Category: WOW

Guest Author Kate Van Raden and Review “Dancing at the Shame Prom”

Dancing at the Shame Prom edited by Amy Ferris & Hollye Dexter
Published by Seal Press
Publication Date: September 11, 2012
ISBN-10: 1580054161
ISBN-13: 978-1580054164
Pages: 264
Review Copy from: WOW!
Edition: TPB
My Rating:  


Shame is a powerful thing. It can weigh on your heart and mind, diminish your sense of self-worth, and impact the way you live in the world. But what happens when you share that secret burden?

Amy Ferris, Hollye Dexter, and the writers they brought together are all ready to let go of shame. In Dancing at the Shame Prom, twenty-six extraordinary women—Lyena Strelkoff, Teresa Stack, Monica Holloway, Nina Burleigh, Amy Friedman, Meredith Resnick, Victoria Zackheim, and more—take the plunge and say “yes” to sharing their stories. These brave writers, journalists, musicians, artists, directors, and activists have offered up their most funny, sad, poignant, miraculous, life-changing, and jaw-dropping secrets for you to gawk at, empathize with, and learn from—in the hopes that they will inspire others to do the same. Letting go feels good!

Freeing, provocative, and audacious, Dancing at the Shame Prom is about flaunting the secrets that have made you feel small so that you can stand up straight, let the shame go, and finally—decisively—move on with your life.

My Thoughts and Opinion:
Last month, on Dec. 12, 2012, I posted a spotlight for both the editors and of this book, which you can see it here. Today I am reviewing the book and showcasing one (1) of twenty-seven (27) courageous female authors.
Dancing at the Shame Promcan be either a very quick read or one that can be picked up, read and reread as it contains twenty-seven (27) stories from twenty-seven brave women who tell of their life’s struggles, trauma, shame and their ability to cope and recover.  As a female, I could relate to the majority of the essays that entails parenting, marriage, body image, relationships, guilt, etc. and the ability to hide all that from the outside world, and even, sometimes ourselves.  Women who share their darkest secrets in the hopes to help others.

A very poignant, touching, thought provoking and empathetic read.  Highly recommend!!

One of the authors, Kate Van Raden, relates the shame she endured with her battle with an eating disorder, and to this day, still has struggles but has come a long way from where she was.  She was kind enough to write a guest post detailing her trials and tribulations.

Starting Over

By Kate Van Raden

When I thought I was at my lowest point with my eating disorder, I was struggling to finish a Bachelor of Arts, and staying off campus in a bed and breakfast for weeks at a time. The next time I thought I was at my lowest point, I wasn’t speaking to my family as they began to have concerns about my modeling and weight. They saw me fading away before them and becoming someone else; suddenly making choices that were not in accordance with my character. I pulled away from anyone who might notice I was changing. I stepped away from old friendships, surrounded myself with new people. Finally, I decided to move to NY. As I was already modeling, that was an easy guise, but that didn’t last long. Several months after relocating, I retired, as I couldn’t imagine going in front of anyone feeling such despair about my body. No matter how I worked and worked, I couldn’t break a certain weight. No matter how little I ate, I couldn’t get any smaller. The obsession became a madness. I chose to work around the clock to keep my mind occupied. I thought I could out run hunger, out run food, out run eating…I had several dear friends to whom I credit my life during that time. But the last low, the one that stuck, was standing in an E.R. with my parents, hearing that my heart wasn’t strong enough to go home. I had no choice but to return to Oregon for treatment.

Those first weeks in a hospital bed I cried every time they brought the food and every time they checked to see if I finished it. I cried when they woke me up at 4 a.m. every morning to draw blood. I cried when they stuck heart pads on my skin in case my heart stopped while I was sleeping. I cried every time they changed them. I cried when the nurse washed me in the shower and when we talked about plans. I wrote in a journal and kept lists of everything I had worked for in my life and everything I had given up. I couldn’t have a conversation with anyone except my parents, and the humiliation of explaining myself to any friend or family member, seemed worse than death. So I made them promise no one would know I was home. I knew if people found out, they would want to see me, they would want to talk and try to say helpful things, and I would want to die. They promised.

