle: Learning to Float

Author: Allan Ament

Genre: Memoir

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Allan and Deloris Ament’s lives take a dramatic turn when Deloris suffers a debilitating stroke. No longer an equal partner in marriage, Allan becomes Deloris’s primary caregiver, responsible for maintaining their household and her well-being. Learning to Float describes Allan’s transformation from a criminal defense attorney to a compassionate, emotionally vulnerable caregiver. Drawing on contemporaneously written emails and private journal entries, Ament unflinchingly exposes his emotional, mental, and physical ups and downs, consistently focusing on the love, humor, and opportunities for personal and spiritual growth he experiences on this journey. Anyone with the possibility of becoming a caregiver for a loved one, now or in the future, will benefit from the insights Ament shares. Everyone will be buoyed by the love Allan and Deloris experience as they face their new normal.

Learning to Float is a memoir that focuses on the lives of Allan and Deloris Ament. Allan used to be a criminal defense attorney, but after his wife Deloris suffers from a stroke, he becomes her primary caregiver. Next to the household chores, he also needs to take care of Deloris. In his memoir, he tells of how his wife’s illness changed his life and hers, their spiritual growth, the ups and downs, how it brought them even closer, and more.

Sometimes, the book is hard to read. It touches upon tough subjects, like illness, taking care of others and having others depend on you. At some point, Allan describes his anger at his wife’s illness – which is an understandable emotion, but it also shows how much pain he was in at the moment, and it’s emotional reading. There are a lot of emotional scenes throughout the books, and if you keep your eyes dry throughout, well, good luck with that. I certainly couldn’t.

Yet at the same time, the book offers humor and hope, and shows that even in dire situations, people can learn to adapt and change, and make the best of it. Truly inspiring.



Book Review: When All Balls Drop by Heidi Siefkas

whenallballsdropcoverTitle: When All Balls Drop: The Upside of Losing Everything
Author: Heidi Siefkas
Genre: Non-Fiction, Inspirational, Memoir
Age Group: Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon

The true story of a survivor
who through losing everything,
redefined having it all

Heidi Siefkas was a happily married, globetrotting professional who seemingly “had it all”—until a tree limb in New York’s Hudson River Valley struck her down, breaking her neck and leaving her unconscious. Suddenly, life as she knew it stopped. She lost her independence. She lost her career. She watched her marriage disintegrate as she confronted a trail of devastating lies about her husband’s double life.

She had lost all that mattered, but she was a survivor. She fought to restore her health, repair her broken heart, and rebuild herself. Along the way, she gained clarity about her core values, ultimately coming to a deeper understanding of what it means to have it all.

Through down-to-earth, short vignettes, When All Balls Drop shows us how it’s possible to “look up” in spite of pain, deceit, and loss. Heidi’s memoir–rich with hope and humor, inspires anyone who’s had to confront tragedy and reassess their life in the wake of life-altering events.

In short vignettes, Heidi Siefkas tells the story of how she turned from a happily married woman who seemingly had it all to a woman on the edge of despair, in When All Balls Drop.  After being struck down by a tree limb in the Hudon River Valley, she broke her neck. She loses everything – her career, her marriage.

But she didn’t give up. She kept on fighting, not just for her physical health, but also her mental health. She rebuilded herself from scratch, becoming a stronger person along the way. This is an inspiring memoir about confronting tragedy and focusing on what’s really important in life, and on becoming a better person.

The vignettes are about a page to two pages each, making this a quick read. I read it in between breaks, whenever I could, and felt myself drawn to read more and more. The author has an engaging writing style and unique voice. While tragic, the novel is also inspiring, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading memoirs, or anyone who went through a traumatic experience themselves. You’ll find a kindred spirit in Heidi.

Book Review: Sister Surrendered by Darla M. Grese

Sister Surrendered Ebook Cover jpgTitle: Sister Surrendered

Author: Darla M. Grese

Genre: Memoir

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

When you’re a twin, loneliness is somewhat unfamiliar because you’ve always had each other. So when a twin passes, the other is left unprepared. Our loyalty was steadfast and our devotion to one another, solid. Our love was unconditional no matter what the circumstances. I’m so grateful every day for the memories of the joy and laughter that we shared together. I know the bond that Kelli and I shared is impossible for anyone to replace. This memoir has become something so much more than initially intended. It’s become a documented journey barely scratching the surface of the love between two sisters. And surprisingly, it’s also become an outlet for me to speak candidly and honestly about my struggles with the cause of Kelli’s death. This is a love story turned tragedy. An exposure of one of the greatest healthcare failures killing Veterans and civilians, and a cry for help to remedy the fiasco. I’ve stressed about who I would mention in this book, nervous that I would hurt someone’s feelings by not mentioning their names. But I’ve realized that it’s impossible to do. Kelli had so many great friends, some I’ve never even met. I need each person to know who has taken the time to reach out to me in whatever capacity that if it weren’t for your heartfelt show of support and love, I don’t know that I would be able to muster the energy to even get up each day. Kelli, we did it.

The starting chapters of Sister Surrendered brought a smile to my face. It’s the story of two twin sisters who spent all their time together, who shared the same friends, memories and dreams. But soon the book took a darker turn, and the laughter turned to tears. What happened to Kelli was horrible. The book is about mental illness, about addiction, about the love of two sisters, about how lives can be ruined because of healthcare failures, and about how easy it is to claim not to be responsible for medical errors made. Most of all it’s a story about sisters, about their unique bond, about losing that bond and how hard it is to go on after that.

