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LIFE AND OTHER NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCES: A Novel ~Camille Pagán

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

LIFE AND OTHER NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCES starts with a double whammy of problems for Libby; we are right at the first paragraphs when the Doctor uses the word malignant and cancer right together and Libby retreats into the Kubler-Ross steps of death defying stages in her mind. If this were not enough Libby goes home to tell her husband, Tom, and he guesses she has “found out” his problem and blurts out that he is GAY never hearing her tough news.  Libby quietly packs a suitcase for her partner and sends him away, she curls up to think about her mother’s death, when she was 9 from cancer; then begins sorting what she will do next.

The story is a full gambit of emotions and we should not leave out humor at all.  Libby is very clever and sarcastic and decides not to treat her cancerous growth and begins planning for her death.  Right away she decides to quit her job and to tell her twin brother Paul and her father about Tom’s reveal not about the cancer.  Libby also wants to do something that will make a difference such as starting a foundation and leaving her money there; after all she has been supporting her husband and purchased their condo while he was in school, getting his degree and a job.  A month long vacation sounds like just the thing to give her space to find acceptance and determine how to proceed.  Puerto Rico becomes her destination, which adds another near death experience or two to her life.

The book is cleverly written and of course, full of communication glitches and bad thinking which actually turn out all right in the end.  There is a great deal of thinking about her mother’s death and how that affected her life and her future decisions.  Because she was deciding not to get treatment, she waited a long time to tell her family but then there are pesky folks on the island and beach, who are antagonistic to her decision.  Throw into the mix a little love story and self-awareness emerges, which opens up new possibilities and lets her know Tom truly is gay.

LIFE AND OTHER NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCES was sent to me by TLC Book Tours http://tlcbooktours.com/2015/09/camille-pagan-author-of-life-and-other-near-death-experiences-on-tour-november-2015/ for review and I appreciated the interesting read.  I think you will also.

About the author (from TLC page)

Camille Pagán’s work has appeared in dozens of publications and on websites including Forbes, Glamour, Men’s Health, Parade, O: The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, WebMD.com, and Women’s Health. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and two children.

Related:
The Art of Forgetting
Deranged
Olivey 

DOLL GOD: A Poetry Collection ~Luanne Castle

Monday, February 9th, 2015

“I talk to him about my cousin’s life, expecting something from him.  Neither of us knows what.” (Page 34)

“Every day the world subtracts from itself,” Luanne Castle observes. Her wonderfully titled collection, Doll God, with its rich and varied mix of poems part memoir, part myth and tale, shimmers as it swims as poetry is meant to, upstream against the loss. “ ~Stuart Dybek, MacArthur Fellow and author of STREETS IN THEIR OWN INK.”

I start writing about DOLL GOD and end up going back to Amazon to these words of praise posted on the book site.   I wonder what this fellow sees in the poems, how they resonated with his concepts of poetry and writing?  I have read the whole book now seven times to find connection, that concise perception that resonates with me and so I would name this a poem within my framework.   Rather when I switched my thinking to read small little essays, I found some phrases that were wonderful.  I would not put it in a poetry column or tab.

DOLL GOD did touch me emotionally with all the sadness of loss and none of the opportunity or delight explored.  Yes, many of the metal toys were melted down for the war effort, and I was captured by the games of war and the games that children play and practice.  What did we truly learn and where do we reflect on these symbols?   If there is no more war, will we go back to metal toys?

“In my confusion, I read the wrong miracles” (page 71)

The author’s rage at cancer makes me want to like this book and yet I try not to inflict my cancer rage on anyone else.  I let it go, sometimes hourly, and I assist in helping other’s let it go because it can eat one alive – literally.  I need to emphasize the gifts of this dis-ease.   I am worthy of so much joy, and I will put this book on the shelf until my next trip to the support group and I will pass it on.

Annie Lamont, the writer has Horrible Bonnie to call when too much is brought to her attention, I don’t have anyone to call right now and this book does not speak to me or share a passion with words or talk about hard things with follow through-my tongue is full of down; why do I work so hard to encourage and why do I keep trying to save?

Please do not take my word for it, because there are a number of reviewers who are singing praises for these poems and the author has more credentials than I.   Serena at POETIC BOOK TOURS and the author sent me a copy of the book for review, and I was happy for the opportunity.  Here is the list of the other reviewers on this tour:

Feb. 10 — Gautami at Everything Distils Into Reading
Feb. 11 — Vicki at I’d Rather Be at the Beach
Feb. 13 — Randi at Bell, Book & Candle
Feb. 14 — Harvee at Book Dilettante

About the Author:

“Luanne Castle has been a Fellow at the Center for Ideas and Society at the University of California, Riverside.  She studied English and creative writing at the University of California, Riverside; Western Michigan University; and Stanford University.  Her poetry and creative nonfiction have appeared in BARNSTORM JOURNAL, GRIST, THE ANTIGONISH REVIEW, TAB, RIVER TEETH, LUNCH TICKET, WISCONSIN REVIEW, and other journals.  She contributed to TWICE-TOLD CHILDREN”S TALES: THE INFLUENCE OF CHILDHOOD READING ON WRITERS FOR ADULTS, edited by Betty Greenway.  Luanne divides her time between California and Arizona, where she shares land with a herd of javelin.”  (cover)

