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A BREAST CANCER ALPHABET: Inspiration and Encouragement ~ Mudhulika Sikka

Purchase this book and tuck it into the purse of the next person you meet who has been diagnosed with Breast Cancer.  You will not regret this, I promise you!

If I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer I would purchase this book and download it to my phone e-reader so that I could carry it with me through all the days of my healing and recovery.   When I did have Ovarian Cancer, I did not have an e-reader, but I carried a Book of Days with me everywhere I went and read and re-read to address the issues, to drive my healing work and to write in my journal.   A BREAST CANCER ALPHABET is specifically for BC patients.

Madhulika Sikka was diagnosed with Breast Cancer when she was producing a segment for NPR’s Morning Edition and her team had just interviewed President Obama.  When the diagnosis call arrived, she did not go directly to the Internet instead she told the two science writers in her office and they took on an advocacy role for her.

A BREAST CANCER ALPHABET reminds me that when one is seriously ill, one needs an advocate, who will listen and help interpret and assist in the healing / recovery with you – no exceptions to this rule.

On the cover Cokie Roberts says:

“This useful and often amusing little book should be the first present your give someone who’s been diagnosed with breast cancer.  Its practicality extends from sound advice (‘drugs are your friends’) to the inclusion of pages for notes at the end.  By presenting her own experience in a wry and matter-of-fact manner, Madhulika Sikka removes taboos in talking about sex or looks or the desire on some days to just quit soldiering on through the whole deal.  It won’t make having breast cancer easier, but it will make the dread disease and its treatments less mysterious.  That’s a gift indeed.”   (Roberts – Journalist and author of WE ARE OUR MOTHER”S DAUGHTERS)

Madhulika Sikka is a veteran broadcast journalist with decades of experience. She has worked at NPR News and ABC News, among other outlets.

Madhulika Sikka Twitter

TLC BOOK TOURS  sent me a copy for review of A BREAST CANCER ALPHABET and I want to share this gem with all my readers.

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CERTAINTY:An Historic Novel ~ Victor Bevine

“The war had proved that much, if little else.  A sword of any kind was as likely to cut down the innocent as the guilty, no matter how many monuments man might build to the grandeur of his own self-importance.” (Page 324 of advance review copy without a final cover)

CERTAINTY is an interesting book to be reading during a mid-term election cycle in the US.  Although it is storytelling about a specific historic event and documented trial notes, it is about a witch hunt, stalking, name calling and just plain lying about other human beings and changing lives forever.  Bevine draws us into defining what is good and evil and whether or not an event will assist us in discerning a truth and finding value for the greater good.

William Bartlett is a young lawyer in 1918 practicing law with a firm in Newport, Rhode Island.  25,000 Naval seamen are in a holding pattern as WWI has ended and most will not be shipped out.  This is a huge population jump for such a small community and the prostitutes have arrived in huge numbers also a group of seamen are dying in the Spanish Flu Epidemic.  There is no space for the troops and nothing to do and a great deal of drinking and malicious activities occurring in the town center and the YMCA.  Reverend Kent is working on developing a Seaman’s Institute and sitting all night with the seamen who are dying, being a caregiver, when he is accused by the 3 Navy men of unseemly acts and homosexual behavior; preying on the men not praying for them.

The church would like Rev. Kent to plead guilty to a lesser charge and then to move him out of town with no fanfare and little publicity.   Bartlett and Kent decide to take a moral stand and bring the false accusations out into the open, because Kent is innocent and a very caring individual.  What is discovered is that a particularly fervent Naval Officer, who can identify homosexuals and deviant by their walk, sets up a group of 48 seamen to entrap the “fairies” in their midst who are causing all the problems.  An earlier round of McCarthyism goes into the history books and a great many men’s lives were altered forever.

“As the trial unveils more shocking secrets – secrets that shake Newport and reverberates all the way up to the federal government”- William  Bartlett could lose everything also. (Temporary cover of the advanced copy of the book)

CERTIANTY’s author Victor Bevine, a graduate of Yale University, discovered this trial and story when escaping a downpour by sheltering in a bookstore.  He first wrote a play about this event and now has turned it into a novel so that more people will be informed.  Bevine is an actor, screenwriter, director, narrator of audiobooks, and sports entrepreneur who resides in NYC.

Victor Bevine Facebook

TLC Book Tours  sent me a copy of CERTAINTY to review and I believe that readers who like historic based fiction and military fiction will enjoy diving into CERTAINTY.

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US: A Novel ~David Nicholls

“I had always been led to believe that getting older was a slow and gradual process, the creep of a glacier.  Now I realize that it happens in a rush, like snow falling off a roof.”  (I am advised not to use a quote from this copy because it is not a final copy – I did anyway- there were so many good quotes it was difficult to pick one.)


US is all about what a man is thinking; not just any man but a proper English Gentlemen who is very smart and has worked as a chemical engineer for a very long time.  US is also a love story of Douglas and Connie’s 24 years marriage and just what Douglas is contemplating about how he arrived at who he is presently and who he is becoming.  Douglas is contemplating so much about his love and life that he knocks down a row of “bikers” bikes, books a room in a boutique bordello for his family, and swims with stinging jellyfish.  There is that delightful British humor which just delights this reader and Douglas’s vast ability for a good pun.

