Dementia in Lewy Body and Parkinson’s Disease Patients: Partnering with Your Doctor to Get the Most from Your Medications by J. Eric Ahlskog

2 stars Nonfiction

I have a family member who has been recently diagnosed with Lewy Bodies Dementia so I was pretty excited to find this book at the library.  I was hoping for some good information that I could use and according to the synopsis, Eric with 30 years of experience, would provide that for me.   He would “arm patients and families with crucial information that would enable them to work in tandem with their doctors.”  He would, “clearly explain all aspects of these disorders, their causes, symptoms, most effective drug treatments, proper doses, and which treatments to avoid.”  He’d also discuss complications from these disorders, give us choices of medications available, their side effects, and interactions.  Well, I found some of this information to be correct.

If you want to read about medications, this book is for you.  That is what the bulk of this book is about: medications.  I thought it started out okay as it was discussing different aspects of the disease and then, the conversation switched to medication and it stayed on this forever.  The book talks about medication- all aspects of medications.  The author states at the beginning of the book, that you don’t need to read it like a typical book but that you can jump around.  I started reading from the beginning but when it started to talk endlessly about medications, I started to skip sections.  I would read a bit out of each section but it was about medications, how medications interacted with other medications, or something along this line.  When there was a topic that I might be interested in, say hallucinations, I would dig in only to find, “hallucinations are primarily due to the disease itself: however, certain drugs can exacerbate this problem.”   Then, that section would talk about clinical trials, drugs, and then……finally, “they may be caused by sleep deprivation or a urinary infection.”  Finally, a bit of information that doesn’t talk about drugs.  If I wanted more information about hallucinations, I was referred to a different chapter.  That other chapter was only 4.5 pages long and it too talked about medications.  Over half of its pages were about medications.    

I didn’t want a book about medications, I understand that it’s part of these diseases but to spend the majority of this book discussing them, it was too much.  I also realize that there’s no treatment but drugs can’t be the only answer. This book was a big disappointment to me.   2 stars

We Are All So Good At Smiling by Amber McBride

5 stars YA Mental Health

This book was a bit more abstract than I had originally anticipated.  I felt I was dancing around through the beginning pages of the book trying to get inside what was happening so I could fit it all together.  What put this book into motion? 

I could feel the emotions in the text and the flow of this book was fantastic.  The sentences were arranged on the pages, just so.  I felt it.  I could feel the energy and the pauses without even looking.

“You can’t avoid this forever

or you’ll end up back here

again & again & …….

Mom’s voice trails off.

                           I swallow,

                      filling in the blanks.

                  Until I don’t…….until I am gone.

                                               I’ll try harder,

                                                  I promise.”

She’s being treated at the hospital for depression. Whimsy can count on both hands the times that she’s been hospitalized for her illness but this time, it’ll be different.  Watching from her window, a car approaches the hospital and she notices the mint-green hair.  He’s alone.  She sees something in his shadow and now, she needs to know more about this boy.  Really, did she really see this? I think she better check again. Who is Whimsy and now, who is this boy that she calls Fae boy.

In the hospital, Whimsy goes to group therapy where she assigns all the individuals who attend, a Fairy Tale name.  These names correspond to a specific trait of that individual so they’re actually fitting but some of these names, I wasn’t familiar with.  Therefore, “a boy with mint-green hair (an actual Fae-I believe) actually named Faerry.” And “the silent one with stories on her skin & magic like electricity in her hair – that would be Me (Whimsy).”  Whimsy has an old notebook that she’s had for many years, that she treasures.  Inside this notebook, she writes Fairy Tales, ones that she has created and ones that were told to her.  I found this notebook very interesting as I think it reflects a lot about Whimsy.

Once Whimsy and Fae are released from the hospital, their relationship continues as Fae’s family moves closer to where Whimsy’s family resides.  It’s a magical, fairy tale world as the two friends discover a forest which is more than just trees.  As the book progresses, the story came together and Whimsy was able to fully show herself.  We are all so good at smiling but what are our smiles really hiding?  I enjoy reading books dealing with these types of issues and I really loved how the author used poetry to convey her thoughts.  The cover of this book is incredible.  

