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THE TALENTED RIBKINS: A Novel ~Ladee Hubbard

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

Winner of the 2016 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award

THE TALENTED RIBKINS was, “Inspired by W.E.B. Du Bois’s famous essay “The Talented Tenth” and fuelled by Ladee Hubbard’s marvelously original imagination, The Talented Ribkins is a big-hearted debut novel about race, class, politics, and the unique gifts that, while they may cause some problems from time to time, bind a family together. “

Johnny Ribkin has now reached his 70s and life should be much easier and it is not.  His mobster boss is demanding the return of some money that Johnny has been taking for pay and has hidden in buried important spots all over Florida.  As he follows his map of hidey – holes, he discovers that his brother left a 13-year-old daughter, who has a special talent and her mother cannot pay the mortgage.  Johnny ends up sharing his retrieved cash with Eloise’s Mother and then taking Eloise on his adventure to find his funds and introduce her to her family.  Actually, every descendant in the Rib King’s family tree has a special talent and they find themselves happy to use their talent to their best advantage.  The family has some most unusual talents!

Johnny, his brother and his cousins in their youth formed together to create a Justice Committee.  This group protected and assisted folks who were working on civil rights and political action.  They formed a bond that was difficult to break and yet they needed more funds to keep going, which ultimately broke up the group.  Johnny was still trying to create the perfect map for the future – he just needed more money.  He discovered lots of corruption among politicians and that often their word was not true and he got roped into helping a mobster lawyer steal.

Eloise is a bright young woman working out very carefully how her talent might be useful to her and her future.  She enjoys learning about her family and their talents as she travels with her Uncle Johnny.  Her family is very funny and her curiosity creates a backdrop for the story to unfold.  The duo is on a mission and it is wonder full.

“For sheer reading pleasure Ladee Hubbard’s original and wildly inventive novel is in a class by itself.” —Toni Morrison, Nobel Prize-winning author of The Bluest Eye, Beloved, and Song of Solomon

“Crafty and wistful…Hubbard weaves this narrative with prodigious skill and compelling warmth. You anticipate a movie while wondering if any movie could do this fascinating family…well, justice. To describe this novel, as someone inevitably will, as Song of Solomon reimagined as a Marvel Comics franchise is to shortchange its cleverness and audacity.” —Kirkus, starred review

I enjoyed every page, the interesting writing style and the clever story.  The interesting politics and discoveries were just an added bonus.  Ah the bonds of family – THE TALENTED RIBKINS

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“Ladee Hubbard is the winner of the 2016 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award and the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition for the Short Story. She holds a BA from Princeton University, an MFA in Dramatic Writing from New York University, an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin, and a PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles. She lives in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Talented Ribkins is her first novel.”

Ladee Hubbard Facebook

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LIFT AND SEPARATE: A Novel ~Marilyn Simon Rothstein

Sunday, January 29th, 2017

LIFT AND SEPARATE just fills the cup and spills over revealing a full life, which raises and supports an older woman’s journey through a rough cleavage of problems (could not resist!). The humor and one liners were worth the entire cost of the book and let us face it, when one is an older woman there will accumulate lots of problems and we all need a laugh to find uplifting results.

Marcy Hammer has been married 33 years and she enjoys being married.  She loves her children, Elizabeth a doctor, Ben a -junior in college, and Amanda a business and marketing person now working on the west coast.  Harvey Marcy’s husband, own a huge business – Bountiful Bosoms – and his major competitor is Victoria’s Secret.  Harvey knows lingerie and he wants the best in life, such as he wants a Leonardo Di Vinci motif on the master bathroom floor.  Marcy is very satisfied with her life and her workaholic husband, who secretly moves out and then tells her that he has been having an affair with a bra model.   Marcy loves being married – Did I already say that?

Dana, her good friend has many problems popping up in her life also.  Her twins are attempting to pick a college and her oldest son is getting married to a girl she does not like.   They share a nice banter and Marcy’s quick comebacks and quips make me envious of her ability to produce funny one-liners.

The house is too big.

Marcy’s mother falls from a stool and breaks her ankles and is hospitalized.  During hospital visits, Marcy discovers a new/old friend and they very much connect over parental illness. Candy has two parents dying and a philandering husband.  Marcy’s oldest daughter, the doctor, is trying to assist her in making decisions and is dating a married man.   Harvey and Marcy are on the same page with this relationship – no way.

There were some universal elements to the story and all the problems and it is important for mature women to find their own niche and maybe even their own house.  The managing of the stress makes for some very funny encounters and some very healthy solutions; great trial and error solutions.

TLC Book Tours and the Marilyn Rothstein sent me an e-copy of this book for review, it was a perfect read to start the year, I truly enjoyed the clear storytelling, the character’s dilemmas and Marcy’s sense of humor.  How much better life is when we help each other and provide the laughter.  Clever and delightful!  – LIFT AND SEPARATE.

“For more than twenty-five years, Marilyn Simon Rothstein owned an advertising agency in Connecticut. She grew up in New York City, earned a degree in journalism from New York University, began her writing career at Seventeen magazines, and married a man she met in an elevator. Lift And Separate is her debut novel.” (Back of Book)

Marilyn Simon Rothstein Facebook
Marilyn Simon Rothstein Amazon

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DERANGED: 3 Stories ~Nora L. Jamieson

Monday, October 19th, 2015

The reader is privileged to enter the thinking world of 3 women all of the same location but in different stages of their lives.  The stories are separate and yet inter lap, as stories are want to do.  Each woman is of a different age and journey point but there is a common theme and they dovetail into the body message of DERANGED of how to be a woman and how to survive acknowledging the route and the ancestors.

