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DRESSING A TIGER: A memoir ~Maggie San Miguel

Monday, October 10th, 2016

dressing-a-tigerDRESSING A TIGER is not a plain Ol’ memoir with a bit of spicing up, this is about a very interesting and sometimes disturbing life story mixed with a heavy dose of humor and a very spunky child who remembers so much.  Maggie is the youngest child in her family – much younger; her brother is 18 and her sister 16 when she arrives onto the scene.  Mom is fairly unstable and inconsistent and has almost no time for her youngest and Dad is a very busy man as the top negotiator for the Teamsters Union.  Maggie is not allowed to play in the front yard of their Connecticut home but the huge backyard with lake and below ground tree fort commands her attention.  Maggie loves to row her boat out to her private island and seize the day.

“Maggie San Miguel is a Past Life Regression Therapist, a Mediation Instructor and a Psychic Medium, appearing on the paranormal television show, STRANGE TOWN.  She has assisted law enforcement with a murder investigation in Texas.  She also makes pottery, paints and can cook a mean meatball.” (Cover)

Maggie San Miguel Facebook
Maggie San Miguel Web

The book is quite interesting and includes geishas’ in Maggie’s rowboat, and mob hit men taking a 4 year old to the dentist.  Because of their reclusive lifestyle, Maggie dotes on the “friends” of her father who come to the house to plot, drink and eat.  Jack Dahlstrom, her father, though of a Scandinavian heritage, learns to speak Italian and interact with the Italian families involved in controlling the East Coast.  His friends are folks he connected with during his time serving in World War II.  His wife a great redheaded beauty grew up in poverty and led a very tough life. When the stress levels were too high, she disappeared into alcohol and bed, including strange behaviors especially trying to kill squirrels.

“A father serving the Mob, hit men moonlighting as babysitters, an uncle in the Secret Service, famous politicians amongst family friends, a mother in need of shock therapy, and a kid who eavesdrops and remember it all. “  What a unique childhood!

“Her father’s prior knowledge of the Kennedy assassination and his unique friendships with Jack Ruby, John Connally, Henry Wade and infamous Mafia bosses Carlo Bambino, Sam Giancana and Paul Castellano is a story untold until now.” “…Dahlstrom collected an impressive array of friends and Mafia secrets that were never meant to see the light of day.  Maggie San Miguel has just opened the blinds.” (Cover)

I enjoyed this book from beginning to end and think it will make a wonderful book to share.  I highly recommend it and am grateful that Meryl Zegarek Public Relations, Inc.  sent me an advanced copy for review.

This book will be published October 26, 2016

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NIGHT RINGING: A Memoir in Poetry ~ Laura Foley

Monday, October 3rd, 2016

I like to start my day with a poem.  I have an email subscription to a ‘poem a day’ site, which reliably sends something delightful to my inbox and I am introduced to many new writer’s words.  I have no expertise with poetry and did not study it much in school as I fell in love with the longer forms of storytelling.  This book arrived from TLC Book Tours in time to give me a full month of reading and re-reading and full on pleasure in the words.

This is the second book by Laura Foley; JOY STREET was the first.   I can only tell you whether I liked it or not – I really liked this book from cover to cover.

The Fast Course of a Relationship

Only last week, I brought her
a white magnolia snapped
from my front yard,
smelling like honey.

A country guest,
she accepted the blossom
with a kiss.  I find it today,
without a trace of fragrance.

“Laura Foley is an internationally published, award-winning poet, author of five collections. She won First Place in the Common Goods Poetry Contest, judged by Garrison Keillor, who read her poem on “A Prairie Home Companion”; and First Place in the National Outermost Poetry Prize, judged by Marge Piercy. Her poetry collections include: Night Ringing, The Glass Tree and Joy Street. The Glass Tree won a Foreword Book of the Year Award; Joy Street won the Bisexual-Writer’s Award. Her poems have appeared in The Writer’s Almanac, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Pulse Magazine, Lavender Review, The Mom Egg Review, in the British Aesthetica Creative Writing Anthology, and many other journals.” (TLC )

There is an elegant simplicity to the words and phrases that centers the attention and sends a clear message.  The words get through and express what is needed and there are ups and downs with recovery and renewal.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and again and again.  I believe you will also.

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A PIECE OF SKY, A GRAIN OF RICE: A memoir in four meditations ~Christine Hale

Monday, August 8th, 2016

I just need to state at the very beginning of this review that I am so happy I was sent this book for reading and review.  What a wonderful book, which arrived at perfect timing for what is happening in our world and the politics of the day.  So many people right now are asking why do people remain so ignorant and do not change their minds?   This memory is about how one of those people, who value programmed in the Blue Collar realm of Southern USA and how much effort it took to learn to reprogram those values and help her children succeed.