Broken by Jenny Lawson

5 stars Nonfiction

Jenny is real.  Jenny’s books remind me that I need to enjoy life, no matter what comes my way.    Everyone faces issues in their life and I like Jenny’s approach to the obstacles that she faces in her own life.  When I read Broken, there were many times that Jenny had me laughing out-loud or snickering, as I couldn’t believe how candid she was.  Yet, there were times where she got serious in her conversations and she got me thinking, seriously thinking.  Yes, life should be like this…… I follow Jenny on social media and I’ve read one of her previous books and her use of humor in dealing with her illness is shown again in this book.  As I read Broken, I felt empowered.  We all can and should apply Jenny’s approach to our own lives.

Jenny talks openly about her mental health issues and I appreciated her upfront approach and her honest opinions and emotions.  Discussing depression and anxiety, she lets her readers know that we all have our own issues and that we all take our own unique path in life.  I liked how Jenny described this in her book.  For it’s all in how you look at it.  You’re here at this specific spot, this right spot at the right second, for a purpose.  It’s all about your perspective: literally and figuratively. 

        “It’s not the same path that everyone else takes, and that can be hard and lonely, but I was reminded that there are amazing things that I would never see with normal eyes and other paths.”

I liked that Jenny was not afraid to be open.  Jenny was sincere and truthful with her readers.   She’ll say what many individuals are thinking but they’re too afraid to say it out loud.  She’s real and she’ll definitely make you feel accepted and normal. I really enjoyed this book. 

I had the pleasure of meeting Jenny at a book reading a few years back and I was thrilled.  I can tell you; she was as personable and friendly, as she is in her books.  A calming atmosphere filled the room as she spoke, it was as if, a good friend had stopped by to chat. I read Broken poolside at a resort, this year on vacation.  I had many people look at me as I laughed away the morning,  so I’d just hold up the book and smile at them.  Sitting next to my husband, I’d have to stop reading many times so I could read him parts of the book.  Her stories were things I could relate it and some were so funny, I just had to share.   I know I will be revisiting this book in the future.   I want to thank Goodreads, Jenny Lawson, and Henry Holt for my copy of this book as I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway.  This review is my own personal opinion of the book

Everything Will Be Ok by Anna Dewdney

5 stars Children’s Picture Book

You’ll be okay.  That’s the vibe from this children’s book as the author asks the reader a variety of questions and tells them that they’ll be okay.  So, you hurt yourself, you’ll be okay.  So, you lost your kite and now, you can’t play that game anymore.  It’s okay, find another game.  Feeling sick?  It’s okay, you’ll be better soon.  Scared? Miss your parents?  Things not working out how they’re supposed to?  It’ll all be okay; you’ll be back where you need to be soon.  How often we all need to understand and apply what this book has to say.  With bright colorful animals with great facial expressions, the illustrations support what the message of this book is trying to tell us all.  It will all be okay, maybe not right now but soon.

I liked how this rhyming book says it all but it’s not wordy.   The text is catchy, it’s easy to rhythm and I found myself bouncing back and forth as I read it, (bouncing to the beat).  The book covers a lot of subjects that children face that can throw them off and affect them.   Instead of getting upset or changing their behavior because of a snag in their day, this book helps them realize that it’s going to be okay, that they can handle it.  I think this would be a great book to read often with a class and talk about the implications that this book addresses.  A good book to have at home too and talk about how bumps in their day doesn’t have to ruin their day.   Everyone needs to read this one!  A million stars   Everything Will Be Ok by Anna Dewdney

Skinnytaste One and Done: 140 No-Fuss Dinners for Your Instant Pot®, Slow Cooker, Air Fryer, Sheet Pan, Skillet, Dutch Oven, and More by Gina Homolka

5 stars Cookbook

What a terrific book!  I love a good cookbook and Skinnytaste’s recipes are ones that I know are great on flavor and good on my health.  I don’t have all of the equipment that this cookbook pertains to (instant pot, pressure cooker) but that’s alright.  Some of the recipes give alternative ways to cook the dish, should you not have the proper kitchen cookware.  The recipes in this cookbook look amazing, the ingredients are typical items that I would normally buy, and these are dishes that I would normally prepare during the week.  Sure, there are some recipes that I could prepare for company or for a holiday but these recipes aren’t strictly for high heel and champagne occasions. 

