Showing posts with label Books for Adults. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Books for Adults. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Legacy of a Pack Rat by Ruth Bell Graham: A Book Review

A Glimpse into What Ruth Graham Learned as a Child of God

For a long time I thought of Ruth Bell Graham simply as Billy Graham's wife. I knew she was the daughter of medical missionaries and had spent her childhood in China. Other than that I didn't know much about her until I started to read her books. I'd like to share one of them with you here: Legacy of a Pack Rat.

Legacy of a Pack Rat by Ruth Bell Graham: A Book Review
Image Courtesy of Pixabay, edited in PicMonkey

Those of you who know me probably know why I had to open and read this book. I'm a pack rat. This was one of the books that I've had around the house I'd been waiting to read. I'm trying to read through these piles of books now so that I can pass them on. I won't be passing this one on just yet. It's a keeper.

If you've ever kept a journal or made a scrapbook, you know that only what is significant to you goes into it. Much of this book is treasured memories. Some of it is Ruth's original poetry. You will also find quotes from others which she wanted to preserve and keep handy to read over and over. As I read the results of Ruth's collation, I got a great deal of insight into who she was.

One portion I especially appreciated was Chapter 42: "Bible Study for Tough Times." These are suggested passages to read followed by some of Ruth's thoughts on persecution, affliction, and God's sovereignty and sufficiency.

Some anecdotes in the book are humorous. Some thoughts she shares are inspired by her Bible reading. Many stories are about her interactions with her husband, children, and parents. All of the stories, meditations and poems leave me with something to ponder after I read them.  One example from Chapter 43 shows how a barracuda gave Billy Graham more energy than he knew he had.

Legacy of a Pack Rat by Ruth Bell Graham: A Book Review
Image of Barracuda Courtesy of Pixabay. TExt added with PicMonkey

The Perfect Book for Small Bits of Time

This book offers inspiration in short doses at times when you may need it most. Only a few minutes for a morning quiet time when you're still too tired for real Bible study? Reading a bit of this book will speak to your spirit and keep you going until you have more time and energy.

Are you sick in bed or in the hospital and can't read anything heavy for encouragement? This book is just right. It's also good to have beside your hospital bed for family who are keeping vigil when you are sleeping after surgery. It's perfect for reading while you are in the ICU waiting room awaiting your next visit with a family member who is in critical condition. You can also take it to a friend who is in the hospital for surgery or to recover from an illness.

Keep it by your own bedside and read a short chapter before you close your eyes. That can help focus your mind away from problems or pain that may be keeping you from falling asleep immediately.

I carry it with me now when I know I may spend time waiting anywhere. It doesn't require long periods to finish a section, since chapters can be less than a page to five pages in length. Most chapters are a page or two. I used to keep my Kindle in my purse for these waiting times, but then I often find I don't want to put my book down and tackle my to-do list when I get home. Instead I want to finish my book. Legacy of a Pack Rat is easy to pick up, read, and put down when you need to do something else.

Who Will Get Most Out of This Book?

I would say that Christians or those who believe in God will benefit most by reading this book. Ruth Graham knew what it's like to be a young mother with several young children and a husband who is gone frequently for long periods of time. So she understands the pressures of other young mothers. She also understands what missionaries face as they work in other countries and cultures. She understands what it means to be very busy and very tired. She understands being under pressure. Her book speaks to those at any stage of life from teen to old age.

Legacy of a Pack Rat by Ruth Bell Graham: A Book Review
Photo  ©Barbara Radisavljevic, Poem  © Ruth Bell Graham

This book offers food for thought in the form of humor, poetry, inspirational quotations, stories from the mission field, stories of returning prodigals, and more. She deals with hard topics like death, persecution, church problems, suffering, and forgiveness, interspersed with humorous anecdotes, reflections on prayer, original poems, and inspiring family stories.

Many of these stories may also be interesting to those who are not yet believers. Some may help a seeker move closer to faith. But I recommend the book most to those who already desire to walk closely with the Lord and lead lives that are very busy and/or who struggle with physical or emotional pain. 

The other two books you see below offer more insight into the life of Ruth Graham. Two of her children, including Franklin, were prodigals at one time. In Prodigals and Those Who Love Them, she reveals her heart as she waited for them to come home spiritually and explains how the experience helped her learn to rest in God's sovereignty. In Footsteps of a Pilgrim, Ruth reflects on her life both as a child in China and as a wife, mother and grandmother in the United States.

You can buy Legacy of a Packrat and the other books by Ruth Bell Graham at Amazon by clicking a link below or you may find them on eBay for less. 

You may also want to read my review of Billy Graham's book, Facing Death and the Life After.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Chef at the Water's Edge by Kee Patterbee - A Mystery Review

Chef at the Water's Edge, Where Mystery and Romance Meet

Mix a celebrity lady chef, an assistant who looks almost like her, an obsessed fan, a controlling husband, a greedy agent, a gorgeous niece, a jealous ex-boyfriend, and you may have a recipe for murder. Although the police ruled chef Julia Karas' death as an accident, many who knew Julia well had their doubts. Too many facts didn't fit. Too many people had motives to kill Julia. And someone bribed the medical examiner to hide facts in the toxicology report that suggested suicide. Was Julia's death an accident, a suicide, or murder?

