(Review) High Achiever: The Incredible True Story of One Addict’s Double Life by Tiffany Jenkins

High Achiever
Publisher and Publication Date: Harmony. June 18, 2019.
Genre: Nonfiction. Memoir.
Pages: 371.
Source: Self-purchase. Kindle edition.
Rating: Okay.
Audience: Readers who are curious about the lifestyle of a drug addict. Fans of Juggling the Jenkins/Tiffany Jenkins.

Amazon

For info on Tiffany Jenkins-Goodreads
Juggling the Jenkins
Tiffany Jenkins Live Tour (info)
Facebook

Tiffany Jenkins has a large following through Facebook (over 3 million) and her blog. She’s been able to create a large audience of fans through her blog and book.

Summary:
High Achiever begins with Jenkins being processed in jail. Later in the story all the steps that led up to the arrest and jail time is described. She was in jail 120 days and spent several months in a rehab treatment center. The last couple of chapters is life post recovery. Jenkins is the narrator, and this means she shares the thoughts behind the events. The tone of the story is light-hearted and sarcastic.

My Thoughts:
I’m glad Jenkins has been clean and sober for several years. I’m glad she has found a voice and platform to help others. I’m glad she has a successful business. But for me this book didn’t work. For some readers, they will like the light-hearted and sarcastic telling of the story. I don’t. It made it difficult for me to become invested in the story. I only felt a deep sadness.
I’m married to a man who at one time sold and used illegal drugs. I’m connected to other family members and friends who’ve lived this lifestyle. I don’t have positive memories of any of that.
What Jenkins helped me understand is the level of depravation a person will go to in order to get drugs. Things they’d never do before will now be done. The warped mind, because of drugs, doesn’t think logically or morally. The only need is to get high. In addition, people in Jenkins life used her need for drugs against her. All those in the drug abuser’s life are circling around each other (reminds me of vultures) each of them wanting something from the other.
It’s amazing Jenkins has told her painful story. I consider her brave. But the story still didn’t work for me.
I’ve read several reviews about the book, mainly on Goodreads. There have been reviewers who don’t understand the choices she made. Her brain was on drugs. How could she make solid, logical, moral choices?
What I’d like to know more about or what I wish the book had stated.
♦How did she become involved in drugs?
♦What was her childhood like?
♦What kind of relationship did she have with her parents?
♦When did her mother die and were they close?
♦I’d like to read more information about the treatment itself in a rehab center.

 

(Review) The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God by Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller

The Meaning of Marriage
Publisher and Publication Date: Penguin Books. First published 2011.
Genre: Christian nonfiction. Marriage.
Pages: 352.
Source: Self purchase.
Rating: Good.
Audience: A basic book on Christian marriage with a brief look at singleness.

Amazon

Timothy Keller

Goodreads page for Timothy Keller (list of books, bio, etc.)

Summary:
If someone were to ask me to explain this book in brief, I’d sum up The Meaning of Marriage as a Bible based book that gives the basics of a Christian marriage. The topics in the book are things to work towards in a marriage. This book is not helpful for people who are having marriage problems. This is not a self-help book.
The Meaning of Marriage is explained as a series of sermons that Keller has arranged and edited to a book. His wife is a big help with sharing stories from their marriage. Kathy has written chapter six, “struggling with the difference in gender roles between men and women.” Page 192. This chapter is titled, “Embracing The Other.”

A complete list of the chapters:
One-The Secret of Marriage
Two-The Power for Marriage
Three-The Essence of Marriage
Four-The Mission of Marriage
Five-Loving the Stranger
Six-Embracing the Other
Seven-Singleness and Marriage
Eight-Sex and Marriage

