Sunday Book Review – Bearing the Unbearable by Dr. Joanne Cacciatore

Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Today I’m reviewing a poignant book, written from her own experience with grief and loss, as well as shared interviews with some of her bereavement clients, by Dr. Joanne Cacciatore.

As many of you know, I’ve read a number of books on grief – from the clinical to the afterlife, and one thing I can say about this book is that it stands out from others because it talks about all aspects and changes of life we go through when grief strikes – not just the expected things. Dr. Cacciatore has ‘worn the shoes’. One other thing I’d like to note about this book is that I would highly recommend everyone to read this book. Why? Because everyone in the world will have to experience it in their lifetimes, and for those who haven’t yet, this book gives amazing insights. It’s also a good book for those who know or love a griever and don’t know how to act around them or what to say. It distinctly states what us grievers need in our new life path from those in our lives.

Blurb:

If you love, you will grieve—and nothing is more mysteriously central to becoming fully human. 

Dr. Cacciatore is featured in the 2021 documentary series The Me You Can’t See, from Oprah, Prince Harry, and Apple TV.

Bearing the Unbearable is a Foreword INDIES Award-Winner — Gold Medal for Self-Help.
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When a loved one dies, the pain of loss can feel unbearable—especially in the case of a traumatizing death that leaves us shouting, “NO!” with every fiber of our body. The process of grieving can feel wild and nonlinear—and often lasts for much longer than other people, the nonbereaved, tell us it should.

Organized into fifty-two short chapters, Bearing the Unbearable is a companion for life’s most difficult times, revealing how grief can open our hearts to connection, compassion, and the very essence of our shared humanity. Dr. Joanne Cacciatore—bereavement educator, researcher, Zen priest, and leading counselor in the field—accompanies us along the heartbreaking path of love, loss, and grief. Through moving stories of her encounters with grief over decades of supporting individuals, families, and communities—as well as her own experience with loss—Cacciatore opens a space to process, integrate, and deeply honor our grief.

Not just for the bereaved, Bearing the Unbearable will be required reading for grief counselors, therapists and social workers, clergy of all varieties, educators, academics, and medical professionals. Organized into fifty-two accessible and stand-alone chapters, this book is also perfect for being read aloud in support groups.

My 5 Star Review:

Before I go into my review of this book, I will simply state, as a griever myself, that this book is one of the best books I’ve read on grief because it isn’t a clinical diagnosis book, it isn’t a guide on how to get through grief, but a tender telling of all the emotions a griever will experience throughout the rest of their lives, the triggers, and most of all, also beneficial to anyone who has ever known a griever and is lost for words or knowing how to act around someone who is grieving.

The book begins with a prologue of the author giving us a snapshot of her own grief story. She shares some of the questions all grievers ask and wonders how the world can continue on when her world was left empty – a common thread between all grievers. The author tells us she hopes for other grievers to feel they are in a safe place for us to be with our broken hearts. She warns that this book isn’t instruction on how to get over grief, but how to learn to live with the undeniable ebbs and flows and triggers of grief that will remain a part of our lives, for the rest of our lives. She talks about grievers needing others to reach out to us, and just how to do it by telling of her own experiences, and that of others she has consoled.

Dr. Cacciatore speaks of how death will affect every single person one day in their own individual way. The more we love, the more we will grieve. She also delves into how grief is manifested and what the shock of a traumatic death can leave on us – sometimes and often, leading to depression and/or PTSD, the repercussions of the shocking experience of losing a loved one, and how that often leads to running to substances to numb our pain. The good doctor touches on all the various types of trauma and grief from losing a loved one, a child, a parent, a spouse, etc., covering the gamut of what each of these relationships lost leave the living loved one to endure and the various habits and personality characteristics that are altered in the wake of, including the physical ailments many of us experience in light of grief, of which, many can become life threatening – especially when self-care desire disappears.

Most importantly to me, the author speaks of those in our circles who tend to abandon us in our hours of need because they don’t know what we need, and fears of talking about our lost loved ones causing more pain, explaining quite the opposite, how us grievers aren’t looking for solutions, only an ear to hear us speak of our great loss with a compassionate heart. “…But please just sit beside me. Say nothing. Do not offer a cure, or a pill, or a word, or a potion. Witness my suffering and don’t turn away from me. Please be gentle with me. Please self, be gentle with me too. I will not ever ‘get over it’ so please don’t urge me down that path.”

