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IT’S MESSY: On Boys, Boobs, and Badass Women ~Amanda de Cadenet

Thursday, September 7th, 2017

IT’S MESSY is a memoir told in short and often funny essays.  I read the book cover to cover, I laughed, was amazed and also the book made me very sad. I think many high school students and young adults would gain insights from reading her story and her understandings.  I disagreed with her slant on one-night stands and was a bit repulsed by it actually, though liked her bravado on many other fronts.  I knew nothing about her before reading the book.

A teenager who was covered by the Tabloids extensively and most likely was sexually abused or assaulted early on in life ran away to the streets and drugs and then figured out she needed more “money” in order to stabilize her future. She, de Cadenet, went on to figure out what she did best and then act on it and slowly and surely build a future; with big jumps and interesting marriages.

About Amanda de Cadenet

Amanda de Cadenet is a creative force with a lifelong career in the media. She began as a host on British television at the age of fifteen and became a sought-after photographer shortly after—as a result her impressive photography career already spans nearly twenty years. She is the youngest woman ever to shoot a Vogue cover and has photographed many of the most influential figures in popular and political culture. As a media entrepreneur, Amanda is the creator of The Conversation, a series that showcases her in-depth interviews on real topics with celebrated women. Whether it’s in conversations with Lady Gaga, Sarah Silverman, Zoe Saldana, Chelsea Handler, or Gwyneth Paltrow, or in discussions with devoted followers of her social channels, Amanda delivers an honest and authentic voice. The series has aired in eighteen countries and is featured online, with over ten million viewers. In January 2016, Amanda conducted an exclusive one-on-one interview with presidential candidate Secretary Clinton. In February 2016, Amanda launched #Girlgaze, a digital media company-utilizing user submitted content and highlighting the work of women Gen Z photographers and directors.

Find out more about Amanda at her website, and connect with Amanda on Facebook, Amanda on Twitter, Amanda on Instagram .

I think there are some girls who are just anxious to get into their “own” lives at an early age.  I think of one of my daughter’s classmates who by 12 was heavy into sex and by 15 drugs.  She did not want to go to school and now in her 30s has not found her way.   I think she could have benefited from this book that finds that the true bottom line in life is liking yourself – no loving yourself.

IT’S MESSY is a challenging read with some tough language issues and yet it could make a difference in someone’s life and journey to success.

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GYPSY MOTH SUMMER: A Novel ~Julia Fierro

Monday, June 26th, 2017

GYPSY MOTH SUMMER is being praised as the must read of the summer of 2017.  I have seen lots of promotional material for the book and was looking forward to having an opportunity to read and review this book as presented by TLC Book Tours . The Huffington Post was truly wrapping lots of energy around this highly anticipated book.

I jumped right into the read and it compelled me to stick with the book from cover to cover.  I just knew that somehow this story was not going to end well, and then again maybe I was hoping that it was not going to end well for the people on Avalon Island – the wealthy and the poor.  The story is a tragedy.

I knew many of these character types and I lived through this period of time with great awareness and a budding interest in ecological studies.  I was beginning to understand pollution and how cycles of problems exist and I lived through several Tent Caterpillar infestations and could hear the squish, crackle of walking on the creatures under my feet and know the sticky goo that stuck to everything; really creepy was the critters falling onto your hair and body.

I need to back up here and outline the story of the island people and their sordid, limited view of the world.  Many characters were introduced and before and after each chapter there was information about the Gypsy Moth’s life cycle and years of infestation.  How they marked the world in a very disgusting and filthy pattern.  Because the island was experiencing an infestation throughout the story, which paralleled the slimy behaviors of the community, I did not enjoy the read as much as I thought I would.

About THE GYPSY MOTH SUMMER:

“The summer the Gypsy Moths descended, an even more toxic pest was spreading its way through the people of Avalon. East Avalon is the upper crust, built with generations of military engineers who had exchanged their Navy whites and blues for suits and offices, while West Avalon families hailed from generations of factory workers.

In the summer of 1992, Maddie LaRosa tries to figure out how to survive high school and its queen bee, Bitsy, and worries about maintaining her East Avalon persona and picture-perfect family life. Meanwhile, Leslie Day Marshall, daughter of Avalon Island’s most established wasp-y monarch, has just moved back home with her husband, Jules, who is black, and their kids. Their move from a one bedroom apartment in “the City” to “The Castle” isn’t as big as the change from the melting pot of New York City to the homogeneity of East Avalon. Jules and Leslie’s presence triggers tensions, romances, and unusual alliances that simmer all summer and lead to violence that leaves the community atomized forever.

Diving deep into research on gypsy moths, Fierro was inspired by her own childhood on Long Island, and the tensions that exist in a community where there are two economically different sides of town. Also included in her acute observations are the political tensions of 1992 during a different Clinton campaign and the rise in cancer rates due to the community’s water pollution. Grounded in real events, Fierro’s writes an intense and engrossing story that will stick with you long after the tragic ending.”    (From the promotional materials)

The teenagers in the story were the same unhappy, drunken, drugging, sniffing, nasty behavior laden kids I knew back then and tried to stay away.  They felt so entitled and are still acting entitled as they move into the Medicare years.  They still deny climate problems and toxic waste sites.  They feel they can just purchase their way out of everything.  Fierro wrote about them with brilliance and they were awful in the story as they were in person.  The sad thing is that they have been trying to lead the world now and be the leaders because they are “rich” and they are just as awful to encounter today as they were.  I still attempt to stay away but they keep trying to damage health care, public schools, and destroy social programs – they want to make money from schools and prisons and they truly do not care about human beings.

