Veronica’s Bird Blog Tour

Monika Cover 2

Veronica’s Bird

Veronica’s Bird: Thirty-five years inside as a female prison officer  Veronica Bird was one of nine children living in a tiny house in Barnsley with a brutal coal miner for a father. Life was a despairing time in the 1950s, as Veronica sought desperately to keep away from his cruelty. Astonishingly, to her and her mother, she won a scholarship to Ackworth Boarding School where she began to shine above her class-mates. A champion in all sports, Veronica at last found some happiness until her brother-in-law came into her life. It was as if she had stepped from the frying pan into the re: he took over control of her life removing her from the school she adored, two terms before she was due to take her GCEs, so he could put her to work as a cheap option on his market stall. Abused for many years by these two men, Veronica eventually ran away and applied to the Prison Service, knowing it was the only safe place she could trust. This is the astonishing, and true story of Veronica Bird who rose to become a Governor of Armley prison. Given a ‘basket case’ in another prison, contrary to all expectations, she turned it around within a year, to become an example for others to match. During her life inside, her ‘bird’, she met many Home Secretaries, was honoured by the Queen and was asked to help improve conditions in Russian Prisons. A deeply poignant story of eventual triumph against a staggeringly high series of setbacks, her story is lled with humour and compassion for those inside. Amazon UK About the authors: After thirty-five years working for the Prison Service, Veronica Bird is now retired and living in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. She is still an active proponent of the justice system and continues to lecture across the country and is a supporter of Butler Trust, which acknowledges excellence within the prison system. A qualified architect and Swiss-trained hotelier, Richard Newman enjoyed a forty-year career designing and managing hotels worldwide before retiring in 2001. Since then he has gone on to publish a number of novels: The Crown of Martyrdom, The Horse that Screamed, The Potato Eaters, The Green Hill, Brief Encounters and most recently The Sunday Times bestseller, A Nun’s Story. He is currently working on a new novel about retirement and an autobiography of his time in the Middle East. He lives happily with his wife in Wetherby, West Yorkshire where he enjoys being close to his family.

Veronicas Bird Cover

My Review

I love memoirs about interesting people and this book was no exception! I was given this book and am voluntarily reviewing it. Veronica lived a horrific childhood, never seeing any way out of her lot in life. But Veronica was born with tenacity and she starts crawling out of the hole at a young age by getting a scholarship to a boarding school. When Veronica’s selfish brother-in-law pulls her out of school so they can get free labor, Veronica still makes a plan to escape. Eventually, she ends up as a prison guard, knowing that her family member will not be able to get to her behind the bars. Veronica works hard and keeps rising up the ranks and ends up improving the prison system. Veronica is a true inspiration. She was given no advantages in life, yet she worked hard and never gave up. She made her own life for herself. I love the matter-of-fact way she writes about her circumstances without a “feel sorry for me” vibe. I found the stories of prison life fascinating, as they are not usually discussed with the public. It was so interesting to be a part of a world, through reading, that is so different from my own. This is a great read for fans of memoir and autobiography. *Pictures and content provided to me as part of the book tour*

Read More

A Stolen Life Review

A Stolen Life

By Jaycee Dugard

Genre: Memoir, Autobiography

4 out of 5 chickadees singing. Jaycee is a truly amazing girl! She survived such a horrific situation and somehow raised two girls in spite of it all. This is her sharing her story. Unlike similar memoirs about people who have gone through horrific situations, this book was written by Jaycee alone. She says in the book’s introduction that this book may seem confusing, but that’s how her life felt during this time. It was good to have that “heads up” because the book did jump around a lot and was confusing. There were a few sentences that even seemed contradictory to each other and I’m not sure why that wasn’t fixed by an editor? Despite these issues, which I understood since Jaycee only had about a 5th grade education, this was still a good read.

I liked that this book included entries from Jaycee’s secret journal during the time. They weren’t very specific about what was happening in her life at the time, but they were filled with emotion. She was trying to make sense of the crazy new world she was put in where she had no control. I was amazed to read how Jaycee made a strange little life for herself and her daughters in the backyard. She learned to use the computer and created some graphic designs. She homeschooled her girls by printing worksheets off the internet. I was also shocked to read about how often she actually went out in public when she was older. Despite these things, her life was never her own. This book reminded me a lot of Hidden Girl: The True Story of a Modern-Day Slave Girl. Both girls were out in public at times, yet no one noticed that things were amiss. I also loved reading about Jaycee’s recovery because how does one recover from 18 years of sexual and emotional abuse?? I really want to find out more about Jaycee’s story, because there were some holes, and how she is doing now. This book is an incredible testament to the resiliency and strength of the human spirit!

