E.R. Nurses: Walk My Rounds with Me by James Patterson, Matt Eversmann, and Chris Mooney

Hello, my lovely peeps🐥!
I skipped last Thursday’s review as I had a major appointment/meeting over in midtown and had spent the previous night (most of the week, actually) preparing for it. But hey, none of that this week, so here we are! Back again with a Thursday review and today, I’m featuring another Grand Central Publishing book, E.R. Nurses: Walk My Rounds with Me: True Stories from America’s Greatest Unsung Heroes by James Patterson, Matt Eversmann, and Chris Mooney!

Book Title: E.R. Nurses: Walk My Rounds with Me: True Stories from America’s Greatest Unsung Heroes
Author: James Patterson, Matt Eversmann, and Chris Mooney
Length: 292 Pages
Publication Date: 6 Sept 2022
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Edition: Paperback
Genres: Nonfiction, Medicine, Biography, Autobiography, Science, Short Stories

Goodreads: >LINK<
Amazon: >LINK<
Grand Central Publishing: >LINK<

Disclaimer: Thank you to Grand Central Publishing for this gifted copy! All opinions are of my own.

They save our lives every day, and we’ve never heard their stories.  The life-or-death intensity of working on the front lines, from America’s greatest unsung heroes.

“The compassion, the work ethic, and the selflessness of nurses … are given the respect they deserve and captured beautifully here.”
–Sanjay Gupta, MD, neurosurgeon and chief medical correspondent, CNN

“James Patterson’s account of the twilight world between life and death that nurses inhabit is one of the most moving things I have ever read.”
–Sebastian Junger, author of Freedom and The Perfect Storm 

Around the clock, across the country, these highly skilled and compassionate men and women sacrifice and struggle for us and our families. 

You have never heard their true stories. Not like this. From big-city and small-town hospitals. From behind the scenes. From the heart.  

This book will make you laugh, make you cry, make you understand. 

When we’re at our worst, E.R. nurses are at their best.

A tribute to those who fight on the front lines of the E.R., this was a lovely read that I thoroughly enjoyed. It’s formatted in a way that reminds me of the old Chicken Soup for the Soul books where you have true short stories taken as snippets from the lives of ordinary people, aiming to inspire you in some way or show you life through someone else’s eyes for a burst of a moment. These snippets are very short and some are only a mere two pages long, while others are only a little more. I always feel like short stories, especially micro-stories, are too short for my taste, but not here. Each are pieces that are just enough. Here, in Walk My Rounds With Me, we are seeing through the eyes of E.R. Nurses.

This book is separated into four different sections: Day Shift, Night Shift, Flight Shift, and a Thank You section in the end. Instead of chapters separating the book up, the names of nurses are there instead. Every chapter starts off with a short introduction paragraph and background of a nurse following by a story/moments they recounted during their day, night, or flight shifts and how it’s always something they’ll remember or how it’s changed them since experiencing it.

Many of these stories are powerful pieces, and there are some stories that I didn’t expect at all. Nurses are heroes that often go unappreciated, and this book is a way for the authors to show a glimpse of the work they do to the world.

There are many very interesting moments and stories throughout this book. There are some that brings me to tears, in laughter and saddness. There are plenty of life lessons that lies in these pages that I know I will carry with me. Some of the moments that I will always remember: just how hard nurses advocate for their patients, breaking hospital policies to give their patients one final humane moment, how nurses must put on a strong face to deal with an angry person who “has been waiting for a long time” after coming right out of a room for a child that has just passed, how important it is to be allowed to express your emotions and sorrows, the countless miracles next to small incidents that could take away lives (a small bump to the head), and how there’s nothing that’s totally predictable.

I used to really enjoy the Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and for all the short stories I’ve read recently, this one especially touched a nostalgic part of me. The stories are simple but profound, the writing is done well, and I’ve gained a great deal of respect for nurses of all sorts. They put so much work into getting nursing degrees and come out to deal with some of the most awful things and nasty people. They sit with us through some of the worst days of our lives. They bring small joys to us when it feels like there are none left. Truly a wonderful collection of admirable people and stories that I loved.

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Book Review: Glittering a Turd by Kris Hallenga

Book Title: Glittering a Turd: How surviving the unsurvivable taught me to live
Series: [Standalone]
Author: Kris Hallenga
Length: 7 hours & 8 minutes
Publication Date: August 19, 2022
Publisher: W. F. Howes Ltd
Genres: Audiobook, Nonfiction, Nonfiction > Memoir, Medicine, Family

Goodreads: >LINK<
Amazon: >LINK<

Disclaimer: A big thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley. An ebook copy was provided to me in exchange for a fair and honest review. This does not affect my review in any way and all opinions are my own.

Kris was living a totally normal life as a twenty-three-year-old: travelling the world, falling in love, making plans.

However, when she found a lump in her boob and was told that it was not only cancer, but also incurable, life took on a completely new meaning. She was diagnosed at an age when life wasn’t something to be grateful for, but a goddamn right.