Chef at the Water's Edge by Kee Patterbee -  A Mystery Review

The Obsessed Fan, His Friends, and Ex-FBI Agent Hannah

The obsessed fan would be Louie Woolridge, a food critic, who lived and worked in the small town of Zebulon where Julia and Asa Karas lived and worked. He was never able to accept the fact that Julia's death was an accident. The official story was that Julia had gone out to the gazebo next to the lake on a dark rainy night and died around 11:30 PM. 

The groundskeeper found her body the next morning when he was cleaning trash from the ground around the lake. The coroner called the death an accident. Evidently, as Julia stumbled in the dark, she bumped into a beam of the gazebo and it sent her into the water. 

Louie could not accept this story because Julia had been deathly afraid of open water and also had night blindness. He could think of no reason she should have gone to the water's edge on a moonless night, unable to see. 

Louie's friends were Buster and Cate Jordan, cousins who had been raised together in the small town of Twilight. Cate was a librarian who was also a computer whiz.  

Hannah Starvling the ex-FBI agent, age 31, was their friend.  She had spent her summers with her grandparents in Twilight while growing up. After she had been wounded in a shoot-out while working for the FBI and could no longer use a weapon, she came back to Twilight to recover and decide what to do with the rest of her life. 

Her grandparents had owned a restaurant in Twilight, and her grandfather sent her for culinary training in Paris when she had to quit the FBI. She then became a restaurant consultant who worked with some of the most famous chefs in the world. 

Hannah also had a pilot's license and a reputation as an amateur sleuth. She had flown her friends to Zebulon for a food festival to commemorate the anniversary of Julia's death. Louie had invited all the friends to stay with him. After they became acquainted, Hannah agreed to look into the real cause of Julia's death. 

What Really Happened to Julia?

Hannah is determined to find out! She knew Louie and Julia had been close friends when they had both trained as chefs at the Goddard Institut Gastronomique in Paris. They had remained friends until Julia had married Asa. Asa then kept Julia from him. They occasionally met in public at culinary events Louie covered. 

Hannah could tell Louie had never stopped loving Julia. He kept a collection of memorabilia associated with her, along with a file of news clippings. Hannah thinks if she can prove Julia died in an accident as the police reported or find the murderer if there had been foul play, Louie might finally get closure. 

Many people had motives for killing Julia. She had argued loudly with her husband Asa the afternoon of her death because she'd heard rumors Asa was having an affair with their niece, Jazlyn Karas. Before her marriage to Asa, Julia's agent, Jack Miller, had tied her into a bad contract that gave him half of all she earned, and she wanted out of it. Xabierre Dauphin and Timothy Holloway were Julia's sous chefs, but Asa had fired them both and they had vowed to get even. Julia had chosen her assistant Vera to eventually replace her on her cooking show so Vera might have had a motive. And, of course, the husband is always a suspect, especially one rumored to be having affairs. 

Other Questions Readers Will Have 

As Hannah worked with Officer Miles, nicknamed Hymn, to reopen the case and investigate, it becomes evident to the reader that they are fast becoming friends, and maybe even more. Will it develop into love? How would they handle a long-distance relationship?

Vera looks a lot like Julia. In fact, Louie did a double-take the first time he saw her. She was very close to Julia. Vera explained to Louie, Cate, Buster and Hannah that she'd never known her birth parents. As she tells it, 'Someone left me with a family, Lenora and Jacque Bessinger. They were to care for me for a few days...but it turned into a lifetime.'

Jacque was a baker and the couple owned a little shop in Arzon. One day Julia had come in looking for rolls when Vera was very small. She learned Vera's story and kept up with her whenever she was in Arzon. As Julia became richer, she never forgot Vera, and she saw that the Bessinger family always had enough money to meet their needs. Later, she paid for Vera's education and even set up a trust for her. Hannah isn't sure she buys Vera's story. Readers will also wonder. Who is Vera really?

My Review and Recommendation

The three main characters in Chef at the Water's Edge - Louie, Vera, and Hannah, were credible. By the end of the book, readers will know them fairly well. I personally liked all of them, even though Louie was a bit obsessed with Julia. In the end, it is more evident why. My favorite character was Hannah. She was compassionate, thoughtful, analytical and smart. She also tried to stay objective. The minor characters added interest and widened the circle of suspects, but they weren't as well-developed as the main characters. 

I enjoyed looking over Hannah's shoulder as she investigated. There were many twists and turns in the plot and I kept changing my mind about the murderer as I read.  In spite of this, I was not totally caught off-guard at the end. It was a satisfying conclusion that made sense in light of what came before it. 

I highly recommend the book to those who like police procedural mysteries. Hannah adds the amateur sleuth dimension. The setting in a culinary town devoted to a celebrity chef will add interest for those interested in the culinary arts. Lastly, dog lovers will enjoy the important role Louie's large Mastiff, Critic, played near the end.  If you love mysteries, don't miss Chef at the Water's Edge.

Chef at the Water's Edge by Kee Patterbee -  A mystery review, with a touch of romance.
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Photo © B. Radisavljevic
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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Reviewing Cozy Mysteries and Favorite Women Sleuths

Like cozy mysteries starring smart, female sleuths? You'll find ten series' starters in this compilation for just 99 cents!
This summer, I've found myself with a good bit of reading time on my hands. My favorite genre is mystery and right now I'm particularly attracted to easy-to-read cozy mystery stories (defined here by ReviewThisReviews' own BuckHawk) especially when the main character is a smart, likable, female.

