Sensitive: My Journey through a Toxic World by Pookie Sekmet + Goodreads Giveaway

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

If you want to read a true tale of horror this season, follow author Pookie Sekmet on her journey and struggle through our toxic world in her book, Sensitive.  PLUS – she is hosting a giveaway on Goodreads right now! – GOODREADS GIVEAWAY –

Honestly, if we truly think about our way of life in this day in age, we are basically poisoning ourselves on a day to day basis without much thought.  Simple changes in our lives can lessen these exposures and add thoughtfulness to our health.  That wasn’t the case for Pookie in the beginning.  In her memoir, she digs deep into her family history to uncover a specific event that triggered an illness that still effects her today.

In her story she lets us hang along on the journey with her to find the truth as well as how she lives now and the importance of avoiding toxic chemicals.  The path that led her to the event when she was younger is a path of family trauma and mysterious chronic health struggles.  We follow her as she builds an unconventional new life; and, “finally, becomes a whistle-blower within a corrupt and patriarchal corporate culture.”

There is good information here, the book will make you think.  I personally have prior knowledge to some of what the author talks about, but was surprised to learn of what happened to her when she was younger, the event that caused a chain reaction that will follow her though the rest of her lifetime.

Available on Amazon – Sensitive: My Journey through a Toxic World by Pookie Sekmet

 

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

 

 

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

“Hunting with a hawk took me to the very edge of being a human, then it took me past that place to somewhere I wasn’t human at all.”

I stumbled upon this audio book on the Libby app one day.  I love birds and the synopsis sounded interesting, so I gave it a try!  H is for Hawk is a memoir about how Helen deals with the death of her father and her love of falconry.  H is for Hawk, but H is also for Helen. Mabel, the hawk, and Helen, the trainer come together in a very unique and special relationship.  The audio version I listened to was narrated by the author, which made it very interesting as well.

Helen weaves three story threads here: her grief for her late father, her experience training a goshawk, and T.H. White’s parallel journey of personal grief and hawking.  Helen Macdonald says, “Hunting makes you animal but the death of an animal makes you human. Kneeling next to the hawk and her prey, I felt responsibility so huge that it battered inside my own chest, ballooning out into a space the size of a cathedral.” At first read you might think this is borderline hyperbole or overwritten prose, but this memoir/nature/bird watching/falconry book goes quite deep with raw emotion.

The only reason I gave the book a 4 out of 5 was that a considerable part of the book is about the trials of falconer T.H. White and his book “The Goshawk.” I struggled reading just a tiny bit with Helen’s frequent jumps to White’s life and “Gos” because it became redundant and too often took me away from Mabel and Helen.  An interesting story none the less and I think I wouldn’t mind reading T.H. White’s falconry story as well!

P.S. If you don’t know who T.H. White is – he is the author of some well known books, including The Sword in the Stone!

Available on Amazon – H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

Educated by Tara Westover

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This was my Book Club’s pick for September!  I enjoy reading memoirs, although I hadn’t really heard much about this book before it was picked.  The cover was intriguing to me.  I did end up listening to this on audio.  The story stirred up a lot of conversation, a great pick for book clubs!

This story was unreal.  Tara shares with us the tale of how she grew up and how she became something far apart from her upbringing.  She was 17 before she ever entered a class room.  There didn’t seem to be the time between planning for the apocalypse, canning peaches and helping her mother concoct remedies out of herbs for her mothers midwife gig.

Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse.  Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with her mothers tinctures.  The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent.

Tara began educating herself, sometimes hiding behind a chair to do so.  She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust, which was mind blowing that she knew nothing about!

There is so much that goes on in this book, you’ll want to keep reading it.  It was said by a few book club members that they found it a little hard to get into at first, but got better.  Have you read this book or are you reading it in your book club?  Let me know your thoughts!

Available on Amazon – Educated by Tara Westover

Zoo Nebraska: The Dismantling of an American Dream by Carson Vaughan

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This was my book club’s pick for July!  I was talking with our hostess and said “look at this book!”  To my surprise, she had already read it! Not only that, but her husband used to live in the town where this book takes place!  Of course she decided that she would pick it to read at book club!

Welcome to Royal, NE with a population of about…80 folks.  The town wasn’t really much to look at, with a bunch of abandoned buildings and dirt roads.  Although what it did have, was it’s own Zoo and for nearly 20 years!  This made for an interesting tourist attraction for the area, although eventually things took a turn for the worse.  This is where our story is made, in the tragedy of Zoo Nebraska.

It all began with a vision from Dick Haskin, who was studying to be a primatologist.   He is struggling with the idea of leaving his current job and the chimpanzee he has trained, for a chance to go to Rwanda and work with primatologist Dian Fossey.  Unfortunately, her death dissolves any chances of this dream to work on conservation.  Dick’s devotion to primates didn’t fully die with her.  He returns to his hometown with Reuben, an adolescent chimp, in the bed of a pickup truck and transformed a trailer home into the Midwest Primate Center.  As the tourist trade multiplied, so did the inhabitants of what would become Zoo Nebraska,  boosting the economy in Royal and became the  source of a power struggle that would lead to the tragic implosion of Dick Haskin’s dream again.

