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LIAR: A Memoir ~Rob Roberge

Monday, January 11th, 2016

Very happy to be asked by Net Galley to read this memoir, which pulled no punches about the read being dark and humorous at the same time.  It was just that, as the author is Bipolar (Manic Depression), suffers with alcoholism, and has been a junkie for most of his 43 years.

Hindsight is so 20/20.  It was amazing that Roberge could write, finish school, sing and teach as he worked his way through self-medication and mental health workers offering up loads of mediations and lock-up stints.

Roberge has recently discovered that he has a concussion illness and he will slowly loose his mind. After 15 years of being sober and not doing drugs he had a relapse with this new diagnosis and is motivated to write the memoir and tell his side of the story.  I want to go see the movie Concussion, which has just been released in the theaters because of reading this book.   As a counselor by training, the book touched me deeply to understand the process of mental illness from the inside and the experience.  I was upset that his supportive parents would never talk or explore with him about his mental illness and what he could do to find relief in more positive ways.

The book is due to be released on February 9th 2016, and Roberge must have a good following as the pre-orders are growing steadily.

We truly need to work on remedying our mental health coverage and understanding in this country and hopefully this read will be popular enough to bring about more action and understanding in our communities and our states.  It is a hard read and a good read and I am very pleased to have been asked to review it. LIAR is an important communication to our world.

“A darkly funny, intense memoir about mental illness, memory and storytelling, from an acclaimed novelist.” (Amazon page)

The writing is quite good and does not leave the reader wanting; it pulls one into the story and the sadness that accompanies the confusing and difficult circumstances, which are part of this life story.  The words move at a fast paced with a clarity that many of us do not see.   It is a 40 year old interpreting what he experienced when he was young; looking for resolutions still for what may not yet have answers for those who wish to understand and know.

“Rob Roberge is the author of four books of fiction, most recently The Cost of Living. He teaches creative writing, and his work has been widely anthologized. He also plays guitar and sings with the Los Angeles –based band the Urinals.” (From Book)

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2 A.M. AT THE CAT’S PAJAMAS: A Novel ~Marie-Helene Bertino

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

“GIRLS, thinks Ben.  Flutelike, gauze-filled, late-afternoon sunshine.  Rainbow bracelets on the carpet.  They use their tongues to wet their lips. Girls.  They pretend to like each other.  Dotting their i’s with hearts, arching their backs, manipulating their confusing hair with flat irons, curling irons, glisten, extra, ultra hold, hold my purse, hold me close, no duh, bubble gum, gym socks, tube socks, tubes of gloss, tube tops, purrs, pert collars, full hair, full tits, just the tip!  Their sound, the upper notes of an xylophone.  Their legs, downed in fur, Girls.

“The one from Ben’s Advanced Lit class says, ‘That dress is vintage.  You can totally tell.’”  (From location 66% on unproofed Kindle Copy- highlighted)


2 A.M. At the CAT’s PAJAMAS is a unique and driving debut novel that I am sure will capture your imagination and turn the pages not “even” fast enough for your desire of finding out what happens next.  Do not even think about speed reading this book, because you will miss the magic and delight captured within every word on the page.  It is wonder FULL and does not miss a beat, you will be sorry if you do not know this book; you will want to share this with you friends right away even if the speed confuses you – I am sure you will read it again to capture the whole experience.

Philadelphia on Christmas Eve Eve at 7am in the morning, we are introduced to nine year old Madeleine Altimari practicing her shimming and heading off to her last day of school before the holiday.  Madeleine is an amazing little girl and her mother has recently died of cancer; her father has given up and just sits in a chair listening to music. Madeleine just wants to sing, she is anticipating making and tasting her first caramel apple at school  and that which starts out as an okay day goes from cockroaches to worse, until the most amazing experience  of a lifetime becomes hers.

Serina Greene is Madeleine’s fifth grade art teacher and she has just moved back to Philadelphia after a divorce. She is re-connecting with high school “friends” this evening for a dinner party. She is apprehensive about the event when she discovers Ben her high school prom date will be attending.  Serina’s father has abandoned her also just a few days before that prom.

Lorca is the current owner of the CAT’s PAJAMAS the second best jazz club in the Fishtown section of Philadelphia.  He has just a few hours to come up with $30,000 to pay off the fines against the club and keep it open.  He is having troubles with his 16 year old son who wants to play jazz guitar with the Cubanistas the current band of the establishment.

The quirky and interesting other characters in the story just keep arriving at the correct moments in time and then are all pulled together by “all that jazz!”  The reader will want to get to know each and every one.

2 A.M. AT THE CAT’S PAJAMAS is a unique and sparkling novel which will refresh and release your spirit.

Marie-Helene Bertino Blog   
Marie-Helene Bertino Facebook

You and I will have to discover Bertino ourselves…She is winning awards and Oprah approves of this book!

TLC online book tours ent me an unproofed copy of this book for review on my Kindle.  Wow, am I very happy that they did – What a sweet treat.  Thank you

Please Share – Thank you

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Snow Day

Thursday, January 19th, 2012
Snow day skiing

Snow day skiing

It is a snow day!  Maybe this is nothing for you to note or write about, but here it is all about enjoying the wonder of the experience.  As a child, it meant usually we had the day off from school, and we did not mind making it up in June, because a snow day was just so rare it was wonder full.

Not until my siblings took skiing lessons up the mountain did we have snowsuits, rather we just layered up and pulled on rain boots, mittens and hats.  When we were so wet and frozen we could not hang out for one more minute, we came inside for warm cups of hot chocolate and often a toasty bath.  If we lost power, then the fireplace was called into service and we played marathon rounds of board games in the flickering light.

The city often set aside streets for sledding, because everyone just stopped and enjoyed the experience.

And then the rain would come warm and wash it away and life would return to regular routines.

I probably had 10 Snow Days during my years in the public school system. (I spent my last two years of schooling in Cleveland, Ohio – no snow days there)  My youngest child celebrates her birthday in February and she had 9 birthdays of snow days during her progress.  One year my children were off from school for 18 days over the course of winter and they had to be made up in June.

One of my children lives in California now, and she is wishing that she was home for this Snow Day.  Yes she loves to cross country ski and build snow folk in the yard, but I think it is also that sense of wonder and just raw joy that comes from deep inside.  That rush to not waste a moment of this experience and feel it soak in right up to the knees.

There is something different this year.  They can tell us that tomorrow will be the worst day of this storm.  There are so many children who go to the mountains skiing every weekend, that snow at home is not so novel an experience.   The city is not blocking off streets for sledding but rather borrowing street cleaning equipment so that there will not be disruption because of the weather.  No snow folks have emerged on my walk.  And I do not hear the sound of children enjoying and calling out, “look at this!  Watch me!”
The school buses are not running, so I am fairly sure that the schools are closed.  We still have power so I think the TV and computer are still available.

The new kind of quiet is actually eerie.  Solemn.  Poignant.

I am curious as to whether or not now “they” will attempt to develop a pill or programming to recreate that inner joy and wonder of a Snow Day?

“Be aware of wonder.
Live a balanced life
–learn some and think some
– and draw and paint and sing and dance
– and play and work every day some.”
Robert Fulgham

ZIP still has the feeling and he comes in a shiny, happy puppy covered in snowballs and barking with glee.

How do you conjure up that feeling from deep inside?  How do you think folks find it today?  Do you think some folks do not know what they are missing?

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