Fortunately there are plenty of books in the Kindle store that meet the definition, so I never need to worry about running out of material to read.

Recently, I came across a package deal of 10 full-length novels called Sleuthing Women. Each book is a first-in-series cozy murder mystery featuring an amateur, female crime-solver, and written by a best-selling author. What a great way for cozy mystery-lovers to get to know a new author's style and try a series without spending a fortune on books they may or may not like.

Oh, did I fail to mention the price? You can buy the set of 10 cozy mystery Kindle books for a total of just 99 cents!

Last night I finished reading the third book in the Sleuthing Women set and, Bingo!, I found a winner! While the first two novels were okay, the third one was particularly appealing to me. I really enjoyed the story as well as the characters and can't wait to start the next book in the series.

The book that won me over is Skeleton in a Dead Space by Judy Alter, the first book in her Kelly O'Connell mystery series. The author has been writing for years, has multiple mystery series as well as historical novels and a few other gems in print, and is definitely worth checking out. I've already started book two in the series and I'm typing as fast as I can to finish this so I can get back to that.

While eventually I'll probably return to and read more of the 10 Sleuthing Women mysteries, for now my plan is to plow through Judy Alter's Kelly O'Connell series (I peeked ahead to some of the book descriptions and I like what I saw). You, on the other hand, might prefer to read all 10 Sleuthing Women books and then choose one of the authors (or several) to further explore. Because surely, if you like cozy mysteries starring smart, female, amateur sleuths, you'll find a few series' starters among these 10 that you'll want to read.

For less than a buck.

~Susan Deppner
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(Note: Prices are subject to change without notice.)

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Prepare for Surgery with Incision Decisions: A Book Review

Getting Ready for Surgery Can Be Traumatic

Very few people really want surgery, and most would do anything possible to avoid it. Sometimes, though, it simply has to be done. It may save your life during a health emergency or it may simply help you continue to be more comfortable or independent.

Get Ready for Surgery with Incision Decisions: A Book Review
Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

I've had six surgeries as an adult -- four in a hospital and two in a surgery center where I could go home the same day. I wish I'd known about Kaye Newton's book, Incision Decisions: A Guide to Getting Through Surgery, Recovery, and Your Hospital Stay before having my surgeries. Since we can't always predict when emergencies that may require surgery will happen, it would be smart for every family to have a copy of this book on hand to take to the hospital in case there is an unpredictable surgery. 

What To Do Before Surgery

Medical Preparation for Your Surgery

This section of Incision Decisions explains how to pick the right surgeon and hospital. Getting ready to meet your surgeon for the first time might cause some anxiety. Kaye answers all the questions you may have about this meeting and more. She helps you get ready for your initial consultation with the surgeon and suggests questions to ask.  She also suggests tactful ways to get a second opinion. The book includes a guide near the end to help you understand the medical jargon your surgeon and the medical personnel at the hospital may use so that you won't be confused by their explanations.

In the chapter on choosing a hospital, Kaye explains how to pick the best hospital your insurance plan will cover. She answers questions about outpatient versus inpatient surgery, surgery that requires travel, and the best times to schedule surgery. 

Organizing Help and Information before Surgery

This section answers more questions than I would even have thought to ask. The author stresses the importance of having an advocate with you in the hospital and what to do if you don't have one. She also covers what your advocate needs to know and do. 

The book will help you determine how much help you will need and provides a Six-Week Recovery Coverage Checklist to help you plan. There is also a blank copy at the back for you to use in your own planning. This checklist ensures you won't forget some of the helping tasks you may not have thought of. It suggests you appoint someone to organize those who have asked what they can do to help, lists websites for organizing meals and rides, and explains how to get through your surgery on your own without helpers if you must. 

Incision Decisions Helps You Get Organized before You Go to the Hospital

Before going to the hospital, you will need to organize all the information and paperwork required for admission. This book explains how to set up a central repository for all your medical information. It also explains how to create your personal health record. 

You will, of course, need to figure out how to pay for the surgery. This usually means meeting with a hospital financial counselor before admittance, as well as finding out beforehand just what your insurance will cover. If you don't have insurance, your hospital may have a financial counselor available to help you explore payment options. The book even explains how to raise money with crowdfunding.  

Physical and Mental Preparation for Surgery

Most people are a bit scared before surgery. This section of the book answers questions about anesthesia, pain, scars, and even all those needles you will encounter. Here you will find information to help you deal with your anxieties. Even with that information, many may still be anxious. To deal with this, the author suggests people pray, meditate, or even just keep busy enough to distract themselves. Following the helpful suggestions in this book will keep patients very busy getting ready for a hospital stay.  

Are you worried about how to explain your surgery to your children? The book will help you reassure them about what will happen at the hospital and who will care for them when you are gone. You can also let them know how they can help when you are away and when you come back home. 

Newton offers suggestions on how to prepare for time off work and get yourself into better physical shape before your surgery. You may need to stop smoking. You will also probably need to refrain from taking some of your medications and supplements a short time before your surgery. Do you need dental work? Get it done before the surgery if possible. The book will help you implement these suggestions. 

If you have chronic health conditions, you may need to make extra preparations. Do you have sleep apnea? If you snore loudly, you may have it, and you should find out before your surgery to see if you need to take additional measures before your surgery. 