“In this layered collage of memory within memory, Hale recreates for readers her kaleidoscopic experience of a decades-long journey to acceptance and insight. Writer, prodigal daughter, single parent, Buddhist disciple, and, late in midlife, a newlywed, she is transformed through an unconventional relationship with a female spiritual teacher and an odd ritual of repeated tattooing with her two young adult children. “ (from book cover)

A PIECE OF SKY, A GRAIN OF RICE is poetically written as the segments over lap in telling her story and piecing together the facets of a life.  From her parents love-hate relationship and hard work ethic,over years of self-study and volunteering in a domestic violence center in New York, this southern woman begins to understand how physical, verbal, and sexual abuse played out in her own family and that was considered the normative behaviors of her historic family and of the culture of the working class.  Christine Hale drugged herself up for awhile and then found a mentor who assisted her in digging her way out and making changes, which led to changes in her own family structure and breaking the pattern and the mold of enculturation she had endured.

TLC Book Tours  sent me a copy of this book for review.

The author also studied at the same school I did in North Carolina and now lives in the same area I did my first social work practicum.  At 20, I arrived from a family that discussed everything and had value programmed with one “British Rules” parent and one “Creative Genius” thinker and I could see clearly in my new surroundings  the stuck in a rut life systems that were not going to work in the new century – how to change awareness and values?  It seemed to take a great deal of pain and the desire to change to escape one’s early programming.   Hale experiences that pain and sometimes believes her only “out” is suicide and yet she persists and change happens.   The telling of her story certainly opens doors for others to step through and find new hope and not just escape and death.  Change is hard work.

Even without getting tattooed most of us can benefit from reading this beautiful memoir and it may help many others in the reading.

Though I have to say that most Buddhist retreats I have partaken of, the centers have been immaculate and beautiful in their earthy settings and natural silence.  Her teacher’s centers were fairly awful facilities and would have made it extremely difficult for me not to be distracted and nearly impossible to let go.   More power to Christine Hale

From the cover:

“Christine Hale is the author of a novel, BASIL’S DREAM.  Ms. Hale’s creative non-fiction has appeared in ARTS & LETTERS, SPRY, STILL, HIPPOCAMPUS, and PRIME NUMBER, among other journals.  A fellow of MacDowell, Ucross, Hedgebrook, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, she earned her MFA from Warren Wilson College.  She teaches in the Antioch University – Lost Angeles Low Residency MFA Program as well as the Great Smokies Writing Program in Asheville, North Carolina, where she and her husband live.”

www.christinehalebooks.com

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FINDING FONTAINEBLEAU: An American Boy in France ~ Thad Carhart

Monday, July 11th, 2016

“Long before mass tourism and globalization, France was simple, soulful, and every inch stimulating.  Carhart knew it all and shares this with us with the deftness and insight of a master storyteller.”  (Cover:  Leonard Pitt, author of WALKS THROUGH LOST PARIS)

FINDING FONTAINBEBLEAU is a beguiling memoir of post war France with loving stories about baguettes and penmanship learned with quill pens and black ink.  I enjoyed every page and every story in this book and was sad when I turned the last page.  At age 4, Carhart’s military family was moved from the Virginia suburbs to Fontainebleau, France.  The family celebrated their move with trips all over the countryside and discoveries while attending French schools.  With five children and a big old “woodie” Chevy station wagon they explored.  The author captures a great deal about French culture and habits.  It is a remarkable story.

The Nazi invasion truly made a difference to the hearts and minds of the French and the subtle protections on the individual levels are recorded in the stories.  PBS is doing a series on the importance of NATO and this story talks about the beginnings of those treaties.  War changes so much.
About the Author

The son of an air force officer, Thad Carhart grew up in a variety of places, including Washington, D.C.; Fontainebleau, France; Minneapolis; Amherst, Massachusetts; and Tokyo. After graduating from Yale, he worked for the State Department as an interpreter. His first book, The Piano Shop on the Left Bank, appeared in 2000, published by Random House. Across the Endless River, a historical novel came out in 2009 with Doubleday. He lives in Paris. (AMAZON)

Thad Carhart Website
Thad Carhart Facebook
Thad Carhart Twitter

I was constantly thinking about who I wanted to share this book with and for what occasion.  Carhart has returned to France with his family as an adult and has been given tours by the architect who is refurbishing The Castle Fontainebleau.  The layers of tile, the roofing material, the commitment of the people of France to their historic sites and the damage done by millions of tourists as they visit is fascinating.  Then the stories of the Kings, Queens, Mistresses and how they changed the buildings and added on to the design, and how consistent and authentic the designs and repairs were to the original buildings – fascinating.

The author’s Mother and the recorded stories about the 5 siblings and their adjustments to a new house and country are loving and often humorous.  The word delightful just keeps coming to mind.

I just wrapped up my copy for the biking architect in my family as his birthday is tomorrow and he will so enjoy this story to the max.  It did make me want to visit France and particularly Fontainebleau.  I have been excitedly talking about the book at my book groups as even though it is a very different read, I think they will enjoy the look at the 50s and what it would be like to be transplanted, not knowing the language, as a child.

TLC Book Tours   sent this book to me for review and it is wonderful.

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