Book Review and Giveaway: Taken at Birth

GIVEAWAY

The winner of the giveaway was drawn randomly, and I’m pleased to announce it is Nancy B. Klein. Nancy has been contacted and I’ll be sending the book to her soon.

Taken At Birth by Jane Blasio is the story of Blasio’s struggle to find her birth family, as well as the birth families of hundreds of other people after finding out about a baby-selling operation in a small town in Georgia. It all revolved around a hometown doctor, Thomas J Hicks, in the small town of McCaysville, Georgia.

Blasio’s struggle with uncooperative townspeople and her own anger and loss of faith makes for a fascinating read. Her journey to find not just her family, but her faith again is poignant. Her determination to find out the truth from a town that was mostly unwilling to give it up is admirable. She details her anger at her own adoptive parents, who were unwilling to reveal much information until right before their deaths. The book contains stories of some of the birth mothers and their dealings with Dr. Hicks, and shows his heartless, selfish, and creepy personality very well. Overall, this is a compelling read. Anyone interested in true crime stories and stories of family separation will enjoy this book.

There is also a six episode series, Taken at Birth, which aired on TLC in 2019.

I received a free copy of this book from Baker Books. My review is voluntary.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jane Blasio

     
(In Her Own Words) My personal birth search, as well as acting as a search facilitator and representative for those sold by Doctor Thomas Hicks, has personalized my expertise and reputation. Today, I continue to assist those who are still bound to the Hicks Clinic and looking for answers. I’ve found most of what I was looking for, but not how I ended up at the clinic in the first place. The search of what happened in the clinic will not end until the deception which has marked everyone it touches, is burned off and truth restored. Truth that is owed to all of us lost and torn from the Hicks Clinic.

BUY TAKEN AT BIRTH

AMAZON

BARNES AND NOBLE

TARGET

BAKER PUBLISHING GROUP

Book Review: Finding Freedom: A Cook’s Story

I truly enjoyed the Magnolia Network TV Series “The Lost Kitchen,” and was delighted to find this memoir from the owner, who overcame a lot of adversity to get where she is. Erin French, in a no-holds-barred manner, tells of her childhood with an abusive father, her unplanned pregnancy, and a marriage to an abusive and controlling man. She tells of working 18 hour days in their successful restaurant while her husband did nothing, and then making the mistake of falling into abuse of drugs and alcohol just to keep functioning during those long workdays. When her husband staged an intervention, she went to rehab, but as soon as she was gone he closed the restaurant, drained their bank accounts, and took everything. Then she found out the papers she signed when they bought the restaurant put her husband’s name solely on the deed and her name solely on the mortgage. That tells me everything I need to know about this guy.

French tells a poignant story of starting over, fighting to get her son back, and beginning again with her now successful restaurant in her hometown of Freedom, Maine.

As someone who believes in second, third, and fourth chances, I truly loved this story. There are a few “F-bombs,” in the book, as others have said, but only a few. This is about enduring abuse, making mistakes, and then fighting to start again. It’s also the story of a girl who wants desperately to get out of her small town, does so, and then finds joy and peace when she returns to that very small town she wanted to leave so badly. I’ve always known you CAN go home again, and Erin French proves that point.

I saw a review on Amazon that said Ms. French is not a chef. She states that plainly herself. She is a self-taught cook who likes to use locally grown, organic meat and produce to make stunning dishes. Her restaurant, The Lost Kitchen, is so popular that people have to enter a lottery by postcard each year to get a reservation. Thousands of reservations pour in from all over the world for this 40 seat restaurant. So chef or not, she produces good food.

