Audiobook Review: My Father’s Son by John Davis

My Father's Son AudiobookTitle: My Father’s Son by John Davis
Narrated by Stephen J. Cohen
Genre: Nonfiction – Memoir
Length: 3 hours and 6 minutes
Format: Audiobook via Audible
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: October 13, 2016
Rating – 5 stars

John Davis grew up in the 1970s and ’80s on the rough streets of Brooklyn, a place where no one thought twice when parents smacked around their kids – or each other. At the center of the tumultuous neighborhood, and John’s world, was his larger-than-life father, Roberto. The Argentinean butcher and kingpin drug dealer was a sadistic bully whose mercurial temper left a trail of tears and chaos across his family. John, in particular, seemed to bear the brunt of Roberto’s wildly swinging moods. Any wrong word could cause an explosion. Every knock on the door might be one of Roberto’s enemies, or the police.

In his publishing debut, Davis recounts how he spent his childhood in constant terror and his teen years learning to fight back. But it was much later, as an adult, that he learned the most shocking thing of all about his father, his past, and himself. Told with raw honesty and deep emotion, My Father’s Son is a memoir of fear, abuse, survival, and identity.

When I saw that My Father’s Son by John Davis had been released as an audiobook, I immediately couldn’t wait to listen to it. I received a copy from the author in exchange for my  honest review since I had previously reviewed the ebook.

My Father’s Son is a memoir, so it is the story of the author’s childhood growing up in Brooklyn, the son of an abusive father. It chronicles his father’s actions, their effects, family secrets and ultimately strength of spirit and the ability to overcome.

I thought that the experience of listening to this was a positive one, I really enjoyed listening to this as an audiobook and felt like it was being told to me in a conversation with a friend. I loved this narrator too. I tend to err on the picky side when listening to audiobooks because I find with some narrators it’s hard for me to get into a book, but I thought that this narrator was fantastic. The story of John’s childhood is gut wrenching sometimes and I think that this narrator was perfect for the topics presented in this memoir because his voice was very soothing and he read at a perfect pace for this book.

This memoir is gripping, at times gritty and just very real. Both when I read and listened to this on audiobook, I just wanted to hug little John and save him, hold his hand and tell him it’d be okay and that he wasn’t alone. This book, and others like it, I think are important ones. This was so different from my childhood, and I think when we don’t see stories like these we naively see the world through blinders and stories like this help me to remember that everyone has a different story and is going through different things and to always be compassionate towards everyone.

While this book does deal with the heavy topics of child abuse and drugs…it does also feature very heart warming things as well like family and self discovery. This was wonderful as an audiobook and I would definitely recommend it to anyone. My listening experience of My Father’s Son was a wholly different experience than reading it, although I think either way you experience this book is worthy of five stars. I thank the author for sharing the story of his childhood with the world, something that must have been difficult to begin with but reading it has definitely helped me to reflect and taught me a few things as well. If you would like to read my review of the ebook for My Father’s Son you can read it here: My Father’s Son by John Davis

Blog Tour Book Review: Marrow by Elizabeth Lesser

Marrow coverAbout Marrow

• Hardcover: 320 pages
• Publisher: Harper Wave (September 20, 2016)

The author of the New York Times bestseller Broken Open returns with a visceral and profound memoir of two sisters who, in the face of a bone marrow transplant—one the donor and one the recipient—begin a quest for acceptance, authenticity, and most of all, love.

A mesmerizing and courageous memoir: the story of two sisters uncovering the depth of their love through the life-and-death experience of a bone marrow transplant. Throughout her life, Elizabeth Lesser has sought understanding about what it means to be true to oneself and, at the same time, truly connected to the ones we love. But when her sister Maggie needs a bone marrow transplant to save her life, and Lesser learns that she is the perfect match, she faces a far more immediate and complex question about what it really means to love—honestly, generously, and authentically.

Hoping to give Maggie the best chance possible for a successful transplant, the sisters dig deep into the marrow of their relationship to clear a path to unconditional acceptance. They leave the bone marrow transplant up to the doctors, but take on what Lesser calls a “soul marrow transplant,” examining their family history, having difficult conversations, examining old assumptions, and offering forgiveness until all that is left is love for each other’s true selves. Their process—before, during, and after the transplant—encourages them to take risks of authenticity in other aspects their lives.