The story is very bright and capable and does keenly capture a segment of our community and wrap them in Moth slime tying them up smartly in a bow.  It was my pleasure to finish reading the book and be done with it.  GYPSY MOTH SUMMER left me wondering how to help people change and want to live by kindness.  There was no attempt to illuminate the future in GYPSY MOTH SUMMER.

“Fierro doesn’t just observe, she knows. Like all great novelists, she gives us the world.” – Amy Bloom, bestselling author of Away and Lucky Us

About the Author:

“JULIA FIERRO is the founder of The Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop, a creative home to more than 4,000 writers in New York City, Los Angeles and online. Her first novel CUTTING TEETH, was praised by The Boston Globe (“at once modern and timeless”) and The New Yorker (“a comically energetic début”).

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DUPLICITY: A Novel of Suspense, A Julia Gooden Mystery ~Jane Haseldine

Monday, April 10th, 2017

DUPLICITY is a suspenseful tale about a journalist who writes about crime in Detroit.  Julia has to balance many parts of her life and has not totally come to terms with her 9-year-old brother’s disappearance years ago.  Her attorney husband is just starting to come home after straying to another’s bed and her young sons are anxious for a full reconciliation.  Husband is starting a trial against the biggest crime boss in the area and is trying to balance all the pieces to get a conviction.  Julia is covering the story and yet has to avoid talking about anything with her husband.  Her surprise witness story is scooped from her byline and this is adding stress.

We are part of the unfolding of a complicated truth that will make a profound difference to everyone’s future.  The tensions run high as Julia pieces together the various aspects of the story step by step and with the assistance of several police officers.   Her 2 sons end up in harms way and thus Julia must find safety for them in the process.  Thank goodness for her feisty nanny.

Other than a bombing blast for tension rather the story builds and builds with Julia’s discoveries and with her risking herself into the fray.  I believe Haseldine’s experiences as a crime reporter adds to the authenticity of the story and the details of the investigation.

Lots of readers will like this book.  DUPLICITY also has some strong relationship connections to interpret and those influence the outcomes.  Those who want big action will find it here at a steady pace.   Those who want to read about corruption and drug related crimes would be well satisfied.  It is a good second novel.  The book has merit and was a good read.  I enjoyed that is was not so gory as several books have been lately and it did not overwhelm my thinking or cause sleep deprivation.  I was worried about how Julia put her children so secondary on the list particularly with her past problems of abduction in her family.

A TLC Book Tours book

Jane Haseldine is a journalist, former crime reporter, columnist, newspaper editor, magazine writer, and deputy director of communications for a governor.  Jane graduated from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications with a degree in journalism. She resides in Southern California with her husband and two sons, but previously lived in Boston, San Francisco, New York, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Louisiana. You can find her at janehaseldine.com, Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook.

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MISSISSIPPI BLOOD: A Novel – #3 of the NATCHEZ BURNING Trilogy ~Greg Iles

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

“Adrenaline-fueled excitement…A very American epic.”  (Washington Post)

“The endgame is at hand for Penn Cage, his family and the enemies working to destroy them in this exhilarating final volume in the epic Natchez Burning trilogy set in modern Natchez, Mississippi – Greg Iles’s bold and ambitious story of blood and honor, violence and revenge that explores how profoundly the sins of the past haunt the present.” (Book cover)

MISSISSIPPI BLOOD is another book I could not put down.  I read it cover to cover in two sittings during a rainy, windy weekend and then took a deep breath.  The writing is intense and does not let up right to the very last couple of pages – there is no relief in the speed in this whole series. One is compelled to find out who killed Viola Turner, the young black nurse who was raped twice by a gang of KKK men and her brother was skinned alive.  Turner has come home to die but someone has sent her off before she could tell her tale and Dr. Cage is being blamed.  Penn Cage, the mayor, is trying to save his father and find the truth as he loses more of the people he loves.

After I reviewed NATCHEZ BURNING, I persuaded 10 friends to read the book.  After I reviewed #2, THE BONE TREE, I persuaded another 10 friends to read book one and then two and wait with me for book #3. There is so much in these stories that I found to be true in my younger years living in the South.  I found that there was an ingrained mythology about events and history that I had no evidence for or could I achieve some foothold in making change.  Such as so many Southern folks did not believe that the Civil War was about Slavery – nope it was about State’s Rights!!!  I found myself teaching a psychology seminar to most of my peers because the psychology that the Professor was expounding was not true or reasonable. This trilogy was about what I believed was going on and actually happening.

It is truly difficult to believe that these things happened when wrapped up in a contemporary suspense story.  It is hard to image that a writer from Natchez, Mississippi could have figured things out and been open to exposing such ideas.  Then again maybe it is the local boy who can render change in his neighborhood with stories better than outsiders.  Just maybe we need him to restructure thoughts about government in general and our last election.  Iles is a master storyteller.

TLC Book Tours  sent me an advanced copy of MISSISSIPPI BLOOD for review – It is definitely 5 Stars.

“Greg Iles spend his youth in Natchez, Mississippi.  His first novel, SPANDAU PHOENIX, was the first of fifteen NEW YORK TIMES bestsellers, including THE QUIET GAME, TURNING ANGEL, THE DEVIL’S PUNCHBOWL, which hit number one, NATCHEZ BURNING, and THE BONE TREE.  Iles’s novels have been made into films and published in more than thirty-five countries.  He is a member of the lit-rock group the ROCK BOTTOM Remainders, lives in Natchez, Mississippi, with his wife, and has two children.” (Cover)

Greg Iles Website
Greg Iles Facebook
Greg Iles Twitter

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