Tag Archives: Memoir

Review: The Bridge Ladies by Betsy Lerner

The Bridge Ladies cover

About The Bridge Ladies

A fifty-year-old Bridge game provides an unexpected way to cross the generational divide between a daughter and her mother. Betsy Lerner takes us on a powerfully personal literary journey, where we learn a little about Bridge and a lot about life.

By turns darkly funny and deeply moving, The Bridge Ladies is the unforgettable story of a hard-won—but never-too-late—bond between mother and daughter.

My Review

I’m a sucker for a mother-daughter story – the bond tightened, repaired or reignited, whatever the case, my interest always piqued. In this instance Betsy and her mother delve into long sought after questions requiring answers, vague memories revisited, clarified, and a quasi heart to heart. It’s a slow process especially since these are two incredibly headstrong women without the best communication skills. Progress made but I found myself frustrated with Betsy. She came across as unbending, judgmental and borderline disrespectful. Yes, the age span separating the two women is great, beliefs, social norms but I couldn’t shake the feeling Betsy was resistant to understand her mothers position, there were smatterings of moments when significant headway was made and then she slipped into the old unyielding Betsy. I kept wanting to shake Betsy and tell her to embrace her mother while she can, enjoy the present and let the past go, accept your mother before it’s too late. I’d like to believe Betsy picked up my subliminal thoughts and is drowning in a more than pleasant relationship today with her mother.

I found the stories of the other bridge ladies fascinating, reading of friendship, girlhood to adulthood, ups and downs was diverting. Times have and haven’t changed.

Great memoir of a mother-daughter dynamic combined with over fifty years of friendship and familiarity between women along with their individual struggles and successes. Reading this I was reminded of the fantastic relationship I shared with my mother, luckily it was streamlined without strife. Oh how I miss my mother, a beautiful woman I emulate daily, I was truly blessed, she is missed every second. Don’t miss out Betsy!

Betsy Lerner APAbout Betsy Lerner

Betsy Lerner is the author of The Forest for the Trees and Food and Loathing. She is a recipient of the Thomas Wolfe Poetry Prize, an Academy of American Poets Poetry Prize, and the Tony Godwin Prize for Editors, and was selected as one of PEN’s Emerging Writers. Lerner is a partner with the literary agency Dunow, Carlson & Lerner and resides in New Haven, Connecticut.

Find out more about Betsy at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Publisher: Harper Wave (May 3, 2016)

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Filed under 2016, May, Nonfiction, Review

Review: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

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About Wild

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State — and she would do it alone.

My Review

It was a chore finishing this book, thank goodness I reached the end. Unimpressed in so many ways, what a complete idiot for even considering taking on the PCT without preparation-INSANE! If Cheryl whined one more time I swear I was going to crawl through the pages and slap her silly. What a self-absorbed, impulsive, immature woman. This woman has zero self-control not to mention she irritated me to no end. I feel as if I wasted my time reading this pointless book. The clincher – after her stroll through nature lovely Cheryl hasn’t really grown, she just wants her Snapple and a man between her legs. Fingers crossed she’s learned a lot more and grown up considerably since her great trek. Feminist my behind, stupid more fitting. Her writing was so so, off and on much like her, still a time waster.

About Cheryl Strayedimage

Cheryl Strayed is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling memoir WILD, the New York Times bestsellers TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS and BRAVE ENOUGH, and the novel TORCH. Her books have been translated into forty languages around the world. WILD was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as her first selection for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0. The Oscar-nominated movie adaptation of WILD stars Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl and Laura Dern as Cheryl’s mother, Bobbi. The film was directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, with a screenplay by Nick Hornby. Strayed’s essays have been published in The Best American Essays, the New York Times, the Washington Post Magazine, Vogue, Salon, The Sun, Tin House, and elsewhere. Strayed is the co-host, along with Steve Almond, of the WBUR podcast Dear Sugar Radio, which originated with her popular Dear Sugar advice column on The Rumpus. Strayed holds an MFA in fiction writing from Syracuse University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

Published March 20th 2012 by Knopf (first published 2012)

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Filed under 2016, January, Nonfiction, Review

Review: Stolen Years: Stories of the Wrongly Imprisoned by Reuven Fenton

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About Stolen Years: Stories of the Wrongly Imprisoned

There is a horrible murder in your neighborhood. You stand outside with your neighbors and watch, or maybe you peek out of your curtains. Hours pass, then days, maybe even years. Until one day there is a knock at your door, and the police take you in for questioning. Do you remember what happened? Do you have an alibi? Can you take countless hours of interrogation without breaking? Can this happen to you?

