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Nerves of Steel: Fighting for a Life by Robert Garrett (Book Review)

“You have ALS.” Three words obliterated the path of a life.

Now a new route was under construction and at the end sat a monstrous, relentless steamroller on a direct collision course.

“How long do I have? When will this hit me? What about my family?”

“Am I brave enough?”

Those are the devastating questions author Robert Garrett had to begin to answer the moment he was diagnosed with ALS while in his strong and thriving early 40s. He had a loving marriage, two healthy, beautiful young boys, and the career he had worked so hard for 20 years to achieve.

Now Garrett had to begin this new journey — one filled with devastating trials and exhilarating triumphs – while, as if blindfolded, he navigated the physical, emotional, and psychological obstacles of dealing with a ruthless terminal illness as his body began dying out from under him.

Written solely with dictation and eye gaze technology, Nerves of Steel is also a journey of self-discovery, as Garrett learns to overcome nearly impossible obstacles and try to somehow push through all of this with his family and sanity intact. It’s an intimate look at a real life: raw, honest, dark, uplifting, and inspiring with a cannonball splash of humor Garrett refuses to lose.


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I received a complimentary copy of this book from Reedsy Discovery.  I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.

 

ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease affecting brain and spinal cord nerve cells. It’s the boogyman that no one wants to face. Unfortunately for Robert, he has to face the monster head-on. ASL strips away a person’s strength and functions by interrupting the signals between nerves and muscles. When it does this, your muscles wither and die. As the disease progresses, the afflicted become more dependent on others until the condition takes away a person’s last breath. That’s a horrifying thought – knowing life will never be the same, thanks to the incurable disease. 

Robert first noticed something was amiss when his left hand began cramping and taking a claw-like shape. His left bicep was also losing muscle mass. He was subjected to multiple MRIs, underwent a nerve conduction test, and an EMG (electromyography), spinal tap (lumbar puncture), and had a chunk of his peroneal nerve (branch of the sciatic nerve that supplies movement and sensation to the lower leg, foot, and toes) removed for testing. With each test, Robert hoped his greatest fear wouldn’t become a reality; he didn’t want the diagnosis of ALS. No one does. Robert’s reaction to the diagnosis broke my heart. I cried with him. I looked at my kids and wondered how they would handle the news he had to share with his young sons. Despite every painful moment Robert has endured, the stares from strangers, he didn’t want to miss a moment with his family. Before ALS, he was an active family man. With ALS, he didn’t want the debilitating illness to take any more from him and his family than it already has and will in the future. 

Robert is lucky; he’s surrounded by family, friends, and co-workers that only want to improve his quality of life. No one could ask for a better mother-in-law than Janice. A widow, she moved into their apartment/basement and runs the house while Erin works full-time. She cooks, shops, cares for her grandsons (Walter and Henry), and helps Robert as needed. Then there was Carissa, a mother of four, who gave him unlimited access to her American Express for rides to work. Robert’s job also helped make his work life more manageable and graciously sponsors an annual 5k in his honor. The list of “angels” is long, so please read the book to discover how each act of kindness changed his life for the better. 

Robert appreciates and acknowledges many people who have helped or are helping him today. Nurses. Friends. Family. He makes it a point to show his gratitude. No one can deny he loves his family and being a dad. While I was touched by his “wants” for his sons, nothing moved me as much as chapter 36. It was a list of things he missed doing. Hugging his wife and kids…tossing a frisbee…eating with chopsticks…licking chip dust off fingers…holding a remote…This is only a small fraction of the items on the list that’ll break your heart and leave you emotionally drained. 

Robert has ALS, but he wants you to remember that he had a life before the disease, which he shares. He also wants you, the reader, to know he is still fighting. He still has wants to fulfill, and I hope he achieves each one, especially his dream ” to be standing tall and strong, wrapping my arms around my family in a tight hug.”

ASL is a brutal disease that only knows how to destroy a body without caring about how its actions affect a person’s mental, physical, and emotional state. Robert’s story will inspire other sufferers to fight back, love those around them, and make every moment count. 

