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review 2017-12-11 17:56
Caring for the Caregiver - Cheri Swalwell

Caring for the Caregiver by Cheri Swalwell Book starts out with dedication page and other works by the author. I've read many of her books and have enjoyed them. Love the straight forward words of encouragement as you go through the bad times. We went through similar situation with my husband who had a heart attack. I'd go with him to the doctors and hand them the blood work results and write everything down in my 3 folders of information. Still go with him just to be sure we are on the right track. Like endings and tips at end of each section. So much of what we went through is described in detail here with solutions and suggestions. Love the parts about taking care of yourself or you'd not be able to take care of them or the children. Love this book the best because it spoke to me of how I take care of my spouse daily and when he's ill. We were just raised to do that and chip in where needed. When I heard the title I thought it would be about taking for an aging adult, glad I was wrong as we go through illnesses together throughout our lives. Scriptures are quoted when they are relevant to the subjects being discussed. Like explanations of the different types of fasting and what is involved. Love bible verses that are quoted at the end to help offer more encouragement. Author bio and contact information is provided.

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review 2017-05-18 07:35
Learning to Live
Dream Lake - Lisa Kleypas

Dream Lake Review (finally)

I was excited to read Alex’s story and I was not disappointed. Alex out of all the Nolans grabbed my heart and squeezed it, wouldn’t let it go. Alex has traits that make him my kryptonite. I adored him. He’s tortured and grumpy. He’s described as having a ruined beauty that women can’t resist, but he’s not a womanizer. While having a broken beau is nothing a woman should aspire to in life, broken heroes seem to appeal to me like no other. I loved seeing Alex’s damaged psyche be healed in a realistic way. Kleypas doesn’t take any shortcuts. She shows you all the dark spots on Alex’s soul, even his destructive, unhealthy relationship with his ex-wife, Darcy. While Zoe in herself doesn’t heal Alex, the functionality of their relationship is a sharp contrast to his failed marriage. While Darcy seemed to want to put Alex back on the rails with his drinking, Zoe wants Alex to be whole and healed, not for herself, but for him. When Alex and Zoe meet in Rainshadow Road, it felt like magic to me, and it turned out to be the case. Zoe and Alex are made for each other. Zoe is fairly well balanced. She does have some self-esteem issues due to her extreme beauty and voluptuous physique, and the trauma of being judged for it. To the extent that she marries a man who is gay because he doesn’t objectify her. While Alex is obviously completely blown away by Zoe, he doesn’t treat her like a sex object, and in actuality, tries to push her away because he knows he’s damaged goods. However, the connection between them cannot be ignored. I ate up their falling in love. Enjoyed every scene they had together. Zoe’s major issue is the failing health of her grandmother. Her grandmother has a form of dementia that escalates rapidly, and Zoe takes on the role as caregiver. Alex takes on the job of remodeling the cottage that Zoe’s cousin Justine lets her live in with her grandmother. Their proximity is an excellent opportunity for the powerful emotions between them to blossom. And in seeing each other under their worst situations, they realize that love isn’t about perfection but about loving perfectly.

Kleypas was going for a magical realism theme with this series, and this book reminded me of “Like Water for Chocolate” or “Simply Irresistible” with some “Ghost” thrown in. Zoe’s cooking seems to have healing properties, although I don’t think there was really any magic in it. It was merely a case of the fact that her food was what sustained Alex and tempted him to eat when he was at the lowest point in his alcoholism. The ghost angle comes in with the spirit that attaches himself to Alex, a spirit that lives in the house that Alex’s brother Sam owns and that Alex has taken on restoring. Alex seems driven to restore the house, and the spirit becomes attached to Alex in the process. It’s hate at first sight. The spirit can’t stand Alex, who comes off as a complete misanthrope if not nihilist. It’s Alex’s hero’s journey to heal spiritually and to rid himself of the dark cloud that has surrounded him since his traumatic childhood, being victimized by two violent, unrestrained drunks. I don’t know what Kleypas’ spiritual beliefs are but she see doesn’t shy away from adding a spiritual component to this novel, that make sense in that we’re dealing with a ghost and a hero who is having a major existential crisis. The ghost often functions as Alex’s conscience and in some ways, much like the ghosts that visit Ebeneezer Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol.” This is another book in which Kleypas obvious love of literature is showcased and lovingly inscribed into her writing.

This book is my favorite out of the series, and it earns a resounding five stars. I think that it captures the tone and the notes of a beautiful contemporary romance only as Kleypas could deliver. She uses language so beautifully, from the well-developed characters, to the intentional and spot on dialogue. While the ghost story didn’t really add to this book for me, it’s integral to the story, and it would definitely appeal to readers who like a little paranormal in their romance. Not as excited about Justine’s book, but at the same time, looking forward to reading it.