“Traumatic death provokes traumatic grief.” Truest words. The author gets into the body’s reactions to grief, comparing a diagnosis or a death edict having that ‘fight or flight’ feeling within us setting off in perceived physchological threat within. Only, the fight or flight feeling never really leaves. She goes into the despair the griever learns to live within. “This is grief’s most piercing message: there is no way around-the only way is through”. As she states, those who don’t deal with their grief and won’t allow themselves to feel, are only suppressing their grief, tells us it will eventually manifest in unexpected ways. The doctor warns that suppressing grief is responsible for so many addictions, abuse and social disconnection.

We learn about how some people’s cry for help – or, the lack of those cries, can often lead to that griever taking their own life. She warns that grief always has a place at the table. Talking about grief is necessary and should never be stifled. The distractions we use for ourselves as grievers is also discussed as our everlasting unquenchable yearning for our lost loved ones never goes away.

Another poignant discussion in this book delves into the loss of a child and how that sometimes leads parents to unintentionally neglect their living children while focusing on the loss of another. We also learn how crying is a natural valve to relieve stress and explains the biochemical essense of grief tears and their differentiation to other tears.

In this book there is a dedicated chapter to grievers on how to tell our friends and family what we need from them in our hours of grief. Letting them know our triggers, asking for our acceptance when we aren’t up to a family gathering, a cry for help, and more. She offers up solutions like, writing a note to family letting them know our needs and reassuring them to not hold back conversations of our lost loved one because that is one of the most needed conversation many grievers crave, is talking about our lost loved one.

Time is linear with grief, sometimes minutes feel like years, years feel like minutes. The author tells us how easily a grief moment will steal our breath. “It is both feared enemy and beloved companion who never leaves.” Reminding, we won’t stop grieving until we stop loving. “Those we love deeply who have died are part of our identity; they are a part of our biography. We feel that love in the marrow of our bones.”

The author offers writing to a lost loved one as a great therapy. Read it and weep as she explains these tears of release are good for the soul. She also talks about making a memory box we can revisit to soothe our souls in memory.

All different types of grief are covered in this book, from the ones we carry for our lost one to the kind where we blame ourselves for. You will find stories here that demonstrate things that can happen for those who withhold their grief.

I loved her analogy of grief ‘ it’s a big bowl of grief broth’, describing how just one more ingredient can overpower us with overwhelming grief.

Poignant Quotes:

“No intervention and no interventionist can ‘cure’ our grief. And we are not broken-we are brokenhearted.”

“Grief is not a medical disorder to be cured.

Grief is not spiritual crisis to be resolved.

Grief is not a social woe to be addressed.

Grief is, simply, a matter of the heart-to be felt.”

“When we cannot hold in our arms our loved ones who’ve died, we hold them in our hearts. This is being with grief.”

“When you’re feeling tired of our sadness, just remember that we are supremely more tired of their dead-ness.”

“Losing our beloved brings a pain unlike any other-and this pain is- legitimately ours. Being with grief is terrifyingly painful, yet when we live our grief honestly, it has the mysterious power to deepen the meaning of our lives. This is the gift-curse of grief.”

Whoever survives the test must tell his story. ~ Elie Wiesel

©DGKaye2022

Sunday Book Review – The Peaceful Village by Paulette Mahurin, #WWII #historicalfiction

Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Today I’m sharing a book by one of my favorite historical fiction authors, Paulette Mahurin. This is her newest release I was thrilled to be able to obtain a copy from Netgalley – The Peaceful Village. Based on a heartwrenchingly true story about one of the biggest WWII massacres on French Soil that occurred because of a lie.

Blurb:

During the German occupation of France, nestled in the lush, verdant countryside in the Haute-Vienne department of central France was the peaceful village of Oradour-sur-Glane. It was a community where villagers woke to the medley of nature’s songs: roosters crowing, birds chirping, cats purring, and cows shuffling out to pasture. The people who lived there loved the tranquil nature of their beautiful home, a tranquility that existed year-round. Even with the German occupation and Oradour-sur-Glane being incorporated as part of Vichy France, Oradour – the village with cafés, shops, and a commuter tram to Limoges – remained relatively untouched by the stress of the occupation.
While Oradour enjoyed the lack of German presence, twenty-two kilometers to the northwest in Limoges, the Germans were reacting with increasing cruelty to organized attacks on their soldiers by the armed resistance organization Francs-Tireurs et Partisans (FTP). Headed by Georges Guingouin, the Limoges FTP was considered the most effective of the French Resistance groups. Guingouin’s missions fueled the German military to kill and incarcerate in concentration camps anyone perceived as supporters or sympathizers of the Resistance.

