Book Review: Letters from the Closet by Amy Hollingsworth

About the book:
Title: Letters from the Closet: Ten Years of Correspondence That Changed My Life
Author: Amy Hollingsworth
Publisher: Howard Books
Release date: May 7, 2013
Pages: 256
Where I got the book: I received this book free from the author in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own.

Book summary:

It’s Tuesdays with Morrie – if Morrie were young and gay and Mitch Albom were a woman.

As the years and letters passed between John and Amy, the layers fell off as they explored and unmasked themselves and each other.

“A teacher is like a book,” John wrote, “wasted until he’s read. The student has to do that. You’ve done that.” While going through a period of despair, he wrote, “I hope our relationship survives your growing up and my growing down.” Continue reading

Book Review: Dog-Ma, The Zen of Slobber by Barbara Boswell Brunner

Dog-ma The Zen of Slobber Tour


Barbara’s vivid and dramatic stories, told with a wicked sense of humor, will make you laugh out loud. She definitely gets what living with rescued dogs (nine of them!) is all about.

When Barbara meets her future husband, Ray, it is love-and dog-at first sight. Over the course of thirty-two years, seventeen relocations and nine dogs, their mutual love of dogs guides them on their unconventional path. The love that Barbara and Ray get in return is literally lifesaving, with one dog attacking a lethal intruder and another discovering Barbara’s cancer. Her own survival story underscores the story of how her dogs become survivors themselves.

Each new dog adds its own dynamic to the family, sometimes upending it. From Turbo (whose Spock-like ears may have provided super powers), Barbara learns about the will to live; Lexington demonstrates incredible patience and an inexplicable love of golf; Madison teaches that laughter is truly the best medicine and that the whole “nine lives thing” is not reserved just for cats; Morgan should be sainted for tolerating Izzy, who is as cute as she is bad.

Barbara is certain that somewhere in doggie heaven there is a poster that says “If you are sick, injured or in need of really expensive medical care, FIND THESE HUMANS!” Continue reading

Book Review: A Love Story: How God Pursued Me and Found Me by Samantha Ryan Chandler


The tale of Samantha Ryan Chandler’s life is evocatively portrayed in her book: A Love Story, How God Pursued Me and Found Me. It tells of a life that is as disturbing and unsettling as it is uplifting and, in the end, gratifying. How “A girl from Nowhere, Louisiana” finds her way from such humble beginnings to live and walk amongst presidents and the supremely rich, only to find her trust and faith betrayed by those that she loved and trusted the most. She would be tested to the point where she began to doubt her own sanity and, at the moment of her greatest desperation and doubt, she was found by God and brought back from the brink of hopeless despair. Blessed with an almost unquenchable optimism and a unique sense of humor, she relates the story of a life that will speak to those who have encountered abuse, unfairness and anguish. Her love for her children and her faith in God carried her through a crucible of fire and in the end, made her a better, stronger person, ready to carry on with life once again. Samantha’s story will both inspire you and touch your heart. Continue reading

Review and Giveaway: The Courtship of Two Doctors

Book description:

From a private collection of nearly 800 courtship letters, the daughter of two remarkable physicians has crafted a timeless valentine to long-lasting love and the healing profession. Senior medical students from New Orleans and Omaha meet in 1937 and begin a two-year correspondence across 1,100 miles. They set their sights on a return to Mayo Clinic, the medical mecca where they found each other and danced to the haunting Harbor Lights. Grave illness and career setbacks shake their confidence, but the two decide to face an uncertain future together, trusting in each other and the relationship they built letter by letter. The Courtship of Two Doctors recreates the medical era before antibiotics, when health workers were at risk of serious infection, and vividly illustrates the 1930s social barriers challenging two-career marriages. Continue reading

Book Review: What I Wish I’d Known About Raising a Child with Autism by Bobbi Sheahan and Kathy DeOrnellas

Amazon summary
Bobbi Sheahan, mother of a child with autism, and psychologist Kathy DeOrnellas, Ph.D., did not write this book to lecture you on how to parent your child. Instead, they offer themselves as your scouts in the field, who have valuable information to share—from the moment you realize your kid is different (“My, what a quiet baby I have!”), to the self-righteous moms on the playground, to holding your marriage together in the realm of routines. Continue reading