It can happen, and it happens more than you think.

From The Fixer to The Shawshank Redemption to Orange Is the New Black, books, films, and TV shows have, for decades, fed the public’s endless hunger for nitty-gritty details about prison life. Stolen Years will not deny listeners those details, but it will also offer something more satisfying: the stories of ten former inmates who fended off the blackest kind of despair so they could keep fighting for freedom; the years they spent waiting for an appeal; and their struggles to get back to living after losing so many years behind bars.

Intense, startling, and utterly compelling, Stolen Years will take readers into the stories of the ones who didn’t do it.

My Review

The stories presented here are full of heartbreak and betrayal and violence. But more than anything, they are about hope and redemption, about ten amazing people who fended off the blackest kind of despair to keep fighting for freedom.

Stolen Years knocked the wind out of me. Each story pulls at your heartstrings, you’re shredded emotionally. The ten innocent individuals serve as examples of how our judicial system is in dire need of a serious makeover. The scariest part – I could have been one of the 10 people in this book or worse my son, my father any of my loved ones could comprise the 2.3-5% wrongly convicted, absolutely unimaginable.

Despite the incredible loss these innocent people suffered, all they endured, demonstrating resiliencey, striving to survive, appreciate the right now and possess hope for tomorrow. Financial compensation cannot recapture all that’s lost or all that was or will never be but yet their positive outlook is humbling. Erasing a terrible wrong seems almost impossible, embracing their freedom, the clearing of their name, the possibility of a bright future through an unforgiving society is all they have to cling to. Let’s hope the system changes for the better so others are not wrongly convicted, torn away from their family, lives turned upside down.

I read this book months ago and yet I can’t shake it from my thoughts. A bittersweet story of a severe problem unspoken of requiring immediate correction.

Though it’s impossible to know for sure how many innocent people are in prison, studies have estimated that between 2.3 and 5 percent of inmates in the United States are innocent. That could put the number of the wrongfully convicted as high as one hundred thousand. Most of these people will serve their sentences to the end. This may happen because they’ve given up fighting or, more likely, because their fight is unwinnable for any number of reasons—the evidence was lost or destroyed, the fraudulent accuser refuses to recant, or they can’t find a lawyer to take their case. It needs to stop.

About Reuven FentonReuven_photo-226x300

Reuven Fenton has been covering murder and scandal for the New York Post since 2007. He has earned national recognition for his exclusive reporting on national stories, such as the resignations of political powerhouses Eliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner; Hurricane Sandy and the devastation it brought on New York and New Jersey; the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School; and the Boston Marathon bombing. Mr. Fenton was inspired to write Stolen Years after covering an unforgettable court hearing in 2013 in which a Brooklyn judge freed David Ranta, a man who’d been wrongfully convicted twenty-two years earlier of murdering a rabbi. The sensational story sparked an investigation into misconduct by both the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office and the lead detective in the case. Mr. Fenton is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and lives in New York City with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at reuvenfen.

Excited to be included in the tour for Stolen Years by Reuven Fenton. Be sure to click on the TLC banner to check out the entire tour schedule. Thank you TLC!

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Filed under 2015, Nonfiction, November, Review

Review: I’m Not Your “Baby” by Joy Jennings

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About I’m Not Your “Baby”

In this suspenseful and riveting memoir about a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Australian beach girl, Joy faces the battle of her life against the not-so-friendly bronzed Aussie bloke.

Through her raw, dark stories of frightening sexual assaults, shocking rapes, non-stop abuse, violation and street harassment, Joy Jennings shares of how she tried to make her way in her coastal home town, while being hounded, followed and tormented at every turn.

Her powerfully moving story throws you into a world of tradies, hoons and bogans, who behave in the world’s most vile, vulgar and sexist of ways. With her candid and compelling recollections of being choked to within an inch of her life, having her car window smashed into her face, being stalked and having men rip the very clothes from her body, this memoir will not only keep you captivated, but also astonish you with every page.

Readers will be taken on an unrelenting ride as they share Joy’s emotional journey. I’m Not Your “Baby” will have you fighting for our author who, with a determined heart, never gives up hope of finding love, peace and ultimate happiness.

