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Stephanie Says…Pura Vida Reads

Ok, this is my last post regarding the best holiday I have ever taken! Normally when I go on a tropical vacation, when I hit the beach or pool I turn on my kindle and do not put it down but this vacation was different. I was only able to finish two books and start a third. I normally read a book a day while on vacation. The books I did read are 100% worth reading. This was not intentional but both books brought me to tears. So here I am at the pool with my kindle in one hand and Tico Mojito in the other crying my eyes out. Like I said before, 100% worth it. If you need a new book to read, you should really consider the following!

Book one- The Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson

lone survivor

Book Summary:

Four US Navy SEALS departed one clear night in early July 2005 for the mountainous Afghanistan-Pakistan border for a reconnaissance mission. Their task was to document the activity of an al Qaeda leader rumored to be very close to Bin Laden with a small army in a Taliban stronghold. Five days later, only one of those Navy SEALS made it out alive. This is the story of the only survivor of Operation Redwing, SEAL fire team leader Marcus Luttrell, and the extraordinary firefight that led to the largest loss of life in American Navy SEAL history. His squadmates fought valiantly beside him until he was the only one left alive, blasted by an RPG into a place where his pursuers could not find him. Over the next four days, terribly injured and presumed dead, Luttrell crawled for miles through the mountains and was taken in by sympathetic villagers who risked their lives to keep him safe from surrounding Taliban warriors. A born and raised Texan, Marcus Luttrell takes us from the rigors of SEAL training, where he and his fellow SEALs discovered what it took to join the most elite of the American special forces, to a fight in the desolate hills of Afghanistan for which they never could have been prepared. His account of his squadmates’ heroism and mutual support renders an experience that is both heartrending and life-affirming. In this rich chronicle of courage and sacrifice, honor and patriotism, Marcus Luttrell delivers a powerful narrative of modern war.


What I thought:

I personally could not put this book down. The beginning chapters talk about how Marcus is in Navy Seal boot camp and I am pretty sure I lost weight just reading these chapters. The intensity of their work outs are 1. Cruel and unusual punishment and 2. INSANE! To run in and out of the freezing ocean, then to roll around in the sand, then pick up a 150lb log and run a mile in under 12 minutes, then repeat until you want to die and then when you want to die you do it some more?! Again, cruel and unusal punishment and insane. But then again, that is why those men (and women) are Navy Seals and I am not.

I also come from a military family and I work for the military so stories like this really get to me. I felt my heart racing when Operation Redwing was a go, held my breath when Petty Officer Marcus Luttrell and his team were behind enemy lines, and cried knowing Marcus was finally going home.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. The end of the book started to drag. Whatever could go wrong did. During the lull, all I could think about is “are you kidding me? Really, are effing kidding me? Come on!” If that one chapter wasn’t so long, I would have given this book 5 out of 5. This is a must read.

I know most of my following are English and this book is about a U.S Navy Seal but the courage this man has (In general, not because he is a US Navy Seal) and the will to keep himself alive is utterly amazing.

If you have a kindle it is $7.99. Paperback is $12.93 and hardcover is $19.75.



Book Two- Life Goes On? By Jenna Rose Lowthert

life goes on


Life goes on. But does it really? When my beautiful 47 year old mother, Gina, was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer, my world as I knew it came trembling down. As a 23 year old girl, ready to start life on my own, this heart wrenching news was more than I could bare. Together we battled her terminal illness. Along the way we shared happiness, sadness, laughter, love, hope and heartache. I went through the motions, the up and downs. I stood by her side as she inspired many others who were also fighting this beast they call cancer, to keep on fighting. We kept the hope strong as she had an army behind her cheering her on, every step of the way. When mom passed away only ten months after diagnosis I found treasures that she has left behind that told a story of a mother’s undying love. Treasures that will forever remain in my mind, body, heart and soul, bringing new hope and profound reason to carry on the life she loved to live so very much. This true story was written with the intent to inspire many. To those who are fighting the fight, keep on fighting. To those who have experienced tremendous loss, we must remember that even through the darkest days, life does in fact go on.


What I thought:

There were a few reasons why I wanted to read this book. 1. I went to high school with the author. Jenna and I had class together and her mom took our senior prom photos. I wanted to hear her story 2. My Grandmother is a 3x cancer survivor (In order: Ovarian, Lung, and Breast) and she is still kickin’ to this day (THANK YOU GOD!). I wanted to see how our stories were the same and how they differ. Also learn from each other; the difference between my grandmother’s lung cancer and her mom’s lung cancer.

