I Am A Failure By Akhil Sharma [Book Review]

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Book Review: I Am A Failure by Akhil Sharma | Memior | Autobiography | Nonfiction | RachelPoli.com

I received a free digital copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

Have you experienced failures in your life? Is your startup business facing a downturn? Is your dream partner telling you she hates you? Don’t despair. Failure encages us all.

Akhil, born with a plastic spoon in India, was specially designed for all failures life can bring. Growing up like everyone, the more he tried for success, the more he failed. Not until when he redefined his stupidity and started listening to his heart, his failures brought forth his keys to freedom and made him discover that ‘Failure encourages us all’.

This book is about his transformation from being a failure to the creator of the award-winning technique ‘The Art of Failure’. It talks about his technique, hidden in the form of an entertaining but true autobiographical story. It is helpful for everyone who wants to become a fearless failure warrior rather than being a usual success hunter.

The narrative is set against the transformation of India – from its analog days to the digital age and bubbling startup economy. One thing which hasn’t changed with time though is the hatred and fear towards failure and how it has been eating up our enormous innovation potential for ages. It is time to accept failure as a part of life – where there is no failure, there is no growth. Learn from your experiences and move on!

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.com

I think the cover goes well with the words inside. It shows the author well put together but in fragments as well. He fails, but there are some successes and failing is part of life and what makes you the person you are today.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.com

I’ll admit this isn’t the typical story I’d pick up on my own if I saw it in the bookstore. Though it intrigued me enough when the author reached out to me. We all fail, so I knew it was definitely going to be something relatable.

Plot | RachelPoli.com

This is a non-fiction memoir piece about the author by the author. He describes his life in detail from the moment he’s born up until now.

Details about his life, events, places, and people, are prominent as he describes his life’s ups and downs.

I found this to be an interesting topic for an autobiography because it’s one we can all relate to. We all fail in life multiple times, from something simple to something much bigger. The question is, how do we overcome it and move on? The author explains how he overcomes failure – how he expects it – and it’s done pretty well.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

The writing style is easy to read. The story is written in block text (much like blogging) rather than indented paragraphs right after another.

The tone of the narrator seemed to fit right in with me. It was almost as though he knew he was talking to the reader. We just sat down in a coffee shop one day and he told me his life story. It felt natural and well done.

I’ll admit there were a couple parts here and there that seemed to slow down. Some parts might not have needed as much detail, but it was pretty good all the same.

Overall | RachelPoli.com

This was certainly an interesting read. It was well written and the context is something everyone can learn from. It’s quick at 160 pages so if it piques your interest, please give it a try.

I Am A Failure by Akhil Sharma gets…
Book Review Rating System | 4 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com 4 out of 5 cups

Favorite Quote:

“We were scared of death back then and we still are. For us, it’s still the circle of life and not the circle of death, although both are one and the same thing.” -Akhil Sharma, I Am A Failure

Buy the book:

Amazon US | Amazon UK

About Akhil Sharma:

Akhil Sharma, AuthorAkhil Sharma aka ‘The Failure Guy’ is a renowned award losing entrepreneur, inventor and innovator. In his decade long career, ranging from being a mariner, selling credit cards to being a technologist, he is blessed to have failed almost every time. Specially designed for failure, he is using his extensive experience to conduct ‘The Art of Failure’ workshops through which he has helped individuals to keep up the spirit of trying despite failures and coached them how to listen to their hearts and find their real inspiration. These workshops have taught them how to be innovative and creative amidst a failure environment. His lifelong mission is to make the human mind friendly to failure – a concept which stands in stark contrast to the general interest in success.

In 2016, the United Nations and iCongo chose him for the Rex Karmaveer Chakra award and Global fellowship, and he is often called upon to talk about it for free on various platforms in India. He is also a Mentor for Change selected by the Niti Ayog, Indian Government in 2018.

Connect with Akhil:

Website | Twitter | LinkedIn | Goodreads

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and if you enjoyed this post, please share it around!

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Short Story Sunday 188: Dear Diary, Writing Buddies [NaNoWriMo]

Short Story Sunday 188: Writing Buddies

            It’s no secret that Kris and I have a love for video games, especially since we have a second blog dedicated to gaming. We also love YouTube and there are a lot of gamers we follow and watch on there. They talk about games, new and old, do reviews, top lists, and most of them have Let’s Play channels where they play through a lot of their favorite games.

We’ve been watching these guys for a couple of years now and we love each and every one of them. They’re funny, informative, and pretty cute as well.

Kris and I sometimes send writing memes to each other through Pinterest and Tumblr, mostly because they’re funny, but we try to encourage each other to continue writing at the same time. Regardless, who doesn’t want a hot celebrity smirking at you while encouraging to do what you love the most?