This is not a story about demonizing the Australian male, but one that humanizes the victims.

My Review

Joy courageously tells her story of a life suffering of sexual, physical, verbal assault. Virtually every male Joy encounters from the tender age of eight through her forties, exhibited a degree of assault including rape. Her story is heartbreaking, uncomfortable and difficult to read but necessary as she completely bears her soul with the hope to assist other women in a similar predicament.

You read of Joy’s admitted lack of self-esteem which paralyzes her causing her to continually fall victim to these twisted men. Finding herself in awkward situations, her inability to defend herself against predators, her avoidance of confrontation, Joy became easy prey time after time, each scenario escalating, each scenario compromising Joy’s safety both physically and mentally. Her vulnerability, innocence, lack of knowledge raped repeatedly.

I couldn’t believe the behavior of men described, it is beyond disgusting. What infuriates me more than anything – these men see absolutely nothing wrong with their behavior, even more revolting.

Joy makes it perfectly clear her mission is to share her story to help others, to let them know they are not alone, there is help if you use your voice. ALL men should read this book, a perfect example of how unacceptable the described behavior is towards women. Objectification is never acceptable.

Joy demonstrates great bravery in sharing her story, I respect her purpose greatly.

About Joy Jennings2920181

Joy Jennings was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia. At seventeen, Joy and her family moved to Queensland where she spent over thirty years living on the Gold Coast.

Following in the footsteps of her father, published author and newspaper columnist, Joy realized her own talents as a writer with the debut of her artfully crafted memoir.

Joy currently resides in Ontario, Canada and is a strong supporter of the Stop Street Harassment Organization and an advocate for the White Ribbon Campaign in Australia. It is Joy’s hope that through her work, she can educate young women on how to make the right decisions if experiencing sexual harassment or assault and wishes to remain focused on establishing herself in her new life and helping others.

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Filed under 2015, Nonfiction, November, Review

Review & Giveaway: Girl in the Woods by Aspen Matis

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•Hardcover: 384 pages
•Publisher: William Morrow (September 8, 2015)

In 2008, Aspen Matis left behind her quaint Massachusetts town for a school two thousand miles away. Eager to escape her childhood as the sheltered baby girl of her family, Aspen wanted to reinvent herself at college. She hoped that far from home she’d meet friends who hadn’t known her high school meekness; she would explore thrilling newfound freedom, blossom, and become a confident adult. But on her second night on campus, all those hopes were obliterated when Aspen was raped by a fellow student. Depressed and shocked that her school didn’t believe and protect her, she sought solace in a remote wilderness; she found the Pacific Crest Trail and hiked the entire length, over 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada.

I gotta say Aspen is one inspiring and courageous woman. Her mettle was unfortunately tested and she accepted the test with extreme grace and poise. I was impressed with this young lady, and I was thrilled her story ended as a happily ever after. A true survivor, a woman overcoming trauma with even more strength than she knew she possessed. No doubt whatever obstacles head towards Aspen she will triumph.

Aspen was very self-aware for your average 19-year-old. She wants more than being coddled by her intrusive mother. Thank goodness she realized there was more out there, that she was more and was determined to find who she was and her own way.

I was shocked by her parents/family pathetic reaction to her rape, I was blown away by their behavior. Her self-worth already teetering was pushed even farther to the brink. The absence of compassion and support was heartbreaking, explaining why Aspen’s hike was even more paramount. Topping it off was the school’s reaction as well, we begin to understand Aspen’s need to conquer the rugged terrain as the victor.

Yes, she made a few questionable choices out in the wild but she’s 19 years old and it’s all part of owning who you are. Luckily she learned from her errors and she remained relatively safe. I still can’t believe this young woman ventured off solo into such desolate space with a majority of her unknown hiking peers being male. She wanted to rid herself of her rape demons and boy what a gutsy way to reclaim your space. Girl power and bravery beyond belief!

My body ached reading Aspen’s story, this is one tough woman mentally, physically and emotionally. I had no doubt Aspen would more than succeed in her mighty trek, she served as an inspiration and I admire her tremendously. I only wish her mammoth hike was initiated under uplifting circumstances. I’m sure Aspen reflects on these early years and sighs in wonderment and disbelief, when the worst has happened everything else is a walk in the park.

