Tag: 3 stars

Ghost Boy

Ghost Boy: The Miraculous Escape of a Misdiagnosed Boy Trapped Inside His Own Body

Author: Martin Pistorius with Megan Lloyd Davies

Published: November 19, 2013
Dates Read: January 17-27, 12017

My Rating: 3 Stars

Book Summary from Amazon:

They all thought he was gone. But he was alive and trapped inside his own body for ten years.

In January 1988 Martin Pistorius, aged twelve, fell inexplicably sick. First he lost his voice and stopped eating. Then he slept constantly and shunned human contact. Doctors were mystified. Within eighteen months he was mute and wheelchair-bound. Martin’s parents were told an unknown degenerative disease left him with the mind of a baby and less than two years to live.
Martin was moved to care centers for severely disabled children. The stress and heartache shook his parents’ marriage and their family to the core. Their boy was gone. Or so they thought.

Ghost Boy is the heart-wrenching story of one boy’s return to life through the power of love and faith. In these pages, readers see a parent’s resilience, the consequences of misdiagnosis, abuse at the hands of cruel caretakers, and the unthinkable duration of Martin’s mental alertness betrayed by his lifeless body.

We also see a life reclaimed—a business created, a new love kindled—all from a wheelchair. Martin’s emergence from his own darkness invites us to celebrate our own lives and fight for a better life for others.

My Review:

Ghost Boy is true story of Martin Pistorius. At 12 years old he became ill and eventually was not able to communicate and had to be an a wheelchair. His family was told he would die in less than two years. His family also believed he was not aware of what was going on around him and had less intelligence than a toddler. Martin did not die as doctors predicted, he continued to live. He eventually became aware of his surroundings but was still unable to communicate. This lasted over a decade until one of his caregivers believed he did have awareness. Over time, Martin was able teach himself to read and communicate via a computer. Despite his limited mobility, he was eventually able to get a job and find love.

This is a tragic story. The fact that is a real life story makes this a hard book to review as I had some issues with it. Those issues are what kept Ghost Boy from receiving a higher rating. The three star rating is a ‘good’ rating from me and there is nothing wrong with this rating. I will talk about the issues I had with the book and then a talk a little bit more about Ghost Boy.

The description of the book makes it appear that there was no form of communication from Martin at all. Indeed, at first he is not conscious however he later becomes self-aware, and eventually begins to communicate using a computer. Perhaps a different title and description would give the reader a better idea of what the book is actually about, or perhaps I just had the wrong impression.

Sadly, we still do not know what disease Martin has. He is still in a wheelchair and unable to speak without a computer to this day. I wish we had found out what his disorder was, though there are cases like this where we never discover what causes such a debilitating condition.

Some parts of the book Martin seemed to ramble on. Parts of the book could have been removed and it would not have affected the story. Another issue I had was that the book went back and forth in time. One chapter would take place in the past and the next would take place years later. This made Ghost Boy hard to follow at times, especially since I was listening to the audiobook. Occasionally the year or Martin’s age would be mentioned, but it was still difficult to follow. It just came off somewhat unorganized.

Martin’s story:
This is a tragic story. Imagine one day you wake up but can’t communicate or let anyone know that you know what’s going on. It could drive a person crazy but Martin dealt with this. He would be left in a room in front of a TV and ignored. People would do things in front of him that they wouldn’t normally do in front of someone because he was a ‘ghost boy’ who was invisible, when in fact he was conscious of everything going on.

*WARNING* Martin was mistreated by his caregivers in many ways. He was abused which he goes into detail about. There is also sexual abuse and rape, and he also gives graphic details. This could disturb some readers. It angered me to listen to this and you know that this happens all the time to the disabled and they may not be able to do anything about it.

Despite being unable to communicate I was surprised to hear Martin talk about his belief and faith in God. This was a welcome surprise. Somehow he knew about God and trusted and believed in Him. Through Martin’s experiences, he found a closeness with God as he could ‘talk’ with Him. In some way this may have saved Martin from going crazy not being able to communicate with people.

I found an article from June 2015 written by Martin’s wife that you may find it of interest, as I did. The article is from Redbook Magazine. After listening to Ghost Boy it was nice to read her perspective of events.

Despite the issues I had with Ghost Boy, I still recommend it. It is a story of resilience and strength that not many people may have. It also makes you think about the disabled who are not able to communicate. Are they actually fully aware of their surroundings or not? And if they could speak, what would they tell us?