I have nothing but love and respect for Robert and his story. He made me laugh. He made me cry, A LOT. I was in awe of his strength. I recommend you read his life’s journey.

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: 

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Meet the Author

Robert Garrett grew up on the Space Coast in the heyday of 80s Hair Metal, feathered hair, and the Space Shuttle. Writing found him in the offices of the Tampa Tribune, where he worked as a janitor. He spent the next seven years covering sports for the Tribune as well as other publications.

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Cruel Lessons (Lessons in Peril Book 1) by Randy Overbeck (Book Review)

On a school camping trip, fifth graders experiment with a dangerous new hallucinogen and die in a horrific accident, their deaths shattering the quiet town. Assistant Superintendent Ken Parks, hoping to redeem a fatal mistake from his past, grasps the opportunity to conduct the district investigation of how students are getting the drugs. Almost before he begins, the cops make a stunning arrest. But Parks battles on, convinced the real pusher is still out there, poisoning more kids until he receives an anonymous threat: if he continues, those close to him will pay. Is Parks willing to risk those he loves for a chance at redemption?

Preorder now: Amazon Purchase Link

 

(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

 

Cruel Lessons was a 457-page novel (print edition) that touched on a sensitive real-life issue: drugs in school. It’s common for young adults to experiment with pot, cigarettes, or alcohol. The age bracket partaking in illegal drugs exists well before high school. Cruel Lessons features the effects of drug use among 11 to 13-year-olds. Drugs are entering Foster Middle School, mainly a hallucinogen-inducing wolf tattoo. Once the young buyer presses the drug to their skin, their time is almost up. 

Cops witness numerous horrific crime scenes through their time on the force; the death of 4 young boys close to the science camp will haunt their dreams for a long time, maybe forever. 

The school board asked Ken to take point and find out how the kids got a hold of the drugs and discover if the school was liable for their deaths. The board seemed more interested if they would get sued or not. I wasn’t surprised people valued the bottom line over the loss of 4 lives. 

Ken, not a trained investigator, began to work the case. He interviewed staff members and students and enlisted the help of Bart (resource officer). His “meddling” was not appreciated by the dealer, “the doctor.” Lives were lost in the pursuit of justice. A popular teacher was fighting to prove her innocence. Through all the school drama, readers also watched love triangles unfold in the background. Wow, the cheating spouses drama could be its own soap opera. While I understand each purpose in the story, I wanted their faithful spouses to discover their misdeeds. I wanted more drama! 

The list of suspects was long. Who brought the tattoos into the school and how they did it might stun you. As you work the case with Ken and Bart, do not write off a suspect so quickly. At the end of the story, I had 75% of the resolution figured out. I was wrong about one prime suspect, which falls in the 25% category. 

Cruel Lessons will keep you guessing. When you think you figured it out, the author throws you a curveball. The uncertainty, the twists, kept me going back for more. Even though I loved the book, it left me with many unanswered questions. To avoid giving out spoilers, I will refrain from elaborating on what puzzled me. 

If you like crime stories that take time to solve, this book is for you! 

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score:  

Releases 10/11/23: Preorder (Amazon) Link

 

 

Meet the Author

Dr. Randy Overbeck is an award-winning educator, author and speaker. As an educator, he served children for more than three decades in a range of roles captured in his novels, from teacher and coach to principal and superintendent. His thriller, LEAVE NO CHILD BEHIND (2012) and his recent mysteries, the Amazon No. 1 Best Seller, BLOOD ON THE CHESAPEAKE (2019), CRIMSON AT CAPE MAY (2020) and SCARLET AT CRYSTAL RIVER (2021) have earned five star reviews and garnered national awards including “Thriller of the Year”—ReadersFavorite.com, “Gold Award”—Literary Titan, “Mystery of the Year”—ReadersView.com and “Crowned Heart of Excellence”—InD’Tale Magazine.

