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Book Review: Stepping Stones – Easy to Read, Hard to Forget

Stepping Stones

A Memoir of Addiction, Loss and Transformation

By Marilea C. Rabasa

Marilea is a daughter, mother, teacher, former ambassador’s wife, bulimic and alcoholic. She also suffers from depression. The road to her recovery is complex and heartbreaking at times, but uplifting and encouraging. Family history of alcoholism, addiction and mental illness plays a part of her journey as well as the journey she and her children follow.

This memoir does not whitewash the pain and suffering of Marilea and her family, nor does it make excuses. She allows the reader into her world that is a contradiction at times. She is elegant and intelligent at functions as an ambassador’s wife, but after the party is over, she will binge and purge in seclusion. Like her mother before her, the problems with alcohol are hidden from her family – or so she thinks.

Her lifelong struggle is not easy, addiction often wins. Sheer determination and the will to survive gives her the courage to follow the program she finally embraces. Just like you and me, each day she must make choices that affect her as well as those around her. Marilea bares her soul about her previous and current choices without pulling any punches. Her honesty is refreshing.

Written in short chapters (some only a page or paragraph long), Marilea writes about the good, bad and the ugly. Her fast-paced memoir is easy to read, but hard to forget. From her childhood to her retirement she shares her joy and pain, love and losses with candor and true stories of her life.

I recommend Stepping Stones to all readers. Every person knows someone who has an addiction or suffers from mental illness. Marilea’s journey to the place she is today is heartwarming and encouraging. I loved this book.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from publicist Maryglenn McCombs in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Livin’ by Frankie Hogan – Explore! Travel! Enjoy Life! Follow Your Dreams!

Livin’ – From the Amsterdam Red Light District to the African Bush

By Frankie Hogan

Livin’ is a travel log chronically the adventures of Hollywood screenwriter Frankie Hogan. By spending his free time traveling he is livin’ his dream by going on crazy fun adventures all over the globe. Like most people when it comes to travel, Hogan was so busy with his everyday life he let that get in the way of his travel dreams. Then one day he decided to actually go to the places that he always wanted to see and do things he wanted to do. After researching, he discovered that travel can be affordable and off he went to start livin’ large.

Traveling to amazing exotic destinations can be dangerous. Hogan tells of his desire to go to Egypt back in 2011. Just “days before” pulling the trigger on the trip in 2011 when the country found itself in the middle of a revolution. So he put the trip off for several years. He doesn’t have a death wish, but on the same token he doesn’t want to live his life in fear. So he took the leap of faith that he would be okay traveling to one of the places he had been dreaming of seeing. Lucky for the readers, he takes us along for the crazy ride.

Being a man who likes to explore on his own and find hidden treasures wherever he goes, Hogan is not a man that wanted to book a tour with a group of others. After he found a deal he could not pass up, he discovered group tours could be part of his travel adventures. Hogan always managed to find time to spend on his own when traveling with a group, opting out of some activities to explore local cuisine is one way he used to march to the beat of his own drum.

There are so many interesting stories in Livin‘ it is hard for me to single out a few to highlight, but I will give you a taste of adventures that were my favorites. The safari in Africa is something I have always wanted to do, so the images and experiences he shared took me into that Jeep along with the group of excited travelers. He taught me how to cross the street in Vietnam – no guts, no glory, just do it without zigzagging or stopping. All a person needs is a steady pace and nerves of steel. And because Alaska is on my bucket list, his trip to see the Northern Lights in Alaska really sounded like fun. Until it became harrowing due to an Arctic storm that blew in, threatening even the seasoned tour guide and pushing them all to their limits – I think I’ll skip that part of the adventure when I go.

Hogan’s writing puts the reader on the trains, buses, boats, canoes and rickshaws with him. You are hearing what he hears and seeing the amazing sites of each country he visits. If I was really with him, I would have skipped the bars he enjoyed and avoided the ladies of the evening he encountered.

If you are sensitive about bawdy language, this may not be the book for you. But I seriously feel even if you are, you might be able to overlook some of the salty words and enjoy the beautiful experiences Hogan shares in this book. I was more than concerned about his health at a few points (he tells the reader he put in all of his experiences, both good and bad).

Frankie Hogan isn’t a fearless or reckless man from what I could tell, unless we are talking about the amount of alcohol he was enjoying on some of his trips. He is the first to admit he is afraid of snakes and heights, yet he faced both of those fears because he is not letting them get in the way of the adventures he tells us about and those he plans in the future.

In the epilogue he explains his innermost thoughts and the reasons that previously enabled him to be a dreamer instead of a traveler and why that isn’t going to happen anymore. He ends it with a few sentences that will call to the adventurous souls reading his book including me. “I thought I’d made the excuse of life getting in the way of travel. I hadn’t. I made the excuse of necessity getting in the way of livin’. And I won’t do it again.”

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review. Copyright © 2017 Laura Hartman

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