The Total Money Makeover

Author: Dave Ramsey

Published: The edition I listened to was published on September 11, 2003
Dates Read: January 12-15, 2017

My Rating: 3 Stars

Book Summary from Goodreads:

Respected financial expert Dave Ramsey offers a comprehensive plan for getting out of debt and achieving financial health. Against a playful backdrop of fitness terminology, Dave gives solid, hard-hitting advice needed to make your goals a reality. Filled with both the “hope” and the “how-to,” “The Total Money Makeover” includes: Useful worksheets and forms Readable and informative charts and graphs The four factors that keep people from getting in shape financially Photos and amazing stories from people who have succeeded following “The Total Money Makeover” plan

“The Total Money Makeover” is a necessity for everyone in need of a financial makeover. Readers will learn to live by the “The Total Money Makeover” motto: “If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.”

My Review:
**Warning in advance, this is going to be a LONG review! I did not realize it until I started writing it!

I had heard of Dave Ramsey years before and one time sat in the first class to learn about The Financial Peace University. I was in my mid-20s at the time. But the $100 cost for the class turned me away. $100 is a lot of money now and it was a lot then! Looking back, I wish I had been able to participate.

I first participated in Financial Peace University in 2012. The church I went to at the time offered it for FREE for the members of my young adult Sunday School Class. I am so glad they did! It sounds cliché, but Financial Peace University really did help to change the way I think for some things! I was getting married in 2013, and unfortunately my fiancé was not able to attend as he lived over an hour away, the class was on Sunday evenings, and he worked every other weekend.
At the beginning of each new year I try make sure that the Total Money Makeover is one of the first audiobooks I listen to so it can get me all excited for the upcoming year. I am a Dave Ramsey fan, but do not agree with everything he says. I will go into that later in this review.

A lot of what Dave says is common sense and he even says that. It’s just a matter of actually realizing it for yourself and making it work! Even though I have listened to this book on audio multiple times, I still find myself learning each year. At the beginning of The Total Money Makeover, Dave first gives us his story of how well off he was and then talks about how he had to go bankrupt. He shares his story so we can identify with him. He explains how he came up with his seven steps to becoming debt free. Dave then goes into various debt and money myths. Again, these are mainly common sense, but they are still good to hear.

Then Dave goes into the steps of The Total Money Makeover. He warns you to not do the steps out of out of order or it will not work. The steps are:

  1. Set aside $1000 as an emergency fund
  2. Pay off all debts except the house using debt snowball
  3. 3-6 month emergency fund
  4. Invest 15% into retirement
  5. Save for college for your kids (if you have them)
  6. Pay off the mortgage
  7. Build your wealth and GIVE!

Other things that Dave mentions:
Buy a car with cash, then put whatever the payment would have been into savings. Over time you can pay for a new car with cash!

Make a budget each month, down to every dollar. Every dollar will go somewhere.

Do not use credit cards. Dave does not like credit cards at all. Use cash or debit for everything. Using cash ‘hurts’ when you have to hand it over.

The envelope system. Every payday take out the cash and put it in envelopes for a specific purpose. Once the money is gone from one envelope that is it, unless you take out money from another envelope. This system works great, especially for grocery shopping. We put a lot of my paycheck in envelopes and it really does work. My husband and I realized we were buying a lot more in groceries when we used a card versus cash for food. Using cash really does work! I try to use cash for everything except for getting gas. You are more aware of what you are spending by using cash.

About the audiobook: Dave narrates The Total Money Makeover. I always enjoy when the author reads their own books. They can get the points across that another narrator may miss. As Dave reads the book, you can tell he is passionate as he hates debt and he wants everyone debt free, BUT at times he comes off as condescending and it is as if he is talking down to the listener. The Total Money Makeover also seems aimed to more of the upper middle class and higher. He talks about how you should be able to get that first $1000 within a month and have your debts paid off in 18-20 months. This is not the case, if it was then my husband and I would be debt free right now! Not everyone can get that $1000 saved in just a month, maybe we just are not as “gazelle intense” as Dave wants us to be. It seems as if he forgot about the lower middle class or lower than that with The Total Money Makeover.

Some things I don’t agree with:
Dave says you you should work the job that you love. Most people do not have that luxury. These days people are just happy to actually HAVE a job. I would love to have a job I loved. This blog has become a non-paid part time job and I love it! I wish there was a way to do it full time and actually get paid (other than getting books for free… I love that!)

