Serious Little Catholics by Kathy Gereau

Book Genre "Memoir" with person writing with pen
Serious Little Catholics book cover with photo of three children
Book Genre Block - "Emotional" Person standing between bright earth and desolate earth

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This was a wonderful memoir! Kathy’s personality is fun and really comes out through the words on the page! I really enjoyed that she writes this book with light-hearted stories and a lovely attitude.

Serious Little Catholics is a story of growing up Catholic. We see Kathy’s thoughts and perspective of being in Catholic school and beyond. She tells stories that make you laugh, and she provides great context around the faith that she grew up in.

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Cerebral Palsy: A Story by Ilana Estelle

Welcome to the blog tour for Cerebral Palsy: A Story hosted by iRead Book Tours!
"Non Fiction" words carved into wood
Book Cover "Cerebral Palsy: A Story" with birds flying over a stormy water
Book Genre "Memoir" with person writing with pen

Born the second of premature twins, Ilana knew she was different from a young age, but for all the wrong reasons. Part memoir, part motivational guide, this is Ilana’s open and honest journey, from an angry confused child, knowing something was wrong, but not knowing what, to the ‘real’ her – a courageous woman using her experiences and lessons to create inspiring messages about mental and physical health, positivity, resilience and change.

Just the Facts:

Cerebral Palsy: A Story by Ilana Estelle
Genre: Memoir
Page Count: 288 pages
Publisher: RedDoor Press
Pub Date: Feb 1, 2020

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Into the Deep by Robert D. Ballard and Christopher Drew

Rating: 4 out of 5.
"Non Fiction" words carved into wood
Into the Deep book cover with words in big wave
Book Genre "Memoir" with person writing with pen

I have always been interested in the Titanic’s wreck site, and when I had the chance to read this book, I was all about it! Bob Ballard’s memoir, Into the Deep covers not only his discovery and exploration of the Titanic’s site, but also so many other wonderful underwater finds!

This was a great read that really brought me along on some fantastic journeys! I loved that there were photographs included to bring these discoveries to life as I read. I feel like there was so much to learn, and so much I never knew about the Titanic, but also about all the other wonderful things Ballard has done for underwater exploration.

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Strong Like Water by Laila Tarraf

"Non Fiction" words carved into wood
Book cover "Strong Like Water" with cover image of water rippling
Book Genre "Memoir" with person writing with pen

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This book is all memoir, self-help, and inspiration. I loved that while it discusses ways to be stronger in a business setting, this story really prepares you to be successful in life.

Tarraf takes the reader on her emotional journey of heartbreak and growth. I was saddened reading about Laila’s childhood where her parents’ fighting turned physical, creating a poor home environment for her. After she started her own family, she endured a devastating loss of her husband as well as both of her parents. Her story talks about her therapy and finding a way through her grief. The things that she learns, she speaks to us about applying in our daily lives, both personally and professionally.

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Survival of the Thickest by Michelle Buteau

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Book Genre
Book Cover with author on cover
Book Genre Block - "Emotional" Person standing between bright earth and desolate earth

Hilarious! I laughed out loud reading this book more than I have in a long time. Michelle Buteau is hilarious. She also had the ability to create extremely emotional moments that had me bawling while I listened. This is a book that you should listen to the audio if you have the chance. Michelle narrates it, and she does an absolutely phenomenal job!

This is a memoir that will take you on a journey of Michelle’s romance situations, both absolutely hilarious and heartwarming, her friendships, her family, her job, her journey to being a mother, and her overall thoughts on life.

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Have You Seen These Children? by Veronica Slaughter

Rating: 5 out of 5.

When Veronica was only 8 years old, her father kidnapped her and her four siblings taking them from the Philippines to the United States. Moving from state to state to avoid getting caught, they lived a life of fear and abuse with their father. Her memoir of this horrible experience is a moving, emotional story that is hard to put down.

This book is so filled with emotion, as a reader, I was pulled into the story, but as a human being, a mom, a sister, a daughter…I was INVESTED in the story. I cannot imagine the pain and suffering of a mother finding that all of her children have been kidnapped in one fell swoop. For children to have to go through an experience like this is awful. I couldn’t put the book down because I needed to know what was going to happen!

