We’ve all been there. Some of us have visited those dark places – those sensitive locales – more than others, but we’ve all at some time or another tasted the bleakness that accompanies the negative. What sets us apart from one another is how we handle the harrowing.
In the brave “The Inconsequential Child”, author Anthony Martino deftly but strongly tackles the emotional bellows that comprises the psyche. Presenting the reader with a stream of consciousness writing style, Martino writes with a sense of abandon that makes him endearing and vulnerable – a difficult combination to achieve.
The book unfolds like a moment in time. The reader quite literally is unsure what the next chapter will bring. What will Martino share with the reader now? What light will be shed on this courageous soul’s decision to share his true life?
You can’t change the past, no matter how hard you try. The facts that comprise the past are objective, but the subjective mind just won’t stop revisiting them, trying to alter the ultimate outcome. Martino attempts to overcome his vast emotional neglect as a child with his mature, adult mind and all of the resources that the young just don’t have. The book itself is composed of chapters that individually tackle lessons that the author has learned. Cumulatively, these lessons help to shed light on the constant quest for balancing one’s past with one’s present and future, and how the achievement of balance can be attained.
Sharp and enlightening, “The Inconsequential Child” might be the chronicle of one’s man’s psychology, but it’s the subtle complexities behind every carefully selected words that makes Martino a voice for us all.
Subtitled “A Katrina Story”, author Jared Andrukanis’ “A Rooftop Above Reality” can not instantly evoke emotions of sadness and anger. Sadness about the conditions that many had to survive before getting any help, and anger at the wait until said help was received. But before those emotions are realized within Andrukanis’ natural and melodic prose, there is an underlying theme of hope that cannot be ignored. It is this affecting human buoyancy that stayed with me after I read the last word of the novel, and it is this hope that allowed me to learn more about a disaster and the power of resilience.
The novel finds a few close friends and their furry companions endure the first few days after Hurricane Katrina and their attempts at survival. They’re surrounded by water, and must adapt to ensure that they will be alive when help finally does arrive, however long that may take. The dynamic of these friends change and evolve as they are presented with situations they never imagined they would find themselves in, and their patience is often tested in the name of survival.
As the story progresses (and isn’t every memoir a story of sorts?), the actual setting of a devastated New Orleans in the aftermath of a natural disaster almost becomes secondary to the unfolding of events befalling this crew of survivors. The author here shines in writing about how humans can survive in a world without any kind of media updates or assurance that they will indeed be saved. It’s an importance piece, and indeed a very telling one, about the human condition in the face of disaster, and how one’s will can be stronger than the cumulative power of 1,000 armies.
A memoir by definition, “Who Broke The Girl?” is more of a rhetorical question more than anything. Written by New Yorker Christina Costantino, the novel is a ethereal recounting of one woman’s life in one particular set of circumstances.
It’s lyrical and simple. It is the simplicity of her words that make the book resonant. The shared stories and experiences of the author as she navigates through life across as a song. The melody gets in your head like an earworm, except the lyrics aren’t superficial. Instead, they are emotions conveyed through the medium of humanity.
Resilience is a skill we all want, and, to a certain extent, require to live a long and happy life. “Who Broke The Girl?” gives a personal edge to some life lessons that can apply to anyone’s life, without placing the blame on everyone else but one’s self.
How can I put into words the strength and bravery that lies within the pages of “Tea and Transition” – A Story of Love, The Human Spirit, and How One Man Became One Woman? How can one independent book reviewer succinctly capture the charm and power of one person’s complete change of life as they now it? Truth is, I can’t…but I can praise it.
Author Nicola Jane Chase’s memoir is so brutally honest that it lingers with you once the last page is read…and then for quite some time thereafter. Actually, I’m still hooked on it.
The book is hilarious, heart-wrenching, and compelling. Chase shines an unabashedly authentic flashlight on her own personal tale of transition. A DJ in the 80’s and 90’s, Chase became well known amongst the circles of radio and music. Upon moving to New York, she embraces her new life as a woman. What makes this presentation so accessible, is that Chase injects humour and wryness when detailing her many unique moments residing in a new country having left Europe for the ‘Big Apple’.
Always having dealt with deeply resonant feelings of misidentification with her own sex, Chase embraces living as a woman, and begins to live the life she’s always wanted to lead. Instead of a focusing strictly on her physical transformation to a woman, Chase brings awareness and spends much time on the universality of the human spirit, without any shackles of gender. She cleverly and compellingly tells her story in a more global sense: like her travels, she moved physically from one place to the next, but unlike travelling from one country to the next, her soul has moved from one world to another.
A memoir of triumphant positivity and inspiring attitude, Stephen Doster’s “Her Finest Hour” is why memoirs are written: to tell a true story of those individuals who don’t get the worldwide acclaim and respect that they so obviously deserve. It’s the genre that belongs to the unsung heroes, to which Terry Smith of Doster’s book belongs.
Still alive to see her spectacular and riveting memoir published, Terry Smith is the epitome of a good person. Joining the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force in London as teenager, she saw her life take her to unimaginable places doing extraordinary things. She acted in Operations Rooms for the Royal Air Force, was an Air Traffic Controller, and even became one of the first female flight attendants in the British Overseas Airways Corporations, now known as British Airways.
But what makes this memoir so special is that it is a faithful transcription of Terry Smith’s own actual words. There is no twisting of the truth or the worry of things being lost in translation. What Smith has said is what is printed within these pages, giving her story a depth that is often lacking in most books of this genre. With every predicament that Terry Smith finds herself in, there is an undeniable willingness to become better, to do better.