Most people will have to rest for hours, days, or weeks after surgery as their bodies heal. This section of the book explains what doctors mean by"rest," and how to do it. The author also discusses what to wear and what not to wear after surgery and how to get a handicapped placard if you need it. 

Preparing Your Home for Recovery Time

After you come home from the hospital, you will probably have to ease back into your normal routines gradually and you may not be able to reach or lift as much as you could before you left.  That means you may need to rearrange your kitchen. You also may have to set aside and prepare a certain room for your recovery. I had to do that after my foot surgery since I was supposed to keep my foot elevated at all times. 

I chose my recliner in the family room as my recovery place. I put a portable table beside it to my left with everything I would need to work on my laptop, eat my meals, read, etc. I put a surge-protected power cord near my chair and bought a Kindle Paperwhite so I'd never run out of things to read. 

The end table on my right held food and drink. I also bought a lap desk for my laptop computer and a ventilated laptop stand for it as an extra precaution. That enabled me to keep writing from my chair. I spent 90% of my recovery time while awake eating, reading, or working on my laptop, so my purchases and preparations made it possible for me to keep everything I needed beside me most of the time. 

Kaye Newton explains how to organize your bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and laundry areas so that you will be able to easily reach everything you need after you return home to recover. She recommends getting a reacher-grabber like this Handi-Reacher, which I reviewed here.  We bought one before my husband's hip replacement surgery and I found it useful after my surgeries, too. Both of us still use it daily. In fact, we bought several more to keep handy throughout the house. My husband even keeps one in the car. 

When you return home you will also still need to eat. Friends may bring you meals at first, but after those meals stop coming you will need to have meals you can fix easily, especially if you live alone. Newton provides a suggested shopping list to help meet this need. She also lists activities you may enjoy during your recovery period to keep you from getting bored.  

To the Hospital and Home Again

Hospital stays need some preparation. Incision Decisions prepares you for just about anything you may encounter at the hospital -- preadmission procedures, donating blood to yourself, packing for your visit, and more. These are among the many questions Newton answers about your hospital stay:

  • What if I get sick just before I'm to go to the hospital?
  • How can I reduce the chance of medical errors?
  • How can I avoid getting an infection at the hospital?
  • How do I manage to get enough sleep in the hospital? 
  • How do I manage visitors? 
  • What can I expect hospital routines to be like?

The remaining chapters of the book deal with what you can expect to happen during your hospital stay and how to deal with any issues you may have at the hospital. They also cover the problems you may face once you get home to recover.

The last section deals with how to ease back into your normal life. That includes driving, sex after surgery, figuring out your medical bills, and cooking again. 

My Recommendation
After reading this book, I can't think of one issue a surgical patient might have to face it did not address. It's a book to use for reference before your surgery, while you are at the hospital, and after you come home. I recommend it to all families who have a family member about to have a surgical procedure. I don't think you could find any book so thorough. It even offers suggestions on how to remind your medical professionals to wash their hands before touching you. I've often thought about how awkward that might be. 

I'm glad I have a copy now, since either my husband or I may need another surgery sooner than we'd like. Why not get yourself a copy now? You never know how soon you will need it. I suggest you get the paper edition so you can easily flip back and forth to the sections you need. I would not want to go to the hospital without it. 

Prepare for Surgery with Incision Decisions: A Book Review by Barb Radisavljeivc

Disclaimer: The author gave me a free copy of this book for review purposes, but this review is still my honest opinion about the book. If I owned a general bookstore I would definitely stock it and recommend it to customers facing surgery. I'm quite sure if they actually saw it, they would buy it. It's that useful. The copyright date is 2017, so its information is up-to-date.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Prepare Your Family For Survival: A Book Review

Is your family prepared for a disaster or an emergency? If you aren't sure, don't miss Prepare Your Family for Survival. Here's a book review.

Recently I've been reading about and giving a lot of thought to emergency preparedness. Survival. Planning in case of a natural disaster or man-made emergency.

As a wife and mom, the person in the household who plans daily meals and re-stocks the pantry once or twice a week, how would I feed and otherwise care for my family if I couldn't get out to buy food?

What if the power went out and the blackout lasted for several days or even weeks. How would we cook? Would we have enough water to drink? To use in cooking? To wash with or flush the toilet?

I've asked myself, "Is our family prepared for an emergency situation?"

Is yours?

Meet Author Linda Loosli

As I sought out answers, I came across a helpful book called Prepare Your Family for Survival, written by Linda Loosli, founder of Food Storage Moms. Linda has been schooling herself (and others) for decades and she knows the topic of emergency preparation inside and out.

Linda first became interested in preparedness when she was a teenager and thrust into a situation that included a serious snowstorm, an empty pantry, and several mouths to feed. Due to extenuating circumstances, she and a cousin were put in a position of having to find food for the family. Quite a task at age 16. And, really, at any age!

Linda vowed to herself after the snowstorm disaster that when she grew up and had a family, she would see to it that they were always prepared to face an emergency, that she would always have enough food and other supplies stored, just in case. After she was married, she put her thoughts into action. She began with a garden, advanced to canning food, then eventually began reaching out to neighbors and church friends, teaching classes to help other women learn how to prepare their families, too.

Prepare Your Family For Survival by Linda Loosli, Book Review from ReviewThisReviews
Prepare Your Family For Survival
Click the book cover for a peek inside.