Little did Kris know it was cancer that would lead her to a life she had never considered: a happy one. From founding a charity to visiting Downing Street, campaigning at festivals to appearing on TV, and being present at the birth of her nephew; in the face of all the possible prognoses, Kris is surviving, thriving, and resolutely living.

Glittering a Turd is more than just another cancer memoir; it’s a handbook for living life to the fullest, shining a new perspective on survival and learning to glitter your own tu*d, whatever it might be. Kris has survived the unsurvivable for twelve years. Here, she begins to discover why.

This was a wonderful and informative book with all the right levels of humor in it. I surely did give my girls a little feel up after the first few chapters. The writing was nice, things always moved along easily and smoothly, and it was easy to understand. One thing stood out the most, and not just because it was important, but rather the memories it brought up for me. Too often, people go to the doctor for concerns, only to be met with a hefty bill and “It’s just anxiety.” This is a huge killer, causing minor symptoms to progress into something far more serious and deadly.

Kris shows us her cancer journey from the day she was diagnosed, over a decade ago, and how life has changed for her since then. She’s started a charity called CoppaFeel!, aiming to educate and spread awareness about breast cancer, such as knowing the signs that could save your life and reminding you to check your breasts often. She’s appeared on television, was able to live a thriving life, being there with her sister at her nephew’s birth, and even started a food truck business with her twin sister, Meron.

Beautifully written, Kris spoke to us in a way that was like as if she were a friend updating us on her condition, a mix of humor and seriousness that taught me many different lessons from making sure to check your boobs often to speaking up for yourself when you want a second opinion. She doesn’t mince words and is honest and open about her life and journey with us. The highs and lows, the joy, laughter, and tears, they’re all there and I felt every emotion. This was an incredibly inspirational read that I would recommend to anyone.

Book Review: Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat by David Dosa

It’s Thursday again!
Happy Almost-Friday, my lovely peeps🐥!
It’s time for this week’s book review and today, we’re featuring a nonfiction book about a very special cat named Oscar!

The cat has too much spirit to have no heart.
– Ernest Menaul

Book Description

Title: Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat
Author: David Dosa
Edition: Ebook > Kindle (Libby)
Length: ~240 Pages
Genre/s: Nonfiction, Animals > Cats, Memoir, Biography, Medical
Rating: 4.5 Golden Eggs

Blurb (Goodreads)

A remarkable cat. A special gift. A life-changing journey.

They thought he was just a cat. When Oscar arrived at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Rhode Island he was a cute little guy with attitude. He loved to stretch out in a puddle of sunlight and chase his tail until he was dizzy. Occasionally he consented to a scratch behind the ears, but only when it suited him. In other words, he was a typical cat. Or so it seemed. It wasn’t long before Oscar had created something of a stir. Apparently, this ordinary cat possesses an extraordinary gift: he knows instinctively when the end of life is near. Oscar is a welcome distraction for the residents of Steere House, many of whom are living with Alzheimer’s. But he never spends much time with them — until they are in their last hours. Then, as if this were his job, Oscar strides purposely into a patient’s room, curls up on the bed, and begins his vigil. Oscar provides comfort and companionship when people need him most. And his presence lets caregivers and loved ones know that it’s time to say good-bye. Oscar’s gift is a tender mercy. He teaches by example: embracing moments of life that so many of us shy away from. Making Rounds with Oscar is the story of an unusual cat, the patients he serves, their caregivers, and of one doctor who learned how to listen. Heartfelt, inspiring, and full of humor and pathos, this book allows readers to take a walk into a world rarely seen from the outside, a world we often misunderstand.

Review

Just as with Being Mortal by Atul Gawande (another nonfiction that talks about the elderly and quality of care of residents and patients in their twilight years), this was also prompted because of a passing video I’d seen a good handful of years ago. I actually saw a clip about Oscar a while back, but only recently did it resurface when I let the autoplay pick my next Youtube video when the current one finished and I was too busy to look for another video. I sat there listening and thinking, “Oh hey! I remember Oscar from a few years ago! He was a special little kitty!” and then remembered that there was a book about him too. A trip over to the Libby app and I was set for the waiting room of an appointment the next day.

Oscar is a very special cat with the remarkable ability to know when someone is moments from taking their last breath. Shy and timid, generally Oscar does not hang around with patients and prefers to hide during the day, but when someone in the nursing home, The Steere House, is dying, Oscar will magically appear at their side, taking vigil, and not leaving until the coroners come to remove them. Told from the perspective of Dr. David Dosa, who at first does not believe the staff’s (and residents/family members’) tales about Oscar’s ability to sense death, he begins his own research about this extraordinary cat with a special gift. This book is a way to recount the various interviews he’d done with past residents’ family members and during their talks about Oscar, they would often discuss about the family/families that have lived in The Steere House, about Alzheimers, and how it affected the family just as much, if not more, than even the patients themselves.

Though much of Dr. Dosa’s interviews and research stemmed from trying to find a scientific reason behind why Oscar does what he does, he’s equally as curious about how just how many loved ones recalled that: yes, during their parent’s/partner’s final days, and especially the very last hours, Oscar was always present, if he could make it into the room. The Steere house may have multiple floors and several other felines (and birds/rabbits), but none would show up the same way as Oscar did.