Editorial Reviews From the Back Cover:

“In this terrible, gleaming, penetrating work, we learn what it is to be animal again, and so to be fully human. Nora Jamieson’s true and remarkable voice is so old and so aligned with the old, old ways, it is startlingly new. This is a Literature of Restoration. This is the way of sacred language. This is prayer manifesting in blood, bone, terror, and beauty. This is the language of Creation. These words recreate the holy world and offer it from a fierce heart. Who would have dared to imagine that The Cailleach might be among us again” Deena Metzger, author, Ruin and Beauty and La Negra y Blanca: Fugue and Commentary

“Like myths, Nora Jamieson’s wild, beautiful, and holy stories resonate with truths from a time when nature and all living things were inseparable. Feeling ‘deranged’ in the modern world, her characters struggle against the forces that separate humans from each other, from the other animals, from the natural world, from the sacred. While the narrative voices bristle with unflinching honesty, they offer solace with the possibility of redemption.”  Anne Batterson, author, The Black Swan “
“The Inuit say that every story has a yua, a spirit, its person.  Through the stories of Anna, Sophie and Louise, Deranged honors the Spirit of grief, redemption, restoration, and the invisible realm”    (all from Amazon’s page)

The writing of these stories is poetic and lush, drawing the reader into the presence of the story and the thoughts and ideas expressed by each mind provoked by their circumstance.  We follow coyote, woods, rivers and footfalls of those who walk the earth seeing and hearing.  There is a silence in the women’s lives and we are privy to their interpretations of all that is part of their world.  We stand on the rock and catch fish; we leave the body when the pain is too great.

Anna’s story is called: Reckoning
Sophie’s story is called: The Looking Back Woman of Scantic Gap
Louise’s story is called: The Taxidermists’ Daughter

Fathers are extremely important within these three stories and they shape and change the women until the child stands on its own; guided but not controlled and they each see clearly the man.

I started reading these stories at my usual pace, thinking I could do one a day and write this review.  They were each about 50 pages long and yet I found myself right away longing to read them again and again – so I did.   I read each story 3 times before I moved to the next.  The stories were calming and I got cold when it snowed, which very much surprised me.  I loved the words and the flow of the writing and enjoyed reading all the acknowledgements from the author at the end of the read.  I sighed and let go with each turn of the page and I am going to purchase a number of copies of this book to say thank you to the wonderful women who have cared for me post surgery and into recovery.  It is the best “thing” I can imagine to share.

Mr. Gabriel Constans of Constans & Blumeneau sent me a PDF copy for review and I am so happy that he did.  He has sent along several other books for me to review, all with special voices.   It is a 5 star + Dr. Constans   Thank you for thinking of me.

About the Author:

“Nora L. Jamieson lives in northwestern Connecticut where she writes, counsels women, and unsuccessfully tracks coyote. She lives with her spouse, Allan G. Johnson, their soulful dog, Roxie, and the sorrowful and joyful memory of four beloved goats and three dogs.”Visit her website at www.norajamieson.com.” (from the book cover)

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What the Zhang Boys Know ~Clifford Garstang

Sunday, September 30th, 2012


I usually savor books of short stories, allowing each one to unfold on different days or similar to the treat of “second dessert” before I go to bed at night.  WHAT THE ZHANG BOYS KNOW, is a Novel in Stories and was a devouring experience.  I read cover-to-cover all in one day as I got hooked into each selection and could not wait to see what the Zhang Boys knew.

Clifford Garstang’s writing has a precision that leaves no detail unfurnished and yet is sparse, it is formal and yet concise; the writing is Danish modern design next to French tassels.  The book is a Global experience though it is all about the residents of a renovated building, transformed into condos at the edge of China town in Washington DC.  12 stories of loss and change are unfolded as separate lives weave into a whole theme.  One story is very painful and forces the other residents’ parallel problems to be seen as more the normal pitfalls of human travel and travail.

I enjoyed how dualism was explored in this book from male and female, ethnic backgrounds and cultural training, to the blond curly and black straight hair – oh and that could be reversed with ease!

One character says,” It occurred to me then, and I only become more firmly convinced as the years go by, that in some ways the world is united by being witness to unspeakable evil.  We seem to be powerless to prevent it from arising, and we do not succeed in stopping it (when we recognize it at all) even by flinging ourselves under its wheels.” “But what we can do, and have done unfailingly through millennia of malevolencies is give voice to the victims.”

In this read, there is a marvelous quirkiness to each of the characters that just wants your attention.  The building is full of artists and eccentrics and just the plain old, plain old good people exploring their journey and moving forward.  Whereas the back alley is abandoned to the detritus of those stuck and honing into a masking of their acute loss of hope and love.  The deserted factory will probably never become a city park.

I liked how the Chinese history and characters interacted with the present reality.

The author has plenty of experience with writing and has all the right degrees to tout his skills; he is also a student of law and foreign affairs and has travelled a great deal.  He knows a great deal about historic loss and political maneuverings which radically change the path of a human life and about how these events can bring a new mix to the pursuit of self and belonging.

As the season of gift giving is approaching in my culture and tradition, I have put this marvelous read on my list for 2 special  20 somethings and 2 friends who love history,  politics in hindsight, and human journeys as much as I do.  What the Zhang Boys Know is art itself.

Is there something you know in your life that would make a wonderful short story?

Clifford Garstang’s Website   (I need to say that I would consider the write up about this book a real spoiler – it tells too much). Blog: Perpetual Folly

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I did receive a copy of this book from Press 53  and TLC online book tours and I thank them very much for this opportunity of enjoyment.

One lucky commenter will receive a copy of this book from the Publisher – We will do a random drawing in the middle of the TLC book tour.

If you purchase anything from Amazon or Powell’s  from this site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket.  Thank you.   Donations also welcome.

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