As I lay in the hospital worrying about my heart and aching for my ‘normal life’ (ahem, back in h*ll) I came to the conclusion that I had given myself every chance to try that life. I had given myself more than a generous amount of time to ‘make better choices’ or change my behavior. I realized that there was no possible outcome of success on the path I had been on. Well, that forced me to admit to myself and to everyone else that I had given life my best try and ultimately failed. I have said this before, I know, but I felt that I had failed at being thin AND I had failed at being well. I had to accept that I would need love and support, change and growth and education and mountains of will, and more than anything…time. Each phase of my journey has had its own colors, but the first one was all about humility. I asked myself “Are you more afraid of the pain of trying to be healthy, than you are the torture you have been living with?”, and honestly, even in the depths of anorexia, I knew the answer was a “NO”. There are times when that “no” is louder or quieter, but I know that I want my life. I want to love my family and friends; to celebrate joy with them. Even when I couldn’t feel the benefits, I knew that the only way I ever would was to keep giving any effort I had to fighting for my life back. My family and a small handful of others have been essential to my progress. If I hadn’t been able to trust in them and be vulnerable with them, I wouldn’t have been able to make as much progress as I have. Having a few people around you that you can trust and lean on can be lifesaving; even just one. I continue to push myself to grow in areas I am uncomfortable. I seek education anywhere I can get it. If there are new books or treatments or medications or therapies, I’ll try them. I want to give myself a 100% chance at a great life, and for me, that means a self-awareness of how or when I am sabotaging my own chances. For so many of us, it is a question of pride; or perhaps more appropriately named: shame. That is the main reason I decided to participate in The Shame Prom project. I wanted to be a part of something that helped free other people from the tethers of pride, and loosened their shame burden a bit.

Starting over is very hard for some, and a welcome blessing for others. Whether you tremble at the door, or rush forth in excitement, surrounding yourself with people who you can share emotional intimacy along your journey can make all the difference. I would say to anyone who is facing the prospects of starting over: Don’t keep waking up every day to a life that’s wearing you thin. Keep your hands out grasping at whatever’s there. Keep your hands out grasping for hope, and eventually, you will grasp something worth holding on to. Don’t stop grasping, don’t stop trying, and don’t give up.

This blog was founded on the premise to write honest reviews, to the
best of my ability, no matter who from, where from and/or how the book
was obtained, and will continue to do so, even if it is through PICT or PBP.

I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me,
in exchange for my honest review.
No items that I receive
are ever sold…they are kept by me,
or given to family and/or friends.
I do not have any affiliation with or
Barnes & Noble. I am an IndieBound affliate.
I am providing link(s) solely for visitors
that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.

(2013 Challenges:  JFF, In A Name, Count The Ways, First Reads, FreeReads, 52 in 52, Outdo Yourself, Read-A-Latte)

Review “Cabernet Sauvignon for Beginners: A Guide to Buying and Enjoying Wine”

Cabernet Sauvignon for Beginners: A Guide to Buying and Enjoying Wine by Sara J. Fasolino, CS, CSW, AM
Published by: Publishing 101
Publication Date: July 1, 2012
Pages: 22
Review Copy from: WOW
Edition: Kindle
My Rating: 4


Looking for the perfect complement to a juicy ribeye steak, grilled kabobs or even some desserts? Look no further than Cabernet Sauvignon, the “red of all reds” worldwide. Sommelier Sara Fasolino guides you with practical tips for buying and enjoying Cabernet Sauvignon, whether you’re spending $7 or $75.Cabernet Sauvignon for Beginners will shed light on the characteristics of this versatile wine, what contributes to its wide range of flavors, and the best foods to match with it.

My Thoughts and Opinion: (one spoiler alert)
I admit I am far from being a wine connoisseur but do enjoy a glass of wine on occasion. My preference is usually a Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, so when I received the request to review this book, I was intrigued to learn about the fine art of wine tasting.

Even though it is a very short read, being only 22 pages, it was fully packed with information and answered a lot of the questions I have always wondered about. For example, when at a restaurant and the server hands one a cork of a newly opened bottle of wine, what is it that you are looking for? I was quite surprised by the answer. And because now I knew the reason, I asked others to see what they thought the reason was, and most answered incorrectly and was surprised when I informed them as to the why. This will be the only “spoiler” that I divulge, since there are many interesting facts in this guide. When handed the cork of a bottle of Cabernet, one is inspecting to see if the cork is moist. If it isn’t, it means that the bottled was not placed in the proper position and/or the seal had been broken.

Within these 22 pages is the history, the different type of grapes used, how to read the label which holds much information, the different types of barrels used to make the wine and the different ones that add to the flavor, what foods are best with this type of wine, how to store wine bottles and even choosing a certain type of glass to serve it in because this can also alter the taste. Quite interesting !!

There are more books by this author for other types of wine, such as, Merlot, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Malbec. With the holidays just around the corner, this would make for a nice gift for those who enjoy a glass of wine!