The memoir covers Smith’s life quite literally. From her family being bombed several times during World War II, to the terrible incident of her fiance being murdered fighting in North Africa, Smith’s attitude of resilience and positivity is both provocative and inspiring. I couldn’t shake the hope and good intentions that this woman, through life’s proverbial ups and downs, wore like a badge on her arm, bright and shiny for the world to see.
As I’ve mentioned many, many times before, it’s really great to be a book reviewer. I get proposals from aspiring authors from all over the world, from New Zealand to Peru. The sheer amount of talent in the world is magnificent, and I’m given the opportunity to review these works? Outstanding.
Nicole Comer’s witty and hilarious “Acting…It’s Not For Sissies” is one of the funniest books I’ve read in dog years. It’s not a manual on how to act. It’s also not a step-by-step playbook on how to method act. Instead, Comer’s book is a easy-to-read piece on what showbiz is really all about, all the while throwing in tidbits of advice that Comer herself has learned along the way.
Comer uses personal stories to present an insider’s view on the climb to fame and a true love for the difficult art of being an actor. She doesn’t sugar coat things either. It’s a really, really difficult industry to break into, and once you’ve made the incredibly fortunate foray into the world of Hollywood glamour, there is no guarantee that is where you’ll stay (sorry, Renee Zellweger). The book seems to be written for those who are truly devoted to being a successful actor, despite all of the obvious pitfalls that are rolled up into that archetype. It’s a clever expose for those who may have an idealized version of Hollywood and the incorrect perception that it’s an easy egg to break.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from a book called “Torn: The Story of an Undeserving Wallaby Drowning in a Septic Tank.” I knew what a wallaby was, and I know a bit about Australia, but nothing prepared me for Simon Williams’ charming and heart-wrenching tale of tragedy and hope.
Written in a sort of stream of consciousness type style, Simon Williams tells a story that is not only true, but extremely insightful. There are equal parts humor and sadness, but Williams manages to tie in all of his seemingly random thought processes into one cohesive whole memoir.
The great power of story telling is comprised of a symphony of words and of sentences, of tone and of finesse, of emotion and of truth. Sometimes the stories that we tell are inspired by true-life events, and at other times, mere representations of overactive imaginations. In the case of Dana L. Goodman’s riveting ‘In the Cleft Joy Comes in the Mourning’, the story is not only a true one, but it’s also one that takes a journey of one woman and transforms it into a lesson in compassion and personal triumph.
‘In The Cleft…’ is a harrowing memoir that chronicles the author’s own personal journey in reclaiming life after the loss of her husband, young son, and mother-in-law to cancer. Goodman takes the reader and tells them point blank about the seemingly insurmountable obstacles that one must attempt to overcome when the dreaded C-word enters their life and refuses to leave.
Highlighting the daily struggles of caring for a sick child so soon after having lost a husband to the dreadful disease, Goodman is careful not to become a victimized narrator. She details plainly the rollercoaster of emotions that accompany her situations, inspiring the reader to reflect on the human condition and strength that rears itself in times of such turmoil.
I recently lost my sister to cancer, and because of my recent loss, I was affected greatly by Goodman’s story. She reminded me that the wounds that lay deep in my heart will heal through faith and propensity to love. I found in The Cleft to be not only a veritable joy to read, but therapeutic and kind. It’s pacing and tone pulls the reader in from the very first word, and by the book’s end, the reader truly feels like they know Goodman personally. This is a story that inspires and beats with the thousands of hearts of those who lost their fight with the awful disease, and I feel like a stronger person for having read it.
I can only speak for myself when I say that there are many things that cause us to become angry, annoyed or just plain frustrated. And sometimes it’s the smallest, most inconsequential event that will trigger an outward expression of said discontent, which will often times make your usual calm demeanor seem semi-homicidal.
This is why I find it extremely brave that G. Eric Francis had the guts to write an entire book based on the things that irritate the ‘you know what’ out of him. Francis’ fairly all-encompassing list of 90 things captures the spectrum of life’s little annoyances that every single one of us have encountered. In fact, while reading through the genuinely funny itemized listing of Mr. Francis’ irritants, I found myself laughing aloud more than once.
Starting with his ode to those people who are too seemingly lazy to return their shopping carts to their rightful holding spot, 90 Things quickly moves into more generalized annoyances like the mystery of the turn signal to The Walmart Pyjama Phenomenon, along the way offering witty anecdotes and sometimes caustic observations that we have all thought to ourselves while buying discount toilet paper and all those Tupperware containers we didn’t know we needed – or wanted.
The book then moves into more personal territories, such as the hilarious and nuance-filled 74. When Did We Forget to Laugh? and the racially sensitive “73 – The Difference Between Brown and Black”, both of which allow the reader to question societal expectations and what their personal role is in perpetuating any lingering stereotypes that plague the world today.
It’s a slippery slope to write a book chronicling one’s irritants, especially 90 of them, without coming across as angry, petty or smug. This is why I commend Mr. Francs for diarizing his annoyances so neatly. There’s just enough of an angry tone in 90 things that works without the entire book becoming an esoteric exercise in outrage. Maybe its just me, but perhaps we all should just question a little bit more why we are bothered by the things we are, and what we can do to change that. While it’s unlikely you can control many things in life, at least with 90 Things, Mr. Francis gives the reader some guidance on how to mitigate – or at least recognize, the universals ughs of life.
Get your copy of“90 Things That Irritate The Sh** Out Of Me, Or Just Make Me Frown” today on Amazon and Goodreads.