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I’m So Glad You’re Here by Pamela Gay

Rating: 3 out of 5.

My Synopsis:

I’m So Glad You’re Here is a memoir written by Pamela Gay. She shares her very traumatic early life experiences and how those shaped her life. Pamela witnessed her father’s forced removal from their family home at a young age. He was restrained and wheeled out right in front of her, leaving a terrible mental imprint on her. Pamela’s family later moved to Florida leaving her behind, which further impacts her mental health.

Pamela shares with the reader that she was later diagnosed with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. She tries a multitude of methods to help her, but finally finds eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) as a therapy method and finds that it helps her. This leads her to the beginning of her healing process.

How I Felt:

Pamela Gay’s story was written with such an honest, emotional voice. I thought that she was very open about her experiences and her recovery process, and I appreciated that. She talks a lot about her family’s dynamic, how they interacted with one another, and also about their mental health history. I like how this information helped to shape her story, and I found it very interesting.

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Hollywood Park by Mikel Jollett

Rating: 4 out of 5.

What I Loved:

Mikel Jollett wrote this memoir in a way that made me see how he felt going through these experiences. His narrative changes as he ages, so I really got a sense of the issues that he dealt with during each age range of his life. As a child, his story is written with a child’s narrative, and it was my favorite part. I loved how he chose to spell or write words, making me understand what this word meant or how it sounded to him as a child.

How I Felt:

I listened to the audio version of this book, so my review will discuss both the book itself, and the narration of the book.

Mikel Jollett spent the early years of his life in a cult called Synanon in California. Synanon started as a drug rehabilitation group, drawing Mikel’s parents to the cult, as his father was an addict. Synanon leaders soon forgot their original purpose, transforming into the cult Mikel grew up in. All children were separated from parents and raised in an orphanage-type environment within the Synanon encampment. Many children did not understand who their parents were, and some families rarely saw each other. Mikel writes about his brother in a description of the treatment of the children and it broke my heart.

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Bury Him by Doug Chamberlain

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Bury Him is one of the most heartbreaking memoirs I have read recently. I was so invested in Doug Chamberlain’s story and I felt every single emotion that he described throughout his story. It’s a war story that shows the lifelong impact of war time events on soldiers.

Doug Chamberlain did an excellent job of writing his story. I felt the entire book was well-written and I appreciated his honest, open expression of his feelings and the events he had to endure. I liked that this story offered a view of this war from a soldier’s eye. This war was before my time, so it is one I only have books like this to learn from.

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Perils and Pearls by Hulda Bachman-Neeb

Rating: 4 out of 5.

As A Whole:

I loved that Perils and Pearls provides a view of a family’s experiences during World War II from a different setting than I usually find. I liked that this covered Indonesia and the Netherlands throughout the book.

On the Details:

The story begins with the patriarchal line, dating back to the 1600s. I struggled with this portion of the story a bit. I had a hard time keeping all the family members straight, and I’m unsure if this much detail was truly necessary to the overall story. It was interesting to see how Bachman-Neeb’s family moves between Indonesia and the Netherlands though. I was intrigued by all the historical information that I didn’t know much about. I felt like there was some good information that provided detail that helped understand the rest of her story.

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GET OFF: The Sordid Youth and Unlikely Survival of a Queer Junkie Wonder Boy by Scott Alderman – Book Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What I Loved:

Get Off is written as though it is a conversation between the author and the reader. I felt like I was sitting down with Scott Alderman while he told me his story, and it was wonderful.

How I Felt:

I really enjoy reading memoirs because I find that they are packed with emotion. The author is telling their personal story, sharing secrets with the reader, and that experience is impactful for me, as the reader. Reading Scott Alderman’s book Get Off gave just the kind of experience I love.

Continue reading “GET OFF: The Sordid Youth and Unlikely Survival of a Queer Junkie Wonder Boy by Scott Alderman – Book Review”

A Discovery: A Bookshop in Berlin by Françoise Frenkel, Patrick Modiano – Book Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What I Loved:

A Bookshop in Berlin is not your normal memoir. Françoise Frenkel wrote her experiences down and they were published in 1945. They were then re-discovered in an attic in 2010. I loved Françoise’s descriptions of her experiences. I felt delighted when she was, horrified when she was; all of her feelings were placed on the pages and as the reader, I felt a bit like I was drawing back a curtain to someone’s secrets and memories. I’m not sure if I was supposed to be there, but there I was, reading her work, and it was a beautiful and horrifying view of her experiences.

