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THE SKIN ABOVE MY KNEE: A Memoir ~Marcia Butler

January 1st, 2018

THE SKIN ABOVE MY KNEE is a very satisfying read, full of poetic, musical language, inspiration, abandonment, abuse, lyrical recovery and phrasing.  It is an autobiography and an etude of how to use music to balance and center the self while finding home.  “Music aficionados will find an extraordinarily kindred spirit here, and lovers of memoir will find this a sensationally satisfying one.” (-Booklist)

Marcia Butler is a professional oboist who does freelance work primarily in New York.  Her story is about a child who falls in love with Wagner Opera at age 4 and demonstrates unusual talent to her teachers at school.  These teachers encourage her talent and find lessons for her to advance.  Butler drives her self to be the best she can be and falls into the music and the praise.  She resides in a love-starved environment and has to lap dance for her father to avoid the beatings he administers to her sister.  Music is the escape and she practices 3 hours a day.

Her parents drive her sister out of the house.  Butler uses music scholarships and part time jobs to leave home and begin her career.  Her playing is exceptional and awarded.  Her love relationships are monstrous and difficult.  Her parents only hear her play 2 times in her career.  She is always searching for love and support.  The reader wants to hear her play and wants to hold her up and let her lean their way, holding on to her words and hoping to protect.   One gets lost in the music that we are not actuality hearing but rather are reading from the page.  Gorgeous and courageous, sparse and passionate the reader journeys into the self-destructive youth and it’s darkness only to emerge with a full life of sound and beauty.

The chapter of how the author makes her reeds is just amazing.  How to get the wood cuts perfect to produce the perfect outcome and resonance.  Bravo!

“In her debut memoir, THE SKIN ABOVE MY KNEE, Marcia Butler shows us how music – listening to it, playing it, losing it, and rediscovering it – can save us.  With bravery and honesty, she unflinchingly tells her story.”  (-Ann Hood, author of THE BOOK THAT MATTERS MOST)

Marcia Butler was a professional oboist for twenty-five years, until her retirement from music in 2008.  During her musical career, she performed as a principal oboist and soloist on the most renowned of New York and international stages, with many high-profile musicians and orchestras – including pianist Andre’ Watts, composer and pianist Keith Jarrett, and soprano Dawn Upshaw. (cover)

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I loved reading this book it is a favorite in 2017 for me and the Washington Post!

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NO IS NOT ENOUGH: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need ~Naomi Klein

December 25th, 2017

NO IS NOT ENOUGH is from my personal library and I have read it twice now.  I have been a fan of Naomi Klein’s books and research since I read THE SHOCK DOCTRINE a number of years ago.  As a writer, Klein digs deep and her research is impeccable – startling – revealing.  I find myself finding the truth and sorting out the pap I was taught in school and rendering new discoveries, which work for me and bring understanding.   NO IS NOT ENOUGH is another answer to my weary soul after this past election (2016) I am not blind, stupid nor do I ignore what is on the table and this small tome brought me a deep well of hope and wisdom to ponder and set out to make a difference.  Changed my focus.

The book does begin by spelling out just what the new administration is trying to accomplish for the wealthy and deconstruct the society and the Constitution, as we know it today.  This show is being run by the wealthy and it is definitely in the coup category of exploitation of citizens of the USA.  The Fascist Republicans, Dictatorial Wealthy and Fascist, Conservative “Christians” have played the game well and have produced destructive results.  The ranting about “false” news is all a significant part of the game plan, first described by THE SHOCK DOCTRINE.  History professors are sharing how other countries have used these tactics to destroy their homelands – it is a classic scenario.   We have developed A RESISTANCE MOVEMENT to work against this plan and yet these groups and voices are getting burned out, QUIET, as the forces press forward and repeat and repeat and repeat and repeat as LOUDLY and outrageously voiced with constancy.

Klein says that the way to produce hope and future is to begin to address, constantly and consistently, exactly what we want.  She writes about a huge gathering called THE LEAP that put together exactly what they wanted for their children and their future of their country (Canada).  The leadership wrote a doctrine of their philosophy and a wish list of values and activities they wanted instead of the abhorrent policies and prejudices being exploited by past government leadership.  THE LEAP is now being taught loudly and fervently and many groups around the world are sharing what it is that they want and what they want to achieve.   Lots of ideas are emerging to implement the future spelled out and described.   This is the balance to the resistance.   What is it that we value and what is it that we want.   THE LEAP is having a definite impact in California and certainly all over Canada.  Other countries are adapting to the lessons as well.  Several resistance groups have adopted the program in tandem with the resistant action plan.   Hope abounds and voices and individuals learn and rally around what they want rather than what is being dictated.  New candidates are running for office.

I found the book enlightening and certainly hopeful.  I have made a list of what I am resisting and what I am working toward.  It is helpful to keep my children in mind at all times.  What do you want for your children’s future?  How do you support that action?

I highly recommend this short read and the boost it will give most readers towards hope for a good future.  Good foundation for resistance and planning groups.

Naomi Klein (born May 8, 1970) is a Canadian author, social activist, and filmmaker known for her political analyses and criticism of corporate globalization and of capitalism.  More on Wikipedia.