I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me,
in exchange for my honest review.
No items that I receive
are ever sold…they are kept by me,
or given to family and/or friends.

Review “Chique Secrets of Dolce Amore” by Barbara Conelli

Chique Secrets of Dolce Amore by Barbara Conelli
Published by: Flagrans Press
Publication Date: April 30, 2012
ISBN-10: 0982600437
ISBN-13: 978-0982600436
Pages: 158
Review Copy from: WOW
Edition: Kindle
My Rating: 3

When we talk about “the city of love”, most of us immediately think of Paris, Venice, Rome or another famous metropolis whose romantic stories we know from movies and novels. But to Barbara Conelli, none of them are the real city of love. To the author, love doesn’t mean passionate gestures, big promises of eternal devotion, ardent embraces, torrid kisses, or stormy arguments followed by even stormier reconciliations.

To the author, love means something completely different and much simpler.
The smell of morning cappuccino and fresh pannetone at Pasticceria Marchesi. A
brisk stroll through the awakening city and sensual curves of gold shadows on the wet paving of Via della Spiga. Joyful shouts of bohemian artists and their graceful muses at Fornace Curti. A crispy panzerotto savored in the company of cantankerous pigeons on the piazzetta of San Fedele. Old furniture stores in narrow streets and adorable trinkets she can never resist. The tinkling of a tram from 1929 with uncomfortable wooden seats and a hundred-year-old conductor. Sublime flamingos and peevish peacocks in an emerald-green garden that has never been owned by anyone. Remote nooks and crannies whose secrets have been revealed only to her and the few ghosts with aristocratic hearts who appear in them from time to time. Visionary dreams, inextinguishable hopes, the desire to live, the courage to create, the strength to grow.

To the author, love means all this and much more. This and much more is
what she receives from the city that makes you fall in love a hundred times a day,
breaking your heart over and over again, only to make it beat faster five minutes
later. Milan. Barbara’s city of love. The city she has adored since the year dot
because it’s just like her: it has dozens of faces, it laughs and cries at the same time, it’s vain, unpredictable, and you never know what mood it wakes up with.

Join Barbara Conelli and submerge yourself in the secrets of this magical city
that has been breathing love for centuries. Love that is dignified, childish, creative, treacherous, passionate, painful, forgiving, crazy, insane, unbridled, endless, fleeting, unfaithful, platonic, carnal, hateful, desperate, volatile, conceited, and divine. The kind of love whose chalice you quickly drain, so that on the next corner, you can reach for another one, even more delicious and intoxicating.

My Thoughts and Opinion:
I just returned from Milan, Italy but without the usual traveling inconveniences of packing, unpacking, airport security and the anxiety due to a very long flight, which I admit, I’m not fond of.

Barbara Conelli takes the reader on vacation with her graphic and dynamic descriptions of Milan in a detailed picturesque narration. A quick read but full of a resplendent portrayal of the people and sites of Milan. It is quite evident of the author’s love for this city of amore. She takes the reader through the streets and presents the landscapes such as museums, the fashion district including Tiffany’s, restaurants which include a couple of recipes, the trams one mode of transportation, cafes, fine arts such as paintings, sculptures, and even ballet studios. And introduces the people behind these institutions. This would be a very handy travel guide, if you had plans on visiting, as she shares the non tourist sites. Or if you want to escape in your mind and the comfort of your home. If you haven’t traveled to Milan, you will want to after reading this book.

I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me,
in exchange for my honest review.
No items that I receive
are ever sold…they are kept by me,
or given to family and/or friends.

(2012 Challenges: Eook, FreeReads, Where Are You, 52 in 52, Outdo Yourself, 100+)

Review “Finding Emma” by Steena Holmes

Finding Emma by Steena Holmes
Published by: Steena Holmes
Publication Date: April 8, 2012
ISBN-10: 0987856863
ISBN-13: 978-0987856869
Pages: 276
Review Copy from:  Author/WOW
Edition:  Kindle
My Rating: 5

A child torn from the arms of loving parents, a relationship torn apart from loss… Megan sees her daughter Emma everywhere. She’s the little girl standing in the supermarket, the child waiting for the swings at the playground, the girl with ice cream dripping down her face. But it’s never Emma. Because Emma’s been missing for two years. Unable to handle the constant heartache of all the false sightings, Megan’s husband threatens to walk away unless Megan can agree to accept Emma is gone. Megan’s life and marriage is crumbling all around her and she realizes she may have to do the thing she dreads most: move on. When Megan takes a photo of a little girl with an elderly couple at the town fair, she believes it to be her missing daughter. Unable to let go, she sets in motion a sequence of events that could destroy both families lives.

