Book Review and Giveaway: Taken at Birth


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.


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.






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.


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


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.

Book Reviews: Memoirs of a Karate Fighter

Memoirs of a Karate Fighter

Novelist and former karate champion Ralph Robb recounts his experiences at one of Europe’s toughest dojos and provides an insight into the philosophy and training methods of a club which produced national, European and world titleholders. In a hard-hitting story, Ralph tells of the fights on and off the mat; his experiences as one of a very few black residents in an area in which racist members of the National Front were very active; and the tragic descent into mental illness and premature death of the training partner who was also his best friend.


This was an interesting and engaging memoir by Ralph Robb about his life as a member of the Wolverhampton YMCA Karate Club, his championship battles, his struggles against racism, and his fights in and out of competition. He also relates his determination to build a safer and better life for his family, and his beloved cousin’s battle with mental health issues.

Although I do not know very much about karate, I enjoyed reading about the karate competitions and especially the real-world situations in which Robb used karate to protect himself. Robb shares how karate helped him deal with everything from racist skinheads to drunks and mobsters in the real world. The story of his strong relationship with his cousin Clinton and Clinton’s battle with mental health issues is heartrending.

This is not just a book about a karate fighter. This is a book about a youth who comes into his own while dealing with racism and while cultivating a skill that would shape his life. It’s also about karate, its history, its varying styles, and some of the greats who have practiced and taught it. But most importantly it’s about the growth of a young man, from fighter to father, and the lessons he learned from karate.

This is a must read for fans of karate and those who enjoy coming of age stories.

I received a free copy of this book via Rachel’s Random Resources. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

Purchase Links 




Ralph Robb was born and raised in the industrial town of Wolverhampton, England and now lives in Ontario Canada with his wife, cat and dog. A proud father of four, Robb works as an engineering technician and loves rugby, martial arts and a good book. His world is balanced by quality TV, global events, great outdoors and of course his grand-daughter. 


Twitter: @RalphSRobb


Blog Tour by Rachel’s Random Resources



Book Review and #Giveaway–Shift #Christian Book Giveaway

Great news–I have an extra copy to give away of Shift, Changing Our Focus to See The Presence of God. Check out my review and then put in a comment below to be signed up for a random drawing. The drawing will be this Sunday, March 21 at 9 a.m. EST.

Shift by Abby McDonald is a fresh way to look at and recognize the presence of God. Each chapter includes self study questions called Adjusting Our Lens to ask yourself that are very helpful. The chapter on legalism is extremely important to me because I have been in legalistic churches before and it is easy to fall into that mindset. The Adjusting Our Lens questions asked at the end of each chapter really give the reader a chance for insight and a new perspective. Other chapters include Invisible or Not? This is about missing things on the journey because you are focused on the final destination. I also found the chapter When “No” Is God’s Saving Grace extremely insightful. Who hasn’t been disappointed when No is the answer to a prayer, and then received something even better instead? The author tells us that “No is just a much of a product of His grace as Yes.” Such a poignant reminder. These are just a few examples of the fresh perspectives in this book. Highly recommend to anyone who wants to look at God with a new focus.

I received two free copies of this book from the publishers. My review is voluntary.


Abby McDonald

Abby McDonald is a writer, speaker, wife and mom whose work has been featured on Proverbs 31 Ministries, (in)Courage, For Every Mom, and more. Her passion is to empower women to grow in faith and hope, even when life is messy. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in English from the University of South Carolina, and loves to teach about writing at conferences each year. When she’s not reading or writing, you can find her wrangling her three kids and black lab while drinking copious amounts of coffee. Abby lives with her husband and three children in western Maryland. 


Book Review: Inspire Your Marriage

Inspire Your Marriage by John Thomas is an interesting book that helps you understand individual and team qualities to which you and your spouse are attracted. Chapter One contains a quiz which determines which qualities attract each of you. Chapter Two begins to explore independent qualities, such as “Be Confident” and “Be Self-Reliant.” Chapter Three examines team qualities such as “Be Supportive” and “Be Enticing.” Each quality is examined with a case study of someone who might have problems in that area, and then an action plan for improving in each quality is provided.

Taking the quiz with your spouse can help you both see which qualities are important to each of you, and how you can improve in qualities in which you might be lacking. Even just taking the quiz yourself can help you improve in certain areas.

I found this to be interesting and helpful and would recommend it to all married couples who want to better connect with their spouse.

I downloaded a copy of this book on Kindle Unlimited, where subscribers can borrow books for free.




Plant Based Cookbook

Plant-Based Cookbook: 100 Delicious Recipes for a Healthy Life by Melissa Petitto is a gorgeous book filled with tempting plant-based recipes. It is divided into seasons, which I think is so important because it gives you a chance to use vegetables and fruits that are available and fresh in the current season.

The recipes I will be trying soon, as we are in between the Fall and Winter seasons, are the Fall Bean and Butternut Squash Minestrone, the Baked Apple Cider Donuts, and the Brussels Sprout, Apple, Turnip and Mandarin Slaw. There are many other tempting recipes for every season.

Each section includes a list of in-season vegetables and fruits. This book is all about using fresh, available, in-season fruits and vegetables to create delicious, plant-based meals. The photos are gorgeous and plentiful. The recipes are detailed and helpful. I recommend this book to anyone who follows a plant-based way of eating, plus anyone who wants to add more fruits and vegetables to their diet.

I received a free copy of this book from the publishers via Netgalley. My review is voluntary.