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LITTLE BROKEN THINGS: A Novel ~Nicole Baart

December 18th, 2017

LITTLE BROKEN THINGS is a very good read and although about family dysfunction it is a story that could be true for many individuals and is very believable and interesting.  I enjoyed reading every page and did not hurry through to the finish even though I was not sure I had figured out the truth early on in the read.

The Sanford family lives in a small town and the father figure had sold real estate and was quite successful.  He got along famously with his son Jack but was rather tough on his daughters Nora and Quinn.  Liz the mom was a stay at home provider and found herself distant from her grown children.  The family was dealing with the loss of their father, Liz was trying to figure out what came next in her life and Jack’s wife was expecting the first grand child.   Quinn and her artist husband had just returned home and were living in a family rental unit and Nora had all but disappeared from their lives.  There were secrets that made a difference!

Nora surprises Quinn by suddenly, with no explanation and vowed secrecy, drops off a child for her to keep hidden and safe.  Little Lucy is quiet and sullen and has an interesting connection to the Sanford family.  The mystery needs to be solved.

There is a good deal about sexual predators and drug usage in the story and definitely Nora is on the run a great deal of the time.  The story includes interesting ideas about what is a loving relationship and how to be on one’s own, what should be done next to live life?  Lots of questioning until there is resolution for the child and path finding for the members of the family; it is very nice storytelling.

The family was well respected in the community and daughters were expected to go to college and come home to marry their sweetheart producing the next generation of the community.  The secrets would change the pattern over and over.  What the community did not know about this family kept them pillars and leaders.

I liked the book very much because of the character names also, as one of the characters has one of my daughter’s names and that of course made the story fun.  And the characteristics described for the name were very much in keeping with my child’s characteristics.

I definitely would recommend this story and I thought it was timely about drugs and sexual predation, which is big time in the news at this time and an important subject to bring to the light.

Nicole Baart is the mother of five children from four different countries. The co-founder of a non-profit organization, One Body One Hope, she lives in a small town in Iowa. She is the author of seven previous novels, including, most recently, The Beautiful Daughters. Find out more at NicoleBaart.com.

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DISROBED: How Clothing Predicts Economic Cycles, Saves Lives, and Determines the Future ~Syl Tang

December 11th, 2017

I am passionate about the book DISROBED, it is just the perfect read and by a futurist so for me it is also an informative read.  It is only 124 pages in the hardcover book; each page is packed with information that made me want to know more.

DISROBED is cleverly organized to introduce the reader to first one idea, expound and discuss in full chapter.  The next chapter introduced a new idea, expounds and then connects one to the early concept and discussion.  There is a building onto the idea and it makes one feel very wise and smart about the economic trends that are happening in relationship to the ideas.

First idea is based on how clothing predicted the current President’s win.  What were the trends in clothing and tattoo art before Obama won his election?  Clothing tells us what large groups of people are thinking, even before they know for themselves.  So how do we become a knowledgeable person about trends and clothing?  What are people really purchasing and wearing and how naked are women becoming to follow the fashion quirks?

Big question right now for me:  Why do so many young women and a few young men take naked pictures of themselves and then post them to their friends?  Why soon afterward do they commit suicide?

We already know what is fake it just takes a bit of putting ideas together to realize that we do know.  Real Prada or a great knock off?  We like to identify with groupthink and belong, so how does that show what we are thinking and how we manifest our current values?  How are banker’s wives becoming recession proof and how do they predict a recession?   How could not shopping save the planet?  Is your cotton shirt causing starvation or will clothing save the lives of lots of people?  All interesting questions to ponder and to discover in these essays – fascinating.

I learned so much about the crisis we are in with regard to water and how clothing is a huge part of the problems with water.  I see in the paper that Nestle’ is trying to takeaway the whole water supply of a small town in Oregon and I know most of the world does not have clean drinking water.  People are interested in the environment; farm to table food, reusing fabric and thread is becoming a big business in my own city.    I am aware of minimalism becoming a huge trend in my own community and are you aware of the tiny house movement?

The book ends with discussions of how clothing is a weapon in the war against terrorism leading up to looking at the power to change –everything.

I read each chapter twice as I went along so that I could comprehend and become more fluent in the idea being introduced and then to track the way the threads were being bound together to get a very large picture.

Fascinating book and I will read it again.  I am asking my one book group to read it before they head to a plastic surgeon’s office or purchase 10 more things off the rack.    Powerful read.  Good read.  Fun read.  Wise read.

Syl Tang

Syl Tang is CEO and founder of the 19-year old HipGuide Inc. A futurist, her focus is how and why we consume, with an eye towards world events such as natural disasters, geo-political clashes, and pandemics. She has written hundreds of articles on the confluence of world events and soft goods for the Financial Times, predicting and documenting trends such as the Apple watch and other smart wearables, lab-made diamonds, the Department of Defense’s funding of Afghan jewelry companies, the effects of global warming on South Sea pearls, and the unsolved murder of tanzanite speculator Campbell Bridges. Her brand consulting work focuses on helping companies including Diageo, Revlon and the State of Michigan. She is behind the launches of some of the most well-known beauty, beverage, automotive and urban development efforts including category changers such as frozen alcohol and mineral makeup. In addition to developing her site, in 1999 she created the first mobile lifestyle texting product in the market and predicted mobile couponing, as it exists today. Her company HipGuide is a case study taught in universities around the world, from Dubai to Nova Scotia to Purdue, through a textbook series. (TLC BOOK TOURS)

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