Connie is an artist and painter and works at an art Museum in London.  When Douglas and Connie were married Connie stopped painting.  Together they lost baby Jane a few hours after giving birth and shared life for seventeen years with son Albie who is about to move on to University.   The family is making a Grand Tour of Art to give Albie an adventure and knowledge about the great works in France, Italy, Germany, and Spain.   Connie several days before the Great Tour sits up in bed and says, “I think our marriage has run its course. Douglas, I think I want to leave you.”  Douglas and Connie decide to think about this course of action after the tour.  Douglas wants to strengthen their bonds of love with his wife and son on the tour.   Change is very difficult for Douglas and he has the same hopes and dreams he has been protecting and holding on to for twenty four years.  US is a wonderful read and I am sure I am going to read this book again.

tlc logo TLC Book Tours  sent me a copy of this book to review through a new e-book source for me – Edelweiss.   It is an unproofed, uncorrected copy of the book, which will disappear off my Kindle before this review is posted on PW.  I was so pleased to read this book, loved the humor and the story and thinking  happening, and even the trip and discussions of paintings that I am going to purchase this book so I can read it again in the future.  I was so reassured that an engineer could figure out his emotions, talk outside the rules, love, and could change, I found laugh out loud hope in this story.  I believe many of PW’s readers will enjoy this book and this story about change and love.

My best recommendation about this book if you are middle age and thinking about the future – Read US

David Nicholls in the Guardian, “I didn’t want to write a dodgy disappointment”
From Nicholls thought about ONE DAY:

“I worry sometimes that I’m a bit moralistic; always writing about men who are learning to grow up, not be so self-absorbed, selfish or badly behaved. I wonder if that’s dull and liberal and wimpy? I should probably write something that celebrates wickedness. Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/d/david_nicholls.html#BLKTLPofKmGZqHZv.99

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GHOST HORSE: a Novel ~Thomas H. McNeely

“’Divorce,’ she said, “is a disease caused by the lies of feminism and secular humanism.’” (Catholic school teacher’s words to middle school boys; early pages of uncorrected, advanced copy)

GHOST HORSE is a book I found hard to read and yet very worthwhile.  It came in the loveliest package, with a folder full of publicity material and extra resources.  The font was precise and extremely small on my review advanced copy and there were no page numbers.  I thought it was a young adult book, now I know this book needs discussion because there is a surface story and then the recording of societal change which is impacting our current lives with tremendous relevance.

Buddy is a 12 year old boy who is being torn apart with the normal feelings of the changes in a boy’s life, by his Catholic education, by his physician father’s return after 12 years of being away, by his sparing, controlling grandmothers, and by the transitions the USA was making in the turbulent 1970s.  He can see how hard his mother is working and how smart she is and well trained as she runs a pathology lab and teaches.  Margot supports her own mother and is buying a house for her.  There is not adequate childcare or transportation for her son and she must work extremely long hours because her pay is not equal to men’s income.  Dad wants a divorce and custody of Buddy, Jimmy is a physician wanting a huge, fancy house and he runs his own cancer/pathology lab.

GHOST HORSE is about a time when the folks in Houston, Texas were just exploring big changes in expectations and culture and yet it is a place where one could delineate the classes and futures clearly.  The Mexicans lived in one area, the whites another, the wealthy even another location and the Negroes had their own place on this earth.   There were even more categories such as conservative Christians and trailer trash; people spoke one way at home and the well-educated spoke another way in public.  The Priests and teachers were eager to spread the message of anti- change, violence and hate.   How is a boy to find himself and figure out who he is and what his true relationships are; Buddy becomes extremely confused trying to make sense of who he is and what he needs to do?

Thomas H. McNeely is a writer and a professor and he grew up in Houston during this time of turmoil.  It took him 14 years to write GHOST HORSE.   The boy’s confusion comes right off the page and into the mind with the concise puncture of incredible words and feelings exquisitely placed on the page.  Racism, sexism, homophobia, fundamentalism, bigotry, economic inequality, hatred and violence coming at Buddy at every moment of this boy’s day haunting him like the GHOST HORSE – where is the escape?  Would it be in making a movie about the GHOST HORSE with your Mexican friend?

TLC Book Tours and Gival Press  sent me an advanced copy to review of GHOST HORSE.   The story pushed a great many personal feelings to the surface for me.  I was back working at as an Adult Educator in the South and thinking about all the threats I received and how angry people were and how many refused to even acknowledge the problems – how quick to blame and hold on to their perceived values.  Paula Dean, the southern chef, reminded me last year when she said, “we used the ‘N’ word at home all the time”;  she was ostracized.  Our feelings are just masked now and we can see the backlash to change with the election of President Obama.   Baby!  We have not come a long way.  We need these reveals and yet we cower like a 12 year old boy and keep it to ourselves until we find a point of outrage and release.

Thomas H. McNeely is a very interesting person and the winner of numerous awards.   GHOST HORSE has been nominated for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize and has won the Editor’s Choice award at Amazon.

Related:
The Signature of All Things
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Supreme Justice