This book also infuriated me. Because of the medical errors, because of how Kelli’s life could’ve been saved if someone stood up and took responsibility, and if healthcare wasn’t so mismanaged.

Either way, it’s a great book, and that one that should be read, and deserves to be read by everyone. The writing was great, and from the start, I felt a connection with Kelli and Darla, which made the book all the more interesting, but also all the harder to read.

A must-read for just about anyone, and a real eye-opener.

Book Review: Triumph! A Battle Plan for Joy by Gladys Simmons Carson

BookCover-TriumphABattlePlanforJoy-JPGTitle: Triumph! A Battle Plan for Joy
Author: Gladys Simmons Carson
Genre: Inspirational Memoir
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

When medical malpractice takes the life of her mother and the offense is dismissed as an unfortunate mistake, it rips a hole in seven-year-old Gladys’ heart and ignites fire in her anger. This act of gross negligence strips her of the joyful delight that has characterized her existence. Before she can grasp the full meaning of her loss, fate takes her on a journey through a series of harsh realities, including devastating child abuse, demeaning segregation and destructive thinking. These unsavory enemies assault her on all fronts, physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. But the child warrior uses youthful wisdom to triumph over the effects of them all. Her prize is a resurgence of bountiful joy. You may laugh or cry, but you will definitely cheer for the child warrior in TRIUMPH! A BATTLE PLAN FOR JOY.

In her memoir, Triumph! A Battle Plan for Joy, author Gladys Simmons Carson tells readers about her early life, growing up, suffering through abuse, becoming a child warrior and growing up. In a clear, authentic voice she tells the readers her life story, the hardships she had to go through, and the lessons she learned along the way. Even though the subject matter isn’t always cheerful, she relates the story with a dosis of humor, which she mentioned in the book was sometimes one of her only defences.

The first part of the book focuses on the good days, when Gladys is living at home with her brothers and sisters and her Mom and Dad. All goes well in the world, and they sound like the perfect family. They go to Church, they have family dinners at set times, they love each other’s company. But then tragedy strikes and their mother passes away, leaving Gladys and her siblings in the care of their relatives. That’s when the second part of the book begins, which focuses at the abuse and negligence Gladys suffers at the hands of family members.

The third part focuses on Gladys as an adult, and at the racism she has to endure. By that point, I was amazed at how much she had to go through, and how she managed to keep on going despite all that, not giving up, not even giving up on happiness and on enjoying life. The fourth part focuses on the enemies of joy, and how to defeat them. It’s the largest part of the book, and reads like a call to action. While the first three parts are a memoir, the fourth part focuses on inspiring others to conquer their own enemies of joy. There are ten enemies mentioned, and how to handle them.

Triumph! A Battle Plan for Joy is an inspiring read about overcoming hardships, and doing so with joy. The author has a distinct writing style that is quite enjoyable. The book’s interior design looks professional, and it’s a fast read. Once I started reading, I had no trouble finishing it in one go.


Book Review: Surviving the Angel of Death by Eva Mozes Kor and Lisa Rojany Buccieri

18898968Title: Surviving the Angel of Death

Authors: Eva Mozes Kor and Lisa Rojany Buccieri

Genre: Non-Fiction, Autobiography, Memoir

Age Group: Young Adult and older

Rating: 5 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Eva Mozes Kor was 10 years old when she arrived in Auschwitz. While her parents and two older sisters were taken to the gas chambers, she and her twin, Miriam, were herded into the care of the man known as the Angel of Death, Dr. Josef Mengele. Mengele’s twins were granted the privileges of keeping their own clothes and hair, but they were also subjected to sadistic medical experiments and forced to fight daily for their own survival, as most of the twins died as a result of the experiements or from the disease and hunger pervasive in the camp. In a narrative told with emotion and restraint, readers will learn of a child’s endurance and survival in the face of truly extraordinary evil. The book also includes an epilogue on Eva’s recovery from this experience and her remarkable decision to publicly forgive the Nazis. Through her museum and her lectures, she has dedicated her life to giving testimony on the Holocaust, providing a message of hope for people who have suffered, and working toward goals of forgiveness, peace, and the elimination of hatred and prejudice in the world.

I requested a copy of Surviving the Angel of Death, even though I was worried I might not be able to stomach it. But considering the source material, considering this is a real life account of what atrocities happened during World War I, I felt like I just had to read this. I’m glad I did.

Surviving the Angel of Death is a horrifying book. Some of the stories detailed in here…they made me squirm, made my stomach turn upside down, made me want to throw up. But at the same time, it deserves to be read just because of the stories it tells, so we know we should do whatever we can to never allow this to happen again.

Eva was ten years old when she arrived in Auschwitz. Her parents and two older sisters were taken to the gas chambers, but Eva and her twin sisters, Miriam, were sent to the care of Dr. Josef Mengele, although “care” is the entirely wrong word here. They were forced to fight for their lives every single day ,and to witness the terrible experiments Dr. Mengele performed, not just on them, but on others – twins, dwarfs, pregnant women. What was truly inspiring about this book, was the girl’s strength. The things they could do in the face of danger, the horrors they could survive, their will to live. It was heart-wrenching, and heck, it damn near broke my heart to read this book.

The thought that people might still be going through something of the sort, even today, is horrible. We may deluce ourselves into thinking no one is getting tortured anywhere at this moment in time, or that we’ve somehow gotten rid of most of the evil in the world, but we must not kid ourselves. We must not stay blind for the horrors of this world.

This writing fits the audience – YA – and I can only imagine how hard it must’ve been to write a book of this caliber of horrendousness and make it suitable for a YA audience.

A testament to the courage of two young children, and to the power of hope.