Last year, for NaNoWriMo 2016, I decided to create a couple of writing memes for Kris. She always had a hard time sticking to one idea throughout the month and that often slowed down her word count. She had taken a couple days off from work because she was able to and our dog was having surgery. She was going to use those days to get ahead in her novel word count.

So, I decided to print out some writing memes for Kris. I figured once she left to drive our cousins to school, I would tape one of them up onto the bathroom mirror. I knew she would definitely see it there. But, I figured, why find her favorite celebrity on the Internet when I can just make my own?

I decided to create writing memes using our favorite YouTubers. I came up with three different ideas, which was perfect because she had three days off from work. I would tape one up on the bathroom mirror before leaving for work each more.

That first day, Kris sent me a text while I was work and I nearly burst out laughing once I read what she wrote. She wrote in all caps about how she just “found Jared in our bathroom” and how I was simply awesome. Of course, if you were reading over my shoulder and had no idea what we were talking about, that conversation very well could have been taken out of context completely—and probably not in a very good way.

I had three days off from work the following week due to the election, a professional day for the teachers, and then Veteran’s Day. So, on Kris’s third and final day off from work, we were admiring the three boys, who were now taped up against our closet door.

“You know, I expect a couple of memes from you when I have a few days off from work next week.” I told her.

Kris waved her hand dismissively and said, “I already have them printed out.”

She didn’t end up just giving me three based on my days off, but she gave me four. I made her an extra one because she also had Veteran’s Day off, but I had two different ideas so I ended up giving her two. We felt the need to give each other an even amount of writing memes so Kris made me another one as well.

But both of us kept coming up with more and more ideas for these memes. And, if we’re going to be honest here, there are about 20 or so YouTubers that we want. Part of the reason we kept coming up with new ideas and pictures was because we didn’t want to leave anyone out and we were trying to get a meme for each one of the guys. Then we would of course come up with various ideas for the same YouTuber.

We have issues when it comes to YouTubers. That’s all I’m going to say on that.

Our closet door is currently filled with various pictures of our favorite YouTubers reminding us to keep writing, that we’re great writers, and that we can do it and reach our dreams.

It’s amazing how encouraging Kris and I can be to one another when it comes to YouTube and video games and writing. Of course, we’re always like that to each other, but we had way too much fun with the writing memes. It got a little too far and if anyone comes up into our room and sees our closet door, I’m not exactly sure how we’re going to explain all that.

In fact, it’s hard to believe that I’m explaining it to everyone who follows my blog.

I don’t think it’s a bad thing, though. Kris and I love watching those YouTubers and they inspire us to do what we love each and every day, just like they did and now look where they are. Plus, Kris and I can have a lot of fun and get some good laughs out of it as well.

We still give each other a writing meme once in a while as new ideas pop up and we discover new YouTubers. I don’t think this joke between the two of us is ever going to end. But then again, I’m not sure I want to let it end.

If anything, it’s a great motivator for all the NaNo sessions to come in the future.

Words: 898

I hope you enjoyed the story! Let me know what you think in the comments below and we’ll chat!

Into The Light By Emily Stroia [Book Review]

Into The Light by Emily Stroia

Title: Into The Light
Author: Emily Stroia
Published: 
October 2017
Genre: Memoir, Poetry
How I got the book: I received a free digital copy in exchange for an honest review

Summary:

Into the Light is a memoir-inspired poetry collection in seven parts.

The book shares the author’s life from a transformative perspective of being in a deep state of darkness to finding hope, miracles and light. In the final part, there are notes to the reader and finding one’s inner peace after adversity.

This book explores trauma, abuse, sexual abuse, mental illness, loss, healing, spirituality, meditation, inspiration and empowerment.

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

This isn’t the kind of book I would typically read. I’ve read poetry before and I do enjoy memoirs. However, if I saw this at the bookstore I probably wouldn’t have picked it up. It’s a dark, sensitive topic, but it’s a quick read and it never hurts to branch out a little. Since this is a memoir, this review will be written a little differently.

rp-plot

This memoir is told through the author’s point of view from birth and beyond. It goes through all the motions as everything she witnessed as a child between her father’s relationship with her mother as well as her father’s relationship with herself. She describes both of her parents and watches them both continue on with their lives, though not necessarily in an upbeat way.

There is light at the end of the tunnel, however. It’s hard to describe as the story is so short. This one is better if you just read it yourself.

rp-writing-style

This book is a quick read being only 158 pages. It’s told entirely through poetry, so it goes fast. Some pages only have a few words written on them.

The poetry was well written and easy to follow. Some pages rhymed while others didn’t. Some of the poetry was written in longer sentences and some weren’t. It flowed well and no matter how it was written, it just read poetically. The author does have a way with words.