As a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Dr. Overbeck is an active member of the literary community, contributing to a writers’ critique group, serving as a mentor to emerging writers and participating in writing conferences such as Sleuthfest, Killer Nashville and the Midwest Writers Workshop. When he’s not writing or researching his next exciting novel or sharing his presentation “Things Still Go Bump in the Night,” he’s spending time with his incredible family of wife, three children (and their spouses) and seven wonderful grandchildren.

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Toot the Flying Droodle: Part Dragon – Part Poodle (The Droodle Tales) by Julian Boram (Book Review)

Meet TOOT the DROODLE
Part Dragon-Part Poodle

He’s a small little thingy that’s kind and sweet
With a curly little tail, fuzzy ears and woolly feet
TOOT longs to fly UP, UP into the sky
He just can’t do it and he can’t figure out why

Come along and join TOOT on his uplifting adventure and find out if three magical beasties can help make his dreams come true.

Amazon Kindle Link

Amazon Print Link

 

 

 

(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

 

In the fantasy world, you never know what creature an author will come up with next. This unknown brings excitement, joy, and entertainment to many. Julian Boram, author and illustrator, has given readers a mythical being combining a dragon and a poodle. DROODLE, for short. Not a likely pairing, but the mash-up created a unique magical beast that children will love. 

Toot, the DROODLE, longs to soar like the other DROODLES. He wants to play with the others in the sky. Watching them from afar makes him feel lonely and sad. Many readers will empathize with Toot’s predicament. It’s never easy to watch others having fun and feel excluded. 

Toot isn’t the only animal in this imaginative tale with a mind-blogging mash-up. Children will meet SNOWL: part owl and part snake. The combination was weirdly wonderful. The owl’s forked tongue was oddly cute. Readers will also encounter a PHOW and a SWAT. You’ll have to read the story to discover their fantastical blends! 

As Toot chases after his kite, young listeners will be amazed by the gigantic flowers, bees, and even the trees! Nothing is ordinary in Toot the Flying Droodle. Julian Boram has also included a bonus game: find the DROODLE egg on every page. 

If your child is struggling with “fitting in” or having issues with a task, read them this book. If your child loves fantasy stories, again, read them this book. Toot the Flying Droodle is a fantastic, imaginative story that your child will want to read over and over! 

Amazon’s recommended reading age: 2-7 years. 

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score:  ❤❤❤❤❤

Amazon Kindle Link

Amazon Print Link

 

 

Meet the Author

An Aussie, currently living in London, Julian spends his time as a husband and father of two girls, and as a senior executive helping businesses grow in a new sustainable era.

Julian is an Award Winning Children’s Book Illustrator and has won several awards for his art and his large-scale portrait entries in the acclaimed Archibald and Moran Prize competitions have been written up in major newspapers.

Amazon Author Page Link

 RainbowdropBooks.com

 

 

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Racee Acee and the Toboggan Race by Debbie Hepner (Book Review)

Racee Acee is at it again with another fantastic race. This time she is teaming up with friends for a thrilling toboggan race. Some hilarious ideas come about as the team works together on a solution to make their sled go faster in the upcoming race. Curious and hungry puppies and dogs join the fun as the sled speeds down the snow-covered hill. Problem-solving, thinking outside the box, friendly cooperation, and TEAMWORK come together to get them to the finish line…But do they win?

Bub the cat is back for another fantastic race of his cute little life!

The Second book in the Racee Acee Series will delight readers of all ages.

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I received a complimentary copy of this book from Reedsy Discovery.  I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.

 

It was an exciting time for Acee, Mia, Riley, and Tobias; the toboggan race was only three short days away. They were in strategy mode, brainstorming ways to make their sled go faster. The crew shared a couple of suggestions to give them the boost they needed to win. Then, all four mental lightbulbs went off, and they shouted the same answer simultaneously (no spoilers). I was sitting on the edge, waiting to see the outcome. 

The team initialized their master plan and quickly realized they needed to tweak their tactic. Back to square one! Racee Acee and the Toboggan Race by Debbie Hepner teaches children to think on their feet, adjust experiments accordingly, and rely on their team (friends) to help solve a problem. It enforces the importance of listening to one another and being open to new theories. Remember, no voice is more important than another. 