In most, if not all of the cases (with whom Dr. Dosa interviewed), Oscar would be there and if he wasn’t, it was because he was already with another patient who was dying. The most fascinating cases had been Oscar clawing at walls if he wasn’t let into a patient’s room or, during a moment where two residents passed around the same time and Oscar couldn’t be with both at once, he had made sure to stay with one before sprinting across the nursing home to be with the other as soon as he could. Another had been when a resident had been taken away to the hospital, across the street, during his last days and eventually passing away from Steere with Oscar staring out the window.

Through the interviews and meetups with family members, while the main topic was Oscar, I also learned a lot about Alzheimer’s, such as that there are multiple forms of dementia, the stages of the disease, and how devastating the diagnosis is for families, especially caregivers who watch their loved ones slowly slip away. It’s heartbreaking to read and through these talks and interviews, Dr. Dosa also gains some insight into the disease, personal experiences from patients and their family members to help him be a better doctor to future patients and residents of The Steere House.

“Why can’t you do this anymore? A child could do it.” The difference is that a child is learning. A patient with Alzheimer’s is, as Robin said, “unlearning.”

I picked this book up because I’m a huge cat lover (and animal lover in general) but came out of it having learned a lot. From the families’, I took out many lessons including being there for the patients, being present, when to let go, to count the everyday victories no matter how little or small they are, and to cherish every day. From Dr. Dosa, who battles his own wars with arthritis, I realize that even the most minor things are taken for granted, like how I am able to type this review with my own fingers without pain or the fact that I have full function of my body for things we may not often think about (ability to bathe, eat, dress ourselves). And, from Oscar, the importance of simply just being there, curled at the foot of someone who needs that small comfort.

It was a quick read for me, though one that left me with a lot of emotions, things to be thankful for, as well as a valuable read of lessons in life as well as knowledge about a disease that I always have known of, but have not truly understood.

Book Review: Ten Tomatoes That Changed The World by William Alexander

Hello, my lovely peeps🐥!
It’s review day and for today, I have something special!

Nonfiction, in itself, is already a genre that I don’t read too often, having only started to really enjoy and crave them in the last few months; mostly sticking to autobiographies, travel, and animal related books like memoirs of someone’s beloved pet. Even amongst nonfiction, and the smaller subgenres I’d mentioned just now, this is a rarity, but I really enjoyed my book and hope that my review reflects the same.

Book Title: Ten Tomatoes that Changed the World: A History
Author: William Alexander
Length: 320 Pages
Published: June 7th, 2022
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genres: Nonfiction, History > Microhistory, Science, Food and Drink, Nature

Disclaimer: Thank you to Grand Central Publishing for this gifted copy! All opinions are of my own.

Goodreads: >LINK<
Grand Central Publishing: >LINK<
Amazon: >LINK<
Author’s Page: >LINK<

New York Times bestselling author William Alexander takes readers on the surprisingly twisty journey of the beloved tomato in this fascinating and erudite microhistory.

The tomato gets no respect. Never has. Lost in the dustbin of history for centuries, accused of being vile and poisonous, subjected to being picked hard-green and gassed, even used as a projectile, the poor tomato has become the avatar for our disaffection with industrial foods — while becoming the most popular vegetable in America (and, in fact, the world). Each summer, tomato festivals crop up across the country; the Heinz ketchup bottle, instantly recognizable, has earned a spot in the Smithsonian; and now the tomato is redefining the very nature of farming, moving from fields into climate-controlled mega-greenhouses the size of New England villages. 

Supported by meticulous research and told in a lively, accessible voice, Ten Tomatoes That Changed the World seamlessly weaves travel, history, humor, and a little adventure (and misadventure) to follow the tomato’s trail through history. A fascinating story complete with heroes, con artists, conquistadors, and—no surprise—the Mafia, this book is a mouth-watering, informative, and entertaining guide to the food that has captured our hearts for generations.

Here’s a little note to summarize my enjoyment of the book: Let’s just say, my mum is mighty happy that I’m done reading this little guy. She’s tired of me opening my mouth just to have the word tomato tumble out. (Listen…I just went through a crazy pasta journey, another of a tomato paste journey, and another about pizza…I have to share it with someone before I explode!)

In Ten Tomatoes That Changed The World: A History by William Alexander, we have ten chapters that revolve around the lovely little fruit/veggie. And yes, there is in fact a little section in there that even goes into explaining why many people consider this (botanically speaking) fruit, a veggie, and it goes all the way up into the Supreme Courts! This comes after a story (though there’s skepticism around it) of an American who stood on the steps of a Salem, New Jersey county courthouse and downed an entire bucket of tomatoes, to the gasping and fainting crowds below, during a time when most people still considered it an unsafe fruit, to prove that not only was the tomato safe to eat, but it was indeed very very delicious! (You, sir, are my hero).

