Category Archives: Memoir

This is How I Save My Life: A Lyme Disease Memoir by Amy B. Scher

Reviewed by Carol Smith

Summary

Amy Scher’s body and soul are wracked by the ruthless repercussions inflicted from late-stage Lyme Disease. Countless medications rule her daily regimen. Visits to renowned medical institutions such as the Mayo Clinic have proved futile. She is 28 years of age and has suffered for the past 7 years. She is blessed with loving, supportive parents.

Amy has arrived in Delhi, India inspired and reeling with high hopes for the stem cell treatment she is about to receive. Her dedicated parents accompany her. In Delhi, India, she meets the infamous Dr. Schroff. Amy is educated by Dr. Schroll on the complex system of embryonic stem cells. The discourse provided in this Memoir about Stem Cell treatment is delicate and beyond fascinating. Scher creates a simple code of syntax making reading pleasant and easy.

The physician administering the first dose of stem cells introduces a philosophy of awareness in the field of healing. Amy’s mind and spirit will play a vital role in the treatment. After the injection, Amy embraces the new cells in her body like a long lost lover.

The treatment experience in itself is invigorating her mental status. She is engrossed in a state of acceptance and alive with hope. Her physicians are very supportive and encourage her to nourish the stem cells with positive thoughts. The finality is rewarding.

Review

This Is How I Save My Life” by Amy B. Scher is a journey of self-discovery and our own healing power.

Her exposition is well written and creative with a smooth flow. It is a worthwhile read for folks suffering from pain or emotional illness, or just plain healthy people. Amy Scher writes about the threads and themes in her life with deep intensity from the onset of contacting Lyme’s Disease to the end of her journey.

I thought her diction was fitting for this type of memoir. She uses warm and sincere words that describe her innermost feelings. She tells us how to persevere and stay alive in the midst of suffering. Her journey of suffering and treatment teach her that life is about dealing with the pitfalls that are handed to us innocently or by our own misgivings. She shares with the reader how she learned to repair brokenness, plan new avenues, and rebuild the damage caused by the hurricanes of life just as the “stem cells” rebuild damaged nerve, tissue, and muscle.

Scher uses a hyperbole to illuminate her fight with Lyme Disease as she states “it is like climbing Mt. Everest, except your hiking boots are flip-flops and your flip-flops are broken”.

Toward the middle of her memoir, she is unmasked and shares an intimate experience with her readers; a reversal of character has developed, and she has fully embraced this change.

In her memoir, we are informed that her journey to Delhi, India for stem cell treatment inspired dozens of Lyme patients to follow in her footsteps. Her brave and bold adventure opened up a stepping stone of hope for others.

The stem cell treatment seems to be working; however, she is revisited with Medical problems that existed prior to contact with Lyme’s Disease.

The denouement is described as an act of further soul searching that opens up a new avenue of thought that empowers Amy. In an illuminated state of mental consciousness, Scher musters up a self-will that gives her the strength to conquer every fiber of her body. She begins to heal and enjoy a new life journey of health free from suffering.

The Unopened Letter: A Dose of Reality Changes a Young Man’s Life Forever by RW Herman

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Richard William Herman was dealing with challenging life situations, which led him to drop out of college and reevaluate his life. Not long afterward, he received a draft notice. The year was 1965 during the Vietnam War Era. Rather than serve his time in the Army, he enlisted in the Navy for a four-year stint. The Unopened Letter is about the experiences that RW Herman went through as a young man who made a commitment to the United States Military at the age of nineteen. Herman attended boot camp in San Diego, California, where he demonstrated an aptitude for leadership. He volunteered to be the company yeoman and excelled at the job. After successfully graduating from basic training, Herman received his orders and found out he would be going to school for training as a radioman. At the end of training, Herman attained the rank of Radioman Seaman (RMSN) and was ordered to report for duty on the naval vessel USS Cambria stationed in Norfolk, Virginia. While serving his tour of duty, Herman became a tremendous asset in the communications division and got quick promotions. Although Herman never saw combat, he not only participated in a number of training exercises that prepared Marines for deployment to Vietnam, but he also experienced historical moments and life-changing events.

Lines in the Sand: An American Soldier’s Journey in Iraq by F. Scott Service

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

F. Scott Service extends an open invitation to step into the mind of a soldier at war. “Lines in the Sand: An American Soldier’s Journey in Iraq” is based on the journal entries kept during the author’s service in Iraq. It offers a unique and very intimate look into the thoughts and emotions brought on by a world falling apart.