Up until the middle of 1944, the German anti-partisan actions in France never rose to the level of brutality or number of civilian casualties that had occurred in eastern Europe. A little before the Allies landed in Normandy, that changed, when German officers stationed on the Eastern Front were transferred to France. It was then that FTP’s increasing efforts to disrupt German communications and supply lines was met with disproportionate counter attacks, involving civilians. Guingouin’s response was to target German officers. When Guingouin set his sights on two particular German officers, all hell broke loose.

Based on actual events as told by survivors, The Peaceful Village is the story of the unfolding of the events that led up to one of the biggest World War II massacres on French soil. But it is not simply a story of Nazi brutality and the futility of war, it is a story of love. The love of family. The love of neighbor. The love of country. Compassion and courage burn from the pages as the villagers’ stories come alive. Written by the international bestselling author of The Seven Year Dress, Paulette Mahurin, this book is an homage to the villagers who lived and loved in Oradour-sur-Glane.

My 5 Star Review:

Marguerite lives on her carrot farm with her husband and other family in the beautiful, peaceful village of Oradour, France. During WWII, this quiet and peaceful village had not yet been threatened or occupied as much as other parts of France and Europe by the nazis, despite the Vichy accepting German rule, until a German capture that had gone wrong had brought forth the brutal nazi regime (no, I will NEVER capitalize the word ‘nazi’) to this peaceful ‘untouched’ by war, town, just before the allies landed in Normandy.

As Marguerite was approaching menopause, the gruel of farming without enough hands was getting to her physically and mentally. She went to church one Sunday and discovered the clergy could use some well needed office help and approached her understanding husband asking for time away from working the farm and by taking up the offer to work for the church office. When she discovered a horrifying piece of paper in a book, as she was tidying the rectory, she approached Father Chapelle, asking if anyone else shared the office, ultimately, showing him what she’d found in a book as she was organizing a bookshelf. Their eye contact established a mutual understanding that they were both on the side against the nazis, when the Father let her know that he was part of the resistance helping place Jewish families where he could. Marguerite’s sympathetic and good nature led her to helping out the church by delivering secret messages, food and clothing where she could.

All was calm, but Marguerite had a foreboding feeling in her stomach, and it wasn’t long before the SS butchers rounded up the whole village in retaliation for the resistance killing one of their higher up murderous high rank nazi leaders. It was first the resistance who made a fatal mistake by letting another of their captured nazis escape, who made it back to headquarters and lied about what happened to him in this innocent village.

Mahurin tells a gripping story in such detail, it’s as though we are there witnessing the action. She paints a picture of this blissful town full of compassionate, loving, neighborly people going on with their business as though the rest of France had nothing to do with them in their sacred untouched perimeters, and just as the serenity turns to hell on earth, she equally writes of the pain, brutality, butchering of innocent mankind because of one SS trying to cover his ass by lying about his attack saying it had taken place in Oradour – when it did not! This lie became the war that wiped out an entire peaceful village in one day.

Based on true events as told by survivors, one of biggest WWII massacres that ever took place on French soil. The expensive price of human life paid for letting one of those heinous, murderous nazis escape capture. The author never disappoints in her gripping true tales of some of the true horrors that innocent people endured under the brutal tyranny of Hitler and his nazi evil regime.

©DGKaye2022

Sunday Book Review – Where There’s Doubt – A #Psychological #Mystery/Romance by Terry Tyler

Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Today I’m reviewing Terry Tyler’s addictive psychological thriller – Where There’s Doubt. This book has been getting a lot of attention around our reading circles, and once I began reading it, I found out why. The protagonist Kate invites into her cozy world of happy seaside living in a small town in Norfolk, England, until her world turns crazy after meeting a new boyfriend on the internet – who turns out to be a sociopathic narcissist whose roots of deceit run deep.

Blurb:

‘I can be anything you want me to be. Even if you don’t know you want it. Especially if you don’t know you want it.’

Café owner Kate is mentally drained after a tough two years; all she wants from her online chess partner is entertainment on lonely evenings, and maybe a little virtual flirtation.

She is unaware that Nico Lewis is a highly intelligent con artist who, with an intricately spun web of lies about their emotional connection, will soon convince her that he is The One.

Neither does Kate know that his schemes involve women who seek love on dating sites, as well as his small publishing business. A host of excited authors believe Nico is about to make their dreams come true.

Terry Tyler’s twenty-fourth publication is a sinister psychological drama that highlights the dark side of internet dating—and the danger of ignoring the doubts of your subconscious.