My Thoughts:
Well, I have many thoughts. Before I begin, I’d like to share my age, how many years I’ve been married, and my thoughts on marriage.
♥Age 55.
♥Married 37 years.
♥Marriage is as diverse, complicated, and messy as the people who are living it. And it doesn’t matter whether the people are Christian or not. Marriage is hard.
One of the great things about being 55 is I’ve had enough life experiences, and have observed enough people, to realize I will never have a grasp on fully understanding people. It just cannot be done. This includes my own husband.
Recently, I surveyed me, friends, and family members who are married. All of the marriages have had struggles or they are currently struggling. Some of the problems are big, even life changing.
Some examples of problems:
♦Health crisis, this includes mental health.
♦Financial, this includes when one spouse cannot or will not work.
♦Drug and alcohol abuse.
♦Adultery.
♦Gambling. I’m referring to examples when the grocery or rent money is gambled away.
♦Abuse in all forms.
♦Disagreement over children from a previous marriage.
♦A spouse after several years of marriage declares they are gay or lesbian.
♦Criminal activity.
♦One spouse wants children and the other doesn’t.
♦A spouse refuses to have a conversation about real issues. They turn away and walk off when a deep conversation starts.
♦When one spouse abandons the Christian belief.
♦When a spouse declares they are done with sex.
♦Abandonment. This includes emotional abandonment.
♦Military deployment during a time of war.
♦Arrest and imprisonment.
♦Deception, manipulation tactics, and compulsive lying.
♦Infertility.
♦Death. And, the spouse who died left no money and no insurance policy, but they left big debts.
It’s exhausting to list all of those problems, because I know all of the people who have lived through them or they are currently living through them. In nearly every situation, they grasp with the question: what do I do now?
The biggest problem with The Meaning of Marriage is it does not address any of the above problems listed. It is a proactive book, with teaching material for living out a Christian marriage. The focus of the book is what the Bible teaches.
On the back cover of the book, Keller addresses his concerns about teaching a Biblical marriage versus what the world’s culture believes. This is a big reason why the book has been written, to combat the wrong beliefs from the world.
I’m disappointed the book only gives illustrations that are positive. Not all problems can be worked out and marriages end.
In all of the problems I listed, all of the people attend church regularly and state they are Christians. Where do they turn for help? Counseling (including the prices at churches) are $80 to $150 per hour session. Counselors do not always accept insurance. They accept cash. Most people do not have extra money for counseling. Maybe if they don’t buy groceries they can attend a counseling session?
The marriage plan that God created is beautiful. Marriage is important for a stable society and culture. Marriage is an important foundation for a strong family. But marriages are in trouble, both in the Christian church and in the world. I’d like to read books from Christian authors who address the hard problems.
Timothy Keller teaches: “The reason that marriage is so painful and yet wonderful is because it is a reflection of the gospel, which is painful and wonderful at once.” Page 44.
I agree with his statement. I also believe marriage is a picture of grace or at least it should be. What marriage has taught me is that I cannot endure without strength and power from God. I cannot make it unless I pray for patience and self-control. I cannot make it if I dwell on what might have been or in fantasies. I must live in the present, even if it’s painful.

Image (5)

Two crazy unprepared kids. December 18, 1982. 

 

(Review) Light from Distant Stars by Shawn Smucker

Light from Distant Stars
Publisher and Publication Date: Fleming H. Revell Company. July 16, 2019.
Genre: Christian fiction. Suspense. Mystery.
Pages: 397.
Source: Self-purchase.
Rating: Excellent.
Audience: Readers who love light suspense in a Christian story.

Amazon

Shawn Smucker website

 

 

 

I love everything about this book! I love this book from the front cover to the back cover!

Summary:
Light from Distant Stars is the story of Cohen Marah. When the book begins Cohen finds his father on the floor in the family funeral home. He presumes his father is dead. He leaves without calling the police. In chapter two, Cohen reflects on memories from childhood, when his father was a pastor, when his family was all together. The book moves back and forth between the current situation of his father’s grave injuries, and the painful memories of his childhood. Wrapped up in Cohen’s childhood is an event that is suspenseful and a mystery. For a brief time, he had two friends who needed his help. Cohen questions his responsibility in his father’s injury. He has a few visits with a priest to confess sins and seek “counsel” and “absolution.” In these confessional moments with the priest, Cohen speaks aloud with the thoughts, insecurities, and fears he’s held inside. Meanwhile, Cohen has a sister who is pregnant with twins, her older son is Johnny.

My Thoughts:
I’d not heard of this book until an author I follow recommended it. I immediately ordered the book from Amazon.
Light from Distant Stars is a story that swallowed me up whole. To state it’s a page turner is an understatement.
In most stories, the author describes the characters. In Light from Distant Stars, Smucker lets the story reveal the characters through dialogue, mannerisms, and behavior.
I loved the mystery and suspense with the two childhood friends and the Beast. The revealing of who they really are kept me reading till the end.
The ending climax of the story is believable and it caused my heart to beat faster.
The story has several subtopics or other themes: unforgiveness, unreconciled trauma, child abuse, loss of dreams, disappointment, heartache, loneliness, alcoholism, love, and sacrifice.

Light from Distant Stars is a perfect book to read for a clean but suspenseful Halloween season.

I plan to read more books written by Shawn Smucker.

(Review) The Shipping News by Annie Proulx

The Shipping News
Publisher and Publication Date: Scribner. 1993.
Genre: Fiction.
Pages: 354.
Source: Library Kindle edition.
Rating: Very Good.
Audience: Readers of family saga.

Amazon

 

 
Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (1994)
National Book Award for Fiction (1993)
Irish Times International Fiction Prize (1993)
Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Fiction (1993)
National Book Critics Circle Award Nominee for Fiction (1993)

For more information about the author: Goodreads-Annie Proulx.

Summary:
Quoyle is in a loveless and depressing marriage to a woman named Petal. They have two daughters, Sunshine and Bunny. They live in New York. Petal dies in a car accident.  Quoyle, his daughters, and an aunt create a new life in the old home of their ancestors, in Newfoundland.