Later on in the story, things takes a turn for the worse when an enclosure is left unlocked and several chimpanzees escape.  With Dick Haskin out of the picture at this point, all hell breaks loose at the Midwest Primate Center.  If there is one thing you need to know about chimpanzees, it’s that they are extremely strong.  At one point in the story, a chimp grabs a workers leg and snaps it, like it was a twig.  So you can imagine the chaos that is exploding.  Now, this is a very small town in Nebraska mind you and certain force is brought out against the chimps to protect the visitors and on lookers.  Unfortunately, the result ends in the death of one chimp in particular that was dear to Dick Haskin.

The only reason I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars, was there were points in the book that I actually skipped over because the author would sort of ramble on about things that were irrelevant to the story.  I would recommend this book, although be prepared as it really isn’t a happy story, but one that did need to be told.

Available on Amazon – Zoo Nebraska: The Dismantling of an American Dream by Carson Vaughan

 

Down from the Mountain: The Life and Death of a Grizzly Bear by Bryce Andrews

 

 

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

The cover is breathtaking, the story is phenomenal.   This is a true story about a bear named Millie in Montana; her life, her cubs, her death and the story that led the author to write this book for us.

In an absolutely beautifully written account, Bryce tells Millie’s story.  Millie was a typical mother: strong, cunning, fiercely protective of her cubs. But raising those cubs was hard. The mountains were changing, as the climate warmed and people crowded the valleys. There were obvious dangers, like poachers, and subtle ones, like the corn field that drew her into human territory, and sure trouble.

The grizzly bear is North America’s largest predator.  They are starting to return to their normal romping grounds in the West, only to find that humans are now roosting.  This is where the author’s story meets Millie’s.  In this book, he shows how this singular story is a piece of a much larger one in the West: an entangled, bloody collision between people protecting a life they’ve known for generations, and the people fighting to preserve one of America’s wildest landscapes.

When Bryce is called to help with a non-profit group called People and Carnivores, which focuses on the intersection of wilderness and development.  In the same area where Millie resides, he works to help one particular farmer to protect his corn fields from these very hungry creatures.  We learn about a conflict in a corn field in the Mission Valley and Andrews’ work to keep bears from gorging on the easy meal.  More importantly, though, Andrews takes us inside the mind of bear Millie, as she traverses the mountains and leads her cubs to the fields. These sections of imaginative prose make the writing and the story come alive.

I would highly recommend this book!

Available on Amazon – Down from the Mountain: The Life and Death of a Grizzly Bear by Bryce Andrews

Never Home Alone: From Microbes to Millipedes, Camel Crickets, and Honeybees, the Natural History of Where We Live by Rob Dunn

 

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥

 

The cover is creepy, the title is creepy.  How could I not read it? Just the title makes you look up around you getting the feeling someone or SOMETHING is watching you.  I love reading books about Natural History and what goes on around us, even right under our noses.  I stumbled upon this book and thought I would give it a whirl.  It wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for, but still interesting none the less!

The author is fascinated by the organisms that live in our homes and there are a LOT of them—roughly 200,000 species. He is a professor of Applied Ecology at North Carolina State University and also works at the Natural History Museum of Denmark. He initially undertook this study of indoor organisms with the idea that he could help to make our homes healthier. The BIG takeaway from the book is that humans benefit from biodiversity—leave your windows open and don’t kill all of the spiders that get in your house!  I personally keep a few of the ‘good spiders’ around just for good measure!

“Fewer than a hundred species of bacteria, viruses and protists cause nearly all of the infectious illnesses in the world.” Unfortunately, these guys also are some of the toughest microbes to get rid of. So—when we douse our houses and bodies with antiseptics; we actually kill off the natural predators that would keep these bad microbes at bay.  I had already been aware of most of what he talks about, portions of it kind of dragged on BUT still made a person think!

What I got from this book: I learned interesting facts about mammals and insects that live in our homes. It greatly reduced my fear of black widow spiders and developed a grudging respect for cockroaches (still gagging though). It made me look at the dust on my windowsill differently.  This book convinced me that in 100 years our war against all forms of bacteria will be seen as backwards as bloodletting. By removing as many species from our homes as possible, we’ve created a space where beneficial bacteria, insects, and more cannot survive, opening us up to invasions of pathogens and disease.

Would I recommend this book?  Yes.  It’s interesting and will in fact make you say “hmmmm.”

Available on Amazon – Never Home Alone: From Microbes to Millipedes, Camel Crickets, and Honeybees, the Natural History of Where We Live by Rob Dunn

Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies about Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This book was a reach for me as I don’t normally read these styles of books.  I’m so glad I listened to all the hype from my fellow readers!  This. Book. Was. GREAT!  It also lead me to start listening to her podcasts as well.  She has great knowledge and lays things out to you exactly how they are.  Yes, there were some parts in this book that I thought….”woah, woah, woah chill out lady!” but such a good read!  It’s really hard not to get motivated after you read this as well as listen to some of her podcasts!

This really isn’t some sort of self-help book as one would think.  It’s really the story of Rachel Hollis, founder of the lifestyle website TheChicSite.com and CEO of her own media company, Chic Media.  She has created an online fan base of hundreds of thousands of fans by sharing tips for living a better life while fearlessly revealing the messiness of her own.  She’s failed, she’s lived and she’s learned and she shares it all with us, with no masks of how she earned every bit of where she is now.

Check out this book as well as the next one.  Also, find her on Instagram and her podcast Rise as well as the one she does with her husband – Rise Together!

Available on Amazon – Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies about Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis