Category Archives: Biography

No Surrender: Faith, Family and Finding Your Way by Patrick Bisher with Jon Land

Reviewed by Russell Ilg

No SurrenderAfter 40+ books, writing about heroes is nothing new for Jon Land. What is new for him is writing about an actual warrior, instead of a fictional one, which is exactly the point of No Surrender and then some. This wondrously written tale, chronicling the improbable route Navy SEAL Patrick Bisher followed in becoming a true American hero, rings true as an inspirational catharsis of rare depth and pathos.

No Surrender is subtitled Faith, Family and Finding Your Way for a reason: Because that’s exactly what Patrick discovered were the true keys to surmounting obstacles life kept throwing in his way. He was only nine when doctors told him he’d likely never walk again due to a congenital hip condition, but you wouldn’t know that from his performance through Navy SEAL BUD/S training. Nor would you know that his decorated service in Iraq was performed with an artificial hip made necessary when a parachuting accident threatened to waylay Patrick’s dream yet again.

Those BUD/S chapters are among the finest I’ve ever encountered as a backdrop to military training, but this is no standard military tome, despite a sequence set amid Patrick’s deployment to Iraq. It’s a memoir rooted in Patrick finding his faith when he’d lost everything else and how that faith, along with God, carried him from the darkness of despair to the light of hope.

Ballplayer by Chipper Jones

Reviewed by Allen Hott

BallplayerPerhaps not only one of the haughtiest players to have ever played the game but also without a doubt one of the greatest to have ever played major league baseball. Chipper, or (L- a- r- r- y !) Jones as the New York Met’s fans like to call him, tells it like it is as he describes his long career in baseball. The idea that he spent his entire career playing with the Atlanta Braves and while he was there the Braves had some of the greatest years of any baseball franchise is pretty unusual in any sport. Chipper wasn’t the only reason they were so good but he was a very important contributor to that success.

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The book traces his beginnings growing up in a small town in north Florida where he was religiously schooled in the correct way to play baseball by his dad. His dad played college ball at Stetson University and was offered a contract by the Chicago Cubs but since it wasn’t for much money and since Chipper was “on the way” his dad opted to stay on at Stetson as their baseball coach. But more importantly he worked at developing his son into becoming a tremendous ball player.

Timeless Travels: Tales of Mystery, Intrigue, Humor, and Enchantment by Joseph Rotenberg


Timeless TravelsWho is today’s American Jew? Joseph Rotenberg styles himself as a modern-day maggid (traditional Jewish storyteller), weaving tales from the everyday to the fantastic, each one bringing the reader a slice of the American Jewish experience. Just as Sholem Aleichem did more than a hundred years ago in his famous stories describing Russian Jewish life, these tales inform and entertain by uncovering little-known events and personalities that have impacted the American Jewish world. In the 1950s, the late Harry Golden, in his popular collections Only in America and For Two Cents Plain, introduced Jewish culture to many non-Jewish Americans. Joseph Rotenberg’s work updates that vision to depict the contemporary, modern American Jew who is today increasingly as much at home in the halls of the Ivy League, the corridors of power in Washington, the corporate boardroom, and the theater as he is in the beit midrash and the synagogue. You’ll laugh, cry, and wonder as you travel through Joseph Rotenberg’s incisive and at times laugh-outloud funny collection of tales.

Timeless Travels is a fascinating and thought-provoking account of the experiences and travels of Jewish people throughout history, by the talented author, Joseph Rotenberg. Timeless Travels will appeal to readers of all ages. I highly recommend this page-turning collection of short stories.”

Douglas R. Cobb – Reviewer for Bestsellersworld.com

The Midwife’s Sister: The Story of Jennifer Worth by her Sister by Christine Lee

Reviewed by Teri Davis

The Midwife's SisterChristine Lee is the sister of Jennifer Lee Worth who is the author of Call the Midwife series. Her perspective on their lives is quite different from her sister’s viewpoint.

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Jennifer is three years older than her sister, Christine. The two had a close relationship in their early years, relying on each other for companionship.
While their father was daily working, their mother was not nurturing, and for Christine, Jennifer was her big sister/mother.

Much of the novel regards their childhood, which privileged, was problematic with their mother suffering from a stroke when she arrived home early one day to discover her father with his secretary in their bed. The girls’ lives spun into turmoil as their parents split and their father remarried which eventually causes the sisters to be separated.

Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy: Ernest Hemingway’s Secret Adventures, 1935-1961 by Nicholas Reynolds

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Writer, Sailor, Soldier,SpyAuthor Reynolds holds a PhD from Oxford, is a former Marine who also worked as a CIA officer eventually settled into the role of military historian. It was while he was helping gather information for a new exhibit at the CIA Museum on the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), that Reynolds ran across several documents referencing Ernest Hemingway. That in itself was not so surprising as anyone who has read any of Hemingway’s work is aware the author worked as a war corespondent and also lived in Cuba as Castro came to power. However, his findings went far beyond that. He was surprised to find hints that Hemingway had once been associated with the NKVD which was the forerunner of the KGB, served as a spy for the US but also later a supporter of Castro. Make no mistake, this not some drily written tome of historical facts and documents. Reynolds seriously researched Hemingway’s life during each of these times and wrote a book filled with the author’s fascinating adventures. An author who already had a reputation of living life mostly out of bounds. How much research did the author do? There is roughly 80 pages of notes at the end of the book before the index.