The memoir was triggered by F. Scott Service being deployed with the US Army to the Iraq war. He was stationed at Camp Anaconda, where he served as a specialist in hydraulics mechanic, mainly focusing on repairing helicopters. At camp all daily activities are strictly regimented by the greater power of the US Army. The few days off that soldiers enjoy offer very limited display of freedom. However, in parallel, he followed his calling and passion as a writer, tirelessly documenting the daily life of a soldier.

A recurring theme of the book is the concept of conscientious objector and its repercussions. Scott is faced with this questions once at the beginning of his story and once towards the end. Each time the answer would be a major turning point for future events. However, what is truly intriguing to follow is what happens in the meantime; how his experience of war consolidates his theories and belief system. During his deployment, F. Scott Service faced an internal war of his own. Relentlessly he tried to reason with the seemingly unreasonable Iraq War, hoping to attribute some meaning to complete chaos.

One Voice, Two Lives by David Wisnia

Reviewed by Nancy Eaton

This book is an amazing memoir that will keep you turning the pages.

David Wisnia and his family lived in Sochaczew, Poland. He came from a well-to-do family. His father owned a factory that manufactured folding beds and upholstered furniture. However, soon after David’s Bar Mitzvah everything changed when Germany occupied Poland. David’s family was murdered and he was left by himself and had to run to avoid getting captured by the Nazis.

In time David ended up in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. David tells the readers many stories about what happened there. So many times, he thought he was going to die but partially through his singing voice he was given special perks. He tells of his relationship with Rose and how she also helped him.

Playing Soldier by F. Scott Service

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

Playing Soldier” is a raw and masterfully written memoir by F. Scott Service. The book is dedicated to the personal experience of war. The author starts with the motivation that may lead someone to participate, takes us through a fragment of war, and ending his tale with the aftermath.
Our journey along Scott starts at the very beginning with his childhood. He was raised in a loving home, but not a perfect home. An only child, he finds refuge from daily life in fiction and play. One day he finds the old field jacket of his father which sparks a new narrative for him, playing soldier. Dressed up in his father’s jacket and armed with a BB gun, he shares the battlefield with the neighborhood kids. School fails to hold Scott’s attention; he would rather continue to explore the many worlds of fiction. He was dreaming of becoming a literary world-builder himself but was repeatedly pulled toward more practical career alternatives.

The next stage of his life slowly ushers in and Scott marries his college sweetheart, Rita with whom he raises Spazzy, their beloved cat. Hand in hand they were slowly building their future together. But the sparkly surface blinds Scott from a dark truth that lurks in the corner of his consciousness as there is no substance to this projection of life together. The I became lost in us, or just in her. So, when offered the chance to join the National Guard, Scott, with his wife’s blessing, decides to follow his inner child’s call to adventure. The military still has an almost magical hold on him; it is shrouded in romanticism and thrill. What is more, the recruiter also flaunts the perspective of good pay and better employment opportunities.

The Gene Rasp: A Novel by Patrick L. McConnell

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

A noteworthy excursion into the world of science fiction, Patrick L. McConnell’s The Gene Rasp renders the heart and the mind rapt with its exploration of the heart and humanity through the journey of the inventor of a phenomenal life altering device offering hope to mankind for a future utopia.

Fascinating from its outset, the story takes place in the future, with the autobiography of
of central character Tom Spoon later known as Dr. Tom Maloof due to be published in the year 2165. However this is no ordinary autobiography because Tom is no ordinary person; as a matter of fact he becomes the savior of future humanity as he invents a revolutionary medical device called the Gene Rasp which can alter genetics of individuals offering cures for cancer as well as many other diseases thusly making the road to immortality a little clearer.

Easily engaging, the story captivates as Tom Spoon charms readers into his world with a humble and comfortable tone, drawing rich images as he reflects on his life, remembering people, relationships, and experiences which affected his journey from orphan to renowned doctor. He recounts having grown up in an orphanage of which we learn that life for Tom was lonely as a boy, although surrounded by many others, he was different, as he struggled with dyslexia. Believing his brain was broken but determined to overcome his affliction, he yearned to be both understood and connected to something, he began to write poetry, heartfelt masterpieces which appear interspersed throughout the story. Tom grows despite dyslexia going on to accomplish much with his life. He wins a woodworking contest at eighteen, attends college, and later graduate school. Altogether Tom’s journey culminates into a hopeful version of an immortal future.

