A Comedy & A Tragedy: A Memoir of Learning How to Read and Write by Travis Hugh Culley

This is a great story. I received this book via Early Reviewers at LibraryThing.com

This is a beautiful book, inside and out. Mr. Culley is a gifted writer with an important story to tell. I received the book on Friday after work and I finished reading it the next day. I don’t want to write the spoiler, but I think it is safe to say that he has told his story without letting any one thing dominate and overshadow any other thing. With humor and brutal honesty, as the title suggests, Travis presents the details of his education…a very interesting and inspiring story. ( )

Click Here for LibraryThing Review page 

Project Fatherhood: A Story of Courage and Healing in One of America’s Toughest Communities by Jorja Leap

This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

This is not the kind of book that I could read every day. I had to take frequent breaks because the story is as disturbing as it is hopeful. Dr. Jorja Leap shows us the hearts and minds of Watts with grace. She focuses on Project Fatherhood and its members’ successes while considering their almost overwhelming obstacles. “Almost” only because they somehow manage to succeed, to change, to help each other by choosing to be there for their children, by fathering the youth in their community whose biological fathers are absent and by supporting each other.

Dr. Leap’s courage goes unspoken as she crosses racial and cultural lines in order to serve these people. When I saw the cover and looked inside to the back flap, I wondered “What is this white lady trying to say about Watts?”

Parts of this book read more like a novel than the contemporary history that it is. We come to care for the men and their families as we care for our own.

Bravo, Dr. Leap and congratulations to the Project Fatherhood community. ( )

Same Time Next Week, Awesome Book

This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

This book was powerfully honest. Parts of it confirmed what I had only suspected about the mental health field. I recommend this book to anyone, since we all struggle sometimes and we all know people who struggle. It’s a compassion-builder. I especially liked the very last essay. I think the essays were arranged in a sort of order, ending on a positive note, though many of the essays were somewhat positive… ( )

Book Review for LibraryThing.com Early Reviewers: How Gone We Got by Dina Guidubaldi

This book of short stories is a nice break from the longer pieces I’ve been reading lately. Sure, the characters are quirky, but that’s what makes them so lifelike. These paragraphs weave through to several pages like long prose poems. The language lilts and jabs. The quote from Elizabeth Bishop’s villanelle, “One Art” reminds me that “The art of losing isn’t hard to master.”  I especially liked each one of them, with their sometimes obscure titles…for example, the one about the big men, “Pillars, Fallen” and the other one about the suicide pact gone awry, “At Home in the World.” Thank you LibraryThing Early Reviewers and Queens Ferry Press for the delightful distraction these past few days, I’ve read it from cover to cover and now look for more from the talented Dina Guidubaldi.

Reading is Not Always a Pleasant Escape from Reality

This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

Starve the Vulture: A Memoir by Jason Carney

This book was difficult to read. The story was horrific. I’m glad he did not go into more detail, as it became clear the specifics of his personal living nightmare. Poetry is tasked with much to nurture and repair. I’m not sorry I read it, a story of tremendous courage and creativity in overcoming. ( )

Haiku Summary ~ sex and alcohol ~ more sex and more alcohol ~ double LOL

I Take You: A Novel by Eliza Kennedy

This is the first time I’ve read a book with both text message exchanges and soft porn vignettes entwined throughout the plot and subplot lines. I probably would not have finished it, if not for my wish to write a review for LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers. Finally, it was thought-provoking and disturbing. Do we have to like the characters? Does it have to be believable?

It reminded me of many conversations I’ve had regarding the double standard in the sexual revolution and sexual morality as a social construct. That was a long time ago and I must say, at the end of the day, alcoholism and sex addiction are not as compelling to me as they once were, as a collegiate philosopher in the coffee houses and college bars of yesteryear.

I don’t want to be too harsh. I did want to know what happens next. I would recommend the book to my best-friend-in-high-school’s Uncle Bob, were he still alive. I think he would like these characters and this book as it would pique his prurient interests, especially if he could discuss it with some open-minded and adventurous college girls. I would not recommend any college girls to read about these excesses without consequences, nor to discuss them with someone as attractive and manipulative as my friend’s narcissistic uncle. May he rest in peace.

(Originally posted on my LibraryThing.com account)

Many Thanks to LibraryThing.com Early Reviewers Group

I just finished reading The Descartes Highlands by Eric Gamalinda. What a wonderful book! The language is vivid, the love hurts and the characters are intimate and real. Some of the scenes were strikingly painful and others so dreamlike, it was like I was there, part of the dream, swimming through it along with him. Sometimes I lost track of which character was in the lead role at the time, but the willing suspension of disbelief carried me through to the end. I wanted my happy ending, but if not entirely happy, at least there was some relief. I’ll be looking for more from this gifted author.

Reading about the circus is not nearly as exciting as seeing it in the flesh. Duh.

I received an Early Reviewers copy of “From Barnum & Bailey to Feld: The Creative Evolution of the Greatest Show on Earth” by Ernest Albrecht. Following is the first book review I have written since my extended adolescence, many years ago.

This is a scholarly book, as well as a labor of love. Ernest Albrecht provides almost too much detail in his accounting of “The Greatest Show on Earth,” how many elephants, how much they cost, how many mirrors in the elephant’s costumes, how often the costumes were laundered, and by whom, etc., etc. The relentless recounting of names and dates, facts and figures, the dizzying quantification of the circus and its evolution was couched in too few anecdotes and explanations or descriptions of the actual circus acts and performers to really hold my interest. Luckily, the format allows for skipping around and reading whatever passages may capture one’s attention. In my case, I read carefully the “1967 to 1984” chapter, looking for that spark to a sentimental childhood memory. Overall, this was an interesting book and the illustrations were delightful. I recommend it to circus enthusiasts and students. The general reader may find it a bit dry.