At the beginning of this book, the author mentions each type of kitchen cookware featured in this book. In this one-pot cookbook, Gina covers the basics for each of these options from how to buy them to how to use them.  As I read this section, I thought it was very informative and I learned a few things.  I liked how she broke things down and it gave me an idea of what I should be looking for in the future. 

The cookbook is sectioned off, according to each of the different cookware.  It begins with the Skillet, then onto Sheet Pan & Baking Dish, Pressure Cooker, Air Fryer, Dutch Oven, Slow Cooker, and ends with Grill Pan & Grill.  Each section has an index at the beginning which I felt was very helpful.  I enjoyed seeing all the recipes for that section listed out with their page number and their corresponding-colored dots (see below). There has to be over 15 recipes for each of the different sections in this book. 

Each recipe comes with a brief note about the recipe, the serving size, how many this recipe will serve, the nutritional value of the recipe, an ingredients list, and step-by-step instructions.  There’s also a key on each recipe as to whether it’s: quick (30 minutes or less), vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, or freezer friendly.  Most recipes have 2-4 of these markers (little colored dots) on them.  If you need weight-watchers’ points for the recipes, you can get those on her website.  Most of the recipes get a two-page spread in this book where one side is the recipe and one side is a photograph of the prepared dish.  There might also be additional notes on the page about helpful suggestions or an alternative way to prepare the dish. 

The first recipe in this cookbook caught my attention, right away.  Fiesta Chicken and Carrot Rice sounded interesting and the photograph looked delicious!  The Lazy Veggie Lasagna, and the Spinach, Bacon, and Cheddar Hasselback Chicken looked super good in the photographs.  And yes, this is a healthy cookbook and I did say bacon.  Mom’s Skillet Chicken Pot Pie with 1/8 of a serving at 333 calories. I couldn’t get past the Carne Asada Fries – yum!  2 cups of fries at 19 grams of fat and 456 calories.  I’ll take fries any day. Let’s not forget the soup.  American-Style Cheesy Beef Goulash and Macaroni and the Creamy Cheddar-Broccoli Soup.  Did I mention the Stromboli, the chicken nuggets, or the calzones?  A fantastic index rounds out this book.  This book is a beauty, it’s definitely a keeper! 5 stars

Dr. Fauci: How a Boy from Brooklyn Became America’s Doctor by Kate Messner

3.5 stars Children’s Nonfiction

The illustrations inside this book are what makes this book for me. I like everything about them from the color selection, to the details included in them, to how simple the designs really are.  I also liked how the book addressed Covid-19. When I think of Anthony Fauci, I think of Covid-19, for he was the one who talked to me on the news about this pandemic and he seemed to know what was really happening. Many pages of this book addressed Anthony’s part in the Covid-19 crisis.

I thought this book was okay.  I was hoping it would have a lot more personal or entertaining information about Anthony than it did.  I thought the book contained a majority of general information about him.  Information that seemed boring or trivial.  I did find a few pieces of information that I thought, gave me an inside look at who Anthony really was. 

The book mentions some of Anthony’s attributes that began when he was child which have helped him as an adult.  Anthony loved playing basketball but he was short individual.  Determined to play, Anthony found that his speed and his ability to communicate would be his way to contribute to this game.  Anthony’s determination was also a huge asset.  Having these qualities also helped Anthony survive in the tough neighborhood that he lived in.

The book in general, gives general information and walks the reader through how Anthony found his way working on some of the toughest diseases in our nation.  It’s a book that shows children where it all began for Anthony and that anyone, can reach for the stars, if you keep reaching.