Read More

Instant Mom Book Review

img_0071Instant Mom

By Nia Vardalos

I must give this book five stars! I kept hearing that I should read Instant Mom. For some reason, I hadn’t realized that she actually adopted from foster care- I thought maybe it was a domestic or international adoption. This book immediately sucked me in. Nia is such a fascinating person. I had no idea the lengths she had gone to to get her movie, My Big, Fat Greek Wedding, made. Nia is one stubborn, persistent lady and doesn’t give up!

She applied this same philosophy to getting pregnant- going through IVF treatments 13 times! She did this quietly and privately while continuing to work on her career. Eventually, she and her husband, Ian, looked into adoption. They ran into some “sketchy” agencies at first, but eventually ended up on the wait list for international adoption. Nothing was moving on that front when Nia finally found out about all the children available for adoption through foster care. She realized that this was going to be the quickest and easiest route to becoming a mother.

Nia and her husband were then matched with an almost 3 year old girl with blonde streaks in her hair (the same blonde streaks she had a dream about). They immediately want to take her home after meeting her but have to wait until they are approved. When they do take her home, there are definitely some challenges as she adjusts to her new home and new parents. I thought Nia was really straightforward and honest about the challenges. She also discussed her fears that the adoption wouldn’t go through, since you must foster the child for 6 months before making it official. Spoiler alert (not really)- there is a happy ending here. At the end of the book, Nia answers frequently asked questions about how to adopt.

All in all, this was one of my favorite memoirs. I thought Nia was a really fascinating person and very down-to-earth for being a celebrity. I also thought this book was extremely informative for those wanting to adopt through the foster care system. I would highly recommend it to prospective parents!

Read More

Interrupted Book Review


By Jen Hatmaker

Genre: Non-fiction, memoir

3 out of 5 stars. I had been wanting to read this book for a long time after reading “Seven.” I finally picked it up and read it in a few days. I knew the basic premise of it after reading the other book. In fact, I feel like a person could just read “Seven” and wouldn’t need to read “Interrupted.” It was much of the same ideas. It tells the story of Jen and Brandon Hatmaker leaving their comfortable church position to start a new church that focuses more on community outreach than feeding those already in the church. There were a lot of good points, but they were repeats of points in “Seven.” I did highlight a lot of the book because there were a lot of profound quotes, but the ideas were familiar. I got a little annoyed by how often Jen quoted other people. I guess it was good to see that she wasn’t alone in her ideas, but it reminded me of a research paper. Sometimes the quotes were awkwardly introduced. Overall, I would recommend a person just read “Seven” and they will get all this content plus more.

Read More

Another Place At The Table

Another Place to The Table

By Kathy Harrison

Genre: Memoir, Autobiography, Parenting, Foster Care, Adoption

5 out of 5 stars!

This was a great book. I read it quickly in one day. Kathy shares her life as a foster parent. We really just see a small snippet of her many experiences with the system. She talks about overworked social workers, lack of money and resources, and many overstretched foster homes. These children need beds and so foster parents say “yes,” even when maybe they shouldn’t.

Kathy admits her own mistakes. One of them is not saying “no.” The fact that she is just one person caring for something like 6 foster children at a time on top of her biological and adopted children leads to a lack of supervision which causes the kids more trauma. That just broke my heart. She is trying to do the right thing by all of them, but her limits are tested. I had to laugh at the “plastic crown” story. Kathy shows us that foster parents aren’t saints and aren’t above petty feelings at times. They’re human, too!

We also hear a few of her children’s horrible stories and have to acknowledge that many times the people who victimized them were once themselves victims. The picture Kathy paints isn’t sunshine and roses, but neither is it doom and gloom. She has to believe that what she is doing is making some sort of difference.

I especially enjoyed the question and answer part at the end of my book. I felt like it gave me a better picture of who Kathy was and why she fostered. There was also information about how to help support foster kids even if you don’t become a foster parent. I would love to read more from Kathy. I like her relatable style and she seems to have a lot of interesting material she could draw from.

Read More