How I Felt:

A Bookshop in Berlin was a beautiful account of Françoise Frenkel’s early life and then entrapment and escape from the Nazi’s. The writing style was a bit jumpy at times. I felt like we would jump from memory to memory and I kind of wanted to go back and learn a bit more about the previous thing. However, the overall story is written from start to finish, making her experiences easy to follow, I just wanted more details sometimes.

For the book lover: If you are a lover of books, which I suspect you might be, as you are taking the time to read this, you will appreciate this book just because of Françoise’s very clear love of literature. When she was younger, she had a bookcase made of all glass so that she could place it in the middle of her room to admire the books from all sides. I mean, who doesn’t want that now!?!? I really enjoyed her descriptions of books and her passion for them. When she is closing the bookstore to leave Germany, she walks the aisles saying goodbye to her books. That part of the story made me so sad for her.

Her Escape: Her story follows her escape from Germany and the Nazi’s. It is filled with stops and starts as she is blocked by soldiers, red tape, train issues, and so many other problems. She finds and loses family members and friends. She witnesses destruction and violence, but also heartwarming moments of kindness. It is a very interesting story and I really enjoyed reading about it.

The Preface: Patrick Modiano has written the preface in A Bookshop in Berlin. I enjoyed this insight into the story. He gives background on Françoise Frenkel with some extra information that she didn’t share in her memoir. He mentions that Françoise had a husband and gives some information on him. I would have loved for her to have shared some details about their life together, but she chose to exclude him from her story.

Overall: A Bookshop in Berlin is a wonderful memoir and a powerful story.

To Read or Not To Read:

I would recommend A Bookshop in Berlin for readers that enjoy historical fiction, historical non-fiction, and memoirs.

Where to Find This Book:

A Bookshop in Berlin by Françoise Frenkel, Patrick Modiano (Preface) is available at these sites.

Bookshop.org | Amazon Kindle | Amazon | Goodreads

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WINNER OF THE JQ-WINGATE LITERARY PRIZE

“A beautiful and important book” (The Independent) in the tradition of rediscovered works like Suite Française and The Nazi Officer’s Wife, the prize-winning memoir of a fearless Jewish bookseller on a harrowing fight for survival across Nazi-occupied Europe.

In 1921, Françoise Frenkel–a Jewish woman from Poland–fulfills a dream. She opens La Maison du Livre, Berlin’s first French bookshop, attracting artists and diplomats, celebrities and poets. The shop becomes a haven for intellectual exchange as Nazi ideology begins to poison the culturally rich city. In 1935, the scene continues to darken. First come the new bureaucratic hurdles, followed by frequent police visits and book confiscations.

Françoise’s dream finally shatters on Kristallnacht in November 1938, as hundreds of Jewish shops and businesses are destroyed. La Maison du Livre is miraculously spared, but fear of persecution eventually forces Françoise on a desperate, lonely flight to Paris. When the city is bombed, she seeks refuge across southern France, witnessing countless horrors: children torn from their parents, mothers throwing themselves under buses. Secreted away from one safe house to the next, Françoise survives at the heroic hands of strangers risking their lives to protect her.

Published quietly in 1945, then rediscovered nearly sixty years later in an attic, A Bookshop in Berlin is a remarkable story of survival and resilience, of human cruelty and human spirit. In the tradition of Suite Française and The Nazi Officer’s Wife, this book is the tale of a fearless woman whose lust for life and literature refuses to leave her, even in her darkest hours.

Just the Facts:

  • A Bookshop in Berlin by Françoise Frenkel
  • Subtitle: The Rediscovered Memoir of One Woman’s Harrowing Escape from the Nazis
  • Preface by Patrick Modiano
  • Genre: Non-fiction / Memoir
  • Page Count: 287 pages
  • Publisher:  Atria Books
  • Pub Date: December 3, 2019
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I was provided an advanced readers copy of this book for free. I am leaving my honest, unbiased review voluntarily.

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