The book starts with where the tomato originated from. A native plant to South America, the Aztecs had already been using it in their cooking and have been cultivating the plant for a long time, until the Spanish conquistador, Hernando Cortés, captured the city of Tenochtitlan, came across the fruit, brought it back to Europe where it was then introduced to Italy and the other European countries. Another section, that follows, includes the etymology of the word tomato as well as a why its scientific name is Solanum lycopersicum. It also begins with how most people in Europe would eye this new fruit as dangerous (for many good reasons) and how it did not begin as an edible plant, but more of a decorative and ornamental one! From there, it really has had quite the journey from people being weary of it to happily putting them on their dinner plate. Oh, how its publicity has changed since then!

Outside a good load of tomato facts, there are other pieces of history that are either crucial because of or to tomatoes that are also present in this book. Sometimes a chapter is revolved completely around it, such as my favorite chapter of the history of Heinz and his rollercoaster of trial and errors with ketchup, how he struggled and worked hard to keep on top of a battle with making sure his ketchup were as preservatives free as possible.

There are also chapters that revolved around machinery for tomato farms, as well as a small history behind canneries. There’s the story of the birth of Campbell’s Tomato soup, another of a soap opera life for an important man, the beginnings of pizza and spaghetti, and even how tomatoes have gone from grandma’s delicious garden tomatoes to the now bland and tasteless versions you may see in your fast food orders.

This book really goes into detail through it all, and not once was I bored. The beginning was interesting, the history of pasta, ketchup, and pizza was interesting, and even the genetics chapters were interesting. You would’ve never caught me paying half as much attention in actual history or science class as I did with this book. William Alexander has a lovely writing voice and I really enjoyed this book. I may never look at a tomato the same way again. It’s just so special and the plant, as a specie, has been through so much experience and changes through history, it’s remarkable, and the book was a fascinating read. I would recommend this book if you enjoy the history of food, love science (botany, agriculture and horticulture especially), and microhistory (a subgenre that I haven’t even heard of until now!).

Book Spotlight: Ten Tomatoes that Changed the World: A History by William Alexander

Happy Tuesday!
Today, my current read, Ten Tomatoes that Changed the World: A History by William Alexander is released!
So in lieu of the usual bookish memes, we’re going to have a spotlight to celebrate, instead.

A thanks to Grand Central Publishing for my copy of this book. My review will be up Thursday, as this week’s review of the week! My mum would be glad that I’m finally done reading it, so she can stop hearing the word Tomato come out my mouth.

Book Title: Ten Tomatoes that Changed the World: A History
Author: William Alexander
Length: 320 Pages
Published: June 7th, 2022
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genres: Nonfiction, History > Microhistory, Science, Food and Drink, Nature

Goodreads: Ten Tomatoes That Changed the World: A History by William Alexander
Grand Central Publishing: Ten Tomatoes That Changed the World: GCP Page
Amazon: Ten Tomatoes That Changed the World: A History Amazon Page
Author’s Page: www.williamalexander.com

The tomato gets no respect. Never has. Lost in the dustbin of history for centuries, accused of being vile and poisonous, subjected to being picked hard-green and gassed, even used as a projectile, the poor tomato has become the avatar for our disaffection with industrial foods — while becoming the most popular vegetable in America (and, in fact, the world). Each summer, tomato festivals crop up across the country; the Heinz ketchup bottle, instantly recognizable, has earned a spot in the Smithsonian; and now the tomato is redefining the very nature of farming, moving from fields into climate-controlled mega-greenhouses the size of New England villages. 

Supported by meticulous research and told in a lively, accessible voice, Ten Tomatoes That Changed the World seamlessly weaves travel, history, humor, and a little adventure (and misadventure) to follow the tomato’s trail through history. A fascinating story complete with heroes, con artists, conquistadors, and—no surprise—the Mafia, this book is a mouth-watering, informative, and entertaining guide to the food that has captured our hearts for generations.

Book Review: A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen

Lately, I’ve come across a lot of nostalgic moments leading me to read certain books. A while back, I’d once again, come across the documentary Being Mortal and eventually, I’d gone to read the book, after a friend had gifted it to me. Similarly, there was another video, a few months later, that randomly popped up again for Oscar, the cat that was always there for the residents of the Steere House nursing home during their last moments and suddenly, I’d found myself reading the book about him. This time, it was the opposite. I’d come across the book first, scrolling around Libby, and had a faint half second image of Bob on someone’s shoulder, flash by my head. A special cat. I knew I needed to read it.

Happy Thursday, my lovely peeps🐥. I hope you enjoy another review about a special little kitty.

Title: A Street Cat Named Bob
Author: James Bowen
Edition: Libby > Audiobook
Length: 6 hours 3 minutes
Genre/s: Nonfiction, Audiobook, Memoir, Biography, Animal > Cats, Contemporary
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

When James Bowen found an injured, ginger street cat curled up in the hallway of his sheltered accommodation, he had no idea just how much his life was about to change. James was living hand to mouth on the streets of London and the last thing he needed was a pet.