Oh, I guess I should mention the audiobook narration. It was good. Serviceable.

My dream cast:

Kelli Garner as Zoe

Nicholas Hoult as Alex

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review 2017-03-21 20:41
The Hope Chest
The Hope Chest: A Novel - Viola Shipman


By:  Viola Shipman

ISBN: 1250105072

Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Publication Date: 3/21/2017

Format: Other

My Rating: 5 Stars


Master storyteller, Viola Shipman (Wade Rouse) returns following the heartwarming debut, The Charm Bracelet (2016) and nostalgic Christmas novella Christmas Angels with the latest love story— THE HOPE CHEST, poignant and beautifully crafted, a story of hope, faith, memories, second chances, life’s special moments and surprises.

Emotionally rich, heartbreaking, and yet inspiring and warm-spirited— Shipman once again demonstrates the impact of family, history, and friends. Life is precious. Life is a gift. Time. How do we choose to use it? A legacy to be continued through others. To be passed along. You can utilize what time you have, or lose it all in a blink of an eye.

Thought-provoking! One man may be losing his wife, but through her strength—he may discover a new family. From family heirlooms, nostalgia, grief, sadness, to inspiration and hope for the future.

“ . . . Hope is something you carry with you forever, not only this chest but also in your heart. So look inside it and inside yourself when you need hope the most, and it will guide you, and remind you of what was and what is to be. . . “

Set in idyllic and charming small town of Michigan, Don and Mattie Tice have had a happy life. They have been in love since they first met many years earlier. They promised one another, till death do us part. They are approaching their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Don wishes more than anything he could freeze time. Just a little longer.

They had their cottage at Hope Dunes. Their history. However, the house was big and now Don needed help with Mattie. They now required a caregiver. Mattie has ALS— for five years, and now they are forced to move to a smaller place. Are they really ready to give up a big part of their past? What about the future?

Mattie is multi-talented. She was a successful landscape designer, with many famous clients over the years. She was also a painter. Don was an executive at Herman Miller furniture, and they both love the beauty and importance that objects and plants hold in people’s homes and lives.

Now they are left with no children and only a faithful dog, Mabel. What will he do when his loving faithful wife passes on. How will he go on? He is clinging to every moment.

Enter Rose Hoffs, and her charming, "larger- than- life" daughter, Jeri. Rose lost her parents to cancer and her husband left years ago. A divorced single mom, her parents had left her their family home; however, she is struggling to make ends meet.

She needs full-time hours versus part time in order to survive without using all her savings and her inheritance, which was dwindling quickly. She needed to hang on to her family home. She was too young to have no help. She is excited to get an opportunity to work for this couple through the service, There’s No Place Like Home, the senior care group as a caregiver.

Little does she know how she and her daughter’s life will be enhanced by this wonderful caring couple, and the impact she and her daughter will have while based on this newfound relationship.

In the years following Mattie’s diagnosis, Don had been angry, with God and at every person so insinuated that his wife would one day be better off dead. However, Mattie made him aware his anger was misplaced. It was not all about him. She told him he was being selfish and wasting his strength and emotion over something he could not control. Time will march on. Life will continue.

. . . “We get one chance on this earth. One short little stop to get things right, and too few of us do. We focus on everything that is unimportant.”

Special keepsakes. A special hope chest for a special history. Everything has a story. Each of the heirlooms in the hope chest teaches something about one’s self. Past, present, future. Living lessons. A hope chest once filled with hope and now there is none.

From a cedar chest, scents, fragrances of the past. Filled with memories such as scrapbooks, heirlooms, family pictures, teddy bears, family bibles, special mementos, rag dolls, aprons, dishes, jewelry—precious items to be passed along to a family. Connecting the past with the future. Filled with love, hopes, and dreams.

“Hope is only one short letter from home.

H is for Hope Now and for always.
O is for the Overwhelming love I have for you.
P is for the Practical items that will make your house a home.
E is for the Eternal memories this chest will provide every time you open it up.

You are my hope, and my home, in this world, My daughter, my love. . . ”

Beautifully written, I bookmarked so many passages. Shipman has a way with words and vivid descriptions—predict he will be the next Nicholas Sparks! Loved everything about this charming story! Readers will fall in love with the characters, as well as the comforting words to those who have recently lost loved ones or those left behind trying to make sense of their loss. You will smile and cry at the same time. No chance encounters. An ideal book for book clubs and further discussions.

Another element which was nicely done— the way Shipman used the different timelines. Often an author will spend more time with the secondary story than the main one. I liked the fact, Don and Mattie's touching and the timeless story took center stage, as well as their background history. Rose’s life intersected perfectly, without taking away from the couple's journey.