My 5 Star Review:

Tyler takes us on a psychological ride into the dark side of internet dating. Sweet Kate thinks she’s met her perfect match through meeting Nico while playing chess on ‘Lifeshare’ a social media site. Kate owns a successful cafe by surfside in a Shipden, Norfolk, village  and had recently broke up with a cheating boyfriend, Jackson. Nico was a collector of woman, who used the guise of being a vanity publisher for Indie books because it gave him a boatload of excuses to be unavailable to the many women he seemed to be in relationships with. Think ‘Tinder Swindler’ when envisioning Nico. The story pulls us in because yet again, another internet scammer on the prowl for women seems to be a topic of interest these days.

The author brings in richly crafted characters to drive the story, and gives us a peek into Nico’s psyche to let us in on what makes this conman tick. We get to know the ‘other’ women he’s ensnared with his wiley charms, knowing how to play each one – Polly the low self-esteemed girl who dreams of a fairytale life, Heather, the young grieving widow, Minerva, the lonely, older more secure widow, and the pretty, carefree and fun Kate. And of course we can’t leave out ‘Em’ Nico’s ‘apparent’ ‘real’ girlfriend who assists him to ensnare these other women by doing all the social media profiling for him to make sure his tracks are covered, leading us to think he is doing all this cyber stalking and dating to extort money for ‘them’ both. He cleverly uses Em as his default decoy when with these women, telling them she’s his sister.

Polly is busily planning her wedding with Nico, unaware that his intentions are to get her to spend some of her lottery winnings on a house he wants to buy – for himself. Heather is a young widow living in isolation in the home she shared with the love of her life who has passed on. Wealthy Minerva is smart and realizes handsome Nico is fun to be with, though realizing two decades younger than her, that one day this relationship will probably end, but surely, investing in his publishing business could be a lucrative business adventure. Kate is his favorite he spends most time with, and he’s snagged her heart and trust and goes to deceitful ends to take her to the house he’s pining after, lying to Kate by telling her the house was left to him and his sister in his aunt’s will, adding, the problem is that the house was left to two other cousins and he’d love to buy them out, giving Kate the idea she should buy in so they can live there together. What could go wrong? Plenty!

As the plots thicken and Nico gets sloppy covering his tracks, things begin to happen. Heather begins to feel Nico is pushing a little to hard for her to sell her house to buy into ‘the Grove’ house he supposedly wants to buy his ‘cousins’ out of, and she decides to do some internet surfing and discovers that Nico is a conman. And this is where part two of the book opens up a whole new insidious plot with characters we never would have suspected are part of Nico’s evil ploy.

As the story unfolds, little pieces of his lies are slipping through the cracks and Nico finds himself having to come up with quick coverups. And when the shyte hits the fan, a whole lot of evil is unveiled to us. Don’t even think I’ve given away any spoilers here because the fun begins in this book once Nico is exposed.

Lots of twists and a great conman caper, which sadly, is not so uncommon in today’s world. And a book that was literally hard to put down!

©DGKaye2022

Sunday Book Review – Linda’s Midlife Crisis by Toni Pike

Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Today I’m reviewing Toni Pike’s latest release – Linda’s Midlife Crisis. I enjoy Toni’s books and this one didn’t disappoint. This womens fiction/chicklit-ish story is about a neglected housewife with an unfulfilling job who learns to take back her power. Yay for Linda!

Blurb:

How does a fifty-year-old woman start a new life?

Meet Linda Lockwood: fifty, fat, frumpy and bullied by her horrible husband Ron and the vile students and principal at the school where she teaches English. But her life is about to undergo a total transformation.

Linda suffers a breakdown after a traumatic classroom incident, and that brings out the worst in Ron and devious principal, Wayne Forsythe. Then she is rocked to discover her husband has a shocking secret.

With her own determination and the help of friends and family, she starts to turn her life around. She begins to succeed, but there are still some more surprises in store Linda.

A feel-good and inspirational romance for older women who love second chances and chick lit.


***** “Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop!” – Goodreadsreviewer, USA

***** “Highly recommended for a beach read, or as a feel-good book.” – Reader’s Favorite reviewer, UK

My 5 Star Review:

Linda had finally had enough of her husband Ron’s neglect, insults and emotional abuse. She was 50 years old, about 25 pounds overweight, and had lost her sense of self-esteem. She was also childless because nasty Ron never wanted any kids.

Linda was an English school teacher, and even her students were mischievous brats who liked to play mean pranks on her. The last prank had kept her at home for a month in a depression-like state. Her husband couldn’t give a damn and continued to belittle her, demanding she cook for him in her near catatonic state. But Linda finally learned to pay him back with silence and neglect of her household duties, a type of revenge that finally had him asking for a divorce and leaving – to her delight.