Aspen Matis author photo

About Aspen Matis

Aspen Matis is a writer living in Greenwich Village, where she’s finishing her degree at The New School and working on a novel.

Connect with Aspen on Facebook and follow her on Instagram.

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Thrilled to be included in the tour for Girl in the Woods by Aspen Matis. Be sure to click on the TLC banner to check out the entire tour schedule. Thank you TLC!

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Filed under 2015, Nonfiction, Review, September

Review & Interview: Every Breath Is a Gift: Reflections on My Leukemia Journey by Erin Michaela Sweeney

Did you know that September is National Leukemia and Lymphoma Awareness Month?

I bring you Erin’s story. Please keep in mind for each book sold, it’s still good to be alive press will donate $1 profit to Be the Match, operated by the National Marrow Donor Program, a nonprofit dedicated to helping every patient get the life-saving marrow transplant he or she needs.

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With one phone call, author Erin Michaela Sweeney’s life changes forever. She becomes a terminal cancer patient.

This memoir recounts the harrowing months after diagnosis during which Sweeney endures eight- to ten-day chemotherapy rounds administered during hospital stays in the hope of getting into remission. If she makes it that far, then it is a race to find a donor who matches her profile.

Erin is a woman facing the unthinkable yet she manages to focus on the positive as she deals with an unpredictable future. Her grace, determination and hope is inspiring. Luckily she has the support of her husband, her young son serving as her motivation. Her journal is affecting as she shares her inner most thoughts and feelings, her courage is amazing. A woman appreciating everything life has to offer as she knows first hand its fragility. Erin possesses tremendous strength and I am humbled by her story. I certainly closed the book with a new outlook and appreciation of life in general. Good health is a gift we often take for granted, the Erin’s of the world force us to count our blessings and be thankful for all we have. Please visit Be the Match, it can make all the difference in the world, save a life.

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Raven Haired Girl extends a warm welcome to Erin Sweeney. Thank you for joining Raven Haired Girl Erin. For Starters tell us a bit about you and of Every Breath Is a Gift: Reflections on My Leukemia Journey.

First, thank you for featuring me on Raven Haired Girl.

Though I am merely a speck in this home we call the universe, with the publication of my memoir I feel I can now claim the title writer. For more than twenty years, I worked as an editor for museums and in academe. Due to continuing health issues, I also consider myself a “napper extraordinaire.” My son calls me mommy; my parents, daughter; and my brother answers my phone calls with “Hello, my sister.” I love to practice and teach yoga, and so I call myself a yogini as well.

The memoir chronicles a year in my life, roughly from the leukemia diagnosis in February 2011 to the first anniversary in 2012, with some bits before and after. Though the minutia is about me, many of the reflections are universal. All readers wonder about their futures, mortality, and how exactly fax machines work, right?

 What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?

With Every Breath Is a Gift, I intended to share my story so other patients in my situation and their caregivers, family, and friends could know more about leukemia and its treatments, especially marrow transplants. I await anecdotal evidence on whether I accomplished my goal. An employee at City of Hope in Duarte, California, where I am still monitored, told me she and her colleagues were eagerly anticipating the memoir, which was a nice surprise. Though I did not set out to write on the human condition, people have really responded to the larger themes in the book.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

I could not write about the cross-country plane trip to get to City of Hope. It was just so awful for me physically, mentally, and emotionally. Every time I faced the computer screen to write about the memories, I just broke down. So I let it go.

 What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

It illuminated a core strength of mine: resilience. My resiliency got me through all the rough times, along with the love and support of family and friends, of course. Oh, and a little thing called modern medicine. Yup.

What question do you wish that someone would ask about you and/or your book, but nobody has?

Why no photos in the book of your sexy bald head?

Please share advice for those dealing with cancer, to caregivers, to friends/family?

If you are diagnosed with cancer, take things day by day and keep a sense of humor (see previous answer). Caregivers must take care of themselves physically, mentally, and emotionally, or they will become exhausted. Friends and family can support those with cancer by offering specific, concrete help, such as “I will drive you to clinic appointments every Monday” (giving the caregiver time to rest or exercise or go to therapy). As a family friend who is a doctor living with cancer said at the start of my journey, cancer is a marathon, not a sprint, so use your energy wisely. And I would add, don’t go down the rabbit hole of what ifs.

Suggestions to others in similar position without a support system?