Related:
Lust
Joy Street
On The Mountain
Psalms for Troubled Times (Amazon) 

WHERE HAVE I BEEN ALL MY LIFE? A Journey Toward Love and Wholeness ~Cheryl Rice

Monday, January 19th, 2015

“WHERE HAVE I BEEN ALL MY LIFE? Is an engaging, nourishing must-read for any woman who wants to love and accept herself more fully.” (Marci Shimoff #1 New York Times best-selling author of LOVE FOR NO REASON and HAPPY FOR NO REASON – cover)

TLC Book Tours sent me a copy of WHERE HAVE I BEEN ALL MY LIFE? for review.  The book is a memoir and a very gentle personal story about recovery and self-discovery.  As the opening quote says it is a book for anyone who wishes to accept himself or herself more fully and find that moment of self-love which sustains the whole person.  I heartily recommend this story.

WHERE HAVE I BEEN ALL MY LIFE?  was a very good read for me in January of a new year.  I am sorting out my business and my life and thinking about where I want this new year to move me; what is my goal for this year and what will I work on for myself?  So reading a memoir about someone taking action is a good inspiration.  Cheryl Rice was catapulted into her journey by the loss of her mother after a short dance with cancer.  Rice was overwhelmed by the profound sorrow that surrounded her and by the fact she came to a stop in her own life efforts because of this sorrow.

After cleaning every closet and room in her life and making stacks of things for charity she did not know how to proceed further, move on, and she felt like she had lost her self in all the care giving to her new husband and his children, the intense workout of caring for her mother’s last days and her father’s profound depression.  Rice proceeded to therapy and found her therapist trustworthy, helpful, and her ‘love object rescue hero’ extraordinaire. She kept going and peeling away the masks and actions which restricted her best self from emerging and being present.   She was taking care of everyone except herself and it was a deep and old pattern.

I could identify with Rice’s position and the fatigue of not being able to move forward and not wanting to stay in the intense caregiver mode any longer.  I too had children to care for and a partner and the intensity of the loss reveled that I too had been trapped into a caregiver role for way too long and self recovery seemed distant and beyond the reach alone.    I believe this kind of storytelling enhances our own well-being and revels clearly the way to healing and rediscovery for the next endeavors and discoveries.   “Life is constantly changing”, but when we are captured in a cycle of intense care giving making change can seem beyond our reach.  Looking back to our early years, how did we get caught into these roles and how did they keep us from our best selves, from finding our own true lives and our truest love?

WHERE HAVE I BEEN ALL MY LIFE? is an excellent look at people pleasing, of separation anxiety, of social anxiety and how we get pulled into the ‘perfect life’ of exterior acceptance and often loose ourselves in the process.  I believe everyone could benefit from this story of Cheryl Rice’s experience and how she embraced change in her life.

Cheryl RiceAbout the Author

“Cheryl Rice is a professional speaker and coach. Her company, Your Voice Your Vision partners with women striving to be leaders in their own lives. When Cheryl decided to take the advice she so passionately offers her clients, she emerged with a memoir. Her essays have appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Cactus Heart, and Cure Magazine. Cheryl has M.S. degrees in both Psychological Services and Organization Development, and lives with her family outside of Philadelphia. Find Cheryl online at www.YourVoiceYourVision.com. You can also find Cheryl on Facebook and Twitter.”

Related:
The Long Goodbye
Little Island 
Coincidence 
The Moon Sisters 

JOY STREET: Poems ~Laura Foley

Friday, January 16th, 2015

“Who would have thought poems about dead husbands, distanced fathers, and social awkwardness could evoke such a sense of hope, and even laughter?…this is the magic of Laura Foley’s latest collection of poetic narratives.”  (-Joni B. Cole, author of Toxic Feedback, Helping Writers Survive and Thrive.  From promotion material)

The JOY STREET poems are an autobiography in 33 short verses.

CONCORD

Over an omelet and toast Clara’s made for us, I
ask if she minds my morning silence, a time when spirit composes,
and if I listen quietly enough, I hope my pen will
translate its music for my mind.
Clara says we’re listening to a symphony of us,
with a bridge between our solos.

I have read this little book with its lovely verses a number of times.

JOY STREET poems are about life and love with sorrow, laughter, and cancer; illuminating love.

TLC Book Tours sent me this lovely – de  light  full PDF e-book for review.  I do so enjoy a good poem.  Thank you

I highly recommend this book even if you do not read a poem a day.

About the author:

Laura Foley is the author of four poetry collections.  The Glass Tree won the Foreword Book of the Year Award, Silver, and was a Finalist for the New Hampshire Writer’s Project, Outstanding Book of Poetry. Her poems have appeared in journals and magazines including Valparaiso Poetry Review, Inquiring Mind, Pulse Magazine, Poetry Nook, Lavender Review, and in the anthology, In the Arms of Words: Poems for Disaster Relief.  She won Harpur Palate’s Milton Kessler Memorial Poetry Award and the Grand Prize for the Atlanta Review’s International Poetry Contest. She lives on a woody hill in South Pomfret, Vermont with her partner Clara Gimenez and their three dogs. Please visit her website for book information or more poems: laurafoley.net. (from the TLC tour page)

Related:
LUST
POETRY 
FOG ISLAND MOUNTAIN 
A Breast Cancer Alphabet