Linda was clever and held the reins on her demands since Ron was the one leaving, also threatening him with getting a shark lawyer if he didn’t comply, worked well. She then went to her cunning school principal, Wayne Forsythe, to inform she was retiring, demanding a package, she eventually got, thanks to her persuasion of assuring him if he didn’t comply she would use the information she had on him about his devious doings. Linda was getting out of her slump and taking her power back.

After selling her house in Sydney, Australia, she moved up to Canberra where her sister lived, bought a beautiful condo, got a part-time job in a clothing store to keep her busy, made some new friends at work, went for long walks, changed her diet, lost her unhappiness weight, and began enjoying her life. But before she left for Canberra, when packing up her house, she packed up Ron’s stuff and left it on the front lawn for him, warning him to pick it up by day’s end. She got a shocking and infuriating surprise when Ron came to pick up his things – sorry, no spoilers.

Linda learns to love her new life in Canberra and takes up her passion for writing, begins to submit articles about her journey back to healthy lifestyle, and was hired to produce weekly articles.

Life was good, and one day she discovers Ron looking for her, begging for her back. Ahhh yes, sweet revenge! Linda learns to step back into the dating pool with her work friends and is pleasantly surprised to meet someone while out with the girls. Dr. Tran was enamoured by Linda and her new life was nearing perfect – if only Ron would stop showing up!

This was a fun and very engaging read. I could have read it in two days because I didn’t want to put it down, but life calls.

©DGKaye2022

Sunday Book Review – Why Didn’t They Leave by Eva Hnizdo – WWII #FamilySaga

Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Today I’m reviewing Eva Hnizdo’s historical fiction book, taken from memoir – Why Didn’t They Leave? . This book was right up my reading alley. The book begins in the late 1930s Czechoslovakia just as WWII is heating up. A family saga that takes us into the life of three generations of women – Franzi, her daughter Magda, and spans through the decades of change into the early 2000’s as told by Magda’s daughter, Zuzana. This is a story of life-altering change, fear, humanity, and how each generation of women coped with war and its devastating effects on body, mind, and spirit, and an understanding for Zuzana born of another generation, struggling to learn why her relationship was strained with her mother from resentments to a final understanding.

Blurb:

You can’t ask for asylum in another country just because your mother drives you nuts, so when 19-year-old Zuzana flees from communist Czechoslovakia to England in 1972, she says she just wants freedom. Her relationship with her mother, Magda – a Holocaust survivor who lost most of her family in the concentration camps – is toxic and Zuzana finds happiness in London with a loving husband and beautiful son.

But when her mother dies, Zuzana is crushed by guilt and feels an overwhelming urge to discover more about her family’s tragic history. So, she embarks on a life-changing journey, discovers some incredible stories and tries to answer the question which haunts her: Why didn’t they leave?

“Eva Hnizdo’s Why Didn’t They Leave illuminates the lives of one extended family from the beginning of Naziism. With meticulous detail and heart-wrenching scenes Hnizdo offers answers through her characters’ actions as to why some chose to remain in their homeland and others fled. A story filled with history and heartache… survival and hope.” – Julie Maloney, author and founder/director of Women Reading Aloud

“Eva Hnizdo has turned her own story into a gripping work of fiction that follows a secular Czech Jewish family’s fortunes during World War Two through communism to a multi-cultural life in Britain. Her book says much about prejudice and tolerance, survivors’ guilt and the emotional challenges of motherhood, all through the voice of her extrovert and sexy heroine.” – Brigid Grauman, journalist and author of Uncle Otto’s Puppet Theatre

Zuzana is haunted by the choices that her family made during the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia and later during the Communist regime. Her discoveries make for a compelling story of loyalty, love, and courage.” – Jacqueline Sheehan, author

Eva Hnizdo is a Jewish Czech, born in Prague in 1953. She is the granddaughter of a man who lost his life by deciding not to emigrate in 1938, and a daughter of parents who, after surviving the Holocaust, spent most of their adult lives under an oppressive communist regime. Eva studied medicine at Charles University in Prague and became a doctor. She escaped to the West in 1986 and obtained political asylum in the UK in 1987 with her husband and two sons. She worked as a full-time GP partner at the same surgery in Watford for twenty-three years. Now retired, she spends her time writing.

My 5 Star Review:

Magda is 13, it’s 1940 in Prague, Czechoslovakia. The Germans are taking over the country and Magda and her brother Oskar have already been booted from school, while their mother is sewing yellow Stars of David on their clothing. At first Magda thinks the stars look cool, then quickly realizes after getting pushed and shoved on the street, the star is a calling card for attention. Magda’s family was privileged and Magda’s mother Franzi and her husband Bruno did well with buying off SS agents by giving them many family possessions to avoid deportation to Theresienstadt, but by 1942 her family was finally deported. Some survived, some didn’t. When liberation finally came, Magda and her mother lived through the brutal and lean times and were lucky to be given back their home in Czechoslavakia.