Fans of The Lost Kitchen, proponents of home grown, locally sourced food, and those who believe in second and third chances will enjoy this memoir.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Erin French

Erin French is the owner and chef of The Lost Kitchen, a 40-seat restaurant in Freedom, Maine, that was recently named one of TIME Magazine’s World’s Greatest Places and one of “12 Restaurants Worth Traveling Across the World to Experience” by Bloomberg. A born-and-raised native of Maine, she learned early the simple pleasures of thoughtful food and the importance of gathering for a meal. Her love of sharing Maine and its delicious heritage with curious dinner guests and new friends alike has garnered attention in outlets such as The New York Times (her piece was one of the ten most read articles in the food section the year it was published), Martha Stewart Living, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and Food & Wine. She has been invited to share her story on NPR’s All Things Considered, The Chew, CBS This Morning, and The Today Show. Erin was featured in a short film made by Tastemade in partnership with L. L. Bean, which won a James Beard Award, and The Lost Kitchen Cookbook has been named one of the best cookbooks by The Washington Post, Vogue.com, and Remodelista and was nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award.

THE LOST KITCHEN WEBSITE

BUY FINDING FREEDOM: A COOK’S STORY

AMAZON

BARNES AND NOBLE

ORDER A SIGNED COPY ON THE LOST KITCHEN WEBSITE

* I have ordered Erin’s cookbook, The Lost Kitchen, so expect a review soon!

MY AMAZON REVIEW (“HELPFUL” VOTES APPRECIATED)

Book Review: Sunshine Girl – An Unexpected Life

For whatever reason, I don’t enjoy posting reviews about books I did not like, although I have done it in the past. Usually when I do, I feel strongly that people may want to see what I found wrong with the book and choose for themselves whether or not to buy it. That was the case here. See my review below and decide what it is you want out of the book before you buy it.

I received a free copy of this book from Random House via Netgalley. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

Sunshine Girl by Julianna Margulies is her memoir about being a child of divorce, living different lifestyles with her mother and father, and navigating difficult adult relationships. She is candid about her childhood and her adult relationships. This takes up a majority of the book. She spends very little time on her two major roles, Carol Hathaway on ER and Alicia Florrick on The Good Wife. Fans who are expecting a lot of interesting stories about these shows and her fellow actors will be disappointed. Fans of ER and The Good Wife might want to look at the table of contents before spending $14.99 on the Kindle version. Chapter 12 is about getting the part on ER, and most of Chapter 13 is about leaving ER 6 years later. George Clooney’s name is mentioned 9 times, but 7 of those times are in the story about getting the part in ER, and two mentions are while she’s complaining about fans, which I will go further into below. I could not find any mentions of Anthony Edwards, Sherry Stringfield, or Noah Wyle. As for The Good Wife, the amazing Christine Baranski is mentioned in one anecdote about a medical problem Margulies was having, but fans of Matt Czuchry and Josh Charles will be disappointed. I could not find them in the book. 

There was one story that completely bugged me because she complains about how embarrassed she was when a group of fans stopped her to talk about her two famous roles. People watched these shows for years, and are still watching them. She continues to benefit from these shows. At least she could treat her fans with respect instead of slamming them in a memoir.

Of course it is her prerogative to write about anything she wants, but fans of ER and The Good Wife might want to decide if it’s worth the money, depending on what they hope to get out of the book.

As someone who has enjoyed ER and The Good Wife, this fell flat for me. I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in learning about Julianna Margulies’ childhood and relationships, and very little about her two hit shows. The title is also deceiving. There’s no sunshine in this book.

BUY ON AMAZON

My Goodreads Review (Likes appreciated if you are so inclined)

RECOMMENDATION:

As a contrast to this disappointing memoir, I would like to recommend Confessions of a Prairie Bitch, by Alison Arngrim. Her book is everything this one is not. She shares VERY personal information about her childhood, but also talks about the show (Little House), the fans, and her fellow actors. She even mentions members of the crew. She is witty, gracious, funny, and clever. It is one of the best memoirs I have ever read. Warning: She was sexually abused by her brother as a child and talks about it in the book. Interesting fact: Nobody liked Mary. I read this years ago but I will probably put up a review soon.