The book is broken up into several parts as well. We start at the very beginning, go through the journey and pain, and end up with her breakthrough and finally forgiveness. It goes through the motions very well almost as if it were the stages of grieving.

It’s fast-paced, but I think it worked well for this particular topic. As I read the story, I felt as though the ending, the redemption, was slower than the beginning. That was my interpretation of it, but I liked it. You want that happy ending.

rp-overall

This was a great read. While I can’t personally relate to the author, I’m sure there are others out there who can. It’s easier said than done, but there are positive moments in life and everything does and will get better. I think that’s what this story is about. You go through tough times, but there always is a light at the end of the tunnel. It was well written and I commend the author for sharing her story.

Into The Light by Emily Stroia gets…
5-Star Rating | Book Review5 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“If you ever wonder what you could
have done differently
remember you were doing your best
with what you knew how.”
-Emily Stroia, Into The Light

Buy the book:

Amazon

About Emily Stroia

Emily is an intuitive teacher, spiritual leader, author, and artist. Emily first discovered her gifts of intuition and creativity as a child and was placed in a highly gifted program for children. She often explored her gifts through writing, art, and experienced frequent visions and dreams that would turn out to be accurate. Not understanding fully why or how she was able to do this, she decided to study.

She has always felt a strong attraction to the metaphysical and spiritual aspects of life and continues to delve deeper into each. Believing strongly in her intuitive gifts, as well as wanting to express her deep desire to help people, Emily decided to utilize her abilities to turn her passion into a profession.Her mission is to inspire people to find the gifts in

Her mission is to inspire people to find the gifts in their stories and live powerful transformed lives with ease and peace. Her life is a breathing expression of intuition, passion, spirituality and creativity. Most days you can find her coaching clients, writing, practicing yoga and playing with her dog in Los Angeles.

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Real Friends By Shannon Hale [Book Review]

Real Friends by Shannon Hale

Title: Real Friends
Author: Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham (illustrator)
Published: 
May 2017 by First Second
Genre: Graphic novel, memoir, middle grade
How I got the book: I bought it

Summary:

When best friends are not forever . . . 

Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of a circle of friends called The Group. Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen’s #1, and some girls would do anything to stay on top . . . even if it means bullying others.

Now every day is like a roller coaster for Shannon. Will she and Adrienne stay friends? Can she stand up for herself? And is she in The Group—or out?

Newbery Honor author Shannon Hale and New York Timesbestselling illustrator LeUyen Pham join forces in this graphic memoir about how hard it is to find your real friends—and why it’s worth the journey.

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

I have seen this book floating around the book blogs of the WordPress world. I love a good graphic novel so when I found it at the bookstore, I decided to pick it up.

rp-plot

This is a fictionalized memoir based on the author’s childhood. A lot of it is true, but she fictionalized some things to make the story flow better. We follow Shannon as a young girl and watch her grow up as she tries to hold onto friendships and figure out who she is.

Her best friend is Adrienne, but then they meet a group of girls who follow Jen around. And they’re not nice all the time. Shannon doesn’t know whether they like her or not, but she still hangs out with them because she doesn’t have anyone else.

This is a good story all middle schoolers should read. It teaches an important lesson about being nice to others and also that it’s okay to not have a large group of friends. It’s okay to not be “popular.”

rp-characters

All the characters were portrayed well. I could relate with Shannon so much. She was being bullied, she didn’t have a lot of friends, and she developed anxiety along the way.

Adrienne was a good character as well. She was nice to Shannon but was also friends with Jen. When Jen was mean, Adrienne didn’t do anything because she didn’t want Jen to be mean to her in return. It was a vicious cycle. The other members of “The Group” were pretty much the same way.

It was typical behavior of middle-schoolers. But Shannon managed to push through.

rp-writing-style

The writing was well done, using a good amount of narrative and dialogue. The art style was great too. It really made the story, especially when Shannon was using her imagination.

It was a quick read being a graphic novel, but it was enjoyable (and relatable) enough that I was able to read it in one sitting.

rp-overall

This is a great story with an important lesson on bullying and just being true to who you are. Everyone should read this, no matter what age.

Real Friends by Shannon Hale gets…
5-Star Rating | Book Review 5 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“All a person needs is one good friend.” -Shannon Hale, Real Friends

Buy the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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Short Story Sunday 179: The Writing Portfolio

It was the second day of school for my cousins. One was in her sophomore year of high school and the other had just begun eighth grade. Neither were happy to be going back to school, but when they came home on that first day, they were all smiles. I think they were glad to be back into some sort of routine and it was nice to see all their friends again.

So on that second day, it occured me that we were indeed back into the swing of things. And when I say that, I mean homework.

The three of us were the only ones home and we sat in the living room talking. I asked how their days went. The older of the two said her day was fine, the younger described every minute of her day without missing one detail.