But life does not follow the storylines we plan for it. Maggie’s body is ultimately too weak to fight the relentless illness. As she and Lesser prepare for the inevitable, they grow ever closer as their shared blood cells become a symbol of the enduring bond they share. Told with suspense and humor, Marrow is joyous and heartbreaking, incandescent and profound. The story reveals how even our most difficult experiences can offer unexpected spiritual growth. Reflecting on the multifaceted nature of love—love of other, love of self, love of the world—Marrow is an unflinching and beautiful memoir about getting to the very center of ourselves.

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Good afternoon! Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Marrow by Elizabeth Lesser.  I received this book for review from HarperCollins and TLC Book Tours.

Marrow is a memoir about the author’s journey with her sister as her sister battles cancer. It is the story of love between sisters through an experience that is painful and brutal but that also brings them together in ways they never anticipated.

I always catch myself being surprised at how much I loved a memoir after I read it. I think I need to just come to terms with the fact that memoirs are one of my favorite genres to read. Especially when a memoir is written a certain way and teaches me something about life. Those are the best kinds of memoirs and books to read in general.

Marrow is exactly such a book. When I read the description of Marrow, I knew immediately that I wanted to read it. I am the youngest of three sisters and since this book is described as a love story between sisters, that pulled a little at my heartstrings.

This book is indeed a love story and it is a beautiful one. It’s written in this special way that I love memoirs to be written: raw, honest and deeply personal. Scattered throughout the chapters are also snippets from the authors sisters journal that chronicle her inner thoughts throughout her battle with cancer and the deepening of her relationship with her sister. It definitely made me think differently about a few things in life including my relationships , spirituality and it made me want to hug my sisters and never let them go. It was affecting and inspiring, sad and beautiful. It was truly an honor to read this book.

If you love a great memoir read or have sisters, I highly recommend giving this book a read. Five stars!

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elizabeth-lesser-apAbout Elizabeth Lesser

ELIZABETH LESSER is the author of The Seeker’s Guide and the New York Times bestseller Broken Open. She is the cofounder of Omega Institute, recognized internationally for its workshops and conferences that focus on holistic health, psychology, spirituality, creativity, and social change. Prior to her work at Omega, she was a midwife and childbirth educator. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her family.

Find out more about Elizabeth at her website, and connect with her on Facebook.

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Book Review: The Dogs Buried Over the Bridge: A Memoir in Dog Years by Rheta Grimsley Johnson

26703028Title: The Dogs Buried Over the Bridge: A Memoir in Dog Years by Rheta Grimsley Johnson
Genre: Nonfiction – Memoir
Length: 224 pages
Format: Ebook (ARC)
Publication date: April 1, 2016
Publisher:  John F. Blair, Publisher
Rating: 4/5

In The Dogs Buried Over the Bridge, nationally syndicated columnist Rheta Grimsley Johnson uses a parade of beloved dogs to take readers on a colorful journey. It’s not really a dog book in the Old Yeller sense; it’s a personal story that uses dogs as metaphors for love, loss, and life.

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Happy Friday everyone!! Today is a great day because not only is it Friday, it is also the start of a new month – a fresh reading month!

Today I am happy to be sharing with you my review for The Dogs Buried Over the Bridge by Rheta Grimsley Johnson. I requested this book on Edelweiss and was granted a copy by the publisher so  I would like to give a BIG thank you to the publisher John F. Blair, Publisher for giving me the chance to read this book prior to publication date, which is today!

Immediately when I read the summary of this book, I knew I had to read it for not only do I love a good memoir, I love dogs and the subtitle A Memoir in Dog Years was my bait. The hook lodged into me and I was done. I really was, that was all that I needed. I was really excited to read this as the concept of it is very different from any other memoir that I have read – a memoir told through the dogs the author has known. How fantastic does that sound?