I have to warn you, you will 100% be crying from start to finish. In the beginning you’re crying from the funny stories and happiness and towards the end you’re crying because your heart is breaking. This book shares Jenna’s and her mom’s journey living with cancer. What I really like about this book is that it is so relatable. Think about it… it seems like some one knows someone who has or has passed away from cancer. Cancer is so integrated in our lives. Jenna was proactive and documented her experience. As you are reading, Jenna inserted photos, quotes and old Facebook statuses that really made you feel like you were a part of the family. The book contains a photo of Jenna’s parents. Her mom was extremely sick at the time and her dad is helping her sit up. From this photo, you can see and feel the love her parents have for each other. During this journey the Lowthert family was never alone. Gina always had friends and family visiting her a.k.a Gina’s Army. Along with “Gina’s Army”, Gina had “Calling All Angels”. If that song played before a major doctor’s appointment, the Lowthert’s knew it was going to be a good day.   Along with happiness, sadness, laughter, love, hope and heartache this book is inspirational. Like inspirational 100x. I could use all the synonyms for the word inspirational and it still couldn’t describe this book well enough. Let me show you what I am talking about:

“September 30, 2012 I love when people see me, the look on their dace. Yes, I have lung cancer. I feel great and nothing is going to stop me from doing the things I want. CANCER DON’T HAVE ME! I take each day and I live it….just like anyone else. We can all go at any given time. I JUST LIVE LIKE I DON’T HAVE LUNG CANCER. Simple as that. Have a great night everyone. Calling all angels.”

You really just need to read this book yourself!! After vacation, I contacted Jenna and asked her a few questions so you could get to know the author!


How did you decide to write the book?

I would post a lot on face book about my mom after she passed away, many people would respond to my posts saying that I was a great writer and had a way with words, I myself never really thought much of it nor did I ever think of myself as a “writer” Someone suggested I write a book, so I started from the end and the beginning wrote itself.


How did you feel while you were writing the book?

To me, writing this book was very therapeutic. It was my chance to share my mother’s story with anyone who would listen. It was definitely heart breaking reliving some of the events of losing my mom, but the end result is what I focused on.

So you plan on writing another book?

As of right now, No, I do not plan on writing another. I blog for a health and wellness site called http://www.pazoo.com as a grief expert and I am perfectly content being able to pick a different topic to blog about each week and share with all of my readers.

Do you still find signs/messages from your mom?

I do get little signs here and there, whether it be a visit from her in my dreams or an old song happening to play on the radio. After her passing, I found letters and notes to my sister and I that she left behind. I feel blessed to be able to have those treasures that I can keep forever. I know each morning when I wake up that she is right by myself, I can feel her in the wind and I can see her every time I look at myself in the mirror.


Any tips for people to write their own story or going through their own hardship?

The only I advice I could offer to someone looking to write their own story is just to put your whole heart into it. Never in a million years did I think I would be an “author” let alone write and publish a book within a month. Believe in yourself and you can achieve anything.


If your mom never passed away, do you think you would have still learned the entire life lesson?

This is actually a question I often ask myself. It’s so hard to say what my outlook would be if my mom never passed away. I believe I am who I am because of her and the way she raised me, and I’d like to think that over time I would of learned these life lessons on my own, but this whole unfortunate experience sure did make me grow up faster, love stronger and appreciate life much more.


I give this book 4 out of 5. The stories and pictures kept me wanting more! I know the journey of living through cancer is heartbreaking but the reason for wanting more is how encouraging this book is. If you know anyone going through their own hardship, recommend this book!! This book is about 83 pages and a very easy read. Truly a beautiful story written by a loving daughter about her mother.

This book is only available for Kindles for $5.99.



Book Three- “F” is for Fugitive by Sue Grafton

f is for fugitive

Book Summary:

Floral Beach wasn’t much of a town: six streets long and three deep, its only notable feature a strip of sand fronting the Pacific. It was on that sandy beach seventeen years ago that the strangled body of Jean Timberlake had been found.

The people of floral Beach didn’t pay a whole lot of mind to past history, especially when Bailey Fowler, the self-confessed killer, had been properly processed and convicted. They weren’t even unduly concerned when, a year after the murder, Fowler walked away from the men’s prison at San Luis Obispo, never to be seen again. After all, everyone knew Jean had been a wild kid. “Like mother, like daughter,” some said–though never within hearing of Shana Timberlake, who, whatever her faults, still mourned her murdered child.

And then, by sheer fluke, the cops stumbled on Bailey Fowler. And a case seventeen years dead came murderously to life again.

For Royce Fowler, old and sick with not much time left, his son’s reappearance was the chance to heal an old wound. For Kinsey Millhone, the case was a long shot, but she agreed to take it on. She couldn’t know then it would lead her to probe the passions buried just below the surface of family relations, where old wounds fester and the most cherished emotions become warped until they fuse into deadly, soul-destroying time bombs.


What I Think:

This is the book I didn’t finish while I was away but I have read her other books “A-E”. So far “F” isn’t letting me down. If you like detective and mystery (but no scary) I would recommend this series. No, you do not have to read in order to understand what is going on. Other plots do not carry over.



As always, thank you for reading Stephanie Says. I am always open to feedback. If you have a topic you wish you want me to write about do not hesitate to contact me.





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2 comments on “Stephanie Says…Pura Vida Reads

  1. Lisa N.
    October 15, 2014

    Great reviews on all these books!

  2. Evelyn
    November 14, 2014

    I absolutely love Lone Survivor. It’s definitely one of my all time favorites. It’s very heart breaking but courageous all at the same time. Love it! Great review 🙂

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