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In Herschel’s Wake

In Herschel’s Wake by Michael Wohl is a memoir that recounts the author’s journey to his father’s burial. He is accompanied by his siblings on this trip. The style is very intimate, and the subjects are delicate as it deals with death, complicated father-son relationships, grief, and forgiveness. The author’s realization of who his father was might remind the reader of The Stranger by Camus, in which the main character only comes to understand his mother when approaching his own death. This memoir belongs to a larger group of works wherein complex parent-child relationships are only understood when it is too late. It also explores dynamics between siblings which can be tough to navigate as well.

The strength of this book is how honest it is and raw. The reader will feel as though they are reading the author’s personal diary, which might be uncomfortable but also makes it even more beautiful and easy to read. It is truly a page-turner. Although the subjects that are tackled may seem heavy, the tone is humorous at times and make it easier to read. This is an emotional and profound memoir; any reader will find elements that will resonate with them and that they might relate to.

In Herschel’s Wake is an eye-opening memoir about family and relationships. It should be noted that it might need a trigger warning for people with a challenging relationship with their own family that they have not resolved. However, it is definitely a book I would recommend to someone who has gone through grief and has come to terms with it.

Pages: 258 | ASIN : B0B8PCKNZG

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God Glasses

God Glasses by medium Ann Monster encourages the reader to seek out a more profound spiritual and equally individualistic relationship with what they interpret as being God the Creator. Through her personal experiences talking with God about topics that weighed on her heart, she found clarity and meaning in her own life. She wants to share this experience with readers and help them gain the same healing she did.

Beginning with Monster’s own spiritual awakening. As a stressed thirty-five-year-old mother of two, she desperately needed a minute of relaxation. However, instead of a quiet moment of peace, she claims to have been greeted with a vision of Christ. This led to a noticeable self-transformation in the days following.

The book is structured meticulously. Based on the author’s conversations with God, she breaks down God’s perspective on highly controversial topics like race, HIV/AIDS, gender, and sexuality. These discussion topics span several chapters. Through the use of opening lines which form diary-like entries and provide everyday, real-world examples, the groundwork is laid for Monster to pose questions to ‘God’ as the basis of her chapter-by-chapter thesis items.

I particularly enjoyed one chapter which posed this question to the reader: “when does the natural and beautiful sexual desire that one human being can have for another become sin?” It considers how ‘sin’ has been redefined. Monster approached this sensitively and tastefully, bringing a welcoming and inclusive tone to God Glasses. This chapter assessed the literary interpretation of sin in accordance with the dictionary, then compared it to scripture teachings and how society has capitalized on sexuality through subliminal messages, which have caused humans to consider sexuality as the only facet of life that has any importance. It removed the stigma attached to pre-marital sex, sexual exploration, and leisure – it was not what I expected to see in a religious piece and was favorable.

God Glasses is a good balance of self-incitement and relatability; it does not aim to evangelize or coerce the reader. It would suit readers wishing to develop an intimate relationship with God but may be unsure that Christianity includes themselves.

Pages: 218 | ISBN: 153201774X

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The Unbelievable Truth

The Unbelievable Truth: My Personal Walk With God, by Elder Emerson D. Broadnax, is the encounter of a man that went from being a drug-addicted alcoholic to a member of the Church, thanks to a sudden and lucky encounter. It follows his path as he starts hearing God’s voice, anticipating seeing God in his life events, and guiding him through his faith.

Broadnax writes straightforwardly, not spending much time on each episode but clearly narrating all of them, helping the reader understand the miracle the Lord had realized for him. I appreciated the multiple quotes from the Bible, which gave more depth to the different stories and might inspire readers. The choice of verses underlines the attention to detail as the quotes all refer to the chapter in question or at least to one of the episodes narrated.

The Unbelievable Truth: My Personal Walk With God, by Elder Emerson D. Broadnax, is an inspiring story. It will guide people who might be looking for their own way or who might need a new perspective on life, just like the author did. I recommend this novel to any reader keen on religious and spiritual themes. Lastly, I would like to end this review with a quote from the author: “This book is about how God delivered me out of a twenty-three-year drug habit and how I have been free for twenty-four years.”

