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HOW TO BUILD A PIANO BENCH: Lessons for Success from a Red-Dirt Road in Alabama: A MEMOIR ~Ruthi Postow Birch

Monday, July 24th, 2017

HOW TO BUILD A PIANO BENCH is a delightful memoir written by a woman who is a self made success.  She always wanted to do something special and she wanted to be wealthy – and Ruthi Postow Birch did just that.

This book is just full to the brim with wonderful anecdotes and pieces of advise about how to build success. Start with being born right at the poverty line and using every piece of wisdom you are surrounded by to achieve your goals in life.  I will say for the author who enjoys poetry very much the words and tales found here are straight up for real, the extra adjective is not available nor is the metaphor a tool of play.  There is lots of humor and compassion and discovery in the telling of a life and it was a pleasure to read.

“Get an education, get off Petain Street, and amount to something.” (Daddy Postow)

The author takes all the small things she learned as a little girl and points to how they helped her achieve a full and successful life.  She loved to listen to the stories the people told on her street and she ascribes much of her future to those listening skills and compassion that developed her skill set for starting her own business.  She never abandoned her parent’s lessons and used them as her strength and courage to keep moving forward.  As a matter of fact she left the dorms in college to move back into her parent’s home in Georgia and this provided a foundation for her to discover her own learning style and succeed in college with honors.   She did not come back to her parent’s wisdom; she never gave it up and learned the lessons forward.   Her father was a tugboat captain and her mother was a grocery store clerk and a union representative (fierce southern woman)

One of her father’s first and most lasting lessons was that there is always a right first step and if you can find that first step you are on your way to succeed.   It was the right lesson the building  of a piano bench for a young daughter, who was not going to be a successful pianist or musician, but was going to be a successful builder.  Her parents were open to people and experiences and worked to give their youngest child a broad view of the place where she was located.

Ruthi Postow Birch was not a mistake free person, and it took her several tries to find the right first step to a family and a career.  She stumbled into her first job and shouted out that she loved “cold calling” and then became the queen of cold calling! It was from all those years of listening and hearing the stories of the folks on her street in Alabama that made her unafraid when the other’s hated this task.  She was successful because she truly heard what the person on the phone was saying to her and she was able to make a connection.

After she graduated from college a Psychologist friend helped her discover that Ruthi had A.D.D. and with that knowledge and study Ruthi was able to design her new business finding a partner who did the tasks that were difficult for her and polishing and shining up the parts where she excelled.  She found a way to take risks and use them to her advantage when she looked for the first right step.

One very good book sent to me for review by Larissa Ackerman

More about the author:

“ Ruthi Postow Birch is a successful business woman, author, and speaker who has made people her life’s work.  In 2001, she founded Ruthi Postow Staffing, recruiting temporary and permanent employees for businesses in the DC area.  She is the mother of three boys and currently lives in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, with her husband, Ron, their Wheaten terrier, Mr. Magoo, and a family of chimney swifts that return every spring to nest in their 18th –century chimney.”

www.RUTHIPOSTOWBIRCH.com

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Dressing a Tiger
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THE HIDEAWAY: A First Novel ~Lauren K. Denton

Monday, April 17th, 2017

THE HIDEAWAY turned out to be a hard story for me to review.  I need to start with my disclaimer:  I worked in Alabama for a short period of time.  I was never in my life treated as rudely by the people of Alabama in my entire life.  I met several amazing women and lawyers while I was there, and I left with lasting memories of heat, sweat and unhappy human beings – I will never forget and this story was about some of those kinds of people.

We have a sweet Southern story about a lovely retreat location called Sweet Bay.  THE HIDEAWAY is two love stories, one from long ago; you know, the 1960s and one more contemporary.  It is the perfect beach read and the author loves reading at the beach.  She knows her locations.  The read is slow, interesting and well paced for a leisurely afternoon.  The early characters are charming and a bit rebellious; they are developed throughout the whole read as the stories go from Grandmother to Granddaughter chapter to chapter.

“When her grandmother’s will wrenches Sara back home from New Orleans, she learns more about Margaret Van Buren in the wake of her death than she ever did in life.”

Maggie was a good Southern white girl and she married for money and then found out that her charming spouse was sleeping around.  After three years of this kind of abuse she packs her car and leaves for somewhere else and discovers THE HIDEAWAY.  There she discovers her work in caring for the house and the B & B tenants, who are primarily artists.  The house is losing money for the owner who leaves it to Maggie in a whirlwind departure.  Maggie falls in love with a woodworker who builds furniture.  She is loyal to the end of her life to her love and THE HIDEAWAY.

Sara lives with her Grandmother Maggie but does not appreciate her differences and her unique rebellious nature.  She discovers her Grandmother’s truth as she spruces up THE HIDEAWAY leaving her home decorating business to a friend’s care in New Orleans.  She falls in love with a carpenter.  Lots of wood and tree descriptions fill the story and the reader wonders casually about the synchronicity or the symbolism wrapped up in the “beauty” of it all.

TLC Book Tours  sent an advanced copy of THE HIDEAWAY for review.  It was an early PDF copy and it needed more editing.  My favorite blooper in the copy I received – made me laugh out loud!

“Mitch sat in the chair next to me, emptied when the previous occupant excused himself to go to the ladies’ room.”

I did not care for the main contemporary character – Sara.  She did not have the spunk or charisma of her Grandmother and she was just so sweet she nearly dripped with her charm.  She could not really connect with her Grandmother and did not try – though she appeared to like her and phoned her to check in sometimes – she feels entitled.  Sara is totally dependent on the males in her life to make decisions except about furniture and remodeling.  She has no depth perception – not a clue.  Everyone needed to help her right to the end.  I am sure she voted against women on her ballot; Sara needed men.  I know several folks who will like this book very much, I on the other hand was happy to come to the last page of THE HIDEAWAY

Lauren K. Denton:

Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, Lauren K. Denton now lives with her husband and two daughters in Homewood, just outside Birmingham. In addition to her fiction, she writes a monthly newspaper column about life, faith, and how funny (and hard) it is to be a parent. On any given day, she’d rather be at the beach with her family and a stack of books. The Hideaway is her first novel.

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