This is Not a Doomsday Book

Often when people think of preparing for survival, the term "doomsday" finds its way into the conversation. Linda doesn't use fear to motivate. Having lived through emergencies, she knows very well what we all should know: power outages and other unexpected scenarios can and do occur with little or no warning, anytime, anywhere. And it's up to each family to prepare. While her practical methods and advice speak mainly to women, the steps to becoming prepared to survive apply to the entire family.

What You'll Learn From The Book

Most of Prepare Your Family For Survival addresses how to prepare to brave an emergency at home, though there also is a very helpful section on "bugging out," deciding when it's best to leave your home and what to take when you do. Linda has done the math for her readers, providing lists, charts, and check-off sheets based on family size. She even includes sections on the special needs that young children and pets present.

I like that the author makes it clear that water is first and foremost when it comes to what individuals need to survive. She also writes about storing food and how to choose which food to store, emergency cooking situations, what to do when the power is out, family first aid and medical preparedness, personal hygiene, and laundry. Her advice is concise and helpful even to the point of recommending particular products that work. And since Linda has tested literally just about every survival product ever invented, she definitely knows what works and what doesn't.

Who Needs This Book

The book addresses the basics of preparedness and survival, but even those with prior experience in the field may learn a thing or two. If you're a beginner and need to finally get started storing survival essentials, this is a perfect book for you.

To me, the introduction of the book is worth its price for the peace of mind that it offers. Understanding that it's important to treat preparedness as part of a lifestyle takes the "scary and overwhelming" out of the topic. And, let's face it, many of us only think about how prepared we really are when the tornado sirens start or the first forecast of just where the next hurricane might make landfall appears on the nightly news.

Despite my well-known affinity for ebooks and my beloved Kindle, I bought this book in the paperback version. There are lots of charts and lists inside and I've been flipping back and forth through the chapters since I got my copy. In this case paper is convenient and besides, charging your tablet might not be a big priority when the power's been out for days.

Make your choice (paper or ebook) at this link. Then please come back and leave a comment to let me and other readers know what you learned from the book that you didn't already know, and how the book helped motivate you to Prepare Your Family For Survival.

~Susan Deppner
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Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Review of Before, Afdre, and After: Memoir of a Stroke Survivor

Just Imagine if This Were You

You are 33 years old, healthy, and in the prime of life. You have a great job in an advertising agency as a copywriter. One day at work you have a massive stroke and nothing is ever the same again. That's what happened to Maureen Twomey. It's a miracle she survived her stroke and recovered enough to write Before, Afdre, and After (My Stroke...oh what fun). Maureen's story is one of courage, the support of friends and family, and dedicated doctors and therapists. It's a must-read for anyone who knows someone or is caring for someone who is recovering from a stroke. 

Review of Before, Afdre, and After: Memoir of a Stroke Survivor
Image Courtesy of Pixabay, edited on

Maureen's Miracle Story -  Before

The book opens as Maureen shows us her life before the stroke. She was born and grew up in California, graduated from UCLA as I did (but much later) and got some great jobs in advertising. At the time of her stroke, she was working in the Bay Area. She had oodles of friends and an active social life. She was taking a class in improvision, which she loved. She was known for her sense of humor. The stroke could not kill that in her. 

Maureen was at work the day she had her stroke, June 6, 2000. The first symptoms manifested while she had taken time away for an appointment with a dermatologist who saw her after 2 PM. She started to feel funny. Her right eye was flashing, but a few seconds later she felt better and walked back to work. It was there her coworker Amy found her crying in the hallway outside her office because she is anxious about her symptoms. The flashing lights in her eye are back and there is some tingling in one side of her body. She has a slight headache. But when she talks to her doctor and tells him she's not in pain, he just said to call back if the symptoms get worse. She starts to work again. It is now 3 PM.

At 4:20 she is still at work and her symptoms get worse and more resemble classic stroke symptoms. She had decided to skip her improvisation class that night and was typing an email to explain her absence. Suddenly the words made no sense to her. Then she fell on the floor. Amy heard her fall and start crying. Symptoms are full-blown. Amy calls the doctor back to get an appointment for Maureen and the doctor told her to call 911. 

At the Hospital - Afdre

When the paramedics arrive to interview Maureen it is 4:50. Maureen can express herself with some difficulty. Although the paramedics take her to the emergency room at California Pacific Hospital, they don't think this is an emergency that merits lights and the siren. It takes 20 minutes to get to the emergency room. By this time three hours have elapsed since the onset of symptoms. At 6:20 they do a CAT scan. At 7:30 they do a spinal tap. They release her to spend the night with her father and his wife Judy. 

The next morning, June 7, as Maureen tried to eat breakfast, she started feeling strange. Then she couldn't remember anything. Her dad was so alarmed he carried her to the car and drove her straight back to the emergency room. By then Maureen could neither walk nor talk. She finally was diagnosed with a massive stroke, but it was too late to give her the clot-busting drug that can prevent permanent damage. It has to be given in the first hours after onset of symptoms. 

Stroke Survivor Memoirs 

I plan to soon read some of these stories by and about others who have survived strokes. Some contain helpful information on recognizing early symptoms months before the onset of a stroke, as well as advice for stroke prevention. It amazes me how many of these stories were written by people only 33 -- like Maureen. 

Maureen's Miracle Story: After

The rest of the book was written after Maureen recovered enough to use words again. She had to completely rebuild her life and learn again everything she'd ever learned -- how to talk, the alphabet, words, how to read, how to write. Before she recovered any of these abilities, her father sent our regular updates on her progress to her circle of friends and extended family. These emails are part of the book, as are illustrations of some of Maureen's first attempts to write during her recovery.

