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Mad Cow: A PTSD Love Story

Mad Cow: A PTSD Love Story

by Meredith Shafer

Mad CowDespite its subtitle, Meredith Shafer’s Mad Cow: A PTSD Love Story is not a mushy romance.  It is the hard-hitting tale of a woman who has lived in the trenches and struggled to scramble out for her own survival and that of her children and her husband nicknamed Mr. Wonderful in the book. “Mad Cow” does not refer to the feared Mad Cow disease; it is the nickname Meredith has given to the struggle her husband faces every day. He is a veteran retired on a medical disability and Mad Cow is a triangle of asthma, PTSD, and traumatic brain injury and all of the associated problems that often accompany these disorders including issues with depression and sobriety. 

Mad Cow is not a timeline biography, and it does not detail Mr. Wonderful’s war injuries or his specific medical issues. Instead, this memoir shares the struggles of this hot mess, circus-like, crazy family of six, led by a spunky mama and a wounded warrior as they navigate life, crises, and the VA medical system. We learn of financial struggles and family issues.  We discover how survival fueled by faith, trust, and God’s love becomes more important than a perfect house, after school activities, and productivity.

Meredith brings her background as a musician, lawyer, mom,  writer and speaker, a devotee of leopard, shoes, coffee and bling, and most especially a lover of Jesus to this book. She shares openly from her heart; there is no fakeness in this book. You will find humor scattered liberally throughout. There is one particularly funny chapter called “The Casita” which describes how the family of six lived temporarily in a 150 square foot house. Under the humor though is the pain of trying to save a husband who is past being able to save himself. Under the humor is a woman’s heart as she leans into her Father relying on Him to restore her family.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Memoir, Christian Nonfiction

Notes: You can find my review of Meredith Shafer’s first book, My Pink Champagne Life here

Publication:  2016

Memorable Lines: 

You can’t really go back, though. You can only move forward, which we are trying to do with generosity of spirit and good humor and grace, a whole truckload of grace. Wow, that’s hard.

I’ve decided that potty training a fiery redheaded she-child is kind of like training a wild tiger to dance to show tunes. It’s a delicate yet frightening process that requires infinite patience, a death wish, and multiple costume changes.

I guess thirty days off and three counseling appointments post deployment aren’t nearly enough. The military way, though it’s not written in any of their field manuals, is to soldier on. Self-medicate with alcohol if necessary as that is the acceptable method of of soldiering on.

Murder at the Mushroom Festival–beautiful setting for terrible mayhem

Murder at the Mushroom Festival

by Janet Finsilver

Murder at the Mushroom FestivalMurder, poisoning, blackmail, theft, destruction of Native American lands, assault, and threats! There’s plenty of action in Redwood Cove, a coastal town in northern California where lots of folks are gathering for the Mushroom Festival. Kelly Jackson, new manager of the Redwood Cove Bed-and-Breakfast finds herself in the middle of trouble when she and the Silver Sentinels, a group of amateur sleuths with wisdom and connections on their side, try to find a murderer and determine if the other crimes are related.

Murder at the Mushroom Festival kept me wondering at the identity of the villain as suspicion was thrown on various characters. The solution is much more complicated than one might imagine. Kelly and her Miss Marple-like fellow sleuths are likable. Two children, several dogs and a truffle snuffling pig add further interest. I enjoyed learning about mushrooms and about sinker redwood as the mystery progressed.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Lyrical Underground (Kensington Press) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #4 in the Kelly Jackson Mystery Series, but worked well for me as a standalone.

Publication:   April 17, 2018—Kensington Press (Lyrical Underground)

Memorable Lines:

He parked, and we got out in what I felt was an enchanted forest. I breathed in the life of the woodland around me. Musty, sweet, earthy, topped off with a sprinkling of salt from the nearby ocean. Spears of sunlight cut through the towering redwoods like beacons to highlight certain areas. A raven cawed, loud and raucous, as we walked through a sunlit glen. A hawk drifted overhead, soaring on the wind currents.

The waves varied in intensity. When a strong one hit the rocky shoreline, water exploded high into the air. The rise and fall of the swell, like a creature breathing, made the ocean a living body.

People who were sure their way was the only way could make life unpleasant.

Dead Storage–dangerous secrets

Dead Storage

by Mary Feliz

Dead StorageWhat do you do when a good friend who also happens to be a really good person gets involved in a murder and asks you to keep a secret from his husband? If you are Maggie McDonald, professional organizing consultant, wife, and mother of two boys, you keep the secret, investigate the murder, and try to get your friend out of jail.

That is the short version of a fast-paced cozy mystery entitled Dead Storage. At times I was a little irritated with the way Maggie accepted red tape and being put off by those she was interviewing. Then I thought about three months this summer and the runaround I received in trying to get two birth certificates and repairs accomplished on a motorcycle under warranty. Actually what Maggie went through was pretty believable.