Pages: 52 | ASIN : B0BKNS5Z5L

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Going Dry

Going Dry: My Path to Overcoming Habitual Drinking by Sean Robinson is a personal development book that anyone struggling with drinking in their lives will find great use of. Although Sean Robinson primarily detailed his experience staying committed to his new goal to stay away from drinking and resisting the pull of a generational drinking habit, the lessons and challenge protocol gleaned from his struggles can be applied to any area where one experiences difficulty rising above a limitation.

This 12-chapter book leads with a chapter on the legendary new year’s resolution, where everyone promises to lead a better life and improve their undesirable habits. However, this book soon spiraled into the narration of how he navigated his relationship with friends and family, many of whom he had a culture of drinking with and could not come to terms with his new resolve to quit drinking.

One particular thing that Sean Robinson pointed out was that he didn’t necessarily need to have had a traumatic or life-changing experience to know he had to confront his relationship with alcohol. In expressing this vulnerability, he was able to start on his path to going dry.

“The expectation and disappointment in his voice would pierce me and my anxiety about it harder than it should have.”

The peer pressure and the anxiety of having to explain to old friends and acquaintances why you would not want to join in that bottle clink are firmly captured in this sentence excerpt. It was shortly after Mr. Robinson told his friend about his stand on drinking in anticipation of the friend’s wedding.

In perhaps what seems to be the biggest challenge to his new goal, Mr. Robinson offered tips on how to set boundaries with friends who do not understand one’s need to not drink alcohol. However, many would have benefited from his insights if he had delved deeper into how he coped with all that pressure.

Regardless, this book has practical challenges that can help you stay accountable to your goals while navigating the emotions that can sometimes overwhelm you when you suffer a temporary lapse in your journey.

Going Dry: My Path to Overcoming Habitual Drinking is a heartfelt memoir that shares the difficult journey of making changes in one’s life. The honest and direct narrative will help those struggling with addiction to feel they are not alone in their battles. So often, we hear about people hitting rock bottom before making life changes; Sean Robinson shares his story, so others know they don’t have to hit bottom before they can make a positive change in their own lives.

Pages: 122 | ASIN : B0BCQRFK3X

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Sleeping With Lions

Lee Anne McIlroy’s Sleeping With Lions: A Year in Tanzania documents her time spent as an English Language Fellow for a university in Bukoba, Tanzania. The author’s memoir is a poignant portrayal of the landscapes and people who shaped her journey as a woman following a difficult divorce.

Lee Anne describes the scenery in Bukoba with eyes of wonderment. Unlike some of her peers, who only see the economic poverty of Tanzania and greater Africa, she indulges in the cultural richness of local life. She sees her time in Tanzania as a way to rediscover herself in a land that has always felt dear to her heart. From the food to the sounds and sights she experiences, she uses vivid descriptors that give the landscape a magical feeling.

The people she meets are a formative part of her journey. She makes an active effort to do more than coexist with her colleagues and the locals around her; she strives to learn from them, even in the most minute ways. She gets to know the family of Ocham, the professor she partners with at the university, and even visits their family home. She has a particular affinity for the priests with whom she stays for the duration of the trip. The priests help her rediscover her womanhood; unlike her ex-husband, who never fully understood her, they respect her career and offer her a set of fresh perspectives.

Finally, as an educator and mom of daughters raised in California, she often considers the conditions in which her students learn and operate. Despite lacking the socioeconomic privilege that her daughters had throughout their childhoods, she describes her students as some of the brightest and hardest-working she has encountered. In contrast to her students in California, students frequented her office hours in droves to reinforce their commitment to their education. In the end, she discovers that it is not wealth that makes a person’s life rich; the richness of spirit and passion makes it so.

Sleeping With Lions: A Year in Tanzania is an emotional memoir that shares one woman’s journey discovering parts of herself while learning about a new culture. Her strength shines through her stories and is inspirational to those that read them.

Pages 291 | ASIN : B0BKYFTPC9

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How To Eat A Shit Sandwich : and Keep Smiling

This bluntly honest memoir is both funny in its wit and terrifying in its candor. Annette demonstrates that while horrible things can happen to wonderful people, they don’t have to define us. You don’t have to have gone through things as Annette did to be able to identify with the themes of tenacity, fortitude, and moving forward in life, even when things don’t go exactly as you had intended.

