Book Reviews

#BlogTour My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward by Mark Lukach #TLCBookTours

My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward cover


My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward gives readers an intimate and often heartbreaking look into the lives of author Mark Lukach and his wife, Giulia. In their third year of marriage, Giulia suffered a psychotic break. Delusional and suicidal, she was confined to a psych ward for twenty three days before she was allowed to return home. In time, she recovered, and they welcomed their son, Jonah, into the world. Sadly, Giulia would suffer two more psychotic episodes over the next few years, and had to be confined to the psych ward, again, each time.

Giulia’s journey is often distressing to read about, as is the way it affected all those who loved her. Lukach tells how he felt as a husband—and later, as a father—as he watched his beloved wife slide into episodes of delusional thinking, and the terror he felt when Giulia became suicidal. He also writes about how the role of caretaker took a toll on him physically and emotionally, and is brutally honest about the anger he sometimes felt toward his wife, and how overwhelmed he became in trying to care for both his wife and son during these times.

It feels weird to say I enjoyed a book about so serious a topic as mental illness, but I did. It’s beautifully written, and I know I’ll be thinking about this book for quite some time.

Highly recommended for readers who enjoy memoirs, and books dealing with mental health issues!


Author: Mark Lukach

Title: My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward

Genre: Memoir

Published: May 2nd, 2017 by Harper Wave

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


About the Book

A heart-wrenching, yet hopeful, memoir of a young marriage that is redefined by mental illness and affirms the power of love.

Mark and Giulia’s life together began as a storybook romance. They fell in love at eighteen, married at twenty-four, and were living their dream life in San Francisco. When Giulia was twenty-seven, she suffered a terrifying and unexpected psychotic break that landed her in the psych ward for nearly a month. One day she was vibrant and well-adjusted; the next she was delusional and suicidal, convinced that her loved ones were not safe.

Eventually, Giulia fully recovered, and the couple had a son. But, soon after Jonas was born, Giulia had another breakdown, and then a third a few years after that. Pushed to the edge of the abyss, everything the couple had once taken for granted was upended.

A story of the fragility of the mind, and the tenacity of the human spirit, My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward is, above all, a love story that raises profound questions: How do we care for the people we love? What and who do we live for? Breathtaking in its candor, radiant with compassion, and written with dazzling lyricism, Lukach’s is an intensely personal odyssey through the harrowing years of his wife’s mental illness, anchored by an abiding devotion to family that will affirm readers’ faith in the power of love.


About the Author

Mark Lukach is a teacher and freelance writer. His work has been published in the New York Times, the Atlantic, Pacific Standard, Wired, and other publications. He is currently the ninth-grade dean at the Athenian School, where he also teaches history. He lives with his wife, Giulia, and their son, Jonas, in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Find out more about Mark at his website, and connect with him on Facebook and Instagram.

TLC Book Tours The Sky's The LimitTour Schedule

Tuesday, May 2nd: A Bookish Affair
Wednesday, May 3rd: bookchickdi
Friday, May 5th: Tina Says…
Tuesday, May 9th: StephTheBookworm
Wednesday, May 10th: Back Porchervations
Thursday, May 11th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Monday, May 15th: Stranded in Chaos
Tuesday, May 16th: Dreams, Etc.
Wednesday, May 17th: Wining Wife
Thursday, May 18th: Jathan & Heather
Monday, May 22nd: Book Hooked Blog
Tuesday, May 23rd: Thoughts On This ‘n That
Wednesday, May 24th: The Geeky Bibliophile


Book Reviews

#Review: No Apparent Distress by Rachel Pearson, MD @HumanitiesMD @wwnorton

No Apparent Distress cover

If you are deeply concerned about the plight of the poor in America—and, in particular, the roadblocks they face in getting even the smallest health care need met—then this is going to be an extremely difficult book for you to read.

As I write this review,the date is currently January 23, 2017. Three days ago, Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America. The House of Representatives and the Senate is in Republican control and it’s just a matter of time before a new Supreme Court Justice is appointed—who will most certainly be a Conservative—which means all three branches of the Federal government will be under Republican control. By the time this review is published in late April, it is very likely that under this Republican majority, the Affordable Care Act will have been repealed, which will be particularly devastating to the most vulnerable in our society who gained coverage through the medicaid expansion (if they were fortunate enough to live in a state that expanded medicaid).

Which makes this a most timely read, indeed.

No Apparent Distress recounts the author’s days as a medical student in Galveston, Texas, detailing some of her experiences working in St. Vincent’s Student-Run Free Clinic. Staffed by volunteer students and physicians from University of Texas Medical Branch, St. Vincent’s offered health services for the uninsured poor. Financial limitations restricted the care patients received, sometimes with deadly results.

Pearson doesn’t shy away from admitting her own mistakes and shortcomings as a medical student; she shares those stories with regret and the 20/20 hindsight that wisdom brings. Nor does she hide her frustration about the disparity of care available to the insured vs. the uninsured, given examples of the inequalities she noticed while working/learning at the office of another doctor whose patients were insured and had considerable financial means, as well.

The Haves… and the Have-Nots.