Although Maureen's recovery was much longer than she expected, she writes with a humorous and optimistic voice that won't accept defeat. As a result of that spirit and a lot of hard work, she accomplished much more than the doctors expected her to. She now is able to live alone again, drive, and write. You can follow Maureen Twomey on Twitter

My Review of Before, Afdre, and After

This book is different than most I read because the author is working under an extreme handicap compared to most. Although her stroke happened 15 years before she was able to write and publish her book, she has not completely recovered the all verbal and motor skills she once had. Her typing speed isn't what it used to be. She still can't always retrieve the words she wants to use from her memory bank. (If you are reading this, Maureen, please feel free to comment and correct anything that may have changed in the past two years.) 

I read the book to see what a stroke looks like to the one who has experienced it. Maureen is good at explaining what it was like for her, day by day. Although much of the book is in her voice, some of it consists of copies of emails sent by her father, coworkers, and friends. She also includes a copy of her resume and a list of resources. 

There are a number of photos and scans of some of the work Maureen did as part of her rehabilitation. She even has scans of some pages she completed from Explode the Code, a popular phonics workbook I used to sell at homeschool conventions. I was thinking how hard it must have been for her to start over learning to read and write with disadvantages healthy children learning the same things don't have. I can't even imagine how difficult that would be.

I'm glad I read the book and I recommend it to others who want a day-by-day look at what life is like for someone recovering from a  massive stroke. Maureen tells her story in a matter-a-fact way with a touch of humor. Since her stroke, she has moved back into an apartment, learned to drive again, participated in a walk for the Heart and Stroke group of the American Heart Association, and finished her book. She still can't run as she used to.

The only thing I didn't like was that I had chosen to buy the ebook so I could start reading right away. On my Kindle Paperwhite the illustrations, especially the scans of Maureen's written work, were too small to see clearly. I suggest you get the paper copy of the book if you don't want to miss anything. In this case, the illustrations are an important part of the book. I am finally able to see them on the Kindle App for my iMac. 

I hope you will show support for Maureen by buying her book and leaving her a review on Amazon so that her book may start showing on the first page of an Amazon search for stroke survivor memoirs. That way more people may be able to find it. Also, why not follow her on Twitter? 

Review of Before, Afdre, and After: Memoir of a Stroke Survivor
Image Courtesy of Pixabay, edited on

Have you ever had a stroke, known someone who survived one, or cared for someone recovering from a stroke? Is your experience similar to Maureen's?


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Thursday, May 18, 2017

When The Grid Goes Down: A Book Review

When the Grid Goes Down by Tony Nester, reviewed by Susan Deppner,
If you consider yourself a "prepper" and have both a plan and supplies to support the plan over the course of a major or long-term disaster, then you don't need to read this book or my review. You're good to go and I thank you for stopping by.

However, if you're among the two-thirds of us who don't have an emergency plan in place and have nothing more than a few extra cans of food, a bag of rice, and a case of bottled water in the pantry, then it's very important that you stop what you're doing, read the book, and start working on a survival plan for your family.

The book to which I refer is called When the Grid Goes Down: Disaster Preparations and Survival Gear for Making Your Home Self-Reliant. Its emphasis is more on developing both a plan and a mindset as you implement your plan than it is on where to buy a good bug-out bag. The latter information you can find anywhere; the former is not discussed in emergency prep books nearly as much as it should be. That's one of the reasons I liked this book so much and recommend it highly to those who tend to get overwhelmed when the subject of emergency preparedness is discussed. (What, you haven't started building your passive solar straw bale house yet??)

Author Tony Nester is a survival expert and teacher with an impressive resume, well-respected in the survival training community. He also has a good writing style and presents this important information in a way that makes sense rather than trying to scare us into buying the latest gadget, gizmo, or fad on the prepper market.

In his book the author discusses in depth six key survival priorities then encourages us to tackle those basics in a "layering" method (for example, start with your case of bottled water, then add water jugs, later add a rain barrel, and eventually learn how to purify water from surrounding ponds or springs). This method will enable our families to survive short-term first, then long-term as our plans and prep levels progress. He convincingly encourages readers to take action, step by step, to bring their plan into a workable reality. No reason to get overwhelmed if you follow this advice.

Who will take care of your family when a disaster strikes? Photo: Evacuating Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, from FEMA/Jacinta Quesada, In the public domain.
Who will take care of your family
after a disaster?
Photo: FEMA/Jacinta Quesada
In the Public Domain
Being prepared means something different for everyone, depending on where they live, size and makeup of their family, geographic and weather considerations where they live and work, and even income, but there are important overlaps. No matter whether you're more likely to deal with the aftermath of a hurricane than a tornado, the six priorities you'll learn from Tony apply to everyone. That's why I believe every beginning to intermediate "prepper" can benefit from the information in this book. And if you're in the very beginning states of planning and prepping, that especially means you.

Whether the cause is a cyber-attack, a natural disaster, a nuclear attack, or something somewhere in between, chances become greater every day that you will be called upon by circumstances to take care of yourself and your family during a major service and power outage. Such an episode could be lengthy and certainly could alter your life in a major way, starting within hours of the event, when you least expect it. This excellent book will help you prepare.