I ended up really enjoying this book. It was wonderful, as a person who loves dogs, to be taken through a person’s life with the dogs they have loved and lost as a guide. I appreciated the author’s journey – not only of her life in general but of her life as a dog lover. Like many of us she grew up in a home where dogs were seen as “just dogs” and through a long life of knowing many different dogs, came out on the other side someone who loves dogs and cannot imagine life without them. I love that. That was just one aspect that really resonated with me about this book because I can relate to this.

I also just really enjoyed reading the story of a woman who was independent, made mistakes and owned them, and just stayed really true to who she was throughout her life and made a career out of writing – something she really loved even though at times it seemed like it wouldn’t pay the bills. I loved how the author writes about where she lives, her home and the area she lives in. I also appreciated the pictures that were included in each chapter. There were pictures of the authors house, people in her life and of course, the beautiful dogs in her life.

It almost wasn’t what I was expecting it to be based on the summary. For some reason I thought it would be more of an emotional read for me seeing as how I am a big baby when it comes to any type of animal, but even more so because I am a “dog mother”. There were certainly times that were more emotional than others but I felt like I was expecting this super sappy memoir that just made me cry but it wasn’t that way at all. The book even says that it won’t be that type of book so I appreciated that warning from the author. I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t like that but in the end I did end up really enjoying the book it turned out to be as I am always a fan of reading about someone’s life and the lessons they have learned – a part of this one being that dogs make life so much better.

I ended up giving this book a four star review on Goodreads – I recommend giving it a read if you are a fan of memoirs or a fan of reading anything about dogs!

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About the Author9780895876652_ai_1_1eee5

Rheta Grimsley Johnson has won numerous awards while reporting for United Press International, theCommercial Appeal (Memphis), the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and a number of other regional newspapers. They include the Ernie Pyle Memorial Award for human-interest reporting, the Headliner Award for commentary, and the American Society of Newspaper Editors’ Distinguished Writing Award for commentary. In 1986, she was inducted into the Scripps Howard Newspapers Editorial Hall of Fame. Syndicated today by King Features of New York, Rheta’s column appears in approximately 50 papers nationwide. She lives at Fishtrap Hollow, near Iuka, MS, in the Missisippi  Hill Country, halfway between Nashville and Memphis.

 

Book Review: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by Kim Barker

28109886Title: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by Kim Barker
Genre: Nonfiction – Memoir
Length: 320 pages
Format: Ebook (ARC)
Publication date: February 23, 2016
Publisher: Anchor
Rating: 4/5

Now a Major Motion Picture titled Whiskey Tango Foxtrot starring Tina Fey, Margot Robbie, Martin Freeman, Alfred Molina, and Billy Bob Thornton.

From tea with warlords in the countryside to parties with drunken foreign correspondents in the “dry” city of Kabul, journalist Kim Barker captures the humor and heartbreak of life in post-9/11 Afghanistan and Pakistan in this profound and darkly comic memoir. As Barker grows from awkward newbie to seasoned reporter, she offers an insider’s account of the region’s “forgotten war” at a time when all eyes were turned to Iraq. Candid, self-deprecating, and laugh-out-loud funny, Barker shares both her affection for the absurdities of these two hapless countries and her fear for their future stability.

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Happy Wednesday everyone!! I am really excited because I recently got the opportunity to read an ARC of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot in exchange for an honest review. I remember going to the theatre recently and seeing the trailer for the film adaptation and thinking instantly that it was something I needed to see and read so when the opportunity came to read and review this book I had to take it. Thank you to the publisher and the author for giving me that opportunity!

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot  (originally published as The Taliban Shuffle)is the memoir of international journalist Kim Barker who travels from her home in the US to live and work in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Kabul. It is about her life and career chasing stories and connections while also finding a home and friendships.

I enjoyed reading this book a lot. I think going into it I didn’t expect it to be as event driven as it was. I’m used to memoirs reading somewhat like fiction. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot felt very real with the journalist in Barker and her humor shining through. As someone who has always been interested in the people, culture and events of this region I really enjoyed seeing events through the authors eyes. It was interesting to see how she lived in relation to other westerners, other journalists and also just generally as a woman in a place where western women are viewed in a specific, often harsh light.