Then I asked about their homework. Being in upper middle school and high school, I assumed they had homework. Even if it was the second day of school.

They both nodded, the older explaining she had no idea what she had to do.

I took out her planner and read out loud what she wrote.

“English,” I said, “bring in writing portfolio.”

“Yeah, what’s that?” she asked.

I blinked at her. How did she not know what a writing portfolio was? Still, I explained it to her that it was like having samples of your writing. It was a folder of her previous work, I assumed essays she had written from her English class last year.

“I don’t have that.” she shrugged.

I didn’t know whether to agree or not. I was sure she had copies saved on the computer, but her teacher didn’t really expect the kids to keep an actual hard copy portfolio from the previous year?

“Well, what did your teacher say?” I asked.

“I don’t know.”

“What do you mean you don’t know…?”

“She might have explained it, but I don’t remember… Or maybe I wasn’t paying attention.”

This didn’t surprise me. I sighed and said, “Well, I guess you can just ask your teacher tomorrow.”

“But it was due today.”

I stared at her. I glanced at my other cousin, who sat in the armchair beside me. She was smirking, clearly enjoying that her sister was going to get a bad grade on the second day of school.

“Wait, it was due today, but you didn’t think to worry about this last night?” I asked.

“Well,” she continued, “my teacher must have said something about it yesterday and I just wasn’t paying attention. I only know about it now because kids were handing in thick folders with papers inside to her today.”

I sighed. “Okay then you’re just going to have to reprint everything you wrote last year and put it all together.”

“I don’t have that.”

“You have your laptop.”

“But I didn’t save anything.”

I cringed at this. How do you not save your homework? How can you write pages upon pages of essays and not bother to save any of it or at least print out an extra copy?

“I mean, the more stuff I save onto the computer the slower the computer will be.” she explained with a smile. A proud smile as though she had thought outside the box and solved the “slow computer” problem. The answer has clearly been right in front of us the whole time… So, stop saving your work onto the computer, everyone!

I had no idea what to say to her.

“Then go to your English teacher from last year and ask him if he has any copies.” I said. I knew that was a long shot, but it was the only thing I could think of to say.

“He already gave it to me.” she replied.

“Then what are we even talking about here…?”

“I think that’s how the other kids had their folders. Our teachers last year gave them to us at the end of the year.”

“Then where’s yours?”

“I asked Daddy to make a fire at the beginning of the summer and I burned all my schoolwork.”

At this, my other cousin burst out laughing. I was completely dumbfounded.

Thankfully, my mom walked through the front door. I stood up and said, “Tag. You’re it.”

I hope you enjoyed the story! Let me know what you think in the comments below and we’ll chat!

El Deafo by Cece Bell

El Deafo by Cece Bell | Graphic Novel | Book Review

Title: El Deafo
Author: Cece Bell
Published: 
September 2014 by Harry N. Abrams
Genre: Graphic Novel Memoir
How I got the book: I borrowed it from my cousin

Summary:

Starting at a new school is scary, even more so with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest! At her old school, everyone in Cece’s class was deaf. Here she is different. She is sure the kids are staring at the Phonic Ear, the powerful aid that will help her hear her teacher. Too bad it also seems certain to repel potential friends.

Then Cece makes a startling discovery. With the Phonic Ear she can hear her teacher not just in the classroom, but anywhere her teacher is in school–in the hallway…in the teacher’s lounge…in the bathroom! This is power. Maybe even superpower! Cece is on her way to becoming El Deafo, Listener for All. But the funny thing about being a superhero is that it’s just another way of feeling different… and lonely. Can Cece channel her powers into finding the thing she wants most, a true friend?

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

I’ve discovered graphic novels again so when my cousin mentioned she had to read this for summer reading, I asked to borrow it.

rp-plot

The book begins with our protagonist, a bunny, Cece, at four-years-old. She becomes ill and as a result, she loses her hearing.

We follow her all the way through fifth grade as she switches hearing aids, trying to come to terms with them, attempting to read lips, learn sign language, and overall, making friends.

This is a memoir based on the author coming to terms with her loss of hearing. It’s a touching story.

rp-characters

Cece, the protagonist, is a wonderful character to follow. She’s sweet, but self-conscious about her hearing aids and feels awkward that she has to give her teacher a microphone in front of the whole class. She doesn’t view her being deaf as something unique or special, she doesn’t know why it happened to her, even though she tries to embrace it by calling it her “superpower.”

She’s focused on trying to make friends who accept her for who she is and she has a tough time with that, especially because she’s still trying to accept herself.

Cece’s various friends were well rounded and certainly different from each other. They all seemed to accept her loss of hearing, but they showed it in different ways. One friend was pushy and bossy while another spoke loudly and slowly all the time.