There is a lot of other pages full of added material, in the back of the book.  There are some pages dedicated to “How Do Vaccines Work?” Are Vaccines Safe?’  “Dr. Faucis’ Five Tips for Future Scientists.”  There’s also a timeline of some of Fauci’s milestones, a page of recommended reading, and a sources page.  A few pages of black-n-white photos of Anthony with a short author’s notes and acknowledgements, rounds out this book. 3.5 stars    

Every Minute is a Day: A Doctor, An Emergency Room and a City Under Seige by Robert Meyer MD

5 stars Nonfiction

I know, I know, I know.  People are tired of hearing about Covid but I really wanted to hear from someone different.  Someone who actually worked on the front lines, in an area different than my own and I wanted to hear his own words about what he experienced and witnessed with his own eyes.  I really enjoyed this book, in fact, the book exceeded my expectations.  At first, I hesitated on reading it, afraid it might contain difficult medical jargon but the book was very down-to-earth.

This book centers on Montefiore Health System in Harlem which serves about 1.5 million people annually.  With their staff including their medical students, their facilities including their modern equipment, they feel that there’s no better equipped hospital to serve Covid patients than their building.  Within one month of receiving their first Covid patient, the hospital gets control of the situation but there’s no end in sight.  They were able to manage the shortages that came with the demand of this illness while still providing what they could to their patients and staff.  The hospital experienced highs along with the lows while they provided care for their patients, those highs amongst all the chaos and despair provided hope and strength for another day. 

There were many references that I enjoyed in this book, remarks that stood out as I read them.  The first one referred to how the hospital dealt with the crisis.  This state of mind continues today as officials examine the booster vaccine.  The doctors learned as they go. They learned about the illness from others, they learned from doing something different, and they learned from going outside-the-box. This illness is new, it’s something our society has not dealt with before.  This is a new crisis- there are no set rules, there is no handout to follow, no set procedures in place.  We are creating the handout and the rules as the days on the calendar move forward and unfortunately, as people get sick, die, and refused to believe that this illness really exists.  The second comment that stuck with me was how the medical staff put everything on hold while they dealt with Covid. How will that effect our future?  What will happen if we encounter another untreatable illness?  I stop and think about the implications of this time?  What has this done to us as a nation and to us around the world? Has this united us or tore us apart?  According to a few surveys, our children’s education has suffered.  That’s our future.  How long will we continue to argue and battle what is “right?”

There was a wake-up moment in Harlem when other colleagues in other areas of the hospital started to offer their help.  Months earlier they’ve been too scared to help but now, they see how things are not letting up and they feel the need to pitch in but how? They don’t have the training to work in the ER.  The emergency doctors took them, they trained them on something/anything that they thought they could do, they needed another pair of hands, someone to provide some relief.  These newly trained ER staff members thought they were scared before, well working on the front lines now, they’re realizing just how bad Covid really is.

I didn’t expect a happy story and I found myself crying a few times while I read this book, the emotional toil and the personal stories hit me.  You never knew how things would turn out.  An image that stayed with me as I read this book was the person lying in the hospital, just waiting, all alone.  Imagine yourself lying there, alone, isolated, no TV or entertainment, all you hear is the constant beeping of the monitors all around you and the noises of the staff as they scramble to assist the others that are lying nearby.  How do you feel?  Sick, helpless, defeated, worried, deflated…..

It’s a crisis that’s hitting every continent and not everyone is able or willing to stop/control it.  You need to be able to live your life, not just survive but live.  We need to remember all of those who have died, what we have learned through these individuals, and we need to honor those who have helped us along the way. 

It’s a great read and one that I highly recommend.  I appreciate the two cousins getting together and sharing this story with us and although, I haven’t witnessed it firsthand, I have heard enough stories from friends and loved ones that I don’t want to nor do I need to, to understand how serious this crisis is. Emergency medicine is constantly changing and you have to remember that no one has all the answers yet. Stay well everyone.  5 stars

Six Ingredients with Six Sister’s Stuff: 100+ Fast and Easy Family Meals

5 stars Nonfiction

Easy, fast, and great ideas!  I liked the ideas behind this cookbook.  All of these recipes are made with six ingredients or less.  This is a cookbook that should be looked at to get some new ideas and/or one to rethink the foods that you have made in the past or forgot about.

