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Thursday, November 26, 2015

My review of Planet Ben by Susan Wiiliams

About the book:

Are you tired of lies, broken promises, cheating and emotional game playing? Are you in a relationship so toxic that you're questioning your own sanity, yet can't seem to break away? Have you changed from the happy, confident woman you used to be before you met him, feeling depressed, anxious and insecure? That's my story too. That's life with a narcissist.

We live in a world of narcissism but how do you know if your partner really is a toxic narcissist, or whether you should just give it more time and patience? Here are some clues:

Has he told you how amazing you are, that he’s never felt like this before?
How he feels like with you he has won the lottery?
How his ex’s all want him back but they’re all psychos who hurt him too much?
Has he romanced you with flowers and gifts, behaved like your perfect Prince Charming?
Has he been your dream man in every way, only to suddenly misinterpret something you say and become viciously cold and silent, even to disappear completely for a while?
Has he raged in anger over the smallest thing?
If he hasn’t done so yet, he will.
Be prepared. The minute he knows he has you, he will turn. It’s a cat and mouse game and he is a master at it.
His Prince Charming persona is only a facade; look behind the mask and you will find he is a total fraud.

The Love Games is so titled because a relationship with a narcissist is very much a series of control and mind games cloaked within the name of love. To a narcissist, a relationship is not a partnership but simply a competition to be the best, which he must win at all costs. He is a damaged man who has repeated the same abusive and emotional manipulations with every woman he has been with and if you have played into his game he will do the same to you.

In Planet Ben the reader is taken on my own journey as I enter Ben’s narcissistic world, believing I have met the man of my dreams, only to find out I am caught up in a fairytale nightmare. This book outlines the first year with a narcissist, the romantic beginning, the methods he uses to set the game up and the confusion and bewilderment that sets in as my ideal love begins to change from Mr Nice to Mr Nasty, something that every partner of a narcissist experiences.

After an initial intro on narcissism, the balance of the book is relayed in a diary form which I kept throughout the relationship. You will see my struggle to understand what I am dealing with as the Jeckyll/Hyde character that inevitably manifests within a narcissistic relationship, makes his appearance through day to day examples. You will also witness my denial of how bad things really are, something that often happens to those on the receiving end of emotional abuse as they struggle to cope.

Along with insights into the narcissistic personality, Planet Ben provides suggestions on how to avoid making the same mistakes that I did and outlines the personality traits and patterns of your own that may be keeping you trapped within a narcissist’s toxic game. If you are with a narcissist you will most certainly see your own situation reflected within the pages of this book. 

My review:

This book was easy to read and even easier to relate to on so many levels. The author writes in a very conversational style so you feel like she is talking to you. It is not preachy and reads in some ways like a novel, which is why I finished the book.

I think this is a brave topic and one that will help many women who are mystified by the suddenly switch in their man's personality. The same could be said in the reverse as I am sure many nice guys have fallen for a woman like Ben. The sad truth of the matter is that I have had similar experiences as Susan Williams in my life with different relationships. I didn't have the exact same turmoil, but a few that were similar enough to make me pause and reflect while reading this book.

Like the author, at times I, too, found myself journaling about the confusion I felt as a way of coping with the emotional turmoil I suffered inside. I had to let the pent up emotions out so they wouldn't make me crazy. Trying to discuss your issues with a narcissist is impossible as they have a  way of turning it all around and attacking you instead of looking at themselves and what they could do to change. I have also worn out dear friends with my indecisiveness at times. I've enjoyed this book so much I plan to read the second in the series. I have found it very insightful and well-written. I would highly recommended it even to women in healthy relationships.

This book was published by the author (and impeccably written with no spelling or grammar errors that I noticed) and was released via kindle direct in 2014.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

My review of Dave Ramsey's Complete Guide to Money

About the book:

Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money covers the A to Z of Dave’s money teaching, including how to budget, save, dump debt, and invest. If you’re looking for practical information to answer all your “How?” “What?” and “Why?” questions about money, this book is for you. You’ll also learn all about insurance, mortgage options, marketing, bargain hunting and the most important element of all—giving. Now let’s be honest: This is the handbook of Financial Peace University

My review:

I wish I had read this book two years ago. I would have been much smarter about my spending if that had been the case. But moving forward, I believe the things I have learned from the class and from this book will last me a lifetime. I can still change my future. One of the most impacting statements for me was this - You tell your money where you want it to go. Then it doesn't just disappear and you have little to nothing to show for your hard work. Create a budget and follow it.

Dave Ramsey's Complete Guide to Money is an empowering book. Not to mention that the author's writing style is very conversational so it's like he's talking to you when he writes each chapter. The discussion questions at the end of each chapter are also provocative and designed to engage the reader in group discussion. But they are still beneficial if you are reading this alone and just looking for some wisdom/good advice on how to get out of debt and make your money work for you.

This complete guide to money is a keeper and I'd recommend it to everyone who has spent money and wondered where it had all gone. I am now budgeting and not borrowing. No more credit cards. This book has changed my approach on how I view money and I'm grateful for the lessons Dave shared in the book. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

My review of With No Regrets by Julie N. Ford

About the book:

Living With No Regrets Is Harder Than It Seems

Finley isn’t exactly sure when her life began to feel unfamiliar. She suspects the transformation started long before she caught her husband and fellow garden club member doing the white-trash-two-step on her new Bernhardt sofa. Now free from the shackles of a loveless marriage, and with her children off to college, she’s finally able to go searching for the missing pieces of her heart.

