Behind the Laughter: A Comedian’s Tale of Tragedy and Hope

HI everyone! I have a very inspirational memoir to tell you about today. Behind the Laughter: A Comedian’s Tale of Tragedy and Hope by Anthony Griffith,Brigitte Travis-Griffin with Mark Caro.

*Disclosure: I received this book for free as part of The Book Look Bloggers book review program. I am not required to write a positive review, all opinions are my own.

When I saw the title and name, I immediately thought, I liked Andy Griffith as Opie’s Dad on The Andy Griffith Show. When I got the book, I realized I had the wrong guy. Anthony Griffith is also a comedian and has been for over 30 years. Many have not heard of him because he is a clean comic and it seems like all the foul-mouthed ones get famous.

He grew up on the South Side of Chicago and worked hard at his craft. He was finally able to achieve his dream of appearing on The Tonight Show. He did this more than once and it led to several other gigs including acting in films. Sadly, as his career was reaching a high, his personal life was at an all time low.

He was married to the love of his life, Brigitte and still is to this day. She co-wrote this book and they take turns telling their story. Their baby is born very sick and died of cancer at age three. He never told anyone about this tragedy as he didn’t want pity. Eventually, years later, he tells all while speaking at a Moth presentation. I don’t want to cry so I did not watch the video of it, but if you are interested, click here.

On top of all that, he also has MS. He kept that as a secret for years, but eventually told the public because it has made him almost blind and tough to get around. The book may sound sad, but it is uplifting to read about how the couple get through all this together and both live full lives helping others.

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We are joining Comedy Plus’ Happy Tuesday Blog Hop.

 

A Brave Face

Hi everyone! We are joining Comedy Plus’ Awww….Mondays and Book Date’s It’s Monday! What Are YOU Reading? 

I just finished reading A Brave Face by Barbara Marlowe and Teeba Furat Marlowe. It was a beautiful story about many people working together to help an injured little girl.

*Disclosure: I received this book for free as part of The Book Look Bloggers book review program. I am not required to write a positive review, all opinions are my own.

When Teeba, an Iraqi, was a toddler she was badly burned by a roadside bomb that killed her brother. Through a miracle, an American woman, Barbara Marlowe sees her photo and falls in love with this little girl. She reads about her and learns she wants a wig because her hair no longer grows from all the scarring on her head. Barbara happens to be involved with a charity that provides wigs for children so she decides to help grant her wish.

From that wish everything spirals and Teeba ends up moving to the US to have proper care for all her injuries. To do this, she has to leave her parents and siblings behind in Iraq. It breaks her mother’s heart, but she lets her go because she knows it is for the best. Barbara and her husband become Teeba’s second family and she even calls them mom and dad .These reconstructive surgeries take many years to complete because it is a slow process. A balloon is placed under her skin on her neck and one on her back then fluid is added weekly to extend it so she can grow new skin to be used for grafting. She has been here over 10 years and the work is still not completed.

This memoir is a combined effort of Barbara, Teeba and Teeba’s mother. It is interesting to read what each one’s thoughts were as all this was happening. I admire her mother ( and father too) for letting her go because it was best for her. They were finally able to all meet again 9 years later for a week-long visit in Dubhai. Teeba’s father was unable to get permission to join them because he is in the Iraqi army.

All the acts of kindness and efforts to help Teeba helps restore my faith in humanity. Her surgeries are covered by a special group. Disney treats her to a free princess makeover, people help translate, etc. And now Teeba speaks to other children that have burns to help them so she is paying it forward. Such an inspirational story.

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Grateful American

Hi everyone! We are joining Comedy Plus’ Awww….Mondays and Book Date’s It’s Monday! What Are YOU Reading? 

I just completed Grateful American by Gary Sinise. It was fantastic!

*Disclosure: I received this book for free as part of The Book Look Bloggers book review program. I am not required to write a positive review, all opinions are my own.

I haven’t seen a lot of Gary Sinise’s work, but what I have seen was excellent. I know he was the lead in CSI: New York for several years, but I never watched it. I did see Forrest Gump though ( is there anyone who has not seen it? ). As you all know, he played Lieutenant Dan. Little did he know when he played that role, it would set a course for his life.