Her parents and siblings were wonderful as well. Her mother tried her best to understand, but she was very supportive and did everything for her daughter she possibly could.

rp-writing-style

It’s a graphic novel, so of course, the pictures made the story. All the characters were bunnies and Cece was the narrator. There was a good share of dialogue, but there was a lot of Cece narrating as well as dream sequences of her using her hearing aids as a superpower.

It’s a really cool way to portray the story as a young child sees it and goes through it.

rp-overall

I enjoyed this story a lot. It’s not often you get a protagonist who’s deaf. It was interesting and fun and cute as well. This story is about making friends and accepting who you are. I would recommend this to anyone and read more of Cece Bell’s books.

El Deafo by Cece Bell gets…
5-Star Rating | Book Review 5 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“And being different? That turned out to be the best part of all. I found that with a little creativity, and a lot of dedication, any difference can be turned into something amazing. Our differences are our superpowers.” –Cece Bell, El Deafo

Buy the book:

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Short Story Sunday 162: We’re Getting A Kitty [Dear Diary]

Short Story Sunday: "We're Getting a Kitty" [Dear Diary story] | Flash Non-Fiction

            Hunter was our ragdoll cat who chose us when a house on the other side of my neighborhood released all their cats to the wild after getting a puppy. I was 12-years-old at the time, my aunt had just unexpectedly passed away two days after my birthday, and two weeks after that we ended up putting our dog, a 13-years-old English Springer Spaniel, to sleep.

I found Hunter in my yard a few weeks prior. Not bothering with the whole “stray animal caution” thing, I walked right up to him and pet him, picked him up, and played with him. He didn’t seem to mind. In fact, he seemed to love the attention.

We played together every day in my yard around the same time. He grew more comfortable with me and even came into the house a couple of times. I brought him in one night during a thunderstorm because I didn’t want him out there alone. He left the following morning, but we continued to feed him and he would visit us every day.

On the day we said goodbye to our dog, Casey, Hunter arrived and watched as my parents loaded Casey into the car. They pulled out of the driveway while my sisters and I, in tears, went back into the house. Hunter followed us inside and he never left after that.

We were all devastated as age and illness took over Hunter’s body and we had to put him down in November 2015.

I didn’t want to replace Hunter and I didn’t want to get another cat too soon after Hunter passed away. I also didn’t want to make Chip, our current little Chihuahua mix, jealous. Yet, I did miss having a cat around and wanted to get another one.

In August 2016, we finally adopted one from a shelter.

We were worried that Chip would be angry if we brought a cat home, but we hoped for the best. Hunter was living with us for a couple of years because Chip was brought to us at the tender age of three months old. Chip grew up with a cat as an older brother and learned a lot from him. Seriously, I sometimes think she’s a cat herself.

So yes, we were worried Chip would be jealous, angry, or even a little bit sad upon us bringing home a cat. Chip was always the baby of the family.

We wanted an older cat because they need love too, but also because we wanted one to be mostly house broken. Then again, we wanted a cat on the younger side because we didn’t want it to be territorial and believe it was in charge of Chip.

There weren’t too many cats at the shelter when we got there, but there was a ten-month-old gray tabby. He was curled up in a ball in the back corner of his cage. When we opened the door to let him sniff us and pet him, he completely snubbed us. He turned his back and laid back down as though he didn’t see us. It took some coaxing with toys, but he finally allowed us to pet him and even pick him up for a moment.

We ended up getting him. His name was Wayne, but we changed it to Chase. Of course, when I chose that name I didn’t think it would ring so true with his personality.

A few days before going to the shelter, we kept asking Chip, “Do you want a kitty? We’re getting a kitty! Kitty’s coming!”

We called Hunter “Kitty” a lot and Chip knew the word better than “come.” We thought that maybe if we gave her the idea that a new cat was coming into the family, she wouldn’t be so surprised when we brought the cat home.

We were shocked when we brought Chase home. He immediately put him into the bathroom so not to overwhelm him with the whole house and the dog right away. Chip could smell him and definitely knew there was a “kitty” around and she was extremely excited.

We were all relieved to see how excited Chip was that we had a cat. She kept trying to poke her head under the bathroom door and kept crying wanting to see him.

The workers at the shelter told us to introduce Chase and Chip slowly to each other. They suggested keeping Chip on her leash and being in a small room, such as the bathroom, to let them sniff each other and get to know one another.

Of course, we didn’t end up doing that.

We had enough confidence that Chip would be fine with the way she was reacting. Chase was shy (at first), but we kept him in the bathroom so he could get used to his surroundings and smells. We gave him Chip’s blanket and we gave Chip Chase’s blanket from the shelter so they could sniff each other before meeting.

After a little bit, we finally gave into Chip’s wishes and allowed her to see Chase for the first time.

My heart broke a little when Chip first saw Chase. She loved him, nothing bad happened, but she was definitely confused.