First off, the illustrations in the cookbook are impressive.  They just jump right off the page at you as they are bold and take center stage on each recipe as they get the full attention, as you get a close-up view of the dish being showcased.

There are 3 categories, to help you get started, in this cookbook: main dishes, side dishes, and desserts and a helpful index in the back. If you can’t find something in this 206-page cookbook, that’s tempting your taste buds, you must have overlooked some pages.

As I have mentioned before, these are easy recipes and I found a few new ones that I’d like to try and a few that I had forgotten about and/or the Six Sisters Stuff had revamped for me.  This cookbook definitely caught my attention (the illustrations helped!) but after reading over the ingredients for some of the recipes, there are some recipes that I would have adjust or skip as they’re not for me. 

I would definitely fix the Brown-Sugar Glazed Pork Chops, Enchilada Quinoa, Chicken-Parmesan Pasta Casserole, and Turkey Taco Meatballs.  There were so many other recipes that the illustrations looked so good, like the Easy Crab Cakes, Green Beans with Candied Pecans, Italian Roasted Vegetable Medley, and Golden Grahams S’Mores Bars, but I would have to adjust a few things before I could eat them.  

Some of the recipes are marked Kid-Approved which means they were approved by the Sisters own children.  Also, the ingredients that the Sisters used in the recipes are “normal” ingredients.  Like, chicken, canned condensed soup, brown sugar, or cucumbers.  They sometimes ask for fresh mint or fresh thyme or an optional item in the recipe but if you are like me, I sometimes substitute what I have in the jar and move on.

It’s a great cookbook if you are looking for something easy or quick.  If you’re looking for variety, step-by-step direction, simplicity and ease, this might be your answer.      

After Zero by Christina Collins

5 stars Middle School/Children’s Chapter

I didn’t even know they had a name for it but it all makes sense after reading this novel, Selective Mutism.  An anxiety disorder, where a child speaks in a normal fashion at home (or any comfortable, relaxed, safe environment) but in some social situations, that same child, will refuse to speak. When Elise is unleashed into public schooling, she finds that speaking can get her in trouble and perhaps being silent is the way to go.

Elise had heard stories from Mel, her neighbor about how great school was.  Mel talked about school and her “school friends,” so when Elise’s mom quit homeschooling her, Elise was excited to finally be able to go to middle school.

Unfortunately, school turned out not to be as much fun as she thought.  It wasn’t long before Elise found herself in hot water.  School was a new social situation for Elise and she didn’t know the rules.  She wasn’t hurting her peers on purpose but no one had told her the etiquette and now, Elise decided it was just easier to not say anything.  It was better to be quiet than to say the wrong thing so, off went her voice and on, went her tally marks in her book.

I could feel the stress as Elise struggled with dodging answering the questions that were addressed in the classroom at school.  She knew the answers yet to answer them would create a tally in her book, the book that she felt needed to be blank.  Even when her peers addressed her or harassed her for her silence, she felt safe under the cover of her book. She wanted no tally marks, and every day she worked towards that goal.

I liked that she didn’t run back into the safe arms of homeschooling and that she continued to try other things at school, she wasn’t a quitter.  There’s a bit of fantasy in the book as Elise becomes intrigued by an object at school. I thought this gave her something else to focus on while she was there. I think this book is marvelous and I feel that Christina Collins did an excellent job explaining this disorder.  

Patient Care: Death and Life in the Emergency Room

4 stars Nonfiction

I’m glad that I listened to an audio of this novel, as some of the medical terms and jargon that was used, I know that I would’ve had a hard time pronouncing had I read the novel.  I enjoyed listening to this novel as Dr. Seward recalls his medical practice and he shares stories about working in the ER. 

Seward describes some of his most interesting cases that he has had the opportunity to experience in his lifetime.  These cases are not always his most successful cases but they’re ones that meant something to him.  The novel teaches, the novel shows you what it is like to be on the other side of the table, and the novel shows you the emotions, that are not only one-sided.  Great book and a short one also.