Magda at 18 reinserts herself back into the school system and studies hard to graduate high school after missing four years of school and succeeds. She marries Mirek after she graduates and they live with her mother Franzi. Franzi mourns the loss of her husband, her son and all others while Magda wants to go on, avoiding the memories and deaths. By 1948 communism was taking over the Czech oslovakia and government was taking over private businesses, those who didn’t comply were sent to jails. It was like war was back but within their own country. Magda and Mirek were urged to leave in the late 40s, but Magda didn’t want to leave her mother. By 1952 they were stuck there. Anyone caught trying to leave the country was jailed.

In 1953 Magda gave birth to daughter Zuzana and was happy to let her mother Franzi do everything and look after her daughter while she kept occupied, entrenched in her job. By this time Mirek was already cheating on moody Magda. Magda decided she didn’t want her daughter to be Jewish so she convinced her unwilling husband to have Zuzana baptized to protect her from being a persecuted Jew, as anti-semitism was running rampant even after the war, especially while Czechoslovakia was under communism. When Zuzana was age 9, Mirek left Magda. He was tired of her whining and lack of interest in cultural things he liked to do. And he wasn’t happy about not giving their daughter a religion to practice, as Magda only wanted the baptism to protect her child from future incidence of anti-semitism, without teaching her about any religion.

In the mid 60s, Magda went to visit Bavaria. She was stunned at all the beautiful goods for sale in stores – something they didn’t have in the Czechoslovakia. Her pent up anger at Germans had her stealing from stores because she felt entitled after the Germans seemed to have stolen much more from her. Her passive- aggressive anger lingered.

By 1964, Zuzana was a young teenager who protested all her mother’s good intentions for her. Magda tries to send Zuzana for dance lessons but Zuzana doesn’t like it, doesn’t like girlie things or dresses. Magda wants to give her daughter everything she didn’t have, but Zuzana is rebellious. Zuzana prefers wearing pants and reading books to dresses and parties. Magda is often bitter at her daughter’s reactions to all her plans for her, as though Magda wanted to live what she missed out on vicariously through her daughter. Magda often mumbles to herself that her daughter doesn’t know how lucky she is to have access to clothes, classes and adventures as Magda internally remembers her time imprisoned during the Holocaust. But Magda stays firm in her decision not to tell Zuzana about her imprisonment or how so many family members actually died in the Holocaust. She never even told Zuzana they were really Jewish.

Part two of the book is Zuzana’s story in the year beginning back at 1966, til the early 2000s. Now married Zuzana with a 13 year old son, Adam, tells her husband Harry that she changed schools when she was a teenager where she could learn more languages, adding that her mother got her in through black market connections, which she reiterates was really such a thing.

In 1967 Zuzana’s Uncle Otto and his wife came back to Czechoslovakia to visit his remaining family and he went to the synagogue with Zuzana, her mother and grandmother Olga. This was the first time Zuzana realized that it was not only the communist anti-fascists who were killed in the war, but innocent people, including her own family. Until then, Zuzana had been sheltered from knowing about war and the fact that she was an actual Jew. As an avid book reader, Zuzana began to read ‘different’ books that were starting to appear on the shelves – stories about the Holocaust.

As a late teen, Zuzana left the country, organized by her rich Uncle Otto and moved to England where she went to university and lived out her dreams of freedom, education, meeting people from different races and falling in love with her to be black husband Harry who became a pharmacist.

Zuzana felt she didn’t love her mother because Magda nagged her all the time and never gave her daughter a compliment, almost trying so hard to force her daughter to do the things Magda never had the chance to do. The tension remained between mother and daughter throughout the story until Magda’s ultimate death, when Zuzana learned from Uncle Otto what really happened to their family during the war, and this opened up a world of curiosity for Zuzana about her real heritage inspiring her desire to travel to America to meet the sparse family who survived the war and ultimately, moved to America. Then Zuzana gets the rude awakening about how her mother survived and the PTSD effect it left on Magda that made her become the way she was. She meets up with aunts, uncles and cousins who were survivors and descendants of survivors, and her new discoveries give her a new sense of why her mother acted the way she did, discovering her mum not wanting to talk of what she lived was a shield for herself and the PTSD she suffered through the rest of her life from what she lived through. Zuz learns that she shouldn’t have judged her mother and once Magda dies, Zuz’s grief becomes overwhelming. As Zuzana begins to have regrets in this new appreciation for her mother, we begin to learn the true effects the war had on this one family.