Yet James couldn’t resist helping the strikingly intelligent tom cat, whom he quickly christened Bob. He slowly nursed Bob back to health and then sent the cat on his way, imagining he would never see him again. But Bob had other ideas.

Soon the two were inseparable and their diverse, comic and occasionally dangerous adventures would transform both their lives, slowly healing the scars of each other’s troubled pasts.

A Street Cat Named Bob is a moving and uplifting story that will touch the heart of anyone who reads it.

James Bowen’s life isn’t the best. While his childhood wasn’t bad, he was constantly moving and so never felt settled; making friends like that was hard. Now thousands of miles away from home, London rather than back in Australia, he’s working hard in trying to kick his heroin addiction while barely making ends meet. James busks during the day to pay for his necessities. One day, he notices an injured street cat, a ginger tom, curled up in the halls of his sheltered accommodations. Having spent the last of his money for vet bills, James had thought to let this ginger stay with him, just for a little while; a temporary stay so that he had a nice and warm place to curl up while recovering from injuries. When it was time to let the cat back out to the streets, Bob runs off behind some bushes…and pees before coming back to James, his usual outdoors routine as if to say Well? I’m done peeing, let’s get back home now.

A large part of this book was about Bob. They always say, a cat chooses you, not the other way around and this seems to definitely be the case with Bob. One day, he’d follows James to his usual busking work, playing his music in the Covent Gardens. Nothing James does can shoo the cat back to his flat and so, relents, even allowing Bob to ride his shoulders when crossing dangerous places or needing to walk in a hurry, the only thing tethering the cat was a piece of old shoelace. But of course, a cat on someone’s shoulders attracts a lot of attention and immediately, strangers from all over would come over to try and talk to or about the ginger tom on Jame’s shoulders.

This was a wonderful book. Though the focus was on Bob and how he’d saved James in multiple ways, it was an eye-opening book about homelessness and joblessness as well as the hardships of climbing out of such life, support systems and why they’re important, as well as drug addiction and addiction recovery. There’s this feeling of being like a ghost when you’re an addict or homeless, busking in the streets for spare change. Especially in the hustle and bustle of big cities, people pass by you as if you’re a nobody and Bob’s presence and ability to attract strangers to come towards James and his cat really helped James feel real again. That part really made me said, especially when he remarked about how, for so long, he felt unseen and nonhuman and finally he was beginning to be human again.

A big part of his journey to getting clean and sober, away from his addiction, is getting into trouble for illegally busking. If being invisible to the world isn’t enough, try getting attacked by angry people for nearly no reason at all; people harassing you or your cat. It’s a terrible and terrifying way to live so, after a while, James knew that his busking days were at an end. Spare change wasn’t going to get him back on his feet, he needed to get clean and needed a better and more legal job; one where the local cops can’t just run you away. So much of his motivation for change had been for Bob, who’d grown to be like a child to him. It was all, “For Bob.” For Bob’s next meal, for Bob’s safety, for Bob’s future.

Through Bob and this book, you begin to learn a lot about homelessness and drug addictions. You understand why people can’t simply just “Get back on your feet and get a job! a REAL job!” just with the snap of your fingers. It’s harder than that and through Jame’s eyes, you get to, in 280 or so pages, live through his life and see and experience what he does. On some days, getting to that next hit of drugs was all that mattered and to do that, you might resort to things that would put you in trouble with the law. With a decency on drugs, maybe a string of small crimes trailing behind you, suddenly, you won’t be able to just “get a real job” because, as James says, nobody wants to get near you enough to give you a second chance.

But Bob, he’s a special cat and many animals are so much more forgiving and humans are. He loves and has a special bond with James, one that nothing can sever. He’s a cat and if he wanted to leave, he certainly could. But, time and time again, he returns to James, even if separated by running away in a moment’s fear or being shoo’d off to live the life most street cats live. Besides helping James attract more attention, and thus a few more pounds a day when busking, he also provided a reason for James to fight on forward.

All in all, this is a lovely book. You get a cute cat who forms an inseparable bond with his owner, is known across the world to be a ginger kitty who sits on his owner’s shoulders as he walks the streets of London, accompanying James everywhere from his daily busking to his new job. But, you also get a book that shows you a new perspective; one of homelessness and how people treat you like you’re invisible, and drug addictions, how horrible drug withdrawals feel during rehab, and the hardship of trying to turn your life back around once you start to commit yourself to getting clean. An educational and heart-warming read.

Book Review: Cancer, you picked the wrong girl by Shormistha Mukherjee

Happy Thursday, my lovely peeps🐣!
The first half of this week was excruciatingly slow, then Wednesday happened, and suddenly it feels like the rest of the week is quickly running out of time 😱

Book Description

Title: Cancer, you picked the wrong girl
Author: Shormistha Mukherjee
Edition: Libby > Audiobook
Length: 7 Hours 7 Minutes
Genre/s: Nonfiction, Audiobook, Humor, Medicine, Health & Fitness
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫

Blurb (Goodreads)

There’s nothing funny about cancer. But humour can help take away some of its terrible power.
In Cancer, you picked the wrong girl, Shormistha Mukherjee offers a no-holds-barred account of her journey navigating a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. Through getting a Brazilian wax and deliberating the pros and cons of breast reconstruction to finding a “setting” in the chemo ward, it’s laughter that helped keep her fears in check.
It isn’t all “cancer-lite”, though. Mukherjee packs some emotional sucker-punches and hard truths in this book, making it a small piece of comfort for anyone touched by cancer.