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Much has been written about Ernest Hemingway already. Most people with any interest at all in the author knows of his 4 wives, his penchant for adventure regardless of the danger, his reputation as a hard drinker and his periods of deep depressions. This book gives readers a ring side seat into the larger than life figure explaining why all of those things happened to him. One of my favorite tales was of Hemingway actually patrolling the US coast line looking for German subs, a job he was sanctioned by the military to do. He was not just looking for them, his desire was to find and sink one. It isn’t just that he did this that makes this so interesting. It is the enthusiasm he put into the project that is. In many ways, he seems like a man who has never outgrown the little boy playing at war. One of my biggest surprises was how easily Hemingway was able to work his way into situations. He started as a writer covering WWII but slowly wormed his way into working for the OSS under the code name ARGO as a spy. He managed to get himself very close to the front lines, and even managed to fly for the RAF.

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Notorious RBGLike or dislike her, Ruth Bader Ginsberg is a woman who daily continues to defy stereotypes. She’s eighty-three-years-old and stands five foot and one inch.
No one questions her intelligence. This dynamo is a legendary force fighting for injustices to make our country a better place.

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As being a Supreme Court Justice, her diminutive size is completely opposed to her immense influence of society today. Ginsberg always has defined life with her rules. She excelled in school. Unfortunately, her mother died of cancer the day before she graduated high school. Attending Cornell in the early 1950s as a woman who married with a degree in government.

Last Night in the OR: A Transplant Surgeon’s Odyssey by Bud Shaw

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Last Night in the ORHow does someone become a transplant surgeon?

Bud Shaw became a physician because his father was a surgeon. When his mother died of lung cancer, Bud became the son of a single-parent who had difficulty balancing raising three children with the demands of surgery. Naturally, Bud graduated from college, then medical school. Becoming a surgeon is challenging and demanding as well as humbling. 1981, in Pittsburgh, a young doctor was introduced into the world of liver transplantation.

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Shaw’s first experience was in the transplant world was in Pittsburgh during 1981. Ironically, the patient was a liver transplant surgeon from Texas who suffered from a congenital liver disease. He had traveled to Pittsburgh to for the procedure by the most respected liver transplant surgeon of the time. The donor’s liver had just arrived from Virginia.

For Shaw, who had just graduated from the University of Utah as a surgery resident, he was an excited thirty-one-year-old thrilled with being allowed to train with this transplant team.

For a prospective world-class surgeon, this is the opportunity of his life.
His first day was already a disaster. He received a phone call while driving across the country. Apparently, he was expected in the operating room last week. So much for leaving messages with the head surgeon’s secretary. Two days later, Bud and his wife made it to Pittsburgh. As they moved into a new home, the refrigerator broke along with his car being vandalized. Strangely, the nurse on the team wanted him to sign a petition stating that transplants were unethical. With the six procedures in six months resulted in six deaths.
His first time on the team was disastrous with the surgeon completely humiliating him.

Between Breaths: A Memoir of Panic and Addiction by Elizabeth Vargas (Kindle Edition)

Reviewed by Nancy Eaton

Between BreathsElizabeth Vargas has always been one of my favorite journalists. I enjoyed her time on Good Morning America and loved to watch her co-host episodes of 20/20. I was saddened to hear about her problems with anxiety and alcohol. It was such a shock because I, and I’m sure thousands of others, had no idea Elizabeth had this problem.

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As I started to read Between Breaths her story became more and more interesting. I could not put the book down. Elizabeth told the readers of the many times she attended rehab and how she tried to deal with the many setbacks where she found herself going back to alcohol. She was concerned about her marriage and her children. Her marriage fell apart but she had a strong support group and that is what really helped. Elizabeth gave details of her time as a little girl when her panic anxiety started and told of how she started as a journalist. The readers were provided with a detailed report of what she endured during her many stays in rehab facilities.

Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies by Ross King

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Mad EnchantmentThe Impressionists are among the most recognized and beloved of artists world wide. Among them, Monet is perhaps the best known in part because of his series of paintings of the waterlilies. Add to that, Monet was an interesting person and led quite a life. Unlike many artists who only became well known or appreciated after death, Monet was hugely popular while living and as a result amassed a fairly large fortune. His home in Giverny was large, comfortable and ever changing. His gardens were extensive. This book briefly covers Monet’s life story up to when his paintings became focused on his garden, but from that point forward is a much more detailed accounting.

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There is a sad irony in Monet’s work. He created his gardens as a kind of shelter from the stress of the outside world-a nature retreat you might say. Certainly his work gives people that sense of peace through the beauty of the water and flowers. Sadly, the paintings themselves caused the artist all sorts stress. Ever the perfectionist, Monet struggled to get the feel of the water the way he wanted and actually destroyed several canvases. Also, by the time Money was fully engaged with the painting of the waterlilies, he had lost his beloved wife and oldest son and his eyes were bothering him. Monet suffering from cataracts. He had treatments but was not satisfied with the outcome.

Jane Doe January: My Twenty-Year Search for Truth and Justice by Emily Winslow

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Jane Doe JanuaryTo say that Jane Doe January is a haunting read is a vast understatement, but it is the best term I can come up with to describe this book. While this book is at times both brutal and thought provoking, it is also frustrating and emotionally draining. This is a story of two women raped by the same man twenty years apart. The victims are known to the press only as Jane Doe January and Jane Doe November. Winslow was Jane Doe January, hence the title of the book.

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