To us, there are many “kitties” in the world. There are many kinds of cats. Chip has only seen and known one cat in her entire life, Hunter. So every time we said “kitty,” who would she think of?

When we opened the bathroom door and let her in, Chip darted in excitedly. She stopped short and peered at Chase, who was sitting in the bathtub, with her ears flat and her head cocked to the side, one thing was clear.

She was obviously thinking, “You’re not Hunter!”

After nine months of not having Hunter around, and I have no idea if Chip had any idea of what happened to him. For all she knew, he was on vacation somewhere. When we told her we were getting a kitty, she must have assumed we were bringing Hunter home.

Chip got over the initial shock and it took them a little while to get used to each other. Chase was extremely shy and is a bit of a scaredy-cat and Chip just doesn’t want him coming near her bones (which he enjoys playing with because I think he knows it bothers her).

We were very lucky to find a cat like Chase and we’re blessed to have a wonderful dog like Chip. They’re both brats, but I love them to death and I can’t wait to see what shenanigans they’ll get into together.

Words: 1,100

I hope you enjoyed this story! Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Unpacked Sparkle by Patrick A. Roland

Unpacked Sparkle by Patrick A. Roland | Book Review

Title: Unpacked Sparkle
Author: Patrick A. Roland
Published: 
November 2016 by Az Publishing Services, LLC
Genre: Memoir
How I got the book: I received a free digital copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Summary:

Over a year ago, I left a Mariah Carey concert in Las Vegas after six songs. I had gone on the trip as a present to myself for turning forty. But I couldn’t enjoy it. I was high on multiple drugs, but mostly crystal meth, and extremely drunk. I had been this way the majority of the year and a half since my partner Pack had suddenly passed away.
I found him dead on the bathroom floor one January morning while I was getting ready for work. The police told me I had no rights in my own home and asked me to leave. This was before gay marriage became legal. Life as I knew it changed instantly.
His family pretended I didn’t exist. They mauled our home the day he died, leaving it a ravaged mess. I was kicked out of that home. I was also disinvited to his funeral. In eight days I lost everything that mattered. Not even the law protected me from this.
So I got high in an effort to shoulder the pain. It didn’t work. I carried the heavy weight of unresolved complicated grief and addiction on my back. It was like an elephant. A large, unwieldy elephant that wanted me to die.
No longer able to participate in anything that mattered and unwilling to bear this burden anymore, I went back to my hotel room on the twenty-sixth floor of a casino and looked out on the sparkly lights below. I wanted to be in the light. So I opened the window and decided to jump.
But God intervened. My mother had somehow found me. Help came and I surrendered to the powerlessness of my situation. I asked God to help me. I stayed and I fought and I learned how to love myself. I put on a pair of sparkly shoes I had bought for that barely attended concert and I walked in to the rooms of Crystal Meth Anonymous. I had bought the sparkly shoes hoping Mariah would see me in the audience. Though she didn’t get the chance, you did. You all embraced me and my sparkly shoes. They have become my calling card of experience, strength, and hope.

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

I found this book to be interesting right away because I love a good memoir, especially uplifting stories about hope and how others overcome obstacles in their lives. After interviewing the author, I definitely wanted to read the book.

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This story is about the author going through recovery from the untimely death of his partner, his addiction to drugs and alcohol, as well as him being mentally ill with bipolar.

I feel as though there’s not much else I can really say about the story more than what the summary has already mentioned about it. It’s a sad story, but uplifting that conveys an important message that you should just read for yourself.

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The main character is, of course, the author as he tries to regain control of his life after the death of his partner, Pack. Throughout the course of the story we not only learn a lot about the author, but we get tidbits about Pack as well, among his parents, Pack’s family, and various friends the author has met along the way.

I felt as though we learned just enough about everyone involved in the various situations. The characters were explained in a good way that we got a good sense of their personalities and how important they are to their roles in the author’s life.

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I feel as though I know the author in real life. The voice was his own, as it should be, and I got the sense he was telling me his story over a cup of coffee in a cafe. It was personal and there weren’t any lulls in the story that jolted me out of it.

My only complaint was the timeline and the chapter headings/beginnings. The chapter titles were mostly song titles, which is cool since he loves music, but the timeline was jumbled. It would have made more sense to add the dates to the titles. Also because at the beginning to of most chapter, the author rehashed what had happened to Pack so it was just too repetitive.

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I thought this was a good read. It was short around 200 pages, but the story got told and I didn’t feel as though anything was left out or that something was left untouched. It was an inspiring read and definitely something everyone should give a read.