When The Grid Goes Down by Tony Nester is available in both paperback and e-book format for your Kindle or other reading device. The book has received 4.3 stars from over 225 reviewers and is a bestseller in multiple categories on

~ Susan
Read more of my reviews.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Read Tweep-e-licious to Help Increase Your Engagement on Twitter: A Book Review

Do You Wish You Had More Engagement with Your Twitter Tweets?

So was I. That's why I decided to buy Tweep-e-licious by marketing expert Lynn Serafinn. She believes in ethical marketing and is also the author of bestselling book The 7 Graces of Marketing. I bought Tweep-e-licious because I wanted to increase engagement with my followers and to get more followers targeted to my accounts. I was also looking for help in using Twitter more effectively to market my blogs and Zazzle products. I knew what I was doing wasn't working.

Increase Your Engagement on Twitter with Tweep-e-licious: A Book Review

My Twitter Accounts and How They Grew

If you are new to Twitter or haven't paid much attention to your account, you may find it hard to get the followers you want. I also had that problem -- especially when I was getting started. I didn't just want followers -- I wanted the right followers who would enjoy my content. How I wish I'd had Tweep-e-licious back then! What a difference it would have made. I gradually learned some of what the book covered on my own, but the going was slow, by trial and error. Lynn's book would have helped me get off to a much faster and better start.

I now manage three Twitter accounts I started in different years. As of three days ago in the morning, @barbsbooks had 2457 followers. I opened that account for my book business in March 2009. That averages out to about 308 new followers a year. Of course, the first 200 followers are the hardest to get, since it takes time to build more credibility. This account targets readers, writers, educators, and bloggers.

I opened @Gale427 in March 2012. I had reluctantly become somewhat of a political activist by then. I didn't want to mix politics and business -- especially since most of my target audience on my first account did not have similar thoughts on politics. I wanted to separate these topics so as not to alienate customers for no good reason. This account had 1074 followers three days ago and I follow 814. The account targets those with similar religious and political views, photographers, gardeners, affiliate marketers, bloggers, and those who like to read.

By 2013 I was starting to be more involved in my local community. I had started a blog completely about my local area and I wanted to target people who lived in California, who were not necessarily writers or bloggers, and who liked to share photos of their travels and Zazzle products.  I opened the @barbsloco account in November 2013. It was very slow to take off, compared to the others. I had 388 followers three days ago and I follow 304.

It took forever to get to 100. Perhaps that's because it was also harder to pinpoint my target audience. I knew I wanted followers as close to my local area as possible, but also anyone interested in traveling to the area. What I discovered is that the people following me tended to be either businesses in my area or travel bloggers and photographers from far away. Lynn's wonderful book of tips is answering all the questions I had about how to find my ideal followers and how to engage them. I also learned which content my current followers like to see and I'm trying to keep providing it. It's possible I was targeting the wrong audience.

Increase Your Engagement on Twitter with Tweep-e-licious: A Book Review

How Will Tweep-e-licious Help Me Grow My Account?

Here's what the book will help you learn to do:

  1. Master the basics. Even if you've had your account for a long time, you may have missed some of the basics of using Twitter you thought you knew or had been misinformed about. Lynn takes you through choosing the right ID and setting up or editing to create an engaging profile. Using her advice, I just edited the profiles of all three of my accounts. I found I wasn't making the best use of that very important space. 
  2. Manage followers effectively. Learn who to follow, how to follow, who not to follow, and who to unfollow. I had my own ideas on how to do this and most of what I've been doing after a lot of trial and error in the first years is pretty close to what Lynn teaches, except I don't yet use any automation to find followers. 
  3. Make the best use of Twitter lists to their best advantage. I already had lots of lists in my accounts, but I still got some great tips on how to make better use of them. I just finished the book, so I haven't had time to fully implement the tips. I have started a private VIP list for each account. I never would have thought of that. Most of my lists are based on a profession, a topic, or a location. 
  4. Create content that will attract and engage followers. Some of this I knew, but there were still a lot of useful tips I hadn't thought of. Learn what not to tweet. Many Tweeps make tweets every day that annoy people and it's one reason I didn't follow them or I later unfollow them. 
  5. Determine how often to tweet. People often disagree on this issue, but if you don't tweet often enough, no one will see you. How much is too much? Lynn helps you decide.
  6. How to repeat tweets often without annoying followers. I found this section very useful. Most of us have a number of evergreen tweets we want to keep active. There is a better way to do it than most people, including me, have used. 
  7. Make and use effective hashtags. I try to make effective use of hashtags, but Lynn offered even more tips I can try. 
  8. Determine when and how to use automation and applications. Lynn did explain at the beginning that because technology and Twitter rules change so often, some of her book, last updated at the beginning of 2014, might be obsolete. Most of her tips are still good, but when reading this section I discovered some of it was out of date. ---- You might as well skip the sections on Tweet Adder because it's gone. I could no longer find a free version of Gremln. Lynn suggested for targeting followers by location, but I found out when I got there that you need the most expensive version to use that function.  I'm still using Buffer, Hootsuite, and Tweetdeck, so they are still good, but they have also evolved since the book was updated. 
  9. Build relationships and not get overwhelmed by them. This group of tips is important. It's easy to get overwhelmed while using the tips to build relationships -- especially if you are also implementing suggestions on using lists and finding the right followers. Lynn suggests ways to avoid getting overwhelmed. 
  10. Use Twitter ethically to market products and expand your influence. Many of these tips are for bigger fish than I am, but I found some tips on marketing and monetization I can use. If you are planning a virtual blog tour, have joint venture partners, want to run a contest, get a media interview, or do some crowd funding, you will find help here. Lynn also discusses another topic many wonder about  -- whether and when to set up multiple Twitter accounts. 

