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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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LA BELLE CRE’OLE: The Cuban Countess Who Captivated Havana, Madrid, and Paris ~Alina Garcia Lapuerta

Monday, November 10th, 2014

“The phrase ‘creole’ often puzzles the modern reader.  Many think that creole or criolla (in Spanish) means a person of mixed race from the former slave-owning states or the Caribbean.  However, the word merely indicates that someone was born in a colony, generally of European descent.” (From the author’s notes)

LA BELLE CREOLE is a biography about Maria de las Mercedes Santa Cruz y Montalvo.   She is a heroine to the people of Cuba, who was raised by her material Great Grandmother on the family plantations  where she had free reign in her comings and goings until she was reconnected with her parents at age 9 with her Father and 13 with her mother.   Mercedes lived many years in Paris and Madrid before returning to Havana in the 1840s.  She was born February 6, 1789 in Havana, her parents left for Europe a few months later.

Her father thought a convent would be the best situation for Mercedes, but that was not to be with this society girl and her big ideas.

I read an advanced PDF copy of the book which did not include pictures or cover; I thought I should share Amazon’s Book Description here so we would both know the cover words:

The adventurous woman nicknamed La Belle Créole is brought to life in this book through the full use of her memoirs, contemporary accounts, and her intimate letters. The fascinating María de las Mercedes Santa Cruz y Montalvo, also known as Mercedes, and later the Comtesse Merlin, was a Cuban-born aristocrat who was years ahead of her time as a writer, a socialite, a salon host, and a participant in the Cuban slavery debate. Raised in Cuba and shipped off to live with her socialite mother in Spain at the age of 13, Mercedes triumphed over the political chaos that blanketed Europe in the Napoleonic days, by charming aristocrats from all sides with her exotic beauty and singing voice. She married General Merlin in Napoleon’s army and discussed painting with Francisco de Goya. In Paris she hosted the city’s premier musical salon where Liszt, Rossini, and great divas of the day performed for Rothschilds, Balzac, and royalty. Celebrated as one of the greatest amateur sopranos of her day, Mercedes also achieved fame as a writer. Her memoirs and travel writings introduced European audiences to 19th-century Cuban society and contributed to the debate over slavery. Mercedes has recently been rediscovered as Cuba’s earliest female author and one who deserves a place in the canon of Latin American literature.

The early reviewers on Amazon have all given it 5 stars and written very positive reviews.  For those readers who love a biography this book is a “treat” and it is very well written.   The author went to Georgetown University and now resides in England and is also Cuban heritage.  I was thinking as I worked my way through the book, how much my mother would have loved this story and enjoyed the extensive family history and the stunning descriptive paragraphs all gleaned from the author’s extensive research.

About the Author 
Alina Garcia Lapuerta Facebook

The copy of this book was sent to me by Chicago Review Press  for review and I appreciated the opportunity.

LA BELLE CREOLE was a good read.   I was saddened to learn that my copy did not include the family tree which was at the back of the book.  I grew a bit weary of the long narratives about the family at the beginning – the begats.  Family intermarriage was a security issue to keep the rich, rich and I get exhausted by the private club this creates in the world.

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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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