This is a story about a family caught up in the brink of war, during the war, and their lives in the aftermath. It deals with racism, anti-semitism, communism, humanitarianism and inhumanity. Fascinating on many levels with the intricately woven characters and going deep learning how and why these people were shaped. Yes it takes place during the Holocaust, but it’s about people’s individual lives, living through hell, and how they become after. This is the story of one once large family torn by war, how they survived, why some left in time, and why some chose to stay behind.

©DGKaye2022

Sunday Book Review, The Calm and the Storm by Martha Perez

My Sunday Book Review today is for Martha Perez’s short, inspirational prose from the soul, one who has been ‘there’ with some of life’s soul wounding moments.. And in this short but inspiring book, the author offers words of comfort.

Blurb:

The Calm And The Storm: Inspiration that will keep you strong enough to keep going!

When you look at the reflection of the moon as the waves ease toward the sand, I am the calm. The wind blows, and the air is cool. When the waves are crashing on a dark stormy night, and the bat’s shadows reflect the glow of the full moon, I am the Storm.

“The Calm and The Storm” are 12 short quality chapters that will acknowledge what you go through in life. Not just what you go through now, but what you’ve been through before. We are all strong and powerful people trying to make the best out of life. If you want to be inspired, I wrote this with love. Even though I write dark stories, this book is made to get you through the dark days and appreciate the other days as well.

My 5 Star Review:

Martha Perez is soul inspiring. I have a few of her books awaiting to be read but I chose to read this short inspirational book one day when my soul needed soothing.

This book a collection of short chapters of words to inspire. It’s not about crying over wrongs and hurt, but finding the reasons to make it to the next day.

“When you feel your life is filled with darkness it’s okay to cry. It’s okay to not be okay. But then find that reason to continue.” ~Martha Perez

“When life breaks you, let it shape you. Don’t focus on the pain. Focus on the fight.” ~Martha Perez

“I fight with my pen. I fight when I type. My ink bleeds pain mixed with empty tears.” ~Martha Perez

Perez offers avenues of hope by referencing her own over-comings in life in small detail, helping to point others in a more positive direction despite obstacles. She speaks as though talking specifically to us, the reader. A good book to pick up again and again when your self needs a little lift.

©DGKaye2022

Sunday Book Review – Laugh Out Loud – 40 Women Humorists Celebrate Then and Now #Anthology

A hilarious romp back to the past where 40 humorists from the Erma Bombeck Author’s Writer Workshop, contribute humorous stories about life comparing – then and now. Many of these stories touch on womanhood, aging, acceptance and grace all taken with a grain of salt and bringing words of wisdom to light – all in good humor.

Blurb:

Remember ironing your hair? Rolling it in soda cans to straighten it? Lacquering it with enough spray that it could ward off bullets? Ever slather on cement-colored lipstick so heavy, you looked like a zombie princess? Remember hot pants and platform heels? The danger of patent-leather shoes? Were you a secretary, nurse, or teacher, but only, as our mothers urged us, until you found “Mr. Right.” In her new book, LAUGH OUT LOUD: 40 WOMEN HUMORISTS CELEBRATE THEN AND NOW…BEFORE WE FORGET, Allia Zobel Nolan and 40 funny ladies from the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop chronicle these blips in time as they look back at life in the past lane. Zobel Nolan and the other dancing queens then fast forward to today and write about what it’s like to blink and wake up to be 50, 60, 70, and beyond—experiences ranging from cremation ceremonies to marrying younger men, from senior online dating to finding yourself a menopausal maniac in Mexico.

My 5 Star Review:

This book is a great romp of nostalgic humor. We all remember stories, incidents, trials, tribulations, and the aftermath where we can look back on the years and laugh at. We wore crazy styles, did stupid things, had wild crushes, crazy habits.

Funny women here sharing their humorous stories of the past, taking us on a nostalgic trip back through our own memory lane and having us shaking our heads in ‘I can’t believe I did or wore that’ or in affirming, yes, I totally remember that. In this anthology of fun you’ll read some funny side up stories about life from bell bottoms to Birkenstocks, from hot pants to hormones, from mood rings to menopause, it’s all here in 40 fun stories that will provide a few hours of many Lols, while keeping tabs on life from youth to aging and everything in between.

