Tag Archive | Biography/Memoir

Review of A Series of Catastrophes and Miracles by Mary Elizabeth Williams

A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles cover

About A Series of Catastrophes and Miracles

A wry, witty account of what it is like to face death—and be restored to life.

After being diagnosed in her early 40s with metastatic melanoma—a “rapidly fatal” form of cancer—journalist and mother of two Mary Elizabeth Williams finds herself in a race against the clock. She takes a once-in-a-lifetime chance and joins a clinical trial for immunotherapy, a revolutionary drug regimen that trains the body to vanquish malignant cells. Astonishingly, her cancer disappears entirely in just a few weeks. But at the same time, her best friend embarks on a cancer journey of her own—with very different results. Williams’s experiences as a patient and a medical test subject reveal with stark honesty what it takes to weather disease, the extraordinary new developments that are rewriting the rules of science—and the healing power of human connection.

My Review

Williams gives great detail in telling her own story of cancer along with opening the door wide in regards to her very intimate thoughts and emotions, love, family, caregiver, friend, medical and science. Whether you have been touched by cancer directly or indirectly you’ll find Williams’ journey, experience and insight a wealth of information, educational. Her journalistic gift allows her to delve into clinical trials and cancer research without the explanation being complex or boring, she breaks it down for civilians to easily grasp. Williams participates in a clinical trial drilling the importance of breakthroughs and all the challenges associated with trials. Her positive attitude, humor, and determination helped her along the way with her survival and the profound losses she personally experienced along the way while fighting for her life. I appreciated her candor and openness. Bittersweet story with a wonderful uplifting ending for Williams.

Mary Elizabeth Williams APAbout Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior staff writer for award-winning Salon.com whose columns are regularly among the top viewed, commented on, shared, and cited as the best of the week. The “Lab Rat” series on her clinical trial was nominated for the 2012 Online Journalism Award for Commentary, and her essay on receiving a melanoma diagnosis is in the Harper anthology The Moment, an Entertainment Weekly “Must List” pick—alongside essays by Elizabeth Gilbert, Jennifer Egan, and Dave Eggers. She is the author of Gimme Shelter: Ugly Houses, Cruddy Neighborhoods, Fast Talking Brokers, and Toxic Mortgages: My Three Years Searching for the American Dream. A starred Booklist selection,Gimme Shelter was called “poignant and funny” (Kirkus), “a must-read” (New York Daily News), “hilariously evocative” (Time Out Kids) and “compelling” (Publisher’s Weekly). She lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.

Find out more about her at her website.

Be sure to click on the TLC banner to check out the entire tour schedule. Thank you TLC!

tlc tour host

Publisher: National Geographic; 1 edition (April 26, 2016)


Where Have I Been All My Life? by Cheryl Rice *Giveaway*



Amazon  |  IndieBound

A forthright memoir of a woman’s sojourn with unbearable grief and an overwhelming sense of worthlessness as she bravely begins to heal.

You are immediately introduced to Rice with the abrupt demise of her mother, her spiral into the depths of mourning and agonizing despair. The reader feels Rice’s suffering especially if you have lost your own mother, extremely affecting. An unmistakably painful and poignant moment in Rice’s life I personally felt akin to.

Rice certainly bares her soul in a candid and intimate manner. Stricken by the insurmountable loss of her beloved mother, she reveals bargains and deals wagered with herself with the hopes of bringing her mother back to life, her relentless efforts to win her therapist’s love along with piloting her disquiet marriage while defining the role of wife. As her healing slowly takes place she delves into her family and her history purging and holding on to what’s of great importance.

Rice address issues many woman have faced or will face. Her honesty commands empathy and respect as she searches and discovers for her authentic self. Her essays will serve as a tool for women to validate their own experiences, questions and answers. No doubt there is a wealth of knowledge and comfort for every woman to pluck from Rice’s own endurances and words of wisdom. She will leave you crying, laughing and smiling as you travel alongside her in her quest and survival. A wonderful memoir of a courageous woman as she metamorphoses into the woman she was meant to be and wants to be.

About Cheryl Riceimage
Cheryl Rice is a professional speaker and coach. Her company, Your Voice Your Vision partners with women striving to be leaders in their own lives. When Cheryl decided to take the advice she so passionately offers her clients, she emerged with a memoir. Her essays have appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Cactus Heart, and Cure Magazine. Cheryl has M.S. degrees in both Psychological Services and Organization Development, and lives with her family outside of Philadelphia.