Unpacked Sparkle by Patrick A. Roland gets…
5-Star Rating | Book Review5 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“I even forgave them, because continuing to hate them as they hate me gives them power.” –Patrick A. Roland, Unpacked Sparkle

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Short Story Sunday 153: Welcome Baby (Dear Diary)

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            Lisa wasn’t due to have her baby until March 7, 2016. It was a leap year and she prayed and prayed that the baby would stay in her belly until after February 29. She wanted her son to have a birthday every year as opposed to every four years.

So, around 12:45 in the morning on March 1, the telephone rang. I didn’t have a phone in my bedroom, but I could hear it ringing from my office across the hall. I laid in bed with my eyes open, suddenly wide awake, but too afraid to move. Whenever the phone rang in the middle of the night something bad had happened. My uncle has Lifeline so my mind immediately wandered to him.

Then I heard the caller ID’s robotic female voice announce my sister’s name.

“Kris?” I whispered hoping she was awake.

She grunted.

“Why is Lisa calling?”

“I don’t know…”

“Is this it?”

“Maybe,”

We both remained in bed for a few minutes. I don’t know what was going on in Kris’s head, but I was trying to process everything. Why else would our older sister be calling in the middle of the night if the baby wasn’t on his way?

After a few moments, and realizing that the phone had stopped ringing, Kris and I both leaped out of our beds. We ran downstairs where Mom was standing the kitchen talking to Lisa. Dad stood in the hallway outside of the bathroom staring at Mom waiting.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“Lisa’s in labor.” Dad said.

Kris and I smiled at each other and I remember jumping a little, but it was only about one o’clock in the morning. We were all still pretty tired and out of it.

Mom hung up the phone and grinned from ear to ear. “They’re on their way to the hospital!”

We all cheered and stood around in the kitchen for a couple minutes not knowing what to do next.

“Well, I’m going back to bed.” Dad turned around and left the kitchen.

“That’s it?” I asked.

“We’ll visit them in the morning. There’s not much we can do.” Mom had said, which made perfect. We all needed our sleep for a big day ahead.

Luckily, it just happened to work out, that I had the day off from work that day. Dad still had to go to work, but Kris and Mom called out and we all went to the hospital together.

I don’t like hospitals. I felt on edge as we drove there, telling myself that we would be in the maternity ward. It wouldn’t be that bad.

I started tearing up in the car and Mom stared at me through the rear-view mirror.

“Are you okay?” she had asked.

“I’m an aunt!” I exclaimed through blurry eyes. Mom and Kris started laughing at me because I cry at a lot of things, good or bad.

We made it to the hospital and entered Lisa’s room and I immediately burst into tears again. I didn’t like seeing her hooked up to a machine with wires and needles coming out of her, even though I knew there was nothing wrong with her or the baby. This is one of the reasons as to why I don’t like hospitals and get nervous.

We spent most of the day waiting around. Kris and I decided to go home around 1:30 in the afternoon. Mom said they’d call if anything was to happen. So, of course, as soon as we got home, we both got a text message from our brother-in-law stating that Lisa was going to start pushing soon.

I looked up at Kris. “So… Does this mean we go back?”

“We should probably be there when the baby comes, right?” She responded with a question.

“I want to be one of the first people to see our nephew, yes.” I replied.

“Alright, let’s head back out then.”

Kris and I hopped back into the car and we were on our way. She drove while I the GPS on my phone. We have never driven to the hospital on our own before and have never been to that part of the town, so we had no idea where we were going. Neither one of us paid much attention when Mom drove us back and forth earlier that day.

Kris was pretty calm behind the wheel as I freaked out in the passenger seat.

“Holy crap, we’re aunts. Kris, we have a baby. We have a nephew. There’s a baby coming. Lisa’s a mom! A mom, Kristen!”

“I know!” Kris exclaimed excitedly. “Now tell me where to turn next so we can actually be there when the kid comes.”

As I directed her from the GPS, Mom kept texting me.

“Are you guys coming?”

“Lisa is beginning to push.”

“The baby is coming!”

“Hurry!!”

With each new text message, I freaked out more and more causing Kris to freak out.

“We’re going to miss it!” I shouted.

“We’ll be fine, we’ll be fine!” Kris pulled into the parking lot. Except there were no spots. “Oh, you have got to be kidding me…” she muttered.

After three floors down in the parking garage, I pointed to a spot right by the stairs. “There! Go there!”

She pulled in and we both jumped out of the car racing through the parking garage. We were both giggling like mad as we were both nervous and too excited at the same time for our own good.

We raced up the spiral stairs in the garage. I nearly knocked into a man who had to be at least two feet taller than me as I shouted, “Auntie’s coming!”

Kris burst out laughing as I almost took out the fully grown man and we dashed through the lobby of the hospital. We ran into the elevator. As it rose to the third floor, Kris and I leaned against the wall trying to catch our breaths.

An older woman was in the elevator with us and gave us a strange look.