I really liked this book and I am giving it four stars. It was enjoyable and appealed to the International Relations major in me and I also really liked Kim and her portrayal of herself. There will always be a part of me that wished I had walked a similar path so this reading this was a good exercise for me. One thing I would definitely say to keep in mind while reading it is that this is a memoir. It is not a history textbook or a deep, exploratory look at a culture or historical events although there is some of that included in this book as well. This is a persons specific experience of people, places and events. That’s what I loved about it.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot in book form was released yesterday February 23rd and the movie releases March 4, 2016. I cannot wait to see what Tina Fey brings to the role of Kim Barker. Is anyone else going to see this movie or interested in reading this book or have your read this book already? Thoughts? Let me know and enjoy!

Happy Reading!

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About the Author
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Kim Barker was the South Asia bureau chief for The Chicago Tribune from 2004 to 2009, based in New Delhi and Islamabad. Her book about those years, “The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” a dark comedic take on her time in South Asia, was published by Doubleday in 2011. The movie version, “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot,” will be released in March 2016, starring Tina Fey, Martin Freeman, Alfred Molina, Margot Robbie and Billy Bob Thornton. Barker has covered natural disasters such as the tsunami in Asia and the earthquake in Kashmir, as well as tracked manmade disasters — the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the corruption in Afghanistan, and the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Before going overseas, Barker worked at The Seattle Times and the Spokane Spokesman-Review. After coming back in 2009, she was the Edward R. Murrow press fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, where she freelanced for Foreign Affairs, Reader’s Digest and The Atlantic. In 2010, she joined ProPublica, where she wrote about campaign finance and the fallout of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

Barker, who grew up in Montana and Wyoming, now lives in Brooklyn and works as a New York Times metro reporter specializing in investigative reporting and narrative writing.

Book Review – Switch: Time for a Change by Sandra LaMorgese, PhD

SwitchCoverWORKING-FILE 1Title: Switch: Time For A Change by Sandra LaMorgese, PhD
Genre: Nonfiction – Memoir
Length: 173 pages
Format: Ebook
Publication Date: TBD
Publisher: EdgePlay Publishing
Rating – 4/5

Switch is a book unlike any other, it has something for everyone. Will it push you out of your comfort zone? Most certainly. Are parts of it shocking and risqué? Of course! But will it also take you on an eloquent and meaningful journey of self-discovery, honesty, and love? Absolutely.

In her memoir, Dr. Sandra LaMorgese (and her dominatrix alter-ego) take readers on a wild ride through a story that begins with struggle and defeat, but ultimately transforms into a tale of fulfillment, success, and happiness—all because of a year spent working in one of the most famous BDSM dungeons in New York City.

Her on-the-job stories will make your jaw drop, and her stream-of-consciousness descriptions of her first days down in the dungeon will have you laughing out loud. Most importantly, though, in Switch, you will meet a person who faced challenges just like yours—dreams that looked unattainable, a love life that felt unfulfilling, and a future that seemed full of uncertainty. You will listen in on every epiphany during the difficult times of transition, and you will witness the beautiful metamorphosis that brought her to a place of true success, love, and peace.

Through Sandra’s vulnerability, bravery, and unfailing sense of humor, you just might find the same courage that she did—the courage to live authentically and to finally create the life of your dreams.

 

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I am happy to bring you my review of Switch: Time for a Change by Dr. Sandra LaMorgese. I’d like to say a huge thank you to Dr. LaMorgese for giving me the opportunity to read her book in exchange for an honest review.

I love memoirs, I really do, so of course when Dr. LaMorgese contacted me about possibly reviewing her memoir I knew I needed to read it. The story and experiences of people’s lives is vastly interesting to me and I appreciate the opportunity to learn through someone else’s experience. Every memoir I have read so far has always taught me things about life or caused me to reflect on that of my own which is always a great thing. Switch: Time for a Change was no different.

Switch: Time for a Change is about Dr. LaMorgese’s time as a professional dominatrix and the life lessons she has learned through that experience. But it’s not really solely about that part of her life. It was really a journey of a woman who always put others first, coming into her own happiness and becoming comfortable with her sexuality and ultimately, who she is.