My Thoughts:

What I like:
♦Quoyle is an unusual main character. He is not handsome. He has a memorable face, because of his large chin. A chin he is self-conscious of and covers with his hand. He is a character who is an unlikely hero. He is a character who has an absence of social skills. With the exception of his chin, he is a person who would be overlooked in a crowd of people. However, I love the character Quoyle, because he is not the normal type book character. For me, Quoyle is a breath of fresh air in a stagnant pool of same type cliché characters. He is real. He is vulnerable. And, I love it that Quoyle is gentle and kind. In The Shipping News, Quoyle discovers what he is made of, he is stronger than he believes, and this makes his character develop.
♦Petal is the opposite of Quoyle. She is the nemesis. She is savage with cruelty. They are total opposites and make for an odd pairing. However, Petal’s ugly character makes Quoyle’s likable character shine.
♦Proulx uses sharp contrasts in the story. One generation is polar opposite of the next generation. A father who is abusive has a son who is warm, gentle, and kind. Daughters named Sunshine and Bunny. These are joyful, sweet, cuddly girls, but they are living in a gray, sad environment.
♦Proulx’s writing style is often short, crisp sentences with strong verbs. Recently, I read a book with ultra long sentences!
The setting for most of the book is Newfoundland. Through the story I came to know the land and people.

What I didn’t like or questioned in The Shipping News:
♦The story is gray. It is a sad story with other sad stories behind the main one. And behind the main story, there are stories that don’t develop. For example, I want to know more of aunt Agnes’s story. She has a story behind that strong penetrating gaze.
♦I noticed the word “milk” being used often in the book to describe the environment. What does this mean? There is a reason Proulx uses this word so many times. The only thing I can think of is “milk” is the first sustenance in life. It is the only thing a baby eats at first. Is it possible Newfoundland is the “milk” Quoyle needs?

(Review) A Serial Killer’s Daughter: My Story of Love, Hope and Overcoming by Kerri Rawson

A Serial Killer's Daughter

Publisher and Publication Date: Thomas Nelson. January 29, 2019.
Genre: Nonfiction. True Crime. Biography.
Pages: 336.
Source: I received a complimentary ebook copy through NetGalley/Thomas Nelson, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Okay.
Audience: Readers of true crime who don’t mind Christian language per Bible verses and belief.

Amazon

 

Article from People magazine about Kerri Rawson’s story.

Author Info:
Kerri Rawson is the daughter of Dennis Rader, better known to the world as the serial killer BTK. Since her father’s arrest, Kerri has been an advocate for victims of abuse, crime, and trauma, sharing her journey of hope, healing, faith, and forgiveness. She lives with her husband, two children, and two cats in Michigan.
Facebook page: Kerri Rawson.
Kerri Rawson

Further links on BTK:
Biography
Murderpedia
Investigation Discovery
Britannica

Summary:
On February 24, 2005 Dennis Rader was arrested for murder. Between the years 1974 and 1991, Rader murdered ten people. The murders were both adults and children. Rader had a wife, daughter, and son. He had a job. He had a home. He lived a double life. There were a few glimpses of that “other” person in the home with his family.
Kerri Rawson has written a biography of her life with Dennis Rader.

My Thoughts:
First:
Thomas Nelson is the publisher. This is Kerri Rawson’s first book. I’m sure Thomas Nelson had an editor work with Rawson, but the book is her lone words.
This point is important, because often with a first book by a new author, a more experienced author will work alongside to help tell the story. When the inexperienced author writes their biography the reading can come across choppy or remote. Add to this mixture, through most of the book Kerri Rawson is in shock. She bounces between, “Oh my God!” and “he is my dad…this can’t be true.” At times, I felt yanked along like a pet out for a dangerous walk. On the other hand, Rawson’s story is organic and raw.

Second:
This year I’ve read true crime books for the first time. It has been important for me to read a book written from the perspective of the criminal’s family. It’s rare to find a book or article written from this perspective. I now realize, a serial killer’s family does not want to be found and interviewed. A Serial Killer’s Daughter gave me an idea of what they go through: news media who peak through windows, telephone constantly ringing, family members homes are watched, interviews by law enforcement, and warrants for search and seizure. A serial killer’s family become victims too. It is a death to the life they “thought” they had. It is a death to privacy. And, it is a death to the relationship they had with the family member who is the criminal, perpetrator, and murderer.

Third:
Through the entire story I looked for how Kerri felt. Further, how does she feel about how she feels? The book is more about what is happening and less about how she feels. These emotions were hard to find. Later in the book she explains her, “life feels like a lie.” She expresses words like, “numb,” “shaking,” and a “stinging” feeling “in brain.”

Fourth:
I believe the book centering on Kerri and how it relates to her dad as a serial killer should be in the book. It’s unnecessary to give an entire descriptive bio of Kerri’s life. For example, Kerri describes in detail about how she fixed her hair and what clothes she wore.

Last:
It is so interesting how Kerri has brought along her father (so to speak) in telling her story. For example, she explains how her father did things, how he taught her to deal with strangers, etc. Can someone explain this one?
Kerri felt they had a close relationship before his arrest. It must be painfully difficult, awkward, and confusing to try and understand and define life as Dennis Rader’s daughter.

I bought the documentary through Prime Video, BTK: A Killer Among Us. Kerri Rawson is interviewed for this documentary. In addition, family members of the victims are interviewed. The law enforcement who were apart of the investigation are interviewed. This is a well put together piece about the BTK. This documentary followed by reading the book clarified some things. It’s a brave act for the victims families to come forward for interviewing. Heartbreaking.