A few favs:

When We Were Fashionistas and the hilarious fashion rundown of the 1960s, Saturday Night Ain’t What it Used to Be – those long Saturday nights when other people had a date, but we didn’t, Menopausal Maniacs in Mexico – had me in stitches and nodding my head at the familiarity and the hilarity of aging gracefully – not, Breathless Encounter – takes us on one woman’s struggle to learn about wearing shapewear and the struggle of getting out of it, Losing It – will resonate with everyone who has struggled with diets, Taking my Face out of the Drawer – talks about when the author began wearing makeup and unapologetic for still feeling comfortable in seeing her face in makeup as the face she is still familiar with, and my ultimate favorite story by Sherri Kuhn – Loving the Skin I’m In – a story about aging and acceptance of beauty changes, fashion fails, settling for comfort unapologetically – “I didn’t get this way overnight, you know. Turning into a midlife goddess, completely relaxed in my body takes time and dedication.”

The book ends with a tribute to Erma Bombeck: Laughing Through the Pain by the author Allia Zobel Nolan who collaborated this most entertaining and clever anthology of humorous takes on women and aging who iconizes Bombeck for her wisdom’s on life, often of the mundane sort that become humorous to us women who can relate, despite Bombeck’s own tribulations in her own life. As Nolan writes, “She held up a mirror to her life, burst out laughing, then sat down and chronicled it for millions to enjoy.”

“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I don’t have a single bit of talent left and could say, “I used everything you gave.” ~Erma Bombeck

©DGKaye2022

Sunday Book Review – Just Before Sunrise by Carol Balawyder

Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Today I’m delighted to share my review for Carol Balawyder’s page turning story about love, lust, crime and the innocent people who get caught in between in her noir thriller – Just Before Sunrise.

Blurb:

A coming-of-age story with a domestic noir twist.

Nadine, tired of running her call-girl agency has upgraded to gold digger as she finds the perfect rich widower to marry. Discovering that her wealthy widower is an abuser she seduces his stepson, Charlie, to plot her husband’s murder.
But things don’t go as planned and soon she is turning to her experience hiring young call-girls to find the perfect girl to save her from going to prison…
Homeless Maya is drifting on the streets, grieving the recent loss of her mother.
When she is offered the opportunity to prepare a lake-side house to be used as a half-way home for delinquent girls, she doesn’t think twice.
She soon falls for Charlie, the attractive boy next door, who has a seriously dark side. She is drawn into his murderous schemes, doing anything he asks her to, risking her own safety for the promise of a future with him. When she finds herself party to murder, and she realises he is more concerned with his older female accomplice than with her, she must learn to trust her instincts and use all of her courage to get out of their trap alive.
As a subplot there is the rocky romantic relationship between an older woman and a younger man who become involved in investigating the murder for which young Maya is accused of committing.
Just Before Sunrise is a story about loss and survival. About loneliness, betrayals and deadly desires.

My 5 Star Review:

This book begins with different people telling the story that seamlessly converges into a page-turning dark tale.

It begins with the relationship between Joni, a women’s homeless and abuse counselor, and her younger boyfriend Adam. Their relationship is like good friends with benefits with question marks about developing into more. The two love each other, but with Joni in her mid fifties, she isn’t keen on having kids, and Adam still in his thirties, struggles with not having any. He even contemplates marrying someone just so he can have children.

At this same time, we meet Nadine, an ex call girl who uses her beauty and wiley ways to meet men with money. She craftly meets wealthy Logan, at his wife’s funeral. Nadine pretends she was friends with his wife and wiggles into Logan’s life – with an end goal of marrying him.

Nadine moves in with Logan and his step son Charlie and soon hatches a plot of pretending to fall in love with the young Charlie so she can win his attention to help her set up her end goal plan of getting rid of Logan – a man they both despise.

The convergence of this story occurs when Joni meets Maya, a sixteen year old homeless girl. Joni has a cottage next door to Charlie’s parents’ summerhouse and decides to use her cottage as a safe house for homeless young women. When Joni takes Maya up to her cottage to help prepare the place, Maya befriends Charlie. Maya begins feeling a connection with Charlie as he shares stories with her about him being abused when he was younger, to win her sympathy so he can use her for a decoy later on with evil Nadine’s dirty plans.

After Nadine and Charlie’s plan to get rid of Logan take place, they find they are left with a money hungry brother of Logan’s that they need to get out of the way of their plans to have everything. As the plot thickens, poor Maya unknowingly becomes part of a sinister plan. The two evil doers snag in this innocent girl into their dark scheme in hopes to use her as a scapegoat for their insidious crimes.

In this story we’ll witness relationship awakenings, self-discoveries, and finally, regained self-worth by Maya, while Adam and Joni grow through searching for missing Maya and both finally realize what it is they really want out of life. No surprise the author, with her criminal psychology background, does a wonderful job of writing noir and getting us invested in her richly drawn characters and her lovely setting of Quebec, Ontario in this book that will keep you turning the pages.

©DGKaye2022