Talk to your assigned social worker to find out about support groups. Often area hospitals and libraries have specific groups (head and neck cancer, for example) that meet monthly. Call a regional or national organization to receive a phone buddy. For instance, I was diagnosed with leukemia, so I contacted the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which matched me with a person who was three years in remission. Reach out to positive-minded friends and acquaintances to share your situation, and they just might become your dependable lifelines.

How does one become a bone marrow donor? Why is this not as widely encouraged  and/or publicized as blood donation?

To become a donor, join the national bone marrow registry, either online or at a donor registry drive. Here’s the link for both, along with FAQs: https://bethematch.org/Support-the-Cause/Donate-bone-marrow/Join-the-marrow-registry/.

Be the Match is doing its best to get the word out about the national registry, yet people still haven’t heard of bone marrow donation. Perhaps because bone marrow transplants are mainly used to treat a subset of illness, specifically certain blood cancers, sickle-cell anemia, and other diseases, it is just not as common as blood transfusions, which are used for lots of accident and illness scenarios.

Biggest misconception of bone marrow donation?

Lots of people still believe the only way to donate is through pelvic surgery to harvest bone marrow. In fact, most volunteers donate peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC) through a method similar to blood donation. After drawing blood from one arm, the PBSC are filtered out, and the blood is returned via the donor’s other arm. The treating doctor decides whether receiving PBSC or bone marrow is best for the patient.

The miraculous thing about bone marrow donation, in contrast to organ donation, is the human body regenerates the missing 1 to 5 percent of PBSC within four to six weeks.

What do you want to be your legacy?

If I do it right, I’d like to raise my son to be not only a gentleman but also a gentle man to himself and others. It would be great to pass my resilient, passionate, pragmatic, calm, and contented qualities on to him. My son will definitely be my legacy.

What inspires you?  

Every single day, moments take my breath away. Just a few days ago, I saw a red-throated hummingbird sip from a honeysuckle blossom outside my window. An ordinary event, yet simply amazing to observe up close. And I’m alive to experience these everyday, yet awe-inspiring, moments.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your audience/readers?

The title for my memoir, Every Breath Is a Gift, came from a bumper sticker on the back of my own car. You just never know where the next great thing might be. Keep your eyes open and your heart accepting.

What’s next for Erin?

I’ve outlined a nonfiction book, tentatively titled “Move Beyond Your Cancer Identity.” I also have a notion for a magical realism novel about Hindu goddesses and gods. I’m curious about writing something for families to help them learn about hidden sugar in their kids’ foods. And I’m terrified to compose poetry, so I should probably try my hand at that, too.

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Author Erin Michaela SweeneyUnknown

In February 2011, Erin Michaela Sweeney was diagnosed with ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia), a rare and aggressive blood cancer. She is now a writer, mommy, yogini, daughter, editor, sister, and napper extraordinaire who lives in Claremont, California.

 

 

 

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•Paperback, first, 118 pages
•Published August 13th 2015 by it’s still good to be alive press
•ISBN139781329425460

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Filed under 2015, Nonfiction, Review, September

Review: Broken Places by Rachel Thompson

BrokenPlacesebook

•Published January 13th 2015 by Booktrope
•Pages 126 Kindle Edition

Award-winning author Rachel Thompson courageously confronts the topics of sexual abuse and suicide, love and healing, in her second nonfiction book of prose: Broken Places. The sequel to Rachel’s first nonfiction book, Broken Pieces, Rachel bares her soul in essays, poems and prose, addressing life’s most difficult topics with honesty. As you follow one woman’s journey through the dark and into the light, you will find yourself forever changed. Rachel’s first book in this series, Broken Pieces, has been a #1 best seller on Amazon (eBooks) on Women’s Poetry and Abuse. Please note: this book discusses serious topics, and is intended for mature audiences only.

Rachel Thompson spills her soul through her powerful and affecting essays and poetry of her childhood sexual abuse, as well as of her abuser which happened to be her next door neighbor. Rachel’s horrific event molded and shaped her into the strong woman she is as well as the talented writer she is today. She writes with abandonment, bearing her soul in such a raw manner, her courage admired. Her words are visceral, compelling. As a survivor of abuse her words conveyed what’s been muted in many heart and souls, eclipsed by shame and guilt. A voice for those speechless, or those unable to reveal their pain through words written or spoken.