Entirely a very likable read, The Gene Rasp garners the attention with an intelligent and richly woven journey through a science fiction narrative. I enjoyed author Patrick L. McConnell’s efforts within this work as he successfully brought forth a story that was simultaneously thought-provoking and touching. In particular, I appreciated the refreshing inclusion of intermittent QR code scanning tags and URL links as well as the inclusion of the end of the screenplay for the movie version, all served well to enhance the reading experience by creating deeper interaction with the reader. Also personally, I think this would make a great movie and I look forward to more works by author McConnell. This is a read definitely worth adding to your science fiction collection.

The Secrets to Living a Fantastic Life: Two Survivors Reveal the 13 Golden Pearls They’ve Discovered by Dr. Allen Lycka and Harriet Tinka

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

The Secrets to Living a Fantastic Life by Dr. Allen Lycka and Harriet Tinka is a very inspirational and thought-provoking book written by two people who lived through extremely traumatic and trying experiences. The authors learned from those experiences and grew to understand that they did not have to allow what happened to them to influence the rest of their lives negatively. Instead, they both chose to move on and have successful careers and happy lives, and decided to collaborate and write a book to help others also live “fantastic lives.”

The Secrets to Living a Fantastic Life is subtitled “Two Survivors Reveal the 13 Golden Pearls They’ve Discovered.” Those “golden pearls,” or life lessons, aided them to get past the traumatic events in their lives and to move on. The self-help book that they wrote, detailing what those 13 golden pearls are, is full of revelations that the authors hope will inspire readers of the book. The negative things that everybody experiences in their lives, to one extent or the other, do not have to define who we are as people.

I really liked it that Dr. Allen Lycka and Harriet Tinka opened up in The Secrets to Living a Fantastic Life and revealed the nature of the traumatic experiences they went through. Dr. Lycka was diagnosed as having Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) and he was told he only had six months to live. Harriet Tinka was a fashion model and a Woman of Distinction who lived through the terror of being kidnapped by someone she knew, stabbed by the man, and left for dead. Dr. Lycka and Harriet Tinka could have let these things embitter them and alter the course of their lives and careers for the worse. Instead, they moved on, grew, and didn’t let the negative things they went through define them.

What are the 13 golden pearls that the authors discovered and relate to their readers in The Secrets to Living a Fantastic Life? Being an author myself, I don’t want to reveal too many “spoilers.” I’d rather that potential readers of the book get the pleasure of checking out what the pearls are on their own, by reading Dr. Lycka and Harriet Tinka’s book. They reveal what the pearls are in a captivating and entertaining manner by both telling stories from their own lives and also by utilizing a myriad of quotes from famous authors like Ralph Waldo Emerson and celebrities like Sir Paul McCartney, Christopher Reeve, and Bruce Lee.

I will mention a couple of the pearls that I loved reading about the most, though, and those are the importance of forgiveness and laughter. I will talk more about a few of the other pearls with Dr. Lycka and Harriet Tinka in an interview that they graciously agreed to do with me, which can be read elsewhere at this same site.

The Boy Refugee: A Memoir from a Long-Forgotten War by Khawaja Azimuddin, M.D.

Reviewed by Danita Dyess

In The Boy Refugee: A Memoir from a Long-Forgotten War by Dr. Khawaja Azimuddin, he chronicles the devastating effects of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. Back then, Azimuddin, a Pakistani, was only eight years old. His detailed account of the civil unrest chronicles two years of emotional, economical, familial, and political upheaval. About 100,000 Prisoners of War were entangled in a never-ending battle between the Bangladeshis and their quest for independence and the Pakistanis who have assumed total control.

Azimuddin had two older siblings – his sister, Maliha Apa and brother, Khusro Bhaijan. His mother, Ammi, was the daughter of an influential civil servant. Their spacious home was surrounded by a pond and trees filled with bananas, apples, and coconuts.

His father, Pappa, had been educated in India. Now he was a bishari, upper class group of society. Pappa worked as a plant manager for Adamjee Jute Mills, the world’s largest manufacturer of jute and cotton products. He oversaw the Bengali workers, the poor class residing in shantis. The two classes are about to erupt in a war. Why?

The boy that liked to play cricket, ride his bike, and pet his pigeon, Kabooter, explains. He says the history of the two factions began when the East and West Pakistan were separated by geography. When the British left, two countries formed – Muslims represented Pakistan (Bengalis) and Hindus represented India. Now the Pakistani army killed mill workers. So the mukti bahini murdered Pakistani officers and civilians.

