A Child Called It ::: Book Review; Spoiler Free

This book chronicles the unforgettable account of one of the most severe child abuse cases in California history. It is the story of Dave Pelzer, who was brutally beaten and starved by his emotionally unstable, alcoholic mother: a mother who played tortuous, unpredictable games—games that left him nearly dead. He had to learn how to play his mother’s games in order to survive because she no longer considered him a son, but a slave; and no longer a boy, but an “it.” Dave’s bed was an old army cot in the basement, and his clothes were torn and raunchy. When his mother allowed him the luxury of food, it was nothing more than spoiled scraps that even the dogs refused to eat. The outside world knew nothing of his living nightmare. He had nothing or no one to turn to, but his dreams kept him alive—dreams of someone taking care of him, loving him and calling him their son.

The word ‘love’ is an ambiguous word to use in this situation for many reasons. There is no way to actually feel love towards a memoir in which the content is so brutally described. The honesty in which situations are described makes those who read it feel a form of compassion for the child, though mostly hatred of the situation in which that co passion is brought forth. Did that make sense?

 

When I was recommended this book by coworkers, they all described how they cried and cried over the trials and tribulations that this small boy had to go through in his young life. Now I am some kind of sadist for I didn’t cry, but don’t let that be an indication of the impact this book has one someone. I finished the whole thing in less than six hours. Was that because I wanted the happy ending that I know he got? Or was it because I wanted the torture of reading of his life to end? Either way, this was an empowering piece of literature. This is a graphic book depicting the torture filled life that David lived, and I suggest that you be in a good place mentally before reading this book. It can be very hard at times to realize that these things have happened to someone.

 

This truly is a heartbreaking book that will leave you questioning what the human race can actually accomplish. However, Dave’s resilience will have you eager to accept that your faith in humanity can be restored as quickly as it was broken. He shows you that even though he went through so much, he was able to accomplish so much as well. He never let his past defeat him; in fact, he let his past push him farther ahead.

 

I would warn you to be emotionally prepared when you read this book, because it can cause quite a lit of distress, and has a lot of dangerous triggers that might upset you. But if you can overcome your own difficulties to read this, then you can help Dave through his while reading this from the voice of a child- a child raised to be called ‘It’. I give this book a solid 4 stars. I believe the writing itself is what kept it from being a 5-star book as it was a bit simple for my taste. The story was incredible, but it was the writing itself that could have used some work.

 

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The Tattooist of Auschwitz ::: Book Review; Spoiler Free

In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.

Imprisoned for more than two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.

One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.

A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful re-creation of Lale Sokolov’s experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is based on the true story of Lale Sokolov’s time in Auschwitz and Birkenau. ‘Based on’ means having fictional aspects. But the story is not fictional. The author, Heather Morris, spent three grueling years hearing Lale’s story and transcribing it.

One point I must make before continuing is that it is wrong for the world to try to erase the Holocaust. It is wrong to take this out of history books, to water down history. It’s the same thing as a child touching a hot stove. They are curious and touch it, but get burned. They learn. Say they can’t feel the pain though. They keep touching it, destroying their hands, but have no clue the damage being caused. Erasing the Holocaust from history is us not learning from the pain caused. This has been a PSA.



This is not a book for the light-hearted. This is not a book for the weak. Only the strong survived the Holocaust, and you need be strong to hear these stories. The Tattooist of Auschwitz follows the story of Lale Sokolov, a fortunate man in an unfortunate situation. This book has mentions of sexual activity (both consenting and non-consenting), starvation, beating, and just about anything awful you can expect to come out of a Holocaust true story. Be warned.

Upon his arrival to Auschwitz in 1942, Lale was befriended by the Tätowierer, the tattooist, who transcribes your number into your skin. And before too long, Lale has been “promoted” from assistant tattooist to the tattooist himself, complete with an assistant of his own. While inscribing numbers into skin, he meets by chance a beautiful girl, Gita. And much like the tattoo needle in her arm, he’s hooked on her. This book is a love story amidst the chaos and ruin of Nazi Germany, and their trials and errors of survival. What would you do to survive?

This is the first book in probably 10+ years that has actually caused me to cry. I don’t cry at books, movies, or puppies dying. I cry at my own life but that’s because of the crippling depression I carry. This book though- this book touched my heart. An intricately woven story of heartbreak and devotion, ripped apart time and time again by the anger and demonic voices of the SS officers to whom they report.

As offensive as this book is and as difficult of a read as it was mentally, I feel that this is a book that everyone should read. This book is a difficult read only because of the content between the first and last words. To know that these things, while somewhat fictional, have actually taken place churned my stomach on more than one occasion- and I have a strong stomach for this kind of stuff. I believe that one of the most sickening aspects of this book is the humanity brought to the SS officers by Morris. This isn’t the first story where an SS officer has befriended or helped a Jew, but circumstances are different when you’re in the camp with them. The humanity brought to such people is heartbreaking, to say the least. However, there is one exception to those who were granted the ‘humanity’ card. Josef Mengele. A “person” that Lale worked with personally. He was the only person in this entire piece to not have a shred of a soul, of which is true in real life.

Side note… I have mixed feelings about Mengele. See, he’s as awful, if not more so, than Hitler himself is. But without Mengele and his experiments, we wouldn’t have modern-day plastic surgery or organ transplants. There wouldn’t be facial reconstruction, nor would we know as much about DNA, RNA, and the immune system as we do because of him. For as disgusting of a creature as he was, he was still a pioneer in medicine. Though he did so in the wrong way. Ok, ok, back to the review.

There are plenty of sad moments in this book, and plenty of romantic moments as well. Oftentimes, in the same paragraph, it would be a mixture of “aw” and “ew” coming from me. There were a few points where I had to put the book down in order to process what was happening before I could move on. There’s always something happening. In the real way that people in concentration camps were, this book never stopped moving. It’s an intense read with an even more intense ending- which is the point of which I finally cried. But there were several moments where my eyes were misted over, or my hand covered my mouth in shock.

I don’t give 5 star ratings on books very often. I don’t But this is 5 star book if I’ve ever read one. Compelling, enticing, and even though you don’t want to know what happens next, you need to for the sake of Lale’s love. This is a love story that transcends time, and I was absolutely blessed to have been able to read it.

You can find this book at most major retailers. I purchased my copy at Waterstones here in England.

Backtrack… He’s NOT Going to UFO?

Y’all, it’s been a roller coaster around here lately. Adam’s deployment team got canceled, after he got pulled from it, after shit’s going down where he was supposed to be going… not to mention my mental health is on the fritz, both of our emotions are haywire, and I’m half a sandwich away from being the heaviest I’ve ever been. So, let’s backtrack. He got pulled from deployment. That’s what we’re talking about today.

The Medical

About a week ago, Adam was admitted to the on-base hospital with severe lower right quadrant pain to such an extent that he was crying. My immediate concern was appendicitis since he hasn’t had an appendectomy. But when his pee came back “cola-colored” (said so on his discharge papers) and his blood came out thick and brown, we knew something serious was happening. Turns out he had rhabdomyolysis, ‘rhabdo’ for short. And the short answer for such a long diagnosis is this: when you workout, you get sore; those are the enzymes in your body breaking down and healing the muscle tissue. Rhabdo is when those enzymes go too hard and start breaking down your muscles too much, basically causing them to atrophy. All the protein that’s broken down get’s filtered through the kidneys, blocking them up. This causes the cola-colored urine and dehydration. Treatment? Four days in hospital on a continuous IV hydration drip, going through nearly 13 liters of fluid. The creatine kinase (CK; what’s released into the body when muscles break down) has a normal level of about 100 units/L. Adam came in with a CK level of 15,000+/L… It’s a good thing this was caught as quickly as it was by the doctors because this can lead to renal failure and sepsis if not treated.

Bonus points: Found out he had three kidney stones. One passed the day after he was discharged, and now he’s terrified to pee for fear of the other two showing up.

The Reason

So, how does this happen? Well, it commonly occurs when an underworked muscle is suddenly put into intense work. For one of us, it would be like running a Tough Mudder without having trained. For Adam, it was going to the gym with a guy who looks like a bodybuilder (and for as strong as Adam is, he doesn’t go to the gym too often). He was so sore coming home from that- a few days prior to the hospital trip, mind you- that I had to help him take his jacket off and put his shirts on. He physically couldn’t (and still can’t really) put his arms above his head. Ugh.

The Result

Because Adam was admitted to the hospital just two weeks before he was set to deploy, especially under such extreme circumstances, his higher up’s decided to pull him from the deployment so that he would have the time to recover from his ordeal. While I am just SOOOO upset that he’s going to be home for longer than expected (sarcasm… I love that he’s not going right now), it tosses us up into the air again. Unsure if he’s going to deploy, if he does then we don’t know where he will be going, and even when- because there are two deployments coming up within the next few months.

The Deployment

Now, here’s where things get interesting. The location he was supposed to go to (which will be referred to as UFO- Unidentified Fighting Operation) has been having some troubles with the locals. The American military on UFO is basically surrounded by the locals who are not happy with having us there and the things that are on base. There were two teams set to deploy 8 Sep of this year. A 13 man and a 7 man team. The leader and another troop from the 7 man were pulled at the same time Adam was. Then the whole 7 man team was pulled. Reasons? I wouldn’t be able to tell you if I did know, but I legitimately don’t know. So now just the 13 man team will be deploying to UFO. It’s all a mess… But for now, we are waiting for our team to deploy out there, and are waiting again for the team that’s at UFO right now to come home.

Now What

Well… it’s a waiting game. He will be home for his birthday on 20 September, and will most likely be here for both Christmas and New Years, so that’s a bonus. Our first real holidays as husband and wife, even though we got married LAST summer… pretty sure I’ve already talked about that issue though. So now it’s a waiting game. I had so much planned for this blog when he was going to be gone- monthly check in’s, weekly updates, and having the ability to answer deployment questions since I’ve never gone through it before. But all is well that ends well. I’m starting up a Booktube, and have been putting a lot of my focus into that.

For now, we can just enjoy one another’s company, and prepare ourselves for the possible future ahead of another deployment scare. I’m happy he’s staying home though- I’m a mess without my best friend by my side.

What I’ve Learned From Medication; Mental Health Awareness

I am a basket case. Maybe not in a literal sense, but sometimes I feel that way. I feel overwhelmed with life and underwhelmed, all at the same time. I have a heart light with joy but heavy with pain for others. I have chronic depression. I have anxiety. I- unfortunately- have let these be deciding factors in who I am as a person.

alcohol bar black background close up

Popping pills is something I’ve always been afraid of. My family has a rough history of alcohol and substance abuse for as far back as I know, and it’s extended past just one or two people. I was ‘blessed’ with an addictive personality as well. If I find something I like, I latch on and hold so tight that I suffocate any joy that it once brought me. So suddenly having medication in my hand terrified me. All I could picture (and still do from time to time) is not being able to stay away from them. It’s why I’m so bad at taking them regularly. It’s why I refuse to drink.

I love taking pills. I love feeling better once I’ve got them in my system. I love being drunk. Feeling invincible and so confident, it’s a high that I long to chase. I hate loving these. I hate who I know I can so easily become.

couple of hands

But for as much as medication has taught me about self-control (which I was fairly good at even before having pills in front of me), they taught me that I’m not insane for needing a helping hand. I’m not worthless for needing the pick-me-up. I’ve learned that I am nothing more than a human with a hormone imbalance.

While my family has a history of substance and alcohol abuse, there’s just as much history for mental illness. Just as much history for anxiety, panic attacks, depression. Maybe these aren’t the “worst” illnesses to have passed down from parent to offspring, I’m still not entirely sure how I’m supposed to survive being human with these issues floating around in my head. But the medication… the medication I’m scared to take and scared to love keeps me just as grounded as anything else in the world.

I’ve learned to have a healthy respect for the medication that makes a positive difference in my life. Even if I don’t want to accept its help.

One Month Before Solitude; Managing The Military

Well dang. We’re just a month away from Adam being deployed for up to six months. How can this be possible?! Now, he and I have survived the long distance thing before. We’ve done more time apart and long distance than being physically together, I believe. We’ve been together since the very beginning of ’17, and we’ve been married since the middle of ’18, and we’ve only spent about a total year of it together. So being apart doesn’t phase me. It’s the reason that we’re going to be apart that does.

I’ve noticed myself turning into someone that I’ve never really been before- emotional. I’m super stressed or super happy, super high or super down. There doesn’t seem to be an in-between sort of emotion for myself in this situation. Neither for Adam, either. He’s been far testier than usual, and both of our poorly attitudes are rubbing off on one another. I’m not ready for him to leave. I just have high hopes that he comes home. Which, unfortunately, is something that all military spouses have to legitimately consider when their militant is off in God’s country doing who-knows-what for our safety.

He has just a week or two left of actual work before he gets time off to prepare for leaving in September. There are lots of things to do: extend the lease on our off base housing, clear the car with MOT and make sure that it’s drivable, perhaps get me a job on base (which I will talk about later), set up autopay for all of our bills, start up a new joint bank account with USAA, and so many other things that I just can’t list them all. They’re all very important which I believe is one of the major factors to our increasing levels of stress.

So what can do to make this whole thing a little easier on myself? First and foremost, Adam and I have to figure out how to get along right now. We’re really good at being husband and wife, but we’re honestly horrible roommates, and the stress of the distance is getting to us. We’ve had so many petty arguments in the past few weeks because of it all. We both hate it. Secondly, we have to be prepared for what’s coming. There’s no way to get out of it (and trust me, I’ve thought through it all, but most options would end up with one or both of us being placed in jail for an extended period of time). Thirdly, I have to start relying on other people. That’s going to be the hardest for me since I don’t make friends very easily, nor do I trust others very easily.

The time since finding out that he’s going to be gone has flown by, and I know that these next few weeks will be going even faster. I’m not ready for it all. I know that I need to make myself another therapy appointment, perhaps start taking my medication again. But most of all, I need to accept the inevitable that I will be a husbandless wife for the better part of a year. Yikes.

Is anyone ever actually prepared for something like this?

Dear Dependa,

I am a dependant. A civilian spouse to an active duty serviceman for the United States Military. I DO NOT SERVE.

Look… everyone is guilty at one point or another for saying things like “My husband serves his country for me” and “Wives serve too”. While no, these are not wrong statements by any means, they are usually statements reserved for the spouses we lovingly call a: Dependapotomus.

Dependapotomus (n.)

Origin: military

  1. Traditionally a service-members dependent who is a “stay at home mom” that doesn’t do a damn thing all day besides sitting on the couch looking remarkably similar to jabba the hut leaching off of military benefits and eating anything that gets too close.
  2. These creatures of a negative symbiosis, or parasitism, are a blight to the military community, serving as horrible ambassadors to the rest of the United States, and in worst cases, the world. They are dramatic, loud, immature, obnoxious, freeloading, belligerent, unfaithful (where applicable, most are too unattractive to cheat), gossiping, wasteful, hateful, bigamous, and click-y.

(Thank you Urban Dictionary for these beautiful definitions)

A dependapotomus (which is really hard to type out every time, so ‘dependa’ it is) is someone who takes advantage of the fact that their spouse is high ranking, and uses the benefits only for their own good. You will see these (the majority being) women complaining about having to be a regular human while their SO is off doing good things for us.

Now, dependants are often thanked by members of the community for our service to the country as well as our spouses. I accept it and move on, not needing to start a fight with someone. A dependa will often times boast heavily about their SO and all the good they’ve done, what their rank is, and complain about the fact that lower ranking people are getting more credit than them… I’ve seen it happen.

Is this a rant? Yes. Will I be adding in some funny pictures depicting these dependas? Also, yes! enjoy!

(Thank you facebooks Dear Dependa ii page for being my inspiration)

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Tasked For Deployment

Well… here’s the article that I was hoping I’d never have to write but knew that I would at some point. Adam is tasked for his first deployment. Yes, I am internally screaming. In all reality, I’ve known about this for a while now, I’ve just failed to update a majority of the world. I’ve known since I met him that this day would come… I’m just not ready for it.

The phrase “Loose lips, sinks ships” applies to aircraft and trucks as well, so there will be ZERO mention of where he will be going. That’s a simple fact of life. But what I can say is that he will be missing our second Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years as a married couple. We have yet to spend any of those together apart from the one time when we were still dating… So, that’s rough. He also won’t be here for my 23rd birthday, and there’s a chance he won’t even be here for his own 25th birthday.

close up of girl covering face

Let’s talk emotions:

I’ve had some time to process this information, but I don’t think this will feel “real” until he’s packing his bags and getting on the transportation bus to the airport. I internalize a lot of my emotions anyways so this is a particularly hard thing for me to express- I’m scared as all hell. I’m scared that he won’t make it back, or that something might happen to me while he’s gone. I’m scared that he will come back a changed man, or that I will change before he gets back. There’s so much fear between the uncertainty from the situation and the fact that this is a first for both of us. A first deployment for him, for me, and for us as a married couple. A first deployment for my parents, for his parents, for our siblings.

Sure, there’s a lot of fear, but I can’t focus on that. I have to focus on making sure that I can run this house without him. Pay bills, cook, clean, do laundry, shop, hold a job… There are so many things that I will have to focus on. For as much as I will be relying on him to make it home in one piece, walking, he will also be relying on me to make sure that I support him and keep the world running since he will be running around the world. It’s a lot to take in, but this is what we signed up for. He signed up for the duty. I signed up to support him.

QOTD: 9 July 2019

“If you like wretched little jolts of adrenaline, randomly hitting curbs, and wondering if you are going to die, then driving in England may be for you!” 

 

I saw someone from a Facebook group I’m apart of post this, and had to share it with you guys! England is a tough place to drive, that’s for dang sure. But at least I know that my ticker is in good health considering all the close calls we’ve had! The drives out here in England are… aggressive (or should I say impatient) to say the least. Overtaking on blind corners, cutting you off on roundabouts, and flying down roads that have very limited visibility. All in all, this is a great place to test your steering, braking, and swerving abilities.

Airman Leadership School (and how I survived)

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First off, this post isn’t about me- but it does concern me. Adam has recently graduated from Airman Leadership School (ALS)!! This means that he is now a Staff Sergeant and is allowed more freedom to be in charge. That’s kind of an oxymoron though, isn’t it? The freedom to be in charge.

For the past six weeks, Monday to Friday, 7a-4p, Adam has been in a classroom setting learning how to be a leader. I won’t go into all the details (partially because I don’t know the details, but also because it’s not relevant), but it was a lot of homework, reading, writing, and listening to lectures. Granted, there was a class clown as well as a brown noser, but the entirety of that didn’t matter. What mattered is that it put a strain on our relationship… we got through it though, stronger than ever.

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Low quality photo; high quality husband

You see, Adam doesn’t like going to school. Never has. Hated high school, didn’t like college, and certainly didn’t like having to attend a class every day with a bunch of people that he didn’t necessarily know all that well. We (Adam and I) ended up having a lot of little arguments about things that are so petty. Him coming home grouchy after a long day, but me being grouchy because of this or that. It was a lot of work for both of us to keep our sanity. I feel like for as much homework that he had from the school, I had an equal amount of home work to keep us both happy. There were a lot of things that I kept my mouth shut about. But the biggest thing for me was to keep my ears open. He griped and moaned A LOT about being in school, the “idiots” he had to go to school with, and the instructors getting after him for his cussing (which I don’t really blame them for; he cusses like a sailor). I had my patience tested while his own was being stretched.

Being a wife is a lot more than just having a ring on your finger. It’s about being able to listen when you don’t want to hear, holding their hand when they try to run away, giving comfort when they don’t want to feel anything anymore. ALS was a strain for both of us in finding our comfort zone, learning to apologize, and working our way around a hectic schedule. I wouldn’t have traded it though!

I am SOOOOOO proud of my husband for all the hard work he put in to earn that extra stripe and certificate. He’s not ready to go back to work, but we’re both ready for him to be done with school. Welcome home Staff Sergeant Adam!

Betrayal: The Hidden Truth by Aqsa Amjad

Betrayal: The Hidden Truth

Aqsa Amjad

Thriller, Mystery

 

Synopsis:

Not everyone can say that they’ve witnessed their mother’s murder at age fifteen, never mind admit to killing their father. Forced into a crime she never wanted to commit, Alexis runs in fear of being caught. With the help of young Jack, she navigates her way through the forest before seeking refuge with her nasty stepmother. For three years, she is safe, but all good things come to an end. Alexis finds herself locked in a dark cell, all alone. Falling out with Jill, she is reunited with Jack, is stuck with Nick, and finds out her secret power. Love has become a game, and they are all playing to get who they want. Nick promises to help her escape from the clutches of his cruel father. Believing Nick can help her, she sticks with him, becoming closer—so close that by the time she realizes who he really is, it is too late. She’s cursed, and Marcus claims he can help her. Alexis soon learns that there’s a price for everything, even if she isn’t in a state to pay it.

My Thoughts:

**This book was gifted to me from the father of the author, with whom I have been in constant contact with through the duration of the reading and review process.**

Aqsa Amjad is an emerging author with a taste for adventure, suspense, thrills, and the occasional romantic twist. Coupled with budding talent and the dedication to get there, Aqsa has provided us with a work wise beyond her years. This full length novel follows the life of 15 year old Alexis who was the witness to her own mother’s brutal execution. Now on the run to find the truth of her family’s demise, she teams up with Jack, Nick, and Marcus to unravel the mystical world she is suddenly thrust into.

Staying honest to myself and my readers, this is a book in which the authors inexperience is evident to me. While talented as she is, even mature authors are always looking for places to grow. I continue to be in contact with her father, offering my own hints and tips for improving the quality of work that her gifted mind is already producing.

I find the action well paced, with just the right amount of mystery interwoven with the complex narrative including fantastical creatures and a twisting plot that catches you time and time again. It’s intriguing with an interesting plot that I haven’t really seen explored before. I believe the characters could have been a little more fully formed, but I’m attributing that to the youthfulness of the author.

Writing is a muscle, and just as with any muscle, you must work it for it to grow stronger. The author is well on her way to developing a very strong “writing muscle” and I look forward to her future works. I give this work a lower rating with the realization that this authors talent will grow as she does.

 

Rating: 3.5/5

 

Where To Find: Amazon (physical and e-book)

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