Find Cheryl online at www.YourVoiceYourVision.com
Facebook and Twitter

To enter to win a paperback copy of Where Have I Been All My Life? please complete the giveaway form below. Open to US residents only. Ends 2/2/15

– Must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Ends 2/2/15

Thrilled to be participating in the tour for Cheryl Rice’s Where Have I Been All My Life?, be sure to check out the entire tour schedule here, it runs through 29 January. Thank you TLC
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Journeys Through France and Life by Glenda de Vaney *Giveaway*

Journeys Through France and Life
by Glenda de Vaney

Release date: March 23, 201
at Journeys Press
296 pages
ISBN: 978-0615660875

Website | Goodreads

de Vaney, a Francophile, gives us a wonderful travelogue as well as a candid memoir. We not only traverse through France we also witness the disintegration of a emotionally abusive marriage and receive a diagnosis of schizophrenia of a son.

This sensitive loving woman vacates her marriage and endlessly supports and encourages her son while together they manage his illness. On her own she discovers herself and her stealth independence as she moves ahead without looking back. Her positive mental state serves as an anchor for her son as well as herself. She stumbles upon a hidden talent of photography and travels abroad solo enjoying the calamities and blessings meandering through the terrain of France. I enjoyed touring France through the eyes and experiences of de Vaney. I respect de Vaney’s candor regarding her turbulent marriage and the affecting news of her sons diagnosis. Both topics fragile and sensitive, certainly difficult to share with strangers. Inspiring in her honesty as well as admirable.

Through her painful challenges this mature woman demonstrates strength, courage, and bravery. I admire de Vaney for leaving her emotionally abusive husband rather than allowing the mistreatment to continue. I applaud her for standing by her son, his advocate when his voice was silenced, her endless support and encouragement while they tackled his illness together. An uplifting story exemplifying the power of positive thinking, a woman’s new found independent streak, embracing the future and sojourn of self discovery.



Month-long trips to France twice a year – that was the life! Until real life intervenes and everything changes. Come on a journey through France with the author and her husband, eating delicious cuisine, seeing fabulous sights, mixing it up with the French. Stay on the journey as a crisis reveals that her son from a previous marriage has schizophrenia, and that her husband is not only unsympathetic, but something more.

Travel with the author as she faces her fears, and finds a way back to her true self. Through her experience, others may find insight regarding dark corners of their own lives. She puts a human face on the stigmatized illness of schizophrenia, while sharing her love of France, where she finds frustration, humor, and joy. [provided by the author]


Smitten with France, Glenda de Vaney has traveled there
over thirty times to photograph châteaux, gardens,
villages and whatever is beautiful.
She presents slide shows on France and sells framed pictures.
The author is a former volunteer for the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill
and an advocate for those suffering from mental illness.
She is also an avid table tennis player
who strikes fear in her opponents’ hearts,
or at least wishes she did.
Glenda lives in a historic home
in a suburb of San Diego with the younger of her two sons.

Visit her website.

Follow Glenda de Vaney on Facebook
Buy the book | on Amazon | on Goodreads


Click on Entry-Form to enter the giveaway:


Visit each blogger on the tour:
tweeting about the giveaway everyday of the Tour
will give you 5 extra entries each time!
[just follow the directions on the entry-form]

Giveaway open to US/Canada residents:
kindle copy of this book
4 winners


Journeys Through France and Life banner

We’ll Always Have Paris: A Mother/Daughter Memoir by Jennifer Coburn w/ Giveaway


We’ll Always Have Paris:
A Mother/Daughter Memoir
by Jennifer Coburn
Release date: April 8, 2014 at Sourcebooks
400 pages
ISBN: 978-1402288630

Website | Goodreads


More than a travelogue, this book is about a young, vibrant healthy woman facing her fear of dying, attempting to focus on living while creating lifelong memories traveling with her young daughter.

I’m a sucker for mother-daughter memoirs, needless to say I was curious to read this book. I was expecting something totally different, as I turned the pages I was surprised at what followed. It’s a sweet story, a mother and daughter experiencing Europe, their interactions, adventures, predicaments, fears. The sites visited were typical of a newbie traveler, nonetheless it was entertaining to read their thoughts and reactions. Coburn dispenses humor as well as intimate recollections of her father and her feelings regarding his demise and loss. Parts of the narrative felt contrived, a strong fictional presence and a few instances I questioned, however, I remind myself I am reading Coburn’s experiences and story not mine.

Witnessing Coburn shed her uptight, neurotic skin was welcomed. She is a worrier as you learn of her personality, from this readers perspective I was very thankful when she attempts to change her ways, even more thrilling when she is successful in changes.

A story of a woman reflecting on family, memories, her ability to embrace life and the present. A travelogue of sorts of a mother and daughter sharing time, both growing and letting go.


How her daughter and her passport taught Jennifer to live like there’s no tomorrow.

Jennifer Coburn has always been terrified of dying young. So she decides to save up and drop everything to travel with her daughter, Katie, on a whirlwind European adventure before it’s too late. Even though her husband can’t join them, even though she’s nervous about the journey, and even though she’s perfectly healthy, Jennifer is determined to jam her daughter’s mental photo album with memories—just in case.

From the cafés of Paris to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Jennifer and Katie take on Europe one city at a time, united by their desire to see the world and spend precious time together. In this heartwarming generational love story, Jennifer reveals how their adventures helped vanquish her fear of dying…for the sake of living. [provided by the author]




Jennifer Coburn is a USA Today best selling author of six imagenovels
and contributor to four literary anthologies.
Over the past two decades,
Coburn has received numerous awards from the Press Club
and Society for Professional Journalists for articles that appeared in Mothering,
Big Apple Baby, The Miami Herald, The San Diego Union-Tribune
and dozens of national and regional publications.
She has also written for Salon.com, Creators News Syndicate and The Huffington Post.
Coburn lives in San Diego with her husband, William, and their daughter, Katie.
We’ll Always Have Paris is her first memoir.

Visit her website.

Follow Jennifer Coburn on Twitter | Facebook
Get in touch
Buy the book | on Amazon | on Barnes & Noble

This giveaway is open for US residents only. Five copies available, print only. Click HERE To Enter The Giveaway. Thanks so much to France Book Tours for organizing this great tour. Don’t forget to visit the other stops on this tour. Click HERE to view the full tour schedule and see the list of participating blogs.


My Name is Bryan by Stacy Lynn Carroll w/ Giveaway

My Name is Bryanebook, one, 390 pages
Published September 14th 2014 by Pink Frog Press (first published September 8th 2014)

If your friends jumped off a cliff, would you jump too? Bryan chose to dive. Moments later, as he lay on the beach, unable to move his arms or legs, two questions ran through his mind: Would he walk again? And would he ever have kids? Based on the incredible true story of life, love, and never giving up.

Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Smashwords * Kobo

Bryan Carroll’s story is a wonderful example of possessing a positive attitude, a true zest for life, determination and acceptance.

Bryan’s life forever changed the moment his body hit the water. As his life was just beginning, Bryan refused to allow his accident to steal his hopes and dreams as it claimed the use of his limbs.

We become acquainted with Bryan as a young boy, a daredevil, inquisitive and fearless. He embraced life from the onset and as he became a young adult his passion for life continued to grow. Rather than mourning his plight after his tragic accident, Bryan accepted his paralyzation and was ready to do all he needed to do to live a fulfilling life. He accepted his situation and forged ahead with gusto, always pushing himself, refusing to view his circumstances as a negative, rather a challenge to embrace because ‘it was what it was.’

A very uplifting story, despite a horrific accident altering a young man’s life, his positive outlook, successes, his faith and family all serving to make his life as fulfilled as possible. Bryan is inspiring and amazing, never let your dreams slip away under any circumstances. The power of hard work, and positivity ease the way for unexpected. With the love of family, holding on to your faith and seeing ahead rather than behind anything is possible, you control your destiny no matter the circumstances.

Praise for the book:
“I plowed through his story, amazed at how he could so easily accept something that would destroy anyone else and just move forward with such a positive attitude. I don’t give many 5 stars, but it’s well-earned. This book really touched me. It’s the kind of story that stays with you for a long time.”
–Amazon customer

“I actually love stories like this. Ones that show the power of the human spirit and what love and determination can achieve. I cried multiple times while reading this but they were a happy sort of hopeful tears. If you are looking for something uplifting and motivational read this heart-felt story of love and hope.”
–Inspired Kathy 😉

“You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll wring your hands in frustration, and you won’t be able to put it down to go to sleep as you keep waiting to read about Bryan’s happily ever after. This is one of those books that stick with you long after you’ve finished reading it.”

“Each chapter begins with an inspirational quote to lead the reader into the goodness, hardship, unconditional love, and humor that is Bryan’s life. The 30 year journey the reader takes runs smoothly page after page. You will cry and you will laugh. You will want to hug Nedra and Bryan when you are finished.”
–Kriss A.

My Name is Bryan (1)Follow the Blog Tour hosted by I Am A Reader
October 29th to November 14th



Book Trailer:


Stacy Lynn CarrollAuthor Stacy Lynn Carroll

Stacy Lynn Carroll has always loved telling stories. She started out at Utah State University where she pursued a degree in English. Go Aggies! She then finished her BA at the University of Utah (to be closer to her then boyfriend, now hubby) where she got an emphasis in creative writing. After college she worked as an administrative assistant, where she continued to write stories for the amusement of her co-workers. When her first daughter was born, and with the encouragement of a fortune cookie, she quit her job and became a full-time mommy and writer. It seemed like fate when Matt and Stacy married. She was a writer, and her father-in-law had a story that demanded to be written. She and her husband have three children, two Corgis, and a fish named Don.

Website * Twitter * Pinterest * Facebook


Blog Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 11/21/14


Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Papillon by Henri Charriere

Henri Charriere

Reviewer: Kevin
Recommendation: 4/5


From Goodreads
Henri Charrière, called “Papillon,” for the butterfly tattoo on his chest, was convicted in Paris in 1931 of a murder he did not commit. Sentenced to life imprisonment in the penal colony of French Guiana, he became obsessed with one goal: “escape.” After planning and executing a series of treacherous yet failed attempts over many years, he was eventually sent to the notorious prison, Devil’s Island, a place from which no one had ever escaped . . . until Papillon. His flight to freedom remains one of the most incredible feats of human cunning, will, and endurance ever undertaken.

Charrière’s astonishing autobiography, “Papillon,” was published in France to instant acclaim in 1968, more than twenty years after his final escape. Since then, it has become a treasured classic — the gripping, shocking, ultimately uplifting odyssey of an innocent man who would not be defeated


My thoughts
Even though the author is silent all throughout the novel, on the plot of his conviction for murder in France except by saying that he was innocent, we really feel that he was really innocent. This, the author succeeds to prove through various instances in the novel. We also feel many occasions unbelievable where we see he is recognized instantly, and many show sympathy towards him which aids in his attempts for a ‘Cavale

So fascinating is the narration of his experience in the island of Indian Hindus, where he found an interesting life with two ‘wives’- sisters, who competed with each other to get pregnant, which they succeed in the end. But we see Papillon makes his ‘cavale’ from there, bidding goodbye to the island, that took him another term of imprisonment and torture before he was released and made free in Venesuela after many years. So fascinating, haunting; you feel the pain and ecstasy. No escape till the last page, you sail along all ‘Cavale’ with them, happy reading.


Review: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls


The Glass Castle
Jeannette Walls
Scribner January 17, 2006
Pages 288

ISBN13: 9781419339578

Goodreads • Amazon

Recommendation: 3/5
Reviewer: Melinda

Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and above all, how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary, who painted and wrote and couldn’t stand the responsibility of providing for her family, called herself an “excitement addict.” Cooking a meal that would be consumed in fifteen minutes had no appeal when she could make a painting that might last forever.Later, when the money ran out, or the romance of the wandering life faded, the Walls retreated to the dismal West Virginia mining town — and the family — Rex Walls had done everything he could to escape. He drank. He stole the grocery money and disappeared for days. As the dysfunction of the family escalated, Jeannette and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents’ betrayals and, finally, found the resources and will to leave home.

What is so astonishing about Jeannette Walls is not just that she had the guts and tenacity and intelligence to get out, but that she describes her parents with such deep affection and generosity. Hers is a story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.

For two decades, Jeannette Walls hid her roots. Now she tells her own story. A regular contributor to MSNBC.com, she lives in New York and Long Island and is married to the writer John Taylor.
~Goodreads page summary~


“I lived in a world that at any moment could erupt into fire. It was the sort of knowledge that kept you on your toes.”

A courageous story of a very ‘unconventional’ and trying upbringing. The conditions in which Walls and her siblings suffered are shocking and sad, it’s her voice that strikes me the most. As she tells of her history she is deadpan – no traces of anger, no accusations, rather Walls is neutral in her tone. A story of utmost resilience and moving forward. Somber and inspirational story. Great to know Walls pulled through with her sanity and professional accomplishments, could have taken a serious detour if it weren’t for her strength and intellect.

“I wanted to let the world know that no one had a perfect life, that even the people who seemed to have it all had their secrets.”