For fans of Nicholas Sparks, Fredrik Backman, Debbie Macomber, Joanne Demaio, Sally Hepworth, Zoe Fishman, and Charles Martin.

Highly Recommend!

A special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an early reading copy.



Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2016/09/01/The-Hope-Chest
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review 2015-12-23 07:08
Before I Forget
Before I Forget: Love, Hope, Help, and Acceptance in Our Fight Against Alzheimer's - Michael Shnayerson,Dan Gasby,Rudolph E. Tanzi Ph.D.,B. Smith

Love, Hope, Help, and Acceptance in Our Fight Against Alzheimer's
By:  B. Smith, Dan Gasby, Michael Shnayerson

ISBN: 9780553447125
Publisher: Crown Publishing 
Publication Date: 1/19/2016
Format: Other
My Rating:  5 Stars


A special thank you to Crown Publishing and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

BEFORE I FORGET a courageous, rare, and bold memoir—the painful truth, a personal journey and fight of early- onset Alzheimer’s; a supermodel, restaurateur, publisher, and celebrity chef, B. Smith.

With incredible insights, education, and impeccable research from husband Dan Gasby, and beautifully written by Vanity Fair contributing editor and master storyteller, Michael Shanayerson —keeping you glued to the pages, as if a work of fiction versus non-fiction, with wit, honesty, and sensitivity. A beautiful love story, which will melt your heart.Top Non-Fiction Books of 2016—A Must Read!



People Exclusive  By K.C. BAKER 1/14/2016 
B. Smith's Husband On Her Early Onset Alzheimer's: 'It's the Toughest Thing I’ve Had to Deal With' Read More 



America’s super couple steps out boldly to use their status and connections as advocates to help fight this terrible disease, for more awareness, research, and education-- for a cure. Another critical reason for stepping out to take action, is finding and testing new drugs. They are expensive, like $1 billion for each new candidate. So it is important people take part in clinical trials.

Alzheimer’s is the most under recognized threat to public health in the twenty-first century. The two most forward thinking states with driving forces are NC and Minnesota (education and activism on Alzheimer’s). There is much to learn and need for education and continued research in this fight. The easiest way is The Brain Registry —you do not to have Alzheimer’s to sign up or participate in a brain study trial.

There have been many fiction books written today, tackling Alzheimer’s; however, this is the first book I have read which really hits home with a realistic everyday walk—from a caregiver’s point of view, a husband, a daughter and a patient, suffering from this frightening disease.

Nine months before the book, Barbara was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. As Dan reiterates in the memoir, they appreciate works of fiction, like Still Alice, and other books, which create social awareness—helping educate communities about Alzheimer’s and hopefully lessening the stigma of the disease.

A disease that kills brain cells. The cells it kills first govern memory, (short-term), as the first indication. As it progresses, the long term memory diminishes, too. Eventually Alzheimer’s affect those parts of the brain that control actions and processes we take for granted from the five senses to physical coordination to swallowing to continence. It is unfortunately, both progressive, and so far, irreversible.

Some 5.2 million Americans are living with this disease each year, with a new case every sixty-seven seconds. What was the sixth leading cause of death in the US has now moved up to third, just behind heart disease and cancer.

One in nine Americans age sixty-five or older has it: 11% of the senior population; up to 33% for all Americans eighty-five and older. The scary number is 200,000 Americans under sixty-five have Alzheimer’s. Early-onset or familial Alzheimer’s, as opposed to late-onset, which is everyone sixty-five and older. When you think about 200,000 households where a family member under sixty-five wakes up in a fog every morning, and drifts through the day needing constant guidance from a loved one or hired caregiver.

Plus, out of this number, two-thirds are women. A woman of sixty-five has a 1-in-6 chance of getting Alzheimer’s at some point in her remaining years—versus a man’s 1-11 chance. The difference is in part because women tend to live longer, and the aging process seems to exacerbate the genetic and lifestyle factors associated with the disease. Alzheimer’s changes everything around you.

Where the book really delves into the statistics, is the alarming number of African Americans getting Alzheimer’s.They are twice as likely as Caucasians to get it. Ten percent over sixty-five have it. By the age of eight-five, half of all African Americans have it. Diabetes is also higher in the black community, and they tend to ignore the symptoms of Alzheimer’s longer than whites—as there is a stigma to Alzheimer’s greater than for most diseases.

B. Smith is a perfect role model and spokesperson, to speak out for the African American community; to recognize symptoms, and take action sooner. From anger, forgetfulness, memory lapses, thoughtless, emotional ups and downs, preoccupied, unresponsive, wandering, mood swings, and the seven stages (or the three-main stages).

