Books

Book Review: Beauty in the Broken Places

Beauty in the Broken Places: A Memoir of Love, Faith, and ResilienceBeauty in the Broken Places: A Memoir of Love, Faith, and Resilience by Allison Pataki

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was given an advanced copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

It’s scary to think that every single person on this planet could suffer a traumatic brain injury that will irreparably alter their plans for the future. Most of us get lucky and never have to face this conundrum, but Allison and her husband Dave are not so fortunate. Dave suffers a terrible stroke deep in his brain and must re-learn how to be a person again and at the same time, Allison gives birth to their first child while raising her husband from his own infancy.

Pataki writes with so much emotion–I could feel her agonies, her frustrations, her joys. This book was an incredible work. Even though I am not religious, I honestly sat back and thought about Pataki’s deep faith in God and what I would do in such a situation. I realized that I would pray to every deity out there. No sense in not stacking the deck in our favor. I love a book that makes me re-evaluate my own beliefs and goals in life. Pataki’s Beauty in Broken Places did just that. Fantastic!

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Book Review: The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind

The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind: My Tale of Madness and RecoveryThe Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind: My Tale of Madness and Recovery by Barbara K. Lipska

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As the step-parent of a child with mental illness, I’ve often wondered what is really going on in his head. Granted, he suffers from autism as well, but there was so much cross-over between Barbara Lipska’s experiences and what I see with my stepson. The idea that every human is just one unlucky event away from madness is terrifying, but Lipska presents her story brush with mental illness factually and scientifically in a way that only a scientist could. Despite the clinical nature of some passages, Lipska could be any of us, her family could be my own as we deal with the changes in one of our own, and the story it frighteningly relatable.

I highly recommend this book to anyone dealing with mental illness in their family. I’ve already recommended it to a friend whose mother has dementia. It is a powerful passage into the psyche of someone in the throes of brain disease and it is a view not often granted to those on the outside.

Book Review: The Danger Within Us

The Danger Within Us: America's Untested, Unregulated Medical Device Industry and One Man's Battle to Survive ItThe Danger Within Us: America’s Untested, Unregulated Medical Device Industry and One Man’s Battle to Survive It by Jeanne Lenzer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow — this book was terrifying but it’s probably one of the most important books out there in the market right now. The Danger Within Us: America’s Untested, Unregulated Medical Device Industry and One Man’s Battle to Survive It has been on my radar since I saw a review on NPR and I’m so glad I was able to get an early reviewer copy. This book is well researched, insightful, and the most horrifying book I’ve read about the dysfunction in the United States’ healthcare system.

Having worked in the healthcare industry and suffering from a chronic illness, I’ve had more than my fair share of run-ins with the medical device industry. Even then, I had no idea just how corrupt the system really was. Learning that many medical devices are implanted with little or no testing is awful — especially when I consider the fact that I was thinking about having an off-label device implanted myself!

The United States is at a pivotal moment. There is a lot of upheaval happening. Perhaps this book could stir the pot and lead to change in the current healthcare system. I know one thing: Everyone should read this book before considering medical device implants. Do your research. Know your risks. Be your own advocate. The healthcare industry won’t help you there.

Book Review: Baby Teeth

Baby TeethBaby Teeth by Zoje Stage

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book is like if Stephen King and Lisa Genova had a baby. It’s creepy, it’s cerebral, it focuses on how a tiny brain misfiring can wreak havoc on everything in a person’s life. In short: it was great.

I’m a huge fan of the horror/thriller genre but I love a good science nonfiction book as well so this one was right up my alley. Zoje Stage’s debut novel focuses on a family that has it all — or at least they appear that way to the outside. However, inside their pristine home, life is a nightmare. Hanna is 7-year-old and has yet to speak. Suzette struggles with the pain of raising a disabled child while she herself is also quite ill. Alex rounds out the family as the handsome bread-winner, the prize possession of both his wife and daughter. Then one day, it all falls apart. Hanna speaks but what comes out of her mouth is devastating and terrifying. From there, things only get worse as Hanna invents dangerous ways to get back at her mother and Alex refuses to see the trouble his daughter creates. Everything comes to a head one fateful evening and nothing is ever the same after that.

The entire book had me on the edge of my seat as I waited for Hanna to concoct her next plan of attack. I felt Suzette’s fear, Alex’s anguish, and Hanna’s confusion. As the parent of an occasionally violent, mostly mute child, I know what it’s like to wonder what the day will bring. Luckily, I’ve never been in fear for my life but I could totally sympathize with Suzette the whole way through. Great read!

Not Cool, Goodreads.

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I got this email from Goodreads earlier this week and suffice it to say I am not happy.  As a book review blogger, I’ve come to rely on Goodreads for their handy “post to blog” checkbox feature that’s right there on the review page.  It pulls everything into some lovely HTML code and I jut plop it over here and my review, links, and rating all just appear like magic.

I’m so sad to be losing this lovely feature.  Not cool, Goodreads.  I hope you replace it with something awesome.