Book Review: Women Empowering Themselves: A Financial Survival Guide by Antoinette Babek & Hollis Colquhoun

Amazon summary
“Women Empowering Themselves: A Financial Survival Guide” will take you through the basic steps to calculate your financial worth, identify your financial needs and gain control of your financial destiny. Inside are simple exercises and tools to help you understand what you own and what you owe and to show you how to manage your budget and debt, whether you’re in a relationship or alone. Keep this guide with you as a reference, a financial record keeper and a resource; you will become more financially aware and independent. It will be like having a credit counselor in your purse!
Inside this guide you will find:
• Definitions of financial terms and concepts
• Tips for organizing your financial information
• Marital and personal net worth charts
• Personal income calculators
• Household expense analysis
• Budgeting and problem-solving tools
• Debt and credit report explanations
• Warnings of potential financial pitfalls
• Housing and major expense evaluations
• Financial considerations for divorce negotiations
• Savings tips and financial goal setting
• Resource directory for information and assistance

My review
The full title of this book is Women Empowering Themselves: A Financial Survival Guide – For Women at Risk of Drowning Financially Before, During and After Divorce, but it’s a great resource for anyone. It’s short and to-the-point, with detailed tables for recording your  assets, liabilities, and expenses. The authors have also included a few inexpensive, easy recipes in the back to help with menu-planning and grocery expenses, and there is an extensive list of resources.

The authors also point out several financial mistakes that women often make (no, buying too many shoes is not one of them) and how to avoid them. Every woman needs to read this book, even if you think you’ll never get divorced. The sudden death of a spouse can have devastating financial effects as well, if you’re not prepared. Following the advice in this book will help women feel more in charge of their financial health, no matter their circumstances.

About the book
Title: Women Empowering Themselves: A Financial Survival Guide – For Women at Risk of Drowning Financially Before, During and After Divorce
Authors: Antoinette Babek & Hollis Colquhoun
Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing, LLC
Release date: June 10, 2009
Pages: 132
Where I got the book: For free through the WLC Review Program in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: A Manic Marriage by Nina Mensing

Amazon summary:
Having lived with someone suffering from Bipolar Mood Disorder for over twenty years, Nina is better qualified than most to speak about the affect this condition has on relationships. From caring for her partner whilst he was suicidal with depression to visiting him in a state mental asylum after he was committed during a manic episode, she’s seen first hand the ups and downs of bipolar. This story is a journal account of her tumultuous relationship in amongst worldwide travel and finally marriage. Juggling motherhood, a career in journalism and photography, and a partner who refused treatment, she has been left with some battle scars. However, she has persevered and through her book, support groups, and community workshops on Bipolar Awareness her knowledge is now helping fellow supporters conquer and befriend this monster she calls Bipolar.

My review:
If you’re expecting a “poor me” story full of horror stories, you won’t find it in this book. In fact, most of the first part of the book is stories about Mensing and her then-boyfriend Bradley as they travel on a shoestring budget. Occasionally, Bradley would pull something frightening during a manic phase, but mostly I was just thinking, “How cool to be able to travel like that.”

The closer we get to present-day, though, the more we read about specific incidents and how bipolar affects not just the person with the disorder, but everyone around him. Mensing stresses over and over in her book that it is crucial to find not only a reputable professional to prescribe and regulate medications, but also a support system. Not just family and friends who truly understand what’s happening, but also others who have experienced bipolar illness. She also lists facts and statistics about Bipolar Mood Disorder to help readers understand what it is and is not.

As someone who has not had any personal experience with a person who is manic-depressive (as far as I know), I found this book to be an eye-opener and a little frightening, to be honest. It’s definitely worth your time if you’re looking for books to help you learn more about Bipolar Mood Disorder.

About the book:
Title: A Manic Marriage
Author: Nina Mensing
Publisher: Porcupine Press
Release date: July 1, 2010
Pages: 208
Where I got the book: From the author for free in exchange for an honest review.