Dan tells of his love story when the couple met, their twenty-one- year marriage, and how they have worked together to build their brand and their lives. Their restaurants, their business, their dreams, and their lives. Now struggling between proper care, fearful to allow her to be out of his sight, some scary hours when B goes missing, and her need for independence--fighting against an in home health caregiver. The patient is being robbed of their independence, making them feel even worse. (B walked the streets of Manhattan for seventeen hours in high heels, lost)—amazing.

We also hear from B. Smith - her feelings, emotions, fears, confusion, routines, loss of human dignity, mobility, simple pleasures, and her need to be alone. Putting pride and privacy aside, Dan’s challenge as her husband and caregiver is to immerse himself in the present with her. Not to expect her to remember, just be there with her. Join the journey. They are on a journey you cannot prevent or block.


The A’s of Alzheimer’s:
• Agitation: nervousness, restless
• Agnosia: Difficulty with processing sensory information; inability to recognize familiar objects, tastes, sounds, and other sensations
• Amnesia: Loss of memory
• Anomia: Inability to remember names
• Anxiety: excessive worry or concerns
• Apathy: Indifference; inability to feel optimistic and happy
• Aphasia: inability to express oneself through speech
• Apraxia: Loss of fine motor skills

By stepping out to tell their story, B and Dan have joined a campaign of doctors, scientists, and policy makers, among other who see 2020 as the target date for managing Alzheimer’s and are doing all they can to hit that target. Not for curing it, not for preventing it—not yet for either of those. Just for catching it earlier, and maybe—keeping it in check so that patients live longer and keep some semblance of the lives they had before this awful disease afflicted them.

We all know someone who suffers from Alzheimer’s. I have a favorite aunt; she cannot be away from her husband for a second. She does not recognize anyone else for him; not even her own children. Same as B. Smith in the story, she does not want an outside caregiver, thereby putting burdens upon the family. From driving, replaying questions, anger, guilt, resentment, self-pity, misplacing things, memory loss, late to appointments, horrors, sleepwalking, binge late night eating, denial, to hoarding.

The aging of the baby boomers means the numbers are going up. A patient spends millions of dollars a year on care giving alone, in addition to the emotional cost. Sadly Medicare does not pay for a PET scan.


“Time is elastic for B—that’s the word I use. A moment stretches to infinity; a day shrinks to no time at all. In public, she is as poised as ever. Alzheimer’s is perfect for celebrities. They greet people without being expected to know who those people are. The painful truth is that the woman who’s greeting them so warmly has no idea what day of the week it is, or year.”

To a patient with the long-term human tragedy of Alzheimer’s --five minutes can seem like an hour; an hour can seem like five minutes. One person has the disease, but everyone in the family is affected. No one’s life is ever the same. Not only thinking about managing them, but managing your own life in tandem with theirs; building in the time to be a daily caregiver, but also scheduling time off to replenish yourself and be able to help your loved on the next day.

Inspiring and enlightening, a compelling and powerful read. I love how the book was broken out, easy to read from diet, health, insurance, tests, spirituality, research, Medicare, alternative therapies, yoga, exercise, patience, and unconditional love.

Dan: “I’ve come to realize Alzheimer’s is like a tornado moving through a town. It destroys some buildings and leaves other untouched. You can thank God for the ones that were spared, or you can shake your fist at fate. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the luck of the neurological draw, brain cell by brain cell, plaque by plaque.”

With Alzheimer’s the past is the best place to dwell. You want to linger over everyone one of those sweet, long-ago scenes. They’re where happiness still resides. “There is still a living spirit inside the diminished person, the spirit of someone you love.”

You will laugh and cry!

The number of Americans with Alzheimer’s will grow from more than five million today and to as many as sixteen million by mid-century. Caring or people with Alzheimer’s will cost our country twenty trillion in today’s dollars over this same period.

Join their Journey for Hope, Help, and Acceptance in Our Fight Against Alzheimer's. They are thinking of all the others who come after B—the beautiful people with dwindling minds. Join to help push, pressure, and politicize until we get a breakthrough.

Thank you, for this incredible story! Alarming. Eye-opening.




Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/#!Before-I-Forget/cmoa/55c018360cf28e7a8e406134
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review 2014-12-07 00:00
Journal of a Caregiver by lylithj2
Journal of a Caregiver - lylithj2

5 Stars. A brilliant touching J2 fanfic presented as a journal written from Sam's pov. Dean is brain injured after his possession by Michael the archangel and Sam takes care of him on the long road to recovery. Made me cry, some typos, dark in parts.

'We are made of flesh and bone, blood and come, hard muscle and velvet skin, but our souls are spun glass, interwoven and interconnected at all points. We’ve spent our entire lives trying not to shatter against each other, both of us twisting and racing to protect the other from the cruel outside world. We deserve some peace and beauty and have found that grace in each other.'

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