Racee Acee and the Toboggan showcases four young children’s determination to find the optimal material that lets them zoom down the hill at top speed. It was a trial and error process that required patience and calm heads. 

Do they win, or do they lose? The answer will have fans of the Racee Acee Series cheering with the crowd. Even though the book ended with a happy ever after, that’s not the point of the short read. The story’s point is not who won the race but how the events led them to cross the finish line. 

Racee Acee and the Toboggan Race by Debbie Hepner encourages creativity, thinking outside the box, teamwork, and perseverance. Hayley Moore created incredible illustrations that will capture and delight young viewers. I recommend the book for children 3-8 years. 

Be sure and check out Debbie Hepner’s other works. They are filled with action, adventure and are perfect for young readers. 

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤

Amazon Purchase Link

 

 

Meet the Author

After retiring from teaching, I decided to write children’s books. I have published five books and won four awards, including one Global Book Award, two Independent Press Awards, and a Mom’s Choice Award. Adding to my collection of picture books, I’m also writing young adult chapter books.

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In Calvin Arthur’s 5th Grade Shoes – Quest for Courage by R.A. Stone (Book Review)

It’s the 1977-1978 school year and Calvin Arthur is on his way to fifth grade. When he arrives on the first day, he quickly finds out that he has been assigned to the teacher he really needs. He finds out Mrs. Walton is a star within her classroom. She is also the judge and jury that solves many problems swiftly. Calvin is intimidated by his new teacher and finds himself in the middle of some classmate issues. Is this going to be a year of misery or does Calvin find courage along with some great experiences? You can be assured that he is headed on another roller coaster ride much like his fourth-grade year. See and feel what Calvin feels and you will relate to some of his pain and victories. Does this resemble your fifth-grade year? If you are reading this second book in the series, consider yourself a Calvin Arthur fan and please leave an Amazon review. It will help to keep Calvin’s message alive. Please feel free to contact R.A. Stone for school assembly information or with other questions or comments at fairway36@yahoo.com. Hope you enjoy the journey, In Calvin Arthur’s 5th Grade Shoes ~ Seeking Courage.

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I received a complimentary copy of this book from Reedsy Discovery. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.

 

It’s the start of a new school year at Washington Elementary, and Calvin Arthur’s filled with trepidation. Like many kids, he’s worried about bullies. Calvin wants nothing more than to be more courageous and stand up to their taunts. He also wants the courage to speak up, find his voice and say what’s on his mind.

Mrs. Walton, Calvin’s homeroom teacher, deserves the Teacher of the Year award. She was tough but fair. Mrs. Walton gave them ample opportunities to work together as a team. She encouraged them to stretch their imagination and think outside the box through multiple science experiments. I loved the assignment that involved students creating an invention that would change the world. I know this wasn’t a picture book, but adding a drawing of Calvin and Ava’s anti-bully robot would’ve been an excellent addition to the chapter.

Calvin and his classmates also learned empathy and responsibility when they were required to write a letter to seniors, convincing them not to drink and drive at prom. I think more teachers should embrace this assignment with their students! Maybe real-life students will experience a touching moment with their senior counterparts like Calvin did with his. And hopefully, students will think twice about drinking and driving.

In Calvin Arthur’s 5th Grade Shoes: Quest for Courage by R.A. Stone highlights the struggles one might face in school. The story also highlights how, with encouragement, a student can thrive even in adversity. Calvin no longer stood idly by why and let bullies target him and others. He voiced his opinions on matters. His confidence skyrocketed, thanks to his inspiring and motivating teacher.

We all have that one teacher that we will never forget. I believe Calvin will not soon forget Mrs. Walton.

In Calvin Arthur’s 5th Grade Shoes: Quest for Courage is an inspirational story for children 10-13.

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤

Amazon Purchase Link

 

 

 

Meet the Author

R. A. Stone has been teaching at various Elementary and Middle public schools in the USA for thirty two years, Writing and story telling has been a passion ever since he was a young student. Calvin Arthur has evolved from all of his countless student interactions and teaching experiences.   Reedsy Author Link

 

 

 

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