It’s a tale of tragedy, happiness, heartbreak, lessons about life, love, relationships, and some things that will make you shake your head. This will be a trip down memory lane for some of us while a history lesson on what life was like at its darkest moments for others. Because of Annette’s skill with language, it was like she was narrating the scenes personally to me. I felt as though I had been miraculously transported to be present for each and every scene as I read about Annette’s life. This book could provide a way out of the dark for anyone who has ever had to encounter the misfortune to eat a shit sandwich. 

This book was a page-turner that I couldn’t put down. You will be able to relate to sections of Annette’s book as you read it, and it will bring you back to a time in your life when you felt like an outsider or that you were being bullied, exploited, insulted, or neglected in any way. Her work contains some upsetting tragic events, but she still manages to mask the agony with humor.

I couldn’t put this fantastic book down. I had to keep reading to see what else Annette had to say. I heartily endorse this it. I believe that we can work together to bring about the necessary reforms if more of these tales are told. We can make a difference by speaking out about issues like these.

How To Eat A Shit Sandwich: and Keep Smiling is a passionately told true story. Annette Densham’s memoir will leave readers with much to think about and better understand the importance of getting on with life despite bad things happening. Simply said, this book is a fantastic read! There will unavoidably be tears as well as loud laughter, shock, feelings of rage, and frustration.

Pages: 426 | ASIN : B09K3FCFS4

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I Sang That

I Sang That is a memoir by Sally Stevens looking back on her life as a session singer and later a vocal contractor spanning the decades from her upbringing to the present day and the recent global pandemic. The book provides a unique insight into the inner workings of the Hollywood music industry as it develops over the years and is brimming with all of the biggest names in the music industry. Written in an approachable and extremely humble manner, Sally charts her career progress and its impact on her personal and family life.  

I enjoyed reading this book and this incredibly talented lady’s fantastic adventures. The book like Sally’s career, spans over six decades and the writing provides a fascinating look into the entertainment industry and the broader social and political context of the time. Her writing reveals the sexism experienced by women in their lives, insights into the changing nature of the music industry, and the different political climates over the years.  

I found the letter to her mother after the birth of her first child and her first marriage particularly illuminating. Not only does the book provide an excellent window into Hollywood and its stars, but Sally’s emotional journey. She gives an honest look at being a single mother while trying to forge a career in a highly competitive industry.  

The book is written honestly and openly by Sally, whose achievements are far-ranging and well deserving through the dogged perseverance of her passion. Her work with the union is particularly inspiring, and she is a true role model. However, her writing also offers a pearl of hard-won wisdom on both life and romantic relationships that can only be gained from hindsight and life lived and is a privilege to read and learn from.  

I Sang That it is such an exciting and inspiring memoir. Sally has such a remarkable life to cover; it is a long story but well worth the read. Readers will come away from this true story with much to thing about and a greater respect for all that Sally has endured and acheived in her carrer.

Pages: 403 | ASIN : B0BK5NPYW6

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Left for Dead at Nijmegen – Book Trailer

The true story of an American paratrooper who had a unique encounter during Operation Market Garden and his experiences as a POW.

Left for Dead at Nijmegen recalls the larger-than-life experiences of an American paratrooper, Gene Metcalfe, who served in the 82nd Airborne during WWII. From his recruitment into the military at Camp Grant to his training with the 501st Paratroop Infantry Regiment at Camp Toccoa, it wasn’t until D-Day itself that he first arrived in England to join the 508th PIR.

When Metcalfe boarded the C-47 which would drop him at Groesbeek Heights, just outside of Nijmegen, Holland, he was handed a box of twelve dozen condoms by an overconfident British lieutenant. He was to be among the first to jump into what should have been a picture-book meadow, free of German troops. Instead, it was defended by three German antiaircraft cannon emplacements.

As he jumped into a hail of bullets and exploding shells he watched his plane roll over and plummet into the ground. It was at that moment he realized the condoms had either been a bad joke or the planners of Operation Market Garden had seriously underestimated German resistance. Gene was listed as KIA and left for dead by his patrol, who presumed the worst when they saw his injuries from a shell explosion.

The rest of his story is equally gripping, as he became a POW held outside Munich, being moved between various camps ridden with disease and a severely undernourished population. Eventually, after making an escape attempt and being captured within sight of the snow-capped Swiss mountains, his camp was liberated by American troops in April 1945.

Gene’s story is both remarkable for his highly unusual encounter, and his subsequent experiences.

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