The summary above barely scratches the surface of what the 158 tips in this book cover. Don't start a new Twitter account without Tweep-e-licious! It's still helpful even if you've had an account for years.

My Recommendation

I was feeling invisible on Twitter. Do you ever feel that way? There were occasional likes and retweets, but few clicks or replies. If you are frustrated on Twitter because you don't have enough of the right followers and/or it seems no one is engaging with your content, you need this book. 

I finished Tweep-e-licious just a few days ago and started using the tips right away. Already I see my engagement increasing. I have more new followers than usual on my two oldest accounts. Since I changed my profile and cleared a lot of inactive followers,  the smallest and newest account lost one today. Many people use automation to unfollow anyone who unfollows them. I don't mind since a follower who won't be interested in your content won't be engaging with you anyway. 

The only downside to the book is that some of it has become obsolete, as Lynn predicted it would. I suggest you check out apps you aren't familiar with before reading her tips on how to use them, in case they have disappeared.

I ordered this book in paper. I recommend you do the same since it's much easier to flip back and forth to the tips you want to read again if you have actual pages. 

The Table of Contents lists all the tips in order. They are organized so that related tips are together. This makes the book very easy to use. If you want to be all you can be on Twitter, increase your following and engagement, and learn to run effective marketing campaigns, Tweep-e-licious is the "textbook" you need. It is so practical you can start applying the tips immediately as you read them. Get the book today. 

Increase Your Engagement on Twitter with Tweep-e-licious: A Book Review
Image Courtesy of Pixabay
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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Reviewing the Detective Jack Stratton Mystery Series

7 reasons I recommend the Detective Jack Stratton series by Christopher Greyson. A mystery-suspense-romance series review.

Before I came across the best-selling Jack Stratton mystery series, if you would have told me that a series exists that consists of killer plots, characters that I'd care about, murder and mystery, action and adventure, all while maintaining a moral high ground (i.e. a "clean" read), I'd say you must be dreaming. Of course I'd love that combination, but what writer could possibly pull it off?

Author Christopher Greyson did.

In fact, the author pulled off the combination in stellar fashion with the Detective Jack Stratton Mystery series. I've read all six of the current books and look forward to the seventh which is coming soon.

7 Reasons I Recommend the Jack Stratton Series by Christopher Greyson

If you're a reader but are not yet sure that the books will appeal to you, let me explain further why I believe they should be on your "must read" list. Here's my review including the top seven attributes that I appreciate about the Detective Jack Stratton mysteries and why I highly recommend this series to fans of mystery, suspense and, yes, even romance. (Looking for spoilers? You won't find them here.)

1. I care about the characters. I love series books and the key to holding my interest throughout any series is the characters. It took very few chapters of the first book for me to know that I'd be reading the entire series beginning to end. That early assessment definitely proved to be true and now I can hardly wait for the next installment to learn exactly what Jack and Alice have been up to and what comes next.

2. The story lines hold me captive and keep me reading into the night. Gotta love a book that's hard to put down.

3. The military and police connections. I can relate to both as law enforcement and military experience play a major role in my own family. Plus, Jack is around the age of my own sons, so my maternal instincts didn't take long to kick in, even in the first book.

4. Continuity through the series, yet each book stands alone. Read the books in any order that you wish, though if you prefer good chronological order start by reading the most recently published book (And Then She Was Gone) first. Referring to this book as a "prequel" would be accurate and though I read this one first, in some ways I wish I would have saved it for last. I'm currently considering re-reading it while I'm waiting for book seven in the series. (Who says you can't have it both ways?)

5. I like the action scenes. There is plenty of action throughout these books and the author does not spare the details. In fact, many of the fight scenes are described move by move. Frankly, I'm surprised that I liked the descriptive detail, but I did. It didn't bog me down as I read and it offered a clear perspective on the situations and scenes that followed.

6. The venues vary greatly by book. Although most of the stories center around Jack's hometown, you'll find action occurring in Aunt Haddie's foster home, in the dark recesses of a city park, in the bowels of a sophisticated college data and research center, among conflicting crime families crawling with assassins and hit men, in a wealthy jet-setter tycoon's amazing mansion, and even across the battlefields of Iraq.

7. The moral high ground. I prefer "clean" books that avoid profanity and sexual scenes that make me want to look away (or close the book forever). At first I wasn't sure that would be possible with this series, given the murder plots, the seriously-bad bad guys, and the police involvement and military flashback scenes. Let's face it, those topics in real life are usually accompanied by bad language and, in books and movies at least, scenes that involve descriptive sexual exploits. Not so in the Jack Stratton series and I thank the author for that and for the sweet romance that grows with the characters.

Did I mention I can hardly wait for book seven to be released? It's called Jack of Hearts. Watch for pre-order information or choose which book (Kindle or paperback edition) you want to read first from author Christopher Greyson's Amazon page.

If you've read books from the Detective Jack Stratton series, I'd love to read your impressions in a comment below.

Read more of my reviews.

Reviewing the Detective Jack Stratton Mystery Series by Christopher Greyson
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Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.