Review

I’d recently found that I’ve come to enjoy nonfiction a lot more if they were audiobooks and so, having finished my previous read a couple of days early, I went on a little Libby search to see if there were any books that could keep me company for the weekend. I didn’t read the blurb, but with the pink cover, the title, and the audio sampler Libby provided, I didn’t need to look further.

For Shormistha Mukherjee, life was pretty normal if you didn’t count the fact that her work life was a frenzy. With a strange and rare abundance of time one afternoon, Shormistha decided to finally get her breast checked. She didn’t have much else to do and somewhere deep down, there was a tiny nagging voice that she really needed to have a doctor take a look at the lump. Being familiar with cysts since she was 18, she wasn’t particularly concerned over yet another lump, but this one, it was different. It grew in size and when her nipple began to retreat into itself, it was beginning to look like perhaps it’s not a cyst after all. A doctor’s visit later, the worst news hits.

I originally picked this book up because both the title and sampler showed a great amount of humor to what is one of the most terrifying situations a person can have. And through it all, it’s Shormistha’s humor that really sticks out. Through all the exams, each with more and more worrying news than the last, through the procedures and operations, through chemo and radiation, it’s this humor that I remember the most. Despite the pain and fears, Shormistha showed great optimism and oftentimes kept remembering all her fortunes; alongside the support of family and friends, it’s this that keeps her fighting on. Still, it’s not all humor. There’s trauma, there’s pain, there’s fear and while there’s happy optimism, there’s enough seriousness to draw you back to the main point. Cancer is unforgiving and it rocks your life.

This book was a great read; informative and upbeat considering the heavy topic at hand. I learned a lot of things I would have never learned and as the book took place in India, I also learned a bit about how the medical community works there as well. I enjoyed and laughed at all the funny parts, and my heart clenched through her tears and pain as well. I vividly remember, “Man, I’ve never had a book that had me laughing one second and crying only a few pages later.”

A key importance through Shormistha’s fight with cancer was all the support that she received. Her friends and family were there for her, even accompanying to her initial appointments and being right there, by her side, after operations and treatments. She had an amazing husband who helped her through it all; hunting down specialists, making appointments, helping her with aid kits for when she became unwell from the chemo, and even her co-workers at her job were there for her; pitching in to take over the workload after the treatment made it hard to get back to work.

Well-written and engaging, this book left me with a lot to think about and grateful for even the small things around me that one may not notice. “Cancer, You Picked The Wrong Girl” was a great read that was filled with all kinds of emotions, both sassy and serious, and of great love, support, and friendship.

Book Review: Uncle John’s True Crime by Bathroom Readers’ Institute

It’s Thursday, almost the weekend!
You know what that means?
It’s time for this week’s book review: Uncle John’s True Crime: A Classic Collection of Crooks, Cops, and Capers by the Bathroom Readers’ Institute!

Book Description

Title: Uncle John’s True Crime: A Classic Collection of Crooks, Cops, and Capers
Series: Uncle John’s Facts and Trivia
Author: Bathroom Readers’ Institute
Edition: Ebook > Libby
Length: 288
Genre/s: Nonfiction, Crime, True Crime, Reference > Trivia
Rating: 4 Golden Eggs

Blurb (Goodreads)

You’ll be on the edge of your seat reading tales of cops, robbers, criminals, and lawyers with this little tome that packs a lot of heat.

Do you like to read great stories? This book is loaded with them! We’ve rounded up the best cops-and-robber articles we’ve ever done–plus a rogue’s gallery of new offenders. You’ll read about dumb crooks and criminal masterminds, mafia henchman and low-level goons, ancient warriors and Old West gunslingers, crazed cops and jovial judges, and even a few loony lawyers and crooked Wall Street types. It’s the True Crime book that only Uncle John could make! Here are some of the unusual suspects . . .

* New York City’s “Mad Bomber”
* The Biddle Brothers and the Queen of the Jail
* Law and Order: Special Pants Unit
* Dopes who hide their dope in the strangest places
* America’s first private eye
* NASCAR’s bootlegging beginnings
* The real pirates of the Caribbean
* Why CSI makes the cops’ job even harder
* Billy the Kid and other outlaws who died with their boots on
* George Luger, Samuel Colt, and other fathers of guns
* The greatest train robberies
* Arrested for farting
* And much more!

Review

A book that I picked up on the whim, I’d taken a quick peek at the sampler in Libby before clicking on borrow. I had snuggled up to the ebook that very night.