Rachel imparts the lingering damage the hideous actions a monster leaves behind the moment innocence is stolen. Your life is altered forever as you desperately sift through the wreckage hopeful you’ll be able to mend the many minute fractures. Rachel’s courage, strength and resilience is an example and a beacon of hope for other survivors dealing with the scars of abuse.

Bold writings on a taboo topic plaguing too many children, examining havocs aftermath.

 Author Rachel ThompsonRachel Thompson Author photo

Rachel Thompson (aka RachelintheOC) is a bestselling author, now represented by Booktrope, and social media/author marketing consultant (BadRedhead Media and Author Social Media Boot Camp).

Three of her four books, A Walk In The Snark, The Mancode: Exposed and Broken Pieces are all #1 Kindle bestsellers! Midwest Book Review and two Amazon Top 10 Hall of Fame reviewers all gave Broken Pieces five stars! She just release Broken Places to stellar early reviews.

Her articles appear regularly in the Huffington Post, San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, bitrebels.com, and BookPromotion.com.

She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut.

Connect with Rachel: Facebook | Twitter | Website | Amazon | Goodreads

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Filed under 2015, Nonfiction, Review, September

Review & Giveaway: White Dresses by Mary Pflum Peterson

White-Dresses-430x648-199x300Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (September 15, 2015)

In this riveting, poignant memoir of three generations of women and the white dresses that adorned them—television producer Mary Pflum Peterson recounts a journey through loss and redemption, and her battle to rescue her mother, a former nun, from compulsive hoarding.

Unflinchingly honest, insightful, and compelling, White Dresses is a beautiful, powerful story—and a reminder of the unbreakable bonds between mothers and daughters.

“I think of white dresses as a way of starting over. They’re sort of a way of wiping the whole slate clean.”

Mary Pflum Petersen tells her mother’s story and her own through the white dresses marking major events in their lives. Mary couldn’t rescue her mother from eventual hoarding, however she managed to pull the meaningful white dresses out of the horrific wreckage.

“And white, you always said, is the embodiment of celebrating life. Especially in the church. It marks the transition from one point to another.”

Wow, I must say my heart broke for Ann. A beautiful soul suffering harsh emotional blows eventually and slowly taking a toll. So sad to read of her increasing hoarding behavior, stops you in your tracks. Mary’s anguish is evident and my heart broke for her as well. Despite the growing issue, their mother-daughter bond was tested but never broken. Mary exercised much patience, compassion and understanding with her mother’s often erratic and sudden behavioral changes, increasingly severe and frequent bouts of depression, occurring especially when Mary had cause to celebrate through her successes and happiness. Mary desperately tries to figure out the why to her mother’s hoarding, grappling with how it became so out of control, especially after suffering the sudden loss of Ann.

A bittersweet story of love and the mighty powerful mother-daughter bond.

“I had them: the three things that I couldn’t live without; three white dresses that helped to define me and my mother.”

About Mary Pflum PetersonMary-Pflum-Peterson

Mary Pflum Peterson is a veteran multi-Emmy-Award winning producer at Good Morning America, the nation’s number one morning news show. Her work at GMA has taken her to papal funerals in Rome, to the ravaged remains of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, to the royal wedding in London and to numerous Oscar ceremonies in between. Prior to joining GMA, Pflum Peterson was a producer and reporter for CNN, where, from her post in Istanbul, she traveled in and out of numerous warzones, including Afghanistan. Today, her warzone of choice is Manhattan’s Upper West Side where she resides with her husband, Dean, and their four young children, ages 1 to 7.

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Filed under 2015, August, Nonfiction, Review

Review, Excerpt & Giveaway: 9 1/2 Narrow: My Life in Shoes by Patricia Morrisroe

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A funny, poignant coming-of-age memoir told through the shoes that she wore.

No doubt this book caught my attention, yes the shoe factor pulled at me. I had to read this memoir to see for myself how Morrisroe incorporated shoes into revealing her life story. Let me say Morrisroe did a wonderful job with both. I’m a shoe diva so her clever blending of shoes in tandem with stages of her life from girlhood to the present was greatly appreciated.

Humorous, touching, the authoress provides a sincere glimpse into her life. Through the pains of childhood, adolescence, first love, loss, sibling issues, you’ll find her story easy to identify with. She also included much information on shoes – from factoids to history which was very interesting, especially if you’re a shoe lover like myself.