“Our older sister is having a baby.” Kris explained.

The woman smiled. “First one?”

“Yeah, we’re aunts now!” I grinned.

“How could you tell?” Kris said sarcastically.

The woman chuckled. “Congratulations.”

We said our thanks to her and ran out of the elevator as soon as the doors opened. We jogged down the hall only to run into Mom.

“Do we have a baby?” I asked.

“We have a baby!” Mom exclaimed.

We group hugged each other and jumped up and down in the middle of the hall.

“We don’t know anything as we’re not allowed in yet. But a nurse came out and told us that he’s here and everyone is doing great.” Mom had explained.

We waited in a small waiting room with Lisa’s mother-in-law, father-in-law, and sister-in-law. We waited for about another half hour and our friend came in the meantime. We all sat and chatted with one another as though nothing was going on. We were just trying to pass the time.

Finally, Nick, my brother-in-law, came into the room. He explained what had happened to all of us. Everyone was doing well. The baby was born at 4:49 in the afternoon, and he was 12 inches, 6 ounces.

The grandparents went in first. My poor father wasn’t able to leave work, but he visited them later that night before visiting hours ended.

I remained in the waiting room with Lisa’s sister-in-law, Kris, and our friend. The four of us chatted about random things trying to pass the time some more. We knew it wasn’t going to be too much longer since the grandparents were having their turn. The nurses just didn’t want too many people to go in right at once right away.

Before too long, however, the nurse came in giving us permission to go into Lisa’s room. There, I held my nephew for the first time of many. I fell in love with him immediately as I looked down at him through my blurry, happy tears.

Words: 1,343

I hope you enjoyed this story! Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Gatecrashing Europe by Kris Mole

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Title: Gatecrashing Europe
Author: Kris Mole
Published: 
August 2015 by Valley Press
Genre: Nonfiction travel
How I got the book: I received a free digital copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

In 2007, Kris Mole flew one-way to Stockholm with a vow not to return home to England until he had visited every capital city in the mainland European Union. He set himself eight simple rules, most importantly A) that no money would be spent or handled during the journey, and B) no credit cards would be used either. Thus, the great Euro Freebie Challenge began: twenty-three cities to be visited, 6000 miles to be covered, without spending a single penny on the journey – to raise money, in fact, for Cancer Research UK.

The colourful story of this six-month trip was first told by charismatic, wise-cracking, semi-anti-hero Kris via a series of blogs, and followed by readers of The Daily Mail, The Telegraph and the BBC website. Readers found Kris drawing on his formidable resourcefulness to acquire all of life’s necessities for free, resting wherever he could find a place, and travelling by foot, hitch-hiking, or stowing away on trains – experiencing, as you might expect, a wild emotional ride in the process.

August 2015 marks the first appearance of this epic journey in book form, with the author donating 10% of his royalties to Cancer Research UK.

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

I don’t typically read books about travel, but I do enjoy a good memoir from time to time. What the author did was pretty inspiring so I was intrigued on how his travels went for such a good cause. I couldn’t say no when he reached out to me about reviewing the book.

This won’t be a typical review as it’s non-fiction, so bear with me.

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The major “plot” of this is that the author, the protagonist, Kris, was attempting to explore the EU by visiting every capital without spending a penny. There are 23 capitals and well over 6,000 miles to travel.

You think, “How can he possibly do that without spending any money?” Well, he did it. And at the age of 24, no doubt.

It was interesting to see how he managed to get from one place to another whether it was from a kind citizen hearing of his cause and buying him a bus ticket, he hitch-hiked, or he simply walked.

It’s a good challenge, an exciting one, and as difficult as it is, it’s a simple one as well.

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Kris himself was ambitious and determined that made him a great fit for the challenge. He began the challenge for Cancer research as his grandmother was sick. While on the journey, he received word that she had passed on.

He continued on the journey for his grandmother and everyone else who battles Cancer.

I can’t even begin to explain all the various people Kris met on his journey, but I’ll just say that he met some really nice people and then some pretty interesting characters.

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Kris’s writing made the book easy to read as the pace was steady and each chapter flowed nicely right into the next. Every time he crossed another capital off his list, he laid it all out at the beginning of the chapter. How many capitals he had left to visit and which ones they were, how many miles he had traveled, and how many days he had been on the journey.

His writing was also humorous as he wrote exactly what he was thinking at all times. It definitely catches your attention.

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I can’t stress enough how inspiring this book is. It’s hard to believe that anyone was able to achieve such a feat and make it all the way back home. If you’re interested in a feel-good kind of read, then this is the way to go. Plus, you get a little geography lesson in the mix.

Gatecrashing Europe by Kris Mole gets…
5 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“How could you hate so many things about a place you had never seen with your own eyes.” –Kris Mole, Gatecrashing Europe

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