A trivia book full of true crime, this book is full of all sorts of different crime cases. Here, you’ll read about the dumbest criminals mixed with some genius masterminds. Every few pages, there’s a tiny little box of random fun fact (often unrelated to the story) revolving around crime or the law. There’s small trivia and funny quotes sections and there are stories of all sorts, through different points in history such as New York City’s “Mad Bomber”, America’s first ever private eye that paved the way for future PIs, train heists, pirate stories, and more!

Amongst my favorite tales here are the stories about New York City’s Mad Bomber, getting “Shanghaied”, the bait-cars of Canada, the disappearing crew and passengers of the Mary Celeste, the serial killer Belle Gunness of La Porte, and the stories about the Yakuza. A good balance between humor and seriousness, there’s also a dose of some pretty sad facts and some depressing stories, such as the entire chapter titled “Falsely Accused.”

This collection varies pretty greatly. One chapter you’re reading about a train heist, the next about the Yakuza, followed by “How to Rig a Coin Toss.” Ever since I’ve taken a liking to anthologies, I’ve been enjoying short stories more and more, but this is probably one of the few times I’ve ever picked up a trivia book. While not a hefty and long in length, it keeps you well entertained with the sheer amount of different stories. There’s enough content to have kept me scrolling through the table of contents, to pick out my favorite stories, something I don’t usually do with my other books. In between the short stories, which would be the book’s longer pieces/chapters, there are smaller trivia chapters in between. The stories themselves aren’t that long either, but coming to a treat of the tinier chapters that follows is always a joy.

Of the smaller trivia chapters, there are sections such as: the dumbest 9-1-1 calls, weapons concealed as everyday items (like a gun in the shape of a gun!), dumb crooks, strange laws, how to make prison wine, ironic moments, and being attacked with strange objects such as…a fish…a pooper scooper, and even a…pork chop!

True to Uncle John and The Bathroom Readers’ Institute’s name, this book feels just right for the loo. Sit down for a quick second and each chapter, whether it’s the “longer” story chapters or the shorter trivia chapters, every section feels just right; not too long to lose your attention and not too short either. While there were some stories that lost my attention, most of it kept me very engaged. I even read some out loud to my brother, over dinner, because they were such crazy stories!

I like to listen to true crime videos and often have either podcasts or Buzzfeed Unsolved marathons running in the background as I work, so I’ve heard of some of the more famous stories, but I’d say a majority of the book were of events and crime stories that I have ever even heard of. There are some tales that were shocking!

I’m not usually one to pick up a “big book of facts” styled trivia book, but this one really caught my eye and attention, especially with the cool looking cover (you know I love rubber ducks!) and the fun formatting. Uncle John has a whole collection of these Bathroom Reader books, some for kids and some with facts on the go. I’ll be giving their other books a look in the future too.

4 Shiny Shiny Eggs

Book Review: The Cookie Cure by Susan & Laura Stachler

You know, I never really cared about ginger cookies because it’s been years since I’ve had them and I’ve mostly forgotten what they tasted like. Naturally, I assumed it would just taste like ginger…which I hate. Then around last winter, I came across Dunkin Donut’s Gingerbread Latte, loved it so much I had to go buy the actual cookies, and now I love gingerbread anything. Let me tell you. I was quite depresso when I realized Dunkin didn’t bring that drink back this winter season…

Book Description

Title: The Cookie Cure: A Mother-Daughter Memoir of Cookies and Cancer
Author: Susan Stachler & Laura Stachler
Edition: Audiobook (Libby/Library)
Length: 7 hours and 49 minutes
Genre/s: Nonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Medicine, Cooking, Family

Blurb (Goodreads)

A heartwarming memoir of a family that refused to give up

When twenty-two-year-old Susan Stachler was diagnosed with cancer, her mother, Laura, was struck by déjà vu: the same illness that took her sister’s life was threatening to take her daughter’s too. Heartbroken but steadfast, Laura pledged to help Susan through the worst of her treatments. When they discovered that Laura’s homemade ginger cookies soothed the side effects of Susan’s chemo, the mother-daughter duo soon found themselves opening Susansnaps and sharing their gourmet gingersnaps with the world.

Told with admirable grace and infinite hope, The Cookie Cure is about more than baked goods and cancer—it’s about fighting for your life and for your dreams.

Review

At 22, Susan Stachler was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, cancer. Immediately, her mother, Laura, thinks of her late sister Sue, Susan’s namesake, who had also suffered from Hodgkin’s Disease. She’s heartbroken knowing that she would have to, once again, watch someone she loved become so sick.

Laura had pledged to stand by Susan, and she did, becoming her daughter’s greatest pillar of support during her treatment. Through the chemo, radiation, and doctor visits, she was by Susan’s side. One day, she had whipped up a batch of gingersnap cookies, hearing that ginger was a stomach soother and hoped that it would help with Susan’s side effects from chemo. It did, and having shared these cookies with the other patients and staff at the hospital, Laura and Susan began to realize how powerful these little snacks could be.

This is a beautiful memoir written by the mother and daughter duo as they go through Susan’s battle with cancer and how they began their baking journey, sharing their gingersnap cookies with the world.