Gary Sinise was already familiar with the plight of Vietnam vets, his brother-in-law was one. He also went through rigorous training to play that role. Once Forrest Gump was released, Lt. Dan became a symbol for vets. He received letters and was approached by many to praise him on the accuracy of his portrayal in the role. After that, he started to go to VA hospitals to meet injured soldiers. That snowballed into his band going overseas to entertain vets and he is now considered a modern-day Bob Hope. He is truly grateful to the soldiers who keep us safe.

I was amazed to read about all the humanitarian work he does. He helps raise funds to build smart homes for severely injured soldiers. His foundation has also helped children in war-torn countries by supplying them with school supplies. The list of things he has done is endless.

This memoir also included very personal details of his life. I admire his honesty at telling his wife’s battle with alcohol and how it affected his children. I enjoyed reading about how he started his acting career in high school and moved on the theater in Chicago. I highly recommend this book to anyone that likes memoirs, especially grateful Americans.

I enjoyed the book so much that I want to share. I am going to give it away, I can only afford to mail it within the US though. If you want to enter for a chance to win it, let me know in the comment section before Wednesday at 9PM (EST).

I review for BookLook Bloggers

The Golden Thread

Hi everyone! We are joining Comedy Plus’ Awww….Mondays and Book Date’s It’s Monday! What Are YOU Reading? 

The Golden Thread: Experiencing God’s Presence in Every Season of Life by Darlene Zschech is an inspirational read for anyone going through a tough time.

*Disclosure: I received this book for free as part of The Book Look Bloggers book review program. I am not required to write a positive review, all opinions are my own.

For those that are not familiar with the author, she is an Australian pastor, composer and writer. She is also a wife, mother, grandmother and cancer survivor. Using her life experience, she explains seasons of life and how to live a full life during any season.

This book is very heavy on quoting scripture. It would be perfect for a Bible study group. I am a big fan of The Bible, but I was hoping for something unique instead of a rehashing of what I am already familiar with. She refers to Queen Esther several times and how she stood up for her people. I have read about her in many other books too.

Despite my complaint above, I did find some chapters useful. For example chapter 11 was about the Holy Spirit and how we should welcome him into our lives. She also reminds us that prayer is not about telling God what we need because he already knows. We should ask what God wants in our lives.

I recommend this book to anyone looking to grow in their faith. And as I wrote earlier, it would be perfect for Bible study groups. It would also be a nice book to read during the Lenten season which starts next month. It is available on Amazon, click here.

I review for BookLook Bloggers

The Year of Living Happily

Hi everyone! We are joining Comedy Plus’ Awww….Mondays and Book Date’s It’s Monday! What Are YOU Reading? 

The Year of Living Happily Finding Contentment and Connection in a Crazy World by Alli Worthington is a wonderful guide to help find your way to happiness.

*Disclosure: I received this book for free as part of The Book Look Bloggers book review program. I am not required to write a positive review, all opinions are my own.

 

KaTwo is my book model.

I had never heard of Alli Worthington. Apparently I have been hiding my head in the litter box once again. She has written two other successful books prior to this one. She also hosts a weekly podcast. On top of all that, she is a very involved mom to 5 boys.

The Year of Living Happy is an easy read. There are 100 “lessons” in it. Each is a page and a half long and includes a quote from The Bible. At the end of the page is a question to get you thinking of how this lesson applies to your life. There is space to record your answer and use it as a journal too.

For example, she quotes scripture, “By their fruit you will recognize them.” She then tells us to write down the fruit we want to see in our heart and life. On another page, she wants us to think of something perfectly imperfect in our life right now.

Most of these are simple lessons we have all heard before, but tend to forget. There are several lessons reminding us to be thankful and forgiving. She also suggests relaxing, recharging our batteries, breathing deeply and simple ideas we are often to busy to think about.

I think this would be a great gift for any woman ( sorry guys, this one is geared for women) in your life that needs to slow down. It is a beautiful book/journal with a pretty ribbon book mark built-in. There is also a spot in the front of the book with a presented to -from-date which would really personalize your gift.

My only complaint was a typo I found. The word quiet was spelled quit. I know that is not a big deal, but I expect more of a larger publisher.

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More Than Just Making It

 

Hi everyone. I have another book review for today. More Than Just Making It by Erin Odom.

Being that I stole Penny’s day, I thought I would let her pose with the book.