Love the bond she shared with her mother, their interaction throughout the years was a laugh, numerous times I found myself laughing out loud reflecting on my own memories of years past.

Wonderful clever memoir of one woman’s interesting life, love and family guaranteed to make you laugh and prod similar moments and instances from your own life.

READ 9 1/2 Narrow EXCERPT

About Patricia Morrisroeimage

atricia Morrisroe grew up in Andover, Massachusetts and graduated from Tufts University with a B.A. in English. After spending a year as a reporter and film critic at the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune, she received an M.A. in Cinema Studies at NYU. As a contributing editor at New York magazine, she wrote over fifty features, many of them cover stories. Patricia’s work has also appeared in Vogue, Vanity Fair, the New York Times, Departures, Travel & Leisure, and the London Sunday Times Magazine.

In 1988, the noted photographer Robert Mapplethorpe selected her to write his biography. A year later, several months after he died of AIDS, the Corcoran Gallery of Art cancelled the photographer’s “The Perfect Moment” exhibit. This spurred a heated nationwide debate about pornography as art and called into question the extent to which Congress and the NEA should be funding that art. When Mapplethorpe: A Biography was published in 1995, the art critic Arthur C. Danto, in The Nation, called it “utterly admirable… The clarity and honesty of Morrisroe’s portrait are worthy of its’ subject.” The Washington Post declared the book as “mesmerizing as Mapplethorpe’s stare in his self-portraits.”

In 2010, Patricia wrote Wide Awake: A Memoir of Insomnia, which blended science, culture and personal insight to tell the story of why she – and 40 million other Americans – can’t sleep at night. Janet Maslin in the New York Times praised her “deadpan funny” sense of humor, describing the book as a “fine firsthand look at insomniac eccentricities.”

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Enter for a chance to win a copy of 9 1/2 Narrow, please complete the giveaway form below. Open to US residents only. Ends 8/4/15
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•Hardcover, 256 pages
•Published April 14th 2015 by Gotham
•ISBN13: 9781592409242

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Filed under 2015, July, Nonfiction

Review & Giveaway: In a Dark Wood by Joseph Luzzi

In A Dark WoodHardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Harper (May 26, 2015)

In the aftermath of a heartbreaking tragedy, a scholar and writer uses Dante’s Divine Comedy to shepherd him through the dark wood of grief and mourning—a rich and emotionally resonant memoir of suffering, hope, love, and the power of literature to inspire and heal the most devastating loss.

“Only after losing this love did I grasp his awful wisdom. One of you will have to face the world alone someday and inhabit the Underworld–the hell at the start of Dante’s descent into a dark wood.”

Luzzi finds himself in utter chaos. He reveals himself in such an intimate manner. He’s honest in sharing his feelings towards the man who hit his wife and sues him. His feelings towards his family and how they differ from his Ivy League ways and lifestyle. His dating experiences, his yearning for another woman.

“Rilke once wrote that to love another person is our ultimate task, that for which all else is preparation.”

Plagued by guilt and mixed emotions as he leaves his infant daughter with family so he can do research and write in the attempt to stave off grief. The Divine Comedy helps him maneuver his way through the labyrinth of grief. He asks questions, seeks answers and bouts with existentialism. A man scratching and clawing with an unexpected and tragic sudden loss.

“I also asked him that day if he believed in the eternal life of the soul. I was now anguishing over this question to which I had never given a second thought before.”

“But if you believe in one deep, true love, common sense would also suggest that it would be difficult if not impossible to find another love of comparable intensity once your beloved is gone.”

An affecting story, those suffering a loss, experienced the powerful grip and depths of grief will relate to Joseph Luzzi’s powerful memoir.

“But I hope you’ll discover, as I have, that it’s not what lands you in the dark wood that defines you, but what you do to make it out—just as you can’t understand the first words of a story until you’ve read the last ones.”

Joseph LuzziAbout Joseph Luzzi

Joseph Luzzi holds a doctorate from Yale and teaches at Bard. He is the author of My Two Italies, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, and Romantic Europe and the Ghost of Italy, which won the Scaglione Prize for Italian Studies from the Modern Language Association. His essays and reviews have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Bookforum, and the Times Literary Supplement.

Find out more about Joseph at his website, and connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

Giveaway

Enter for a chance to win a copy of In a Dark Wood, please complete the giveaway form below. Open to US residents only. Ends 6/16/15
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Filed under 2015, June, Nonfiction