I feel like this book was really empowering for me. Human beings are sexual creatures and I think that growing up I was taught from different avenues that women’s sexuality was something to not be discussed out loud or was taboo to talk about. That affects you growing up and luckily for me it didn’t affect my life as an adult but it’s books like this that I think remind me that women have just as much, if not more in some cases, desire as men and that it’s okay to be comfortable with that. I also thought the idea of tantra was extremely interesting, especially the idea of channeling out sexual energy to build confidence and to channel our passion into our work and life. That is definitely something that I will take away with me from reading this book. I also loved the message of being authentic and striving for your own happiness in life. I love it.

I thought reading about Dr. LaMorgese’s experience was definitely interesting and enlightening. I think many of us often wonder about the BDSM lifestyle as is evident by the success of BDSM related books etc. in recent years. I loved the opportunity to become more familiar with it from someone who wrote about it so honestly. This is an uncomfortable subject for some people but I thought this book was such a good read and honestly, how can we ever learn if we are not constantly experiencing things outside of our comfort zones (which is also something I learned from this book). I enjoyed it and thus am giving it a four star rating and recommending it! I have recently been reading this authors blog as well and I find it to be enlightening and helpful. I am grateful for having received the chance to read this book! It was a pretty fast read for me. It is not yet released but be on the lookout as it is coming soon! If you would like to learn more about the author and read her blog (which I love) visit her site at http://sandralamorgese.com/

Happy Reading everyone!

 

Book Review: Girl in the Woods by Aspen Matis

Girl in the Woods (428x648)About Girl in the Woods

 Hardcover: 384 pages
 Publisher: William Morrow (September 8, 2015)

In 2008, Aspen Matis left behind her quaint Massachusetts town for a school two thousand miles away. Eager to escape her childhood as the sheltered baby girl of her family, Aspen wanted to reinvent herself at college. She hoped that far from home she’d meet friends who hadn’t known her high school meekness; she would explore thrilling newfound freedom, blossom, and become a confident adult. But on her second night on campus, all those hopes were obliterated when Aspen was raped by a fellow student.

The academic year commenced; Aspen felt alone now, devastated. She stumbled through her first college semester. Her otherwise loving and supportive parents discouraged her from speaking of the attack; her university’s “conflict mediation” process for handling sexual assaults was callous—then ineffectual. Aspen was confused, ashamed, and uncertain about how to deal with a problem that has—disturbingly—become common at institutions of higher learning throughout the country. Her desperation growing, she made a bold decision: she fled. She dropped out and sought healing in the freedom of the wild, on the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail leading from Mexico to Canada.

In this important and inspiring memoir, Aspen chronicles an ambitious five-month trek that was as dangerous as it was transformative. Forced to survive on her own for the first time, squarely facing her trauma and childhood, she came to realize that the rape was not the only shameful burden she carried with her as she walked. She found herself on a new expedition: to confront—and overcome—the confines that had bound her since long before her second night at college.

A nineteen-year-old girl alone and adrift, Aspen conquered desolate mountain passes and met rattlesnakes, bears, and fellow desert pilgrims. Among the snowcaps and the forests of America’s West, she found the confidence that had eluded her all her life. After a thousand miles of solitude, she met a man who helped her learn to love, trust, and heal. Then from the endless woods she blazed a new path to the future she wanted—and reclaimed it.

What emerges is an unflinching portrait of a girl in the aftermath of rape. Told with elegance and suspense,Girl in the Woods is a beautifully rendered story of emotional and physical boundaries eroding to reveal the truths that lie beyond the edges of the map.

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Good morning everyone and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Girl in the Woods by Aspen Matis. I would like to send a HUGE thank you to the author and to TLC Book Tours for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book! **Note: Due to an oversight on my end I am posting this late, I was scheduled to post yesterday but for some reason I mixed up my dates and thought today was the 11th. This month has been a confusing month for me for some reason but I am back on track!