I recommend this book for its intricate mystery and interesting social elements. You will especially like it if you have a heart for the homeless, empathy for those with PTSD, and a passion for dogs.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kensington Books (Lyrical Underground) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #3 in the Maggie McDonald Mystery Series, but works as a standalone

Publication:  July 18, 2017–Kensington Books (Lyrical Underground)

Memorable Lines:

Clutter costs time and money. Even if you aren’t renting extra storage, if you’ve got so much stuff that you don’t know what you have or where it is, or you can’t find it when you need it, it’s nearly the same as having nothing at all.

Neighborliness wasn’t restricted to streets with single-family homes and gardens. Apartment buildings, parks and anywhere that people came together could provide community too.

While electronic communications are great for efficiency purposes, any emotional or dicey situation is so much better handled face-to-face.

Morgan’s Hunter–repetitive

Morgan’s Hunter

by Cate Beauman

Morgan's HunterBeautiful Morgan Taylor, a wildlife biologist from a wealthy and politically influential family, finds herself in need of an expert bodyguard, according to her father who hires the handsome Hunter Phillips. The title Morgan’s Hunter is a play on words as Morgan is herself hunted in the aftermath of the vicious killing of members of her team who work for a government environmental agency.

Morgan and Hunter both deal with guilt issues and a physical attraction to each other in what should be a professional relationship. The basic plot is well-conceived with twists along the way.

My major issue with this book is repetition, mainly in regards to the sexual attraction and encounters between Morgan and Hunter, but also with their guilt issues. I understand they are both perfect physical specimens. I am aware they are attracted to each other and engage in sex multiple times. Starting with Chapter One, I was informed about Hunter’s PTSD, and later about Megan’s feeling responsible for her team. As a reader I just don’t need the repetition ad nauseam. If the value of the book is its erotic aspects, then I suppose the multiple explicit scenes are important, but they do little to forward the storyline.

Looking ahead to summaries of other books in the series, it seems they all run along the same line: woman needs handsome bodyguard and their mutual lust will result in sex. I don’t mind a little romance in a mystery, but I really prefer the plot to take precedence. I was not forewarned that Morgan’s Hunter is an erotic romance.

I received the book as a gift from the author with no obligation to review it. The opinions about this book and the genre are my own.

Rating: 3/5

Category: Mystery & Thriller, Erotic Romance

Notes:

  1. #1 int the Bodyguards of L.A. County Series
  2. Some bad language and multiple detailed descriptions of sexual encounters

Publication:   September 2012–It appears to be self-published, but the editor is Invisible Ink Editing.

Memorable Lines:

They came past the blackened remains of a truck three Marines died in yesterday. Like a mascot of death, the burned vehicle welcomed the recon unit to “The Danger Zone.”

The nightmares he woke from left him in panicked sweats for hours. Loud sounds spooked him, and at the strangest times, he swore he could hear Jake calling out to him. He was a mess—his life a disaster.

She looked forward to getting lost in a good novel and the problems of the characters for a while—and forgetting her own.

Lemons–in search of Bigfoot and love

Lemons

by Melissa Savage

LemonsLemons is a delightful chapter book intended  for children ages 8-12. As an adult, I loved it, and I will purchase it for my grandchildren.

Lemons features Lemonade Liberty Witt, a young girl whose mother has passed away. Suddenly “Lem’s” whole life is turned upside down. She meets her grandfather, Charlie, for the first time when she moves in with him. Her first friend in her new town is Tobin who founded and is president of Bigfoot Detectives, Inc.

I laughed and cried as Lem and Tobin along with Charlie and Tobin’s mother, Debbie, live out the pain of losing their respective loved ones, at different times and in different ways. They help each other in their struggles and work to make lemonade out of lemons. The relationship of Lem and Tobin and their search for Bigfoot is both humorous and touching.

I recommend Lemons for independent reading or as a story to share in the classroom or with a parent. It explores issues of grief and the aftermath of expressions of grief for both adults and children. This book shows bullying from the perspective of a child who is socially awkward and what a friend can do to help. The tale abounds with humor as the dynamic duo spend the summer getting to know each other as they search for evidence of Bigfoot.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Random House (Crown Books) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Children’s Fiction (Middle Grades)

Notes: provides many opportunities for discussions about feelings and how we express them

Publication:   May 2, 2017—Random House (Crown Books)

Memorable Lines:

The wrinkles are so deep and twisty, each one is like a road map to all the different stories of her life.

[Lemon, thinking about her mother:] It’s an important name. The most important name in the whole universe. I say it out loud every day so the universe remembers how important it is, and that it still matters to someone. And also so it doesn’t disappear. Like she did.

“So we let all our sad and mad feelings take over, and instead of loving and supporting each other, we hurt each other with our words.”

The most important thing to remember is to have gratitude for those we love and those who love us. Even if it’s not for the amount of time we had expected or wished for. If you don’t, you can be washed away by the sadness.

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