Finley’s best friend, Cathyanne, is already working hard to ensure that Finley finds true love this time around. But when Finley is unwittingly tossed into the arms of two men—their sexy trainer and her neighbor, a popular country star—Cathyanne fears finding the right guy will be more complicated than she ever could have imagined.

For Finley, building a new life feels as impossible as flying a paper airplane to the moon. But maybe, just maybe, with the right help, she will find her whole heart—even if it’s in the very last place she thinks to look.

My review:

I enjoy Julie's storytelling. My favorite novel of hers was Countdown to Love. Then I read Replacing Gentry, and I enjoyed that story as well. This one didn't resonate with me like the other two stories, but I still liked it. I think the thing that bothered me was how she kept changing her mind about who she loved and who she should be with in the end. Rather than making it intriguing, the love triangle annoyed me. The same with her best friend and how she didn't try very hard to get in touch. She was pretty self-absorbed like many people are these days.

What I found rather interesting was that she was so self-centered and yet she didn't see that trait in herself. But then again, most narcissists are ignorant of their own narcissism, which I find a bit ironic. So that part intrigued me but it also made her less likable as the main character. That said, I still finished the story, which isn't typical of me these days, so that was good. It takes a lot to hold my attention. The message is good and matches the story's theme, like the title. But the main character seemed to have a lot of regrets despite the story-telling of the author - unless the author did that on purpose. You'll have to read the story for yourself if you want to come to your own conclusion in that regard.

With No Regrets was published by White Star Press and released in May 2015.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

My review of A Love Stronger than Death by GS Davis

About the book:

While Isabella is still mourning the loss of her father, she receives a letter from him, mailed three days after he died. As she unravels the mystery, she discovers her father had ulterior motives. Professional photographer, Wesley Powers, believes he's working on a book of images with a retired eye-doctor. What he doesn't realize is that same doctor has more than the mere publishing project in mind.

My review:

I really enjoyed this story. GS Davis has a way of tugging at your heartstrings by bringing the old and new together in a supernatural way. This is a story about two people who have made mistakes in love but were fortunate enough to have someone from their mutual past proactively trying to bring them together because he has a vision for their future. This story has a Nicholas Sparks feel to it with an inspirational twist. In fact, there were a few times the author had me in tears, but they were tears of joy.

I learned a lot about the occupations of the hero and heroine (photography and building environmentally friendly housing.) The descriptions were actually quite fascinating in regards to the detail that the author includes as part of their daily lives. These characters felt real to me and even the secondary characters were well done. Without giving away any spoilers I can tell you for sure that the author's writing pulls you in and the story will tug at your heart. Highly recommended!

A Love Stronger than Death was published by GS Davis and released in August 2015.

Monday, September 07, 2015

My review of The Auschwitz Escape by Joel C. Rosenberg

About the book:

A terrible darkness has fallen upon Jacob Weisz's beloved Germany. The Nazi regime, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, has surged to power and now hold Germany by the throat. All non-Aryans -- especially Jews like Jacob and his family -- are treated like dogs.

When tragedy strikes during one terrible night of violence, Jacob flees and joins rebel forces working to undermine the regime. But after a raid goes horribly wrong, Jacob finds himself in a living nightmare -- trapped in a crowded, stinking car on the train to the Auschwitz death camp.

As World War II rages and Hitler begins implementing his "final solution" to systematically and ruthlessly exterminate the Jewish people, Jacob must rely on his wits and a God he's not sure he believes in to somehow escape from Auschwitz and alert the world to the Nazi's atrocities before Fascism overtakes all of Europe. The fate of millions hangs in the balance.

My review:

I discovered this book on the best books list for historical fiction on Goodreads. Because I enjoy WWII-era European fiction, and I know the author is an excellent writer, I decided to check out the book from the library. I found the story riveting, as expected. The author follows the lives of several main characters with the occasional POV of a villain thrown in to enhance the reader's distress. I loved this book. The story was not overly detailed, but gave enough information to understand the atrocities that happened. The author took a sensitive subject and pulled me into Jacob's world. Though Jewish by birth, Jacob knew very little about his culture and faith. Disillusioned by the death of all of his immediate family, he joined his uncle in a resistance movement and got much more than he bargained for.

The botched attempt to free prisoners from a cattle car allowed some people to escape certain death, while others were shot. Jacob ended up on the cattle car locked in with the others. This portion of the book was intense and emotional as Jacob sensed the people were being deceived into thinking they were going to see family and enter a camp that while incarcerating them, was at least a bit livable. He heard the subtle warnings in the letters as each family member wrote about something that was not true in their letters. An elderly man took him under his wing and he assumed the identity of the man's son who was one of the detainees who fled when the cattle car doors were opened. When he got off the train the horrors were much worse than anticipated. Jacob couldn't help wondering where God was and why he let the Jewish people experience such abuse simply because of their ethnicity.

Soon Jacob was too busy trying to survive to be angry with God. After nearly starving to death and being beaten like the others, one of the fellow prisoners slipped him some extra food and got him a better job. He ended up helping others escape as well as eventually escaping himself. My heart was pounding as he hid from their captors and did everything he could to stay alive and avoid capture. The action increased with their running for the border, but they were both sick and starving. Without God's intervention and the love of a few Christian people, Jacob would not have survived.

When he brought evidence of the horrors of the camp and the massive killings and genocide of the Hungarian Jews, the apathy of so many people amazed him. The truth is the Russians ended up liberating the people of Auschwitz and by the time they arrived there were only a few thousand still alive. The story remained true to history and the characters were likable. Their characterization made sense. I would highly recommend this book to fans of WWII fiction. It amazes me how people survived such conditions and some lived to share their stories. 

The Auschwitz Escape was published by Tyndale House and released in March 2014.
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