Girl in the Woods is a memoir, and we all know that I love a good memoir but it’s even better when it’s a GREAT memoir. It is about a young girl who is starting her first year in college, determined to shed her past life and gain independence and a sense of self. When she is raped on her second night of college, she understandably loses herself and after much thought, planning and soul searching decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the border of Mexico to Canada with nothing but the clothes on her back and a knapsack of bare, and I mean bare essentials to find herself again.

I LOVED this memoir. It was beautifully written. The author definitely has a style of writing that is so wonderfully descriptive that it transports you to a different time and place. Throughout the book I felt like I was there with her feeling the heat of the sun on my head, feeling her fears, insecurities and also her exhilaration and hope. I love that she found herself and came into her own by doing something she had been drawn to since she was a child. Of course it was difficult to read about the pain and inner turmoil she went through in the aftermath of her sexual assault but it was also beautiful to experience her becoming herself, becoming independent and finding strength in herself. If there was one word I would use to describe the author and this story it would definitely be BRAVE. This was beautiful. Five stars! I eagerly await more from this author whether it is nonfiction or fiction!

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Aspen Matis author photoAbout Aspen Matis

Aspen Matis is a writer living in Greenwich Village, where she’s finishing her degree at The New School and working on a novel.

Connect with Aspen on Facebook and follow her on Instagram.

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Book Review: Miss Fortune by Albina Hume

25563960Title:  Miss Fortune by Albina Hume
Genre:  Memoir
Publisher: Ardua Publishing
Length: 255 pages
Format: Epub
Publication Date: June 4, 2015
Rating – 4/5

“Who would think that my inability to pronounce the letter R would turn my life upside down and lead me from Ukraine to South Africa?”

Albina Hume is often asked the same question – how did she meet her South African husband John, a property developer and a rhino breeder, who is 36 years her senior? She has always kept her response simple. Until now …

Her childhood fear that no one in Ukraine would want to marry a ‘crow’ at first resulted in various misfortunes, from failing dreams and relationships to even ending up in a police cell for 51 days, until she finally learned to focus on her dreams, not her fears.

Now, Albina and John Hume have dedicated their lives to preventing the South African rhino population from becoming extinct by breeding rhinos for future generations. In the past six years, they have bred over 500 white rhinos, with Albina emerging as a pro-rhino activist, advocating for an end to the war on trade in rhino horn that has only resulted in illegal trade and killing of rhinos and also people in Africa. Albina calls for legalising trade in horn – a renewable product – to help create harmony between African people and their natural heritage.

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Good morning everyone!! Today I am happy to share with you a book that I read at the tail end of August and finished yesterday the first of September. I would like to give a huge thanks to the author Albina Hume who gave me the chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review!

Miss Fortune is a memoir that follows Albina through her life from childhood to adulthood. If you have been a follower on my blog for awhile you already know how much of a fan I am of memoirs. I absolutely LOVE to read a good memoir and value what they have to teach me by way of someone else’s experiences in life. This book was definitely interesting and at times harrowing. It’s always hard to read about the difficult things that happen to people in their lives especially when it is something that truly happened. Miss Fortune has a little bit of everything…it has moments of happiness, sadness, romance, intrigue and peril. I absolutely love the title, I think it is very fitting and a great play on words.

It’just always so interesting to me to catch a glimpse into someone else’s life experiences and I am grateful that Albina has shared her story. I also didn’t make the best decisions as I was growing up so I appreciated reading about Albina’s life and about her learning through her mistakes. I definitely related to Albina at specific points in her life and specific attributes  she had when she was young like her naivete and willingness to see only the good in people, a quality which can be amazing but can also lead to people taking advantage. One thing I loved about the way the book is written is that she takes full responsibility for her decisions and never puts the blame on anyone else even though she was sometimes thrown into these really difficult situations where I think alot wasn’t in her control. She’s definitely a survivor and has a reservoir of strength that is amazing, especially since she always managed to see the good in things, the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. After reading this book I definitely think that Albina and John were fated to be together and I am SO happy that she found her happiness…everyone deserves that.

I gave this book a four out of five star rating because I really enjoyed it. I thought it was interesting and it made me think about alot of things namely fate, how our decisions impact our lives, appreciating what you have and not judging anyone because you never what they have been through. Happy Reading everyone!