My Thoughts and Opinion:
As a parent, can you imagine just turning your back for a second and your child is gone without a trace? I can’t begin to imagine and wouldn’t want to but I would think that it would be a raw heart pounding terror. And within the first couple of pages of Finding Emma, that is exactly what I felt with the vivid and explicative narrative that the author conveyed with her ability with words and writing style. Heart wrenching!! The characters lifelike especially little Emma with her golden curly hair. Poignant!! The author grabbed and delivered me right into the story line as if I was a bystander. The settings easy to conjure up in my mind. Even the intonation of dialogue between characters and the voice of Emma was as if I was eavesdropping on the conversations. The emotions palpable. The suspense (vague due to not wanting to include spoilers) as to how, why, by whom, and what happened to Emma was a page turner. Captivating!! And what about the person who snatched this adorable 3 year old little girl? What are the feelings toward the kidnapper? That is something that the reader has to decide. Overwhelming!!

This story is filled with emotions, relationship dynamics, hopelessness and hopefulness, happy and sad, anxiety, depression, wanting to move on yet also not wanting to let go, life and death, of memories good and bad, and above all, truth and love on many levels depending on the connection of kinship. Compelling!! This book is one I highly recommend but be prepared, it will not only tug at your heart strings but will also hold them tightly.

I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me,
in exchange for my honest review.
No items that I receive
are ever sold…they are kept by me,
or given to family and/or friends.
(2012 Challenges: EBooks, Off The Shelf, FreeReads, Where Are you? A-z, 52 in 52, Outdo Yourself, 100+)

Review RagDoll Redeemed by Dawn Novotny

RagDoll Redeemed: Growing Up In The Shadow Of Marilyn Monroe by Dawn Novotny
Published by Dog Ear Publishing, LLC
ISBN-10: 1457506173
ISBN-13: 978-1457506178
At the request of WOW and Author, an ARC EBook Edition was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.

  Synopsis:   For 50 years, whether consciously or unconsciously, women have all been caught in the cultural clash between the almost immortal sexual mystique symbolized by Marilyn Monroe (in 1999 she was still voted “sexiest woman of the century” byPeople Magazine) and the retooling of the female soul by the women’s liberation movement. Each of us has been left to ask ourselves, “Who am I?” “Where do I fit?” “What does it mean to be a woman?” And most important of all: “What does it mean to me to be a woman?”

Dawn Novotny writes about her struggle with those questions, but for Dawn it was more difficult to answer those questions. After all, she was married to Joe DiMaggio Jr. a man who was fascinated with his stepmother, Marilyn Monroe, and wanted to transform Dawn into his own version of Marilyn. RagDoll Redeemed is the story of one woman’s balancing act between embracing her sexuality and creating a person that utilized all her abilities: mental, emotional and physical.

My Thoughts and Opinion: Captivating! I read this memoir in 2 days as I could not put it down.   The writing extraordinary especially when the author reveals her childhood cognitive scores with the reader.   A raw look into the life of a very physically, verbally and emotionally abused child and young adult who broke the cycle and clawed her way out to become a successful adult.   A heart wrenching and painful read of the life of this child but also inspirational as the author relates her ability to overcome the trauma she endured and the strength to forgive her abusers.

As the synopsis states, she was married to Joe DiMaggio, Jr., a very troubled man and his control to remake the author into his step mother, Marilyn Monroe.   What was ironic in this, was that the author and Marilyn Monroe’s life, paralleled each other’s life in an uncanny resemblance.   The abuse and family dynamics so alike.

As I was reading this extraordinary story, I kept thinking how painful it must have been to rewrite and face her tormented past.   But on the other hand how brave it was of her to share her story to help others.   I think that every woman who reads this book will be able to relate to some degree of her life, hopefully not as severe, but on some level, I know I did.   The book was riveting!!   Engrossing!!   A page turner!!! Poignant!!   A must read!!   This novel will stay with me for a long time, it was that touching.   This is one book that I will never forget.   Exceptional!!   I highly recommend this memoir!!   Outstanding!!

  My Rating: 5+

I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me,
in exchange for my honest review.
No items that I receive
are ever sold…they are kept by me,
or given to family and/or friends.
(2012 Challenges: EBooks, Off The Shelf, FreeReads, Where Are You, A-Z, 52 in 52, Outdo Yourself, 100+)