Dave says to have a joint checking account. This would not work for me and my husband. Without going into details, when we first got married we had to have separate checking accounts. Now we do not want a combined account. The way he manages money and the way I manage money are so different. We would mess everything up and might likely have negative balances! But, we actually talk about money and trust each other. It is not a problem for us to have separate accounts. I know that won’t work for everyone.

Most emergencies can be handled with the $1000 as you start your makeover. That was not the case with my husband and I. Just after out first year of marriage and around my birthday our washing machine died. About three weeks later and around my husband’s birthday our stove also died. We also had to replace part of our roof that was leaking into the house. We needed a new lawnmower as ours was dying. And if that wasn’t enough, about 1 ½ years ago we had a pipe collapse that had to be replaced. This was very expensive. $1000 emergency fund doesn’t cover this and we are still working on paying this off! Our issues are not from spending for things we want, it is things we need.

Dave does not like credit cards, and that is why most people are in debt. They overspend trying to “keep up with the Joneses”. I will keep my credit cards. Granted, almost all the time I use cash now, except at the gas station. If we had gotten rid of our credit cards, we would have been trouble with everything that was mentioned in the previous paragraph, most of all the collapsed pipe.

Despite some of my issues with the system, The Total Money Makeover is recommended. Parts of it are working for us, maybe it will work for you! It’s time to “live like no one else”!


Always Watching


 Author: Chevy Stevens

Published: June 18, 2013
Dates Read: October 25- November 9, 2016

My Rating: 3 stars

Book Summary from Amazon:

She helps people put their demons to rest.
But she has a few of her own…

In the lockdown ward of a psychiatric hospital, Dr. Nadine Lavoie is in her element. She has the tools to help people, and she has the desire—healing broken families is what she lives for. But Nadine doesn’t want to look too closely at her own past because there are whole chunks of her life that are black holes. It takes all her willpower to tamp down her recurrent claustrophobia, and her daughter, Lisa, is a runaway who has been on the streets for seven years.

When a distraught woman, Heather Simeon, is brought into the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit after a suicide attempt, Nadine gently coaxes her story out of her—and learns of some troubling parallels with her own life. Digging deeper, Nadine is forced to confront her traumatic childhood, and the damage that began when she and her brother were brought by their mother to a remote commune on Vancouver Island. What happened to Nadine? Why was their family destroyed? And why does the name Aaron Quinn, the group’s leader, bring complex feelings of terror to Nadine even today?

And then, the unthinkable happens, and Nadine realizes that danger is closer to home than she ever imagined. She has no choice but to face what terrifies her the most…and fight back.

Sometimes you can leave the past, but you can never escape.

My Review:

I listened to the audiobook Still Missing by Chevy Stevens a couple of months ago and I was blown away (I had listened to it several years ago, but did not remember much about it). I decided that I wanted to listen to more of her books since my local library offers hers on audio. Always Watching is another good one by Chevy Stevens, but it does not live up to Still Missing.

Heather Simeon becomes Dr. Nadine Lavoie’s newest patient after a suicide attempt. As Heather tells her story, Nadine realizes they have some similar circumstances in their lives. Heather was part of a commune (a cult) which Nadine was a part of when she was younger as she, her brother, and mother joined. Heather’s story brings to light some of Nadine’s repressed memories. And because of these memories which include sexual abuse, Nadine sets out on a mission to discover if there were any other victims. This decision brings danger to into her life.

Nadine’s daughter Lisa has been on her own for a while and she has been a drug addict. She comes into the story and Nadine also tries to save her in more than one way. Lisa becomes very important to this story.

Will Nadine find out if there are other victims, and will she save herself and her daughter from the dangers that come about in the novel? You will have to read to find out.

Always Watching is written well and I wanted to know what was going to happen. Maybe I expected a lot out of it after listening to Still Missing, but I just wasn’t pulled in to the story as much as I would have thought as I find cult type stories intriguing. I think I just wasn’t as attached to Nadine’s character. Always Watching did not have as much of a shock factor as Still Missing did. There are some intense scenes in Always Watching.

Warning: If you have issues with sexual abuse of a child, you might want to stay away from this book. There are not many scenes, but enough to possibly bother some more sensitive readers. There is also a tough scene involving an animal death.

If you want to check out some of Chevy Stevens’ work, I would say read Always Watching first then read Still Missing. I don’t really like to compare books, but I think having recently ‘read’ Still Missing affected my enjoyment of Always Watching. I do plan to read/listen to more of Chevy Stevens.

I would say overall that I would recommend this book.