*Disclosure: I received this book for free as part of The Book Look Bloggers book review program. I am not required to write a positive review, all opinions are my own.

The author writes a blog, The Humbled Homemaker. She grew up middle class with frugal parents, but she always had enough. Her dream was actually to be missionary which she did do after college.with her husband. They thought they were making a wise financial choice when they purchased a home. Unfortunately, the recession hit  in 2009 when they both lost their jobs. They ended up owing more than the value of the house. They also had a little girl to provide for.

The family ended up moving in with the author’s parents temporarily. Her husband found a job teaching in North Carolina, but the pay was very low. She worked for the newspaper, but her salary varied monthly. She ended up having to apply for Food Stamps which she was embarrassed to do, but had no choice. She eventually realized that she didn’t have to feel ashamed because those services were there to help. It made her rethink everything she believed about government services. She always thought those on them were lazy, but she discovered that is not the case. Many are working poor that just can’t make ends meet.

Part of this book is her personal account of her family’ s continued financial struggles. These also led to marital problems, yet they somehow ended up having three more children since 2010 which made it even harder to make ends meet.Once she started making money on her blog in addition to her husband’s salary, they were able to get off of public assistance.

They have more money now, but still live frugally. They purchase all their furniture used and their vehicles too. Much of the book is about how anyone can live on less money. She writes about planning meals and saving money on them. She also explains that some have spending problems and others have income problems. They had an income problem because they did not earn enough to cover the basic needs. The only debt they had was their house.

I think this is a great book for anyone that has financial trouble, especially young couples. I did have one major problem with it though because for me personally, it was useless. My financial troubles are always around veterinary care for my 13 cats. They did not have a pet or write about anyone having one. I know it is my choice to have so many cats, but what would someone in their situation do if they had a dog or cat and it was sick? So many end up returning them to shelters or abandoning them when they can’t afford them. It would have been nice to read some solutions to these issues so people would not resort to that. Because of that , I am only rating it 3 out of 5 stars.

We are joining Comedy Plus’ Happy Tuesday Blog Hop.

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The Hundred Story Home

We are joining McGuffy’s Reader’s Sparks (even though she is on hiatus), Comedy Plus’ Awww….Mondays and Book Date’s It’s Monday! What Are YOU Reading? 

The Hundred Story Home by Kathy Izard is a touching memoir of one woman’s quest to make the world a better place.

*Disclosure: I received this book for free as part of The Book Look Bloggers book review program. I am not required to write a positive review, all opinions are my own.

Kathy Izard was a graphic designer, happily married with four daughters when she felt what she described as an “insistent whisper”. At the time, she was volunteering at a local soup kitchen in Charlotte, NC. One day, while working at the soup kitchen she meets a man who was formerly homeless and later became a famous author, Denver Moore. He asks her one simple question that changes the course of her life. “Where are the beds? ”

Prior to that , Kathy thought the soup kitchen was doing a great job serving the homeless of Charlotte. She had never given a thought to where they go after they eat. This one question inspires her to quit her job so she can find a way to create homes for the homeless.It takes a lot of work, prayer and donations, but she finds a way.

Throughout the memoir, she revisits her childhood. Until she was six, she had a fairly normal life with two sisters and her parents. Eventually, her mother’s bipolar disorder takes her away from the family for years.The author realizes now how easily her family could have become homeless because of this. So not only does she provide homes for the homeless, she finds a way to keep them stable once there through medical and psychological care.

Unfortunately, her focus on helping the homeless takes her away from her family and even when she is with them, she is not giving her all. It takes finding a letter of despair her college aged daughter wrote to make her realize this. Eventually, she finds a happy medium between work and family, but it takes a lot of effort.

I highly recommend this book as an inspiration to anyone that feels they are not living the life they were meant to live. Kathy Izard says, ” I wrote The Hundred Story Home not to convince you to help solve the homelessness in your community but to help solve the homelessness in you. ”

This book also has a reader’s guide and FAQ from readers at the end. I think it would be perfect for church groups or book clubs. It would also be a great gift for a friend that needs a little push to living their dreams.

I am going to spread the joy and give this book away so if you are interested, just tell me in the comment section. We will announce the winner on Wednesday’s post. I can only afford to mail it in the USA though, sorry, but books are heavy.

 

I review for BookLook Bloggers