Link to the Book on Amazon

Link to Melissa Petitto’s website

Crow’s Feet: Life As We Age

Crow’s Feet: Life As We Age is a collection of essays and poems by and for those of us over 50. There are 36 works by various authors who explore different aspects of aging. The overall theme I found is that our age does not define us and does not limit us.

At the age of 56, I understand these essays in ways I would have not have when I was younger. Not every story spoke to me, but the ones that didn’t necessarily speak to me will speak to others.

Even if I didn’t always identify with the message of a particular author, they are all well written and the collection is well edited by Nancy Peckenham.

The following five works were my favorites:

When I Go Down, It Will Be With a Smile on my Face by Shea McNaughton, which is about finding joy and adventure on the back of a Harley at the age of 60.

And the Years Have Flown Away like the Leaves on a Mid-October Day by Julia E. Hubbel who talks about the changing seasons of life.

Like a Fine Wine We Get Better With Age by Michelle Monet explains how we get better and better every day, even if we might move a little slower.

Life at 102 by Nancy Peckenham introduces us to the author’s amazing 102 year old mother and how she has always embraced the challenges of growing older with energy and physical activity.

Looking at Old in a New Way by Maggie Frye explains that we can grow older and not feel old.

Although the five works above were my personal favorites, people over 50 will find others they personally enjoy and identify with in this collection. I had a smile on my face many times as I read about women my age or older than me having grand adventures, including posing nude, traveling on motorcycles, and sporting purple hair! This book is a testament to the fact that life gets even richer and more rewarding as you grow older.

I received a free copy of this collection from the editor. My opinions are my own and my review is voluntary.

Link to the Book on Amazon:

Link to Crow’s Feet web page:

Link to My Goodreads Review

Harness the Power of the Invincible Mind

(Spatial Strategy to Success and Happiness)

Harness the Power of the Invincible Mind: Spatial Strategy to Success and Happiness by Alex Neumann is a motivational book about throwing away old misconceptions and using a new strategy in order to move forward. This book successfully uses many examples and interesting anecdotal stories to make its point.

There are ten chapters in this book. I identified more with some of them than others. One of the main lessons that impacted me in this book is Ride Your Adversity. I would interpret it as Do Not Fear or Wallow in Adversity. Extreme fear of failure can result in stagnation, cowering in fear, or refusing to move forward. Basically, fear of failure can lead to failure. Wallowing in adversity can lead to an unhappy, stagnant life. Learning from your adversity can give you success in the future.

Another strong message I got from this book is, basically, Don’t Be Afraid To Try. Among the anecdotal examples are the following: Michael Jordan missed 9000 shots while having one of the most, if not the most, successful basketball careers in history. Einstein and Beethoven were deemed failures before they achieved greatness. JK Rowling came from poverty and was living on public assistance.

This book gives many other interesting and compelling anecdotes to make its points in a very successful way.

There are also lessons that I enjoyed on learning to say no and what happens when you try to control everything.

Harness the Power of the Invincible Mind contains some Buddhist principles, and I am a Christian, but there are still some helpful strategies that anyone of any faith can use to overcome setbacks and move on to a happy and successful life right now.

I found this book, and its anecdotal stories, to be interesting and helpful. I would recommend it to everyone, but especially those who are feeling hurt and discouraged.

Bottom Line: If you are discouraged, read this book!

If you are feeling discouraged, wishing you love and happiness!

I received a free copy of this book from Alex Neumann via Netgalley. My review is voluntary.

Link to the Book on Amazon

Link to Alex Neumann’s Amazon Page

Link to my review on Goodreads

Chasing Flavor

Chasing Flavor is an amazing cookbook by Dan Kluger that is true to its name and helps you get the absolute best flavor into your food. He starts with suggestions for pantry and kitchen equipment to help you make his recipes. He shows different techniques, such as how to cut and blanch vegetables, make pasta, and slice brisket. The cookbook is full of great ideas, such as adding pureed cauliflower to tomato soup so you get creaminess without dairy, or turning chicken nuggets into something insanely special by adding a maple chile glaze. 

Among the recipes I plan to try are Cashew Vinaigrette, Crushed Cucumbers with Yogurt and Chiles, Heirloom Tomato Panzanella with Parmesan Croutons, Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Fermented Chile Sauce, Grandma Pie, Raisin Stuffed Pork Loin, and Pan Roasted Chicken Breasts with Warm Potato Salad.

I received a free, temporary digital copy of this book from the publishers via Netgalley. My review is voluntary.

Clean Treats for Everyone

Today we have the first cookbook I’ve reviewed on this blog. Although I review a lot of fiction, I love to cook and I often review cookbooks, so you will see more of those occasionally, especially since the holidays are coming up. Below is my review of Clean Treats for Everyone. It uses natural ingredients to make delicious desserts. Release Date: October 6, 2020.


I am really enjoying this dessert cookbook. I wouldn’t classify my diet in any particular group. I’m not totally vegan or vegetarian, although I eat many of those types of foods. I don’t really follow any named diet. I’m just someone who wants to try and eat a little better. This cookbook gives me treats that use natural ingredients so that when I do snack, it is in a healthier way.

I have just made the almond cranberry granola bars, which were delicious. The chocolate mug cake is next on my list, and then the lemon bars. However, I will be trying lots of recipes in this book. 

If you want some recipes for some sweet treats made in a healthier way, you will love this cookbook.

I received a free, temporary digital copy of this cookbook from the publishers via Netgalley. My review is voluntary.

Link to the Book on Amazon:

Link to the Author’s Amazon Page:

Link to my Review on Goodreads: (Put a “Like” on it if you are so inclined):