Category Archives: Biography

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.

Click Here for More Information on Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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.

Click Here for More Information on Last Night in the OR

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.

Click Here for More Information on Between Breaths

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.

Click Here for More Information on Mad Enchantment

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.

Click Here for More Information on Jane Doe January

Good Morning Diego Garcia: A Voyage of Discovery (Journeys) (Volume 2) by Susan Joyce

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

Good Morning Diego GarciaWith Good Morning Diego Garcia: A Journey of Discovery (Journeys – Book 2), talented author Susan Joyce relates her further memoirs, which she began in The Lullaby Illusion: A Journey of Awakening (Journeys – Volume 1). The result is a fascinating book, combining the genres of memoirs and travel books, relating the author’s further adventures, when she and her husband, Charles, are invited by friends to travel in a yacht they are breaking in on its maiden voyage, and they travel to many exotic locations. Like in the first book, the author undergoes an internal journey of self-discovery as well as experiencing the journey of a lifetime places many people only dream of seeing.

Click Here for More Information on Good Morning Diego Garcia

Good Morning Diego Garcia begins with the narrator and Charles back in Ojai, California, after having spent a tumultuous time in Cyprus, living through the 1974 coup and war there. The couple are settling into a house they have rented, with Charles waiting on his old job to call him back and let him know work is available for him. They do not seem to be worried about financial matters very much, as Charles has money socked away in at least a couple of bank accounts for them to get by on.

It’s a Long Story: My Life by Willie Nelson with David Ritz

Reviewed by Allen Hott

itsalongstoryAnother book by Willie! This one is the story of his life as he tells it. And since he is now 82 years old I guess we would all agree It’s A Long Story. But it is also very interesting as he recounts his younger years in Texas and how he went from being a farm boy to becoming a musical icon.

He played his guitar and sang in bands all around Abbott Texas at first but then began moving out into the bigger cities. Basically he played in small bands that performed primarily in bars. Even at a young age he not only was around liquor but began partaking of it at that young age.

Trauma, Shame, and the Power of Love: The Fall and Rise of a Physician Who Heals Himself
by Christopher E. Pelloski, MD

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Trauma, Shame and the Power of LoveAlthough sexual abuse and pornography of children is nothing new within this society, each time it is discovered and reported there is an accompanying knee jerk reaction of anger, disgust and distrust that follows so much so that it becomes hard to see the many facets of the whole truth about the situation such was the case with Christopher E. Pelloski M.D. In his book, Trauma, Shame and the Power of Love, which is a biographical work, he bares his soul and shares his experiences from arrest to trial as a non-productive participant of child pornography.

Sorrows & Songs by Janice Wood Wetzel

Reviewed by Veronica Alvarado

Sorrows & SongsPoignant and profound, Janice Wood Wetzel’s memoir Sorrows and Songs recounts the author’s decidedly moving life. From a fraught childhood, to a complicated marriage, to a single life as an educated and highly successful career-focused woman, Wetzel’s life-story will both inspire and amaze readers in its fantastic life-story with a humble telling.

Check Amazon.com for More Information on Sorrows & Songs: One Lifetime-Many Lives

Sorrow and Songs begins with Wetzel’s recollections of her childhood and teenage years, and her understatedly complicated relationship with her parents. At varying times loving and physically/mentally abusive, alternatively admired, loved, and feared each of her parents. Moving across the country upwards of a dozen times before she was seventeen, the chapters that reflect Wetzel’s childhood, told in honest and straightforward prose, are moving and riveting for their emotional tenor. Of these chapters, perhaps the most moving is the author’s account of her teenage pregnancy, and her parents’ support, and then outrage, at their daughter’s behavior.

Burn Zones: Playing Life’s Bad Hands by Jorge P. Newbery

Burn Zones

Reviewed by Ronnie Alvarado

Part memoir, part inspirational story, Jorge P. Newbery’s BURN ZONES: PLAYING LIFE’S BAD HANDS is the true life tale of a modern-day Renaissance man, a self-made success who will stop at nothing to achieve his goals.

Newbery begins his telling with a short introduction informing the reader what he means by the concept of “burn zone.” It is a notion that Newbery borrows from his days of professional cycling, and refers to a period of extended, all-out effort which routinely separates the winners of a competition from those who finish behind them. It a metaphor that Newbery adopts throughout his book, using it to describe the various obstacles that he and his loved ones faced on the road to success.