So the story unfolds with Abdul, a loyal servant of Azimuddin’s family suddenly leaves. He had heard about the slaughtering of five Bengali men. Also, Mujibar Rahman was a political leader who won the election but was denied the presidency. The Awami League supported him and protested the conditions. Bengali workers vacated their jobs at the mill.

Travels Through the Years: A Life Story by James McGee

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Travels Through the Years: A Life Story is a wonderful retelling of James McGee’s life as he takes readers on an inspirational and fascinating chronological journey from childhood through adulthood, marriage, fatherhood, and retirement. McGee spent his childhood in the small town of Lomita, California, before he took a gap year during college to travel. This marked the beginning of a lifetime exploring all 50 states in the United States along with 86 countries. During McGee’s travels, which were tied into military service and business and leisure trips, he became acquainted with relatives and visited ancestral and historical sites in conjunction with cultural places of interest. McGee has written captivating descriptions of the people and places he encountered and provides great insights into the different lifestyles he was exposed to in all of the locales that he visited either once or multiple times. The recollections of personal and family history will tug at people’s heartstrings, especially the sudden loss of his beloved wife and son. Anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one will relate to McGee’s difficult, unpredictable, and slow j.urney through the grieving process and the changes one goes through while struggling to cope with devastating loss. He writes about the mechanisms that helped him through his bereavement, which can provide inspiration to others who have lost someone they love.

The book is extremely well-organized, and the chapter titles and headlines within the chapters make the text easy to navigate and also give readers the opportunity to engage with subject matter they may want to revisit. Black and white family photographs add extra meaning to the story. Readers will appreciate the reference material at the end of the book as it is helpful in providing a snapshot of the wealth of material that is covered in the book. In the Postscript there are quotations that fit in marvelously with McGee’s intimate thoughts about his life together with a list of books that were an indelible part of the journey. The Afterword is comprised of his reflections on life experiences as well as opinions on differing topics from the years 2002 through 2020. Appendix 1 lists the 86 countries he visited and the year(s) that he traveled. Appendix 2 is a chronological summation of all the jobs he has held throughout his working and retirement life. Appendix 3 lists the places where he has lived and the timeframe. Following Appendix 3 are past reviews of books used in the writing of this remarkable book that will take readers on a spellbinding journey through the past and into the present.

McGee eloquently articulates his feelings and insights in this beautiful life story that is inspiring, thoughtful, and encouraging to all who set aside the time to read the book. Readers will also find the personal and family history along with the descriptions of places, whether historical or modern, of great interest. Reading this story is a genuine treat and will embolden people in their own travel plans, and those who prefer armchair travel will find the book delightful and a great way to learn about the history, traditions, and hospitality of many cultures.

Dak Ackerthefifth and the Ethics of Heroism by Joshua S. Joseph

Reviewed by Ray Palen

“You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” – The Dark Knight

That quote from filmmaker Christopher Nolan resonated with me as I read this complex and extremely satisfying novel from Joshua S Joseph. The protagonist in this, a young Indian man with the unique name of Dak Ackerthefifth — a name blamed on the same slip of the entry pen used on Ellis Island while in-taking droves of new American citizens to our country.

DAK ACKERTHEFIFTH AND THE ETHICS OF HEROISM is more of a spiritual journey than a work of fiction and the reader is privileged to go along for the ride. Throughout Dak’s life he seeks to understand the precept of what it means to be a hero. We understand that for one to be a hero you must pick a side — hero or villain — but we also learn that life is not that black and white and often times it is not clear as to which side you are on. The story begins with the death of his parents, Richard and Rudy. Our narrator indicates that the death of parents is the way every good hero story starts — but be mindful, this is no Disney tale.

Richard Ackerthefifth was a ballpoint pen magnate who allegedly died during a business trip to the Congo — or so Dak’s mother told him. Rudy was left to raise 8-year-old Dak and his younger sister, Emily. Regrettably, or in keeping with the hero plan, Rudy passes away when Dak is 14. Her death is blamed solely on Crazy Uncle Ji. He was not an actual ‘Uncle’, but was given that honorific title by their mother. Shortly after Rudy was diagnosed with cancer, Crazy Uncle Ji gave her a cocktail of various supplements which initially helped her but then quickly pushed her into a physical nosedive that she never recovered from.