The Cookie Cure is written in two perspectives with Susan’s usually being the longer followed by Laura’s parts as letters to her sister, each starting off with, “Dear Sue.” The book starts off with a brief history of Laura and her sister, up to the day her sister passed away from the same illness that her daughter would later be diagnosed with. Most of the beginning revolved around Susan’s treatments, while the latter half were of their struggles in trying to evolve Laura’s home bakery business, having gone from cakes and other treats to ultimately focusing on their Susansnaps.

This was a wonderful and heartwarming memoir. There were plenty of challenges and tough times that Susan and Laura had to go through, both during treatment and during their days in trying to expand their Susansnap business; going from being based in their home’s garage to an official shop. They take some major steps, such as taking the leap in purchasing a booth spot at a market, trying their luck with seeing if they could sell to major companies, and even in accepting interviews. In addition to all of this, Laura’s husband, Susan’s father, Ken, was fighting his own battle with cancer; non-Hodgkin’s disease. Through all of their hardship, they persevere and continue to press on even when, at times, feeling like failure is right outside the door, but never giving up. The mother and daughter duo made each day count, whether it was a good or bad day.

A heartwarming, and at times, emotional and hard, read. I enjoyed this book, the journey of both Susan and Laura through treatment and their business days, all the positive messages about never giving up and the importance of taking one step at a time.

4 shiny shiny eggs!

Book Review: Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? By Caitlin Doughty

I was, once again, scrolling through my Libby app to see what other audiobooks my local library had to offer when I came across this three times. I had been tinkering with the filters so I probably came across a few other books several times too, but this one was bright red, much more eye-catching. I mean, how much more eye catching can you get than a menacing looking kitty over a blood red background with the title “Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs“?

I thought: Sheesh…MorbidI need it.

I opened it up to listen to a sample and immediately perked up. She [narrator] sounds familiar! She sounds VERY familiar! I rush to Youtube and there she was! Both the author and the narrator to the book! It simply didn’t click until just then. I don’t watch her videos much, but of the ones I did, I found them all to be strangely comforting and intriguing. Of course I had to borrow it. My curiosity led my finger to the button.

Book Description

Title: Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?: Big Questions from Tiny Mortals About Death
Author: Caitlin Doughty
Edition: Audiobook > Library/Libby App
Length: 4 hours 29 minutes
Genre/s: Nonfiction, Science, Humor, Death, Medical

Blurb (Goodreads)

Every day, funeral director Caitlin Doughty receives dozens of questions about death. What would happen to an astronaut’s body if it were pushed out of a space shuttle? Do people poop when they die? Can Grandma have a Viking funeral?

In the tradition of Randall Munroe’s What If ?, Doughty’s new book, Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?, blends her scientific understanding of the body and the intriguing history behind common misconceptions about corpses to offer factual, hilarious, and candid answers to thirty-five urgent questions posed by her youngest fans. Readers will learn what happens if you die on an airplane, the best soil for mummifying your dog, and whether or not you can preserve your friend’s skull as a keepsake.

Featuring illustrations from Dianné Ruiz, Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? will delight anyone interested in the fascinating truth about what will happen (to our bodies) after we die.

Review

In this book, funeral director, Caitlin Doughty answers some very intriguing and morbid questions sent in by “tiny mortals”, little peanuts; the most curious of all humans. Readers get to listen to her answers, a mix of science, history, and plenty of humor that goes on to explain the reasons behind many different things.

The book is formated in a Q&A style that goes into discussing all sorts of things from what happens to your body if you were to die in space, to bears in graveyards, cats eating your eyeballs, swallowing a bag of popcorn before cremation, and can you keep your dear ol’ papa’s skull after his death? The answers come in a mix of light-heartedness and seriousness, the same tone that you want to speak to a child about something that’s very important, and very real, but you don’t want to spook them too much.

Speaking about something as heavy and hard as death doesn’t come easy, not to children, and not even as an adult listening to this book. I’ve watched many of Caitlin’s videos on Youtube and she’s one of the reasons I no longer fear death as much as I use to. In this book, she goes into many other topics including funeral practices, ethics, corpse laws, and death. It’s an informative nonfiction read that kept me completely engrossed. The book was written in a way that answers questions from kids and thus, it was also very easy to get through. Nothing was hard to understand or digest and I really liked that.

I picked this up during a quick morning coffee break before work, on a shift I was intending to handle some vendor bills. I can’t imagine what my face must have looked like, staring at invoices and the bank while listening (and occasionally internally chuckling) at the facts that Caitlyn was presenting. I specifically remember paying bills and listening to discussions about vibrating poor frozen Linda until she’s powder or that if poor frozen Linda does eventually catch a gravitational pull of a planet, as her corpse floats around in space for all of eternity, she’ll get a free cremation down to whatever planet she found herself in and maybe her body might eventually create life on another planet!

This book tickled me and I greatly enjoyed it. It was a random, “I have 5 minutes to surf Libby” moment and I don’t regret it for a moment. I may actually have to go back and buy the ebook/physical because I heard about some fantastic illustrations. Based on what I’m seeing in samplers, I believe it!

5 Stars