If ever there was a book that inspired compassion for those less fortunate, it’s this one. If you’re seeking understanding about what it’s like to be poor and uninsured in America, I urge you to read this book. It’s definitely an eye-opener.

I received an advance review copy of this book courtesy of Netgalley and W. W. Norton & Company.


Author: Rachel Pearson, MD

Title: No Apparent Distress: A Doctor’s Coming-of-Age on the Front Lines of American Medicine

Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir

Publication Date: May 9th, 2017 by W. W. Norton & Company

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Purchase Links

W. W. Norton & Company | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


About the Book

In medical charts, the term “N.A.D.” (No Apparent Distress) is used for patients who appear stable. The phrase also aptly describes America’s medical system when it comes to treating the underprivileged. Medical students learn on the bodies of the poor—and the poor suffer from their mistakes.

Rachel Pearson confronted these harsh realities when she started medical school in Galveston, Texas. Pearson, herself from a working-class background, remains haunted by the suicide of a close friend, experiences firsthand the heartbreak of her own errors in a patient’s care, and witnesses the ruinous effects of a hurricane on a Texas town’s medical system. In a free clinic where the motto is “All Are Welcome Here,” she learns how to practice medicine with love and tenacity amidst the raging injustices of a system that favors the rich and the white. No Apparent Distress is at once an indictment of American health care and a deeply moving tale of one doctor’s coming-of-age.


About the Author

Author Rachel Pearson
Author Rachel Pearson (Photo © Danielle Barnum)

Rachel Pearson, MD PhD, is a resident physician who also holds a PhD from the Institute for the Medical Humanities. Her writing has appeared in Scientific American, the Guardian, and the Texas Observer. She is a fifth-generation Texan, currently training as a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Author photo and bio via publisher’s website.


Book Reviews

#Review: The Polygamist’s Daughter by Anna LeBaron @annaklebaron @TyndaleHouse

The Polygamist's Daughter cover

I received an advance review copy of this book courtesy of Netgalley and Tynedale House.

I’m not quite sure how my fascination with polygamy began. It may have been a news report that sparked my curiosity, or perhaps it was an article in a magazine, or an interview on a talk show. However it started, I’m usually unable to pass up the chance to read the memoir of someone who chose to share their personal experiences of such a life.

The Polygamist’s Daughter is the memoir of Anna LeBaron, daughter of the notorious Ervil LeBaron. Ervil was the self-proclaimed “prophet” of the Church of the First Born of the Lamb of God. As leader of this polygamous Mormon fundamentalist group, LeBaron ordered the murders of 25+ people, citing the doctrine of blood atonement as justification for killing rival leaders, members of his family, and followers. It began with the murder of brother Joel LeBaron in 1972, and finally ended seven years after his death with the “4 O’Clock Murders” in 1988—carried out by seven members of his family, who killed their targets at exactly 4pm.

Anna’s childhood was spent being moved from one location to another, often in the dead of night, in an effort to prevent the authorities from tracking down her father. Often separated from her mother and siblings, her childhood years were marked with uncertainty and fear, living in poverty and having very little contact with her father. When she was 13, Anna made the decision to leave the cult, and it changed her life forever—but it was not without long-term consequences.

LeBaron’s writing style is engaging, drawing you in without over-dramatizing even the most shocking events of her life. She tells her story in a straightforward manner that reflects not only the wisdom she’s gained over the years, but also the strength that came out of enduring hardship and devastation… culminating in a spiritual peace that was lacking when she was a child.

Definitely worth reading if this is a subject you’re curious about.


Author: Anna LeBaron

Title: The Polygamist’s Daughter

Genre: Memoir

Published: March 21st, 2017 by Tyndale House

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐



“My father had more than fifty children.”

So begins the haunting memoir of Anna LeBaron, daughter of the notorious polygamist and murderer Ervil LeBaron. With her father wanted by the FBI for killing anyone who tried to leave his cult—a radical branch of Mormonism—Anna and her siblings were constantly on the run with the other sister-wives. Often starving and always desperate, the children lived in terror. Even though there were dozens of them together, Anna always felt alone.

She escaped when she was thirteen . . . but the nightmare was far from over.

A shocking true story of murder, fear, and betrayal, The Polygamist’s Daughter is also the heart-cry of a fatherless girl and her search for love, faith, and a safe place to call home.


About the Author

Author Anne LeBaron

One of more than fifty children of infamous, polygamist cult leader, Ervil LeBaron, Anna LeBaron endured abandonment, horrific living conditions, child labor, and sexual grooming. At age thirteen, she escaped the violent cult, gave her life to Christ, and sought healing. A gifted communicator and personal growth activist, she’s passionate about helping others walk in freedom. Anna lives in the DFW Metroplex and loves being Mom to her five grown children.

Author photo and bio via Goodreads.

Book Reviews

Review: Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife by Ruth A. Tucker

Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife by Ruth A. Tucker

Ruth Tucker recounts a harrowing story of abuse at the hands of her husband, a well-educated, charming preacher no less, in hope that her story would help other women caught in a cycle of domestic violence and offer a balanced biblical approach to counter such abuse for pastors and counselors.

Weaving together her shocking story, stories of other women, and powerful stories of husbands who truly have demonstrated Christ’s love to their wives, with reflection on biblical, theological, historical, and contemporary issues surrounding domestic violence, she makes a compelling case for mutuality in marriage and helps women and men become more aware of potential dangers in a doctrine of male headship.

I’m having trouble deciding how I feel about this book. While I didn’t want to read a detailed accounting of all the abuse Tucker went through in her first marriage, I expected that most of the book would deal with that, given the title and subtitle of the book. Instead, the largest part of the book consisted of the stories of other abuse survivors and discussion about male headship. All topics were interesting to read, but the reason I chose to read this book was an interest in Ruth’s story. I knew there was more to the book than that, but I assumed that would make up the larger portion of the book.

That’s not to say I didn’t find it interesting. I did. Reading Tucker’s ideas on what constituted a good marriage and how male headship should be interpreted was thought-provoking, and she raised several good points in regard to the latter that made a lot of sense to me.

(I suppose it should be noted that I’m not very religious myself, and my beliefs are not based on the doctrines of any particular denomination.)

It wasn’t quite the book I expected it to be; still, it was a good book overall, and I’m glad I read it.

I received an advance review copy of this book courtesy of Netgalley and Zondervan in exchange for an honest review.

Author: Ruth A. Tucker

Title: Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife: My Story of Finding Hope after Domestic Abuse

Genre: Nonfiction

Published: 3/1/2016 by Zondervan



Book Reviews

Review: What It Was Like by Lois Watkins

wiwa_lwBy the time I started going to school, legally enforced segregation was a thing of the past. I never saw the ‘whites only’ and ‘colored only’ signs once displayed everywhere in the South. I didn’t know that in the not-so-distant past there were places African-Americans were not allowed to go, things they were not allowed to do. And I didn’t think it was upsetting to have an African-American boy in my class. I do clearly remember being curious about why his skin color was so different from mine when I first saw him, but only for a little while before I shrugged it off and decided it didn’t matter. He was just a boy going to school for the first time, the same as me.

Growing up in the South, racism was (and still is) all around me. It wasn’t until I was  nine or ten that I began to understand what it was. It was a terrible shock for me to realize that others were hated or thought inferior simply because of the color of their skin. When I became aware about segregation and the Civil Rights Movement, I wanted to learn more about it, and have done so when possible in the years since then.

What It Was Like is a short story collection  describing Lois Watkins’ personal experiences of growing up in the segregated South. Her memories are shocking, horrifying, and heartbreaking to read, particularly if the reader has no personal knowledge of what things were like in those dreadful times.

Emmett Till Source: Wikipedia

Some of the memories she spoke of involved people or places I was somewhat familiar with, but didn’t know the complete story. The one that disturbed me the most was how, at age 11, she saw a photograph of a deceased Emmett Till in an issue of Jet Magazine.

At the age of 14, Emmett Till was beaten, mutilated, and shot. His body was discovered three days later in the Tallahatchie River. His mother insisted on an open casket, wanting the world to see what happened to her son in retaliation because he supposedly flirted with a white woman.

Aftermath of the Tulsa Race Riot Source: Google Images

Commonly known as the Tulsa Race Riot, the story about the destruction of “Black Wall Street” (a thriving, successful community of African-Americans in Tulsa’s Greenwood District) is similarly hard to read. On May 30, 1921, an African-American boy was falsely accused of raping a white girl. The district was burned to the ground, leaving thousands of people homeless. The numbers on casualties vary widely, from as little as 30 to as many as 300 or more. Upwards of 1,000 people were admitted into hospitals for treatments of injuries. 191 businesses were destroyed, along with over 1200 homes.

Ms. Watkins gives several examples of the things she experienced herself—such as the painful ordeal of having her hair regularly straightened and why she had to do it, the forbidden taste of water from the ‘whites only’ water fountain and the discovery of how even the things they were allowed was sub-standard to what white people received, and always knowing she had to stay in her ‘proper place’. It was heartbreaking to read of how her family moved to California, thinking they were leaving segregation behind them, only to discover that the ways of segregation were not exclusive to the South.

The best way to learn about something is to hear (or read) stories about it from someone who experienced it… particularly when it deals with something that was part of America’s shameful past policies. History is often revised to be made more palatable to modern society, and it’s only by hearing personal experiences of others that we can be certain those shameful parts of our history are not left to fade from memory.

I learned a lot about what things were like during segregation from reading this book. Anyone interested in this part of America’s history would likely find this book an informative, as well as emotional, read. The only way to avoid the mistakes of the past is to know your history. Given the state of things in America at this time—the debate over Syrian refugees, the blatant racism you see all over the internet, the events that inspired the Black Lives Matter movement— in my opinion, makes this book (and others like it) absolutely relevant to the turmoil we’re experiencing as a nation.

Give this book a read. It’s definitely an eye-opener.

I received a review copy of this book courtesy of Netgalley and First Edition Design Publishing.

Author: Lois Watkins

Title: What It Was Like

Genre: Memoir

Published: February 23, 2016 by First Edition Design Publishing